Friday, May 31, 2013

…Fire burn and cauldron bubble: BLOOD CEREMONY – ‘The Eldritch Dark’ (Album Review)

Thrice the brinded cat hath mew’d—an appropriate portent for the release of Blood Ceremony’s third full-length, ‘The Eldritch Dark’. The Toronto, Ontario occult rockers have seemingly gotten over the sophomore slump that was ‘Living with the Ancients’, an album that was punctuated by the brilliant track “Oliver Haddo”, but, for the most, seemed to be a middling effort that lurked in the shadow of the band’s self-titled debut. ‘The Eldritch Dark’ finds the band summoning similar lyrical themes found on their previous albums while further developing a sound of their own that doesn’t grasp so tightly to their influences. The band has partially shed the overt doom biases that were in greater abundance on the first two releases and fully embraced their paganistic hard rock inclinations. While the end result may be relatively less “heavy” Blood Ceremony are still able to summon spirits and spin tales that are rife with arcane darkness.
Blood Ceremony have always enchanted their tunes with a retro feel due to the production of the band’s debut and the inclusion of flute and organ courtesy of vocalist Alia O’Brien. With ‘The Eldritch Dark’ the band is delving even deeper into the past and it’s hard not to get an overriding 60’s vibe from the tunes, especially during the catchy chorus of “Goodbye Gemini” or from the bucolic, folk-tinged charm of “Lord Summerisle”, a haunting duet featuring lead vocals from bass player Lucas Gadke. “Lord Summerisle” is easily the slowest and softest tune penned by the band, but it also shows that they are progressing and experimenting with their song craft.
‘The Eldritch Dark’ may be less doom and more 60’s inspired pop, but the band still can weave a sonic tapestry that is wrought with eerie atmospherics that comes across as two parts sincere to one part camp. And, for the most part, it works. The fourth track, “Ballad of the Weird Sisters”, tells a tale in song form and finds the band in unfamiliar territory by including country style fiddling which yields an overall feel akin to the Charlie Daniels Band’s “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”. It’s an odd detour that isn’t totally bereft of charm.
In the pursuit of developing and honing their sound Blood Ceremony has managed to record an album that is both more varied and complex. ‘The Eldritch Dark’ avoids the pitfalls of its predecessor and each track breathes with a life of its own. In addition to the varied songwriting O’Brien has recorded some of her most compelling vocal melodies to date and her voice really shines on album opener “Witchwood” and the following track “Goodbye Gemini”. The organ and flute are the obvious contributions toward the band’s sound, but the album features its fair share of blistering guitar leads—most notably toward the end of album closer “The Magician”—and groovy bass lines. While ‘The Eldritch Dark’ is slightly front-loaded the overall album is a huge step up from their last album and fans may find that it rivals their self-titled debut. Blood Ceremony have easily surpassed expectations with their latest offering...strongly recommended.
Words: Steve Miller

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

... the thinking man is prey : KINGS DESTROY "A Time of Hunting" (Album Review)

After a couple of years of relative calm on the underground media-front, despite countless gigs with many killer bands, the name of KINGS DESTROY gets pretty much exposure this month and finally it makes justice to the band and their new album "Time of Hunting" in particular !

Three years after their killer debut "and the rest will surely perish" released by Maple Forum (label of  the man behind The Obelisk), this sophomore album marks a considerable development in the band's sound and to tell you the truth it's - if not disconcerting,  a bit surprising at first and  above all needs time to grow (infectiously) on you to get its whole (extremely rich) substance.

First album was clearly evolving in wellknown Trad' Doom territories - with a correct production; retrospectively one can now think it was maybe recorded too quickly after the band's formation - in a totally different musical context from their longtime HC origins. Still noticeably above the average and nice to listen to, "and the rest..." seems slightly rough and generic when you've got now "Time for Hunting" between your ears ! it can be now considered like just a little overview of the band's real potencial and identity to come.
And now, after more than two years of intense work and composition, boiling of inspiration and confidence, with largely more comfortable recording conditions, at least that's what the incredibly powerful and massive production (again by Sanford Parker) let suggest, the guys have crafted here THE album of their life ! Indeed, from A to Z, it appears firmly that the 5 old friends from NYC have neared alienation of perfection and the result is that they easily have managed to reach pure excellence.

As said before, for me, this didn't go  without a longer than usual time to get into this very very massive sound which can indeed imply a real astonishment at first listening(s), personally it was something like "ooohh, that's too modern sounding" !  But, even if 1st album's most prominent composer Ed Bocchino left the band, there's instantaneously  identifiable caracters of K.D.,   while this more dynamic approach will certainly appeal to a wider audience; more important responsabilities given to both guitarists Carl and Chris in terms of composition seem to have transcend them, acting like a debriding detonator which helped to gain in consistency, harmony and audacity.

Spicier, the tone of the album is also a lot darker, not just musically but also in the so grandiose vocal performance of Steve Murphy - whose lyrics are still very engaged, not directly moralistic but with an obvious reflective vision of today's world decrepitude, coldly realistic and kinda dramatical. The guy has always been a distinctive force of the band but here frankly - even more is he impressive and acts as a commanding ensorcelor of darkened souls !

I've read at several times the word "progressive" attached to describe K.D. actual (new) sound... well maybe, in fact this album has the essential quality to trancend all stylistic considerations, but, beyond the overall sound, the main thing that changed in my opinion, is the amazing development towards some awesome 70's heavy rock textures... especially on "Shattered Pattern" with multilayered guitars (including an amazing southern bluesy tone at 01:00 !) and my fave song "Decrepit", the organic textures make this awesome !!!

Vocals on "Decrepit" are progressively gaining in intensity and emotion to reach a level in  dramatical passion that only a few Metal singers have made proof of during the last 30 years (no exagaration, really); heartbreaking and passionate, he reminds dinosaur monsters of the mid 70's, just like musically you can hear with undisguised enjoyment some Deep Purple, Wishbone Ash or Rainbow, darkened to the bone !!!

So many people had to die to make it right
Their blood stained hands were used to mechanize our flight
So we would not hear their choked off silence
We re Air...Tight
Air Tight
Hold on hold on
Hold on hold on. No more time to be
We got a brand new start
We didn't learn from our past.

So then, let us wonder, let it rain, let us ponder
So then(so then), let us wander(beneath our sins), let it rain(on top of them), let us ponder(beneath the elms).

I'm glad to meet them too  the people who withdrew
It's plain to see it thru , they wander in the blue
a people on the mend, no more they let it go
A people on the mend, no more no more
A people on the mend
A people on the mend

Listen him yelling, with an immense impact, the last verse of this Decrepit and believe me - you'll feel something deep and special flowing in your veins !!!

If the St Vitus vibes of the 1st album have disappeared, the Sabbathian type of gloomy riffage is  still present at several times, more subtle and infectious though,  like on "Casse Tête" or the last song "Turul" which kills it with a nice addition of effects (an alert sirene, some kind of mocking ghosts whistles).

Other striking songs are "The Toe" which is a true masterpiece of shattering Doom, while the title song "Time of Hunting" is a monster of heaviness, menacing and massive as an unexplored mountain, it must be as loud on stage as your latest amplifiersworship sensation !!! 
The charming and incisive opener "Storm Break" and melancholic "Blood of Recompense" which brings back to surface some slight Grunge hints (heard at several times on 1st album), are also worth the mention... there's no filler here, this album is faultless and am sure will remain a timeless classic.

With a lot of work, talent and confidence, KINGS DESTROY have released here an ESSENTIAL album of HEAVY ROCK (the band's sound is now so rich and assumed, that it'd be too reducing to classify them in just Stoner and/or Doom, so I guess Heavy Rock fits the best) including the best vocal performance of the year by Steve (which makes me even more proud to get a particular sympathy from this guy - 150% mutual !!!).
 Either individually or collectively the genesis of this "A Time of hunting" will assuredly be rewarded in many 2013 Faves lists !!! Now let's cross fingers and hope they'll be touring Europe shortly, so that Steve could visit again la belle France !!!

... Who's behind the Temple ? (Part 1 with Lucas Klaukien !!!)

After the "French Doom" and "Wives ov Doom" specials last year, it was time to introduce a new special topic in several chapters and I thought that it could be interesting, for you readers and even for each member of the team, to know a bit more about those obscure doomheads behind the Temple...

Lucas Klaukien, the wizard of writing, was 1st to answer ! Dare I say that the result is as captivating and heartfelt as his stunning reviews ? OUI !!! Don't know in which order yet, but, of course more will follow with Ulla, Andreas, Steve, Aleksey and eventually myself... 
Another thing you've got to know is that two new members should appear soon (with exciting Live reports as 1st contribution), one of them will be a very surprising one... oh, well, enough said !!!)
I take this opportunity to thank you all (bands, contributors, labels, readers...) for making this adventure so cool and exciting... Doom rules eternally \m/

Hi Lucas, could you please present yourself in a few words/lines ?
Hey, my name is Lucas Klaukien, I do album reviews for Stoner Hive, Sludgelord, Temple of Perdition and my own blog Paranoid Hitsophrenic.  I’m 31 years old, I live in Canada and my favorite color is Doom.

When and how did you come to Metal and more especially to Doom and its subgenres ? When did you start to write on music ? 

I grew up with metal, when I was really young (and metal was still young too) hanging out with my teenage uncles and listening to their records.  Stuff like Metallica, Megadeth, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and AC-DC.  I didn’t discover Doom until a little over a year ago when I watched a video interview with Phil Anselmo where he talked about Trouble, Witchfinder General and Saint Vitus.  I looked into those bands and even though it’s so late in the game, it’s safe to say that discovering those bands changed my (musical) life.  I’d been told my whole life that I should do album reviews or live reviews, writing for the school paper, or whatever but my main focus was always on fiction.  I didn’t see the value of musical journalism until I discovered the blogs like Temple of Perdition, Sludgelord, Stoner Hive, Doommantia, The Obelisk, The Soda Shop, Dr. Doom’s Lair and Heavy Planet among others where every day it seemed like I was discovering two or three of the best bands I’d never heard before and to be honest, that trend continues to this day.  When I finished working on this one story I was writing all last summer I needed something to keep my busy, writing-wise so I decided to make a blog of my own to try to help promote some of these amazing bands I was discovering in what little way I could.  It’s just expanded from there, but I’d never written an album review until I made Paranoid Hitsophrenic.  Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve been banging my head basically since I was in diapers so rock n roll and metal means a lot to me.  I’d given up on new music about five years before that and was only listening to the older stuff, 60s psych and 70s prog.  I was ecstatic, amazed and a little overwhelmed when I discovered the wealth of great underground bands kicking around today.  I still am.  Who knew rock n roll wasn’t dead after all?!?

Has writing in general always been something you liked and were at ease with ?

Aside from headbanging, another thing I’d done practically my whole life was draw.  But when I was about 15 years old I knew that I was never going to be good enough to draw Marvel comics so I decided to change gears and start writing.  Some of the writing projects I did in school got rave reviews from teachers and one or two of them really encouraged me to keep at it.  When I was 17, 18 I started writing fiction (or trying to anyway) and I spent the next few years doing not much else.  Learning how to write takes a long time and when you don’t start until you’re older it seems to take forever to really begin to figure it out.  I love it, I have an intense passion for the creative process and I’m almost like a junkie or workaholic for it.  Aside from spending time with my girlfriend, my nieces and nephew, my mom and some close friends, there’s really nothing I’d rather be doing than writing.  That said, it’s always been a grind.  It may seem to flow or come out easy at times, but you read it back later and usually find that when it seems to come easy, that was your worst stuff.  It’s a fucking hell of a hard grind for me, but I love it.

Do you remember from when did you start to follow regularly Temple of Perdition ? Any special interview(s) or review(s) that caught your attention ?

Oh yeah I do.  I’d seen it come up on Google searches or linked from other blogs but it wasn’t until I saw the end of the year stuff that I realized how special ToP is.  Instead of doing your own top 20 or whatever favorite albums of the year, you asked a whole bunch of other people to tell you theirs.  I thought that was brilliant and it’s obviously more interesting to do it that way.  You’re damn right I want to know what Ron from Ice Dragon’s favorites from 2012 was!  Then the wives of doom thing came out and I just thought that was the coolest thing ever.  And my girlfriend even thought it was cool too.  More importantly, she thought it was an interesting idea, and so do I.  Since then visiting the Temple has been a regular part of my daily ritual.

You’ve got all other various activities related to Metal (own blog for Lucas + other contributions too - just like Andreas, Aleksey and Ulla who has also a podcast… I’m sure that Steve would do something else too, if he wasn’t studying too  beside working ! Do you manage to find enough time and the right balance between this and the usual daily life (work, family, etc…) ?

Of course I don’t!  I’m always working, writing or thinking.  When I’m not sleeping, I try to stay productive every second of every day.  That’s why I only sleep five hours a night.  Occasionally I inspire people because they’ve never seen anyone so focused all the time.  I’ve always got a note book out and yeah, it may make me look like a twat and it alienates some people who aren’t really compatible as friends anyway, but what does that matter?  When I don’t have enough time to write a review before I have to leave for work, I take the notebook out and try to get as much done on the bus as possible.  I’d be lying if I said it didn’t sometimes create tension at home, but I do have the ability to stop and smell the roses as they say, (i.e. spend time with the old lady).  Sometimes I just need a kick in the ass to snap me back into reality.  Somehow, someway I think all this work, all this writing is building towards something, though I don’t know what.  I have a number of other ideas (time consuming ideas) that I will pursue in the near future so I’m about to get even tighter for time.  For me, it’s a challenge, but a fun one.

Isn’t Steph a too tyrannic editor with you ?!!!

He won’t as soon as I get my first born child back from him. (hahaha, excellent answer dude !!!)

How do you see the fact of contributing in english for a French blog with a cosmopolitan team ? ( just nothing special in this web era or pretty cool and enriching ?)
Well, that’s just it.  I’m constantly amazed by the fact that I’m in contact with people from all over the world.  With the exceptions of Africa, Antarctica and southeast Asia, I’m in contact with people from all over the world and we all have one thing in common: the love of heavy music.  So maybe, that’s nothing special in a so-called ‘global village’, but I think it’s pretty damn cool.  When you consider that a physical ‘zine like this couldn’t have existed 20 years ago (there’s just no way), it’s incredible to think about.  It’s incredible to think about how all these people from the far corners of the earth can get together in a common (virtual) place for a common goal, it’s really inspiring.  I wonder if the current and future generations raised in an age where the internet is taken for granted appreciate that.
Check out Lucas awesome blog !!!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

… The Inevitability of Doom: ZEPPHEROIN “Howl” (Album Review)

Zeppheroin is a one man band from London and I suppose there are distinct advantages to taking this approach to personnel, or lack thereof.  For one thing, there’s no lobbying for a drastic change in direction when new influences take hold.  Anything you want to do as a one man band, you just do it, best you can. 
You walk down the street with your hands in your pockets, all alone.  No one can help you.  What you must do, must be done alone.  You are doomed.

Zeppheroin began life as an industrial punk / post-rock project, with a Joy Division influence and Lennonesque elements with talk of “Working Class Messiah”s and such.  One can’t help but smile when listening to Zeppheroin’s latest, it’s a departure to be sure.  If you listen to Zeppheroin’s first offering, 2011’s ‘Atrocity Exhibition’, his next release, 2012’s ‘Naked Lunch’ and this latest EP, ‘Howl’, back to back to back, the picture that is painted is one of a risk taker.

You cross the street, it’s coming.  You look both ways before crossing, doesn’t matter it’s on its way.  You are doomed.

But to me, I can’t help but smile and think about the irresistibility and inevitability of doom.  It’s inescapable.  From his bandcamp page:

“Still drawing upon my holy scripture of hardcore aggression and noise rock discordance, I have slowly been drawn into the fetid depths of Riff worship - the slower the better.

Elements of Doom are now apparent but with my needles in-the-red recording technique still favouring slabs of distortion rather than clarity or production, it is still lo-fi and rough as fuck.

All Hail The Riff!”

That quote kind of sums it up and says it all right there, doesn’t it?  Puts a smile on the face.  ‘Howl’ is three songs long and 18 minutes wide, giving it more inches around the waist than the 16 minute hardcore tinged ‘Naked Lunch’s 7 songs combined.  Maybe that’s the joy of doom right there.  While we may be rushing around our whole lives in a techno punk nightmare, the doom allows us to slow things down and take our time.  Somehow, when that happens, time itself slows and what time we have is more appreciated or at least put to better use.

You pick up a paper and it’s sprawled across every headline.  It hangs over your head like the sword of Damocles.  It wants to embrace you, fold you in its arms, and wrap around you like a shroud.  Man, you are doomed!

Anyway, ‘Howl’s doomed approach is quite a ways away from ‘Atrocity Exhibition’.  It seems like, once you get a taste of doom, there’s no going back.  To Zeppheroin’s credit, he wears the patched denim of doom like a warrior born.  Minor tweaking and adjustments to the vocals deliver a flawed but flawless doom vocal performance in a Wino or Karl Simon style.  Opening track “Black Colossus” may very well have seen the one-man behind this band trade in his Grant Morrison comics for some Robert E. Howard paperbacks.  Whatever he’s done to prepare for his first foray into howling doom, he’s done it well.  For my money, this one and the last track, “Fabricated Heroism” really hit the mark. 

But, in the end, you feel no embrace.  You are all alone.  The doom is a spectre and what you must do, must be done alone.  After all, there’s only one thing to do when you are so doomed. 

If what you’re looking for is something to innovate and push the genre into bold new directions, well keep searching.  For those with a voracious appetite for all things slow and heavy, something that’s more than just a little bit out of the ordinary, then listen, feast your ears on this EP.  I for one will be watching this band, to see what comes next. 

In the end, nothing can save you.  You are trapped in an endless vortex with no way out, save one.  You can either doom or be doomed.  You know what must be done.  You must turn the tables and embrace the doom.

words by Lucas Klaukien 

Monday, May 27, 2013


05/25/2013, here's a date which was underlined on my schedule for some long months and now, I can willingly say that it'll remain engraved in my memories for a long time... This "Anthems of Doom" was taking place in Bressuire, 100 kms down Nantes (where I had  to take Steph from Barabbas- coming from Paris-  at the train station), a little town in the middle of nothing special (not to say "nowhere" or "in the asshole of oblivion" !)... no big town close-by, a doom gig with just national underground Doom bands, there's always "good" reasons that can be found, why not the Champions League final or the fact that it's Mother's day too on the day after ??? So, fuck yeah, just 75 people for such a killer line-up is totally abnormal and frustrating :(
Well, finally, when you're in it, finding great friends you meet with excitement once or twice a year, listening great bands with a good sound, sharing drinks and joints, having good fun... you forget everything :) Oh well, with all the bands playing at 150% and supporting their colleagues at 300% (not just by solidarity - believe me) the venue was finally reasonably packed and in any cases the general atmosphere very friendly and positive.

STONEBIRDS open with their infectious Stoner... Actually touring with their mates of Stangala, both bands will help one each other to fill their line-up, here first Thomas Coïc is on drums while he'll play with his usual band later. As you've maybe read it recently here, Stonebirds come from the "Kreiz Breizh" area (understand :  the center of Britanny) and this tour is celebrating the release of those already famous "Kreizh Breizh Sessions", their split album with Stangala !!! The 1st song is a bit halting , maybe cause we're just a little dozen to be already there in front of the scene but  people come in little by little and soon the power of the riffs prevails...
With a gnarly guitarist/singer delivering thick and crunchy riffs and a very skilled bassist (hard hitting his 6 strings) who occasionally is nicely shrieking on backing vocals, Stonebirds reveal themselves to be a very good discovery, accurate and incisive. The balance between warm and fuzzy with fluid and stellar moods sometimes remind me the welsh gods Sigiriya which is a serious reference in terms of thickness and catchiness !  I need to come back on them this summer for the blog...

Setlist :
Dark Passenger
Green Gene
Game Over
Cosmos Rider
Red is the Sky

THE BOTTLE DOOM LAZY BAND are nearly at home here (Poitiers is at just about 45 minutes) and it's quickly noticeable as the audience is a lot more packed now with quite many guys knowing old songs like "The Dead can't Loose Again" or the anthemic "Night of the Living Dead" !
Ben is very unbridled, almost in trance, and as always too he likes to share his bottle of Jack Daniels with fans (including my fucking body, hell yeah!). I think his flow on the new songs has much improved, the english diction is more assured and sedate... New guitarist is pretty impressive, much more groovy and rock 'n roll than the old founding member had special affinities with melodies inspired from Grunge/Alternative 90's rock stuff ! TOS (guit) is particularly cheerful and also unpredictable (his 1st stage diving surprised quite many people !), it's good to see guys who are so enthusiast to play...
And damn, the set is awesome including a great part of new songs, full of infectious Trad' Doom of course but also a  raging and sick dementia which is communicative and pretty orgasmic at times !!! Those guys have a different approach from what you can usually see LIVE with a great part of DOOM bands : they're here to party, play loud and have fun with their fans... it's very friendly and definitely high voltaged doomy rock'n roll and I'm sure that nobody in the hall could have hoped more from their set which definitely launched the evening !!!

Setlist :
The Dead can't Loose Again
Space Crusader
Lost n' Drunk
Riding Bones
Night of the Living Dead
Smiling Tomb

STANGALA played in 3rd position, luckily for drummer Thomas who has had an hour of rest after his 1st prestation with Stonebirds... I had been quite disappointed by their set in Rennes last year when they opened for Ramesses, but this saturday - things were favorably different on many points.
First they didn't have to face technical issues, 2nd Steven (guit/voc) seemed a lot more at ease in his leader's role (in terms of communication and implication shown, things could still be a bit improved though...) and I think the post of bassist was also more significantly assumed even if surprisingly shared between two guys from Stonebirds (half of the gig for each) ! A reduced and too limited time for the set prevented the band to play a 2nd (new) song of the split album, so "Ar Re Yen" was the only new one but the performance was good and it looks like the band finds little by little its marks on stage for a very original and personnal sound which is not easy to reproduce accurately in live conditions !

Setlist :
Doom Rock Glazik
Ar re yen
Bigoudened an Diaoul
Al lidoù esoterik an dolmen hud

If after nearly 20 years and 4 albums ("Winter" being the last released in 2012) NORTHWINDS is maybe the oldest french Doom band in activity, they're also one of the most underrated and that's something you feel even more like a sad injustice after having seen them on stage...
As I said there was not that many people at this gig but I'm sure that we were just a little half to really know them before they came on stage; well, the other half has now been quickly conquered by the exceptionnal quality and originality of their music !
The set alternates between old, recent and unreleased songs which is awesome (1st album title track, demo track, a couple of songs of "Winter", the title track of "Eternal Winter" -new album to come out before the end of the year- and another unreleased song too which will appear in 2014 on a mysterious Tape... you'll read more about  this in an upcoming interview with the lads !!!); it shows too how the sound of the band has maturated over the years with a lot of work in composition and instrumentation (keyboards were present of course but from now on there's no flute anymore for live considerations... which is not lacking to say the truth), not forgetting an highly heartfelt approach and an immense respect for their fans.

The sound is good, crystal clear and perfect for the alternance of ominous doom and beautiful 70's progressive Rock moments like in the centerpart of the gig with the majestuous "Winter". Northwinds is one of those bands that totally transcend your senses and emotions, their set led me to the rare conclusion that for this 1st long awaited time I've seen them, they have fullfilled me even far beyond my expectations and hopefully this is a band to follow systematically wherever they could now play in France (which happens so fucking rarely)... you absolutely gotta check out and support this striking band !!! Now, I've just one regret : not to have managed to take a good picture of vocalist/drummer Sylvain !


Setlist :
Eternal Winter
Night of the Ritual
Great God Pan
The Firewitch
Land of the Dead

To play very late and after 4 bands is not an easy task for any band... CHILDREN OF DOOM managed to make it intense and captivating until the end but I can't help thinking that if they had played a couple of hours before, they would have reduced the venue in ashes !!!

Guitarist/Singer Etienne Testard is an epileptic human bomb, the kind of authentic and charismatic caracter who forces everybody's respect and a great part of admiration... If you aren't afraid of tattoes, this guy is in appearance nothing except impressive physically but he imposes something unique, sick and amazing at the same time ! He plays a lot on sarcasm and has a kind of skinned-alive sensibility which denotes in this usually non-communicative relation between bands and their fans on stage...
Beyond this, he's a fantastic compositor of Doom'n Roll and the band starts with the title song from the debut album "Doomed, be Doomed ör Fuck Off", there's also "Bottle Ben in the Streets" in the middle of the set but all the rest  is made of unreleased songs ! lucky assholes we are :) with "Rusty World" an old demo song, the band plays a bunch of great new songs (to appear on the new 2nd album)  "Hidden girls", "Hate of Flag", "Another Way of Life", "Necrotramp" "Exit the Spiral" and  the long delightful "... Al Hazred" which has been probably the doomiest song of the evening !!!
This give serious promises for a stunning sophomore album. The performance is huge and an encore would have been well deserved but it's now two o'clock in the morning and time to stop the loud volumes...

Little by little, fans leave the hall, we're lucky enough to be able to stay there with our mates and not to have to drive back home this late or even sleep in the car in the abnormal coldness of this fucked-up spring ! Next 4 hours will be good fun with a great part of all bands members (some nice human discoveries, interesting discussions, etc...) but I keep in mind that later today there's about 3 hours by car to come back at home for noon, we're celebrating my sister's 50th anniversary and I know it'll be hard to save appearances, hehehe ! So at about 6:00 I finally end with my sleeping-bag on stage, trying to sleep a couple of hours !!!
Thanx so much to all bands for providing so good heavy sounds, for their friendly and dedicated attitudes too and thanx to the organization for having the balls (of steeeeel !) to settle-up such a fantastic line-up -  keep on guys, we'll be there next time ! (you too dickheads, just think about some true american, swedish or russian doomsters who would have sold their mother for attending such a gig with french Doomed treasures !!!)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

... BLAAK HEAT SHUJAA "The Edge Of An Era" (Album Review)

Exiled Parisians BLAAK HEAT SHUJAA open „The Edge Of An Era“, the full-length successor to their EP, on a rather brazen note when they have Ron Whitehead cite from his own poem „Closing Time“, which claims America to be an illusion. Under the aegis of producer Scott Reeer, bass player in the Obsessed, The L.A.-based trio combines epic Stoner Rock with an oriental flair and the sonic scope of film scores.

Consequently, this happens at times without vocals, yet remarkable melodies turn almost each (the too lengthy noodling "Land Of The Freaks" in the end being the exception) of the five mostly long tracks into a dusty gem. The band has a relatively condensed smasher in the shape of the passionately mellow "Pelham Blue" while "Obscurantist Fiend" lives off its drive towards an imaginary sunrise, just before "Shadows", which is meant to continue the opening track, amounts to a psychedelic mantra. Thomas Bellier has an unassuming, yet indeed charismatic voice that makes BLAAK HEAT SHUJAA the more valuable.

A somewhat conspirational ambience like on this album is something you do not hear all to frequently in the genre, so taking the substantial musical material into account makes for an altogether above-par album. The fact that the group is keen on stylistic diversity, adding progressive tinges here and there, is also positive, so you can put them right next to brothers in mind such as Naam and New Keepers Of The Water Towers, who are both just as interesting in their unblinkered approach ... With Fatso Jetson's guitarist and singer Mario Lalli, the album features an unexpected guest, by the way. (AS)

Friday, May 24, 2013

... TWIN GIANT "Sin Nombre" (EP Review)

First time I heard about this band was last fall when they played at the DenverDoom Fest... I had read good comments from local fellows Grant Netzorg and Steve Miller, listened a couple of times their great debut album "Mass Driver" and then sadly kinda forgot them, being always more and more busy with current affairs for the blog !!! So, when the band contacted me a few weeks ago to help promote their new 4song-EP, I was pretty eager to give them more time and hear how they did evolute over the last year.

The four-piece comes from Phoenix (Arizona/USA) and as the cover and their location may suggest it, there's some slight hints of Desert Rock in their music, but they are developed in a way more contrasted, heavier and tougher manner than your usual warm and psyched-out stuff of the genre, just the southern touch would be more appropriated... Indeed, through the 1st and eventually last song's contagious melodic and groovy hooks, there's basically some vibes of Desert Rock, especially in "Pelisneros" whose riffage reminds amazingly Brant Bjork -period "saved by magic" and "someral sol"- but with a serious addition of testosterones, groove and distortion, a bit like if the "cool man" had partied with King Giant !!!

What can more logically put T.G. in the Stoner/Sludge category comes not just from the fuzzy and intense guitars but also from the nasty raw vocals and humming bass , while in fact the band plays with just sufficient versatility and tightness to almost never be easily ranged in one style more than one other (Sludge, Stoner, Metal, Southern...).

The sound of the band is pretty much the same than on their debut, just maybe a bit less blasting at times but the stomping core of Twin Giant's sound is still present and even more highlighted by a cleaner production.

The following track "Fossilized" has a carefully structured flow - from a lumbering doom riff to a more haunting and mesmerizing atmosphere, you're gonna dig this one. 
I've been intrigued at first  by the name of the 3rd song "La Haine" ("hate" in french), a bit surprising if you consider that Twin Giant is not a black metal band -  hahaha !!!  but I have been even more when I heard a vocal sample from the same named cult-french movie from the mid 90's (incidentally the first movie of the future worldfamous seducer Vincent Cassel) inserted in what is logically (or not) the heaviest song of the EP. Very intense and brain shattering with a beautiful solo, it's nicely ramping into a full blown tempest, including a bludgeonning rhytmic backbone.

"Cloacked in Black" is the longest song (clocking at seven minutes), this one immediately sweep you away with its catchy guitar, steady beat and a groove that is unmistakably Southern... the guitars swirl with melody and sheer heaviness before ending in a sinister Doom mood of the better effect !

Ok it's just an EP and maybe with a full length album the statement could have been a bit different, but it's amazing here how each song is given a recognizable quality that simply demands repeat listening ! check this out now...

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

... HIGHGATE "Survival" (Album Review)

Coming from Covington (Kentucky/USA) and formed in 2005, HIGHGATE is a blackened Sludge/Doom band consisting in S. Kirst (guit/bass), G. Brown (Voc/guit/Noise) and S. Porter (Drums). After a 1st self-titled album in 2008, the band released "Black Frost Fallout" three years later on Total Rust rds who now also puted out their new album "Survival" a couple of months ago...

Tagged so far as Sludge-Noise, extremely slow and abrasive with tortured-like vocals, the band was known until now as the kind of love it or hate it affair which this subgenre often generates and then... what's up now with this "Survival" ? Well, if they didn't change drastically things, I think a couple of important arguments make them  slightly more digestible - although this is still stuff for those who like disturbing sounds ! 

First, the production is far more consistent and less crude, as the developped structures required it, also vocals merge more easily in the music and may be accessible to more people; then the overall approach is doomier than previously, more obscure and hopeless, in any cases not as harsh and noisy at least musically speaking... Not just vocally wise where Kirst excels in sickness, HIGHGATE is still ugly, cold, despaired and 150%  uncompromising but found its style somewhere between Sunn O))), Celtic Frost, Wolves in the Throne Room, Winter and Burzum ... 

Songs duration vary in increasing order from about 12 minutes to 20 minutes which let place for growing moods, including droning noises which could be seen as intros or outros - depending of the songs, but vocal samples have been deleted which is a pretty good thing. There's also a few tempo changes bringing them to black metal battlefields ("Mother Abyss"), epic and brutal, they seem to enhance their hateful caracters on the moment - but where HIGHGATE are the best and give the most essential of their textures comes through slow and monolithic riffage with suffocating yellings, those are filled with as much hate and despair !!!

Last (and longest) song "Nachwirkungen/Survival" gets my preference with that Winter touch in the 1st part, crushingly heavy with a bit more ominous tone, while the 2nd part is more of a epic blackened mid-tempo with beautiful and earthy savagery.

The guys have crafted here by far their most accomplished effort, without any concession, but with heart and musical development. Also I feel like an almost invisible and struggling  enlightenment which can definitely make them pretend catch the attention from a little wider audience while keeping the old fans sufficiently sated  by slow and hateful heaviness...
"Survival" is one of those special albums that leaves a mark , acting like a kind of deglutition of the actual miserable daily life we are progressively drowning in; it's also another highly recommendable album from Gad's catalogue - while waiting for next release from some other purveyors of hateful sounds (frenchies Cult of Occult)  but that's another story to come next month !

... KHÜNNT "Dead Eyes" soon to be released on Box rds

"Formed in 2006 (in Newcastle - England), Khünnt have fervently explored the boundaries of esoteric music, from minimalist noise to live improvisation and psychedelic mantra. Focusing exclusively on a more aggravated and blighted composition, 'Dead Eyes' reflects the bands most recent forages into noise and sludge. Comparable to works by Corrupted, Khanate and Noothgrush, the bleak and at times unbearable landscape of 'Dead Eyes' is a passage of hypnotic despair."

180g 12” w/ hand screen printed sleeves Available on 3rd July 13 via

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

... MONTENEGRO “Confusos Recuerdos Después Del Coma" (Album Review)

With “Confusos Recuerdos Después Del Coma" the four piece psychedelic stoner rock band “Montenegro” from Buenos Aires/Argentina present their debut album. They play a quite individual style combining desert rock, psychedelic and folk sounds. The band formed in 2009 and the album was released 2013 (Sick-o-Delic Records). It consists of four lengthy songs with an overall runtime of about 35 minutes.
The opener “Idario” starts off with slow, low bass tunes that gradually are joined by the other instruments to slowly develop a nice thick fuzzy carpet of psychedelic stoner vibes. The striking warm vocals only set in after about 1/3 of the song.
“Soluciones” then begins with a simple basic slow blues rhythm that soon mixes with folky tunes sounding South American and Eastern European and with proggy groovy sounds as well. A lot of twists in rhythm and tempo is going on here before the vocals finally join in towards the end of the song.
“Tiempo Fractal” is a dynamic space trip. Psychedelic guitar riffs ride on a steady repetitive rhythm. There are spoken words then a quiet but tension building middle part … sung vocals join the hypnotic rhythm to end in a psychedelic jam with a warm fuzzy guitar sound.

The intro of “Santa Cruz” sounds like a movie sample of an old spaghetti western (it is not though). There’s spoken words again accompanied by a dark quirky percussion rhythm and dramatic melody that merges into a nicely spread out thick fuzzy psychedelic carpet again.

“Confusos Recuerdos Después Del Coma” offers four pretty diverse songs, with “Soluciones” probably being the most experimental and outstanding one. What they all have in common though, is the dark warm guitar tone providing the specific “desert” fuzz that thankfully doesn’t drown the remarkable groovy bass and drum work and the warm raw vocals. There’s a great feel for dramatic composition in the songwriting that adds a marked texture and personality to the songs.
I highly recommend you check out this debut album, it’s a really distinct take on the genre.

words by Ulla Roschat


Monday, May 20, 2013

... FUNERAL CIRCLE – ‘Funeral Circle’ (Album review)

Vancouver, British Columbia’s Funeral Circle caught my attention a few years ago with the release of their debut EP ‘Sinister Sacrilege’. It took me awhile to track down a physical copy, but when I finally did I was rewarded with a traditional doom metal album that was wrought with an occult atmosphere and, at times, over-the-top heavy metal excess. Just listen to the NWOBHM gallop of the EP’s fourth track “Fist of Satan” with its Halford-like maniacal laughter and its chant inducing chorus, “When I say what—you say Satan. What?...What?”, for a taste of the band’s tongue-in-cheek brand of sinister doom metal. Just try not to respond, “Satan!...Satan!,” while pumping your fist in the air. Fast forward four years and the band is about to let loose their self-titled full-length debut for mass consumption. Needless to say the wait was well worth it.

The most notable change to the band’s sound is an unwavering focus on traditional doom replete with a darker, more austere atmosphere than its predecessor. The tempos remain slow and low while the vocals have been reigned in a bit and, for the most part, are confined to the lower registers. While the faster, NWOBH influences of the band’s past definitely put Funeral Circle in a realm of their own, there is no denying that the band is just as adept at composing doomed dirges fit for ritualistic sacrifice or for invoking the Master.

Funeral Circle puts its best foot forward with the powerful “Scion of Infinity”. The self-titled album opener is not only one of the finest tunes penned by the band, but it also serves as a harbinger of things to come. “Scion of Infinity” immediately invokes other contemporary masters of the genre such as Procession or Rote Mare by venturing into the dominion of down-tuned yet melodic doom. The latter half of the track is gloriously imbued with overlapping, ethereal guitar leads that pushes the listener over the precipice and precariously holds them aloft the doomed-out soundscape. “Scion of Infinity” may be one of the strongest tracks on the album, but I would hesitate to call this album front-loaded.

Heavy. Eerie. Epic. Melodic. These four words accurately sum up another album highlight “Corpus of Dark Sorcery”. The melodic lead guitar intro harkens back to the Funeral Circle of old, but the band ultimately settles into a funereal pace. The track is bestowed with a greater depth of diabolical atmosphere through its use of whispered background vocals and glimpses of the higher registers of the main vocals that were found in abundance on the band’s debut EP.

Where does the band fall short? Nowhere really. Depending on your perspective, the acoustic, spoken word third track, “Tempus Edax Rerum” (Latin for “time, devourer of all things”), can be viewed as either extraneous or indulgent. The band, unlike their contemporaries in Procession, wisely keeps their album’s interlude brief—just under three minutes—and stylistically different from the rest of the album. There are those who will view “Tempus Edax Rerum” as a brief annoyance while others will find that it breaks up the album nicely. I’m slowly beginning to be swayed toward the latter opinion.

Funeral Circle’s return to the fold is long overdue, but those who have remained faithful will be well rewarded with the release of the band’s upcoming self-titled full-length. The band has refocused their sound by shedding their NWOBHM tendencies and adopting a more somber approach to their songwriting. The end result encompasses everything that should be found in a traditional doom metal album from the heavy, memorable riffs to the all-enveloping atmosphere of hopelessness and despair. The band should be making announcements on a physical release for the album soon.

Words: Steve Miller

Sunday, May 19, 2013

... DEMON LUNG "The Hundredth Name" (Album Review)

Demon Lung hails from the modern day Sodom, that brackish oasis in the desert, Las Vegas, Nevada.  What better place for a band to coagulate their musical efforts into the choking mists of doom and strangulate the population with their thick, dark cloud of heavy sounds.  Last year they made their first appearance with the ‘Pareidolia’ EP, which featured some solid songs and an identity built around wailing Zakk Wylde / Dimebagian squeals atop a solid doom groove with arresting female vocals.  On June 3 the band will unleash their full-length debut on Candlelight Records of all new material, a concept album, no less.
The concept reads as follows (from the label’s promo): “The long-begotten son of Satan, who’s been sent to earth to assemble the three parts of the devil’s bible so that we can speak the name of God in reverse and undo creation [sic].” 
The album starts off slow enough with a nearly six minute intro drowning listeners in wave after wave of pummeling drone guitar strikes to create a torturously ominous build-up on “Binding of the Witch”.  The riffs creep up slowly, stalking the witch by excruciating stealth only to pounce when the time is right with one of the mightiest grooves one is likely to hear.  From that point forward all hell breaks loose and the floodtide of riffs and groove washes over the listener.  It’s not long before the knees start to buckle under the sheer weight of it.  One after another Demon Lung chops away riffs with the simplest of tools to create a monumental and momentous album.
When it comes to heavy music, and the abrasive moments, neck injury time from headbanging moments, simplicity is best.  5 grit sandpaper tones, open chords, head down, slice away riffs.  Those are the best.  Simplicity has sparked revolutions in music and technology.  And the clinic that Demon Lung puts on for their full-length debut absolutely vaporizes most of the competition, including their own debut four song EP.  Apparently never ones to second guess themselves, Demon Lung just appears to play what sounds good without getting too self-conscious about it.  This is what makes ‘The Hundredth Name’ a terrific record.  Where do you go when everything has been done a million times and it takes a rocket surgeon to innovate a new sound?  Easy, you just keep playing whatever sounds good and heavy.
That’s not to say the band doesn’t have chops, it’s just that groove is emphasized over ‘technical excellence’.  Each of the first three of the album’s eight tracks hammers listeners into the ground with heavy groove.  There are times when the band sounds like Pantera on downers.  But remember, there is a storyline here and the band plays according to mood, the foundation of the album is that long introduction.  Sludgified Doom permeates every moment and heavy groove rises out of the sonic landscape like R’lyeh from a poisoned ocean, especially on the organ-augmented and atmospheric centerpiece “A Decade Twice over a Day”.  As the album progresses, so does the doom, while the heavy groove is slowly choked off, a scheme that plays out like a cosmological battle which veers leftward.
For those who sampled Demon Lung’s EP, let it be known that this is a far more accomplished effort, featuring a streamlined sound, the band having delivered on their early potential.  The vocals are powerful but understated, double kick is used sparingly and is never overdone.  The double kick and the guitar squeals give Demon Lung a more heavy metal sound than most doom outfits, ‘The Hundredth Name’ is heavy, nearly to a fault but should provide a long-lasting fix for doom addicts.  Recommended.

words by Lucas Klaukien