Label: Fuck OFF and DIY Band: Basalto Origin: Portugal
Portugal has a distinct scene and produces some really good music, that remains out of sight and sort of underground. Basalto it’s as heavy as the volcanic fine-grained rock and just as black. Active since 2015, they just unleashed their second full-length effort, titled ‘Doença’.
On this album, arriving only 2 years after their eponymous debut, the band explores new, darker themes. It helps them to create something particularly heavy and dense, with a remarkable amount of feeling in its punch and dark vibes. The trio definitely has that down and creates a sound that is very much their own version of stoner/doom.
The ten-minute long opener ‘VII’ is an instant hit, grinding your face through volcanic ash with intriguing rhythms, that never feel like languid stoner passages. A certain jagged aspect makes the beating drive you, always on edge, constantly pushing for something. Listening to Basalto, you instantly detect a need for something primitive in their sound. The almost primal pummeling and dark, oppressive atmosphere permeates everything on this record.
Accompanying the album is a text by Martin Sousa, titled ‘Doença’, which tells the tale fo darkness in mankind. That is emulated in the sound, on numeral tracks like ‘X’ and ‘XI’, which both carry a sense of foreboding and darkness in their ominous sounding guitar lines and blood-curdling bass lines. It’s as if you listen to a stream of magma, which never goes for the big arches or deep drops, but steadily moves forward. On ‘XII’ however, we get to rock out for a bit, with energetic drumming, funky guitars and a driven bass. The record could use a bit more of that energy, but all in all deeply, dark immersive piece of music.
The band Marijannah hails from Singapore and plays a very fresh and catchy style of stoner/doom. Inspired by films, their music is captivating, playful and a bit unnerving at times. Havint checked out their recent release, I needed to know more about them.
Signed to Pink Tank Records, their ‘Till Marijannah’ is well worth a spin if you haven’t heard it yet. To get you started, first learn something more about the band and where they come from.
Marijannah takes you to Paradise
Hey Marijannah, how’s everything going?
How did your band get started and where does the name come from?
We all individually wanted to try something different outside the usual styles of music we’ve been playing for years in each of our respective bands and this is something we’ve never created before.
The name is sort of an accidental double entendre initially. It loosely translates to “come to paradise” in Malay, which is a native language where we’re from and it’s also bluntly a pun to you-know-what.
What inspired you to make this particular sound your own? To me ,it feels very much like a mixture of classic psychedelic rock with a hint of occult rock on a thick slab of stoner, which together gives off this timeless sound. What do you think?
I don’t know if we do but if anybody thinks we sound any different from the usual stoner/doom, it’s really just because half of us never regularly listened to this style of music up until like a year ago. We all have roots in different genres. Some of us come from a punk/emo/hardcore background and some of us almost strictly listen to extreme metal so it’s truly a mash of clashing influences.
Can you tell me how you wrote and recorded the album ‘Till Marijannah’? How did the process go and what sort of working method do you have?
Rasyid writes most of the music and I write the lyrics. We record riffs on our shitty phones and send them to each other on a daily basis and dig em out when we need to. There was quite a bit of spontaneity in the studio as well, using weird, new pedals and ancient gongs lying around the room.
I’m interested to learn what inspired the four separate songs. They all have a distinct quality and theme but differ a lot. So what stories and inspiration did you use for each? I’m particularly interested in All Hallow’s Eve.
Lyrically, they’re all tributes to films. I’m a big “film buff” and they go hand in hand with heavy music aesthetically. All Hallow’s Eve is of course about John Carpenter’s “Halloween” and the “Laurie” mentioned is Laurie Strode, portrayed by Jamie Lee Curtis in the series.
Tell me more about the artwork. Who did it and what inspired it? I originally thought I was going to listen to something more like Yes!
Again, it was a mash of very different ideas we all had individually backed and executed by a very talented artist in mr. Riandy Karuniawan. Like most metal musicians, we like sci-fi imagery and mystical shit so there’s that.
What sort of response did you get this far to the record and what future plans do you currently have?
They’ve been almost all positive from what I’m aware of. I don’t really pay much attention to reviews, I think the record is dope and so does most of my friends who have a good taste. We’re working on new material right now and have been jamming about 5-6 new tunes, probably aiming to enter the studio by August. We’ll be announcing a short tour really soon, maybe it’ll be announced by the time this interview is out and we have another planned for the year’s end.
Is having a Rasyid in Wormrot in any way limiting for what you can do with Marijannah? Do you feel that your other bands in general have an influence on your output?
Not at all. Neither band is looking to be super busy or touring full-time and I think the rotation works well for Rasyid and the rest of us. I think its inevitable that we will share certain influences amongst our bands, we’re the same people as we are in other projects, just expressed differently through multiple entities.
What is currently happening in the heavy scene of Singapore that the world really should not miss out on? Like exciting bands etc?
Radiant Archery, Bethari, Hollowthreat, HRVST, Yumi, Zodd. None of them are similar to us but all worth checking out.
If you had to compare Marijannah to a dish, what would it be and why?
Bolognese. Rustic, traditional, timeless, best served hot and consumed wearing dark-coloured clothing.
Label: Pink Tank Records
Band: Marijannah Origin: Singapore
Marijannah is a project that features members from Wormrot and The Caulfield Cult. As their bio says, two of the hardest touring bands from the island nation Singapore. As it often is, these gents had an itch to do something different. That is, to play stoner/doom, which they do surprisingly well and now on their first record ‘Till Marijannah’.
The band started out in 2016 and it being a side-project, took its time to really get going with their heavy, psychedelic sound and release a record. Sounding rather classical and hazy, this band definitely harks back to the retro-doom sound you hear coming up on and off. Think of bands like The Sword and maybe even a bit of that St. Vitus or Goatsnake vibe. It’s helluvalot catchy.
The foundation of the sound Marijannah offers is a rock-melting buzz of bass and drums, that never lets up. A solid stoner bass on which to build the tunes so to say, like the classics. The lyrics are steeped in horror influences with an occult flavor on opener ‘1974’ and the following ‘Snakecharmer’. It’s really comfortable music to sink into and just ride its waves as you listen to their spaced out sounds. I have to point out the cover, with an interesting color pattern. Definitely does its job too.
Powerful repetition shapes the track ‘Bride of Mine’, which even harks a bit to the sound of Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats with its snarling, whiny sound that just clings to you. The snide sound of the track is pretty catchy. ‘All Hallows End’ is the strange big rock anthem on this record. It stands out like a sore thumb, which is exactly what makes it so interesting. The emotional vocals and the ooh and aah backing makes for a pleasant outro, with creepy lyrics of course.
The charm of Marijannah is that they don’t do anything overly complex. It’s pretty straight forward stuff, but with a tinge of their very own mystery. Looking forward to seeing this live.
Label: Magnetic Eye Records Band: Year of the Cobra Origin: United States
I like that Year of the Cobra is not a regular band. It’s a duo that also is in a relationship with each other. That sounds pretty weird, since relations are always an intense form of being together. To add a band to that, jeez… the fights they must have in the Barrysmith home in Seattle. I would prefer not to get caught up in that. It does result in ample releases though.
But without making light of it, for these two it works and it produces beautiful, harmonious music. The full length is already a little behind us, so ‘ Burn Your Dead’ is a welcome bit of new material after the success of ‘…In the Shadows Below’. The theme seems to linger in warrior/Viking imagery and occult feeling songs, with that typical crawly vibe to them. Now, maybe I’m mythicizing the place a bit, but it’s so typical that a unique sound like this comes from Seattle, isn’t it?
It felt a little quiet around this band, but Year of The Cobra easily regains their status with this new EP. From the first notes of ‘Cold’, the foreboding sound of their psychedelic doom grabs you. The seductive, slivering sound of the bass/drum combo heavily relies on the husky voice of Amy Barrysmith, who can also wail like a banshee if need be. A chill runs up your spine when she wails the words to the songs.
The music moves with the grace of a cobra. Slow and deliberate towards its goal with an almost slithering smoothness. Sometimes, the intensity increases. This happens on ‘Burn Your Dead’, the title-track, where the vocals are filtered through (I suppose) a megaphone, has a frantic pace and energy to it. What is particularly enjoyable about Year of the Cobra, is how there’s a certain kind of groove in their sound. It feels warm, immersive and pleasant to sink into. Check out, in particular, the bewitching ‘The Howl’, which will totally drag you under. Good stuff, so looking forward to the next full length.
In the Marvel Universe, Kurse is a dark elf, named Algrim the Strong, who becomes the champion of the dark elves in the overpowering armor of Kurse. You can see him in the Thor film, he’s quite bad-ass. It’s where the band Kurse takes the name from for their debut EP ‘Tales of the Wizard’.
The Québecois group is a newcomer to the doom/stoner scene. They’ve definitely has taken a good look at the more melodic bands in the genre, that focus more on the emotional sound. The threesome from Montréal has not got any particular band history to point to. Judging by this record, that is quite a surprise. The debut sounds stunningly good.
The opening of ‘Antagonism’ has the magical beauty and simple joy of an Opeth acoustic. That takes almost five minutes to be dispelled by one of those surging riffs that you just have to surf along on. The harsh vocals of Felix Pageau are a bit lower in the mix, but the sharpness of his bark really makes it break through the tide. By the time ‘The Giant’ kicks in, the band has a full-on groove going, with cascading mega guitars and that typical hazy sound.
It’s that psychy haze that really makes Kurse stand out. With the cover and band name, you expect the sort of cool, epic sound, but the band really goes into a more dreamy direction. Vision becomes blurry, as the drums just keep hitting and hitting. ‘Mythos’ really turns into a bass-heavy, gritty onslaught. Think of Sleep, ElectricWizard, and Ufomammut and you’ll get the gist of things. I keep returning to those cool vocals, which sound a bit choked off, but always right on track on ‘Four Princes’.
Kurse sounds quite promising on this EP and a full length may be what they need to really craft something amazing.
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.
Label: Cold Smoke Records Band: Hey Satan Origin: Switzerland
Ok, I’ll admit that I started listening to this band for the simple reason that their name is Hey Satan. Sue me, it’s a catchy name and the artwork also looked appealing. As you may have guessed, there’s nothing black metal about this record, but there’s some good sounds to get down to on this record.
Hey Satan hails from Switzerland, a basis for cool and catchy tunes. Bands from there often have their own approach to things and these guys sound nothing like you’d picture a Swiss band to sound like. The music the group produces is that of a sun scorched desert, with a cold beer in your hand. Oh yeah!
Blearing riffs that seem to hang in the still air endlessly, grooving vocals… this is stoner the way we love it! Fuzzy effects create that sweltering, hot sound on ‘Legal Aspects of Love’. The traces of grunge still freshly detectable in the slow, heavy guitar parts, this is some stuff to rock out to. The delivery is perfect, but with a bite when the band adds some agression to the mix.
Think Queens of the Stone Age/Kyuss, but with a little twist here and there. The continuous warm, fuzzy wall of guitars creates that feeling of everything standing still. For a moment and then it all takes of and you can almost smell the tarmac under your wheels. Vocalist Francois can switch between that static style of singing to the more energetic, pumped up style of Neil Fallon (yes, the guy from Clutch). Then again, the band can sound really big on songs like ‘Bastardizer’.
The coolest thing about this record, is that it is immensely energetic, upbeat and catcy. Sure, it’s sticking to the classic road to glory, but there’s a reason that this works. Surprising track is ‘Black Flags Down’, which is smooth and catchy one moment and harsh and violent the other. There’s a lot of skill here and this band has everything to entice fans of the genre once more with this debut.
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 Machine, Sungrazer 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.
Label: Vintage Records Band: Bantha Rider Origin: Poland
Do you remember that glorious cover of ‘Dopesmoker’ by Sleep? The procession through the desert? Amazing artwork, is it not? Now… don’t those guys look like the sand people from Star Wars? You get where I’m going, because Bantha Rider clearly takes inspiration from the Star Wars universe (where a Bantha is a beast of burden) and the reknowned stoner kings.
This group doesn’t hail from a desert region though, but from Poland. The country seems to have a fair share of wacky stoner bands on offer. I’ve previously enjoyed the work of Spaceslug for example, which is one of the most puzzling names in the extreme metal scene. But it’s good stuff and that goes for Bantha Rider too.
‘Sandcrawler’ opens this instrumental journey with a bass heavy trajectory of glowing, sandy hills. There’s the bleakness of endless sand captivated in the music. Repetitive, captivating riffs guide the music through the waste land that makes up the home of the sand people. The bumpy ride on a Bantha must sound pretty much the way this tune does.
‘Uta tuta Solo (Greedo’s Funeral)’ just continuous on the same trod. A dry, unpolished sound is mostly the result of the production, but that actually works in favor of the band in this cace. On ‘Jawa Juice’ we get some spaced out sound, where apparently the juice is causing some ruckus it seems. Soaring, floating guitar work seems to incoherently roll forward, without much of the tightness we heard before. It’s a cool moment of lingering in the sonic haze.
Closer of the EP is the stomping ‘Sarlacc’s Pit’. A furious assault of thunderous drumming and growling guitars. It’s the feisty stomping sound to send the listener of. The sand people raise their sticks above their heads and shout it out in victory!
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.