Category: Heavy Metal

New Audio: Monolord Returns with a Sludgy Yet Subtle Expansion of Their Sound

The Gothenburg, Sweden-based doom metal trio Monolord has become a JOVM mainstay over the past 15-16 months, and as you’d likely recall the trio, comprised of Thomas Jäger, Esben Willems, and Mika Häkki can trace their origins back to 2013, when its founding members Jäger and Willems, started the band as a side project that gave them the opportunity to play much heavier and darker material away from their primary gig as members of boogie rock outfit Marulk. Jäger and Willems then recruited Häkki, best known for stints in The Don Darlings and Rotten Sound to complete the band’s lineup and to flesh out their sound. And while the trio was writing and recording their critically applauded debut Empress Riding, they discovered they had a special creative chemistry that necessitated making the project a full-time gig; but interestingly enough, the project also marks the first time that Jäger has taken vocal duties.

2015’s sophomore effort Vænir resulted in the band receiving a growing national and international project, and they built upon that buzz with the “Lord of Suffering”/”Die in a Haze” 10 inch single, which they released last year and as you may recall, “Die in a Haze,” featured sludgy, dirge-like power chords paired with thunderous drumming within an enveloping mix, while Lord of Suffering” managed to nod at space rock and psych rock — in fashion that reminded me of  Black Sabbath‘s “Planet Caravan.”
The “Nirvana of doom” as their fans have referred to them will be releasing their third full-length album Rust through RidingEasy Records on September 29, 2017 and as the band’s Esben Willems says in press notes, “A heavy groove that contains both bombastic overkill and a lot of dynamics is what we always aim for in Monolord; in playing, in song writing and arranging, in recording.” The album’s first single and title track “Rust,” which featured guest spots from Mondo Drag‘s John Gamino on keys and Beastmaker’s Trevor Church, who contributes an incredible guitar solo towards the end of the song further cemented the Swedish’s trio reputation for crafting slow-burning, sludgy and forceful metal but upon repeated listens, the song reveals that the band has been subtly expanding upon their overall sound and songwriting as it possesses an expansive vibe with an oceanic heft. “Where Death Meets the Sea,” Rust’s second and latest single continues in a similar vein as its predecessor as its possesses an oceanic heft, which is unsurprising considering the song’s title, complete with sludgy power chords and thundering drumming but it reveals impressive guitar work within an slow-burning yet expansive song structure. And at the end of the day, Rust’s first two singles will remind listeners that the band is one of the world’s best doom metal bands. 

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New Audio: Portland’s R.I.P. Returns with a Primal and Urgent Single

If you were frequenting this site over the course of last year, you have come across a couple of posts featuring the the Portland, OR-based doom metal quartet, R.I.P. And as you may recall, the Portland-based quartet has long operated off the belief that heavy metal crawled up out of the proverbial gutter, where it writhed to life in the grit and grime of the streets — and unsurprisingly,  the band dubbed their scuzzy and grimy approach to heavy metal and doom metal as “street doom.” But interestingly enough, the first two singles off their RidingEasy Records released debut In The Wind, “Black Leather” and “Tremble,” the Portland-based metal quartet’s sound seemed to be indebted to  Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Hawkwind and Badmotorfinger, Superunknown and Down on the Upside-era Soundgarden. 

Street Reaper, R.I.P.’s sophomore effort is reportedly inspired by Rick Rubin’s legendary and influential 80s productions — think The Beastie Boys, Run DMC and LL Cool J among others — and Murder Dog Magazine, revealing a streamlined and punishingly, raw ferocity meant to evoke the days when metal and hip-hop were reviled by the mainstream the work of thugs intent on destroying the very fabric of America and its youth. Interestingly, unlike the preceding album, the band’s songwriting approach subtly expanded, based on their belief that doom metal shouldn’t be tried into a particular tuning or a time signature but on a particular mood — in this case, terror and dread.  Unsurprisingly, the material on Street Reaper is influenced by and evokes the sensibility of our extremely fucked up times instead of focusing on sci-fi or fantasy or mysticism, and as you’ll hear on Street Reaper’s latest single, “The Other Side,” the doomy vibes are rooted in an inescapable and fearful present, full of the possibility of the impending collapse of democracy here in the US, of economic failure, nuclear war, dwindling resources, and a downright primal fight for survival. 

Naturally, the song finds the band playing at their most blistering and impassioned — it may be a desperate howl into the void, but there’s an uncommon urgency that will set the Portland-based quartet apart from their contemporaries. 

New Audio: Monolord Returns with a Doom-Laden New Track that Reveals a Subtle Expansion of Their Sound

If you’ve been frequenting this site over the past 12-15 months or so, you may have come across a couple of posts featuring the Gothenburg, Sweden-based doom metal trio Monolord. Comprised of Thomas Jäger, Esben Willems, and Mika Häkki, the band can trace their origins back to 2013 when its founding members, Jäger and Willems, started the band as a side project that gave them the opportunity to play much heavier and darker material away from their primary gig as members of boogie rock outfit Marulk. Häkki, who may be best known for stints in  The Don Darlings and Rotten Sound was recruited to flesh out the band’s sound and complete their lineup — and as the story goes, while the tiro was writing and recording their critically applauded debut Empress Riding, they discovered that they had a special creative chemistry that necessitated making the project more of a full-time gig. But along with that, the project also marks the first time that  Jäger has taken vocal duties. 

Building upon the buzz of their debut, the Swedish doom metal trio released 2015’s critically applauded sophomore effort, Vænir, which resulted in the band seeing a growing national and international profile. Now you may recall that last year Monolord released the “Lord of Suffering”/”Die in a Haze” 10 inch single — and “Die in a Haze,” was a sludgy and murky song in which sludgy, dirge-like power chords were paired with thunderous drumming, which created a rather enveloping mix. Jäger’s vocals floated over the mix with an ethereal quality, and as a result the song struck me as nodding a bit at shoegazer rock. The 10 inch single’s A side, “Lord of Suffering” managed to nod at space rock and psych rock — in fashion that reminded me of  Black Sabbath‘s “Planet Caravan,” as Jäger’s voice is fed through a bit of vocoder and distortion, while the arrangement possessed a subtle cosmic glow.
The “Nirvana of doom” as their fans have referred to them will be releasing their third full-length album Rust through RidingEasy Records on September 29, 2017 and as the band’s Esben Willems explains in press notes, “A heavy groove that contains both bombastic overkill and a lot of dynamics is what we always aim for in Monolord; in playing, in song writing and arranging, in recording.” Naturally, album title track and first single “Rust,” which features guest spots from Mondo Drag’s John Gamino on keys and Beastmaker’s Trevor Church, who contributes a guitar solo towards the end, will further cement the Swedish trio’s growing reputation for crafting slow-burning, sludgy and forceful metal that manages to atmospheric, while possessing a tight, almost motorik-like groove and some incredible guitar pyrotechnics; but pay close attention, as the song reveals a band subtly expanding upon their songwriting and sound, as the song has an expansive, yet oceanic heft to it. 

Now, if you had been frequenting this site over the past couple of years, you’ve likely come across a handful of posts on Permanent Records’ and RidingEasy Records’ collaborative proto-metal, pre-stoner rock compilations Brown Acid: The First TripBrown Acid: The Second Trip and Brown Acid: The Third Trip. Each edition of the compilation has been based on RidingEasy Records founder Daniel Hall and Permanent Records co-owner Lance Barresi extensive and painstaking research and curation — with both Hall and Barresi spending a great deal of time tracking down the songs’ creators, most often bands that haven’t written, played or recorded together in 30 or 40 years, and encouraging them to take part in the process.  As Permanent Records’ Barresi explained in press notes, “All of (these songs) could’ve been huge given the right circumstances. But for one reason or another most of these songs fell flat and were forgotten. However, time has been kind in my opinion and I think these songs are as good now or better than they ever were.” Naturally, by having the original artists participate as much as possible, it can give the artists and their songs, a real second chance at attention and success — and as a fan and critic, it also helps fill in the larger picture of what actually was going on around the margins during the 60s and 70s.

Following the critical and commercial success of the first three volumes, Riding Easy Records and Permanent Records will be releasing the fourth volume of 60s and 70s proto-metal and pre-stoner rock Brown Acid: The Fourth Trip fittingly on April 20, 2017. Much like the previous three volumes, the fourth edition is based on Barresi’s and Hall’s exhaustive, painstaking research and curation, and as both men discovered, the well of privately released hard rock, heavy psych and proto-metal 45s is incredibly deep; in fact, they’ve barely scratched the surface. Most of the singles they stumbled on for the fourth volume of Brown Acid were either barely released or never properly distributed with two of the album’s 10 tracks being previously unreleased — until now.

Earlier this year, I wrote about Brown Acid: The Fourth Trip‘s first single Kanaan’s “Leave It,” a towering and explosive, barnburner that features some incredible guitar pyrotechnics paired with swaggering vocals fed through a bit of reverb and delay, a sinuous bass line and propulsive drumming. and while the song possesses a free-flowing, booze and psychedelics fueled improvisational feel, the song manages a tight, motorik-like groove that holds the song together. The compilation’s latest single is a swaggering and expansive “Coming Back,” by Zekes. Clocking in at a little over 8 minutes, the song finds the band nodding at Led Zeppelin 1-era Led Zeppelin and Steppenwolf‘s “Magic Carpet Ride” but with a percussive, cowbell-led funkiness and a summer of love refrain “Love is the answer” to close out what may arguably be one of the funkiest tracks on the fourth edition.

 

 

 

 

New Video: The Headbangers Ball-Inspired Sounds and Visuals of Power Trip’s “Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe)”

Comprised of Riley Gale, Blake Ibanez, Chris Ulsh, Nick Stewart and Chris Whetzel, the Dallas, TX-based metal quintet Power Trip have developed a reputation for a bruising sound that draws heavily from 80s and 90s heavy metal; in fact, “Firing Squad,” off their recently released Nightmare Logic is reminiscent of Slayer, Metallica Iron Maiden and even Motorhead; but with a subtly modern production sheen. And the album’s latest single, “Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe)” continues on a similar, punishing vein as blistering cascades of power chords, propulsive and thundering drumming, howled lyrics and an emphasis on rousingly anthemic, mosh pit-friendly hooks.

Directed by Andy Capper, the recently released music video for the bruising “Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe)” uses footage from a rowdy hometown show and cuts clips of warfare — including soldiers firing machine guns, bombs blowing up tanks, cars and other things, nuclear bomb tests and the stupid, orange-skinned face of blind, swaggering, Mussolini-like, new fascism. Reportedly, the visuals emphasize Gale’s furious lyrics, which focus on devaluation of human life by those who’ve gained immense power through money and politics, and while visually being reminiscent of the sorts of videos you’d see on Headbanger’s Ball.

Currently comprised of founding members Christian Gordy (vocals, guitar) and Justin Sherrell (bass, vocals) and newest member Adam Taylor (drums), the New York-based doom metal/hard rock/stoner rock trio Blackout released two albums through renowned hard rock/stoner rock label RidingEasy Records — their 2013 debut effort We Are Here and 2015’s self-titled album — before going through a hiatus, which resulted in the departure of the band’s third founding member Taryn Waldman. Waldman was so instrumental to the band’s sound and songwriting approach that the band’s fate was uncertain; however, last summer, Gordy armed with a handful of mushrooms and a bottle of tequila set out to write new material for the band — and while being particularly inspired, Gordy contacted and recruited Adam Taylor, who had just left Ghost Punch to write and record the band’s forthcoming third, full-length effort The Horse, which is slated for a May 26, 2017 release.

 

“Graves,” the first single off the band’s forthcoming album will further cement the trio’s growing reputation for a crafting bruising and gritty sound, full of sludgy power chords and thundering drumming that reportedly draws a bit from Helmet, Cro-Mags, Judge, Prong and others; but while possessing a sinister and menacing air.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Preview: Living Colour at City Winery 3/13/17

Currently comprised of founding members Corey Glover (vocals), Vernon Reid (guitar, synths, backing vocals) and Will Calhoun (drums, percussion, keys, samples, backing vocals), with Doug Wimbish (bass, drums, guitar, programming, backing vocals), the New York-based rock quartet Living Colour originally formed in 1984 and they quickly received attention for a sound that meshed elements of heavy metal, funk, jazz, jazz fusion, soul, prog rock and alternative rock with lyrics that frequently focused on the personal and sociopolitical, frequently commenting on and attacking Eurocentrism and racism in America. The quartet’s original lineup, featuring featuring the founding trio of Glover, Reid and Calhoun with Muzz Skillings (bass) cut their teeth and honed their sound and live show playing shows at CBGB’s.

Interestingly, the band found an unlikely champion in The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger, who took the band under his wing, produced a demo, which caught the attention of Epic Records. And with the release of 1988’s commercially and critically successful full-length debut Vivid, the band’s original lineup, quickly rose to attention with their smash hit “Cult of Personality,” which won a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance; they also won the Best New Artist Award at 1989’s MTV Video Music Awards. Adding to a growing international profile, The Rolling Stones had Living Colour opened for the rock legend’s Stateside leg of the Steel Wheels tour. They quickly followed that up with 1990’s sophomore effort Time’s Up, which also won a Grammy.

After releasing three full-length albums with a number of major and minor hits, the band split up with the members focus on a variety of creative projects; in fact, Wimbish, Calhoun and Glover had teamed up with Glover in a project called Headfake, which played frequently in the New York City area. And as the story goes, in late 2000, Headfake played at CBGBs with Reid joining them, leading to rumors of a Living Colour reunion. Of course, those rumors proved to be true, as Living Colour went on their first tour together n six years the following summer.

The members of the band have since released one of their most experimental efforts to date, 2003’s Collideøscope, followed by 2005’s rarities and B-sides compilation, a few live albums, 2006’s Best of compilation, Everything Is Possible: The Very Best of Living Colour and 2009’s Chair in the Doorway. And over the past couple of years, the band has been on a rather busy touring schedule, touring to support the 25th anniversary of their seminal effort Vivid.

As a personal note, as a music obsessed boy, I’ve almost always listened to a wildly eclectic variety of music, and in the 80s metal was a big thing. I loved Metallica, Def Leppard, Ozzy Osbourne, Motley Crue and the like; but when I watched their videos and concerts, I didn’t see anyone who looked like me — and even in my 8 year old mind, I knew that I couldn’t be those guys. I was black and from Queens. However, seeing someone who looked like me with guys who came from neighborhoods that I knew or had family in, kicking ass and taking names was a revelation. And it made them heroes to me.

Sadly, I was too young to catch them back then; however, I have since seen them twice — once at Afropunk during their Vivid 25th Anniversary Tour and later at Brooklyn Bowl, and I’m thrilled to know that the band is playing tonight at City Winery.

Live Footage: Iggy Pop and Metallica “T.V. Eye” in Mexico City

More than enough ink both real and virtual has been spilled on Iggy Pop throughout his ridiculously influential and lengthy musical career, and with the legend turning 70 next month, we should all enjoy him for as long as he’s here to kick ass. Additionally more than enough ink both real and virtual has been spilled on Metallica; so instead of discussing backstory and biography, I’ll say this: Metallica is currently on tour to support their latest album, 2016’s Hardwired . . . To Self-Destruct, and while on a several night run in Mexico City with Iggy Pop as an opener, the members of Metallica invited the legend on stage to play The Stooges’ “T.V. Eye.”

New Video: The Moody and Doom-Laden Sounds and Visuals of GHXST’s “Waiting for the Night”

Featuring co-founders and primary songwriters Shelley X and Chris Wild, GHXST is a New York-based noise rock/grunge rock/doom metal trio whose has publicly cited The Jesus and Mary Chain, White Zombie and Sonic Youth as their influences. And with their latest EP, Perish, the New York-based noise rock trio will further cement their reputation for crafting a noisy, shoegazer-like sound full of enormous power chords fed through layers upon layers of distortion and effects pedals, Shelley X’s bluesy croon — while being a subtle change in sound as the act employs the use of both obscured and distorted drum machine and some effects pedals on Shelley X’s vocals, as you’ll hear on the EP’s latest power chord, feedback laden, doom-filled dirge “Waiting for the Night.”

Directed by the members of the band, the video follows its primary duo wandering down a train line to a desolate, sleazy and decidedly American small town-based motel, where they broodingly sit around bored, waiting for something and nothing in their hotel room and in front of a projection screen featuring dusty, old images of the American West, before concluding with the duo driving along dirt-filled blacktop as the sun sets. And within both the song and its accompanying video, there’s a sense of restless energy and insomnia-filled, endless nights in seedy, fucked up and lonesome places.

Founded by Marcos Garcia and featuring Chico Mann (guitar, vocals), a former member of renowned Afrobeat act Antibalas; Geoff Mann (drums); Rich Panta (percussion); JP Maramba (bass); and Kris Casto (organ), the Los Angeles, CA-based act Here Lies Man was created specifically as a way to bridge the funky polyrhythms and grooves of Afrobeat with the power chord, riff-based muscle of heavy rock — and the result is novel and modern take on both heavy rock and Afrobeat. As the band’s Garcia explained in press notes  “These repetitive guitar figures that happen in Afrobeat music are pretty close to heavy rock guitar riffs.  It’s based on the clave. It’s the musical algorithm that the rhythms revolve around. That’s what gives it integrity and is part of this musical conversation going on. I knew I wanted it to be psychedelic and heavy, and I wanted to be expanding on a musical tradition than pretending to be creating something new.”

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the early part of this year, you may recall that I wrote about “You Ain’t Going Nowhere,” the first single off the band’s forthcoming self-titled album, slated for an April 7, 2017 release through RidingEasy Records and to my ears, that single managed to sound as though Black Sabbath had covered “I.T.T. (International Thief Thief) Parts 1 and 2“-era Fela Kuti as towering layers of guitars played through buzzing effects pedals, twinkling and distorted synths,  propulsive polyrhythm and a deep, driving groove are paired with soulful yet ethereal vocals floating over an overall sound that’s funky yet psychedelic, and strangely dance floor and mosh pit friendly.

The self-titled album’s second and latest single “When I Come To” continues along a similar, psychedelic vein as layers of buzzing guitars are paired with propulsive polyrhythms and a driving, forceful groove, shouted vocals and towering organ chords making it a seamless synthesis of hard psych/hard rock/heavy metal with Afrobeat — while sounding as though it could have been released in roughly 1975; but with a modern touch.