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If you are looking for new Stoner Rock, Doom, Heavy Psych or Sludge Metal bands, then you have come to the right place. Heavy Planet has been providing free promotion to independent and unsigned bands since 2008. Find your next favorite band at Heavy Planet. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Heavy Planet Interview - Rock and Roll Artist Extraordinaire Alex von Wieding

At the end of 2012 when making my list of Top 20 albums there was a characteristic of the list that stood out for me. Granted, as an amateur artist myself, in every sense of the word, I have always admired the great art on album covers and live show posters from such awesome ink slingers as Brian Mercer and Chris Hitchman, among others. One artist, though, who seemed to stand alone with his approach to technique, style, and imaginative storytelling has been Alex von Wieding. He has been incredibly prolific as well, which when combined with the quality of work he creates is quite impressive. Alex has painted album covers for a large number of stoner and doom albums and other genres of rock over the past several years. In 2012 he was as prolific as ever. Of my Top 20 albums no fewer than 5 of them had covers by Mr. von Wieding. Between my own artistic yearnings and appreciation, the prolific output by Alex, and his incredible creations I decided to name him artist of the year in my year end article as a small tribute.

As it turns out Alex does a lot of work for the artists aligned with a number of the record labels who focus on delivering quality stoner / doom / retro / psychedelic / retro rock to the yearning, fuzz loving masses. One of those record labels is Stargun Music who have just begun to get started in this underground rock and roll world, celebrating their first anniversary this week with Heavy Planet as you surely have noticed with the interview posted yesterday on this site. Since Alex does so much work for them, is an artistic force in this low tuned and heavy world, and is an interesting person of note full of passion for his work and for the music it represents, we are presenting an interview of him below, as conducted by Jeremy of Stargun Records.

Cover art for "Sonic Titans"

Jeremy: Hey Alex thanks for sparing the time to talk today on behalf of Heavy Planet as part of Stargun Music's one year anniversary.

Alex: Hey there.

Jeremy: I know you are very busy finishing album artwork for SADA and tons of other projects so lets cut to the chase - when you're not doing work for awesome bands like Karma To Burn, Enos, Wo Fat and the aforementioned SADA - what music do you normally listen to?

Alex:  Oh, that would most currently be the new Clutch record - "Earth Rocker", and I also just bought the new BRMC and Free Fall... apart from that, I've been listening to a bunch of electronika and soundtracks again as of late. Stuff like Tangerine Dream, Harald Grosskopf, Zombi, Majeure, Steve Moore... but also Endless Boogie (Long Island is awesome!), Camera, Barn Owl, Electric Orange, Imaad Wasif, It's Not Night- It's Space... oh, and while I'm at it: Organic Is Orgasmic. You guys should really check them out. Great stuff. As for the soundtracks, the current heavy rotation includes "The Hitcher" soundtrack (the original one, can never go wrong with that), "Tron Legacy", "Darksiders 2", and others.

 Jeremy: Any favourite or stand out albums from last year?:

 Alex:  Hm, hard to say. Apart from those I did the art for (I love each of them equally), let's see... I really listened the hell out of Camera's self titled debut, Majeure's "Solar Maximum", Steve Moore's "Light Echoes" and the latest Rival Sons album, "Head Down", which I also forgot above, since it's spinning in the car every few days... haha.

 Jeremy:  How did you get your start in doing album artwork? Were you approached or did you offer your services to a band or label?

 Alex:  Apart from the fact that I'd been toying with doing album artwork for a while, but never did it for any real bands up to that point, it in fact was the re-releases of Monster Magnet's "Spine Of God" and "25... TAB" around 2005, 2006. And it was also funny, because by that time, Monster Magnet were one of my favorite bands, and when I read somewhere that there would be re-issues coming out, and then never saw any artwork for them anywhere, I kept asking myself, "Well, what would my personal interpretation look like?". And I just simply started doing them. By the time I was done, and there was still no re-issue artwork showing up anywhere, I thought, why not publish them on the MM forum? And so I did. Not only did the folks there love them, a few days later, I got a call from SPV, the label that was doing the re-issues, and they were asking me if I would be into making them the official ones. It really was like a dream come true. Haha. After that, it's all of the above. I hit up bands I dig and find inspiring, and I would love to do art for, and the other way around.

 Jeremy:  As if creating awesome artwork wasn't enough, your own band Larman Clamor also has an album out on Small Stone Records. What's the story there?

 Alex:  Well, Larman Clamor started out as a two-piece with a buddy of mine who hit the road, getting busy with other things, after the first EP was finished. But still having so many ideas on the shelf, I kicked myself in the butt and continued on my own. I never wanted Larman Clamor to be "that band of that artwork guy" from the start though. I thought I had something cool going there, and wanted to have it stand on its own feet. So there soon was "Altars To Turn Blood" as a release via CDBaby, having my name only in tiny, tiny letters on there in the artwork, well hidden. Haha. When I had the second album, "Frogs", all wrapped up, and it sounded pretty legit, I thought, why not ask Scott (Hamilton, Small Stone Records) if he would be into putting it out? The worst thing that could've happened would've been a "Nope", and since Larman Clamor was (and is) a hobby of mine, I also wouldn't have had a problem with that. In fact, I was copping out of asking Scott for quite some time, haha. But when he was like "Sure, let's do it!", man, I was happy. So, that would be the story summed up, I guess.

 Jeremy:  I was thrilled when Heavy Planet named you and your work for the Enos album "All Too Human" as the best artist and best album artwork of 2012 in their year review. Can you explain to a mere mortal like me how the process works and how your mind works from the stages of listening to an album to creating the final artwork?

 Alex:  Haha! Dude, was I speechless when I read that! I even failed to see it when I was reading that news for the first time, ha! The process is pretty easy - though also partly secret for myself, as I don't know what exactly happens at some point, when the images keep hitting me... Basically, when there's no "must have" concept for the art, or even a big "?", I'm just sitting back with the album on headphones in a darkened room, maybe having browsed through the lyrics before that, and then just enjoying the music with my eyes closed, my sketchbook beside me, seeing what happens on surfing the aether. So there's those concept sketches coming out, which can be both design-ideas or stuff for paintings / illustrations. Those I send to the band and the label, seeing if they make their arm hair stand up or not. Usually, I have a pretty nice hitting quota with this kind of method, as a lot of bands were like "Dude! That's perfect! We never even thought of this!" (Wo Fat's "Black Code" and Enos' "All Too Human" are among those, by the way). I guess I'm lucky (Nuclear Dog's note: Or simply damn good!) and thankful for that gift. But it also can be a conceptual idea or even a song from a band that's just 'tickling my tastebuds' so to speak - activating the vision-machine. So, after the sketches have been given a greenlight, I'm doing detailing on those ideas, see what works design-wise and such (do I want to do a wrap-around painting and such? If so, does it fit the subject?), then starting to paint. Sometimes I'm sending work-in-progress previews to the band and/or the label, but usually, once I'm on the right path, the artworks kind of paint themselves. Then, it's a little fine tuning here and there on the design-parts, logos etc., and voilà - done.  

Jeremy:  Do you have any personal favourite album covers from your work over the last few years? Anything that you are particularly proud of or any work that was the most fun to do?

 Alex:  Oh, there were so many, but let's see, Tia Carrera's "Cosmic Priestess" is one of my favorites, because not only did I do it for the band years before the album came out - they also named the album after the painting, which is awesome. ÖfÖ AM's "The Beast Within" is also one I keep fishing out of the shelf, just because I painted that one from scratch to finish on one day, and it's still having that "special feeling" to it. The artwork for Wo Fat's albums are always fun, as well as the ones for Karma To Burn (though those tend to be pretty rushy and stressful at times, due to overlooked deadlines... ahem... I'm looking at you, Rich! ), and though the portal-parts details on the Enos one were a pain in the ass at some point, I just loved the idea of a space portal made out of junk so much that the fun kind of kicked the stress out of the window. Aside from that, the painting for the vinyl edition of "Frogs" was a blast. Outsmarting my own mind, seeing if I could paint the little something that was hiding there beyond the lyrics and between the lines... that was fun. And I guess it turned out pretty well... and daaaark. Haha.

 Jeremy:  Lastly, Alex, you have been very kind in signing a copy of the All Too Human vinyl for Heavy Planet to give away in competition as part of Stargun Music's first year anniversary. Would you like to give a shout out or any thanks to anyone?

 Alex:  I think I'll have to be a little general here, since it's too many bands and people that I'd love to name, so: Thanks to all of you out there who keep doing that badass music that keeps inspiring the hell out of me! And of course, there's one to the labels that keep hitting me up with awesome stuff! By this, thanks to Scott at Small Stone Records, Steffen and Thorsten at High Roller Records and not to forget you, Jeremy, and Ross at Stargun Music! It's a pleasure to work with you! Thanks for digging what I do!

 Jeremy: Just keep up the good work! Thanks for your time!


So there you have it straight from the Maestro's lips. One point not touched upon in the interview that I have subsequently discovered in short discussions with Alex is that the medium he uses is a bitmap software such as PhotoShop, PhotoPaint, or GIMP. I don't know which product he uses, but his awesome paintings, that look as though they would smear if you touched one, was created on a computer. To me, an old school wannabe, that is quite impressive. To most of you, though, it may be what you would expect in a digital world. It's proof again that digital tools can enhance the world we live in, for in this case it allows a brilliant imagination such as Alex' to be quite prolific without wasted efforts from more organic mediums. To highlight his process, below is a jpg file of the steps he took when creating "All Too Human". All too cool.


As a salute to Alex' work and to Heavy Planets' loyal readers we are offering a special giveaway to commemorate this milestone. To the first person who can name the 5 albums in Nuclear Dog's Top 20 Albums of 2012 (here) that were painted by Alex von Wieding we will send to you a signed vinyl copy of Enos' "All Too Human", signed by the cover artist himself. For the next 5 who get the list correctly we will send to you a copy of Stargun Music's awesome compilation CD "Sonic Titans", which has an incredible cover by Alex as well.

Please send your responses along with your name and postal mailing address to the following email:



Please take the time to enjoy Larman Clamor's "Frogs", an incredible romp of stoner psychedelic fun and imagination. Is there anything Alex can't do artistically? And do it exceptionally well?

Monday, April 29, 2013

Stargun Music - 1st Anniversary Celebration and Heavy Planet Interview

Two guys with the same love for great rock music we all share have found a way to make rock and roll their vocation, which in turn makes this great music the focal point of their lives due to the establishment and success of their rock music label Stargun Music. Determination, vision, imagination, tenacity, and passion . . . especially passion . . . all played a role in Ross Diamond and Jeremy Lawson enjoying a successful start to Stargun Music where the first year has seen new band signings, new album releases, and recognition as a quality source for quality heavy rock n' roll. Ross and Jeremy take us through their humble beginnings in the followed interview conducted by Nuclear Dog.

The awesome dudes from Stargun Music, Jeremy and Ross, have prize giveaways for some of you who are celebrating with us at Heavy Planet. Immediately following the interview is a set of trivia questions in which you have a chance to win a signed vinyl copy of "All Too Human", advanced releases of SADA's debut on the Stargun Music label, copies of Denizen, or copies of "Sonic Titans". Be the first to correctly answer the trivia questions proffered at the interview's conclusion.

Heavy Planet:
Can you take us through the beginning of the label?
- Who was involved in the startup?
- What was it that made you want to start your own label?
- What did it take to get going with the label?
- Who was/were the first band(s) signed?

Originally Stargun Music was put together to be a rock band community sharing and review site where bands would upload their music and listen to others music, rating songs, and leaving reviews in exchange for having their own music listened to and reviewed. The website never even launched, it was riddled with bugs and it had totally exhausted our budget and enthusiasm, so we buried it. A couple of weeks or maybe a few months later, Ross had the idea of launching a label instead.

It had always been a pipe dream of mine, and after we knocked the original website on the head, I threw it out there as a suggestion and we were both like, okay this could be do-able! I had done a bit of writing for some magazines and blogs and found it hard work, to be honest, so I have total respect for what you guys at Heavy Planet do. We're both creative guys but wanted to be directly involved in working/collaborating with bands.

I suppose the reason for wanting to do any of it was just because we love rock music and thought it would be fun to be involved with loads of bands making records.

The next thing was, without anything to back us up, how do we get bands interested in working with us? That's when I thought a compilation would be a good idea for our first record. It would show people the type of music we are into and would be a reasonably quick way to get our first album under our belt.

Heavy Planet:
That compilation album, "Sonic Titans", was a stellar effort, to be sure. I know it introduced me to several new bands from the UK such as Trippy Wicked, Steak, and, of course, Enos. All of them, as well as "Sonic Titans", have been reviewed on the Heavy Planet site. (Sonic Titans review)

After you got underway, what was the plan for moving forward?

The plan was that people would take us seriously after the release of "SONIC TITANS", and that we would come across as a label that bands would want to work with. The plan worked! Shortly after the compilation got released ENOS, who featured on the album, got in touch to say they were ready to start recording their next album and would we want to get involved! Hells yes we did! Absolute no-brainer, we love ENOS and the album they produced, "ALL TOO HUMAN" really is stunning. It blew all expectations we had out the water! Then DENIZEN got in touch and before you know it we were naturally moving forward.

I didn’t think too much about a plan or strategy from day one. I just knew I wanted to put out this album idea Ross had thought of and that was enough work to be getting on with. I've been involved in so many creative projects and business projects, I know that sometimes too much planning and strategy can get in the way of just getting on with it.

Heavy Planet:
Who are the current acts on the label?

Well I consider all the great bands from Sonic Titans as Stargun collaborators and on the label in a sense, but officially signed to the label are ENOS, French punk rockers DENIZEN, heavy rockers SADA and most recently MOTHER CORONA.

Heavy Planet:
That is a fantastic starting point for your label as each one of those bands are quality rockers. Well done.
"Sonic Titans" was going to be my next line of inquiry in fact, so, despite the subject already having been broached I will ask my questions anyway, in case there is more to learn about that crucuial point in time when you were working hard to establish your product.

When I first listened to "Sonic Titans" I thought all the bands on the compilation were Stargun bands outright. It wasn’t until much later I learned differently.
- How were you able to get all those terrific bands to contribute to your compilation?
- How would you rate the compilation album in terms of helping the label out in the first year of operation?

Like I said in a previous question, it helped us massively in getting people and bands to take notice of us so it 100% worked in that sense. Also it was a great way of learning the ins and outs of producing a record without having one sole band's artistry at stake, so for our first project it took a bit pressure off for that reason. As for the bands that actually feature on the compilation, they are all bands we really dig in the scene at the moment. It was important that they were hard working bands who do a lot for themselves. It was hard to choose the final 12 as there were quite a few bands we wanted to include but we didn't want to make the album too long. All the bands were really into it as its another platform for promotion for them. We are still hugely grateful to all those bands getting involved.

Heavy Planet:
You’ve recently announced the signing of a new band, SADA. What can you tell us about them?

Soooooo excited about this album!! These guys were making waves about 7 years ago!! They shared a stage with ORANGE GOBLIN and OBIAT and many other cool bands. KERRANG called them the "future kings of stoner metal!" But they called it a day before ever releasing a full length record. I got in touch with them about the possibility of releasing their material, because I thought these guys were truly awesome. I never really expected to hear anything, but we did and they were very much interested and now boom! the album should be out in June. SADA are officially back together and have already started gigging again! We saw them live the other week, and they are, without a doubt, balls-out heavy stoner rock!

In simple terms I would say I am a huge Clutch and Five Horse Johnson fan, and I think other fans of those bands will be absolutely blown away by SADA.

Right on! Exactly what Jeremy said. I think fans of Halfway To Gone, The Atomic Bitchwax and even proper metal-heads are going to dig SADA.

Heavy Planet:

Wow! That kind of excitement certainly has me anticipating the release of SADA's first full length album, under the Stargun Music label to boot!

Any more signings on their way that you can mention?

Well I just mentioned MOTHER CORONA, they're our most recent signing. We saw them live in our home town and I can honestly say they were one of the most exciting live bands we've seen! Dave Oglesby, the drummer and vocalist, had so much energy on stage we knew straight away we wanted to work with these boys. Their self released first album "Cosmic Dust" was very well received and is a great record so I have no doubt that the new one will be even more awesome. I believe they're hitting the studio in May this year so it won't be out until later this year.

Heavy Planet:
That will be two major releases in 2013, following closely on the heels of your first band release last December of Enos' "All Too Human". It appears as if the momentum created by "Sonic Titans" has strongly carried through this first year of operation with what will end up being the release of three very strong albums.

What are your expectations for year two? Will it be more difficult than the first year, or do you feel the momentum you have will continue?

I think it will be both easier because we have this great momentum, but also harder because "All Too Human" by Enos was so well received the bar has been set quite high.

Heavy Planet:
How far ahead have you been able to look and to plan for Stargun Music?

Being independent and completely self-financed, the budget is incredibly tight so we can literally only plan one project at a time to be perfectly honest. We do have a small hit-list of bands we would like to work with and if we can, at the very least, release say 3 records a year that would be pretty awesome!

Heavy Planet:
What kind of stuff are you guys working on other than simply signing bands? I notice on your Facebook page a DVD for Enos. Stuff like that.

Well, full credit to Enos, they organised the shoot for the DVD themselves. We have pencilled in a few projects including video shoots, but I’ve felt that due to time constraints it should always be our priority to focus on the albums.

I really want to do a Stargun Music Showcase, which would get all the bands together for a show, and for that to become an annual thing. Like Jeremy said, definitely want to do some music videos as well.

Heavy Planet:
It appears to me that you focus on communicating with the world via Facebook and possibly Twitter as opposed to through your website. Is that fair to say? Or am I reading too much into it?

That is spot on. Due to having limited time and full schedules we keep posting short but current updates to Facebook and probably update the website every 4-6 weeks. I do use Twitter reluctantly but that said it has led to some cool introductions to guys like Joe’s Pedals (custom guitar pedal maker) and a few others.

Heavy Planet:
You guys work closely with artist extraordinaire, Alex von Wieding. How did that relationship form?

Alex has done the artwork for some of my favourite albums. He was quite literally the first name I mentioned for SONIC TITANS. We genuinely thought it would be a long shot but we emailed and he was really enthusiastic! It helped that he was really into a lot of the bands that featured on SONIC TITANS. Alex has been a massive support for us. He doesn't just do the artwork, he gets fully submerged into the whole project.

Heavy Planet:
Are there any other album artists you work with or plan to work with?

Artwork decisions are made with the bands so they might lead us in another direction at some point. The thing is, Alex basically has god-like illustrative power and he’s a really decent guy, so I’d always be happy to work with him.

Heavy Planet:
Jeremy, Ross, thank you very much for your time and your thoughtful and enlightening answers. Your enthusiasm and hard work not only pay off in terms of your company, the newly awesome label Stargun Music,

Ross Diamond, Jeremy Lawson


As previously mentioned the prizes listed below are available to the select few who correctly, and quickly, answer the stupefying trivia questions we've conjured up to stump our awesome fans of fuzz. Be the first, or in some cases, among the first to send correct responses to the following email address:


Be sure to include your name and postal mailing address in the email. Failure to do so regardless of correctness or timeliness of response will result in no swag.

Prize #1 - Signed copy of "All Too Human", with autographs from the members of Enos. 1 prize available to the first correct answer.

Trivia Question:

1. What is the basis, or storyline, for Enos' "All Too Human"?

Prize #2 - Advanced CD copy of "All Hail the Beef Lords" by SADA. Three copies available to the first three correct answers.

Trivia Question:

2. How long has Stargun Music's mission statement of 'dedicated to the preservation of heavy rock n' roll' been in effect?

Prize #3 - CD copy of Denizen's "Whispering Wild Stories". Five copies available to the first five correct answers.

Trivia Question:

3. Who was the first band signed to the Stargun Music label?

Prize #4 - CD copy of the compilation album "Sonic Titans". Five copies available to the first five correct answers.

Trivia Question:

4. Who is the latest band to sign with Stargun Music?

Again, send correct answers and your postal mailing address to gunnerkee19@gmail.com. Prizes will be dispatched in as timely a manner as is feasible. 

Stay tuned tomorrow to HeavyPlanet.net as we continue the celebration of Stargun Music's first anniversary with another interview and trivia question / prize package. The second interview will be with the incredible rock n' roll artist Alex von Wieding.

In the meantime, enjoy the music from Stargun Music's awesome compilation album "Sonic Titans"


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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sunday Sludge: Otzepenevshiye/Vir' - "For A Knife"

Countless conversations end with the promise of getting together, collaborating, creating. Too often these promises never reach delivery and the conversation drifts to the back of the mind alongside trivia and repressed memories. So many bands play on so many bills, it's easy to see how these discussions unfold and ultimately lose their steam. When two bands finally make the time to tolerate one another, the results can be one-sided, watered-down, or entirely disappointing.

Moving beyond the tradition of splits and guest appearances, Saint Petersburg's Otzepenevshiye and Vir' shared the stage in Kazan' and drafted a plan to together craft an entire album. The end result is one that smashes pigeonholes and shreds labels, a clinic of sound manipulation and redistribution. At times a shoegazing drone-metal stack of layered guitars, others a crushing amalgam of sludge despair, the seven-track For a Knife rolls downhill and flattens expectations in a slow-motion daydream.

Opening on 1000 Doors, a cold pocket of immobilized breaths grows into a churning drone. But when the sounds emerge from every corner, filtering through a corridor of tin and wood, the guitar splinters advise against prematurely formulating opinions. Sergey Milushkin (Vir') claws at your feet as you pass, countering the awesomely ambient structures. Unfolding into a static whir of broken mist, the track breaks and blends crust with unsteady, glazed warbles. If the bands' intentions were to pull apart your senses, they've already succeeded admirably.

The storm of choppy sludge rhythms on The Black is the disc's mock of your discomfort. Guitar sustain remains, wraps you in moss, and searches the premises with one eye closed. The dicey balances the droney when banshees circle and cackle. The re-emergence of the tortured/torturous vocal after a three-track hiatus is welcome and jarring. The track invites you to join, basking in the discontent of a death rattle until the abrupt closing.

Long, sustained instrumental passages alone won't pique the interest of seasoned drone- or post-metal connoisseurs, and failure to let a tone fully respire will prove costly. Four of For A Knife's tracks present no vocals whatsoever, relying heavily on steady pacing and slow decay. Kotlovan's industrial churn offers a veil of productivity, masking the insidious drone elements. Sonne de Toten stutters and stumbles on technological breakdowns, panning samples with awesome atmospheres. Slicing guitar tapestries evolve via expanding fuzz, growing thicker as your shirt snags on hidden thorns. And when the field of rotting futures demands a glimpse of strange beauty shuffling through this ugliness, we transition into -273°C. The bird's eye perspective provides both relent and clarity, but the haunting soundscape is as post-impressionist as it is post-metal. The whole of the triptych is just one of the album's aching highlights.

Pull the pin on Ce Qui ne Trompe pas and what unfolds is an avalanche of screams and raining ashes. The dual-note piano drone is endless and somber, and it's the perfect lead-in to the closing title track. For A Knife is more primitive than what's led to it, but there are glimmers of life and rebirth contained herein. Sludge and drone again poke through the cleansing as if to say "don't forget us," but the trickle juxtaposes tracks one through six. Rhythmic plod burns, guitar embers crackle, and the ultimate pain of Milushkin's bark, absent far too long, are all washed away in the final gasp of one incredible album.

That two bands can accommodate one another, let alone so well complement one another, is an exercise in mastery. Forget that divergent methods and habits actually sound this amazing together and view the album on its own merits. This was simply a group of musicians sharing and focusing and brilliantly realizing ideas in the form of seven long, beautiful cruisers. Greater than the sum of its parts? Who cares. Call it what you want, but this sound is undeniably captivating.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Nuclear Dog's Atomic Split: Devil to Pay - "Fate is Your Muse" / Supercabra - "Down From the Mountain"

We've all had the mental image of a steamer trunk or some other suitcase type carrier, after closing, coming apart at the seams due to the overabundance of items stuffed inside, right? That image is what comes immediately to mind when confronting today's double stuffed Atomic Split, filled to bursting with big, heavy, wondrous tunes from two bands who quite successfully epitomize stoner rock music in the form of Devil to Pay and Supercabra. While each has their own unique take on crafting gargantuan, fuzzy grooves, the similarity between them is in the effort and ability they each possess in forging LPs laden with quality and fun. Both albums are enhanced greatly with volume and repetition, so please sit back, plug in, give the volume dial a quick and complete right turn, and take in the music of these two albums to their max more than once or twice and I'm certain you will be exceptionally pleased with the time spent discovering what these two unbelievable bands have on tap for you to experience with sonic wonder.


Band members:

Steve Janiak - Vocals, Guitar
Chad Prifogle - Drums
Matt Stokes - Bass
Rob Hough - Guitar

Man, I swear if you listen to "Fate is Your Muse" three times a week, followed immediately by protein/carb drinks after each session, and follow this routine for 6 months, you will look like Mr. Olympia at the end of the cycle, because THIS ALBUM IS HEAVY!. The more I hear it the more I realize just how low and heavy Devil to Pay has made it. It's not just one big lump of metal, but provides finely textured and braided variations on any given song's low tuned riffs and themes. Matt's bass and the guitars of Steve and Rob work together to craft pleasurable mega riffs and snippets of sheer joy on top of interludes of blissful licks, punctuated with welded beads of sheer laserbeam solos. These sounds are wrapped tightly by Chad's energetic, intelligent drumwork that itself is tightly wound and perfectly spaced to create a strong cable of metal might. All of it is deftly and tightly packaged with Steve's unique signature vocals perfectly suited to the melodies they have conjured forth.

Of note is that "Fate is Your Muse" is produced by Ripple Music, who have established themselves as one of the major labels promoting truly great rock and roll, whether it be of the stoner, doom, sludge, psychedelic, or retro variety.

Devil to Pay's history is of the vein of perseverance and tenacity, having lasted through the inevitable band member changes through a decade of existence, but also through major personal tragedies that would stop anyone else cold in their tracks not truly committed to the cause. Hailing from the Heartland of Indianapolis, Devil to Pay have persevered and are creating some of rock's finest music at present - any genre, any level, any anything.

"Fate is Your Muse" contains twelve delicious stoner gems, each weighing tons in combined stonerage, each perfectly relevant on its own, and each adding magnificently to a perfect dozen devoid of sugar and light, but packed tightly with metal grindings, darkness, and distorted reverberations of sheer pleasure.

I can't single out any one song or group of songs as my favorites because they all are awesome, as I'm sure you, too, will find them to be incredibly fun to listen to. Devil to Pay kicks off the album with "Prepare to Die" where a classic riff sound permeates throughout and the heavy, low fuzz is ever present, just as it is throughout the album. Here we are also introduced to the signature vocal stylings of Steve's unique pipes, something that doesn't at first scream 'belissimo', but give it a minute, or a couple of songs, and it will quickly fall into place as perfectly matched to the melodies, as previously mentioned. Subsequent playings then become much more enjoyable experiences.

"Ten Lizardmen and One Pocketknife", in addition to providing the best title on the LP, provides a tightly wound tempo of blistering rawhide rampage. Incredible fun. "Wearing You Down" and "Already Dead" slow the tempo down slightly, but the monstrous low riffs are nearly overwhelming, complemented perfectly by searing, soaring solos.

"Yes Master" has a slight Alice in Chains feel to it, but still strongly remains signature Devil to Pay, make no mistake. All the big guitar hallmarks wrapped by Steve's signature vocals are there.

The quickest, tightest song on the album is "This Train Won't Stop" and it gets my vote for best on the album.  A fast paced romp, tight and clean in tempo, fierce and fun in delivery. "Savonarola" keeps the tempo quick and somehow manages to fuzz up the riffage in doing so.

"Mass Psychosis" is another great example of artistic maturity in terms of musical creation as the riffs and licks unfold, intertwine, and engage the listener in complex constructs of distortion and metal bliss. "Tie One On", it's own unique construct, follows the same concepts as its predecessors with engaging and engrossing fuzz bomb variations and execution. The riffs are mighty, the vocals sprightly, and the song packaged tightly, creating supreme enjoyment in its low tuned magnificence.

The album closes with "Beyond the Ether". This one has traces of original Black Sabbath in it, at once sublime and endurable, etching deep channels of distortion and fuzz into the psyche of the listener. Deep, low, slow, tenuously restrained ethereal power escapes in measured doses as the song trips inexorably forward through the psychotic dark. A majestic ending to a memorable and magnificent dozen of stoner metal treasure.

There is no doubt this album can quickly be placed into a category for consideration of inclusion in Top 20 of 2013 lists. It stands out quickly and only rises in stature with each revelational revolution.

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Band members:

Ben Action - Lead Guitar
Scott Free - Bass
T Perea - Lead, Rhythm Guitars
Gregg - Vocals; Lead, Rhythm Guitars
Clint Milmime - Drums

Hailing from Albuquerque, New Mexico and forming off the remnants of several local bands Supercabra have brought together an army of guitars ready to do Stoner and Retro Rock battle at the drop of an octave. Strap 'em on and buckle 'em in, 'cause you're in for an unforgettable ride through earth shattering sounds and mind blowing metal.

Supercabra have carved out a unique place for themselves in the underground world of stoner/retro/desert rock by providing a high level of quality, enhanced greatly by the army of guitars at their disposal, but also by the melody making gifts on display presumably by several, if not all, of the band members. The songs are diverse in nature in terms of the musical approach to the melodies, but they claim the same sublime splintery edge to each song.

One sound outside of music that comes close to the resplendent signatures of guitar fuzz and distortion is that of a finely tuned 'big block' engine unleashed on the road, roaring in all its glory as it moves through space in minimal time. Supercabra open their album with such a sound, which struck me as entirely apropos given the meaty, beefy tones shared between music and machine, especially this music by this metal machine. "Vanishing Point" has more of a spoken lyric than is typical for vocal execution, but the guitars are all unleashed on this song providing entry points in myriad locations for focus on enjoyable licks blasting and blistering their way in perfect unison while simultaneously following their own unique pathways. The blend is wondrous, just as each part is mesmerizing.

"Death B4 Minivan", a famous rallying cry for those yet to experience parenthood. Raucous and hormonal, the song generates loads of fun in its guitar onslaught. "Early Morning Red Dog Prayer" is more cautious in nature at the outset, but provides a gargantuan container of fuzz, perhaps in an attempt to mimic the thick rope of cobwebs described within the lyrics from a 'morning after' episode. The hair of the dog kicks in at solo time as the house must surely have caught fire from the screeching, scorching riff rendition. Dexterity and desire are on display during the meat of this lick stew melody, but the closing seconds is what really sets it apart as a singular tune as a ghostly, warbly vocal from somewhere out of the ether takes over and brings the song to a close. Whether it's a guest vocal, or whether someone in the band provides the eerie chants, it provides a memorable closing moment to a memorable melancholy melody.

"Drinking and Driving Man" is a distorted, raucous reincarnation of Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen, fun, upbeat, and bursting with juicy goodness.

Next up is quite likely a song that will be adopted as personal themes for millions of pain sufferers in California, Colorado, and Washington. "Resin" is a haunting and melancholy trip through the trials and tribulations of dealing with resin buildup in various medicine delivery accoutrement. Oh the heartache!

The tempo kicks up in "The Warzone", a tight and structured romp of sonic dissonance levied via the mercenary axes of distortion and power employed by Supercabra's guitar cadre.

There is a plaintiff wail within "Las Vegas Ave." that cuts to the quick with it's sharpness in the midst of melancholic fuzz reminiscing and introversion.

Retro rock is the game on "Stolen Freedom", a song that sounds as if it came from the protest eras of the sixties, only with massive fuzz riffs, lively bass licks, and incredible drum rolls accompanying the crys for freedom.

"Grizzled Stoner Wizard" wins the award for best title, and quickly makes a case for best song to boot. Stoner riffs are displayed from the outset, upfront and vibrant, long and lustful. It's funky and fresh in tone, tripping through the wires, providing an incredible sound of unleashed fury and unremitting joy.

Supercabra close out with a cover of Black Sabbath's "Electric Funeral", superbly unfolding the fantastic tale in measured paces through the refrains while cutting loose during the blitzkrieg choruses of the classic metal standard that is highly regarded as one of the roots of stoner/doom rock, hence the tribute from this gifted and brilliant group of mighty stoner wizards.

"Down From the Mountain" is a superb stoner rock / heavy metal album, never settling for sub par execution on any of the included songs, delivering ten perfectly manufactured packages of fuzz tone.

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Flashback Friday - Mindfunk

Alright, here’s the scenario.  I was sitting around having one of those music geek conversations with my buddies here in the virtual offices of Heavy Planet.  You know those hypothetical, scenario type discussions where you fantasize about which bands, past or present, that you’d put on the bill of your very own music festival?  C’mon, don’t act like you’ve never done this.  I mean who hasn’t dreamed of watching the original lineup of Kyuss open for the original lineup of Sabbath while the sounds of Fu Manchu waft over the hill from the second stage just a few hundred feet away?  

But back to the topic at hand…hypothetical, imaginary concert lineups…got it?  Good.  So it was during said conversation that I got the inspiration for this edition of Flashback Friday.  You see, when our Heavy Planet head honcho included Mindfunk in the lineup for his…Reg-a-palooza, I had myself one hell of a bout of nostalgia.  This was a band that had blown my mind some twenty years ago when my then teenage self would stay up all hours of the night watching Headbanger’s Ball (Jesus I’m old) and rocking out to videos like the one for their song “Big House Burning,” which was in heavy rotation at that time.  Straddling the line between quirky, off-beat funk and distortion laced metal…think Faith No More meets Soundgarden…Mindfunk were one of the first bands to scratch the surface of the mainstream, while managing to jettison the silliness of 80’s pop metal in favor of a more sinister, more real message, vibe and perhaps most importantly sound.

A sort of musical mutt, for lack of a better term, the band featured members from a number of other semi-well known acts.  Vocalist Patrick Dubar had previously performed in the straight edge, hardcore band Uniform Choice.  Guitarist Louis Svitek (who would eventually join Ministry) had played together with bassist John Monte in the seminal NYC thrash band M.O.D., and both Monte and guitarist Jason Coppola spent time in another 80’s thrash band, Chemical Waste.  And perhaps most notable for Heavy Planet readers, drummer Reed St. Mark was known for his stint in pioneering black/doom metal band Celtic Frost.  To say that this was an eclectic bunch of musicians would be quite the understatement, and the batch of songs that would end up on their first album serves as confirmation of that sonic diversity.      

Beginning life under the moniker Mind Fuck, the band was quickly scooped up by major label Sony/Epic and then just as quickly forced to change their “offensive” name prior to the 1991 release of their self-titled debut…ergo Mind Funk.  Listening to the album now, it’s interesting to hear the last vestige of 80’s extravagance (take a listen to the pseudo-ballad “Sister Blue”) give way to the gloomy heaviness that defined the 90’s grunge era (listen to “Woke up this Morning”).  Just check out a song like “Bring It On” or “Blood Runs Red” where the band combines the funky fun of early Red Hot Chili Peppers with gargantuan riffs and equally weighty lyrical content.  Mind Funk’s debut album, while perhaps a bit dated in 2013, is an aural time capsule of the transitional musical period from which it spawned and for that reason alone is worthy of your attention.

Unfortunately, it failed to move an acceptable number of units in the eyes of the band’s label and on the eve of the release of their follow-up album, the newly named Mindfunk (one word versus two) were unceremoniously dropped.  By this point in time, a slight name change wasn’t the only alteration to the band as guitarist Jason Coppola and drummer Reed St. Mark were replaced by Jason Everman (of Nirvana and Soundgarden fame) and Shawn Johnson respectively.  Unfaltering, the new lineup proceeded to land on their feet by inking a deal with Megaforce Records, who subsequently released the band’s 1993 sophomore effort, which was aptly titled Dropped.  The album, which was produced by the legendary Terry Date (Soundgarden, Pantera), showed the band evolving beyond the funk influences heard on their debut and gravitating more towards the distortion laden grooves and sludgy riffs of grunge.  You’d do well to give a listen to this one, especially tracks like “Goddess,” “Mama, Moses and Me” and “11 Ton Butterfly,” as it definitively fits the mold of what Heavy Planet is all about. 

Prior to recording the follow-up however, both John Monte and Jason Everman would leave the band, the latter rumored to have joined the Army Special Forces of all things.  After filling the void at bass with Frank Ciampi, the band soldiered on as a four-piece and eventually headed back into the studio to record what would be their third and final album.  People Who Fell from the Sky was released in 1995 by the Music for Nations label, however it wasn’t made available in the US and is, as a result, a difficult album to get your hands on (for those of us here in the States at least).  While somewhat disjointed and less cohesive than its predecessor, undoubtedly due to the significant turnover in personnel, the album retained much of the heavy groove that Mindfunk had zeroed in on with Dropped and its worth checking out if you like what you hear on the other two.

Look, I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind you that the point of these features is to introduce you, the Heavy Planet reader, to bands from the past that paved the way to what we’re listening to today.  Mindfunk were undoubtedly just such a band.  Their combination of hardcore sensibilities, funky rhythms and grinding guitars helped to thrust heavy music away from the hairspray and fluff of the 80’s and into the grit and grime of the 90’s.  So that's your history lesson for today...now get on that homework and go get your mind fucked...err...funked.  

Thursday, April 25, 2013

LP Review- Midwest Electric by The Heavy Company

Some bands are too good for their own good. Some bands try and polish their sound till their album is 'bout as dull as a Steely Dan record. But some bands just go for it, loose and lean, like they were back in the garage- or woodshed. The Heavy Company (THC) are one of these bands. They just wrapped up production on their new album Midwest Electric, and this loose, jammy, heavy album proudly displays its warts for all the world to see. This album is rough and wonderful, a throwback to the sounds of yore, when rock bands weren't into categories and would throw anything into their sonic stew without worrying about what any scene might think.

This experimental mindset, coupled with conviction, drove THC to make the album they'd want to hear. They've pieced together Hawkwind effects and scope, Greatful Dead noodling, and riffs when needed to create a compelling piece of Hoosier rawk. Here's a quick rundown of the album.

The Humboldt County Waltz starts things off with a cough, before garagey guitars accompany Ian Gerber's skillet fried warble as he asks for what we all want; "a stash like Willie's and some/room to breathe". This line sums up the bands philosophy, and likely more than a few of you can relate. A Groove a Mile Wide drips like frozen molasses from the speakers with minimal guitar and hints of drone and echo. Neil Young is a ballad that name checks the godfather of grunge, Greasy Mush is an instrumental with stuttering boogie riffs and leads that ring while some wicked synths gurgle in the background. One Big Drag can be heard below, so I'll spare you my description. Sailing Towards the Setting Sun is the trippiest track on the album, which you might have gleaned from the sci-fi title. The tune drones and floats and the narrator sings about existential space concerns. The tune might seem out of place on an album by a band who gave a shit about making all their tunes a copy of the previous one. The album ends with a bang, El Bango Grande gallops out the gates with country inflected vocals which give way to whooshing effects and Pink Floyd style sparse guitar scapes. An eclectic end to an interesting album.

Find this one on Bandcamp, in digital or CD. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for vinyl.


LP Review - The Inner Sanctum by The Cosmic Dead

Having previously been reviewed on Heavy Planet back in 2011 as a "New Band To Burn One To" for their self titled album, there was no way I was going to let The Cosmic Dead's latest psychedelic beast "Inner Sanctum" slip through our fingers.

Born in the tough, cold city of Glasgow, Scotland, UK; The Cosmic Dead drop an album of 4 masterful psychedelic jams reminiscent of the best hypnotic wig-outs of the legendary Hawkwind and the likes of Neu and Amon Düül II. The Cosmic Dead play a mix of heavy psychedelic spacerock, Krautrock and experimental audio trips in a unique way that only a British psych band can do. I put this down to the particularly ancient and potent strain of Psilocybe Semilanceata that can be found growing in abundance on the fields and mountains of the UK and The Cosmic Dead's trance inducing mind transferals are a perfect soundtrack to the shamanic ritual partakings traditional to certain tribes of this land during the autumn/fall months. Whilst listening to this album I was flashed back to the last shroom season here and wished I had chosen to listen to The Cosmic Dead when I was lying horizontal on my couch, staring at a kaleidoscopic multi-colored and rippling ceiling, wide eyed and dribbling down my chin as I journeyed to the subconscious realms of weirdness. I certainly won't be forgetting The Cosmic Dead during this years shroom season.

The album takes off with "Gustav Björnstrand" which is an ode to a rather obscure Swedish physicist from what I can tell and of whom I can find very little information other than that he doesn't watch TV or read newspapers and believes we are currently living in an Orwellian nightmare. I can't argue with that and I join him in his rejection of main stream news and entertainment. I haven't owned a TV in years and have a great loathing for the British tabloids in particular. But I digress...the opening of this track does not start with a long introspective ambient space-out as one would expect from a band like The Cosmic Dead, but instead launches straight into a thick psychedelic jam with a hypnotic bass line and drifting trippy guitars and tight drumming that drives the track along on it's journey into the inner realms. After a few minutes there is an echoed voice of some narrative by an unknown maverick of the mind. Is this Gustav Björnstrand speaking? I'd like to know what's being said. The track evolves and builds as it drifts with easy style along the space highway sending shards of bright purple and yellow to twist and splinter my mind in its wake. The psyche-out continues to build throughout until our first destination is reached and we are firmly set within the mind expanded dimensions laid out by these sonic psychonauts from Scotland.

The journey then continues as we move ever further into psychotropic frequencies with "The Mass of Betelguese" and a quiet rising up the spine of pure psychedelic energy that then fills the space between your ears with a soothing massage of floaty guitar effects and laid back bass riffs and sparse percussion. This blissful drifting of meditative sound builds to illuminating crescendos and gently tripping drops of hallucinations for over 20 minutes in dazzlingly beautified and colourful spacerock played at it's very best. Your mind is wrenched open and in pours a myriad of visions the likes of which can only be experienced with huge doses of hallucinogens or 25 years of dedicated yogic practice while living in a tree dressed only in a loin cloth. The track ends with with an ecstatic breakthrough to even further in/out dimensions that The Cosmic Dead travelled to in this albums opener.

In the third stage of our grand mind trip with The Cosmic Dead we enter the "Inner Sanctum" and another 20 minute mind bender of trance inducing vibrations in the form of simple rhythms, all encompassing swathes of spacey guitars and hypnotic bass jamming building slowly but very surely towards a wild eyed and flailing arms freak out as the pace of the track builds leaving a throng of long haired and half naked space cadets writhing around in ecstatic bliss within a vast hazy meadow of many coloured flowers under a multi-bejeweled and deep purple night's sky.

The Cosmic Dead end their 4 stanzas of psychedelic instrumental poetry with "Hello, SATAN" which takes us into the darker occult realms but here does not lie evil and horror even though this track is as doomy as The Cosmic Dead go on this album. Dear reader, I know you do not come here for lessons on occult symbolism but I feel it is worth mentioning briefly that Satan is not necessarily the harbinger of spiritual destruction and the king of the fiery pits as so belovedly believed by those of the christian faith. Indeed, Satan could be understood on one level to symbolise the masculine generative force of nature, a modern form of the horny goat legged Pan and in Tarot lore the Phallus as the lingham to the yoni or the 1 to compliment the 0. This I feel is where The Cosmic Dead are going with this reference to Satan but I may be over presumptuous in my interpretation of the track. Nevertheless the initial doomyness of this track, which to me sounds more humbly somber than doomy; is left behind 6 minutes in to enter another psychedelic void of wonder and colourful waves of glowing visions but the solemnity is not broken throughout this journey from the darkness so beautiful. The spirit is raised up as the sounds evolve as a twisting and twirling mass of emotions bring one to higher levels of understanding beyond the sticks and stones of the mundane universe. It is not all sweetness and light within or without, but a balance of positive and negative, the ying and the yang, + and -, Α and Ω, as above so below.

To put it simply, this album shows that The Cosmic Dead are truly the one of the best heavy psych bands in the UK, if not this entire rock we call planet Earth that floats through space. They are currently in the last half of their current European tour so if they happen to be playing near you then go and see them, loaded up with a huge dose of the hallucinogen of your choice of course but if for whatever reason you can't make it then go buy their album now released by Evil Hoodoo on a limited edition pea green cassette in a handmade cotton sleeve. Very tasty.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Zac's "Double Dose": Plant Tribe / Traveling Circle


Plant Tribe: Loose Marbles 

This weeks 'Dose is full of celestial Shangri-la psychedelia and we are going to lose more than our marbles with the first shot, Plant Tribe and their 2012 release Loose Marbles. You see, where most psyche-rock musicians focus strictly on the fuzzy and aerial atmosphere Plant Tribe are a little more rock-driven which brings a carefree and rollicking attitude to the trippy and transcendent sound. Melding the worlds of psychedelia and acid rock with fervent progressive rock this Santa Ana, CA based sextet waste no time in getting those hips shaken. Each track gush a good-time vibe with a paramount role coming from unlikely instrument... a saxophone. Pat Diederichs' sax presence not only stands-out when the other musicians bend the limelight his way but also when he finds himself in the mix infusing a new plane in the sonic-soundscape. Please don't take this as Pat-only praise. Plant Tribe as an entity act as a well calculated chemical composition, sure to change the natural frequency of your cerebral center. If I would have found Loose Marbles last year there is a strong possibility it would have landed on my personal favorites of 2012. Spend some time rockin' your marbles off with my favorite funky track Wrapped Up In The Hustle below or pick up your own copy at Under The Gun Records.

**Limited Edition Cassettes are available at bandcamp**

Eric Contreras - Drums
Jameson Lecky - Guitar
Jeff Ziemba - Vocals // Percussion // Harp
Jon Cox - Guitar // Percussion  
Pat Diederichs - Saxophone // Keys // Percussion // Backing Vocals
Phil Lemke - Bass



Traveling Circle: Escape From Black Cloud 

Drifting through the wormhole, Brooklyn's Traveling Circle has landed here at Heavy Planet with their latest release Escape From Black Cloud. Adjusting the cosmic index this trio has found a time warp that emits authentic psychedelic frequencies. Honestly, if I didn't share these details with you, you would believe this is a rare psychedelic find from an ancient Syd Barrett side project. The album begins the interstellar saunter with Higher and soon moves into The Candlelight Sway, one of my favorite tracks. The repetitive and uplifting note progression of The Candlelight Sway builds the foundation of a heady track that is crowned by Dylan's soprano vocal delivery. This style of singing enhances the entire atmosphere of Escape From Black Cloud and that atmosphere is full of progressive intricacies that will blur your brain waves. As the astral journey reaches the depths of the Psyche Traveling Circle set the dial to hypnotize, where we find ourselves floating in the mix of a laser battle, soft spoken lyrics and more soprano serenading. The escape concludes with Tears From The Soul, a deep cut into the solar fabric of the kaleido-sphere. Here we are greeted with more of that classic soprano singing and some of the most glorious percussion and drumming I've heard from a psychedelic outfit. Check out the video for Closer, one of the most spell-binding tracks from Escape From Black Cloud, below and set your controls for the heart of the sun.


Charlie Freeman - Bass // Backing Vocals 
Dylan Maiden - Vocals // Guitar 
Josh Schultz - Drums // Percussion

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

New Band To Burn One To: MONSTRONAUT



Formed in 2010 from the remnants of several highly acclaimed Scottish bands ( Ludovico, Dirty Angels, The Common Empire) Monstronaut have quickly realised their vision of producing thunderous, life affirming hard rock. Taking inspiration from the very first, late 60’s British metal and their American stoner rock descendants, Monstronaut are providing a groove laden, modern take on the original hard rock blue print.

A highly succesful gig calendar in 2011-12, culminating in both their debut London show and a headline performance at the annual Bledgefest festival, in which Monstronaut stole the show has confirmed their potential as standard bearers of British rock. With the hunger and dedication that these guys have shown time and again after the all too familiar hard luck stories of years gone by, no one that has seen them would bet against Monstronaut making a big impact this year!

Having already garnered a hardcore, dedicated following in the Dumfries and Glasgow scenes, as well as the small festival circuit, the future is nothing but bright for this exciting group. The recording of the In The Beginning….EP began in early 2012 at Lovers Lane studios in Dumfries with Grant Henderson at the helm and finished sporadically throughout the year at the University of Paisley with Dave Miller behind the desk. With Mike D himself taking on the mixing and post production duties the band have found themselves with a ferocious reproduction of their incendiary live shows. The 5 songs on show here are without doubt the most
immediate in the groups repertoire and will doubtless leave everyone who hears it marking their diaries for In The Beginning….part 2, due in the summer of 2013.


"Monstronaut is a ferocious new Stoner Metal monster hailing from Scotland. The band hits the nail on the head with catchy yet heavy tracks guaranteed to have you bashing and bobbing your head in no time. The songs on their latest EP "In the Beginning" are filled with powerful riffs, clean vocal prowess and slick production. Influences of NWOBHM is evidenced throughout the EP which adds a magnetic flair and thunder to the well-written tunes heard within. These guys undoubtedly rock! Check them out!"

Monday, April 22, 2013


Didn't we tell you Tucson was heating up? You all remember Godhunter. And Southwest Terror Fest introduced a slew of acts that needed your attention. Well, today Tucson's sludge lords are sharing Heavy Planet's top-billing on a double-barrel blast of southwest heaviness. Godhunter may be fucking hard-asses, but they're not gonna go full-prick and deny their faithful a taste of what lies ahead on the highly-anticipated City Of Dust. And if this is just a glimpse, we can't wait for the full seven-course slaughter.

Check out Vultures' Wake, a fuzzy slab of jagged sludge formed on the scabs of the incredible Wolves and bleeding into the pools of blood that promise to collect on City of Dust. Lick the corners of your mouth and crack open a night of regret. Gritty and riff-laden, you still can't ignore the nod-inducing groove!

Godhunter - Vultures' Wake

Oh! And Anakim provide Tucson with an extended trickle of promise. The haunting sway of The Whimper of Whipped Dogs won't leave your mind anytime soon, and the murky chop only further extends the southwest's hot grip on a scene once thought exclusive to bands from America's east coast. Let this rattle your brain and numb your skull! You're not hearing this ANYWHERE else!

Anakim - The Whimper of Whipped Dogs

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday Sludge: Full Zenith

My jaw's been left on the ground a few times as I scratch my head wondering where bands come up with this shit. I gave up on guitar when my mom told me dinner was ready, but I spent countless hours in my room preparing for an interview that nobody would ever read. I'd talk about touring, brush aside compliments, and spend the bulk of my time highlighting influences. The list was endless, and to this day I can still hear myself saying stupid shit like "Believe it or not, I spent my formative years nursing Old Milwaukee with the jazz monks of some town you've probably never heard of." What a fucking asshole.

But when a band honors their influences and uses them to construct an entirely fresh bouillabaisse breed of metal, I'm hooked. Louisville's Full Zenith aren't gonna let you in on the secret. With their Demo 2013, you'll wonder if you should step aside to observe or just let the train rock you square. Equal parts heavy and heady, these cats tear apart sludge and doom riffs with more than a few thumps in the night and no intention of checking blind spots. When the tempos shift and you're left holding your dick, don't pretend that you knew it would happen.

Tentative but never at-all cautionary, Into The All Seeing Eye's slow entrance is flattened by the slow dirge of bulldozed rhythms. Scorched-earth repetition is shoved aside by lightning-round thrashes wrapped in a hybrid of Fistula's Corey Bing and Refused's Dennis Lyxzén. But the distant "fade into darkness" is more inviting than demanding. Sounds crazy, eh? It is. Drums coddle you, draw you into a corridor, and slip a burlap sack over your face to carry out this opener's true intention. The meters never quite match up, and you never quite get over how awesome it sounds.

If violent immediacy has ever been appropriately laid to tape, The Final Chapter is the result. The track abruptly snags the e-brake and stomps the upper-level, digging through closets and peering out rear-windows. Thick-rolling heaviness is, I suppose, a defining trait... But the good cop/band cop vibe is more likely a good trip/bad trip contemplation. Dual vocals are examined in brilliant juxtaposition and the thumps in the night won't quell your paranoia. Question their motives if you can find the time, but Full Zenith won't wait for your dust to settle.

Become Death holds a true sludge cadence at times, sandwiched between thrashy hardcore and weird, delightful fuzz. Bass growls on a Melvins-motivated chimney-sniff, tapering alongside guitars on burnt fingers and splitting with a fuzzed-out spiel. Faulty wires fire at billowing clouds, but the return of warm fuzz is enough to make your night. It may be too short, you'd say. But think on every song you've ever loved. Aren't they ALL too short? And I don't wanna draw-out parallels to 80's bay-area pioneers, but Suspended Disbelief is just that fucking awesome. Exodus-on-ludes, Testament-on-barbs, shit... it's slow, choppy, and your jacket's gonna reek. The churn lifts and thrash returns to dominance on abandoned patterns. But exercise patience; you didn't think Full Zenith had a little drone in 'em? The slurred spill of sludge melds with an Om-ish chant to warp out on UHF television.

What many present as daunting is actually incredibly refreshing on Full Zenith's watch. The jostling wakes you, but the struggle to breathe is equally jarring. Meld 80's thrash with the gigantic, drawn-out riffs of Sleep and you're presented with a challenge; how can the two marry? How does a four-track demo capture a quarter-century of metal's influence with no schlock, no fluff, and no biting criticism? I'm not sure, but Full Zenith fucking do it. Perhaps *ahem* variations on a theme are exactly what metal needs. But we fucking knew that! So when so many managed to screw it up, how did Full Zenith manage to fucking nail it?

Free download at bandcamp!

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