Wednesday, 20 February 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, “Yn Ol I Annwn”

By: Andrew Field

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 01/03/2019
Label: New Heavy Sounds





“Yn Ol I Annwn” is a brave, exhilarating and sumptuous record.


“Yn Ol I Annwn” CD//DD//2LP track listing:


1. Tralfamadore
2. The Spaceships Of Ezekiel
3. Fata Morgana
4. Du Bist Jetzt Nicht In Der Zukunft
5. Yn Ol I Annwn
6. Katyusha
7. The Majestic Clockwork
8. Five Days In The Abyss



The Review: 

You have to admire Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard’s work rate. Three albums and a split in as many years, with no drop in quality. Quite the opposite in fact. The Wrexham quintet have upped their game once again with this new record. And trust me when I tell you “Yn Ol I Annwn” is a real doozy.

If “Noeth Ac Anoeth” laid the foundations of the MWWB sound, 2017’s “Y Proffwyd Dwyll” realised their potential. It was the sound of a band hitting its stride and finding a creative pulse. The double whammy of “Valmasque” and the title track were a crowning achievement. They sounded like the bastard offspring of a four way one-night stand between Kyuss, My Bloody Valentine, Hawkwind (when Lemmy was in it) and Lush. It became my album of that year with some ease.

After the intriguing 2018 “Totems” split with Slomatics, on which the development of the MWWB sound continued apace, we finally arrive at the third part of the band’s trilogy. Unlike the first two parts, which revealed their charms immediately, “Yn Ol I Annwn” takes a few listens to fully put you under its spell. But once you’re familiar with the hooks and riffs their allure is strong. Be warned.

“Yn Ol I Annwn” is akin to your favourite car after it’s been in for a service. Everything is tighter, a little more fluid, and altogether perkier than before. The underlying dynamism is still there, but it’s brighter and more sparkly now. This extends across the gamut of MWWB’s appealing traits. Jessica Ball’s growing confidence in her voice is apparent from the off: whilst her delivery is still ethereal and floats above the rampant musical melee underneath, she’s higher in the mix now – alternating between moments of fragility and more forceful intonation. Dave and Wes’s guitars still churn and thunder, but there’s a more focused tightness in their work. The album’s true hero is drummer James “Carrat” Carrington, to these ears an underrated master of the skins. The insistent forward motion he creates for his band, rolling and undulating around his kit, is the lifeblood of MWWB and truly hypnotic.

Since Jess Ball left her bass behind and focused on keyboards they’ve played an ever-larger part in the band’s sound.  On this 3rd full-length record those keys find more room within the quintet’s widescreen musical offering: from swishing whizzes to Floydian stabs, pulsing and wooshing, firmly in space rock territory and at times even further into places Tangerine Dream and Krautrock pioneers like Klaus Schulze used to call home. Opening track “Tralfamadore” is such an odyssey, John Carpenter-esque retro-wave electronica par excellence. 

The progression doesn’t just lay here though, and indeed the most vital and exciting cuts on the album are where the band experiment: the cello-led “Du Bist Jetzt Nicht In Der Zukunft” and stomping “The Majestic Clockwork” being particularly wonderful and life-affirming examples.  The undoubted highlight of the record is “Spaceships Of Ezekiel” – a big number, perhaps their finest composition so far – on which everything the quintet has been working towards comes together in one fantastic blast. From its full tilt Iommi-worshipping opening riff, through a verse of pure infectious groove and swagger over which Ball sings like an angel, to the widescreen and panoramic Moog-led stormer of a closing passage which gives this listener the goosebumps.

This evolution of MWWB’s sound on the songs I mention above is thrilling. The only downside of that for this reviewer is that a couple of the numbers on “Yn Ol I Annwn”, which hark back to the less evolved sound of their earlier albums, are a touch pedestrian in comparison. For instance, 13-minute instrumental “Katyusha” is decent enough but doesn’t go anywhere the band haven’t been before with similar pieces “Naxthexen” or “Gallego”. But when there’s material as strong and vital as album closer “Five Days In The Abyss” on display you can forgive them the odd lapse into familiarity here and there.  Kudos to Chris Fielding for immaculately capturing every nuance and moment, and for mixing it to a tee (and to James Plotkin for the brutally heavy mastering job). It’s the best sounding album of MWWB’s career thus far.

“Yn Ol I Annwn” is undoubtedly a transitional album. The end of the trilogy, the closing of chapter one, laying the foundations for where this amazing band go next. Based on the creativity, vim and sheer sonic turbulence inherent on this record you are likely to be left properly excited about where Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard go from here. Wherever that might be I’m definitely along for the ride.

A brave, exhilarating and sumptuous record.



“Yn Ol I Annwn” is available HERE



Band info: facebook || bandcamp

Friday, 15 February 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Hollow Leg, "Civilizations"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 25/01/2019
Label: Argonauta Records



This Florida outfit come on like a freight train- an unstoppable band channelling the spirit of early High on Fire

“Civilizations” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Litmus
2. Dirt Womb
3. Mountains of Stone
4. Black Moon
5. Hunter and the Hunted
6. Intro
7. Chimera
8. Akasha
9. Exodus

The Review

This Florida outfit come on like a freight train- an unstoppable band channelling the spirit of early High on Fire but moving a little slower. From the opening pounding of “Litmus”, you expect sludge and that's what you get.

That said, there is much more to this record- acoustic guitars and clean vocals on “Black Moon” are just the start. There is a fair amount of stoner-ish atmosphere (“Hunter and the Hunted”,Intro”) and some really cracking riffs. The production and mix are great; weighty and pleasing to listen to and the tempos are not just one slow pace. There are some real head-nodders in here too; “Chimera” is one of them and it utilises a mid-paced but oddly groovy approach. 

If you prefer a bit of gloom, then “Akasha” covers it well with some very doomy sounds that will appeal to even the most ardent Sabbath purist. The closing close-to-eight-minutes of “Exodus” is an expansive finish to a blinding record.

Hollow Leg inhabit the same kind of space as High on Fire (first album) but also cover the territory of Sleep, The Sword (early) and other bands who are on the doom/stoner/sludge spectrum whilst not quite fitting into one bracket. Recommended and really good.

“Civilizations” is available HERE


Band info: bandcamp || facebook

VIDEO PREMIERE: Norwegian post-doom collective Leonov premiere "Hunted"




Ever since its formation in 2010, Leonov has found inspiration for their celestial doom in the existential, the darkness and affliction, as well as the curiosity and hope in things beyond our reach and comprehension.

Their latest record “Wake” released on 26th October 2018 via Fysisk Format is an album that contends with life’s great journey in the face of these forces, from cradle to grave. From the childlike and fundamental quest for belonging, acceptance and affirmation – to the mature recognition that we are ever coming up short and are not in control of our existence. Today at THE SLUDGELORD you can check a brand-new video for the track “Hunted” as well as a quote from the band about the track. “Wake” is available HERE


“Hunted£ is about feeling hunted. It's even unpleasant when what chases you wants you well. Either way, it can be a feeling of being watched and persecuted. The video Simen Skari has made, holds this existential fear and claustrophobia that one can recognize as a result of this.

Band info: facebook

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Mastiff, "Plague"

By: Chris Bull

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 01/02/2019
Label: APF Records


If the universe implodes, "Plague" would undoubtedly be the soundtrack.

“Plague” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). Hellcircle
2). Bubonic
3). Brainbleed
4). Quarantine
5). Vermin
6). Torture
7). Weep
8). Black Death

The Review:

Without sounding too cliché or lacking in imaginative use of vocabulary, 'Plague' by Mastiff is fucking heavy. I mean REALLY FUCKING HEAVY! If the universe implodes, this will undoubtedly be the soundtrack.

As the hellish screams and guitar scrapes and rumbles give way to the D-beat infused sludgy groove of 'Hellcircle' it's clear that this is the type of fairground ride you'd get in a village fete; terrifying due to its lack of adequate safety and rickety structure. The ride shudders towards the end of the circuit and then slows down...but it's not stopping...'Bubonic' and 'Brainbleed' see you taken around the circuit a couple more times, the safety harness is frayed and coming loose and it looks like one of the wheels is about to fall off, yet no matter how many times or how loud you scream for help, all you get is vocalist Jim Hodge bellowing at you.

'Vermin' sees sparks coming from the wheels as onlookers stare in terror. As it slows down, you're consumed by false hope; "please, just let me off the ride"...but it's no use, 'Torture' has other plans...the safety harness has completely torn and you're heading towards the loop-the-loop, all you can do is cling to the bar in front of you. Tendons are stretched and twisted as the ride hurls you in an upward trajectory then slams you back into your seat, rupturing your tailbone in the process. As you begin to weep, you realise that the onlookers are now smiling sadistically, seemingly enjoying your suffering. As the ride screeches to a halt, the throes of 'Black Death' ring out, nullifying your pain as just a part of your existence. As you're rushed to hospital, battered and bruised, with life altering injuries, you feel a sympathy with the people who did this to you. Much like Stockholm syndrome, you feel as though this ride has awakened you to the realities of life. Pain is inevitable, but everything must end.

“Plague” is available HERE



Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Monday, 11 February 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Erlen Meyer, “Sang et Or”

By: Charlie Butler

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 25/01/2019
Label: Argonauta Records


 


Erlen Meyer's fusion of intense post-hardcore and lumbering post-metal is like Will Haven screaming into Cult of Luna's wall of sound or the heaviest moments of the much-missed Kruger.


“Sang et Or” CD//DD track listing:

1. Coton Cardé
2. Rouge Cardinal
3. Vipères
4. Grand Duc
5. Re Ar Fi La
6. Le Chant de l’Hydre
7. Enfer Forgé
8. Trompe l’Oeil


The Review:

Erlen Meyer's “Sang et Or” has been a long time coming. It's been six years since the Limoges quintet released their debut LP and three years since their fearsome Damnation Festival performance left a smoking crater in the centre of Leeds. Thankfully this new collection is worth the wait.

“Coton Cardé” immediately creates an air of dark mystery with a series of sparse, clanging chords. This atmosphere is soon dispelled by the weight of the band rumbling into high gear. Erlen Meyer's fusion of intense post-hardcore and lumbering post-metal is an intoxicating brew, like Will Haven screaming into Cult of Luna's wall of sound or the heaviest moments of the much-missed Kruger.

What separates Erlen Meyer from the legion of acts with similar influences is their execution. Instead of focusing on obvious quiet / loud and build / release dynamics the band yield maximum heaviness via subtle changes to their relentless single-minded onslaught. This is most evident on the mighty “Re Ar Fi La” where chiming melodies snake their way through shifting tempos against a smoky, ghostly backdrop. Elsewhere, unexpected eruptions of blastbeats in “Enfer Forgé” and “Rouge Cardinal” shift the tracks into black metal territory. This fits perfectly with the eerie atmosphere that hangs over the whole album like a dense fog. This mood is enhanced by the spooky Theremin-like keyboards at the end of “Rouge Cardinal” and the restrained bombast of spoken-word closer “Trompe I'Oeil” that highlight the influence of Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock's work on “Sang et Or”.

“Sang et Or” is an impressive offering from Erlen Meyer that shows post-metal can still sound crushing and vital. Hopefully it won't be another six years until the next time.

“Sang et Or” is available HERE




Band info: facebook

TRACK PREMIERE: New England doom collective Marrowfields debut "Metamorphoses"


New England’s Marrowfields release their second single, titled “Metamorphoses” ahead of their new album release. Lasting just over 11 minutes, the album’s title track showcases a different side of the band’s sonic repertoire utilizing blackened styles in addition to their crushing doom sound. The album is a concept album loosely based on Ovid’s tale, “The Metamorphoses” and the title track captures the spirit of the epic story. 
Marrowfields released their first single a few months ago titled “Birth of the Liberator.” The song was well received, and the band continues to finish up their new album promoting the new material while playing shows around the New England area. Check out their new track below.  



Band info: facebook

Friday, 8 February 2019

TRACK PREMIERE: Dr Awkward & The Screws debut "Take Me Down"


Dr. Awkward & The Screws is a 70s stoner-rock/heavy-blues group from the historic city of Athens, Greece. In early 2017, the band released a self-tiled EP that got some extremely positive reactions from fans and press and allowed them to play numerous shows throughout Greece.

Now nearly two years later, the Greek group is back with their first full-length album "Gettin’ out of Style", which offers nine tracks full of heavy and bluesy riffs and groovy rhythms. Showcasing the band’s strongest material to date, "Gettin’ out of Style" sees Dr. Awkward & The Screws merging heavy stoner-rock riffs with some 70’s bluesy leads and some catchy, groovy rhythms that will surely appeal to all fans of Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats, Windhand and Horisont among others.  “Getting out of Style” is available HERE on digital and on vinyl.  You can check a new track "Take Me Down" below




Band info: facebook  || bandcamp