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Friday, December 31, 2010

Heavy Planet's Top 20 of 2010: #5 to #1

Well, as you have anxiously been anticipating, here are my Top 5 albums of 2010. At this time I would also like to wish everyone a Happy New Year and look forward to hearing some great new music in the upcoming new year.

#05. Ramesses-Take the Curse (Ritual Productions)



























I couldn't wait for this album to come out, and after listening to it through the first time I had no doubt that it would be a perfect fit in my Top 10. Unfortunately, there were four other albums that hit me a bit harder than this fine release, otherwise it would have been ranked higher.

What others had to say:

Mike Kemp, (Rocksound.tv)

"Hailing from the darkest depths of Dorset and featuring the original Electric Wizard rhythm section, Ramesses don’t piss about when it comes to delivering weighty slabs of pure, malignant doom. Their second full-length, ‘Take The Curse’ is as dark and claustrophobic as they come, bursting at the seams with massive sludge riffs and enjoyably camp soundbites from 70s horror flicks. The production is appropriately dank and musty, adding an extra layer of unpleasantness to numbers like ‘Black Hash Mass’ and ‘Baptism Of The Walking Dead’, the latter sounding like an Autopsy record spinning at the wrong speed. Doom the fuck out."

Doommantia.com

"I first heard the tracks off "Take The Curse" almost a year ago now when a friend sent me their CDR promo that was circulating at the time, it was such a killer collection of songs that i lent out the disc to another so called friend and never saw the CD or that dude ever again! Finally after nearly a year of waiting i have the album back again and it was worth the wait. Released on the Ritual Productions label, it is due for a official release on April 19th. The CD comes in 2 alternative covers with glossy artwork and the first 200 copies comes with a exclusive limited edition collector's art card set, made especially for this release. What is remarkable about Ramesses is they have become a big influence to a lot of bands but have only ever released one previous full length album which was "Misanthropic Alchemy" released in 2007. They have released a couple of split albums with other bands and a couple of EP's including last years brilliant "Baptism of the Walking Dead". The power doom-trio have a originality that is hard to compare with anyone else which is the band's strongest point and on "Take The Curse", they have taken their sound to the next level of sonic extremes and accessibility." Read more...

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#04. U.S. Christmas-Run Thick in the Night (Neurot)




























After the release of their brilliant 2008 release "Eat the Low Dogs", I did not believe that album could be surpassed. On "Run Thick In The Night", the band continues to explore the boundaries of music: dark, brooding, spacey, trippy, chilling or whatever you want to call it, USX simply puts out some truly phenomenal music. I think they just might be one of my new favorite bands!

What others had to say:

Evan, SwanFungus.com

"A few months ago one of my friends was hanging out at South By Southwest (you all know how I feel about that shit, my friend is lucky I still speak to him), and I made him promise me that he would check out U.S. Christmas. I think they were playing a Neurot showcase. I don’t remember. He sent me a text mid-way through their set saying that the band’s percussionist was frying on mushrooms, and that the band sounded incredible. For the first time in my life, I was actually jealous of somebody at SXSW. I guess there is a first for everything." Read more...

Jon Neudorf, Sea of Tranquility.org

"Purveyors of Hawkwind and early Floyd should be interested in Run Thick In The Night, the new album from space/psych rockers US Christmas. It is their fifth release to date and the follow up to Eat The Low Dogs. US Christmas has been around for about ten years but I have to admit this is the first time I have come across the band's music. Band members include Nate Hall (words, voice, slide, electric and acoustic guitar), Matt Johnson (electric guitar, synthesizers), Meghan Mulhearn (violin, voice), Josh Holt (bass, drones, synthesizers), BJ Graves (drums, percussion), Justin Whitlow (drums, controlled feedback) and Chris Thomas (guitar, bass)." Read more... 
 
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#03. Ufomammut-Eve (Supernatural Cat)
 
 

























Usually I am not really into the critically aclaimed albums because frankly I just don't understand what all the hype is about but this album is worth all the hype. It is a tremendous result of how well an album can be constructed. If you have never heard anything by this band, Eve is a great place to start.

What others had to say:

Matt Mooring, MetalReview.com

"“Ufomammut are gonna make a big splash with this album."

Seems like I’ve been saying that since 2004, when I first heard Snailking. But for whatever reason, these Italians still seem to be flying under the radar of most doom fans. Maybe it’s their peculiar moniker or the fact that you may have to search a bit to find their releases. But really, there’s no good reason that the doom faithful would miss out on a band capable of chest rattling riffery worthy of Electric Wizard, the hypnotic incantations of Om, and ensnaring ambient intensity of Neurosis and Isis. Of course, Ufomammut don’t actually sound like any of these bands. They don’t actually sound like ANY band. But the trio have honed their attack, forging their own lethal brand of psychedelic doom, and Eve may well be their finest hour." Read more...

Deafsparrow.com

"The line between art and entertainment is totally blurred with Eve, the sixth recording of Italian psyche-doomsters Ufomammut. This new offering is a slow burn and as such, it may require too much from the average listener to enjoy. Others, wiser, more patient and with more sophisticated taste will realize that even though this is best consumed in one sitting it may take several listens to discover and get engaged by the hidden grooves and the slow ascensions presented here. For most, Eve may be too artsy. Hence, not entertaining, nor rocking enough. For others, most already familiar with Ufomammut’s past works, this will be a trip worth ingesting and digesting." Read more... 
 
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#02. Droids Attack-Must Destroy (Crustacean Records)



























After the release of Droids Attack's previous effort Fatal/Error, I didn't think the band could get any better, man was I wrong. Although the band incorporates some pretty silly lyrics into their music, I could seriously care less. I just want to fuckin' rock, man and these guys do not hold anything back. This album cured my urge for some serious classic stoner rock riffage with a dash of punk thrown in for good measure.

What others had to say:

Jay Snider, (HellRide.com)

"You’re not likely to get more bluesy riffs and swagger on any other album this year. Droids Attack have again pushed all the right buttons, when it comes to my love for big, classy riffs and Must Destroy will probably end up on my next, horribly disfigured “year end best of list” as a result of their groovy prowess."

DeafSparrow.com

"Life’s not fair, you know. While most bands spend all their years in existence trying to write one good song and a not so sizeable portion of others manage to do so and live off it, others, like Droids Attack, make it seem so easy and write whole albums of high quality chutzpah and high energy music. What’s more infuriating, they make it seem like a joke. A good joke. I mean, they have a song called "The Unforgiven 4" for chrissakes! Taking a look at the digipack you can tell these droids aren’t about getting deep and making you think sad thoughts. Yeah, they may be dressed as soldiers in the second world war but that robot mascot – named Robo – is beyond cute and apparently he is an enlisted stoner fanatic too" Read more...

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#01. Barn Burner-Bangers (Metal Blade)


























While not critically acclaimed, the album gained some pretty decent reviews. This album was one of the first releases of the year and I just couldn't get enough of it. It is just one of those albums that gets your blood flowing. The band deemed themselves “the 3 headed love child of Iron Maiden, Thin Lizzy and Fu Manchu“. A pretty accurate statement I must say. I also hear a little C.O.C. influence in there as well. After reading that statement I knew it would have to be great.

What others had to say:

OneMetal.com

"Montreal, Canada-based 4-headed riff machine Barn Burner don’t believe in beating around the bush. Album opener ‘Holy Smokes’ comes roaring out of the gate with a direct aggressiveness that lays out the band’s stall in no uncertain terms – no atmospheric intro, no acoustic lead-in, hell, there’s not even a hi-hat four count – from the second you press play, you’re blasted by guitars, bass and drums in full hell-for-burnished-leather mode. Self-described as “the 3 headed love child of Iron Maiden, Thin Lizzy and Fu Manchu“, the band’s commitment to dirty, sleazy riffage mingled with a punkish rawness and a hard-partying attitude is undisputable. The fifth track, ‘Runnin Reds’, in particular sounds like it could slot neatly onto Black Flag‘s Damaged II album, while mid-album 6:38 epic ‘Brohemoth’ showcases a more thunderous, mid-paced side of the band’s musicianship, barrelling along on crashing, discordant riffage and downtuned stomp." Read more...

The Klepto

"It's easy to write a lot about a band that is bad, or a band that has lots of ups and downs, but for the acts that are solid throughout, unless you listen to the album repeatedly - enough to fully digest it's complexities - then it is damn difficult to make a decent article about it. Barn Burner is one of those acts. Their debut (I believe) album, Bangers, is a solid rendition of rockin' and groovin' stoner metal. They play the blues-tinged, funk-riddled style of the genre which is my favorite. Every song - while great - sounds similar to the one previous and the one after, there is no way to pick the stand-outs, no song falls behind either, all are of the same caliber, all of them rock!" Read more...
 
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Honorable mentions:
 
Kylesa-Static Tensions
Monster Magnet-Mastermind
Venomin James-Crowe Valley Blues
Fatso Jetson-Archaic Volumes
Yawning Man-Nomadic Pursuits
Brant Bjork-Gods & Goddesses
Dax Riggs-Say Goodnight To The World
Loimann-Towards Higher Consciousness

Read #20-#16 here
Read #15-#11 here
Read #10-#06 here

New Band To Burn One To - Flat Tires

 
As also seen on The Soda Shop

Today's New Band To Burn One To is Flat Tires.

What do you get when you mix beer, whiskey and jager bombs? Ok, besides a hangover and maybe some puking. You get some great alcohol fueled dirty southern rock with some punk in to top it off. Flat Tires are a southern hard punk rock band from North Carolina.
Hickory North Carolina products the FLAT TIRES have been burning a trail up and down the east coast for the past few years, bringing their brand of “mean-ass jukejoint rock-n-roll” to countless bars, honky-tonks and music venues from New York City to FT Lauderdale Florida. During this time, they’ve been barred from venue’s, labeled “devil-worshipers”, broken up marriages, witnessed numerous stabbings and shootings, played through and / or been the cause of countless barroom brawls, received numerous injuries including but not limited to broken teeth and facial lacerations from flying beer projectiles. Somewhere during the chaos they were picked up by three independent record labels, put out two full length Cd’s, a split 7’’, a demo,and have had their music put on 5 different record label compilations; the latest of which is a double Vinyl L.P. compilation with the likes of Supersucker’s Eddie Spaghetti, the Dwarves’ Black Dahlia, ANTiSEEN and the CandySnatchers.

Flat Tires have shared the stage with the likes of GWAR, MURPHYS LAW, WAYNE THE TRAIN HANCOCK, D.O.A., UNKNOWN HINSON, C.J. RAMONE, ANTiSEEN, D.I., 9 POUND HAMMER, AGENT ORANGE, YOUTH BRIGADE, JOE BUCK YOURSELF, THE LEGENDARY SHACK SHAKERS, MURDER JUNKIES, GREEN JELLY, BOB WAYNE & THE OUTLAW CARNIES, the DEXTER ROMWEBER DUO, JB BEVERLY & THE WAYWARD DRIFTERS, CRANK COUNTY DAREDEVILS, AGRESSION, DAVID CHILDERS & THE MODERN DON JUANS and McRAD,. They have also made countless legions of fans that span out nationwide, and have put down more Pabst Blue Ribbon than most of the folks they’ve played for combined.
Need some music to get drunk to? These guys sure can accommodate you. Besides the albums they have listed above, they do have a new album shipping the second week in January (2011) to look forward to. Drink up, party down and have a happy and safe new year!

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Heavy Planet's Top 20 of 2010: #10 to #6

 #10. Gozu-Locust Season (Small Stone)



























Here is a band that just surprised the absolute shit out of me. As I was perusing the Small Stone records website, I came across Gozu and figured I'd give them a listen, and man am I glad I did. The tunes are not only catchy but chug along with that warm and fuzzy stoner rock groove. Think of a heavier version of Queens of the Stone Age but with a better singer (sorry not a big fan of Josh Homme's vocals). Listen. Repeat. Listen. Repeat...

What others had to say:

Gary Suarez. MetalSucks.net

"No matter how you feel about the Kyuss reunion under the Kyuss Lives moniker, I hope it has at least rekindled your interest in that heavy desert rock the boys used to make for us. Fortunately, Small Stone Recordings has been carrying the flame while the rest of you have been trendhopping like a bunch of bitches. (How’s that blackened deathgrind re-thrash emocore working for ya?) And as with last year’s revelation House Of Broken Promises, the label has given us another rare hunk of hard rockin’ gold in Gozu." Read more...

The Editor, The Dreaded Press

"OK, hold everything – I’ve just discovered what happened to the band that Queens Of the Stone Age somehow (and rather disappointingly) avoided turning into. They’re called Gozu, they’re on the perpetually reliable Small Stone Records, and their new album Locust Season is riffomatic fast-drivin’ music with a splash of dumb pop sensibilities and its tongue just a little in its cheek." Read more...
 
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#09. Sasquatch-III (Small Stone)


























This is where the homage to Small Stone Records ends. This label released some magnificent releases this past year. The last four albums exemplify how truly great and important this independent label has become. I think that this band just keeps getting better after each release.

What others had to say:

KK, CosmicLava.com

"With every new album, Los Angeles' power trio SASQUATCH are getting better. Well, that phrase sounds flat and empty, but it's indeed the case. At least, for my taste. This does not mean, however, that I think that the band had a bad start with their first two albums. Since the beginning it was obvious that they have the decisive potential to perform powerful riff-driven heavy rock which will be remembered for a longer period. Of course here, nothing new will be invented, but that doesn't matter as long as the tracks are packed with solid hooklines and crunchy riffs, and, boy, are SASQUATCH good at it! Their third record aptly named 'III' is a hard rocking, fuzzed-out titan which contains some of their best tracks and shows quite clearly that SASQUATCH has grown together into a strong unit over the last nine years. It is a consistent, powerful album that hits really hard at gut level." Read more...

Ollie, The SleepingShaman.com

"Now, if the mythical Bigfoot, or Sasquatch with whom this band shares its name were to listen to music you can bet your ass that the big hairy bastard would kick back with a few beers and listen to big hairy bastards like Sasquatch!!!

Now, many people would say that rock and roll isn't big or clever, and there are an equal number of people that would claim that that is exactly what makes it so fucking awesome in the first place!!! The finest rock and roll bands have made careers of keeping it simple and not messing with a winning formula…AC/DC, Motorhead, the Stones…etc. If they have ever tried to mess with the formula they've invariably come unstuck and produced a turd pile bigger than old Bigfoot would be capable of!!! Sasquatch understand that to be effective rock and roll needs to be simple, powerful, fundamental and primal and so take the fuzzy grooves of stoner and mix it all up with a greasy 70's blues vibe that aims straight for the heart and the crotch." Read more...
 
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#08. Lonely Kamel-Blues For the Dead (Transubstans Records)
 

























This album was a very pleasant surprise. I received it for review and passed it along to Zac. After reading his review I decided to take a listen myself. This is a great album. Very classic rock feel with amazing riff heavy blues guitar. A hidden gem.

What others had to say:

Zac Boda

"Blues for the Dead." and "Lonely Kamel." I really had no idea what to expect upon first listen. I wasn't blown away by the cover art; which I know may be odd, but cover art is an important part of the whole experience for me. I decided to head over to the bands myspace page and see Oslo, Norway. Nice, I have an obession with Scandinavia. First, I must say the artwork grew on me after the first listen. This is excellent! I hear thick and groovy blues rock. This album is solid. The majority of these tunes are 4 out of 5 with "Stick With Your Plan" being the stand out song. This song has a slow and steady intro and just jams at approximately 1:45! Some of the grooves in this track just bring the vision of a lovely woman's hips swinging! For me, everything just melts together and flows through you, and it feels damn good. If you are looking for some groovy, blues influenced, hard rock, this is the album for you."

ZeeZee, MyGlobalMind.com

"BLUES FOR THE DEAD is certainly an interesting album, and one that I quite enjoyed. Who it will directly appeal to however is something I’m still not too sure of. Musically LONELY KAMEL certainly have their own distinct sound, which is made up by a combination of classic blues rock/psychedelica and the more modern style of stoner rock/desert rock. Which in essence means that they sound like a combination of HENDRIX, CREAM and GREATFUL DEAD with some CLUTCH, WOLFMOTHER and KYUSS mixed in." Read more...
 
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#07. Dusted Angel-Earth Sick Mind (Mankind Records)



























By looking at the cover you would think that this would be pretty lame, to the contrary! What hides inside is a truly great mix of classic metal, doom, stoner and a bit of psychedelia. If you have not heard this release then you most certainly should.

What others had to say:

Craig Hartranft, DangerDog.com

"If you've ever wondered what Hawkwind may have sounded like if Lemmy stayed, went to lead vocals, and the band stayed on its psychedelic, neo-stoner, path, then you might have California's Dusted Angel and their first full length disc Earth Sick Mind. But that's mostly pure speculation on my part. Dusted Angel borrows heavily from the whole classic heavy metal motif and add equal doses of stoner rock and doom metal, with a glimmer of madcap psychedelic. There's enough images, inspiration and nuances from Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss, Black Sabbath and, maybe, some Helmet. I think you get the sonic picture." Read more...

Paul, TheSleepingShaman.com

"Maaaaaan, that Clifford Dinsmore dude sure gets around! From Bl'ast, to Spaceboy, to the criminally underrated Gargantula, and now on to Dusted Angel, he has been yelling up a storm since 1982!! Jeeeeez, it's a wonder the guy has an vocal chords left!!

Thankfully for Clifford's Otolaryngologist (look it up smart guy!), the guy has a lot more room to breathe in Dusted Angel than in the furious hardcore of Bl'ast or the claustrophobic drugscapes of Spaceboy and Gargantula. Clifford's vocals here are certainly more restrained than in any of his previous outfits, but still intense and on-the-money. It's more of a throaty howl here than the full-on gonzo attack of Bl'ast or Spaceboy, but anything harsh would NOT suit the more straightforward, 'listener friendly' sounds of 'Earth Sick Mind'. Dusted Angel refer to themselves as 'Doom Rock', and I guess that is as apt a description as any. Too upbeat and rockin' to be Doom, yet too intense to be Stoner Rock, I guess 'Doom Rock' is what they are!" Read more...
 
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#06. Black Tusk-Taste the Sin (Relapse Records)




























I really started to get into this band after seeing them open for Stoner Rock legends Fu Manchu. They played a blistering set and I loved the energy of the band. It looks like Georgia is becoming the hot bed for some great bands of late. Compared to luminaries such as Mastodon and Baroness, Black Tusk stamps their unique take on the ever so crushing mix of Southern-fried hardcore sludge metal.

What others had to say:

Grayson Currin, Pitchfork.com

"The single, substantive frill of Taste the Sin, the excellent Relapse debut album by Savannah, Ga., metal trio Black Tusk, comes as the final track begins. "Well, hell, World War II gave us the ball point pen," says the actor Charles Tyner in a monologue excerpted from his hilarious role as the militant Uncle Victor in the 1971 film Harold and Maude. With tales of war and murder, and his well-decorated uniform, he brings the lugubrious teen Harold to some uncomfortable intersection of euphoria and orgasm. "I say get the krauts on the other side of the fence where they belong. Let's get back to the kind of enemy worth killing." Read more...

Evan Roper, TheNewReview.net

"Savannah is a small southern town that time forgot. Isolated in antiquity and surrounded by swamp and a lot of nothing, next to nowhere, the setting provides an interesting context for a heavy metal music scene. Bands like Kylesa, Baroness and Black Tusk have sprung up out of the Georgia marsh to gain a surprising amount of influence and recognition considering their small town roots.

Make no mistake; while Black Tusk carries the distinct sounds of their Savannah folk heritage, they are very much their own band with their own sound. Kylesa wander in psychedelic aural landscapes and Baroness pushes forward with much more progressive musings in their song structure, but Black Tusk is perfectly content to smash through their own path, with thick and bottom-heavy, punchy riffs. More aggressive and more direct than their swamp sharing brothers and sisters, Black Tusk displays punk sensibilities much like punk-sludge pioneers Eyehategod and Buzzoven. The European version of the album includes a cover of Buzzoven’s “Toe Fry” which solidifies the influence of the late sludge band on Black Tusk. If you are lucky enough to get the version of the album with “Toe Fry” included, it closes the album nicely." Read more... 
 
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Read #20-#16 here.

Read #15-#11 here.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Album Review - Brant Bjork: Gods and Goddesses


Since Reg is busy putting together his top 20 albums of 2010, I figured it would be a good idea for me to post a review of one of my favorite albums from this past year. I’m fairly certain that Brant Bjork needs no introduction to the readers here at Heavy Planet. His influence within the stoner rock community dates back to his time as drummer for the legendary Kyuss, through his stint with fuzz-kings Fu Manchu, all the way to Gods and Goddesses, the latest in what has become a very impressive catalogue of solo releases. Brant Bjork defines the genre plain and simple…hell, if you ask most people who know a thing or two about it, they’ll tell you he helped to invent the damn thing!

So with that said, it’s understandable that I had high hopes when I hit play on the latest Brant Bjork endeavor and boy was I surprised when those hopes were not only met, but even surpassed about midway through song number two. But wait…I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Gods and Goddesses starts with “Dirty Bird”, a nasty little blues-inflected ditty with a shit ton of swagger that finds Bjork crooning “I got a little somethin’, somethin’ for you…it won’t take but a minute or two”. Bjork’s vocals on the track have a raspy quality that brings to mind images of dimly lit nightclubs saturated in smoke and whisky and the song itself is a fantastic album opener. And then comes track number two…oh damn that track number two...this one might be the best song I’ve heard all fucking year. “The Future Rock (We Got It)” keeps the swagger factor at a 10 but this time the subtlety is gone…this time Brant’s shoving it right in your face. Featuring an amazingly catchy riff, a sing along chorus and one hell of a guitar solo, “The Future Rock (We Got It)” makes you want to speed down the highway with your windows down…even though it’s the middle of winter.

Gods and Goddesses continues with “Radio Mecca”, which is all sexy and funky and is Brant Bjork doing his best Hendrix impersonation…and it’s a damn good one! And on “Little World” Brant and his band (Billy Cordell - bass, Brandon Henderson – guitar and Giampaolo Farnedi – drums) get all space rock on your ass with the psyched out vocals and a spine tingling guitar solo that Dave Wyndorf wishes he wrote. “Blowin’ Up Shop” sets the tone with a nice Clutch-like groove, some reverb laced vocals and the lyric “you ain’t gonna stop my trip today”, which seems to define Brant Bjork. And speaking of Clutch, “Good Time Bonnie” is what it would sound like if the elephant riders themselves let Lenny Kravitz take a guest turn on vocals. And if “The Future Rock (We Got It)” is my favorite song on the record, then the funky bass line and playful guitar work of “Porto” easily make it my second fave. I could kick back with a few Coronas and just hit repeat on this one. In fact, if you look up “mellow” in the dictionary, this song might be what you’d find.

Gods and Goddesses closes with a track called “Somewhere Some Woman” and honest to God, it brings to mind Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers playing stoner rock. It’s like classic, Southern rock with a desert twist and sounds like nothing I’ve ever heard before. Brant Bjork is a musician whose legacy in music was put in place a long, long time ago, but with this album he’s raised the bar even higher. This is music with a soul and you can’t fuck with that…it’s dirty, sleazy desert rock n’ roll played by the dude that you don’t want to leave your girlfriend alone with at the party. While most of the music being churned out these days is of the PG-13 variety, there’s no doubt about the fact that Gods and Goddesses is rated R. C’mon…take a ride with this stranger…there’s room for you on Brant Bjork’s trip.

Track Listing:

01 Dirty Bird
02 The Future Rock (We Got It)
03 Radio Mecca
04 Little World
05 Blowin' Up Shop
06 Good Time Bonnie
07 Porto
08 Somewhere Some Woman

Band Members:

Brant Bjork - Vocals and Guitar
Billy Cordell - Bass
Brandon Henderson - Guitar
Giampaolo Farnedi - Drums

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Heavy Planet's Top 20 of 2010: #15 to #11

#15. Quest for Fire-Lights From Paradise (Tee Pee Records)




























I found myself listening to this album a lot more than I would have expected. Spaced out fuzzy psychedelic rock that I simply could not get enough of.

What others had to say:

Stuart Berman, Pitchfork.com

"The term "stoner rock" has always been something of a misnomer, since its basic tenets-- tremorous heaviosity, locked-groove repetition-- require more concentration and physical exertion than your average wake-and-baker could muster. (Never mind the fact that its most prominent mouthpieces-- Kyuss' John Garcia, Monster Magnet's Dave Wyndorf-- sounded like they'd rather start a bar brawl than smoke a bowl.) Upon their 2007 formation, Toronto's Quest for Fire were quickly stamped with the stoner-rock tag, no thanks to their longstanding association with Black Mountain (QFF singer/guitarist Chad Ross was once their roadie) and their signing to Tee Pee Records, a long-time facilitator of fellow wah-wah-pedal abusers. But compared to the muscular, magma-thick riffage that has come to define the genre, Quest for Fire's sophomore release, Lights From Paradise, is less stoner rock than stoned rock, marked by a patient pace and a foggy-headed whimsy that lingers even as the VU levels surge into the red." Read more...

David Maine, PopMatters.com

"Lights from Paradise is the second full-length from Toronto-based fuzz-rockers Quest for Fire, and it’s a great record. Harkening back to the grand old days of rock ‘n’ roll bombast, it manages to be that rarest of critters: an album that sounds instantly accessible and comfortable, yet is filled with enough surprises to reward repeat listenings. Oh and it rocks.

Quest for Fire waste little time as the opening tune, “The Greatest Hits by God”, is an eight-minute-long statement of purpose. Channeling a dreamy, hazy, distorted vibe, the song gradually morphs into a sludgy rocker built upon layers of distorted guitars and, go figure, fiddles. Over the course of its length, the song builds a head of steam courtesy of those shimmering swathes of distortion and the languid but never lazy vocals." Read more...
 
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#14. The Crystal Caravan-Against the Rising Tide (Transubstans Records)
 
 

























If you are a fan of 70's bands like Uriah Heep, Steppenwolf, Mott the Hoople, etc., which I totally am then you will absolutely love this album. They have a great sound and irresistable melodies which I just can't get enough of and strong musicianship. I usually like music that is a little more on the heavier side, but damn does this shit rock!

What others had to say:

Doommantia

"It comes as no surprise that The Crystal Caravan come from Sweden as that country seems to be leading the retro-rock 70's revival that just keeps on getting bigger and more popular. Maybe it is a backlash against modern, watered-down sounds but more and more bands are opting for the classic sound of Hammond organs, bluesy guitar and strong energetic melodies played with a passionate no-frills attitude. The Crystal Caravan are a seven-piece band so the sound is huge but damn the songs are predictable but in a good way. Of course I wouldn't even be considering doing a review of this album if it wasn't for the fact that this kind of music has been somehow been thrown into the "Stoner-Rock" category but don't get me started on all that. The Crystal Caravan are really just a hard rock band or what they used to called A.O.R, but that is another dumb musical description. The 2nd album of The Crystal Caravan brings the North Swedish band into a more varied approach compared with their first album combining the 70's hard-rock with a more electic psychedelic edge. Here is some of the more obvious influences you hear on the album and this tells the story better than any review can. Grand Funk Railroad, Steppenwolf, Uriah Heep, Montrose, Mott The Hoople, Led Zeppelin, Free, The Who, The Black Crowes - you get the picture, need I go on ?" Read more...

Zac Boda

"To introduce myself to The Crystal Caravan, I first did a little web research. I find a sept-tet of talented Swedes that found a fresh take on a proven classic and southern rock sound. The tunes run approximately 40 minutes with no yawn moments. I am impressed with this collection of songs and find myself listening more and more. The stand out tracks are Apple Hotel (my personal favorite), Take What's Yours, and Wrecking Ball. Apple Hotel has a bluesy, soulful, southern feel to it. Take What's Yours is just a great jam. There are two words that come to mind to describe the closing track Wrecking Ball; epic and masterpiece. What a finale! Fans of late 60's and early 70's rock should most definitely give The Crystal Caravan a listen. Well played sir, well played." Read more...
 
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#13. Mondo Drag-New Rituals (Alive Records)
 


























As I was listening to Quest For Fire, I got on a Space/Psychedelic rock kick and found Mondo Drag. This album probably didn't gain the attention it deserved. I would have had it ranked a bit higher if it were not for the great releases on Small Stone and my need for Doom. I really love this record and it is still in heavy rotation.

What others had to say:

Jordan F. SputnikMusic.com

"Mondo Drag came out of nowhere for me, I discovered them because they were recently added to Roadburn and I read a lot of positive things. “New Rituals” has become a favorite from the first listen and probably will be for most fans of psychedelic rock. The album begins with the title track. The intro is really spacey, slowly gaining focus until it explodes into this sun drenched surf rock stomp with awesome keys. The vocals are very smooth but the real focus is on the music. Expect a lot of interstellar jams throughout.

“Fade Out (Into Space)” hits you immediately with a powerful groove and soaring vocals. This is definitely one of the best shorter tracks on the record and has great energy that dissipates in a slow feedback drenched solo. It’s easy to see the band’s influences run deep into the 60’s and 70’s haze of Cream, Pink Floyd, Blue Cheer and Hendrix. Speaking of Floyd, “Serpent Shake” and “Love Me (Like a stranger)” makes use of the organ in all the right ways. You couldn’t really ask for better production, it still feels very 60s/70s but without sacrificing any quality. “Come On Through” has a trippy blues vibe going on, it’s very catchy." Read more...

Prof, Prognaut.com

"1. Why did they make this album? What was the passion or message that forced them to produce what they have? Or, simply what was their motivation for the themes they chose for this album?

“From deep in the cosmos of Iowa comes a force known as Mondo Drag!” “With a wall of sound all their own, an arsenal of guitars, and a head full of clouds, they are on a rock n roll mission all their own” .

In early 2010, the band released their album 'New Rituals' on Alive Records and have been flying head first into the future ever since.” “Within the span of the last few months, the band has completed multiple tours, played a handful of showcases at SXSW, and performed at Austin Psych Fest 3.

“Since their start Mondo Drag has had the privilege of playing with such artists as: Sleepy Sun, Dead Meadow, Witchcraft, Black Diamond Heavies, Radio Moscow, Jennifer Gentle, The Dodos, La Otracina, Cass McCombs, Cave, Awesome Color, Monotonix, Pentagram, The Black Angels, High On Fire, and The Black Keys just to name a few”(Mondo Drag - MySpace, 2010)." Read more...
 
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#12. Red Giant-Dysfunctional Majesty (Small Stone)
 


























This is the first album in my homage to great releases this year on Small Stone Records. This release actually took me a while to get into (not exactly sure why), but after listening to it a few times there was no denying, this album fuckin' rocks!

What others had to say:

57 Octaves

" You simply cannot front on the way these guys combine riff and rhythm. The guitar licks are like non-Euclidian polygons, and listening through a song is like navigating a three-dimensional construction of an MC Escher drawing. This has always been the case, however much the band has mutated from it's sprawling "take you on a journey" approach into succinct "melt your brain with a laser" methodology.

The first two albums took the early-Monster Magnet approach to production, meaning that there are tons of moments with like 2000 guitars tripping the fuck out. They did it well, and particularly Ultramagnetic Glowing Sound (1999) stands out as a masterpiece of obsessive production. Yet this wasn't the true Source of Red Giant's Power, as first revealed by Devil Child Blues (2004)." Read more...

H.P. Taskmaster, The Obelisk

"Red Giant’s first album in six years finds the Cleveland four-piece come down to earth. Where 2004’s Devil Child Blues — and even more so their earlier albums, Ultra Magnetic Glowing Sound and Psychoblaster and the Misuse of Power – was spacier, looser, more open, the newer output on Dysfunctional Majesty (their second offering through Small Stone) is tight, rigid, professional-sounding. The tracks are not given to exploration, but rather, follow the guitars right through to the kind of straightforward heavy groove rock that has become synonymous with Small Stone’s name the last several years." Read more...
 
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#11. Solace-A.D. (Small Stone)
 
 

























I just absolutely love Solace and was so psyched about this release. It came out early in the year and I almost forgot about it. How could I not include this album on my Top 20 list? Great album, Great band, Period!

What others had to say:

Hazizi, Three Paper Reviews

"Solace’s last full length masterpiece, 13, was released in 2003, but they have given us enough little teasers in the meantime to reassure us that they hadn’t dropped off the face of the planet. Their contributions to a split E.P. in 2004 included a swaggering and memorable cover of Link Wray’s Rumble. And their 2007′s The Black Black, while technically only a four track E.P., still gave us about thirty minutes worth of quality riffs.

Still, the recent release of their third full length album, A.D., was greeted with open arms and tears of joy by the heavy music loving brethren and sistren around the world. “Yay!”, did they cry. “Verily, it is a momentous occasion! I shall bring out a barrel of our finest wine, my dear, we must feast to mark this special day!”. Or something like that.

So what’s so special about this band anyway? Well, it’s interesting you should ask…" Read more...

KK, CosmicLava.com

"New Jersey's heavy flagship SOLACE returns with their third album and once again prove that they are still something very special. Meanwhile they have been signed by Small Stone Records where they fit particularly good. One thing is certain: 'A.D.' is a monster, that is so enormous that I stand in awe after the first spins. But what makes them so special? Well, there are different reasons for this. First, when they are showing off their impressive musicianship and ability to create a great chemistry within the band, then I can only advise a lot of other heavy bands to seek shelter from SOLACE' thunderous sonic storm. The interplay between these forces is impeccable. Each instrument assimilate and merge into each other while the unique vocals of Jason are the cherry on top. Damn, this guy can sing!" Read more...
 
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Read #20-#16 here.

Read #10-#06 here.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Heavy Planet's Top 20 of 2010: #20 to #16

Over the course of the past year I have listened to tons of music. It is so hard to narrow everything down to a list of twenty especially with a tremendous amount of stellar releases this year, but I think I have managed to do that. As you can see from this list, I have a variety of tastes. These 20 albums were the ones that I just kept hitting the replay button over and over. From December 28th until midnight December 31st I will reveal 5 albums each day. Hope 2011 brings as many great tunes as 2010. Happy New Year to all!

#20-Del Rey-Immemorial (At a Loss Recordings)


























Every once in a while I like to take an aural challenge, this year I decided on Del Rey. This band has been around for years but I had never heard of them. I typically don't like post-rock music frankly because it makes me sleepy. This band had some weird instrumentation and complexities that kept my interest and for that fact alone made my list.

What others had to say:

Craig Hartranft, DangerDog.com

"On their third full-length recording Immemorial, Chicago's Del Rey continues their journey into eclectic experimental rock. Immemorial is aneddy of swirling rhythms, angular melodies, and sonic disturbances that can both mesmerize and confound. Much of the material is purely art rock shoegaze that, with your eyes closed, could easily put you into a hyper-suggestive hypnotic state. And the suggestions to you would be 'you will like this' or roll a bone and pass it along. While the music roils and you reel, Immemorial's songs are more adventures in movements than consistent currents." Read more...

Heavytothebone2, MetalUnderground.com

"While there isn’t exactly a Justin Timberlake-size following to instrumental music, Chicago’s Del Rey has still been overlooked over the years in favor of bands like Scale The Summit and Animal As Leaders. Their fourth album, “Immemorial,” continues in the epic grandeur of 2006’s “A Pyramid for the Living” with four main suites and three interludes. The musicianship is stellar, focusing less on technical prowess and more on atmospheric mystique. This is a thinking man’s kind of music, an album to ponder and study over like a brain-twisting calculus equation." Read more...

Listen

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#19. Humo del Cairo-Self-Titled (Meteor City)

























This album was originally released in 2007 but was re-issued on Meteor City this year. Some pretty awesome Psychedelic Desert rock from Argentina.

What others had to say:

H.P. Taskmaster, The Obelisk

"To be perfectly honest, I’ve been putting off reviewing the self-titled MeteorCity debut from Buenos Aires desert-style rockers Humo del Cairo for about a week now because I’ve wanted to try and glean some better sense of the album’s structure, form and methodology. I don’t know if I got all that for having taken the extra time, but with a record like this, which alternates between longer and shorter cuts and puts to use a ranging sonic approach, repeat listens can’t hurt.

Humo del Cairo does go back and forth between extended cuts and shorter pieces, at least for the first four of the total six tracks – the last two, “Errantes” and “Cauce” being about eight and seven minutes, respectively – opening with the 11-minute rocker “A Tiempo,” on which the trio waste no time earning a Los Natas comparison with driving rock rhythms. But soon the song opens up into a jam and the reasoning behind the longer track times is revealed. To the credit of the players — guitarist Juan Manuel Diaz, drummer Javier Murillo Gorchs and bassist Gustavo Bianchi – it doesn’t get boring, but the divisions between tracks become almost arbitrary by the end of this first 11 minutes, which is going to drastically change how you experience the album." Read more...

Michael Wuensch, Metalreview.com

"This baby's been sitting on my Metal Review burner for far too long. Not actually a result of a loss for words on my part, mind you, but because I knew it was something that would best be digested in the midst of the US Summer months. For Humo del Cairo's sound, in a nutshell, would most accurately be described as "summery" -- summery stoner metal that lifts the smell of burning Kingsford coals on the wind the very moment these unwinding grooves waft from the speakers. Hence, it will probably come as little surprise to many of you that these young Argentinians have secured a cozy spot on New Mexico's hazily-far-out Meteor City roster. They're quite the comfortable fit alongside acts such as Los Natas, Hermano, Solace and the like. But where those bands would likely fill the role of getting the party started, Humo del Cairo seem more suited for maintaining that late afternoon summertime buzz by stewing folks off their undeniable stoner vibe. It's as if someone locked these three in a room for a year with an industrial-sized hookah, a stack of Kyuss records and Robin Trower's Bridge of Sighs." Read more...
 
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#18. Fen-Trails Out of Gloom (Ripple Music)
 
 

























Being a huge fan of bands such as Alice in Chains, Days of the New, and Opeth this was one of those albums that I just absolutley loved the minute I heard it. Each previously mentioned band is somehow represented in the band's music. Haunting, beautiful acoustic melodies with just enough crunch.

What others had to say:

Jeff, ImagineEchoes.com

"Trails Out of Gloom is a brooding record that meshes the lush with the heavy, the serene with the chilling and the light with the dark. Somehow Fen manages to traverse through the seemingly opposite terrains with incredible success. Fen is an alternative/heavy metal band that often veers into progressive rock territories likening them to the sounds of Porcupine Tree and Opeth. Unlike countless other bands in the same genre, Fen manages to always stay centered, never losing themselves to moments of self-indulgence or falling victim to being overly obscure." Read more...

Craig Hartranft, DangerDog.com

"Trails Out of Gloom is an apt title for Fen's fourth album. There's a certain atmosphere of foreboding coursing through this work. At times, Fen seems two steps and a brick from doom rock, or maybe better alternative stoner rock. But even these descriptions fall short as you could add some post-grunge or even some mild heavy metal. And even with the darker gloomy side of Trials Out of Gloom or the The World is Young, there's an obtuse liveliness to Find That One and End of the Dream. With an oft despairing worldview for lyric, Fen brings ambitious melodies and clever guitar stylings to some knotty, but ultimately accessible, tunes like Miracle and the aforementioned End of the Dream." Read more...
 
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#17. Bongripper-Satan Worshipping Doom (Self-released)


























Yep, my darkside has emerged once again! Ok here is the deal. Some of you like clean vocals with your doom, some like gutteral vocals, some like screaming. Surprise, this album has no vocals. The music speaks for itself. It is a brilliant doom/sludge record. If you have never listened to Bongripper before, now is the time!

What others had to say:

Alex, DeathMetalBaboon.com

"In the realm of instrumental sludge and doom metal, there is one band that rules all with an iron fist. That band is Bongripper. Formed in 2005, the band has worked hard, creating five previous albums. Their sixth, Satan Worshipping Doom has arguably become their best piece of work to date, surpassing their 2008 fan-favorite, Hate Ashbury. So you may be asking yourself, what separates their newest album from all the rest? Here’s the answer." Read more...

Visionary, PaHardcore.com

"Let me preface this by saying that instrumental doom, in any of its various incarnations, is not always the easiest thing to pull off. A lot of bands in the genre get away with making utterly boring and lifeless music, doing nothing to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. But when a band tackles this genre and does it well -- I mean really well -- it can be some of the most powerful and crushing shit you can subject your ears too.

That's where Chicago's Bongripper enters the picture. Since the band's inception in 2005, these guys have been all over the map experimenting with all that is heavy. Their monolithic debut full-length The Great Barrier Reefer is still one of my all-time favorite sludgy doom albums and the perfect record to rock while passing around the blunt (or bong, as the case may be). And since that album's release in 2006, these guys have been very busy." Read more...

Listen

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#16. Black Rainbows-Carmina Diabolo (Longfellow Deeds)


























Some of you may have or may not have of ever heard of the Italian Stoner band Black Rainbows, well if you never have I really suggest you do so now. I first heard the band back in 2008 on their awesome release "Twilight in the Desert". After hearing that album I couldn't wait to hear some new music by these guys. Cue up the latest album "Carmina Diablo". In tradition with the first album, Black Rainbows brilliantly intertwines doom heavy stoner rock with spacey psychedelic rock, think Monster Magnet meets Kyuss complete with great riffs and melodic grooves. The first two songs on the album "Himalaya" and "Babylon" are two absolute stoner rock gems. Why this band hasn't gained more international recognition is beyond me. These guys will be in Heavy Rotation for a long time to come.

What others had to say:

Tobias Beament, PlanetFuzz.com

"How about the finest psychedelic nectar with extra crispy desert rock, spiced with a dose of fragrant tasty fuzz de luxe?

Black Rainbows seem to have been dwelling in the holy temple in almost three years just waiting to unleash their psychedelic sweetness for the second time in history, and finally they do it! The new album 'Carmina Diabolo' has been worth waiting for; the Italian riff inquisition is back with a vengeance and ready to torture anyone who would try to climb the holy mountain, with their mighty strings! Unlike many of their competitors that have gone from pure stoner to being a more 70's oriented hard rock band Black Rainbows have chosen to stick to old traditions, and thank God for that!" Read more...

Yiannis D., AllThatIsHeavy.com

"The band plays a kind of psychedelic Stoner Rock, that draws influences from acts like Nebula, the high and mighty Blue Cheer (hail!) and Slo Burn, as well as the groovy touches from Kyuss. The low tuned guitar and bass add some heaviness to the sound, while Fiori’s vocals travel you somewhere in a desert, where you can see the sun setting as you drink your favorite beer and burn everything that troubles your mind. Suggested only to those few that can feel the heat of music that is played straight from the heart."
 
Listen
 

Read #15-#11 here.

Read #10-#06 here.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Heavy Planet Updates

As the year winds down, I would like to thank everyone for stopping by and reading. This has been the most successful year for Heavy Planet as we saw a new site design, tons of great "New Band To Burn One To" band submissions, a few new contributors, Heavy Planet is finally on Facebook, and a collaboration with The Soda Shop. I would like to finish off the year with my Top 20 albums of 2010 which will begin tomorrow and end on Friday. Five albums will be featured each day.

In 2011, we will continue to accept submissions for our extremely popular "New Band To Burn One To" feature. So if you want your band to be heard, submit it here now! Also in the works is a possible collaboration with The Soda Shop on a monthly podcast/radio show to feature unsigned bands. This may also be the year that a Heavy Planet compilation CD comes out. We shall see. Also, a blog I started called "Promote Your Band" is in it's infancy stage right now,  so hopefully you'll stop by and check it out for some great articles on how to promote and market your band.

Special thanks goes out to Toby, The Klepto, Zac, Bill and Jake (The Soda Shop)  and these fine websites Captain Beyond Zen, The Obelisk, Sludge Swamp, PlanetFuzz, Doommantia and any other Stoner/Doom related sites dedicated to keeping Stoner/Doom/Sludge/Psych music alive and well. Unfortunately, we saw the demise of StonerRock.com. But along with the above mentioned sites we will strive to bring you all the information that you need.

Here is to a successful 2011!

Doom on fellow \m/usic fans!

~Reg

New Band To Burn One To - Albatross Overdrive

 
As also seen on The Soda Shop

Today's New Band To Burn One to is southern California's Albatross Overdrive

I will go on record to say that if it wasn't for Chybucca sounds top 50 of 2010, it may have been a while before I heard of this fine kick ass rock and roll band. They describe them as "The Huntington Beach four-piece hint at what Black Sabbath may have sounded like had Duane Allman been on the axe. Their sound is southern, but not fried, and full-on without being pigeonholed into metal." That's a pretty accurate description. You can hear hints of Kyuss but the sound more closely resembles Ride the Sun or to a lesser degree, Whores of Tijuana.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Old Man Gloom: Christmas (2004)

Well, I suppose the obvious choice would have been to feature an album by U.S. Christmas on Christmas. I have decided to go back a few years and feature the album "Christmas" by Old Man Gloom.

First of all, if you are expecting a bunch of Christmas songs covered by a post-metal hardcore sludge band then you are sorely mistaken.

"Like Isis' Oceanic and Celestial, Christmas is filled with peaks and valleys, instances of harsh noise-core followed by ambient mood pieces. While Christmas is, much like Isis’ later recordings, a deeply layered album, it’s also direct. But that’s not to say the members of Converge and Cave In have no say in Christmas. Their influences are apparent in the songwriting itself. The tracks are more focused, giving the album a greater effect and mood. There are no semi-realized tracks, and there is no filler."-Arzgarth

"As barren as it is busy, Christmas is a sonic abomination crooked with distortion, sublime heaviness, and most importantly, a child-like adoration of our simian brethren. And unlike the holiday, your presents are bits of twitchy sludge and jittery soundscapes that are both full of climactic head-swelling moments and end-of-life drones. Watch the sunset, get bombarded by hail. Smell the flowers, get gang raped. It's a sick system. If none of this interests you, the booklet is the funniest thing you'll read all year."-Jason M.


























Track Listing:

01.Gift
02.Skullstorm
03.Something for the Mrs.
04.Sleeping with Snakes
05.Lukeness Monster
06.'Tis Better to Receive
07.Accord-O-Matic
08.The Volcano
09.Close Your Eyes, Roll Back Into Your Head
10.Girth and Greed
11.Sonic Dust
12.Valhalla
13.Christmas Eve Parts I, II & III (Alternative Version)
 
Band members:

Aaron Turner – vocals, guitar (Isis)
Santos Montano – drums (Zozobra)
Nate Newton – guitar, vocals (Converge, Doomriders)
Caleb Scofield – bass guitar, vocals (Cave In, Zozobra)
Luke Scarola - Electronics
Jay Randall - Electronics (Agoraphobic Nosebleed)




After listening to "Christmas" I guarantee you won't have visions of sugar plum fairies dancing in your head. Or maybe you will. The music has many mood swings, at times soothing, at times crushing, at times epic. But one thing is for sure traditional Christmas music it isn't.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

MySpace|Facebook|Last.fm|

Bonus Download: Christmas Eve I & II + 6 EP [2003]

Friday, December 24, 2010

New Band To Burn One To-Archon

The "New Band To Burn One To" today is Archon.





















Archon is a Brooklyn based doom / sludge metal band having played in various forms since 2008. Recently, the band completed it's first full length record "The Ruins at Dusk", available digitally via archondoom.com .

Archon is the brainchild of Andrew Jude, formerly of NYC sludge/doom heavyweights Agnosis (who broke up in 2006). Having shared the stage with doom heavyweights such as NYC legends Unearthly Trance, Negative Reaction, Relapse Records-signees Cough, and Brooklyn brethren Hull and Batillus, Archon will bring its unique blend of psychedelics, doom and unrelenting heavy sludge to the masses with the release of "The Ruins at Dusk" and it's first tour in 2011.

"The Ruins at Dusk" is the product of 2+ years of hard work & the collaboration of 7 people. The disc blends the atmospherics of Electric Wizard and Pink Floyd with the epic heaviness of Buried at Sea and Neurosis while maintaining a melodic sensibility reminiscent of doom godfathers St. Vitus and Black Sabbath.

Praise for Archon:

 "Nothing but top-notch, down-tuned, and at times psychedelic Metal"- Disorderly Conduct Blog

"Archon is hypnotic, powerful and never boring…everything in their sound has a purpose"- Hellride Music

These New York crush merchants are a fine entry into the realm of punishing psychedelic doom/sludge metal giving bands such as the almighty Warhorse and Buried at Sea a run for their money. Go check them out now!

MySpace|Facebook|Bandcamp

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Album Review - Yawning Man: Nomadic Pursuits

By now the California “generator parties” of the 80’s that spawned bands like Kyuss, Fu Manchu and Queens of the Stone Age and arguably the entire stoner rock genre, have become legendary. If you haven’t heard about them, they were essentially free shows played in the desert using gasoline powered generators to power the equipment. With no club scene within 100 miles of the place, local bands would throw these parties as an excuse to drink some beer and showcase their music in front of their buddies. Yawning Man were one of those bands.

The current lineup features Gary Arce on guitar, Mario Lalli on bass and Alfredo Hernandez on drums. You may recognize Hernandez as he was Brant Bjork’s replacement in Kyuss and played drums on that band’s final album “…And the Circus Leaves Town”. With that kind of pedigree, Yawning Man had a lot to live up to when I hit play on their latest release Nomadic Pursuits and let me just say…I was not disappointed.

The band plays an atmospheric blend of jazzy, post rock with flourishes of guitar wizardry and drum acrobatics that are subtly breathe taking. This is music that you can play loudly while driving at breakneck speeds or put on in the background while you close your eyes and meditate. The free-form nature of the songs flow from one right into another and they’re best experienced when taken together as an overall piece of work. I’d say it’s psychedelic, but that word doesn’t seem to do this justice.

Given that there are no vocals, the listener is left to explore the instrumentation to its fullest, which is lush and filled with layers and textures. Just follow a guitar part or a bass line throughout a song and then hit repeat and see what you hear the next time through it. There is so much going on here that your mind will make up the lyrics if you find them necessary. I mean just take a listen to Hernandez’s drums on “Ground Swell” or the beauty of the guitar in “Camel Tow Too”. Go ahead…hit play…close your eyes…lose consciousness.

In a word…compelling…

Track Listing:

01 Camel Tow
02 Sand Whip
03 Far-Off Adventure
04 Blue Foam
05 Ground Swell
06 Camel Tow Too
07 Laster Arte

Band Members:

Gary Arce - Guitar
Alfredo Hernandez - Drums
Mario Lalli - Bass
Mathias Schneeberger - Keyboards

My Space|Website|Amazon

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Album Review - Ossimoro: Deus


I have to be honest, I’ve been listening to Ossimoro’s Deus for about two weeks now and I’m still struggling to classify their sound. When I listen to most bands for the first time, I can immediately think “they sound like X” or “I hear a little bit of Y”, but these guys just didn’t jump out at me as sounding like anything. At first, I figured the language barrier may be partly to blame for my inability to place their sound. You see, Ossimoro hails from Rome, Italy and their lyrics are sung entirely in Italian. However, as I continued to listen and absorb this fine slab of doom rock, I realized that what I was actually hearing and the reason for my “blank slate” so to speak, was this band's originality.

I suppose the best way to begin would be to say that I absolutely dig this record. There seems to be a classic heavy metal vibe going on here, yet I feel like there’s an element of prog blended in along with it…imagine Rush playing Black Sabbath covers…or maybe it’s the other way around. And while it’s difficult to be sure since the lyrics are all in Italian, Deus feels an awful lot like a concept album. There’s a quote from the 18th century philosopher Immanuel Kant printed in Italian on the inner sleeve of the album which translates to “the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me”. A little research into Kant (Wikipedia) tells me that he was known for philosophizing on the mystery of a higher power given that there is no irrefutable evidence for or against the notion. This sort of paradox seems to be exactly what Ossimoro are interested in exploring, because the name of the band is Italian for “oxymoron” which means contradictory expression, and “Deus” is Italian for God…but what the hell do I know? Let’s get to the music.

The album starts off with a brief intro that features an indecipherable, distorted voice and sounds like it did when you were a kid and you played a record backwards to see if there were any hidden “satanic” messages…um did I just show my age? The creepiness of the intro gives way to “Deus Ex Machina”, a track that starts off with an excellent drum fill courtesy of Fabrizio Ferrante that is joined first by a heavier-than-all-hell guitar riff from Federico Venditti and then a sludgy bass line from Paolo Recchia. Once all the instrumental ingredients are combined, the groove becomes irresistible and it’ll have your head bobbing in no time. With a retro-70’s style reminiscent of Witchcraft’s Magnus Pelander, vocalist Francesco Fornara is the last of Ossimoro to join the fray. Right around the two minute mark of “Deus Ex Machina”, when the singer unleashes a laugh that sounds downright sinister, you just know you’re in for a wickedly good time with this album.

Deus continues with “Splende Il Fuoco” which blends sludgy riffs with over the top vocals, reminding me a little of Glenn Hughes’ work with Sabbath/Iommi. This one gets a little eerie during the latter half of the song when Fornara begins to speak/chant in Italian prior to Venditti letting loose a downright blistering guitar solo. The album flows nicely as “Sierra” continues the trend of crushingly heavy riffing combined with the band’s gut rattling rhythm section. Ossimoro slow things down briefly on the intro to “Assassino” before the song collapses into a trance-like dirge reminiscent of Alice in Chains with its intricate, textural heaviness. “Sotto Il Sole”, the album’s centerpiece, starts off with a nice little bass line from Recchia that is again built upon slowly until the whole ensemble just plows over the top of you with pure doom…slow and low…that is the tempo.

“Il Sole a Mezzanotte” sounds kind of like Witchcraft, just without the folksy undertones…love the guitar solo on this one! The song is a bit slower than the rest of the album, yet no less heavy, and at this point I’m beginning to think the Italian language actually enhances this style of music, as it seems to add a certain level of mystique to the proceedings. On “Il Culto”, Ossimoro pick up the pace once again, this time with a galloping rhythm and a breakdown in the middle that has just a hint of Maynard James Keenan and Tool. “Ceneri” is the final track and it lives up to the rest of Deus with its solid, doom riff and powerful, old school vocals. The song brings the album full circle as it comes to an end with that same strange voice we heard in the intro.

I realize I’ve thrown out a few comparisons throughout the course of this review, but honestly folks, Ossimoro have a sound that is all their own. As I said at the beginning, Deus is a solid slab of doom with more than a slight nod to some of the genre’s timeless artists of yesteryear. I suggest that you not be intimidated by the Italian lyrics or the obscure, philosophical message, and instead crank this baby up and enjoy a different take on a classic style. Confucius say…this is some good shit!

Track Listing:

01 Intro
02 Deus Ex Machina
03 Splende Il Fuoco
04 Sierra
05 Assassino
06 Sotto Il Sole
07 Il Sole A Mezzanotte
08 Il Culto
09 Ceneri

Band Members:

Federico Venditi - Guitar
Francesco Fornara - Vocals
Fabrizio Ferrante - Drums
Paolo Recchia - Bass

Facebook|My Space|Buy Here

New Band To Burn One To - Mellow Bravo

 
As also seen on The Soda Shop

Today's New Band To Burn One To is Mellow Bravo.
In the winter of 2009, Andrew Doherty (Codetta/Motherboar) and David Jarvis (Codetta/Stu Walker) had time on their hands, and a pile of riffs to work with. Despite being involved in modern rock and metal projects, this time the goal was to harness the sound and power of 70's arena rock and try to blend it with the energy and soulfulness of Motown. The two invited singer Keith Pierce (Hydronaut/Buried in Leather) to an informal rehearsal. It became clear in the first hour of rehearsal that Mellow Bravo was going to be an exciting band.

Soon after, Jess Collins (Static Dynamic/Baby Boy H), Jeff Fultz (Seamless/Bloodwitch) and Steve Fanale (Bacchus King) joined on. That summer Mellow Bravo booked their first show; a sold out day-time BBQ at O'Brien's. The show was so successful that by the end of the weekend, they had already booked a residency there for the fall. Steve Fanale left the band to pursue other projects. He was replaced by Seager Tennis (Buried in Leather/Toxic Narcotic), thus completing the current line-up. Good things came very quickly as Mellow Bravo went on to headline the St. Patrick's Day party at Great Scott with Mid-Atlantic and a string of high profile shows in Boston and NYC and after just one year, Mellow Bravo has been headlining shows throughout Boston.

Mellow Bravo's music is extremely dynamic from song to song and the band decided to take an innovative approach by recording their debut full length at three separate recording studios (New Alliance, Mad Oak and Camp Street). Mellow Bravo released Strut on September 10, 2010 at the Middle East Downstairs to a packed house and will be playing very soon in a city near you.
To download the album for FREE, click HERE!
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