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

ALBUM REVIEW: Yob, "Our Raw Heart"

By: Ernesto Aguilar

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 08/06/2018
Label: Relapse Records

Clever arrangement, subtlety over volume and a clear-eyed grasp of honing an atmosphere make these cuts inviting in myriad ways. They're the kind of songs that give you a front-row seat for Yob's past meeting its future, and you cannot help but be transfixed.

“Our Raw Heart” CD//CS//DD//2LP track listing:

1). Ablaze
2). The Screen
3). In Reverie
4). Lungs Reach
5). Beauty In Falling Leaves
6). Original Face
7). Our Raw Heart
The Review:

Yob has emerged as perhaps doom's most popular band of the moment, though the band's presence has hardly been momentary. Since 2002's "Elaborations of Carbon," the Eugene, Oregon-based collective have stoked a passionate fan base. Its albums have gotten progressively stronger as Yob's sound has matured. "The Illusion of Motion," released by Metal Blade in 2004, and "The Unreal Never Lived" offered up the following year, were considered watermarks for the group. Yob's 2006 breakup did not last too long. Its return in the form of "The Great Cessation" was greeted with much praise for a deeper, denser aural than ever before.

And so it has gone. Solid but infrequent albums and lots of live performances became an unfortunate drought of about four years. "Clearing the Path to Ascend" in 2014 was a stunning record, one that vaulted Yob even higher. Without question, the band has been consistent in its growth and overall quality. "…Ascend" helped the group's mythos only expand.

"Our Raw Heart," has already won plaudits from across the spectrum. For good reason. Yob's return is magnificent. Yet it's outstanding not because it's heavy. It is, somewhat, but "Our Raw Heart" succeeds because it is visionary, emotional and more innovative than virtually every single one of Yob's contemporaries. It's a great album because it sounds wholly atypical of what you think of metal, yet it is quintessentially metal.

Yob's newest is influenced by Mike Scheidt's brush with death in 2017. He nearly succumbed to an infection created by complications related to other problems, but it is not the first time the band's spiritual leader has looked over the abyss with his tribe. Fans of "…Ascend" and other albums may have most loved Scheidt's vulnerability, and his examination of his own mental health issues and other struggles in his songwriting and performances. Thus it is fitting that "Our Raw Heart" would beckon this tattered brother- and sisterhood into Scheidt's world one more time. And, as you may have heard on "The Screen," released just before the album, there's going to be pain. "Sensing old death, sharing no house with it," Scheidt muses. "In moments obscure, that which endures."

That’s part about being somewhat heavy? Truth be told, Yob will never be a pop band and are not abandoning the wall of sound the band so masterfully creates. Those tense moments as in "The Screen" (tightly wound in its own right, surely) are paired with all-out harsher tracks such as "In Reverie," with some of the cascading, volume-notched heavy music you will hear in a minute. "Original Face" in another one of those songs certain to remind you how hard Yob can bring its music, and why their creativity in doing it is so revered. Clever arrangement, subtlety over volume and a clear-eyed grasp of honing an atmosphere make these cuts inviting in myriad ways. They're the kind of songs that give you a front-row seat for Yob's past meeting its future, and you cannot help but be transfixed.

What may end up etched in your own heart, however, are the more delicate, complex songs. "Lungs Reach" lolls gently out of the mist, as wisps of guitar and then that challenging voice come for you. "Beauty in Falling Leaves" glances by with affirmative chords that lead you to a valley of despondent rhythms, until it soars with Scheidt's inimitable vocal. By the time the album closes with the title track, a 14-minute cohesive yet inescapably macabre centerpiece, you learn slowly that this is why Yob has fashioned an arc of almost mythological proportions. Greater than most, more dynamic than more, "Our Raw Heart" is what makes metal you cannot but love.

“Our Raw Heart” is available here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Thursday, 7 June 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Uniform & The Body, "Mental Wounds Not Healing"

By: Dominic Walsh

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 08/06/2018
Label: Sacred Bones Records

Mental Wounds Not Healing” is a phenomenally heavy 27 minutes of music. Throughout the seven tracks, there are some extremely harsh vocals, mountainous droning guitar riffs and glitchy distorted beats.  This record is well worth your time if you like having your boundaries of music tested.

“Mental Wounds Not Healing” DD//LP track listing:

1). Dead River
2). The Curse of Eternal Life
3). Come and See
4). The Boy With Death in His Eyes
5). In My Skin
6). We Have Always Lived in the Castle
7). Empty Comforts

The Review:

With a title taken from an Ozzy Osbourne lyric (“Crazy Train”), Uniform and The Body have joined forces for a collaboration that pushes both bands far beyond their roots in industrial music and metal - creating an immersive listening experience that truly transcends genre. 

“Mental Wounds Not Healing” is a phenomenally heavy 27 minutes of music. Throughout the seven tracks, there are some extremely harsh vocals, mountainous droning guitar riffs and glitchy distorted beats. Think NIN, Einstürzende Neubauten, Sunn 0))) and bits of Ministry mixed together with Pharmakon and Blanck Mass. It’s a complete maelstrom of industrial noise throughout.

Most of the song titles are culled from horror literature and cinema. “The Boy With Death In His eyes” is a particular highlight at the midpoint of the album. The beat is more orthodox, and the distorted synthesizers and guitars that accompany the beat create a dark, tension filled backdrop to the despairing vocals.

“In My Skin” contains a particularly unnerving screaming sound throughout the entire track, but the track also contains one of the most notable guitar melodies that spins its web around more twisted and distorted noise. As you disappear down the hole of this track, the ending of the track feels almost serene against many other parts of the song, but don’t be fooled into thinking this is full of lush melodies! “Dead River” also has the same screaming motif that runs throughout the track. It takes you wonderfully out of your comfort zone.

“We Have Always Lived in a Castle” is pure drone. “Empty Comforts” and “The Curse of Eternal Life” are the most NIN style moments on the album as the electronic beats are clear and punchy, but the former really lacks any kind of recognisable rhythm; like a heartbeat with no real idea of what it is doing. The guitars again convene towards the end of “Empty Comforts” to show that this collaboration is not simply about making a glorious racket; there is melody rooted deep within this album – you just have to have the endurance to stick around to find it. “Mental Wounds Not Healing” is well worth your time if you like having your boundaries of music tested.

“Mental Wounds Not Healing” is available here

Band info: facebook || facebook