Category Archives: Album Reviews
For a debut, Maahaavaa is impressively consistent, especially when you examine its aural flux: A despairing racket that includes psychedelia and sludge as its main components; two genres that are uneasy bedfellows. Despite the contrast, Mother Susurrus’ limited palette helps them maintain their melancholy state, while dragging their disciples into the abyss.
Recorded in the Palm Desert, California, Wooden Nomad are one of the very few bands to genuinely warrant the ‘desert rock’ tag. Blighted by several line-up changes since their 2010 inception, The Sound of Earth contains the euphoric pump-your-fist-and-scream aesthetic that has come to define the raucous end of this popular sub-genre, while the acoustic-based charm of ‘Raven’ is a notable highlight.
You really have to admire how under-the-radar South American bands are playing, and beating, Western Europe at their own game. A powerful evocation of the heavy riffing, psych-rock hybrid, Dos is a scintillating balance between heaviness and ethereality. Simply awesome, man.
Grunge and psychedelia is at the core of Cantankerous Rock, the second release from Portugalete’s most notorious band. Like their 2010 debut, Chivo’s thick, swampy sounds are erratic and thumping, while their stoner-rock riffs are bludgeoning and toe-tapping in equal measure, particularly on standout track ‘Rockets on Fire’.
If the very notion of a band exploring the literature of science fiction to aid them on their quest to create a concept album in 2013 seems both outlandish, and outdated, then this not-so-subtle homage to progressive rock titans, King Crimson, is probably not for you.
For those of us with an open mind, however, In the Court of the Spaceking is a sonically mesmerising collection that fuses melodic sensibility with furious riffing and hushed synthesisers, to create an aural blitzkrieg. Impressive stuff, despite the fact that there’s nothing here that matches the unmistakable hook of ’21st Century Schizoid Man’ – although we won’t hold that against them.
A jam-band at heart, Celtic Panda’s debut release is an accurate portrayal of their live, loose-limbed style: Elastic, jazzy-blues that demonstrates the pleasure this ensemble has for elongated compositions. A quintessential listening experience for any flower-power outcast searching for a hedonic thrill.
Simplicity is often to the key to making an impact: Deep, as their moniker suggests, are a mysterious collective whose abrasive sound can be heard far below the surface; it crushes metal and harsh noise into an explosive formula that will leave you fleeing for higher ground.
Despite this devastating impact, Vol.1 is a record of detours and surprises: For every blast of doom there are elements of post-rock interplay and semi-acoustic weaving to offset the chaos – see ‘Sonic Mantra’ – but when the noise swells and the amps begin to bleed, you’re in the midst of a seldom end-of-the-world record that’s as destructive and tumultuous as it wants to be.
A glorious and unapologetic celebration of pure, unadulterated stoner, Chronobot’s opening statement is a rich mix of psych-riffing and slightly inaudible vocals that feels like a satire of the weed-is-our-religion culture. ‘Set Phasers to DOOM!!’, for instance, is built around hallucinatory sludge that sends the listener into space on a joint-shaped vessel, while the deadpan chants of “James Bond is my fucking dad” midway through ‘Cougar Magnum’ confirms the absolute mindlessness of it all.
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.