Tag: doom metal

New Audio: Stockholm’s Spelljammer Releases a Brooding and Forceful Ripper

Stockholm-based doom metal/stoner rock act Spelljammer — currently, Niklas Olsson (vocals, bass), Robert Sorling (guitar) and Jonatan Remsbo (drums) have crafted a unique sound centered around a long-held penchant for massive, sludgy power chord riff-driven dirges with dramatic interludes.

2015’s Ancient of Days was the Stockholm-based act’s third release — and in many ways it was a rebirth of sorts: it was the band’s first recorded output as a trio and sonically the album represented a decided move towards a heavier, doom metal-leaning sound. Lyrically, the album was inspired by Swedish author and Nobel laureate Harry Martinson’s epic poem “Aniara,” in which a spaceship leaving an uninhabitable Earth is hurtled off course, sending its thousands of passengers on a steady course in the wrong direction — and there’s nothing they can do about it. The poem ends with the spaceship’s passengers dying as the ship continues on its journey through the vast nothingness of the solar system.

Spelljammer’s fourth release, Abyssal Trip is the first bit of new material from the acclaimed Swedish act in over five years, and the album reportedly finds the band bridging their earlier desert rock/stoner rock leanings with their more recent massive, slow-burning sludgy riffs. And while continuing Olsson’s long-held obsession with pondering the vastness of everything, Abyssal Trip derives its name from the perpetually dark, cold, oxygen-free zone at the bottom of the ocean. The album’s six songs manage to embody that bleak and dark realm with rumbling and oozing guitars and dramatic melodic interludes. But unlike its predecessors, the album finds the band crafting material that slowly unfurls, which gives the proceedings a hypnotic quality.

“The lyrical themes we address, like the ultimate doom of man, and the search and longing for new and better worlds, are still there,” Olsson says. “The concept of something undiscovered out there in vast emptiness is pretty much always present.”

Clocking in at a little under 7:30, “Lake,” Abyssal Trip’s expansive first single is centered around alternating sections of crushing, sludgy doom-laden dirge and menacing galloping thrash, a gorgeously shimmering, melodic break and a scorching guitar solo — and it’s all held together by mosh pit friendly hooks. “Lake” manages to find Spelljammer crafting a song that evokes the vastness and and power of a brewing storm over an enormous body of water — and the smallness and powerlessness of humanity.

Abyssal Trip is slated for a February 26, 2021 release through RidingE

New Audio: Elephant Tree’s Scorching Live Version of “Aphotic Blues” off “Day of Doom” Live Album

London-based doom metal/stoner rock quartet Elephant Tree — currently founding members Jack Townley (bass, guitar) and Sam Hart (drums) with Peter Holland (bass, vocals) and John Slattery (guitar, synths) – can trace its origins back to 2013: Townley and Hart would meet every week at a rehearsal space nestled behind the now demolished 12 Bar Club, where they actually started cobbling the first notes of what would eventually become their debut single “Attack of the Altacia.”

Townley and Slattery had a random encounter with Peter Holland, who had an almost mythical status in the scene at a local bar. After talking for a few hours, they all agreed that they should get together to jam. The idea was further cemented after the trio caught OM play at The Village Underground — with Holland taking bass duties, allowing Townley to switch to guitar. As a newly constituted trio, the members of Elephant Tree began polishing “Attack of the Altacia”‘s rough edges before progressing onto newer riffs and melodic ideas paired with Holland’s vocals. And yet, the trio felt something was missing from their sound — until they met Canadian-born Riley MacIntyre (guitar, sitar, vocals), who competed the band’s first lineup.

In 2015, Elephant Tree was handpicked by Magnetic Eye Records from an early demo submission that featured a unique blend of stoner rock, doom metal and sludge centered around a warm, syrupy fuzz and soaring vocal harmonies. Their debut effort Theia and 2016 self-titled effort wound up becoming two of the most popular records of the Magnetic Eye Records’ catalog.

Although the band has gone through a series of lineup changes, their third album, this year’s critically applauded Habits finds the band’s sound and stylistic range expanding to include elements of post-metal and acoustic folk paired with unconventional songwriting.

Last year, Magnetic Eye Records celebrated their first decade with the Day of Doom Showcase at Saint Vitus Bar, which featured nine of the label’s acts including the Swedish doom metal act DOMKRAFT and Elephant Tree. Much like DOMKRAFT’s Day of Doom set, the British quartet’s set was recored by Deafheaven‘s and Summoner’s Chris Johnson as part of a set of four exclusive live albums. Elephant Tree’s Day of Doom set is a career-spanning set of what Metal Injection describes as “gloomy atmosphere with head-bobbing grooves.”

“Aphotic Blues,” is the first single off Elephant Tree’s live album and the single is centered around syrupy and sludgy power chords, thunderous drumming, Alice in Chains-like harmonizing within an expansive song structure. And its all delivered with a snarling forcefulness.

New Audio: Stockholm’s DOMKRAFT’s Scorching Live Version of “The Rift” Off Soon-to-Be Released Live Album

DOMKRAFT is a Stockholm-based doom metal trio that can trace their origins to when its members met and bonded over a mutual love of Spacemen 3, Monster Magnet, Sleep and Hawkwind. Drawing from those influences, the trio have crafted a sound and songwriting approach that blends towering dirges, mind-bending psychedelia and trance-inducing minimalism, embodied by the act’s first two albums, released by Magnetic Eye Records — 2016’s full-length debut, The End of Electricity and 2018’s sophomore effort, Flood.

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays R.I.P. Releases a Mosh Pit Friendly Ripper

Over the past handful of years, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering Portland, OR-based doom metal act and JOVM mainstays R.I.P. And as you may recall, with the release of their first two albums, 2016’s In The Wind and 2017 ‘s Street Reaper, the Portland-based doom metal act quickly established a grimy, punishing and depraved take on metal that they dubbed Street Doom.

The Portland-based JOVM’s long-awaited, third album Dead End is slated for an October 9, 2020 release through RidingEasy Records, and the album’s sound is the result of the band going through a massive lineup change that involved the addition of a much more aggressive rhythm section. while also drawing from a broader and more diverse array of influences, including John Carpenter films, grungy professional wrestling and lo-fi hip-hop among others. In many ways, the album’s material is a decided move away from their earliest influences — i.e., Pentagram and Saint Vitus — and yet it may arguably be the most hook-driven batch of songs of their growing catalog. However, despite all of the other changes, R.I.P.’s thematic concerns have remained the same as always: death, insanity — and leather.

So far I’ve written about two of Dead End’s previously released singles — the Black Sabbath-like “Out of Time,” and the Headbanger’s Ball/Kill ‘Em All Metallica-like album title track “Dead End.” Dead End’s third and latest single “Moment of Silence” is another Headbanger’s Ball-inspired ripper, centered around enormous power chords, howled vocals and a mosh pit friendly hook — but with a cinematic quality that belies the scuzz and grime. d

New Audio: Portland-based JOVM Mainstays R.I.P. Releases an Accessible, Anthemic and Sleazy New Ripper

With the release of their first two albums — 2016’s In The Wind and 2017’s Street Reaper — the Portland, OR-based doom metal act and JOVM mainstays R.I.P. quickly established their grimy, punishing, and depraved take on metal that they dubbed Street Doom. Now, that many of us are sheltering in place and maneuvering through a dystopian and kleptocratic hellscape, their work’s thematic concerns seems frighteningly prescient. 

Dead End, the Portland-based JOVM mainstays’ long-awaited third full-length album is slated for an October 9, 2020 release through RidingEasy Records. Dead End sees that be band going through a lineup change that has resulted in the addition of a more aggressive rhythm section — while drawing from a more diverse range of influences including John Carpenter films, grungiest professional wrestling and lo-fi hip-hop among others. Moving a bit further away from the influence of Pentagram and Saint Vitus, the album may be the most hook-driven of their growing catalog but while still thematically touching about death, insanity — and leather. Additionally, the material’s overall feel was inspired by West Coast tours with Electric Wizard and Red Fang and a month-long headlining tour of Europe. 

“Out of Time,” Dead End’s blistering first single is centered around Black Sabbath-like riffs, enormous arena rock friendly hooks, thunderous drumming and a sneering punk rock air. While still thematically focusing on the prototypical doom metal themes of death, insanity, sick societies on the verge of collapse and the like, “Out of Time” manages to be accessible without scraping off the sludge, slime and grime that has won them attention. 

New Audio: Montreal Doom Metal Trio Shezmu Releases a Punishing New Single

Shezmu is a Montreal-based doom metal trio — founding member Oliver Bérubé Emond a.k.a. Comte Bergaby (vocals, guitar) and Marc-André Labonne (drums), along with the band’s newest member, Sol Miracula’s and Aiauasca’s Yanick Tremblay-Simard (bass) — derive their name from the ancient Egyptian god of wine, oils, blood and slaughter. Founded back in 2016, the band released three efforts as a duo, a self-titled demo cassette in 2017, which they followed up with two mini-albums 2018’s The Scent of War and Breaching The Tomb. Interestingly, that same year saw the band expand into a trio with the addition of Tremblay-Simard. 

The band has long had a deep and abiding love of history — and because the band’s name is inspired by one of the more contradictory Egyptian gods, the Montreal-based doom band’s sound can generally be described as contradictory, explorative, expansive and genre-defying: pummeling drumming, enormous power chord riffs and rumbling down-tuned bass help to create a murky and evil sound.  Slated for a July 27, 2020 release through Krucyator Productions, the band’s forthcoming full-length debut A Travers Les Lambeaux, reportedly finds the band taking a much different songwriting approach. While still drawing from ancient history, the album’s material explores themes of rage, sorrow and madness — but the album features some of Emond’s most personal and urgent lyrics to date. 

“Les Secrets des Ziggourats,” A Traver Les Lambeaux’s lattât single is a furious and forceful aural assault centered around pummeling drumming, enormous power chord-based riffage, rumbling bass and howled vocals. While the song — to my ears, at least — seems to evoke the gates of hell slowly being opened, the track is a howl of desperate and seemingly unending despair and of awe.  “‘Les Secrets des Ziggourats’ talks about mental health — more precisely schizophrenia and epilepsy — and their roles during ancient times,” the band explains in press notes. “People with such mental illness were often portrayed as they came from the gods themselves.” 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Blackwater Holylight Releases a Gorgeous and Feverish Visual for Doom-laden “Jizz Witch”

Led by founding member Allison “Sunny” Faris (vocals, bass), the acclaimed Portland, OR-based heavy psych act Blackwater Holylight can trace its origins to when Faris’ previous band split up. And at the time, Faris started the band as a way to experiment with what her own version of heavy should and could be both sonically and emotionally — while celebrating vulnerability in all of its forms. Secondly, Faris, who was frequently the only woman in many of her bands, desperately wanted to see how it was to work exclusively with women. 

Blackwater Holylight released their critically applauded self-titled, full-length debut last year, and as a result of extensive touring to support it, the band has managed to hone their sound and identity — with their sound evolving to the point that their live show has become about the slow build.  Interestingly enough, as a heavy band, the Portland-based JOVM mainstays sonically and structurally manage to do something unlike any of their peers in the scene: their material generally isn’t anchored to riffs, but rather riffs come and go in rippling and undulating waves that surface through meditative and entrancing songs, while focusing on building tension and intrigue. 

The band released their sophomore album Veils of Winter last October through RidingEasy Records, and the album finds the band with a different lineup — Faris (bass, vocals), Laura Hopkins (guitar/vocals) and Sarah McKenna (synths) along with the band’s newest members Mikayla Mayhew (guitar) Eliese Dorsay (drums). And perhaps s a result of their new lineup, their sound and writing process has changed dramatically. “The process of this album was vastly different from our first record,” Faris says in press notes. “One, because we recorded it over the course of a few weeks, whereas the first record was over the course of about a year. And two, this album was a true collaboration between the five of us. Each of us had extremely equal parts in writing and producing, we all bounced ideas off each together, and we all had a say in what was going on during every part of the process.”

“One of our favorite things about this album is that because it was so collaborative, we didn’t compartmentalize ourselves into one vibe.” Faris continues. “It’s heavy, psychedelic, pop, shoegaze, doom, grunge, melodic and more. The whole process was extremely organic and natural for us, we were just being ourselves.”

Now, as you may recall over the course of last year, I wrote about two of the album’s previously released singles — the one part doom metal, one part shoegazer “Motorcycle” and the nuanced, yet more straightforward shoegazer-like “Death Realms.” The album’s latest single “Jizz Witch” is an ominous track that further cements the band’s reputation for crafting a doom metal take on shoegaze — or better yet a shoegazer take on doom metal. In any case much like its predecessors, it’s a slow-burning and nuanced dirge that you can simultaneously light incense to and sway and headbang. 

Directed by Phoenix Wolfe, the recently released video is a gorgeously shot yet surreal and symbolic fever dream that features powerful women.