Thursday, February 28, 2013

... MAIDENS "Eve of Absolution" (album review)

Out from Milwaukee (Wisconsin), MAIDENS are a quatuor who formed in 2008 and released two EPs in 2010 and late 2011- prior to this debut album "Eve of Absolution" which is presently digitally available, while waiting for a physical release on Error rds by the end of next month...
I sometimes mistrust tags on bandcamp, especially when they're numerous and include several Post-something !!! We've got here mentioned : Doom, Drone, Post HC, Post Metal, Sludge... nothing incoherent at all on the paper and in the present facts; afteer all it's often a question of balance and consistency between the genres who make the hybridization worthy or not ... Neurosis, Omega Massif are some names that come in mind several times here but nothing disturbing in this, MAIDENS have a powerful and hanging approach which make worth listening this album !

Despite the Post-whatever tonality that -if not prominent- is often underlying,  one thing that makes the difference in favour of Maidens is the relative short length of the songs (7 pieces for about 35 minutes) which banishes the typical long contrasts between quiet and loud, heavy and soft that are too often displayed in the genre(s), MAIDENS waste no time and craft their stuff with heavy dynamics and subtle melodies which never denature their metallic stridency.

"Beginnings Rebirth" is a hell of a heavy starter which quickly install a menacing and mournful tonality as guideline, the riff is slow and brooding with wrenching screamed vocals; "Our Splendor, Our Antiquity" which follows has a more straight-up tempo, the guitar is roaring and melodic, this song confirms the intensity of the rythmic section which accentuate quite considerably the towering chords.

"Lands of the Blind" is not the most memorable piece of the album, sounds a bit too standard and the slight dirty and nasty touch of Sludge lacks in the guitar, even if the vocals are nicely forceful in the 2nd part.
"Discord, Storm in the Horizon" is the longest song but that's logical - considering that this instrumental is an haunting composition of drone ! Starting with a ghoslty mood, it grows in intensity and ends in a dissonant maelstrom, it is a good transition before the title song of this debut album "Eve of Absolution" with its thrumming riff and pounding drums added again, this song is another lethal instrumental.

After those both monstruous songs, it's good to hear again the tearing-up vocals on "Upheaval : She Has Abadoned Us" while the tempo calms down a bit on the closer "The Calm, the Silence" which is the most filled with post metal style cuts.

That's already the end and a couple of more songs would have been welcome but maybe it's better this way to keep the album compact and perfectly adapted for live conditions. Maidens leave with "Eve of Absolution" a great impression, the style of the band certainly needs some more depth to stand out from the crowd but it's a well-worth discovering debut.

... XCIII "Like a Fiend in a Cloud"

XCIII deliver a nocturnal rêverie, a romantic promenade through the forest of the human soul. Sarcastic and delightful, grand and moving, the music describes a tormented conscious affected by devotion and rancor in his impossible quest of an ideal, and gracefully he discovers a final singular knowledge - In each cloud lays a fiend.
Formed by Guillaume Beringer in 2009, this project is the continuation of a former project called Forlon Hope. The idea was to create a project around the 19th century romanticism in Germany as well as in France and England. The music is a personal way to describe tormented feelings about love and hate, the impossible quest of an ideal.
Inspired by bands like My dying bride, Opeth, Porcupine tree, Katatonia, Anathema, Agalloch etc. The result is a bleak experiment in folk, black, trip hop and prog metal.

... ARCTIC SLEEP "Arbors"

"Arctic Sleep returns with their heaviest, biggest-sounding, most epic record to date, 2012's "Arbors." A caress of lush cello arrangements greets you briefly before this masterpiece jolts you headlong into the wormhole on a journey through the band's unique world of mystic forests, majestic oceans of sorrow, and other earthen realms. Arctic Sleep creates a soundscape that is unique among today's heavy bands in that it employs major-key riffing, intense down-tuned distortion, soothing vocals, classical instruments, themes of forestry and nature, along with modern-day production techniques with songwriting that pulls influence from a wide variety of genres including doom metal, 90's rock, space rock, classical, drone/ambient, shoegaze, post-metal, and the list goes on. Join Arctic Sleep on this exciting and blissfully heavy escape from reality."

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

... Reflections of a Doomed Blogger !!!

I'm increasingly confronted to "cases of conscience"  (I enlarge the line voluntarily) ... why ? For several reasons that I'm gonna try to explain and give me the opportunity to express  ideas about how I see the evolution of my blog !!!
Those frustration and questions find their origins with different kind of stuff which I'm not really into but that I get more and more in the mail lately.
T.o.P. is basically (or was ? that's the question , hahaha !) a DOOM webzine or blog or whatever you want to call it; but, first by taste, stoner/sludge/psyche bands were naturally featured in addition with an occasional DM band too, then over the  past months bands and labels from less-close genres like Black Metal, modern DM, Post Metal or Grunge started to submit their stuff too...

More and more submissions means more and more dispensable stuff... that's a sad but logical reality, this is also something true for our styles of predilection but not a real problem in itself like it is for those genres that are NOT done of DOOM;
I'm sorry but what I want and need are those heavy downtuned sounds filled either with  sorrow, crushingess, psychedelism, pain, violence, weed, blues, filthiness, bleakness... not an introspective one-man band into romanticblacksomething or a band that is supposed to be a mix of postpsychedoomemoshoegaze with a modern sound !!!

There can always be some unexpected exceptions but then what shall I do with the rest now ? ignore most of them... ? limit the support only to bands I'm really into ? having this policy as basis would imply to post more sporadically (like in the first year) and loose inevitably some readers gained in-between ! or, more positively in the spirit and respectful,  when  the bands evokes nothing special at all - then just inform, spread the word through a short presentative post - let's say it : just relay a band's promotion words ? that's finally what I'm gonna do...

Nothing at all against those pre-mentioned styles, we aren't kids anymore who spite at everything different but I'm not excited at all by some of those bands (not to say most), not comfortable with others, neither are contributors who just like me don't have time to spend on bands that are simply not their cup of tea.
I'm not doing a blog to say that X or Y bores me to death, it's just that... it's not cause there's two or three HEAVY and/or BLEAK moments in your album that it makes your band related to DOOM (that's cool if you said that you like the blog but think about it twice before submiting your stuff if you expect exclusively a proper review) !!!  

So, from now on , in this type of situation - I'll just post some infos written directly from the band about their stuff  and the link to their music;  interpret it as you want but most essentially I hope you'll still give it a listen, if it's posted that's because I think some people could be interested - even if just a very few !
but on the other hand it's true that I don't want T.o.P. to become a lame blog with just copy/paste stuff like an addition of promotion for tons of bands; as I already said, a thing that I've more and more difficulties to manage is to prepare interviews with all those submissions for reviews to deal with and that definitely sux ! As almost everyone involved in the scene, I've a full-time job, a family, etc... I can definitely NOT assume to review stuff that do not arouse anything positive to me, I'm really sorry if you don't understand this, but anyway if you do  then thanx for your comprehension.

It would be ridiculous to complain seriously  about anything concerning the fact of doing a blog, but believe me this is not always an  easy task ! you've got several hundred readers everyday but very few reactions, comments, suggestions, encouragements, critics... how do you consider the evolution of the blog ? What do you expect from it ? Do you regret the fact that there's less interviews than about one year ago ? etc... lots of questions without answers !

At one point, at least for me, choices must be done; mine are maybe not definitive, I never see too far but one thing I fuckin' know is that I need to keep on this feeling of doing it for the pleasure, otherwise this will not last long anymore...

I take the opportunity to remind that I'm still looking for some contribution from anyone interested in bringing writings to the blog (reviews, interviews, live-reports...)  !


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

…no idol will stand before me: THE GATES OF SLUMBER – ‘Stormcrow’ EP

Indiana’s standard-bearers of true doom, The Gates of Slumber, have finally unearthed the follow-up to 2011’s excellent full-length ‘The Wretch’ in the form of a 5 song EP, ‘Stormcrow’. Many considered ‘The Wretch’ to have been a return to form after the stylistic departure that was the heavily NWOBHM influenced ‘Hymns of Blood and Thunder’. Even though ‘Hymns of Blood and Thunder’ is an admirable hit-and-miss anomaly amongst the band’s discography, ‘The Wretch’ still found the three-piece experimenting with their sound, but more comfortably within their established sonic range. The result was a crushing—and at times spacey—slab of traditional doom that proved to be one of the year’s best releases. ‘Stormcrow’ finds that band devolving even further into a no frills, less-is-more, primitive approach where tuning down, dooming out, and solid-as-hell songwriting is enough to stave in the skull of the unwary.

While it’s difficult to top the stoner groove and acid-tinged leads of the band’s debut, ‘…The Awakening’, or the epic, Saint Vitus influenced ‘The Wretch’, The Gates of Slumber come commendably close with‘Stormcrow’. The EP opens with “Death March”, a tune that perfectly encapsulates the essence of modern traditional doom as it shambles forward like a mortally wounded mammoth that is mercilessly prodded forward by the thundering percussion of multi-instrumentalist “Iron” Bob Fouts who makes a welcome return behind the kit. “Death March”, despite its lumbering doom grait, is offset by some of Karl Simon’s most memorable lead guitar playing which really soars on this track. The thunderous, hard-hitting drumming of Fouts introduces and sets the pace for “(Devil’s Grip) Driven Insane”, a tune that would have fit comfortably among the nine tracks of ‘The Wretch’. This second track seems to unite the best of Iommi and Chandler groove with Simon’s gravelly, commanding vocals which chronicle a descent into paranoia and madness.

“Son of Hades” marks the midway point of the EP and seems to recapture the essence of the Robert E. Howard influenced barbarism that seemed to bleed from the band’s first three full-length releases. “Dragon Caravan”,like “Son of Hades”, could very well have been crafted by pre-‘Hymns of Blood and Thunder’ era The Gates of Slumber. While these two tracks seem like a throwback to The Gates of Slumber of old, they aren’t merely reworked ideas or formulated from recycled riffs, but rather from the band sticking to what they do best—penning great tracks and delivering some of the finest traditional doom. The EP closes out with “Of That Which Can Never Be”, a solemn, plodding dirge about succumbing to futility. While it’s not the most immediate track of the EP, it’s worth it in the end as the noise issuing forth from Simon’s guitar and Fouts’drumming close out the album in forlorn and hypnotic fashion.

‘Stormcrow’, if nothing else, proves that The Gates of Slumber are one of the most consistent and unwavering acts out there today. The trio’s brand of working man’s doom is as solid as anything the band has produced up to this point and showcases the songwriting of Karl Simon and Jason McCash. The Gates of Slumber have yet to release a bad or lackluster album and‘Stromcrow’ is evidence that the band’s best days are not behind them. The EP is available as free download through the curious Scion A/V label, or on compact disc from the band’s website as a bonus for ordering merch.

Words: Steve Miller

Monday, February 25, 2013

... GEEZER "Handmade Heavy Blues"

In the fall of 2010, recent Brooklyn transplants to Kingston, Pat Harrington and Chris Turco, started to get together for some loose jams. Upon meeting each other earlier that summer, they realized quickly that they had the same musical influences and approach, it was only a matter of time before Turco’s drums made it into Pat’s basement… Harnessing their familiar background of classic rock, hardcore and heavy metal; throw in Pat’s new found affinity for pre-war slide-guitar blues and Geezer was born. Once the songs started to take shape, Freddy Villano was brought in to bring the monster low-end bass that he is known for.
Best described as ‘Heavy Blues’, Pat says of Geezer’s approach, “We just wanted to bring the evil back to the blues, the devil’s music! Somehow the blues got co-opted by hippies and jam bands and made it all nice and fluffy, we’re here to change that!”

"Handmade Heavy Blues" is an aptly entitled album, filled with 10 burning songs that oozes authentic, nasty, BLUESy rock'n roll with a real HEAVY touch... not to hard to get into, even if still more varied and audacious than your typical Zeppelin and Hendrix clones, this is dusty and swampy too, which makes those 40 minutes a truly amazing experience !!!

It's only available digitally as for now (name your price-affair !), but the band's actually working on a limited edition of 200 CDs and also is  looking for a good deal to release it on Vynil, so if you or one of your friends can help out in any way, spread the word and/or contact them !!!

New Album details and artwork : CULTURA TRES "Rezando Al Miedo"

The Venezuelan psychedelic sludge act Cultura Tres will release their new album entitled “Rezando Al Miedo” on May 15th 2013. The cover artwork for the band’s third full-length is taken from the painting “Day of Judgment” by the remarkably talented artist Damian Michaels.

“Rezando Al Miedo” doesn't walk away from the mood their previous record “El Mal Del Bien” had, yet the songs tell a different story. Darkness exhausts itself into depression; the album is a journey inside the collective subconsciousness, a walk on the edges of sanity, between the illusive religious relief and acceptance of death as a clear end. Music explores the extremes of the artistic expression, more dynamic than ever, from the harshness of the thrashing roots of the band to the polyphonic movie soundtrack approach that characterizes Cultura Tres. The band has never been afraid to take chances and this album proves it. The brooding cocktail of classic psychedelic rock, 90's death metal and gloomy grunge makes their South American Sludge a unique recipe.

The eight songs orchestrate to the detail the emotions of every word sang, yet this isn't a record that comes to tell a full story. Instrumental parts often let the thoughts of the listener ask their own questions, give their own answers, explore their own fears.....

The album was produced, mixed and mastered by Alejandro Londono and recorded in Cultura Tres studios by Juan De Ferrari and Alejandro Londono. ”Rezando Al Miedo”, will be released on CD in UK by Devouter Records ( and in South America by the Argentinean label Cumpa Records. The digital version of the record will be available on the same date as well.

The dates for the Cultura Tres’ first European performances for 2013 can be seen below. Stay tuned for further updates as more shows get confirmed!

20.03 - The Netherlands, Amsterdam @ The Cave
22.03 - Germany, Cologne @ MTC Cologne
23.03 - Czech Republic, Cheb @ Jazzrock Café
28.03 - Austria, Vienna @ EKH
30.03 - Luxemburg, Dudelange @ Why not?
31.03 - France, Paris @ Les Combustibles
09.04 - France, Saint-Etienne @ Thunderbird Lounge 42
13.04 - Spain, Barcelona @ Be Good

For more information visit:

Sunday, February 24, 2013

TOTAL NEGATION – "Zur späten Stunde / Zeiträume"

Honestly, when I read the describing words “one man project, depressive black metal, krautrock, melodica and vibraphone” I expected to hear one of these chaotic sound messes no one understands, but the artist himself.

To my surprise and joy I was mistaken. Instead of the expected unintelligible chaos I heard intense atmospheric music created “simply” with well structured songs going into depth, with an immense feel for dramatic exciting melodies and tension building rythms., without any bombastic hoopla or typical genre attitudes.

The two EPs “Zur späten Stunde” and “Zeiträume” are the 3rd release ( March 31st 2013) of the German one man project “Total Negation” (alias Wiedergänger). They consist of four songs each, are closely connected to each other and are of a conceptual structure.

Thematically “Zur späten Stunde” deals with the delirious transition from wake to sleep and dream with all its strange and frightening, but also enlightening visions, sounds and thoughts.

"Zeiträume” deals with the dream and how dream and reality mix and mingle and create a new state of mind and emotion.

Corresponding with this theme of progress, the songs also progress from a sort of “traditional” depressive black metal style to a more and more permeable structure that allows trippy psychedelic krautrock elements to seep into it, like the dream world seeps into the waking.

The black metal roots are present throughout though, prominently the bleak, screechy vocals.

But right from the beginning there are dreamscapes to wander through. A variety of atmospheres unfold. Hypnotizing drum rhythms, melancholic melodies, menacing ghostly sounds, distorted crackles…

On “Zeiträume” the vibraphone and melodica sounds appear strange like the dream world is strange to the waking reality, but soon the contradiction melts away when the soft vibraphone melodies begin to correspond with the “soft” blastbeat of the drums. Then again…, disturbing sounds, screeming vocals…, sounds merge and mix in thrilling changes. Ghostly gloomy psychedelic sounds are overlaid by the soothing vibraphone.

This is no massive wall of sound though, rather like several layers of beaded curtains, thick but permeable, inspiring different emotions at the same time.

“Zur späten Stunde / Zeiträume” is impressive, unique, exciting, BEAUTIFUL!

Words by Ulla Roschat

Friday, February 22, 2013

... INTERVIEW with Brooklyn's graceful beast : ARCHON

There are signs that do not lie... When you receive a much awaited album - that is an immediate priority in your listenings , despite of plenty others that came in before, and then it's so fuckin'  good that you can not listen anything else (or so few) during long and long days, to the point that you become a bit embarassed towards other bands still waiting at your door for their feature !!!
Then come other highly positive opinions and you feel a bit more legitimate in this current addiction, cumforted in the idea that you've got here one of the future winners of the year. It's pretty rare when some of the most recognized webzines praise an album even before its official release like Cult Nation and The Obelysk did recently with "Ouroboros Collapsing" - the stunning new album from Brooklyn's graceful beast ARCHON !!!
Where "Ruins at Dusk" was a rough diamond which lacked a bit of homogeneity
and textures, this  2nd full-length is a big step forward in terms of compositions,  full of interlacements between malevolent sludge, graceful Stoner/Doom and more contemplative ambiences (nice keys for this), while still heavy and crushing as fuck !!!
Beyond some outstanding riffs and stellar solos that Andrew pill in his long bleak structures, THE main distinctive force of ARCHON consists  in a mind-blowing duo of vocals by Rachel and Chris. Songs like "Desert Throne" and "God's Eye" include to my ears the craziest vocal performances I've heard in a long time, from her most melodic kick to her sickest growls -  Rachel is more than once completely bluffing and the man's blackened intense growls are something much terrifying too !
Cohesive, rich, sick, beautiful, bleak and malevolent, ARCHON hits hard and high with this masterful album and it's now time for the underground sphere
to realize that this band simply killz !!!
I asked a few questions to Andrew Jude (AJ) and Rachel Brown (RB), thanx to both them for bringing such a massive amount of awesomeness to their music, plus being nice and interesting people.

Hey Andrew… finally this sophomore album “Ouroborus Collapsing” is about to be released, it was supposed to come out for quite some time now, so why did it take so long to see the light of day ?

AJ: Well, the writing and rehearsing process wasn’t so bad - although we were playing live a lot, so we were a bit limited in the amount of time we had to work out new material. However, once we went into the studio we hit a bunch of delays, usual studio bullshit, and the process took a lot longer to get everything tracked than we originally hoped. I may be wrong, but I think the recording process took something like a year, all in all. But there was a lot of down time and time between sessions, then we ended up re-doing some parts, etc. I hope it doesn’t take us so long to do the third record.

“Ruins at Dusk” was already a pretty stunning debut but maybe suffered a bit from a lack of homogeneity, certainly due to the line-up which was a little experimental, not meant to remain all steady… what’s your look on it now about three years after ?

AJ: It’s hard to choose. I really dig the diversity on Ruins, it very much accomplished what I set out to do. But, I think some people will like the consistency on Ouroboros more... They’re different, it’s hard to pick a favorite. We don’t really want to do the same thing over and over, hopefully listeners follow us on the journey.

Two guitarists (Ryan and Brett) who were playing alternatively along with you on “ruins…” aren’t here anymore but there’s now Nikhil (on bass and guitar) and all members of Archon played on all songs of the album, does it mean that this is the one and only line-up of the band today ?

AJ: Sort of, yes. When I started Archon back in 2008 I demo’d some songs myself and recruited Ryan Lynch (from NYC band 12 Eyes) to play guitar and Dan Kurfirst to play drums. The three of us formed the core of the band and also the core performers on The Ruins at Dusk. I then pulled in a bunch of other great guys (and girl) to flesh out the record - primarily Brett on guitars and then Rachel and Chris doing vocals (Ryan did some as well). However, over time, Ryan moved out of NYC and had to leave the band. We ended up solidifying a lineup with me playing live guitar, Rachel and Chris doing vocals (plus some keys, noise, etc), Nikhil on live bass and Rajah on drums. This group stayed the same for quite some time and really for the first time since the beginning of the band we had a consistent lineup. That said, Rajah recently moved out to California, so once again we may be adjusting lineups.

What about Nikhil on live performances , do you play with 2 guitars live ? if yes who’s the additional member then ?

AJ: No, recently only 1 guitarist live - Nikhil plays bass and I play guitar live. But this is something I want to address before we do shows promoting the new record. When we first started out we always had 2 guitarists live and I want to get back to that.

On “Ouroborus Collapsing” things have been pushed further in many aspects and we now feel the band is cohesive with a real identity… did you rehearse intensively for this ? for example the shared vocals between Rachel and Chris certainly needed some particular work, reflection … ?

AJ: We definitely rehearsed these songs a lot more than we did for Ruins. For Ruins a lot was done in the studio and there’s a lot more improvisation on that record. That said, we did rehearse for Ouroboros, got to the studio, decided it sucked or wasn’t working, and then changed parts. There will always be a degree of writing on the fly for Archon.

RB: Like Andrew said, parts were written and rehearsed, but many things changed over the year. What became Masks, started off completely different. There was a lot of experimentation with that song in particular. And as for Chris and my shared vocals, I don’t know how other bands do it, but we didn’t rehearse additionally, apart from the band.

All music from the 1st album was composed by yourself, how did you process for this new album ?

AJ: I write the riffs and the structures for the most part, but the other guys definitely contribute and give a lot of feedback. Also, I’d adjust the layouts of the songs based on lyrics/vocals for this record. For Ruins, I pretty much wrote everything, then gave it to the other guys to play on top of. In the studio, Rajah laid down drums with me playing scratch guitar, then I went back and did the real guitar tracks and bass. After that was done, Nikhil laid down his guitar bits and we moved on to vocals and overdubs.

About the lyrics, on “ruins…” Rachel wrote lyrics for one of the songs she was singing on, Chris wrote both of his songs but “Ouroborous…” where they sing both on all songs, how did they write? You write that your music suggest devastation, disillusion and despair, is that the main lyrical themes used ?

RB: Chris and I would discuss themes for each song, but mostly we wrote independently. Then, we’d bring our parts to practice and put them together. Sometimes they just worked, and other times we would fight about sections and how to make our ideas fit together for a while. As far as the themes go for this album, there is definitely some personal struggle, but that is connected to societal and galactic degredation as well. And then there’s Desert Throne, which was inspired by the women of the Dune series.

The vocals of Rachel took impressively another dimension on the new album, more diversity both in the clean and harsh fields… she can now compete in the clean despaired or melodic ranges of doom with any girls around, she even surpasses a great part of them, also her sludge shrieks are sicker and filthier, did she surprise and/or impress you ?

AJ: Honestly yeah, when she first joined the band I didn’t really know how it would work out or what she would bring to the table. I was somewhat skeptical of female vocals for our music, but now I’m completely sold and couldn’t picture our music without her voice.

RB: Aww, thanks guys!

The musical environment in which Archon developed a now distinctive identity favoured certainly a lot this enriched vocal expression… as I said things are pushed way further in the extremities could it be in furious blackened blasting riffage, traditional doom heaviness with rumbling bass and gloomy vocals, psychedelic soaring solos, crushing droney riffs à la Yob, etc… there’s also some more refined soundscapes which sound to me slightly Post-Metal tinged, some synths by Rachel, this is very very rich and full of variations, how did this complexity progress ?

AJ: I like layers and interesting textures but also I want the songs themselves to be memorable. Essentially, I started these songs with what I think are memorable riffs, arranged them in structures that flowed nicely, then spent a ton of time thinking about how to layer on more texture that really builds the songs and makes them unique - that’s where stuff like Rachel’s synths and some of Nikhil’s guitar parts really make the songs what they are.
About gigs now, the songs of this album make it lasting the exact length of a normal gig about 45 minutes if you’re headliner but if you open for another band with a 30 minutes performance you’ll have to remove a song from the set-list, I would say “Masks” certainly, but maybe I’m totally wrong and your next set-lists will still include 1 song off “Ruins…”, can you let me know… !??? is there limits to some of your interpretations when thinking about playing them live ?

AJ: Yeah, there are definitely a lot of limitations when it comes to playing live. That’s one of the reasons we’ve been holding off on gigs. I want to bring back 2 guitars to our live lineup so we can stay more faithful to the recording. We’d been playing the last couple years with only one guitar which maybe sounds a bit more “immediate” but doesn’t allow us to do all of the complexities on the record. For the shows we were doing a mixture of songs - Desert Throne, Worthless, Nature is Satan’s Church were definitely staples but we threw in Mendregard and God’s Eye a couple times as well. I may be forgetting some, but those are the usual tracks. I’m not sure what we’ll play next time we play out. When we first started playing, our shows from around 2008, we’d usually only play 2 songs - Helena and either Fate of Gods or Forgotten City - so that was a bit different vibe, lots more atmosphere and jamming back then.

You didn’t play dozens of gigs yet but have shared the stage with quite many sexy names like Earthride, Coffinworm, Unearthly Trance, Cough, Apostle of Solitude, etc… did you make interesting encounters ? who did impress you the most as a musician and as a person in its approach of the scene ?

RB: I can’t speak for the rest of the guys, but the show that will always stand out for me was with Unearthly Trance and Coffinworm in the basement of the Charleston. Amazing dudes and musicians.

AJ: I’m a big fan of Apostle of Solitude as well - I’d played with those guys before when my previous band Agnosis was touring and played in Indianapolis, I was really blown away by them then and they’ve only gotten better.  

I’ve read about something in the works with Path Less Travelled rds, are they going to release physically “Ouroboros Collapsing” ? Are you intending to find out some deal for a vynil-edition ?

AJ: Yes, we’re releasing the CD version of Ouroboros Collapsing through The Path Less Traveled Records on Feb 19. I’d love to do vinyl, but right now it’s cost prohibitive to do it. Maybe if there’s enough demand we will be able to. 

So, how do you see the next coming months/years with Archon, is there any envy of becoming more important, touring, crossing oceans, etc… ?

AJ: We’d like to do more shows, we haven’t really played much recently. I’d say we’re still in the process of looking into our options, but definitely check and for updates on tours.

I couldn’t end without some words on Agnosis that you reformed last year, how is it working by now? any new release planed for 2013 ?

AJ: Things have been a little quiet there recently, but definitely check out our digital EP if you haven’t yet at - one of the highlights of that was our Pentagram cover, featuring guest vocals from Dave Sherman (Earthride, Spirit Caravan). Austin (Agnosis guitarist/vocalist) and I are working on some new songs and will hopefully have plenty of music ready this year. We haven’t been able to pull off any live dates yet, but it’s something we are talking about!

Thanx a lot Andrew, all the best to you and ARCHON, add something you feel important I may have forgotten to ask you about …

AJ: Cheers! Thanks for the support. We really appreciate everyone who takes time to listen to our music and maybe buy something - we definitely depend on our supporters to keep recording and producing records. I hope it won’t be 2.5 years before we can put out another one!

check out the Bandcamp page for all Archon's merch (including a special package with all previous releases, there's cool shirts too !!!)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

... lush as an Irish meadow : WEED PRIEST "s/t"

Formed in 2008, WEED PRIEST are a 3 piece from the west of Ireland, they released a demo CD  a couple of years ago, played a fair number of gigs (including the last Dublin Doom Days as headliner) and are now about to unleash their debut self-titled album Through HexenHaus.

As you've already guessed it,  we've got here a weed-worshiping stoner sludge doom outfit following the riff with a deep occult dimension.
The long opener "Final Spell" rather classically take influence in Electric Wizard or "Erichto" in Sleep but W.P. is not the kind of band that plays just loud and fuzzy repetitive riffs during 10 minutes (which is the average lenght of the 6 songs present); no, like an Ufomammut, Huata or S:T Erik, they  try to juxtapose the darkness of doom and bonecrushing heaviness of stoner/sludge with some supernatural/psychedelic experimentation.

And, indeed their territory of expression, lyrically and physically ("recording sessions on occult dates in locations of spiritual significance") deal with the occult, the supernatural, necromancy, witchcraft, psychedelic/religious experience, death. That’s why they like to call their music "occult stoner doom"!

Vocals by Adam are pretty harsh and commanding for the genre, they are often scary and tortured-like but not like your usual blackened screams, more like an inner malevolence, perfectly at ease with dirty guitar riffage and  monolithic rythmics, while the more experimentative parts remain instrumental anyway.

The solo of "Erichto" has a touch of hard rock/blues, while most others turn into more psyched-out dementia that gives an impression of Ufomammut at their beginnings - when they were still humans, understand not as deeply experimental as on last efforts !

"Walpurgia" is a great song filled of droning darkness - where we feel the most that occult dimension, the singing has a  from-beyond touch that is striking, the song ends in a pure old UK Doom/Death mood with soaring melodies and a melancholic touch...
"Thy Kingdom Gone" sounds like a DM titlesong but is maybe the most hypnotical piece of the album, while "Day of reckoning" is a slow, bone crushing piece of haunting doom that is perfect to close the album, the hammering riffage is simple yet effective and dirty with distorted muddy bass lines; the siren at the end sounds like a warning to the scene : WEED PRIEST - with this 1st album knocks at the door of the 1st category of weed-worshiping Stoner/doom band and if it doesn't open this time, they'll break it with next album !
Album release date is 25th February 2013. The CD and digital download are available from their bandcamp below.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

... ABYSMAL GRIEF "Feretri"

Long-standing Italian doomsters Abysmal Grief look back on an extensive discography of EPs and demos, yet only three albums, the most recent one being "Feretri". On it, the band offers the most orthodox brand of sluggishness you can get, complete with organ, deadly growls and bass-drenched riffs.

Opener "Lords Of The Funeral" establishes an even mixture of these elements with eerie chanting clear vocals, singer and keyboardist Labes C. Necrothytus being not very versatile, but the more charismatic. Though the track clocks in only after nine minutes, you needn't look far for a hook: It lies within the chorus melody and is the better remembered thanks to the slightly livelier last third of the track, which also features a spirited guitar solo. "Hidden In The Graveyard" is a little shorter, but cooked up according to the same recipe as the opener, the keyboards being the true highlight here. To those who haven't suspect it yet, it's obvious here that Necrothytus is the driving force behind the band, and he is very good in what he does.

That is, following his vision into nether-realms where old churches and morbid fun fairs (the compact "Sinister Gleams" has apparently sprung from one) play a prominent role. Abysmal Grief are soulmates of the great Danes Denial Of God, meaning that they set the ambience of vintage horror to Metal with distinct influences from Death SS to King Diamond. After its intro "Crepusculum", "The Gaze Of The Owl" seems to be the key song on "Feretri": Breathy vocals plus choir, cembalo-like arpeggios and the hypnotic main riff alongside a passionate guitar solo make for a standout, although that being said, none of the other tracks fails to miss the point. Closer "Her Scythe", the longest of all, may be the most minimalistic one, but adds to an amply funereal atmosphere. Listen to the string synthesizer in the end and check out the cover artwork taken from the classic movie "La Dama Rossa Uccide Sette Volte", then you'll know what I mean.

Let's hope the band will gain some momentum with their quite original and pitch-black interpretation of doom (drummers being their Achilles' Heel, they have repeatedly been hampered) now that the genre has become the craze of the day. Few would more deserve it than them, and with a label like Terror From Hell, they are not on the wrong track either.

words by Andreas Schiffmann

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

…cry out to the master: DAWN OF WINTER – ‘The Skull of the Sorcerer’ EP

Germany’s venerable yet relatively obscure traditional doom act Dawn of Winter may not be as prolific as many other bands that have been forging onward for two decades and counting, but the band has a solid if sparse body of work that holds its own against many of the titans of the genre. Dawn of Winter’s newest release, ‘The Skull of the Sorcerer’ EP, picks up where the 2008 full-length, ‘The Peaceful Dead’, left off. The band continues its thematic explorations of suffering, isolation, and dwelling in the depths of despair while conjuring forth fantastical elements of horror and the occult straight from the bowels of the pulp era.

Musically the band plays a pretty straight-forward style of traditional doom that would fit comfortably among classic acts such as early Trouble, Candlemass, or the often criminally overlooked Cold Mourning. What really gives Dawn of Winter an edge is the over-the-top, distinctive vocals of frontman Gerrit P. Mutz whose style is akin to the theatric wails of Scott Reagers while sporadically including the melodramatic vibrato of Messiah Marcolin.

"Dagon’s Blood” is equal parts classic heavy metal and traditional doom while featuring Mutz’s most excessive, yet varied vocal delivery resulting in one of the catchiest songs of the EP. The title track, “The Skull of the Sorcerer”, reels in the heavy metal edge of “Dagon’s Blood” and, instead, champions a slower, more ominous doom riff. The B-side of the album features “By the Blessing of Death” and “In Servitude to Destiny”, two tracks that seem to emulate the formula established by the A-side of the album by alternating from heavy metal crunch to inconsolable doom.

Dawn of Winter certainly isn’t breaking any molds, but that doesn’t prevent ‘The Skull of the Sorcerer’ EP from being one hell of a fun ride, particularly for fans of traditional doom that can appreciate a classic if not idiosyncratic vocal approach. ‘The Skull of the Sorcerer’ EP is a vinyl only release intended to celebrate the band’s 22 years of existence and it is limited to 500 copies. Fans of traditional heavy metal and doom can track down the album, along with other Dawn of Winter releases, through the Cyclone Empire web-shop.

Words: Steve Miller


In the interview we had together about one year ago, Stéphane Azam from Crown presented in a few lines Superstrong,  the structure/label he had recently created along with local buddies -  in order to help bands from the area of Colmar (Alsace, France) in distribution, promotion...

SuperStrong rds roaster actually includes Crown, Six In Line and JIZZLOBBER and we gonna speak here about the EP of this last one, the 3rd released by the label ! It's amazing how  such a rather small town like Colmar can recover so different types of HEAVY sounds with a real quality that could finally become a trademark...
Very punchy and in-your-face, the quatuor is here to smash your head with flat-out heavy songs; well-balanced with basic influences from Torche, Old Man Gloom and Mastodon, added to older ones from the 90's like Faith No More (mainly vocally wise), Voivod or even a  tough Soundgarden, this EP has all the aspects of an excellent Sludge/Stoner record but the band also adds in a few ideas of its own.
100% heavy with twisted and corrosive dynamics, oscillating nicely between brutality and somber psyched-out melodies, Jizzlobber like to top their songs with soaring solos, frantic rock'n roll impulses and even doomy heaviness... Wild and refreshing, that's a very interesting debut !

Monday, February 18, 2013

…1.21 gigawatts and counting: SLOMATICS – ‘The Future Past’

Belfast’s sonorous, low-end channeling three-piece, Slomatics, have peered into the days of yore for their aptly titled two song EP, ‘The Future Past’. The trio has taken a track from their debut full-length, ‘Flooding the Weir’, and ventured back even further to mine material from their former band, The Naut, in order to rework and re-record these two tracks and in the process signal the “…closing of one chapter and the beginning of the next for the band”. “Running Battle” and “Son of Ampbreaker” have been filtered through the flux capacitor and brought up to the present, earth-shaking sound of the band’s excellent third full-length, ‘A Hocht’, which was arguably one of the most heavy and unique releases of 2012.

The difference between the initial version of “Running Battle” and the updated, mark II incarnation is visceral. While the Slomatics of ‘Flooding the Weir’ and ‘Kalceanna’ were undoubtedly heavy, the band has systematically upped the amplitude and dropped the frequencies over a series of splits leading up to last year’s ‘A Hocht’. To the uninitiated ear of the band’s earlier work, the original recording of “Running Battle”, absurdly, sounds thin when compared to the shock-wave rumble of the new incarnation found on ‘The Future Past’. The addition of kettle drum and oscillating radio-wave frequencies that have effused through the interstellar medium give the track an otherworldly roar that was simply absent on the original cut. “Son of Ampbreaker” seemingly interrupts “Running Battle” before it’s even finished. The track starts off slow by stumbling along through feedback and staggered, heavy riffing before gaining a lumbering, mid-tempo momentum. Both of these reworked tracks could easily have fit in amongst the down-tuned, thunderous psychedelia of ‘A Hocht’.

If ‘The Future Past’ marks the end of an era for Slomatics and heralds new things to come it will be interesting to see where they go from here. With each subsequent release the band has become heavier while experimenting with sound and atmospherics. While it looks like ‘The Future Past’ will only see a digital release, the collection acts as an extension or complementary piece to ‘A Hocht’.

Words: Steve Miller

Sunday, February 17, 2013

... Echoes Of Yul "cold ground"

Avantgarde Music from Italy is a wellknown label that did a lot for the Black Metal scene over the 20 past years but with the split of the genres and multiplication of label companies - among other possible reasons, the standard Doom fan has probably lost a great part of their traces for a while... and then suddenly, a brillant release helps the name to come back to your surface, this unexpected surprise was submited to me under the form of ECHOES OY YUL's new album "Cold Ground" !

This weird duo from Poland plays some unique form of Atmospheric Drone/Doom with post-industrial hints, all out instrumental - just regularly cheered-up by vocal samples !
This is maybe more specific to such a trippy genre but it is really the kind of album that needs to be listened wholly in a row (or two or more) , like a cinematic journey and if possible with headphones. Deep, slow, mysterious with layered guitars, frightening echoes, Michal explores here spacy territories where samples act not just as an addition of ambient/experimental sounds but also suggest frequently visual transcriptions in grotesque imagery or fantasy .
There's 13 songs, no fillers even if some shortest ones are good enough in just a role of transition between different long structured soundscapes like "Numbers", "Libra" (that doomy oriental mood is delightful) "Save Yourself", "Cold Ground" and "Last" are stunning pieces full of dark moods, sometimes introspective, graceful at others with an almost divine feeling of  nature elements pushing you like wind, water, air... The atmopsheres are dark, sometimes distressing but never painful or unsustainable.
If your into Swans, Jesu, Godflesh, then imagine an addition of a slight pinch of Winter, GGFH (for some scary samples) and Wardruna , and for sure this will with no doubt seduce you in no time, but curious people can also find easily their count of thrilling emotions in this nice 1 hour drama...Try this original experience !

Saturday, February 16, 2013

... sky is fallin' : BLONDSTONE '#1'

It'd been a few weeks since the french scene didn't bring to my ears some new fresh  blood, until this  BLONDSTONE from Nancy sent me their EP #1.
In a style which rarely revealed me love at first sight, the trio consisting of Alex Astier (guit/voc), Nicolas Boujot (bass) and Pierre Barrier (drums)  is an interesting addition to the list of good hopes that spread heavy sounds around the hexagone ... But we're not speaking here about Doom or Sludge as most often over the past two years, no, BLONDSTONE label themselves as Desert Grunge and damn this EP is a burning gem which reveals the hidden french son of Josh Homme in the person of A.A. !
Behind a rather simple approach, which indeed recover some Grunge caracters (but not the sickly ones), the band develops a style that is firmly heavy with a great dose of melody and catchiness.
"Rare and Strong" starts with some serious guitar hooks driving the song perfectly, Alex vocals are dry, with a low droning in the chorus; the influence of QOTSA is hovering but during the whole EP the band always seem to surpass their influences and transcend their own ideas which give a kind of unpredictability in an environment which remains well-bordered !!! (just the drumbeat for example will always be sober, pretty rock, no crashing overflows !).
"Shoot, Shoot, Shoot" is the band's tube, there's no problem to use the word with such a hitting song, this one rocks out and confirms that the guys are doing things seriously (well not so seriously if you look at the video which I like very much and in a way think that it also retranscribes well the band's sound and identity... 3 guys playing LOUD in a van, ok nothing original at 1st sight , but they succeed to make it interesting visually and.... the song is good, that helps I reckon !). 
"Shoulder to Cry on" in its 2nd part and "Lazy" are more drowsy stuff, both really have a desert stoner side, the tempo of the latter is slow and freaky, creeping nicely upon you. On those both songs the bass is more valued and seriously rumbles of amazing psychedelia, which more or less logically leads us to an extra-song also available on their bandcamp : a cover of "Got this Thing on the Move" by Grand Funk Railroad... This ends brillantly your discovery of Blondstone and gives an even more urgent need to download (for Free !)  the whole stuff those talented guys have for you... GO ON !