(7/10) Enhailer is a 2014 founded metal outfit that’s very much into doom and sludge. The guys debut in 2106 with “Grisaille (Gra-sigh)” and release an EP entitled “Dumb Enough to Care” in 2017. I have to admit that I missed this EP that gets now again on my table since it will be released in vinyl.
“Dumb Enough to Care” is basically one song, not more. However, this track is 18 minutes in length and features down-tuned guitars, heavy riffs, some edges and intense vocals. I was surprised when I heard the song, that also benefits from a dynamic production.
Fans of Crowbar should check out this album.
Label: Burnout Records
Genre: Doom / Sludge
Release Date EU: June 14th, 2018
(9/10) One of the first highlights in 2018 will hit the shelves mid-January. Southern doom metal pioneers Corrosion Of Conformity will return with a new longplayer, the first one since 2014. Next to a long waiting time of four years it’s another fact that created even more excitement. “No Cross No Crown” is the first album with Pepper Keenan since the 2005 release "In the Arms of God". The singer/guitarist wasn’t part of the last two records but returned in 2014 to the quartet that also includes Woody Weatherman, Mike Dean and Reed Mullin.
“No Cross No Crown” is C.O.C. tenth studio album and it features 14 new songs. The new record sounds like a seamless continuation of where “In the Arms of God’ ended in 2005. It wasn’t the ambition of the four-piece band to sound like on earlier releases but it shows that the chemistry between the four works very well. It’s the spirit that connects them, a fact that leads to a typical C.O.C. sound that’s also present on the newest strike.
The first song that was written for the album is “Wolf Named Crow”. It’s a typical C.O.C. rocker with heavy riffs and Keenan’s dog named Crow being the centerpiece when it comes to the lyrics.
The album starts slow and calm with “Novus Deus, a one and a half minutes intro. “The Luddite” takes over and stands for the first cornerstone of the album. Down-tuned guitars, a hard-working rhythm section and excellent vocals show C.O.C. at their best. What becomes already obvious that early is the ease that comes with album. Nothing feels forced. The opener, as well as the rest of the album, is done by four guys that follow their passion for great rock songs. Working on “No Cross No Crown” wasn’t a burden or a ‘must’. It’s an album that sounds authentic, organic and real. It represents the dedication of everyone involved and is a pure treat for fans of mighty riff-based rock music.
C.O.C. is best when they reduce pace. Songs like the slo-mo “Nothing Left to Say” is as heavy as hell. This number, but also “Old Disaster”, show the influences of doom legends like Black Sabbath, bands that are an inspiration for the quartet without acting as a blueprint.
What brings extra variation into the longplayer are the smartly placed interludes like “No Cross”, “Matre’s Diem” and “Sacred Isolation”, adding an extra arc of suspense to the album. All three tracks are calmer moments on the album which help to make the heavy songs even heavier.
“No Cross No Crown” is the massive return of Corrosion Of Conformity. It’s a real delight listening to the songs on this extremely well-done album. C.O.C. is back at full force and their tenth album is a ‘must have’ for each metal fan.
Label: Nuclear Blast
Genre: Southern Doom Metal
Release Date EU: January 12th, 2018
(8/10) Officially Iron Monkey are categorised as being a sludge metal outfit. But the trio from Nottingham has more to offer. Iron Monkey began in 1994 and finished off a first era in 1999. After 18 years of absence it is 2017 which brings Iron Monkey back to the scene. Being a trip these days the guys worked on the comeback album “9-13” which hit the shelves in October.
Things get started with „Crown of Electrodes“ which is brutal sludge metal killer, unveiling some anarchic sound with the almost insane shouting by frontman Jim Rushby. This guy doesn’t give his vocal ligaments any moment of rest, with the hoarse screams being a substantial element of Iron Monkey‘s sound, regardless what pace the song comes with. Compared to some other stuff on the album the title track i.e. is slower and comes with a mighty groove before „Toadcricifier - R.I.P per“ shifts three gears, being a nasty high-speed smasher.
It‘s those variations in speed and tempo that adds to the positive impression I got from this release, with „The Rope“ entering the fields of slo-mo riffs with a solid doom expression.
What‘s impressive is the nine minutes closer that you might not expect from a sludge band. The guys have enough musical experience to give these nine minutes quite some breaks and twists. Not that the trio deviates from their general pattern. It‘s more the adaption of their own trademarks that adds the dynamic needed for such long closer.
Iron Monkey‘s new longplayer is an uncompromising and menacing piece of music - a furious ravage that is worth some spins.
Label: Relapse Records
Release Date EU: October 20th, 2017
Vallenfyre played a powerful show at Gebr. de Nobel in Leiden, NL a couple of weeks ago. Here are some pics from the awesome concert.
(8/10) After having released the highly successful “Emperor of Sand” album some month ago, Atlanta-based powerhouse Mastodon returns with a new EP, providing four more songs which weren’t released earlier. The tunes are the result of work done in sessions for the 2014 release “Once More Round the Sun” as well as for the latest longplayer.
The EP begins with two tracks which have their roots in 2014. “North Side Star” is the opener and represents the atmospheric and calmer side of this heavy rocking quartet. The song is very soulful and the same goes for the following “Blue Walsh”. Mastodon doesn’t put the heavy guitar riffs into the forefront. Instead they focus on a gentle soundscape that includes an emotional depth, creating the intensity needed.
Also "Toe to Toes” starts more silent before a rocking guitar takes over after a few chords played. The song is heavier than the first two ones without really ending up in a metallic blast. However, it’s a terrific anthem that also would have deserved a spot on the original album tracklist.
With “Cold Dark Place”, the title track, we get already to the end of this EP that shows again the width and musical craftsmanship of this four-piece band. An acoustic guitar is dominating the song. Five minutes in length provide you with an almost fragile song that proves the fact that ‘silent’ doesn’t mean ‘boring’ or ‘cliché’.
What else to say. The artwork is done by Richey Beckett and the EP comes prior to some European tour dates. By the way, it’s Scott Kelly, known from Neurosis, who will be part of this tour which creates some extra curiosity and excitement.
Label: Reprise Records
Genre: Alternative Metal
Release Date EU: September 22nd, 2017
(8/10) The Antarctica is a place that comes with so much beauty, a place where nature evolves without being distracted, destroyed or manipulated by humans. It’s a frozen paradise that reveals mind-blowing blue ice schemes being built out of thousands and thousands of tons of frozen water with the inclusion of oxygen.
But what seems to be the perfect place, except the temperature, has also a dark chapter to tell. The only few moments when humans interfered, left some dark marks in this amazing environment. There is the almost unreal place of Deception Island where were a grey and morbid mood tries to cover all the beautiful expressions. Whaling and sealing found at the end of the 19th century a safe harbour on this island and the mortal remnants can be still seen to date.
Why do I tell this long story? The reason is that I had to think about this personal experience while listening to “Ildlaante”, the debut of Antarktis.
The four-piece band was founded already some years ago. It was In Mourning guitarist Bjorn Pettersson, together with Tobias Netzell (In Mourning, ex-October Tide), who begun writing a few songs that never saw the light of day earlier than 2017. In 2013, Antarktis’ line-up was completed by Daniel Jansson and Jonas Martinsson joining and it took another three years before recordings to this album could begin.
“Ildlaante” is a dark and melancholic album. Antarktis’ music is a mixture of post-rock, metal and sludge. This extreme sound is the base for six songs on the album, tracks that are heavy, mighty and blood-curdling. Wistful yelps are accompanied by slowly roaring guitars, bringing metal to its extreme. But that’s just one part of the picture. Antarktis breaks this pattern by calmer and almost fragile sections. These are still coming with a gloomy and mournful undertone too while adding some other excitement to the entirety.
Antarktis album is, by purpose or not, perfectly reflecting the earlier scenary, rounded of by an artwork that fits into the picture too (actually it almost looks like a pencil drawing of Deception Island). If this album would have been released earlier in time, it would have been my soundtrack for the earlier described experience. It captures the mood of this unreal and mortal place in a perfect manner.
Label: Agonia Records
Genre: Post Rock / Metal
Release Date EU: October 6th, 2017
Mastodon have been intensively on the road recently but also found some time to do a new 4-track EP. “Cold Dark Place will be released on September 22nd, followed by a 10” limited picture disc edition on October 27th.
Three of the four songs are coming from the “Once More ‘Round the Sun” session while “Toe Goes Toes” has been recorded on March this year as a part of the “Emperor of Sand” production.
1. North Side Star
2. Blue Walsh
3. Toe to Toes
4. Cold Dark place
(7/10) New York-based doom/sludge masters Unearthly Trance might not be on everyone's lips, but this doesn't say anything about their music and the quality of their songs. On the newest longplayer the trio is 'stalking the ghost' and they do this with eight songs that are in average quite long. In total fans get 52 minutes of roaring and harsh metal that's not done for the mainstream
After having released the last studio record seven years ago it was the right timing for the highly anticipated new longplayer. "Stalking the Ghost" is a counterpart to the upcoming European spring and in one or another way it's a musical prolongation of the dark winter times. This longplayer features songs that are slow-paced riff monsters that slowly creep into your ears and mind. Charged with a gloomy vibe each of the tunes transports melancholy, despair and anger - all mixed to a sound cocktail that tastes very well. And since all the mentioned is embedded into a blackened atmosphere, things get even more exciting.
A song that give you some indication about Unearthly Trance's sound is the nine minutes masterpiece "The Great Cauldron" that acts like a sonic maelstrom. It starts spot-on in a quite moderate pace which stands for the general pattern of this track. But since a nine minutes tune needs to offer more, the band build in some good breaks, reducing the speed while keeping the vibe. The slow and heavily down-tuned riffs along the way reminded me partly of bands like YOB and even some more classic doom a la St. Vitus is shining through the 'sludgy' surface.
"Stalking the Ghost" is a dark and intense album that puts a gray musical haze over the upcoming European spring season and in case you can't handle colorful Dutch tulips, than this is album is your compensation.
Label: Relapse Records
Release Date EU: February 24th, 2017
Undertow is recording their next longplayer. Four years after "In Deepest Silence" the Swabian powerhouse has ten new songs and an intro in their portfolio which they are recording as we speak at the Studio141 in Schwäbisch Hall. MHBM had the chance to listen to some of the tunes. The new songs sound pretty good. Undertow's new material is more balanced. Thrash and doom are equaly present and also some acoustic tones are part of the upcoming album. And last but not least there's a cover version on the record, a pop song that was turned into a metallic masterpiece. It looks like a great Undertow album being on it's way. Stay tuned for more.
(8/10) New Orleans sludge and doom master Crowbar are around since almost three decades and no end in sight - fortunately. What Kirk Windstein and his three amigos deliver with "The Serpent Only Lies" is brutal. Windstein wrote another ten songs that are as intense as they could be.
"Falling While Rising" is the first tracl on this new album and the band doesn't give you a single moment to warm-up. A five minutes doom hell breaks loose, build on a hefty beat and a slow-mo riff. Upshifting with a break adds some variation to the blistering heat that rolls over you.
Crowbar stays in this mode throughout the entire album. However, there are some variations like the faster "I Am the Storm" which for sure more than just a breeze. This storm blows you away.
The title track comes with interesting breaks and a surprisingly melodic chorus - melodic the Crowbar-way. And on and on it goes. "The Enemy Beside You", "Embrace the Light" and "On Holy Ground", all typical Crowbar smashers per excellence.
The four minutes long "As I Heal" rounds of an album that shows Windstein and his band mates in best shape and form. These 45 minutes are demanding doom metal that belongs to the best stuff I've heard from the four-piece from New Orleans. "The Serpent Only Lies" shows the old Crowbar transferred into the here and now. Good stuff.
Genre: Doom Metal
Release Date EU: October 28th, 2016