Wednesday, 30 November 2016

LABEL INTENSIVE: A 2016 Guide through the Magical World of Elektrohasch Records

By: Victor Van Ommen

 Elektrohasch is a German based record label run by the one and only Stefan Koglek of the almighty Colour Haze. The label’s beginnings date back at least fifteen to twenty years, somewhere around the turn of the century. Since then, Elektrohasch released records by bands who were part of a (European) post-Kyuss movement like Ugh!, Los Natas, and Gas Giant. All of these bands spent their time on Elektrohasch laying down songs with heavy, grungy riffing with a thick low end which resulted in albums that now, years later, are regarded as gems of the scene.

In an effort to shine a light on where the label stands today, we here at The Sludgelord thought it would be a good idea to place three of Elektrohasch’s newest releases side by side in one review. These records are Ahkmed’sThe Inland Sea,” Saturnia’sThe Real High,” and Hidden TrailsInstant Momentary Bliss.” Each of these records tells a part of the Elektrohasch story.

Ahkmed – “The Inland Sea

Drone and psychedelics mix really well on Ahkmed’s album “The Inland Sea.” There’s a hint of shoe gaze in the sound, which adds depth to the band’s otherwise consistent attack. Most of the songs rely on hypnotic, repetitive riffing, which is doused in a myriad of effects and distortions. The songs bleed into each other, making it difficult to pinpoint a standout moment. However, at five songs long that add up to an hour of mind-twisting instrumental rock, it’s fair to say that Ahkmed isn’t necessarily on the hunt for a catchy lick. Instead, Ahkmed seems to be on path to provide a listening experience. It’s this take on the craft that jives with Elektrohasch and as a result, “The Inland Sea” delivers breadth to the label’s sound and displays once again how far the world of psychedelics can go.

Band info: facebook

Saturnia – “The Real High”

What Saturnia and Ahkmed have in common is that they both provide the listener with an experience. Where Ahkmed reveled in a mess of guitars, Saturnia flies a gentler course. Saturnia’s new album, “The Real High” pretty much gives everything away with its title. The band creates smooth, textured music and does their best not to break a sweat. Despite Saturnia’s tendency to drift off into space with mind, body, and soul, the band manages to keep things minimalistic. In some ways, Saturnia drones along like Ahkmed, but they do so with a sense of melody that is both gentle and welcoming as it is inoffensive. Saturnia might not be for everyone because of just how gentle their sound is, but the album is no less immersive. They go full on stoned and swim around in the listener’s psyche, which is an element found in many Elektrohasch releases. 

Band info: facebook

Hidden Trails – “Instant Momentary Bliss”

Where Ahkmed  and Saturnia dwell in a broad sound, Elektrohasch has also released an album this year which is more precise and focused on “the song.” Psychedelic songwriting is a skill on its own. There needs to be a chorus, and this needs to be catchy. But the free-your-mind element to the music shouldn’t be forgotten, so the chorus needs to be balanced out by jams, swirls, synths, and a slew of other psychedelics. Hidden Trails have chosen to walk this line and have found a decent balance between the two. Their album “IMA” is therefore a mature listen, one that also dips into prog-rock territory, but because the band features old members of Hypnos69, this influence should come as a surprise to no one. In comparison to Ahkmed and Saturnia, Hidden Trails are less stoned but no less heady, which is an attribute of the psych rock genre that sometimes gets overlooked. Many think that psychedelic rock is only good when under the influence, but Hidden Trails shows that even on a sober mind, a song can take the listener along for a wild, trippy ride. By providing a home for Hidden Trails, Elektrohasch continues their quest to represent every color of the psychedelic spectrum.

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

As a label, Elektohasch has as a goal to provide a warm home for psychonauts. Whether you’re a listener of the music or a master of the craft, Elektrohasch is the place to be if you’re into psychedelic rock. Having hosted debut albums by the likes of Causa Sui, All Them Witches, and the extremely underappreciated Kings of Frog Island, Elektrohasch has proven time and time again that they are a front runner in the world of psychedelic rock. This year, with releases by Ahkmed, Saturnia, and Hidden Trails, Elektrohasch shows once again that they know their stuff.  Thanks to Elektrohasch for sending us these CD’s, your contribution to the world of music doesn’t go unnoticed.


Label Info: official


Tuesday, 29 November 2016

REVIEW: Call Of The Void - "A.Y.F.K.M." EP

By: Charlie Butler

Album Type: EP
Date Released: 16/12/2016
Label: Translation Loss

Call Of The Void’s sound is a potent cocktail of punk attitude and rock’n’roll swagger coated in a thick layer of sludge aggression. “AYFKM” is an intoxicating adrenaline rush that will keep you coming back for more.

“AYFKM” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). Get in the Van
2). Are You Fucking Kidding Me
3). Throwing Bullets
4). On and On
5). Never Enough

The Review:

It’s been a few months since I’ve heard something filthy from the riff hotspot that is Denver, Colorado. Thankfully, Call Of The Void are here to break the silence with their facemelting new EP “AYFKM”.

Get In The Van” opens the record and draws the listener in with a towering edifice of doom riffage.  The crawling hypnotic heaviness casts a powerful spell which makes the sudden shift into breakneck sludge-fuelled hardcore at the song’s mid-point feel like a kick in the gut.  The track feels like a glimpse into an alternative reality where Matt Pike was kidnapped by Black Flag, a killer combination of dirty punk and Sabbath worship.

From here, Call Of The Void waste no time and rip through the remaining four tracks in a breathless ten minutes. The title track makes it clear that “AYFKM” stands for “Are You Fucking Kidding me?” a sub-two minute burst of bile-soaked rage with insistent hooks that will burrow their way into your brain. “Throwing Bullets” ups the pace to near breaking point, throwing more grind influences into the pot and culminating in a ferocious raw thrash finale reminiscent of Trap Them at their most unhinged. “On and On” and “Never Enough” almost come as a relief after the onslaught of the preceding tracks but even when Call Of The Void slow down a little they still pack a hefty punch.

Call Of The Void’s sound is a potent cocktail of punk attitude and rock’n’roll swagger coated in a thick layer of sludge aggression. “AYFKM” is an intoxicating adrenaline rush that will keep you coming back for more until the band return with a larger dose of mayhem. 

AYFKM” is available here

Band info: facebook || bandcamp

“11 is one louder”: Headless Kross guitarist/vocalist Tommy Duffin picks his Top 5 from the psychedelic to the sludge

With their music seemingly forged from grit and steel, Headless Kross have been plying their trade since 2011; certainly the band’s compositions are the perfect soundtrack to the impending winter. Releasing their debut album “Bear” in 2011, a self released split with War Iron and a split with Lazarus Blackstar would follow.  Volumes” the band’s second full length was released in April 2015 and recorded at Skyhammer Studio.  Comprising of 3 tracks their compositions had enough breathing space to ensnare and hypnotise the listener, but retain the thickness of their sound and would see the band continue as Glasgow’s No.1 volume dealers. 

It is true to say that Headless Kross have evolved as a band, and whilst “Volumes” would see the band shedding some of their sludge doom roots,  their new album “Projections 1” released on November 18th, via  At War With False Noise is an album of Long songs, deep grooves  and tortured vocals”. Today we invite guitarist/vocalist Tommy Duffin to choose his top 5 albums according to the genre their own band is known for. That genre is loosely speaking psychedelia, sludge and doom, so it is time to turn it up to 11 and checkout some classic picks from Glasgow’s finest riff dealers. 

Black Flag - "My War" (1984)

I'm sure there are people who will disagree with me but I reckon side B of this record is ground zero for sludge. Up until this point Black Flag were known for short, fast and chaotic hardcore punk. This however, sounds like they've drank a load of Benylin and recorded an all night jam. The band sound like they're sinking into a tarpit and Rollins definitely hates himself and everyone else. I love the guitar leads on this album. Atonal jazz noise that perfectly backs up the overall misanthropy.  Half the time it sounds like the vocals were recorded in the toilet bowl. Classic.

Eyehategod - "Dopesick" (1996)

The band's third album and arguably my favourite, this is like Black Flag crossed with Black Sabbath in a pharmaceutical warehouse. Negative energy never sounded so good. Absolutely pummeling drums, totally wretched vocals and then there's the feedback drenched riffs lurching from doom, hardcore and somehow a kind of heavily-sedated southern boogie! 

Om – “Conference of the Birds” (2006)

Sleep, as you would imagine, are an obvious influence on our sound but I love how the band split into two quite different bands and Om's approach, long meditations on bass and drums, really drew me in and made me want to explore the long song format. I'm into all their records but this is probably the one I reach for most often.

High On Fire – “The Art of Self Defense” (2000)

On the other side of the Sleep divide you have High On Fire and their first album is a stoner metal classic. I don't like my heavy metal to be shiny and new. I like it murky and covered in mould. This record definitely fits the bill. “Blood from Zion is probably my favourite HOF song. I'm into all their stuff and the way they've progressed with each album is an inspiration too. Not prepared to stand still.

Hawkwind – “Space Ritual” (1973)

The daddy of the space rock genre and possibly the best live album of all time. I can only imagine what it would have been like to see that tour. The record is pretty head-melting even without the visuals of the original show. Time seems to stretch and contract when you listen to this and that is what we aim for in Headless Kross. This is music that takes you to another place and time completely. 

Band info: facebook | | bandcamp 

TRACK PREMIERE: Louisiana based stoner metal band Vermilion Whiskey debut "The Past is Dead"


Louisiana-based stoner metal band Vermilion Whiskey will return with their new album “Spirit of Tradition” on February 17 2017. The band's blend of metal with southern and classic rock is refreshing in a sea of groove/Pantera clones. “Spirit of Tradition” was mixed by Kent Stump of Wo Fat and mastered by Tony Reed of Mos Generator.

Hailing from South Louisiana, Vermilion Whiskey is a working man's band, steeped in whiskey fueled Rock-N-Roll tradition. Their musical roots run deep like river veins stretched across their beloved home state & beyond. VW live and dedicate themselves to the thrill of the stage, no matter the crowd size, you will find 101 proof Vermilion Whiskey. Where the good times roll, they can be found, sharing their own brand of hard-nosed rhythms with any and all who live to have a good time! Long live the riff!  Taking cues from Corrosion of Conformity, Down, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Deep Purple, will undoubtedly create quite the stir upon its release and today, you can get your first taste of this superb album with the premiere of “The Past is Dead” which you can check out below.  Preorder are available now via their bandcamp page. 

“Spirit of Tradition” track listing:

1. Road King
2. The Past is Dead
3. Come Find Me
4. Monolith
5. One Night
6. Loaded up

Band info: facebook || bandcamp

Monday, 28 November 2016

THE 6 IN 1 REVIEW: Metallica - “Hardwired…To Self-Destruct” (2016)

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 18/11/2016
Label: Blackened Recordings

“Hardwired…To Self-Destruct” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). Hardwired
2). Atlas, Rise!
3). Now That We’re Dead
4). Moth into Flame
5). Dream No More
6). Halo of Fire
7). Confusion
8). ManUnkind
9). Here Comes Revenge
10). Am I Savage?
11). Murder One
12). Spit Out the Bone

The Reviews:

Take one massive album, 6 people from the scene, ask them for their thoughts and you've got  the debut 6 in 1 review.  MetallicaHardwired…To Self-Destruct” 

Ross Brown (Vermilion Whiskey):

“Hardwired to Self Destruct” is probably the closest thing I've heard to the Metallica that I grew up with for quite some time. Close, but still not the same. I've always been a fan of the faster riffs from them. But overall we respect their journey and are still fans. We will probably never see a band have such a prestigious career like they have had again. Long live the riff!

Rob Rom (Static Tension)

There is a lot of hype around this album at the moment, and until yesterday I had heard two songs. Now after giving it a few spins, I'd like to give my little take on what I think of this album.  There are definitely pieces of this album that reflect on a time long ago for Metallica, some really good solos, some decent breakdowns, and the drums top those of “St.Anger” for sure. With those positive things said, this is where it's lost on me.  Those vocals and those lyrics really have to go. They feel rather corny and forced, which makes sense after seeing the documentary "Some Kind of Monster" and seeing the steps they take to write lyrics and vocals.  James will never recapture what he was in the past, and I feel they are better off just accepting that and not forcing themselves to bring back old sounds. I would still give the album a six 6/10 rating which isn't bad considering it's coming from someone who isn't a Metallica fan, beat the hell out of anything they have done since “Load”! Best song in my opinion was "Spit Out The Bone"

Nikos Mixas (Twingiant)

#Notmymetallica…That pretty much sums up my feelings after listening to 5 tracks of “Hardwired…to Self-Destruct.”  This is not the Metallica I grew up with.  This is Metallica for the Clear Channel cult that brainwashes idiots into believing bands like Five Finger Douche Punch, Avenged Sevenfold and Disturbed are actually “metal”.  The only thing positive I can say is that the video for “Murder One”a tribute to the late and great Lemmy, was pretty awesome…. however; what the fuck is up with Kirk Hammett’s solo for that song?  For fuck sakes, I’ve heard better solos from Jack Black…. 

 Matt Jahn (Into the Storm)

Metallica made 4, maybe 5 good albums. A couple of those are really good albums. That's it. They fucked up with “St. Anger”, trying to do something different. Then they went back to what they did right in the past with “Death Magnetic”. Here we are, another “Death Magnetic”. Meh. 

Christine Kelly (Tridroid Records)

It's fine.

Marco Banco (Tyrants Blood)

This is much better than their last 4 releases. Still not very inspiring to me personally. Drum quality is bland. Lars Ulrich performance is not very strong. Some of these riffs are really good, but I find the song structures rather dismal and subpar. Vocals are decent, quite strong in comparison to more recent past work. None of these songs really jumped out at me and made me want to listen to them again.

Curtis Dewar (Dewar PR)

These guys who say the new Metallica sucks have no clue. This (along with “Death Magnetic”/”Beyond Magnetic”) are a return to form for Metallica. These are the albums they should have released after "And Justice for All..." and show that Metallica are able to make great albums again.

Band info: official

ALBUM REVIEW: Sodom - "Decision Day"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 26/08/2016
Label: Steamhammer

This is highly recommended for anyone who likes the gnarlier end of metal from Motorhead to Venom to Exodus to early Sepultura to Ravens Creed and so on. Nasty. And great!

“Decision Day” CD//DD//LP track listing:

01. In Retribution (06:14)
02. Rolling Thunder (04:22)
03. Decision Day (04:03)
04. Caligula (04:01)
05. Who Is God? (04:35)
06. Strange Lost World (04:59)
07. Vaginal Born Evil (05:15)
08. Belligerence (04:00)
09. Blood Lions (03:17)
10. Sacred Warpath (05:34)
11. Refused To Die (04:27)
12. Predatory Instinct (04:44) (bonus track for vinyl and iTunes edition)

The Review:

From their early days when they played a kind of primitive black metal akin to Venom/Hellhammer, to the seminal albums of the late 80's, Sodom have occupied a rather special niche. They remain part of the German Big Three (arguably four, if you count Tankard) with Kreator and Destruction. Truthfully, I have never gone through Sodom's back catalogue in the same way as I have Kreator's, but that may now have to change.

“Decision Day” represents another quality release in the Sodom discography. You get eleven tracks of feral thrash. From opener “In Retribution”, through the title track and beyond, this is evil and dark music from masters of the genre. The technique is most certainly there these days, with Tom Angelripper backed up very impressively by Bern Kost and Markus Freiwald. Keeping to the power trio format has been the band’s strength over the years: think of them as a thrash Motorhead. You know what you want, what you are getting and what the band will inevitably deliver.

There are surprising moments of melody to go with the bombast- a lead break here, a tempo change there- it all adds up to a record that is well rounded and impressively adrenaline fuelled. The bass sound, as heard on “Caligula” is also mightily impressive. Sodom have kept the somewhat inventive/bizarre phrasing from earlier albums with titles like “Vaginal Born Evil" and have certainly kept their anger intact. This is metal of the old school variety- when it was still dangerous and a bit... well, scary.

It is on the most focused and succinct tracks which the band really shines- “Blood Lions” being a prime example- but the album is such that there is nothing spare here, nothing wasted. The song lengths are fairly uniform- around four minutes, although sometimes on either side of that and this is indicative of the fact that Tom and crew have their style down and write in a particular way as pertains to structure and changes. Ultimately, this is a huge strength: the band know exactly how to do this and they do it very well.

By the time “Refused To Die” rolls around, the album has proven to be very much a heads-down-see-you-at-the-end thrash fest. This is highly recommended for anyone who likes the gnarlier end of metal from Motorhead to Venom to Exodus to early Sepultura to Ravens Creed and so on. Nasty. And great!

Decision Day” is available now

Band info: facebook

FFO: Kreator, Destruction, Slayer, Venom

ALBUM REVIEW: Ghoul - "Dungeon Bastards"

By: Rick Ahmed

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 29/07/2016
Label: Tankcrimes 

So many bands try to do what Ghoul is doing and just can't fucking get it right. This is a perfect storm. Superior song writing, technical prowess, and an awesome aesthetic.

“Dungeon Bastards” CD//DD//LP track listing:

01. Ghetto Blasters
02. Bringer of War
03. Shred the Dead
04. Dungeon Bastards
05. Ghoulunatics
06. Blood and Guts
07. Word is Law
08. Death Campaign
09. Guitarmageddon
10. Abominox

The Review:

My introduction to Ghoul was 2007's “Splatterthrash”. I instantly fell in love with their take on thrash. Everything about it was perfect; the guitar tone, the riffs, the melodies, and especially lyrics. It was glorious. I kept my eye on them throughout the next few years; none of their other releases really caught my ear though. When the pre-order for “Dungeon Bastards” came up in my facebook feed with the bad ass Mark Richards' illustrated cover, green splatter vinyl, and fold out drinking game, I said fuck it. Even if this album sucks it's worth the cool ass packaging.

This album does not suck. This is probably the best metal album of 2016. No bullshit. It blows my mind how few bands can't make an album with 2 good songs, but these freaks managed to come up with 10 rippers. This is actually better than “Splatterthrash”.

The first song “Ghetto Blasters" begans with a sample from what I'm assuming is an old sci-fi movie. The Last line being, "The people blindly followed a man who would become a tyrant." which is creepy as fuck considering the outcome of our last election. The sample fades out and the thrash fucking metal begins. The urge to bang ones head is quite strong on this first track, which is basically one riff on repeat with a tasteful lead over a few measures. Which is perfect, think Exodus type thrash if you must.

Song two "Bringer of War" opens with a solid blast and a riff that wouldn't be out of place on Carcass'Heartwork”. The higher pitched vocals also bear a resemblance to Jeff Walker, which I'm not complaining about. The thing is, it never gets old with Ghoul, as they have a second guttural vocalist, as well as gang vocals, and a cast of characters they introduce throughout the album.

Like I mentioned earlier, every song rules. "Shred the Dead" is a solid thrasher. "Dungeon Bastards" starts with more Carcass feels. My personal favorite song "Ghoulunatics" has an awesome guitar melody, as well as a sick thrash breakdown at about 2:41. A bonus is that it seems to be about idiots like me, "an army of losers, the worst of the worst, to march to our orders and buy all our merch". As for the rest of the album, the hits keep coming. Just listen to the damn thing already!

So many bands try to do what Ghoul is doing and just can't fucking get it right. This is a perfect storm. Superior song writing, technical prowess, and an awesome aesthetic. My only fear is that people won't care to look past the masks and theatrics. These guys should NOT be written off as another gimmick band. That's what everybody did with Gwar, who also made amazing albums, but were under appreciated as anything more than a spectacle. That would be a damn shame as these dudes have the ability to churn out quality thrash!! LONG LIVE GHOUL!!

“Dungeon Bastards” is available here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

FFO: Impaled, Carcass, Exhumed, Gwar

Thursday, 24 November 2016

TRACK PREMIERE: "Doom Riffs and Stoner Spliffs" as Lizzard Wizzard prepare us for "Shithead Nihilism"

Lizzard Wizzard made an almighty splash into the underground doom scene back in November 2013 when they released their acclaimed self titled debut album, with it's rough mix of down-tempo stoner sludge riffs and a heavy dose of finely tuned doom to boot

Fast forward to 2015 and these talented Aussies released a blistering release in the form of “Dankrupt” that  left the underground scene foaming at the mouth because  “Dankrupt” was one heavy fucking bastard of a record and a brutal exercise in amp worship. Lizzard Wizzard appearing to thrive on the unadulterated and unflinching brutality they put the listener through. 

So having been away from the scene for the better part of 2 years these unruly noise makers are back with a brand new song, “Shithead Nihilism” which you can check out below.  The track is taken their new album "TOTAL WAR POWER BASTARD" which is due January 1, 2017 via their bandcamp page.  Until then prepare to be bludgeoned with “Shit Nihilism”.

Band info: Facebook ||BandCamp

ALBUM PREMIERE: Arcade Messiah dish out a dose of instrumental perfection with "III"

Arcade MessiahIII” is the 3rd album released in as many years by Kingbathmat front man John Bassett. A mostly instrumental project, combining the sounds of sludge, post rock, progressive metal, doom and stoner rock, Arcade Messiah are a band you’re not going to forget with a sound described as a cross between Cloudkicker / Mastodon / Russian Circles and a touch of Iron Maiden

Set for release via Stereohead Records on Friday 25/11/2016, today we’re thrilled to debut this stellar release in full and you can check it out below.  “III” is available to pre order here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

DECADES APART: 5 Albums 5 Different Decades

By: Aaron Pickford & Chris Bull

Decades Apart
The idea of Decades Apart is pretty simple. This year is 2016, so I’ll choose 5 different albums from 5 different decades, 1976, 1986, 1996, 2006 through to the present day.  Whilst these albums may not all be considered classics, they’re certainly amazing records.  I’ll share a little information about them and hopefully you’ll check them out if you haven’t already.  So let’s get started. 

Rainbow – “Rising” (1976)


“Rising” is the second studio album by the British hard rock band Rainbow, released in 1976 the album has been hailed in some quarters as the greatest heavy metal album of all time.  With only their second album, “Rising”, Ritchie Blackmore’s post Deep Purple band created one of rock music's defining records.  Despite playing a prominent role in the development and introduction of heavy metal with Deep Purple, by the mid point of the 70’s  Blackmore had quit and began to explore new possibilities in heavy music with, Rainbow.

Unlike their debut, which was performed by Blackmore, Dio and his previous band Elf “Rising” would feature a new band consisting of bassist Jimmy Bain, keyboardist Tony Carey and drummer Cozy Powell. This was viewed as the definitive line up and they would go on to record “Rising” with Deep Purple producer Martin Birch

Tarot Woman” the opening track of the album set the tone of the album’s ambitious nature and the organic aesthetic carries throughout the tracks of side one with, “Run With the Wolf,” “Do You Close Your Eyes,” and “Lady Starstruck,” The album is perhaps known best for the albums dual eight-minute epics, which dominated side two, namely “Stargazer,” which is viewed by many as  Rainbow’s signature creation, thanks to Dio’s evocative supernatural lyrics and the rhythm and a central riff that originated on a cello. The second epic track is “A Light in the Black,” which many considered the obvious sequel to the “Stargazer” story, concluding the album after mere 33 minutes.  Unsurprisingly then, “Rising” was a critical and commercial success and voted the number one heavy metal album of all time by the readers of British magazine Kerrang!

Ozzy Osbourne – “The Ultimate Sin” (1986)

“The Ultimate Sin” is the fourth solo studio album by Ozzy Osbourne. As the saying goes, there was no rest for wicked, and that was perhaps no more apparent than the recording of this record, which was recorded shortly after Ozzy check out of rehab.  Fortunately for Osbourne his bassist/right hand man Bob Daisley (credited with writing much of his back catalogue) and guitarist Jake E. Lee had been hard at work on a new set of songs while he was in rehab, and these track would indeed form the basis of his fourth solo effort, 1986’s “The Ultimate Sin”.

Being in the Osbourne camp was not without it’s problems, indeed the recording of this album was no different. Lee, who for me is arguably the best guitarist that has ever been in his band, had demanded a revised contract before agreeing to contribute, after feeling cheated out of writing credit for 1983 album “Bark At The Moon” (Ozzy is credited as writing the whole album) and Daisley would leave the band during the sessions, with Phil Soussan hired to play his parts.

Despite Osbourne’s dissatisfaction with the record, I personally feel the album is graced by some of Jake E. Lee’s  best work, indeed it is considered by many including myself that it was him that subsequent guitarists would model themselves, with Lee including pinched harmonics for the first time, which would later become his successor’s trademark, namely Zakk Wylde.  Lee was unceremoniously sacked the following year after the “Ultimate Sin” tour ended, and Soussan — who had his own disagreement over songwriting credits with Osbourne — also exited, only for Daisley to return and the introduction of new guitarist Zakk Wylde.

Corrosion of Conformity – “Wiseblood” (1996)

“Wiseblood” is the fifth album by Corrosion of Conformity and the second album to feature Pepper Keenan on vocals, released in 1996; it would see the band on the verge of breaking into the big leagues of Rock and Metal stardom.  Indeed the band would get picked up for a coveted support slot with Metallica.  Released two years after their classic 1994 album “Deliverance”,  the tone of “Wiseblood” was set instantly with the crushing riff of “King of the Rotten”, but features a succession of superb tracks including the Grammy nominated track ‘Man Or Ash,’ which featured a guest appearance from Metallica’s James Hetfield (uncredited).  Released at the peak of the band’s popularity, the mega-stardom that the album so richly deserved never materialized

With Pepper Keenan on vocals and guitar, Woody Weatherman on lead guitar, Mike Dean on bass and founding member Reed Mullin on the drums, “Wiseblood was the second of three records they wrote and recorded together, with long time producer John Custer in the chair once again.  Following up “Deliverance” was no mean feat, but the record is strong from beginning to end, opening with the catchy ‘King Of The Rotten,’ and ending with the musically complex seven minute closer ‘Bottom Feeder (El Que Come Abajo)’ which completes itself with pig samples and jazzy sections alongside its powerful Black Sabbath inspired stoner riffs.

Stylistically, the album follows the tone of their “Blind” album with minimal trace of their hardcore roots, featuring straight up southern tinged stoner rock tracks with smatterings of variety now and again to break it up, such as the powerful semi-ballad ‘Redemption City,’ and the break neck powerhouse that is ‘Fuel,’ as well as the aforementioned instrumental track ‘Bottom Feeder (El Que Come Abajo)’

For me “Wisblood” is certainly one of the band’s best ever albums and arguably by extension one of the best rock and metal albums of the 1990s. If you like the band then you need this album, if you like Down, and don’t know COC I pity you.  Cue much excitement for the new album next year. 

Mastodon – “Blood Mountain” (2006)

Blood Mountain “is the third full-length studio album and major label debut by Mastodon.

I guess it should come as no surprise to dudes or dudettes reading this that Mastodon are pretty much unequalled in terms of output over the last 16 years, with at least 3 classic albums to their name.  Rewind 10 years and it is safe to say there may have been a few nervous fans with the release of their third album, “Blood Mountain”, perhaps in no small part to the fact it was their first for Warner Bros Records. Rest assured, true to form with two monumental records behind them “Blood Mountain delivered in spades.   Queer; odd; unusual; monstrous are just some of the adjectives you could use for this album, indeed coupled with their dynamic riffs and strikingly experimental approach, the band truly are at the peak of their powers.

Blood Mountain shoots as quick as a drawn gun with the first riff of “The Wolf Is Loose” and ends 50 minutes with “Pendulous Skin”, feeling like you have been engulfed by a tumultuous cinematic experience.  Blood Mountain captures the band as a free flowing symbiotic unit, a colossal swaggering beast, weaving distinct, pervasive and expressive music, virtuosic in its instrumentation, aided by a power house production job from Matt Bayles, who truly captures the unorthodox but magnificent tones from this hulking beast, augmented by a crushing mix from Rich Costey.  Blood Mountain is the standard of excellence on which many have attempted to duplicate, but few will equal.   Mastodon are truly architects of their own language, who like few others,  care only about what they want to write for themselves and refrain from conform to peddling out run of the mill crap for the sake of making a buck. There’s an aura around this band and at the height of their powers, no one can touch them, as this album demonstrates. 

Slomatics – “Future Echo Returns” (2016)

It seems as though 2016 is the year when the UK kicks the ass of the rest of the world in terms of heavy, sludgy, doomy musical output. Slomatics make no exception on 'Future Echo Returns' their 5th album and part 3 of their spacey trilogy that began with 'A Hocht' is my album of the year!

Even without a bassist, Slomatics manage to hammer out riffs with the weight and impact of a fleet of anvils dropped from the empire state building; 'Estronomicon' gives us a brief glimpse while 'Electric Breath' smashes the point home. Vocals from vocalist/drummer Marty Harvey are exceptional here; as they are on 'In The Grip Of Fausto'. More melodic and powerful than some of Slomatics earlier work, demonstrating how much he's come on in recent years. Things get much more mellow and ambient on 'Ritual Beginnings' with slow building guitar arpeggios that transform into drawn out single notes, chords (and even what sounds like a xylophone).

‘Rat Chariot' has the classic Slomatics feel to it. It could be the freshly bathed, more alluring but nonetheless heavyweight younger sibling of 'Beyond Acid Canyon' from 2012's 'A Hocht' album. Ex- Conan bassist/vocalist Phil Coumbe weighs in with some serious growls towards the songs lumbering conclusion. When a band's guitarist has their own signature fuzz pedal, it's a safe bet that they can cut through solid rock with their riffs; when both guitarists have an alternate version of the same pedal (you have to check out Dunwich Amplification) then prepare your eardrums for some serious, rock crushing heaviosity. This speaks volumes on penultimate track 'Supernothing' with its gigantic riffs slicing through solar systems. More superb melodies come from Harvey's epic vocals and make this one of seven standout tracks. Yes, I know what I just said.

Finally, we get somewhat of a reprise of 'Ritual Beginnings' on final track 'Into The Eternal', the slightly overdriven choral vocals and what sounds like synths prepare the scene for some killer heavy music. Have you ever heard a sludge doom band use 'whoa whoa's and 'yeah yeah's’ and thought "nah, that ain't right."? Well on this, it fucking works! The majesty of the scene Slomatics have conveyed over the 6 previous tracks (and 2 previous albums) means that actual lyrics would do the song a disservice. I mean, what would you say if you were floating through the vast emptiness of outer space? This is why it makes sense. Some satellite bleeps and spacey sounds travel through the soundscapes as well as some lead guitar work which adds an extra dimension to the whole make up of the song and makes for a glorious conclusion, not only to this album, but to the trilogy.

Slomatics riffs and Chris Fielding's epic production are a marriage made in doom heaven. The towering heaviness of the riffs and the images of the infinite, shimmering darkness of space is executed and captured perfectly. An amazing album worthy of any and all praise it will undoubtedly receive