Monday, 21 August 2017

MONOLORD - Rust (Album Review)


Release date: September 29th 2017. Label: RidingEasy Records. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

Rust – Tracklisting

1.Where Death Meets The Sea
2.Dear Lucifer
3.Rust 05:39
4.Wormland
5.Forgotten Lands
6.At Niceae

Band Members

Thomas V Jäger - Guitars & vocals
Esben Willems - Drums
Mika Häkki - Bass

Review

Writing a review it’s always a difficult task. In most cases it is because the album you are listening to does not take you too much though, perhaps, played majestically. Sometimes, however, you may be in trouble because what you are reviewing is one of the best album played by one of your favorite bands.

Today I’ll talk about the last venture of the trio composed by Mika Häkki, Esben Willems and Thomas Jäger, the bass, drum and guitars/vocals of one of the heaviest doom bands of the world, Monolord, from Gothenburg, Sweden. In the last few years, the band have released some of the best sludge/doom albums, while still maintaining a melodic vein that clearly defines their style. With Vaenir (Riding Easy Records) Monolord showed the world a new perspective of the genre, cleverly mixing a bunch of influences behind the definition of doom.

Me and my bandmate in Dustrider, Francesco, were lucky enough to see them in Berlin at the Desertfest, and we were totally fascinated by their show, which was by no means the best show of that edition. A wall of brutal sound with no compromise. I think also the horse-head-guy in the photo enjoyed as well.


Now, Monolord come back with a new stunning album, Rust (Riding Easy Records) that certainly did not disappoint the expectation of old fans. Starting from the cover art, which is simply amazing and with a strong visual impact, the album travels through a path that cleverly mixes doom with sludge and stoner, using even harmonic solutions hardly audible in other, similar, releases. The single track Rust, although a pure sludge song, is a breath of fresh air with its barren atmosphere and droning sounds, thanks also to the presence of special guests as John Gamino from Mondo Drag on keyboards and Trevor Church of Beastmaster.

What seems to be much from this album is the ongoing search for a trial that has led to more articulate constructions and to a composite verve of high bill. This approach seems evident in songs like Forgotten Lands, where the brutal assault of the initial riffage, masterfully supported by the monolithic rhythm section, is interrupted by a psychedelic mantra driven by the voice of Thomas.

At Niceae is, by no means, my favorite song of the album. I love the way with which Monolord manage to give the listener different perspectives, especially in the final part of the song, where droning meets Pink Floyd. Throughout the album I have the feel of a band which has grown in the shortest time and, most likely, has a world of fun in their work.

What else? My personal opinion is that Rust can be considered the best album of Monolord, until the next one. I love when a band manages to be faithful to their own sound and attitude while being able to reinvent each and every album more and more.

See you in Italy, guys!

Words by Bruno Bellisario
Thanks to Dave at US/THEM PR Group for the promo. Rust will be avaiable to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl via RidingEasy Records from September 29th 2017.
Links:

Tuna de Tierra - S/T (Album Review) and Exclusive Song Premiere of LAGUNA


Release date: September 22nd 2017. Label: Argonauta Records. Format: CD/DD

Tuna de Tierra – S/T – Tracklisting

1.Slow Burn
2.Morning Demon
3.Out of Time
4.Long Sabbath's Day
5.Raise of the Lights
6.Mountain
7.Laguna

Band Members

Alessio De Cicco: guitar, vocals
Luciano Mirra: bass guitar
Jonathan Maurano: drums

Review

The debut s/t album from Italian Desert/Stoner Rockers – Tuna de Tierra – lives and breathes the legendary Californian Desert Rock scene. Taking influence from the usual assortment of bands and artists from that scene. Tuna de Tierra are not breaking any new ground but their debut album is still a highly promising and hugely entertaining album. With the band playing a more epic style of desert/stoner rock jams and especially from the Kyuss school of sound.

The vocals from Alessio may sound jarring for some and may take a few moments to get used to his style of vocals. He's a great singer and offers a different style of vocals within the Desert/Stoner Rock world.

The opening track – Slow Burn – is an instrumental track that sets up the scene with psychedelic desert rock sounds being the main order of business. It's quite heavy in parts and even manages to bring some atmospheric post-rock vibes to the mix.

Second track – Morning Demon – is an almost dreamlike song with the band adding a more progressive style of music. The music drifts from heavy stoner sounds to the more laid-back psychedelic desert riffs that appear on different parts of the song.

Third track – Out Of Time – is a 10 minute plus song that starts rather slowly with an almost blues rock sound. The band carry on with this style of music for the first few moments. Until the band start adding familiar sounding desert/stoner sounds. The song finally becomes heavier around the 4th minute and it breathes new life into this song. This is one of the best songs on the album as Tuna de Tierra finally begin to feel comfortable with their own sound and the world around them.

Fourth track – Long Sabbath's Day – is the weakest song on this album. As It brings nothing to the album. It kills the mood of the entire album with it's slowly played blues sound.

Tuna de Tierra turn things around and return to winning ways with the final 3 songs on the album - Raise Of The Lights, Mountain and Laguna. The band play their way through a different assortment of genres and sounds that play's to the bands strengths as musicians. The sound is more Blues Rock based compared to the earlier parts of the album. Though the band never forget their Desert/Stoner Rock roots as Mountain and Laguna sees the band return to that world. It allows the album to end on an exciting finish.

Overall, Tuna de Tierra's debut album is a well produced affair and one that's worth checking out. If you want a more Blues Rock driven Desert/Stoner Rock album, then Tuna de Tierra maybe the band for you.

Words by Steve Howe
You can listen to the excellent new song – Laguna – from the album which Argonauta Records are kindly letting ourselves premiere.


Thanks to Argonauta Records and NeeCee Agency for the promo and song premiere.

Tuna de Tierra S/T album will be available to buy on CD/DD via Argonauta Records from September 22nd 2017.
Links:

Hair Of The Dog - The World Turns (Album Review)


Release date: July 14th 2017. Label: Kozmik Artifactz. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

The World Turns – Tracklisting

1.This World Turns 09:37
2.Keeping Watch Over The Night 07:04
3.Ctrl-Alt-Delete 04:03
4.The Colours in Her Skin 05:55
5.In Death's Hands 07:07
6.4AM 07:41

Band Members

Adam Holt - Guitar/Vocals
Jon Holt - Drums
Iain Thomson - Bass

Review

Scottish Psych/Classic Rockers – Hair Of The Dog – return with a more trippier and progressive album with The World Turns. It's without doubt their heaviest work to date and it sees the band play a more doomier sound compared to past releases. Hair Of The Dog still retain their earlier classic rock sound first discovered on their previous two albums.

Opening track – The World Turns – is parts prog rock, classic rock, stoner rock with influences from from Kadavar, Uncle Acid, Black Sabbath and Thin Lizzy being felt through the different rhythms of the song. The song may overstay it's welcome by the odd minute or so but Hair Of The Dog create exciting psychedelic riffs with flourishes of 70s prog rock holding everything together.

The opening song sets out the groundwork for the rest of the album to follow and Hair Of The Dog don't really put a foot wrong with outstanding songs such as Keeping Watching Her Over The Night, The Colours In Her Skin, In Death's Hands and 4AM. The vocals from Adam are excellent from the start. As he displays a wide range of emotions and puts in his best vocal performance to date on this album.

The lyrics have quite an epic and classic rock feel. They remind me of Thin Lizzy at times and I mean that as a huge compliment. Hair Of The Dog embrace their classic roots on this album but still showing a real flair and passion for the modern stoner/doom sounds they inject to the overall atmosphere of the album.

The production is excellent and I wouldn't expect anything less from Hair Of The Dog. As their previous albums have always sounded superb. This album has more volume and you can feel it when the albums heaviest moments appear.

The World Turns makes you appreciate bands such as Hair Of The Dog even more. As they're 3 albums into their musical journey and you wonder what they will come up next. Until then, play this fucker HEAVY and LOUD. As you'll be playing this album for days, weeks and months to come!!!

Excellent and Highly Recommended.

Words by Steve Howe
Links:


Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Night - Passages (Album Review)


Release date: August 25th 2017. Label: Hand/Eye Records. Format: CD/DD

Passages – Tracklisting

Drift
Parallel
Passages
Shapeshifter
Breathe
Alluvion

Band Members

Bobby Yagodich - Guitar
Matt Jackson - Bass
Zach Nace - Guitar
Mark Bixler - Drums

Review

Passages is the second album from Post-Rock/Post-Metal Instrumentalists - NIGHT. Night released their last album back in 2015. That album was a very good album indeed. Dark, dense, heavy and with enough progressive post-rock/post-metal riffs to keep fans of Pelican and Russian Circles entertained for days. This album sees Night in a more robust and reflective mood. 

Opening track - Drift - is a seventy second burst of ambient/psych post-rock murky sounds with a foreboding doom atmosphere.

Second track - Parallel - opens with an operatic style sound that allows Night to create almost heavenly sounds. Noises are slowly added before a familiar post-rock style riff appears and the song moves into cinematic post-rock territory. The interplay between the psychedelic noises and experimental post-rock sounds offer an almost counter balance to each other. Quiet for the most part and played at a fast pace. Elements of heavier post-rock passages slowly make their intentions known. The instrumental work has a semi-acoustic feel with the post-metallic drums driving the rhythm along. It's quite an uplifting song that channels the early days of Pelican and Russian Circles to perfection.

Third track - Passages - is an epic ten minute song that finally add the Post-Metal element to the album with more of the strange psychedelic and almost noise rock riffs being played too loud levels. The drumming is very good on this song but it can be under-produced at times. The song gradually builds to a very loud experience before the band stop everything in their tracks and opt for a mellow post-rock sound. Pounding drums save the day as Night flirt between Post-Rock ambience and Post-Metal dominance.

The second half of the album sees Night carry on and progress with their hybrid Psychedelic Post-Rock/Post-Metal journey with the final three songs - Shapeshifter, Breathe and Alluvion - driving and finishing the album to its natural conclusion. The best two tracks on the album are in my opinion - Breathe and Passages. As they offer the best representation in what Night are all about. Crushing guitar solos, intense drumming and a keen eye for sound experimentation.

If you think these guys are another Pelican or Russian Circles clone. Think again. As Night have created a very bold and daring Post-Rock/Post-Metal album. The use of psychedelic space rock noises is one of the albums main strengths. As it holds everything together on Passages. 

The production is mainly superb throughout. Sure there's a few rough parts towards the start. Once everything settles down, the album opens up to be an exciting and daring take within the Instrumental Post-Rock/Post-Metal fields of music.

Words by Steve Howe
Links:

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

An Interview With BETWEEN THE LINES

Irish Progressive Rock Band – Between The Lines – were an unknown entity to myself when I reviewed their excellent new S/T album. I was impressed how the band merge different genres of music and how they written some bleak lyrics to give their album an overall dark mood.

The album has won some minor acclaim within the Doom/Stoner Metal community. Even though the band focus on different genres of music other than Doom and Stoner Metal. I had to find out more about these guys and they kindly agreed to this interview.

Hi guys. How are things with you today.


Hey folks, very well thanks.

Can you give a brief history of how the band came about and where it is today.


Albert, Adrian, Mac and Conor are childhood friends who played in different bands separately and together before we started Between The Lines in late 2013. Long time bassmeister friend Eoghain joined in summer 2015 when our original one Mimmo left to pursue other ventures. We have our debut album out, done gigs around Ireland with more to follow, writing new tunes and are growing all the time.

How would you describe your overall sound.

There’s a few things going on we reckon. Rock, gritty, dark, haunting, heavy, hypnotic, melodic, prog, groove, soulful, eerie...




We are here to talk about your new album. What can people expect from the album.

Seven songs, forty six and a half minutes, and a broad dynamic range with a sense of transition between each. There's dark and eerie clean guitars and intricacies to crunchy and chainsaw like riffs, thumping bass, tribal-esque grooves and steady beats, introspective soulful lyrics and harmonies combined with shifts between rhythms and time signatures to create a world full of heavy atmosphere.

What influenced you all when recording the album.

Drinking, Mary Jane, and a sense of isolation in the bleak Connemara wilderness.

It's a very dark album. Was it a depressing time when recording the album. Or is it just how the album ended up sounding when you finished recording it.

No not really. It was exciting, fulfilling, and major craic! We've had these songs for a long time so to finally get them recorded after various roadblocks life deals you was immensely satisfying. There was plenty of spontaneity and ideas and sounds to experiment with at the time of recording to enhance the vibes already there.

What influences you when writing the lyrics. As like the music itself, the lyrics contain some bleak themes but also some hopeful moments as well.
Life and experiences in it. Beauty and/from pain. Honesty. Some are about a view of the world, others are about bad experiences and the struggles they can inflict, while more themes are about questioning the wisdom and understanding of certain actions and decisions.

What is the song-writing dynamic in the band. Is it a group participation or down to one individual.

It's a group participation. Initially we jam and write our own individual parts spawning from a riff, rhythm or guitar mood that sends a shiver up our spines. As it comes together we each have our own thoughts and ideas for various structures, each others instruments, and lyrics to try out different things and directions. We experiment a lot with each one and if it strikes something inside us and we feel it, it stays. It's very much twenty percent a man, we are all equal in it.




Are you all involved with different musical projects or is Between The Lines your main band.
For Albert, Mac and Adrian Between The Lines is our only band. Eoghain plays with our good mates in Ten Ton Slug and Conor has an acoustic side project with our original bass player Mimmo.

What is your musical setup when performing or recording live. Is it an advanced setup or a basis setup.

It's a traditional basic rock/metal band set up. Two guitars, bass, drums, lead vocal, two backing vocals.

Your new album is winning some major praise within the Hard Rock/Metal community. Has that surprised you in how well the album has been received overall.

Yes a bit, very pleased also. We don't set out to please anyone but ourselves when writing. Never have, never will. We view it as once released it takes on a life of it’s own from there on in. Everyone has their own tastes so to see what we love come across in a positive light is a bit of a surprise, but a nice surprise for sure. And a big shout out from us to everyone who digs it!

How is the Hard Rock/Metal scene perceived in Republic Of Ireland. Is there a scene or community for you to perform regular or make contact with other bands.

Very healthy and active. There's tonnes of great, busy, and talented bands releasing deserve styles of rock and metal. They perform regularly at venues nationally and internationally, and at major festivals including Wacken Open Air, Download, Bloodstock, Metal Days and smaller lesser known ones. Yes a lot of bands work together with gigs and whatnot to help each other out so there is a genuine sense of camaraderie on the emerald isle.

Do you perform gigs in Republic Of Ireland regularly. Or do you have to travel further to perform on a regular basis.

Yes we play sometimes regularly, sometimes sporadically, depending on what and when offers come up. We play cities like our home-town Galway, Dublin, Cork, biker rallies, private parties and for anyone who wants to live us. We are hoping to get around more and abroad in the not too distant future so people there can live us too.




How is the music scene in both sides of Ireland generally. As Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland have a rich history of providing amazing bands over the years. Have you performed in Northern Ireland before. If so, how has the reception been to your music.

No not yet, but we are hoping to change that soon and set forth to the north. Once again very healthy and active like the republic. Gigs are weekly and lots of local and established big names play regularly.

Before you go, do you have anything to say to your fans.

A big sincere shout out and thanks to everyone who has enjoys our music and comes to gigs, for all the support and enthusiasm, and for joining us on this journey wherever it may lead. ‘You gotta find that place, you know you can't replace.’

Well guys, thanks for doing this. All the best with the new album.

Cheers folks and thank you. Slainte!

Words by Steve Howe and Between The Lines

Links:


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An Interview With Phil Wilkinson From BATTALIONS


UK Hardcore Sludge/Stoner Metal Mob – Battalions – first burst onto the scene back in 2010. Since then they've released two excellent and brutally heavy albums. 2016's – Nothing To Lose and their recently released follow up album – Moonburn.

Battalions merge heavy brutal sounds with some catchy Stoner Rock riffs. It's a common theme held within Moonburn, as Battalions will play a ferocious riff and then lay down some good old fashioned rock and roll to lighten the mood.

I caught up with Phil (Vocals) from Battalions to discuss the recording of the new album and working with Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studios.

Hi Phil. Thanks for doing the interview. How are things with you today.

Hi, thanks for giving us the interview! I’m doing very well thank you.

Can you give a brief history of how the band came together and where it is today.

Battalions started in January 2010 as a reaction to myself (Phil) and our original drummer being bored with the local scene in Hull and not being in a band ourselves, we wanted to create a caustic bass heavy sludgy band that Hull hadn’t seen for a long time. From there we have had many line-up changes, with the core unit now being together in various forms for around 4 years or so. Today we are the strongest unit we have ever been, playing more shows than ever and having a great time doing it!

We here to talk about your new album – Moonburn. What can people expect from this album.

Big riffs, big enough to chew on! Haha. Short punchy songs, but with enough bounce to get your head nodding, with harsh vocals to juxtapose the riffs, bringing it all together in one neat package of (what we think) are great songs and an album we are incredibly proud of.



You recorded this album with Chris Fielding over at Skyhammer Studios. What was that experienced like. As we all know that Chris is an amazing producer.

This is actually the second time we have worked with Chris, and you’re correct, he is an amazing producer! He is a perfectionist, so any missed notes or anything played ever so slightly out, you’re doing another take. But this is a great way to work, and helped us produce the album we knew we had in us.

Was this an easier or harder album to write and record for compared to your last album.

They were both written in different ways. Whereas ‘Nothing to Lose’ was more of a culmination of songs from the previous 5 years, picking the best with one or two written for the album, ‘Moonburn’ was consciously written as a set of songs to be an album, so we feel as a whole collection of songs, it has a better flow and feel to it than the previous release.

What are the underlying themes of the album.

There is no underlying theme lyrically on this album, again there are songs influenced by movies, personal songs about state of mind, and songs written tongue in cheek. As a band we never take ourselves completely seriously, and this shows in the lyrics.

What’s the song-writing dynamic within the band. Is it down to one individual or is it a group collective.

It always has and always will be a group dynamic, a lot of songs or riffs are borne out of extended improvised jam sessions in the practice room, rather than one person coming along and saying they have a new song written.

Moonburn is heavier and angrier than your last album with moments of heavier Sludgier sounds. Was that the plan to release something different and heavier compared to your last album.

There was no set goal in terms of writing something heavier or angrier, simply to write songs we would be happy to listen to and enjoy even if we didn’t write them. As this album was more of an effort to write songs for the album, I feel it definitely shows as a whole sound for the album.



Will you be touring this album heavily around your home-town and the UK. Or will it be one-off gigs and festival appearances.

We have plenty of gigs already sorted for the rest of the year and beyond. Although we don’t have an extended tour specifically to tour the album, the set consists heavily of new material, and we have a couple of shorter runs booked, namely with Scotland's ‘Psychotic Depression’ and California’s ‘Armed for Apocalypse’ in November.

Does Battalions have an advanced equipment setup when playing live or recording new material in the studio. What equipment do you use to get the trademark Battalions sound.

We’re a simple 4 piece band set up, nothing out of the ordinary. Which is nice as it means we can play anywhere and everywhere with ease! Equipment we use is:

Mapex Drums
Zildjian K Dark Custom Cymbals
Orange Amps
Laney Amps

All with big beefy sounds to bring a huge live sound!

Well Phil, thanks for doing this interview. Before you go do you have anything to say to your fans.

We would just like to thank every single person who has ever listened to us, caught us play a live show, bought any merch or simply come and said hello and given us kind words about the music we play, we love you all!!

All the best with your new album. Such a fantastic and brutally heavy album.

Thank you! We enjoyed doing the interview, and thanks for such kind words.

Words by Steve Howe and Phil Wilkinson

Links:


Battalions - Moonburn (Album Review)


Release date: August 5th 2017. Label: Hull Noise Collective. Format: CD/DD

Moonburn – Tracklisting

1.Skin Job 03:40
2.Lotion Basket 02:58
3.Moonburn 04:08
4.God's Cuntry 03:25
5.Betrayal & Delusion 03:53
6.Amazonian Woman (feat. Sam Orr - 1968) 02:51
7.Another Meaning for Death 05:40

Band Members On This Album

Phil Wilkinson - Vocals
Matt Dennett - Bass
Matt Walker - Drums
Pete Cross - Guitar
Mark Wood - Guitar
Sam Orr - Guest Solo on Amazonian Woman

Review

UK Sludge/Doom Metal Mob - Battalions - return with their second full length album - Moonburn. Recorded at Skyhammer Studios which is always a sign of great quality especially with Chris Fielding on board for this album. The album is loud, violent and harsh from the start with opening track – Skin Job - merging pulsating metallic grooves and angry hardcore punk based vibes with the heavier Doom/Sludge and even Thrash elements giving the band a well-rounded song. The vocals from Phil are precise and very direct as he chews his way through hardcore/metal growls though you can easily understand what he's singing about on each of the songs.

Second track - Lotion Basket - opens with a more modern hard rock/stoner sound with the band holding the aggression back for the first minute or so. The vocals are shouted towards you with superb confidence as Battalions create groovy and hard rocking riffs with an addictive edge. The music is played very fast and the band makes no apologies for doing so. The music can be very progressive in parts as they include many different elements of music on certain parts of the album.

Third track - Moonburn - is the standout track here with the band fusing modern sounding hard rock vibes with the sludgier and thrashier riffs. The music has a very cool balance between the more melodic parts and the angrier sludge/doom/stoner metal sounds. It's good to hear the band play a less aggressive style of music and focus more on melody.

This album sees Battalions having an early Kvelertak style sound especially with the melodic parts. This is still Battalions show and they impress throughout with their bombastic style of heavy addictive riffs. Fourth track – God's Cuntry - is another standout track on the album with the song starting off really slow before moving up a gear when the band plays heavier noises. The song has a party-like atmosphere. Or an intense moshpit style rhythm where everyone can lose control when the fast-paced moments appear.

The final three songs on the album - Betrayal & Delusion, Amazonian Woman and Another Meaning For Death - see the band add a Blackened Rock and Roll atmosphere to the proceedings. Vocals and riffs become slightly more aggressive as the band only have a few songs to prove once and for all their metal credentials. I say they have succeeded on every level as Moonburn is a raging slab of sludge rock fury.

I would have preferred if the album was on slightly longer as it doesn't even get passed the thirty minute mark. Other than that minor complaint, Battalions have created a hugely entertaining and superb debut album for you to listen to.

Words by Steve Howe
Links:

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