Wednesday, 24 May 2017

RIFF REWIND: (24/05/2012): Stoneburner - 'Sickness Will Pass'




STONEBURNER is one of the mainstays of the Portland, Oregon underground scene. Formed in early 2008, the bands’ familial roots reach back twenty years. Drummer Jesse McKinnon (ex-Buried Blood) and guitarist Jason Depew (Buried At Sea) have rocked together in many incarnations. Their other bands had similarly earth-choked names (a stone burner is a subterranean weapon from the novel Dune), but it gets even more incestuous — Jesse went to school with bassist Damon (Heathen Shrine) Kelly’s step-mother. Years later, Jesse’s father would be Damon’s high school government teacher.
To describe Stoneburner’s music one need only look to the list of bands with whom they’ve shared the stage: Yob, Sleep, EYEHATEGOD, Neurosis, Buzzov-en, Weedeater, Saint Vitus, Watain, Tragedy, Noothgrush, Graves At Sea, Lord Dying, Drop Dead, Whitehorse, Wind Hand, Bastard Noise and etc. It’s all about domination through amplification and soul-cleansing catharsis. Stoneburner does not put on airs for anyone. The shows are not "rituals". According to guitarist Eli Boland, playing in Stoneburner “…takes care of the thing inside us that would otherwise lead to serial murder. It cleanses my soul, eases my demons, and fills my heart in a way that keeps me high for a good long while.
Upon receiving their debut album “Sickness Will Pass”, I remember being absolutely  blown away and had heard nothing like at the time.  Life Drawing” (review here) their second album would follow in 2014 via Neurot Recordings, however today we’re going to rewind back through The Sludgelord archives to this day 5 years ago (24/5/2012) and give you guys another opportunity to check out, what I believed to be at the time, one of the albums of the year in 2012.  Make up your own mind by checking it out for yourselves below.   
The Bio was pinched from here  


By: Aaron Pickford

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 22/5/2012
Label: Seventh Rule


‘Sickness Will Pass’ is an ugly, visceral and truly terrifying beast of an album. It sounds monumental and is herculean in scale and is the benchmark of which all future releases this year will be judged.  It is quite possibly the ultimate sludge metal album of the year.  I urge you to buy this album, you will not be disappointed.


‘Sickness Will Pass’ DD//LP track listing:

1). Christian’s Charity 6:00
2). Marriage 7:15
3). Run Boy... 6:40
4). Elesares 8:38
5). We Have Failed 5:55


Stoneburner is:

Jesse McKinnon | Drums, vocals
Damon Kelly | Bass, vocals
Elijah Boland | Guitars
Jason Depew | Guitars

The Review:

Have you ever seen the movie Hellraiser, the excellent British horror movie?  The premise of the movie is about a puzzle box, which can open a portal to a realm of new carnal pleasures. Instead, it opens up a portal to the realm of the "Cenobites," who take people as prisoners and subject them to extreme, sadomasochistic torture.  ‘Sickness Will Pass’ reminds me of that movie, because this record is that puzzle box and once you push ‘start’, the listener is subjected to an explorative cerebral experience so extreme that it transcends the boundary between pain and pleasure.  The record is like an atomic weapon, with the desired effect being an explosion of music, intent on destroying all that stands in its path; to the very core of the earth. 

‘Christian’s Charity’ is a ferocious opening, the colossus that is the opening burst of sound is like a sonic boom, an explosion to the senses, with a public health warning decree from the band to ‘Please, make yourself scarce’? The song is incredible, sitting somewhere between the sound of Yob and ‘Remission’ era, Mastodon.  It is a song of unparalleled density, the riffs are beautifully disgusting, and it is as if the band is intent on turning the thumbscrew, until you surrender.  In truth this song and indeed the album feel like a torture test, begging the question.  Is this a puzzle box you wish to open?  Despite the pummelling riffs, discordant bass and the gut spewingly psychotic  Djinn like vocals, the song is layered with variety too, but remains volatile and savagely malignant, until a minute from the end when they tone things down to a moment of acid fused psychedelia.

‘Marriage’ begins with an almost processed chugging guitar riff, perhaps enhanced by the use of flanger? You can hear the two guitars in unison.   Then we’re back to the heaviness of the scarifying riffs, this is certainly not a marriage made in heaven.  Essentially an instrumental track, showcasing the awesome musicianship of the band, the song is structured around the opening riff, with slight variations, until around 2:30, when things are slowed down to that trippy post metal psychedelic breakdown, with clean sliding notes from bass and guitar, then we’re back to black bile spewing vocals and the booming sickening din of the riffs, till we’re back to the opening riff, further augmented by an unorthodox almost C.O.C lead guitar with squealing pinched harmonics.  ‘Run Boy’... starts with the fade in of drums, leading into a two minute grooving instrumental passage, Neurosis esque in tone, and then you’re hit like a fist in the face by the prerequisite pummelling riffs; based around a terrifying chord progression of which Mike Scheidt would be proud, this track for all intents and purposes is another instrumental track.  The listener’s ears are then lacerated by the piercing sound of a ‘March Of The Fire Ants’ type riff in tone, at 4:40 the vocals are back in with vehement fury and then we’re subjected to a further barrage of filth.  The final 2 minutes of the song, engages the kill switch , with loathsome revulsive intent and begs the questions, ‘Do you ask the Djinn for a wish to end this torture’? 

If you’ve chosen to continue, ‘Elesares’ is up next and the penultimate noisome, offensive to the point of arousing disgust, it’s 8:36 of virulent toxicity, with a predominant thrash like galloped riff for much of the song, interchanged with a slow sludgy dirge, it is another startling example of consummate sardonic perfection.  The track feels like a game from the Saw movie, trapping the listener to test their will or resolve to live through physical or psychological torture, with the reward being your life. 

‘We have Failed’ is the final lysergic acid test, with the band seemingly intent on inducing the derangement of your personality, before your return to normal social functioning.  If you thought that the track was going to ease off the vituperation, then think again.  The track is as abhorrent as the first note of the album.  It is possibly the most intricate song on the album, opening with an exchange of heavy chords, hammer offs, slides and deafening chord progressions, it is a measure of the band that they remain inventive till the end. At 1:43 they slow things down again to an eerie, almost horror movie inspired soundscape.  Then for the last decisive minutes of the record, the band end things with one final sneering and derisive outpouring of morally objectionable dirt.  The sickness has passed.


‘Sickness Will Pass’ is an ugly, visceral and truly terrifying beast of an album. It sounds monumental and is herculean in scale and is the benchmark of which all future releases this year will be judged.  It is quite possibly the ultimate sludge metal album of the year.  I urge you to buy this album, you will not be disappointed.



Band info: Bandcamp | Facebook

ALBUM REVIEW: Nightbringer - "Terra Damnata"

By: Mark Ambrose

Album Type: Full-length
Date Released: 14/04/2017
Label: Season of Mist



Remarkably, with Nightbringer approaching two decades of existence, they’re pulling off some of the best black metal the country has to offer, with a rabid intensity that, for all its darkness, remains inspiring.





“Terra Damnata” CD//DD//LP track listing

1. As Wolves Amongst Ruins
2. Misrule
3. Midnight’s Crown
4. Of the Key and Crossed Bones
5. Let Silence Be His Sacred Name
6. Inheritor of a Dying World
7. The Lamp of Inverse Light
8. Serpent Sun

The Review

The “Intro” track has become a standard of most genre releases. Whether an atmospheric, instrumental piece, a sample of dialogue from some esoteric movie, or a full-fledged song that gradually builds up to the kinetic bombast you expect from a metal record, the “Intro” has become as standard as post-credits sequences in blockbuster movies – and, if we’re honest, as hackneyed.  It speaks to Nightbringer’s nearly two decades of excellence and confidence that “As Wolves Amongst Ruins” burst through my speakers, so intense that I wondered if I had a mislabeled track listing.  This opening barrage is a definitive mission statement from Colorado’s premiere occult-minded black metal wizards: “Stand unbent / Unbroken in storms untamed / And let the winds / Stir your embers to blazing-flames!” The five-piece should have everyone’s attention with this latest full-length record, their third for Season of Mist and fifth overall.

There’s a distinctively European flair to Nightbringer’s dense metal, with touches of synth and organ that never slide into the pomposity of “symphonic metal”.  Rather, the US five-piece eschews the psychedelia and dreampop influences of coastal US standouts, immersing listeners into a hellish nightscape with few moments of relief.  That isn’t to say the album lacks beauty; the intricate guitar work relies on tight tremolo picking, harmonies that glide between sinister and triumphant, and provide perfect high end counterpoint to Norgaath’s churning, essential bass riffs.  Menthor’s drumming, meanwhile, has the ability to turn on a dime, from double-bass mayhem to doom-adjacent, monolithic fills.  The triple vocal attack of ar Ra’d al-Iblis, and guitarists Naas and Ophiis, recalls the demonic lords of Milton’s Hell – Azazel,  Beelzebub, and Satan himself, alternating between black metal shrieks, guttural growling, and infernal preaching.

Each track on “Terra Damnata” shines with instrumental precision and unholy depths worthy of any brave enough to explore.  The mini epic, “Let Silence Be His Sacred Name,” is a true standout – a track so densely packed with harmonies, shifts in timing, and vocal tradeoffs that I hope to hell I get to see Nightbringer pull it off live.  If it approaches the power of the album cut, there may be many more converted to the unholy faith at metal shows across the US soon.  After the frenzy of this 8+ minute track, the rest of the album provides some much-needed space: the dirgey, doom-y “Inheritor of a Dying World” approaches moments of Celtic Frost avant garde madness, and “Lamp of Inverse Light” is an instrumental meditation on several repeating themes over a spoken word sample buried under layers of distortion.  Serpent Sun” balances between the mid-tempo oppression and breakneck double bass drumming that lumbers and ascends before culminating in a sublime death spasm.  Remarkably, with Nightbringer approaching two decades of existence, they’re pulling off some of the best black metal the country has to offer, with a rabid intensity that, for all its darkness, remains inspiring.

“Terra Damnata” is available here





Band info: bandcamp || facebook

ALBUM REVIEW: The Ditch And The Delta - "Hives In Decline"

By: Charlie Butler


Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 12/05/2017
Label: Battleground Records




The Ditch and The Delta’s sound is a killer blend of fret-mangling math rock and stoner doom aggression. They strike a perfect balance between complexity, melody and no-nonsense gnarly heaviness.

“Hives In Decline” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). Hives In Mind
2). Fuck On Asphalt
3). Sleeping Dogs
4). Dry Land
5). Till Body Quits
6). Mud
7). Dread Spectacle

The Review:

Salt Lake City Trio The Ditch And The Delta are set to make a lot of people sit up and take notice with new LP “Hives In Decline”.

The first riff of the title track rips through the calm introductory drone like Keelhaul blazing through High On Fire’s backline. This sets the tone for the rest of this exhilarating album. The Ditch and The Delta’s sound is a killer blend of fret-mangling math rock and stoner doom aggression. They strike a perfect balance between complexity, melody and no-nonsense gnarly heaviness.

Fuck On Asphalt” channels the epic sludge of early Baroness and Kylesa to fine effect. The mid-section where the band provide slow motion backing to twin searing guitar solos particularly highlights the genius at work here. It should sound like an overcrowded mess but somehow all these disparate elements are brought together in seamless fashion.

Dry Land” provides some mid-album riff respite with a short, quiet instrumental complete with slide guitar flourishes that add a weird but cool country edge. The second half of the album then roars into life with “Till Body Quits” and “Mud”. Both tracks see the band widen their sonic spectrum to include more spidery guitar lines, melodic tapping and hints of the Hydrahead School of metallic hardcore.

The record closes with “Dread Spectacle” where The Ditch and The Delta add a healthy dose of Neurosis style cathartic doom into the mix. When the track breaks down to sparse guitar and Kory Quist’s weary vocals it recalls Scott Kelly at his ragged best.

Hives In Decline” sees The Ditch and The Delta takes a number of well-worn influences and breathe new life into them to create an addictive blast of intelligent sludge. An essential purchase for all riff aficionados.

“Hives In Mind” is available here





Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

RIFF REWIND (23/05/2013): The Body - "Master, We Perish"


 
The Body’s Chip King and Lee Buford can emote pain like no other band, and their ability to move between the often strict confines of the metal world and the electronic music sphere is perhaps best illustrated on their 2016 full length “No One Deserves Happiness”, an album that eludes categorization.

Buford and King are outlaws of the metal world, striving to create music without a category. They embody many contrasts but always deliver punishing music in volume and scale.  Back in 2013 in an ongoing pilgrimage towards the apocalypse and perpetual hatred for humankind, THE BODY unleashed their “Master, We Perish” EP which showcased the THE BODY’s nihilistic audio terror with three blackened bursts of noise-drenched, low-fi doom.

With mangled-human cover art by Manifester, “Master, We Perish” was released as a 12” EP, CDEP, cassette and digital download on April 30th 2013 via At A Loss Recordings.  Today we rewind the riffs to 4 years ago to the day and reacquaint ourselves with “Master, We Perish”.  So if you missed it the first time, be sure to remedy you error by checking out our review in full below. 


By: Chris Markwell


Album Type: EP
Date Released: 30/4/2013
Label: At A Loss Recordings



This is a musical Frankenstein at work: stitching together lifeless vocal snippets and attaching them to raw guitar and drum tissue.  What is created is nothing short of terrifying: it should not be, but here it is in front of you.  ‘Master, We Perish’ is a fuse leading to dynamite, and it gets lit every time you listen to it.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you. 




“Master, We Perish” CD//DD//LP tracklisting:


1) The Ebb and Flow of Tides in a Sea Of Ash
2) The Blessed lay Down and Writhe in Agony
3) Worship


The Review:

Sometimes in this life we come across… anomalies.  Strange happenings we experience but cannot quite explain.  Portland, Oregon’s The Body is an example of such an occurrence: a two-piece metal act that sounds like an entire orchestra of angry, darkly creative musical alchemists.  Their latest offering is the EP ‘Master, We Perish’, and it’s three tracks of pure, churning hate.  Let’s let the autopsy begin. 

EP opener ‘The Ebb And Flow Of Tides In A Sea Of Ash’ begins with an air raid siren rolling up and letting loose, followed by a low, ripping guitar riff that feels like you’re being crushed with the sheer force of it.  It reminds me of Pulled Apart By Horses, with a generous tint of Hierophant mixed in.  As openers go, it’s a mighty beast, and Chip’s vocal cries are those of a madman, freshly escaped from the asylum. 

Track 2 opens in a much darker, low-key way: a guitar riff, doomy yet melancholy, mixes with some of Lee’s strange samples, creating a very unsettling, dark atmosphere to descend.  This is ‘The Blessed Lay Down And Writhe In Agony’, and it’s a really messed-up slice of doom.  This is a musical Frankenstein at work: stitching together lifeless vocal snippets and attaching them to raw guitar and drum tissue.  What is created is nothing short of terrifying: it should not be, but here it is in front of you: ‘IT’S ALIVE!  IT’S ALIVE!’ 

Lee’s very fine drumming work begins proceedings on final track ‘Worship’ and, clocking in at 9:39, it’s a real odyssey of a song, one that takes you down blind alleys and through streets with boarded-up houses and smashed windows.  The drums are unstoppable on this track and, frankly, the entire musical experience found here is nothing short of suffocating until it bursts open at around 6 minutes in and becomes this grinding, doom steamroller.  Master, We Perish’ is a fuse leading to dynamite, and it gets lit every time you listen to it.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you. 



 Band info: Facebook


ALBUM REVIEW: Body Count - "Bloodlust"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 31/03/2017
Label: Century Media Records
 

The production is superb, the performances fantastic and Ice-T turns in a stellar vocal performance.  Is this album as real as it gets? I have no idea, but it certainly seems convincing. Harrowing and enjoyable at the same time.

“Bloodlust” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). Civil War (ft Dave Mustaine)
2). The Ski Mask Way
3). This Is Why We Ride
4). All Love Is Lost (ft Max Cavalera)
5). Raining In Blood/Postmortem 2017
6). God, Please Believe Me
7). Walk With Me (ft Randy Blythe)
8). Here I Go Again
9). No Lives Matter
10). Bloodlust
11). Black Hoodie

The Review:

Body Count are very much a going concern again. “Manslaughter” from a  couple of years ago went way beyond the tin-pot production values of earlier albums and delivered a muscular set of hardcore infused metal anthems.

With “Blood Lust”, Ice-T, Ernie C and side men are back in that groove again: the album is sometimes fast, often furious and packed with social commentary. A track by track is somewhat redundant here, so let's focus on the highlights and the overall theme of the album. Dave Mustaine pops up on opener “Civil War”, Randy Blythe of Lamb of God pops up for a vocal cameo later... all the tracks bristle with rage against society, authority and anything else you can name, really.

It's a dark and violent listen; “The Ski Mask Way” puts you in the mind of a violent criminal (and lists who tempts them), while Ice explains his perspective on revenge elsewhere on the record. Of course, Ice-T as a former soldier and very real gang member in South Central LA has more than a passing acquaintance with violence- albeit that those experiences are most likely decades in the rear view mirror- but it is that life experience that gives Body Count's message some level of gravitas. While I have no idea about the rest of the band's criminal past or hood credentials (Ernie C's most serious past crime is still the production to Sabbath'sForbidden” in the mid 90's in my view!), this is Ice's show. There is not a dragon, a dungeon or a noble quest within earshot. The premise is simple: the world is a mess, poverty is the real demon, people are evil, violent, selfish and lacking in loyalty and honour.

The explanation of Body Count prior to the, it has to be said, masterful Slayer cover(s) sums up Body Count very well: the doom sound of Sabbath, the street style of Suicidal Tendencies (scary dudes for sure) and the speed of Slayer. Ice-T is not playing at doing metal; he really loves it. I've always been fond of Body Count and Ice's solo hip hop albums (particularly “Home Invasion”, if you are asking).

The final three tracks are an urban dystopian nightmare; “No Lives Matter” decries race, poverty and, more importantly, the elite in a coherent and stinging manner. The title track is simply uncomfortable listening- and most definitely not for pacifists- while the coup de grace of “Black Hoodie” gives good commentary about what exactly is going on in America with the police and black people (according to Ice-T, at any rate).

The heroes and villains in Body Count's world are often two sides of the same coin, it seems. Much like rooting for Jason in the Friday 13th movies, you kind of want some people to “get what they deserve”- such is the appeal of gangsta rap as well as this kind of brutal metal. It's an exhausting listen and one that is a good deal more horrific than any death metal album you can care to name. At the end of listening to this record, I feel luckier than ever to live in the UK, that's for sure.

The production is superb, the performances fantastic and Ice-T turns in a vocal and lyrical performance that is a million miles away from his cosier TV appearances and persona. As real as it gets? I have no idea, but it certainly seems convincing. Harrowing and enjoyable at the same time.

Bloodlust” is available now
 




Band info: facebook

Monday, 22 May 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Woodhawk - "Beyond The Sun"

By: Ben Fitts

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 07/04/2017
Label: Independent





“Beyond The Sun, is overflowing with everything one could want from a great stoner rock record, thick, rumbling bass tones, sizzling guitar fuzz and infectious, mid tempo riffage, making this the kind of album that is very hard to stop listening to




“Beyond The Sun” DD//LP track listing:

1.Beyond The Sun
2.The High Priest
3.Living In The Sand
4.Magnetic North
5.Lawless
6.Quest For Clarity
7.A New Hope
8.Foresee The Future
9.Chrononaut

The Review

Beyond The Sun”, the second album from Canadian trio Woodhawk, is overflowing with everything one could want from a great stoner rock record, it is bursting with thick, rumbling bass tones, sizzling guitar fuzz and infectious, mid tempo riffage. Woodhawk may be a stoner rock band before they are a metal band: guitarist/vocalist Turner Midzain soulfully bellows strictly clean vocals, the band doesn’t use subterranean tunings and tempos, as laid back as they are, are still brisk enough to outpace the Electric Wizards and Weedeaters of the world. That being said, “Beyond The Sun” still delves deep enough into metal territory to stand on its own as an admirable stoner metal album, as well as an exceptional rock album.

The album opens with its title track, a haunting, ambient track that instantly conjures images of strange, alien deserts, like the one depicted on the album’s cover. Dynamically, the track builds with a wonderful and meticulous patience, creating an enveloping aura of sound for listeners to lose themselves in. The spacey atmosphere of the album’s title track is echoed in the tracks “Magnetic North”, “Forsee The Future” and the Star Wars themed “A New Hope”, but “Beyond The Sun” is certainly not a repetitive record. Each one of those tracks tackles their galactic aesthetic in a unique and original way and the rest of the album pursues entirely new musical avenues. Tracks like “Living In The Sand” and the album’s closer, “Chrononaut”, feature riffs crushing enough for any metal head’s standards and the entire album is brimming with tight hooks effective enough to lodge into your skull for days.   

The standout track on “Beyond The Sun” is perhaps its sixth track, “Quest For Clarity”. Beginning with a deliciously chunky bass line, “Quest For Clarity” roars through absolutely irresistible riffs and effectively dark vocal harmonies. The result is the doomiest, most memorable track on “Beyond The Sun” and the best soundtrack to wandering an ancient desert to be found anywhere.

Beyond The Sun” is the kind of album that is very hard to stop listening to. The songs are diverse enough to maintain interest but just similar enough to make for a very cohesive listen and gives the album an instantly recognizable sound. The riffs are so catchy you’ll be humming them long after you remove headphones and the songs are so good you will be craving the next chance you get to sit down and listen to them again.   

“Beyond The Sun” is available here




Band info: bandcamp || Facebook

Friday, 19 May 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Mutoid Man - "War Moans"

By: Phil Weller

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 02/06/2017
Label: Sargent House


“War Moans”  is fast, heavy and vocally arresting, it is an album that is certain to leave you breathless. 

“War Moans” CD//DD//LP track listing:

01. Melt Your Mind
02. Bone Chain
03. Micro Aggression
04. Kiss of Death
05. Date with the Devil
06. Headrush
07. Irons in the Fire
08. War Moans
09. Wreck and Survive
10. Afterlife
11. Open Flame
12. Bandages

The Review:  

Mutoid Man write the heaviest pop songs. Across third album ‘War Moans’, a triumph of melodious calculated chaos, Steven Brodsky’s frantic, buzzing guitar work intertwines brilliantly with the assaulting drumming provided by Ben Koller, who may only play with a small kit, but utilises all his toys with a prestige pizzazz.

‘Melt Your Mind’ is a pop punk song turned gangrene and nasty, slime oozing from their growling riffs while Brodsky’s smooth, infectious vocal lines float atop the mix like leaves on a river. ‘Micro Aggression’ meanwhile is as virile as they come, a fast, blitzing song, iced with a simplistic but divine chorus that injects itself right into your psyche, their ability to balance the skull crushingly heavy – listening to this with headphones is like having a self-induced aneurism – with those all important sing along moments is one they have mastered on this record.

It is, as to be expected, a record brimming with energy. There is no fucking about here, each song rages on like its own little war, giving no quarter for the short but sweet time they play out for – most songs don’t exceed three minutes in length. Then, the baton is passed for another pop metal pummelling. Each song derives its own special feature, ‘Date With The Devil’, a song about getting the Devil’s daughter pregnant, has a fun, comedic value to it, ‘Kiss Of Death’ is slow, evil and grinding, but understandably the perfect single from the album while ‘Irons In The Fire’ has a hint of a crack addled Iron Maiden to it, classic, anthemic yet wonderfully peculiar too. 

With 12 songs to bite into, the record provides plenty of substance and value for money. ‘Headrush’ and ‘Afterlife’ have a thrash metal vigour in their DNA, Brodsky’s lyrical attack on fire here. An album this fast, heavy and vocally arresting leaves you a little breathless and so closer ‘Bandages’, which leans heavily upon “Jupiter” era Cave In, iced with some fiery lead guitar work, is the perfect farewell. It eases its foot off the gas and allows you to step back and really soak in what the hell has just happened.

This album is insanely choreographed, the songs whizzing off their tits and infected with irresistibly sassy pop melodies atop brutish and gritty riffs, make no mistake ‘War Moans’ is absolutely brilliant fun.

“War Moans” is available here



Band info: bandcamp || facebook