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Thursday, November 28, 2013

LP Review "Hymn to Pan" by Obelyskkh


Thrill with lissome lust of the light,
O man! My man!
Come careering out of the night
Of Pan! Io Pan!
Io Pan! Io Pan! Come over the sea
From Sicily and from Arcady!
Roaming as Bacchus, with fauns and pards
And nymphs and satyrs for thy guards,
On a milk-white ass, come over the sea
To me, to me.

(Hymn to Pan by Aleister Crowley)


Cloven hoofed and horned, Pan is the pagan god of nature. Half man, half goat; he is the sound of the wind in the trees and he is the smell of the earth. 

Dripping with black sludge and ritualistic doom riffs are Obelyskkh, a German doom metal band. All heavy, all crushing; they make a monolithic sound that carves cyclopean slabs of stone and erects them as temples to the nature god, Pan.

Obelyskkh play their take on Neurosis' earthy post metalist doom and crust like they are a hoard of be-woaden pagan warriors standing proud and fierce against an onslaught of Roman legions sweeping across and swallowing up their land mercilessly.

The opening and title track "Hymn to Pan" sets the tone with the gentle sounds of a spring morning. Birds are singing and the sun is warm while the golden silence is broken by the blowing of a pagan battle horn that drifts across a hazy valley. There comes then a solemn parade of mystical sounds that lures out of the earth a sudden heaving of heavy riffs that catches you instantly into head nodding worship. A pause arrives after a time with foggy atmospherics and earthy psychedelia and a chanted ode to Pan that brings back the gargantuan doom metal riffs in waves of flesh flaying pleasure. For the most part the tone is somewhat humbly solemn but "Hymn to Pan" evolves into determined and celebratory sludge/post metal that ends in a triumph of feedback and thus begins Obelyskkh's hymn to Pan.

"The Ravens" follows with a sinister and foreboding doom riff that rattles under rolling drums with vocals that tell of the awesome and terrifying sight of seeing a flock of ravens that pass you by. The track revolves and unfolds into anthemic rousings that seem to ever ascend until a pinnacle is reached and the song collapses into sorrowful and ponderous piano.

Next is "The Man Within" that opens with a vocal sample that kicks off a rolling torrent of sludge that soon falls into Neurosis like introspection and a gradual building of sludge metal tension. The track then snaps into huge slabs of black riffs that turn demented and worryingly scary towards the end so the squelchy feedback that the track falls into at the end is somewhat oddly comforting.

The squelchy, electronic acid feedback seeps into the intro for "Heaven's Architrave" but then falls into a droning ambiance that serves as a calm before the storm moment of stillness. Soft guitar wafts build a different tension to the last track, where that one was black this one is tragically full of sorrow. When the huge sludgy riffs fall I am crushed not only by the low end riffs but also by the lamentous tone that is delivered hymn-like and which seem to strike a chord deep within. The final section has the track turn savagely into rolling and tumbling sludge metal that keeps tumbling and rolling until the abrupt ending into silence.

"Horse" has some strange and unknown sound and a teasing voice that challenges warriors to "come out and play". Soon enough a huge sludge metal beast is unleashed which runs rampageous and violent with a dark, repetitive riff that morphs into a more triumphant and uplifting riff accompanied by guitar licks that take the song into some pleasing doom metal celebration.

Finally there is the last hymn to Pan that is called "Revelation: The Will To Nothingness" and a famous vocal sample from the Joker in The Dark Knight movie introduces this one. This is followed by massive sludge riffs once again but with a vocal sample from master occultist and Pan lover Aleister Crowley reading one of his own poems. The sludge is thickened up with a harsh and gravelly vocal and a hectic pace reminiscent of EYEHATEGOD until the pace drops quickly to drive the sludge deeper into your brain. The sludge subsides to leave an airy, psychedelic breeze of drifting, atmospheric mysticism which serves as a moment of meditation in which to prepare for the inevitable onslaught of doom and sludge metal. A riff creeps in before the ever monolithic sounds of Obelyskkh finally fall to unleash the sludge beast once again to leave none untainted in its wake. The song stomps along unhindered while a slaying guitar lick plucks the heart strings in a return to the solemnity that seems rote through much of Obelyskkh's work. The pace gradually quickens with ever more destructive riffs that build the track to a seething doom and freaked out sound effects that break the track down into psychedelic ruin. The Joker returns again at the end to drive the point home only for an insane gabble of sounds that twists your mind into something thoroughly sludge drenched and doomed. Listen out for the hidden piano track at the end which nearly had me in pathetic fits of weeping.

"Hymn To Pan" could very well be album of the year for me and I'm buying an Obelyskkh T-shirt forthwith.



Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sam's Opening Salvo - Heavy Virginia

Hello! My name is Sam. I am the newest and junior-most member of the Heavy Planet team. I am delighted to be a part of this fantastic site, and while anxious to dive into reviews and December madness, I feel that it is appropriate to first provide some background information about myself.

My hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia, is far from a haven for any metal or hard rock - But with Richmond only an hour away, I can get my live doom fix most of the time. Charlottesville has, however, recently acquired a metal-friendly venue in the back of the downtown ice rink. While the “Main Street Annex” is basically just a strangely shaped concrete room, it makes for a fine bastion of Charlottesville's underground metal scene. Since it's opening, the Annex has hosted several collections of local Stoner/Doom bands, a few of which I'd like to quickly introduce!

Miami Nights are a three-piece doom outfit who show up at the odd local gig to demolish a few ear canals. Founding member and front-woman Maxx Katz busts out crunchy, blues-soaked riffs which she often interrupts with long, tense cadences that drip with feedback. The elusive trio boast only 3 brutal tracks on their soundcloud at the moment, but I certainly anticipate more recorded material from them soon.




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Horsefang are an instrumental sludge metal group that bring a little bit of solid groove to the scene, while also making room for slow, haunting intros and interludes. Horsefang have been a staple of the Cville metal scene for more than few years, and for good reason.While searching for a suitable live
clip of the band, I stumbled across this unusual gem and felt obligated to share it:



Myspace : Facebook

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Last but not least we have Harrisonburg's Earthling. These genre-blending rockers made waves in the Virginia metal community with the release of Dark Path earlier this year. The album combines an older demo and split with Valkyrie, along with two brand new jams. Best described as doom you can mosh to, Earthling also incorporate sludge, thrash, black metal and more into their unique brand of dark and heavy goodness.




These are just a few of the killer bands way deep down in ol' Virginia. Richmond of course, having just hosted Stoner Hands of Doom, gives me a lot of hope for the future of heavy music in Virginia!

Monday, November 25, 2013

FESTIVAL CALL FOR BANDS




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7th ANNUAL NORMAN MUSIC FESTIVAL - NORMAN, OKLAHOMA

This coming April in downtown Norman, Oklahoma, just 20 miles south of Oklahoma City, will be held the 7th Annual Norman Music Festival. Over the course of the past 6 years in which the festival has been held it has grown in stature by leaps and bounds until now it hosts over 300 bands, 50,000 spectators, and generates millions of dollars in revenue. It rivals, but perhaps doesn't yet match, SXSW in Austin. It is on a steady growth track, however, and no festival is safe! It is a weekend filled with fun and music and is a great time for all involved. I, though, would offer up the prospect that the fuzzier contingent of rock music has yet to be sufficiently represented at this fine event. I would dearly love to change that eventuality, so I am posting the open call information published by the festival promoters in hopes that many of the fine bands and types of bands covered by Heavy Planet will apply to attend this coming April of 2014 and show the Wild West what loud, low, furious, and fuzzy rock is all about.

Please click on this link - NMF 7, APRIL 2014 - to apply to attend and give the people of the Southwest an experience they won't soon forget.


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Nuclear Dog's Chain Reaction - Exporting White Elephants, Iron Man, Palm Desert, The Outlaws of Zen, Arrowhead

Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you what I believe to be some of the absolute best stoner rock or retro/blues rock albums recently released into the cold, dark world of underground metal, where the light from without remains dim but the fire from within is fraught with explosive, sapid, deep, low, and fuzzy abundance. These are the types of albums we crave, where the music is timeless and rich, stuffed full of soul stirring guitar, and amaranthine melodies, often driven relentlessly forward by genetically superior vocals and athletic rhythms. I always envision bonfires in the darkest night with inebriated, naked souls unabashedly cavorting in unison around the conflagration to the intrinsic, soul stirring rhythms of an amplified universe. To me, this music is universal, eternal, linking us all in an elemental, tribal connection of fury, fuzz, and fun. Bring your matches.
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EXPORTING WHITE ELEPHANTS - ORGANIC RAW

This is not the first twosome reviewed this year on Heavy Planet that consists solely of a drummer and bassist, and with no standard six string in the mix. Just like the previously reviewed Bedroom Rehab Corporation, today's subject, Exporting White Elephants of Santiago, Chile, take their 2 rhythm instruments plus vocals and deliver some of the finest riff infused butt fuzz rock you are likely to hear this side of North American high desert country. T. Sanchez and T. Frothingham play their melodic brand of stoner rock with immense intensity and consummate ability on their debut album, "Organic Raw", in what we can only hope is the first of many to come. Bluesy and beefy, deep and dirty, the melodies are electric, Frothingham's vocals are ragged and rich, the teeth rattling bass riffs that power this mega meaty album are timeless, and the ferocious drumwork drives it all with grace and heart.

Favourite songs - The uptempo and breathless "Koukeing", the haunting, stirring "Hey Papo", the atmospheric exhilaration of "Nasty Lips", and the riff laden closer . . . ah . . . damn . . . I can't recall it's title.

Facebook . . Bandcamp





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IRON MAN - SOUTH OF THE EARTH

Despite frequent and numerous lineup changes throughout Iron Man's decades long history of rocking the faces of the world the current lineup for "South of the Earth" has managed to deliver a masterstroke of metal brilliance and flawless teamwork as if they had all been there from the jump. The one constant membership for this Baltimore band has been guitarist Alfred Morris III whose metal maturity and insight serve the album perfectly by delivering intense and inventive riffs throughout. The flavor of this album is old recipe rock with a dash of low tuned stoner sensibilities sprinkled throughout. Matching Morris' brilliant guitar work is the hurricane force vocals of Screaming Mad Dee, while the rhythm section of Louis Strachan on bass and Jason 'Mot' Waldmann are nothing short of exceptional.

Favorite songs are "Hail to the Haze" and "The Worst and Longest Day".

Facebook . . ReverbNation . . Website




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PALM DESERT - "Adayoff"

The Polish band Palm Desert makes the Heavy Planet spotlight for the second time this year with the EP release of "Adayoff", following closely on the heels of  full LP "Rotten Village Sessions", which was a highly rated stoner rock tour de force. This foursome of Kamil Ziółkowski-drums, Jan Rutka-bass, Piotr Łacny-guitar, and Wojciech Gałuszka-vocals suffer no drop off in quality as they deliver 6 beautifully crafted and executed songs that fit dead center into the flagship stoner rock genre with subterranean riffs rumbling mightily throughout capably crafted, memorable melodies. Perhaps the most amazing thing here is that the band is working on another full length release but have diverted their efforts to this small collection for the time being. Without knowing the details of what motivates these guys, they are not only prolific but incredible artists who brilliant create and execute, so it seems apparent they are as driven as they are gifted and that is nothing but a boon to lovers of the fuzz for what appears to be years to come.

Favorite songs - "First Scream", "Overload"

Facebook . . Bandcamp






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THE OUTLAWS OF ZEN - "DEATH IN THE AFTERNOON"

This foursome from Michigan deliver fierce, fun retro rock, or as they put it, Retro.Riff.Rock, which is dead on for the style of music they have conjured up for our listening enjoyment. The energy and power they display is executed against clever melodies that are timeless and memorable, and they are just getting started as "Death in the Afternoon" is their second EP, following on last year's "Don't Bother Getting Up, We'll Let Ourselves In". Joe Gibson provides gifted vocals, Travis Evans lays down base fire on drums and keyboards, Tommy Koppman is monstrous on bass, and Korey G slashes, rips, and burns with immense riffage on guitar.

Favorite songs - "Vomitus Eruptum" and song of the year candidate "Hangovers Feel Better Than Regret"

Facebook . . Bandcamp . . ReverbNation . . Soundcloud





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ARROWHEAD - "ATOMSMASHER"

Dateline Sydney, Australia where the experienced stoner rock threesome Arrowhead deliver a high caliber release with "Atomsmasher". Pure stoner rock is the name of the game on their first full length release since forming in 2008. All musical elements are of the finest mettle, from the riff laden firebrand guitars of Brett Pearl, the monstrous, pummeling rhythms of drummer Matt Cramp, the deep, driven basswork of Dave Lopez, and back again to the pitch perfect vocals of guitarist Pearl, all wrapped around adventurous, well crafted melodies that propel this album to superstar status and lands it on the short list for top album of the year.

Favorite songs - All of them. I'm not kidding. This is a great album.

Facebook . . Bandcamp . . ReverbNation





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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunday Sludge Bouillabaisse


Call it a departure or call it a cop-out. I'm elbow-deep in sludge metal of every breed. I can't stand upright to start the day without buzzing on an email notification offering a promo, a demo, a sample, a compilation. Thermometers registered around 7°F this morning, so I couldn't care less about a cluttered garage and a low tire. My intent remains to give an honest tug to every great sludge release offering a sniff, but there's so much of it. I'm gonna leave behind the self-indulgent bookends and do my best to limit all the colorful descriptors. Here are just a few sludge releases I'm thankful for in recent weeks:

Bungler - Spinehunt

Loose, noisy sludge from upstate New York. There's a snark in every note, and the dirty South drags us by the hair on violent choral singalongs and groove-thump rhythms. Hitting hard and spitting fast, the struggle to stay warm is no struggle at all. Not to worry, though... Bungler deliver a formula that'll still leave you a tad unsettled.



Facebook | Twitter | Bandcamp


Tidal Arms - Tidal Arms

Haunting behind a veiled vocal and incredibly flooring progressions, Tidal Arms present a crunch commonly absent on post-metal. Let in the dark beauty of Mirrorbox or stagger under tempo shifts throughout these ten tracks. Spanning between technical and ethereal, this one's got something for everyone and everything for someone. You.

Site | Facebook | Bandcamp


Rising - Abominor

A follow-up to 2011's To Solemn Ash, Abominor is heavy on crusted thrash and sand-spitting vocals. More uptempo than its predecessor, there's still no shortage of rolling thunder and underbelly groove. Throughout the trot between these nine tracks is a sooty spray that'll leave you scrubbing your nails. Oh, these Danes burn like fire.

Facebook | Buy It! | Bandcamp

Black Skies - Circadian Meditations

Two years ago, I fell in love with Black Skies and their dark, swirling, churning On The Wings Of Time. Here they expand their cosmos and stretch their scope, burning six tracks of collective sludge psychedelia. Laid low and aimed high, Circadian Meditations is a tautological mind warp hovering somewhere just out of reach. Crawl through their catalog and broaden your senses.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Live Review - Swamp Feast with Honky, Desert Storm, The Witches Drum and more..


Last Saturday saw the return to Cardiff, Wales, UK, for those big bearded, tattoo caked, Texas fried and whiskey soaked, hard rocking gentledudes known as Honky as part of their short UK tour popularly demanded by those that were lucky enough to catch them the first time around on their very successful tour here several months ago in support of their latest album, 421.

Featuring legendary Butthole Surfers bassist JD Pinkus fresh from a stint playing and touring around the U.S. for The Melvins, and Honky guitarist Bobby Ed Landgraf recently standing in for Down guitarist Kirk Windstein following his departure from the band; Honky's return to the UK has been hotly anticipated since its announcement and I was lucky enough to be tasked with reviewing their stop at the Swamp Feast show at Cardiff's Full Moon Club, and my-oh-my what a show it was.

Howl (photo by Jhons Ramirez)
Swamp Feast kicked off early with   local boys Howl taking to the stage just after 5pm and a sizeable crowd had already gathered to hear what this 3 piece had to offer. Howl proceeded to rip through an energetic set of some very entertaining rock and rollin' blues that got the rapidly gathering crowd whipped up into a suitable frenzy. These 3 young lads showed they really have their shit together and despite their fairly recent formation, they played like they've been around for years and have played countless gigs. By the end of their set there were smiles all around from band and audience alike as the guys from Howl had a lot of fun on stage which provided some great energy so early on for Swamp Feast.

Suns Of Thunder (Photo by Jhons Ramirez)
A short break and next up were fellow South Walian boyos Suns of Thunder and I was especially excited to see this band as I haven't heard or seen them for many years. Suns of Thunder are true stalwarts of the Welsh heavy music scene having been together since 1999. After their hiatus I am pleased to see this band back together at last and playing shows again and they didn't disappoint in the slightest. By the time they kicked in with their first song the venue was getting pretty packed out as I wasn't the only one who was excited to see Suns of Thunder play the Welsh capital once again. Suns of Thunder tore through a tight and fat set of heavy blues rock full of head nodding grooves and funked up riffs. With beards and long hair blowing in the Full Moon breeze, Suns of Thunder took the initial frenzy whipped up by Howl and turned the crowd into a full blown ravenous frenzy of already inebriated heavy rock worshiping wild-folk. When Suns had finished their set it was obvious to all that Swamp Feast was gearing up to turn into absolute carnage with the hungry crowd baying for more greasy heavy blues and groovy riffs.

Johnny Cage & The Voodoogroove (Photo by Jhons Ramirez)
We didn't have long to wait before another local band that have been around for years stepped up and proceeded to whip the already frenzied crowd into a rock and booze fueled mega frenzy. Johnny Cage & The Voodoogroove are a very popular band in the Welsh capital and elsewhere besides, and they always draw a crowd of adoring fans and never fail to convert new ones whenever they play a show. Johnny Cage know how to get a crowd moving their asses to their brand of down and dirty rock'n'roll and sleazy blues and with each band member adorned in fittingly dapper attire, Johnny Cage blasted through a highly enjoyable set that was fast paced and lively and which reminded me at times of Reverend Horton Heat or The Jim Jones Revue. The now tightly packed crowd were getting rowdy and the Full Moon was getting steamy by the end of Johnny Cage's set, with shirts being unbuttoned and moisture covered people everywhere having been further whipped into near hysteria by the blues rocking grooves supplied by the very talented musicians that make up Johnny Cage & The Voodoogroove

The Witches Drum (Photo by Jhons Ramirez)
The night was only half way through but the party was in full swinging mode when it was time for another local band and one that is a firm favorite of many of the reviewers here on Heavy Planet; The Witches Drum. I've seen this band several times over the past couple of years but their performance last Saturday was one of the very best I've ever seen and will no doubt go down in the Annals of Welsh legend in years to come. Every song they played was brand new and which are due for recording and release sometime in the opening months of 2014 and if their performance of these new songs last Saturday is anything to go by, their new album is going to be a work of brilliance and I can't wait to hear it. 

The Witches Drum (Photo by Jhons Ramirez)
Their new material is much heavier than their last output and at times gave nods to the work of Kyuss, especially "Welcome To Sky Valley" which left me with a huge grin on my face. The similarities to Kyuss were only fleeting however as for the most part The Witches Drum delivered their songs in their truly unique and freaked out, acid drenched and psychedelic way. Singer Matt Fry, in his obligatory bright yellow marigolds and glittered face paint, was on great form with chaotic stage antics that saw him, and at one point one of The Witches Drum axe-men, jump into the thick and churning crowd to be lifted above everyone's heads or to writhe around on the floor in a wild frenzy of pure unadulterated freaking rock-outs. The unholy pentagram that is The Witches Drum ended their set in an evocation of otherworldly psychedelia creating wild eyed stares of bewilderment in all who were present, followed by an uproar of deafening noise from the exalted crowd. Beautiful fucking chaos is how I will always remember this performance from The Witches Drum. 

The Witches Drum (Photo by Jhons Ramirez)

By the time Desert Storm took to the stage The Full Moon was crammed to the hilt with hungry riff worshipers eager to hear what these Oxford stoner metal dons had to offer the venue once again. Desert Storm accompanied Honky during their previous tour of the UK as their official support band and when they swung by The Full Moon back then I was blown away by their music and a week later I feverishly went about reviewing their brilliant album "Horizontal Life", which they so kindly gave me to review.

Desert Storm (Photo by Jhons Ramirez)

The Full Moon was now a sweltering mass of writhing bodies while Desert Storm pulverized and crushed us all with huge stoner metal and sludge riffs played with massive amounts of raw energy that caused the crowd to surge backwards and forwards and all away around the dance floor to the point that I was convinced there would be casualties. Young ladies were being tossed about like bowling pins but thankfully no one was hurt and no one lost their smiles as Desert Storm stormed through delicious sludge, tripped out psychedelia and heavy and head down and nodding grooves to satisfy and somehow tame a crowd that was near to bursting into insanity. I thoroughly enjoyed Desert Storm's set and I can't wait to hear them when they swing by The Full Moon again in early December.

With blood shot eyes, mussed up hair, disheveled clothes and drunken slurrings, the crowd gathered for Swamp Feast headliners Honky who came all the way from Austin, Texas to grace our cold and damp city and to play to us their championship superboogie, hard rocking, hoedown party tunes once again. I managed to have a chat with JD Pinkus before the show and he was a truly standup and thoroughly decent Texan gentleman. Now, I am a HUGE fan of Butthole Surfers so I met one of my heroes that night but I managed to keep my cool and not act like some weirdo fanboy by just nodding and smiling politely as I tried to gauge what he was saying to me through his thick Texan accent and even thicker beard. 

Honky (Photo by Paul Scott Thomas Photography)

Honky (Photo by Paul Scott Thomas Photography)
After a short sound check to get them sounding just how they wanted (Honky are ever the professionals), they kicked off with hilarious stage banter to amp up the crowd and then launched into a racous set of hard and heavy rock played so tightly and with such a relaxed manner that showed Honky are brilliant musicians and have a lot of fun playing their instruments. Honky easily kept the party going as they rocked The Full Moon to its very foundations with everyone dancing like crazy whilst caught in Honky's hard rock net, making them the masters of Texan Rock 'n' Roll. At one point Bobby Ed stepped aside to let one of Desert Storm's guitarists bash out a Honky song which went down an absolute storm with everyone cheering and smiling and dancing along. Honky ended their set to uproars of loud cheers and calls for more but Honky were done rocking us and so no encore was given but they left a highly energized and somewhat drunken crowd wanting to party long into the night. 

Honky (Photo by Jhons Ramirez)

Honky (Photo by Jhons Ramirez)
  
Honky (Photo by Paul Scott Thomas Photography)

Honky (Photo by Paul Scott Thomas Photography)

And party long into the night we did as much of the crowd gathered outside The Full Moon on a chilly night to carry on drinking and toking and excitedly chatting the night away in a mass of old friends and new. Everyone was hugely satisfied that all bands that played Swamp Feast gave it their all and delivered quality tunes and we all had a loud ringing in our ears the next day to prove it.

The Full Moon club is shaping up to be a legendary live music venue and the South Wales heavy music scene goes from strength to strength because of their constantly great bookings on a regular basis. Much gratitude goes to the organizers of Swamp Feast for putting on such a great show.

I also want to give special thanks to gig snappers Jhons Ramirez and Paul Scott Thomas Photography for kindly contributing photos of the night and also to Sam Holland for making it happen so I could include these photos for all to see.



Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Nuclear Dog's Atomic Split: Hollow Leg - "Abysmal" / Brimstone Coven - "II"

We are in the midst of an exceptional year in which an abundant and bountiful release of great music spanning the stoner/doom/psychedelic and retro/blues rock genres is suddenly available for our spiritual pleasures. Nothing in the universe deeply stirs the soul like great rock music, and this is a time of great spiritual satisfaction. Over the course of the next several days I hope to introduce to you those albums that have managed to potentiate the spiritual metal receptors of my soul in order they may do the same for you. I begin with two albums of disparate sound, made by members of not dissimilar experience, in which both have managed to create exceptional and timeless metal music.
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 HOLLOW LEG - ABYSMAL 

 For their earlier release in 2010 of "Instinct" the North Florida band Hollow Leg were the twosome of Brent Lynch on strings and vocals and Tim Creter on drums, but for their new release, "Abysmal", they have expanded their ranks to a foursome adding Tom Crowther on bass and Scott Angelecos on vocals. The result is a massive tapestry of unique and intense metal, weaving together intricate, intelligent threads that form a thoroughly mature sound that likely derives from rock sources old and new, but resounds with a fresh and gifted cacophony of their own creation, establishing a signature sound that becomes instantly recognizable while remaining fresh and exciting, delivering immense metal gratification. The guitars of Crowther, Angelecos, and Lynch are low and massive, pile driving incessantly in a major infusion of metal analgesic. Creter's drumwork is spectacular in anabolic rhythm. Perhaps the crown jewel is Angelecos' vocals, manipiulating a rough and ragged voice that thankfully falls way short of cookie cutter growling and instead is crystal clear in its ragged butcher block intensity. Add to all this the brilliant melodies that underlie the dark and gritty riff-letting and you have a contender for Top Ten of 2013, as well as a lifetime 'go to' album. The title track starts the album off by setting a deep dark metal atmosphere. There is not a step backward on any track down the line from there. All are notable. My favorites are "Ride to Ruin" and "Lord Annihilation".

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BRIMSTONE COVEN -II

This album is a metal groovefest of the highest caliber, with songs that follow no strict structural formulas for either retro or stoner sensibilities yet manage to incorporate just enough low tuned doominess and psychedelic blues vapor that the music fits nicely on the playlists of the Followers of the Fuzz. Hailing from Wheeling, West Virginia the foursome of "Big John" Williams on vocals, Corey Roth on guitar, Andrew D'Cagna on bass, and Dan Hercules on drums make up the epic and soon to be timeless rock band Brimstone Coven. They have managed to release two superb albums in the span of  eighteen months or so, adeptly carving out a special niche for their clever, soulful, and powerful music. There is no skimping on meaty, beefy bass and guitar work anywhere on the plethora of ten solid tracks as D'Cagna and Roth fire off low tuned and mesmerizing riff volleys in steady portion throughout the album, often overlaid by searing, scorching solo conjurings from Roth that permeate straight to the essence of the listener's fuzzy soul. When taking Williams' spellbinding vocal tapestries into account the bewitching nature of Brimstone Coven's music is in full effect.

The trick with modern metal of any genre is typically going to be how to manage the use of derivations from six decades of essential heaviness and still be able to form your own unique sound. Only the clever and gifted stand a chance of creating anything of significance over and above masterful execution of instrumentation. Brimstone Coven are proving to be artists of keenness, insight, and imagination. What they have put on offer with "II" is a haunting, rollicking display of deep, profound, and acutely riveting metal amalgamations.

My favorite track is "The Black Door", an entirely unique sound that casts a woolly and inescapable spell. "The Grave" brings forth dark spirits of bloody sabbaths past in a witches brew of heavy broth and searing solo chunks. The closer is mighty and fierce in musical breadth, once again conjuring spellbinding incantations of stygian riffs, deep, dark, relentless drumwork, and mesmerizing harmonies of ethereal vocals.

 Facebook . . Bandcamp . . Website



 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunday Sludge: Green Dragon - "Walls of Jericho" (EP)


There are reasons some people don't get out much. For some, an evening away from a stained couch, stale sitcoms, and stacks of old pizza boxes just doesn't fit the mold of fun. And what happens when we make it out on the town, anyway? You run the risk of bumping into some asshole you knew in high school who you never cared for, yet he manages to find some common ground in buying you a cheap beer and saying shit like "so what'cha been doin'?" What do you think, man? I've been stoned fifteen years and I pissed away the inheritance. Fuck. I can't even buy milk and eggs without someone pretending to care.

Sure, I can go home, head downstairs, and wait for that needle to hit wax. But sometimes I don't wanna hear anyone speak at all. I try to approach the vocal as an instrument itself, and it usually works out. At times, however, it presents only another distraction. Bands like Pelican and Karma To Burn are perfect in these scenarios. Heavy, instrumental, and completely magnificent without the flimsiest of sonic elements. Stumbling across Poland's Green Dragon, I found a similar escape. On their Walls of Jericho EP, this trio sparks three slow stoner-sludge rollers of raw, Southern-glazed instrumentation. And it's delicious.

Green Dragon waste no time coating the thick with the moist. Into the Black Hole tilts and seeps dirty, smoky fuzz via long drags and crunching riffs. The electric blanket keeping you from shivering is tugged away though, and sharp shards of broken licks pepper your eyes and haze your perspective. Slow groove is never far, guitars poke through your makeshift lean-to, and the cool wind seems to have calculated a chill that'll settle in your bones. Yes, they're here.

Nuclear Nomad trickles with creeping malevolence, a cavernous and hollow sludge paranoia hitching along. Elements emerge one after another, drinking from murky waters until the rhythms snap in half to reveal a chewy chaos center. Drums are racing heartbeats under steel-toed aggression while guitars shatter above, splintering and blasting skin. As the bolts loosen, rhythms somehow hold steady despite the sludgy stumble. The closing avalanche of boulders just might seal off the outside world. There's a circumstance you can appreciate, huh?

Now gather 'round, all. Assemble here for a cleansing on Sonic Cavalry's swampy Confederate pluck. Whispers of static draw out stoner-fuzz realizations normally reserved for smoothed-out basement sessions with the neighborhood heshers. The song's sluggish hesitations are timed perfectly. And at its middle we find a crackle and a light burst, emerging to battle the moment of clarity your parents have been praying for. To bottom-line the bottom-out, the stoner-sludge riffs dominate behind the strong drumkit backbone.

Ticking just under a quarter-hour is a mislead. Walls of Jericho was, quite simply, a whole lot o' fuckin' fun. Stoner-sludge staples are there: fuzz, riffs, slow passages. You may wanna hit repeat a few times until the buzz wears off and it's time to leave for work. From pole to pole (see what I did there?), this EP is pound for pound more exciting than your local watering hole. Do bands without vocals need to work harder, thus creating a greater likelihood for killer songcraft? Who knows. But Green Dragon just copped a squat on your shag carpet and have no plans today. Let's not ruin this with small-talk, k?

For fans of: Sleep, Karma To Burn, Belzebong
Pair with: Dragon's Milk Bourbon Barrel Stout, New Holland Brewing



Thursday, November 14, 2013

LP Review "Against Nature" by Eidetic Seeing




Brooklyn's Eidetic Seeing recently released their third LP titled "Against Nature", an epic 5 song journey through heavy psych that's big on doom and fuzzed up grooves and interesting experimental explorations in freaked out acid rock. Their sound brings to my mind the likes of Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Hawkwind, Floor and Kyuss and which makes for a very interesting mix of styles.

For the most part there are few lyrics to be heard on this album with each track seeming to tell a story through transitions in the sounds played rather than with words which are only used when absolutely necessary to the story being told, I think. The second track "K2" is a great example of this with there being only a very short section with lyrics and the rest of the 11 minutes 8 seconds track being instrumental and the opening track "A Snake Whose Years Are Long" being completely devoid of lyrics altogether.

Eidetic Seeing are a band of contrasts that has them switch from breezy psychedelia to huge and crushing doom riffs to full on noise rock fits of rage all in the blink of an eye as can be heard on the track "Froleuse". It is a method that works very well and which kept me listening intently as I tried to guess what Eidatic Seeing would do next. The band may be one of contrasts but they are also brilliantly unpredictable which makes them all the more entertaining to hear.

There are hugely satisfying moments of crushing slabs of doom given generously throughout but the riffs are never dwelt upon for too long. Fourth track "Asphalt Blues" has Eidetic Seeing take their doom to some weird and unexplored psychedelic and acid drenched dimensions only for things to fall gently into barren and breezy psych rock. The psychedelia is explored further in the fifth and final track "White Flight" which opens with colorful electronic twinkles before evolving into Hawkwind-like acid freak outs and then to a crushing riff broken by screeching feedback which reminded me of Floor's work on their first album "Dove".

"Against Nature" is a fine piece of work from Eidetic Seeing and will be appreciated by doom fans and psychedelic rock fans alike. Get it now from their Bandcamp.


           BANDCAMP // FACEBOOK // WEBSITE


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

ATTENTION: HEAVY PLANET WANTS YOUR BAND

There are only a few more weeks to get your band's song included on one of 2014's most coveted FREE compilations. That's right, on January 1, 2014 we will be releasing the second volume of our enormous "Bong Hits From the Astral Basement" compilation. With the success of last year's compilation, you are guaranteed to have your band heard by thousands of people from all over the world. We will be taking submissions until November 30th. Any submissions after that will not be accepted, you had your chance. See below for all of the details. What are you waiting for?



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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sunday Sludge: Swarm Of Spheres - "Invest In Your Death"


The dude who just moved in next door is a cop. The previous owner never bothered to notice the smoke cloud on my back porch and he certainly never needed me to "turn it down." That asshole couldn't hear a damn thing anyway. But now what? I'm regularly poking an eye into his driveway to see if he's gonna get squirrelly and investigate why Sunday mornings are so fuckin' loud over at 902.

I'm not gonna go all "'Sup, Brah?" on the guy, but a friendly introduction might save me some headaches. But the moment he hears Ottawa's Swarm Of Spheres, he's gonna have exactly two options: spark up or bolt. Following up their self-titled 2012 EP with seven dusty shards on Invest In Your Death, the band has steadied their hand and delivered a stoner-sludge clinic glazed with sharp solos and cracked sneers.

We knew that the band had a sense of humor, but it doesn't result from not taking the job seriously. Shoot First, Ask Christian Slater throws a solid drum lead and blasts through uptempo stoner rips. There's a gyrating, controlled chaos to this more-than-introductory opener. If you haven't been immediately shaken awake, check your pulse and rub your eyes. Something's wrong with you.

Leading directly into Get Some Or Run Some, the album finds a repetitive tick-tocking sway until lifted rhythms churn and leave a burning trail through dead grass. The dynamic comes full circle as guitar licks barb the chewy center. Regardless of tempo, every note is hard-hitting and earnestly crafted. Warbled solos normally don't appear within the confines of Sunday Sludge, but Jay Chapman's escapism melts away any accusations of indulgence. His disenchantment on Crust Punk With A Weekly Allowance augments the clouded dust and caked mud. Jesus, these guys are good.

The album offers thematic, recurring elements. The title track may serve as a prelude, buzzing instrumentation spreading like hot riff butter and fleeing at a slow sludge lumber. It's pensive, pacing alongside echoes of smoke and rattled realities. What follows is Rest In Pieces, Sir, a juxtaposed offering of abrupt, tense angst. Spitting through sweaty hair dangling hair dangling in your face, SoS slug without relent. Mark McGee's skinlab doesn't know the meaning of cruise control, while the shift of rhythms is seamless. Fever breaks, the song staggers to its now rusted knees, and listeners are immersed.

When the band asks you to "Invest In Your Death," they later demonstrate sincerity on Seriously, Invest In Your Death. It's a return to the warm, fuzzy reprieve, an almost intermissionary position prepping for the closer, Fuck You And The Fixed Gear You Rode In On. No breaths are wasted here, mate. Imagine an unexpected slap with a cold, dead fish before the balance of stoner and sludge staples allows your nerves to calm. Repetition rides the landscape, led by the roll of Andrew Rashotte's basslines. Every gear is visited here, but look behind you and see that every bush is burned and every beard is manged.

Regardless of your background or interest, Swarm Of Spheres here thrust themselves into any conversation on the subject of "heavy." Invest In Your Death is not only a bound forward from the band's previous offering, but it's also a brilliant set that'll make an instant fan of anyone. The craft is focused and the delivery is absolutely flooring. The only one who may not share in the passion is that cop next door. But I guess we'll find out soon enough. And no, I won't turn it down.

For fans of: Paw, Floor, Big Business
Pair with: Copperhead Red, Ghost River Brewing



Thursday, November 7, 2013

New Band To Burn One To: CLAN

HEAVY PLANET PRESENTS...CLAN!


BAND BIO:

Clan: “A group of people united by common characteristics, aims, or interests.”

A trio of rock-loving lifelong friends hailing from Norwich, UK- guitarist/vocalist Matt Pearce, bassist Matt Rabong and drummer Ben Giller have been playing in various bands together for nearly ten years now. We have combined our musical influences in Clan to bring you a record that will please fans of vintage fuzz, blues rock and dirty beats- a keen sense of vocal melody combined with grooving guitar/bass unison riffs and thunderous drums. At a recent gig, we were described as “The Dead Weather meets Deep Purple Mark II with a hint of Fu Manchu and Kyuss.”

Entirely self-recorded, mixed and mastered by the band during September/October 2013 using our own studio, equipment and knowledge, this E.P. is a true DIY affair.

Clan are currently working on a promotional video and recording our next four songs with a view to a ten track album release and expanding our fan base across the UK in 2014.



THOUGHTS:

"Words such as vintage, classic and retro seems to describe a multitude of bands coming out these days.  In many ways that can be a good thing because I love that era of rock music, on the other hand it can be a case where a band gets lumped into the "they just sound like so-and-so". Clan does have a very retro sound but carves their own name into the stone of rock and roll. This band from the UK uses unique rhythms along with a chilled-out and fuzzy groove to capture that vintage yet modern spirit. You can see what I mean on such standouts as  "A Taste of Pride" and "Vultures". The riff on EP closer "First Step" is earth-shaking and the band keeps it all together with a tight melody. Killer stuff dudes!"

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Monday, November 4, 2013

LP Review "Scabrous" by Sea Bastard


Sea Bastard from Brighton UK are a doom/sludge quartet who have previously been reviewed on Heavy Planet by the more than capable sludge covered hands of Trash Boat and his Sunday Sludge for their S/T album released a year ago. Since then Sea Bastard have released a live EP entitled "Great Barrier Riff" back in June and they now return with "Scabrous" which was recently released on the blackest day of all, Halloween.

"Scabrous" contains 4 tracks of the bleakest of doom and sludge. It is cold, violent and horrifying and it continues in the same face shredding doom vibrations as their previous output. This is doom and sludge to chew on a rock to, feeling the enamel of your teeth splinter and shatter with every crushing black riff that enters your ears in relentless waves of horrific spite.

The violent pummeling begins with "Nokken", a 17+ minute disgustingly heavy heaving of the blackest of sludged riffs that fall relentlessly upon you with vocals that are at first as bone staining black as the riffs are but soon turn to the wild screeching howls of a hell-spawned mad creature which serves only to twist the doom knife further into your bewildered and petrified face. There are no let ups here. Expect no twee breathers or dark atmospheric ambiance to give some little relief from the onslaught of horrifying doom. The riffs, the vocals, the drum smacks, they keep falling on you, dishing out punishing swathes of obsidian spite the further into the track you go. The final section has the track pick up pace with an unleashing of filthy and distorted guitar seizures and a revolving sludge riff that makes this track darkly psychedelic, like having an heroic dose of 5 dried grams of shrooms only to find yourself trapped in an asylum surrounded by the worst psychopaths known to the human race, and you are their prey, their meal.

The nightmare continues with "Nightmares of the Monolith" that comes in a tumble of urgent riffs and growling vocals that spit pure black venom in a celebratory call to those that dwell deep within the deepest recesses of the doom abyss. Again, there is no time to breath as the sludge consumes you without hesitation as you drown in the blackest pool with the hands of the doom abyss dwellers grabbing you by the ankles and they pull you down and down and down.

From the death of the previous track rises the amusingly named "Door Sniffer" with smouldering feedback, bulbous and crunchy bass chugs and tight incendiary drumming that seems to eke out the promised onslaught of black sludge that inevitably lurches into your already broken brain. This is the shortest of the 4 tracks on this LP running at only 8 minutes and 8 seconds and despite its ever so slightly less bleak than its predecessors' moments in doom, the track devolves and sinks into some of the sickest and blackest bleakness and downright fucking skull-splittingly amazing sludge/doom metal that I have yet heard. Simply put; it slays.

Finally there is the 20:22 track "Metamorphic Possession" with a wobbly twang of hopelessness that brings in a big bluesy bass line that jams along with sparse drumming which makes this short moment in "Scabrous" by far the lightest but soon enough the huge crushing riffs and anguished gravelly howls and pounding drums are bashed out in a merciless battering of violent doom. The track lumbers forward, taking mountainous steps that build to devastating explosions of doom and sludge. The track evolves and morphs and twists its riffs to wring out the thickest and blackest of sludge as it descends ever lower into the black pit of doom.
At the half way point the track decays into seething feedback and we hear the return of the jammed out bass line and the tight but erratic drumming that we heard in the intro. This is only a brief respite before the sludge returns with a gradual slowing and desecration of the riffs that turns the track into a slothenly filthy beast that wallows in a putrid quagmire of frothing sludge until the desecration rots the track down into piercing black feedback.

If you already know Sea Bastard and you are familiar with their wholly negative and violent take on doom and sludge metal then you will know all about the crushing punishment that is on offer with "Scabrous". If you are not yet aware then please prepare yourself by first emptying your bowels pre-listen, hold onto something that makes you feel secure like your childhood teddy bear and then proceed to suck your thumb and tremble and weep with hopeless terror at Sea Bastards relentless and intimidating black riff power.

Hear it, buy it, download it, shit yourself and become spiritually tainted forever now at their Bandcamp where the album is very kindly offered as a name your own price download. Be kind in return.

                       BANDCAMP // FACEBOOK


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sunday Sludge: In The Company Of Serpents - "Of The Flock"


My wife finally admits that she's heard the footsteps. The footsteps I've heard for years. The footsteps calling into question my sanity, making me sound foolish after a few drinks over open conversation. Let's not chew on the disembodied laughter of children who aren't there or that weird chill that never stays in one place. Right now, let's just put to rest my doubts and acknowledge that there's something here. But maybe we're all fucking crazy.

Trust your instincts? Trust perception? Neither tend to work in my favor. And expectations have never panned out, so walking blindly and avoiding disappointment serves as success. When Denver's In the Company of Serpents debuted on Heavy Planet in 2012, my response was swift and staggered. Pools of fuzz found a grooving doom on their self-titled, setting up camp in the folds of my brain and stoking my swollen heart.

I was branded. The sludge-doom duo cemented their hammy fists among 2012's favorites and a follow-up was promised. But when expectations rose, I had to smother them with a bloodied towel. I couldn't let these dudes burn me like so many others had. By the time the band's sophomore release hit my ears, there was no template and no trail of breadcrumbs. I don't have to compare Of The Flock to their debut and there's no tale of the tape as it laces up against the year's best. But let's pretend I walked in with a crow on my shoulder. These five tracks would melt any expectation and set a new standard. This is a huge step forward from a band already carving their own element.

For all the riffing sludge-doom they deliver, In the Company of Serpents here adopt a more balanced approach by stretching extremes and snagging our black denim on rusty barbs. Immediately evident on four of these five tracks is an acoustic pluck, a swampy smoothness bookending the album with the introductory Ash Swamp and the closing tandem of Untied/Culling Essence from the Void. The lonely pop and hiss of rolling static on the opener sounds like a simpler time, while Untied's cool tiptoe is far more ominous and unsettling.

To say the crash was imminent is celebrating the obvious, but Craven's abrupt lashing singes like a grease fire before peeling back layers of plug and plod. Downtuned sludge swirls with heady fuzz, steadily clubbing bystanders with slow-motion snarls. Listeners are pressed into tight corners, enveloped by this heaving, riff-caked beast. When Blood from Stone gazes into unfolding doom, answers are dismissed and more questions are revealed. Riffs and Myer's thumps work in unison for a soggy sweep of the senses, but the buzz you felt is growing to a sting. Grant Netzorg's bellow has deepened and broadened it's target, while the band's aim has steadied through patience. Exploding into a steady patch of surprise, the track surges, spitting hot ash and rising only to repeatedly plunge downward.

The disc's title track finds the band's pinnacle, peppering dense riffs and summoning a smoke cloud with repeated, passioned stomps. Evolving from southern resonance into booming sludge, you'd expect (there's that word again) the trudge to hit the dirt. You'll lose direction when the burnt-finger licks separate themselves to flare rather than flatten. It's not all bone-shaking, chest-caving galumph. In every sense, this track (and the album as a whole), abandons the predecessor while managing to build on its foundations.

The moody, mournful stew of hard hits on Untied/Culling Essence from the Void is mired in stoner repetition. Avalanches of sound drop from every mountaintop, and the groove results more from controlled command than any buoyant optimism. No jaw is spared by the full scope of devastation, and In the Company of Serpents lace thick tones with endlessly proficient songcraft.

Whatever crafted these sounds, whatever's behind the curtain is hardly important. Interpret these songs from any angle and you'll find one of 2013's heaviest hitters. Of The Flock breathes with confidence, calmly composing itself between lumbering bricks of sludge. The transitions and departures are smoother than they have any right to be, and the separation from their predecessors and contemporaries has never been more evident. Among countless cloned sheep, this wolf is simply too exceptional to blend in.

For fans of: Sleep, Electric Wizard, Black Sabbath
Pair with: Third Coast Old Ale, Bell's Brewery



Saturday, November 2, 2013

Stoner Hands of Doom is Next Weekend

Stoner Hands of Doom XIII is right around the corner and this year's lineup may be one of the strongest ever. This year's festival features 38 bands over the course of 4 days and will be held at Strange Matter in Richmond, Virginia and we wanted to give you a glimpse as to what you can expect. Below you can find links to all the bands as well as the official Facebook page to keep track of the goings on. Also, you can listen to the The Electric Beard of Doom podcast to get you psyched for next weekend's festivities. Unfortunately, no one from Heavy Planet will be able to attend, but that is not saying we won't be there in spirit. We wish each band good luck. Enjoy the show and Doom on!


A.P.F. -Facebook
Admiral Browning- Facebook
Akris- Facebook
Backwoods Payback- Facebook
Beelzefuzz- Facebook
Black Thai- Facebook
Blind Horse- Facebook
Clamfight- Facebook
Compel- Facebook
Demonaut- Facebook
Destroyer of Light- Facebook
Devil To Pay- Facebook
Dirt Merchant- Facebook
Doctor Smoke- Facebook
Druglord- Facebook
Faces of Bayon- Facebook
Fire Faithful- Facebook
Freedom Hawk- Facebook
Gozu- Facebook
Grel- Facebook
Gritter- Facebook
Heavy Burner- Facebook
It's Not Night: It's Space- Facebook
Kin of Ettins- Facebook
Lord- Facebook
Oberon- Facebook
Order of the Owl- Facebook
Pale Divine- Facebook
Pike Possum- Facebook
Pillbuster- Facebook
Second Grave- Facebook
Stone Magnum- Facebook
Valkyrie- Facebook
VRSA- Facebook
Wasted Theory- Facebook
Weed is Weed- Facebook
While Heaven Wept- Facebook
Wizard Eye- Facebook




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