Category Archives: Album Reviews
With a moniker that suggests bar-room lyrical fare harnessed to galloping biker-metal, this Sheffield trio are more akin to the good-time musings of AC/DC and Def Leppard.
Comprised of a father and son duo and a young, energetic bassist, Metröpolis aren’t you average band: Lead guitarist and vocalist, Fonz ‘Dad’ Tramontano brings a churning, violent swell of punk-rock fury, while the whippersnappers attack with electrifying verve. A speeding juggernaut of guitar, bass, and drums, Böneshaker is an impressive debut that demands to be played at life-threatening volume.
Do we have room for yet another occult band in 2013? The Blood of Others, the debut album for Witches of God, suggests we do.
The mysterious trio’s influences, like Graveyard and Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, are obvious: There’s the foreboding gloom of Black Sabbath; the smouldering grooves of Pentagram and the nihilistic ascent of punk. It’s a hearty collection that relies on its foot-stomping, head-bobbing power to galvanise the listener, while also proving that there’s still enough vitality left in this evilly wrought genre.
A blues band at heart, this Chicago four-piece soundtrack the suspicion and solitude of dusk-time avenues and dimly lit-bars via fractured structures and the soulful, bohemian croon of vocalist Casey Brazeal. The pervading mood of H For Hombre is oppressive and borderline paranoid, but its these idiosyncratic gestures that make this debut so fascinating.
Blame it on Clutch. A generation of stoner-rockers have come of age since 2004’s Blast Tyrant, and it seems each of them has a penchant for recycled riffs. Unlike Neil Fallon’s band of grizzly misfits who have got better with age, Octopussy are stuck in a mid-00s capsule when balls-to-the-wall, ’70s-inspired rock was at its peak. This is isn’t a bad debut by any means – anyone looking for a generic blowout will find solace here – but it just seems, well, soulless.
Estonia, through no fault of their own, has had a rather unsettled existence: Ruled by various superpowers in the last 100 years, it’s been under constant siege. As a result, cultural interests went by the wayside, including music.
Sure, there’s been various operatic and Eurovision successes, but rock and metal? Not so much. Liblikas, a metal quintet from Tallinn, could quite easily be the first band from the Balkan’s to make it in a scene dominated by British and American brawn.
Wooden Spaceship, the band’s full-length debut, is full of dynamic swells, meticulous sequencing and an appreciation for what has gone before, and, because of this, the influences are easy to pinpoint: The sludgy chords that define Georgia titans Mastodon; the blunt, riff-heavy assault of Neurosis; the undeniable sound of stoner, and, dare I say it, occasional smatterings of punk and psychedelia.
Differing styles aside, what you have is a straight-forward metal record with unavoidable cataclysms; it packs an almighty punch, leaving the listener in a state of hazy bewilderment.
Since their inception in 2009, Moonlight Records have been unearthing the heaviest sounds that Italy has to offer. Parma quintet, Shinin’ Shade, have a broad musical vocabulary that belies their label’s heavier-than-thou setup. Their sound contains whiskey-and-cigarettes rock filtered through the choleric, down-tuned sloth of Electric Wizard, and the unpredictably of mid-60s psychedelia. A hazy melange with old-school ideals.
This is Ghost Country is a four-piece, who, hiding behind a cryptic moniker, have the energy and bile to deliver grimy, monstrous music, devoid of bullshit.
Teetering on the brink of chaos – as well as several subgenres– this self-titled debut is filled with an invigorating amount of passion and power; it’s a sociopathic nexus that is more than just a vehicle for twenty-something’s to let off stream. In amongst the stew of self-loathing, are melodic, riff-heavy earworms that hint at greater things.
Cosmic Wheels are another ensemble that will be compared to their late 1960s/early ‘70s pioneering forefathers, and if their intention was to make a record that sounds like a lost gem from that era, they’ve succeeded. However, unlike their modern-day counterparts, the Marrone brothers have located the spirit of free love and bell-bottoms, without sounding like retro recreationists; it’s a kaleidoscopic tour de force.
Industry and metal has always had a close bond. Take Black Sabbath, for instance, and the industrial heartland of Aston. Sun Shepherd, like Sabbath, has links to industry – engineering, to be exact – while they also have a penchant for slow, prodding, jam-heavy guitar grooves.
Sun Shepherd, like the rest of the stoner-metal fraternity, owes its existence to the blokes from Birmingham, however, unlike Sabbath, Procession of Trampling Hoof is decidedly fragile and minimalist; its sonic gravitas is the result of a fuzz pedal and a set of amps that never move off the ‘ecstatic darkness’ setting. It’s a gnarly listening experience, but one that will be shared and enjoyed by stoner-devotees everywhere.
By Simon Hadley
For those who are sceptical about the return of space-rock, one band that’s always worth listening to is Brujas del Sol. Since their 2010 debut, this Ohio-based four-piece have continued to add new colours to their psychedelic palette.
As a result, Moonliner finally feels like the finished article; they’ve curbed some of their most indulgent impulses in favour of a well-rounded sound that distinguishes them from their contemporaries. What’s more impressive, however, is that the band have stayed true to their game plan: The guitars still have a split personally; spiralling skywards, before descending back to earth in a fuzz-induced rage.
Despite the band’s autopilot tendencies – anyone who’s seen them live will know this – there’s always something that will catch you off guard: a sitar splash, a drawn-out vocal, or even a shimmering solo. Cynics will argue that this has been done countless times before, and, of course, they are right, but Brujas del Sol embodies a valuable notion: In order to move forward, it’s sometimes necessary to look back.
The pressure to make a Black Keys comparison is unbearable, so here it goes: Both bands consist of male duos brazenly rehashing American blues with minimal fuss. Ok, comparison over.
Whereas the Keys’ learn more towards the thicker-sounding end of the spectrum, the Farmhounds’ are closer in spirit to the likes of Muddy Waters; it’s a soulful record that has a Midwestern bar-band approach. The result is a collection of simple, riff-based numbers where the subject matter is as important as the guitar tone.
Handmade Heavy Blues sets its stall out early: austerely nostalgic, crunching guitar-and-drums-in-a-rundown-bar blues-rock. The resurgence of “the blues” in recent years has made it difficult for up-and-coming bands to be taken seriously, however, there’s an authenticity about Geezer that instantly puts them above their peers; the whiskey-soaked growl of Pat Harrington will take you down the Midwestern delta once more, while Harrington’s heartfelt, gut-level grooves are reminiscent of ZZ Top circa 1973.