Quick Review: “New Moon” by Superlynx

Sometimes it’s surprising to see how we can obtain something new and intriguing by just altering a few proportions within a recipe that’s so well consolidated and standardised like the psychedelic stoner doom. In the case of the Norwegian band called Superlynx, it was sufficient to insert a singsong female voice and to increase slightly the amount of the stoner component, to get a result that’s as delicate as it’s dreamy and fascinating.

New Moon is the second full-length from the band, and it arrives three years after their debut LP LVX. Considering that this trio was formed in 2013, we understand that this band likes taking enough time to write, refine, and improve their songs before going into the recording studio. With very good results.


I really liked this album, and I’m actually getting more and more into this music as I keep on listening to it. New Moon manages to tell about darkness and our everyday difficulties but always with a light and poetic touch. From a musical point of view, in fact, the slowness and the heaviness of doom are softened by the introduction of angelic voice and also by the psychedelic and stoner inserts.

Thematically, “New Moon” is mainly dealing with processing challenging times. But as much as the album is about darkness it is also about conquering the difficulties, and a new beginning. Getting through the darkness and holding on to what is good in this world.

From Superlynx’s Bandcamp page

This music is brilliant, and I belieive that there is still a lot of growth potential in this trio. My overall rating for the LP is 7.5/10. My favourite songs of New Moon are Breath, Hex and The Groove.



New Moon is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify. Songs from the LP are now featured in the playlist The PSYCHEDELIC AND STONER DOOM Radar, which collects the best song released since the beginning of the year.


Quick Review: “Yn Ol I Annwyn” by Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard

Sometimes the most intriguing and beautiful things arrive completely unexpected. This was for me the case of the new LP released by Welsh metal band Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, named Yn Ol I Annwyn. This album is the third full-length record of their career and it arrives after their debut in 2015 (Noeth ac Anoeth) and a second LP in 2016 (Y Proffwyd Dwyll). Certainly, the name of the band is a bit extreme, and I can understand if someone should approach them with a good dose of scepticism. But their music, believe me, is absolutely enjoyable and valid, and it’s also full of many different elements of interest.

If you search for them on the web you’ll see that the band is typically tagged as sludge/doom. Their new record, however, basically offers a good selection of psychedelic doom songs, with very few elements of sludge. In fact, in the eight tracks of Yn Ol I Annwyn the band has softened the abrasiveness of sludge through the introduction of poetical melodies, huge doses of psychedelia, epic riffs, and the beautiful female voice of the singer Jessica Biel.

The eight songs that comprise thes album, sees the band delve deeper into their collective influences, embracing full on space rock, atmospheric film soundtracks, melancholic acoustic interludes, psychedelia, cosmic moogs and percussion, moments of introspection and light … and of course, large helpings of doom.

From the album’s Bandcamp page

The music played by Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard is heavy and slow, but thanks to the skilful balance of distorted guitars with many other different sounds it has the effect of an obsessive and hypnotizing stream of sounds rather than that of a rough and violent blow of energy. The combination of psychedelic sounds and catchy riffs that are repeated over and over until the exhaustion has really the capacity of dragging you down into hallucinated and colourful worlds: the unpronounceable Yn Ol I Annwyn becomes, in the end, a psychedelic heavy trip that eventually leaves you drained, and exhausted.

One thing which is really good of this album is the nice variety among the different tracks: we have atmospheric pieces with only voices, synths and arpeggios (no distortions, no drums), alongside with powerful and psychedelic songs, and also very long doomish tracks based on the obsessive repetition of a single epic motif.

My overall rating for the album is 7/10. Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard play a very nice version of doom which is fascinating and powerful at the same time. This is a band that shall be followed with attention and curiosity because we can expect even greater things from them.

My favourite songs of the LP are Katyusha (a 13 minutes epic doom song), Fata Morgana (a delicate and soft atmospheric ballad), and The Spaceship of Ezekiel (one of the most psychedelic tracks of the album).


Yn OI I Annwyn is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify.



Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard are now featured in SLOWLY, the famous playlist with the best of new sludge, doom and post-metal, but also in The PSYCHEDELIC AND STONER DOOM Radar, the playlist that’s totally dedicated to the best songs of 2019.


The PSYCHEDELIC AND STONER DOOM Radar (Episode #1/2019)

The history of music of the recent decades teaches us that the musical style referred to as stoner doom was born as an interesting derivation of the classic doom genre. This version of doom metal, however, over time has assumed the characteristics of a well-defined sub-genre and we have today many excellent formations that are grouped into this category of music.

In this new series of articles, I’m selecting and presenting to your attention the most interesting records that are published in the context of this style of music, including also those bands that have added a strong dose of psychedelia in the recipe of music.

This is the first episode for 2019, and it includes five different albums that were published in the first two months of the year.

As far as geography is concerned, we have two bands from Sweden (Ordos and Witchers Creed), two from U.S.A. (Yatra and Palace in Thunderland), and one from Estonia (Mang Ont).

Enjoy the ride, and don’t forget to come back periodically to check the future updates of the PSYCHEDELIC AND STONER DOOM Radar.



“The End”, by Ordos

Expectations were very high for the new LP by Swedish band Ordos, if only because their previous album (2017’s House of The Dead) received so many appreciations from both critics and fans. Here in this blog, it was included in the list of the best albums of the year, taking into account all genres of music.

The band’s new LP, The End, basically confirms the same style of stoner doom that was already offered in their previous record, with the addition of higher doses of psychedelic and occult rock. Also, the melodic component, which was already a key point in House of The Dead, has acquired fairly greater importance, making the songs of The End gain remarkable ease of assimilation.

In more general terms, maybe I was expecting something more innovative from Ordos’s new record, but, on the other hand, their music remains so exciting and fascinating than just the fact of having new songs to listen from the band is something that can change your day for the better.

I have dedicated a specific review to the LP, you can read it from here.



“Death Ritual”, by Yatra

If The End, by Ordos, was a sort of confirmation of what we’ve heard so far from the band, one of the most interesting surprises we had in the first months of the year was definitely the debut album by Maryland-based trio Yatra, and I’m not referring only to the perimeter of stoner doom.

Death Ritual is the first LP from this promising formation, and it’s one of those records that have the capacity to take you away from the physical world, projecting your mind into a magical dimension full of pagan rituals, dangerous spells, ancient legends and dark visions.

I wrote a dedicated review of the album, you can read it for a few more details about the LP.



“Awakened From the Tomb…”, by Witchers Creed

Witchers Creed is one of those bands that I discovered almost by chance thanks to a recommendation that I’ve read on a social media, and which became an instant favourite.

This is a formation of young musicians from Sweden, who grew up influenced by the music of Black Sabbath and Judas Priest, and then eventually released their first (impressive) LP: Awakened From The Tomb…

Their sound is characterized by a few but effective features: a warm and powerful stoner-like bass, which perhaps the element which impressed me the most in the LP, a guitar that churns out endless sequences of catchy and sticky riffs, a simple yet effective rhythmic session and, last but not least, a powerful and fascinating voice.

I have published a short review of the LP, you can find there additional details about this excellent debut album.



“The King of the Empty Aeon”, by Palace in Thunderland

Just a quick mention for the new LP by Palace in Thunderland, a psychedelic stoner band from Springfield, Massachusetts, in the U.S.A. The band is formally active since 1998 but, after a period of standby, it was basically re-activated only in 2011. Since then they have released three LPs.

Their newest record is named The King of the Empty Aeon and it features nine enjoyable and intriguing songs alternating between heavy moments, and other fuzzier and definitely more psychedelic pieces. This second category of tracks is the one that I liked the most in their LP, especially the 11-minutes long song This Illusion’s Come Alive, which is right in the middle of the album.

For what concerns the heavier and quicker kind of songs, the single Vicarious is definitely a good hit.



“Maa Sarv”, by Mang Ont

I’m concluding this list of albums with Maa Sarv, which is the new LP from Mang Ont, a stoner doom metal trio which arrives from Estonia. The band is active since 2011 and their brand new release is the third entry in a discography which includes also the EP Neli Aastat (2015) and the debut LP Võhk (2017). The style of their music is characterized by slow, powerful and epic songs. Their sound is thick, heavy and impregnated with psychedelic and stoner atmospheres. In some sections of the band’s songs, we can also appreciate the inclusion of fuzzy drones that introduce a further element of restlessness to their sound.

Maa Sarv is an impressive record because in the short span of only three long tracks the band has managed to develop a journey into a hallucinated and psychedelic world: at first we are greeted by inviting and intriguing sounds, but soon we realize that we ended up in a universe of obsessive riffs and hypnotic rhythms from which it is almost impossible to go out.

Drawing inspiration from the album cover, some have described Mang Ont’s sound as “prehistoric riffs echo from the Mammoth’s cave”. This is actually another good way to transfer the idea of their special and intriguing sound of the band, for which I foresee a very promising future.



I’m starting to collect the best songs for this exciting category of albums in a dedicated playlist, called THE PSYCHEDELIC AND STONER DOOM RADAR. Check it out and follow it, it’s going to grow with time.

Another place where you can enjoy some good stoner doom is the famous playlist SLOWLY. It features more than 8 hours of the best doom, sludge and post-metal that was released in the last three years. If you weren’t already following it, you should do it.


The SLUDGE Radar (Episode #1/2019)

The most assiduous readers of this blog know that I have a particular passion for sludge metal, I actually believe I hear almost all the new releases for this genre of music. It wasn’t hard therefore to identify a group of albums to propose as the most relevant – and in some cases the most intriguing – publications that we had so far in 2019.

As far as geography is concerned: we have one band from France (Atomic Trip), one from Czech Republic (Opium Warlok), one from Lithuania (Autism), one from England (Mastiff) and one from the United States of America (Hollow Leg).

Now, if you’re ready, put on the proper protections and let’s start this short trip in the most muddy and slimy areas of contemporary metal music.



“Strike #2”, by Atomic Trip

The first blast of sludge of 2019 arrives from Lyon, in France, where a trio of metalheads called Atomic Trip has released a violent charge of pure instrumental heaviness. Active since a few years, Atomic Trip have officially released two discs to date: Strike #1 (2017) and Strike #2 (2019), for a total of four songs (Bomb #1 and Bomb #2 on the first album, Bomb #3 and Bomb #4 on the second). Putting it all together, we total about 80 minutes of music.

The two songs of their new album offer another journey into the rawest and darkest area of sludge: slow and powerful riffs, an impenetrable wall of fuzzy sounds, violent and blasting blows, and a sense of oppression and ineluctability that keeps you down without any hope for recovery. For being an instrumental record, the riffs are not particularly memorable and for this reason I believe that Strike #2 is not destined to gain so much visibility above the underground. In addition to this, the band’s first Strike impressed me more than this second one, especially for the persistent sense of alarm and fear that emerged from their music. Nevertheless, if you’re looking for something capable to smack you on the floor and make you feel the suffocating power of the atomic bomb, here there is something you’ll definitely appreciate.



“You’ll Wanna Be High for This” and others, by Opium Warlock

Among the most interesting releases of this period we have a couple of new publications from the band of the Czech Republic called Opium Warlock. This one looks like a fairly mysterious formation since very little information is available on the band. What we know, however, is that starting from last year they have started to publish a good number of singles and EP on Bandcamp, with the EPs that typically contain 2 songs each. Since the beginning of 2019 there have been already two new releases: a new EP (You’ll Wanna Be High for This) and a split album with the band Skullord, for a total of three new songs from the band: a revised version of last year’s piece Buddha’s Dealer, a new song called Voidsmocker Pt.III (based on a rifle “borrowed” from Kyuss) and a third atmospheric, allucinated and noisy track named Nigth Stalker’s Headache.

It’s not easy to stay up-to-date with the erratic publications of Opium Warlock. Their music, however, is extremely interesting. They play abrasive sludge metal mixed with psychedelic doom, but what’s really relevant in ther music is that their songs are plenty of interesting ideas. Will we ever listen to a “proper LP”? Who knows.



“Civilizations”, by Hollow Leg

Metal band Hollow Leg, from Florida, is active since more than ten years and they have already released to dat four studio LPs. Nevertheless, the band has achieved only a marginal role in the wider picture of American sludge metal, and that’s mostly because their albums didn’t ever manage to impress or to leave a significant mark in the history of this genre.

Hollow Leg’s new studio record, Civilizations, at first glance has everything that you would expect from this kind of albums (low-tuned guitars, “thick” riffs, slow tempos, harsh vocals) and we could even ignore some defects in the overall production of the LP. The real problem, in fact, is that in the end the songs of the album don’t impress, they just flow one after the other in way that when the album arrives to its conclusion you don’t find so many reasons to start it once again. Anyway, there are still some elements of interest in their music: the southern and raucous voice of the singer Scott Angelacos, the nice influences from doom and stoner, and the intriguing bass lines that are played by Tom Crowther. The performance of the bass is really one of the things that impressed me the most.

In the end, Civilization is an album that has nothing so wrong or bad which would preclude for it to be mentioned among the most relevant releases of this period, but it still lacks the charisma and the enjoyability which would put it among the best LPs of its genre.



“Have You Found Peace?”, by Autism

From Lithuania comes a band with the questionable name, but which plays a damn interesting music. The kind of metal that these guys propose in their records (they are already at the fourth LP) can be described as a combination of cinematic and atmospheric post metal with strong elements of sludge and doom. The songs are extremely fascinating, both for the deep and powerful sounds created by the quartet, but also for the way each song of the album tells a different piece of a single story, which is generally terrible.

Have You Found Peace? develops around the concept of two friends that one night steal a car and have an accident, which will cause for one of them to sustain severe burns on the face. He will be damaged for the rest of his life, entering depression and losing any kind of social life, until one day he dissapears forever. Each songs of the album represents one of the letter that the other friend, who didn’t receive any damage from the accident, wrote before and after the disappearance. A very sad and gloomy story, which however was translated into music in a truly effective way.



“Plague”, by Mastiff

There are records that seem to be made with the only objective to transmit malice and disgust, and to drag the listener into a virulent mud of distortions, angry screams and blasts of noisy guitars. Plague, which is the second and most recent album by the English band Mastiff, enters decisively in this category of products and does it with an impressive level of brutality and violence.

The experience of listening to Mastiff can be summarized as follows: you are first inundated by a burning tide of pure noise and chaos, until a monolithic, thick and slower rhythmic sequence emerges from the bottom and gives you the final shot. For those who are familiar to this kind of music, or who need at some point some trigger for releasing the tension, the album can be pehenonemal. For all the others, it’s better to stay away.

Stylistically speaking, Mastiff’s music is a chaotic mix of sludge and hardcore, with rhythms that go from grindcore to doom. The sounds are particularly sharp and brutal, also thanks to the choice that was made by the band to record the album entirely live, with all the musicians packed in one single room and no tracking involved.

Plague is that kind of albums that are so brutal and extreme to have some charm. And if at some point of your day you feel to need a sonic shock, this is the record for you.



For staying up-to-date on sludge metal publications you can wait for the future episodes of The Sludge Metal Radar or, alternatively, you can follow the playlist TOTAL SLUDGE, which is now featuring all the brand new songs that are released from all over the world. It has been recently rebooted, but it already features more than 1 hour of music. The playlist is expected to grow rapidly so follow it and check it periodically.

“TOTAL SLUDGE” is where you can find always the best and latest released for sludge metal. It’s continuously updated with new songs

Another more famous and more followed playlist is SLOWLY. It’s dedicated to the slowest and most beautiful songs from sludge, doom and post metal. In this moment the playlist features more than 7 hours with the best and slowest music you can find on Spotify. Listen to it, follow it and spread the word!

“SLOWLY”, a.k.a. YOU DON’T NEED TO BE FAST TO BE STRONG


BEST STONER ROCK AND PSYCHEDELIC STONER OF 2018: THE TOP 10 ALBUMS (Updated September 2018)

Summer proceeds relentlessy towards its conclusion and we can only to try to keep its spirit alive with through the warm and arid sounds of stoner rock. In this chart I’m presenting the list of my favorite stoner albums and EPs that have been published since the beginning of 2018, including both “conventional” stoner and its psychedelic variations.

You’ll find here both legendary bands such as Fu Manchu, Monster Magnet and Orange Goblin, but also a bunch of extremely promising formations coming from many different parts of the World.

Enjoy this list of albums and don’t forget to check if there are newest updates in the stoner section of the blog.


 

#1) Sundrifter, “Visitations”

 

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Sundrifter is a three piece desert and stoner rock band from Boston, Massachusetts, in the U.S.A.. The band consists of Craig Peura (vocals and guitars), Patrick Queenan (drums) and Paul Gaughran (bass).

Sundrifter is a three piece stoner rock band from Boston, in the United States. Visitations, their second full-length album, makes no effort to conceal the origins of the sound of the band, which draws heavily in that inexhaustible source of inspiration that is given by the first couple of albums from Kyuss. But even where the imitation goes so far as to almost plagiarize the original (please listen to the beginning of the third track, Lightworker, just to get an idea) these guys still managed to put in their music so many elements of innovation that, in the end, they’re actually playing their own and unique version of stoner. And this album succeeds in being together a celebration of the great masters of the past and an absolutely valid and original piece of work.

 

From a musical point of view, the band shows an impressive capacity to blend together  classic stoner music with elements from psychedelic rock and space rock. The development of the songs, in most of the cases, is that typical of stoner music: an initial riff of guitar, loud and rhythmic, on which are added to follow an opulent bass and an essential – but still warm – rhythmic session. On top of that there is the fantastic voice of Craig Peura, which is in effect the winning element of this album and perhaps the real element of differentiation from the many other stoner bands we have today.

In summary: Visitations is a really valid LP from a band which managed to fuse together the celebration and the homage to the legacy of stoner rock with a number of characteristic features which make their music absolutely solid and unique.

The album is available on Bandcamp and can be also streamed from Spotify.


 

#2) Orange Goblin, “The Wolf Bites Back”

 

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Orange Goblin are a stoner and heavy metal band from London, England. Formed in 1995, the band’s lineup currently consists of singer Ben Ward, guitarist Joe Hoare, bassist Martyn Millard, and drummer Chris Turner.

As a long-term fan of stoner music, I must admit that I have never developed a particular affinity for the English metal band Orange Goblins. I clearly appreciated the various albums they have published in their twentythree-years long career, but without ever developing an emotional connection like the one I have for other formations playing the same genre of music. On the other hand, the emotional bond with certain bands sometimes comes (or not) independently from their absolute value.

The sensations that I had once I heard their latest work, however, were completely different and probably The Wolf Bites Back is the first album among the nine that they have released until today which made me feel an immediate sense of enjoyment and adrenaline. Maybe it’s because of the stripped-down and raw attitude that they put in the recorde, perhaps because for the first time the level of intensity of the songs remains high from the beginning to the end of the record, the fact is that Orange Goblin’s last record it remains permanently in my music player from the date on which I entered it for the first time.

Surely one of the elements which I appreciated the most of their last LP is that the bluesy rock elements are nowadays relegated to a secondary role and what you get in most of the album is a straight and fierce attack of genuine stoner, without any esitation or vacillations. The band really decided this time to ride with the accelerator pedal always pressed to the bottom, and the rare ballads that appear sporadically among the songs are short and concise breaths of fresh air rather than a signal of a more general slowing down of the machine. It’s nice when an historical band manages to keep the quality of its productions so high across the years. And it’s even better when the same band manages to surprise you with one of the most effective and direct works of their entire production.

The Wolf Bites Back can be listened on Spotify.


 

#3) Weedpecker, “III”

 

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Weedpecker is stoner, psychedelic, and grunge band active since 2012. Weedpecker was formed in Warsaw , Poland, by the two brothers Wyro and Bartek (both playing guitars and vocals), and the line-up is nowadays completed by Karol Melak (bass) and Piotr Kuks (drums).

Weedpecker are a relatively new psychedelic stoner band from Poland. In the relatively short timespan of six years since their formation the band has already released three full-lenght LPs, all of them of absolute value. The last one, named III as the position that the album has in the discography of the band, is a joyful ride through desert soundscapes burned by the sun.

There are many different influences in their sound but these guys from Warsav still managed to maintain a unique style and direction in their music, which may be summarized as a dirty and fuzzed version of stoner rock. As correctly reported in the album release notes, III sees Weedpecker experimenting with light, colorful jams that remind the listener of Tame Impala or Morgan Delt. Moving seamlessly between styles and moods organically, it’s easy to get lost, only to find yourself emerged in a different world entirely.

A couple of songs of the album (Embrace and Liquid Sky) may be considered real masterpieces of this particular style of music.

The new album by Weedpecker is available on Bandcamp and Spotify.


 

#4) ASG, “Survive Sunrise”

 

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ASG is a psychedelic stoner band from Wilmington, North Carolina, in the United States of America. The line-up consists of Jonah Citty (guitars), Jason Shi (guitars and vocals), Andy Ellis (bass), and Scott Key (drums).

ASG is one of those bands that didn’t achieve the success they deserved. Active since 2001, this quartet of veteran stoner rockers have gained the status of cult band in the underground movement, but they remain fairly little known to the international audiences. Probably this is because their studio albums can’t match the reputation which they gained for their wildly energetic live shows. Anyway, for everyon who’s been lucky enough to appreciate the works of this band from North Carolina, the news of the release of a new album is always welcomed with great enthusiasm.

Survive Sunrise, their sixth full length and first new album in five years, provides the listener with another fine selection of psychedelic stoner rock. Most of the songs of this album have slow rhythms and the music conveys the feeling of a hot and sweaty evening, when the sun slowly gives way to the blue of the night, and your face, burned by the sun rays and made harsh from the dust collected during your journey, can finally enjoy a breath of fresh air. Singable and delicate melodies develop over the psychedelic and southern atmospheres that are drawn by the guitars, and the scene is then completed by the incredible voice of Jason Shi.

Survive Sunrise is a really solid and valid album from a band that, despite not being not very prolific, has always managed to leave its mark in the stoner world with every new work. Perhaps the stylistic choice to contain the energy and to prefer the most introspective aspects of stoner rock will not make them achieve mainstream success, but their road is now signed and these guys do not seem willing to negotiate popularity with their unique and special vision of rock music.

The album is available on Bandcamp and it can be also streamed from Spotify.


 

#5) Akula, “Akula”

 

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Akula, from Columbus, Ohio, in the United States of America, consists of Jeff Martin (vocals), Sergei Parfenov (guitars), Scott Hyatt (Bass) and Ronnie Miller (drums).

It’s not easy to find many details about Akula, this new band from Ohio, in the U.S., which dropped an intriguing album of psychedelic rock mixed with sludge, doom and post-metal. The material included in their homonymous debut LP is extremely interesting and provide the listener with an absolutely innovative approach to this kind of music. Some elements of their songs, such as the clean vocal sections, are absolutely brilliant and in some moments create a very special contrast with the hardness of the guitars. The album consists of only 4 tracks – very long – and it’s basically divided in two sections: a radio-friendly first half with the most accessible music, and a more experimental second part where the band plays with more articulated rhythms and more dissonant and atmospheric sounds.

The album is available on Bandcamp and Spotify.


 

#6) Fu Manchu, “Clone of the Universe”

 

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Fu Manchu is an American stoner rock band formed in Southern California, U.S.A., in 1985. Their current line-up has been somehow stable over the last fifteen years and consists of Scott Hill (guitar and vocals), Brad Davis (bass and vocals), Bob Balch (guitar) and Scott Reeder (drums and vocals).

Fu Manchu are one of the most famous and appreciated bands in stoner rock and, as such, every new release from them is awaited by fans with great trepidation. They also managed to become one of those groups that can be recognized after only a few seconds of listening thanks to the particularity (and the beauty) of their sound and also the unique voice of Scott Hill.

Unfortunately, however, the years pass for everyone and with their recent album Clone of the Universe, this iconic quartet begins to show some signs of regression. More than 30 years have passed since the foundation of the band and that magical fluid that until today made all their songs to be vivid and fresh seems to be in short supply. It is no coincidence, then, that in this last LP these legends from Southern California seem to play with the brakes pulled, favoring the sounds and the atmospheric aspects of their music rather than that immediacy and spontaneity we were used to find in their songs.

There are still very good moments in the LP and also some clear signals from the band to accept new challenges and take new paths, as can be seen from the track “Il Mostro Atomico” (yes, in Italian) which is an epic 19-minutes tracks that reiterates almost indefinitely the same riff.

 

Clone of the Universe is available on Bandcamp and Spotify.


 

#7) King Buffalo, “Repeater”

 

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King Buffalo is a psychedelic trio from Rochester, New York, in the United States of America. The line-up consists of Sean McVay (guitar, vocals & synth), Dan Reynolds (bass & synth) and Scott Donaldson (drums & percussions).

King Buffalo is a trio of extremely talended psychedelic rockers from New York, in the U.S. Three years after their formation in 2013 the band released their first full-lenght work, Orion, which gained in short time a relevant consideration, initially limited to the underground scene but which rapidly expanded to an international audience. These guys play in fact a beautiful kind of psychedelic rock with many elements from blues, stoner and sludge.

Early in 2018 the band published a short EP with three tracks, named Repeater, that in some way may be seen as an extension of the previous album. The title track, in particular, is an hypnotic and psychic anthem which grows along 13 minutes of pure musical beauty.

The album is available on Bandcamp and can be streamed also from Spotify.


 

#8) Monster Magnet, “Mindfuckers”

 

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Monster Magnet is an American stoner and hard rock band from New Jersey, in the United States of America. The line-up which recorded their new LP is the same of their previous record and consists of Dave Wyndorf (the only remaining founders of the band, playing vocals and rhythm guitar), Phil Caivano (rhythm and lead guitar), Bob Pantella (drums), Garrett Sweeny (lead guitar), Chris Kosnik (bass guitar)

Monster Magnet are considered among the most important and influential bands for stoner rock (the “Godfathers of Stoner” as I’ve recently read on a magazine) and indeed through their numerous publications and vigorous live performances they have really cemented their status of one of the most legendary groups in the contemporary rock universe.

Given this premises it’s easily understandable that Dave Wyndorf and his bandmates don’t feel any urge to follow the trends or to force their music to sound “modern” and catchy. As a matter of fact, their name is in itself a guarantee of quality and their fans already know what to expect when a new record from Monster Magnet arrives on the shelves.

Mindfucker is their eleventh album and, as expected, the record continues to move along the same road that has been traveled so many times by the band, with no major changes in their typical sound if not for the fact that in many parts of the LP we feel a stronger aspiration to reach the real essence of rock and roll: smooth riffs, fiercy rhythms, powerful and stunning guitars. This is pure and simple retro-rock, and the stoner elements in many songs leave the field to a more basic “hard rock” style.

The album is basically an excellent collection of new songs from a band that doesn’t want to make any surprise, they just try to improve every time what they can do best, and they actually do it. For many fans of the band, in fact, Mindfucker has all the characteristics and the potential to become a classic in the band’s discography. From such a legendary formation, however, one could also expect sometimes to see them exploring new directions, not  because of larger consensus but simply to enrich the journey, so interesting and full of inspirations, that they started now thirty years ago.

The album can be streamed on Spotify.


 

#9) Yellow Dust, “Slodge”

 

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Yellow Dust is a stoner and sludge band from Leipzig, Germany.

Yellow Dust is a German stoner band and Slodge is their new album, released in January 2018. The album sees the band engaged ith both the sound and dynamics of stoner rock and the slower and more abrasive sounds of sludge metal. In all honesty I can say that in the first case (i.e. with the stoner songs) the results are undoubtedly better. The sludge tracks in fact do not take any particular advantage from the raw and low-fi production of the album, and they don’t show neither any particularly exciting idea that can sustain and valorise the longer and relatively psychedelic songs that complete the record.

Anyway, the album is a good step forward with respect to the band’s debut LP and brings the signs of a raw talent that could give us great surprises for the years to come.

Slodge is available on Bandcamp, where it can also downloaded for free.


 

#10) Black Moth, “Anatomical Venus”

 

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Black Moth is a stoner doom and rock formation from Leeds, Yorkshire, England. Active since 2010, the band today features Harriet Bevan (vocals), Federica Gialanze (guitars), Jim Swainston (lead guitar). Dave Vachon (bass) and Dominic McCready (drums).

Black Moth, from England, is a band which is trying to find their own way into the stoner genre through the integration iof elements from psychedelic rock and doom into their music. Anatomical Venus, their last LP, brings a bunch of good ideas and a number of interesting deviations from the canons of the genre. The album, however, doesn’t always manage to match the expectations that were raised from their previous releases.

Black Moth’s music is characterized by the nice insertion of interesting and “cinematic” pieces as well as many psychedelic and doom elements. Anatomical Venus is also enriched by one of the most fantastic female voices of the modern rock panorama.

The new album by Black Moth can be streamed from Spotify.


 

THE BEST DOOM METAL OF 2018: The Top Albums released in the first half of the Year


 

Update: I’ve published on the blog a mixtape with all the best doom songs of 2018. Two hours of uninterrupted music from ten different bands. Check it out!

 


 

Of all the genres of extreme metal, doom is perhaps the most fascinating. Partly because of the mystical and magical themes that are usually addressed by the songs, partly for the dark and “dense” atmospheres that are created by the music.An in fact, even if I’m not particularly passionate or a purists of this kind of music, there are some particular days in which I enjoy to immerse myself in the trascendent expericence of listening to doom metal. It’s a unique experience, satisfying and engaging, but which however requires calm and time.

This year seems to have started really well for doom. In the very first weeks of 2018 we had the opportunity to listen to a few of albums (including Grajo’s and Sinistro’s) which still remain to this day among the most interesting publications of the year, across all genres. And also the following months have been fairly positive. It wasn’t difficult to assemble a list of “best albums”, and we have still more than half of the year for other good LPs.

As usual, this article is not aimed at providing an extensive report of all the doom albums that have been released in the last six months, rather it’s a selection of those few works that in my opinion stand out from the mass because of something particular and unique, that “something” which drives you to listen and listen again to the songs.

And if you arrived here through a search engine, don’t forget to have a look to the section of the blog dedicated to metal, you could find other interesting charts or even updates of the current one.


 

 

#1) “SANGUE CASSIA” by SINISTRO

 

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Portuguese band Sinistro features an actress, a music producer, and an instrumentalists. Their latest album, “Sangue Cassia”, is absolutely one of the best doom metal releases of the year.

 

Sinistro, from Portugal, entered the doom metal scene in 2012 with their self-titled debut album and they eventually released in 2018 the third LP of their discography, named Sangue Cassia. From a musical point of view, it’s not easy to tag and characterize this album into a single genre of music. Sangue Cassia may be defined as a variant of the classic doom-metal style which incorporates heavy influences from post metal and some slight elements from sludge.

One of the main features of Sinistro, and perhaps the most brilliant element of their music, is undoubtedly the splendid voice of Patrícia Andrade. Her vocal lines are basically an additional instrument through which the songs of this album manage rise from the status of “regular” metal tracks to something deeper, and special. At times it seems that all the music composed and played by the group was made exclusively to be the soundscape over which the singer could release her charismatic charge and free her splendid voice.

Sangue Cassia is an album for those who have time. Time for long songs, time for repeated listens, time to get rid of all the distractions and be carried away by the incredible music composed by the band. And because of the above, this album is absolutely out of context compared to our days, when most people want simple and short songs to be heard in the background while chatting or driving.

The album is available for streaming on Spotify and Bandcamp.


 

 

#2) “SLOWGOD II” by GRAJO

 

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Spanish band Grajo have published in the recent years a couple of split records and a succesful self-titled EP. They eventually released in 2018 their first LP, “Slowgod II”

 

Grajo is a psychedelic doom band from Cordoba, in Spain, which is active since a few years and that have published in 2018 their first full lenght record, Slowgod II. Comparing the new album with the previous works from the band it’s possible to recognize how they’re trying to make their music relatively more accessible and, as such, potentially capable to hit a wider audience. The debut LP, however, shows that this has been achieved without compromises in quality and inspiration.

Grajo plays a version of doom metal that manages to move with great ease between trippy moments and more abrasive sections. The LP consists of 6 tracks, all of them interesting and deep, with a couple of peaks which elevate the album among the best things we heard so far in 2018. One of the most interesting characteristic of the music from Grajo is the capacity of these musicians to build up breathtaking atmospheres and to insert so many interesting and varied elements in their songs that, in the end, the experience of listening to the album becomes a very pleasant journey with many stages. It’s easy to recognized the great effort that these guys from Córdoba have put into the realization of this work: the songs are never imprecise or approximate, and the band really managed to balance the multiple influences from which they draw, without ever losing the direction they have given to their music.

The album is available for streaming on Spotify and Bandcamp.


 

 

#3) “HEXENHAMMER” by Witchsorrow

 

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Witchsorrow, from Farnborough in England, are active since 2005 and have released four LPs. The band describes their music as a mix of the atmospheres of early Cathedral, the heaviness of Electric Wizard, and the heavy metal heart of Candlemass and Solitude Aeternus.

 

For many years I’ve been visiting the area of Farnborough, in England, which is home to one of the most important events in the aerospace and defense sector (where I work). I’ve thus become quite familiar with the green hills of Hampshire, where you can still breathe and feel the atmospheres of the Saxon times. These lands so rich in history have guided and inspired the first steps of the British doom metal band Witchsorrow, which  released this year the fourth album of a notable and excellent discography.

Hexenhammer, the new LP from the band, generates from the passion and the hard work of three doom metal fanatics, and I like to think that they have been somehow guided by the mystic and creative influence of Lee Dorrian, who’s one of the most important figures of British doom scene. As a matter of fact, Hexenhammer owes a lot to the sounds and style of Lee Dorrian’s band Cathedral, especially for what concerns the perfeect balance between the sung parts and the thick walls of sound that are generated by the guitars. There are of course many other influences in their music, from sludge to stoner, and everything is mixed to perfection.

This is an album that has the potential to become itself a classic and a reference for the future generation of doomers. The quality of this work is absolutely top-notch, both in terms of sound and atmospheres. Of course this music is not easily accessible outside the ranks of the fans of doom and sludge; nevertheless, I believe that  everyone should try the experience of listening to a piece of this record, at high volumes, even for just a few minutes, ideally with the night breeze of Farnborough blowing on your shoulders.

The album is available for streaming on Spotify.


 

 

#4) “FEAST FOR WATER” by MESSA

 

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The “ambient doom” band Messa is one of the most interesting and emerging formations of the Italian metal scene. They have published in 2018 the second LP of their discography, named “Feast for Water”.

 

Thanks to one of those fortuitous circumstances through which we sometimes discover small niche groups, a few weeks ago I came across the new work of the Italian group Messa, which has released an extremely interesting album called Feast for Water. The band plays an intriguing blend of genres that they define “Scarlet Doom” and which merges basically the sounds of stoner metal with the style and themes of doom. The recipe is further enriched with nice inserts of avant-garde and sonorities of the 70’s, and the final product is then completed with the beautiful voice of the female singer Sara.

What is really fascinating about this album is the global sense of elegance that permeates the entire work: nothing is trivial, exaggerated or rough. Every sound is cured and studied in a meticulous manner and especially when there are the slower and atmospheric pieces it seems to be listening to the sound of a jazz enemble rather than your typical doom metal band. One thing that maybe is lacking in the album is the presence of solid and memorable melodies, something that could stay impressed in our memory for a little longer than just the duration of the song. In some parts of the LP, in particular, it seems that the exterior aspect of the songs take all the attention of the musicians. The band, however, is still young and therefore we can for sure expect many improvements from the point where they are today, which is already well above the average level of the doom music that we can hear around.

The album can be streamed on Bandcamp and Spotify.


 

 

#5) “EMBRIO II” by MISTICA

 

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Mistica, from Barcelona in Spain, is a relatively new doom / post-metal duo. They published in 2018 their debut LP, “Embrio II”, which follows the EP “Embrio I”, released in 2017.

 

 

Mística is a doom experimental instrumental duet from Barcelona, in Spain. They began to play in 2016 and recorded their first demo Embrió I in 2017. One year after the duo released their debut LP,  Embrió II, which highlights a further improvement over the already interesting material that was published in the EP. 

As the band confirms in the release notes of the album, their music draws from the legacy of cult bands such as Celtic Frost and Electric Wizard. They managed however to develop a relatively original style of doom which is characterized by dirty and scratchy sounds, obsessive repetitions and dark atmospheres. The songs are often enriched with excerpts of poems recited in Spanish, and the final result is certainly interesting.

To be a debut album the level of quality is quite good and within the 27 minutes of the LP we have a couple of songs that are engaging to hear and also emotionally impressive. The opening song of the album, in particular, is one of the best doom songs of the year.

Embrio II is availalbe for streaming on Spotify and Bandcamp, where at this moment the disk can also be downloaded for free.


 

 

 

#6) WITCH MOUNTAIN (self-titled album)

 

 

 

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Witch Mountain, from Oregon in the United States of America, were formed in 1997 but after their debut LP in 2001 entered into a turbolent phase which caused their second full-lenght albumn to be released only in 2011. This year they published their fifth LP, named as the band, which features the new singer Kayla Dixon and the new bassist Justin Brown playing together with founding members Nathan Carson and Rob Wrong.

 

 

Witch Mountain is a doom metal band from Oregon, in the U.S.A., whose career has been characterized by moments of stasis, changes in line-up and side projects, with the collateral effect that both the qualitative growth and also the increase in popularity have been relatively slow for a band that is basically active since twenty years.

After a couple of LPs released between 2012 and 2014, the formation went through another reshuffle with Justin Brown and Kayla Dixon taking the roles of bass guitar and vocalist, respectively. With this brand new line-up Witch Mountain released in 2018 their new album, named as the band, which, despite the unfavorable premises, contains however an interesting and solid collection of doom songs, some of them showing also nice influences from stoner and southern rock. The style and skills of the new singer, in particular, has brought a really positive contribution to the sound of the band: we enjoy in many pieces of the album a fascinating contrast between the warm and charming voice of Kayla Dixon and the scratchy sound of the guitars.

In addition to that we have of course all the other typical characteristics of doom, including the slow, obsessive and hypnotic rhythms – in this case with intriguing bluesy flavours.  In some parts of the album, however, the riffs would have benefited by some fairly catchier melody to support the dilated temporal extension of the songs, and this is somehow the weak point of the disk.

The new album by Witch Mountain may be streamed from Spotify and Bandcamp.


 

If you enjoyed reading this article and you liked the music from the selected albums, I recommend to listen to “SLOWLY”, the playlist I created on Spotify with the best of sludge, doom and post-rock. It features most of the bands that were introduced in this article and, most important, it’s updated regularly with new songs. Enjoy!