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Saturday, December 8, 2012

Nuclear Dog's Atomic Split: Reverence - "When Darkness Calls" / Barbara & Los Rotos Del Rock

If you read my posts regularly you know I like disparity, or at least disparity within the good stuff, and Heavy Planet only plays the good stuff. Today I feature something that is a bit of a departure for me, but it is a sound that has enjoyed a mini resurgence recently in the underground community, a sound that was prevalent three decades ago, just before rock imploded upon itself giving birth to grunge and what became stoner rock. But before that demise was an incredible metal brand of rock that for years stirred the soul, and soared through the universe on a beam of pure rock energy. Today we get to soar through the cosmos again. In addition, we travel all the way to Santiago, Chile for some scrumptious and fun mega fuzz, bringing a fresh and brutal take on the power and force of music from a grittier, almost lethal side.


REVERENCE - "When Darkness Calls"

Forming in 2010 but hearkening back to past metal glory days, the power metal band Reverence was founded in Detroit, Michigan, bringing together veterans of past metal groups into one incredible, indelible musical force and providing a rare opportunity to experience this exceptional, soul blistering music. Placing mega guitarist and songwriter Bryan Holland (Tokyo Blade / Arrest) in with fellow songwriter and vocalist extraordinaire Todd Michael Hall (Burning Starr) and fellow campaigners Steve 'Doc Killdrums' Wacholz (Savatage / Crimson Glory) on drums, Ned Meloni (Burning Starr / Funny Money) on bass, and killer guitarist Pete Rossi (Sanxtion / Overland) caused the stars to align, igniting a supernova, stellar explosion of unimaginable sound.

The music on this album goes beyond just paying homage to an era of metal music, though. It is well crafted in all aspects and facets, presenting a rare and exceptional opportunity for enjoyment of a unique and wonderful metal style. With the incredible lineup of musicians in this band you can expect exceptional execution, but exceptional is too weak a descriptive. The guitars are blistering and fierce, the drums are relentless and true, the bass huge, powerful, and unrelenting in its onslaught of subterranean reverberations. Above it all are two things: first is the rare and striking vocals of Hall, whose mastery of execution is not just best suited for this neon bright music, but perhaps is the result of karmic goodness in which his 4 octave voice is able to strive toward its unlimited potential; and second is the song structure, the writing of eleven power metal melodies that never nears the mundane, but instead soars high and far in a cosmic spray of canorous might and mastery. The rhythms, tempo, hooks, and overall structure are pleasing and satisfying, generating immense anticipation from one song to the next and never disappointing in its captivating endeavor.

The title track starts off the album and gives great insight into what's in store on ten succeeding power tracks. It begins with an intro that sets the immediate tone, but wastes little time in cranking up the voltage on twin guitars of power and tempo, accompanied by earth shattering vocals of athletic trancendency. 

The opening guitar on "Phantom Road" is sheer might and electromagnetism, beautifully leading into a tightly tempoed signature onslaught of fury and dexterity where the solos soar and blister and the riffs are unyielding.

My favorite song on the album is "Gatekeeper". It provides a morphine rush of warmness in delivery tempo, as if it were a scarcely contained beast straining to rip through a frayed and diminishing restraint in order to burst forth in incomparable ferocity. 

"Monster" is . . . well, it's perfectly titled. Powerful, beautiful, unrelenting in melody, overflowing with riff and solo, bursting at the seams in metal exhilaration. 

"After the Leaves Have Fallen" is the album's power ballad, it's cathartic release of emotion, opening up the opportunity for Hall to express himself with range, power, and incredible precision.

All in all, a remarkable and rare compilation of power metal that isn't simply a celebration of times gone by, but is instead, as much of the music on Heavy Planet tends to be, a furtherance of a metal musical style that was too abruptly cut short in production by the brutal whims of fate and fancy, but deserves to still be played by those who were seemingly born with the keenest of ears to this particular brand, to still be heard by the multitudes of those familiar and those who may discover, to be enjoyed a whole host who might otherwise be deprived. To fiercely hang on to a type of music that is obviously loved and revered by the members of the aptly named Reverence, to create music at an almost unachievable level, displaying immense skill, but an even more incredible ferocity of execution, is a rare and true gift and opportunity to relish something that has not always been available for such enjoyment.






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BARBARA & LOS ROTOS DEL ROCK

The Hobos of Rock and their frontwoman Barbara hail from Santiago, Chile. It is quite obvious right away when listening to their high energy, power driven music they are children of the fuzz, the scions of distortion, the progeny of full out stoner rock.

They waste no time injecting the listener with the warm rush of fuzz on the opening track, "Tu No Sabes Quien Soy" (You Do Not Know Who I Am), and the truth is right there for us to see - we do not know who they are, but as with many, many great and wonderful bands that get featured on Heavy Planet from all over the globe, we don't know who they are until we do. Today we get to learn a little bit about these Chilean rockers, at least the parts that pertain to their thrilling brand of stoner rock.

Barbara and her gang of Hobos like to present themselves as bloodthirsty and ruthless gangsters, dispensing vigilante justice to all who oppose them. Band members include:

Bárbara González - Vocals
Christian Spencer - Guitar
Cesar Garcés - Bass
Critóbal Pancheco - Drums

I do believe, though, that I see in each and every one of these direct and deadly rockers a tongue planted firmly in their respective cheeks. Without knowing much about them, it would seem they have a penchant for the violent because it breeds a similar feel to the angst and energy of their music. There's not much that's nice and sweet about their songs, songs that are pure rage, incandescent fury, and an unbridled, unrivaled fierceness of joy. They exude sheer pleasure in the dispensation of their music, enjoying the expression of power and might, radiating with a sheer potentcy of rock and roll.

Following on the nuclear powered opener is another compelling gem, "Masticare Tu Corazon" (Eat/Chew Your Heart) with its ninja attack title hook and all out background party in which the Hobos apparently are enjoying what, maybe, is the actual eating of a heart? This song is an all out ass kicker, with a Spartan phalanx assault coming down through the tiny thin wires of my ear buds. I've not quite experienced anything like it.

"Banzai" carries through with the same attacking rhythm as its predecessors, providing fierce guitars, bass, and drums, but "Mala Hierba" (Bad Weed) deviates a bit with more of a melodic haunt, while never relinquishing on the power distortion and fuzz riffs that provide the main staple of their signature sound.

Barbara & Lot Rotos Del Rock take on one of rock's great songs, "Satisfaction" (Satisfacción), giving it their personal touch of an all out blitzkrieg, panzer attack, onslaught of sound and fury, loading up the assault rifle guitars and gatling gun vocals  and blasting away until there's nothing but dust and grins remaining to account for the event. In other words, they do an exceptional job with the song by sticking to its basic sound, while managing to play it in their own inimitable style, making it an enjoyable and exhilarating experience, the same experience the rest of this jewel of an album provides.









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