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:


Facebook | BandCamp

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:

Facebook | BandCamp

Saturday, 5 August 2017

THE DOOM DOC (Film Review)


The Doom Doc is a new documentary focusing primarily on Holy Spider Promotions and the local Doom Metal Scene in Sheffield. The documentary has interviews with bands and artists from across the globe. As the film makers interview Kirk Windstein, Bill Ward, Vinny Appice to name just a few. The film gives a brief history of the Doom Metal scene in general with the Sludge and Stoner scenes getting a worthwhile mention. The documentary struck a chord with myself personally as I've met some of the individuals featured on this documentary. I respect and admire the people featured on the film.

The film begins with a creepy and funny story of how Holy Spider promotions received its name. The film then moves onto Wet Nuns and the work of their drummer – Alexis Gotts aka Leki. Leki was instrumental in starting off the DIY Doom Scene in Sheffield and actually booked some great bands to perform in Sheffield. Sadly, Leki passed away in 2014. 

I met Leki twice when he was performing with Baba Naga, the band he was performing with at the time. I had a very cool discussion with the band back then when they supported HARK/Ken Mode in Sheffield and Brant Bjork the following night in Leeds. I went to both gigs and he was an immense talent behind the drums.

The Doom Doc explains the local Sheffield scene suffered as there were no people putting gigs on that time. Though that inspired Joe from Kurokuma and Craig from BA'AL to form Holy Spider Promotions and to kick-start the Doom Metal scene in Sheffield. The documentary focuses on Holy Spider Promotions daily struggles putting on the second annual Doomlines festival. A Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal festival that the guys put in response to the more mainstream Tramlines festival.

Craig and Joe from Holy Spider Promotions

Before we get to see their struggles putting on the festival, the documentary showcases some great live venues in Sheffield such as The Lughole and The Mulberry Tavern which Holy Spider Promotions promote bands regularly. Credit should go to the filmmaker Connor Matheson for trying to include as many important members of the UK Doom Metal scene into this documentary. CONAN receive their fair share of the attention here. As they're arguably the biggest Doom Metal band the UK has to offer at the moment.

The Doom Doc does show you the nitty gritty in running a promotions company and the consensus of heavy metal music in general. Our style of music is not the most widely known of the different subgenres within the world of Heavy Metal. Though you can tell from this documentary that it has some of the most passionate people trying to create new music and to keep the scene alive. The interviews with Kirk, Bill, Vinny and CONAN do offer bleak and truthful moments of what influences them and performing on stage. Bill Ward is brutally honest and it's refreshing to hear one of the greats tell people the struggles he went through many years ago.


The film does include some funny real life moments that I won't spoil for you. The Doom Doc's main subject is Holy Spider Promotions and how they sometimes struggle to bring Doom, Sludge and Stoner Metal gigs to the local masses. A lot of awesome bands are featured such as Primitive Man, CONAN, Mower and Slabdragger, all playing heavy riffs and intense live performances.

You cannot deny the passion and involvement that Joe and Craig put into running Holy Spider Promotions. The guys had a major hiccup last year when the original venue meant to host Doomlines II cancelled on them at the last moment. The guys do manage to find another venue for Doomlines II, which was a massive success.

The film shows why our music will never be accepted by the commercial masses and how the Doom Metal scene will remain remotely unapologetic for this as well. The live footage scenes are superb with excellent live performances from the wide range of bands that appear on the documentary. The audiences’ reaction is there for everyone to see. As they live and breathe not only the bands themselves but the scene overall.


The Doom Doc maybe set in Sheffield but it's message and appeal is universal for almost every underground metal scene worldwide. The Doom Doc is a celebration of what is great within the Heavy Metal underground scene. Holy Spider Promotions are the stars of this film and I hope it gives them more exposure and even the bands featured.

The film is superbly well made from start to finish. Director Connor Matheson has put together an exciting, raw and very honest film. The film is indeed grimy in parts but that matches the tone and atmosphere of the Doom Metal world in general.

The Doom Doc can be ranked alongside classic Doom/Stoner documentaries such as Such Hawks, Such Hounds.

Words by Steve Howe

All photos kindly provided for promotional purposes by Connor Matheson.

Links:

Official | Facebook

Eternal Black - Bleed The Days (Album Review)


Release date: August 8th 2017. Label: Self Released. Format: CD/DD

Bleed The Days – Tracklisting

1.The Lost, The Forgotten, and The Undying
2.Snake Oil and Coffin Nails
3.Sea of Graves
4.Into Nothing
5.Stained Eyes on a Setting Sun
6.Bleed The Days
7.All Gods Fall

Band Members

Hal Miller: Bass
Joe Wood: Drums
Ken Wohlrob: Guitars, Vocals

Review

Eternal Black's debut album - Bleed The Days - is an epic and vintage slice of traditional doom metal with moments of modern sounding distorted stoner and fuzz. Fans of Black Sabbath and Saint Vitus will find much to enjoy here. The album opens with a long sounding horn before the doom riff kicks in that Sabbath would be mighty proud off.

Opening track - The Lost, The Unforgotten and The Undying - shows Eternal Black mean business from the start with the band creating an eerie and gloomy atmosphere. The sound is definitely vintage with the vocals adding a menacing touch. The lyrics are influenced by old-school doom metal and it's refreshing to hear. The mood is permanently dark but Eternal Black never let the music depress you as they create hard rocking moments for you to lose yourself in.

Second track - Snake Oil and Coffin Riffs - opens with a hazy and distorted psychedelic riff before the band adapt a more Stoner based sound. The vocals from Ken are more refined with a blusier approach. The song maybe too slow-paced for some though this allows you to immerse yourself with Eternal Black's dark world. The fuzz sounds are a welcome addition as Eternal Black start to have fun with their music.

Can I use the term "fun" with an album such as this?

Yeah, why not. As the album still retains its Doom Metal credentials with creepy song titles, lyrics, vocals and riffs all showcasing what a damn fine album this is. Songs such as Sea Of Grave, Strained Eyes On A Setting Sun and the epic eleven minute opus - All Gods Fail - is perhaps where Eternal Black impresses the most. 

The music they create here will make your hair stand-up on end as the album becomes gloomier and darker as a result. The main strength of the album is no doubt the lyrical content and vocal performance from Ken. Don't get me wrong, the music is excellent as well. I felt a more deeper connection with the lyrics and vocal performance from Ken.

This is an album that takes influence from the legendary doom metal bands of the last forty years but Eternal Black add an exciting modern feel to their overall sound. Eternal Black manages to show off their progressive side on songs such as Sea Of Graves and All Gods Fail. The production is first rate with the album showcasing how technically impressive the band actually are. The overall sound of the album is immense from the start with the different elements of music being played at a loud rate.

Bleed The Days is a perfect example in how to create and release a vintage sounding Doom Metal album. It's an exciting and action packed debut album that could see Eternal Black play their music on the more established Doom/Stoner Metal festivals and stages across the globe.

Excellent and Highly Recommended.

Words by Steve Howe
Links:



Stonerror - S/T (Album Review)


Release date: February 16th 2017. Label: Shit In Your Coffee. Format: CD/DD

Stonerrror – S/T – Tracklisting

1.Red Tank 03:39
2.Misbegotten 02:16
3.The Wolf 05:54
4.Los Hermanos 04:32
5.God's Guns 03:03
6.The Ride 03:06
7.Sierra Morena 04:33
8.Blues for the Red Sea 07:01

Band Members

Jarosław Daniel - guitar
Jacek Malczewski - bass, voice on "Misbegotten"
Łukasz Mazur - vocals
Maciej Ołownia - drums

Review

Stonerror debut self titled album isn't the most original sounds within the Fuzz/Desert/Stoner Rock scene. As you can hear influences from Kyuss to Truckfighters. Though that hasn't stopped the band releasing a brilliantly entertaining album overflowing with great riffs.

The album has a very cool thumping bass that fans of Truckfighters will enjoy. The songs may all sound the same and follow the same formula but when the music is that good you don't really care. Songs such as Red Tank, The Wolf, Los Hermanos, The Ride and Blues For The Red Sea is where the band excels the most with deliciously sounding Desert/Stoner Rock riffs packed with addictive Fuzz Rock grooves.

The production is very good indeed. Nothing too flashy but the right amount of volume that blends into the background of the music. The production allows you to become part of Stonerror's world where the riffs come at you at a fast pace. If you miss the early Desert/Fuzz Rock sounds of Truckfighters then Stonerror will fill that void. The album can be very psychedelic at times with Stonerror creating a more exciting sound that allows them and the listener to have more fun with their music.

Stonerror's debut album is a superb album from start to finish. It's not hard to see why it's received it's fair share of acclaim already within the Stoner Rock scene. Buy this album now. You won't be sorry.....

Words by Steve Howe
Links: