Tuesday, 19 June 2018

SLUDGECAMP: A deep dive into the newest black/death metal releases on Bandcamp w/c 15/06/2018

By: Daniel Jackson


Welcome to the inaugural edition of THE SLUDGELORD’s “Sludgecamp”.  I’ve been doing my own weekly deep dives into the newest black and death metal releases on bandcamp for some time through the joy of the site’s “Discover” feature, so I thought “why not share what I’ve found with the rest of you”?

I’ll be covering new releases first, followed by classic albums that have been recently added to the site, and finally some notable pre-orders for albums coming out down the road. I hope you find something to enjoy!

Released the week of 15/6/2018:

Dryad, “The Silurian Age”

My favorite discovery of the week goes to Iowa’s Dryad. The band have crafted an absolutely brilliant style for themselves with a combination of raw, primitive black metal, hardcore punk, and moody keyboards. As of right now, it’s my favorite release of the year, with the only negative being that I’m selfishly disappointed that it isn’t a full length’s worth of material.

Forlorn Citadel, “Songs of Mourning”

The bandcamp page for this release indicates that this is a remastered demo release from May, but is seeing a new official release through Dark East Productions. With that out of the way, this is absolutely essential if you’re a fan of Summoning. People have understandably heaped praise upon Caladan Brood’s ‘Echoes Of Battle’ from 2013 for its brilliant recreation of that classic Summoning sound, but Forlorn Citadel is every bit as good at Caladan Brood, and maybe even a tad better. They absolutely NAIL that buzzing, reverb-drenched guitar tone, and the vocals are excellent as well.

Tired Lord,Demo”

Tired Lord is apparently a one-and-done project out of San Francisco, and it’s a shame they’re only ever putting out this one demo. This is black metal with a strong emphasis on groove, which is all the more impressive when you consider that the drums here are programmed. If you’re a fan of Cobalt or Black Anvil, to cite a couple of loose comparisons, you’d do well to give this a shot. Tired Lord, for their ultra brief existence, were undoubtedly a riff factory. (Note: I’m cheating a little bit here as this was actually released June 8th, but From Corners Unknown Records uploaded it during the week of the 15th.)

Ashen Chalice, Kroz život sa razbijenim očima”

Croatia’s Ashen Chalice are a bit of a mystery. No social media presence to speak of and the band seem intent on drowning their music in reverb and fuzzy distortion. The focus here is all on mood and atmosphere, as opposed to traditional songwriting and memorability. Typically that wouldn’t be my thing here, but the ambient world this album creates is so engrossing that I can’t help but recommend it. This is the sort of musical alchemy that gets me to throw my standard tastes out the window for the sake of getting lost in new sonic worlds.

Sanguinary Trance, “Wine, Song and Sacrifice”

I had a hard time finding much info on Austria’s Sanguinary Trance. The band seem to have a thing for Dionysian mysteries, as it relates to wine and ritual. This is a case where the aesthetic elements in the album cover and in the song titles set the table nicely for the music, which could be called black metal with a sense of drama, without crossing over into Cradle of Filth style shlock.

Newly available through Bandcamp:

Imperial Crystalline Entombment, Apocalyptic End in White”

A nostalgic pick here, as Imperial Crystalline Entombment originally released this album back in 2004. The album’s a total blastfest, and acts as something of an American counterpart to Cadaver Inc’s black metal and grindcore hybrid from the prior year. For their part, the music mixes in some Immortal (naturally) and a bit of death metal into the mix as well, which makes sense for a project brought to us by members of Aurora Borealis.


Kosmogyr, “Eviternally: The Remixes” (Out 13/7/2018)

A unique idea here, as Kosmogyr have commissioned various artists to remix their excellent debut EP. The idea of a remix album isn’t unique on its own, but when the original album is this kind of muscular melodic black metal, that can change things quite a bit. I’m woefully underqualified to evaluate this sort of project, but the idea warrants attention and investigation.

Hellish, “The Spectre Of Lonely Souls” (Out 31/8/2018)

Unspeakable Axe is always coming up with the goods, counting Scorched, Voidspawn, Act of Impalement and more as some of the great previous and upcoming releases through their label. Add Hellish to that list too, as their particular brand of blackened thrash features riffs that are smarter and catchier than you’re likely to find from your average 1st wave diehards, as evidenced by the album’s advance track “The Walker of Shadows”.

Gravecoven, “Coughing Blood” (Out 11/7/2018)

Some strong sounding black metal infused doom coming to us care of Transylvanian Tapes in just a few weeks. This has the downtuned filth you love in your doom, coupled with the chilling atmosphere you want in your black metal and Gravecoven pull the combo off nicely. 

6 NEW BANDS: THE SLUDGELORD's 666 Pack Review (June 2018)

By: Nikos Mixas
Art by: Joshua M. Wilkinson

It’s the June edition of THE SLUDGELORD’s 666 Pack Review!  This month some of you might be going on vacation or getting sloshed while watching the World Cup but the smart ones are digging in deep at the jam pad/rehearsal studio/garage honing your chops.  We can tell because THE SLUDGELORD’s review submission inbox is constantly full and believe it or not, we really appreciate it.  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!  Check out our summer slacker themed rating scale below: 

1 – You’re just like Panama in The World Cup.  You’re inexperienced and just happy to be here.       
2 – Maybe the band should take a collective vacation to figure things out?     
3 – You guys are average, kind of like Russia in The World Cup.  You have potential to be great, but you’re not quite there yet...        
4 – I’d kick back on a beach with an adult beverage in hand and listen to this.      
5 – You’re the musical equivalent of team Brazil.  A perennial beast.  Goooooooooooooooaaaaaaallll!!!
666THE SLUDGELORD awards you The World Cup Trophy for the month of June.  Now go do something vile with it. 

Caveat:  Even though the 666 Pack Review is meant to offer humorous critique, there are no safe spaces here and your gripes will only make you sound like a bellyacher.  THE SLUDGELORD is a picky listener…and doesn’t care what you think of his opinions….

1). Empty Friend, “Saltwater” (London, United Kingdom)    Rating: 2

Did 90’s alternative rock return? Wow…

2). Modok, “Evil/Sea Beast” (Joensuu, Finland)   Rating: 4

Modok eats, breaths and shits doom.

3). Fatima, “Moaner” (Paris, France)   Rating: 5

If Nirvana played doom/shoegaze, it’s this.

4). Magik Black, “Magik Black” (Nizhny Novgorod, Russia)   Rating: 666!

Dumb name but shaddup and listen!

5). Flood Peak, “Plagued by Sufferers” (Portland, U.S.A.)   Rating: 5

Reminds me a bit of Celeste.  Oui!

6). Ingrina, “Etter Lys” (France)   Rating: 666!

Vive la Ingrina! Vive la France!

Friday, 15 June 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Age of Taurus, "The Colony Slain"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 18/05/2018
Label: Rise Above Records

Age of Taurus still have the hunger and riffs to compete with the very best of the genre and the very British delivery elevates them far above their American counterparts 

“The Colony Slain” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. From the Hills to the Halls
2. Taken to the Tower
3. The Trial of Blackwynn Chaise
4. In Dreams We Die
5. The Lost Garrison
6. Beyond the Westward Path
7. For Treason We Rise
8. The Walls Have Ears
9. To Seal a Mountain
10. As Ice Into Blood
11. The Colony Slain

The Review:

Age of Taurus return with their second full length release, some five years after “Desperate Souls of Tortured time”. The Londoner's appetite hasn't dimmed, even if line-up changes have seen metal stalwart Alastair Riddell depart the ranks and the bassist Richard Bruce also leave. The band still deliver doom; no fuss, no branching out- just a very traditional British metal/doom sound.

After a mood setting intro, “Taken to the Tower” brings a surprising turn of speed and the familiarly mournful sounds of Toby W Wright's vocals. The NWOBHM influences are still firmly present here as are the much more downbeat doom stylings- “The Trial of Blackwynn Chaise” being a solid example of the latter.

There is a lot of reverb in the mix this time around, maybe even too much in places, but the quality riffs and arrangements are still easy enough to hear. Amongst the more rocking material, traditional doom can be found (“The Lost Garrison”) and once again, the lyrics and themes are historical, mythical and magical. By the time of “For Treason We Rise”, the album's pattern is fairly firmly established; slow doom intros often abound, faster riffage and galloping rhythms often replace it and the atmosphere is one of melancholy.

Truthfully, there is nothing new here and certainly nothing that you won't have heard, but that is not to say that the delivery is convincing and the performances absolutely committed. Yes, Wytch Hazel are doing this type of stuff with more subtlety- but Age of Taurus are just as effective as on their debut and take on the mantel of bands like Witchfinder General (probably their closest older brother) with deftness and aplomb.

For doom rock in 2018, look no further than this album. “The Walls Have Ears” and “To Seal A Mountain” are solid proof that Age of Taurus still have the hunger and riffs to compete with the very best of the genre and the very British delivery elevates them far above American counterparts trading on occult themes and something to do with biker gang films from the 60's.

The title track closes proceedings with three and a half minutes of convincing NWOBHM flavoured doom- much like the tracks that preceded it. There is much to recommend here and if you like the style of either of the bands mentioned above you cannot go wrong by getting hold of this. Doom on compatriots.

“The Colony Slain” is available here

Band info: facebook

Thursday, 14 June 2018

SATAN'S DOZEN: 13 Unearthly Hymns Unearthed #9 (April 2018)

Compiled by: Andrei Moose
Artwork by: Josh Mashesh

SATAN’S DOZEN is THE SLUDGELORD’s attempt to present the very best music the underground scene has to offer. Each and every month our member of the Russian chapter Andrei Moose painstakingly sifts through the music labelled killer riffs and chooses 13 of the best new albums released via bandcamp and bundles them together into the mightiest riff sandwich.

Whilst all the albums we have included below are top tier stuff, we have compiled them into a chart on a sliding scale of 13-1. So we hope you dig our selections from April 2018 and enjoy 13 Unearthly Hymns Unearthed.    These bands need more exposure, so go “like” “share” and “follow” their pages, but most of all enjoy some of the best music the underground has to offer.  THE SLUDGELORD most sincerely approves.   Now, go heavy or go home.

13) Bear Punch, “Down The Mountain” (Belgium) Released April 21, 2018


12) VITREOUS EARTH, “Passing Visions” (Ontario, California) Released April 8, 2018

Stoner - Doom

11) Radien, “Syvyys” (Helsinki, Finland) Released April 20, 2018

Blackened sludge

10) Morpholith, “Void Emissions” (Reykjavík, Iceland) Released April 20, 2018

Psychedelic / Stoner / Doom

9) Lowdrive, “Roller” (Sheffield, UK) Released February 2, 2018

Stoner-Rock / Hard-Rock

8) CRYPT, “Self-Titled” (Adelaide, Australia) Released March 10, 2018

Stoner-Rock / Stoner-Metal

7) Insano Vision, “Fossils From The Future” (Hamden, Connecticut) Released April 27, 2018

Stoner-Rock / Stoner - Metal

6) Carcinogen Daily, “EP” (Tulsa, Oklahoma) Released April 8, 2018

Sludge / Stoner-Metal

5) Vulturehead, “Into the Vulturehead” (Helsinki, Finland) Released April 24, 2018

Psychedelic/ Stoner-Rock / Stoner-Doom

4) Thirst Planet, “The Essence” (Nazareth Iliit, Israel) Released April 6, 2018

Stoner rock/ Stoner metal/Stoner Doom

3) Jahgernaut, “Dark Time” (Toronto, Ontario) Released April 6, 2018

Hardcore / Stoner / Thrash / Metal

2) Only Sons, “Love, Drugs, Treachery and Deceit” (Kraków, Poland) Released April 16, 2018

Stoner Rock / Grunge

1) Shine, “Moon Wedding” (Bielsko Biala, Poland) Released March 31, 2018

Psychedelic / Stoner / Doom

TRACK PREMIERE: Gramma Vedetta deliver epic psychedelia with a twist of grunge on "Address Unknown"

Stoner/Hard rock band GRAMMA VEDETTA will release their new single "Address Unknown" on June 15th 2018. The song is taken from the band's yet to be titled upcoming album.

The band commented "We are very stoked to release this song. Built on a jam in the studio it has evolved into an epic journey between the 70s psychedelia and the 90s grunge, all revisited in a modern way. This song shows completely where the band's roots are."

Band info: facebook

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Grave Lines, “Fed Into The Nihilist Engine"

By: Ernesto Aguilar

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 04/05/2018
Label: New Heavy Sounds

Grave Lines demonstrates irrefutable growth, confidence and deftness with a palette of emotional peaks and valleys.

“Fed Into The Nihilist Engine” CD//DD//2LP track listing:

1). Failed Skin
2). Shame/Retreat
3). Self Mutilation by Fire and Stone
4). Loss/Betrayal
5). Silent Salt
6). Loathe/Displace
7). The Greae
8). Guilt/Regret
9). The Nihilist Engine

The Review:

The United Kingdom's doom masters Grave Lines smashed their way onto the scene in 2016 with its "Welcome to Nothing," a debut that reveled in its sweltering power – blistering drums courtesy of Julia Owen, Jake Harding's disparate vocal attack and a style that puts a noise/sludge pace on you that would make Vasyl Lomachenko himself proud. And, happily, the band is back with "Fed Into The Nihilist Engine," a rugged return if ever there was one.

Grave Lines is intriguing because of its changeups. "Failed Skin," the album's 14-plus-minute opener, is by far the longest cut, and it is melting as it is impregnable. Don't let its gentle, loping opening chords fool you. As the bass kicks in, Harding descends from the heavens, with his punctuated and flaring vocals that rattle you out of your slumber. That clarity of voice carries on to "Shame Retreat," an ethereal song that makes the most of its strengths.

Grave Lines is unctuous with its heavy tracks, which slosh in hardcore influences, such as "Self Mutilation by Fire and Stone." You also witness promise with its gracefully constructed folk-tinged songs like "Loss Betrayal" and "Loathe Displace." The sharper among us might ask if the group is pining to be a metal team or more a hard rock band with departures like this. And in fairness there may be some attention to album arrangement, or else it becomes heavy-to-lighter-to-heavy-to-lighter song, rinse and repeat. Nevertheless the tracks themselves are strong, devouring your ears and imagination.

Now into its second album, Grave Lines demonstrates irrefutable growth, confidence and deftness with a palette of emotional peaks and valleys. As "The Nihilist Engine" closes out the album, it is impossible to avoid the many paths before the group, as well as one's own curiosity for what's next.

“Fed Into The Nihilist Engine” is available here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Friday, 8 June 2018

ALBUM PREMIERE & INTERVIEW: Los Angeles sludge masters Ancient Altar return

Hailing from Los Angeles, the land of the unrelenting sun, Ancient Altar’s combination of crushing doom and stirring melody packs a weighty emotional punch that few bands can match. Since the release of their last album “Dead Earth” nearly 3 years ago, a devastating album featuring those classic Sabbath worship riffs, mixed with a side order of gnarly sludge and agonised vocals, Ancient Altar has gone through somewhat of overhaul both in terms of their line up and their overall sound. The band is now a three piece featuring bassist Scott Carlson and guitar player Barry Cavener splitting vocal duties, along with drummer Geoff Summers and whilst the slow burning doom/sludge sound remains, their new record “Cosmic Purge/Foie Gras” released today hints at a more traditional doom approach and even features more melodic vocal lines. 

So after a 3 year absence, it is gives me great pleasure to welcome Ancient Altar back to THE SLUDGELORD, as I recently hooked up with guitarist/vocalist Barry Cavener and bass/vocalist Scott Carlson to chat shit, talk about their history, influences, their new album and what the future holds for the band.  Oh less we forget, before you dig into the interview, you can also stream their new album “Cosmic Purge/Foie Gras” below.  You’re welcome.  

Guys, welcome to THE SLUDGELORD, the new album rules, but before we get to that. Can you give us an insight into how you started playing music, leading up to the formation of Ancient Altar?

Barry: We’ve all taken different paths to get us where we are, but as far as the formation of Ancient Altar, it was birthed from the ashes of Iron Mtn. Scott, Bill, and myself had gotten to point where we felt Iron Mtn had reached its logical conclusion, so along with our drummer at the time Tom, we started Ancient Altar.

After our first album and a tour, Bill moved to Seattle, we parted ways with Tom, and Etay and Jesse joined the band. This is when things started to pick up for us. We toured a bunch, recorded “Dead Earth” with Toshi Kasai, and had the opportunity to play Psycho California. Building on the momentum from all of that, we made the trek up to Oakland, CA to record with the Evil Wizard of Rock, Greg Wilkinson. It’s during this 4 day session that we recorded what has become our latest album, “Cosmic Purge/Foie Gras”.

Since the recording, Jesse and Etay have moved on, we’re now a three piece with the addition of Geoff Summers from Batillus on Drums, and we’re currently writing for our next album.

For folks unfamiliar with your band, are there any bands on the scene past and present that you would use as a reference point to describe your band, and who or what continues to inspire you and push you to try new things?

Scott:  Individually, we’d say that Jesse is influenced by bands like Elder, Etay likes more of the straight ahead doom such as Corrupted, Barry is greatly influenced by Drive Like Jehu, and Scott counts Iron Maiden as one of his biggest influences.  In the past, people have compared us to Neurosis, Yob, and Kylesa. The direction that we’ve gone with this album and beyond is to incorporate somewhat of a traditional doom element, specifically with Barry’s vocals.  For lack of a better reference, think Candlemass. In terms of what brings about inspiration and desire to try something new, that not only comes naturally to all of us, but also personnel changes can’t help but to modify in terms of musical approach, sensibility, etc.

What can you tell us about your new record “Cosmic Purge/Foie Gras” and where do you feel it sits within the context of current doom scene?

Barry: Lyrically, the album comes from a place of helplessness as far as humanity’s place in the universe. We struggle against ourselves and each other, but the inevitability of the loss of control over our own lives is something that we only think about in a passing sense. No one wants to talk about their mortality, and grasping certain universal truths seems to be something that people would rather ignore.

“Cosmic Purge talks about the theoretical “Reverse Big Bang”, which to me represents a complete cleansing of absolutely everything that has ever been, so that the universe can start over again. It serves as a warning to pay attention to the world around you, because it can end at a moment’s notice.

“Foie Gras” is about when we create something as a society and it turns on you. You can view it from a Sci-fi point of view where we create an Artificial Intelligence that ends up ruling over humanity, but I think it works extremely well in the context of who and what we create as a society and how inevitably it comes back to bite us in the ass. You can see this first hand in the political monsters we as a society have created, and how they’ve turned on us.

To be perfectly honest, we don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about how our music fits into the doom scene.  We’re just trying to make music that we feel strongly about, and if it does or doesn’t work with a scene is secondary to feeling good about our creative output. One thing we do appreciate about the doom scene currently though is that the genre of doom is much less of a narrow definition than what it used to be.  Everyone from Khanate to SubRosa is considered doom.  It’s good to be considered part of a genre with less dogma than some of the other types of music out there.

Does anything spring to mind when you think about the completion of your new record and how is the mood in the camp at present?

Scott: We’re just excited for people to finally hear this. It’s been a long, hard battle in many ways to get to where we currently are.  Personal issues, line up issues, any various other factors have made it even more of an uphill battle than it usually is, but that makes our resolve and commitment all the more important, and the achievements even more satisfying than they’d normally be.  Also, we’ve changed our sound quite a bit since our last release, and we’re looking forward to having a more current representation of our sound out there for people to hear.

Barry: We’re all really excited about the prospects of what’s to come.  We’re in the middle of writing for our next album, we’re playing some amazing shows, and we’ve got this album coming out that we’re really proud of

What stands out as your overarching memory from the recording sessions?

Barry: The bonding experience of spending four days working on nothing but the culmination of all of our hard work is the best memory, in addition to getting out of town to record, and also spending so much time with Greg and his wife Fern were all great aspects of the creation of this recording.

With you new record in the bag, how is your schedule shaping up over the next 12 months?

Scott: We are currently working on new material, with hopes of recording a new album before the end of the year, to be released next year.  With the challenge of balancing members’ schedules, it sometimes makes shows and tours challenging, but as always we plan to play locally and tour as much as is possible within the next year.

Finally, do you have any last words?

Scott: We definitely want to say thanks to anyone giving us a listen, and also a sincere thanks to THE SLUDGELORD for always having our back, and for all the hard work they put into what they do.  Jesse and Etay, who are no longer in the band but are still considered family, deserve a big amount of recognition as well for what they did to get us to the point we’re at.  Thanks to everyone who’s supported us up to the point.  Please buy our stuff.  Being in a band is a money pit.

“Cosmic Purge/Foie Gras” is released on their own label Transcendental Records and is available via their bandcamp here.  A vinyl release will be issued via Black Voodoo Records later this summer.

Band info: facebook || bandcamp