Tuesday 31 March 2015

Norilsk - 'The Idea of North' (Album Review)

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 10/3/2015
Label: Hypnotic Dirge, Dwyer Records,
Alerta Antifascista

‘The Idea of North’ CS/CD//DD//LP track lisitng:

1). Japetus
2). Planète heurt
3). Throa
4). La liberté aux ailes brisées
5). Nature morte
6). Potsdam Glo
7). La Grande Noirceur
8). The Idea of North
9). Coeur de Loup (*exclusive to the CD)

Norilsk is:

Nicolas Miquelon | All instruments, vocals
Nick Richer | Drums, Vocals (backing)


Taking their name from a remote Siberian city, home to a renowned heavy metal smelting complex, Canada's Norilsk have a name to live up to and with their latest offering, 'The Idea Of North', they offer up a chilling slice of doom that does the job with gusto.

Things get off to an ominous start with 'Japetus', a crunching riff interlaced with a piercing melodic line and vocals that reach a depth and grimness I've rarely heard. It's all set at a punishingly slow pace that intensifies the malice and creates that very special sinking feeling that doom fans have become addicted to. Moving on with 'Planète Heurt' the band ensure we sink ever further, as the pace is reduced to an agonising crawl and the vocals shift to a more melodic feel that's more disconcerting than pleasant and with a rousing guitar solo midway through, you get the feeling that there's beauty among the bleakness.

It's not all in slow motion however, as with 'La Liberté aux ailes brisées' the catchy mid pace riff snarls under a surprisingly catchy lead guitar line with those grim vocals sitting comfortably atop it all, showcasing that the band aren't just a one trick pony. The albums penultimate track, 'La grande noirceur' is a short, haunting instrumental and one that sets up the albums closer, the title track, quite spectacularly. A heroic lead guitar line accompanied by a hypnotic black metal style riff that's led by a simple, sparse drum track. It's a suitably devastating way to end, as by the time it's over, you'll have sank to the very bottom.

'The Idea of North' is absolutely everything you need or want from a doom album. Norilsk are a rare band in that they manage to punish you with pace but add enough melody and style to keep you captivated. This album is the soundtrack to a grim fate, layered with atmosphere and a truly ferocious vocal performance, it may be slow but it makes for an exhilarating listen.

Words by: Rhys Miles

‘The Idea of North’ is available on CD here, DD here, CS here and LP soon via Alerta Antifascista

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Monday 30 March 2015

Call of the Void - 'Ageless' (Album Review)

Album Type: Full-Length
Date Released: 06/02/2015
Label: Relapse Records

Ageless CD//DD/LP track listing:

1. Old Hate
2.Truth In Bone
3.The Sun Chaser
5.Black Ice
7.The Hive
8.Cold Hands
9.Long Knives
10.Honor Among Thieves

Call of the Void is

Gordon Koch | Drums
Patrick Alberts | Guitar
Gabe Morales | Guitar
Alex Pace | Bass
Steve Vanica | Vocals


Call of the Void has managed to create yet another aggressive record which stays true to their deep crust and grind roots. ‘Ageless’, in it's twelve tracks, has some familiar and some completely new elements to Call of the Void's sound. It’s viscous, loud, and dirty, which holds no surprise coming from a band with influences such as Napalm Death and Pig Destroyer.

Drums are in a constant blast state with fast tom action and powerful breaks while the guitars and bass have a dirty sludge tone and gush out fury. Vocals are rage filled calls from a deep, dark, hell and contain some angry lyrics tackling themes that range from death to disgusting rebirth. This record has really great moments but some of my favorites are their instrumental tracks six and eleven. These tracks create atmosphere and are great tie-ins to the songs placed after them. ‘The Hive’ is my go to track for vocals; it’s filled with crust punk/grind madness that instantly becomes a classic.
My hat is off for this band; I've never truly gotten into the genre, but Call of Void has created a sound that is dirty and full of chaotic insanity. ‘Ageless’ is a great record and I highly recommend it to any fans of grind or hardcore but make sure you clear your bedroom space before you start moshing and keyboard diving.

Words by: Jihad Nasser

Ageless’ is available on CD/LP here

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Lamentations of the Ashen - ‘Libertine Cyst’ (Album Review)

Album Type: Full-length
Date Released: 5/3/2015
Label: Sylvan Screams Analog/Fragile Branch Recordings

‘Libertine Cyst’ CS//DD track listing:

1. A Profane Illvmination (Convvlsionaries Of Temporal Heterodoxy)            
2. II         
3. Hiraeth (Torpor Of The Persiflage)
4. Dissentient Cyclic Echelons (Manifesting The Ascent And Effacement Of The Abyss)

Band is:

Bon Vincent Fry | Everything


Let’s get straight to the point: Lamentations of the Ashen’s ‘Libertine Cyst’ is a massive undertaking, both by artist Bon Vincent Fry and for the listener. There is a lot to unpack in each of the four songs over the course of the album’s sixty-three minutes. It’s not going to grab you immediately with melodic hooks or sharp arrangements. It’s just not that kind of album. It’s more demanding of your attention and your time. So obvious question becomes: is this album worth it? The answer is unquestionably, a yes.

Each of the album’s four songs offers a wide array of emotions and musical themes. You’ll find anything from desperate sorrow to cautious hope, not to mention whatever the fuck it is I feel when those yawning, cavernous bends in the early minutes of “II” ooze from my speakers. What it really comes down to is that the level of craftsmanship, attention to song writing detail, and sheer effort on display throughout ‘Libertine Cyst’ is on par with the best in one-man metal. While they’re very different beasts, dealing in very different emotional spaces; Lamentations of the Ashen is every bit the artistic powerhouse that projects like Panopticon or—going further back—Leviathan are.

One of the most unique things about ‘Libertine Cyst’ is its ability to stay in softer dynamic ranges for long stretches of time without losing any emotional intensity or being any less engrossing. Again, using “II” as an example, there is a four minute segment, beginning just over the ten minute mark that is among the best material on the album. There isn’t any drum beat carrying the rhythmic load nor and deep, low-end chords to hit you in the gut. And yet the solitary, bleak guitar that takes center stage for the equivalent of your average radio rock song is every bit as enthralling as the most vicious or heavy moments elsewhere. When the drums finally do return, they’re thunderous war drums in service of building tension alongside a distant, nerve-racking guitar lead. When it all finally explodes in a blasting fervor, the whole experience has left the listener drained but supremely satisfied. I realize how ludicrously sexual that reads, but there are real similarities in the way the song builds from the ten minute mark until its climax. Longform, dramatic musical builds are so seldom done well in metal that when one is performed with this kind of mastery, it warrants a sexual analogy.

I’ve singled out one song in particular because each song is a miniature musical epic all its own, even if it belongs to a greater whole. Each song deals with unique musical characteristics and emotions. Normally, I’d be one to scoff at a label like “Tragic Black Metal”, but instead I can’t help but nod along. This is black metal that requires both patience and investment, but the rewards are more than worth it. I’ve been a huge proponent of albums topping out at 45 minutes as a general rule, but ‘Libertine Cyst’ is the exception that proves the rule. If you aren’t willing to explore musical grief or malevolence or hope with this kind of depth, you’d be better served keeping things at a more reasonable length. For Bon Vincent Fry, and a select few others, it’s best to give them the time they need.

Words by: Daniel Jackson

You can pick up a digital copy here and a cassette copy here (UK/EU) or here (US).

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Sunday 29 March 2015

Bleeding Eyes - GAMMY (Album Review)

Album Type: Full-Length
Date Released: 12/12/2014
Label: Go Down Records

‘GAMMY’ DD/LP track listing:

1). La Chiave
2). Amaro Tez (O.O.D.)
3). Kevin’s Space
4). A Fistful of Dynamite
5). Lacrime Fiume Sangue Dolore
6). Full Fledged
7). Demon Haze
8). Ama-Rosa
9). Keep Calm and Fail
10). GAMMY

Bleeding Eyes is

Lorenzo Conte | Drums & Backing Vocals
Marco Dussin | Bass
Simone Tesser | Vocals
Jason Nealy | Guitars
Nicola Anselmi | Guitars
Tommaso Mantelli | Effects 


Bleeding Eyes is a sludge band from Italy who has done a great job presenting their new album “GAMMY” Their artwork is top notch and appropriately alludes to their sinister sound. The fact that the band consists of six players, all of whom are of equal importance, means that the music is dense. Each track is filled to overflowing, sometimes leading to chaos or restlessness. A slew of guest musicians have been brought into the fold as well for the recordings, and although I don’t know who they are, I’m sure that if I were from Northern Italy I would be impressed. One aspect of the band’s sound that they haven't included in the look of this album is their psychedelic – though I use that term lightly – influence. Unfortunately, the combination of Bleeding Eyes' sinister, chaotic, and psychedelic elements, as well as the dense nature of the music, doesn't always play out in the band’s favor.

The album kicks off promisingly with a demonstration of the band’s control of atmospherics. It flows nicely from the quiet and subdued to a more aggressive sound without being overwhelming. But by the time “Amaro Tez” comes around, the band brings a whole new meaning to the concept of controlling the atmosphere. Rather than taking the listener on a journey, they relentlessly bangs its way forward, each instrumentalist seemingly ignoring the others for the most part and from this point on, incessant banging seems to be the theme of the record. This does work, for the most part, as it makes the music feel claustrophobic and manic which, if another look is taken at the artwork, is what the band is going for. A lot of the time, the tension in the music is palpable, as it is in a well made horror movie, where even the viewer feels hunted and confined.

‘GAMMY’ isn’t necessarily a heavy album. Rather, it is relentless and at times exhausting. Considering their presentation, the album is exactly the product that the band set out to make and the pieces do fall into place. If you have the desire to dive head first into an album that is going to grab you by the throat and not let go, then head on over to Bleeding Eye's Bandcamp page and get your hands on their “name your price” download.

Words: Victor Van Ommen

‘GAMMY’ is available here

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Carach Angren - ‘This Is No Fairytale’ (Album Review)

Album Type: Full-Length
Date Released: 23/02/2015
Label: Season of Mist

‘This Is No Fairytale’ CD//LP//DD track listing:

1. Once upon a Time...
2. There's No Place Like Home
3. When Crows Tick On Windows
4. Two Flies Flew Into A Black Sugar Cobweb
5. Dreaming Of A Nightmare In Eden
6. Possessed By A Craft Of Witchery
7. Killed and Served By The Devil
8. The Witch Perished In Flames
9. Tragedy Ever After

Carach Angren is:

Seregor | Vocals & guitars
Ardek | Orchestration & keyboards
Namtar | Drums


Carach Angren is a strange band. I’m not talking about their image or their subject matter, I’m talking about being a bit of an anomaly. They’re an anomaly because they are so good at technical performance, getting a fitting production for their albums, and all of the ancillary pieces an album would need to support great music; yet the songs are never above adequate. The only word I could use to sum up ‘This is No Fairytale’ and Carach Angren as a whole is “fine”. I’ve tried to narrow down the culprit for Carach Angren’s staggering “okayness”, and I believe the biggest issue is in compositional choices and in their instincts for when to swell their strings or go with a syncopated guitar/kick rhythm or anything else, for that matter. On a visceral level, the songs just come and go with no real impact, despite sounding exciting if someone were to describe to you what happens throughout each song. Carach Angren is a great band on paper, but underwhelming in practice.

If we take the example of “There’s No Place Like Home”, it’s a pretty good microcosm of the album’s broader problems. About thirty seconds in; we get a section with a blast beat, busy tremolo guitars and slightly-less-busy strings. The guitars and strings are both vying for attention at once, rather than one complimenting the other in more of a supporting role. After a brief retreat for a verse, the blasting section returns again, only this time vocalist/guitarist Seregor has a semi-rapid vocal line, and the rhythm sounds only marginally connected to everything else happening. He’s on-beat, but he’s also one of now three lead parts, all struggling to stick out from each other and none of them being able to craft a hook amongst all the other noise.

Once the song eases up again and settles into a syncopated rhythm, which takes the song into territory that should sound familiar to anyone who has heard Septicflesh, with timpani drums and deeper orchestra instruments working in sync rhythmically with the guitars and kick drum. Even though it brings another band to mind, it’s the perhaps the songs strongest moment, as there’s a focus that seems missing throughout the rest of the song, as well as a sizeable chunk of the album.

“There’s No Place Like Home” serves as a precedent for the rest of ‘This is No Fairytale’, and the outcome is an album where things are overly complex when they demand a degree of simplicity. Anorexia Nervosa worked while having speedier, intricate string parts because the guitar played more of a supporting role. Emperor worked because everything was composed to either play off each other or let one element shine at a given point. Too often, ‘This is No Fairytale’ sounds like a bunch of great individual performances that don’t coalesce as well as they should because they weren’t delivered with the other players in mind. Even then, Carach Angren are talented enough to make this passable, when the result would be disastrous for just about anyone else using the same approach.

Words by: Daniel Jackson

You can pick up a digital copy here and a CD/LP copy here.

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Live Review: Colour Haze + Radio Moscow + Monomyth, March 12, 2015, 013 Tilburg, The Netherlands

March 12, 2015 is going to go into my music journal – yes, I have a music journal – as the day that my appreciation and gratitude for Colour Haze grew. I’ll let you in on a little secret, every time I mention Colour Haze in my music journal I say the same thing. One might call me a scratched record because of this but I’m convinced that due to the ethereal power that is Colour Haze, this statement requires repetition. So what happened on March 12, 2015? Well, Colour Haze visited Tilburg’s 013 for the first time in God-knows-how-long and brought along their friends Monomyth and Radio Moscow to accentuate the onslaught of psychedelic beauty.

Monomyth is a Dutch band who with the release of their latest album, “Further,” found a home at one of Holland’s most respected record labels, Suburban Records. When it comes to local talent, this label doesn’t mess around, so it’s no surprise to see their bands stand tall as opening acts for the crème de la crème of the stoner rock community. Last night, when Monomyth took to the stage and opened the evening with smoke machines and a light show that was worth the ticket price alone, it was no different. The band deserved to be there and was welcomed with open arms. Actually, most of those in attendance stood there with their eyes closed, impervious to the beer flying out of their cups, as their heads bopped round and around to the massive space rock tones moving through the air. After a glorious forty five minutes, the band hung up their instruments, went to go stand with their arms wrapped around each other’s shoulders at the front of the stage and took a bow. As the crowd cheered and clapped, screaming for more, it was obvious Monomyth had just won themselves some new fans.

The next band was Radio Moscow and they immediately won points by being able to set up their stage and get rocking within fifteen minutes. This set the tone for their show – there were no bells and whistles, just music. The bassist and drummer were stage left and center respectively but played as though they were connected at the hip. This firm foundation was needed so guitarist Parker Griggs could freely noodle his way in and out of the heavy bluesy grooves with never ending guitar solos. His smokey, gritty voice commanded attention every time it plowed through the chaotic rumbling of the band. When it comes to Radio Moscow, there’s no shortage of getting down to business, which, when compared to the meandering Monomyth and Colour Haze, highlighted the other side of the psychedelic genre.

My first exposure to Colour Haze was in 2005 when their self-titled came out. The timing for that album was perfect, I had burnt myself out on punk rock and I was looking for something new and Colour Haze was it. Ever since then I have seen every Colour Haze show within a two hour drive from my house, and once I even drove six hours to go see them. For me, the time I spend in the car to get to their shows is meaningless because seeing those three guys up on stage make it all worthwhile. Last night I drove those two hours again and as usual, Colour Haze delivered. They played “She Said” with the most confidence I have ever seen them do that with, moved into “Transformation” while grinning from ear and to ear, and brought two or three songs from their latest album “To the Highest Gods We Know” into the live setting. These songs had a whole new impact as they were finally provided room to breathe rather than being confined to a compact disc. My personal favorite, and based on the crowd’s response I wasn’t alone, was “Aquamaria.” Colour Haze got lost and taken away by this song making it feel as though the music was coming from a different, higher up place, rather than the musicians themselves. This was a humbling moment for myself, and when Koglek, with his bright eyes and trying to hold back a smile, simply said “thank you” after the song’s conclusion, I knew he and his comrades were humbled as well.

There isn’t really much left to say about last night other than Tilburg’s 013 was home, once again, to a night of psychedelic bliss. Monomyth laid down a strong set and set the bar high by doing so. Radio Moscow shuffled for forty five minutes, and Colour Haze tied up all the loose ends and left everyone’s mind blown. I wouldn’t mind seeing this tour come around again.

Words: Victor Van Ommen

Saturday 28 March 2015

Space Bong - In Doom We Crust (EP Review)

In Doom We Crust cover art

Album Type: EP
Date Released: March 19th 2015
Label: Art As Catharsis

In Doom We Crust - Track Listing

1.Deadwood To Worms 14:26
2.In Goon We Crust (b-side) 04:35
3.The Protocols Of Space Bong 13-24 (live) 13:46


Dave: guitar
Jamie: vox 1
Gully: bass
Michael: drums
Monster-D: guitar
Kegan: vox 2


Blackened sludge 6 piece from Adelaide, Australia. Est in 2007, Space Bong have destroyed minds alongside OM, Wolves In The Throne Room, Neurosis, Earthless, Black Cobra, Monarch, Acid King, Cough & Whitehorse. After many years of rehab, isolation & living off-grid, Space Bong will reassert their heavy, loose dominance of the drone in 2015, with the second full length album, Deadwood To Worms.


So almost 6 years since the release of their critically acclaimed and classic debut album – The Death Of Utopia – Aussie Blackened Sludge Overlords – Space Bong – will be releasing a new album – Deadwood To Worms – around Sept 2015. Before then they've released new cassette tape – In Doom We Crust.

According to the PR Blurb – In Doom We Crust’ features the miserable new single ‘Deadwood to Worms,’ alongside ‘In Goon We Crust’ (a b-side from the 2009 sessions for The Death of Utopia), and a live version of The Protocols Of Space Bong 13-24.

Deadwood To Worms is the main attraction here from their eagerly awaited second new album. And boy doesn't this not disappoint. It simply fucking crushes. This is bleak desolate Sludge/Doom Metal at it's most angry and pissed off form. Fans of THOU and EYEHATEGOD are going to be in musical heaven. As this slow-paced epic track will leave you in a shivering wreck. The riffs are drenched in misery and epic depressive rhythms of chaos. The vocals are very hard to understand as Space Bong make their presence known after 6 years away.

There are hints of Stoner Metal hiding amongst the murky and violent riffs. It's an unpleasant experience but one you can only admire. Bring on the new album. As I'm ready for more punishment – Space Bong!!! - The two other tracks are definitely worth checking out especially if you're new to the world of Space Bong. It gives you a taste of what to expect from this legendary band from Down Under.

Thanks to Art As Catharsis for the promo. In Doom We Crust is available to buy now from BandCamp.

Words by Steve Howe

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The Crotals - Fuel! Flames! Blast! (Album Review)

Fuel! Flames! Blast! cover art

Album Type: Album
Date Released: April 3rd 2015
Label: Tenacity Music

Fuel! Flames! Blast! - Track Listing

1.Lipstick On A Pig
2.Never Sorry
3.Black Blizzard
4.Slave Of Damnation
9.Polar Thoughts
10.Desert Odyssey


Maude Oswald (baryton guitar and keyboards)
Guy Borel (guitar & vocals)
Fabrice Marguerat (drums)


The Crotals sound has been compared to High On Fire, Black Tusk and Bison BC. Sure they have a slight passing resemblance to those great bands but I feel this band have their own sound. The Crotals debut album - Fuel! Flames! Blast! - is an angry and violent package of intense Sludge/Stoner Metal to crush your skull to.

Opening track - Lipstick On A Pig - is a furious offering with the band showing early on what their music is all about. Heavy, loud and jagged instrumental work is blended with pitch perfect Hardcore based vocals and growls. It's quite a bass heavy affair with the drumming and guitars adding layers of noise and tension through out.

Second track - Never Sorry - has more of psychedelic edge with the band playing a more fast-paced style of Sludge/Stoner Rock. Yet again the bass guitar is the main driving force on this song as bassist – Maude shows she knows how to play that instrument with passion and heavy precision.

Third track - Black Blizzard - comes at you like an out of control whirlwind devouring everything in its path. This is one of the heaviest songs on the album and the vocals add a sense of dread and doom. The Crotals do show signs of slower paced riffs that gives their music time to breathe and impress you with. Fourth track - Slave of Damnation - offers a more straight-forward Sludge/Stoner Metal experience as the music is very primal with a more Punk Rock edge. The band are having way too much fun here.

This is the kind of album that impresses you from the start as The Crotals have created an album that's big on ideas and riffs that will have you coming back for more. One of the albums strengths is that most of the songs only run for 3 to 4 mins in length so you're never bored. The Crotals pack a lot of ideas within their music despite the 4 minute runtime. For you instrumental Sludge/Stoner Rock fans - The Crotals have your tastes covered with the excellent instrumental grooves of Wrath and it's packed full of glorious fuzz for you to drown your hearing with. This is my fave song off the album as it gives each band member the chance to show people what they can do. Fantastic drumming spliced with impressive lead guitar and bass guitar all vying for your attention. The song has a slight Kylesa/Karma To Burn vibe with the band playing a heavier style of Stoner Rock.

The 2nd half of the album sees The Crotals venture into heavier territory compared to the first half and it becomes more of an exciting album because of it. The fuzz-laiden psych rock grooves gives the band a chance to stake their claim as one of the most exciting bands to look out for within the scene. Tracks such as Blast and Mississippi has some dark humour lurking in the background as the band offer a dark tale of a mysterious monster like snake. The band crank up the tension on Mississippi with finely tuned slow riffs that makes you feel someone is watching you until the band unleash some of the albums heaviest moments. Another one of the albums standout tracks.

Fuel! Flames! Blast! is perfectly named as it's an explosive album to listen to over and over again. The Crotals are another great band to check out from the Swiss Sludge/Stoner Metal scene and this album will hopefully see the band tour within the European Sludge/Stoner Metal scene as they will go down a storm in the live arena. Fuel! Flames! Blast! is a thrilling experience that I can't recommend highly enough. Until the new High On Fire album is released then this is the next best thing for you to buy. High praise. Possibly. Justified. Most definitely.

Thanks to Viral PR for the promo. Fuel! Flames! Blast! will be available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl from Tenacity Music from April 3rd 2015.

Words by Steve Howe

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Deep Aeon - Temple Of Time (Album Review)

Temple of Time cover art

Album Type: Album
Date Released: April 04th 2015
Label: Shithead Records/H42 Records

Temple Of Time - Track Listing

1.Element 24
2.High Trip King
4.With That Priest On The Back Seat
5.Noises From Aeon


Time for some good old fashioned Stoner Rock where the grooves and riffs are matched by some great hard-rocking vocals. Deep Aeon may not sound the most original of Stoner Rock bands but that doesn't stop them being an exciting band to spend 30 mins of your day with. As their debut album - Temple Of Time - is a thrilling and action packed ride from start to finish.

Deep Aeon get straight down to business with the heavy blues/stoner rock track - Element 24 - that sees the band in full confident mood with a great outlook on all things Stoner Rock. It's also good that the band have written great and often humorous lyrics to match the music that will leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling inside. If you're a fan of Old-School Desert Rock/Stoner/Fuzz Rock then Deep Aeons is the band for you and you can hear various nods to Kyuss, Truckfighters and Fu Manchu. It may take time to get used to the vocals but you can't deny what a great singer he actually is.

Second track - High Trip King – offers more of the same good time high energy vibes of the opening track though with Deep Aeon bringing a slice of psychedelic rock to the action. Deep Aeon know what needs to be done to entertain the heck out of you. This is good old fashioned Stoner Rock that's made for one thing. Mainly to get you into the mood to rock out and they succeed on all levels. The instrumental work is superb through out as the band have a keen talent for writing impressive riffs.

The rest of the album follows the same template as the opening two tracks and that's a good thing. You can enjoy the rest of the ride as Deep Aeon have a few more great tunes for you to check out - Floating, Noises From Aeon and the last epic track - River. River is possibly the standout track of the whole album as the band decide to let fly with heavy fuzz/blues/stoner rock mayhem to end the album on a loud finish. This album may not be high on originality but it's still a great album for you to check out.

Shame there isn't a couple of more songs on the 'album as it could have done with a couple of mores to expand Deep Aeon's sound. Other than that give this album a spin and you will be rewarded with 30 minutes of top class vintage stoner rock music. Excellent and Highly Recommended.

Thanks to H42 Records/Shithead Records for the promo. Temple of Time will be released on CD/DD/Vinyl from Shithead Records/H42 Records on April 04th 2015.

Words by Steve Howe

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Wednesday 25 March 2015

Problem With Dragons - Starquake (Album Review)

Album Type: Album
Date Released: March 10th 2015
Label: Self Released

Starquake - Track Listing

Wizard Mode 03:38
Starquake 09:06
We Have Us 05:39
Sideways 05:18
Something 05:35
Atomics Pt. II 05:58
Ground Zero 06:29
Both Hands 06:13


Erc on Thud //
Mojogrone on Ripper Tech //
Roberta on Big Mouth Feedback


Problem With Dragons. So what type of band would you think would call themselves this? Pagan Metal or Power Metal. That's what I thought when I a friend of mine recommended them to me to check out. I thought he was having a laugh at my expense. Though it turns out the joke is on me as Problem With Dragons is a brilliant Sludge/Stoner Metal Band who have just released their debut album - Starquake. Another thing that almost turned me off this band as I thought the album was named after a Transformer or something. 

Joking aside - Starquake - is one of the best unexpected surprises I've had in a really long time reviewing albums. As I didn't know what to expect from this album. What I got was a loud and violent exercise in heavy riffs with a very dangerous addictive edge. Problem With Dragons sound is very hard to describe. Parts Stoner, Sludge, Punk, Hard Rock, Doom, Grunge Classic Rock, Heavy Metal and Prog Rock. This is a band who knows how to defy musical genres and give it the middle thing it richly deserves.

Opening track - Wizard Mode - is pure heavy destructive rock and roll in it's most purest form. As the band branch out into pure punk based Stoner Rock carnage with hints of violent psych rock being beating up in the corner just for the fun of it. The vocals are more of the clean based variety though you can hear strands of in-your-face punk rock waiting to burst out. Shades of digitized sounds provide a more rounded experience as the band project a sound that feels it's almost coming to life. It gives you a brief glimpse on what to expect for the rest of the album.

Second track - Starquake - is the albums standout track - 9 mins of distorted Hard Rock/Metal vocals lead the way for an exciting Sludge/Stoner/Space Rock journey that feels like the music that Mastodon should actually be making themselves for their last few albums. Problem With Dragons create a rich tapestry of different noises and riffs where it can be very hard to keep up with at times. When the band start adding Over The Top distorted vocals you feel the album turning into a more sinister progressive metal affair. That's one of the albums strengths as it changes it's identity without a care in the world. It shouldn't really work but Problem With Dragons pull this off with conviction and style. The band even finds the time to add a creepy ambient synth sound to leave you feeling someone is watching you from afar.

Third Track - We Have Us - carries on the frenzied and schizophrenic affair with the band focusing on both style and substance. It's more of a straight-forward Sludge/Stoner Rock song with the riffs being interlaced with a Thrash style sound and the vocals feel that they're being projected from a different world or universe. It's to the bands credit they're not afraid to take risks on their debut album and to show people there’s a lot more to their music. The lyrics can be very hard to work out at times. My advice, just sit back and enjoy the crazy ride. It will be easier in the long run. Fourth track - Sideways - has a more classic grunge feel though it's still crazy as heck. It's one of the albums other standout tracks as the band once again pack so many insane and great ideas that had me questioning what am I listening to. The only answer I could come up with was - a brilliantly written debut album that demands your full attention.

Progressive Sludge/Stoner Metal is the main key here as the band lay down some of the albums most impressive riffs and vocal delivery. The twin delivery of the guitars and vocals has a slight Thin Lizzy/Mastodon kind of vibe but still maintains the crazy and twisted vibe of the band itself. Other songs for the band to confuse and delight you with include the remaining four tracks - Something, Atomics Part 2, Ground Zero and Both Hands as the band unleash more stunning riffs to slay you with.

Ground Zero and Both Hands will probably impress the most on the 2nd half of the album as Problem With Dragons are not going to let this album end without a fight. The 2nd half of the album sees the band venture more into Psychedelic Rock/Metal territory. It's still a noisy and exciting experience as Starquake is an album you will be listening to for days on end. Problem With Dragons maybe a very hard band to categorize but Starquake is an essential album to own. If you want something exciting and original in the land of Sludge/Stoner Metal then you will find this album very hard to beat. Brilliant!!!

Thanks to the band for the promo. Starquake is available to buy on DD now.

Words by Steve Howe

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