Wednesday, 17 October 2018

TRACK PREMIERE: Ølten deliver a titan of sonic manipulations on "Raus"

Formed in 2012, Ølten are a three piece armed with one guitar, one bass, and a drum kit, taking these individual elements they have coalesced into a titan of sonic manipulations, a trio that doesn’t always need to flex its muscles to display raw power. Their new record “Ambiance” is set for release via Hummus Records on November 2nd,  and you can check out a brand new track entitled “Raus” below.  Preorders for “Ambiance” are being taken (HERE) and band offer some insight to the structure and sound of the track below

The intro riff shares similar sounds with our friends from Unfold, a Swiss band we've all admired for years. This track then continues with a long central part a bit "prog": two guitar notes, four moog notes. And finally, a trax whose brakes give out on the way down.

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Monday, 15 October 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: High On Fire, "Electric Messiah"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 05/10/2018
Label: eOne Heavy

Riffs? Huge and drilled into the listener's ears. Drums? Played with animalistic fervour and power. Bass? Distorted and maxed out. Solos? Wild and emotive. Vocals? Vicious and snarling. There is no let up, no backward step. There is only volume, aggression and power.  

“Electric Messiah” CD//DD//2LP track listing:

1. Spewn From the Earth
2. Steps of the Ziggurat/House of Enlil
3. Electric Messiah
4. Sanctioned Annihilation
5. The Pallid Mask
6. God of the Godless
7. Freebooter
8. The Witch and the Christ
9. Drowning Dog

The Review:

At this point, High on Fire are nothing less than underground metal royalty. The ferocious power that the trio exude leads to inevitable Motorhead comparisons- not only that, but the comparisons are actually apt. With HOF you know what to expect and their records deliver what the fans want... even if the band has been developing and progressing from album to album.

Kurt Ballou returns as producer for the third time and the sound and performances are as mighty as we have come to expect. The opening speedball of “Spewn from the Earth” is what the band do best: balls to the wall, take your head off, axe wielding fury. Pike, Matz and Kense  play fast, tight (but loose) and with so much fire. It's breathtaking stuff. The band can do epic just as well; Steps of the Ziggurat/House of Enlil is over nine minutes of very weighty sounds. It's tribal in its sound and focus, huge in sound and zealous in its pursuance of bludgeoning power- no matter which section of the track the band moves through. From there on, the scene is set and the band deliver an absolute tour de force of dirty, greasy rock n roll. The title track is feral, the second epic- “Sanctioned Annihilation”- is a brutal exercise in dynamics, endurance and volume.

Really, that is the key to High On Fire's appeal: they provide an almost alchemical sound in that they take the straightforward  approach and push it to the max. Riffs? Huge and drilled into the listener's ears. Drums? Played with animalistic fervour and power. Bass? Distorted and maxed out. Solos? Wild and emotive. Vocals? Vicious and snarling. There is no let up, no backward step. There is only volume, aggression and power. 

The second half of the album is no less powerful or masterful. There is some melody, on “The Pallad Mask”, for instance- but again the key here is the straightforward approach embodied in the likes of “God of the Godless”. You can feel the force of this stuff through the speakers; it's just elemental and percussive on every level. The band have honed their style and gone more metallic, perhaps, over the years and away from the stoner grooves of earlier works but this has only made them more effective. Just have a listen to “Freebooter” and name one band doing this type of thing at the same level.

The final two tracks both push over the six and a half minute mark and while “The Witch and the Christ” showcases the more rhythmic facets of the band's sound, it is still desperately heavy. “Drowning Dog” introduces an almost maudlin sound to the riffing before swinging like a baseball bat and provides an expert finish to this superbly vicious record.

“Electric Messiah” is certainly up there with the band's best work and further elevates Matt Pike's deity status within the scene. For my money, this knocks Pike's other band's release of this year into a neatly cocked hat. It's just so... adrenaline inducing. It reminds me of why I got into metal in the first place: unadulterated exhilaration. A tour de force, in every sense of the term.

“Electric Messiah” is available here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

BAND SPOTLIGHT: High On Fire favourites, as chosen by the UK's finest doom bands

Through six full-lengths and a number of live releases and EPs, HIGH ONFIRE are an unmistakable force in the realm of heavy metal, influencing many and attracting hordes of avid followers, some of which include many of the UK’s fast rising doom scene.  Today we have invited a number of them to choose their favourite tracks from a band that has inspired others and attracted adulation from many more.  Check out their choices below.  HIGH ON FIRE are touring the UK in support of their new album 'Electric Messiah', 

Dates are as follows:

08/10 Academy 2 Manchester UK
09/10 Tivoli Dublin EIRE
10/10 Limelight 2 Belfast UK
12/10 The Mill Birmingham UK
14/10 SWX Bristol UK
15/10 The Dome London UK

Track name – “Nemesis”
Album – “Surrounded by Thieves”

The art work for this album struck me immediately. Rotoscoped image of a warrior, pure animated Bakshi Lord of The Rings. Matt’s guitar tone, pure Matamp soupiness. Des’s drums like aeons of a mountain forming, compressed into hammer fall precision. This song is High on Fire a top a mountain, slaying hordes of undead, impossible levels of gore and blood streaming down their armour. TOTAL CARNAGE.

Marc Prentice, Ohhms 

Track name – “DII”
Album – “Death Is This Communion”

I was late to the party when discovering High on Fire (from now on to be written HOF) as my first taste of them was when I bought a copy of 2007’s “Death Is This Communion.”  My sole reason for buying was based purely upon finding out that it was Matt Pike from Sleep’s other band. I was lucky enough to get a copy that had a ‘making of’ DVD. Watching the DVD and then listening to the record was enough to sell me. Riffs aside, I find myself attracted to the critical religious, conspiracy and fantastical theme of the song titles and lyrics. Being a fantasy and Sci-Fi fan, I loved the fantastical themed artwork and I’ve always imagined HOF as the Motorhead for Tolkien fans.

My ‘Favourite’ track is, unsurprisingly, from “Death Is This Communion”. It’s the instrumental track “DII”. There’s a part in the making of DVD where you see HOF in the studio creating this song and I think this is a part of the reason as to why I enjoy it. It also it’s great because it has a great heavy riff, melodic solo and a great synth part that plays over the end of a track creating a great otherworldly sound. The tone, mood and vibe on this whole record is great and I think this song captures the feel of this record perfectly. Great instrumental track and an amazing record.

Track name – “Bastard Samurai” 
Album – “Snakes for the Divine”

Love this tune due to its pure brutality and atmosphere it creates.  Plus, epic PHAT bass.  HOF’s use of fast power chord movement has certainly rubbed off on us somewhere. When I saw this band live about 12 years ago I was so high yet they totally destroyed my buzz by being so fucking brutal.   I then got a boner instead, maybe it was because of Matt being topless…  Don’t think I’ve ever had a weed boner before.

Jim Swainston,  Black Moth

Track name – “Snakes for the Divine”
Album – “Snakes for the Divine”

“Snakes for the Divine” is a song that for me is the essence of Matt Pike boiled down into eight and a half minutes of glorious riffery. It has quite possibly one of the best intros to a metal song of all time. When I hear those first chords ring out with that epic lick over the top I can’t help of that brilliant Pike quote from Such Hawks Such Hounds about heavy being about “pissed off and being a warlord.” You know you're about to be punched in the face with the riff to follow. This is warlording at its finest and you can just picture Pike taking his axe into battle. It’s one of those songs that makes you just wanna get loose in the same way that The Stooges’ Search and Destroy does. Raw fuckin power!! 

Wes Leon, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard 

Track name – “Bastard Samurai” 
Album – “Snakes for the Divine”

I bought this album whilst stranded in Europe in 2010 when all flights were cancelled because of the ash cloud from the erupting volcano in Iceland and I ended up playing it on repeat due to it being the only cd I had with me for the hotel's cd player. I like the softness of the verses. Something High on Fire don't do much of is go soft but when they do they nail it, & this makes the heavy riff seem even heavier when it comes in. This track stands out for me because of the slower tempo compared to most of the other tracks on the album. I’d say its a good album to be stranded somewhere with. 

Adam Robertshaw, Barbarian Hermit 

Track Name – “Snakes for the Divine”
Album – “Snakes for the Divine”

The title track of High on Fire's fifth album was the first that really caught my attention and for that reason it will always be a stand out track for me. I was a fan of Sleep and had heard the name HOF but when the album received such critical acclaim in the press I decided to check the album out, and from the off you're greeted by this monster. 

As soon as the epic, Maiden-on-steroids intro kicks in you're hooked in and dragged along for the ride as Pike and co blast through gritty thrash and thunderous groove territories. The guitar riffs and bass lines weave in and out of one another like the eponymous snakes in the title. 

You'll definitely hear the influence of this and other Hire on Fire tracks like it on our new album “Solitude and Savagery”, especially on songs like “Reawaken”

TRACK PREMIERE: Huata return with the magnificent epic “The Mystical Beast of Revelations”

Huata play a truly haunting and spell-binding blend of retro sounding doom mixed with an amazing occult psych based ambience.  Astonishingly their first record, Atavist of Mann”, was released more than 6 years ago now and during a tumultuous period for the band, they have come through the other side stronger and better than ever.  Now a two piece, Huata are the verge of releasing their most celebrated compositions on new record “Lux Initiatrux Terrae” set for release via French label Music Fear Satan on November 23rd

The beast that is Huata has finally awaken and they are back with a renewed sense of vigour, armed with an album that is epic in scale in every sense of the word, big riffs, bigger melodies and bathed in both light and darkness, “Lux Initiatrux Terrae” is one of the stand out records of 2018. Spread over one hour, Huata with captivate, enthral and  mesmerize the listener, with their utterly stunning and beguiling new record  which will remind  you of ANCESTORS, YOB and RAMESSES. An impressive record?  Check out the opening track “The Mystical Beast of Revelations” and judge for yourself.  Preorders are available HERENow sit back and prepare to watch your speakers die. 

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Monday, 8 October 2018

RECORDS OF THEIR YEARS...with ENSLAVED songwriter and guitarist Ivar Bjørnson

ENSLAVED's latest album, "E", was released last October via Nuclear Blast. The follow-up to 2015's "In Times" was recorded at Duper & Solslottet Studios in Bergen and was once again mixed and mastered by Jens Bogren at Fascination Street Studios in Örebro, Sweden.
ENSLAVED are currently on the road in support of “E” undertaking a co-headline European tour with riff masters HIGH ON FIRE. The string of dates started in late September and will run through to mid-October, 14 shows across seven countries. Following two UK headlining shows in Milton Keynes and Leeds, ENSLAVED will take in the following shows below:

Oct. 08 - Academy 2, Manchester, UK
Oct. 09 - Tivoli, Dublin, IRE
Oct. 10 - Limelight 2, Belfast, UK
Oct. 12 - The Mill, Birmingham, UK
Oct. 14 - SWX, Bristol, UK
Oct. 15 - The Dome, London, UK
Oct. 16 - La Machine du Moulin Rouge, Paris, FR
During a break in between touring, we were fortunate to hook up with ENSLAVED songwriter and guitarist Ivar Bjørnson to discuss some of his favourite records.  Welcome to Records of their Years…

SLUDGELORD: Favourite album from the year you were born?

Ivar: 1981 - it’s got to be ‘Animals’ by Pink Floyd. It’s such a wonderful album with such a great mythology around the cover artwork, surrounding the flying pig above the factory and how it broke loose. It ended up in some, I think Welsh farmer’s field? He found a name tag on it and returned it. When they did the next shoot for the album they had some local posh dudes with shotguns hanging around, just in case the pig broke loose so they could shoot it down.  Just the music on the record is incredible, like the songs ‘Sheep’, ‘Dogs’, ‘Pigs…’ it’s amazing. I know with Pink Floyd there’s other albums that tend to get mentioned more, but ‘Animals’ is a big one, a really important one.
I first heard the album when I was about to turn 11 years old. At some point during the year when I was 10, my dad told me that when I turned 11, he would hand over his entire vinyl collection to me. Around ’87 many of his friends started getting rid of their LPs and buying CDs, you know. Many of his friends threw their LPs out or gave them to pawn shops, second-hand stores or charity shops. Luckily for me, he had a moment of clarity and thought - ‘at least the Pink Floyd albums gotta keep on going, so I’m going to give them to my son.’ I remember listening through the collection and listening to ‘Animals’, and it was really an eye opener. It was quite a lot to take in for an 11 year old, but I had already been listening to ‘Wish You Were Here’ and ‘Another Brick in The Wall’ quite a lot, and some of the stuff from ‘The Dark Side of The Moon’. But there was something about ‘Animals’ that has been following me ever since.
SLUDGELORD: The first record you bought with your own money?

Ivar: The first record I bought with my own money was Europe ‘The Final Countdown’ I believe. I think it was at around the same time that I inherited my dad’s Pink Floyd collection. I don’t know why I made that specific choice; I must have heard ‘The Final Countdown’ and it had an impact on me. No matter how cheesy that one is, it’s still a good song. I got hooked on it, and there are so many other good songs on that album. The circle was finally completed when I went and saw them play live at Sweden Rock festival in 2004. It’s still one of the best concerts I have ever seen.  They’re a very underrated band because of ‘The Final Countdown’ thing. They have so much more to offer than that one track. They’re amazing instrumentalists, with an amazing singer, and quite an intellectual band I would say actually, when you read their interviews and hear what they have to say about what’s going on in their minds behind all of these heavy metal classics.

SLUDGELORD: Your Favourite Non-Metal, Non-Rock Album?

Ivar: That’s a tough one… I would say ‘Bitches Brew’ by Miles Davis. It’s a very psychedelic album, a weird album. When people said he had a psychedelic period, I was like ‘hmm what do they mean, it’s still jazz I guess?’ but when I listened to it closely I was like - ‘WOW, now that is something really different’.  And it opened my eyes to a lot of jazz from that time, the fusion that was going on from that sort of pure jazz, that lead into something so wild and psychedelic. I guess it was sort of around the same time when rock music went into the psychedelic era, but it just feels like the jazz people got even more out of it in a sense.

SLUDGELORD: The Album that most disappointed you?

Ivar: That would be W.A.S.P ‘The Last Command’ – it came about quite early in my days as a record collector. Everyone was talking about W.A.S.P, and about how fantastic they were and so on. EVERYONE. I guess that I’m talking about the 3 other kids where I lived who were into heavy metal. I bought the record and I kind of liked the title song for a little while, but then I listened to more of it… Nowadays it’s okay to not like W.A.S.P, but I lived through many years where people would really give me shit for thinking W.A.S.P were crap. I guess it helps that Blackie Lawless started acting weird, and not being so nice to people. But I’ve said it for 30 years now; they’re not a good band.

SLUDGELORD: Favourite album of all time or if you prefer album (s) you’d run back into a burning building to rescue

Ivar: If the building was on fire I would make sure that I grabbed from my vinyl shelves; Pink Floyd’s ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’, Mayhem’s ‘De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas’, Bathory’s ‘Hammerheart’ and King Crimson’s ‘In the Court of the Crimson King’. Those defined me when all else was lost, those four albums would be the perfect soundtrack for a new start.

SLUDGELORD: Favourite album (s) of 2018?

Ivar: Krakow ‘minus’.

SLUDGELORD: The last album you bought? 

Emmerhoff and the Melancholy Babies ‘Circle Six’ (on vinyl).

Enslaved’s latest album ‘E’ is out now via Nuclear Blast, available HERE.

Band info: Facebook

Thursday, 4 October 2018

TOP 16 ALBUMS: THE SLUDGELORD'S SOUR 16 (August / September 2018)

Allow yourself to indulge in a hefty dose of riffs; because it is time to present 16 of the best albums from August & September, it is time for your SOUR 16

You know the drill by now, every couple of months you the reader are unwittingly compiling a list of the top16 records, covering all genres of metal.  Is it not a chart, in which reviewers or contributors extol their opinion about their favourite music.  To put it simply, THE SOUR 16 are the records that have been trending the most at SLUDGELORD HQ.

The results are compiled based on the amount of page views the reviews have received and are then calibrated into the list below.  All reviews can be viewed by clicking the artwork and we have included album streams wherever possible. (Total views since their publication are highlighted brackets)

16). Craft, “White Noise and Black Light” (387)

15). Clutch, “Book of Bad Decisions” (399)

14). Satan, “Cruel Magic” (425)

13). 1968, “Ballads of the Godless” (437)

12). Organ Dealer/Nerve Grind/Invertebrate, “Split” (442)

11). Allfather, “And All Will Be Desolation” (481)

10). Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters, “Come & Chutney” (503)

9). Brant Bjork, “Mankind Woman” (549)

8). Forming The Void, “Rift” (550)

7). Sumac, “Love in Shadow” (662)

6). Thou, “Magus” (791)

5). The Secret, “Lux Tenebris” (1100)

4). Kurokuma, “Dope Rider” (1272)

3). Conan, “Existential Void Guardian” (1910)

2). Famye, “Famyne” (2561)

1). KEN mode, “Loved” (2776)

TRACK PREMIERE: pure doom to its core, URSA unleash the tyrannous "Serengeti Yeti"

With riffs so thunderous they tear holes through mountain peaks, URSA enchants in the heaviest tradition of mystical sorcery, telling tales of animal spirits forged from smoke that dissipates above ancient caravan campfires.  With grandiose stories of wizards, dragons, spiders, and demons; URSA is the heaviest of bard, singing fascinating, barbarian tales of cutting human heads off with one swoop of the steel and brewing complex potions out of dragonfly wings.

URSA's monstrous debut album is reminiscent of doom and heavy metal pioneers Black Sabbath, Pentagram, Dio, Saint Vitus, Sleep, and Candlemass. The band's sole purpose on earth is to serenade through tales of beasts risen and slain.

Consisting of ¾ of the legendary prog metal band Cormorant, “Abyss Between the Stars” condenses all the innate and heavy mastery of Cormorant into focused, catchy, and powerful riffs that draw the listener in and empower them on their journey through the untamed wild west. Pure doom to its core. A choose-your-own-adventure tale in audio form, today at THE SLUDGELORD we can exclusively present a brand new track for your ears only.  Check out the great and the powerful, “Serengeti Veti” below as well as a quote about the track from vocalist/bassist Matt Solis.  Preorder a being taken (HERE)

“Serengeti Yeti” is definitely one of our favorite songs on the record—it has a nice mix of traditional doom and progressive rock/sludge, and the subject matter fits right in with our high-fantasy aesthetic. It tells the story of an ancient yeti who, after fleeing from a group of hunters, finds a mysterious vortex that hurls him into the middle of the African desert. It’s your classic “fish out of water” tale…except this fish wants to messily devour everyone in his path.

Band info: Facebook || Bandcamp:  

Monday, 1 October 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Allfather, ‘And All Will Be Desolation’

By: Daniel Jackson

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 7/9/2018
Label: Rotting Throne Records

With ‘And All Will Be Desolation’, Allfather appear to be poised to be the spiritual successor to Crowbar this generation needs and deserves. This is heavy music stripped of all pretenses, given to us to remind us that while innovation is important for forward progress, conviction and a deadly riff are all you really need.

‘And All Will Be Desolation’ CD//DD track listing:

1. Black Triangle
2. Citadels
3. Lord Betrayer
4. By Sword, By Famine, By Plague
5. Jackal's Night
6. Inherit The Dust
7. Lampedusa

The Review:

I’ve spent entirely too much time trying to figure out how exactly to categorize Allfather. There are elements of sludge, hardcore, doom, and even more besides in play here. But at a certain point, I came to realize that none of that really matters. What matters is that Allfather, and their new album ‘And All Will Be Desolation’ are rotten with riffs, and catchy ones at that.

With the possible exception of the album’s opening clean guitar passage, every moment of this album is spent wringing every last ounce of gut-wrenching vitriol out each new riff. ‘And All Will Be Desolation’ strength is in its simplicity. Nothing gets in the way of immediacy and impact. Each of these songs is clearly communicated; its language is universal. These are the kinds of stomping, thrashing, hammering songs that cemented my love of heavy metal in the 90s. The music here is incredibly earnest, shouting from the rooftops an unabashed love of anything and everything heavy.

The emphasis on groove here can’t be overstated. Everybody in Allfather is working overtime to make sure you feel the weight of each and every crunch, every downbeat; the conviction behind these songs is so devastatingly present that it practically radiates from the speakers. Even the guitars feel like they’re a part of the rhythm section at times, with so many of the album’s highlights built around heavy palm muting and deep pockets of groove. Whether it’s something thrashier, like “Citadels” where the grove takes on a similar feel to that of some of High On Fire’s faster songs, or the brilliantly melodic swing of “Inherit The Dust”, rhythm is the crux of Allfather’s sound.

As strong as the album is collectively, “By Sword, By Famine, By Plague” is the band’s best song to date. The opening riff wields both a massive hook and a menacing atmosphere, eventually giving way to a devastatingly simple but powerful palm muted section that’s bound to snap a neck or two live. The second half of the song is loaded with sludgy swing, building to a massive climax where a scintillating guitar solo takes center stage. The song is a fucking journey, with its closing moments dedicated to a swampy southern crawl, and the perfect end to one of the year’s better songs.

With ‘And All Will Be Desolation’, Allfather appear to be poised to be the spiritual successor to Crowbar this generation needs and deserves. This is heavy music stripped of all pretense, given to us to remind us that while innovation is important for forward progress, conviction and a deadly riff are all you really need.

“And All Will Be Desolation’ is available here

Band info: Facebook