Reviews Coming Soon

Album Reviews Coming Soon: Queen Elephantine - Kala, Karg - Weltenasche

Friday, March 29, 2013

News: Anciients & Buzzard King

The joys of traipsing through BandCamp has revealed two total stunners this week in the form of Canada's Anciients and Cambridge, England's Buzzard King.

Anciients, set to release their debut album on April 12th (April 16th in North America), are described as "somewhere between sheer, apocalyptic heaviness and precise riffing — a Vancouver-based rock juggernaut forging crushing heavy metal evocative of veterans High on Fire and contemporary sonic craftsmen Opeth, Anciients have combined fuck-off-huge chords with mind-altering riffage that takes you on an unfamiliar trip."

They've stuck up a trio of tracks from their forthcoming Heart Of Oak album on their BandCamp page here - http://anciientriffs.bandcamp.com/album/heart-of-oak - I think you'll find "Faith And Oath" to be an absolute jaw-dropper.

Fans of  "bourbon-soaked heavy rock noir", as the band describes themselves, need to head over to Buzzard King's BandCamp page - http://buzzardking.bandcamp.com/ - and pay close attention to the tracks "Diesel And Danger" for it's stone-cold groove, sweet riffage and blues-streaked vocal and "Tumbling Spires" for it's howling drive and memorable barbs of each verse and the effortless roll as it takes you through their full range of gears. Think Clutch meets Rival Sons via The Doors and Graveyard.

As an interesting aside, Rival Sons are playing Cambridge soon and I haven't a clue why this lot aren't on the bill. The campaign starts here, folks...

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Album Review: Carcharodon - Roachstomper

Carcharodon, the collective term for a species of large shark, aren’t exactly the most sophisticated band – the Italian’s debut album was called Macho Metal, for crying out loud. There is nothing they seem to enjoy more than swigging whiskey and blowing holes in their amps. When your influences range from the steady sludge of Eyehategod and High On Fire to speedier death metal bands like Entombed and Carnivore, you should expect a band with pretty big teeth and they don’t disappoint in that respect.

Their swathes of leaden distortion turn the guitars into a real conveyor belt of teeth and leave Roachstomper sounding as dense and weighty as a bag of gravel. Pixo’s “motorbass” tears lumps out of your ears and his nail-gargling “growl” and pig squeals threaten to rip them right off. And the band make all this noise with their tongues planted firmly in their collective cheek. It almost hurts to listen to the “bree, bree” lampoonery of “Pig Squeal Nation” and you’ll want to check out Pixo singing (what sounds like) “Jumbo squid you are my meal, I’ll see you tomorrow in my shit!” Now that has got to be a band playing it for laughs all the way.

Several of the tracks overstay their welcome by digging down a little too deeply. “Marilyn Monrhoid” has a fine, galloping opening that jinks into a neat, head-bobbing sway, yet it’s spoilt by a collapse into a series of needless climaxes. Also, “The Sky Has No Limits” lives up to its own name by recycling the same three chords for a full seven minutes before switching up into an incessant warble that collapses into jarringly oppressive white noise. Even “Stoneface Legacy” is guilty by spending two unnecessary minutes rotating around the same riff.

It’s a hole that their deference to country and blues (they cite ZZ Top as an influence) enables them to dig back out of. “Chupacobra” and “Voodoo Autopsy” are steeped in the genres – you’ll hear it in the snatches of slide and steel guitar and the jaunty licks emerging brightly from their sticky sludge. Their unique song construction allows them to retain the element to surprise at all times. Even taking into account the mesmeric, reverse chanting that bookends “Stoneface Legacy”, who could honestly have foreseen the sample of redneck dialogue and cosmic Mastodon-esque insanity of “Beaumont, TX” or the climax of “Burial In Whiskey Waves” which suddenly explodes into warping, euphoric melody.

Roachstomper is a brute of an album. It’s been fleshed out to bursting point, resulting in plenty of unsightly bulges, yet it’s exactly the kind of deathly bait that will tempt stoner fans into biting. Carcharodon smell blood. Will you let them sink their teeth in?

Also online @ Ave Noctum = http://www.avenoctum.com/2013/03/carcharodon-roachstomper-altsphere/

Monday, March 25, 2013

Album Review: Bovine – The Sun Never Sets On The British Empire

With an album title like this one, Midlands monsters Bovine appear to be patriots to the [T-]bone – yes there’s going to be bad cow jokes in this one, folks (count ‘em). “Where’s the beef?” you may ask. Well, their PR isn’t a million miles off when it brands them as sound-a-likes to a volley of bands from across the pond – Kyuss, Soundgarden, QOTSA and Baroness. Sure, those rock elements are there but don’t be fooled into thinking this lot are happy go-lucky cows. No, this lot bleed metal; they are shit-spreading, muck-throwing nasty-arsed beasts.

Taking the bull by the horns here, Bovine sure as hell sport some beefy guitars. Quite how they manage to corale that QOTSA-desert rock vibe of “Thank Fuck I Ain’t You” into Torche’s knee-deep sludge is awe-inspiring. Mind you, they’re certainly not adverse to a spot of ethereal post-rock noodling either, as the bowed, echoic intro “Barium” attests. This soon bleeds out into the howling crush of “Ghost Chair” which plunders the scrawling depths of bands like ruminant brothers-in-arms Bison B.C., No Made Sense and Isis. Mimicking Iron Maiden, they do drag forth that very British element – a recording of one of Churchill’s rousing speeches. Another box ticked.

Moo-ving on, “Heroes Are What” divides its time between a crooning acoustic wash and a wall of dissonant noise, treading a line between modern Poison The Well and the thundering hooves of These Arms Are Snakes. Last time I heard a band this scattergun it was No Hawaii and they were undoubtedly wannabe Deftones. There’s more disquietingly stripped acoustic guitar on “Aneugenic”, whilst the title-track feels like a bolt to the skull. Toms and chugs carve out an addictively methodical, two-chord groove over which is herded a sweet warbling riff and an emotion-soaked vocal. Then, quick bursts of top-end create udder mayhem and fuse the piece into a psych-heavy, lump of slowly rotating space-rock. Necks will snap. Holy cow!

The band turn the heat up gradually over the course of the album’s rump. Those final three tracks see them eliminating their grunge affectations and flexing their sludge muscle, roasting their audience with fatty riffs and scarring vocals until all that remains is a thick lump of mouth-wateringly meaty steak. Put it this way, their prime cut “Not Another Name”, has the power to butcher the still-beating heart from your body.

Okay, the recording is a little too raw, but it does lend a certain energy to the piece. The dominant scratchy guitar tone itches more than it cuts and for a band that boasts about its heavy drums, the snare has wobbly legs. Standing out in the mix, it’s that thick thub sound, not unlike the noise of an uncooked leek hitting a pringle lid. Having said that, with songs like “I Will Make You Real” ploughing an almighty furrow through the album and that huge title-track in their meat-locker, Bovine’s qualities are here for all to see – yes, in black and white.

Also online @ Ave Noctum = http://www.avenoctum.com/2013/03/bovine-the-sun-never-sets-on-the-british-empire-fda-rekotz/

Monday, March 11, 2013

Album Review: Gloryhammer – Tales From The Kingdom Of Fife

Alestorm fans, considering the slightly ludicrous nature of that band’s twisted pirate metal, will probably already have a good sense of humour – guilty as charged, m’Lord. They will have taken note of the emergence of Christopher Bowes’ (Alestorm’s vox and keys) new project Gloryhammer and be looking forward to more of the same. Most probably won’t be surprised by the emergence of a singular, identifiable comic hero (Angus McFife isn’t quite Eddie The Head just yet – yes, he does look a bit like Thor with that hammer of his), the fantastical backstory or belly-shaking song-titles. However, I doubt all will seriously be moved by the creative choice of genre (“Heroic Fantasy Power Metal”) or the music itself.

Tracks like “Angus McFife” and the 10-minute pounder “The Epic Rage Of Furious Thunder” echo the thumping NWOBHM of Maiden and Priest, whilst the softer, lyrical beasts of “Quest For The Hammer Of Glory” and “Hail To Crail” run parallel to the rousing war stories of Turisas. Of course, the nippier, synth-loaded power metal numbers, such as “Amulet Of Justice” and “The Unicorn Invasion of Dundee”, are a tad more Dragonforce.

Thomas Winkler’s dynamic, soaring clarion cry is perfect for the task at hand, especially when the harmonies kick in behind it, but the programming tweaks that allow him to sink deep enough to become the character Angus McFife render his input utterly underwhelming.

The songwriting spends a lot of time stripping chords from the fantasy playbook and, consequently, is about as structurally innovative as a bag of chips with the cheese-munching lyrics repeating ad infinitum, ad nauseum. There’s also plenty of material that doesn’t quite sink its teeth in hard but, equally, there’s plenty that you’ll find humming to yourself later. Take “Magic Dragon” for instance – you have to say it’s about as slick a piece of music as you’ll find anywhere; paced to perfection, strong on intriguing tones and delivered with a great deal of pomp and circumstance.

The surprisingly sincere “Silent Tears Of [A] Frozen Princess” (although a giggle can still be had if you half-listen and mishear “frozen pizzas” as I did) is my personal favourite, providing a melancholic, focal axis to the album and a break from the simplistic chicanery that surrounds it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a solid album and one that will divide opinion because of the many bases it touches. If you think you may already be a fan of heroic, fantasy or power metal and have a sense of humour, you should be giving the Gloryhammer a swing. If you’re not and you don’t, I’d advise you to duck and cover.

Also online @ Ave Noctum = http://www.avenoctum.com/2013/03/gloryhammer-tales-from-the-kingdom-of-fife/