Posts Tagged ‘Doom’

Panurus Productions – 5th March 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Bunker is pitched as ‘A heavy shelling from the York based two-piece’ and the drum and bass – and no, certainly not drum ‘n’ bass – duo offer up a monster that, despite having only seven tracks, runs to almost an hour in duration.

On a personal level, there’s a certain degree of pride here: for so many years, York sat under the shadow of Shed 7, as if they were the only band the city had ever produced. And while in terms of commercial success, there’s a certain truth to that, the dreary indie landfill merchants’ success eclipsed everything else – although again, for some years, everything else seemed to consist of largely acoustic blues, which is great for background on a night down the pub, but ultimately, variety is the spice of life, and the last decade has seen York’s diversity thrive – thanks in no small part to supportive venues giving truly alternative acts a platform. And the more diversity is showcased, the more breeds. And so, out of this melting pot emerged PAK40, mining a seam of stoner / doom, but with a keenly experimental edge that really set them apart.

This is all explored in full here, and it bulldozes in on a cascade of feedback that emerges into a lumbering riff on the deep psych grind of ‘Sausage Roll’, the first of three tracks which originally appeared on the ‘Crusts’ demo release a couple of years ago. When they take it down a notch, there’s a certain swagger to the strolling bassline, a subtle jazz swing to the percussion – nothing fancy, just a bit of groove. There are vocals and other details echoing away low in the mix, and it’s quite spacious and trippy. And when the distortion kicks back in, it’s fat and dirty.

‘Rain’ spreads out sedately over a whopping ten minutes, taking its time wandering an almost blues-tinged modern psychedelic territory (off the cuff references to Desert Mountain Tribe and Ghold come to mind) before bringing the weight. It’s a slow-burning, meandering effort that holds back more than it gives until the final couple of minutes.

When they do ‘proper’ vocal songs, as on ‘Hollow Man’, said vocals are all but buried by the grumbling, buzzing bass, and a shedload of reverb. And when they do shift from strolling psych to unleashing the riffs proper, they really do grind ‘em out. ‘U-96’ goers more post-punk minimal, but packs a massive kick at the end.

The heavy afterburn of ‘Pyramid’ is scorching, but it’s almost inevitable that the fourteen-minute ‘Elephant’ should be the album’s centrepiece, and it looms like a monolith in every sense, and encapsulates the entirety of PAK40’s sound and scope in one truly epic composition. It does low and slow, a crawling, stealthy intro taking its time and taking its time and taking its time, through a gradual build, with real suspense and atmosphere developing.. and when the riff crashes in – fuck yes, does it crash in, hard and heavy.

Closing off with the title track, a mere seven minute jaunt, they really step up the volume and it’s some weighty drone that drifts like a pea-souper fog from the speakers as they go full Sunn O))). And it’s absolutely glorious. These are the kind of crushing power chords you can simply bask in as they fill every inch of your being. It’s immense and borders on transcendental. You don’t just hear it, but you feel it.

Bunker feels like a full summary of the band’s range and vision, and it’s both accomplished and exciting, and creates a real anticipation of more to come.

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Invada Records – 29th January 2021

On the strength of a brace of tumultuous single releases, anticipation for Divide and Dissolve’s upcoming album was pretty hot. And with Gas Lit, they’re positively on fire.

With the aim ‘to undermine and destroy the white supremacist colonial framework and to fight for Indigenous Sovereignty, Black and Indigenous Liberation, Water, Earth, and Indigenous land given back’ Divide and Dissolve wear their difference from so much of the scene with pride: they certainly don’t look like your average doom duo. But then, nor do they sound like it either.

They may only be two in number, but Takiaya Reed (saxophone, guitar, live effects/ (Black & Tsalagi [Cherokee]) and Sylvie Nehill (drums, live effects/ (Māori) incorporate an array of unconventional instrumental elements into their immense sound, most notably saxophone. But it certainly doesn’t really lighten the tone with some groovy jazz notes, or even some wilder free-jazz, either.

Granted, the opening bars of the first track, ‘Oblique’ are gentle, soothing, orchestral and with hints of neoclassical or soundtrack music even, but it’s simply a lure before the barrelling drone of low, overdriven guitars so distorted as to melt into a drone, propelled by a frenzy of thunderously heavy percussion. And in the background, brass so mournful as to sound sadder and more lonely than a solitary burial in the middle of the Sahara. It’s a bleak and desolate sound, and one that’s utterly compelling.

‘Prove It’ is pure density, a heavy drone guitar with a sound that’s thick and grainy flows like a mudslide. The blank monotone spoken word vocal on ‘Did You Have Something to Do With It?’ is detached, and disconnected as it speaks of dark thoughts and actions against a sparse, minimal backdrop. It’s eerie and ominous, and sounds more like a segment lifted from a documentary about a serial killer – and in the context of the album, it serves as an unsettling interlude, which provides brief respite sonically only to exchange the aural terror with something sociopathic and equally disturbing.

Seven-and-a-half-minute single cut ‘Denial’ hammers in hard with a yawning drone of guitar that sounds more like a churning earthwork, the drum beats like detonations, before tapering away to leave a haunting scene, the serpentine scales full of an ancient ant elusive mysticism. But it becomes increasingly scratchy and more decayed… and then ‘Far From Ideal’ bulldozes in, obliterating everything in its wake, before things get even heavier, darker, and murkier with the trudging sludge of ‘It’s Really Complicated’.

‘Mental Gymnastics’ is another short piece, and another one which evokes distant lands in ancient times, unknowable wisdom lost in the sands of time, before single release ‘We Are Really Worried About You’, grinds its way to the end on a tsunami of a riff, and it leaves you breathless.

It’s clear that Divide and Dissolve really grasp the power of dynamics, but also have a unique way of rendering those dynamics, not just in terms off the all-important volume changes, but in how they explore mood. More than this, they transcend conventions and standard doom tropes and incorporate myriad stylistic and cultural elements, and so do astoundingly naturally. For all the weight, there’s a bold majesty about Gas Lit that may be difficult to pinpoint but which permeates its very fabric. And for all of these reasons, Gas Lit feels different – and hits so incredibly hard.

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Multidimensional duo Divide and Dissolve share the video for “Prove It”, originally released as a stand alone single in 2019, and appearing on their forthcoming album Gas Lit (Invada, 29th Jan).

The visual expression of Divide and Dissolve’s message has varied across each of their music videos to date (revisit “We Are Really Worried About You” and “Denial”) but the intention of the music remains unchanged: to undermine and destroy the white supremacist colonial framework and to fight for Indigenous Sovereignty, Black and Indigenous Liberation, Water, Earth, and Indigenous land given back.

About this latest single, Divide and Dissolve explains, “Prove It – calls into question the need to prove you experienced something. If someone wasn’t there to witness it, it still happened and may have caused harm. Colonial power structures, power dynamics, and societal expectations rely on Black, Indigenous, and people of colour being Gas Lit and denying our experiences, because the predominant white supremacist narrative demands us to. When a tree falls in the forest, it has fallen. Prove It is about the acceptance of experiences of pain without expectation.”

Watch ‘Prove It’ here:

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Magnetic Eye Records – 11th December 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Often, the measure of a band’s quality is in their live performance, especially in the domain of metal when you’re up close and can feel the force, the viscerality and the volume – although these things don’t always necessarily translate to the live recording.

Magnetic Eye Records’ document of flagship band Horsehunter ‘destroying onstage at the “Day of Doom” label showcase at Brooklyn’s Saint Vitus Bar’ in November 2019 at the event held to commemorate the label’s 10th anniversary definitely does translate and makes for an absolute monster of a life album.

The four tracks are almost a quarter of an hour apiece, and the audio quality is exceptional – that is to say, studio sound with the added bonus of live volume. Yes, this SOUNDS loud. Played through speakers and given room to breathe, the sense of volume is suffocating and exactly the way it should be – like you’re in the room as the band lay down monstrous riffs.

For the most part, the pace is a crawl, the chords grinding out slow and sludgy, with throat-ripping vocals in the middle of the mix. Around five minutes into ‘Nuclear Rupture’ things slow to the point of almost stopping, and time stalls, and in this hanging moment we find the absolute essence of Horsehunter: that moment of perfect tension that hangs before the next chord crashes in like a landslide with a power that is utterly decimating in its destruction.

There is beauty to behold, but it’s the kind of beauty elicited in the watching of the bombing of Hiroshima in slow-motion. And with its frenetic guitar solo work and gut-churning bass that thunders across the abyss with earthquake-inducing force, this live recording is little short of devastating.

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As the world reels from a deadly pandemic and the U.S veers towards civil war, 13,890 nuclear weapons lie dormant. In their first single since signing to APF records, Indica Blues’ imagine a catastrophic very-near-future scenario in which current world events lead to all-out war and nuclear annihilation: We Are Doomed.

Indica Blues (in-deh-ka) are a four-piece psychedelic doom band from Oxford, U.K. Once described as ‘bong filling rock that is platinum heavy, but blessed with a melodic sensibility underneath it all,’ the band’s unique sound has garnered fans across the world since their formation in 2014. They have gigged with stoner rock luminaries such as Elder, Samsara Blues Experiment and Mars Red Sky.

On the new video for ‘We Are Doomed,’ Tom Pilsworth (guitars/vocals) comments, “This song is our vision of near future nuclear annihilation, written in response to the chaotic world events of the last four years. We spent six hours in pouring rain at an abandoned cold war missile facility with director Josh Horwood and his team, and he couldn’t of done a better job. We hope people enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed making it.”

The video reminds us just how much we miss seeing bands knocking out heavy chords in small rooms. This shit hurts. It’s a top video though.

Watch the video now:

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4th December 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Bandcamp Fridays have been providing a rare and unique lifeline for struggling artists, and while times are still ridiculously tight in what continue to be utterly bewildering times which have hit the music industry where it really hurts – namely grass-roots venues and the artist who depend on them – the opportunity for artists to actually make a proper revenue from sales or downloads and physical releases is a big deal.

And if one thing’s become apparent, its that artists are going all-out to create releases that offer something different for their fans, and the unexpected arrival of an EP of 90s grunge covers from U.S doom quartet Embr.

Recorded in August of this year – in an actual studio, no less – with Matt Washburn (Mastodon, Royal Thunder, Artimus Pyledriver) the EP finds the band bringing a full-blooded sludge tone and a doomy, old-school, Sabbath-esque twist to four songs by leading exponents of the grunge era – with each member of the band selecting a song for inclusion.

Confession time: I absolutely fucking loved Nirvana, and still do. Alive in Chains, I dug, but never really found any enthusiasm for Stone Temple Pilots or Soundgarden, preferring Mudhoney, and the greasy heft of Tad. Nevetheless, what’s clearly apparent from listening to these four cuts is the degree of sincere affection for the songs and the sound that’s on display here. Moreover, they’ve done a great job of selecting songs that suit their own sound, showcasing the strengths of the original songs while sounding like Embr. It’s also something of a revelation hearing songs originally sung by men delivered by a female vocalist, and again, that they’ve pitched them in Crystal Bigalow’s range is a major factor in their success.

If the half-tempo trudge of their take on ‘Heart Shaped Box’ (Crystal’s choice) takes some getting used to, its impact – as the immense power chords drive down hard and heavy – is strong. The ultra-low bass that rumbles at a crawl through the stripped-back second verse is worth the money alone, but ‘Junkhead’ is probably the heaviest track here – which is no real surprise, given that AIC were always at the most overtly metal end of the spectrum in the grunge canon.

Then again, despite the rather poppy middling rock chorus, the repetitive chord sequence of ‘Mailman’ is well suited to a sludgy trudge-along, and ultimately, Embr have done a good job, making Idolatry well worth a punt.

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Panurus Productions – 4th December 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Although August is the peak of the British summer, its end often seems to mark a sharp shift into Autumn; less a transition than a rapid cut. It’s a trick of the mind and a distortion of memory, of course, but summers always seemed longer and hotter in childhood; the realisation that what once felt like an infinite expanse of time which was free to fill or squander at will is, in fact, but a heartbeat in a life is a source of deep anguish. There is never enough time. No-one ever lay on their death-bed lamenting that they wished they’d spent more time watching repeats of Bargain Hunt or Homes Under the Hammer or whatever, no-one complains that they read to many books or spent too much time living their life, do they? The torment of a constant awareness of the passage of time is self-sabotaging, as the paralysis of panic grips hard. And pitched as ‘a screaming elegy for lost moments and isolation’, this is precisely what Centuries of August, which takes its title from a line from a poem by the solitary and reclusive Emily Dickinson, articulates.

If everything seems to be dominated by themes of isolation and derangement in 2020, then perhaps that’s because the magnitude of the events – or non-events – we’re living though exit on a scale that is truly all-consuming. Even the most introverted and reclusive are finding the isolation difficult to deal with: there’s a world of difference from choosing not to go out and see people, and not having the choice, especially as for many, music events provide a safe space where it’s possible to feel included and among people without the need for the kind of forced interaction that’s part and parcel of the workplace, and where it’s possible to experience a sense of community and collectivism without conforming to the less comfortable social conventions.

2020 has revealed new shades of darkness, and Centuries of August expresses anxiety, panic, rage, fear, isolation, in every one of those shades – as long as it’s black.

It’s a low, ominous synth drone that brings fear chords like creeping mist in a graveyard that marks the stealthy arrival of ‘Ripe for Solitude, Exhausted by Life’ – before all hues of murky black metal hell break loose. It’s a thunderous tempest of the darkest, densest noise, pounding hard and fast, before eventually dissipating once more into to quiet clouds of synth.

‘The Breezes Bought by Dejected Lutes’ is by no means the Elizabethan romantic piece the title suggests, but a savage blast of bleak and brutal mid-range sludge. There are drums, guitars, and vocals in the mix somewhere, but everything is a grimy blur and it’s impossible to identify anything distinctly.

Quavering dark ambience cast shadowy shades of gloom over the opening moments of ‘This Lamentable Autumn’; a picked lead guitar line adds a rich, brooding atmosphere, and then there’s everything else, coughed up from the very bowels of hell, a swirling sonic fog that goes beyond pea soup to the consistency of treacle, and wading through the barren soundscape for sic and a half minutes almost precisely recreates the experience of the last eight months in sound, before eight-minute closer ‘Under the Lowering Sky’ bulldozes in with cranium-crushing density.

That Centuries of August takes the lo-fi production values of the genre to its more extreme limits is integral to its appeal: the fact it’s so murky as to border on the frustrating is a source of power here, accentuating the oppressive density of the compositions to a level of intensity that hurts. But it’s the kind of pain that’s the perfect mirror, reflecting the conflicting nature of time, amplified by the anguish of living in the now.

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16 November 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

The latest six-tracker from GHXT goes for the slow-building intro with the low, slow ‘Shimmer’, where the murky, distorted guitar drone and twang cascading out over a retro drum machine stutter that’s backed off in the mix but cuts through sharp as a whip. It’s the Sisters of Mercy’s Reptile House EP slithering into a stranglehold of The Black Angels on ketamine with a dash of Barbed Wire Kisses era Jesus and Mary Chain.

Two years on from the appropriately-titled Gloom EP, the New York duo return with another batch of weighty, dark material which demonstrates their continued evolution, and the fact the EP format is one which suits them particularly well.

While operating from a comparatively limited sonic palette – dense, overdriven guitar that’s got a big, thick valve sound, minimally-programmed drum machine, and reverb-swamped female vocal they manage to do a lot with it: ‘Come Home’ is Curve-y shoegaze, while ‘It Falls Apart,’ released as a single in October, is a big, bollock-swinging swagger of messy blues, boasting a monster lead solo that sprawls over the entire track. Gloom and blues and murk dominate, casting heavy shadows and a hint of goth over the mood, but there’s so much more besides: the rich timbre of the guitar as it spins a slow-unfurling picked riff on closer ‘Die High’ calls to mind recent works by Earth and Dylan Carlson.

As the nights draw in on the approach to winter and the world feels like an increasingly apocalyptic hellhole, there’s something comforting about GHXST’s brand of immersive darkness.

Divide and Dissolve members Takiaya Reed (saxophone, guitar, live effects/ (Black & Tsalagi [Cherokee]) and Sylvie Nehill (drums, live effects/ (Māori) are very excited to announce the signing to Invada Records.

Today they release their new single and video for “We Are Really Worried About You”, from their forthcoming album Gas Lit,  which is produced by Ruban Nielson of Unknown Mortal Orchestra and set for release in late January 2021.

Watch the video here:

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About the new single, Divide and Dissolve comment:

‘We Are really worried about you’ is a call to transformation and freedom. This song and video seek to undermine and destroy the white supremacist colonial framework. We are weaving together our fight for Indigenous Sovereignty, Black and Indigenous Liberation, Water, Earth, and Indigenous land given back. Decolonise now.

At the start of the song, Takiaya’s formidable saxophone sound resonates strikingly like a siren song, beautiful with an undertone of danger. This gives way to a sudden surge of crushing percussion courtesy of Sylvie, and heavy guitar riffs, revealing the magnitude of their exhilarating multidimensional sonic, and powerful expression of their message.

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Photo credit: Billy Eyers

28th August 2020

James Wells

If a band can’t sell itself up, what hope have they for anyone else? So fair play to Horrible Youth, who pitch themselves as ‘an Icelandic five-piece sludge and grunge band that sprang to life in Oslo in 2016 and quietly recorded their stunning debut, Wounds Bleed.’

And you know what? It is stunning. ‘Monkeys’, the album first track is a low-tempo grunger that blends Nirvana and Metallica and ultimately comes on like Melvins – and if you’re going to for sludge and grunge, Melvins is the band against which any other is going to be judged.

The songs on Wounds Bleed are concise (the majority being under four minutes) and built around simple repetitive riffs cranked out with a big, overdriven guitar, and favouring the mid to lower ends of the EQ spectrum for a dense, murky sound. Only the cymbals crash through the

Single cut ‘Blissful Tropes’ brings a psych twist to the lumbering riffery, and it’s got hooks and weight in equal measure (it’s hardly a pop tune, but there’s a sinewy lead guitar behind the shouting), making it a standout on what is, undeniably, a really solid album.

It sure as hell ain’t soft or gentle, and doesn’t do the cliché ‘mellow’ track at the end of side one or anything, instead slinging riff after riff, with the rawness of Tad at their best. ‘Serve the Plague’ hits a particularly hefty, low-slung, goth-doom groove, and the tempo picking up around halfway through to thrash out a full-throttle attack.

Combining density and intensity, and packing a megalithic dose of angst, Wounds Bleed distils the sound of 1994 and turns the volume up to eleven, and the result is something special.

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