Monday, 29 February 2016

THE MOUND ~ MOUND.......EP review

Greece has been going through some bad times lately,along with their well documented financial crisis, the Greeks have also found themselves on the front line regarding the massive migrant influx of refugee's attempting to escape the conflict in the Middle East. History has shown us though that when times get bad the music seems to get better and in the case of the Greek stoner/hard rock scene things have never been so good. The latest addition to the long list of excellent stoner, hard rock and psych bands currently coming out Greece are Athenian hard rockers The Mound!

The Mound are Argiris Drokalos - Vocals, Epameinondas Koutsoumpas - Guitars, George... Papoulis - Guitars, Petros Zervas - Bass Guitar and Nikos Koutantos- Drums, Percussion,  and were formed in Athens, Greece in 2012  starting out ,as many bands do, by covering other artists material, It was when Nikos Koutantos joined (replacing original drummer Kostas Peroukidis) that the band started getting serious and  began writing their own material, a move that has culminated in the release of this  The Mound's debut EP "Mound".

"Eye For An Eye" starts things rolling with a totally breathtaking opener. A guitar feeds back in howling anguish and is then joined by a second guitar that adds  echoey staccato stabbed chords to the mix before both guitars fall into the  deliciously dark main riff. Beneath this the engine room of bass and drums supply a steady stream of rolling thunder, driving the riff with powerful percussive muscle and bone shaking bottom end. Over a minute and fifteen seconds into the song, and heralded with a moment of wonderous psych drenched ambience, the vocals arrive. Gritty powerful and full on  Drokalos delivers his lines with impeccable tone and phrasing taking the rather sparse, simple lyrics and making them sound somehow deeper and more meaningful.The song ends as it began with  wailing feedback taking the song into the fade.
"Mound" is up next and is again is introduced with howling feedback before kicking into the stuttering, circular riff that is the songs foundation.Vocals are a little more aggressive here, a little more throaty and forceful, when Drokalos sings "Like a bullet through my mind" you can almost feel the pain he is describing.At around the 3:00 min. mark the dynamic shifts from the stonerized hard rock rhythms of the songs beginning into a more atmospheric bluesy groove that sees Koutsoumpas and Papoulis trading off , one laying down the fuzz drenched riffage while the other soars and swoops around it with scintillatingly hot guitar solo's The pair then combine to take the groove back to its initial root with Zervas and Koutantos going hell for leather underneath and Drokalos roaring the songs chorus above them. It's breathtaking!
"Snake In A Cradle" drops the tempo slightly, but loses none of the intensity that exists in the previous two songs, in fact the darker edged doomier meter employed here actually ramps that intensity up a notch or two. Drokalos' voice takes on a wearier more lived in edge on the first two verses, a tone that perfectly suit the songs darker vibe only reverting to his trademark roar when the groove moves into a more stoner doom tempo in the songs last quarter. Once again the musicians behind the voice give nothing but 110%, pulling together to create a wall of sound that raises the hairs on the back of the neck and sends shivers down the spine. Guitars wail and thrash, the drums crash and pound and the bass thunders and booms, all combining for the song yet  showing their individual  instrumental prowess within that structure.
"Walk" closes the EP and sees the band jamming to a more straight-ahead stoner groove that has a touch of ,fellow Greek stoners, Planet of Zeus in its sonic cannon. Uptempo and with just a hint of southern swagger within its veins this rocks and rolls along nicely with searing  guitar solo's and chainsaw riffage, pushed along by a furious rhythmic backdrop of bass and drum and overlayed with a throat ripping vocal performance. 3:38 long this kicks serious butt from the opening chord to it's abrupt finale.

If your familiar with the Greek stoner/hard rock scene and dig the likes of Planet of Zeus, Out Of The Earth and Godsleep but long for a band who combine elements of all three within their sound then check out The Mound, I guarantee you will like what you hear.....

Saturday, 20 February 2016


One of the things I really admire about the "underground"  music scene is the camaraderie between the musicians who inhabit it, often you will read, via a bands social media pages, posts extolling the virtues of other bands and giving both support and encouragement. This interaction between musicians also lends itself to some very interesting collaborations, members of different bands recording together in one off or sometimes longer projects, as is the case with "Bloodhounds For Oblivion" the debut EP from Worship Of Keres.

Elise Tarens - vocals (White Fuzzy Bloodbath, Refract), Matthew Woods Wilhoit - guitar (ex Bog Oak), Robert Lander - bass and Trevor William Church - drums (Beastmaker) are four musicians from various musical backgrounds who under the umbrella of Worship Of Keres have produced an EP of some of the finest doom your liable to hear this year,

"Bloodhounds For Oblivion" is an EP made up of three songs presented as a trilogy of books and like any trilogy the best place to start is at the beginning.
"Book 1" opens it's pages with Church counting in the riff with crashing cymbals and pounding drum beats, the riff when it arrives is fuzz drenched and relentless, dark, evil and never deviating from its purpose and that purpose is to create a dark downtuned atmospheric backdrop for the voice of Elise Tarens. Tarens vocal is a sublime mix of ethereal and angelic and floats over and around the distorted darkness created by Woods Wilhoit and Landers like a white dove over a storm cloud, hauntingly fragile and delicately powerful.
The songs slightly gothic doom groove is the most prevalent here but there are elements of the darker end of the genres spectrum that will surely to appeal to those that like their doom a little on the black side
"Book 2" goes straight for the throat with a delicious distorted circular riff that again is repeated over the songs length. It is a trick that could get a little tedious if it were not for the subtle shifts in dynamic and intensity that keep things interesting, that and the utter ghostly beauty that Tarens brings to the table with her swooping ,swirling vocal delivery.
"Book 3" mixes things up a little with Tarens getting a little down and dirty, her vocal  in the verse taking on a slightly grittier darker tone here and there. Landers and Church lay down a barrage of rhythm that Woods Wilhoit then paints with swathes of distortion and fuzz soaked riffage. Things take a left turn at just over the three minute mark when the dynamic shifts towards a slightly stoner metal groove withWoods Wilhoit laying down a glorious solo that has more than a hint of The Cult's Billy Duffy in its sonic attack, then it's back to the doom for the final quarter.

According to the bands Facebook page there are already plans afoot to record a further EP so watch this space because the doom is strong in these guys!

Sunday, 14 February 2016

SON OF A WITCH ~ THRONES IN THE SKY .........album review

Given the countries recent emergence as a major player in the stoner/doom rock scene it was not going to be very long before I was back reviewing yet another Brazilian band within these pages.

Son Of A Witch hail from Natal, in north-eastern, Brazil and at the time of recording (there have since been a few line up changes)  the band were King Lizzard (vocals), Space Ghost (guitar), Gila Monster (guitar), Bong Monkey (bass) and Asteroid Mammoth (drums). In 2011 the band released a self titled EP of gnarly stoner doom that prompted me to write this short review on their Bandcamp page..."Dark,doomy riffage,strong ,raw but clean vocals make this a must have for fans of stoner doom metal. Can't wait for a full album!"
Well it has been almost four years since I wrote those words and finally that full album has arrived in the shape of "Thrones In The Sky".

Title track "Thrones In The Sky" opens the album with a ferocious statement of intent, guitars, drums and bass all combining in a huge wall of  distorted riffage and rhythmic muscle. The song explodes straight out of the speakers with a Sabbath-esque groove before everything drops down to a single filthy guitar laying down a fuzzed out stoner riff that is so dirty you will need a shower after hearing it and that is then joined, after a couple of bars, by  the rest of the band. King Lizzard adds to this glorious mayhem with clean, melodic but raw edged vocals that bring to mind memories of Egypt's Aaron Esterby in his earlier, less throaty days.  10:23 seconds is a long time if your waiting for a train or bus but they fly by when listening to music this good!
"Alpha Omega Astra" is up next, it's doom laden riff swirling around like a condor on a warm updraft before, like the previous track, it shifts gear into a more stoner metal groove. Bong Monkey and Asteroid Mammoth (I love these names) lay down a thunderous rhythmic backdrop for the two guitars to riff over, the Ghost and the Monster employing humongous amounts of fuzz and distortion, complimenting each other in a wonderful amalgamation of power and tone. King Lizzard lays down a storming vocal throughout but it is at just over the seven minute mark, when the songs dynamic shifts into a slightly dreamy psych groove, that you get to hear another side to the man's vocal prowess. Low melodic and without a hint of the rasp so effective on the rest of the song he adds a warm hazy lysergic tone to the proceedings that is really quite unexpected but totally delicious.
"Far Away From Dreaming (Giant Spheres and Humanoids)" sees the band jamming a Pentagram/Sabbath groove that carries at it's core a little of the bluesy swagger that those two iconic bands used to such good effect, it is not obvious but it IS there nestled among the strong rhythms and heavy downtuned riffs. Add to this the King Lizzard's superb vocal and the excellent guitar work of both Space Ghost and Gila Monster and you have a track that is as atmospheric as it is heavy.
"New Monster" is exactly that "a monster"! Riff heavy and filled with more hooks than a school cloakroom, it rolls along on a rollercoaster ride through subtle changes of time and dynamics and is superbly embellished with scintillating solos and licks as well as full on raw powerful vocals and rhythms.
"Jupiter Cosmonaut" closes the album in epic style and sees the band mixing it up with elements of psych and space rock thrown in amongst the doomy heaviness. King Lizzard's echo laden vocals reverberate against a backdrop pulverising percussion and rumbling bass. Wah drenched guitar solo's wend their way in and out of a maelstrom that builds in intensity until collapsing under its own weight allowing a brief respite where Bong Monkey and Asteroid Mammoth fill the void with gnarly bass and shimmering percussion before it all takes flight again with a doom drenched riff taking it to the close. This could be the best 15 minutes 38 seconds of your life!

Son Of A Witch obviously don't do things in a hurry, four years is a long time between releases, but when that four year wait produces something as good as "Thrones In The Sky"...well it all seems worth while!
Check it out for yourselves....

Thursday, 11 February 2016

DOPE SMOKER ~ MARIJUANA ...... album review

A while ago I did a review of Dope Smoker's third album III extoling the virtues of the bands heady mix of heavy fuzz blended with repetitious rave beats. Since that review the band have released two other albums Vol. 4 and this their latest Marijuana.
The band from Pembroke, Wales know a winning formula when they find one so if your one of those that like their bands to make great leaps into the unknown, filling their sound out with great washes of colour and texture and experimentation then look elsewhere. Dope Smoker deliver, with Marijuana, exactly what their fans and followers want and expect from them, heavy riffs and repetitious mantra type vocals all wrapped up in a warm blanket of glorious fuzz that is then underpinned with incessant head nodding rhythms. That said there are a few subtle shifts within these grooves that show that this band are not just repeating themselves ad infinitum, for one thing the level of musicianship has taken a steep upward curve, guitar solo's are a little less Iommi-ic with more emphasis on melody and on final track "October" they add a little spacey atmospherics to the groove with the guitar swirling in and out around a deep rumbling fuzzy bass line, a trick they also repeat on final track "Manitoba". Lyrics are not high on Dope Smoker's list of priorities and are either an ode to their favourite exotic herb or a plea to legalize it and are sung in a slightly Ozzy-ish nasal tone over and over in a mantra like drone but when laid against the wall of fuzz drenched guitar and bass and incessant rhythmic pulses they create a trance like groove that is totally addictive.
It is hard to put your finger on why this all works and why when this band release an album people flock to buy it. it  just does and they do and I for one hope they carry on doing it!