Purveyors of the Finest Stoner Rock/Doom/Psychedelic/Sludge Since 2008

Thursday, July 24, 2014

New Band To Burn One To: INSIDE THE SUN

"After releasing their 2-song demo in 2013 and sharing the stage with the likes of Weedeater, High on Fire, and Black Cobra, Fresno's Inside the Sun is about to burn a permanent scar into your brain. Woven together by elements of doom, sludge and psychedelics, the five songs contained within the band's self-titled debut pound and penetrate with hypnotic and repetitive rhythms and wandering bass lines. Harsh and passionate vocals compliment the seething nature of this gnarly beast, as evidenced in the aptly timed (4:20) track simply called "Melt".  The hard-driving thrashing beats and powerful riffing on "Eclipseid Shadows" and album closer "A Number Concerning the Inevitable Heat Death of the Universe" will leave you in awe. What's next for Inside the Sun?? Stay tuned..."

Monday, July 21, 2014

LP review: 'Karmageddon' by MuckRaker

If you were to describe MuckRaker’s sound by saying that lead vocalist Will Price’s voice falls somewhere between Neil Fallon (Clutch) and Phil Anselmo (Pantera), while the music fits in between early Kyuss and Helmet, you would be forgiven for completely losing your shit and immediately seeking out a copy of Karmageddon, which sadly has no correlation to the banned 90’s computer game. Well, get ready to lose it.

The Atlanta based band’s second record opens with the title track and as many chunky riffs that you could fit into four minutes 25 seconds of joyously yelling “KARMAGEDDON”. It’s danceable “blue-collar” metal which has a political tinged undertone that isn’t immediately noticeable while you’re head banging around the room. It’s in fact the lyrics that make MuckRaker into a very powerful band, singing out against oppression and the downfall of the working man, that make you force yourself to stop and listen to the gentle aggression which becomes more indebted with each listen.

The heavy bass lines of Will Price, the marching chant of Batz Capo’s drums, and the gut punching riffs of guitarist Ray Mulligan, make MuckRaker one of the most danceable head-bangers to come out this year. It’s tight musicianship, with allegiances to traditional metal which doesn’t go off into self-indulgent tangents, but continues to carry along the core of the song until the end. It can leave you with a beaming grin. Grinning metal? Is that a thing?

If the powerful lyrics or the dancing wasn’t enough, every single song here requires you to join in the shouting of the chorus, whether it’s “ALL HAIL MARRYYYY!” (‘All Hail Mary’), “RED VULTUURRREEEE!” (‘Red Vulture’), or the record highlight of “RISE UP ALL YOU LOGGERHEADS, GO AND CRASH THE PARTAYYYY!” (‘Rise Of The Loggerheads’). If you wanted to really strip MuckRaker down to its barest of bones, you would have to say that they are full of just great songs, and that’s basically the essence of why we’re all here. Closing track ‘Too Much Metal For One Hand’ perfectly sums this up, a song about spending their lives listening to their favourite music, pissing off people, drinking, hitting the road, and loving every heartfelt moment of it.

Karmageddon is an exceptional record which should propel MuckRaker from their underground status, to serious contenders in the mainstream metal market. It’s an album to unite metal-heads, share a beer, and party all night to; and that is a beautiful thing.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sunday Sludge: The Powder Room - "Curtains"

Nostalgia has its place, I suppose. 2014's been loaded with reissues and throwback celebrations of many of the albums I spun twenty years ago, secluding myself in my room and pretending I wasn't skimming stroke books. Soundgarden and Meat Puppets were on heavy rotation, so catching these bands live at a ripened 33 years is a strange blend of the wistful and the sad. Contemporary bands glazed with early 90's influence, however, bring more suspiscion than sentiment. "We're influenced by My Bloody Valentine and Pavement." No, you're actually just bland and derivative.

Dodging scorn requires, obviously, innovation and progress. Crafting a sound that reminds me of something I can't quite pin-down is Athens, Georgia's The Powder Room. The trio's marriage of tradition and evolution marks just one of innumerable juxtapositions evident on Curtains, a nine-track exercise of (here it comes) whisper-to-a-scream jolts and assured stop-start sludge-noise that's somehow swollen with hooks and groove despite a devotion to rugged, violent filth. You can slam a warming Old Milwaukee, but you can also take a few breaths before you order another.

You're likely gonna hear more about these guys and who they sound like, but that's omitting what's much more important. The whole of this album trends dirty and downward, baiting you close with jarring tin guitar licks on the bass-led opener Disappointment. But moving through tracks like Earthworm and Frayed, you'll notice a sense of urgency under the dog-dollar trot. Pacing is tense, elements circle like hornets, and the screeches and shifting tempos are fucking dizzying. It doesn't take long until we're on our backs, knees to the sky.

Perhaps what sets apart these songs most is what's achieved between the gnashed lament. Blowout is sludgy and drenched in dischord, but Dead Pet truly resonates in its cavernous creepiness. There's a sparse atmosphere bookending the crushing brew of noise, all wrapped not-so-neatly in a cold, hollow wind. When the band isn't patching up last night's lumbered haze, they're peppering quick cruisers supplemented with frantic focus. There's a staggering level of movement on Curtains, though the unpredictability is strangely palpable.

This noise is slung with purpose and rolls with cool confidence. For all the low-end thickness and jagged licks, the tufts of melancholy worm their way into your senses with catchy nuance. The Powder Room are both trim and tubby, both fresh and seasoned. Forget what influence you think you're hearing. Focus more on what mood Curtains has drawn up for you. Thickening as it cools, the album is as all-encompassing as any I've heard in ages. There's a LOT here to digest. Luckily, I've got nothing but time.

For fans of: Melvins, Whores., Fudge Tunnel
Pair with: Breakfast Stout, Founders Brewing Co.

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