събота, 2 ноември 2013 г.

Sadhak - Sadhak (demo 2013)



Sadhak is purely fucking amazing. I listen to vast amounts of music every month, trying to catch up with the doom metal scene throughout the world and its derivatives and rarely ever stumble on something so incredibly good. The band name probably does not ring any bell for you - this is to be expected since there is hardly any information for the band anywhere. Therefore, here come I to enlighten you on the matter.

One does not need to spend long hours listening to this demo tape to come to the realisation that it is created by members of High Priest of Saturn. In fact, you can't find information about Sadhak's band members - not even in the booklet of their cassette; however, listening to the music it is more than obvious who created it. Maybe my opinion about this band is a little (or not so little) subjective, because I'm already a huge fan of High Priest and Resonaut. Oh wait, huge fan is not the proper description. I'll shoot straight - the High Priest and Resonaut releases were the best pieces of music to come out in the recent year. So, if you dig the already mentioned - there's no fucking way you are not buying Sadhak's demo tape. It is essential.

For anyone else who is unfamiliar - Sadhak's demo presents this very Lovecraftian, void-bound, out of the world music. I know that there are a lot of bands who put Cthulhu references in their songs and band names, but hardly someone ever reaches the goal of sounding like their hometown is the one of the ancient gods. Very slow-paced, the guitar riff is building slowly towards perfection and always accompanied by a distant drum - the perfect music to listen to white the rain is pouring and you're watching into blank space. "On the arrival of Man" creates this atmosphere from beyond everything material. When I first heard the music and the name of the song, it instantly created that association in my mind of something outwordly and devoid of matter. Not to mention the guitar at the end of the song. Are you fucking kidding me? I don't know how old this Andreas Hagen is or which planet he comes from, but he creates the best solos ever. Alright, I'm a naturally high person, but hey, there's no way you remain untouched by that solo.

The second track quite resembles the first one. The lyrics make it clear that I was right with my associations the first time:

"The Form does not differ from the Void
The Void does not differ from Form
There is no realm of consciousness
Form is Void and Void is Form" 

I'm not trying to be an expert but as long as I know the origin of "Sadhaka" comes from Sanskrit and means "one has to reach the goal" or something like that, to put it into simple words. When I think about it, the idea that there's nothing after death makes me rather calm. Like, the simple idea that I should go to heaven, have contact with other people and simply use my brain again is very, very disturbing. Let's not get carried away. I just wanted to say that the conceptual idea behind Sadhak is as awesome as their music. If you like long, melancholic doom with a definite character, you need to check these guys. Heavy in a different way.

http://sadhak.bandcamp.com/

четвъртък, 17 октомври 2013 г.

Acolytes of Moros - Illusions of Progress (2013)



I hope you're not really expecting me to tell you what kind of genre of metal this is. With Swedish Acolytes of Moros you have stepped into the extremes of traditional doom. "Illusions of Progress" sounds like a lost demo version of not so unexperienced Reverend Bizarre. And for such a young band this is quite an immense achievement.

I guess a lot of people would find this album kind of boring, because really - it does not discover the dark side of the moon. It's more or less something you have heard in one form or another. However, if you're an oldschool lover you'd probably be really pleased to hear the release. Even these days when doom metal has reached its biggest popularity you don't meet stuff like Acolytes of Moros around the corner. The music here is really pushed to the extremes of slowness and nihilism. 

"Illusions of progress" consists of 4 tracks, one being a very short intro, so let's say three full-blooded tracks. As every proper doom metal recording should - you receive a banging awesomeness with song length no less than ten minutes. Yes right, ten minutes long is the shortest track. So if you're some confused person waiting for a happy fast metal song, pack your suitcase quicker and leave the hall. The production of this baby here is top notch for a small budget. Actually, I would prefer that kind of stuff over overproduced modern crap anyday. So really, even if it's a little low production "Illusions of progress" is completely listenable and in no way sounds like a garage recorded doom (even if it is).

I will proceed with the singing, because the vocals are my favourite part in this EP. You can easily imagine the singer chanting from a high mountain. Damn, he sounds like leading a funeral procession. Finnish and Swedish singers know their doom. As honest as I always am, no one does these types of chants better than Scandinavian people, there must be some spell behind it. Take Horse Latitudes as an example, damn fine stuff. The singing goes from this high as fuck type of epic way of pronunciating the words to angrier gutteral almost black metalish type of singing. Don't really think of black metal shrieking or something, it's just an association. 

Bass guitar is quite audible and this gets and instant plus. Real long guitar solos are not present, the guys have sticked to more straightforward stuff which is one reason I can't seem to fully dig this release. The last track is really atmospheric and does sound to me like a low tuned bassy atmospheric black metal. As lucky as I am to have read some of the lyrics, I got to say I am impressed with them as well. As cold as the music is, the ideas that stand behind the lyrics are so as well. As the name of the EP suggests itself, don't hope to find any rays of sunlight here. But since lyrics are kind of something you should interpret for yourself, let's leave that here.

To sum up my overall impressions, "Illusions of Progress" is a very successful effort, though still lacking some elements. It's more or less an introvert kind of album, sad but not really angry. It doesn't get you for the balls and throw you to the other corner of the room. I think there is a lot of potential to be developed here and will surely check what goes on with these folks. Doom on.

събота, 12 октомври 2013 г.

Bloody Hammers - Spiritual Relics (2013)




I was a little dead these recent months.. partly because of university work, partly other shit but here we go again.

Bloody Hammers is one of the bands that has the ability to make a few really really good songs, but then their overall work kind of sucks at some point. This variation in quality can be very tricky for the listener. You say to yourself "wow, this stuff is really good, how come I don't know these guys" but then you hear the whole album and disappointment knocks on the door. And I can honestly say that it's pretty difficult for me to rate their second album "Spiritual Relics".

The sophomore release of the quartet from North Carolina is hard to define. It doesn't really fall between the boundaries of classic traditional doom. There is a lot of leaning towards gothic rock, specifically in "Science fiction", "Shiver" and "The Transit begins". There are a lot of elements that remind me of famous gothic bands, maybe mostly because of the vocals. Illogically, after a few strong doom riffed songs and powerful choruses follows a mellow cheesy gothic song. No idea why, I can only guess that the musicians wanted to produce a varied album. It surely works for a lot of people, but my "cheesiness" tolerance is not that big. There are some good moments when the bass enters in to introduce some variety to the songs. Also the keyboard part is quite awesome, but you can hear it too rarely.

Here comes again the duality of this album. The vocals are really cool in some of the songs, but then again the ones that suck the most do so exactly because of the vocals. Maybe one of the reasons I'm really hooked to some of the songs - "The Well of Nazareth" is one such example, is because the singer so reminds me of Dax Riggs's singing in Acid Bath. In the faster and in the slower songs likewise. "Night of the long knives" is mediocre. It would have been a fine song if it wasn't for the stupid chorus which makes it sound like some modern idiocy.

Something really good about this album it that it has this darker, almost "horror movie"-like feeling to it. Doom or not, gothic or not, it has this weird dark feel to most of the tracks. Unfortunately, the mellowness of the bigger part of the tracks will repel the hardcore doomsters as it did repel me. I am writing this review because this band deserves to be checked out. Even if you're gonna skip some songs, there are a bunch that are good. If you haven't listened something that would remind you to the Southern stale, sick feeling of Acid Bath, there is a grain of music on this record that could remind you of it.


петък, 13 септември 2013 г.

Cathedral - Forest of Equilibrium (1991)


THE ONLY PLEASURE IS PAIN




The record which stands in front of your eyes is situated somewhere in time where it puts a border between heavy music  from the old days and heavy music from recent times, so to say.  “Forest of Equilibrium” is colossal. In the hall of my favourite doom records, somewhere in  the Garden of Unearthy doom, it sits on its own throne of triumph and monumental epicness. It is the best thing Cathedral ever put out. There are so many great albums from the masters of the genre, which have to be explored and cherished, but after all only “one will rule them all”.

Just to start with, no one sounded as heavy as Cathedral back in the day. I still haven’t found a band before ’91 to encompass the deep pain exposed in “Forest of Equilibrium” and the lead heavy guitar sound. Now when I think about it several Swedish death metal demos pop up into my  head, but they are neither so accomplished, neither equal in musical completeness and perfection, so off the list for now. Even now in 2013, so many years after its release, personally I don’t think that Cathedral’s debut is matched.  While in the 80s it was more about who would have more extremely fast guitar solos, bands like Cathedral helped switch positions, at least for the few extremists who were interested in doing so. Sure, there are the tons of funeral doom bands and Southern sludgerers  today, but the ones who opened the gate were Cathedral. There are amazing masterpieces of slowness versus doom that followed ever since – for example in the face of Thergothon’s “Stream from the Heavens” or Disembowelment’s “ Transcendence into the Peripheral”, but Lee Dorrian and company were the first ones to step into the unknown.

In the bands’ own words, it all started like the project of a few enthusiasts into Saint Vitus/Pentagram/Black Sabbath who were not even from the same town. I can imagine how unpopular doom must have been back then, it was probably a miracle to meet someone with your tastes. As Lee didn’t see himself continuing his career in Napalm Death, it seems quite logical to try to create something of your own that would also suit your musical preferences better if you have the chance to. With the help of young Gary Jennings and Adam Lehan, previously from UK thrashers Acid Reign, Mark Griffiths and Mike Smail (later in Penance) “Forest of Equilibrium” happens to be a one time masterpiece of unearthy doom.

I think that what is best about this album is the atmosphere it creates. Beginning with the glorious artwork of Dave Pitchett, it encompasses a lot from the world of feelings. It's a fact that speaks well for itself that the band has used the dark part of the whole Pitchett painting to represent their music. If you pay close attention to the original whole picture you can see that it's divided in two - a good and a bad side, one where everything is serene and problems far. The dancing women are contrasted by the much darker half where the horizon is engulfed by the evil and ugly. Like always in real art, the emotions and current situation of the psyche of the creator reflects proportionally the final result so you can judge for yourself how the guys must have felt for some aspects of their life.

"Picture of beauty and innocence" is the most beautiful intro in the world. It's like the sweetest, pristine notes have joined together to form a song. Not later enough, the opener riff enters in to shadow over the comfort of the few seconds. Lee's voice comes in the likes of an ancient caveman awaken from a deep slumber. There are so many riffs and groove in "Commiserating the celebration", so many changes and moods all of which seems like an impossible mission to put into just one single song. It's easily one of my favourite tracks on this album and one of my favourites of all time. It sure as hell is not a song you play to your friends at a party. Well, not that any of the music I listen to is good for a party. You have to sit somewhere by yourself and focus on the music or otherwise it won't really catch you.

When I once argued with a friend about the length of a book we reached the conclusion that the book was not too long - it was just not for everyone since it is very slow-paced and detailed. So is our jewellery here. The best about the world of doom is contained in track two, the extraterrestrial "Ebony tears". This second song is about a love that should not be. All of the music is slow and wretched like a love story that should have come to an end. You can see on its video two people slowly touching hands and then Lee entering the scene to cut their love. So epic, I have watched this until forever. Also the rusty down-ridden guitar at around 5:10 is just the best in the world. I can't provide more detail with music, you gotta check for yourself.

Most music on here is rather slow paced, but there is one upbeat track that probably stands out in this sense, it's "Soul Sacrifice", which gets unusually fast for a Cathedral song in this album. Mark Griffiths lyrics are an absolute slayer here, it's again something like love versus misunderstanding done in the best way possible:

"I'll pour scorn from the lowest place, 
Colour fades from your face, 
Annihilation-acceptance, 
Paradox of self existence"

No cheating here, there are no "highlight" tracks nor do I have favourite tracks on this album. Everything is complete genius. But then again there are riffs like in the beginning of "A funeral request" that make me lay on the ground and put a box on my head and repeat it over and over again in my headphones. What did you do to me impossible band, changed all my music perceptions until foreverhell? If you really fall inlove with music like this, all your perceptions change. You will kind of learn to love the dark. If you didn't already. "A funeral request" also opened the road for other doom bands to use funeral concepts - introducing beauty to the grave. Not that British weren't the best poets already, but the lyrics of the song beat most stuff I've read anyhow.

"Serpents marked with azure rings 
cathedrals where rich shadows fall, 
things strange curious solemn saviour. 
You promised me laughter in autumn days, 
now I can't awake from this lucid haze. " 

The catchiest riff on "The forest.." belongs to "Equilibrium" and I was about to say "and the best solo" when I reminded myself that I am talking about THIS album and every solo is the best. Seriously, if there is ever a doom metal fan in the universe who has not listened to "Equilibrium", go go go. The flute is probably the most mesmerising instrument along with the guitar and "Reaching happiness, touching pain" proves that. Lee's voice is extraordinarily melancholic here, even for Cathedralesque standards. On overall, this opus of deepest sorrows and best music ideas put together ends just like it began, wrapped up in grey.

Maybe I should leave this with a quote from a favourite poem: "A God I did not have, so you I worshipped".

четвъртък, 22 август 2013 г.

Cough/Windhand - Reflection of the Negative (2013)



'Reflection of the Negative' is the most colossal split I have heard recently. I think the most appropriate adjective to describe it is 'colossal' indeed. It's heavier than Coffins covering Eyehategod, the ultimate hammer smashing your face. Imagine how huge this is if Coffins haven fallen behind.

Windhand and Cough are among the most interesting newly emerged doom bands on my checklist. Maybe not exactly new, but still not old enough for the spectrum of music I am into, for me to call them anything else. If you listened to Cough's previous work then to some extent you know what to expect. Having in mind how extreme Cough sometimes are - it is hard to believe that they have gone a step further in the abyss. The modern source of enlightenment, the Internet, explained to me that an 'athame' is a ritual dagger. As it is associated with Wiccan cults and witchcraft in general you can guess why the band used it for the name of their split opener song. This whole track sounds like a slow suicide. These drums know how to pound. It's fucking hard to explain, like saying which spot of grey is greyer than the other. It is drums pounding, but it's colourful. It's different. It's not like most doom/sludge bands out there who do the same in their long songs. Parker Chandler's vocals are so prolonged and tortured, the guy have gone beyond himself. And the song being seventeen minutes long journey is also one step ahead. No lying, I really didn't notice it was longer than seven minutes. Maybe that's normal for me, maybe the track is just too damn good. You got the outwordly solo as it is expected for a band like Cough (take Killing Fields, A Year in Suffering - masterpieces of slow riffing and a lay me on the floor - 'I am dead' type of soloing). I waited too long before checking this split as I knew about its existence even before it was officially released - a mistake you are advised not to make. 


Second and third track are by Windhand. Well, most of the time while I was listening to these I thought "it's just not fair". These guys are so much damn better than other new doom stuff and THE HELL, their self-titled debut was my favourite doom of the year already. This split makes me want to cut off from the world and blow my speakers into outer space. It is so terrific. Dorthia Cottrell moves slowly through the haze of slow riffage so perfectly as if I am not in ecstasy already. Sure, if this is not your type of music you'd probably think that the reviewer is high as a kite, but if it is your type - you would just get my point. If you loved Windhand's first album there is nothing on here that you wouldn't. And it's not the same songs repeated with a slight change of riffing. Yes, it's the same formula, but it WORKS. It's fucking fine doom with atmosphere. If some bands represent gigantic galaxies crushing into one another and other evoke wolfs howling at the moon, this one here is a dark house in a distant forest. I beg the reader to forgive me if I sound stoned, but that's how my favourite music reflects my writing. 


понеделник, 5 август 2013 г.

Ritual Temple - Revelation of Evil (2010)



I heard some Ritual Temple on youtube some time ago and their music instantly grabbed something in me, I knew I had to order their demo tape as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the guys only have one demo released and it seems they have split-up shortly after recording it. Which is a horrible shame.

Maybe there's something wrong about me and my sound quality preferences, but I find myself listening to more demos and generally the very early band recordings these days. Maybe it's my bad experience - it seems that some of the band demos I really dig evolve into crappy first lengths. An example is Age of Taurus, which released a smoking tape and then something went wrong with their debut. Of course, this is only my opinion and no one is forced to agree. In this case maybe it's better to release a demo only and disappear.

With Ritual Temple there are no delusions - check how they look and and see their demo cover, the guys are not joking. The doom present on "Revelation of evil" is indeed a revelation of pure and majestic doom metal, which smells like an early 90s garage studio, not like a 2010 modern crap.

I can't think of one specific characteristic trait, which makes a doom band tolerable for my ears, but one thing I know - the line between sounding like an idiot and like true doom, is very thin. The band from French Brittany is a presentor of the latter. "Revelation of Evil" dwells somewhere between Hellhammer and Saint Vitus. The vocal lines follow quite the same path, and thankfully never sound too gothic and gay. You see, I don't ask so much from the vocal work. There are a lot of memorable songs on the demo and while my personal favourite is the upbeat "Slave of Satan", there is not one dumb song. The speed of the tape is settled and goes from mid-paced to wild guitar solos at the end of which song. Maybe that's what I digged most about this tape, the fucking down-tuned guitar lets loose at every fucking song. Both the intro and outro are ritualistic and very well-chosen for this tape.

On overall, this release is a keeper, definitely.  Go get yourself a tape and maybe we can make the guys reform.




четвъртък, 18 юли 2013 г.

Realmbuilder - Fortifications of the Pale Architect (2011)


Realmbuilder is a rather strange band whose music style I won't try to define, but as far as I am concerned, the epic metal tag fits them the best.

What do I mean by 'strange'? While most epic metal bands I can think of have either very high-pitched vocals, very often reaching falsettos, trying to sound as dramatic as it gets with a "don't worry sweet princess in high tower, I am coming to kill this dragon" kind of attitude, these guys sound way more majestic and real-balled. Probably most people's first association with epic metal is also Manilla Road and while I don't find many similarities, Realmbuilder is just like the formerly mentioned - one such band that bears the flag of the genre without pissing on it.

As you would suppose, everything in the world of this album is imaginary. Your modern world doesn't have a place in it. From the very introduction of the album you get a horse galloping together with a fast melodic guitar and a marching drum. The soldiers are riding behind their commander on a quest. Seriously, I have no idea what the song is about, but this is how it sounds to my ears. Its music exists in its own empire created by the band. The overall sound of the album is rather quirk and not absolutely to my liking. It smells like low budget production, but in a bad way. While sometimes this gives a more romantic old-school sound to a record, the guitar here sounds somehow "cut". I don't pretend to understand a lot from production and all, but it sometimes bugs the whole experience of the fortifications of the pale architect.

Another plus for these guys is that they don't have heart-melting, cheesy ballads. The whole record is more about weaponry, iron sieges, savage man attacking one another rather then pink-coloured love stories. And while the band consists of only two man, it does sound full-blooded. Of course, if you forget the weird sound, which is kinda hard to forget, because it clings to your ears the whole time. I was recently thinking of what to listen to while I read some of the epic Robert Howard tales I found lying around and now I know. This album is great soundtrack to anything that you would need if you want to pretend you live in another world. The great guitar solos are also a huge helper to get soaked in the old-day like atmosphere. Also, while many might dislike the vocals, I do dig them. Not all epic/power metal has to be fronted by someone whimpering. The powerful riffs are strong and convincing. I don't want to evaluate their originality, but they sound brave enough for me to believe the guys.

It's good to hear some good epic metal these days, as most musicians tend to waver towards the clean production and generally appealing power-pop metal bullshit that big companies would sign.

вторник, 16 юли 2013 г.

Reverend Bizarre - Thulsa Doom (2006)



Firstly, the sad news. I don't believe that any doom metal band that is about to be formed would ever be good enough to reach the rectory of the Reverend Bizarre. This EP is a perfect example of how the purest doom does sound in its finest moments. Whoever finds "Thulsa Doom" sucky can just get out of my sight. Unless you're Conan the Barbarian, of course. I could buy that.

A lot of doom has been passing by my ears these days and finding bands that are worth the listen gets tougher each day. I needed just one listen of Thulsa Doom to distinguish its quality from the litter. These two songs on it are just miles ahead, not only of most doom that is produced these days, it is just better than most doom metal ever recorded by someone.

It is totally out of question whether to listen to this if you're already into Reverend Bizarre. And even if you're not, I think this EP is a good way to start with the band as both tracks are not longer than ten minutes, very well-packed and absolutely finalised. The only material that is more catchy in my opinion is on "Crush the Insects". Nota bene - maybe my scale of catchiness is not very proper for a general use. If I could remove or change something about this record, I wouldn't touch a single note. It's just damn perfect.

Everything here seems to me like a reference to Robert Howard's most famous work. "The tree of suffering" starts with the agonising cries of a man being nailed to a tree. The cries are accompanied by the pounding drums of Void, which prove to be the actual hammer nailing. One of my favourite Reverend Bizarre riffs crushes in, strangely melodic and perfectly harmonised with the monologue of the tortured subject. The man tells his gruesome tale and unfortunate destiny as the guitar towers higher and higher. It's hard to define the actual guitar rambling as a solo, but it sure as hell is fucking good.

Lee Dorrian once said that for him doom metal is not depressing, just the contrary, uplifting and majestic. I really loved that as I've always felt the same. "The tree of suffering" is one of these especially epic and heroic tales that really strikes a chord with me.

Albert is one of these vocalists that always presents music in a very realistic manner. It just never sounds fake. I can hardly think of any other man that could sing those lines like that, as righteous as it gets:

"I feel like I'm drowning in my own bloody sweat
Well, I used to love sunlight, but now it's peeling my head"

Favourite lyrics are favourite lyrics.

Side B, "The Children of doom" (I should make a survey on how many doom songs actually bear the same name) is the weaker part of the EP, if there is something weak. I'd rather say, less awesome. The songs structure is like the one of many Reverend ones - very slow begging, a lot faster second part. The drumming at the beginning is so slow, it will make most of you change the song. What should be noted is the main riff, which is unusually mythical about the band, or maybe let's say exotic. Maybe because I've seen the setting of the Conan movies many times, but the first association I get is about sitting in a blurred room filled with candles, many people dressed in ceremonial gowns passing around. Even if you don't read the lyrics, you know that this song is a serious ritual of blood. Into light comes once again the ability of the guys to present musically what they want to present verbally.



сряда, 26 юни 2013 г.

Black Oath - Ov Qliphoth and Darkness (2013)



The famous saying "Don't judge a book by its cover" should not be applied to our case here. Black Oath's sophomore album is represented astonishingly well by their cover artwork. It might be more suitable for a funeral doom band or something in the likes of Gallow God, but I like it very much nonetheless. It makes you aware of the music that would follow - traditional doom metal inspired by the days of old.

"Ov Qliphoth and Darkness" starts with a song named "esbat" and it indeed sounds like one - you can hear the numerous chants followed by a mournful guitar and a slow regal drum. It's a great intro and to be honest, I like it better than the track that follows. It's one damn great dark album opener. The second song (first if you exclude the esbat) reminds me in sound of the new Black Sabbath album, it's neither too "touched" nor does it sound very primitive. A good song, but nothing that special or memorable compared to some other songs on the album, which are undoubtedly better - I don't know why the band put it so early in the playlist. It wouldn't be my choice for a first track anyway (oh stop it, you forget your place damn reviewer). What doesn't really strike a chord for me are the vocals - the singer is not some annoying wailing prick, he is not a falcetto battle warrior, but there's still something missing for me. That little thing that makes a record your favourite.

All songs on this release possess a very gloomy and troubled spirit. Whether you hit song two or five, five or one, you'd still hear this sorrowful mourning that seems to have soaked the whole of Black Oath's second work. I think of myself as a person that always “understands” most music from the first listens, but I can freely say that this album has to be listened several times before you can "pick" the songs up. In the beggining it might sound quite dull, but it isn't. As gloomy as they are, songs like "Sinful waters" became quite catchy after the third listen of the album.  

Compared to the first Black Oath, this one is better. Maybe not something ultra different or supreme, but a little more coherent. Their songwriting is more developed  and the ideas flow clearly. The album sounds like one whole big piece, not like very well-began, but lacking at some places material. You can still easily see the potential of the band on their debut, of course. What is true about both releases is that they need some time to get under your skin.

For good or bad, Black Oath sing in English, not Italian (their mother tongue) and this at least is good for your clear understanding of the song topics - cheerful and sunny themes like death and departing with the ones you love. From the first listens this release sounded too poor on the matter of riffs and rather empty, but it's not like that. I am really glad I gave it several listens, ‘cause it’s worth it.

Black Oath’s second album is not a representative of my favourite wave of doom. It sounds neither very angry/willing to break things up, neither as sorrowful as I love to hear. However, it still is a very decent traditional doom release – check for yourself.


събота, 22 юни 2013 г.

Jex Thoth - Blue Moon Rise (2013)


Some time ago, a bit after Jex Thoth's self-titled album was released, I was complaining to a friend that doom metal bands with female vocalists suck - well, you guessed right - that was before I actually heard Jex Thoth's actual recording. The first second my ears were touched by Jessica Bowen's voice I was mesmerised and all my previous doubt on the matter of female-fronted doom vanished into thin air. However, I have to correct myself - for Jex Thoth is not about doom as you would suppose - it's more of a fairy, folky hardrock messing with the doom from time to time rather then Conan-like sound of tectonic plates collision.

The s/t album from 2008 is a true masterpiece, there's no denying it. Start with the ultra mythical cover artwork and the moment you hear 'Nothing left to die' you know there's no joking here. Wherever you look it upon, it's a great album. It's not a secret for anyone that the best of this band is their lady's astonishing voice. Seriously, I've heard this and that, but nothing matches the mighty vocals and live performances of this woman, she knows perfectly well how to use her tools of the trade.

So, when you have released such a well-received and flawless album, what do you do to top it? I am not sure whether they have topped the s/t with Blood moon rise, but at least it's not bad in any way. The one thing that I think is obvious from the first listen is that it sounds a little more mellow-hearted. You can literally play songs like "Keep your weeds" to grandmother and she would find them enjoyable if she's not a sour granny.
On the other hand, there are songs like "The Devide" which stand out like a lot heavier and sour.
I like this album loads, because at one moment it sounds like a sweet forest lullaby, it would make you take a nap around the fallen autumn leaves, smell the pine spruce in the air and walk in peace, at other times it  is so much darker, from the lighted forest your enter the dark cave. Blood moon rise somehow managed to find the perfect balance. Not to mention that Jex's voice would easily be mistaken for the one of a forest priestess. Truth is, I am sure that if they exist, they sound like her.

The reason for which I mention the presence of doom metal in Jex Thoth's sophomore are songs like "The four of us are dying" and "Psyar". There are the characteristic grim moments and unlike bands like Jess and the ancient ones, the heaviness is not entirely lost. Also, while there are many fashionable bands these days in the like of Jex, the music here really lives in a world of its own. You just wouldn't mistake this record with the thousands of others female-fronted hardrock bands. Witchcraft's debut reminds me of this in a way, only that the folk influences here are even more massive.

If you loved the previous Jex Thoth, you would find the sophomore at least appealing. There's no need to dig in it with a thousand listens, it's potencial is revealed from the very beginning and starts to grow with every listen.


 

Note: FULL ALBUM.

Gallow God - The Veneration of Serpents (2013)

 

Gallow God play this mixture of very dark, "down"-sounding, heavy and streaming with bass lines doom metal. In 90% of the cases, you can sense the general sound of an album by looking at its cover. "The Veneration of snakes" suggested to me well-produced extreme metal. This is partly true, but for me the cover artwork doesn't really do favor to the band, because I expected something like new Behemoth (regarding production) and that's not true, because apart from the good sound (not crystal clear) there's nothing mainstream about this music.

What can you expect on the album? As I said, very heavy, (non-sludgy) doom with very neat, non screaming, clear, but not perfectly audible vocals as one would hope to find in proper doom metal. A bit too heavy traditional doom. There are many great riffs present, but unfortunately at times they get too repetitive like in the title song, which changes how many, like two riffs? Delightfully, there are quite some changes in the pace, therefore less boredom for the weak-hearted. And actually, there really ARE many diverse riffs in the other songs too. I can say that many doom bands these days can envy Gallow God for the diversity. The London based band brings me to the Middle ages in a remote village where the plague devastates all the people, it's how fucking dark this album sounds. Bang, The Veneration sounds as if My Dying Bride are no longer romantic in any way and hammer tenfold more heavily their instruments. I really like the way the instruments are mixed, you can perfectly hear what each of them has to say. These guys have to be extremely proud if this really is an independent release. 

This album is good if you're a doom purist, because there's nothing in it that you cannot like. The vocalist sounds miserable and wretched as hell. No baby wailing. I was absolutely impressed by the opener track, one of the finest doom songs I've heard recently. The confusion and misery in the voice of this man give me the chills. The solos are well-mastered and what I like most is that the vocals are used like another instrument, so perfectly fitting the instruments, all the music on this record is in perfect harmony. Also, the drums sound like a giant mighty hammer and are so pleasantly audible, not buried under the other instruments like often happens, which is one more thing that helps for the post plague feeling I seem to have about this album. One of the songs stand out a bit as little weird, but that's because it is a cover. Scarborough fair might be a cover, but it's done in such a perfect way that I really have nothing bad to say about it, on the contrary - it's a fine thing that the guys have included it.

It really makes me happy to see bands like Gallow God flourish these days. Now I am armed with their new album and waiting for upcoming concerts. 


Exhumator - Atrophy of feelings (Атрофия на чувствата)


Ексхуматор (Exhumator) is a fucking obscure band in every aspect that could ever be. This band hails from the underground of Bulgaria in the 90s and is the project of one man's crazy mind. It's a little difficult for me to label this band and album, but I can honestly say one thing - this album is damn sick. Start with the cover - a few stitches on an obviously wounded flesh. The concept of this whole creation is to sound evil and sick and it does.

To begin with, there are elements of thrash and black metal in this album, but in my opinion it comes nearest to death metal. The singing is not a typical growl, nor is it grunting, more likely some weird mumbling that at moments becomes very angry and fast, but never high pitched or screaming. It's average death metal singing and I would normally dig it and not put so much emphasis on it, but the production is so terrible that you can hardly hear distinguishable words. I know that death metal is not normally the genre in which you will hear clearly every word, but with a better production this could have been a lot more enjoyable. Take for example, Bolt Thrower, songs like "The IV Crusade" would never have been so rad if you couldn't hear Karl's words. I read once that he was a mediocre vocalist and it pains me even now when I think about it...

There are thousands of death metal albums that you could find lying around under the dust of time and you can ask me - why should I check out this specific album? Well, what makes it cooler than the average technical copy-paste death metal album is that in "Atrophy of feelings" there is some soul put into it. You can easily tell so by listening to the solos. Take for instance the opener track, there are some really perfect and touching guitar solos that cut off at some points of the song, but instead of sounding out of place or too artificial, the solos fit very well and sound more than great. What is more, the tape sounds fucking old and real, maybe because it was made with such a small budget and not professionally in a bright and swept off studio, I have no idea, but it sounds pretty authentic, which I believe is very important for this genre.

The guitar sound is really great and works in perfect harmony with the drums, there are occasional slow downs, almost doom-like, which makes the whole album sound so much gloomier and evil. The low tuning and basement feeling really makes me feel as if I'm not in my room, but in a rather darker and colder place. 

The lyrics are as brain fucked as one could expect. They concern happy and gay topics like crematoriums, the day on which one dies, deadly lands and abnormal places. On the "tape booklet" the dude behind the music can be seen pictured in a morgue so yeah, he really takes this shit seriously. The lyrics are not sick in the exactly Carcass morbid kind of way, but in certain aspects they're even worse, because mental collapse and the process of losing your soul might be just as depressing as picturing decomposing meat. I like this kind of art, it shows that not everything is roses and sunshine and something valuable can be made out of misery.

Of course, there are some things to be wanted. For instance, the drums sound pretty weak - not in skill, but in tone. The drumming and bass guitar should be more audible and as I already said - the vocals could be fixed a little. But all in all, I think that this is one stinky and awesome tape. 


Witchcraft - Legend (2012)


Witchcraft have undergone some changes since their debut album that currently reflect their music. The self-titled record started a fantastic musical legacy and the band continued to write songs in that doomy/psychedelic folky sort of way in their second album “Firewood” as well. According to many people, the third full-length “The Alchemist” which was released two years after “Firewood” sounds in the same analog minimalistic way, but for me it is not as magical as the first two, even if the analog sound is not wiped away. However, on Legend the change is more eminent and the folk motives so characteristic for the debut are not so easy for one to hear. Not to mention the modern overtone of the sound that has been (in my opinion, again) forced by Nuclear Blast. I know that most people don’t give a fuck about labels, but as a huge doom metal lover I don’t see the future of a psychedelic/ folk rock band under the wing of this modern metal label. 

For those of you who have not had contact with the lovely tales of Witchcraft – this band comes from Sweden and though Sweden is not particularly famous for that kind of rock these guys don’t find that as an obstacle. Along with their former band peers Graveyard, Witchcraft play that vintage sounding, soft hard rock, characteristic for bands like Pentagram. And since I already mentioned Pentagram, some people say that the first Witchcraft album sounded like a tribute to the formerly mentioned guys. I don’t know if Witchcraft tried hard to sound old and folky, but they certainly created something unique for our time that left its mark. To come to the word, if you have already did – don’t get me wrong. Witchcraft still write these catchy rock’n’roll songs. Legend is in no way a “letdown” regarding catchy riffs and choruses. Most songs on the new album will easily become ‘live hits’ and if we speak of “catchiness” this is the catchiest Witchcraft release. Only the debut can’t compete with it in that aspect since it is very memorable even from the first listen. The moment you hear the first two songs, you know that this album is not going to suck or bore you. Each song flows perfectly, there are no fillers here. The new band members – two new guitar players and a drummer don’t affect the old sound in a noticeable way, with the only visible change being the more modern sound and production. What is really good is that Magnus still sings with his dreamy and characteristic voice that makes Witchcraft so memorable and different from the many in that scene. What should be mentioned is that now he focuses only on the vocals whereas in the previous albums he also played the guitar. 

Legend has varying songs – some faster paced, some that can be classified as ballads – in that aspect there is no big change from the other albums. I won’t discuss each one on its own, what I think I should point out is that the album doesn’t sound as one big whole river that doesn’t end, every song is different from the other so don’t fear potential boredom. The opener track, which is also one of my favourites, starts with that super catchy even metal riffage supported by some of the heaviest vocals on the album. What I think is a big minus is the slow down a bit before the end where the vocals also become too slow and eventually cheesy – I mention it because this is present in not one or two songs – it makes the song sound cheesy and dumb. I know that some people like such softness to be inserted at certain times, but I think it needlessly softens the music as a whole. And this is what bugs me at times – Legend is TOO light. If someone tries to lie to you that you’re listening to doom metal, don’t believe them. This is really classy and varying hard rock, but in no way doom metal. One more minus is the fact that while the first albums had some atmospheric feeling to them, a feeling that could transport you to another time and place, the one we hear in 2012 lacks that ability. Fortunately, the guitars still does these solo tricks here in that specific Witchcraft way so the awesomeness is still present to a big extent. 

It is not true that if you like the first Witchcraft albums, you will instantly fall in love with this one, however, it is very likely. For even if these guys now look a lot modern and certainly sound like that, I guess that was pretty normal and can be counted as a natural evolution. 


Stangala - Boued Tousek Hag Traou Mat All (2011)

Stangala is this very strange stoner rock, trippy doom-like band from France. By saying 'strange' I really mean strange and the fact that I don't understand a single word from their songs makes them even weirder for me. These guys from France have decided to name their album and songs in Breton, which can cause a big confusion if you're a foreigner like me. Apart from my confusion, I think that singing in such a language creates a very intimate and magical atmosphere. The Celtic influence can be seen on the very awesome cover picturing the guys wearing robes in some hazy odd place. The colours used and the Celtic motives serve fantastically to present the music to someone who hears the band for a first time and actually this is how I decided to check these folks out.

The first song "Doom rock glazik" is this very catchy, almost disco hard rock *don't throw a stone at me* with its folk dancing atmosphere. I don't mean ''catchy'' in a bad mainstream way, it's just very pagan and rock'n'roll at the same time. You can almost picture a coven dancing around a smoking cauldron. "Al Lidou Esoterik An Dolmen Hud" is perfect mixture of some of Electric Wizard's most obscure instrumental songs. I'm not a big geek on gear, amps and all that, but the sound is just as vintage as in "House on the Borderland" from the EW/Reverend Bizarre split. The vocals are not as buried as in typical Wizard songs and the fact that the guy is singing in Breton really makes the songs on this album sound kinda strange and different. In some of the songs you can hear something like a pipe. The pipe and the vocals are what makes these guys stand out and in my opinion add an "exotic" feeling to the band. The pipe playing along with the guitar solos creates a really cool "high" effect.

There are heavier songs on the album, for example, "Langoliers" which has pretty heavy almost black metal pounding drums and one of the most stoner rock riffs on the record. The odd combination of a stoner riff and such strange drums creates a hazy feeling and makes this instrumental almost impossible to classify. There are also other weird songs on this album, like "Bigoudened an diaoul" with Queens of the Stone Age guitar sound and very slow stoned vocals. Some of the last songs on the album are also instrumentals with the common mushroom, psychedelic, crazy prolonged solo. There are these very doomy songs and the psychedelic feeling and then there are more stoner songs, which is very cool for it makes the album not boring at all. Let me be clear - by saying that the songs are doomy I mean doomy not DOOMy, not anything too heavy, slow or too distorted.

Indeed, I've heard hundreds of stoner and doom bands in the latest years and very few of them sound as weird as Stangala. I can't really explain why - may it be the unexpected mixture of sound, vocals and amps, but all these songs sound very different. Someone might find this as a downfall, because it makes the album not so "complete" but rather "mixed" and too diverse, but I think that's cool. The fact that I enjoy an album that is not written in English is also quite rare and speaks very well of these guys, it means that there's something more to the music since I can't be impressed with the lyrics and fully immersed in the idea behind the music. 


Om - Advaitic songs (2012)


 I anticipated this album with an enormous desire. You know, one often anticipates their favourite bands' albums and expects a lot - this was the case with myself and this release. Oh God, how I hoped it will be as good as the previous albums and indeed my eager anticipation had paid off very well. I didn't think that it was possible for Al to outreach himself, but again - he did. How does the guy do it? I have no idea, but I only now that he has created once more a really diverse and great album. I know that some people find "God is good" as a weaker album, but in my opinion everything in the Om list is second to none. There is no other band whose music sounds so religiously and absurdly high and close to God. Maybe only Sleep, funnily enough. Al Cisneros has this ability of creating these profoundly good masterpieces of music, be it fucking heavy stoner doom or Om's strange mixture of religious bass-influenced Indian/Arabic holiness.

I'm not going to dissect this album commenting techniques or to present any band history or info for the band members. If this is what you seek - there are already other reviews and not only on this website, you can go read them. My review is only about the feelings. Because Om as a band is totally different from any other band and so is the music. And with the absence of guitar players what could you expect? Om consists of only two members and it results in the "oddness" of the tunes - which are about opening your inner self.

First and foremost, if you have never listened to the band - there is nothing metal here, so don't expect that. There is even no stoner. As I said to my best friend when she asked me to recommend her Om songs - you have to be ready for a band like that. It's not something you play to your roommates hoping they will get it. To embrace their concept and art, to listen not only with your ears, but with your inner self. In my opinion, to wholly enjoy this band, you have to gather some knowledge about the Eastern philosophies and the Bible, but that's another story. 

Advaitic songs resembles all previous records concerning the concept and partly the music. It's not as droney and In this one the religious idea and the one about emerging from your temporary body to unite with the universe is even stronger. There are certain songs like "Sinai" which sound very much like the kind of music pilgrims would listen to in a Hindu temple. What may put down someone is that the use of heavy bass is not so common, meaning that there are songs in which it is barely as heavy and as present as you would expect for an Om album. However, it is compensated with other means. The use of cello is very audible. The addition of female vocals, piano and tambura also makes this album greatly varied and it is obvious that a lot of work has been put into it. One song in which the bass riff is like a foundation for the other instruments (including the voice) and therefore really audible and strong is the fantastic "State of Non Return". It has one of the best lyrics in Al's career and is actually the most "heavy" and not so transcendental song regarding the music as it's angrier and a lot more dynamic than the others. 

"Traveler now reach the stream. The astral flight adapter.
From the pain-sheath life ascends - the Non-returner sees.
Empathy release me - and the phoenix rise triumphant.
And walks onto the certitude ground - the soul's submergence ends. "

My personal favourite (or second prize holder) is "Gethsemane". A little history:

"Gethsemane is a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem most famous as the place where, according to the gospels, Jesus and his disciples are said to have prayed the night before he was arrested, the day before his death. " Reading this you can imagine the concept behind the song. I myself always visualise in my mind a sort of a high celestial mount where priests have gathered in long robes. Al's vocals are really strong and slow as if he has a mission to tell a story from the Bible, not to sing his own lyrics. Drums and bass unite together to perform one of the most well-structured and balanced Om tunes ever. The song starts in this rather slow, "introductory" pace, like a mist forming near the top of a high mountain. The use of many instruments helps further for the creation of the magical atmosphere, especially the cello. I'd mark the cellist with an "A", but unfortunately I don't know his/her name. 

All songs on "Advaitic songs" are a fine piece of work. It is obvious that all the musicians, apart from Al and Emil, have put a great deal of soul and professionalism in it. It wouldn't have been complete without the fine use of cello and the female vocals in "Addis" and the gospel singing in "Sinai". These make the record really weird, but at the same time something you haven't heard before. I really like spinning this without missing a song or feeling bored for a second. This release is really a state of art, even on the Al Cisneros scale. 


Note: Full album.

Paul Chain - Alkahest (1995)


When someone asks you to describe a doom metal band these days it is not as easy as it would have been ten years ago. There is stoner doom, death doom, funeral doom, traditional doom and so on and the diversity is bigger than it used to be. While many people hate these classifications and prefer to refer to the music just as "doom", the classifications are also very much needed in order for one to make a proper description. Italian doom bands, however, always resemble other Italian doom bands regardless of their exact style. There is always this 'old' feeling, the smell of ancient times and this specific Italian flavor to the music that makes it sound Italian. 

While I like Paul Chain's albums, I must confess that having Lee Dorrian on "Alkahest" is what made it really pleasing for me. Okay, the truth is that I literally found myself jumping with exhilaration (as if Christmas presents had arrived two months earlier) when I found out that Lee is doing some of the vocals. 

To the point. As expected, my favourite tracks are the ones with Lee on vocals plus "Roses of Winter" and "Three Water". If I were to be a superhero I'd definitely choose "Voyage to Hell" for my theme song. Just hear that fucking starting riff, it is one of the most awesome, tight doom riffs and will literally make you piss in your pants from sheer exhilaration. The organ thing in the beginning prepares you to enter the church of evil doom. As if you're on the last level of a zombie apocalypse game - you know the tough shit is just going to come for you. Lee's vocals are excellent again, some of his best performances and sound as wicked as ever, but maybe a bit faster than his usual singing pace. Maybe some of the lyrics will help you emerge in the atmosphere. Prepare, you are going to be dragged to hell and back:

''The Goat of fire in me ablaze
Oh cosmic furnace I behold
In Hades summer you live there
I've pulled you through the seven gates''

I don't even need to mention the solo guitar, it slays. Paul Chain is a fucking genius when it comes to guitar solos, man. So well-fitting, towering, bad-ass doom stuff. Songs like "Sepulchral Life" sound like taken from an early Cathedral record, I almost wait for Gary Jennings to pop up from somewhere with his excellent guitar sound. Records like this one make me wonder how awesome can you get. "Sepulchral Life" is overflowing with awesome solos. You think "Fuck, this shit is too good" and here comes another one. Slow drums, Cathedralesque sound, Lee on vocals, Paul Chain solos - nah, this is too much for my little heart to bear.

Like on every good record that is not "Forest of Equilibrium" there are songs that stand out more than the rest and are obviously better in composition and overall mastership. "Alkahest" is no exception, but overall all songs are good "enough" to pass the ''mediocre'' level barrier. "Roses of Winter" is a sweet nod towards Sabbath's "Children of the Grave", having almost the same pace and everything. It just sounds like other version of the same song. The remaining part of the album is the usual Paul Chain - strange vocals, great guitar experimental work and a lot of velvet magic.

All in all, if you think of yourself as a Cathedral fan or fan of good doom in general, introduce your ears to this. It's nothing too slow or too heavy, but still absolutely awesome, at times creepy and EVIL. Long live evil doom. 

Note: No Lee version.

Abysmal Grief - Abysmal Grief (2007)

A ceremony for the ones below 



I'm very glad I discovered Abysmal Grief because their sound is totally different from the one of wave of  new doom metal bands bombarding from everywhere. As one can very easily see, doom is reaching its biggest popularity these days (if you can speak of popularity and doom at the same time). With the rising tide of the genre there also come hundreds of bands that A) try to play heavier and heavier B) slower and slower C) heavier and slower than anyone else. Oh wait, I forgot about those that try to be interesting by hiring pretty girls with tender voices as vocalists (this is very trendy now, you know, especially if you wear 70's style clothes as well). And what are the consequences from the things I mentioned? Many of these doom/occult rock/stoner bands sound very similar to one another. I said all these things just to inform you that Abysmal Grief do none of the mentioned 'tricks'.

When I first heard about the band, judging by the name I decided that they were either a death/doom or a funeral doom band. I was not very far from the truth, but I was not close either. However, while funeral and death doom are very heavy genres, the doom present here is a lot lighter. And here comes the biggest surprise - in spite of the overall lightness, this full-length does sound extremely miserable. It actually sounds like a slow funeral procession. What is most important for a doom record - the gloomy atmosphere, is the first thing that captures the mind when one plays it. The atmosphere in all of the songs on it is as like the one of a distant, lonely and ancient castle in a misty range. It is one of solitude and desolation. What helps for the base of the dismal feeling is the use of the keyboards that sound like an organ. And who wouldn't agree that this fantastic renaissance instrument doesn't make music grim? I was very lovely surprised by its use, because you don't very often hear metal bands that do it. Not only is the keyboard player fantastic, but he really adds up for most of the feelings of the album. Another big highlight are the guitar solos - they are long, slow and have that 'take me higher' awesomeness that is so characteristic for doom records. Maybe a bit of a letdown for me is the fact that the vocals tend to be too theatrical at times, however, if you enjoy Candlemass/Solitide Aeternus type of vocals, that will be no problem for you. 

I don't want to dissect every song piece by piece, because this can be quite boring for the reader so I'd keep to the basics. One more thing that should be said for this album is that there is also a gothic element to the sound. If you usually prefer pure doom with no such additions - don't worry, this is the first time I ever like such 'light' doom and maybe because regardless of not trying to be heavy, these guys managed to produce a real piece of misery and beauty. I attribute the medieval and authentic sound of the music to the fact that the musicians come from the historically rich home of Renaissance Italy - for indeed this music sounds like recorded in a cathedral. I advice you to check Abysmal Grief's 2007 album if you love the music sound and themes I described. 


Coffins - Mortuary in Darkness (2005)

Hide under the carpet, Coffins are coming! 


The term ''heavy metal'' is very unclear and ill-defined in our days. But seriously, what is heavy? The Japanese travelling slaughterhouse "Coffins" take ''heavy'' to a whole new level. The average heavy metal band these days sounds like a Britney Spears cover band in comparison to "Mortuary in Darkness". If you want to have a more well-shaped picture of what I am talking about, imagine Autopsy playing with an amp as high as Everest that blasts like the collision of tectonic plates.

Japan has some serious soldiers on the front of doom: Church of Misery and Boris to name just a few. One thing that I associate Japan with from the dawn on my childhood is the crazy horror movies they make. Apparently the guys have what to show with doom as well. But really, Coffins are a LOT heavier than even Boris. The band got its name from the heaviest Melvins' razor blade-like fucking song. Take that.

It's not just the playing of the instruments or the vocals; it's kind of hard to describe, but ''Mortuary in Darkness'' sounds to me is if I am trapped in a dark tunnel and Godzilla is coming to get me. Or the Basilisk if you wish. Choose your favourite horrific monster and use it. The guitar tone is too damn thick for even stoner metal. Coffins sound like Disembowelment's slowness and madness just had sex with Nihilist's demos. It's just that fucked up of an album.

The best song for me is "Slaughter of Gods". It does everything that old school death is about and is presented in an upbeat and fresh way. This is the only song that fits the death metal idea as the other ones are more doom/death as the tempo is brutally slow, reminding me of Hooded Menace's debut album, but even more smelly and obscure. Yeah I know, I also thought that this was pretty impossible, but, in fact, it is. This album is so twisted, down- tuned, and heavy that it barely leaves oxygen in the torture room. One more good thing is that Coffins have learned their lesson well and don't forget the good solo part at the end of the songs...you know, good doom/death is always more spicy with a slow towering solo.

There's not much missing on this release. It's even nothing missing and maybe if there were at least one or two more upbeat songs, my rating of the album would be even higher. It's not such a fantastic idea that the fastest song on your album to be the first one. When you leave this aside, "Mortuary in Darkness" is actually the most you could want from this genre.


High Priest of Saturn - S/t demo (2012)

This is what people on Saturn listen to 


High Priest of Saturn - does that sound to you like a fucking heavy stoner/doom that is out of this world? If not, it should. I was randomly browsing through youtube in a quest for new stoner/doom bands that I've missed and I just stumbled upon these guys from Norway. Norway is not famous for stoner doom, but this doesn't matter, because this extraordinary band has created a real masterpiece of magic in their first EP.

The first effort of this band, and let's not use the word ''effort", because this music really sounds eerie and unstrained, consists of two songs, both around 10 minutes. At first glance someone might think that 10 minutes is too much for a single song but just like some of my other favourite bands (Sleep, Reverend Bizarre) High Priest of Saturn have managed to create something absolutely amazing and the 10 minutes pass like 1.

"The Protean Towers" , the opener track, totally deserves the name. The guitar riff starts very slowly accompanied by the very gentle drum cymbals and builds in for some time while you feel like climbing a really high mountain somewhere in the Middle East. The clouds draw back to make way for majestic sights. What I like most about this track is that it is fucking atmospheric and absolutely trippy. The riffs are pretty slow, but never too slow so the song never gets boring. Lead singer Merethe sounds like a magical priestess from another world. Her vocals really remind me of another favourite singer - Al Cisneros. The words come slowly, unforced and in perfect harmony with the other instruments. Around minute 4 the most Sleep-like solo breaks in - having to be honest, I must confess that this is what really fascinated me about these guys - I've never heard someone who does the fucking solos exactly like Sleep. The best solo in the world, which is on side C in Sleep's holy grail Dopesmoker starts in exactly the same way. Some people hate bands that "copy" but I have nothing against that as long as the music sounds genuine and awesome.

The second track, "Crawling King Snake" doesn't differ very much from "The Protean Towers" and that makes me really glad. There are no big variations in the speed and the second track builds in in the same way as the opener. One more thing that I like about the high priests is that they use organ in their songs - this adds more awesomeness to the already magical music. In the solo of this song I can find both cosmic rays and Sahara dust, it's so out-of-this-place that one's imagination flies to many different places. The way Marethe repeates:

"And we are nothing, and we are nothing
And no one knows my name"

in a unison with another killer solo just makes me wonder how mesmarizing could this EP become?!

I rarely become so excited about a stoner/doom band even though this is my favourite genre in the world and this must speak for itself. I'm totally buying these guys's self titled debut, which will be released in March 2013 and I advice you to do the same.

 

Note: This version of the song is from the s/t, not the demo.

The Moon Mistress - Silent Voice Inside (2012)

Where is the Goat? 


If you have come across this band, it probably means that you're into doom metal and wondered whether to check these guys or not. The answer is immediate YES! So now, the reasons.

The Moon Mistress are original. They might have not discovered the moon with this album, but each song is different from the other and "Silent Voice Inside" flows perfectly. These guys have overcome the problem that many young bands in this genre face and that's repetitiveness and the lack of real emotions. This is an example of how new "old school-sounding" doom metal bands should play even when their album is not recorded in the times of old..

Another reason why this album kicks ass is that all the instruments are in harmony. You have cool drums, a cool guitar sound, perfect bass, and flawlessly-fitting vocals. Some other bands I've heard recently had this problem: an amazing guitar player, but the drummer sucks so much you can't fully enjoy the record, or all the instruments kick ass, but the vocals are damn fucked. There's nothing of that sort here. You have Electric Wizard-like riffs, great melodies, slowness that never gets boring, and distant HIGH as a kite vocals. So now if you wonder what perfect doom metal is, go listen to "The Wicker man". Being 10:27 in length , it's a crushing trip to the coolest of universes. First it starts slowly and then breaks off massively. A great song that doesn't get boring for a second. Oh yes, my first thought was "wtf, Hellhammer meets The Wizard". Guess how cool that is.

What else can I say? The best thing is this record won't bore you. I spun it 4 times and it sounded better and better and I bet it will keep sounding even more and more awesome.


неделя, 9 юни 2013 г.

Witchsorrow - God Curse Us (2012)

DOOM TO THE BONE. 

 

To begin with, it is obvious to everyone who cares for the development of the doom metal scene that this genre is currently in its heyday (if you look at the past twenty years). Therefore, many new bands emerge - some decent, some really crappy. With the beginning of this review I'd like to point out that Witchsorrow are of the few bands that can bear the flag of doom with pride.

Everything about these guys is doom. In the good, real sense. From the name, to the cover of the record to the most important aspect - the music. I'm going to shoot straight - this album is for the keenest doom metallers out there - SLOW as fuck and it might not be appealing for the ordinary metalhead. No sludge inspired vocals, no "vintage" sounding girls covered with leather. This is pure, slow doom in the veins of Reverend Bizarre. Even the fastest song on this album is like a snail, so beware. There are many bands who tend to combine fast with slow songs in their doom records in order not to bore the listener. There are very few bands like Cathedral who have the balls to produce records like "Forest of Equilibrium". Here is where we come to the point - Witchsorrow definitely have the balls to do that, because this is perfect slow doom with no compromise.

I'm not going to judge the songs seperately, because all of them are really good songs, but here are some details. "Aurora Atra" is a fantastic opener, because it prepares you for what is going to follow. If you don't like it - don't listen to the next songs. It is very slow, with dreamy, but heavy vocals. And last but not least, it has the typical fast solo in the end of the song, which is very common in doom metal and especially in most Witchsorrow songs. It is easy for one to notice that most songs follow this song structure - slow riffage, tortured vocals and then bum! super fast solo. Which is good, because it apperently works. The next song "God curse us" is also perfect doom, because it serves ideally for its purpose - it is fantastically slow, but totally not boringl. Also, the repeated verse "God curse us, everyone" could be a highlight at live shows. "Master of Nothing" is probably the slowest this album can become. You would like this song if you love really slow stuff, which I especially do. But I guess it can be quite boring for someone who is not into that kind of stuff. The next songs are really gloomy, slow and mythical. So the whole record follows pretty much the same path.



As people say, there are passangers for every train. If you like heavy doom with pure vocals, this is your record!

Horse Latitudes - Gathering (2010)

DROWN AND BURIED 



Horse Latitudes have their roots deep down in cold and dark Finland and If there was a competition about gloomiest underground band of the year, I bet they could compete with the most evil funeral doom bands out there. I read at various places that these guys have taken their name from a Doors song, but I guess they just wanted to use the meaning of the term. This is one of the band names that perfectly fits the band. For those who don't know, Horse Latitudes or Subtropical High are subtropical latitudes between 30 and 35 degrees both north and south. This is a still and empty region. For example, the Sahara Desert in Africa. I tell you this just to try to prepare you for the sound of the album.

The feeling one gets from listening to this band is bleak and nihilistic. There is no single ray of sunlight in this record. As you may have noticed, the use of guitar is not present, only two basses. I, as a fan of bands like OM (which relies mostly on their bass for music completeness) was instantly interested to hear what these people have done with the usage of the two bass guitars. I am very glad to say I was not disappointed at all, because this is one of the darkest records I've listened in the last few years. The music on 'Gathering' is just as simple as the cover of it and the name of the record. But just as them, it is as mysterious. The vocals are clear, but not in the way one imagines clear vocals. They are distant and miserable and at times I have the feeling that I'm listening to a priest chanting. This is actually the best part of the record for me - the vocals. Despite the fact that the vocalist sounds very blue and miserable, he somehow managed to sound epic at the same time, which gives the music eerie and high feeling, especially on "Seas of Saturn". The song name is very appropriate for it, because listening to it really feels like swimming in a cold nothingness. The bass guitars hit like a gravedigger's spade digging into the sad and lonely ground. What I really like about the whole conception of the album is that it has some tribal and pagan thing to it, even if this is not said with actual words or not shown directly as many modern folk bands do. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing folk in the music of Horse Latitudes, I just want to say that for me it feels like listening at a tribal meeting. All the songs are longer than 9 minutes (except for the last one). This is one more thing that helps you to drown in the atmosphere.

I think that the direction Horse Latitudes have taken from their debut is really promising and I sure as hell enjoyed everything they put out so far. There are certain things that can be improved, for example the drumming should be more audiable and varied, because right now it is rather monotonous and repeated. Also, more variations at the bass chants could do very well.. for instance, a change in the dynamics. Still, this is one pretty decent record for the lovers of slow and heavy music.

Electric Wizard - Supercoven (1998)



 

Whirlwind. Braindamage. SUPERmindcrash. These are words that 'try' to describe SUPERCOVEN - an ep that I consider better than most full-length albums ever recorded. But words are only words, and they so brutally fail to capture the beauty of Electric Wizard. That's why you will never read a proper review of the mighty wizard, for Jus Oborn's music is just so good and not out of this world. Supercoven gathers in itself '60s psychedelia, doom metal, stoner rock, and of course some material from the cosmos that is still not named.

The first track, SuperMIGHTYcoven, starts off with something that to me sounds (and looks) like a pink bubble dissolving into fluorescent green gas of the oceans of Saturn. I say 'gas' because water is just not thick enough to describe the sound of the song, the EP, or early Electric Wizard in general. After the dissolving of the bubbles that to someone might also sound like the departure of a rocket to outer space, you receive riffage that goes for some time and then the God-like voice of Mr. Oborn joins the engine of the machine and starts summoning the black sun master. The guitars and riffage try to prepare you for the climax of the song where you should already be in the end of your mind's capacity:

"Mindless fuckin' slaves, You're mindless slaves."

After these lines I just fail to say what the guitar does. If I had to paint it, it would look like a huge river where other small rivers mix their waters in the colours of the rainbow, but in more fluorescent overtones. And gasoline bubbles surrounding them in the air. Wait, is there any air in space? To me, this song is absolutely flawless and perfect in the framework of perfection that The Wizard built during the years. It will sound to your ears like reading the best H.P. Lovecraft story combined with drinking ambrosia.

Burnout follows in the footsteps of its brother. It has the same amount of psyche in the music, only the lyrical content is EVEN more drugged and "chemical stained". It is the story of a guy who is so high and out of his mind (but unlike other songs about drugs he is okay with that) that he can't feel anything about the world. I, not being a drug abuser (how lame), relate it to myself in a deeper way, especially:

"Dreams turned black I'll never see
Can't you see, nothing is real
Transparent world I cannot feel
I cannot feel."     



This is the best thing about Electric Wizard, and even the outsiders of the outsiders have something to relate to. For me, this EP passes not like 13 minutes and then 18, but like 3 seconds and then 8. Judge for yourself. As my best friend often says, "If I hear that live, I'd blow my soul off".


Overall, the production sounds very analog, the vocals and drumming are not being emphasized on, but the guitar does its magic. Electric Wizard are to be listened to in the dark when you're alone or in a smoke-filled club. Or anywhere maybe because they just steal the light away.