Tuesday, 28 March 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Radiant Knife - "Radiant Knife"

By: Ben Fitts

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

Radiant Knife plays the sort of sludge-infused progressive metal popularized by fellow southerners Mastodon, but play the style very much in their own way.  Their self-titled debut is packed with inventive song structures and trampling riffs that are underscored by a strong sense of melody. It is an exciting debut from a band with a lot of promise. 

“Radiant Knife” CS//DD track listing:

1). Choose your necrodestination
2). Vacant faces
3). Haze
4). Emotional Wastelands
5). Shedding Black
6). The Lude

The Review:

While guitar and drum duos with scrappy production have managed to stay in style since The White Stripes released their debut album almost twenty years ago, very few of them have wandered into the musical territory of Louisiana-based band Radiant Knife. The band plays the sort of sludge-infused progressive metal popularized by fellow southerners Mastodon, but Radiant Knife play the style very much in their own way. The grimy production of their self-titled debut brings out a coarseness in the songs that is absent from the sleekly produced albums by the Mastodons and the Baronesses of the world. 

The track “Choose Your Necrodestination”, a synth laden instrumental full of thumping guitar riffs and alien atmosphere, opens the album. The track is followed by the significantly more somber “Vacant Spaces”, which features an understated, morose melody and culminates with a slow, grinding riff that is one of the most memorable moments on the album. Radiant Knife increase their tempos and their onslaught with rapid fire riffing and thunderous vocals on “Haze”. This burst of hostility is nicely contrasted by the album’s following track, “Emotional Wastelands”, which rings with joyous grooving, falsetto vocals and is certainly the most fun track anywhere on the album.

Radiant Knife clearly enjoy orchestrating sudden departures, again leaning into contrasting feelings with their next track, the nine minute and thirty-four second long “Shedding Black”. The darkest, most despairing track on the debut, “Shedding Black” is loaded with chiming dissonances, washy guitar tones, harsh riffs and dramatic dynamic contrast. The album ends on the track “The Lude”, which is similar in mood to the earlier track “Vacant Faces”. Calm and solemn, “The Lude” roars and rumbles its way to the album’s end. Radiant Knife’s self-titled debut is packed with inventive song structures and trampling riffs that are underscored by a strong sense of melody. It is an exciting debut from a band with a lot of promise.  

“Radiant Knife” is available here

Band info:  bandcamp || facebook

Sunday, 26 March 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Stinking Lizaveta - "Journey to the Underworld"

By: Charlie Butler

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 17/02/2017
Label: Translation Loss

Stinking Lizaveta’s new album “Journey to the Underworld” finds the band in deadly form, crafting music that is seriously weird and complex yet still delivers an addictive riff high.

“Journey to the Underworld” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Witches and Pigs
2. Chorus of Shades
3. Sharp Stick in the Eye
4. Six Fangs
5. Blood, Milk and Honey
6. Journey to the Underworld
7. Love Song For Jusu
8. A Stranger's Welcome
9. Allegro

The Review:

It’s an impressive feat for a band to be in their 23rd year of existence to release an LP that sounds as raw and hungry as a debut. Stinking Lizaveta’s new album “Journey to the Underworld” finds the band in deadly form, crafting music that is seriously weird and complex yet still delivers an addictive riff high.

The Philadelphia trio have honed their idiosyncratic sound to perfection here, delivered with a telepathic tightness. The band’s style of riffage recalls retro rockers like of Earthless and Comets On Fire but is so vital and fresh it could only have come from the present. Instead of the endless molten jams into the outer realms of the previously mentioned acts, Stinking Lizaveta travel just as far into the unknown but tie themselves into carefully orchestrated labyrinthine constructions but still find room for wild unhinged solos.

The propulsive drive of opener “Witches and Pigs” contains traces of proper Thin Lizzy-esque classic rock while “Chorus of Shades” features some glorious shredding and irresistible leads that are steeped in NWOBHM. “Sharp Stick in the Eye” is an almost funky strut with a groove that winds itself tighter and tighter as the band’s playing gets more frenetic.  There is a heaviness and darkness in these songs though that sees them slip across into noise rock territory, an underlying nastiness that adds a sweet sharpness to proceedings.

The title track seems them ease up a little on the intensity to allow a little psychedelic rock to bubble to the surface. “A Stranger’s Welcome” sees them employ passages of acoustic guitar to bring a spaghetti western dustbowl feel which although brief provides a powerful contrast to the epic riffage that surrounds it.

“Journey to the Underworld” is another incredible release from a truly unique band. Stinking Lizaveta manage to make instrumental metal that sounds like nothing else out there. Here’s to another 23 years of madness 

“Journey to the Underworld” is available here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

6 NEW BANDS: Nikos Mixas' 666 Pack Review for March 2017

The 666 Pack Review

It’s the March edition of The Sludgelord’s 666 Pack Review and it’s time to clean out the chasm of demos sent to us this month. If you’re new to this, each and every month we handpick 6 review submissions and critique them by only using 6 words, then we rate them on a scale from 1 to 666!  In addition, this month we have included a bonus review, so be sure to check out that review as well as our awesome rating scale below: 

1 – Somehow you were missed when we were spring cleaning.  Goodbye.     
2Iron Maiden’sIdes of March” is still too much for you to handle.
3 – You’re average, just like corned beef and cabbage. 
4 – Just like spring, you warm our soul…
5 – You make other bands green with envy.
666 – March was named after Mars, the Roman God of war, and after listening to you, The Sludgelord want to go to battle!

March is when winter’s end is just around the corner and things start to bloom, including a new batch of bands.  The Sludgelord will listen to several dozen bands throughout the year but only some will be of his liking.  The Sludgelord is a picky listener…and doesn’t care what you think of his opinions….

1). Stonerror - “Stonerror” – (Krakow, Poland)    Rating: 3

Kyuss and Queens worship…not bad…

bandcamp || facebook

2). Starmonger - “Revelation II”(Paris, France)   Rating: 4

Hook laden, stoner rock.  Oui, oui!

3). Dwaal - “Demo” – (Oslo, Norway)   Rating: 4

Doom on while you exit winter.

bandcamp || facebook

4). Floods - “Floods” – (Brooklyn, NY)   Rating: 2

Super messy conglometion of several genres.

5). Cacus - “Dirty filthy godless” – (Copenhagen, Denmark)   Rating: 666

Unruly energized sludge ala Iron Monkey.

6). Montezuma’s Revenge - “Them” – (Moscow, Russia)   Rating: 666

Even more unruly sludge ala Eyehategod!

OroborO – “Baked Acid” By: Ben Fitts

Sometimes a title can perfectly encapsulate the essence of the work that it monikers. “Baked Acid”, the title of the newest demo from the Amherst, Massachusetts based experimental/heavy noise quartet OroborO, is a perfect example of such. “Baked Acid” is seven minutes of fizzy guitar fuzz, stomping grooves, potently jagged production and frantic, crazed, often shrieking vocals. The greatest strength of the lengthy track is the presence of numerous organically executed changes of pace, mood and dynamics. These stark contrasts exaggerate the characteristics of each new section, causing each one to be that much more distinctive. “Baked Acid” will swarm over your eardrums like a hive of mutant killer wasp and trap you in a toxic fog of sludgy riffs, grinding rhythms and top notch noise mongering.      

CANADIAN RIFFS: BINGE & PURGE - Botfly - “Denouement” (EP) & Lousy Riders – “Orphan"

By: Mark Tremblay

Botfly - “Denouement” (EP) (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

The Review:

One of the best kept secrets of Canada’s east coast return with their follow up EP “Denouement”; a bleaker and more metallic offering to their critically acclaimed full length “Hatch”.

The first track, “29/04/2015”, brings the classic sludge/noise-rock fusion of riffs akin to that of KEN mode. Botlfy, however, add their own twist by utilizing major chords during the song’s heaviest moments, a signature of the band.

The second side of the EP, “Homesick”, is an extremely dissonant track; a song about losing touch and growing apart. On this song, Botfly incorporate post metal into their sound. The softer, delay-heavy moments within this song compliment the aggressive riffs in a way which makes the best Botfly track to date.

Keep any eye out for Botlfy when the next full-length comes out.

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Lousy Riders“Orphan” (Toronto, Ontario)

The Review:

“Orphan” is the perfect soundtrack to any 60’s biker film marathon. Lousy Rider is a two piece hailing from Toronto Ontario. The band also features regular collaborations from legendary Metal producer Greg Dawson, and jack-of-all-trades musician Mike Simpson.

The album features both ends of the stoner metal spectrum; the groove-oriented“fairy wear boots” style Sabbath worship, to something a bit more sinister. “Devil’s Chair”, “You Made Me”, and “Fake House Love” bring weight through crushing riffs, and off-kilter drum beats. These tracks are much more Metal than their previous EP, and showcase growth within the band. The Kyuss flair comes through with “Radiation” and “You Made Me” that focus on vocal harmonies that are seldom pulled off in modern stoner metal.

Like all great stoner metal albums, it ends with a classic instrumental jam track. Taking a page from Sons of Otis, Lousy Riders flex their musical chops to weave a delicate and haunting instrumental aptly titled “Stoned”.

Overall. If thick riffs and out-of- the box approaches to metal sub-genres is your kind of thing, Lousy Rider’s “Orphan” is a must check out for you.

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

ALBUM REVIEW: Hour Of Penance - "Cast the First Stone"

By Theron Moore
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 27/01/2017
Label: Prosthetic Records

“Cast the First Stone” track listing:

1). XXI Century Imperial Crusade
2. Cast the First Stone
3. Burning Bright
4. Iron Fist
5. The Chains of Misdeed
6. Horn of Flies
7. Shroud of Ashes
8. Wall of Cohorts
9. Damnation Memoriae

The Review:

Hour of Penance is the Mount Everest of badass, circle pit, death / thrash third rock from the sun can offer.  In fact, if you look close enough, you’ll see a trail of dead and broken bodies they’ve left in their damaged path. Just follow the bones, the blood trails, they lead back to “Cast the First Stone.”

There’s not a bad song on this record, and this coming from a guy that’s super critical of everything I listen to.  I get tired of repetition, cut and paste.  I get tired of hollow, plastic, bullshit.  “Cast the First Stone” has heart and soul.  Hour of Penance scored a gem here, they nailed it.  You get that from the get-go with “Burning Bright” throwing fist to face till Damnation Memoriae” ends the record in proper fashion, A-Bomb dropped, nuke missile launched, end times upon us. 

Nothin’ but good energy here.  And power.  You feel the power of the band firing on all cylinders, start to finish, on “Cast the First Stone.”  When a band knows how to craft songs, write music and fully grasp the mechanics of their genre, it’s a wonderful, special thing.  Not every band does that, can do that, that’s why bands often fall short and fail.  Not Hour of Penance.  And not their new record.  This thing is a head crusher.

HOP knows metal.  “Cast the First Stone” is a killer mix of death AND thrash, crossover, if you will, but fully realized and well executed.  I’ll drop the usual bullshit tags like “brutal,” “aggressive,” “cuts like a knife” – wait, that’s Bryan Adams, right?  Ah, hell with it.  Still sounds death metal.  Fact is, none of these generic statements come close to describing how truly heavy and ass kicking this record, this band, really is.

Every once in a while, you get a band who understands metal.  And they make a record.  And it kicks ass.  Hour of Penance’s “Cast the First Stone” IS THIS record.  It’s right up there with Havok’s “Conformicide,” which I got an advance listen to, which most likely will be the best record of the year.  My opinion?  Love Havok, but prefer Hour of Penance.  Any band that sinks as much heart, their soul, not to mention, integrity, into a record, you got my vote for band AND record of the year.  This is it.  Buy or die.

“Cast the First Stone” is available here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Saturday, 25 March 2017

11 IS ONE LOUDER: TJ Maynard (Bass) of Vermont Bass-Only Sludge trio chooses his top 5 Noise Rock Albums

Ghastly Sound are a gritty, loud, unforgiving and uncompromising trio focused on guitar less volume worship and a love for high-energy riffs.  The band began writing songs as a two-piece around the foundation of childhood friends TJ Maynard (bass) and Ryan Lewis (drums), who soon attracted the straightforward candor and raw power of vocalist Tyler Gurwicz.  Sounding like Torche playing Truckfighters with the ghost of Dio on vocals and also bringing to mind Big Business indulging in secret stadium rock fantasies.  Ghastly Sound’s presence is as large as it is loud:  rolling, thunderous tones blended with splashes of groove, sludgy bass riffs merging with spiraling time signatures, burning screams interwoven with anthemic melodies and pummeling hooks. 

Drawing influences from contemporaries like Kylesa, Torche and Every Time I Die as well as pioneers from Helmet to Unsane, Ghastly Sound’s debut EP is here to remind listeners of a time when bands and people lived authentically and loud.  Welcome Ghastly Sound and prepare to worship at the altar of volume, as we invite them to take us through their top 5 noise rock records, as we take our weekly trip into the extreme and turn the volume all the way up to 11.  Why do we go to 11,  because “It’s one louder, isn’t it?” Over to TJ Maynard for all the details

I’m TJ, and I play bass guitar for Ghastly Sound. When The Sludgelord approached us about doing a piece on Noise Rock, we all got really excited and sat down to come up with this list of bands. Since we recently our EP, we thought it would be fitting to select other EPs to talk about. While this isn’t really in any particular order, I’m going to talk about my personal favorite first.

These Arms Are Snakes – “This Is Meant To Hurt You”

Off the shelf, this record draws you in. With a title like that, how could you not want to listen? One of the great things about this band is how bold they were willing to be; they don’t sound like anyone but themselves. It’s completely genuine. They’re able to craft such dense songs that it takes a few passes to really pick up everything. As a listener, this band can take you as deep as you’re willing to go with them, and it’s a rewarding experience. Right up to now, Brian Cook remains one of the most stand-out working musicians.

Cave-In – “Planets of Old”

We’re citing this album, but let’s be honest — Cave-In is one of the most widely influential bands in heavy underground rock. Even if you’re not still listening to Cave-In records specifically, you’re likely listening to Mutoid Man, Old Man Gloom, or Clouds. If you’re not, you’re screwing up. Hard. Cave-In’s use of effects and willingness to go from atmospheric post-rock to hardcore to doom-caliber heavy riffs make them one of those bands that can serve as a default no matter what your current mood might be. 

Daughters – “Canada Songs”

This might be cheating because there are 10 tracks on this record, but with a total run-time of 11 minutes, 11 seconds, we’re calling this an EP. When talking about Daughters, we’ve got to address presentation. I was a sophomore in high school when this record came out, and we were all lucky enough to see them perform it at the iconic 242 Main. I remember they loaded in a shit-load of cabs wrapped in animal prints instead of tolex. They started to perform, and it was the most tightly-knit mess we had ever heard. In between songs, Alexis has this just complete-asshole character. Again, the willingness to be that bold and committed is something we all admire. The atmosphere in the room that night still sticks with all of us.

United Nations – “Never Mind the Bombings, Here’s Your Six Figures”

This is another example where presentation becomes just as important as content. When you first hear this band, you immediately think “Geoff Rickly.” Then you look a little deeper and find that none of the other members are actually able to reveal their identities. The mystery of it is kind of captivating! From a songwriting standpoint, United Nations’ ability to fuse ugly-to-pretty passages together is something that has a big influence on what we try to do. Especially vocally. Again, this is one of those bands that you hear, you know it’s familiar-sounding, and you know you like it, but you can’t really stuff them into one specific genre. I think that’s how most bands end up with the “Noise Rock” moniker, haha.

Glassjaw – “Our Color Green”

Glassjaw is instantly recognizable, another band that can only sound like themselves. For this EP to be as great as it is as a follow-up to - and with the gap in time between - “Worship and Tribute” is nothing short of extraordinary. I have no idea of the details of what went on between Glassjaw and Roadrunner Records, but whatever it was cost modern Rock & Roll in a huge way. Had Glassjaw gotten the support they needed, I think it would’ve completely changed the landscape as we know it today. We would have genuine, scary, rock bands. Instead, alternative rock radio basically consists of a bunch of bands that either sound like they’re recording b-sides for the lion king soundtrack or NASCAR commercials.

“Ghastly Sound” is available here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook