Monday 30 July 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Ravens Creed, "Get Killed or Try Dying"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 02/08/2018
Label: Xtreem Music

Total misanthropy. That's what sums up Ravens Creed. This is masterful thrash/death metal for people who hate everything and/or like Venom

“Get Killed or Try Dying” CD//DD track listing:

1). Intro – Unrelenting Extremity
2). Dead Bird on Winchester Street
3). Death on a Rival
4). Get Killed or Try Dying
5). Hymn or Hearse
6). Off with their Legs
7). Treacherous Rector
8). Rats Beneath Our Feet
9). Remember the Hammer
10). Sound of Sirens
11). When a Deaf Man Goes Blind
12). The Trauma of Being Haunted
13). Outro

The Review:

Ravens Creed have always been a feral and vicious beast, but this album sees them return with a new level of aggression and power. After the knockout one-two combination of “Albion Thunder” and then “The Power”, their third record “Ravens Krieg” suffered a little in terms of songs. No such issue here: once again it is just wall to wall riffs from Iron Monkey's Steve Watson. The songs all clock in short and are tightly wound.

Rod Boston and Jay Graham supply a lock tight rhythm section and Al Osta's sandpaper growl compliments this full metal racket perfectly. You get thirteen tracks, all around the two or three minute mark, non stop thrash/death metal with no pretensions whatsoever.

What are Ravens Creed in this for? World domination? No. They hardly play any gigs, aren't interested in promoting themselves and are unlikely to trouble the promoters of Download any time soon. Extremity, then? Pushing the musical boundaries? Not really- there are really catchy elements to most tracks here and the riffs are the work of a true master craftsman. I can only conclude that it's just pure hatred keeps them going.

Total misanthropy. That's what sums up Ravens Creed. That and pun ridden song titles, of course. Masterful thrash/death from the East Midlands by way of West Yorkshire. For people who hate everything and/or like Venom.

“Get Killed or Try Dying” is available to pre-order/buy here

Band info: facebook || bandcamp

Sunday 29 July 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Lord, "Desperation Finds Hunger in All Men"

By: Charlie Butler

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 24/08/2018
Label: Heavy Hound Records

“Desperation Finds Hunger In All Men” takes the thrash infused sludge of last years “Blacklisted” record and blows it up on a grand scale to deliver the Virginia quintet’s finest work to date.

“Desperation Finds Hunger In All Men” CD//DD track listing:

1). No Sunrise on the Third
2). Scorched
3). Nature Knows No Kings
4). At First I Didn’t Believe It
5). La Fleur du Cobalt
6). August 11, 2017
7). Whispering Snakes
8). Mutilation Rites
9). Have A Look For Yourself
10). This Lonesome Linger

The Review:

The joyous news of the arrival of a new Lord album is tempered by the fact it will be their last. “Desperation Finds Hunger In All Men” takes the thrash infused sludge of last years “Blacklisted” record and blows it up on a grand scale to deliver the Virginia quintet’s finest work to date.

It is not certain whether or not this release was created knowing it was to be Lord’s swansong. Either way, it is brimming with a fearless urgency and restless urge to experiment that feels born of a band determined to go down swinging. “No Sunrise On The Third” wastes no time in getting things moving with a rumbling Soundgarden style riff. Lord soon introduces a healthy dose of southern sludge Down would be proud of and some surprisingly melodic vocals which contrast well with the surrounding heaviness.

From here, “Desperation Finds Hunger In All Men” charts a journey through concise, fist-pumping stoner anthems like “At First I didn’t Believe It” and “Whispering Snakes” and massive, slowly-unfolding epics. “Scorched” comes across like Crowbar branching out into progressive territory while “La Fleur Da Cobalt” finds the band at their most passionate and enraged. Most devastating of all is the monstrous “Nature Knows No Kings”. It begins with what feels like the cacophonous climax of a punishing doom track and proceeds to drive a single ominous riff further and further into the depths of despair. Over the course of eight and a half minutes, Lord create a broiling cauldron of crushing sludge, squalling feedback, unhinged lead guitar and desperate vocals that makes for a unique ride into the beyond.

Just when you thought there were no more twists and turns to negotiate on this LP, Lord sign off with “This Lonesome Linger”, a twelve minute acoustic piece. The style really suits the band with their complex compositions working equally as well with the volume down, embellished with string arrangements.

Lord can be proud that they have gone out on a high with “Desperation Finds Hunger In All Men”. Hopefully this album will inspire others to follow their path into uncharted waters of doom and sludge.

“Desperation Finds Hunter In All Men” is available to preorder/buy here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Saturday 28 July 2018

REST IN POWER: Mark Shelton's journey through Manilla Road & Beyond

By: Richard Maw

Once again, one of the metal world’s heroes has passed on into the next world- whatever that may be. Mark Shelton is gone at 60 years old. Mark helmed Manilla Road through the years from the late 70s onwards; give or take a hiatus here or there. This warrior of true metal stayed active and creative throughout his musical life and is one of the very, very few musicians to reactivate a band that went on to greater success and recognition after their comeback.

Always the main man in the band- much like Lemmy was in Motorhead- Mark was ably and loyally assisted by a cast of stalwart brothers like Bryan Patrick, Rick Fisher, Scott Park, Randy Foxe, Phil Ross, Josh Castillo,  Harvey Patrick and Andreas “Neudi” Neuderth to name but a few. From early hard rock infused records such as “Invasion”, through the true metal breakthrough of “Crystal Logic” and on to bona fide underground classics such as “The Deluge”, “Open The Gates” and “Mystification”, Manilla Road continued to evolve and progress.

After a period of diminishing returns, Shelton put the band on hiatus for a couple of years in the 90’s but in the end the muse proved too strong and Manilla Road came back up from the crypt to create multiple more entries into the band’s prolific musical canon. The comeback albums pulled in influences from modern metal such as death growls and furthered the progressive element of the band. Each album was different from the last and the creativity on display on “Voyager” was matched by the intensity of “Playground of the Damned” and so on.

Right up to the end, Mark Shelton refused to lay down the sword and it is my view that the last few years produced some of his very best work. Manilla Road went back to metal basics on “Mysterium” and then made an absolute masterpiece with “The Blessed Curse” and consolidated that progressive metal approach with the superb “To Kill A king”. Unbelievably, Mark also found time for the deliciously dark side project Hellwell and the hard rocking “Riddlemaster”- with a release from each of those bands AND Manilla Road in 2017 alone! I cannot claim to have known the man, but the fact that he bothered to get in touch after I reviewed “To Kill A King” in 2017 is testament to a kind and caring man who was very gracious to me about a review I felt absolutely compelled to write- such was the high quality of the record I had bought. Neither he nor Bryan Patrick had to pass comment at all- but they did and it made my day that they were so positive about what I had written.

Manilla Road are a band that almost all underground doom and trad metal bands will name as an influence and that is testimony to the quality of the music that Mark produced. The albums were always idiosyncratic, always varied and featured production quirks, unique vocals and incredible songs. Mark Shelton will be missed as a man (a friend, a father, a relative, a band mate and so on) as well as a musician, but his musical legacy will live on. I would like to think that Mark’s quest continues beyond the veil and that somewhere in the halls of Valhalla he still searches for the lost chord, the next song, the perfect solo and prepares to do battle on stage again for all eternity. Rest in power.

The following is a statement from the band. 

It is with a very heavy heart that we announce the passing of our beloved brother Mark (The Shark) Shelton, founder and lead guitarist for Manilla Road. Mark passed away suddenly, while at the Headbangers Open Air Festival in Germany. His brothers and band mates are making arrangements to bring Shark's remains home. All money donated will go directly to Mark's Mother Janet Elliot for the hospital and mortuary expenses.

Thank You for all your support and loving facebook messages. Thank you for your generosity and May the Lords of Light be with you!

or you can donate through our paypal account:

Thursday 26 July 2018

RECORDS OF THEIR YEARS...with South Louisiana sludge infused progressive duo Radiant Knife

Hailing from South Louisiana, 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 new album “Science Fiction” is packed with inventive song structures and trampling riffs that are underscored by a strong sense of melody.

Although often lumped into the post-metal category, Radiant Knife's broad sonic spectrum lands somewhere between experimental projects such as Zebulon Pike, King Crimson,Willpower” era Today is the day and Zombi. Today we’re excited not only be premiered a fantastic new track “Suffer Under God” but Greg Travasos (drums) and Stephen Sheppert (guitar, vocals, keys) chat to us about their “Records of their Years”.  Check it out below.

SL: Favourite album from the year you were born?

Greg:  Motörhead, “Ace Of Spades”.

What can I say it's a classic, plus it’s the only thing that I liked out of that year that I can find. Really there self titled is the jam but I wasn't born in 77’. Also Phil Taylor rips.

Stephen:  Probably Rush, “2112”.  I was born in 76, and although this is not my favourite album by Rush it’s a good album.  Also I believe AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” was released that year also so that’s up there as well.

SL: First album you bought with your own money?

Greg:  Metallica ,”...And justice For All”. Yeah, I was at a K-Mart if those exist anymore, where cassette tapes came in oversized plastic things. I remember my cousin telling me to get it because they had lyrics that said “Put your Mother to death” I thought that was pretty sick so I got the cassette, and loved it since. Heaviest album I had at 11.

Stephen:  Now that I really think about it, it was probably Guns n Roses,Appetite for Destruction”.  I would sit in front of MTV for hours figuring out all the hair metal stuff on guitar. My pops was/is a rocker and didn’t limit any of my music choices.  Most of the time he bought the tape/record before I did.

SL: Favourite non metal / rock album?

Greg:  Father John Misty “I love you Honeybear”. Great compositions, songwriting and lyrics. I have much relatable laughter with his lyrics and cynicism. Much relatable truths I can see in my day to day life. Also could be a comedy album as well.

Stephen:  Polvo, “Exploded Drawing”, or really any of their albums.  Some great dissonant guitar work and great songwriting on those albums.  They have a knack for keeping it low key, dark and angular. All good stuff.

SL: Favourite album of all time?

Greg: This is always are hard question to answer, as I don’t really have a favourite album of all time.  I like a shit ton of albums, but Suffocation, “Pierced from Within” definitely stepped up heaviness in metal for me when I was younger. Listened to a lot of death metal, punk and grindcore in my younger days and this was the go to then. Crazy riffs, time changes, low growls, sick drumming.

Stephen:  King Crimson, “Red”.  When Dillinger Escape Plan unleashed “Under the Running Board”, that started a whole musical journey into off timed/progged out music that eventually led me to the source of all that stuff.  That source IS King Crimson, “Red”. It’s a great album, but when listening to it, it’s also like paying homage to my elders.

SL:Favourite album (s) of 2018?

Greg:  YOB, “Our Raw Heart” Heavy and emotional crushing, jammed this album a couple of times. Atmospheric and cool. You can feel Mike Scheidt’s pain in this album, which explains this album title.

Stephen:  YOB, “Our Raw Heart” as well.  I’ve never been a YOB worshipper like some but to me this album brings a more positive, over the horizon emotional vibe compared to their previous work.  It’s shoegazish at times and you can definitely tell some of the songs originated on acoustic.

SL:...and finally The last album you bought

Greg: Spazz, “La Revancha”. I had this CD a long time ago, lost it, recently repurchased. Short fast bay area  skater grindcore. I remember playing the shit out of this in high school. Definitely brings back memories of how shitty and awesome the late 90’s were.

Stephen:  King Crimson,Discipline” reissue on vinyl.  Not my favourite album by them but the song “Frame by Frame” itself probably spawned countless math oriented bands/songs, including much of Don Caballero’s catalogue.

“Science Fiction” is available to preorder/buy here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Wednesday 25 July 2018

6 NEW BANDS: THE SLUDGELORD's 666 Pack Review (July 2018)

By: Nikos Mixas
Art by: Joshua M. Wilkinson

It’s the July edition of THE SLUDGELORD’s 666 PACK REVIEW!  Festival season is in full swing, temperatures are at their peak and the submissions to THE SLUDGELORD have been pretty good so far this summer, will that trend continue into July???   Hopefully I didn’t jinx anything and it’s time to review bands!  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!  Check out our festival themed rating scale below: 

1 – Festivals are light years away for you… 
2 – When the local promoter organizes a “festival”, you might get an invite. 
3 – Not too shabby.  Maybe Riff Fest (UK) or Stoner Meadow of Doom (USA) will notice your chops? 
4 – You just leveled up to Maryland Doom Fest (USA) and Doom over Vienna (AUT) status. 
5 – You’re definitely on your way to getting an invite from Roadburn.   
666THE SLUDGELORD thinks that either a Hellfest, Wacken or even a Download Festival could be in your future one day! 

Caveat:  Even though the 666 PACK REVIEW is meant to offer humorous critique, there are no safe spaces here and your gripes will only make you sound like a bellyacher.  THE SLUDGELORD is a picky listener…and doesn’t care what you think of his opinions….

1). Left To Wither, “Left To Wither” (Lille, France)    Rating: 3                                                    

French bands like to copy Celeste.   

2). Deltanaut, “Part I” (Sheffield, U.K.)   Rating: 5

Guitarist went to school of Hendrix. 

3). Colossus Morose, “Seclusion” (Hanover, Germany)   Rating: 1

Oh mighty Sludgelord! Take me now! 

4). Omination, “Followers of the Apocalypse” (Tunis, Tunisia)   Rating: 3

Funeral Doom from Tunisia. Who knew? 

5). Ildaruni, “Towards Subterranean Realms” (Yerevan, Armenia)   Rating: 2

Soundtrack to eat Lucky Charms to.

6). Dead Sisters, “Dead Sisters” (Massachusetts, USA)   Rating: 1

Beating a dead horse.  Or sister.  

Tuesday 24 July 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Wytch Hazel, "II: Sojourn"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 13/07/2018
Label: Bad Omen Records

Just how good and revered this album is and will be is not yet known, but there is no doubt that all the elements are there for this to become at the least an underground hit.

“II: Sojourn” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). The Devil Is Here
2). Save My Life
3). Still We Fight
4). Wait On The Wind
5). See My Demons
6). Barrow Hill
7). Chorale
8). Slaves To Righteousness
9). Victory
10). Angel Take Me

The Review:

Undoubtedly the best medieval inspired hard rock band in the North West of England (!) Wytch Hazel are back with this second full length album. They have retained their vintage sound and peculiarly English sense of style on this excellent return. Much like their debut, “Prelude”, the band play very assuredly and with considerable flair; the guitar work is fleet footed and the rhythm section is very tight indeed.

If the band were going for a classic Wishbone Ash crossed with Thin Lizzy by way of Jethro Tull vibe... they have succeeded admirably. Messrs Downey, Lynott, Gorham and Robertson/Moore/White/Sykes (or Bell) would be hugely pleased if they came up with the fiery work displayed on “Save My Life” or storming opener “The Devil Is Here”. The word here is classic: classic sound, well delivered  songs and timeless in themes and scope.

There are bursts of pace (“Still We Fight”) to go with anthemic choruses. There are mellow and melancholy tracks (“Wait On The Wind”) and not a duff track in sight in the ten on offer here. This is English hard rock of the best vintage (1972-1978) and actually manages to conjure up the wistfulness  that the aforementioned Wishbone Ash did so convincingly on their classic “Argus” full length.

Just how good and revered this album is and will be is not yet known- it needs more time to bed in than the two weeks I have had it for review; but there is no doubt that all the elements are there for this to become at the least an underground hit. From the lush acoustics of “Barrow Hill” to the instrumental bombast of “Chorale”, the ingredients are here.

Wytch Hazel pursue the same path to its logical conclusion via “Slaves To Righteousness”, “Victory” and the closing “Angel Take Me”. The only possible fly in the ointment for some listeners may be the somewhat spiritual/religious aspect to the record- but it was there on the debut too. It doesn't bother me but you may feel differently; your call.

What we have here, then, are ten tracks of finely crafted English hard rock in the classic style. There are no songs about girls, no songs about cars, only loud guitars and a longing for another, simpler time. Fantastic.

“II: Sojourn” is available here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Monday 23 July 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Marduk, "Viktoria"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 22/06/2018
Label: Century Media Records

Black metal continues to be one of the most divisive and politically charged of metal's sub genre's, but there is also fantastic music to be found from the genre's biggest and best players. Marduk are amongst the elite.

“Viktoria” CD//DD//LP track listing:

01. Werwolf
02. June 44
03. Equestrian Bloodlust
04. Tiger I
05. Narva
06. The Last Fallen
07. Viktoria
08. The Devil's Song
09. Silent Night

The Review:

Sweden's premier WW2 obsessed black metallers are back with a vicious counter attack against the controversy that the band have faced in recent years. A more underground proposition than Watain, Marduk has always been amongst the best in their chosen genre. Opener “Werwolf” is truly venomous and makes use of an extremely well suited production. As I am always at great pains to point out, I am no expert on the world of black metal (or anything, for that matter!) but I know what I like and this is one such record.

Nine tracks of 3-4 minutes each; varied in tempo and approach is what you get. I think this even outstrips the fantastic “Frontschwein” of a couple of years back; it's feral and exciting stuff. This is how lack metal is supposed to sound: raw, uncompromising and very, very cold.

If you are a fan of Marduk, much like any band, you probably have your favourite album (“Panzer Division Marduk” seems to always feature on such lists- as it does for me), but this one may well be up there for old and newer fans alike. It's dramatic- hear “Equestrian Bloodlust” for proof- not afraid to slow down when necessary and offers up some seriously impenetrable blast sections as well. As the best black metal often does, it also retains an almost punk like approach to the writing and the sound; rough and ready (but not “Transylvanian Hunger” rough!) and features some interesting stops and starts via slow cymbal counts- a cool trick.

Picking out highlights is tough, as the quality is uniformly high, but if you want an example of where Marduk are at this time around, then try out “The Last Fallen” or the title track- both are reliably vicious, albeit in different ways.

If you like black metal of a certain type (Scandinavian, classic, trve etc) then this is absolutely a record to hear and own. If you have ever liked what Marduk did in the past, you'll like this. If you are more into modern post-black metal... leave the hall. Black metal continues to be one of the most divisive and politically charged of metal's sub genre's, but there is also fantastic music to be found from the genre's biggest and best players. Marduk are amongst the elite.

“Viktoria” is available here

Band info: facebook

Friday 20 July 2018

RECORDS OF THEIR YEARS...with Julien Chanut from Hangman's Chair

Hangman’s Chair are regarded as France’s foremost name in the world of stoner / doom, releasing a steady flow of singles, EPs, albums and split releases (including a 2017 split EP with longstanding Japanese stoner / doom outfit Green Machine), yet their music is in no way bound by style, as their latest album ‘Banlieue Triste’ clearly shows; these 10 featured tracks represent the band’s most complete, realised statement to date, successfully merging a variety of different elements into a body of work driven from the conscience and the heart, with subtle touches and crushing power standing side by side. 

Recently signed to Spinefarm Records, it seems the band are finally receiving the recognition they deserve and having been a fan of the band since the release of their fantastic “Hope Dope Rope” from 2012 , after  long 6 years I am finally able to feature the band on THE SLUDGELORD, so please welcome guitarist Julien Chanut as he chooses his “Records of their Years” 

SL: Favourite album from the year you were born?

Julien: Renaud, “Marche A l’Ombre” (1980)

Well, I could have chose some obscure goth band from the early 80’s or a NWOBHM band of that era but the only album I know for sure that popped out in 1980 is “Marche à l’ombre” of Renaud. He’s an old French singer, he‘s still alive and started his career back in the ‘70s, he’s really famous in France.

He sings about the “banlieue” the ghetto youngsters, Paris, love, politics, everyday life… sometimes in a humoristic way but most of the time in a sensitive way. At that time he was considered as a rebel, he was against all repression, Police, Army, government.  As I am not really into politics, I prefer when he talks about everyday life, his stories about being young in France in the 70’s/80’s.

That’s the kind of music we like to play at parties or in the van, we all know the lyrics by heart and it’s great for late night karaoke.  Moreover, with the artwork of “Banlieue Triste” we somehow pay tribute to all his early album covers, we took a nostalgic look back at those covers.

SL: First album you bought with your own money?

Julien: Michael Jackson, “Bad” (1987)

I was 7 at that time, the album had just come out and it was a huge worldwide release. With my money pocket, I remember buying it in a market street in Thailand, those kinds of illegal shops where they used to sell hundreds of cassette tape bootlegs for dirt cheap. Mine was a recordable tape with a color photocopied cover, no lyrics.

My favourites songs were “Liberian Girl” and “Smooth Criminal”, I was playing them all day long in my room, trying to sing in fake English, so “any ayou wocki” (Annie are you ok)

A few years later, when I was a little more confident in my music taste, I got introduced to Hip Hop by a cousin and bought the tape of ICE T, “Iceberg” in a “real” shop, knowing exactly what I was looking for. That was the first time I get a tape that I wanted for a long time.  After that, when my sister get our first CD player, as a young teenager discovering punk hardcore, the CD I bought was Bad Brains, “Rock The Light” and my first vinyl was Judge, “Bringin’ It Down”. Before that, we were trading and borrowing 90min recordable tapes of multiple bands. 

SL: Favourite non metal / rock album?

Julien: Mobb Deep, “Hell On Earth” (1996).

I listen to a lot of Hip Hop, US and French but the first time I heard Mobb Deep, it was like I was rediscovering rap music. This album in particular was my introduction to their work and to all the Queensbridge sound, it sounds rough, cold and dark and that’s what I was looking for a long time without even knowing it.

Everything is great on “Hell On Earth”, from the title itself to the lyrics to the instrumentals of Havoc, the atmosphere is so grimy. Prodigy is probably my MC number one, alongside with Shyne, they are a real inspiration for our lyrics, even if we don’t deal with the same subjects.

Now, I ‘m more into old Memphis rap bands like Three 6 Mafia, Tommy Wright III and some Screwed & Chopped like SpaceGhostPuurp.

SL:  Favourite album of all time?

Julien: Tough one… usually people asks for your Top 5 of all times… I cannot chose one album in particular, it depends on my mood, one day I can tell you it’s “Nine ways to say I love you” by Section 8 and another day “Dirt” by Alice In Chains etc… What I can tell you is the song for my funeral: “The Last Rebel” by Lynyrd Skynyrd

SL: Favourite album of 2018?

Julien: YOB, “Our Raw Heart”

Not very original on this one but so far, this is my fav album of 2018. Everybody was expecting for a great album after what Mike Scheidt has been through and that’s exactly what they did. Just like all their albums, I need several playings to really get into it, I explain myself : first I prefer the sound of “Clearing The Path To Ascend” which is at the first listening more powerful and secondly “Our Raw Heart” is much longer than all the previous ones, maybe too longer, too much informations.

So you keep on listening it and then, all of a sudden, it becomes clear. It takes time to appreciate good things. The sound is lighter but that’s OK, it fits the songs, now my ears are getting used to it and I finally understand the tracklisting. “Beauty In Falling Leaves” and “Our Raw Hearts” are soulful songs. There’s something unique about this band.

SL: And finally The last album you bought?

Julien:  RITUALZ, “DOOM” (2018)

For me, it sounds like a slow low fi version of PRAYERS, a good mix of cholo goth, dark wave, industrial and post punk. His first albums are more in the vein of the Witch House bands, great stuff though.

The End

Hangman’s Chair’s new album “Banlieue Trist” will be available on 27th September 2018 via Spinefarm Records and the track “04/09/16” can be stream below

Band info: bandcamp || facebook