Friday 31 March 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Palmer - "Surrounding The Void"

By: Charlie Butler

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 24/02/2017
Label: Czar of Bullets

Over the course of an hour, the band chart an ever-shifting course through crushing riffs, head-scratching math metal, serene post-rock and immense soundscapes. It’s an exhilarating journey that makes me wonder how a band of this quality have stayed under the radar for so long.  It’s definitely time for Palmer to emerge from the shadows to gain the respect they deserve.

“Surrounding The Void” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Home Is Where I Lead You
2. Misery 
3. Divergent
4. Artein
5. Digital Individual
6. Fate_Hope
7. Import Unity
8. Rising
9. Implosion

The Review:

Swiss post-metal powerhouse, Palmer, celebrate their sixteenth year of existence with a monstrous new LP, “Surrounding The Void”. Over the course of an hour, the band chart an ever-shifting course through crushing riffs, head-scratching math metal, serene post-rock and immense soundscapes. It’s an exhilarating journey that makes me wonder how a band of this quality have stayed under the radar for so long.

“Home Is Where I Lead You” is a bold opening statement, an epic construction of whirlwind riffs and swings in mood that recalls much-missed compatriots Kruger and Knut. There are also hints of the mammoth compositions of Zatokrev, whose Frederyk Rotter released “Surrounding The Void” via his Czar of Bullets label. “Misery” and “Digital Individual” inflict similar damage while “Divergent” and “Rising” find Palmer sprawling into the outer limits. These two behemoths push the ten minute mark, with the former embracing droned-out cosmic sounds, while the latter culminates in an almost-anthemic, melodic climax.

Artein” shows Palmer are equally effective when exercising restraint. An understated instrumental that subtly twists and turns, the band show they can be captivating without having to resort to cheap quiet/loud post-rock tricks. Subdued closer “Implosion” exists in the same realm, building layers of hypnotic guitar into a tower of ambient sound, charred around the edges by smouldering distortion.

Import Unity” is the only slight mis-step here, an attempt at a more concise straight-ahead metal track that doesn’t quite come off. The virtuoso shredding at the end of the track is particularly jarring and at odds with the rest of the LP. 

Surrounding The Void” is a complex beast that covers a wide sonic spectrum from dense heaviness to spectral calm. It’s definitely time for Palmer to emerge from the shadows to gain the respect they deserve.

“Surrounding The Void” is available here

Band info: official || facebook

INTERVIEW: "A Body of Work" - An Interview with Stefan Koglek of Colour Haze

By: Victor Van Ommen

Ah, Colour Haze. For 25 years, this German band has been gently making big waves in the heavy psych genre. Their grainy, organic sound and melodies are unique to Colour Haze and have set a blueprint to which other European psych bands are trying to play to.

This month, Colour Haze – Stefan Koglek on vocals and guitar, Philipp Rasthofer on bass, and Manfred Merwald on drums – released on CD yet another masterpiece of an album, “In Her Garden,” on their own Elektrohasch Records. The review for this album is pending until I receive the vinyl release, because that’s the best way to take this band in. The vinyl won’t be out until May so you'll just have to whet your appetite for more Colour Haze with the interview below.

Band info: official || facebook

TRACK PREMIERE: Finnish death/doom executioners Altar of Betelgeuze unleash "Advocates of Deception"

Altar of Betelgeuze from Finland are onto something special. Not content with playing either doom or death metal, the band merge influences from both realms so to speak and create a seamless sound where clean singing and growls both have a place. 

Essentially Altar of Betelgeuze play stoner doom but with the heaviness and relative structuring of death metal. Long, winding songs that are at once emotive and crushing enthral the listener for extended periods of time, while you are left wondering about suitable parallels for this unique band. 'Among the Ruins' their brand new album set for release via Transcending Obscurity Records is a definitive present-day album, when it's no longer about mimicking your idols but taking the sound forward in a logical, sincere manner. 

Today at The Sludgelord it gives us great pleasure to premiere the track six from the album “Advocates of Deception” which you can check out below.  Preorders for 'Among the Ruins' are available here

Band info: facebook || bandcamp

Thursday 30 March 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Rozamov - "This Mortal Road"

By: Andre Almaraz

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 03/03/2017
Label: Battleground Records

 “This Mortal Road” a monolithic behemoth which starts off with a lumbering, pounding rhythm summoned straight from the bowels of hell and does not let up its sonic assault for albums duration. 

“This Mortal Road” CS//CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). This Mortal Road
2). Wind Scopion
3). Serpent Cult
4). Swallowed and Lost
5). Inhumation

The Review:

Rozamov is a band who I’ve been following for several years now, ever since I had seen them play a small club in Chicago back in July of 2013. They made an impression on me then that still holds my interest into the present day and I am pleased to have the opportunity to review their newest offering. Up for review is their fourth recording, yet first full length album, “This Mortal Road,” which was just recently released on March 3rd, 2017.
 The album begins with the title track; a monolithic behemoth which starts off with a lumbering, pounding rhythm summoned straight from the bowels of hell and does not let up its sonic assault for almost eleven minutes. The blunt force trauma of the opening riff is eventually slightly offset by some clean vocals, giving the opening segment a very haunting and melancholy feel. The tune is primarily instrumental, but as that thundering opening riff returns toward the end of the song after an introverted and sullen sounding period in the middle, this time they choose to scorch over the top of it with aggressive, shouted vocals, giving it a completely different, more venomous feel the second time around. The second track, “Wind Scorpion,” keeps the lava flowing freely as the scorching vocals chime in right from the top and all the way through this one. This song gives a small ray of hope to the overall bleak landscape by way of a meaningful, expressive guitar solo near the end; a very nice touch. 

The third track, “Serpent Cult,” would have been perfect for the soundtrack of the original Conan The Barbarian motion picture as its serpentine riffs are the sonic equivalent of slithering through the barren desert sands and across hot rocks as you bake in the midday sun. The vocals accompany almost every riff in this one, again employing both clean and aggressive variants, and they all sound phenomenal as always. The fourth track, “Swallowed And Lost,” is a short piano piece set to a backdrop of blowing winds and ominous spoken word echoed out to almost unintelligible proportions with some low end rumble and noise thrown in for good measure. At just under two minutes in length, the piece serves as a brief intermission from all the downtrodden misery before they cast you right back into the depths of their devoted and dire devices, devoid of life, which brings us to the closing track….

 “Inhumation” is the longest song on the recording at a massive eleven and a half minutes from start to finish. This mournful canticle is a true testament to what Rozamov truly is, and wraps the album up nicely as they close the final chapter to leave us stranded in this desolate desert world which they’ve created. The final four and a half minutes of the song slow to a suffocating crawl, as you feel your breath slipping away until finally, we have transitioned through to breach the land of the dead. 

Rozamov has always had a signature sound and the production on this particular release is a perfect storm of low end boomed down into oblivion and high end elevated to laser precision which compliments their song writing style perfectly. The music is extremely expressive and “This Mortal Road” is a collection of darkened dirges that make the perfect soundtrack to accommodate the reminiscence of painful personal memories and thoughts of loved ones who are no longer with us in this dimension. The band is a tightly honed three piece unit of power and complexity which is currently on tour in promotion of this new album, and I highly recommend you witness their live show any time you are able. 

“This Mortal Road” is available digitally here and on CS//CD//LP vinyl here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Wednesday 29 March 2017

TRACK PREMIERE: Remedy your musical hangover with Hair of the Dog's new single "This World Turns"

“This World Turns” is the third studio album from Scottish rock trio Hair of the Dog. Recorded and produced with Graeme Young of Chamber Studios (Hair of the Dog, The Siren's Song) and mixed by James Atkinson of the Gentlemans Pistols , “This World Turns” is Hair of the Dogs most experimental and adventurous album to date. As with previous albums, “This World Turns” acts as a snapshot of the bands life experiences - this time focusing on themes of maturity, responsibility and reflection:

"Since the release of our debut album, our lives have all changed rather drastically. Jon now has two kids, Iain is married and I'm engaged due to be married later this year! Naturally, these choices force you to reflect on your life, how you've lived it and how you WANT to live it moving forward. “This World Turns” is an album that focuses on the theme of viewing the world through aged eyes. We're not kids anymore, yeah we can still party with the best of them, but we always write truthfully and from the heart - so the themes throughout this album are a lot more mature as a result. The main message of the album, is that no matter what happens in your life, This World Turns -  that it always turn, so make the most of your time here, because as good ol'Bill said "This is Just a Ride".

“This World Turns” will be released on digital, CD and Vinyl via Kozmik Artifactz this summer but if the prospect of waiting that long is killing you, worry not because today, we can exclusively premiere a brand new track in the form of album opener “This World Turns”.  If that wasn’t enough the band are giving away the track for free, which you can download hereA Full track list for the album and artwork can also be viewed below. 

“This World Turns” CD//DD//LP track listing

1. This World Turns
2. Keeping Watch Over The Night
3. Ctrl-Alt-Delete
4. The Colours in Her Skin
5. In Death's Hands
6. 4AM

Band info: bandcamp || facebook || instagram

ALBUM REVIEW: Rezn - "Let It Burn"

By: Victor Van Ommen

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 17/02/2017
Label: Independent


REZN relies on hefty passages of music but the key to the band’s sound is how they combine this heft with a droning melody. Imagine Velvet Underground wrapped up in a Mars Red Sky jacket and you’ll understand why these Chicago boys are worth your attention.  This is a gem of a debut and albums of this quality don’t come around very often

“Let It Burn” DD track listing:

1). Relax
2). Wake
3). Dread
4). Rezurrection
5). Harvest the Void
6). Pipe Dream
7). The Creature
8). Fall into the Sky
9). Orbit
10). Astral Sage

The Review:

REZN’s “Let it Burn” might go down in history as a gem of an album that no one has ever heard. That’s unfortunate, but let’s band together and try and change that!

REZN relies on hefty passages of music but the key to the band’s sound is how they combine this heft with a droning melody. Imagine Velvet Underground wrapped up in a Mars Red Sky jacket and you’ll understand why these Chicago boys are worth your attention.

At an hour long, “Let It Burn” is one of those sit-down-and-listen albums. It demands attention. The first four tracks – all singular word titles – flow from one into the next, subtly building on one another, culminating in the heavy psych groove of “Rezurrection.” A steady beat and hypnotic guitar line carry this song on as their singer(s) swallows the lyrics with a long, drawn out and layered delivery. Very spacey and very cool.

The transition from “Rezurrection” into “Harvest the Void” is smooth, passing by almost unnoticed. It doesn’t take long before the latter’s intro proves a deception, and REZN turns up the gas from here on out. The calm, morose setting that REZN set in the album’s front half is used in the back half as a starting point for the band to run off and explore from.

Case in point; lay opener “Relax” next to track 7, “The Creature.” Both are solidified by a plodding melody, but do so in different ways. “Relax” calls on the listener to do just as the title suggests, whereas “The Creature” jumps around in a doomy chorus ripe for some good old fashioned slow head banging. Without losing grasp of the slow push, REZN manages to find ways to increase in intensity. “Fall Into Sky,” for example plays loud and soft off of each other, but does so in such a way that the softer moments of the song hold more tension than the rolling riffs in the louder parts.

Keep an eye out for these guys. Debut albums like these are few and far between. REZN know what they’re going for and they know how to make it their own. What works against them is that the spacey-doom-rock genre is so oversaturated that it’s going to take a steady growth of listeners to be exposed to this band.

“Let it Burn” is available here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

REVIEW: Whitehorse/Upyr - "Split"

By: Daniel Jackson

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 14/02/2017
Label: Vendetta Records

Split LP’//DD track listing:

1). Whitehorse - Settled Dust
2). Upyr - Rise of the Mighty Tyrant
3). Upyr - Webs of Sorrow

The Review:

Split albums are a difficult thing to do well. The issues you’re likely to run into with them are usually one of the following: either one band is obviously the better of the two, or the bands aren’t great counterparts stylistically. The split we’re discussing here, from Australia’s Whitehorse and Bulgaria’s Upyr, doesn’t suffer massively from either issue. Neither band is drastically better than the other either, but they are different enough that you’ll likely prefer one over the other. And really that’s what will either make or break this experience for you: are you able to enjoy the shift in styles from one band to the other over the course of the whole album? My short answer is yes, but with some caveats.

Whitehorse is a very stalwart, consistent death/doom band. They stay largely in their preferred lane, and take a more subtle and nuanced approach to evolving their lone, 19 minute track. The changes aren’t stark or abrupt, but measured and carefully considered. “Settled Dust” maintains a fairly uniform tempo throughout, and a pretty bleak and harsh tone, which carries things through the first half. It’s all about massive chords and downbeats. The drumming gets slightly busier at certain points, and there is some effective use of droning noise in the background for the sake of adding extra tension, but otherwise things continue on at a slow, steady pace.

At about half way through the song, the emotional vibe changes gears and the song becomes more melancholy and sorrowful. Accompanied by pensive strings, the song shifts its character, but remains tied to the music that leads up to it through its glacially slow tempo. The songs begins to dissipate, as layers are stripped away until the last bit of noise is snuffed out, like someone blowing out a candle. Preferences being what they are, Whitehorse’s contribution is less adventurous (as we’re about to get into), but ultimately more satisfying in my case.

Upyr’s material is a bit more out there. “Rise of the Mighty Tyrant” begins as something of a traditional 80s doom song. The riff is slow but buoyant, with something of straight up rock n’ roll personality. But after that, the songs vary between sludge and a southern-style variation of it, doom, and even black metal. To say that vocalist Brodnik tries around a dozen or so vocal styles over the course of the Upyr’s 21 minutes of album time would not be an exaggeration. That they pull all of this off reasonably well is pretty damned impressive, but also gets to the heart of why I prefer Whitehorse’s side of the album.

To put it bluntly: Upyr puts out a vibe that they’re more interested in trying things out for the sake of having fun than they are in putting together something that always plays to their strengths as musicians and performers. There’s nothing wrong with that mindset, but it also risks the end result being a hit or miss experience. That’s what this is. There’s a lot of cool shit going on here, but some of it falls short of what they were aiming for.

Upyr’s strong suit is as a heavy, rhythmically diverse black and doom metal band with a hint of mid-90s goth metal as they are towards the end of “Rise of the Mighty Tyrant” and again in the very early and then later half of “Webs of Sorrow”. Embracing those strengths going forward would give them plenty to occupy themselves with creatively, while focusing on what they’re best at when jumping from style to style.

When considered as a whole, there are a lot more that hits rather than misses, and the album rewards you throughout. There’s something to be said for contrasting a band so orthodox and sure of themselves against a band that with a partial identity crisis; though you could argue that Upyr’s constant genre hopping and vocal histrionics ARE its identity, which is fair. But between each band, there more than enough here to warrant a solid recommendation. There’s just too much that works overall to be denied.

Whitehorse/Upyr” is available here

Tuesday 28 March 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Radiant Knife - "Radiant Knife"

By: Ben Fitts

Album Type:  Full Length
Date Released: 13/01/2017
Label: Independent

Radiant Knife plays the sort of sludge-infused progressive metal popularized by fellow southerners Mastodon, but play the style very much in their own way.  Their self-titled debut is packed with inventive song structures and trampling riffs that are underscored by a strong sense of melody. It is an exciting debut from a band with a lot of promise. 

“Radiant Knife” CS//DD track listing:

1). Choose your necrodestination
2). Vacant faces
3). Haze
4). Emotional Wastelands
5). Shedding Black
6). The Lude

The Review:

While guitar and drum duos with scrappy production have managed to stay in style since The White Stripes released their debut album almost twenty years ago, very few of them have wandered into the musical territory of Louisiana-based band Radiant Knife. The band plays the sort of sludge-infused progressive metal popularized by fellow southerners Mastodon, but Radiant Knife play the style very much in their own way. The grimy production of their self-titled debut brings out a coarseness in the songs that is absent from the sleekly produced albums by the Mastodons and the Baronesses of the world. 

The track “Choose Your Necrodestination”, a synth laden instrumental full of thumping guitar riffs and alien atmosphere, opens the album. The track is followed by the significantly more somber “Vacant Spaces”, which features an understated, morose melody and culminates with a slow, grinding riff that is one of the most memorable moments on the album. Radiant Knife increase their tempos and their onslaught with rapid fire riffing and thunderous vocals on “Haze”. This burst of hostility is nicely contrasted by the album’s following track, “Emotional Wastelands”, which rings with joyous grooving, falsetto vocals and is certainly the most fun track anywhere on the album.

Radiant Knife clearly enjoy orchestrating sudden departures, again leaning into contrasting feelings with their next track, the nine minute and thirty-four second long “Shedding Black”. The darkest, most despairing track on the debut, “Shedding Black” is loaded with chiming dissonances, washy guitar tones, harsh riffs and dramatic dynamic contrast. The album ends on the track “The Lude”, which is similar in mood to the earlier track “Vacant Faces”. Calm and solemn, “The Lude” roars and rumbles its way to the album’s end. Radiant Knife’s self-titled debut is packed with inventive song structures and trampling riffs that are underscored by a strong sense of melody. It is an exciting debut from a band with a lot of promise.  

“Radiant Knife” is available here

Band info:  bandcamp || facebook

Sunday 26 March 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Stinking Lizaveta - "Journey to the Underworld"

By: Charlie Butler

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 17/02/2017
Label: Translation Loss

Stinking Lizaveta’s new album “Journey to the Underworld” finds the band in deadly form, crafting music that is seriously weird and complex yet still delivers an addictive riff high.

“Journey to the Underworld” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Witches and Pigs
2. Chorus of Shades
3. Sharp Stick in the Eye
4. Six Fangs
5. Blood, Milk and Honey
6. Journey to the Underworld
7. Love Song For Jusu
8. A Stranger's Welcome
9. Allegro

The Review:

It’s an impressive feat for a band to be in their 23rd year of existence to release an LP that sounds as raw and hungry as a debut. Stinking Lizaveta’s new album “Journey to the Underworld” finds the band in deadly form, crafting music that is seriously weird and complex yet still delivers an addictive riff high.

The Philadelphia trio have honed their idiosyncratic sound to perfection here, delivered with a telepathic tightness. The band’s style of riffage recalls retro rockers like of Earthless and Comets On Fire but is so vital and fresh it could only have come from the present. Instead of the endless molten jams into the outer realms of the previously mentioned acts, Stinking Lizaveta travel just as far into the unknown but tie themselves into carefully orchestrated labyrinthine constructions but still find room for wild unhinged solos.

The propulsive drive of opener “Witches and Pigs” contains traces of proper Thin Lizzy-esque classic rock while “Chorus of Shades” features some glorious shredding and irresistible leads that are steeped in NWOBHM. “Sharp Stick in the Eye” is an almost funky strut with a groove that winds itself tighter and tighter as the band’s playing gets more frenetic.  There is a heaviness and darkness in these songs though that sees them slip across into noise rock territory, an underlying nastiness that adds a sweet sharpness to proceedings.

The title track seems them ease up a little on the intensity to allow a little psychedelic rock to bubble to the surface. “A Stranger’s Welcome” sees them employ passages of acoustic guitar to bring a spaghetti western dustbowl feel which although brief provides a powerful contrast to the epic riffage that surrounds it.

“Journey to the Underworld” is another incredible release from a truly unique band. Stinking Lizaveta manage to make instrumental metal that sounds like nothing else out there. Here’s to another 23 years of madness 

“Journey to the Underworld” is available here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

6 NEW BANDS: Nikos Mixas' 666 Pack Review for March 2017

The 666 Pack Review

It’s the March edition of The Sludgelord’s 666 Pack Review and it’s time to clean out the chasm of demos sent to us this month. If you’re new to this, each and every month we handpick 6 review submissions and critique them by only using 6 words, then we rate them on a scale from 1 to 666!  In addition, this month we have included a bonus review, so be sure to check out that review as well as our awesome rating scale below: 

1 – Somehow you were missed when we were spring cleaning.  Goodbye.     
2Iron Maiden’sIdes of March” is still too much for you to handle.
3 – You’re average, just like corned beef and cabbage. 
4 – Just like spring, you warm our soul…
5 – You make other bands green with envy.
666 – March was named after Mars, the Roman God of war, and after listening to you, The Sludgelord want to go to battle!

March is when winter’s end is just around the corner and things start to bloom, including a new batch of bands.  The Sludgelord will listen to several dozen bands throughout the year but only some will be of his liking.  The Sludgelord is a picky listener…and doesn’t care what you think of his opinions….

1). Stonerror - “Stonerror” – (Krakow, Poland)    Rating: 3

Kyuss and Queens worship…not bad…

bandcamp || facebook

2). Starmonger - “Revelation II”(Paris, France)   Rating: 4

Hook laden, stoner rock.  Oui, oui!

3). Dwaal - “Demo” – (Oslo, Norway)   Rating: 4

Doom on while you exit winter.

bandcamp || facebook

4). Floods - “Floods” – (Brooklyn, NY)   Rating: 2

Super messy conglometion of several genres.

5). Cacus - “Dirty filthy godless” – (Copenhagen, Denmark)   Rating: 666

Unruly energized sludge ala Iron Monkey.

6). Montezuma’s Revenge - “Them” – (Moscow, Russia)   Rating: 666

Even more unruly sludge ala Eyehategod!

OroborO – “Baked Acid” By: Ben Fitts

Sometimes a title can perfectly encapsulate the essence of the work that it monikers. “Baked Acid”, the title of the newest demo from the Amherst, Massachusetts based experimental/heavy noise quartet OroborO, is a perfect example of such. “Baked Acid” is seven minutes of fizzy guitar fuzz, stomping grooves, potently jagged production and frantic, crazed, often shrieking vocals. The greatest strength of the lengthy track is the presence of numerous organically executed changes of pace, mood and dynamics. These stark contrasts exaggerate the characteristics of each new section, causing each one to be that much more distinctive. “Baked Acid” will swarm over your eardrums like a hive of mutant killer wasp and trap you in a toxic fog of sludgy riffs, grinding rhythms and top notch noise mongering.