Wednesday, 26 April 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Cowardice - "Without Condolence"

By: Stephen Murray

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 29/12/2016
Label: Independent

the sound is relatable and as tender as a fingernail wrenched from its bed. It drifts between aching sadness and violent bouts of self-disgust. This stratum of emotional, chemical and physical self-destruction is the calling card of genuine, heartfelt sludge, and “Without Condolence” is definite rap on the door.

“Without Condolence” CS//CD//DD track listing:

1). No Sovereignty
2). The Tearing Down
3). Synthetic Edens in a Crippled Will
4). I Yield My Prayers
5). Eroding Ethos
6). Lower Tiers of Life

The Review:

I missed the release of “Without Condolence” at the end of last year. Cowardice is not a name I have seen about too much, either, but it should be. Somewhere between the despairing chug of Arizona’s gone-but-not-forgotten Wellington and the searing angst of His Hero Is Gone, this debut is the collective effort of some New Jersey scene regulars. It was recorded last summer and it moves like a soot crusted diesel-electric freight train leaking oil and coughing a dark brown carcinogenic fume.

The drumming is a thing of beauty. It slinks and slouches; explodes, shimmers and tinkles. The vocals have that clawing desperation that perfectly exploits the emotional weight of the music which sways between melancholic, gritty, picked melodies and fully blown out chords as evil as pitch-shifted black metal. The whole tone of the album is so well judged that the acoustic number sandwiched in the centre doesn’t feel like a break from it but rather it attacks the target from a fresh vantage.

The overall recording reminds me of those classic 90s underground bands and I absolutely adore it. It sounds like it was taped off a friend’s record player and has a scratchy quality like the back of your throat right before a heavy cold. This record is as grimy as it gets, but in the moments when the guitar is cleaner, peeling back the layers to reveal the bedrock of reverb, guitar buzz and snare rattle, I get an intoxicating whiff of a becalmed Dystopia, which is a perfect invocation for any sludge band.

This isn’t the NOLA sludge sound we rightly love. This apple falls on the other side of the tree. The melodies are not so indebted to delta blues. Nor would I say they are forbidding in the way you would expect doom to be. Instead the sound is relatable and as tender as a fingernail wrenched from its bed. It drifts between aching sadness and violent bouts of self-disgust. This stratum of emotional, chemical and physical self-destruction is the calling card of genuine, heartfelt sludge, and “Without Condolence” is definite rap on the door.

“Without Condolence” is available on all formats here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

ALBUM REVIEW: Aathma - "Avesta"

By: Jack Taylor

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 20/01/2017
Label: Underground Legends Records,
Sacramento Records, Odio Sonoro,
Cosmic Tentacles, The Braves Records,
Lengua Armada, VZQ, Avestan Scriptures,
Aladeriva Records (only CD), Violence in the veins (only CD)

Wonderfully straddling the line between a live and studio sound, thanks to the efforts of producer Carlos Santos and the unfailingly excellent mastering work of the ever-prolific James Plotkin, ‘Avesta’ sounds absolutely mighty.  A must-listen for fans of Yob, Baroness, Mastodon and anyone interested in ambitious stoner-sludge metal.

“Avesta” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). Mah
2). Mithra
3). Atash
4). Ken Za
5). Hvare
6). Aban

The Review:

‘Avesta’ is Aathma’s first full-length since two-thirds of the line-up changed in the period between their last album, ‘Decline…Towers of Silence’ and the ‘Deadly Lake’ EP. As I considered the latter to be one of the band’s finest efforts to date, I was keenly anticipating the release of ‘Avesta’. I’m happy to say I wasn’t disappointed at all.

The first thing which strikes you about this album is its wonderful blend of sheer sonic power and finesse. Wonderfully straddling the line between a live and studio sound, thanks to the efforts of producer Carlos Santos and the unfailingly excellent mastering work of the ever-prolific James Plotkin, ‘Avesta’ sounds absolutely mighty.

And what about the songs then? Well it’s another strong collection from this Madridian trio, seven excellent songs that stand up to anything in their back catalogue. Frontman Juan Dominguez gives Yob’s Mike Scheidt a run for his money with his excellent varied vocal delivery and stellar guitar work, particularly on the opener “Mah’, while ‘Mithra’ is another stunning track. “Ken-Za” is a devastating cosmic jam resembling Ufomammut at their finest, which segues into “Hvare”, one of the band’s more straightforward pieces which features a satisfying singalong chorus of sorts. The closer, “Aban”, traverses a great deal of sonic terrain over the course of twelve minutes – another stellar epic to fit snugly into the Aathma back catalogue in the mould of ‘Red Storm (Decline of a Breed’ and ‘A Thousand Nails’.

As previously mentioned, aside from singer/guitarist Juan, the other band members were making their debuts on an Aathma full length. They make their presence know, with Mario González’s bass work and Alex Porras’s drumming performances being top-notch throughout. As a result, Aathma sound much more mature and confident than on their debut, ‘The Call of Shivá’, which was released back in 2009.

With ‘Avesta’, Aathma have released one of my favourite releases of 2017 so far. A must-listen for fans of the aforementioned Yob, Baroness, Mastodon and anyone interested in ambitious stoner-sludge metal. 

‘Avesta’ is available in all formats here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

ALBUM REVIEW - Necrowretch - "Satanic Slavery"

By: Conor O’Dea

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 14/04/2017
Label: Season of Mist
For something so embedded with crust, rust and cadaverous unmentionables, it is an incredibly refreshing, riff-dense monster of an album, almost ebullient in its putrid malevolence.

“Satanic Slavery” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1.Sprawl of Sin
2.Tredeciman Blackfire
3.Satanic Slavery
4.Evil Names
5.Hellspawn Pyre
6.Bestial Rites
7.Curse of Blasphemy
8.Verses from the Depths

The Review:

There's rigor mortis. There's decay. There's profound deliquescence. And then there's Necrowretch. “Satanic Slavery” is the third full length for these French madmen, and the old school approach to death metal here is almost ancestral in its atavism. While there are some Gallic contemporaries kicking out similar barbarisms, like Venefixion, and while there are obvious comparisons to Angelcorpse and Incantation, what really gets me charged up about this album is how much, for me, it evokes early Sadus and, to a lesser extent, Morbid Saint. I'm talking “Certain Death” era Sadus here. It's in the spastic energy. It's in the unhinged nature of the vocals. It is in the fact that the music feels ever so slightly 'dangerous' in that classic 'if you are a false, do not entry' way.

I'm at a bit of loss to really identify highlights as the album is pretty relentlessly excellent. Songs that really stand out for me in terms of brutally catchy hooks would be “Tredeciman Blackfire”, the title track and the closer, “Verses from the Depths”. However, the real standout factors for me are the decipherability of the thick bass, amazing runs like the Annihilator evocative riff midway through “Sprawl of Sin”, and the reverb-soaked vocals. This album is immensely enjoyable, almost ebullient in its putrid malevolence.

This corpse is filthy and moving indefatigably and relentlessly under its rotten machinery. For something so embedded with crust, rust and cadaverous unmentionables, it is an incredibly refreshing, riff-dense monster of an album. Who would have thought such a breath of fresh air would have come from the tomb? Elegantly and savagely decomposed.

“Satanic Slavery” is available here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

ALBUM REVIEW: Causa Sui - "Live in Copenhagen"

By: Victor Van Ommen

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 17/03/2017
Label: El Paraiso Records

“Live in Copenhagen” CD//DD//LP track listing:


01 Rip Tide 6:38
02 The Source 4:42
03 The Juice 8:53
04 Mondo Buzzo 8:35
05 Dawn Passage 9:48 *
06 Eugenie 8:00
07 Ju-Ju Blues 10:45

Dragens Hule pt. 1

01 Eternal Flow 13:01
02 El Paraiso 12:20
03 Mireille 7:39
04 Portixeddu / Tropic Of Capricorn 15:22

Dragens Hule pt. 2

01 First Communication 6:30 (Agitation Free)
02 Homage 9:28
03 Red Valley 10:13
04 Euporie 11:58 *
05 A Love Supreme 16:47 (John Coltrane)

The Review:

Well, here we are, weeks after having received Causa Sui’s live triple-LP set, “Live in Copenhagen,” for review. The album’s release date has come and gone, the limited edition release was sold out during presales. Yet still, here we are, without having reviewed the album. It’s therefore understandable if you – like me – are asking yourself, what’s taking so long for that review? Well, here you go.

At three discs long, Causa Sui’s “Live in Copenhagen is three hours of blissed out psych music. Each hour is a meticulous documentation of two of the band’s live performances; one recorded at the “Jazzhouse” and the other at “Dragens Hule”, both located in the lovely city of Copenhagen. These facts alone make this live registration a lot take in, process, and in my case, write about. I’ll gladly admit that I have yet to discover all of the in’s and out’s of “Live in Copenhagen,” Causa Sui’s most ambitious release to date. If there’s anything you can take home from this review, let it be this, there’s a lot here and it will keep you entertained for weeks, months, and possibly even years.

Each disc is as good as the last. The “Jazzhouse” set is a varied set, cherry-picking songs from 2016’s “Return to Sky,” it’s predecessor, “Euporie Tide,” and the gotta-collect-them-all “Summer Sessions” series.

“Dragens Hule pt 1” is next. This set is made up of mostly “Euporie Tide” cuts but the band has also snuck in a performance of “El Paraiso,” perhaps just to show that Causa Sui still understand their rough edges. No complaints here, a bit of crunch is nice after the gentler introduction of “Eternal Flow” and it is probably no mistake that these two songs are played back to back.

The second set of “Dragens Hule” show stands out because of the ebb and flow Causa Sui put on display. Such is the case with how gently Munk and Papir guitarist Nicklas Sorensen - who sits in on a few songs alongside saxophonist Johan Riedenlow - dance around in the beginning of “First Communication” – a cover – while the synths and sound effects play out like birds chirping on an early spring morning. There’s a playful push and pull in “Euporie” that comes across as studied jazz musicians who are looking for each other before diving into a heady groove. On record, this is a stand out moment, but in a live setting, this search makes even more sense. Once these guys find each other and take off, their firm grip on the groove is proof that if you ever get the chance to witness these Danish boys in a live setting, you shouldn’t hesitate to do so.

Oh yeah, and there’s cover Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” thrown into the setlist like it’s no big thing. That this song and “First Communion” were chosen as covers certainly says something about Causa Sui’s influences. The execution of these songs, on the other hand, proves that the band is more than able to take on such a musical challenge without coming across as snobs.

The umbrella sentiment for this live collection is one of bliss. Causa Sui displays a solid handle on their musicianship and in doing so continue to set themselves apart from the 60s revivalists in the stoner rock scene. Causa Sui plays stoner rock, sure, but it’s also psych, and it’s a brand of psych that is as experimental as it is influenced by worldly rhythms and the free form jazz meanderings of say, “Bitches Brew.” There’s as much thought put into these performances as there is throwing caution to the wind. Walking this line works well in expanding on the studio version of Causa Sui. If you were to ask me though, dive into these live recordings because these are documents of Causa Sui at their best. They’re not rehashing their studio outings, they’re performing and presenting new interpretations of songs that were already as wild and free as they could get.

“Live in Copenhagen is available here

Band info: facebook

TRACK PREMIERE: Salt Lake City's The Ditch & The Delta unleash their unique blend of mathematical progressive sludge on new track "F**k On Asphalt"

Often trying to find the right words to describe something in the most appropriate way, can often be the most difficult thing, particularly when those things make you feel happy or excited, indeed the same could be said for things that make you feel like crap, sometimes the words “that was awesome” or “I feel like crap” just doesn’t quite cut it, because it doesn’t explain the true meaning of the experience.  Our views about things are subjective of course, personal to that individual, but when it comes to music, particularly hearing a killer band destroy your senses with a powerful riff, the same problems apply, words sometime just don’t cut and for  Salt Lake City’s The Ditch and The Delta, my words just won’t do this band justice, save to say that the first thing that comes to mind is that they are perhaps my greatest new discovery of the year so far and their mixture of mathematically progressive Neurosis infused sludge, is a breathtakingly fresh heavy infusion of all the best elements of many of your favourite bands, moulded into something genuinely exceptional and unique.  Hope that did you justice guys!!

The Ditch and The Delta will undoubtedly be a new name on the lips of many, but with the imminent release of debut album “Hives In Decline” that is set to change. Armed with their own unique brand of sludgy/noise/doom and love of the “Big Riff”, The Ditch And The Delta implement different tunings, and modal centres, which in turn has enabled them to avoid many of the usual doom trappings of excessive feedback, static harmony, and pentatonic riffs and in doing so they have created one of the finest debuts I have heard for many years. 

Set for release via Battleground Records on May 12th “Hives In Decline” was engineered by Andy Patterson of Subrosa and is certain to propel this band to the next level, alongside fellow Utahan’s such Cult Leader and the aforementioned Subrosa. So with the release date but a few weeks away, we’re stoked to be able to debut the second track from the album entitled “Fuck on Asphalt” below which which features several guitar solos by Gentry Densley from Eagle Twin and Iceburn.  You can pre-order/buy the album here

In addition to the stream, we have a double helping of The Ditch And The Detla, as we welcome guitarist/vocalist Elliot Secrist to take us through their top 5 influences. It’s time to turn the volume all the way up to 11,  because “It’s one louder, isn’t it?” So ill hand over to Elliot to talk you through his picks

Elliot: Rather than list some obvious influences, we decided to list stuff that we listen to that is not metal. Every review we have received, lists a bunch of bands that we do listen to, and there are way too many, over a lifetime of listening to hardcore and metal, to list. Many of the influences are obvious, so here are some not so obvious ones. My (Elliot) bands that sparked tectonic shifts in my musical thinking are not going to be the same ones for Kory, and Charles.

1. The one band that Charles (Drums) did say he wanted listed is the anarcho hardcore band Catharsis. Their drummer is Alexei Rodriguez. He has been in so many bands but most notable Prong, 3 inches of Blood, Trial, Walls of Jericho. Musically they are thrashy, and have a healthy dose of dbeat. Their themes are all about living authentically at any cost, the passion for life, and resistance to ways of life that are only to serve masters.

Here are two of their best “Obsession”

And their swan song “Arsonist’s Prayer”

The others are staples that we have either listened to forever and continue to inspire, or are stuff we listen to on tour. When playing metal every night with a bunch of metal bands, we tend to avoid listening to metal in the van.

2. One of our first tour listens that we put on every time we go out is Townes Van Zandt. He is the songwriter’s songwriter. In our opinion the best of sad bastard country. Its hard to pick any one album. On the top would probably be his album “Our Mother the Mountain”. He has happy and uplifting songs but he also captures misery and hopelessness unlike any metal band trying to be dark.


3. Kory’s definite non metal/tour pick is Gucci Mane. Sometimes you just need some shitty trap rap.

“Trap House 3”

4. Is the Utah band Iceburn. Their whole discography is awesome. Starts out super heavy and then gets progressively more exploratory to free jazz orchestra’s to just noise. It is Southern Lord Recording artist Eagle Twin’s Gentry Densley’s brain child. Iceburn has a new extremely heavy album much like their early work coming out sometime in the near future, on Southern Lord. I’ve probably listened to this band 1000’s of times.

1992 “Fall”

1996 “Sphinx (Part II)” This one is a long one and you need to listen to the whole album to get it all. Start at minute 15:00 to get to the coolest ending and riffs ever.

5. Silo (Denmark) is one of the most unique mysterious bands I have ever heard. There really is not a lot of info out there on them. From the first minute heard I knew this was going to be something I listen to on repeat. Mindblowing but minimal at the same time. Their sound has some stuff in common to Portishead and Massive Attack in its mood, but that is where similarities end. The first album I heard of them is called “Alloy”. Its electronic music but done with real sampled instruments. So soothing that once they finally change the pattern you forget where it even happened. Poly rhythm masters. Ten years after “Alloy” they released one of the heaviest non metal records I have heard. If you want ideas for poly rhythms/beat chopping or new ways to sound heavy without traditional guitar tones listen to Work”. This band is simply on their own playing field.

From “Alloy” 

From “Work”

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

INTERVIEW & ALBUM PREMIERE: Demonsmoke deliver down-tuned riffs, punishing rhythms, and aggressive vocals on crushing debut "Morphine Moonshine"

DEMONSMOKE, formed in early 2015, hails from the slums of the Delta, Antioch CA.  Playing their own style of down-tuned heavy blues riffs with punishing rhythms, and aggressive vocals, the band wear their influences on their sleeves, with hints of EYEHATEGOD, Weedeater, Graves at Sea, and Iron Monkey found within their bulldozing doom tones

DEMONSMOKE’s debut full length album, “Morphine Moonshine”, is out May 2nd and  was recorded/mixed/mastered by  none other than Brainoil lynchpin Greg Wilkinson at Earhammer Studios in Oakland, CA. With this man’s stamp on the record, you know you’re guaranteed quality and this debut is no different.  So we couldn’t be more delighted to be debuting this filthy bastard into your ear canals, in conjunction with our friends over at Doomed & Stoned.

To get the low down about the band, I fired six pointless questions in their decision and here is what they have to say.  “Morphone Moonshine” can be streamed below and the interview follows directly after.  And remember in a battle of sludge versus evil, The Sludgelord wins.  

Can you give us an insight into how you started playing music, leading up to the formation of Demonsmoke

Vinny (guitar): Listening bands like Black Sabbath Iron Maiden Judas Priest and other classic bands wanting to know how they make such great riffs

Cam (vocals): Just grew up appreciating heavy music, taking more influence and wanted to be apart of the music myself, play what I wanted to hear  

Mitch (drums): Self taught drummer, learned how to play  hanging out with friends, partying with music equipment.  My drums were a gift from a friend 

Boug (bass): Been an addict of music my entire life..focusing on heavy music since I first heard montrose. I had to be a part of making that music

Although you are set to release “Morphine Moonshine” for folks unfamiliar with your band, is there any bands on the scene past and present that you would use as a reference point band to describe your band, and who or what continues to inspire you and push you to try new things?

Vinny (guitar): EYEHATEGOD, IRON MONKEY, WEEDEATER, BONGZILLA, BUZZOV.EN, GRAVES AT SEA, BRAINOIL. I can make a list that goes forever

Cam (vocals): Sabbath, Sleep, Weedeater, Dopethrone, just love that sinister sound

Mitch (drums): Sleep, Bongzilla, YOB, Bison, Mastodon, Sabbath, Baroness, EHG, Neurosis, Weed eater, Black Cobra

Boug (bass): Eyehategod, Iron monkey, Warhorse, DEMONSMOKE

What can you tell us about your upcoming record and where do you feel it sits within the context of current metal scene

Vinny (guitar):  I think it's a very niche genre some people dig it some people don't I just like playing the music that I would want to hear

Cam (vocals): Loud, dirty fun metal, not for everyone all the time, but I think people will appreciate the intensity and feel something.

Mitch (drums): We play what we want to listen to ourselves.  The record is a gritty, groovy, and extreme showing of our disgust for the greed and wasteful nature of our existence

Boug (bass): Very proud of it. Everybody worked their asses off for it. Very riff heavy, mean vocals, aggressive groove. Hard to tell where we sit, I think we sound like Demonsmoke

Does anything spring to mind when you think about the completion of your upcoming record and how is the mood in the camp at present?

Vinny (guitar): Fucking juiced!

Cam (vocals): Fucking stoked, things have really come together and we can't wait to see how these coming months go

Mitch (drums): Excited as fuck to finally get it out there, been two years in the making!  We are all ready for the future and stoked on all the opportunities out there!

Boug (bass): Fucking stoked!

What stands out as your overarching memory from the recording sessions? How was the experience of working with Greg.  I must say I fucking love Brainoil and the dude seems to know his shit

Vinny (guitar): The man is a straight-up professional an all-around good fucking dude to kick it with and extremely knowledgeable. I've been a fan of Brainoil since the early two thousands and seen them play burnt Ramen and other spots many times and they were a huge influence. The fact that he dug our demo and wanted to record us was fuckin awesome

Cam (vocals): Greg is a master of his craft for sure, the sessions were fun and he really gave us a lot of great insight and advice

Mitch (drums): Greg is a goddamn Doom Wizard!  He's knowledgeable as fuck about all things music, and what's going on in this fucked up world we live in.  The drum room was huge, and he made sure to get the biggest sound out of my kit.  He's a down to earth dude who knows his shit!

Boug (bass): His knowledge and the fact that he is a straight up solid dude.  I was totally blown away that he offered to take us under his wing and help us go above and beyond our expectations. I've loved his body of work for years. So working with him was very cool.

With a solid gold album in the bag, how is your schedule shaping up over the next 12 months?

Vinny (guitar): Book us and we will come

Cam (vocals): We just hope to get out and promote it as much as possible; it’s all about having a good time and bonding with cool people through music. Lots of support from friends

Mitch (drums): We have a couple shows booked and a radio spot, but that's it.  May 10 @ Hemlock Tavern in SF, and June 15 @ Winters in Pacifica.  We are totally open for booking, and always down to play a show. Hit us up!

Boug (bass): We're all hoping..busy as hell

Finally, do you have any final comments/word of wisdom you’d like to bestow upon us?

Vinny (guitar): In a world of shit flush it down with some alcohol

Cam (vocals): This world is fucked up but if you can focus on what makes you happy then at least your time is worth something

Mitch (drums): Do what you love, and don't focus on all the negative around you.  Question and resist the bullshit we all get fed and are told to accept as fact.  Every generation needs a revolution.  Fuck Trump!  WEED>BEER

Boug (bass): Thanks for the coverage. It's much appreciated

Band info: facebook || bandcamp

Monday, 24 April 2017

ALBUM PREMIERE: Croatian post metal collective Emphasis deliver monolithic riffs and massive rhythms on "Black.Mother.Earth"

Formed as a quartet in a small town of Čakovec in Međimurje region, Emphasis set out to craft an earnest and personal sound through intense grooves and dark atmospheres. A blend of metal and post rock marks the sonic coordinates of the project, with aggressive soundscapes fusing with melodic textures and lots of ambient drones. This Croatian band bridges the subtle gaps between genres, inspired by performers as diverse as Caspian, Russian Circles, This Will Destroy You, Enslaved and ISIS among others.

They received praise and critical acclaim for their 2007 debut album, “Elements of Morrow”, which was a great blend of textural heavy metal, post-rock and alternative. On their second album, “Gliding Over All”, the band truly set out to refine their own sound formula, working towards implementing intricate melodic patterns, heavy guitar riffs, cymbal washes and other elements that further enrich the sound and textures of the band in a very innovative way; showing significant growth from their earlier record.

The band are set to release latest output, “Black.Mother.Earth” on the 28/04/2017 via Geenger Records, and this collection of songs are slow, heavy and doomy, with monolithic guitar riffs and massive rhythm sections. The sound further expands the band’s aural palette with exciting new musical ideas and collaborations, furthering the legacy of the local alternative metal music scene and reaffirming the band as one of the true pioneers of the local movement towards blending heavy music with post rock and instrumental compositions and today we are giving you to opportunity to stream album in full.  Rest assured this is an album you won’t want to miss.  Check it out below and you can pre-order/buy the album here

Band info: facebook || Bandcamp