Friday, 28 February 2014

Hour of Power 02/28/14

  1. The Astronomer Pig (The Earls of Mars / Self-Titled)
  2. Nothing Hill (Salem's Pot / N.A.) PRE
    Videos 3-5 by Vitasound Projects from the album 'American Werewolf in London'
  3. The Slaughtered Lamb
  4. Beware of the Moon
  5. David
  6. Lex Lucifer (Assblaster / Blastphemy vol II: Veni Vidi Blast!)
  7. Chased and Caught (Domadora / Tibetan Monk)
  8. Borracho campaign video
  9. The Ballad of Hannah Dustin (Ichabod / Merrimack) PRE
  10. Burning In Hell (Electric Citizen / Sateen) PRE
  11. Our Mother Ash (Greenleaf / Trails & Passes) PRE
  12. The King In Yellow (Hornss / Demo)
  13. Sometimes I'm Happy (Black Sabbath live instrumental jam)

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Naked Brown - Not So Bad (album review)

Cover artwork by Przemysław Szukaj.
I won't be coy about this: 'Not So Bad' is the best stoner rock album I've heard in what seems like a very long time.  I've caught my ears on some great albums during that nebulous span, but this one takes the crown.  Bolder, tougher, harder and heavier than most everything else, but also groovier, Polish quartet Naked Brown have recorded one for the ages.  Nearly all the music I hear coming out of Poland is just a couple pounds heavier and few shades dirtier than all the rest and Naked Brown are no exception.  These dudes are rockers and go all the way with it.

The second time I listened to opening cut, "The King Is Back", the drum solo that kicks the album off actually put a smile on my face that wouldn't be wiped off until well into the song, at which point it was down to the more serious business of nodding along / outright headbanging.  I should mention that all this shamelessness took place on a public street, at a bus stop and on the bus.  Naked Brown strips you of all shame and self-consciousness.

Taking an overview of the album you may notice the uniformity of the song lengths, the greatest variation between song lengths appears with the final two tracks, “Storm is Comin’” at 4:26 and “Just Like Luke (Skywalker)” at 5:16.  Those are the shortest and longest cuts on the album.  This may sounds like a pointless detail but it goes great distances towards describing the band’s approach to songwriting.  Naked Brown aren’t going to bowl you over with inventive song structures or outside-the-box thinking, each song is made up of the classic verse-chorus-solo rotation.  Still, some believe that the highest artistic achievements are made within limiting confines.  So, that being the case, the success of each song must fall solely on the strength of the riffs, melodies and drum syncopation.

Like Motorhead, Naked Brown isn’t for everyone, this is heavy rock music for headbangers, pure and simple.  In so many ways, a band such as this (and they don’t come around all too often) are the direct descendants of Chuck Berry in that this is hyper-making music on the cutting edge of contemporary heaviness.  With all that said, the difference between Naked Brown and Chuck Berry or Motorhead is the level of variation between songs within those restricting confines of consistent individual identity and similar structures.  Each song is a distinctive and unique sibling, as opposed to being a genetic twin of the one that came before it.  The one overriding factor of each song is the mood.  This is rarely more evident than between the blues-bar anthem “Made To Kill” and it’s sold-out stadium heavy metal follow-up “T.O.D. the Barbarian”.  That mood or thing that ties it all together is the consistent instrumental tone.  Again, the band works with a limited palette of tones and structures and paints heavy rock masterpieces with a surprising range of styles. 

But just in case I didn’t make myself clear, this is the best stoner rock record I’ve heard in a long time.  Naked Brown errs on the energetic side, much of that has to do with the excellent drumming of Tomasz Wyrąbkiewicz who keeps things moving at a psychobilly pace and pulls everything out of the bag from double kick to cowbell.  Don’t miss this one, my words fall far short of what this album is all about, it simply kicks ass.

Highlights include: "The King Is Back" and "T.O.D. The Barbarian"

Rating: 4.5/5

Total Run Time: 33:49

From: Gdańsk, Poland

Genre: Stoner Rock, Hard Rock, Metal

Reminds me of: Isaak, Motorhead, Palm Desert

Release Date: November 23, 2013

Naked Brown on facebook

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

SOGGY BOB Reviews Blackfinger - Self-Titled

Words by SOGGY BOB 

It's great to hear Eric Wagner at it again. No longer with doom legends Trouble, Wagner is still kicking ass in Blackfinger. Their self titled release is out now on Church Within Records and can be ordered here 

I love this record. Id say this record has more of a Lid (a band Eric was in after he left Trouble in the 90's) feel to it than Trouble. There's a definite Pink Floydian / Beatles vibe throughout the album. Vocally, one thing that really impresses me about this lp are the dynamics. There's a great mix of heavier rocking tunes with some somber slower runes. Even within the songs themselves there's a simple complexity (what?) about them. One example is the tune "As Long as I'm with You". While its title may make the listener think they are about to hear a happy upbeat track, it's actually a very sad depressing sounding song. The piano, strings and Eric's softer spoken voice really make this a very touching song. One of the best on the record. Another one of my favorites is a heavier tune "Why God?" 

There's so much to dig about one. The riffs have a great catchy swagger about them and Eric's chorus is one you won't forget soon. It will get stuck between your ears and sit there for a long time. But again it's the dynamics of the song that makes it so bad ass. You'll just have to hear it for yourself. From the first to last track there's not a filler on the album. So go buy the Blackfinger debut you will NOT be disappointed. You can also see them at this years Day of the Doomed Fest! Buy tix here!

Doom Chart: Most Paranoid Songs of 02/26/14

Top 25 Songs
#). Song Title (artist/album)
  1. Sky Knight (Earth Witch / Earthbound EP)
  2. Easy Come, Easy Go (Foghound / Quick, Dirty & High)
  3. There's Nothing Like Revenge For Getting Back At People (Hot Lunch / split single w/ Lecherous Gaze)
  4. Steel Veins (Ice Dragon / digital single)
  5. War At The Edge Of The End (Eternal Champion / 7"single)
  6. Avra Kadavra (Black Vulpine / Demo Single 2013)
  7. The King Is Back (Naked Brown / Not So Bad)
  8. Adversary (Demon Eye / Leave the Light)
  9. The Coffin (Violet Temple / Violet Temple of Doom)
  10. Elvira (Ghold / Galactic Hiss)
  11. Palm Reader (Castles / Fiction Or Truth?)
  12. Phobia (Mist / Demo 2013)
  13. Backwards Spoken Rhymes (Aleph Null / Nocturnal)***
  14. Season of the Sun (Dirt Wizard / No Son of Mine)
  15. Bellydancer's Delight [I. Vampire's Night Orgy - II. Stompers Rumble] (Satan's Satyrs / Wild Beyond Belief)
  16. Ocular Terror (Black Majik Acid / ST)
  17. King Stuste (Woodwall / Wood Empire)
  18. Witch of Circumstance (Vykanthrope / The Devil's Waiting ...)
  19. Black Helicopters (Gaggle of Cocks / Low Class Trendsetter)***
  20. Nightmare Rider (Old Man Wizard / Unfavorable)
  21. Got To Be (The Electric Revival / Pirate Radio)***
  22. Release (Stone Mountain / Self-Titled)
  23. The Dream Calls For Blood (Death Angel / The Dream Calls For Blood)
  24. Super Wizard (Ancient Warlocks / ST)
  25. III III III [Götterdämmerung] (Doublestone / Wingmakers)
*** New Song

Outgoing songs:
Necromance (Goya / 777)
Bottomless Lies (Sandveiss / Scream Queen)
To Let Silver (La Chinga / ST)

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Goya – 777 (album review)


Cover artwork by Hunter Hancock.
Few artists have been able to articulate the unnameable dread of horror better than Francisco Goya.  He is perhaps best known for his ‘Black Paintings’, of which “Saturn Devouring His Son” is arguably the most well-known (it even graces The Obsessed’s ‘Lunar Womb’ re-issue album cover).  But my favorite is “The Colossus” (I recognize that the painting has recently been re-attributed in recent years to a follower of Goya’s, but that is also in dispute.  To me, it remains a Goya original).  The painting features an unclothed man looming behind a green landscape in an apparent mood of rage, tiny peasants flee in the foreground.  What the artist shows us so clearly in this work is that horror can be a matter of perspective.  Put the figure in the foreground and the scene changes to what may be a caravan of death heading toward our now defensively postured “giant”.  Phoenix, Arizona based doom trio Goya live in the same world that we all do.  Their perspective, though hardly unique, informs every note, every syllable of their music and it’s apparent that what they see is a melting pot of horrors even the great artist from whom they take their name would struggle to articulate.

The driving force behind the band is guitarist/vocalist Jeff Owens.  The band’s 2012 demo featured an entirely different lineup, aside from Owens himself of course and featured a much different sound.  It’s impossible to escape the Electric Wizard / Sleep influence as it creeps into every crease and fold of ‘777’, something that was merely hinted at on the band’s demo.  To get a sense of the change in sound compare the old lineup demo version and new lineup album version of the song “Blackfire”.  The vision the band articulates so well is that unnameable dread that ultimately looms over every action taken by man, that life is a losing battle at best and utterly hopeless at worst, in short the essence a particularly vitriolic strain of true doom.

Owens and company discharges vitriol like they were born to do so, which I’m sure they were to some degree.  If you did actually bother to compare the two versions of “Blackfire” or “Night Creeps” for that matter, you will see automatically how much dirtier the new versions sound.  The album is of far superior sound quality to the demo, as it should be, so the ‘dirt’ or grit comes from the performances themselves.  I hesitate to call them ‘sloppy’ performances, as little half-millisecond hesitations and deviations make ‘angry’ seem like the more fitting descriptor.  It’s that extra little build-up that makes every strike, every strum, every accent just a half-millisecond stronger, angrier, more meaningful.  It’s dirtier you see, and there’s a tiny little speck of rage in every pinch of dirt, always has been.

Well if something as beautiful as a flower can grow from a pot of dirt, then something as diabolical as ‘777’ can also spring forth from dirt’s raging potentiality.  And make no mistake, this is a malignant album which takes a jaundiced view of the world.  Of course, as any horror fan knows, and as Francisco Goya understood and helped us to understand, there’s beauty to be found in all that evil.  Like a flower which grows from rage, the riffs on ‘777’ are the tits of Baphomet.  The syncopated guitar / drum interplay is undeniably gorgeous, peaking on “Necromance” (a #1 hit on the Doom Chart).  The riffs are of such a quality that a song like “Death’s Approaching Lullaby” remains hypnotic and driving even while stretching towards 13 minutes in length.  Perhaps the magnum opus and overall mission statement of the LP is closing track “Bad Vibes”, it’s the spike after the touchdown, the rotten cherry on top.

If Goya succeeded in reminding us that all living things eventually fade, die and decay, then they have done so by creating something immortal.  ‘777’ may or may not go down as a doom classic, but to call it the most hate-friendly collection of festering riffs since ‘Dopethrone’ may not be too great a stretch, though the band doesn’t disguise it’s influences well enough to consider it a true classic for those with a sense of the genre’s history.  Then again, it doesn’t appear as though they bothered to try disguising anything, because Goya doesn’t care what I think, or what you think, or what anybody thinks.  They aren’t trying to write doomed anthems for the world, they are in it for themselves, and though that may sound selfish, it’s the only reason to do anything in this world, you just have to know who you are and why you’re doing what you’re doing in the first place to have any success at it.  It sounds to me like Goya have those things sorted out.

Highlights include: "Necromance" and "Bad Vibes"

Rating: 4.5/5

Total Run Time: 51:49

From: Phoenix, Arizona

Genre: Doom, Stoner

Reminds me of: Electric Wizard, Sleep

Release Date: December 13, 2013

Goya on facebook

Better Reviews:
Stoner Hive
Vertical Chamber Apparatus
Sleeping Shaman

Monday, 24 February 2014

Conan – Blood Eagle (album review)

Cover artwork by Tony Roberts.
Conan is one of my favorite bands.  When I first discovered doom metal, I did it from the ground floor up, by sampling the bands that made the genre: Trouble, Witchfinder General, Saint Vitus and then Pentagram, before dipping a toe into the churning waters of today’s ceaseless flow of new bands.  Conan was the first of the newer bands that I heard that I thought had the potential to have as lasting a legacy as the greats of yesteryear, to be seen 30 years on the way I see those bands listed above.  It’s destiny etched on a crude, blunt weapon.  In short, Conan are a living legend, or at the very least, one in the making.  Their first album, ‘Monnos’ was very good.  Solid stuff to be sure.  The forthcoming ‘Blood Eagle’ is a king-making kind of album.

‘Blood Eagle’ cuts right down to the heart of Conan’s sound, pulsating, pounding, rumbling and most of all, driving.  A death-dealing barbarian stalking with purpose through the canyon pass, one foot in front of the other, knowing the marauders will ambush but ever-vigilant, meaty hand on hilt.  Vocalist / guitarist Jon Davis pens monosyllabic lyrics with clear, precise and uncomplicated meaning, thinking like a Neolithic warrior.  On ‘Blood Eagle’ the music follows suit.  The results are devastating.  This is the album Conan was meant to produce.  I don’t think it’s unfair to say that the band has lived up to its Full Potential here.

Conan doesn't do anything unfamiliar on 'Blood Eagle', those elements that we’ve come to expect from the band are simply heightened, the band’s instincts sharpened.  Played at full volume, Conan’s buzzing heaviness is at a vision-inducing, religious experience level.  When Phil Coumbe’s bass kicks in two minutes into opening number “Crown of Talons” it is positively brain rattling.  The last minute or so of the nearly 10 minute opener is exactly what I’m talking about.  It’s the closest thing to a physical beat down that music can get, just a relentless wash of hammering strikes.  A tone setter indeed, that sensibility is carried over across the entire album.  ‘Monnos’ was split between driving, war-torn action and battle-weary contemplation.  ‘Blood Eagle’ is a tireless campaign of conquest and decimation.

Conan is a band of musical weapons, the more simplistic, the more brutal, the better.  In Conan’s world, engines of war are elephant powered, armor consists of leather and one’s only shield is the wits a pitiless god has granted them.  You won’t hear any psychedelic soundscapes on this album.  Quiet moments of reflection are what happens when the bone-tired victor takes a sip from a blood-clouded watering hole after battle.  Conan’s weapons are bludgeoning and honest.  “Gravity Chasm” embodies this aesthetic, heavy fuzz spikes between smashing drum strikes.  “Horns for Teeth” chugs masterfully at headbanging pace, choking out the listener with changing tempos, dragging out the final moment, easing up then pressing harder.  The lead single, “Foehammer” introduces a table spoon of rhythmic complexity to the album and at no loss to its overall mood [Watch the video below].

Mention should also be made of Davis’s new Skyhammer Studios.  ‘Blood Eagle’ wasn’t the first album to be recorded at the newborn studio (if memory serves that honor went to Serpent Venom), but this is the first album to emerge from Skyhammer that I've heard.  It sounds excellent, resonant and full-bodied with mastering to match.  Depth is at a surplus making 'Blood Eagle' a 44 series of ever-increasing peaks.

An album like this only comes around once every few years and I suspect it’ll be awhile before we hear one as good, as on-point with a band’s sound as this one is.  Whatever you do, don’t miss ‘Blood Eagle’, it’s a sure-fire classic, the crowning achievement of a world-beating band in stride, one that legends are made of.  It’s a document of a band at one with their instruments with a full understanding of what those instruments are capable of, as mentioned above, this was the album Conan was made to produce.

[Also,while waiting for 'Blood Eagle' to hit stores and mailboxes be sure to check out Conan's bandcamp page for a recently released live album right here.]

Highlights include: "Foehammer" and "Crown of Talons"

Rating: 5/5

1). Crown of Talons (9:48)
2). Total Conquest (6:28)
3). Foehammer (4:55)
4). Gravity Chasm (7:57)
5). Horns for Teeth (5:46)
6). Altar of Grief (9:00)
Total Run Time: 43:52

From: Liverpool, England

Genre: Doom, Sludge

Reminds me of: Aleph Null, Crowbar, Eyehategod, Slomatics

Release Date: March 11, 2014

Conan on facebook

Better Reviews 
The Sludgelord
Sleeping Shaman
Ech(((o)))es & Dust


Sunday, 23 February 2014

Doom Chart: Most Paranoid Albums of 02/23/14

Top 30 Albums
#). artist - album title
  1. Satan's Satyrs - Wild Beyond Belief
  2. *The Electric Revival - Pirate Radio
  3. Demon Eye - Leave the Light
  4. Earth Witch - Earthbound EP
  5. Breathe Fire - EP
  6. Naked Brown - Not So Bad
  7. Vykanthrope - The Devil's Waiting
  8. The Great Electric Quest - Chapter II EP
  9. Blackwitch Pudding - Taste the Pudding
  10. Doctor Cyclops - Oscuropasso
  11. Conan Blood Eagle
  12. Grey Widow - I
  13. Buzzherd - On Sinking Ships ... Rats Drown
  14. Moosataur - ST
  15. Blizaro - Strange Doorways
  16. Destroyer of Light - Bizarre Tales Vol. 2
  17. The Vitasound Projects - American Werewolf in London
  18. Wizard Union - Smoking Coffins
  19. Dirt Wizard - No Son of Mine
  20. Nigromante - Black Magic Night
  21. Aleph Null - Nocturnal***
  22. Dwellers - Pagan Fruit***
  23. Goya - 777
  24. Thothamon - Prophets of Doom
  25. Druglord - Enter Venus***
  26. Cave of Swimmers - ST***
  27. October 31 - The Fire Awaits You***
  28. Rainbows Are Free - Waves Ahead of the Ocean***
  29. Grand Magus - Triumph & Power***
  30. Indian - From All Purity
*Album available on itunes
*** New Listing

PARANOID Spotlight on:
OCTOBER 31 – ‘The Fire Awaits You’
From metal mavens Hell's Headbangers Records comes a re-issue / compilation of a band I would only have dreamed existed when the records first came out.  It's not that I would have understood or respected the band's pedigree (drummer/vocalist King Fowley of Deceased; bassist Jim Hunter of While Heaven Wept & Twisted Tower Dire; guitarist Brian Williams of Overlord), but I could only have imagined pure metal of this caliber existing during its initial release.  This was the late 90's, the day and age of Korn, Limp Bizkit and later Disturbed.  Many of us were forced to get by on this kind of metal, but yearned for a return to the days of early Metallica.  If only I'd have found October 31 back then, how different my life would have been ...

This re-issue combines October 31's 1997 debut album with their 1996 demo and a pair of tribute album cover versions of Iron Maiden ("Public Enema Number One") & Ozzy Osbourne ("I Don' Know").  The true stars of the show here are the first eight tracks which comprise the original 'The Fire Awaits You' album.  The opening trio of which ("The Wizard", "Salem's Curse" and "The Fire Awaits You") is worth the $6.66 price of admission you'll find on the Hell's Headbangers bandcamp page for the digital download, but all 14 songs are worth spinning and once you slap this sucker on you won't feel like stopping midway through.  The 'Voyage to Infinity' demo material isn't as strong vocally or musically, but it hardly matters when themetal isthis sharp.  The horror-themed vocals remind me of Wooden Stake, but the vocals remain consistently clean throughout with a rich Pepper Keenan meets James Hetfield timbre.  

The label simultaneously re-released the band's 1999 released second album 'Meet Thy Maker' (which added rhythm guitarist Kevin Lewis to the mix) along with their 1998 EP 'Visions of the End' and four bonus tracks.  This is metal as it was meant to be, as it should always have been. 

Though the album is just entering the Doom Charts now I've been listening to it for a couple weeks now, it's the kind of thing that won't go away or be forgotten about any time soon.  (On a final note: I found this awesome interview with the band from May 2000, in it, front man King Fowley says so much while saying very little.)

Saturday, 22 February 2014

The Best Vinyl Releases of 2013 (that I own) Pat Harrington - Electric Beard Of Doom

Written by Pat Harrington

So here's my first shot at doing a "Best Of" list, as a result, it comes to you about a month too late and a way too long. I wanted to do something different so I focused on albums that were released on vinyl in 2013. More specifically, I focused on albums that I have on vinyl... therefore, you may find this list to be incomplete, subjective, irrelevant or just a waste of time, this all may be true. 

Frankly, this was also my way of whittling down the field. The good news is that this underground doom/stoner/psych/retro/sludge world (whatever ya wanna call it) unleashed a flurry of excellent music in 2013. There is so much good heavy shit coming out nowadays it is nearly impossible to keep track or keep up. For me to try and cover all that is out there and worth listening to would be an exercise in futility. However, I did include a few albums that have not yet been released on vinyl because they were just too amazing to ignore. 

In addition to focusing on the music contained on these albums, I also evaluated artwork and design. I've become a bit of a vinyl junkie over the last year or so and I believe a big part of that has to do with the fact that so many of the bands and/or labels out there are doing such great work with packaging. Surprisingly, the cutting edge seems to be coming from the DIY labels and independent bands. Come to think of it, that's not surprising at all. Accordingly, I have included photos from the "Bearded Turntable Of Doom" feature on my Facebook/Instagram pages for these albums to help illustrate why they are just so damn cool!

Through my podcast, the Electric Beard Of Doom, I have become exposed to a plethora of great music, great bands... blogs... labels… and people. I am truly grateful to all of you who help make this such a vibrant and important "scene". As a result, I've become more excited about music than I've been in a very long time. Additionally, it's all been hugely inspiring to me as a musician. Every album on this list has affected me as a musician, they've inspired me in more ways than I can really say. 

So to all the bands out there making such great music, I say thank you! This is a labor of love for all of us and together, we are truly making something special! 

Thanks to Lucas and the Paranoid Hitsophrenic for agreeing to host this feature. I've been a contributor to the "Super Doom Charts" since it's inception and Lucas is doing excellent and important work in helping bring all this great music to light. 

Special thanks to Grip Of Delusion Radio and Core Of Destruction Radio for bringing The Beard to the masses! I have been on hiatus for the last few months, but will be back with a brand new episode on Saturday... The Best Of The Beard 2013!

You can check out Electric Beard Of Doom every Saturday...

10AM EST on Core Of Destruction Radio -
5PM EST on Grip Of Delusion Radio - 

You can also listen to any episode, anytime on Mixcloud! 

Finally, thanks to all of you who listen, like, tweet, post, repost, gram or whatever... it is all of you that make all this worth it and I am forever grateful for your continued support.

Enjoy, dig it and get down people!

Top 12 Vinyl Releases (LP’s) – Alphabetical Order

Ancient Warlocks: Ancient Warlocks

This album takes the art of the riff and boils it down to a science. Eight songs deep and clocking in at a mere 33 minutes and change, not a second is wasted and every note, beat and vocal inflection is accounted for. Stoner rock, riff rock, whatever you wanna call it, these guys have fashioned a perfect representation of the best underground heavy music has to offer. At the same time, the precision in the way the songs are crafted and executed sets them apart from many of their “stoner rock” brethren. In addition, Superwizard is one of the best songs of the year.

Album Design:
This is only the second release from Lay Bare Recordings (distributed by Burning World Records) and they are already making their mark for the quality of their releases and artistic vision. Simple black and white, hand numbered, reverseboard jacket and a gatefold with an excellent color depiction of an Ancient Warlock by Adam Burke, this album jacket is simple but bold. The two tone (black and white) side A and Side B reverse smoke thingy vinyl (i’m trying people!) completes what is and excellent all around artistic expression. Without a doubt one of the best albums of the year visually as well as musically.

Borracho: Oculus

Borracho also bring precision to their songcraft, although they do it for much longer periods of time. Believers of slow, menacing, monolithic riffs, the songs of Oculus take their time to sink in. Enough time to let one wallow in the fantastic fuzzy tone of the guitars, the wonderfully stoney grooves along with the thunderous low-end that they are becoming known for. Now a three piece, Borracho bring a laser focus to Oculus and the result is five songs filled with knuckledraggin’ riffs and some of the best grooves around! Devoid of spooky stuff, overt drug references and bullshit, Oculus is workingman's rock and it’s some of the best music this year has to offer!

Album Design:
Technically (and unbelievably) an independent release, Oculus is distributed through No Balls Records, Strange Magic Records and AM Records. Depending on which release you buy, the color of the vinyl is different for each label. I have the Strange Magic version, which comes with transparent blue/green vinyl. Fitting, as it makes it look like a big eye. The jacket is hand numbered and designed by the bassist Tim (I think) and the artwork is very cool indeed. All in all, Borracho’s no frills approach is very effective and old school, much like the band themselves. Labels need to take note of Borracho immediately!

Brutus: Behind The Mountains

Music: Review originally appeared in the September 1st Super Doom Charts at the Paranoid Hitsophrenic

Great guitar tones, great blues riffs, good time rock in roll!  This album sounds great too, one of the best sounding albums of all the retro-Scandinavian-type bands out there... Listening to the song "Reflections", the guitar tone is immaculate!  Jimmy Page would be proud to put out an album that sounds this good!

This album is retro rock for the regular guy! I dig bands that don't take themselves too seriously and Brutus are self aware enough to know that they are the big silly bastard on the bus.  Even though much of the lyrics are (kind of) dark, there is an air of goofiness that weaves it's way through the album.  They stay away from a lot of the trappings that many of the recent flock of retro-occulty bands get stuck in.  There's even a song about dudes big ass square headed dog!  This makes Brutus a breath of fresh air among a genre that is in danger of becoming a cliche of itself.

I want to hang out with these guys.  I want to drink multitudes of beer with them.  I want to prowl the cobblestone streets of Northern Europe with Brutus late at night, get stoned out of my mind and eat pizza with salami on it while wiping the grease on my already dirty denim vest with the sick Brutus patch on the back.

Yeah I do ... 

Album Design: Not sure which pressing I got or how many there are, but it’s on Svart Records. A reverseboard jacket displays incredible artwork by Maarten Donders. Donders has a way of creating alternate universes with his cover design that is both beautiful and trippy as hell! The gatefold features a black and white photo of the bands gear and set-up. For us gearheads, it might as well be a centerfold! An Orange rack, Marshall thighs and an ass by Acoustic! An insert is also included, complete with lyrics and a collage of road/studio/silly band photos. Rounding out the classic feel to this classic album is 180 grams of pure black, shiny vinyl. Dig in!

Egypt: Become The Sun

Music: Man, I fuckin love Egypt. From the first notes of the first riff of the first song Matterhorn, I fuckin fell in love with Egypt. This is not only one of the best albums of the year, it may be one of the best heavy rock albums ever! Everything about this album totally rules. The production, guitar work and overall sound that Neal Stein brings to the table, the steady, laid back (yet thunderous) grooves of Chad Heille or the shear power and presence that is Aaron Esterby, Egypt brings riffs upon riffs upon riffs! I always found the name of the band curious, especially considering the fact that they are from Fargo, ND. Then it occurred to me that Egypt, with it’s arid, hot climate, endless deserts and ancient culture is about as far away from North Dakota as one can get... maybe that’s the whole point. Become The Sun has a way of taking the listener on a journey, a journey I’ve taken dozens of times over the last year. Each time, I always find something new, something that makes the journey better than it was before. Is there a higher compliment to give an album?

Album Design: This double LP, released on Doomentia Records, was a limited run of 500 units and is sold out. 100 were made with gold vinyl, which is the one I have. The cover art is a brilliant, blistering design by Brian Koschak and nicely complimented with gatefold artwork by Mistelle Stein. So fitting to the title and the music, the sun burns the travelers alive as these songs sear to our brains. Definitely one of the finest and most completely designed and packaged releases of the year, stunning in every way.

In The Company Of Serpents: Of The Flock

Music: Everyone seemed to be waiting on this one, and it’s release on Halloween proved to be quite fitting. Yes, that almost seems trite when it comes to this kind of music, but there is a menacing undercurrent to ITCOS that makes them seem more authentic than most. The album is more bombastic than the last, but it’s also blusier. If their first album sounded as if it was recorded in the back of a closet, Of The Flock sounds like it was recorded on the top of a mountain, also a fitting image for the Doom Duo from Denver. Makes sense, as it was mixed and mastered by Billy Anderson. The baritone guitar of Grant Netzorg is much more dynamic this time around, the bombastic blast beats of Joseph Weller Myer also bring a different dynamic to their sound. First time I listened to this album, I listened to it three times in a row. It’s definitely sludgier than most of the stuff I dig on these days, but there is something about this album that I just can’t leave it alone for long. Like walking into a dark woods on a moonless night, you fear what’s in there, but something keeps drawing you in. This album gets me hooked every time.

Album Design: Black and white are the only colors you’ll find here. This independent release (standard version) outdoes most of the major label “Die Hard” releases I’ve seen this year! As described on their Bandcamp page, “Limited edition virgin vinyl pressing on clouded black/white vinyl. Artwork by Mike Lawrence Illustration. The album and sleeve will come in a custom black-on-black envelope hand sealed with signet wax.” The album also comes with an insert complete with lyrics and liner notes. The design of this album perfectly represents the music that comes out of the speakers and it’s all disturbingly beautiful.

Kadavar; Abra Kadavar

Music: It took me a minute with this album. Frankly it kinda freaked me out at first. The opening track Come Back Life, drew me in right away. I mean how could it not? I’ll be humming that guitar line to my grave. What freaked me out was, first of all, there ain’t an overdub on this whole song! Then, in the middle of a dramatic guitar solo crescendo, there’s a big ole clam left hangin out there for all to hear! Who the fuck does that?!? It’s the first song on the album... the single! It’s not a wrong note, it was just picked in a way that it came out sideways. As a guitar player, as a songwriter and as a producer, this drove me friggin nuts! Right there is what Kadavar is all about, their albums are how they sound... that’s it! I had the chance to see them live and they were one of the best live bands I’ve seen in a very long time, nicest dudes too! Kadavar is the real deal, don’t let their magical clothes, long beards and major label deal fool ya, they are one of the best rock and roll bands out there and they prove it every night they hit the stage!

Album Design: Released on Nuclear Blast Records, There are probably numerous pressings with many variations. A simple cover with a photo of the band, the design of the album is very understated. A sepia feel throughout that includes a gatefold with a photo of a skull with some feathers ‘n stuff, the fun part of this album is the vinyl itself! I believe the color was marketed as “beer splatter” and it sure does look fun when it spins around, like the head of a fine German beer rising to the surface.

Monomyth: Monomyth

Music: Review originally appeared in the December 1st Super Doom Charts at the Paranoid Hitsophrenic

Monomyth’s self-titled debut is a creeper. While some releases start high on the doom charts and quickly disappear, Monomyth has been steadily crawling it’s way up the charts for going on 4 months now. I recently got the LP from Roadburn/Burning World Records (check the incredible artwork from Maarten Donders) and even though I personally have been recommending this album to anyone who would listen since September, I still can’t listen to it enough. It’s instrumental “groove rock” to the highest order (you see what I did there); the best of the good ole (pre-Dark Side) Pink Floyd mixed with a heavy dose of stoney fuzz to keep ‘em honest. It is without a doubt one of the best albums of the year and has changed the way I look at/listen to/think about instrumental rock music... a game changer indeed.

Album Design: Quite possibly the best album design of the year, the artwork by Maarten Donders is absolutely incredible! The world he creates on this album jacket is somehow exactly how I envision this music. An alien world, beautiful yet haunting, industrial yet natural, yet you feel like you can just sit right in the middle of it and have a cup of coffee. Speaking of natural, you can see the goddamn pencil marks where he erased mistakes! The imperfections of the piece only add to the wonderment of the art itself. A double LP in gold vinyl, I will treasure this album for a very long time.

Mothership: Mothership

Music: Mothership is another album that took a minute to grow on me. Maybe I just wasn’t listening to it with the right ears, maybe I was into other shit at the time, maybe it was my thrash/hardcore upbringing that at times makes me very suspicious of good time rock n roll. Initially, the sound of the album kept bringing me back. Produced, recorded and mixed by Kent Stump (Wo Fat), you’d be hard pressed to find a better sounding album this year. Then I realized what an incredible guitar player Kelley Juett is! A technician for sure, however his playing is all soul and none of the science that usually turns me off the guitar hero types. He’s one of the best out there. Backed up by as solid a rhythm section as you’ll ever find with Judge Smith on drums and fronted by brother, Kyle (bass, vocals), Mothership is the classic Texas-sized power trio! Part ZZ Top, part Pantera, these Dallas boys are “here to stay”! I also had the pleasure of seeing them live at St Vitus Bar in Brooklyn and had a good hang as well. They were incredible live! Heavier than expected and true to their road-dog pedigree, they were total pros on and off the stage as well as fine Texas gentlemen. Very excited to see what’s next for the Mothership, I’m up for the ride!

Album Design: Released on Ripple Music, I have the second pressing which comes with dark purple semi-transparent vinyl. Artwork and layout by Shelby Hohl, the cover is very reminiscent of them great old 70’s rock albums that your cool uncle used to come over and roll joints on. Also included, a band poster insert... 1978 indeed!

Orchid: Mouths Of Madness

Music: Review originally appeared in the June Super Doom Charts at the Paranoid Hitsophrenic

So forget about the comparisons and controversies surrounding Orchid. Are they derivative? Yes. Do they sound dangerously close to the “band-that-cannot-be-named”? Yes.

So what?

Here’s the thing about Mouths Of Madness...
The songs are great. The songwriting is great. The performances are great. The sound of the album is great. It sounds like it was recorded in 1973! This is the kind of shit that made me fall in love with hard rock/heavy metal! Orchid somehow makes me feel like I did the first time I heard “Master Of Reality”.

Based on it’s own merits, this album kicks ass on virtually every level, for my money, that’s all you need to know.


Album Design: One of the initial pressings, the double LP is dark purple with a black haze in the middle. Side 4 is blank and sports an etching of the classic Orchid skull logo... very cool! The gatefold contains artwork by singer Theo Mindell. The cover is reminiscent of the old Sabbath albums in that it feels like it was made by a graphic designer as opposed to an artist, very simple. The sleeves also include all the lyrics, so this is the kind of album you can dig in and experience it visually and audibly at the same time.

Shooting Guns: Brotherhood Of The Ram

Music: I think the Monomyth album and Shooting Guns’ Brotherhood Of The Ram will always be linked in my brain. Mainly because they came out around the same time and are both instrumental “groove rock” bands, but they also have other similarities. Unlike some other instrumental bands like Earthless and It’s Not Night: It’s Space, who rely heavily on performance based improvisation, Shooting Guns are a more exacting bunch, borrowing as much from the repetitive nature of Krautrock as anything else.

Side A takes you on a ride of fuzzy riffs, heavy grooves and fast paced rock; while Side B, almost schizophrenically, flips into two of the coolest, mellow, stoney jams this dude has ever had the pleasure of zoning out to. Throw in the chaotic finish that is No Fans, and voila! a masterpiece is born!

Easyrider Records seems to pluck these obscure acts out of the ether, in my mind Shooting Guns may be the best one yet! Although, I did just start diggin’ on Salem’s Pot....

PS: If John Carpenter and Kurt Russell ever get together to make another movie, Brotherhood Of The Ram should be the soundtrack. Actually, they should make a movie based on this album... now THAT would be cool!

Album Design: Released (distributed?) on Easyrider Records, the “Standard Edition” came with a clear vinyl LP. A dark photo of a lone truck outrunning a storm dons the front and back covers and the insert brings more truck related graphics. One must listen to understand how perfectly this fits with the accompanying musical journey. A very cinematic release on all fronts!

Spelljammer: Vol. II

Music: Proper fuckin Swedish Doom man! Slow, spacey and slightly evil, these guys actually seem too stoned to be scary. The riffs are outta sight! The fuzz is all encompassing! This is the kinda stuff that makes you wanna lay in the floor and sink in the ground like Obi Wan Kenobi in Trainspotting. Seriously, I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s nameless.. it’s faceless... it’s always been there... it will always be there... the sound of a collapsing star... the hum of a black hole... your mind is bending and your soul weeps. Fuckin Spelljammer man!

Album Design: Released on STB Records, “This is a limited edition to the already limited pressing of Spelljammer's Vol II. The Die Hard Edition will boast the standard edition vinyl record and gritty reverse board jacket as well as an extra special hand screened, hand numbered silver mirror card cover all packed inside another hand screened tinted mylar bag for the ultimate "end of time space" package!!” My first Die Hard Edition from STB, I absolutely love what they’re doing with their releases. This album set a precedent that continues today as STB has a way of raising the bar with every new release.

Yes my band Geezer will be releasing an album on STB in 2014... Yes I’m biased... No I don’t care if you think that’s unfair... It’s my Beard Of Doom, I can do what I want!

Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats: Mind Control

Music: The riffs of Black Sabbath, the vocal arrangements of The Beatles, the lyrics of Charles Manson and cinematography by Russ Meyer. These comparisons are oversimplifications and may even be off the mark, however, you get my point. There is almost something romantic about Uncle Acid’s evil; it’s the kind of evil that will lure you up a mountaintop, make you spend 40 days in the desert and ultimately entice you to kill at the very utterance of the word. Evil Love, as the song proclaims. This album has been on many a “Best Of” list this year and rightly deserved. It may be the best album of the year!

Album Design: As amazing as this this album is, the design is also fantastic and gives Monomyth a run for their money as the very best. Released on Rise Above Records, the double LP came with many vinyl color options. I opted for the opaque silver 180 gram vinyl that feels thicker than most. Inside the gatefold, the lyrics are meticulously handwritten to visually capture the essence of each song. Every photo, every drawing, every ounce of this album contains a clue into the overall concept. I don’t go for concept albums much, but this one can be made into a film that would be much friggin better than that Sgt. Peppers movie with The BeeGees! Unless of course, they try and do Uncle Acid, starring One Direction! Ok, that’s it... time for me to go, I’ve done enough damage here.

PS: I think getting killed by Uncle Acid could be pretty cool, I guess that’s the point.

Best Vinyl Ep’s

Black Pussy / biblical proof of UFO’s: Galaxies Split

Music: One riff, one melody, 22 minutes...

I just can’t say enough about the epic transcendence that is the song Galaxies. Actually, I don’t think I know the words to describe how it has affected me. This is the kind of musical experience that I’m looking for, this is why I dig this “genre” of music, this is why I do what I do!

To break the song down into it’s parts does a disservice to the song, the band and the listener. Take the riff by itself, very basic. The melody, not much there. The lyrics, nothing mindblowing... but put them all together... put them together man and you have one of the most brilliant pieces of music to come out this year! I had the pleasure of discussing writing and recording techniques with the brain behind Black Pussy, Dustin Hill. He told me that when the band writes, they write at full volume; the tones of the instruments, the sound of the amplifiers, the dynamics of the drums... these are the things that dictate the direction of the songs. Nowhere is this more apparent than with Galaxies because it could never happen any other way. Additionally, it’s got my vote for best song of the year.

Orbitals (I, II, III) by biblical proof of UFO’s holds up pretty damn well in it’s own right. An almost spaghetti western riff starts us off, which also reminds me of Echoes, by Pink Floyd. A slow build until we change into the double time crush of chaos and we’re off! The fun keeps up for 18+ minutes and these guys definitely hold up their end of the deal. I will seek out more from these guys.

Album Design: A pressing of 500 released on Made In China Records and only available in shiny black 180 gram vinyl (and still available!). No fancy stuff here. Basic. Old School. Cool.

It’s full of stars.

DoctoR DooM: DoomO

Music: Tons of retro shit came out this year, a lot of the occult-y type stuff too. The offspring of bands like Witchcraft, Graveyard and the more distant relatives of bands like Coven. A lot of it is cool, but I can only take so much of the Dungeons & Dragons shit before I wanna start stabbing people in the throat with a pencil.

Doctor Doom is different.

Once I heard the upstroke-blues-John-Lee-Hooker-riff in The Sun I knew I was gonna like these French doom mavens. Even though they are beholden to some of these dark motifs, they aren’t afraid to have fun. This is what sets their music apart from the rest. Not to mention some seriously excellent guitar work. Only three songs deep, this EP definitely leaves me wanting more and I look forward to see what these dudes do next!

Album Design: One cannot discuss this album without talking about the vinyl release from STB Records. Limited to 100 copies, 40 of which were Die Hard Editions, from a design perspective, there was not a better album released this year. No labels, no cover, all clear vinyl, the sleeve is hand stamped with the STB Records logo and hand numbered. According to the website, “Clear Vinyl, ‘A’ side only, no labels. Glow in the dark ink, hand screened ‘B’ side. Inserted into a high quality glow in the dark ink, hand screened, hand numbered, picture disk clear sleeve.... Custom "Coven Tribute" art work by the great Barla Horn”. The Standard Edition was the same, sans the glow in the dark ink, which was replaced with basic black. I couldn’t believe my eyes when it showed up at my door. I may not be the most avid vinyl collector and I certainly won’t pretend to know everything about the scope of the product out there, but to me, it is the coolest fuckin record I’ve ever seen.

Salem’s Pot: Sweeden

Music: Yeah man, Salem’s Pot... get into it! Fuckin late night horror movie shit. Get high, get slow, fuzz out, flip out! Bring your fuzziest pedal, your gnarliest delay and your loudest amps... set up in an abandoned insane asylum and freak the fuck out! This is the kind of music that reminds me of what it was like when I just wanted to go out into the night, get fucked up and wreak havoc! Wake up face down in the street with a cops boot on your back and a gun to your head... work your way outta that shit... or don’t!

Those days are long gone for me now, but it’s nice to know that when I get the itch and the family is all tucked away in their midnight slumber, I can still break out the Salem’s Pot and get fuckin twisted... nihilistically evil!

Album Design: Released on Easyrider Records, Sweeden is one song, 2 parts over 35 minutes on deep orange or purple vinyl (I got the orange), the Standard Edition is still available but the Die Hard Edition is long gone. The Die Hard Edition came complete with 3D glasses and was a bona fide 3D release! How fucking cool is that?!?

I boast a lot about STB Records, but Easyrider is right there as well, raising the bar and redefining what is possible when it comes to releasing independent records. As far as creativity and artistic value, STB and Easyrider are the cutting edge!

Steak: Corned Beef Colossus

Music: Coned Beef Colossus hits ya with a sledgehammer (Glanshammar?) right off the bat with the one two punch that is Black Milk and Liquid Gold. The impact of the opening riff is instant and immediate and it continues for the extent of the EP. We know this sound, it’s a familiar taste... but this time it’s different... stronger, more powerful, even more addictive than it was before. Recorded in Sweden with and at Truckfighters studio in Örebro, the production quality has been taken up multiple notches and the end result is a better Steak, thicker and juicier! I just can’t seem to get through a sentence without trying to make some corny (corned beef?) reference to the obvious puns flying all around this EP...

Anyway, all kidding aside, this EP bleeds riffs, sweats fuzz and is an all around good time. This is a concept album, a follow up to their first EP Disastronaught, where Steak are fighting intergalactic battles to save us from the evil slave baron, Lazarus. The drummer even dies (gets replaced)! It’s right there in the gatefold comic. This band could deliver its music in a brown paper bag, it would still fuckin rule!

Somewhere along the way, the sounds of the desert brought the sand to far away places like Sweden, where the fuzz seems to rise out of the ground like a dewy moss in springtime. This time, from the sweaty backroom of the Crobar, Steak are building their own desert rock oasis right in the heart of London.

Album Design: Both EP’s were released this year on vinyl through their new label, Napalm Records. Corned Beef Colossus comes in a transparent red and is limited to 100 copies. The gatefold opens to reveal the latest installment of the comic epic that is the story of Steak. They even introduce the new drummer in the last frame. The artwork on both EP’s, done by Eduardo Ferigato, is absolutely stunning and make this album set one of the must haves of the year!

Wo Fat / Egypt: Cyclopean Riffs

Music: The first time I put this album on the turntable, there was a hailstorm... no shit! Ain’t like I live in the Great Plains either, I live in the fuckin Catskill Mountains! The name Cyclopean Riffs is a fitting title for this split because both bands crank out monster riffage, brutal fuzz and crank up the EPIC knob to 11.

Anyone who listens to The Beard knows how much I dig on Wo Fat and I professed my admiration for Egypt just a few paragraphs ago. When I heard that these two were getting together for a split, I thanked the Cyclopean Gods for bringing such good graces upon my clan. This album is almost like a victory lap for both bands. With Wo Fat coming off their amazing album The Black Code (2012) and Egypt still drowning in ink from all the great reviews for their release Become The Sun, both bands seem to be brimming with a confidence that allows them to go for broke with these tunes. The results speak for themselves; it brings a fucking hailstorm upon your house!

What else can I say, shut your windows, lock your doors and put the car in the garage, it’s time to wrestle with the Cyclops... and that motherfucker is pissed off! The vinyl is long gone, but you can find the tunes on both bands Bandcamp pages.

Album Design: Released on double grey transparent/opaque vinyl through Totem Cat Records, Cyclopean Riffs is as stunning to the eyes as it is to the ears. Boasting incredibly insidious artwork by Flog Diver, it’s got the kind of cover you can get lost in for the full 40 minutes. Where some splits naturally tend to be schizophrenic in either sound or design, this is one of the most cohesive presentations I’ve seen.

Honorable Mention (Non-Vinyl Releases)

All Them Witches: Lightning At The Door

Fuckin stoned-out-heavy-desert-psych-blues man, dig it!

All Them Witches beckon us to a gathering... a moment suspended in time... a shared experience. A Funeral... a Wedding... life... death... God Bless our Mother the Mountain! Some of the sickest straight blues intertwined with molten desert fuzz and drenched in window pane acid that stares into the very depths of our souls.

I know next to nothing about All Them Witches, but I do know I need to see them live. I want to hear this music firsthand, to experience the vibes, to feel the heavy bass-laden air rumble against my chest and feel the razor sharp slide guitar pierce my eardrums. This album ain’t about putting a few songs together, it’s about creating an experience through music and these guys do it... they do it their way and they do it better than anyone else right now.

The musicianship on this album is astounding, the depth of the songwriting awe inspiring. It’s proper drug music... it’s American music... it’s fuckin heavy as hell and as sweet as sugar.

I can’t seem to form a complete thought when trying to describe this album... it’s all random non sequitur. The album itself at first seemed as such, incomplete musical ideas strung together on a whim. However, once it grabbed hold the intentions became clear. This was a storytelling, a beginning to an end... it’s linear, not cyclical.. and it doesn’t always move in chronological order. But when you get to the end, the understanding is there. Much like that window pane acid, you’ve now opened a new door of perception and there’s Lightning At The Door.

Curse The Son: Psychache

Review originally appeared in the October 1st Super Doom Charts at the Paranoid Hitsophrenic

First it was the album cover that creeped me out, then the tone of the guitars freaked me out. By the time the first verse was over I was already sold.

After living with the menacing stoner/doom that is Curse The Son’s Psychache for a few months now, I still go back to it often. It still kinda creeps me out when I listen to it while walking my dog late at night. I’ve even looked over my shoulder a few times to make sure that little bastard from the cover isn’t sneaking up on me to bludgeon my skull.

Some albums grab people’s attention based on aesthetic alone. Psychache definitely turned heads through the high production value and overall package... rightfully so!
However, the only reason we’re still talking about it all this time later is because the songs fuckin rule! They stand out on their own, they hold up over time and those riffs are still ringing endlessly in our brains.

Recently it was announced that Psychache is going to be released on vinyl though STB Records... considering the power of this album and the stellar reputation STB is gaining for the quality of their vinyl packages and Die Hard Editions; I, for one, can’t wait to see and hear this album reach it’s full potential. The best is yet to come for Curse The Son, enjoy the ride folks!

Gozu: The Fury Of A Patient Man

Review originally appeared in the Best Albums of 2013: Super Doom Charts at the Paranoid Hitsophrenic

When it comes to Gozu, expect the unexpected...

I got The Fury Of A Patient Man the day Small Stone Records released it on Bandcamp. A huge fan of their SS debut, Locust Season, I was expecting more of them heavy, booty shaking grooves and sweet soulful serenades by the incomparable Marc Gaffney.

Then I heard Bald Bull...

Heavy as fuck, more in line with High On Fire than QOTSA, Gozu proved right away that they are more than a one trick pony. We quickly get back to those great grooves with Signed, Epstein’s Mom, but the speed comes back with a vengeance with Charles Bronson Pinchot. On and on it goes...

This album has it all, this band has it all. I’ve seen them live, they are heavier than you could ever imagine. Now with the addition of a third guitar, I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us. This album came out in April; I still go back to it on the regular and eagerly await the release on vinyl, which will include 3 bonus tracks!

Whether it’s the irreverent song titles, the incredibly diverse musical elements that formulate their sound, the surprisingly insightful lyrics of Marc Gaffney or the fretboard mastery of Doug Sherman, when it comes to Gozu, expect the unexpected. In fact, only one thing is certain, Gozu kicks ass... every time!

Sasquatch: IV

When I stumbled upon the Small Stone Records Bandcamp page, one of the first bands to jump out at me was Sasquatch. The first album I checked out was II, bought it right away... then III...

To say that I was looking forward to IV would be an understatement, Sasquatch is one of the underground “stoner” bands that baffles my mind... how the hell are these guys not on every rock radio station in the country!?!? The songs are infectious, the tones are pure grit and Keith Gibbs voice is as good as anybody out there! Think of your favorite rock n roll singer... Gibbs is just as good... maybe better. The songs on this album are heavy, but still sexy enough for the broads to enjoy. However, there’s an attitude running through this album that maybe we haven’t seen so consistently before. This album seems to get better as it goes, every song bringing that Sasquatch sound to another level of brilliance. From start to finish, one of the finest releases of the year. Not a bad tune in the bunch. As the emotional climax and finale that is Drawing Flies comes and goes, we can’t believe it’s over... what the fuck happened?!? Put that back! Play that again, man... shit!

And oh yah, Money is not only one of the best songs of the year, it’s got one of the best riffs/grooves ever... period.

(the) Melvins: Tres Cabrones

Ok maybe this isn’t technically the right order alphabetically, but what better place to end than with the latest offering from the mighty, MIGHTY MELVINS! Now while it is true that I am a loyal subject of King Buzzo and Company and I would never speak ill of the Gods Of All That Is Heavy, I was really surprised with how great (yes great) this album is.

With some of the best songs the Melvins have released in years, this album almost harkens back to a bygone era. A stripped down sound, and perhaps a more straight forward approach due to the fact that original drummer Mike Dillard is behind the drums, it’s almost reminiscent of the early 2000’s line-up that brought us albums like Maggot and Hostile Ambient Takeover. The other big difference is Buzz is back to being the only singer, more or less, and although I LOVE the Big Business line-up complete with 4 man vocal parts, it’s refreshing to hear Buzz’s lone voice again, his lyrics and inflections as vicious ever.

I was also pessimistic when I saw the tracklist include songs like Tie My Pecker To A Tree and 99 Bottles Of Beer, but despite the silliness this album still flows incredibly well. These tunes are often short and well crafted so the comic relief actually becomes a welcome change of pace as opposed to a tedious exercise in tolerance. There are many excellent songs on this album and it boasts one of the finest 3 song intros of the year, but the shining, brilliant nugget of light has got to be Dogs And Cattle Prods. Clocking in at just under 9 minutes and broken up in 3 sections, each section is pretty much a different version of the same song. From the initial bass-line groove to the half time breakdown riff to the emotional acoustic interlude (acoustic?!?), this song takes us to many places, each one cooler than the last. The vocals are quintessential Buzz, where the rhythm and cadence of the words outweigh the words themselves.... one of the best songs of the year people! Fuck it man, I could go on and on, just go listen to the thing... it’s amazing!
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