Posts Tagged ‘USA’

The debut album from Los Angeles black/death metallers Azath features members of Draghkar, Ripped to Shreds, Falsehood and Lord Gore so you can kind of guess what kind of fetid, foul noise lurks beneath the monochrome beauty of the artwork. ‘Through a Warren of Shadow’ is out now through Pulverised Records.

After the opening ‘Into the Charnel’ sets the scene ominously, first track proper ‘Draconian Impalement’ instantly kicks in with a raw death metal assault. Riffs slice through the air with rusted precision, while guttural vocals belch and roar through a thick, swampy black metal atmosphere. The band’s mission statement is to play as fast as possible without becoming a grind band, and the kick of songs like ‘The Whirlwind’ and the howling rage of ‘Mortal Sword’ certainly achieve that aim. There’s a certain clattering chaos that really gives you a feeling of unhinged madness that I quite like, particularly my personal favourite track ‘Knight of Chains’, although the grinding nihilism of ‘Children of the Dead Seed’ pushes it very close.

Azath’s debut is fiery, raw and uncompromising. It barely stops for breath apart from the odd morbid interlude, and this commitment to honing their craft to a razor’s edge has served them well, because ‘Through a Warren of Shadow’ is a consistent barrage of necrotic psalms being spat out from your nearest swamp. Fucking brilliant.

Smoke Mountain - Queen of Sin

First published here:

Florida’s Smoke Mountain have been around for a few years now but their debut full length, ‘Queen of Sin’ is just new out on the well respected Italian label Argonauta Records. With its 60s occult b-movie cover, band name and thick, stoner doom riffing, I think its a safe bet that we are looking at something fuzzed out, tripped out and rippling with the blues.

As that first, rumbling and heavily distorted riff weaves hypnotically from the speakers on the opener and title track, you can feel immediately that I was right in my safe bet. But it is so much fuzzier and heavier than even I was expected, and coupled with the eerie wail of vocalist Sarah Pitt it lends the song a particularly sinister vibe. The soulful croon of ‘The Master Serpent’ belies the weight of the hazy doom blues grooving underneath. Imagine Kyuss but darker and you’ve got the idea. There’s a glorious simplicity to it all; write immensely catchy doom riff, coat in gallons of fuzz and then raise incantations to the stoned dead. The driving ‘Touch of the Sun’, the hazy melancholy of ‘I Walk Alone’ and the insidiously memorable groove of ‘Deathproof’ shows that Smoke Mountain don’t just write that same song over and over. Each one has its own identity, all the while keeping the album as a coherent structure.

‘Queen of Sin’ definitely has a much more sombre tone than a lot of stoner doom bands, and I think this really helps it stand out amongst its peers. This isn’t all just misery by any means, but Smoke Mountain do not shy away from incorporating a dash of Sabbathian gloom when it is called for. The driving ‘Devil Woman’ and grinding rumble of ‘End of Days’ bring this interesting and varied record to its close, and it has been an excellent journey.

Worm - Gloomlord

The Floridian swamps birthed Worm, whose second release ‘Gloomlord’ is out now through Iron Bonehead and looks to enhance their reputation as purveyors of horrendous, suffocating doom. I reviewed their debut full length, ‘Evocation of the Black Marsh’, here in 2017 and yet in 2020 there’s nothing more apt in these times of disease ridden armageddon than an album that sounds like this…

The bleak drudge of ‘Putrefying Swamp Mists at Dusk’ opens the album with eerie atmospheres and sludgey vocals. The guitar tone reeks of tar and murk, seeping through a lightless gloom. If this is an ‘intro’, the rest must be terrifying. It is, with the morbid crawl of ‘Rotting Spheres of Sentient Black’ gurgling up from fetid voids deep below the earth. The eerie, almost weeping tones echoing throughout the rumbling slime of ‘Apparitions of Gloom’ is haunting, while the wailing solo that winds through the tectonic crunch of ‘Melting in the Necrosphere’ is devastating in its execution.

The closing salvo of the lumbering monolith ‘Abysmal Dimensions’ is an encapsulation of how Worm’s spectre is growing, and looming large over the genre as a whole. There are bands who try to reach the kind of foul misery of ‘Gloomlord’, but very little even comes close. This is a magnificent expulsion of music.

New England death metallers Angel Grinder are due to self-release their debut full length record in the spring, and ‘Confessions of the Damned’ is a heady mix of old school brutality like Bolt Thrower or Asphyx, mixed with some more manic acts like Demolition Hammer and Sodom. Sound like a great idea to me!

After the creaking industrial/orchestral intro ‘Overture’, you are immediately struck by thick and complex old school death metal riffing in the title track. There is definitely solid influences from deathly thrash acts, drawing a little more from the Teutonic than the Bay Area, and their death metal side is focused on bringing the density. It shies away from the usual OSDM approach of basically just being Swedeath by souping up the low end. The monstrous chug of ‘Spine by Spine, the enveloping ferociousness of ‘Got Your Goat’ or the thrashy rabidity of ‘731’ are all good examples of what the band are aiming for; a relatively fresh sound in the oversaturated genre.

‘Confessions of the Damned’ is an excellent debut, leaving plenty of riffs for the band to destroy live venues with but leaving room to improve, build upon and ultimately continue to mine this seam of quality old scool death. Thoroughly recommended.

Frayle - 1692

Originally published here:

The dark rock/doom stylings of Cleveland’s Frayle have come creeping into the light, with their debut full length ‘1692’, coming out on February 14th through Laybare Recordings/Aqualamb Records. A record that draws influences as far and wide as Cocteau Twins, Kyuss, Chelsea Wolfe and Sleep, they straddle a thin line between rumbling doom and almost dreamy, ethereal pop sensibilities.

The hypnotising drone of the introduction, coupled with the whispering vocals, leads us perfectly into the haunting dark rock gloom of the title track. Vocalist Gwyn Strang has a gorgeous voice, at once both eerie and yet fragile and beautiful. It flows in perfect synchronicity with the bleak drive of the guitar work. ‘Gods of No Faith’ adds in some male growls, but the main focus is always that ghostly interplay between the heavy and the light. ‘Darker Than Black’ is my favourite track here by far; riffs swaying in hallucinogenic atmospheres while dense drumming underpins probably the best vocal performance on the album.

This is a record that has become addictive over multiple listens. There has always been an important place for female voices in doom; the fragile nature of the style lends itself well to the more haunting female vocal, but there is something special about Frayle’s contributions. It isn’t just big riffs but a more nuanced approach, allowing the heaviness to build not just from the guitar but from Strang’s storytelling. Weaving tales of anger, heartbreak, resolution and hypocrisy, she adds that intangible that takes ‘1692’ away from the crowd and into a space that they alone inhabit. The brooding ‘Burn’ takes you in directions you wouldn’t expect, as does the gentle gloom of ‘If You Stay’. But it is the Triptykon-esque darkness pervading parts of ‘Godless’ that really gets to me in a primal way.

‘1692’ is a record that will stay with me all year. It gives me the same feeling as when I heard Mount Salem’s ‘Endless’ for the first time a few years ago; I didn’t know music could be this bleak and yet so beautiful. Frayle conjure those same feelings, and for that makes this a real gem. As they say themselves, this is a place to feel vulnerable amongst the chaos, and that is a welcome sight indeed.

A new two man project of death from Richmond, Virginia, Priests of Prometheus released their debut EP on New Year’s Day 2020 so it seems like a good record to start the year with. ‘Lodestar’ is out through their Bandcamp.

Opening with the visceral ‘Omnigore’, it is clear that main songwriter Justin Wolz has really managed to put together a great collection of songs here. A dose of grandeur dissolves into an acidic Swedeath riff, but that sense of majestic space returns and the crunchy guitar tone really breathes well here. A genuinely different take on modern/old school death, punctuated with glorious soloing. The battering, Cannibal Corpse-esque assault of ‘Darkened’ is superb, as is the chugging Suffocation-like thunder that powers the indomitable ‘Lacuna of Forgetfulness’.

Closing with the sweeping, brutal and technical tour de force of ‘Enlightened’, ‘Lodestar’ pulses with potential for what a full length could do. Priests of Prometheus have made a stunning start to 2020, and this will remain in rotation throughout the year. Great stuff!