Wednesday, 13 November 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Gatecreeper, "Deserted"


By: Garrett A. Tanner


Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 04/10/2019
Label: Relapse Records





Deserted” CD//LP Track listing:

1. Deserted
2. Puncture Wounds  
3. From the Ashes              
4. Ruthless                            
5. Everlasting                                       
6. Barbaric Pleasures        
7. Sweltering Madness     
8. Boiled Over
9. In Chains
10. Absence of Light


The Review:

What happens when you have an amazing band that dropped an amazing record, they set about work on another record? You have high expectations. What happens when the band proceeds to smash those expectations in a million beautiful pieces to become one with the sand? Sonic euphoria. 

Holy Bolt Thrower Batman, does Gatecreeper achieve this and then some, with “Deserted”!

Sonoran Depravation was such a blisteringly beautiful offering to the world that when word finally came about on a new release, the hype train began to charge full-steam ahead. The speeding locomotive never stopped, as Gatecreeper stoked the fires to 88mph, and transcended to a whole other dimensional timeline of metal magnitude. The whole album is on the same level of mind-bending inanity as anything by Tomb Mold or Triptykon. Gatecreeper unloads a blitzkrieg of riffs that rip open the mind like a bunker buster smashing into its target, and not giving one iota about defenses. Everything is just ripped apart and reduced to hot shrapnel in the sonic blast. 

Gatecreeper’s Deserted” delivers from top to bottom, but there are specific awe inspiring points of brutal intensity. “Puncture Wounds” is the second track on the album that is preceded by a glorious invitingly bleak opening in “Deserted”. However, where the riffs pierce the ground and explode into a riff factory of hellish design is track two. These are grooves Bolt Thrower would approve of, and in many ways have that punishing feel that The IVth Crusade” has. The album chugs along with spine shattering heaviness until “Ruthless” unloads a magazine full of rapid-firing picking into the ears of the listeners and assaulting the listener into a mesmerized sense of awe. After one’s body is left riddle to the bone, the onslaught continues. 

Deserted” culminates with “In Chains” and “Absence of Light”. Not say that the album does not have philosophical inclinations, but Gatecreeper poured out the depths of existential dread in complete isolation to end the album. This is not just any means of isolation either, as the portents of both tracks fall into the realm of absurdity that Søren Kierkegaard resides in. The sacrifices we make to better uplift ourselves act oppositely and shackle us in servitude be it to our minds, or dogmas, material things, or those around us. They leave us a psychologically and emotionally deserted before us, and we do not realize until it is too late. 

Deserted” is available HERE




Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Monday, 11 November 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Phil Campbell, "Old Lions Still Roar"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 25/10/2019
Label: Nuclear Blast

 


“Old Lions Still Roar” CD//DD/LP track listing:

01. Rocking Chair (feat. Leon Stanford)
02. Straight Up (feat. Rob Halford)
03. Faith In Fire (feat. Ben Ward)
04. Swing It (feat. Alice Cooper)
05. Left For Dead (feat. Nev MacDonald)
06. Walk The Talk (feat. Danko Jones & Nick Oliveri)
07. These Old Boots (feat. Dee Snider)
08. Dancing Dogs (Love Survives) (feat. Whitfield Crane)
09. Dead Roses (feat. Benji Webbe)
10. Tears From A Glass Eye (feat. Joe Satriani)

The Review:

Phil Campbell has had quite a life after Motorhead- his Bastard Sons band, with his sons (!) made a good quality hard rock album and are touring pretty relentlessly. It is surprising, then that he has found time to record a solo album- one infused with some heavyweight guests; Rob Halford, Dee Snider, Nick Oliveri, Whitfield Crane, Ben Ward, Matt Sorum, Joe Satriani... the list quite literally goes on.

Make no mistake, Motorhead was a collaborative effort. The riffs and the arrangements on all those Motorhead albums post 1986? Campbell's (with Wurzel for the first nine years, of course) and Dee's. Lemmy was a lyricist, a melody writer and a songwriter, but Campbell put in the heavy lifting from “Overnight Sensation” onwards. It's no surprise, then, that the songs here are strong. They are also somewhat surprising.

Opener, “Rocking Chair” is an autobiographical tale of fulfilling destiny and played in a blues/country rock style... acoustically. After that, the swagger of “Straight Up” (Halford on vox) hits a sweet spot, Ben Ward pops up on the low slung “Faith in Fire” and smashes the ball out of the park- surely a bucket list job for Ward, being as he is a huge (literally and metaphorically) Motorhead fan.

The guests keep coming. The riff on “Swing It” is great- pure attitude- and the vocal from Alice Cooper is just as good. Golf has never before sounded this rock n roll. Things slow down on “Left For Dead”; bluesy vocal from Nev Macdonald- for me, it is a lesser track and perhaps reminiscent of the early 90's Motorhead penchant for a ballad, but as Nick Oliveri guests on “Walk The Talk” with its  barrelling groove, all is right again.

Dee Snider puts in an athletic performance for “These Old Boots” which is another mid tempo rocker with a big chorus and a big cowbell. There is old Motorhead collaborator Whitfield Crane on “Dancing Dogs”- with a surprisingly dark and grunge like feel and Wales' own Benji Webbe on the piano led “Dead Roses”! As a ballad it is a winner and nothing like what you might expect from the ex-Motorhead man. It's straight faced and all the better for it.

By the time the tenth and final track, “Tears from a Glass Eye” smoothly spins out of your speakers, you'll probably have a view about this album.  It's a wistful instrumental and one of the best things on the record. It's not a Motorhead album, that's for sure; the tempos are conservative and with half the album surprisingly quiet and restrained it's quite a curveball for Campbell's fans. It's one I enjoyed hugely, though. There are some real insights into Campbell's psyche and his musical loves and inspirations. He delivers wonderful guitar playing throughout and no small amount of great songwriting. For any fan of his work with Motorhead, it's a must. For any fan of any of the artists featured, well, give it a try. You'll be surprised at the very least and more than likely impressed.

“Old Lions Still Roar” is available HERE

 



Band info: Official


Wednesday, 6 November 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Rorcal, "Muladona"

By: Eeli Helin

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 08/11/19
Label: Hummus Records



”Muladona” CS//CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. This is how I came to associate drowning with tenderness
2. She drained you of your innocence, and you poisoned her with it
3. I’d done my duty to my mother and father. And more than that, I’d found love
4. A sea of false smiles hiding murder, jealousy, and revenge
5. Carnation were not the smell of death. They were the smell of desire
6. The only constant in this world is blackness of the human heart
7. I was the Muladona’s seventh tale

The Review:

Little did I know how big of a treat I was in for, when I was asked to scribe up the track premiere for the Swiss blackened death/sludge/doom/noise quartet Rorcal earlier this autumn. Prior to that, I recall coming across the band a few times, but never gave them enough attention to fully comprehend what I was ingesting. When the premiere opportunity came along, I quickly and quite profoundly realised how big of a mistake I've made by not really giving the band a chance years earlier. In fact, not doing so proved to be one of the biggest blunder I've made in my entire life, in terms of my music listening habits. The track we premiered over here at THE SLUDGELORD, "A sea of false smiles hiding murder, jealousy and revenge", was so impactful and effective that it plunged me harshly into a very overwhelming Rorcal binge for weeks. Those weeks were full of amazement, awe, and sound-inflicted pleasure that felt otherworldly altogether, and all that time I kept kicking myself for being neglectful towards the band before. I'm certainly glad that has forever changed as of now.

"Muladona" is Rorcal's fifth full-length releasing on November 8th through Hummus Records, thematically based around a novel of the same name by Eric Stener Carlson, mirrored through the bleak and violent whirlwind of dissonant and abrasive death metal, borrowing flavours from blackened aesthetics and noise (quoting myself like a champ here). The author also lends his voice to the band as a narrator throughout the album. The close interaction between the two makes up an extremely transcendental experience, tying the whole epos together in an unprecedented manner, capable of engulfing your focus fully for its entire duration.

Opening with an intro track "This is how I came to associate drowning with tenderness", it's clear right from the beginning that this is something else. The haunting atmosphere created by the amalgamation of drones and the narration, along the drum and bass hits pave the way to a half an hour's worth of godless and violent, utter satisfaction. "She drained you of your innocence, and you poisoned her with it" spews forth an overly sorrowful and dramatic atmosphere, commencing with a slow and airy pace for a good while. Amping up constantly, the track picks up speed and force for a five minutes before exploding into its black metal-esque, blast beat driven final moments. Ending to some insect samples and gasps, it's easy to picture yourself on the narrators position, as you're surely trying to catch your breath before the next track kicks in.

"I'd done my duty to my mother and father. And more than that, I'd found love" is an apocalyptic piece drawing influence from a lot of places. One of the best things on the album is that how seamlessly all influences, all these different tones blend in together. The almost folk-ish approach to some leads join the most abrasive kind of death-flavoured crushing beating while being viewed through a very blackened lens. The vocals also take the spotlight here, as the desperate yet powerful screams carry the story onwards with the narration. The following and the first pre-released track "A sea of false smiles hiding murder, jealousy and revenge" packs in the kind of fury and agony that makes it perhaps the most effective and interesting cut on "Muladona". This shortest and most vile track acts also as a perfect bridge to the second half of the album, being placed right to the middle and having the sinew to capsize the listener's well-being due to its disgusting but fascinating and enveloping nature.

The following pair, "Carnation were not the smell of death. They were the smell of desire" and "The only constant in this world is blackness of the human heart" push Rorcal's musical limits right to the edge of being unbearable noise, but right when the hypnotizing chaos starts to dare getting too much, they change the direction and let you breath. Although most of the album is pretty relentless and suffocating, the short moments of quietness and tranquillity filled with samples and dynamics give just enough air to the album to avoid getting nauseating. The narrative takes a stronger weight towards the end, and the story gets more interesting and compelling throughout, despite being very uneasy and even deranged at times.

The culmination point of the album lies at the pinnacle of it, the magnificent closer that is "I was the Muladona's seventh tale". There's a sense of closure found here, fittingly similar to the last twenty pages of an extremely immersive and rousing book. The tale is brought to its dismal end in a sentimental fashion, picking along the tastier spices from across the album and grinding them into one very eloquently. Massive breakdowns follow each other consecutively, leading ultimately in a mental one. The narrative is brought to an end over few minutes of noisy drones, while you're left in a state of mind that's infuriatingly hard to describe.

It takes time to fully grasp and figure "Muladona" out, let alone to depict it in sensible words. "Muladona" is a grand piece of music portrayed in a setting that hasn't been done before in this extent. It quickly became obvious that not only this album is amongst the top ones of this year for me, it's also amongst the best albums I have ever heard. And all that from a band who's history was completely out of my view before hearing this album. I sincerely hope that some of my blabbering above made even the slightest of sense, and if not else, at least peaked your interest to give it a listen. The feelings that Rorcal is able to generate with "Muladona" are ponderous and many, that should be dealt with accordingly. Long after the album's finished, it'll echo in the silence you need to surround yourself with after experiencing it, calling and alluring you back into its black embrace.

”Muladona” is available HERE






Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Angel Witch, "Angel of Light"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: Metal Blade Records
Label: 01/11/2019


“Angel of Light” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Don’t Turn Your Back
2. Death from Andromeda
3. We Are Damned
4. The Night Is Calling
5. Condemned
6. Window of Despair
7. I Am Infinity
8. Angel of Light


The Review:

Angel Witch are probably THE band that most will think of when it comes to NWOBHM bands that are not Maiden, Saxon or Leppard- with the possible exception of Diamond Head, of course. Their debut from four decades ago still crackles with arcane power and Kevin Heybourne remains something of a voice archetype for many trad doom bands. Their reactivation in 2012 with “As Above... So Below” was good- if a little meandering at points.

With “Angel of Light”, the band have delivered a strong and competent set of songs rooted in the early 80's Brit metal scene and with a warm and live production feel that suits the music down to a tee. Not for Angel Witch the pro-tools, triggers and processing of many modern metal releases. This sounds like a band playing their tracks in a large live room with a wooden floor and is all the better for it.

Opener “Don't Turn Your Back” is sprightly and hooky with plenty of punch and speed. “Death From Andromeda” takes a sci-fi turn and is a galloping riff fest- if a little overlong. It is perhaps a small criticism which could be levelled at much of the album; the songs are a little long, but then again, after seven years Heybourne and cohorts must have had a lot they wanted to lay down. It's not like Maiden are known for conciseness theses days and as for Leppard, well...

Elsewhere, the charming aspects of the band's debut are present; Heybourne's excellent wail, the sharp guitar work and weighty riffage. In fact, this record very much picks up where the debut or “As Above...” left off. It is especially pleasing that the rather doomy atmosphere of the debut is resurrected here. “We Are Damned” and “The Night is Calling” are very much cousins to Witchfinder General and myriad other doom inflected bands that came after- and the latter has a really nice riff and solo passage down the back stretch.

“Condemned” and “Window of Despair” pick up the metal pace with direct riffs and structures that will get your head banging, while maintaining that mournful vibe beloved by fans. “I am Infamy” is another rager with a nifty faded in intro. The title track just caps off this confident and expertly played comeback in style.

Thirty nine years on from the debut, Kevin Heybourne has proved he still has something to say musically and has delivered a very worthwhile fifth Angel Witch album. There is no place for disgrace here and this is better than “As Above...” which was in itself a solid and emphatic comeback. The songs may be a little overwrought in places and the band's sound as a whole may be an acquired taste, but for anyone who has ever chanted along to that chorus on the debut, drunk or otherwise, this is a rare and convincing treat. I hope they don't leave it so long next time, as it is clear that there is more music to come that deserves and needs to be heard.

“Angel of Light” is available HERE






Band info: bandcamp || facebook