Monday, 23 April 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Pestilence, "Hadeon"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 05/03/2018
Label: Hammerheart Records

As early as the third track, “Multi Dimensional”, it is certain that Pestilence are well and truly back and firing on all cylinders.  “Hadeon” is business as usual and for Pestilence, business is good


“Hadeon” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Unholy Transcript
2. Non Physical Existent
3. Multi Dimensional
4. Oversoul
5. Materialization
6. Astral Projection
7. Discarnate Entity
8. Subvisions
9. Manifestations
10. Timeless
11. Ultra Demons
12. Layers Of Reality
13. Electro Magnetic

The Review:

Since 2013's “Obsideo”, Pestilence has once again become defunct and been reactivated. The Dutch troupe that made “Testimony Of The Anicents” and “Consuming Impulse” have their place in death metal history assured, so why continue at this point? Well, Patrick Mameli obviously still feels that he still has something to say in the genre, despite his protestations that he no longer listens to metal.

It would be fair to say that this picks up where “Obsideo” left off. The band (or Mameli and cohorts) retains its angular and technical sound. “Astral Projection” is a somewhat unusual example of something different in that it features a robotic sounding voice and some almost jazz like verse sections. The album is not all experimentation, though. “Manifestations” sounds much more like business as usual for Pestilence. There are a couple of extra tracks on here in comparison to “Obsideo”, but they are instrumental interludes and the main tracks such as “Materialization” remain as focused as ever. Once again, Mameli has focused on short running times, bags of riffs and loads going on in each three minute piece. It certainly makes the album easier to listen to from a fan's perspective. You can engage with the sound and songs (or not) fairly quickly.

There are really riffs galore and Mameli has retained the distinctly Euro-death feel that the band has always had- along with a technical approach. One thing to note is that to these ears Pestilence sound nowhere near as extreme as they once did. Maybe this is because times have moved on and extreme metal has only got more extreme, or maybe it is because Pestilence have always been quite a listenable band- even early on. I'll leave that for you to decide.

There are enough adrenaline inducing tracks such as the closing “Electro Magnetic” to keep the die hards happy, while there are enough textures to keep more progressive or tech death fans content as well. The shredding solos of “Layers of Reality” are a joy, the all out assault of “Timeless” a visceral delight. As early as the third track, “Multi Dimensional”, it is certain that Pestilence are well and truly back and firing on all cylinders. The mix is much better than “Obsideo” with the snare in particular being much less intrusive, but overall there is not too much to split the two records to my ears. I think this is superior to “Obsideo” and sounds more pleasing to boot. “Hadeon” is business as usual and for Pestilence, business is good

“Hadeon” is available here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

EXCLUSIVE STREAM & REVIEW: Aerosol Jesus bring the heavy underground to its knees with debut "Failure"

By: Charlie Butler

Album Type: EP
Date Released: 28/04/2018
Label: Astral Noize Records

Imagine the bludgeoning weight of Old Man Gloom and Sumac engulfed by a wave of thick, dirty noise and you have a good idea of the oppressive atmosphere Aerosol Jesus create.

“Failure” CS//DD track listing:

1). Legacy
2). Here is not here
3). The Inbetween
4). Lurch Leech Grasp

The Review:

Right from the first filthy, earth-shaking chord it is clear that Aerosol Jesus’ debut EP is something very special. “Failure” consists of just four tracks but this is enough to demonstrate the frightening power of this Brighton quintet.

The ominous introduction of “Legacy” builds tension with a funereal drum beat and distant squeals of feedback. When the band fully kicks in, the impact is devastating. Imagine the bludgeoning weight of Old Man Gloom and Sumac engulfed by a wave of thick, dirty noise and you have a good idea of the oppressive atmosphere Aerosol Jesus create. Sections of pummelling sludge give way to outbreaks of scratchy black metal that elevate the track into epic yet still dark territory.

Throughout the EP the music is a perfect match for the bleak despondency of the lyrics. The most spine-tingling example of this is when the slow-burning restraint of “The Inbetween” erupts into a huge lament of “Standing on the edge of life and death”. “Lurch Leech Grasp” closes proceedings with a lumbering, queasy doom riff that squeezes maximum despair from every note. The treacly tempo is punctuated by an outburst of horrible noise rock riffage that highlights Aerosol Jesus’ talent to bring a level of nastiness to their sludge that few can match.

It is rare to hear a band so fully formed on their first release. If “Failure” is anything to go by, Aerosol Jesus are set to bring the heavy underground to its knees.  

“Failure” is available here

Band info: facebook

TRACK PREMIERE: London heavyweights Limb debut "Wych Elm"

London heavyweights Limb set the controls for the heart of the sun with their third record on New Heavy Sounds.  “Saboteurs of the Sun” sees Limb hurl themselves skyward to discover new worlds within the riff–time continuum.  Building on their previous two records, which positioned the band in the thick of the UK heavy fuzz scene, the band now move beyond their sludge–doom origins to explore a cosmos of bubbling synthesizers, screaming organs, ecstatic choirs and galaxies of wild unidentified sounds, but feaer not the grooves, the power and the chops are all there in spades – helped by a masterful production from Russ Russell (Napalm Death, At the Gates, etc.)  “Saboteurs Of The Sun” will land on May 25th and today you can get your first taste of the record  with an exclusive stream of the track “Wych Elm” below.  Preorders are being taken here

Singer Rob Hoey had the following to say about track:

"In 1943, a woman’s dead body was found stuffed inside the hollow trunk of a wych elm tree in the West Midlands. No-one knows who she was. Perhaps she was a Nazi spy, perhaps a local prostitute, perhaps the victim of an occult killing – after all, her severed hand was found elsewhere, consistent with the ‘Hand of Glory’ ritual. The mystery remains very much alive through the enigmatic reappearance of graffiti asking, “Who put Bella in the wych elm?” We still want to know."

Limb Live Rituals:
Sat 19 May - London, Underdog Gallery
Fri 25 May - Bournemouth, The Anvil
Sat 26 May - Southampton, Firehouse

Sun 27 May - Cardiff, Tiny Rebel, Cardiff Psych and Noise Fest

Band info: facebook

REVIEW: Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard & Slomatics, "Totems"

By: Mark Ambrose

Album Type: Split LP
Date Released: 29/03/2018
Label: Black Bow Records

Alter your mind, crank the volume, and worship two of the best of doom metal shaman delivering one of stand out releases of 2018 .

“Totems” DD//LP track listing

1. Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard The Master and His Emissary”
2. Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard Eagduru!
3. Slomatics Ancient Architects”
4. Slomatics Silver Ships into the Future”
5. Slomatics Masters Descent”

The Review:

Last time I threw on a split album it was the fun, fast cross genre thrashing of Iron Reagan and Gatecreeper – one of those brief, appetite whetting samplers that made me want to search out more of the contributing bands’ back catalogues.  I really enjoy those kind of horizon broadening splits, but the ones that may stick with me most are the LP length collaborations by artists operating in even closer genre proximity.  Take, for example, “Totems” – a formidable, surprisingly cohesive split from young but powerful Welsh psychedelic doomsters Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard and the long-running Irish stoner sludge trio of Slomatics.  Both acts take similar spacey, prog indebted approaches to their massive cuts so the LP stands out as a proper, unified album – but you can’t mistake the unique methods and voices on display between the Mammoth crew and Slomatics.

Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard’s opening cut, “The Master and His Emissary”, may be my favorite track on “Totems”.  Starting with a bass and synth intro, it plunges straight into space rock weirdness.  The ascending, chugging verse riff balances with ethereal, multi tracked vocals – largely those of bassist Jessica Ball.  Her delicate, clean tones, contrasted with the gnarly dual guitar heft of Wez Leon and “Dave” Davies, makes for an exciting, unique counterbalance of grim and graceful.  The unique emphasis on cymbal work, juxtaposed with persistent bass drum pounding from drummer James Carrington, is another standout trademark that had me intrigued by MWWB.  And just when I thought “hmmmm it would be interesting if they incorporated the synth intro back into this piece” the ‘Bastard went and did it!  Plus the closing guitar solo is just thrilling.  Unfortunately, after such an exciting opening, “Eagduru” feels like a bit of a disappointment.  A swaying, much more thudding doom dirge, it isn’t a bad cut by any means, but feels less structurally satisfying and complex than the trippy first track.  Ball’s vocals are again haunting and mystical – I’m impressed enough to want to explore the back catalogue.

Slomatics hardly need an introduction at this point, with nearly 15 years and releases in the double digits (including splits and a live LP).  But for me this is another gateway, as I’ve never taken the full plunge into their formidable back catalogue – another grievous error I plan to address immediately.  The heavy doom verses of “Ancient Architects”, countered by Fabrio Frizzi reminiscent synth laden refrains hit right in my metal/horror/scifi/weirdo nerd sweet spots, and I was hooked.  Drummer Marty’s clean vocals have just the right amount of grit, while his kit work is spot on.  Dual guitarists Chris and David are tone masters, shifting to a militaristic trudge in the pummeling midsection, only to crash everything to a tectonic crawl on the outro.  The fuzzed out phaser effects make the whole ending feel impossibly psychedelic, while retaining the paranoid edge of a bad acid freakout.

“Silver Ships into the Future” is a perfectly serviceable instrumental transition, primarily clean, slightly warped keyboards and some nice, menacing ambient tones.  But “Masters Descent” is a genuine work of stoner metal masters.  The savage riff and gently processed, reverb laden vocals is like a Kubrickian transit through time and space.  Marty’s jazzy fills, partnered with what sounds like Mellotron backing tracks, makes the doomy number sound like a haunting mashup with early King Crimson.  The chiming, synth laden, psych dirge latter half is a particularly nice touch, and the vocal work is particularly moving – trust me when I say that’s a disservice to the ineffable power when everything clicks into place for Slomatics.             

In short, “Totems” serves as one of those effective entreaties to explore more from the contributing bands, but also works as a powerful slab of metal, best enjoyed in one long, bleary eyed session, or staring into space and envisioning the types of otherworldly journeys Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard and Slomatics delve into with each new composition.  Alter your mind, crank the volume, and worship the “Totems” of these two linked tribes of doom metal shamans.

“Totems” is available here

Friday, 20 April 2018

FOR THOSE ABOOT TO ROCK: Riffs of Canada with Hashteroid [Vancouver, British Columbia]

By: Mark Tremblay

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 20/04/2018
Label: Independent

Hashteroid’s self titled album is truly one of the most enjoyable experiences one can have from heavy music in 2018.

“Hashteroid” DD track listing:

1). Freak Power
2). Black Tide
3). Stan the Wolfman
4). Green Caramel
5). Godspeed Below
6). Cool Ghost
7). ...Return to Hash Planet

The Review:

From the outset, Hashteroid’s self titled record seems like an average stoner metal experience. From the album’s artwork aesthetic, to the band’s implied interests in psychedelics, the listener gears themselves for another exercise in Sleep worship. Once the music starts however, all of these pre-conceived notions are gone. From the sheer speed, guitar solos, and focus on song melody, “Hashteroid” is an experience impossible to pin down to one genre. “Hashteroid” is an album that is forward thinking, but packs enough nostalgia to speak to die hard Mötorhead fans. If you’re looking for a truly unique experience in heavy music, look no further than “Hashteroid”, it is abundantly filled with riffs of all kinds. From the thundering rock and roll of “Freak Power” and “Godspeed Below”, to the doomier “Stan the Wolfman” and “Cool Ghost”, there is something for everyone. Each track transitions between multiple riffs, constantly keeping the listener on its toes.

None of this would be work, however, if it weren’t for great song writing by the band as a whole. The band has a great understanding of how to utilize pace, and how to properly incorporate guitar effects. Songs like “Godspeed Below” are elevated with the bands ability to incorporate small subtleties throughout.  Hashteroid’s debut record breathes new life into heavy music, while at the same time striking the right amount of nostalgia listeners love from retro metal. Hashteroid’s self titled album is truly one of the most enjoyable experiences one can have from heavy music in 2018.

“Hashteroid” is available here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

ALBUM REVIEW: The Crown, "Cobra Speed Venom"

By: Daniel Jackson

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 16/03/2018
Label: Metal Blade Records

After years of struggling to compete with their own legacy, The Crown are sounding inspired and in excellent form again on ‘Cobra Speed Venom’. The barely-contained frenetic energy of the band’s best work are here, and the riffs are, on the whole, more engaging than anything the band has come up with in the last 15 years.

‘Cobra Speed Venom’ CD//LP//DD track listing:

1. Destroyed By Madness
2. Iron Crown
3. In the Name of Death
4. We Avenge!
5. Cobra Speed Venom
6. World War Machine
7. Necrohammer
8. Rise In Blood
9. Where My Grave Shall Stand
10. The Sign of the Scythe
11. Nemesis Diamond (bonus track)
12. The Great Dying (bonus track)

The Review:

The path that has led The Crown to their new album ‘Cobra Speed Venom’ hasn’t been an easy one. After disbanding in 2004 following touring difficulties and frustrations following the previous year’s ‘Possessed 13’, the band’s members found themselves in an uphill battle to come up with an engaging sound in the years that followed. Several new bands, a renaming, and then return albums in 2010 and 2015 saw success to varying degrees, but nothing that quite captured the magic of the band at its peak. ‘Doomsday King’ and ‘Death Is Not Dead’ were solid albums in and of themselves, but they understandably fell short of the tremendous standards set by the albums the band released from 1998 to 2002.

After years of struggling to compete with their own legacy, The Crown are sounding inspired and in excellent form again on ‘Cobra Speed Venom’. The barely-contained frenetic energy of the band’s best work are here, and the riffs are, on the whole, more engaging than anything the band has come up with in the last 15 years.

The album’s first single, “Iron Crown”, is the kind of quintessential stormer that was the band’s hallmark during their best years. The death metal on tap here has a lot of the same speed metal sensibility that fueled albums like ‘Hell is Here’ or ‘Crowned In Terror’. That sensibility is even more pronounced on “In The Name of Death”, and it’s a great joy to hear The Crown using that aspect of their sound so well after so many years. And that’s not even mentioning the tremendous guitar solo work as well. Those fiery solos have always been a part of what made The Crown so great, but it’s all the more meaningful when they’re the icing on the cake for songs that are this good.

New drummer Henrik Axelsson fits in remarkably well, considering how deeply rooted Janne Saarenpää’s style had been to The Crown’s musical identity. It essentially makes for a seamless transition, which felt like an impossibility from the outside looking in, back when Saarenpää announced his departure from the band back in 2014.

‘Cobra Speed Venom’ isn’t a perfect return to form, as some of the album’s slower moments still tend to be missing something, but the bulk of the album sees the band firing on all cylinders. It makes for a satisfying redemption story for a band that has struggled to regain their footing. At their best, there’s nothing quite like The Crown. They have a unique musical personality, and it’s wonderful to see that finally shining through again. ‘Cobra Speed Venom’ is an album that would have made me happy as a follow up to ‘Crowned in Terror’ nearly 15 years ago. It makes me even happier now.

‘Cobra Speed Venom’ is available digitally here and on CD/LP copy here

Band info: Official Site || Facebook

VIDEO PREMIERE: Demon Head deliver the "The Resistance" on 420 Day!!!

Demon Head is pleased to unveil their new 7" “The Resistance”, this new release is an epilogue to the bands last album 'Thunder on the Fields’ and contains two stories that will enthral the listener. The first single “Rivers of Mars” is a haunting rock song that somehow blends the scene of a forest night with the discovery of water on the Red Planet - our closest, still unknown neighbouring world.
“The Resistance” is the timeless narrative of the struggles and nightmares of an underground, partisan movement in the face of totalitarian power. Demon Head have crafted the music as a sinister rock soundtrack to tell this tale: our homage to those who defy tyranny and today you can check out the video to accompany “The Resistance” below.  The 7inch drops today via The Sign Records and is available here

Band info: facebook