Archive for the ‘Sleeping Shaman Reviews’ Category

V - Led into Exile

First published here: http://www.thesleepingshaman.com/album-ep-reviews/review-v-led-into-exile/

Out earlier in the autumn, Sweden’s sludgey doom lords V’s second record ‘Led Into Exile’ is a forty minute journey over six tracks, and looks to establish them as potential pretenders to the throne currently occupied by fellow Swedes Cult of Luna. This is full of sweeping dynamic shifts and huge riffs, but can they bring anything else to the table?

The opener ‘Broadcast from the Shadows’ begins with a slow-burn build, an almost hypnotic drone accompanied by tribal drumming before some dense riffs crash down. But this doesn’t just become your average ‘riff-shout’ assault that many other bands try for. There are genuine moments of melodic interludes, where the heavier sections are given a chance to breathe and the atmospherics flex themselves. ‘Illviljan’ has a harsher and raw sounding guitar tone, rumbling along with an eye on the grinding early work of Isis or Neurosis. These bands are obviously a great influence on V, and the titanic crush of ‘Hostage of Souls’ that follows just reinforces this. However this isn’t just the glistening weight of ‘Celestial’, nor the primal heft of ‘Through Silver in Blood’.

‘Led Into Exile’ is its own master, be it the ghostly almost silence that creeps through ‘Hostage of Souls’, the swaggering Sabbathian doom riffs that open ‘Phantasmagoria’ or the bleak folk acoustics of ‘None Shall Rise Again’. V are chameleonic; one moment hitting you with visceral heaviness and the next tugging on your emotions with beautiful material. It is this that makes them so appealing. Not every band in this style will risk opening themselves up like that, but V do it with aplomb.

As the monolithic title track thunders us to the close of the record, ‘Led Into Exile’ has left quite an impression on me. Whether crafting massive riffs that loom above like cliffs in the night, wretching vocals echoing around them or allowing us an insight into the quieter moments with acoustics or electronica, V are not just going to play the game the way we expect them too. ‘Led Into Exile’ is a surprisingly poignant work, and the sooner we can get more from V the better.

https://www.facebook.com/vpathogen/

https://suiciderecordsswe.bandcamp.com/album/led-into-exile

Golden Core - Fimbultýr

First published here: http://www.thesleepingshaman.com/album-ep-reviews/review-golden-core-fimbultyr/

This Norwegian duo are the definition of potential, with a 15 year old and a 17 year old powering this righteous noise meaning that they could have decades of material to come. What might bother me is the ‘progressive’ tagged onto their style, as that is normally added to anything that is even remotely long without actually featuring any prog elements. Golden Core’s debut came out in 2016, and ‘Fimbultýr’ is a record that belies their maturity with a staggering amount of talent.

The opening drive of the title track is magnificent, with thunderous doomy riffs propelled with a fuzzy bass line and pounding drums. Imagine Kyuss if they lived in the savage north rather than sun baked desert. The raspy throaty vocals give an extra oomph to proceedings as well, but it isn’t all just driving, bluesy stoner metal. The triumphant heft of ‘Rúnatal’ builds with tribal drumming and shimmering guitars into a lumbering, Cathedral-esque monster. Weird vocal effects cascade over massive cliffs of doom riffs, and this is the kind of prog I want in things labelled as progressive. Not just long songs. ‘Hrafnaspá’ is my favourite track here though, a rough and ready, punkish Queens of the Stone Age banger that is one of the more overtly ‘RAWK’ moments here, while the short and almost black metal ‘Villist Vættir’ is a nice surprise.

Golden Core’s songwriting skills are top notch, and if I hadn’t read in their press release that they were so young, you could’ve convinced me they’d been doing this for decades. It just SOUNDS so authentic, from the guitar tone and impressive licks, to the bass and drum thunder below. There is no more pleasant a surprise in finding a band that totally gets the style they are playing and get it at such a young age. I mean, turn up the powerful, folk tinged ‘Buslubæn’ and just bathe yourself in its glacial awesomeness. Golden Core are a superb band, and ‘Fimbultýr’ is hopefully just the beginning.

https://www.facebook.com/goldencoreband/

https://goldencore.bandcamp.com/album/fimbult-r

Originally published on the Sleeping Shaman: http://www.thesleepingshaman.com/album-ep-reviews/review-red-stone-chapel-omega-boombox/

German sludge rockers Red Stone Chapel release their debut record, ‘Omega Boombox‘, on the 25th of October through Argonauta Records and it is eight tracks of southern rock with all the stoner, progressive, sludge and blues influences you could need in your life. The Sleeping Shaman even managed to snag ourselves a premiere for it. But in a world of a thousand bands that claim to do this kind of music, can ‘Omega Boombox‘ stand out from the crowd?

The short answer is yes. ‘Omega Boombox’ may not reinvent the wheel but that wheel is beautifully looked after. Opener ‘Squid Limbo‘ hits you with a big ol’ riff that just hits that sweet spot with bluesy groove. The gruff vocals of frontman Dimi suit the whiskey-soaked attitude perfectly, and the swagger is retained throughout. Red Stone Chapel are a band that aren’t short on confidence, and the Orange Goblin-esque thrust of ‘Dead Man’s Chime‘ and ‘Praise the Fool‘ are things of beauty. The great, looming shadow of Clutch also is very noticeable, and the opening to ‘Panta Rhei’ would make Neil Fallon and crew proud! Red Stone Chapel are no tribute however. They’ve got a sound of their own.

I’m a metal fan that appreciates all the brutality, ethereal blackness or suffocating death that I can get, but we all must admit to a weakness for massive bluesy grooves. I mean, this is where all hard rock and metal grew from; a style that if nurtured properly can still electrify even after decades of being overdone. Red Stone Chapel add a nice, rough and gruff edge to their stuff, giving it a real authentic feel. Like some rough old mountain lads kicking back some Zeppelin and filtering it through a little early Mastodon. I’ve been listening to the psychedelic doom rock of ‘The Paper King‘ on repeat for days, and I’ll never get sick of it.

Omega Boombox‘ has most of everything you’re going to want in an album like this; hefty blues, swaggering RAWK grooves, gravelly vocals that aren’t missing an ounce of soul and some absolute killer riffs. Red Stone Chapel’s debut is packed full of potential hits, and enough subtle touches to make it all their own. This is a band to keep an eye on for the future, as if they can build on their foundation here and maybe go even a little weirder next time, it’ll be special indeed.

https://redstonechapel.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/redstonechapelband/

https://argonautarecords.bandcamp.com/

Exhumed - Horror

First published on the Sleeping Shaman: http://www.thesleepingshaman.com/album-ep-reviews/review-exhumed-horror/

What more do you need to say about gory death metal icons and legends Exhumed? Well nothing really, as their musical legacy will always speak much louder, so simply put ‘Horror’ is their newest work and it fits into their discography as neatly as a mortician’s saw through bone. Continuing their 2010s comeback with stronger and more mature material, ‘Horror’ is their reminder that they can still shred with the best of them.

Opener ‘Unsound’ is an immediate knife thrust to the jugular, where you’re hit with instant brutality and savage vocals. Maddening solos puncture the assault, as a relentless drumming battery powers everything along at a breakneck speed. Anyone who thinks Exhumed would have mellowed with age have no idea what they are on, as this is as fresh and exhilirating as they have ever been. Beset by some killer thrash riffs, ‘Ravenous Cadavers’ follows suit and the more said about the grinding carnage of ‘Scream Out in Fright’ the better.

Exhumed have really re-embraced their grinding roots on ‘Horror’, with the longest song, ‘Slaughter Maniac’, clocking in at a mere 2:23. The band are going hell for leather with the shred and the grind here, tearing through prime cuts like ‘Ripping Death’ and the superlative grinding of ‘Rabid’ like there was no tomorrow. It always feels good when a band that has been on the go since 1990 can come back feeling vibrant and vicious, not just rehashing the same old songs. It has been a long time since Exhumed were this precisely savage, and it is welcome.

You get fifteen songs in twenty six minutes, which feels both too short and yet absolutely perfect. There is no messing about, just gory guitar work laced with some poisonous vocals and the confidence of veterans just hammering out great material. Not every album needs to be an epic, and in Exhumed’s case this makes you want to experience the whole thing again straight away. I mean, the best song here is called ‘Naked, Screaming and Covered in Blood’, if that doesn’t make you want to throw horns and go crazy then what will?! ‘Horror’ reminds everyone that all these new bands are great, but sometimes there is nothing quite as satisfying as the old school.

https://www.facebook.com/ExhumedOfficial/

https://exhumed.bigcartel.com/products

https://store.relapse.com/

Coffins - Beyond the Circular Demise

Originally published on the Sleeping Shaman: http://www.thesleepingshaman.com/album-ep-reviews/coffins-beyond-the-circular-demise/

Legendarily prolific Japanese death/doom lords Coffins have returned with their first full length record since 2013’s ‘The Fleshland’, but they haven’t been quiet. Lots of splits and EPs have filled the gap, but there’s nothing quite like a full length Coffins record. ‘Beyond the Circular Demise’ releases on the 20th of September through Relapse Records and looks to be another record of superlative quality.

I’ve followed these guys since their superlative 2008 record ‘Buried Death’ and they’ve rarely disappointed. Immediately grinding out a nasty, Swedeath riff in the opener ‘Terminate By Own Prophecy’, the guttural death growls belching untold blasphemies. The doom is strong in the crush of ‘The Tranquil End’, but it neither overshadows nor gets lost in the crunchy death metal. Coffins balance the two genres perfectly, making the transitions from savagery to imperious, monstrous riff feel so natural. And the doom comes with churning intensity, with the monolithic opening riffs to ‘Impuritious Minds’ being an immediate standout but not the only one.

What I’ve always enjoyed about Coffins is that their brand of death/doom has never been the vast, clean doom riffs layered with brutal growls. They have always felt like a true amalgamation of nasty, raw death metal and the crushing nihilism of someone like Winter or Burning Witch. Their music has never seemed majestic or imperious; it feels like a true musical representation of death and decay. The gut wrenching weight of ‘Gateways to Dystopia’ possessing aching riffs, while the savage growl of ‘Hour of Execution’ maintains that nasty edge.

Coffins have created an art form out of this style of music. ‘Beyond the Circular Demise’ is yet another exhibit in their gallery of gore, death and rumbling decay. Lots of bands claim to make music that feels like the end of the world. Coffins actually do it, and while their tectonic riffs help our dying planet on its way we can all bathe in the glory of it. All hail visceral, toxic, TRUE death/doom.

https://www.facebook.com/intothecoffin/

https://store.relapse.com/

https://coffins.bandcamp.com/

Originally published here: http://www.thesleepingshaman.com/reviews/album-reviews/b/brimstone-coven-black-magic/

Brimstone Coven are the essence of 70s doom. When doom wasn’t quite a thing, it was more occult rock shot through with a smoky, sepulchral haze. West Virginian sons, and only together for four short years, Brimstone Coven bring forth that hazy 60s and 70s vibe to their bluesy rock and roll. It’s utterly infectious, and their new record is out via Metal Blade now!

The opening title track has this insatiable groove, summoning the spirits of early Sabbath, a dash of Witchcraft and the kind of blues that you can feel deep within. You can also feel that Appalachian darkness seeping through each whiskey soaked riff, and each soulful vocal part. There’s a slightly rawer Led Zeppelin influence lurking in the urgent ‘Black Unicorn’ and the jagged, almost Western vibe of ‘Beyond The Astral’.

The acoustics of ‘As We Fall’ provides a poignant break in the rock and roll, where Brimstone Coven becomes an almost evil Eagles cover band. When the soulful solo kicks in, you become enraptured in this moment of rock simplicity. It is a piece of awesome 70s music, captured in modern times. ‘Black Magic’ is an authentic sounding album, lacking the clarity of more modern ‘occult rock’ bands, and creating a truly vintage feel about the record. If you told me that ‘The Plague’ was when Simon and Garfunkel started listening to Pentagram, I’d believe it. It captures a moment in time perfectly.

The soaring Zeppelin influence rears its head again on the proggy ‘Upon The Mountain’, which also grows into a Sabbathian groove. The super catchy swagger of ‘Slow Death’ is an instant hit, especially with the bluesy bassline that kicks in later in the song and just adds to it perfectly. The whole of ‘Black Magic’ encapsulates the good things to come out of the occult rock phase. You wouldn’t find higher quality occult doom if you looked all year.

‘Black Magic’ impresses at every turn. From up tempo rockers to gloomy acoustics, an omnipresent fog hangs over everything, smothering each well-crafted song into a melancholy ode to the misty mountains. By the time the grinding ‘The Eldest Tree’ comes to an end, Brimstone Coven have taken you on a journey through hazy 60s/70 psychedelic occultism, all the time keeping the guitar front and centre. Hypnotic, addictive and gloriously retro, ‘Black Magic’ stands tall against all occult doom releases of the past few years.

Originally published here: http://www.thesleepingshaman.com/reviews/album-reviews/h/hooded-menace-darkness-drips-forth/

Hooded Menace are what people are talking about when they think of death/doom these days, even if they don’t know it. The Finnish masters of darkness have long been crafting a career from the sludgy, endless void of riffs, summoning Lovecraftian beasts to serve as their inspiration. ‘Darkness Drips Forth’ is their new record, and while only four tracks, serves us some of the most tortured, dense and punishing death metal since their last emanation.

‘Blood For The Burning Oath/Dungeons Of The Disembodied’ belches from the starting blocks in typical, cavernous fashion.  A threatening, monotone hum drones from your speaker, screams begin to echo amongst it and then it happens. The riff descends from its place amongst the Dark Gods and comes slamming down upon us mere mortals. The voice of Hell erupts with malevolent intent; a gurgling, bilious roar that shakes the ground. Hooded Menace do creeping, crawling fetid death better than almost everyone, and ‘Darkness Drips Forth’ is a perfect encapsulation of their sound. Even when the pace is upped slightly, nothing is lost from their sickly death.

Hooded Menace do more than just shamelessly worship the likes of Autopsy or Coffins. They drag you along a journey, a quest of sorts, through the realms of death and decay. In anyone else’s hands, ten plus minute dirges of death metal would become tedious and repetitive. Hooded Menace have mastered this art. It’s swampy but never unintelligible, as the mammoth lurch of ‘Elysium Of Dripping Death’ shows. Vocalist Lasse Pyykko belches immensely brutal vocals, while each riff drips with a malevolent tone.

‘Ashen With Solemn Decay’ looms from the fog with a Cthulhuan might, like an ancient titan of death and doom. Hooded Menace reaffirm their status as the pinnacle of this genre with ‘Darkness Drips Forth’, because the extended song lengths allow them to create slowly, to build and to nurture that riff. In the same way a wave can build to a tsunami, ‘Beyond Deserted Flesh’ builds the rumbling drums, the icy Swedeath chainsaw riff, the unholy utterings, into something that, by the close of its ten minutes, is an unstoppable cliff of death metal and doom.

Hooded Menace may continue this path, they may revert back to their shorter songs. But either way, ‘Darkness Drips Forth’ is undeniable proof that they are the undead kings of death/doom, and their ashen granite throne shows no signs of cracking. Unbearably heavy, and unspeakably dark.

https://hoodedmenace.bandcamp.com/album/darkness-drips-forth

https://www.facebook.com/HoodedMenace/?fref=ts