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.