Posts Tagged ‘Stoner’

Ritual Productions – 21st June 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s perhaps fitting that self-professed occultist doom collective Drug Cult should unveil their debut long-player to coincide with midsummer’s day and the solstice.

They open with a nine-minute sludge-trudge that’s bursting with the trappings of psychedelia and old-school hard rock: ‘Serpent Therapy’ starts so slow, with so much distance between each chord that it sounds like an ending, a protracted grinding to a halt, rather than the start. Yes, this is slow, and this is heavy. The guitars are close to collapsing under their own weight, and threaten to bury Aasha Tozer’s reverb-drowned vocals in the process. It’s the soundtrack to a bad trip into the underworld, and while there’s nothing of such epic proportions to be found during the remainder of the album’s nine tracks, the darkness remains all-pervasive.

There’s a classic, vintage quality to the songs, but it’s all sludged up, twisted and messy, and what the songs lack in duration (the majority are below the four-minute mark) they more than compensate in density. The riffs lumber slow, low, and heavy, the bass grinds just as slow and even lower: the percussion doesn’t propel, but instead lands in thunderous ricochets while the cymbals wash in tidal waves. In fact, it’s like listening to an early Melvins 45 at 33, save for the vocals, which never sound anything less than borderline deranged.

The sense of volume is immense, speaker-shredding, earth-shattering. And just when it doesn’t seem possible to drive any deeper, grind any lower, ‘Bloodstone’ reaches a new low in low, the essence of doom-laden hard rock riffing distilled to its absolute. The form is still apparent: Drug Cult don’t take it beyond the limits as Sunn O))) do, but against contemporaries like Esben and the Witch and Big Brave, Drug Cult stand out for their concision and their eschewing of passages of levity: this is unforgiving, ultra-heavyweight from beginning to end. As such, it’s a truly megalithic work. Worship it.

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Following recent albums from Grave Lines and Limb, London label New Heavy Sounds have signed self described ‘dark witch, doom duo’ BlackLab who hail from Osaka Japan. They will release ’Under the Strawberry Moon 2.0′ on 20th July. Ahead of that, they’re streaming ‘Black Moon’ as a taster of their ‘fuzz, fuzz, fuzz, doom, stoner, more fuzz’ sound. It packs some heavy trudge riffery. You can get your lugs round it here:

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Exile On Mainstream – 11th May 2018

English intergenerational duo Noisepicker are one of the new generation of two-piece acts who sound like full bands. Not by virtue of any trickery, but because they whack everything up full tilt and rock hard. Peace Off sounds like a band, albeit one with the guitars and drums dominating the mix.

There are so many shades, but for Noisepicker, it’s a spectrum of subtle blues that colours their lumbering, riffy racket. The songs are heavy, raw, the lyrics dark. It may mark something of a stylistic shift for Earl of Mars and former Lord of Putrefaction Harry Armstrong, but he still pours all the anger into it, his thick-throated vocal roar the perfect vehicle for this kind of heavy, heavy scuzzed-out stoner blues metal.

Pulverizing, slow, heavy discord worthy of Swans circa 1984 swiftly yields to swaggering heavy rock on opener ‘No Man Lies Blameless, which thunders away with the grainy grungy heft of Black Sabbath as filtered through Melvins. It sets the tone, and the tempo: Peace Off very much favours weight and groove over pace, the riffs big and gutsy (although when they do pick up the face, as on ‘O What Mercy Sorrow Brings’, they really do drive hard and fast.

‘A Taste of My Dying’ is the grittiest, grainiest blues, dark and dirty and slowed to a crawl. Under any other circumstances, you’d be thinking about grime and sweat, but at this low, low tempo, it’s more of a case of Led Zep on Temazepam. Armstrong gargles and spits the words to ‘He Knew it Would All End in Tears’ against a roar of guitars and crashing drums: there’s nothing fancy about Kieran Murphy’s style, and that’s a virtue, as the songs are focused in a fashion that delivers optimal force.

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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.

 

 

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New Heavy Sounds – 30th September 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

This dubiously-monikered stoner doom foursome have come a long way since their self-released cassette debut crawled from deepest, darkest Wrexham: containing just one thirty-minute track, Nachthexen was a behemoth alright, but while it hinted at the juxtaposition of throbbing riffs and soaring, choral vocals that has become their trademark, it gave no indication of just how much, and how quickly, they would hone and refine their megalithic sound.

Noeth Ac Anoeth was truly a beast of an album, which saw them shifting further from the standard doom tropes to forge a more unique sound, and, following less than a year later, Y Proffwyd Dwyll shows a further evolutionary leap that’s s colossal as the riffs they grind out. For their latest outing, they’ve gone pop. Well, ok, no they haven’t, but the songs are notable not for their immensity, but their concision. The fact the album contains six tracks gives an indication of their newfound brevity, with not a single track extending beyond the ten-minute mark.

The melodies are strong and there are distinct and remarkably memorable choruses here. Jessica Ball’s vocals are the band’s trump card, the key aspects which not only separates MWWB from their peers and every other doom / stoner band around, but renders them essentially unique. No guttural snarling here: her vocal style is wonderfully tuneful, soaring, ethereal, and despite the churning guitar backdrop, MWWB stand comparison with acts like Curve, Cranes, and the shuddering, horrific beauty of Chelsea Wolfe.

The heavily chorused guitar on the intro to ‘Testudo’ is pure Cure, but naturally paves the way for some crushing, low-BPM riffology. Even so, the way that they work tonal and textural variations and the overall dynamics within the song structures and across the album as a whole is impressive.

Closer ‘Cithuula’ is the most straight-ahead heavy rocker, a crawling Sabbathesque beast of a tune. A blitzkrieg of space synths not only add texture and depth, but alter the overall feel of the album. This is no straightforward doom album. In fact, it’s not a straightforward album, period: it’s a genre-bending effort and an album of real depth that stands proudly on its own. It’s also really, really good.

 

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