Saturday, 24 March 2018

BONG - Thought And Existence

Release date: May 04th 2018. Label: Ritual Productions. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

Thought And Existence – Tracklisting

The Golden Fields
Tlön Uqbar Orbis Tertiu


David Terry - Bass
Mike Smith - Drums
Mike Vest - Guitars


Legendary Doom/Drone collective - BONG - return with their new album - Thought and Existence. Their eighth album overall and their first studio album in three years. This album sees BONG carry on their trademark Drone/Doom sound with their style of sonic experimentation being varied throughout the album. We are only treated to two songs on the album but at least they both run past the seventeen mark.

The first track - The Golden Fields - opens slowly with a drone/ambient based sound before David's voice appears that helps creates an eerie atmosphere. BONG's familiar heavy drone guitars create slow epic sounds that have different levels of tone and aggression. The drumming is what really stands out. They may sound quiet at first but as the song progresses as Mike Smith makes you feel part of the whole gloomy experience.

The song has its fair share of psychedelic rock sounds though it's buried under a heavy avalanche of distorted drone/doom riffs. This album has quite a claustrophobic feel as BONG slowly change their style of music without your realising at first. We see a different side to BONG on the second half of the song. As they venture into heavy progressive rock and add more vocals to the mix.

The second and final song - Tion, Uqbar, Orbis, Tertius - sees BONG carry on with their sonic experimentation with an even more expansive sound. As BONG dive right in by playing their standard Doom/Drone sound. The Psychedelic sounding elements are more prominent here as BONG focuses more on playing a daring meditative style of Doom/Drone Metal. I don't know what more else I can say about this album.

Apart from BONG have created another wonderful sounding progressive doom metal odyssey. This is an album that works on so many different levels as BONG creates music for mind, body and soul. Thought and Existence is perhaps one of the best sounding albums of its kind being released this year. A classic sounding album from a band that are at the top of their game.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Cris at Ritual Productions for the promo. Thought And Existence will be available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl via Ritual Productions from May 04th 2018.


Earthless - Black Heaven (Album Review)

Release date: March 16th 2018. Label: Nuclear Blast Records. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

Black Heaven – Tracklisting

Gifted By The Wind
End To End
Electric Flame
Volt Rush
Black Heaven
Sudden End


Mario Rubalcaba
Isaiah Mitchell
Mike Eginton


Earthless have always been masters of their own audio reality, channelling a mix of Sabbath-esque power with ZZ Top inspired hard rocking boogie and the laid back and free vibe of their Californian homeland to create joyful soundscapes and on their masterful new album Black Heaven (a title inspired by the Joshua Tree night sky where the album was recorded) they let loose a mixture of sheer power, tight knit musical grooves and an improvised sense of freedom.

Aside from their awesome split release with Harsh Toke a couple of years ago, the band haven't released any material since 2013s From The Ages album but with Black Heaven, they blast back in fine style with an assured and potent return packed full of the riffs, groove and attitude that they are renowned for.

Black Heaven kicks off with the free flowing Gifted By The Wind, a song that alongside the driving energy and catchy riffs is a fine line in harmonica playing that compliments the song brilliantly and gets the album off to a rocking start and doesn't let up until the last notes from the albums beautifully mournful closing track Sudden End have rung out.

Tracks like the rolling Electric Flame and the aptly named Volt Rush (with a special mention of the killer guitar solos on this one) have a focus to them that gives off an awesome sense of both urgency and energy and both of theses tracks are non stop

The tracks again are largely massive instrumental freak outs but with the added addition of vocals on this album (only two of the six tracks on Black Heaven are wholly instrumental) and when those crooned vocals of guitarist/singer Isaiah Mitchell do surface, they sound immense and only enhance the cavernous Earthless sound even further and fit perfectly.

Drummer Mario Rubalcaba and bassist Mike Eginton also play faultlessly throughout and their groove combined by the non stop riffs from Mitchell creates an epic sound (just check out the huge and epic freak out that is the albums title track for proof)

The album as a whole can be summed up as a mixture of their laid back nature and that energetic focus and with Black Heaven, Earthless have made an album that resonates sunshine, good vibes and above all, good times but with a vital edge full of energy and vivacity and is a sublime album perfect for the upcoming hazy summer months.

Words by Gavin Brown

Thanks to Monica at SpeakEasy PR for the promo. Black Heaven is available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl now via Nuclear Blast Records.


Sunnata - Outlands (Album Review)

Release date: March 23rd 2018. Label: Self Released. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

Outlands – Tracklisting

1.Intro 00:39
2.Lucid Dream 09:18
3.Scars 06:10
4.Outlands 07:37
5.The Ascender 05:34
6.Gordian Knot 04:22
7.Falling (Interlude) 01:37
8.Hollow Kingdom 12:36


Outlands is Sunnata's new album and it sees the band expand their Psychedelic Sludge, Doom and Grunge sound. Outlands is a very complex sounding album and you may not like the album on your very first listen. Outlands is an album that demands your full attention. As the band create complex sounding rhythms that have a certain YOB-esque quality around them. The album also sees the band channel early-era Alice In Chains on certain parts of the album.

The vocals have quite a trance based effect around them especially on the second song - Lucid Dream. The opening track - Intro - is just a forty second interlude before the real journey begins with heavy grunge sounding guitars of Lucid Dream appear. Sunnata take the listener on a mystical journey with the music being channelled at many different psychedelic levels of heaviness and weirdness. The song becomes heavier with Sunnata expressing themselves through the power of progressive rock/metal.

One of the coolest aspects about this album is how Sunnata merge post-rock/post-metal themes and sensibilities with the heavier Doom/Sludge Metal sounds. The standout songs on the album have to be Scars, Outlands, Gordian Knot and the epic sounding Hollow Kingdom. Sunnata constantly challenge not only themselves but also the listener as the album takes so many different turns on the individual songs. I thoroughly enjoyed the Alice In Chains early grunge sounding dynamic of the album. Though Sunnata manage to create this album on their own terms. The vocals are never sound violently harsh though there are a few parts where the vocals do become louder than the music itself.

Sunnata manage to inject a few Middle Eastern psychedelic sounds on the album and especially on the title track - Outlands. The production is superb with the whole feel and sound of the album being first rate from the start. The instrumental work is another one of the albums strengths as Sunnata have improved immensely as musicians from their last album. They've created a more complex sound from their previous album and perhaps being more creative with their music. Maybe Sunnata have ventured into their Grunge influences compared to their previous releases. However there is still a lot of heavy Sludge/Doom Metal goodness waiting to be discovered on Outlands.

A lot of people have high expectations for this album and I can say they will be rewarded with a deeply complex and heavy progressive album that you will be listening to over and over again. As Outlands has set the benchmark of what to expect from Sunnata for their future releases. 

Outlands is their most challenging and complete album to date.

Excellent and Highly Recommended.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Claire at Purple Sage PR for the promo. Outlands is available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl now.


An Interview With Mike Vest From BONG

UK Doom/Drone Collective – BONG – have going a band for around 13 years now and they are about to release their excellent new album -Thought And Existence – in May 2018 through Ritual Productions. 

This is BONG’s 1st album in 3 years and it’s a beautifully heavy collection of BONG’s trademark Drone/Doom distorted Psychedelic sounds.

I’ve seen BONG numerous times over the years as they live in my home-town of Newcastle upon Tyne. So I’ve had ample opportunity to see this legendary band in action and they never disappoint.

I was given the chance to catch up with Mike Vest (Guitarist) from BONG and see what influenced BONG in making this album.

Hi Mike. Thanks for doing this interview. What can people expect from the record.

Two epic tracks of modded fuzz, layered vocals and expansive percussion. We spent a lot more time on the production and layering on this album than previous. It’s generally a lot more focused.

What is the main theme of the record.

The main theme is the inward expansive nature of the mind and our senses. The brain is actually part of the external world, it is only through our senses that we can truly see or feel the mind. Methodological Solipsism is always a constant theme with all our albums, but is more prominent on this record.

What influenced you when writing and recording the record.

Life, sorrow, heartbreak, inevitability, the nature of people of actions, disappointments. All this was channelled into a melancholic output. Resulting in euphoric drones and a some what uplifting feel, whilst still remaining sonically crushing and real. Musically, however all three of us listen to vast array of music.

Our influences generally stay the same.

Parson Sounds, Arvo Part, Niblock, Holy Angels, Ashra Temple, Agitation Free. There is just too many to list.

Was recording the album an easy or hard experience compared to your other albums.

When we record we try and limit ourselves to only a couple of days studio time. There is so much space to improvise within our tracks, that sometimes too much time can be wasted. Ending up with endless versions of the same song that can be hard to distinguish between takes.

This album we decided to spend more time on the production and the mixing. Deciding early on takes and spending more time on adding bowed cymbals, octave guitar harmonies and layered vocals. Trying to remain focused whilst listening to our final mixes can be a channelling. I wouldn’t say its hard, more like a great confusion.

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

Riffs and ideas are brought in individually, but then formed as a group. We play and play the tracks and the dynamics are formed over time.

The band has been fairly quiet over the last three years and that’s quite different for you. Why the long silence. Did you need a break or just too busy with other projects.

Our last album was released in May 2015.

Since then we have still been playing shows and festivals.

How active a band is perceptional, we haven’t played festivals like Roadburn, Supersonic, Supernormal, Fat Out etc for a while, but we have still have played in London, Belgium, Portugal, Norway, Newcastle and Leeds last year.

I guess depending on how big the festival or show is, depends on how much exposure you get.

Will you be touring this record heavily. Or just the usual rare gigs and festival appearances.

We are currently booking shows for Europe and UK right now, so get in touch with us, we want to play more shows this year for sure. We are playing London at the end of June. More are being confirmed – Stay Tuned..

Do you have an advanced setup or basic setup when performing live and recording in the studio.

Performing live and recording is generally the same set up.

We have used a gong in the studio, but never live.

Drummer Mike S removes his hi-hat from the drum kit and uses 30-32 inch rides and crash cymbals instead. So the tempo can be slowed, using the ring from the crash as a parameter.

If you could have been a member of any band (regardless of genre). Which band would you be a part of and the reasons why.

Parson Sounds. A community of musicians creating their own reality through sound and art.

Freely out in the forests of Sweden in the 70s.
Masters of tempo and expansive rock music. 

Mike – You’re also apart of BLOWN OUT and that band is also quite prolific. Where do you find the time to participate in both bands and is it a hard juggling act. (Apologies for not remembering that Mike is part of some other great bands. Just forgot about them).

I play in a lot of bands. 11PARANOIAS, BLOWN OUT, MELTING HAND. I work hard at it all the time, sometimes too much.

But what can better than creating music/art everyday? 

A lot of musicians play in more than one band these days, if not, they should. The one thing that cannot be duplicated by machines and tech is the sound power of 3+ people playing in unison. It’s helped me play better and progress in my craft.

BLOWN OUT has just released a split album with Aussie Psych/Stoner Rock Band – Comacozer. How did that collaboration come about and did you know much about the band before you released the album with them.

I was approached by Riot Season about doing a split LP. I hadn’t heard of them at the time. I like split LPs and wanted to be part of this In Search Of Highs Split series that Riot Season was starting. All the pieces fell into place.

BONG has been going as band for thirteen years now. Did you think that it would ever last this long.

You don’t think like that at the time of formation.

It's only once time has gone by that you reflect on how long that time was. But truly, no we didn’t. We can’t believe the responses we get when we play shows and release records. Taking this time to thank everyone who has even picked up a tape, LP, CD, shirt or came to one of your shows. Without that, we wouldn’t be around.

Looking back would you change anything about your time with the band.

Not a thing

Thanks for doing this interview. Before you go do you have anything to say to your fans. Best of luck with the new album.

Thank you for your support and kind words. Bong’s music demands a dedicated listener so if you are a fan we thank you for your dedication. ‘Thought and Existence’ is out on May 4th on Ritual Productions – save this date as there will be very limited hand silk screened LPs and CDs available then!!

Words by Steve Howe and Mike Vest

Thanks to Cris at Ritual Productions for arranging this interview. Thanks to Mike for doing the interview. promo. Thought And Existence will be available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl via Ritual Productions from May 04th 2018.


Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Vulture Cult - Steamrolling (Single Review)

Release date: 6th April 2018. Label: Self Released. Format: DD

Steamrolling – Tracklisting



Andy Hinton
Mike Jones
Duncan Morrison
Steven McCarroll


Vulture Cult is a Grunge/Hard Rock band from Liverpool and they show a lot of promise and potential with their catchy new single – Steamrolling. Taking their cue from the 90s Grunge and Alternative Rock scenes, the band deliver a good balance of melodic sounds and soaring hard rock riffs.

The vocals are not what you would expect for a Grunge/Alternative Rock band but I give Vulture Cult top-marks for adding something different. I would like to hear more the band and hopefully a full length album or EP isn’t too far behind. The best part of the song is perhaps the psychedelic sounds that appear on different parts of the song.

The production is very good for a single. There are a few rough edges but that could be the band’s style of music coming into play. Overall this is a hugely enjoyable slice of Grunge and Alternative Rock.

Words by Steve Howe


Doom Metal Lexicanum by Aleksey Evdokimov (Book Review)

Doom Metal Lexicanum Book Review

If you're a dedicated follower of the Doom/Stoner Metal Underground and read all the top blogs then you may have heard the name of Aleks Evdokimov. Aleks is perhaps the one of the best and most prolific interviewers within the Doom Metal Community. Aleks contributes here on the blog with great interviews all the time. So Aleks knowledge of the Doom Metal Scene is second to none. I've worked with Aleks not only here on Outlaws Of The Sun but also when I was running The Sludgelord blog.

I always look forward to Aleks interviews and what other things he’s involved with. Aleks told me he a couple years ago that he was working on writing a book outlining the A-Z of Doom Metal Bands. Well that book has finally seen the light of day and has been published by the good folks at Cult Never Dies. Doom Metal Lexicanum is 300 pages outlining an in-depth history of a huge list of great Doom Metal Bands. Some you will know and some you will won't as Aleks has done his homework here outlining the full career projectory of the bands mentioned within the book.

The book is superbly written and is full of detailed articles outlining how the band was formed and their complete discography. Obviously Aleks can't feature every band within the Doom Metal spectrum but what he's written here is nothing short of miraculous. Doom Metal Lexicanum even includes some great interviews with some of the artists that Aleks has covered over the years.

Some people maybe disappointed that certain bands and genres of Doom Metal have been excluded from the book. Aleks provides great reasons for this. And this is mainly down to length purposes. Aleks has a lot of ground to cover here so the more extreme/death metal sounding Doom Metal bands don't make that much of an appearance. (Though Aleks is working on correcting this with his next book that he's currently writing).

The novel does take some time to fully get through as there is a wealth of different information and sometimes it can be very hard to fully absorb. So I wouldn't recommend reading this novel in one sitting. Take your time with the book and appreciate the amazing work that Aleks has put into this novel. I've discovered a few cool bands because of this book and I thank Aleks for that.

Doom Metal Lexicanum is an essential purchase for all of the serious Doom Metal fans currently out there.

Words by Steve Howe

Doom Metal Lexicanum is available to buy now through Cult Never Dies.


Sunday, 18 March 2018

Rongeur - An Asphyxiating Embrace (Album Review)

Release date: 09th March 2018. Label: Poacher Records, Ampmandens Records, Aonair Records. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

An Asphyxiating Embrace – Tracklisting

1.Weltschmerz 03:12
2.Special Needs 01:49
3.Fiendesliebe 03:37
4.Wellpisser 05:44
5.The Deconstructionist 04:04
6.Mr. Hands 03:08
7.The Weight of Guilt 05:36
8.Chained to a Dead Horse 03:14


Dag Ole: bass and vocals
Ken-Robert: guitar and vocals
Jon: drums and vocals


So this is what happens when you merge the post-whatever bleakness of Neurosis with the bombastic sounds of High On Fire and Kvelertak. Rongeur are a very much band creating a bleak and dense Sludge/Stoner Metal sound. Their debut album An Asphyxiating Embrace is a nightmarish sound told through the power fast-paced Sludge/Stoner Metal sounds but with a frenzied Doom Metal approach.

The whole tone of the album is very lo-fi and that allows Rongeur to unleash a darker sound than you would expect from a band such as this. The songs are very fast-paced with all the band members providing vocals on the certain songs on the album.

Standout songs on the album are Weltschmerz, Special Needs, Wellpisser, Mr Hands and The Weight Of Guilt. The album is not the produced sounding album but it sees Rongeur continue with their rough and ready approach to their music. The post-metallic vibes is what makes this album standout. As you shouldn’t really a “Neurosis” style sensibility on this album but Rongeur deserve credit for trying something different.

An Asphyxiating Embrace is a dark musical odyssey where Rongeur make the listener feel very uncomfortable at times. So if you’re expecting an upbeat album then I recommend you look elsewhere for your musical fix. This album is for the more adventurous Sludge/Stoner Metal fan who like their music that little bit darker and with intelligence as well.

The instrumental work is superb throughout with Rongeur showing true creativity on the later stages of the album.

Embrace the madness as Rongeur have unleashed a heavy pounding beast of an album….

Words by Steve Howe