Thursday, 24 September 2020

VIDEO PREMIERE: King Witch deliver another dose of heavy metal gold with "Return to Dust"

In just a few short years Scottish power house King Witch have proven to be a beacon of quality since emerging in 2015. The heft of the riffs, the powerhouse vocals of Laura Donnelly, has enabled King Witch to deliver an unmistakable and incomparable sound.  Even Nicole Sturgeon approves (ok I made that bit up).

King Witch returned this year with another sonic brew in the form of their second album “Body of Light” and is arguably one of the strongest albums released in 2020.

Released in May, 2020 has since become a period in our lives than none of us will forget, COVID19 has and continues to affect everyone. So in these strange times, it is more important than ever, to not only continue to have hope, but also to provide people with something positive.  So today we’re excited to premiere King Witch’s brand new video for their stunning track “Return to Dustwhich you can check out below. 

“Body of Light” is digitally and on CD//LP and you can order a copy HERE


Monday, 21 September 2020

ALBUM REVIEW: Zakk Sabbath, "Vertigo"

By Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 04/09/2020
Label: Magnetic Eye Records


“Vertigo” CD//LP track listing:

1. Black Sabbath
2. The Wizard
3. Wasp / Behind the Wall of Sleep / N.I.B
4. Wicked World
5. A Bit of Finger / Sleeping Village / Warning

The Review:

It seems from “the internet” that this release is viewed as somewhat controversially... I really don't know why, as it is Zakk Wylde- ably supported by Blasko (bassist) and Joey Castillo (monster drummer)- roaring through the Sabbath debut in its entirety (with the US album track “Wicked World” present) in a pretty live-in-the-studio presentation. The release, as far as I can tell, is an affectionate homage to the band and Zakk's sometime boss and it is delivered convincingly. With Wylde being the de facto Ozzy guitarist post-Randy with the longest tenure, it's really not much of a stretch for him to claim lineage in the Sabbath family tree- and beyond Iommi, Zakk is the guitar player most closely associated with Ozzy still alive today.

In case anyone has forgotten, Wylde was/is a highly regarded player with a phenomenal picking hand and a very memorable and identifiable playing style. Vocally, Zakk imitates Ozzy convincingly- with a lower register and a touch more grit. The sound is wonderful; it's warm and live and raw and sounds like... a band playing together. What a refreshing change!

The playing is, of course, rock solid from the rhythm section and Zakk's guitar playing is very much on form. The title track is delivered with real fire and then it's onto more deep cut material. I assume it's Zakk playing harmonica on “The Wizard” (Wylde has already covered this one on the 2nd Pride and Glory disc many years ago). It's a storming rendition and Castillo gets many bonus points for adding in the solitary cowbell strike that Ward graced the original recording with. In fact, its faithful touches like this which show the record for what it is: big Sabbath fans paying tribute to the original gods- as the promo notes say- as a COVER BAND. Its fun, it's enthusiastic and it rocks really hard.

The other songs on here are delivered just as well and have lost none of their ageless power; “Behind The Wall of Sleep”,N.I.B” and “Wicked World” are just fantastic. We are spared the odd Crow cover of “Evil Woman”- serviceable on the original album but the weakest piece of music therein.

It's no secret that the first few Sabbath albums are all time classics, but hearing the songs played by other world class musicians just reminded me of their power and vitality. In the history of heavy music there are few bands to rival Sabbath's six album  run (and of course the Dio, Ian Gillan and Tony Martin eras all have a huge amount of classic material too) and hearing this gallop through their debut only served to remind me just how good the debut is/was. The list of other bands with a catalogue even close is small... well, you've got your own opinion as to who! Beyond the biggest of bands (Maiden, Metallica, Priest... slim pickings thereafter), it's a small list and mostly confined to sub-genres.

It's widely accepted that Sabbath created metal- yes, there are internet dwellers who argue for Blue Cheer (sigh), Hendrix (no- although godlike; not metal), Led Zeppelin (hard rock and more but not metal) and even some who claim that Sabbath were not metal at all and that instead Judas Priest were the first metal band- and then only with the release of “Sad Wings of Destiny” due to its dual guitars and higher tempos (Priest innovated the genre in the 70s, but did not invent it- come on, now!). These people are all wrong, obviously: Sabbath were the first metal band. To hear the Sabbath debut- or even this re-recording- is to hear metal explode from the womb and show its teeth.

One question that can certainly be levelled in accusatory fashion at this release is: what is the point?!  It isn't a “reinterpretation” a “reimagining” or anything else; it's just a solid and inspired run through the most significant debut in metal history.

By the time I reached the closing fifteen minute suite of “A Bit of Finger/Sleeping Village/Warning”, I was already planning to play the Sabbath back catalogue as soon as possible just to reacquaint myself with its unearthly power. Well, I think the question is answered; it'll have you digging out all those  Sabbath albums from the 70's and beyond. It's a wonderful tribute to and acknowledgement of the most important metal debut of all time. No more and no less.

“Vertigo” is available HERE

Band info: facebook

Friday, 18 September 2020

TRACK PREMIERE: Canadian progressive doom duo Uncle Woe, debut the monstrous "Become the Ghost"

Hailing from the oft frozen hills of rural Canada, Uncle Woe is a phantom limb, wielding a bludgeoning tool against mostly true tales of bittersweet sorrow, revenge, and regret.

The bleak desolation of Bancroft, Ontario spawned Uncle Woe in 2019 when principle songwriter Rain Fice (Guitar, Vocals, Bass, Keyboards) grew weary of floundering in non-committed projects and instead dove into song writing mode with a rough idea of his ideal sound and started carving out what would become the first Uncle Woe LP “Our Unworn Limbs”.

After the album was released in 2019 and started to pick up some buzz, a full band began to form. However, the pandemic was not far off and the band whittled down to a 2 piece. 

Before lockdown began, Uncle Woe managed to lock down the rough elements of what would become the second album “Phantomescence”, Fice expanded on them, and after being fed to drummer Nicholas Wowk, and recording remotely, the album was complete: a meandering exploration of death and dreams. Many chugging, bludgeoning passages are offset by expansive and contemplative, subdued, almost post-rock soundscapes.

As Uncle Woe begins to hit their stride, fans can look forward to the band putting out music pretty much indefinitely, plans are in motion for a third album already. The full album “Phantomescence” is due out October 23rd via Packard Black Productions and available for digital, CD and vinyl pre-order HERE. You can out the monstrous track “Become the Ghost” below.

Band info: Facebook || Instagram

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

ALBUM REVIEW: Drouth, “Excerpts From a Dread Liturgy”

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 31/07/2020
Label: Translation Loss Records

“Excerpts From a Dread Liturgy” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). A Drowning in Sunlight
2). An Apiarist
3). O Time Thy Pyramids – An Unfinished Nigthmare
4). A Repulsive Act Shrouded in Flesh
5). A Crown of Asphodels

The Review:

Portland's Drouth offer up five tracks of black metal on this sharp and dark release. As noted in previous reviews, I'm no afficianado of the black metal genre and my listening tends to be a little restricted to the classics of 25+ years ago or to a couple of modern bands (Winterfylleth in particular).

However, I know a band I like when I hear it and I very much like this. Over the course of five tracks and around forty minutes, Drouth delivery convincing blasts, darkness and atmosphere. Have a listen to the opener “A Drowning in Sunlight” and see if you agree. For me, this is straight ahead black metal with a few individualistic ingredients.

The time changes are solid, the riffs are melodic in places and vicious in others, vocally the band are almost similar to At The Gates, as opposed to other many black metal vocalists, while the sound is not pro-toolsed beyond reason and stands as a coherent capturing of the band's raw sound.

As the album progresses, it's notably extreme and melodic by turn (like much black metal, to my ears) and the brutality of “An Apiarist” stands counterpoint to the cloying darkness of “O Time Thy Pyramids…” and so on.

By the time the album finishes with the excellent “A Crown of Asphodels”, any listener will have made up their mind about the band and the record. For me, this is good black metal done well- it stands apart from much of the genre due to the professional manner of delivery and utterly committed performances of the band members. If you are looking for some black metal, this will do it for you.

“Excerpts From a Dread Liturgy” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Friday, 28 August 2020

ALBUM REVIEW: Slow Green Thing, "Amygdala"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 20/07/2020
Label: Independent

“Amygdala” DD//LP track listing:

1). Medusa’s Spell
2). Amygdala
3). All I Want
4). Dirty Thoughts
5). Dreamland
6). Love To My Enemy

The Review

Slow Green Thing is an apt name for these stoner doomers from Dresden, Germany. The opening squall of “Medusas Spell” gives way to a loping groove and some great riffs. It's stoner/doom/rock/metal with clean vocals and a very laid-back vibe.

This is the band's fourth release (third full length) and they sound tight and assured via the organic production and strong material. The riffs are huge, the drums are creative and well phrased, and everything seems to fit nicely. It is not so far away from Sleep, perhaps, with its jamming inclinations and spacey, ethereal vocals.

Of course, there is nothing under six minutes long over the six tracks on offer here- but why would there be. This is all about volume and vibing riffage. From the title track through to speedy/dynamic tracks like “Dirty Thoughts” and epic work like “Dreamland”, this is huge and weighty but not aggressive- more insistent and attritional.

The opening of “All I Want” took me back to Alabma Thunderpussy'sFulton Hill” 2004 album- it shares a certain similarity- but Slow Green Thing make their sound their own enough to carve out a distinct identity somewhere between Sleep and a slowed down Soundgarden.

The album finishes strongly with “Love to My Enemy”- it's a string record throughout and has much to admire. If you like your stoner and are looking for a band you haven't heard that is different but has plenty of the old gods within, this is the band for you. Majestic and mighty, this one sounds exactly how you want it to, based on the band name.

“Amygdala” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

ALBUM REVIEW: Voodoo Gods, "The Divinity of Blood"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 15/05/2020
Label: Reaper Entertainment

The Review:

Voodoo Gods are back, some six years after their debut full length, with this ripping follow up. As noted in my 2014 review, the band is a death metal supergroup- of sorts. George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher is still here, but Dave Shankle is gone. This record, though, is even better than the debut. Victor Smolski and Jacek Hiro now make up the dual guitar team, Alex Voodoo still masterminds the band and we also have Seth Van de Loo on vocals and Jean Baudin on very technically minded bass guitar.

This is more deathly than its predecessor but it retains some thrash elements along with some NWOBHM flourishes here and there. The production and playing is absolutely superb- it's crystal clear- from Corpsegrinder's enunciation to the precise percussive battering of Alex and Jean. From the opening “Isa” and through the excellent “Rise of The Antichrist” and beyond, the record rips.

It is an interesting mix of the aformentioned styles; Kreator-like thrash mixed with more technically minded death metal makes for a good pairing. It's not all hyper-speed either; there's good tempo variety in “Menace to God”. The Necrophobic cover (“Before The Dawn”- not the Judas Priest ballad, sadly) is a nice mid album touch- with very different mix and sound- but it is the originals which really impress. The album's variety shines through on “From Necromancy To Paraphilia”- everything from sitar to shred sounds-and the jazzy stylings of the intro to “Serenade of Hate” which then segues into vitriolic vocals is pretty unexpected too.

The latter part of the album is no less inspired, with the quasi-title track bringing some melodic thrash while “The Ritual of Thorn” is a more deathly affair. Oddly, the album sees itself out with a longer version of the same track (perhaps a demo version by the sounds of it) and the bonus of the superbly titled “The Absolute Necessity To Kill”- which is great with its gravity defying leads and forceful riffage.

Again, there is much to enjoy on this record; everything is pretty great and much of it is quite unexpected- much like the debut. I'd recommend it to fans of the individuals involved and all fans of death/thrash hybrids. It's creative and different and all the stronger for its originality.

“The Divinity of Blood” is available HERE

Band info: facebook

Monday, 24 August 2020

REVIEW: Hidden Mothers, "Hidden Mothers" (EP)

By: Peter Morsellino

Album Type: EP
Date Released: 18/09/2020
Label: Surviving Sounds

“Hidden Mothers” DD//LP track listing:

1). Beneath, To The Earth
2). My Own Worth
3). My Blindness, Your Burden

The Review:

Sheffield UK's own Hidden Mothers make an incredible impression with their debut EP. A devastatingly heavy and emotive piece that will pull on your heartstrings while keeping your head banging for days.

Mixing a beautifully melodic post rock sound with the emotional dissonance of black gaze, Hidden Mothers bring to the table a style that is distinctly their own. The music rises and falls with an intensity rivaling the greats of the post rock genre, with Explosions in the Sky style instrumental passages giving way to extreme turmoil and pained shrieks.  The vocal style I would describe as like Deafheaven but much more emotive, a great improvement in my opinion.

With only three tracks taking up a less than twenty minute time frame, I will say that the EP comes in a bit short in terms of granting the listener the full release promised by the music. To me, this is long form art. I want to sit down with it for an hour and really take in all the feels that are being thrown around, coming out of the experience with a sense of completion.  But hey, I smoke a lot of weed. Anyway, this is a solid start if nothing else.

Hidden Mothers is a band that needs to be watched out for. These guys are going to be accomplishing amazing things with their music.  Grab this EP for a glimpse of what they are capable of and wait patiently for what is sure to be a masterpiece once it comes to fruition.

“Hidden Mothers” is available HERE

Band info: facebook || bandcamp