Monday, 16 January 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Sepultura - "Machine Messiah"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 13/01/2017
Label: Nuclear Blast


Will this convert early-Sepultura-only fans? Unlikely. Will it convert Cavalera only Sepultura fans? I doubt it, as those people have made their decision and won't entertain that a Sepultura can exist without the Cavalera brothers. However, this is yet another high quality entry into the Sepultura discography and is one of the best records the band has made.


“Machine Messiah” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Machine Messiah 5:54
2. I Am The Enemy 2:27
3. Phantom Self 5:30
4. Alethea 4:31
5. Iceberg Dances 4:41
6. Sworn Oath 6:09
7. Resistant Parasites 4:58
8. Silent Violence 3:46
9. Vandals Nest 2:47
10. Cyber God 5:22


The Review:

Sepultura, it can accurately be said, were once one of the most important bands in metal from 1989 to 1996. In the early 90's they were THE gateway band into extreme metal. People loved them and they were seen as somehow more cool and edgy than bands like Pantera, more modern than Slayer and were perfectly positioned to rule the metal roost in an era when Metallica and Megadeth had gone a little too far from the original blueprint. As we all know, Max Cavalera quit and the rest is a much more low key history than what might/might not have been.

As noted back in 2013 when I reviewed the superb ...Mediator... album, it is such a shame that the latter day work of the band has been dismissed by many. Sure, it may not be the classic line-up(s) that produced the early records but there is a great deal of superb metal to explore nonetheless. Sepultura have become a quirky no-one-album-alike band who have followed their own muse to produce some truly original metal over the course of the last 20 years. Yes, it is now almost that long(!).

With “Machine Messiah”, we find Eloy Casagrande still behind the kit (a monster, one of the best in metal/any genre), along with Andreas, Paulo and Derrick. We also find ten tracks of white hot intensity wrapped up in an excellent production of power and clarity unthinkable thirty years ago at the start of the band's career. The first three tracks take in a downbeat and sombre title track, the flat out thrash assault of “I am The Enemy” and even a mix of instrumentation and fantastic groove in “Phantom Self”, which also possesses a strong hook.

Those former fans wanting a return to the blackened death thrash of the band's earliest work will have to dig out those (recently purchased) cassettes and records again. This is yet another varied and magnificent work of originality. If anything, it perhaps veers a little closer to “Chaos AD” than previous Green-era records. The songs are mostly quite direct and there are no small amount of hooks across the record. There is even an instrumental in the shape of “Iceberg Dances”, which is a beguiling aural assault, packed with great riffs, an acoustic guitar section and very inventive drum work- a mid album highlight and just a superb piece of music.

“Sworn Oath” finds the band in groovily bullish mood, Green providing an excellent vocal performance to accompany the surprisingly dynamic track. “Resistant Parasites” and “Silent Violence” are arguably more “typical” latter day Seps fare; heavy, murky grooves and dark themes, while “Vandals Nest” a rip-roarer with a superb intro and a feel more akin to “Arise” or even “Beneath The Remains”.

The album thus concludes with “Cyber God”, which is a dirge type track full of angular riffs and tom work; a satisfying and dark end to an album that could be described in exactly those terms. The exploration of technologies influence/control over mankind is continued on from the ...Mediator opus and the themes are very prescient.

Will this convert early-Sepultura-only fans? Unlikely. Will it convert Cavalera only Sepultura fans? I doubt it, as those people have made their decision and won't entertain that a Sepultura can exist without the Cavalera brothers (Sepultura still boasts one original member- there are bands out there that don't, but I appreciate the arguments people will counter that with). However, this is yet another high quality entry into the Sepultura discography and is one of the best records the band has made. The days of “Beneath The Remains” are never coming back, but, frankly, why would you want them to? There are lots of thrash bands doing that, but there is only one metal band doing this. Original and uncategorisable, long live Sepultura.

Machine Messiah” is available now
Band info: official || facebook

TRACK PREMIERE: Stoner doom quartet Desert Kingdom are brazen, offensive and ridiculously heavy on debut "Doghouse Blues"



 


The Oxford dictionary describes music as: "Vocal or instrumental sounds (or both) combined in such a way as to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion." Although that may be beautifully written and sound somewhat intelligent, that kind of thing flies straight into the teeth of the sound of Desert Kingdom which is offensive, ridiculous, heavy, disrespective of contemporary music, and of course loud. While some of these adjectives seem a little unorthodox, rest assured, Desert kingdom deliver a beautiful blend of the above with some of those traditional methods as well, that can be enjoyed by the young, the old, and the dead alike. So kick back, tune out, and play it LOUD.

On Feb 3rd 2017 Black Bow Records will release their debut album, so if you’re fans of stoner and bands such as Down, Corrosion of Conformity and Pentagram, tune into the fucked up train wreck of track entitled “Doghouse Blues” below and go support these merry band of bastards by buying their records. 



Band info: facebook

REVIEW: 1968 - "Fortuna Havana" (EP)


By: Dominic Walsh

Album Type: EP
Date Released: 10/2/2017
Label: Black Bow Records



1968 wear their influences on their sleeve. There are plenty of bands that stalk the planet playing classic/hard rock; the trick is to make it your own and not become a cliché. 1968 walk the line well and come out with originality whilst using their influences to great effect.


“Fortuna Havana” DD track listing:

1). Vorpal
2). War Dogs
3). Duchess
4). Fortuna Havana

The Review:

Cheshire based 1968 have only been together a short three years. Having released a self-titled EP in 2015, they now return with a second EP before the release of their debut album later in the year. Having been added to the impressive roster at Black Bow Recordings, “Fortuna Havana is a more than solid addition to the bands discography.

Throughout the four tracks on “Fortuna Havana, any questions about the name of the band are answered. Homage to Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Mountain and Black Sabbath is duly paid, but there are plenty of nods to the more stoner alumni such as Sleep, as well as hard rocking blues legend Rory Gallagher.

“Vorpal” opens up the EP in towering fashion. The band fly out of the traps with mountains of stoner groove and swagger before building towards some superb solo work to finish off the track. “War Dogs” immediately starts as the opener end and the band veer down a doomier path before exploding in a fury of Thin Lizzy like dual guitars.

The second half of the EP uses the already utilised formula, but “Duchess” really sees the band step up their game. A rolling bass introduction leads to a torrential storm of fuzzy riffs that are held together with terrific drumming. The vocals sneer throughout the track before it shifts towards a highly psychedelic cacophony.  This is the absolute high point of the release and one where the band take their influences and really make the sound their own. The psychedelia continues in the opening of title track to close out the EP. If “Duchess” is the undoubted highpoint of the EP, then the title track is undoubtedly the heaviest piece here. Fuzz riffs and pounding drums drive the track, to bring the EP home.

1968 wear their influences on their sleeve. There are plenty of bands that stalk the planet playing classic/hard rock; the trick is to make it your own and not become a cliché. 1968 walk the line well and come out with originality whilst using their influences to great effect. There is cause to be excited about their forthcoming album which will be produced by Conan’s Chris Fielding at Sky Hammer Studios. Fielding is also at the controls for this release, and makes the band sound immense.

“Fortuna Havanawill be available here

Band info: Facebook || bandcamp

Friday, 13 January 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Goya - "Harvester of Bongloads"

By: Josh Nichols

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 03/03/2017
Label: Opoponax Records



It is start to finish, packed with massive fuzzed out riffs, deep despair and copious nods to the sweat leaf that Goya pay homage to throughout the entire album.  Small wonder in the midst of our current political nightmare that Goya would drop a jewel heralding the end, before escaping in the smoky haze of their own retreat.


“Harvester of Bongloads” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). Omen: I. Strange Geometry, II. Fade Away, III. Life Disintegrates (20:07)
2). Germination (02:18)
3). Misanthropy On High (11:46)
4). Disease (06:21)

The Review:

Arizona doom trio, Goya, return with their third full length, and none to sublte, "Harvester of Bongloads". Following closely on the heels of last falls EP, "Doomed Planet", “Harvester…” continues to plumb the depths of their disgust for all life on this planet, except perhaps for plant life, of which they are shameless proponents. It is start to finish, packed with massive fuzzed out riffs, deep despair and copious nods to the sweat leaf that Goya pay homage to throughout the entire album.

The entirety of side A is made up of "Omen", an epic twenty minute, three part epistle on the end of days. Part 1, "Strange Geometry", opens up to slow tribal drums and psychedelic warbling, courtesy of their Boss Dr. Sample SP-303, before thick bluesy riffing slowly builds to a fuzzy lament on pending oblivion. Part 2, "Fade Away", is mostly a jam session, acting as a bridge between the first and third sections, slowing down enough to gently croon the title several times before ripping into Part 3, "Life Disintegrates". The third and final act of "Omen" continues the downward spiral of heavy sludge doom in the finest tradition of Electric Wizard and Sleep, epic smoked out doom for the pending apocalypse.

Side B dishes up twenty more minutes of meaty riffs in three more tracks, which sort of act like another massive three part opus, but this time with breaks between. First up is "Germination", just a couple minutes of slow heavy doom that sets the tone and acts as an intro for the next track, "Misanthropy on High". “Misanthropy…” is monolithic slow and enormously heavy. Lyrically, the title speaks for itself, with each verse making its escape from the waste of reality into dope fuelled release, repeatedly echoing the double edged sentiment “waste away".

The final track, "Disease", sees Goya wading back into more uptempo Sabbath-esque doom. After two epic jams full of deep gloom, it's a welcome release when they open up the jam and rock out a bit. While lyrically it's still dwelling on oblivion, “Disease” is full of swagger, energy and a couple really killer solos. It's a hook laden finish to a dank and heavy trip of an album. Small wonder in the midst of our current political nightmare that Goya would drop a jewel heralding the end, before escaping in the smoky haze of their own retreat.

“Harvester Of Bongloads” will be available digitally here and other formats here from 03/03/2017

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Soen - "Lykaia"

By: Phil Weller

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 03/02/2017
Label: UDR Music


On Soen’s third full length record their own explorative hunger is satisfied in the most delicious of ways, resulting in their most dynamically versatile but free flowing release to date.  An explorative and colourful record, there is a lot to take in with this record, many dimensions in which to get lost in. Repeat listens bear gorgeous fruits.

“Lykaia” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Sectarian
2. Orison
3. Lucidity
4. Opal
5. Jinn
6. Sister
7. Stray
8. Paragon

The Review:

Since the dawn of civilization, mankind’s instinct has been to go on long explorative journeys. Often such journeys are treacherous, fraught with deviations, twists and turns that take people in directions they could never have imagined. Be these physical  odysseys into new unchartered territories, from the highest mountains or the pitch black unknown of the deepest oceans, or be they journeys into science, the search for cures for our most deadly afflictions and beyond, human nature has always looked forward, always advanced. There is always a thirst for more; more knowledge, greater discoveries. On Soen’s third full length record their own explorative hunger is satisfied in the most delicious of ways, resulting in their most dynamically versatile but free flowing release to date.

2012’s ‘Cognitive’ saw them taking their first breaths, still young and finding their footing, while ‘Tellurian’, which came two years later, represented a band with a firm understanding of their own identity. They learnt to translate their ideas beautifully yet forcefully. What ‘Lykaia’ does then is express a wider ranging sound with higher, grander peaks and darker; more gutturally and emotionally charged troughs. Each song is its own story of building crescendos detailed with deft subtleties and imagery, which together coalesce to compliment the bigger picture. From the higher, anthemic altitudes of ‘Sectarian’ to the murky, riff-infested depths of ‘Opal’, it is a solid, inspired release.     

Sectarian’ sets the scene with an off-kilter riff that continues smoothly from the sonic feel of ‘Tellurian’. The song progresses delicately, its flow, much like the rest of the album, pertains no sharp and sudden changes. Instead every turn they take – and there are many, each poignantly placed and clinically delivered – makes perfect sense, no matter what dwells behind the bend. ‘Orison’, the standout track, sees a jittering groove tangle with Joel Ekelöf’s purring, wounded vocals, with unconventional but thrilling riffs that flirt with jazz spinning in and out of focus. Its second half is completely detached from the first. But throughout they blend fiery musical passages with lofty, vocally driven explosions.      

Jinn’ meanwhile sounds vulnerable. Dreamy eastern tonalities sway in and out of the foreground accenting that tenderness, which in turn contradict the doom mongering giants that lurk in the song’s more action-packed passages.

An explorative and colourful record, there is a lot to take in with this record, many dimensions in which to get lost in. Repeat listens bear gorgeous fruits.  

Lykaia” will be available everywhere from 03/02/2017


Band info: official || facebook

ALBUM REVIEW: Demonic Death Judge - "Seaweed"

By: Charlie Butler

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 13/01/2017
Label: Suicide Records


The Finnish quartet deal in a potent blend of filthy sludge-encrusted riffs tempered by hypnotic stoner grooves and nasty gravel gargling vocals. The band conjure up the sound of a bar room brawl between Weedeater and Colour Haze.


“Seaweed” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). Taxbear
2). Heavy Chase
3). Seaweed
4). Cavity
5). Backwoods
6). Pure Cold
7). Saturnday
8). Peninkulma

The Review:

There’s nothing better than a boatload of no-frills, weapons-grade riffage to blow away the January blues. Demonic Death Judge deliver the goods in fine style on new album “Seaweed”.  The Finnish quartet deal in a potent blend of filthy sludge-encrusted riffs tempered by hypnotic stoner grooves and nasty gravel gargling vocals. The band conjure up the sound of a bar room brawl between Weedeater and Colour Haze.

Taxbear” kicks things off in punishing fashion. Gargantuan riffs pummel the listener into submission until they are enveloped in waves of swirling guitar noise and menacing samples. The pure low-end dirt of “Pure Cold” and the dangerously addictive “Heavy Chase” run “Taxbear” close for heaviest track on the LP but quality riffs abound throughout “Seaweed”.

Demonic Death Judge demonstrate that they don’t need to rely on constant hard-riffing to be effective. The title track begins the introduction of more melodic elements into the mix with suitably aquatic effects-laden guitars providing a hazy calm before the storm of the band’s arrival at full bore. “Cavity” sees the band explore this relaxed side further to achieve powerful psychedelic results while the brooding first half of closer “Peninkulma” creates an almost post-rock slow-burn before being crushed under one final tonne of leaden riffage.

Seaweed” is a killer effort from Demonic Death Judge that strikes a good balance between no-nonsense sludge and minor excursions into more tuneful territory. In an often overcrowded genre, the band stick out by rocking hard while bringing their own distinct character to the fore. 

Seaweed” is available here




Band info: Official || Facebook || Bandcamp

FFO: Cough, Dopethrone, Weedeater, Colour Haze

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Terrifier - "Weapons of Thrash Destruction"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 20/01/2017
Label: Test Your Metal Records


“Weapons of Thrash Destruction” DD track listing

1. Reanimator (5:24)
2. Deceiver (5:15)
3. Nuclear Demolisher (4:26)
4. Violent Reprisal (4:17)
5. Skitzoid Embolism (4:08)
6. Drunk as Fuck (4:12)
7. Bestial Tyranny (6:13)
8. Riders of Doom (1:40)
9. Sect of the Serpent (6:44)

The Review:

Furious thrash metal for all fans of Exodus... and other furious thrash bands! Coming out of Vancouver, these boys know exactly how to deliver the kind of primeval thrash metal that Baloff and the boys made thirty years ago. The artwork is pleasingly Repka, the songs are fairly long (five minutes plus is not unusual) and the riffs come thick and, yes, fast.

A track by track here is largely unnecessary, so instead it suffices to say that if you listen to opener “Reanimator” and you are not inspired, the rest of the record won't win you over. The record races by at an astonishing clip as the band mine the book of metal song titles for cues. It's all here: there is a deceiver, there is violence, doom, serpents and tyranny.

If you enjoy Exodus, Nuclear Assault and the more gnarly end of the thrash spectrum there is bucket loads for you to enjoy here. The stand out for me is “Violent Reprisal” (it has everything), but really I could not argue with any one track being picked out. It is of consistently good standard and is guaranteed to get your neck snapping. Shamelessly non-progressive, shamelessly violent, pre-occupied with nuclear war, Arnie films and all the other standard grist of the thrash mill, this record is great violent fun, plain and simple. If you want thrash, you will get it here.

“Weapons of Thrash Destruction” is available to preorder/buy here


Band info:  facebook || bandcamp