Category Archives: Demo Reviews
Looks can be deceiving: Fuzzy guitars? Check. Soulful vocals? Check. Californian stoners? Err, no. Based in the Ukraninan coastal city of Odessa, Hollow Sun are a band laying on the beach of a primordial ocean, wondering where the chicks have got to, and why the beers are salty.
If you want to know what makes Italy’s doomy Holyphant tick, then look no further than the West Midlands: Black Sabbath, Witchfinder General, and to a less extent, early Judas Priest – ok, maybe that’s stretching it a bit, but you get the idea. The good stuff.
Thank the lord for bands like Red Wizard. Operating in their own corner of the musical universe, the blues-rock bruisers rattle off groove-heavy anthems to anyone with a penchant for ballsy, no-frills rock. More please.
Only two tracks into their career, Vega are already making an impact: Eight days into their free downloads offer, and the band are almost out of freebies. Not that this revelation is surprising. Vega’s devotion to rock’n’roll of the intergalactic, jam-orientated variety is fuelled by the urgency of ritual abandon – ‘Ouroboros’ clocks in at just under 18 minutes. There’s also a hefty nod in the direction of all things doomy and dark, which will appeal to many Sabbath devotees.
For more than 30 minutes, Wolves of Winter plow through a series of fuzzy guitar licks, rolling grooves and red-hot vocals – there are also meandering, meditative passages that hint at Mastodon-sized experimentalism (‘The Blind Leading the Blind’). But the real shock in between battling through the squall, is the quality of the musicianship – after all, this is only a ‘demo’. With the polished version penciled in for a spring release, 2014 could very well be the Wolves’ breakout year.
When does a formula become simply formulaic? Black Majik Acid’s Sabbath-meets-shoegazing psychedelics underlines their early penchant for dark, methadone-blues a la the Dead Meadow, Electric Wizard and Pentagram. However, like the aforementioned bands, the Californian collective will need to develop their idiom in order to break away from the pack.
Three red-eyed longhairs from Oslo, Barbarian Fist play slow, brooding metal imbued with a bluesy, hallucinogenic heaviness à la Sleep and Kyuss. The lyrics are banal: “Came down from the mountains/ on a quest to fornicate,” opens ‘The Whorelord Cometh’ – but when said lyrics ride in on grooves that turn your mind to mush, who’s cares?
If originality was the only important quality in music, the majority of scenes, yet alone bands, just wouldn’t exist. Death Canoe are a case in point: Like seasoned hikers, these Montpellier-based psych-rockers gingerly step over the footprints left by the druggy-drone rockers of yesteryear without disturbing its fauna.
There is no shortage of young Scandinavian bands stuck in a 1970s time warp. And given that the majority of them have been signed, then dropped, you could be forgiven for thinking that, at this stage in the game, the bottom of the barrel would be near.
Approach with confidence, however, as Mojo Harvest have avoided the Sabbath-obsessed sludge route, by opting for a psychedelic-blues formula that references the likes of Free, Humble Pie and the wistful moments of Animals-era Pink Floyd. A unique interpretation of a dated formula.
If you’re going to play dense, high-octave riffs you need a moniker inspired by H.P. Lovecraft-style imagery. Snake Priest, a Danish collective with a penchant for rattling speakers, will cause fervour at festivals and panic for parents in equal measure.
“[Our] songs are often about the culture, history and climate of the West Texas area,” although with track titles such as ‘Wearing the Ocean’ and ‘Blacken the Sky’ you’d have done well to work this out.
Inspired primarily by Neurosis’ seasonal shifts and guttural assertions, Dragg’s early work is a homage to last 20-odd years of heavy, underground metal: A formula comprised of psych-Sabbath bombast and the gloom-n-doom of High on Fire. Having already integrated “visual projections” into their live shows, the Lubbock trio are a band to look out for.
Conceived about 30 years too late, Sydney’s Blackbird sound exactly how you’d imagine: Fuzzed-out bass-and-drum shakedowns stepped in the clichés of yore – And if the quality of these early tracks are anything to go by, this won’t be the last time you hear about them, either.