Posts Tagged ‘Stoner’

Dark heavy psych/doom group Lucid Grave has unleashed the “Old Spirit” music video, made by Dóri Halldórsson and Amanda Jensen. “Old Spirit” serves as the second song from the Copenhagen quintet’s debut album, Cosmic Mountain, which came out on 15 July via Electric Valley Records digitally and on four versions of vinyl (Test Press, Solid Yellow, Transparent Red Splatter Black Vinyl, Ultra LTD “Cosmic Edition”).

Lucid Grave Informs: “‘Old Spirit’ is a heavy psych rock song with influence from the early ’80s punk. The song is about a fast spacy universe in-between two worlds. The song is inspired by the lead singer’s days in the high desert in California. The desert heat is hard on everything and everyone. And the wind still tells stories of the Native Americans, the legends of desert rock, and the military base in the unforgiven sun.”

Watch the video here:

AA

Lucid Grave is a dark heavy psychedelic band with stoner-doomy tendencies from Copenhagen, Denmark. Sonically, Lucid Grave is a boiling pot of heavy fuzz rock like Black Sabbath/Coven/Hawkwind and ‘80s punk like Black Flag/The Nuns/The Gun Club, all wrapped up in a nice blanket of modern heavy stoner rock and doom. Honoring the howling occult cinema of the ‘80s, Lucid Grave finds inspiration in everything that’s heavy, filthy, and free!

They emerged from the underground communal house and punk venue Ungdomshuset in the dying days of 2017. A few months later, in 2018, they released a self-titled demo and spent the next few years playing shows around Denmark with bands such as High Priestess, Cities of Mars, The Gates of Slumber, and Heathe, while making more materials as well. In 2020 Copenhagen label Virkelighedsfjern released Lucid Grave’s EP called Goddess of Misery, a venture seriously disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak — which meant no shows for a while. That time was instead spent on writing materials for their first full-length album. In 2021 they released a single called “Surfer Bat,” an upbeat ‘70s heavy Rock song with a twist of gothic punk vibes and a dash of Latin music. It caught the attention of the Italian heavy psych label Electric Valley Records.

Cosmic Mountain, the debut LP of Lucid Grave, is a journey through your favorite drugs of life, the highs, and the lows, being chased through the desert and fighting a haze of demons. The album was recorded live and over-dubbed in just three days at the beginning of 2022. As it was with the previous single, “Surfer Bat,” Patrick Fragtrup was again behind the mixing board for the session, and it is clear that there has developed an understanding between him and the band as this record sounds both huge and fierce without losing any clarity or energy from the group. The project was finished by Shane Trimble of High Reeper at his California studio.

a7d16295-3386-7beb-cb67-34ac8e3dfcdc

Human Worth – 3rd June 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Because being in several awesome bands simply isn’t enough for some people, various members of Lump Hammer, Lovely Wife, Penance Stare, Möbius, Plague Rider have another band, the soft-sounding Friend. They’re practically a scene unto themselves, and you can pretty much guarantee that anything noisy emerging from Newcastle will feature one or more of James Watts, Tim Croft, and Skylar Gill – to the extent that the involvement of any one of them is essentially an assurance of quality. Putting the stamp on that assurance is the fact that Friend’s debut is being released by Human Worth, the London label that has, in a very short time, racked up an outstanding roster of new and established acts, all of a noisy persuasion, without a single weak release in their rapidly-expanding catalogue. And Friend’s Champion is a worthy addition.

It’s a proper gnarly take on the classic power trio format with driving riffs dominating from the opening bars. ‘International Top Bloke’ crunches in and batters away hard with a simple, cyclical riff reminiscent of Blacklisters; Tim’s guitar is so dense and dirty it sounds like guitar and bass all in one, while Gil’s drumming is megalith-solid, pounding away, nothing fancy, just all the heavy. And there, low in the mix, Watts gargles and gurgles tormentedly, sounding as if he’s being throttled by Satan’s very own flaming hands. As guttural growlers go, he is exceptional when it comes to channelling all shades of anguish by means of throat alone. But for all that, there’s a flicker of joy – or, perhaps more accurately, a cathartic release – which emanates from Champion.

The pitch is that they’re ‘pulling from influences ranging from Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins and Failure to Old Man Gloom, Floor and The Abominable Iron Sloth’ and while on paper it may seem an incongruous combination, in practise, it not only makes sense, but absolutely works.

‘The Beast’ is appropriately titled, for it is, indeed, an absolute beast. It begins with unexpected delicacy, a brittle, chorus-tinged guitar picked is as much The Cure as it is ‘Black Hole Sun’, but then the drums and distortion pile in and it’s a huge, throbbing surge of overloading sound that threatens to damage the speakers.

Whatever Geoffrey’s done, it must be pretty bad, as they rear through five minutes of bludgeoning brutality. There are some gritty, cyclical riffs reminiscent of Bleach-era Nirvana beneath it all, but the production is so dark and dirty the end result is wonderfully nasty sludge metal, then there’s ‘Dungeon Master’ that sounds like… well, it sounds like downtuned grinding hell. Not so much Sunn O))) as a total eclipse. Watts’ vocals aren’t the focal point: they’re another instrument (of torture) in the band’s arsenal or aural abrasion. If ‘Wellness’ seems to offer some light, some respite, it’s a pale, sick sense of hope that glimmers as Watts sounds like he’s writing through his last moments of torturous, gut-ripping pain.

The last two tracks – the eight-minute ‘Uncle Tommy’ and ten-minute ‘A Reminder’ combine to deliver a devastating finale. They’re so much more than heavy noise, too, with texture, tone, gradual builds and even moments that feel truly uplifting – even if they are blown away by bulldozing distortion. The former is a surprising blues / glam stomp, while the latter feels like an album’s worth of riffs of heavy metal thunder packed into a single track. It’s not only intense, but finds Watt’s deliver some audible lyrics, albeit briefly.

The word ‘friend’ may connote comfort, company, companionship, even cuddliness, and while the band offer none of these things, Champion does offer a kind of awkward solace through monster riffery and outpourings of angst. An album worthy of its title: proper champion.

AA

a2621977682_10

Electric Valley Records – 24th June 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

In my recent review of the new album from St Michael front, I commented on German humour – in a positive way, I should add. So it was with a certain relief that I noted that BongBongBeerWizards hail from Dortmund. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a shit name for a band irrespective of where they’re from. I genuinely thought that Doom/Drone/Sludge Metal had run its course in terms of daft names and gone over the border some time ago, and that Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard (now MWWB, presumably because they realised the name was daft rather than that they believed it was an obstacle to commercial success) had had the final word in name-generator style absurdity. And they ought to have. But then these buggers turn up with an even stupider name. But at least we can reasonably assume they know it’s a fucking stupid name and are pissing themselves over it.

BBBW may well be hampering their potential audience reach – I’ll admit, I did think twice about bothering to listen – but that would have very much been my loss, because Amprire is an instant classic as a storming example of the genre. With just three tracks and a running time of almost fifty minutes, it’s Sunn O))), it’s Earth, it’s Sleep and it’s Bong in a tectonic collision – more of a slow melt than anything likely to cause earthquakes and mudslides. That said, there are tempo changes galore on the twenty-three minute ‘Choirs & Masses’, a megalithic beast that’s got the lot: heavily reverbed vocals and choral ceremonials that echo from cavernous depths of despair while the guitars churn and growl all around, thick with dripping distortion. At times it’s a raging thrust of riffery, at others it’s a gut-churning crawl, or an ominous organ note that hovers indefinitely, and there are many changes to hold the attention over its epic duration.

‘Unison’ raises an even denser, thicker guitar-driven tempest that’s so thick and sludgy it’s suffocating, and when the vocals are absent, churns into full-on Sunn O))) territory with the gnarly guitar obliteration.

It’s hard to really say that there’s a real arc or progression on an album like this: it may be more of a case of will or projection, but I suppose whether it’s real or an illusion, the end result is the same from a listening perspective, and the perception is that things become more focused and ultimately heavier and denser over the duration of the album. And as an album, Ampire is a beast: epic, ambitious, and for the most part, the changes are well-timed if not always smooth – some of the transitions feel a little bit like stopping one riff and starting another – but it hangs together overall, and it maintains and even increases the weight right to the crushing end. Overall, it’s an admirably solid album. Still an awful band name, though.

AA

a1363458322_10

Toundra are enchanted to be releasing ‘El Odio, Parte III’, the third and last part of their 22-minute-long piece ‘El Odio’ off of their new album HEX. For the video of ‘El Odio. Parte III’, the band once more collaborated with Asturian director Jorge Carbajales again. Watch the video here:

And the band is just as excited to be announcing the launch of the full short film ‘El Odio’ on January 10th (1PM CET) via Youtube.

HEX will be released on January 14th, 2022 via InsideOutMusic.

See Toundra live at the following dates:

15.01.2202 Inverfest, La Riviera, Madrid.

22.01.2022 Nau B1, Granollers, Barcelona.

29.01.2022 Gernika, Iparragirre.

11.02.2022 Sevilla,Sala X.

12.02.2022 Málaga, La Trinchera.

18.02.2022 Granada, Teatro Caja Granada.

19.02.2022 Córdoba, Hangar.

29.04.2022 Zaragoza, Las Armas.

30.04.2022 Barcelona, Apolo.

13.05.2022 Murcia, Sala Garage Beat Club.

14.05.2022 Valencia, Sala Moon.

20.05.2022 Pamplona, Tótem.

21.05.2022 Orozko

17/18.06.2022 ADN Festival, Zamora.

03.07.2022 Viveiro, Resurrection Fest.

22.07.2022 Kanekas Metal Fest, Cangas Do Morrazo.

23.07.2022 Castelo Rock, Muros, Galicia

31.07.2022 Low Festival, Benidorm.

thumbnail_552236C8-0FA3-4100-858B-20FD39EB0192

Photo by Sergio Albert

5th November 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Oslo-based Norwegian stoner / sludge metal trio Rongeur came together in 2012, drawing influence from the likes of Eyehategod, Seigmen, High on Fire, Neurosis, Darkthrone and Arthur Schoupenhauer, ‘with the intent of making raw, heavy and honest music’.

Ahead of their second album, Glacier Tongue – the follow-up to 2017 debut An Asphyxiating Embrace, they’re offering up a single cut in the form of ‘Gutter Marathon’.

So what is a gutter marathon? After hearing this savage roar of noise, I’m none the wiser, although it feels like crawling on your belly splashing through murk and dirt in a rush to swim to the drain: it seems fitting at a time when the entire world seems like it’s drowning in shit, a lot of it if our own making.

Marathons are usually long, endurance tests, and similarly, stoner / sludge metal is often on the slower side, so the visceral blast of ‘Gutter Marathon’ comes as something of a surprise, blasting in at breakneck speed and being over in a minute and twenty-three seconds making it more of a sprint. But it’s grimy and overloading, a ferocious blast of snarling guttural rage, and sounds like their dope’s been laced with amphetamines. So Rongeur it must be right!

AA

Rongeur

‘‘Hey Sister’ is the 3rd video release from Soma Crew’s album Out Of Darkness / Into Light .  

Shot at various locations around York, it’s a simple but effective accompaniment to a solid tune.

Check it here:

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s been a long time. An insanely long time. Apart from a brief spell where there were a handful of seated gigs on offer around August of last year, live music has been off the menu for the best – or worst – part of sixteen months, and a long, torturous sixteen months it’s been for so many of us – not least of all those whose livelihoods depend on it, but also for those of us who find comfort and catharsis in the experience, a few hours’ escape from the grind of daily life.

I haver to confess having anxietised over the prospect of attending my first live show since August 2020, since which time I’ve barely set foot in a pub or anywhere really, having been working from home since forever. Less fearful of Covid, more of social situations in general, fearful I’d lost the little social skill I had from before, I simply wasn’t sure what to expect, and the worst fear is the fear of the unknown, and this had perhaps tempered my immense excitement.

In the end, it transpired I needn’t have worried, and everything was nicely managed at the Victoria Vaults. They’ve moved the bar since I was last there, and the refit works well in making for a significantly bigger gig space and next to no bottlenecks, plus the bar staff were friendly and attentive with their table service – which was perhaps as well, because it was sweltering and needed to maintain a flow of cold cider.

Sitting just feet from a real drum kit with my shoulder against a PA stack felt great, and simply being back in that environment brought a great joy. Then there was the lineup: one of the last shows I’d seen, back in January 2020 had featured both My Wonderful Daze and Redfyrn. Both had impressed then, and given reason to come back for more. Although, of course, January 2020 feels like another life.

With King Orange having dropped off the bill without explanation, it’s a later start with Redfyrn straight on and straight in, with the power trio kicking out hefty blues-based grungy heavy rock with a sludgy/stoner vibe, driven hard by some crunchy 5-string bass. Cat Redfern’s soaring vocals are at times almost folksy, and contrast with the hefty lumbering riffs. Collectively, they’re tight, the songs textured and dynamic. There’s a lot of cymbal, but some proper heavy-hitting drum work and the sludgy sound is both steeped in 70s vintage and contemporary influence, resulting in some solid swinging grooves. The mix could have perhaps done with more guitar, but then I was sitting in front of the bass amp and about six feet from the drum kit. Closer ‘Unreal’ has bounce and grit and groove and is a solid as. The band were clearly pleased to be on stage again, and it came through in a spirited performance.

DSC_0618DSC_0620

Redfyrn

My Wonderful Daze’s singer Flowers may be feeling and looking a shade off colour but is in fine voice and all the better once she’s taken her boots off at least for a while. The band bring more big, lumbering riffs, and any concern they may have been rusty after the time out proves to be unfounded, because they’re tight – and loud. They bring all the rage early in the set, coming on more Pretty on the Inside – era Hole than Live Through This, more Solar Race than L7. It’s not long before she’s sitting down to sing because she’s dizzy, and yet still fucking belts out the angst, and despite visibly struggling throughout, it doesn’t affect things sonically: the band don’t just play on, but continue to give it their all. Watching this set really brings home just how hard bands work to do what they do. The slow-burning ‘Dust’ is something of an epic that’s emotionally rich and transitions from a gentle chime to some simmering power chords with some audience participation clapping to aid the build.

DSC_0623DSC_0628

My Wonderful Daze

They announce apologetically that they’re cutting set short to skipped to encore song Tommy for fear of fainting, but it’s a valiant effort and the right choice, although Flowers didn’t make it past the first verse before rushing from the stage. The rest of the band finish the song – and the set – with force, and all the credit to them for their consummate professionalism. Both bands did themselves truly proud, and delivered a great night, and hopefully the first of many.

Southern Lord – 25th June 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Twenty years is a long time. But that’s how long it’s been since Iceburn last graced us with new material. The shifting collective, primarily operative between 1990 and 2001 reconvened in 2007, with this current lineup again at the core.

As the band’s bio summarises, ‘The band’s initial output slowly evolved from hardcore and metal to free improvisation and noise. The 10 year arc saw the band following their own path and becoming more and more obscure as they got deeper into unknown musical worlds. By 2000 the cycle seemed complete and Iceburn did their final tour in Europe 2001. In 2007 this early core crew reunited to play a local anniversary show focused on the earliest material. Every few years since they would get together for another ‘reunion’ until that word became more of a joke, it was clear the band was back, getting together every week, and working on new material.’

And here it is: two truly megalithic tracks, each spanning the best part of twenty minutes, and packing them densely with some hard-hitting, churning, trudging, sludgy riffs.

This is some heavy, doomy, din: the riffs are Sabbath as filtered via Melvins, and let’s face it – Sabbath may have invented heavy metal, but it was Melvins who reinvented it with that gnarly, stoner twist and all the sludge.

It’s about halfway through the eighteen-minute ‘Healing the Ouroburous’ that things take a bit of a crazy turn. The lead riffing steps up to next-level flamboyant and I’m starting to think ‘this is maybe a bit much’. It’s not just that it’s technical, it’s just a bit fretwanky, even a bit Thin Lizzy, like ‘Whisky in the Jar’ jammed for fifteen minutes at a gig with three local support bands for a minor-league headliner – but then they pull it back and we’re returned to slow, lumbering territory. If there’s a brief burst where it sounds a bit Alice In Chains, it’s forgivable, because within the obvious genre framework, Iceburn bring in so much to expand the limits of convention, and it’s refreshing, especially from a band with so much history. It would have been so easy for them to just turn out a brace of droning riff beasts where not a lot happens, and no doubt they would have been lauded for their return to form and their place in the underground canon, but… well bollocks to that. Then there are the vocal – shifting between a low growl and some quite melodic moments, but all kept low in the mix.

‘Dahlia Rides the Firebird’ is another absolute bloody behemoth, a collision of Earth and Melvins, and a real slow-burner that takes suspense to a point near the limit. It takes three minutes before it even begins to take form, and then lumbers like some giant Cretaceous riff-lizard – one with big, swinging riff knackers at that. Yes, this has some swagger, and it builds, and it builds… The monster crunching riff that crashes in to punch hard in the last five minutes more than justifies the wait. When it lands, it’s absolutely fucking colossal.

Asclepius is a statement, and one which informs us that Iceburn are forward-facing and aren’t looking to recreate the past or retread old ground just to please people. And that in itself should please enough people, because this is so, so solid.

AAA

a1401051411_10

Southern Lord – 23rd April 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Canadian trio BIG | BRAVE return bolder, heavier, and more intense than ever on Vital. But when to start?

I seem to recall an essay by William Burroughs which contained the advice for writers that narrative had to be visual in order to work – meaning that writing about a ‘indescribable monster’ just wouldn’t cut it: readers need to be able to visualise the monster in order for it to be scary. Writing about music may be a slightly different discipline, but the challenge is always to convey not only what the music sounds like – the objective bit – but how and why it makes you feel the way it does – the subjective, critical bit. After all, you’re not a music critic without providing any critique. And yet the first – and for some time, only – word that comes to mind to ‘describe’ the experience of listening to Vital is ‘overwhelming’.

The crushing power chords crash in after just a matter of seconds on the first mammoth track, ‘Abating the Incarnation of Matter’. But it’s the jolting, juddering stop / start percussion that hits so hard that really dominates. There’s so much space – and time – between each beat, that it feels as if time is hanging in suspension, and you catch your breath and hold it, waiting, on tenterhooks. And it’s this, the sound of a tectonic collision, juxtaposed with Robin Wattie’s commanding yet incredibly delicate, fragile vocal that makes it such an intriguing and powerful experience. As the song progresses, the anguished calling becomes a ragged, hoarse-throated holler and you feel the emotion tearing at her vocal chords, ‘dissolving each layer until there is little matter left’.

The yawning throb of feedback that fills the first minute and a half of single ‘Half Life’ sounds like a jet preparing for takeoff. And when it stops, it’s the hush that’s deafening and uncomfortable. The lyrics are actually an excerpt from the 2018 essay collection How to Write an Autobiographical Novel, by Alexander Chee. And when the music ends, leaving nothing but Watties’s acapella vocal, they’ve never sounded more stark and intense. Once you become adjusted to noise, there is little more shocking to the system than its absence. And so it is in life: we’ve become accustomed to traffic, to bustle, to busy shops and offices, to streaming media – and when it stops, we struggle to know what to do.

And so it is that the dynamics of Vital are so integral to its impact. ‘Wilted, Still and All…’ is different again. The album’s shortest track is still of a dense tonality and substantial volume but manifests as a billowing cloud of grumbling ambience, and it provides a certain respite ahead of the punishing ‘Of This Ilk’ – nine and a half minutes of slow, deliberate, and absolutely brutal punishment, a bludgeoning assault on a part with Cop-­era Swans. The drums and bass operate as one, a skull-crushing slab of abrasion that hits like battering ram, while the guitars provide texture as strains of feedback howl and whine. The false ending halfway through only accentuates the force ahead of the extended crescendo which follows. It’s the repetition that really batters the brain, though: bludgeoning away at the same chord for what feels like an eternity is somehow both torturous and comforting. The third and final movement is rather more tranquil, but nevertheless always carries the threat of another wave of noise, which doesn’t arrive until the title track, a nine-minute finale that grinds out a dolorous drone, a crawling dirge where a single chord and crashing beat rings out, echoes and decays for what feels like an eternity.

‘Timeless’ is a word that’s so often used and misused in describing music, but with Vital, I mean it to be understood rather more literally, in that time stalls and everything – time, perception, and the world itself – hangs, frozen in suspension. While listening to Vital, nothing exists outside this moment, and everything is sucked into the vacuum of its making. You can barely breathe or swallow, and for the time it’s playing, there is nothing else but this.

AA

LORD287_12inch Standard LP Jacket

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.

cover