Friday, August 31, 2012

... BLACK MAGICIAN "Nature is the Devil’s Church"

The United Kingdom is arguably the birth place of doom metal and the sovereign state has not failed to produce quality bands and musicians. Though one group in particular has cast quite a large shadow over the entire doom scene, particularly in the UK, it is almost impossible not to have high expectations for doom traffickers hailing from that side of the Atlantic, especially considering their lineage. Black Magician’s first release, ‘Nature is the Devil’s Church’, is a welcome addition to the canon of dark, atmospheric doom. Musically the band shares much in common with Dartmoor’s The Wounded Kings in that each band is capable of producing some of the slowest, most somber, affective tunes of the past few years without testing the patience of the listener.

‘Nature is the Devil’s Church’ innocuously opens with a brief, delicate piano passage. While “The Foolish Fire” doesn’t even surpass the one minute mark, it does succeed in suggesting that there is something sinister lurking just beyond the intro in pure Hammer horror fashion. “Full Plain I See, the Devil Knows How to Row” slowly builds from a wash of feedback, organ and drums, before reaching a hypnotic doom metal plod. Organ has been used successfully by many doom bands, but Black Magician has wholly incorporated the instrument tastefully into their sound. “Full Plain I see, the Devil Knows How to Row” could be the soundtrack for the damned souls of the Demeter. Birds chirping, a crow cawing, and a lone bell ringing signal the beginning of “Four Thieves Vinegar”, another brooding excursion into the dark chasm of doom. At this point in the album two things become apparent: the band is adept at concocting lengthy, engrossing tunes that are not strictly relegated to a crawl, and singer Liam Yates has a distinct, yet singular approach to his vocal delivery. The vocals are raspy and the delivery is unwavering, but it seems to work. For now. It will be interesting to see if Liam can imbue more dynamics into his delivery on future releases. The folk inflected, “Ghost Worship” is another instrumental that is upbeat and pastoral. Finger-picked guitar and organ are central to the song’s composition. “Ghost Worship” may be divergent, but it serves to showcase the band’s influences and act as a foil to the darker songs of the album. The fifteen minute epic, “Chattox”—a reference to Anne Whittle and the Pendle witch trials—appropriately closes out the album. “Chattox” unfolds slowly at first, but is spurred on with driving percussion and atmospheric organ. It’s an effective album closer that solidifies Black Magician’s grim vision.

It would be easy, albeit lazy, to pass Black Magician off as just another occult doom band. While the occult is certainly an aspect of their music, it has more to do with the band’s fascination with England’s rich, yet dark, historical eras. References to the epidemic destruction of the bubonic plague, flagellants and their mortification of the flesh, and the forced confession of witches are all fair game for Black Magician. ‘Nature is the Devil’s Church’ is a solid debut that incorporates a variety of influences. The band has surely put themselves on the map with this release and it has managed to stand out among some of the other great albums already released this year.

Words: Steve Miller

"Our Failures Become Us" - IMPIA

 Impia is a 3 piece Drone/Doom band based out of Cincinnati, Ohio. After over a year since their first release, they have just put out a second EP entitled "Our Failures Become Us", including three songs for over 30 minutes of Drone that take mainly influences in Sunn O))) and Buried at Sea.

"This album was forged in fires of ever-burning regret and cooled in waters of deep seated anquish. Feelings of overwhelming disgust for self and species fuels this lethargic, ongoing movement towards extinction. This album reflects the carnage that rages inside and out of everything breathing and that will eventually consume us all."

This is how this (instrumental) band sets up suitably the scenery of this devastatinlgy crushing affair. I'm not much aware about Drone and its different nuances, eventually sub-genres, but, along with this strong anchorage in bleakness and despondency, I feel cool that the band isn't too much in the noisy vein of the genre ! Of course this is extremely monolithic but low-tuned guitars, droning drums and headiness don't mean here a constant and quickly irritating wall of noise.
Even if I obviously know that this is something specific to Drone, to my ears the only downfall of this ep is that the build-ups can last a little too long (2 songs clock at 13 minutes)... something that should not prevent the real fans of the genre to get easily into this nice band ;)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Small Stone Rds make their revolution on Bandcamp : huge Sampler + new WO FAT available !

There is now tons and tons of music on the Small Stone Band Camp page... And, by the end of the week,  the entire SSR catalog will be available on there (on streaming or downloadable at various prices...) !!!

As for now, there's already cool stuff available, starting by "Small Stone Jukeboxxx" : an awesome sampler of all the artists, past and present, from the Small Stone Records catalog, including GREENLEAF, BACKWOODS PAYBACK, GIDEON SMITH and The Dixie Damned, BRAIN POLICE, ROADSAW, DOZER, SONS OF OTIS, ACID KING, SASQUATCH, RED GIANT, DIXIE WITCH, etc...

Add presently to this, 3 new releases (available physically in Oct/Nov) from WO FAT "The Black Code", 
LARMAN CLAMOR "Frogs" and LORD FOWL "Moon Queen"...


"The Acolytes Feel Sleepy" by Finnish stoned prophets GNIYRG GNAARG

Here's a nice trio coming from Finland (as their name may suggest !?) that consists in Tommy on Bass + vocals, Leo on Guitar + backing vocals  and Ines on Drums (she has spanish origins which the band claims in a kind of double national identity).
This 3 songs EP "the Acolytes Feel Sleepy" is their second effort, after the debut "From Mother Sun" which was promising but failed in vocal terms, something that has been perfectly corrected here... Indeed, where the vocals were previously sung in finnish and clumsy at times, they are now in english and so harmonious with their plodding Stoner/Doom that inversely they now constitute a very distinctive force.
Certainly the thematic of their lyrics helps to get that haunting and dramatical tone, always melodic but generous in emotional climates, even epic at times : the first track, "Holothurian", is heavily influenced by ancient Japanese haikus about Holothurians (a.k.a. sea slugs), and is about an ancient chaos monk who tries to warn his nonchalant acolytes about imminent doom. "A Wizard?" is a short instrumental that works as an intro to the third track "Nay, a Prophet!", that tells the story about a prophet who has a vision of the depressing future of the world, but manages to see the bright side of it all in the end....
Musically G.G. is not your typical Stoner band, not too unpredictable though, the main influences of  Black Sabbath and Sleep (through great rumbling and hypnotic bass lines) can still be rather easily detected, but that insidious, infectious and mystical mood almost constantly floating in their twisted and enchanting vibes, gives some deep consistency which can assuredly please inveterate DOOM fans too...
Finally some added hints of grunge (last 2 minutes of "Nay..."), progressive and psychedelic rock stemming from each member's personal music tastes and melted together must be noticed and definitely bring a pretty unique touch to this stunning trio... One more subtle thing : I feel that the cover nicely retranscribes most of the musical caracters of the band,  looks pretty simple but is rich, massive and contrasted.
 About 20 minutes is really too short, I hope it won't take too long to get some more tremendous sounds from them, well just enough to listen this ep several dozen times more and anchor indelibly that strange name in my brain !!!

Monday, August 27, 2012

an Interview with ANTHEMS OF ISOLATION, 1st FUNERAL band from IRAQ

When Karam (voc) contacted last week to present me his band ANTHEMS OF ISOLATION, my first surprise was the origin of the group : Iraq... I knew there was a few DM and BM that emerged from this part of the globe over the past few years but this new project including Lord Erragal (all musics, already known for several Black Metal releases) is the first from this country into Atmospheric/Funeral/Drone stuff... Even if there's still room for some improvement in their identity (the only use of keyboard and samples is not a problem in itself at all but some more variety in the moods would be welcome in the future), their debut demo "once I lived" is worth listening if you're into ultimately Ambient, funeral and ritualistic atmospheres with blackened vocals that recover either hate, despair, melancholy in a rather impressive and soulful way.
Without any awkward voyeurism, but still curious about their motivations, living and playing  conditions, I thought it would be interesting to ask them a few questions :

* First I'd like to know when did you form exactly ? Did you know Lord Erragal (from Erragal and Amelnakru) for a long time or did you contact him specifically to form the band ?
- "Karam" :  hello..  Our band was formed in July 2012.  I didnt contact him specifically for the band, we were friends for some time before forming the band, we had a common interest in depressive music like death doom, funeral doom, depressive black metal and similar stuff, one day we were having a random chat and i was telling him that i have written lyrics an i would like to sing them for a doom metal song,, so he said i alrealy got some music composed that might suits this , so at first it was a project of a song , not a demo or an album,,, i put my final touches on the lyrics , i found that his music suitable for me and he also liked my lyrics, the song came out pretty good and we eventually agreed we make a demo consisting of 1 instrumental and 3 songs.

 * In which part of Iraq are you living ? Is it a rather safe territory at the moment compared to hottest points that still subsist ?
- "Karam" : for me i live in Mosul city in the north of iraq, Lord Erragal lives in Baghdad and we meet from time to time, generally most of iraq is better now than before when it comes to safety, and my city spicifically have been quiet for some time, another thing... Do not believe everything u hear on TV, they mostly exaggerate in broadcasting events way too much !

* How and where did you record the demo ? Can you find instruments and recording material in your own country ? On which instruments exactly does play Erragal on the demo ?
- "Lord Erragal" : i used to record all my music in a simple home studio with cheep equipments , old instruments , and the same goes for Karam , i might find good instruments here and there , but according to the lack ov money , i kept it this way , we would never be able to record in a decent record studio here in baghdad according to the fact there is no metal studios at all , basically music has been created by cassiotone 610 70's wooden edition , distorted digital guitar , as the main musical touch in the whole composing , with sample of guitars , drums and ambient sounds as i used to create in most ov my projects .

* I've seen on your FB page that you're a fan from almost all forms of extreme METAL (black, death, thrash, doom), why didn't you play any of this style which can also be a way to express hate, despair, melancholy... ? why do you consider that atmospheric/funeral/drone stuff correspond better to your musical expression ? was it also a question of line-up when you formed, I mean it's certainly not easy to find other guys to form a classic Metal line-up ? 

"Karam" :  well, I can say i have a wide taste in metal music, im not the type of a metalhead who listens to specific genres of metal only, i like almost all it forms but off course i have my favorites which are death and doom metal
and i'll leave the rest of the answer to Lord Erragal ..

- "Lord Erragal " : as a musician i have a strong influence to ambient and black metal music , it might be the 1st time to form something rather than black metal , though atmospheric music used to be spiritual , touching and overwhelming , i deal with this sense in my music as karam agree with such touches , though we would not prevail all our upcoming plans , cuz AOI is not a band can be define from the 1st demo , we have upcoming completely different , back to the question , it's not easy at all to find musicians as i am as an individual musician preferred to create all my projects as a one member , but u can say i found the musical and the mental abilities that i can work with in Karam's musical personality , so here we are, AOI.

 * Those Metal influences can be heard in your way of singing (blackened, but also throaty, a bit US Death Metal like) but not really in the music, what's your opinion about that and which have been the keywords for your musical orientation ?
 - "Karam" : for my vocals, i can say im mostly influenced by the death/funeral doom metal vocalists and also melodic death metal kind of vocals even though the last one might not be that obvious in this project; but overall i think my vocals fit the music in AOI and the lyrical themes i write about
in most of the parts in the demo i used 2 pitches but in each song i added something different for the other ones, for example .. the spoken part at the end of the song "...And My Name Will Be Carved in Stone"  or the distorion effect in the middle of the song "Drowning In the Sea of Grief"
i didnt plan for any of them , they just came out spontaneously , that's why i have no idea what im gonna do next with my vocals; ive learned not to think too much about every single detail and just let the things flow and i have tried it with other songs i performed before we form AOI.
also my mate Lord Erragal gave me this advice since he has been in the scene for longer time than me.  but i assure u if u liked my work here u r gonna like my work in the future.

* Is it preferable for you guys that the existence of ANTHEMS OF ISOLATION remains kind of secret in your own country or do you feel there's no radical a-priorism towards you ?
-"Karam" :
No, there's no reason to keep it secret..  plus in iraq we have some extreme metal bands  who were formed even before us.  it cant be a secret cuz our music was created to be heard.

* You've been freshly signed by the new french label "le crépuscule du soir", is it to release the demo on vynil/CD first or directly for upcoming new stuff ?  
- "Karam" : yes , we signed with the label to release our demo on a CD and maybe we are gonna release the upcoming stuff through it too.. We'll see how it goes after releasing the demo.

* How do you see the musical evolution of A.O.I. ? shall we expect something always so blackened ?
- "Karam" : Yes, cuz that was one of the main ponits when AOI was formed, creating melancholic music than expresses us.  Our music will still be blackened but it in other ways maybe , as Lord Erragal mentioned above, we are not the type of bands that can be judged from the first demo.

 * Naturally with all the bands you listen, internet, FB, etc... you have a fair knowledge of the western world but I presume you're still attached to your own culture, how do you feel those differences ?
"Karam" :Of course i do, there's a big difference between our societies which makes it harder for us to aclimate with it here as extreme music fans for many reasons i dont need to talk about.
on the other hand, living in such society was one of the motivations for us to create something new and unfamiliar. And I wouldnt say im attached to my culture but we can't deny it's effect on us and our thoughts , AOI is a mixture of our social backgrounds and our influences from the western world.

 * Thanx Karam, add something if you wish...
"Karam" : I would like to thank you and Temple of Perdition for the support and giving us the oppurtunity for this interview.
And i ask everyone who's reading this to support extreme music in iraq.. Cuz it really needs it.

Follow this good advice :

Saturday, August 25, 2012

French Doomed interviews-serie pt4 : VALVE + ZARDOZ

This is the 4th chapter of this little interviews-serie, I've been waiting for a long time the 3rd band planed (and am still despite their agreement!) but  it's been yet a good while since both parisian bands VALVE  (Sludge) and ZARDOZ  (Stoner/Sludge) sent me their answers, so enough time lost, here we go :

1) How's the french doom/stoner/sludge scene like to your opinion in 2012 ?

2) What have been the most significant events that happened to the band since the beginning of the year ?

3) Any concrete news or serious plans (gigs, recording, album release...) for the 2nd part of 2012 ?

a little reminder about previous chapters :

part 1 :  The Bottle Doom Lazy Band, Zombie King, Oyabun, Barabbas, Surtr -

part 2 : Eibon, Wheelfall,A Very Old Ghost Behind the Farm, Bear Brawler -

part 3 : Children Of Doom, Goat River and Father Merrin -


 1) We are not aware of everything going on, but we have had a few opportunities to see that it's alive, and well! 

2) Well, we had our demo released of course, for which we received very good feedback overall. It's great to feel that people listen to music coming from theses scenes with such care. Reviewers made very relevant comments and interesting analysis, which is very encouraging for us and should obviously help us on our composition path. Aside from that, we had the opportunity to share the stage with awesome bands, play outside our hometown and in nice venues. And now, we have that insatiable thirst for shows!

3) This summer we are going to focus on writing our second effort, which we have good hopes to release in late 2012/early 2013. We already have a few songs composed, and some others on their way. We are also working on a western european tour for this fall, with a kickass band from London called Dead Existence. We are really looking forward to this as it will be our first real tour experience (meaning, for more than two days!), and meeting new people and bands in foreign countries sounds really exciting. If everything goes as planned, 2nd part of 2012 should be great!

(since then, a great parisian gig has been confirmed for VALVE, with RAMESSES and WHEELFALL  at Les Combustibles, 16th Sept, plus check out their FB page there's more fresh details about their tour with DEAD EXISTENCE...)

1) This scene became bigger for few years, and it’s a pleasure to see bands like Huata or Year of no light play at Roadburn and Hellfest, and many others coming soon, like Tombstone. So it’s going into the right way.
There is also few specialized blog like Pelecanus, Kongfuzi and of couse Temple of perdition, which allows to small bands to be inteviewed among other famous american and english bands, but it’s still a huge work.

2) There has been 3 important events this year for us :  firstly we played with Barabbas in Paris, it was cool to meet these guys, unsane just like us and with a powerful sound. Also we changed this month our band name, from Freres Sludge to Zardoz and even if it’s the same spirit, it’s a new start. And finally, we have for one year our own place to rehearse, so we play a lot and there is new shit coming out.

3) For a couple of months, we're working on our first EP named « Sick Songs » we hope it’s gonna be ready for september, so right now we stay focused on this work, but after, our ambition is to find a label and play as much as possible.

Peace, Zardoz. 

 Finally I take here the opportunity to post the poster for the upcoming tour of HUATA in Spain and Portugal, check out their FB page for more infos.

... IRON MAN - ‘Att hålla dig over’ EP

Maintaining consistency over the span of four full-lengths and almost as many EP’s is a task that most bands can’t even dream of achieving. Iron Man is not only one of the select few who have managed this feat, but they have arguably done so while improving with age. Over the years, Iron Man linchpin Al Morris III and his revolving cast of supporters have continued to release some of the heaviest, up-tempo, doom metal around. The release of the band’s third EP, ‘Att hålla dig over’, has proven two things: Al Morris III is a never-ending chasm of massive, doomed-out riffage, and the band’s seemingly current stable lineup is capable of surpassing the heft and groove of previous releases.

The one-two punch combination of “Quicksand” and “Crucified”—two of the strongest tracks ever recorded by the band—are propelled by a group in unison. Not to take away from Al, but the band is now a culmination of all the players and not simply based around gargantuan riffs. Of note is the bass playing of Louis Strachan who helped bring the ‘I Have Returned’ album to the next level, but who is now further brought to prominence by the production of “Att hålla dig over”. The songs simply have a depth that was unattainable with former incarnations of the band. If you’re ever in need for a soundtrack for vengeance you could do much worse than the EP’s first single, “Quicksand”, a tune that vocalist “Screaming Mad” Dee has explained, “If you’re mortally wounded, you have two choices: you can either die quietly and alone, or you can reach out and grab the people who did it to you and make damn sure you drag them down with you. This song is about the second choice in that analogy.” Dee Calhoun is without a doubt Iron Man’s most powerful and versatile vocalist and it’s both humbling and near quake-inducing when he belts out, “Are you scared of what has come for you/To call to task atrocities come true/At the end—each take my hand/And come with me down to the sand”. 

Tracking wise ‘Att hålla dig over’ is quite similar to 2011’s ‘Dominance’ EP. Both EP’s begin with two standout Iron Man tunes and are followed by acoustic numbers. Whereas the ‘Dominance’ EP showcases a haunting instrumental interlude in the form of “Eternal Sleep”, ‘Att hålla dig over’ utilizes acoustic guitar, harmonica, and vocals for “Suffer the Children”, a tune that really reveals another side of the band by showcasing a gentler vocal delivery of Dee and some really deft guitar playing on behalf of Al. The main divergence with ‘Att hålla dig over’ is that the band has used the opportunity to re-record an Iron Man classic, “On the Mountain”, for the fourth track. ‘The Passage’ and ‘Generation Void’ of the Michalak era are stone cold classics, so the re-recording of “On the Mountain” is a bit superfluous, though it is interesting to see how a current lineup can interpret material from the past. While the bassline stands out and the drums have a pop that is absent on the original courtesy of new drummer, Jason "Mot" Waldmann, the track from ‘Generation Void’ is still the definitive version.

While ‘Dominance’ may have a slight edge over ‘Att hålla dig over’, it is still as consistent and heavy as any other release in the band’s catalogue. Hopefully ‘Att hålla dig over’ can indeed hold fans over until the band can record their next full-length album. Based on the latest efforts and the strength of this current lineup expectations will be high. Order ‘Att hålla dig over’ straight from the band.

Words: Steve Miller

Friday, August 24, 2012

Videos section : enjoy BARABBAS, STONE MAGNUM + C.O.C. and HANK3 live 08/2012

For the 1st time in T.O.P. here's a selection of Videos I particularly enjoyed over the past days, I'll try to make it a regular section and post recent Live recordings and of course new official or fan videos (from the great Mikael Oloffson or Kathy Reeves for example !). Here we go with BARABBAS and then some recent live stuff of C.O.C., STONE MAGNUM and HANK 3...

                                                               BARABBAS "barabbas"

                                                     CORROSION OF CONFORMITY
                                             live Motocultor Festival (France) 08/17/2012

                                        STONE MAGNUM live at Days of The Doomed II (06/2012)

                                           HANK 3 - live 03/08/2012 "one big wag" Marathon music

... POWERTRIP "Hell Rock" ep review

Powertrip is a stoner rock trio from Mexico and their EP Hell Rock is just bursting with laidback, infectious grooves and spacey jams. They sit on the intersection of the desert rock sound, 70s proto-metal  and touch of kraut expansiveness. Most of these songs stretch out over 7 minutes, with one exception.
‘Full Of Stones’ rather than being the Lemmy-style anthem the title suggests turns out to be a pretty trippy song, built around some halting, interesting mid-tempo grooves, moving into a more uptempo section   about midway through. The vocals are very raw edged and throaty especially when the second vocals, pitched a bit higher, come in and they lend a sludgy edge to the sound.  The amusingly titled ‘Sand Witch’ kicks in with a piledriving mid-70s Sabbath riff. Some effective wah usage gives the riffs that bell-bottomed stomp before the bass takes over, bringing in a psychedelic mid-section that’s like a heavier take on a classic Neu! Jam. ‘Made In Hell’ is another collection of mid-tempo riffage laced with some tasty hooks and Iommi-evoking hammer-on flurries. Sometimes when the band works a riff, putting it through a set of dynamics, they remind me a bit of Karma 2 Burn, the masters of working a stoner groove. ‘In Flames’, the shortest song on the album at 2 minutes 40 seconds, washes away memories of tedious melodeath excesses. The energy of this song complements the hectoring vocal tone especially well. The next song, ‘Shit Valley’ returns to a more extensive scale and has some of my favourite riffs on the EP; in fact it’s guaranteed to leave you with a silly grin on your face and an unexplained case of the munchies! The EP ends well with ‘3:00 AM’, another feast of hypnotic riffs punctuated with uptempo sections and some great jamming.
Powertrip is a true power trio, with the rhythm section playing an integral roll in underpinning and complementing the guitar. I was particularly pleased that the bass has a clear, ringing tone that really lets you pick out the details and get into the groove. I could have done with a thicker guitar sound, but all in all the production is clear and effective. Fans of laidback stoner jamming will enjoy this record and I can see it fitting equally well onto a psychedelic or sludge playlist.

words by Jayaprakash Satyamurthy

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Heavier than Thou SLUDGE from Arizona : LADYBIRD

If there's an indication to find behind either the band's name or this demo's cover in order to identify their musical style, then everyone would choose the cover and yet, save the blackness largely retranscribed in the band's music, this cover doesn't reveal much at least at 1st sight... All this to say that behind this charming name of LADYBIRD is not hidden an harmless small insect but rather a venomous snake that could commit irrreversible damages upon your soul ! This burning SLUDGE trio plays in the sickest category of the genre, think about WEEDEATER, DOPETHRONE and even ORDER OF THE OWL for this scary evil touch in those possessed vocals and deaf, dissonant echoing... If I was from Marseille, understand constantly exaggerating, I would even say that the vocals in LADYBIRD could make sound the wellknown vocalists from those three above mentioned bands like innocent choirboys !!!  
Oustandingly FUZZY and LOUD,  those 3 songs (pretty long, from 8 to 10 minutes) are kinda physically and mentally demanding - if you're usually more clean than the average Sludge fan ! - but perversely delightful... 
Starting with "Ontological Physicalism", you won't need more than a few seconds to find that LADYBIRD is viciously penetrating and crushing ; the overall is slow and mesmerizing, dirty and terrific too which somewhat justifies here their humoristic description of "Hillbilly Metal"... in the sense that it sometimes makes you feel a harsh tension that you're caught in a sadistic ambush full of  bearded men with bulging eyes, half-consanguineous and just wanting to terrorize your brain.
 Of course they're not the first, but those nasty boys from the south succeed insidiously to transpose you in their most hallucinogenic trips and if such amount of fuzziness and loudness can eventually become slightly too oppressive, stifling after the first 12 minutes (at the middle of the 2nd song "Gone Away"), you get then an amazing bluesy mood, moist and dusty, to appease your pain.
LADYBIRD are not just executionners !!! It's confirmed with the groovy start of last song "Slow" before they come back to some bursting, freaked-out Sludge Doom to complete you definitely until the next listening, which believe me will confirm your growing addiction for this bewtiching LADYBIRD.
You really should not miss them, I'm convinced that we've got here a band that will become HUGE in no time;  more is uggerly awaited !

 I asked a few infos to Brett about the band, here's what he answered :
"Well, 2/3 of us is from south carolina, while the other 1/3 is from arizona. we don't really have any significant past bands that did too much. our first show was with thrones. we played with black cobra, twin giant, and some fucking band that said they sound like foo fighters and then played a foo fighters song. we recently did a couple small weekend tours. played in denver with In the Company of Serpents, fucking badass, and in Long Beach California with Pigeonwing who we are sharing the stage at an upcoming fest in tucson arizona called "southwest terror fest".
We are recording in september aiming to release a ep and most likely a split. trying to find a label to put shit out for us. gonna have artwork done by hunter hancock, and aiming to tour the west coast sometimes in february."

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

.... UZALA : "Cataract/Death Masque" 12” Single review

The murk-dwelling, psych/doom band, Uzala, has finally issued the missing puzzle piece to their brilliant self-titled debut. Collectors of vinyl were rewarded with an amazing album, albeit lacking“Cataract”—one of the band’s strongest tracks—while downloaders and cassette collectors were graced with the full nine track album. At War With False Noise has remedied the situation by releasing the ‘Cataract/Death Masque 12” Single’.While many fans may be familiar with “Cataract”, it’s an opportunity for completists and vinyl fetishists to pad out their collections while gaining an added bonus…“Death Masque”.
The Eastern-tinged “Cataract” opens the single and showcases vocalist/guitarist Darcy Nutt’s soaring, emotional vocals that easily rise above the murky din created by both the band and the production. While there are those who feel that Uzala could benefit from a cleaner, clearer production, they are totally missing the mark and “Cataract” continually reveals its many layers as the listener wades through its turbid waters. “Cataract” easily flows between majestic, drowsy-paced doom and up-tempo groove while Chad Remains’devilish, whispered vocals sporadically slither their way through the slurry. If any song is worthy of being released as a single from the debut it is“Cataract”. Following a few distorted notes “Death Masque” drops like a clap of thunder and peals off into the darkened aether with Darcy’s vocals remaining as the only finger of light amidst the gloom. The music twists and turns from head-nodding euphoria to plodding, feedback driven freak-out. Like most of Uzala’s compositions “Death Masque” has enough complexity, depth, and shifts in tempo to remain interesting and warrant repeated listens.
Uzala has, up to this point, released one of the most unique doom metal albums of the year with their self-titled debut and have now successfully followed it with the release of the ‘Cataract/Death Masque 12”Single’. Currently there are very few bands that are successfully pushing the boundaries of doom metal and Uzala is accomplishing this by effortlessly combining doom, noise, and psychedelia all while being able to retain a consistent, atmospheric vision. Act quickly to get this very limited vinyl or download from the band’s Bandcamp page. Highly recommended.
Words: Steve Miller

Teaser of the new album "Deceived Idealism" from FUNERALIUM

5 years after the 1st self-titled album, FUNERALIUM is back with "Deceived Idealism"...
More ferocious than before, driven by hate and disgust, the 5 doomed brethren of FUNERALIUM unleash their hatred with a heaviness and a might more impressive than ever.
Clocking at 88 minutes, "Deceived Idealism" is relentless, bleak and crushing. This complex monolith of EXTREME DOOM has trodden new paths, drawing its influences from Doom Metal and old-school Black Metal, but also filthy death metal and dark metal passages.
FUNERALIUM hasn't limited itself to a particular sub-genre but has drunk from the darkest and fierciest chalices of extreme metal.
Still featuring Marquis' unique and sickening vokills, Berzerk'r diabolical guitar intricacies, the band now also displays the 2 complementary basses of Asmael & Charlesward which pummel the senses and the gnawing punishing drums of ADKshN.
With a dozen concerts, the cohesion of the band -like a live Leviathan- is undeniable.

"Deceived Idealism" will be released at in October on 2CDs by WEIRDTRUTH and on DLP this Fall by OSTRA RECORDS. A limited "die hard version" will also be available through OSTRA RECORDS exclusively.

Come taste on Youtube a teaser of "Deceived Idealism" and discover the new mefitic sound of FUNERAL

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"The Serpent's Redemption" BOMBS OF HADES

Ok, I know that last post was concerning a Black Metal band and now this one is about a DM one, while T.O.P. is a DOOM blog, but this time it's just PULVERISED records fault... he he he !!!
I can't say that I blindly praise everything that this asian label is releasing but I must reckon that most of their stuff deserve interest (just remember about Bastard Priest, Graveyard and Impiety for the past months...) and this sophomore album by Swedish hordes BOMBS OF HADES makes no exception to their amazing evergrowing catalogue of old school Death Metal bands.
If there's mostly references to old bands like Entombed, Carnage, Autopsy and some Crust acts like Discharge or Anti-Cimex when speaking about Bombs Of Hades... one should before all know that those guys are all experimented musicians with a long background in the scene, especially from the early days, judge by yourselves about some of their older bands : Macabre End/God Macabre, Aboth, The Crown, Tribulation (not the actual one but an excellent old swedish band that released a great album 20 years ago on Black Mark; I had the pleasure to interview them in my old zine In My Veins, a rather thrashy and assuredly classy band but maybe too ahead of its time)... if you know perfectly well the history of the swedish DM Scene, this gives you a positive overlook about their serious abilities to catch the real essence of this brutally raw sound.
I feel there's not that many Crust influences here compared to the first album... Of course  this is still very straight, rough and brutal but globally not as primitive and filthy I would say; nothing too sweetened at all though, it's just that it has its more refined moments which avoid any too quick "yet heard" feeling.
Like for exemple on the memorable title track "the Serpent's Redemption" and its epic, almost oriental touches, pronounced but subtle, a bit like Necros Christos or Melechesh. It's very heady, kind of enchanting and venomous at the same time and as a 4th track is a perfect "lull" after the ripping deluge of chainsaw riffing that contain the 3 first songs.  
In a different way but still more nuanced and hypnotizing than their usual basis, there's also the long last song "Scortched Earth" with a slow, haunting mood which confirms the band's evolution towards something more personnal, while it still ends in an avalanche of tsunamic violence !!!
I wouldn't say like sometimes that this is the way I expect them to follow exclusively, cause I fucking dig this lacerating DM which those swedish bands have invented back in the day and that the band reproduces here in the greatest tradition, but I  feel it's good to alternate with slower, deeper moments and BOMBS OF HADES perfectly succeeded to make this new album enough diversified to please all generations of Swedish DM lovers :)


Sunday, August 19, 2012

"Threshing the Golden Fields" THENN ep review

T.O.P. is usually not a blog featuring any Black Metal bands, but rules are made to be transgressed and here's an exception with THENN from Indiana (USA) which released their debut ep "Threshing the Golden Fields" the 1st of this month.
Aside DOOM and its subgenres, I know that some of you readers are opened to more brutal sounds : most importantly Death and Black Metal, not forgetting a bit of Crust sometimes at breakfast !!! 
THENN enters in the BM category, playing fast and brutal stuff with that early 90's Darkthrone punishing and epic northern rage but also some slight hints of filthy Crust. Honestly this is not really my cup of tea when it's full out Black stuff, I'm not at all in a state of mind that tolerates those often too linear brutal sounds but I feel that THENN could be worth of interest for fans of the genre...
Yet, out of 5 songs there's a few slowed down tempos in "They Are Given to the Inviting Earth", through a nice doomy introduction and  also in "Threshing the Golden Fields" which shows an interesting development in the moods variation, from menacing and hauting to hateful... This last song is the most interesting and I wish this would be a direction to follow !
This is a FREE Downloadable EP; so in this period of intense heat, give this a chance and  refresh your body with cold northern hate ;)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

"The Last Bow" SATELLITE BEAVER ep review

Out from Warsaw (Poland), here come SATELLITE BEAVER with their new Ep "The Last Bow"...
With this 4 songs release, fans of thick and burning Stoner will find in here all they could wish for, but what is pretty cool and rare is that they will be also bluffed by the way those guys introduce  various 90's influences... and not just KYUSS ! 
If they like it Rock'n roll and groovy like on "Way Before" or fuzzy and sabbathian ("Urania"), the general approach is percussive and massive and one can indeed hear also some early Marylin Manson, Girls Against Boys and Ministry in those catchy vocals as well as some more dissonance and an almost martial heaviness surrounding with the guitars.  Several quieter moments also show a very solid vocal work towards something fairly melodic and a bit melancholic which can then make think about Alice in Chains !
Nothing that can disconcert at all in this variety of  references, beleive me this remains always homogeneous and is constantly caracterized above all by heaviness and massiveness :)
The last song "Roadtrip", which seems to constitute what the band actually intend to play precisely in the future, has a nice menacing tone mixed with some more refined hints as well as gloomy headiness; a damn complete masterpiece to end this too-short 20 minutes effort.
We'll see where this will lead them but I'm confident about this band's future, they've got a strong potencial and  yet a pretty personnal style, that will be matured undoubtedly for their forthcoming album but is already perfectly apted for memorable Live performances... Support this wild beaver !

HELP requested to release BITTER RESOLVE's new LP "The Early Interstellar Medium"

Here's some important news that the amazing BITTER RESOLVE have to share with their fans :

"Hi!  We are bitter resolve, from Carrboro, NC.  We are trying to come up with half the cost of pressing our second record, The Early Interstellar Medium.  We spent eight really hot days at Legitimate Business in Greensboro recording this on our own dime.  We're super psyched with the results and we're anxious to release it.  We have come up with half the cost for pressing and are asking for your kind donations to help us make this happen. If you want to check us out you can visit: "

Of course the subscription/donation will give you some nice rewards : from a digital download code of the record to "anything you would want provided by the band - as long as it doesn't land them in jail" !!! 

I'm sure that this new album "The Early Interstellar Medium" will be one of the highlight of the year, so go on the page specially created for the donations/subscriptions and get all necessary infos to support them.
Expect a release beofre the end of the year :)

If you haven't yet, read  the interview I did with them some months ago 

and listen their godly 1st album "Bows and Arrows Against the Lightning"

Thursday, August 16, 2012

brutal and downtuned stuff from Mexico with AKÛMA / WEEDSNAKE split

During quite a long while the Mexican scene has been really reknown for revealing some killer Death Metal bands, eventually some HC and Grind too but until now Stoner/Sludge/Doom never really emerged from there... So it's with a particular pleasure that I received recently a mail (thanx to Gallo Mc Coy) with a link to this split with AKÛMA and WEEDSNAKE, two young bands who gather their efforts on this fresh release.
With 2 songs for each band and a total length of about 20 minutes, this is more of an Ep than an Album. Both bands have the particularity to be hardly classified, mainly due to their rather harsh Metallic approach of Stoner/Sludge... 
I feel that WEEDSNAKE is closer to the usual Stoner/Sludge type of riffing, the basis of their songs is gnarly and extremely heavy but the tempo is sometimes doomier which gives a great  consistence in the moods variation... Vocals remain always agressive, screamed; they are almost too violent in my opinion on those gloomy downtuned parts which could have been a real problem if this was for the length of a full album but is still enjoyable here , I definitely feel that some nuances and  deepness  in the vocals should be brought for the future though. Musically I think that WEEDSNAKE plays very tightly and already show promises of a striking identity, on the song "Freedom" especially, certainly they just need a bit  more time to gain in cohesion; I will willingly follow that !
On their 1st song "Aphasia Universal", AKÛMA are very different... This sounds more like old Voivod meets Crusty Black Metal, than Sludge or anything else related to heavy weedy sounds ! Not disagreeable at all, I like very much the 2nd part of the song with great dissonances, but this is pretty brutal and disconcerting, especially when you listen then "Earthspell" which is more of a groovy mid-tempo and clearly shows that both bands belong to the same scene which wasn't that obvious with the beginner ! 
This "Earthspell" is far more solid and distinctive, it's still a bit filthy but there's a great dose of groove and catchy power, vocals are less omnipresent and the musicality of the band is greatly valued. I think this 2nd song shows the way they should take for the future...
Even if there's imperfections, this Split is very interesting and constitutes a good and exciting promise for both bands future and the Mexican scene too... This deserves attention and support !

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

let's take a far-out journey with NAAM's "the Ballad of the Starchild"...

It took me a little while to get it, but being in Paris last week, I took the opportunity to buy a few goodies that I missed over the past months, including this new ep from NY's Psychedelic monsters NAAM...
After their excellent debut album released in 2009, it could seem a bit strange to put out just an ep, almost 3 years have passed, maybe the guys felt it that way to let their fans progressively "digest" their rather outstanding evolution before a new album. It's not that the task is tricky but we've got here something that needs -in my opinion- to be in a particular state of mind to fully get into... but believe me, whatever you need to reach it (maybe nothing special at all and that's cool for you), this is then a pretty memorable experience !
There's still 5 songs  for about 27 minutes, including 2 short ones as kind of msytical interludes... The album already revealed a pronounced affection for eery and psychedelic moments while being pretty obscure, dense and heavy which still placed them not far the Stoner category; but now with "the Ballad of the Starchild", NAAM entered another dimension and definitely left the normal Stoner planet for some of the most incredibly spacey and vintage Psychedelic Rock you would ever expect from a modern band.
This starts with the Floydesque "Sentry of Skies" which quickly shows that the band introduces larger musical parts in its music to enhance hypnotic moods; the introduction of Johnny Weingarten as 4th member on lead organ and electric piano is obviously connected to this and considerably values the feeling to be embarked in an intergalactic journey, sweet, uncertain, voluptuous... 
"Lands Unknown" and the masterful "The Starchild" are both the cornerstones of this release, not forgetting some occasionnal fuzziness and always enough heavy to remind that if those guys are enough talented to make you feel completely away with  their epic, dramatical and stargazing dimension, they basically still remain as Sonic purveyors of heavy sounds !!!
NAAM is the kind of band that helps you to disconnect, to improve in your quest of inner quietness, to reach unknown lands of obscurity and imagination... As Tee Pee rds says it "The Ballad of the Starchild" is the perfect accompaniement for "exploring inner space and imagining outer space." Now I wish they won't be too long to release a full new album !
Shit do I need a visit to the closest pyschoterapist or some more NAAM to help me reach the stars and pacify my brain, so fucking often tormented by all those belowers that bore me to death ? no need to tell you that I choose those guys which are some of the best therapists in the actual scene ;)
Listen and watch that video below and be sure that this ep is essential in your 2012 discography... Peace \m/

Monday, August 13, 2012

"don't Bother Getting up..." by THE OUTLAWS OF ZEN ep review

Back to work today after cool holidays :( ok my boss wasn't there but there was still lots of things to do, without any motivation... so, among all the stuff I've received during the past weeks, I wanted to choose something pretty stirring, heavy of course but also kind of  entertaining to help me for that long looooong day of work, far from wife, kids and sun; I worked briefly on the subject yesterday evening and thought that THE OUTLAWS OF ZEN would be a good challenger !!!
Well, the day has been long but holy shit I would have yet hung myself if this awesome HEAVY RIFF Rock band wouldn't have helped me so brillantly in this infernal struggle against my actual distress at work with their debut ep "Don't Bother Getting Up, We'll Let Ourselves In" (5 songs for about 20 minutes). 
I know you've certainly yet read what follows in other blogs - I don't practise many other ones but I've seen it also retranscripted in the excellent The Sludgelord !- but how Korey (guit) presents his band is so well-thought and fitting to what you can EXACTLY expect from the band, that believe this is not just simple easiness to let him describe how TOOZ sounds : 

"We are The Outlaws of Zen a heavy riff based rock band from corn fields of Auburn (Mi) heart of the Tri Cities.  Saginaw with the nation leading murder per capita rate, Bay City’s old boy’s network, heavy drinking, and fear of the future, and Mayberry er' Midland the land of unicorns, rainbow Kool Aid, and nothing bad can happen here. Formed in early 2011 TOOZ fuse high intensity rock n roll and working class frustration.  The riff is king, but the song is the kingdom.  Brutal yet jazzy drumming, clever satirical lyrics, thundering and meandering bass, and tasteful guitar fills all attribute to our heaviness through intensity approach.  Largely influenced by the 70’s obscure rock underground but tempered through the band members' time in metal, retro, hard rock, blues, jazz, and acoustic bands.  The result is our 1st EP “Don’t Bothering Getting Up, We’ll Let Ourselves In”. "

Then ? this EP is simply DELIGHTFUL :) a real masterpiece of heaviness and intense groove, sharp and raced, a bit in the vein of King Giant like on the anthemic "Pornstache (the Ballad of Thunderlips Johnson)", the kind of song that can gather fans from all kind of massive and heavy Metal'n roll sounds !!! It's nice to discover such a young band,taking influences in the 70's Heavy Rock and applying tightfully its best reciepes with  extremely catchy riffs and such a good amount of power and heaviness that if you intend to drink a beer while listening to them, you're warned to have at least half of it lost cause of uncontrolable headbanging !!!
This is burning stuff that is HIGHLY recommended, enjoy this "name your price" affair right NOW \m/

"Note to Nod" by BLACK TAR PROPHET

Like their buddies of Brother Ares recently featured here, BLACK TAR PROPHET comes from Nashville (TN) and is a duo too, consisting in Greg Swinehart (Percussion) and Mark Owen (Guitar/Noise) but their style is pretty different on this "Note to Nod".
This debut effort includes only one song of 42 minutes, just about the length of a gig... so if you actually get the chance to see them live, I think you should have undoubtely the full album played !!!
Raw, dirty and heady, the instrumental duo plays a weedy and fuzzy mix of Sludge and Drone with regular (but not too omnipresent)  obscure vocal samples and hammering feedback; those guys do not bring anything special to the genre but they succeed to create in that long song a very catchy atmosphere : intense, punishing at times but mostly infectious and insidiously bubbling. Surprisingly, this ends in a very peaceful way with accoustic guitars, just as if a lighter landing was needed after such a crushing, chaotic and mind altering journey ! 
I doubt the fact of just having a song per album is a pre-etablished rule for B.T.P., so it'll be interesting to follow them and see how they'll evolute on next effort. As for now this unrelenting "Note to Nod" must be definitely played LOUD and will for sure interest fans of Bongripper, Electric Wizard and Weedeater ! The CD is available on their FB site or at shows but also on Itunes/spotify/lastfm, check it out...

Saturday, August 11, 2012

album review : "White Hoarhound" by ALUNAH

After their brillant debut album "Call of Avernus", Birmingham's quatuor ALUNAH are back with "White Hoarhound", a new album that has been more than consistently matured over the two past years... Something that was almost an obligation, considering that a 2nd album is always an important step in a band's course but also that this doom scene of female fronted bands is regularly offering new bands that can eventually quickly match the place of older ones, especially if they  are lucky enough to be supported by a "major" label...
While the vintage production enhance even more than previously the heady grooviness, a quickly noticeable attention has been brought to the songwriting, one can definitely not reproach here a limited musicianship, some too predictable arrangments and a linearity that quickly bores... In her short note to present briefly the album in its early stages, for T.O.P. last winter, Soph insisted about the importance that Gaz (bass) took in this album composition, something which is indeed largely confirmed - particularly by some extended fuzziness, but in fact I think everyone personnaly improved his level of technicality and implication too, giving to the band an extremely cohesive sense that just a few ones can achieve.
Sure this basically vintage Sabbathian sound is prominent and does not intend to reinvent Doom  but I dig how they bring it to extreme gloominess with tasty psychedelic hints or to some more luminous charming landscapes (better say semi-obscure !)... I love each second of this "White Hoarhound", of course there's the particularly memorable "Oak Ritual pt2", but my fave one is undoubtly "Belial's Fjord", just the name is awesome but the song is the perfect retranscription of ALUNAH's actual and certainly future sound, a fucking masterful and epic piece of Doom !!! 
All this is leaded by Soph's vocals, mesmerising and melodic at the same time; delightful, maliciously and cleverly wellthought like if she always puted herself in the shoes of the most passionated and mature ALUNAH's fan to extract the best quintessence of each song; she's definitely a guru that wants your good for just a few bux !
With this sophomore album, ALUNAH do not simply proove that they now have their own personnal sound, they also proove that they can legitimately exist among other bands like Blood Ceremony or The Wounded Kings... No offense to the always excellent purveyor of classy Doomy sounds Psychedoomelic rds, but I  honestly feel that ALUNAH would now deserve a more prestigious label to spread their awesome sound, so let's just hope that they won't wait too long anymore to get a wider exposure cause this album has the potencial to bring them in much higher spheres... 
And now please, you dudes and dudette, you need to TOUR outside UK !!! Meanwhile lucky local Doomsters should not miss the album release party programmed next Friday... check the flyer below !