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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sunday Silence: Snarf - "Klabat"

The hits just kept coming this week. Some would drum up the ridiculous superstition of death coming in threes, but a fourth hit a bit harder in my narrow, heavy corner of the human experience. Robin Williams caved to depression, Lauren Bacall's rough voice went silent, and the incredibly influential bad-ass that was Jay Adams suffered a quick halt to a fast life. Learning of a band you love hanging it up for good can be a fucking downer, but circumstances rarely match those of Swiss droners Snarf when it comes to sudden, unexpected loss.

Following the loss of their frontman Chris, Snarf have declared themselves to no longer exist. Their final, staggering dose of droning sludge was mixed and mastered just before tragedy struck, effectively rendering Klabat Snarf's swan song, a bittersweet adieu for a under-appreciated trio just hitting their stride. Here's one epic track swelling to thirty-three minutes, twisting and shape-shifting, leveling with hovered sustain despite brisk, bold, and busy delivery.

The sheer volume of emerging layers is numbing, leaving behind sterile static in favor of slugging riffs that meander and teeter. The whole of the track buzzes with eerie reverb, recalling the best droning moments of Snarf's previous triumphs. But the prevalence of nightmarish doom is a heavy-handed pronouncement of mastery. Innumerable slow-burning disturbances under tight drones evoke slight, distant spooks that leave listeners in cold shudder.

We could dissect the track into movements, but I simply don't have the vocabulary to do them justice. Scraped vocals bark with malevolence, entering a sonic cemetery and seamlessly transitioning toward deliberate, haunting chants. Klabat is at times wholly primitive, at others thoroughly disheartening. Snarf are patient, the dominant doom crunches are slow with agony, and the overall unpredictability marries unearthed stratum slabs to raise questions that the band, unfortunately, will never be able to answer.

This record hits so deep. On its own, the track smolders and frightens with incredible scope and character. The broad sweep of soundscapes and nightmarish curveballs set apart both this record and this band. To think this is the last Heavy Planet will hear from Snarf is a drag, sure. But the ardor and care exercised in the crafting of these sounds should be noted above any tragedy. Sit with this and allow Klabat's tides to direct your emotions. You'll get there.

Thank you, Chris. Farewell.

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Heavy Planet's Reader Takeover Volume 3

Have you ever listened to a band and said to yourself...holy shit is that band awesome , I wish more people could hear them? Well, here is your chance! Similar to Sirius Radio's Liquid Metal in which a fan guest DJs playing some of their favorite tunes, you the reader are here to takeover the pages of Heavy Planet for the day. Today is a really cool edition as it features bands from Down Under as introduced to you by Swamp Dan. If you are interested in submitting your picks, please click the link at the end of the post. 
Now, on with the show...

Hey, its Dan here from Australia.

It's not massive but it contains some really killer bands from down here in Oz and New Zealand. We sometimes get forgotten about down here, so bands have to be extra loud and heavy to get noticed overseas. For a fan like me that's a good thing. Here's the heavy:


Apocalyptic sludge-grind from Auckland, New Zealand. Fast sludgey noise with cool Blade Runner and Fallout samples. Welcome to the Wasteland.



Heavy sludge doom from Perth, Australia. Slow. Crushing. Death.


People Problem

Power violence from Perth, Australia. Savage stuff.


Lizzard Wizzard

Stoner doom from Brisbane, Australia. Will you play the Game of Cones? Its fun. Trust me.



Pure DOOM from Brisbane, Australia. Be sad and eat the cosmic space shroom.



Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sunday Sludge: Sorxe - "Surrounded By Shadows"

"He gave off a lot of magic. But he was sort of a changeling. He seemed to change every time I saw him. He seemed ageless..."

Squeaky Fromme isn't exactly the barometer for outling philosophical conceptions of higher beings, and perhaps she and Charlie Manson have no place whatsoever on this blog. But her quote has always stuck with me, standing out from Bugliosi's Helter Skelter as the perfect characterization of a man wearing countless faces. Don't get me wrong, his approach didn't exactly work in a society demanding order, reason, and common interaction. But he managed to get some ordinary Janes to do some crazy shit.

Immersed in Surrounded By Shadows, the latest from Phoenix-based sludgers Sorxe, I just couldn't let that "changeling" term escape. You might say these nine tracks collectively diagnose a mood disorder, but that'd unfairly detract from the quartet's deft placement of note, progression, track... There's coiled angst, swollen intermissions, elemental showcases from every corner, and ultimately an all-encompassing experience pushing and pulling in more directions than we knew existed. Sorxe funnel their personalities into one supremely commanding heave.

Immediately evident among the gargantuan buzz of Steamroller is a head-first riff clinic. Canyon-wide vocals swathe those repeated thumps, but the band won't hesitate to tap those rusty brakes. Hooded chants encroach and introduce a womb-like ease, but we're abruptly unsettled as the buzz returns. Oh, but are we talking about mere movements and tempo shifts? Not exactly.

A vocal identity crisis reveals itself on Her Majesty, but the ease in moving between jarring and jagged to cool, ethereal tip-toeing is a marvel in itself. Cosmic low-end thumbings wreathe a dying fire, but licks eject in every direction just in time. The swell into a primitive march, however, when immediately met with the spiral into chaotic rhythmic explosion, is just beginning to illustrate today's entire thesis. At varying levels, Sorxe flatten landscapes and abruptly rip us from the grips of comfort.

Smoke Signals' progressions have their low-tide origins, but the static storms promise destructive cascades of slow-motion horror. This nine-minute, ever-expanding instrumental stoner session crushes at its midpoint, steadily thrusting into a spiraling monsoon and marrying punishing skins and fleeting fretwork. Spacing into Make It So, we're knee-deep in the disc's most formidable of tandems. Bursts of violence juxtapose Smoke Signals' cool passages, churning and spitting angst before growing to a tapered purr. Each slow breath bloats, though, assuring relapse with a hazy, early-morning march. Sure enough, we're abruptly slapped with hot-acid guitar amid organized chants. I'd swear these sounds have been watching me for years.

Sorxe reserved their crowning achievement for the thick, untouched scope demonstrated on the album's closing track, The Mountain Man. With progressions patient and churns simply sludgy, this awesome exercise ushers in vocal waves atop undeniably blistering guitar licks. Boasted as the album's coolest song, Sorxe hit every soft turn and sharp hook with an incredible balance. They've more than delivered on their promise of devastation.

So many bands dishonor their ambitions by over-inflating and doing too much with too little. Sorxe clearly have the stones to throw their best clubbed-foot forward, but they also exploit their strengths. I could speak all day about the pedigree of the band members or craft thousands of paragraphs on why this album fucking slays. Surrounded By Shadows is, quite simply, exhaustingly complete. Gradually or suddenly, Sorxe unfurl coiled force and chew through 2014's best releases. This is a changeling you can welcome into your home, but that won't stop them from shoving a carving fork into your belly.

For fans of: Yob, TOAD, Zoroaster
Pair with: Circus Boy, Magic Hat Brewing Company

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