Posts Tagged ‘Doom’

3rd February 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

As a band who really grabbed me by the throat with the release of their ‘Nowhere’ EP in 2015, the arrival of the latest offering from GHXST in my inbox was cause for excitement. And rightly so. To cut to the chase, Perish is a masterpiece.

The EP’s first track, ‘Southern Eye’, carries the refrain of ‘nowhere’ and as such, continues the theme of displacement, of outsiderdom, of not belonging which was core to the aforementioned EP. It’s a fair summary of what GHXST are about, musically, conceptually, and lyrically. Their songs deal with darker themes, and the cover art, which seems to evoke the spirit of Joy Division conveys an appropriate sense of bleakness, but also a certain, ineffable serenity and grace.

On the title track, a rushing guitar grind and reverberating samples are counterpointed by a haunting – and achingly beautiful – vocal that has hints of Alison Shaw of Cranes, only less squeaky, and Toni Halliday. The contrast is what defines the sound, and is ultimately what makes GHXST so special: it’s so rare for a band this heavy to convey so much emotional sensitivity. Theirs is not a sonic expression of nihilistic rage, but of something altogether more nuanced, possessing a heart-trembling beauty, rendered all the more distinct in their execution by the use of a drum machine. As such, they’re in an entirely different league from the few doomgaze contemporaries with female vocals one might name, like Esben and the Witch and Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard. And on this outing they expand their sound to incorporate elements of blues and country. How does that sit as a genre? But it’s not merely the fact they exist within their own niche: the tracks on Perish: the quality of the songs, and their spectacularly atmospheric execution is something special.

‘Stories We Tell’ achieves a heart-rending beauty while crushing your skull with punishing guitars and pounding, slow-tempo percussion: the guitars grate and grind, each power chord throbbing with a malevolent afterburn. ‘Summer Moon’ presents a surging pop dynamic, a dash of Jesus and May Chain against a Chapterhouse-y whirl of shoegaziness and ‘Waiting for the Night’ is a slow-surging dirge, riven with the crackling pops of Akai snare bursts which shouldn’t work but actually bring a bleak aggression to the droning. Closer ‘No Wild West’ introduces a droning desert blues element, the chugging guitars drifting over an expansive, barren wasteland as Shelley X drawls into a sea of reverb.

This is by no means inaccessible music: it’s music to lose yourself in. The songs themselves are comparatively short – none extend beyond the five-minute mark – but all bear all the hallmarks of true epics, with a sound which is beyond vast.

 

 

 

 

GHXST - Perish

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Southern Lord – 10th February 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

No-one could accuse Sleep of rushing their output, on any level. Masters of the slowest, droniest, doomiest, stoneriest metal going, they’ve managed four albums and an EP since their emergence at the dawn of the 1990s. Although pitched as featuring their first new song in forever, ‘The Clarity’ was originally released digitally in 2014.

Compared to the release which preceded it, the magnum opus which was Jerusalem (later released in it full hour-long glory as Dopesmoker), ‘The Clarity’ is a pretty concise affair, clocking in at a fraction under ten minutes.

As is Sleep’s trademark, it’s a slow-paced, riff-centric trudge, crushing, sludgy guitar and bass form a thick, bubbling coat of heavy-grained sonic soup around crushing percussion. The vocals emanate a heavy-lidded sedatedness as the lyrics conjure tripped out images, and the whole thig plods its way on with no regard for anything, really. There’s an extended guitar solo, which really does go on and on and is a total wig-out, and all the while, the riff – and no doubt the spliff – just rolls. It’s a beast, alright, and certainly worthy of the special etched vinyl treatment.

 

 

Sleep_etching_final-1015x1024

Heavy Baby Records – 21st January 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

Ok, so I’m not one to judge a record by its cover, but obviously there’s a lot to be said for packaging music in – or with – cover art which reflects the contents in some way. Heavy Baby Sea Slugs’ new offering, the Teenage Graveyard Party EP has artwork which says ‘sixteen minutes of raw, full-tilt sludge-metal racket’, and funnily enough, that’s precisely what it delivers (as one might reasonably expect from a band who previously released an album entitled Fistula Missile and who seemingly enjoy considerably more success in Japan and Taiwan than at home in Texas).

‘King Midas of Shit’ launches the EP with a savage deluge of nasty, gnarly noise, piledriving in at a hundred miles an hour. Talk about a sonic slap round the chops! It’s a frantic, frenetic and stubbornly unpolished aural assault which spits and snarls and spews in all directions.

The title track slows the pace and actually offer some semblance of a tune, with some proper singing and everything – at least until about halfway through when the band put their collective pedal to the metal and thrash their way senseless to the end. Don’t expect any cuddles from the bass-led thunder of ‘Pit Bait’, either. It comes on like a Motorhead 45 being played at 33.

The six-minute closer, ‘Zero-One’ really brings the grind with a downtuned, gut-churning trudge that’s somewhere between early Swans and early Melvins. It’s a gruelling dirge which makes no real attempt to get going, and instead spends is time making threats, with slow, heavy drums, scrawling feedback and yawning bass drone. It’s crushingly heavy, and feels like the soundtrack to an eternity in purgatory.

It may only be sixteen minutes in duration, but Teenage Graveyard Party is a gloriously unpleasant, dirty, mangled mess of noise. Party on, dudes.

 

Heavy Baby Sea Slugs – Teenage Graveyard Party

MIE – 2nd December 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

 

I was pretty late to the party with Hey Colossus, being introduced by way of their seventh album, 2011’s mighty RRR. In my review at the time, I commented on the album’s diversity, noting that ‘“Teased from the Nest” drifts like a zephyr in the Colorado Desert, and “The Drang” crunches, bucks and grunts, laden with sludgy guitars with an extra layer of treble squall. It’s a fair sumary of the band’s divergent styles, and  both of those cuts feature on this fourteen-track retrospective (that’s one more track than the original cassette release in 2013, of which some  copies exist).

The press release sets the scene, and to quote seems instructive here: “In 2015 Hey Colossus released two albums on Rocket Recordings, In Black and Gold in February and Radio Static High in October. Dedicated to Uri Klangers is a look back. It’s best summed up by the 3000 words that can be found on the inner sleeve of the record, the tale begins: “The 2xLP comp that’s in your hands now was initially released on cassette by S.O.U.L for our 10th anniversary show, September 2013, about 50 tapes were made and sold on the night. We thought a BEST OF would be hilarious. We were average at that show and I’m being generous. I’d give us 5.5/10. A shame. Hacker Farm and Helm also played. It was at The Sebright Arms in London, somewhere out East…..”

This encapsulates the band’s self-effacing an anti-commercialist position perfectly. They’re outsiders, largely by choice, and that’s precisely why they’re so great. That, and the fact they’ve got some belting tunes, if you like it loud and abrasive, that is.

For those unfamiliar with the band, Hey Colossus make a serious racket, and they get right down to it on this ‘first ten years’ compilation, which draws from their myriad releases which have appeared on a host of different labels (although Riot Season and Rocket have been particularly kind). The throbbing, squalling racket of ‘War Crows’ from 2008’s Happy Birthday starts it all off. It’s an uncompromising, trebly din. ‘How to Tell the Time with Jesus’ showcases the diametric opposite side of the band: a ten-minute avant-Krautrock epic built around a looping bassline and motoric drum, it’s a droning psychedelic behemoth. It’s the first of four tracks which extend past the ten-minute mark, in contrast to explosive blasts like ‘I Am the Chiswich Strangler’, which clock in at under two, but more than compensate in blistering intensity and pace.

Following on from ‘How to Tell the Time’, ‘The Drang’ also brings the contrast. I’d forgotten just how fucking raw it was, how unproduced, what a monstrous mess of feedback and sludge. There’s a song in here? Some semblance of a rhythm? Chords?

The churning sprawl of ‘Eurogrumble PTII’ from Dominant Male (2010) draws together their squalling noise tendencies with their experimental and Krautrock leanings to produce a headsplitting kaleidoscope of feedback, and ‘Drug Widow’ is just one of the nastiest, noisiest, grungiest grinds you’re likely to hear: like Tad only heavier, sweatier, grimier and gnarlier, it’s a raging beast of a track.

‘Hot Grave’ is another chug-heavy heft of grunge rock with some bizarre twists, and is one of the tracks which perhaps gives the best indication of the birth of Hey Colossus offshoot band Henry Blacker, not least of all on account of the mangled vocals.

‘Witchfinder General Hospital’ sits alongside ‘Pope Long Haul III’ for That Fucking Tank-like wordplay titles, and this fifteen-minute behemoth is the album’s motoric centrepiece, and if acts like Hookworms spring to mind by way of a comparson, then fair enough, although a collision of Hawkwind and Dr Mix is perhaps closer to the mark when referencing this thumping monster on which squealing analogue synths shriek over something approximating The Sisters of Mercy covering ‘Sister Ray’ circa 1983.

‘Wait Your Turn’ is a doomy, sludgy, and pretty scary-sounding black metal mess: when Hey Colossus get dark, they go seriously fucking dark. This is, of course, one of the reason they’ve remained a very much underground / cult proposition: they refuse to confirm to any one style, and they’re often given to making the most unpalatably dark noise, without any concession to prettying up the sound for the benefit of a potentially wider audience.

In attempting to research the chronology nd the origins of the individual tracks, I found myself foundering, and again the press release explains why: “Included are one or two tunes from all the HC albums released 2003-2013, it also includes the Witchfinder General Hospital track (only 100 pressed on 12”). All vinyl versions of the albums from this era are long gone. The discography is a bit of a mess now, the band doesn’t fully know and the Discogs site is not much help – godspeed anyone trying to buy all the back cat.

And as much as Dedicated to Uri Klangers may be a prompt to explore the back catalogue in more detail – and righty so – it’s also a perfect summation of their output to this point. Challenging yet rewarding and as noisy as fuck, it’s niche alright, but it’s also a document of everything a cult band should be.

 

Hey Colossus - Dedicated_to_Uri_Klangers_Front_Cover

Ritual Productions – 11th November 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

You might expect that the tracks on an album containing just six songs would consist of long, dawn-out affairs. But not Thralldom’s latest offering: there are a couple that extend beyond the six-minute mark, but in the main, these are short pieces, under four minutes in duration. But in terms of dark intensity, they’re immense.

The introductory instrumental, ‘Cosmic Chains’ is a disturbing vocal cacophony from the bowels of hell which paves the way for the blackened trudge of ‘Chronovisions’, which truly sets the tone for the album as a whole. It’s seriously fucking dark, tangled gothic guitar lines weaving tapestries which depict unspeakable events of demonic torture and pain.

It may be that Thralldom have been silent for over a decade, but is seems that the intervening years since their last release have been spent crawling through subterranean passages by candlelight, stooped, starved and rabid, and battling with marauding demons every step of the way. And so as what’s billed as ‘Thralldom 3.0’ emerge, screaming and agonised into the light, it’s hard to tell if they’ve slain those demons or become partly consumed by them: Time Will Bend Into Horror forges a netherworld of tempestuous torment. The title is fitting in that it reflects the ancient evils which claw their way through the spaces between the crooked notes and mangled power chords which form the fabric of an album which soundtracks a walk through purgatory. In the hands of Thraldom, a four-minute composition feels like ten or more as they grind out the darkest, most oppressive noise.

The angry grey surges of noise which crash and thrash over a violent percussive assault on ‘The Corpse of the Radar Towers Over All’ collides against the churning discord of ‘Dark Grey Mist’, a track which brings elements of Swans’ Cop into a metal maelstrom that’s as black as the canal of Satan’s sphincter. It’s gnarly, alright – and then some – and brings horror in spades.

Thralldom - Time Will Bend

Ritual Festival, which aims to be bring the best in doom and death metal to Leeds will return on 8th April 2017. Following the success of this year’s festival which boasted the likes of 40 Watt Sun, The Body, Conan, Venom Prison and Full of Hell, Ritual have announced that Norweigan black metal pioneer Ihsahn will headline next year.

Alongside Ihsahn, the lineup so far is looking pretty strong to say the least, and includes Misery Index, The Afternoon Gentlemen, Crepitation, Corrupt Moral Altar, Conjurer, Serpent Venom and Groak.

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The first 100 early bird tickets are on sale now priced at just £25 rising to £30 from here: http://ritualfestival.bigcartel.com/

Alongside two rooms of live music, the festival will also feature art exhibitions, a wealth of merchandise, as well as local food vendors. 

More information about the festival and venue can be obtained from the following links:

www.ritualfest.co.uk/

www.facebook.com/RitualFestivalUK

www.canalmills.com/