Even though I’m used to listening to industrial quantities of new music every week, there always comes the time when I come across to a record released by what I think to be a new band, but then, as soon as I check on google, it turns out that the formation is active for a long time. And when the music played by the band is as interesting as what I found in the new album by Samavayo, the pleasure of having finally filled a gap in your musical knowledge is combined with the regret of not having followed the musical growth of the band, which means not having enjoyed in full what they did in the past. In any case: better late than never.
Samavayo is a trio of German rockers based in Berlin. The band is active since 2000 and with their newest LP, called Vatan, they have published to date six full-length records. When approaches them for the first time (as I did) it’s fairly unlikely to guess that they come from the heart of Europe. The style played by Samavayo, in fact, is absolutely impregnated with the flavours of desert stoner and alternative metal, two kinds of music that usually accompany the production of American bands. Regardless of their Country of origin, however, what really impresses of Satamayo is that they play a kind of music that’s absolutely enjoyable and exciting to hear.
Vatan offers a sequence of truly amazing tracks that you will start to appreciate from the very first listening. From a musical point of view, their sound is basically what you would get by injecting heavy doses of fuzz and stoner into the music of Tool. This comparison is anything but risky, given the fact that really many passages that we hear in Vatan are clearly inspired from the songs of the legendary band from California, starting from the very first notes that we hear in Vatan‘s opening track Prevarication Nation.
The resemblance with Tool is more than just a hint, and this is at the same time a positive aspect of Vatan but also, in hindsight, the major limit of this record. It’s not by chance, thus, that most of the tracks that impressed me the most are those where the stoner and psychedelic influences become more strong, like for example in the title track, or the closing song Children of Kobane.
My final rating is a convinced 7/10. Favourite songs: Prevarication Nation, Sirens, the title-track Vatan, and Children of Kobane.
Samavayo’s new album is avilable on Bandcamp, and it can be streamed also from Spotify.
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.
I’m sharing with you a mixtape that I’ve created by selecting and combining together the best Atmospheric Stoner Rock songs that were released in the last few years. You’ll find in this compilation masterpieces from bands and artists of the calibre of Monster Magnet, Brant Bjork, John Garcia, Truckfighters, and many others masters of stoner rock.
The complete tracklist of the mixtape is as follows:
Intro / The Dream of Life, by S.B.G.
Diamond, by All Them Witches
Exordium, by Ordos
Sun Shivers, by King Buffalo
What Is Human, by Palace in Thunderland
Calm Before The Storm, by Truckfighters
Night Creeper, by The Blackwater Fever
Tao of the Devil, by Brant Bjork
Drowning, by Moster Magnet
Catamaran, by Yawning Man
Rest Easy, by The Flying Eyes
Softer Side, by John Garcia
Most of the songs of this mixtape were taken from THE DELICATE SOUND OF THUNDER, which is one of the playlists that I’m curating on Spotify. Check it out.
Thanks to a very good recommendation from a Reddit user I came across this young Swedish band named Witchers Creed, which has just dropped its debut LP: Awakened From The Tomb… And it’s really surprising to see how these musicians manifest such impressive confidence in manipulating and re-elaborating sounds and influences from many heterogeneous and influential bands, spanning from Candlemass to Fu Manchu, generating a final result that is at the same time beautifully vintage but also fresh and lively.
Witchers Creed was founded a few years ago by three childhood friends who grew up influenced by the music of Black Sabbath and Judas Priest. After a number of initial experiments, they eventually consolidated the current line-up which consists of Filip Andersson (guitar, vocals), Emil Bjällerhag (bass, vocals) and Charlie Rangstedt (drums). As said, however, despite their young age, the music played by Witcher Creed is anything but naive and superficial. And this clearly means that the three rockers have a great passion for what they do but also a remarkable talent: it must not be so easy to craft a style of rock that, although being impregnated with the legacy of the masters of doom and rock, still manages to appear fairly original and intriguing.
From a musical point of view, their sound is characterized by a few but effective features: a warm and powerful stoner-like bass, which is one of the element which impressed me the most of this 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.
The album consists of some tracks that are basically pure and simple rock and roll songs, and another set of pieces which manifest a more evident stoner rock feeling. In both cases, there is always in the background an intriguing dark atmosphere which reflects their passion for classica doom.
Awakened From The Tomb… is a really nice and promising debut LP. I give it a convinced rating of 7/10.
My favourite songs are Raven’s Claw, the delicate Larissa, and the instrumental title-track, which closes the LP with a final rush of psychedelic stoner atmospheres.
Awakened From The Tomb… is available for streaming on Spotify.
The LP in now featured also in DUST and SAND, the playlist that I’m curating on Spotify with all the best and latests songs in stoner.
All Them Witches represent something special to me, if only because their beautiful 2017 record Sleeping Through the War was one of the first that I reviewed when I decided to launch this blog. And already at that time I expressed words of appreciation for the band, their sound, and their album.
Less than two years after, I found myself in front of a new LP from the band, and it was one of the most beautiful surprises I had in the recent times. First of all because it’s always good when a rock band is experiencing a phase of creative inspiration, and in this respect All Them Witches were able to compose and record a new set of beautiful songs at a relatively short distance from their previous release. But even more surprising to me was to discover that in the short lapse of a year and half these guys from Nashville have made a gigantic step forward in their musical evolution and released a record that has the full potential to project the band into the Olympus of the most important bands of contemporary stoner rock.
The stylistic growth experienced by All Them Witches took place through the development of an absolutely unique and personal musical language, an evident evolution of the style that they had already presented in their previous works but that only today, arrived at the fifth studio LP of their discography, seems to have found its final maturity. The music played today by All Them Witches no longer needs to be described in a derivative way; there is no need in fact of making comparisons and references with other bands. All Them Witches have achieved the result that many bands aspire to reach but that very few can rally get: other formations will be now associated to their style, we will find ourself saying “this bands sounds like All Them Witches”.
What happened to the band and what’s the cause of such an improvement? I don’t have many elements to make my hypotheses, but I think it’s a matter of increased confidence in their capabilities. Listening to the songs of the new record we realize in fact that All Them Witches have understood the reach of their talent, and they eventually decided to abandon the usual routes. those illuminated by the light of the masters of the rock, and venture into those darker and unexplored meanders, which are however closer and more fitting with their musical sensibility. And it’s no by chance, therefore, that the title they gave to the new album is ATW, like their name. This is All Them Witches. From now on, the others will follow their steps.
From a musical point of view, the songs in ATW seem to belong to two main categories. The first one is the group of what I like to the “apparently conventional” songs, i.e. those pieces that seem to reproduce initially a very precise stylistical model but then develop into something different, and extremely intriguing. An example is given by the energetic song 1st vs 2nd that starts as a standard stoner rock tune but then, through a crescendo that you would expect to fade but which always increases in intensity, evolves into an obsessive mid-tempo thrash metal riff that would not disfigure in a song by Metallica.
The second category of songs, which is also the one that gives the biggest surprises, collects a series of beautifully dark, slow, hypnotic and slimy bluesy ballads. These are the songs of the album where music really seems to came directly from the soul of the artists. The architecture of these pieces is minimal, essential and usually based on the repetition of a note, a chord, or a simple riff, with elements that are then incrementally added one on top of the others and which, one by one, increase the overall tension of the piece. In this category of songs the psychedelic element is still present but always dosed with great wisdom. The fantastic and majestic Diamond is perhaps the most representative song of this second group of tracks.
Beyond the value of individual songs, however, it’s the album in its entirety that deserves the most sincere compliments. This was really a surprise from a band that has definitely entered a new phase of its career, signed by an improved stylistic maturity and also by the full awareness of the expressive capabilities that their music have gained in the last few years.