Tuesday, 27 December 2016

6 BANDS TO CHECK OUT: The 2016 666 Pack Review

 By: Victor Van Ommen

Six records from the last Six months discussed in a little over Six sentences

Darsombra – “Polyvision

Leave any hope for melodies, soaring guitar solos, or jaw-dropping drumming by the wayside if you’ve come so far as to put on Darsombra’s new album “Polyvision.” This duo from Baltimore (go O’s!) nestles themselves deep inside a murky drone of psychedelic proportions which are second to none.

Containing two movements clocking in at an immersive, immense, vinyl-ready 45 minutes, Darsombra’s music is to be listened to with headphones on. Each second of each minute is just as important as the last, for each building block in Darsombra contributes equally to the creation of vibe and most of all energy. As a result, “Polyvision” is a wild ride that traverses a broad sonic spectrum at a lethargic pace and wraps the listener in a warm blanket of psychedelic serenity. If your mind is open enough to the idea that stoner rock should not be limited to your everyday set up of a drummer, a bassist, two guitarists, and a whiskey-soaked singer, then Darsombra will find you well.

Polyvision” is available here

Band info: facebook

Stone Machine Electric – “Solicits es Veritatem

What starts out as your typical doomed-out, riff-based, muscle flexer, “Sollicitus es Veritatem” certainly ends somewhere completely different than where it started. Riffs are, without a doubt, the central theme to this Hurst, Texas duo but riffs are by no means everything this band is packing. Edgy instrumental passages led by jazzy guitar solos traded off with thump-thy-chest-and-chew-on-gravel verses all find a way into the course of these five tracks. And then there are the Wyndorfian, space rock choruses that have a unique way of saying screw the man. Through this all, Stone Machine Electric never forgets that despite their politically charged message, music is also about being creative and not taking yourself too seriously. It’s this balance of heavy riffing, heavy content, and unique skill that is the band’s strength. So whether you’re in the mood to get all grumpy about the state of affairs or you just want to rock out, Stone Machine Electric is the disc you should be grabbing for.

Solicits es Veritatem” is available here

Band info: facebook

Albino Rhino – “Upholder

Rhythmically repetitive, melodically lush, and pushed forward by a steady ride on the cymbals, Albino Rhino make no secret that they’re a heavy-psych by the numbers band. But this album isn’t about what they are, it’s about how they do it. Their low end is so organic and full that it pushes up the overall sound of the band, providing a pedestal for each player to take off of. Sometimes slow, other times a little faster, there’s never any empty space – again, thanks to that tasty, tasty bass – which gives Albino Rhino that exploratory sound. The band follows the music, they let it take them to places like a ride along on a psychedelic field trip. This trip is worth taking, that’s for sure, especially if you’re the type to listen to music with your eyes closed and headphones on.

Upholder” is available here

Band info: facebook

Baby Woodrose – “Freedom”

Baby Woodrose blasts through the atmosphere on their new album “Freedom.” The psych rock journey that this Copenhagen four piece takes you on lacks not in twists and turns and swallows the listener whole in the process. Much like their North American counterparts Monster Magnet, Baby Woodrose drive their point home by way of distorted, jangly guitars, effect-laden vocals, wild guitar solos, and huge choruses. Singer Lorenzo Woodrose takes time to preach his politics but also shines a light on the good side of life; the side in which wars are a distant memory and love and peace stand strong at the fore. This is the band’s mission statement and it makes them a force to be reckoned with. The songs are tight, the balance between freaking out and staying level is perfect, and the band shows more substance than just a run of the mill psych band relying on zany guitar solos.

Freedom” is available here

Band info: official

Thee Arthur Layne – “HVY DRT Vol.II”

Can you hear that crunch, those harmonicas, and that motherfucking croon? You’re god damned right, you hear that! It’s Thee Arthur Layne, checking in with one more EP, “Heavy Dirt Vol. II,” before 2016 checks out.  Sure, Thee Arthur Layne is 70’s influenced – indebted – and what not, but it’s the soul that these bad boys have managed to capture that makes this a band to look out for. After all, when soul is delivered with this much power and conviction, it’s sure to be heard up and down the country. So watch out for these guys in 2017 because there’s something bubbling here, and if you’re not prepared for it, you might spend a lot of time in the new year shopping for new socks (because, you know, they’ve been rocked off).

“HVY DRT Vol.II” is available here

Band info: facebook

Moon Coven – “Moon Coven”

Man, Moon Coven’s drum sound is something else. It’s as though their drummer uses aluminum baseball bats instead of wooden sticks to hack away at a kit made of steel. This alone makes Moon Coven’s self-titled sophomore outing something to throw on the old hi-fi set. As far as the songs are concerned, though, there’s not much different this time around in comparison to the band’s seminal debut, “Amanita Kingdom.” There, the band made a remarkable attempt at pushing the boundaries of occult rock without sounding rehashed, which seems to be the formula once again on this outing. It’s good to hear Moon Coven diving deeper into what made “Amanita Kingdom” unique, but it would suit the band better if they had continued to explore the niche of the genre they were fleshing out two years ago.

“Moon Coven” is available here

Band info: facebook