Tag Archives: doom

Underground Sounds: Battle Hag – Tongue of the Earth

Label: Transylvanian Tapes
Band: Battle Hag
Origin: United States

Battle Hag seems like a D&D players fantasy, but don’t be mislead by the peculiar artwork. This band from Sacramento crushes on their debut album. After a demo in 2015, the ‘Tongue of the Earth’ album is their tectonic offering to the world of heavy doom metal. A worthy effort indeed. It’s only out on tape, so that’s quite an interesting thing as well.

The music of the group seems to be inspired by the big, lurching sound of modern doom. Thematically there’s a Lovecraftian eschatological abyss lurking in their sound and words. The record was recorded in Earth Tone Studios in Sacramento by Patrick Hills.

The sound progresses slowly, with minute shifts and heavy, cumbersome movements. Ginormous riffs create a monolithical heaviness to the sound, but the crushing effects are minimal, as the band chooses for a more languid flow in their sound on ‘Necronomichron’. A twelve minute lasting behemoth of a track, it is completely impossible to resist its flow. More force is on the next track, ‘The Book of Thoth’ with gurgling vocals and abyssal riffs that reach for the heavens in despair.

Battle Hag sounds odly melodic at times, not simply relying on being heavy to create their maximum impact sound. The flow of the sound feels weary and haggard at times, The drums take on odd, almost shamanic rhythms  at times, like on ‘The Tower of Silence’. As if they form a summoning rite for a foreboding storm or a dark ritual. The band likes to add subtle things to the music, to enhance its impact. The cavernous vocal effects on the aforementioned song for example, while riffs seem to evoke a torrentous feeling at the same time really work.

Battle Hag offers a great debut full of little surprises. You’ll find something every time you spin this one.

Underground Sounds: Weed Demon – Astrological Passages

Label: Dissonant Society
Band: Weed Demon
Origin: USA

With a name like Weed Demon, you can already pretty much guess that we’re getting groovy, spacy doom metal from this Ohio quartet. The massive, rocky vision on the cover, which I love, tells everything anyways. It immediately captures my attention when a band like this gets some cool artwork. It shows the dedication to the general drive behind the sound.

So Weed Demon has been around only briefly. These gentlemen have no massive music history, so the quality of this release is especially fresh. Previously the band released an EP titled ‘Stoned To Death’, which seems to have stuck way closer to the more stereotypical stoner schtick. ‘Astrological Passages’ is the thing you should check though.

Weed Demon kicks off with foreboding guitar picking in that dropping doom style. Massive reverb gives the thing a cavernous (or spacy if that fits the title better) effect. The roaring vocals really give off the vibe that one listens to a maddened caveman who’s roaring into the dark in pure rage. Big, lumbering riffs progress at their own pace, sound effects create a foreboding, creepy effect at times. Weed Demon is a menacing beast, crawling towards you. Bringing the sound of Sleep and Spaceslug together in the best possible way.

The sound has a lot of space in it though, regardless of its full pounding force. Every hit of the drum, strumming of the guitar, it just floats on as if in space. Even the lyrics are huge, talking about almost abstract concepts like the immensity and awesome power of space in a burly roar. It’s interesting that the sound still has a lot of groove left thanks to that freely soaring guitar work. I imagine this band really kicking it live thanks to that. My favorite track I suppose would be ‘Sigil of the Black Moon’, thanks to its foreboding, dark lyrics. Here and there the band uses some little tricks to keep you on your toes, like some samples or mysterious chanting on ‘Dominion of Oblivion’.

My favorite track I suppose would be ‘Sigil of the Black Moon’, thanks to its foreboding, dark lyrics. Here and there the band uses some little tricks to keep you on your toes, like some samples or mysterious chanting on ‘Dominion of Oblivion’. It’s a bit cheesy, granted, but the gents pull it off for most of the song to sing sonorously in this meditative style. The music just works alongside it. Weed Demon is heavy, without ever being oppressive. Their music is awesome and that’s why you should listen to this.

Underground Sounds: Spaceslug – Mountains & Reminisce

Label: Independent
Band: Spaceslug
Origin: Poland

They’ve done it again, those Polish space rockers Spaceslug. After their solid record ‘Time Travel Dilemma’ that came out earlier this year and 2016 endeavor ‘Lemanis’, here is the third album by this band, titled Mountains & Reminiscence. A mighty release that sees these guys steer in a new direction musically.

Surely, Stranger Aeons has covered work of this band before. I loved those records (which you can read here and here) and even had a chat with these gents. This album is even more exciting, for the grand artwork of a glorious mountain (I love rocks) and a sound that seems to have turned more earthy. I’m amazed that these guys still do everything themselves, though it allows for a lot of creative freedom and amazing artwork it seems.

The album opens with the solid, heavy riffs of ‘Bemused and Gone’. Surely, the spacy vibe is still there, but the bass seems more crunchy, dirtier than before. The soaring guitar is still there, but it also seems to have been touched by gravity.  The drawled out vocals are in perfect harmony with those guitar parts and create a big soaring feel to the whole music. Where you used to have this cosmic experience, now we’re moving over mountain tops. We’re within the atmosphere on ‘Elephemeral’, with that wonderful wailing guitar.

There’s more distortion and more clashing in the sound, whilst maintaining that particular slow, sluggish vibe that is so typical for the band on a track like ‘Space Sabbath’. The nuances of the sound are more firm and hit home solidly on this amazingly good record. Well, the song is a space song obviously, with fragments of ‘2001: A Space Odissey’ towards the end (the famous HAL interaction).  We end on a climactic note with ‘Opposite The Sun’, a track that does embody a certain sense of drama and grandeur that most of the Spaceslug songs lack in their slow progression. It’s nice to see these gents explore their sound further on another fantastic release.

Underground Sounds: Green Druid – Ashen Blood

Label: Independent
Origin: USA
Band: Green Druid

Doom Against The World

Green Druid is more than just some music, it’s an expression of its times and a way to deal with the world for the members involved. I like that sentiment, even more so because it produces some excellent traditional doom music by this Denver, Colorado group. The band seems to be most amazed themselves by their output.

In 2015 Green Druid releases an EP with some interesting artwork, which would not have really promised the music you’ll find on this amazing release with great artwork. Brad Smalling at Evergroove Studio did a great job in making this record sound as solid as it does now.

Three slabs of songs, clocking a good 30 minutes in total take you along for a ride with some excellent riffing and heavy hitting drums. Opener ‘Pale Blood Sky’ comes on slowly with the toiling, massive riffs. The vocals for amoment seem to not live up to the expectations, but as soon as they catch on to the harmony of the guitars it all melts together in its crestfallen, bleak unity. For almost ten minutes you ride those waves. The sound grabs you with force and does not allow you to tame it.

You can taste the stoner roots in the full, hazy sound of the band and comparisons to the mighty Trouble are therefor not so strange, though I’d add the great Cathedral to that mix. ‘Agoraphobia’ picks up on that thread, but the vocals here sound even more desolate and tormented at times. The slow progression and sheer heaviness of the sound is intoxicating. Green Druid might not be doing completely new things on their debut, but what they deliver is very, very well made.

Crushing riffs take you to the end of ‘Dead Tree’, the final track of the album. The track also had some more gentle passages, but never losing that looming threat in the sound. I think this band might be one you’ll hear about more in the future.

Underground Sounds: V.A. – Drums in the Deep

Label: Bad Omen Records
Band: Wretch, CC Company, Satan’s Satyrs, Wytch Hazel, Spell, The Tower, Asomvel, Flight
Origin: United Kingdom

Using classic imagery from the original Lord of the Rings films (yes, you muggle, there’s an original film with cutting edge animations in its time), the label Bad Omen Records from London presents some of its finest cuts and slices of doom metal to the peoples. A sampler then, with special attention for Wretch.

Bad Omen Records is a small label, with a particular taste for things heavy and classic. Their roster doesn’t focus on much extreme metal but sticks to the more traditional formats, which I think works perfectly fine, It gives an identity and core to the label, which is in this day and age nice and recognizable for fans. Go here for your doom, folks!

Opening up is an exclusive track by Wretch, titled ‘Sweet Revenge’.  The song sounds as if something wicked this way is coming, something just outside the door threatening the listener. The voice of Karl Simon sounds like mixture of Ozzy and Lemmy, evil and seductive. CC Company follow with a supertight, 80’s vibe track. Th rhythm is like a tense cord, with mildly raw vocals by the Swedes. Catchy as hell, this tune! Not sure if ‘World Domination’ will achieve its goal, the sound is a bit dated, but lovable nonetheless. Following that we have Satan’s Satyrs from Virginia, with fuzzy distortion and demented vocals. An change from the tight tracks before, but very welcome.

Wytch Hazel is a surprising next one, with their self titled track. It reminds me of Iron Maiden in the Blaze Bailey days (around Virtual XI). Mellow, clean sung and quite endearing to the listener. You almost want to go back when the biting vocals of Wretch follow this track on ‘Running out of Days’. A really big stadium sound can be heared when the tune ‘Dark Desires’ by Spell is unleashed. Again, Maiden… Saxon.. it has that typical NWOBHM feel to it. The vocals even feel like they’re from that era, though a bit too slick for my tastes. The same goes for the exclusive Wytch Hazel track ‘Surrender’ that follows and Flight‘s ‘Escape’, though its some mellow listening. and quite energetic stuff.

Ansomvel from England plays some sleazy, agressive heavy metal the way you know and love. ‘Shoot Ya Down’ is not a complex track, but a show of force with a Venom/Motörhead-like bite to it. Good stuff! Swedish The Tower follows with a ripping track titled ‘Wounds’. A solid boogie tune with some strict but strangely fitting vocals. There’s a solidity in the flow of the song, which I love and that peculiar vocalist really completes it.

This cool collection ends with ‘Die Screaming’ by Satan’s Satyrs. Screams of despair over a slowly progressing track, that sounds as if it is sliding down into a pit of despair. Wow, just wow this stuff. Bad Omen really wove together a collection that ignites the imagination with an oldschool feel, exactly what you’d take from the cover. Drums from the deep!

 

Underground Sounds: Spaceslug – Time Travel Dilemma

Label:
Band: Spaceslug
Origin: Poland

I got to know Spaceslug thanks to their amazing album ‘Lemanis’ (read the review here). The Polish band truly embraces the spaced out stoner sound like not many band have done in recent years. Unlike the Bongzilla’s of this world, Spaceslug really let’s every riff ride out its trajectory, not trying to go for that constant hitting the heavy riffs.

The  group has now dropped the follow up, titled ‘Time Travel Dlilemma’. On the cover we see the Space Slug travelling into the great beyond. The great print really fits the futuristic, dreamy sound of the band. What I love so much is how this all seems to come so natural to the guys, like a walk in the park. I felt that same thing when I published this short interview.

The trio seems to be taking things a bit more serious on this album. The previous record sounded great, but it is clear that more work went into this new effort. The sound is more balanced, more purposeful. Languid, easy going riffs really float by, nowhere does it really touch that solidity that is familiar from most stoner. It’s really meandering and drifting through space on the heavy but somehow mellow riffs on the titletrack ‘Orion’.

The mis seems to be on purpose a bit hazy on tracks like ‘Living the Eternal Now’, to make the interplay between the notes as smooth and dreamy as possible. Spaceslug have found their niche along bands like Mantra MachineSungrazer and maybe even some Colour Haze. On the title track Sander Haagmans from Sungrazer actually sings. There’s no real propulsion, no earthiness to their sound on this record, which distiniguishes them from the feisty, driven stoner bands with sand between their teeth. When Bartosz Janik is singing, he’s never doing that biting, agressive thing, he just sings to the void. The reverberating bass, the soaring riffs…

In space there is no wind, no weight, no direction and that is translated into the music of Spaceslug. This album definitely connects with the genre at large, but melts in shoegaze and postrock to create a new dimension. Spaceslug measures their force and slowly slides onward to stardom.

 

 

Underground Sounds: Alseyoung – Who Passes Through Fire

Label: Self released
Band: Alseyoung
Origin: United States

There’s a remarkable amount of good doom metal out there these days. Doom as a genre has not really changed much over the years, which is why it is often overlooked. The quality of doom metal is not necessarily in experimenting. The strength of doom is in its way of evoking feelings with their listeners. Alseyoung clearly got that point on their demo/debut ‘Who Passes Through Fire’.

So who was Alse Young? Alse Young is the first recorded instance of execution for witchcraft in the American colonies. We know little about the woman. Her husband accused her of witchcraft. He provided ample proof it seems. So Alse Young was soon convicted and executed for this crime. A faith that befell many back in the day. Like many cases the surrounding context made the accusations highly dubious and probably money was the main reason for this accusation. You kow how things like this go. The name sounds great for a band though.

The one man band has collected all the demo recordings into one collection, which creates pretty much an album. There’s a bit of variation in the sound, but the record sounds pretty coherent. We have the horror samples as well to add to the vibe of this ‘Puritan Witchcraft Doom’ album. From classic St. Vitus riffs on ‘The Shadow of a Woman’, with the big, colossal riffs, we move to a more sinister sound on ‘Thy Blood’. On this track we get creeping vocals and tremolo guitar play to create a more black metal ambiance. Another dimension of the sound is on ‘Blood, Stone, Soil, Fire’, which approaches the more raw, distorted doom of Warhorse.

Alseyoung is not the most tight sounding band, so the classic doom riffs are only now and then a part of the sound. The creeping, onholy sounds of the vocals in concert with the riffs gives a cavernous, underground feeling to the music. The recording quality varies here and there. This is only logical, since it is a collection of demo recordings.  What I find that a lot of the material lacks is a  serieus bit of storytelling. I mean that in the sense of the song, staying relatively constant and not really looking for the dramatic and epic moments that define doom metal. It’s all about the progression of the song with Alseyoung. A bit more dramatic climax wouldn’t hurt.

I think we might hear more from this Massachusets act in the future.

 

Underground Sounds: Tetraskel – Preindoeuropean Metal

Label: Independent
Band: Tetraskel
Origin: Spain

Somewhere in time, we became the Indo-European Europe, that we are today. Somewhere in time there was a before and that is exactly which is used as inspiration by the band Tetraskel from Basque country in Spain. A band I have not been able to find out much about, but their sound is colossal.

Whether you believe that before all of this we had the Hyperborean times or such, we know that life was brutal, harsh and primitive in the days before what we now call civilization. I’m not writing here to defend or attack our current day, but trying to paint with broad strokes what Tetraskel is about. The name itself is a shortened form of tetraskelion, which refers to the pagan swastika symbol. The band has a specific kind of artwork they use, with sort of vague depictions of humans, combined with animals in a peculiar harmony that suggests a closeness we hardly understand in this time and age.

The music is slow, droning and progressing with megalithic strides. Slow and laborous, but with a blazing epic sound to it. The music sounds very grand, impressive in its relative simplicity. The fundament is a heavy beating drum, but the calmly soaring guitars are pretty much steadily giving of that same toiling sound. The sound is a bit too wavery to compare with some of the heavy as hell stoner bands, like Conan or such, who have that monolithic heaviness. Halfway through this album I had my doubts about this one-man project.

While not having vocals is often a way of shifting the focus to the music, Tetraskel seems to lack a certain variety in their songs, but do they need it? The majestic doom feels not unlike Atlantean Kodex or even a bit of the later work by Earth at times. The heavy sound of the band has that black edge to it, which feels so incredibly dark and foreboding. It’s perhaps the knowledge that this time of the Pre-Indo Europeans is soon to be over. That’s what Tetraskel is all about, the piercing guitar work, the otherworldliness and grandeur. A forgotten age illuminated with a sound that adresses the tragic passage of time and the

Underground Sounds: Night Gaunt – Jupiter’s Fall

Label: Temple of Mystery Records
Band: Night Gaunt
Origin: Italy

Who doesn’t like old fashioned doom metal? You know, doom the way it supposed to be. Well, if your answer is no, you should look no further. You wouldn’t understand how cool Night Gaunt is.

Night Gaunts are creatures from Lovecrafts unearthly tales, most particularly the Dream Cycle. There is little reference to the Lovecraftian tale though, but that’s alright. This release has two songs that are big and bold enough to stand on their own. It’s been released as an EP and is the first act of the band since their full length in 2014. Though this is not that much material, their whole aesthetic spoke to me enough to check it out.

The first track is the tragic, gloomy title track ‘Jupiter’s Fall’. It clocks just under six minutes and immediately hits you with the slowly progressing, big riffs. The minor tones are instant guarantee’s for a feeling of sadness and remorse, but the interesting gong sounds do wake you up from the nodding to the beat. The vocals by ‘Gc’ are smooth, even seductive to be fair. Sparsely using the vibrato in his voice, there’s an uncommon subtlety to the singers delivery, which is the right sort of magic for a haunting doom album. The sound has a bit of echo to it, making it sound more cavernous even.

‘Penance’ is the other side of the 7″ this is released as, with an urgent guitar line that hits you instantly. The song is more creeping, subtle like a snake that is wrapping itself around the listener. This song then does get a bit more muscular with the sturdy riffing, that never fails to have a sturdy, gothic demeanor to it. The pulsating rhythm does its part as well,  even giving a hint of an oriental twist in the delivery.

Night Gaunt delivers on their promise. Doom with a pitchblack flavor.

Underground Sounds: Kylver – The Island

Label: independent
Band: Kylver
Origin: United Kingdom

These gentlemen from Newcastle in the United Kingdom are not just musicians, they are storytellers with a clear affinity to the works of H.P. Lovecraft if I’m not deceived by what I read about ‘The Island’. This is the second album from the Geordies (if you can use that still to refer to normal people as well) and well worth your time. Time to listen to Kylver.

The four piece has a story to tell about sailers who get lost on sea, ending up in a different realm where an ancient race dwells. The confrontation is crushing the human minds, which are not accustomed to the awesomeness of such vast knowledge and wisdom and the sole survivor begs to be released. This is a wild concept, not unakin to some of the dream-sagas of Lovecraft, but brought to you in an instrumental rock/doom/stoner way.

The sound of Kylver is progressive and explorative, combining elements of the stoner/doom sound with more playful elements, like keyboards to create these meandering passages and paint the vistas of the story. The threatening tone that you often hear, specially on albums with a nautical theme it seems, remind me of artists like Ahab. It feels like a typical stylistic direction, where the vibe of the ocean is put into the music.

The album is a continuous progression, where the progressive elements create debt and coloring to the sound. Sometimes sounding haunting and omnious, like the (almost) 10 minute epic ‘Monolith’, but other times picking up the right timbre and emotions for the section of the story the band wishes to adress. What’s most impressive is the cohesion of the tracks and the whole album. Never do your feel like you’re listening to separate songs. Though it is not very common, they could have released ‘The Island’ as a 40 minute track and it would be awesome (but tricky for the hopefully soon to be released vinyl).

The closer ‘The Great Race’ is an almost teasing, slightly remorseful tune with thunderous drums, where the proggy qualities of the band really shine for a bit, in the way the dense atmosphere is put down. This record is an experience. Did I mention the wonderful artwork? Because I should, it’s great.