Reviews Coming Soon

Album Review: TBA

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Album Review: Gorguts – Pleiades’ Dust

How do you follow an album like Colored Sands? That perfect comeback album, following 12 years away from the studio, was their career pinnacle so where do they go from here? Well, here’s proof that the answer is to cling to their own coat-tails and hang on for dear life.

Pleiades’ Dust is lyrically and conceptually based on the destroyed mediaeval library of Baghdad and describes the terrible loss of scientific discovery in many fields of learning that was housed within. It extends to 33 minutes of atmospheric meanderings crushed into the spaces between the dark gnarled roots of technical death metal. Complex and convincing, to this metalhead it feels almost physical in presence. Its dips and crescendos are palpable. They hang in the air like gelatinous touchpoints, oozing with life.

Initial dramatic reverb bounces around echoing chambers before trickling its way onto the canvas. When it hits, the wall of drum and bass thunder simply smashes a hole right through it. Tugged along, as if on a chain, comes the brutalising inhuman roar of Luc Lemay and before you’ve noticed this single-track behemoth has begun the inexorable consumption of your soul.

Gorguts have been careful here to keep the central thread of the music locked into position which allows for the extraneous edges to expand and collapse, to career wildly from pillar to post, to dissolve into thin air and be plucked back out from nowhere. Fiendish in design, this conjuror’s magic trick is coaxed gently into life by the most talented heavy collective. To keep things so tight and focussed and yet elegantly organic takes skill beyond comprehension.

And yet, there are moments when the thrill of the chase wanes and the immensity of the power the players wield becomes overbearing on the listener. At times, its the overzealous jazzy elements that lurk beneath, at others its the unyielding crush as the band applies the full pressure of double-kick and electric violence to the piece.

Despite this, there are moments where either the hairs on the back of your neck or your hackles will raise. At the half way point, the listener is immersed inside the subsonic creaking bones and cavernous belly of the beast and it is an absolute thrill. At 24 minutes, the progressive hammering finger runs and slow chugs ready your senses for nothing less than impending war.

Pleiades’ Dust is a jaw-dropping experience. It’s probably the most absorbing piece of music I’ve heard since The Ocean sunk us into the expanding depths of their Pelagial. Sure its not faultless, but like the aforementioned band, Gorguts are surfing high upon the wave of their career highlight and riding it as kings.

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Album Review: Nadja – Sv

Drone, at its most monotone, can drive some wild. It is a beast that dwells beyond the reach of most, existing in a parallel universe to the dark fury of the majority of heavy metal acts; light years from the sugary sweet licks of rock n’ roll. Dip a toe in and you’ll fail to judge the temperature or miss the drag from the tugging swell of what lies beneath. It is music for the slow-movers, the thinkers, the heavy-lidded.

Nadja are masters of this particular genre and this 41-minute single-track album is a true work of art. Aidan Baker & Leah Buckareff have combined the elemental with the industrial and set it to the bruising grind of dark electronica.

An eerie opening constructs itself a sub-aquatic world with an electrical buzz and an mechanical hum that builds to a visceral crescendo. By five minutes the bass rumble and harmonic nuts and bolts have begun to lock into place. At seven and a half minutes the percussive elements have steadily begun to fizz and click into life. At nine minutes the steady morphosis is ebbing and flowing. The whole has become an unstoppable locomotive riding the rails, chuntering and chittering with gritty signs of life. Deeper in the sounds have begun to fully combine – here, the electronic beat drives ever onwards and the sub-level bottom-end rattles the ribs. As the mind empties and the focus becomes absolute, “Sievert” lords it as dance music for the undead.

Thirty-three minutes down and the switch-up occurs, changing its angle of impact to open up the rhythm and create space. Here, it is like riding the back of a vast, lumbering beast. The drums come into focus and the music’s black grip tightens. Dread takes over and the slow degradation of the world Nadja have created shows its first cracks. The crust snaps, time patterns and effects warp and reality begins to leak back in. That space you’ve been staring at on the wall for the last half-hour is no longer your focal point as Baker strikes the single piano key that breaks the spell.

Summing up, Sv is experimental drone that slowly warms to its task before worming its way inside and reconfiguring your heartbeat, your pulse, your brainwaves. Helpless, you’ll dance to its multi-layered echoing vibe over and over.

Also online @ Ave Noctum =

Monday, June 6, 2016

Album Review: Joy – Ride Along!

What’s that shouty man want and where is that thundering rhythm coming from? Looks like San Diego’s psych rockers Joy have been at it again. Here they offer up a rock ’em, sock ’em follow up to 2014’s Under The Spell Of Joy which just so happened to pick up a gong and a thoroughly glowing review from Guitar World. For Ride Along! the band have grabbed help where they can and a quick scan shows us we have guest spots from Earthless drummer Mario Rubalcaba, Radio Moscow guitarist Parker Griggs and guitarist Brenden Dellar, of Tee Pee labelmates Sacri Monti.

This long-player rapidly establishes itself as a feisty little number by tearing off at a fair old lick. It’s hectic, bass-heavy, not averse to a spot of impressive guitar noodling, and you’ll also find a vocal set well back in the mix. In fact, it’s so far back there, it’s almost a distraction and takes some getting used to. Reminiscent of the echoing, deliberately thin delivery that rock bands like Jackson Firebird and Foxy Shazam often employ for effect, this is constant and actually borders on the punishing rants so favoured by The Sex Pistols. Stripped back, it’s just a harsh, punked-up statement but don’t expect an easy ride all the same.

Happily the fat fuzzing blues that wander behind Zachary Oakley’s wailing wall are way cool. So whilst tracks like the discordant “Help Me” and “Red, White and Blues” grab you like some snotty mohican-sporting yobbo, there are the rumbling thrills of ZZ Top’s “Certified Blues” and the captivating, string-bending rock monster “Gypsy Mother’s Son” to balance it all out. If those beauties still fail to tickle your tastebuds then the psychedelic breakfast of “Peyote Blues” will. Elsewhere the groove-laden strut of the title-track and the twin-fingered salute of “Evil Woman” provide a complete sense of just how versatile this band can actually be when they want to play.

It’s pretty wild fare but, hey, everyone needs a good solid boot up the arse every now and then, and this twisted son could just be the throwback rock n’roll powerhouse we’ve all secretly been craving.

Also online @ Ave Noctum =

Album Review: Holy Grove - Holy Grove

Formed in 2012, this release marks the eponymous debut album from the doom-friendly quartet from Portland, Oregon. Sounding like a mind-meld between the cauldron-staring Black Pyramid, the dynamic Blues Pills, and the fantasy riff-chucking of The Sword, Holy Grove’s self-titled debut focusses on pitching buzzing stoner into 70s doom riffs that glisten with Lovecraftian intent.

Opener “Death of Magic” swings a sackful of big hearty bass, ladles on the groove and rocks you from pillar to post. Throughout fuzz-driven guitar riffs pitch and yaw all around whilst Vidal’s softly echoing vocal floats above it all. Her determinedly heartfelt cries bear a striking similarity to the storming output from Acid King’s Lori S.

Further in, “Nix” pulls out some feisty hooks and chucks in more psychedelic noodling before dropping into a half-time cosmic crawl to end. The heartstone of the piece though is the one-two segued caress of the title-track and the addictive bluesy lines of “Huntress”. They bear emotion that grips and won’t let go – “Kneel down at the altar”, indeed.

The Sabbathian-influenced “Caravan” wraps itself around the classic riff of the aforementioned’s “Evil Woman” before the 9-minuter, “Hanged Man”, with its dark chanting and punishing, warped overdrive tips a hat to Saint Vitus and seals the deal.

They’ve clearly had a ball making this album; you can hear the glee in their riff worship. Their continued deference to the metal gods of times past works for them as it stands up on its own – a stonking creation. Yep, there’s nothing truly innovational here but it’s still a thoroughly joyful experience and they are deservedly going down a storm in the live arena.

Also online @ Ave Noctum =

Album Review: Karma To Burn – Mountain Czar

Since time immemorial man has been hitting big things with smaller things to make noise for pleasure. For twenty of those years Karma To Burn have been doing the same thing. Today, they are still rattling out their special brand of euphoric instrumentals preset with thick grooves and deliberately obtuse track-titles. They may have a new bassist but the rule of thumb for this American trio still seems to be if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Averse to the idea of being labelled as either stoners or desert-dwellers, despite navigating the good ship Karma along similar currents, they do seem to have settled upon a descriptor and so shall hereforth be labelled in my collection as Mountain Rock.

Diving straight into this EP, it seems the badge certainly fits. Vast grooves roll off the conveyor belt like avalanches. Opener “Sixty-Two” digs out a thunderous underscore of heaving drums and bucking guitars. It riffs off that with little bending chord structures and diving arpeggios. Following up, “Sixty-One” sports a similar rolling rhythm but with a feistier edge and with a battle metal twist. It’s like something The Sword might dig out, only with the heaviosity ramped up to 11.

Elsewhere, the star of the show “Sixty” simply grips it and rips it. An addictive opening riff which is pre-loaded with a subtle minor that instantly shifts up the neck and will prove an irresistible force – there simply won’t be a single static soul on their forthcoming European tour when they dig this one out. That’s an absolute guarantee. As a counterpoint, “Sixty-Three” has a great opening spoken rip from “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” but from there it’s all pretty docile as they rotate around a gently-paced swinging surf rock pattern.

Sadly, they also pick this one to rip up their rulebook by choosing to butcher a classic in a misguided attempt at blowing minds. “Uccidendo Un Segno” is the culprit (a cover of Tom Petty’s “Running Down A Dream”) introducing Stefanie Savy, an Italian vocalist singing in her native language. A solo by Sons Of Morpheus guitarist Manuel Bissing completes the surprise. It sticks out like a sore thumb, blasting away mindlessly and breaking the classy buzz that the first three tracks built up in a heartbeat. Petty’s is a work of genius and I hate having to refer to that song in anything other than glowing terms – but what the hell were they thinking of? It’s a germ of an idea that needed to be left in the jam room or worked upon to create more of the original’s simple nous and foot on/foot off cadence.

Still, you can’t win ’em all and with whited-out retro rock so heavily back in favour, they may not be hitting the bullseye every time but they are certainly bang on point with this.

Also online @ Ave Noctum =