Review

Earth, Primitive and Deadly

Torn by the Fox of the Crescent Moon. Opens in medias res-ishly with unusually-straightforward (for Earth) metal riff (an awesome one) occasionally punctuated by sitar-like guitars draped over it, then some thirds and/or minor thirds wafting across the sound field, barely noticed, not unlike irony in the south, or the sweet smell of the little sugar in a proper Earl Grey. Heavier than their last two records (three, really; it’s the Kill Bill dilemma: is it one movie in two parts, or two movies? One, I think, so by that rationale, I’m talking about Earth’s last two records, The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull, and Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light. Got that? Sure you do; you’re a smart kid), and a bit more rhythmic, in that there’s a bit less rubato and the whole liquid, gooey sonic mess is more coagulated, hangs together more tightly, and in that, comes off as even heavier, even more ominous. It’s nine minutes, nearly, but you don’t notice: the mark of good writing/composing. Last twenty seconds it lumbers downward, knees failing the sonic behemoth, the aural leviathan, and the clangor and clamor of the percussive pandemonium roiling downward into dust from which it shall be indistinguishable, like a detonated building, the roof suddenly so much nearer sea level….

No idea about that title, though.

There is a Serpent Coming. Sounds more like the previous records, though vocals enter after about a minute; reinforces Earth’s similarity to a sick, Crimean cholera hospital blues preacher (just imagine it: Jesus, do I have to conjure all the imagery here?)– his choir’s behind him, lapsteel to feedback singers, all fading into this, their slow inexorable death from the dysentery-spewing disease….

Or maybe radiation poisoning. Yeah, that simile works better. Radiation poisoning. Their gray-blue skin mottled with dehydration and cellular Armageddon, smiling from the morphine. Fading…. Out.

From the Zodiacal Light. Also with the singing; the female singer works a bit better here; overall, not as good as the instrumental tracks. Grows on you, especially the “swelling” vocal styles, which seem like the sonic equivalent of molten gold in a lava lamp, swimming up into pitch so slowly you doubt it’s gonna happen, but every four bars, always does. Something like waiting for every sunrise with the tiny, tiny chance that the great burning ball in the sky won’t make it up in time. Title? As is the norm with Earth, they almost all sound like they’re intentionally oblique/cryptic, like nearly everything Pandoran psychos say out in the Borderlands. This one’s twelve minutes, but around the eight-minute mark, you do notice the length. By twelve minutes you wish it was as succinct as Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner. The song.

Even Hell has its Heroes. Now that’s a title. That’s a title. That’s what I’m talking about. That title is fresh, funky, fly, the bomb, bootylicious and dope. No diggity. Seriously, no diggity. Sounds almost like acoustic Sunn 0))) –no surprise considering their bassist– one chord; don’t even need to call it a “tonic” since there aren’t other tones, okay there are, but they’re pretty frickin’ rare. I’m going for colorful exaggeration here, people. If I said, “Mostly in E, but drops to D for a second, then goes back to E,” your eyes would prolly glaze over. Amirite? Also, occasionally hits a F. Also nearly ten minutes, but it’s a fun ten. It’s a fun ten.

Rooks across the gates. Opens with alien wind chimes. You half expect a green, radioactive Mr. Burns to show up and wish you love. Then, without warning, an absolute Goddamn flurry of third chords flitting about each other, sometimes seemingly not in tune, yet somehow working, the dramatic tension making the final resolve more satisfying, like the click into place of a seatbelt, or the slide on an automatic. Like a kaleidoscope that ever so rarely becomes one color, then back, to all the varieties in light, competing for space/ dancing.  Also with the singing of devils, deals, loss, regret, nostalgia, twilight sojourns. Of just kingdoms long dead from treachery.

Of barbarians in the distance, and barbarians… at the gate.

The entire song is the last note of lesser songs– just ringing out, fading, across nine minutes instead of the thirty seconds you might expect.

I’m writing this at work; the setting is encouraging me to be more prolix. More loquacious. Verbose, even. I’m also trying to look annoyed –so I look busy– as I enjoy the afterlife damnation out of this record.

Badgers Bane. No apostrophe. A morose, down-tuned pop band’s requiem. That they play, not one written for them. Aaron Copeland’s requiem mass written on laudanum.

Link to Earth’s Bandcamp

New Doom– The Upcoming Evoken’s Atra Mors & Wizard Smoke’s The Tickler EP… and three more you may’ve missed

Been gone for a minute, now I’m back with a doom-off….

As a present, a sacrifice, an offering, a supplication… for you, the doom hound, the stoner freak, the sludge lord… here’s new doom scheiße— reviews of Evoken’s upcoming Atra Mors, the new EP The Tickler from Wizard Smoke (holy shit!), and a “Have you forgotten about…?” sesh with Witchsorrow, Stoned Jesus and Ramesses.

Method

1) Chemicals introduced into subject (aka reviewer’s) bloodstream, mangoes consumed approximately one hour prior (look it up);

2) Albums played, at random, through substantial speakers at bowel-rumbling volume– subject unaware of each album artist initially.

Participants/ Results

Album1 [Evoken’s Atra Mors]: death vocals, unearthly chants, like Sunn O))) with tribal drums from the prehistoric amazon, drums plod but like they love to plod, simple riffs over and over and over; long songs usually over 10 minutes– so much bass it is relaxing and numbing, very mantra-ish, makes me wanna light incense and meditate… an otherworldly power here….

Album 2 [Ramesses’ Take the Curse]: mighty massive riffs, stiff drums that somehow work, black metal rasp as vocals that become Crowbar-ish during the more-melodic chorus, with maybe a bit of Orange Goblin– this is weed-by-way-of-Jack-Daniel’s-riffs: almost biker-ish but somehow too stoner… the flatted-fifth riffs sway and slosh like the tide on a distant planet with three moons and pervasive ocean coverage, sucking you in, making you sway with them to infinity but somehow you love them for it, like an infernal Stockholm syndrome….

More blast beats and black metal rasp, which quickly turns into an ugly, gaping wound of a diabolus in musica riff that wouldn’ve gotten you burned at the stake 400 years ago… speaking of which, wouldn’t “Torquemada” be a great stoner/ doom band name…? Anyhoo… many samples from old horror movies, ones generally religious/ satanic in nature… the riffs here, though with more treble than the previous album, are somehow more threatening and hard and real and present and dangerous…plaintive vocals with many layers seem to bemoan, bleatingly, their lot in life, or herein, more probably their death.. like the Wood of the Suicides, as they wail “Burn…! Burn! Burn!” at one point….

Album 3 [Stoned Jesus’ Seven Thunders Roar]: sounds like Witchcraft, or less like Graveyard, stoner rock that wants to be from the 70s… memorable riffs that could be from a lost Kansas recording session, one that got only a bit out of hand… very good stoner rock, but nothing beyond the high (bong)water marks of the genre….

AAAAAAAND… shit just got real: this fucker has decided to simply play out the utility of  their lowest string (here what I think is drop C tuning), to the stoner metal/rock version of the end of Pantera’s “Domination,” and, though much slower, just as ferocious and intense… (the end of “Electric Mistress”).

Album 4: [ Witchsorrow’s Witchsorrow] More of a NWOBHM intro here, but catchy and intense, not unlike Devil’s recent offering… a bit like Mercyful Fate, were they more doomy… almost 70s cock rock that just didn’t care quite enough to make the radio… anger without enthusiasm, i.e., depression….

Album 5: [Wizard Smoke’s The Tickler]: very brief, for doom metal, psychedelic intro, then with a charging, you should listen to this driving through the desert type riff, almost like Ministry’s “Jesus built my hotrod…” Then that oh so familiar, vocal-chord-shredding vocal from Wizard Smoke’s singer James Halcrow… next track intros with the first line “Oh, stop your crying, it doesn’t taste that bad…” which is a fucking awesome way to start a song… said song continues to swagger and sway its cocksure blend of stoner metal and rock with a bit of doom in the background… if The Tickler isn’t a fave of the denizens of this site upon its release, I’ll be amazed.

Conclusions

Dude– they’re all awesome or I wouldn’t be writing about them. Check any of them out (and The Tickler when it’s released) and you, my friend, will do well.

Yob, Atma

Okay, so, not as “metal” as previous effort Great Cessation–more hippy, more earthy, tuned up from A to B– but just as cool.

Warm, ritualistic, definitely-spiritual somehow, maybe religious-in-the-formal-sense, while at the same time being friendly, accessible, again, hippy-ish in its lack of hostility and openness to the listener.

Opens with the simple B riff of “Prepare the Ground” with its blend of tribal-funky and crushing. (No easy feat, that.)

Mike Scheidt and his Geddy Lee-ish high-end vocals welcome you, though direly, after one minute of rain and distant church bells at the beginning of  the title track, and about halfway through it revolves around a triplet-on-the-low-string riff, the rhythm section lurching in and out, a voiceover popping up now and again.

“Before We Dreamed Of Two,” with its chant-like backup vocals at around 4:00, reminds me of every Zen retreat I’ve even been to– and is also metal as fuck.

Scheidt and his voice reiterate the great juxtaposition here: the vocals are the venom in the syrup, the arsenic in the punch– they’re raspy, often rageful and somewhat black metal-ish, and they contrast well with the slow, reverent riffs from which Atma is built.

How does it compare to older releases? It’s more immediate. Whereas the beginning of The Great Cessation, when that first low A chord bottoms out and just fucking resounds like a heartstring from the House of Usher, was a mighty, distant, massive Heraldic Summoning by the Gods (seriously– when you meet your God, if it doesn’t sound like that, change religions), Atma is a much subtler, more organic kind of mighty, like the old hippy playing his low tuned lapsteel guitar on the street corner, who gives you the impression he’s the embodiment of some Very Old Wisdom, and is only toying with you by being in the human form in the first place.

Atma is just as powerful as its predecessor, but much more “after-hours jam session at a tiny bar” versus Cessation‘s Roar From The Temples.

Frankly, I would’ve been just as satisfied with Cessation II– but this is an awesome surprise and riff on/evolution of that classic Yob sound. Definitely top 5 of the year.

Amy Winehouse & Tony Bennett: Body & Soul

It’s the old standard you know, filled-in/ fleshed out by two very different yet complimentary vocal styles– Bennett, patient and laid-back, Winehouse eager, angry and playing the lows much more than the man here– it’s a very cool version of a tune that came out 81 years ago.

[As cool as this version is, don’t listen to this or this— the Billie Holiday and her Supreme versions– they’ll ruin you for anyone else.]

Enjoy

Kings Destroy, And the Rest Will Surely Perish

Via The Soda Shop:

Rockabilly sludge? Stoner country? Redneck doom?

Any mashup of country and downtempo/ metal works, really– if Waylon Jennings (or Shooter) developed a taste for detunage. Pretty cool, actually. And not what I expected, especially from a band from Brooklyn composed of artists from Killing Time, Man’s Ruin and Upper Cut.

The second track, “Dusty Mummy,” opens with a combination of a laconic sludgy riff with volume swells that sound like whale calls over it. “The Whittler” is a laid back heavy blues, “Planet XXY” evokes the Black Crowes with slack-stringed Gibson SGs, and “Old Yeller” is Ozzy singing with St. Vitus.

Fave tracks: Dusty Mummy, Old Yeller, but And the Rest Will Surely Perish is consistent; if you like one, you’ll like all.

Nothing revolutionary here, but it’s clearly not trying to be. Good traditional doom with a few quirks, worth your time– and a muggy Louisiana Saturday night.

myspace

NYMF, Self-titled

Me, via The Soda Shop:

Look at the album cover: quick–what kind of band is this?

Maybe you’re hip and you already knew. But I bet you, like me, were completely wrong.

One of life’s little pleasures, I think, is being exposed to a form of art completely virgin: that is, without knowing a single thing about it beforehand. Years ago two friends brought me to see The Usual Suspects in the theater, and I hadn’t even heard of it. The delight I felt from watching a great movie completely fresh was awesome.

I didn’t know a single thing about Swedish band NYMF. Didn’t even know what NYMF stands for.

While they’re not on par with the greatness of The Usual Suspects, they were surprisingly good.

So, satanic/ occult cover aside, NYMF could best be characterized as:

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