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    Black Capricorn, female-ruled (ehm …) but male-fronted, eclectic occult doom trio from the magic Italian island of Sardinia (yes, the Duna Jam one …) are back into action.
    They are busy writing the new album, the third after the self-titled debut album back in 2011, successful live activity overseas and in the “continent” (Italy and Europe) and the acclaimed, powerful 2013 album Back to the Capricorn. During some recording sessions last summer the trio recorded a soothing, charming cover version of Black Sabbath’s song Solitude (from the album Master of Reality, 1971). The song has a particular significance for the band as it is the first one lead by female vocals. The Black Capricorn ladies, Virginia and Rakela, were accompanied by bearded frontman Kjxu on guitar and by some sweet flute notes by Alessandra Cornacchia from the metal band Sacred Sword.
    So in the new album there may be some new features …

    The band  also coupled these dark and intimate tunes with a video (see below) where you can get some fuzzy yet charming glimpses of the wild coastline and inland of the beautiful, sundried, rough, ancient and tough, doomy island Sardinia in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea.

    It is possible to download Back Capricorn’s own version of Solitude (as mp3) via a link provided by the band: HERE

    Keep this doomy trio under your radar for news about the forthcoming album and, for the moment, enjoy this delicate version of Solitude.

    Words: Marilena Moroni


    Black Capricorn - Solitude (Black Sabbath cover)

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  • 09/11/13--17:14: Windhand – Soma ...
  • Time has come …
    The brand new album by Windhand, doom band based in Richmond, Virginia (USA), is almost out via Relapse Records, September 17th 2013. Windhand is a band able to cast spells since their early-ish days back in 2010 via their crushing demo (HERE). The band fully developed their style in their monster self-titled debut album out during 2012 via Forcefield Records and Mordgrimm Records (HERE).

    Windhand band has been active since 2008. The present-day line-up involves the three “veterans” Asechiah Bogdan (ex-Alabama Thunderpussy) on guitars, Dorthia Cottrell on vocals and Garrett Morris on more guitars, with Parker Chandler (frontman and bassist in Cough) recently added on bass guitar and Ryan Wolfe on drums. Windhand is deeply connected with and stems from the outstanding and prolific heavy scene in Richmond, VA (e.g., Cough, Pig Destroyer, Municipal Wate, Cannabis Corpse, Alabama Thunderpussy, Gwar, Birds of Prey, etc.).

    Right from the start the band liked to blend Sabbathian/Saint Vitus-inspired doom with occult psychedelia written under the shade of the swamp cypress in the southern marshes. These guys and gal mix obsessive, drony, pachydermic rhythms with the roughness of distorsion and the unearthy and deeply charming vocals by Dorthia Cottrell. Dorthia possesses a unique, haunting voice, blues and ghostly at the same time, rather different from the powerfully melodic vocals of doom lady singers like Jex Thoth, Uta Plotkin of Witch Mountain or Alia O’Brien in Blood Ceremony.

    Windhand recently entered the roster of Relapse Records and is experiencing a burning hot year: the devastanting split with Cough out during last Spring (HERE), the announcement of their involvement into Roadburn 2014, and, finally, the upcoming release of their second, new album, Soma. Soma is 6 tracks for over 75 minutes of rough, witching, occult-flavoured heaviness.
    Are 75 minutes scary? Well, probably they are, although those who live on raw, occult and psychedelic doom, like, e.g., in Electric Wizard, will be happy kids with Windhand.

    In the new album Soma the quintet keep on playing as punishingly heavy as in the split with Cough. So they build up mastodontic ballads where sounds are deafening and dirty and guitars emit dull and coarse roars. Dorthia’s ghostly voice, the abrasive guitar solos and, sometimes, even the drumming are rendered as almost defocused, or else suffocated by the tremendous buzz of the feedback. Album Soma may be roughly subdivided into two parts. The first part sees a sequence of four ballads with imposing yet fairly “normal” lengths for doom songs, i.e., between 6 and 9-10 minutes. Then it is the turn of two more demanding suites extending for almost 14 and over 30 minutes each. The album is opened by Orchard, a slow, hypnotic and gloomy ballad in full hommage to Electric Wizard and able to further bring out the charm of Dorthia Cottrell’s peculiar and evanescent vocal style.

    A noisy drony interval separates the first track from the following, stunning ballad Woodbine, where the band add dynamics by occasionally slightly speeding up the pace and by multiplying the chanting by means of reverbed effects. Everything gets even more ethereal and hallucinating. The plodding and meandering Sabbathian riff leading the track is drenched with groove and infectious. It’s nothing new, of course, totally classic, maybe already heard in some Saint Vitus’ songs or so. But it’s all fine because with their touch Windhand are able to transform plain classic doom riff patterns into something granitic and volatile at the same time.
    The thrid track, Feral Bones, is broadly following the previous style, with slow propulsion fueled by dirty, growling, almost sludgy guitars. However Dorthia’s echoing singing, dominating the scene here, is particularly melodic and more atmospheric than ever. It may therefore not be by chance that the following ballad, Evergreen, is pure distilled melody: acoustic guitar and soft chant in an extremely simple, achingly melancholic and intimate combination. The acoustic ballad Evergreen further confirms the simple but irresistible charm of Dorthia Cottrell’s voice also without the noisy superstructure of metal effects. Evergreen is not one of those simple acoustic intervals often sandwiched inbetween heavy tracks. It is a fully standing, almost 7 minutes-long melancholic, dark folk ballad which is effectively breaking up what may become monotony. This ballad is simple and relaxing and gets your mind ready for the coarse buzz of fuzz and the roar of the feedback opening the second part of the album with Cassock.

    Cassock is another doomy yet dynamic suite starting very heavy and slow. However, like with the sea waves on the shore, the riff power is evoked and produced in a cyclic way and in progressive growth up to apex of noise combined with distorted guitars, wild percussions and chanting invocations. A sudden slowdown is what makes you plunge into the darkest depths of funeral doom, even if graced by the spectral levity of Dorthia’s chant. This funereal second part too undergoes a slowly growing development by means of chaotic sounds and noises progressively inserted between complex drumming patterns and the deafening feedback. Pure noise will put anything to end. After the magmatic surge in Cossack, the breaths of wind and the intimate acoustic guitar populating the first few minutes of the titanic suite Boleskine almost sound as balming. Soon the ponderous distorted riffs will start knitting a sick, sorrowful melody with minimal but perceivable tempo changes, a funereal lithany echoing as if in a tri-dimensional, dark space and nest to coarse abrasive yet groove-laden guitar solos. Another sonic limbo made of delicate touches of acoustic guitar is separating a second and even more dilated wave of mind-blowing cemeterial sludge which will slowly die out into silence.
    Soma is a way charming and heavy album, maybe a bit too long. Or better, probably suite Boleskine is a bit extreme length-wise, after almost 45 minutes of hypnotic, molasse-like ritual sludge-doom. I must say I wouldn’t have minded to find another track similar to Shepherd’s Crook in Windhand’s split with Cough, i.e. a track that I had felt as a bit different in approach, less occult and almost “epic”.  But it is also true that albums dealing with lysergic occult doom are enjoyed for an almost mystical experience where the listener doesn’t care about the time!

    As for the split with Cough, the new album was recorded and mixed by guitar player Garrett Morris in the band’s studio, The Darkroom, in Richmond. Probably the enhanced roughness, and consequently heaviness, of the sound is thanks to Garrett’s touch as well as to James Plotkin’s mastering.  Different from what you can see on cover arts of several (and new) bands devoted to retro/occult psych stoner/doom, where luscious psych art is blooming when not hackneyed, Windhand adopted a surprisingly sober, desolate grey cover art, hinting more to depressive black metal  than anything else! But no problem: typhoons of colours and darkness will come via music and imagination!

    What is left to say to the lucky ones who will be at Roadburn next year is that experiencing Windhand in that temple of doom will be really something …But before Roardburn 2014 will come, be aware that Windhand are going to tour quite substantially. For example, check out the official flyer as well as the band’s website for dates and venues of their USA Fall Tour which started a few days ago.


    1. Orchard 06:37
    2. Woodbine 09:22
    3. Feral Bones 7:59
    4. Evergreen  6:56
    5. Cassock 13:45
    6. Boleskine 30:29

    Words: Marilena Moroni

    Winhand's Soma @ Relapse

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    Prepare to worship at the altar of the HEAVY RIFF. We are very pleased to be able to present the third episode of the WHEELFALL’s “Live Studio Sessions”. Only live music is real, no tricks, no cheatings, only the band by itself. Only the truth. This episode featured “Howling”, second track on the first Wheelfall album "Interzone".

    Formed in 2009 in Nancy, France, the original WHEELFALL lineup included Fabien W. Furter on guitar and vocals, Niko El Moche on bass, Cactus Flo on guitar and Quentin Vega on drums with their first recorded appearance being on 2010’s “From the Blazing Sky at Dusk” Ep, DIY self-released EP which made a splash in the stoner/desert rock international scene. Right after, in mid-2010, the band replaced Quentin with drummer Niko Elbow Giraud, who used to attend the loud, pounding and noisy WHEELFALL gigs.

    In 2012, the new line-up cranked out the highly-celebrated “Interzone” LP, quickly followed by a split EP the month after and keep touring, managing to severely deafen metal fanatics. These three early releases defined the basis of the WHEELFALL’s style – a loud, massive and sick metal/stoner/doom mixing of thundering guitars, roaring bass, huge and heavy drums, deep gritty vocals, which each tune seeming slower than the one before it. Giving as much importance to its music than its lyrical themes, each WHEELFALL’s song is part of one and only pessimistic and speculative fiction exploring the reaction of individuals and society confronted to issues caused by its technological evolution, which trap ruthlessly the listener in the band’s world. The band is never stuck into one musical genre and its motto could be "Move forward or die like a dinosaur", so don't expect anything from the band but only what they want to do. Hymns like “Holy Sky”, “It comes from the Mist” or the 22 minutes behemoth “Interzone” are perfect examples of how wide the WHEELFALL’s musical spectrum is, and the band became instantaneously one of the driving forces of the stoner rock/metal French scene.

    In 2013-2014, WHEELFALL will be steamrolling their way across France and Europe. We hope for their own sake that the Europeans are familiar with the concept of earplugs.


    “From the Blazing Sky at dusk” EP (self-released) : listen, download and buy at Bandcamp
    “Interzone” LP (Sunruin Records) : listen and buy at Sunruin Records

    “Split with A Very Old Ghost Behind the Farm” EP (self-released) : listen, download and buy at < a href="">Bandcamp

    WHEELFALL is :

    Fabien W. Furter – vocals, guitar
    Niko Elbow Giraud – drums
    Niko El Moche – bass
    Cactus Flo – guitar


    Official Website

     Previous episode :
    Ep #2 : HERE
    Ep #1 : HERE

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    By now, we the educated, know well the line from Nietzsche. Included in “Beyond Good and Evil” is Aphorism 146: “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby becomes a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.” What this means exactly is a point of debate. Personally, I believe that Nietzsche’s bit of wisdom is commentary on one of the intellectual’s occupational hazards. Namely, those who seek the dark truths of life are bound to be infected by those same dark truths. Ultimately, Nietzsche knew that no one comes out unscathed, or, to quote another philosopher, you’ll “never get out of this world alive.”

    Despite his widespread dissemination throughout the world, Nietzsche remains firmly entrenched in the difficult and idiosyncratic world of German philosophy. Because they were never conquered by the Romans - Europe’s great arbiters of Hellenic culture - the Germanic peoples (who did eventually adopt much of the Graeco-Roman world, but with some reservations) formed a worldview based more on their warrior ethos then on such ideals as city-states or republics. In their world, the chief was the strongest and thus had a right to rule. Even after they converted to Christianity, the Germanic peoples created a hero Christ that is more akin to Beowulf than a Middle Eastern pacifist.

    Given this history, the Nietzschaen ethic of the “Overman” (the “Superman” term belongs more to Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw) appealed to many in the Germanic world, especially the völkisch types who created an odd brand of elitist populism. The elitism came in the form of racism - an ideology that Nietzsche himself attacked frequently - and a spiritual belief in the superiority of Wotanism, or the worship of pre-Christian paganism. These ideas obviously influenced National Socialism, but they continue to persist even after the worldwide defeat of Nazism and fascism.

    When it debuted with a firestorm, Norwegian black metal cloaked itself in the aura of the revolutionary right. As a part of this, Nietzschaen philosophy came to the forefront, with such artists as the scholarly Ihsahn of Emperor and the repugnant Varg Vikernes of Mayhem and Burzum paying homage to the Continent’s most difficult and controversial thinker. For many, this underlying philosophy is a turn off. Although it does not run throughout the entirety of black metal, that sub-genre is often guilty of being overtly elitist.

    Historically, doom metal has been the opposite. Doom metal’s small collection of adherents has always had more to do with its timing than its philosophy. When bands like Saint Vitus, Trouble, The Obsessed, and Death Row (soon to revert back to Pentagram) first started releasing albums, the thrash metal movement was underway. The emphasis then was on speed and more speed. Doom metal’s slow, deliberate approach was not in fashion, and frankly, it seemed “born too late.”

    Currently, in the age of the Internet, musical experimentation is the name of the game. In metal, all the sub-genres are busy mixing with themselves, thus creating a polyglot universe wherein the traditional genre tags and labels no longer tell the full story. Heirs of the Void, a two man band from the Saxon town of Aurich, are such a mixture. “Evil Spirit,” their debut demo, combines the low-fi quality and shrieking cadences of black metal with the snail-like pacing of funeral doom. Singer/guitarist Christian Hedden oscillates between demonic, larynx-destroying barks and the type of operatic moans that are favored by goth rock vocalists. In the midst of these alternating movements, Hedden’s fuzz tone and bassist Wilke Freesemann’s low end commingle in order to make shockingly gloomy auras.

    On tracks such as “Adore the Void” and “Everlasting Darkness,” the duo craft long-winded tunes that are riddled with sadness and melancholy. When Hedden sings cleanly (which he does well), “Evil Spirit” becomes a funeral oration. When he descends into black metal chaos, “Evil Spirit” becomes a post-burial ghoulish romp full of misanthropy and black deeds.

    Because it is so open, what with its long passages of dissonance and feedback, “Evil Spirit” allows for numerous of moments of listener interpretation. The void inside of the sound of Heirs of the Void is the important part, not the moments when the band provides lyrics or recognizable bits of song structure. The problem with this though is that Heirs of the Void are too simplistic in their approach to blackened doom metal (or is it doomed black metal?). The programmed drum machine on “Evil Spirit” is annoying in its repetition, while the incessant drone at the heart of each song goes without coloring or even a shade of complexity. “Evil Spirit” is more feeling than music, and despite catchy titles like “The Wrath of the Great Old Ones,” this demo is a slough and not intended for those listeners who like hooks, crescendoes, or arpeggios. Simply put, “Evil Spirit” is a miasma of sound that will, at best, only have a few followers. Nietzsche probably would have wanted it that way.

    Track List:
    1.    Adore the Void
    2.    Everlasting Darkness
    3.    Evil Spirit
    4.    Wrath of the Great Old Ones

    “Evil Spirit” is a self-released demo that is currently available online.

    Words: Benjamin Welton


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  • 09/21/13--22:38: PEACEMAKER – "Cult 45" ...
  • Peacemaker are a band with quite some contrasts.  The cloak-free, metropolitan look in the official photos is suggestive more of a hardcore-punk or thrash metal band than of a bunch of metallers devoted to some type of “bearded” doomy metal. The very title of the debut full-length album, Cult 45, might be more hinting to high-octane rock’n’roll. But if you look at the ancient- and arcane-looking cover art you may get some hint about doom being involved. There are contrasts also in Peacemaker’s music. Album Cult 45 had been announced via a substantial teasing album sampler several months ago, which was a powerful anticipation of the big potentials of this band. Obviously the experience of a full album is always much better for understanding a band, especially when new. Because Peacemaker are rather new in the British doom metal panorama, even if band members aren’t at all.  For those who missed the info before, Peacemaker involve founding members guitarist Sam Taylor and drummer Rich Maw from the old school death metal band Infliction, singer Al Osta, from Fenriz’s band-of-the-week death metal band Ravens Creed and, previously, in Leeds-based band called Satanic Fatwa, like is bassist Al Lawson as well.

    If fierce Ravens Creed roar to shake consciences, Peacemaker use hard hitting doom to bitterly meditate about life and its difficulties, the challenges and the unpredictability of living, false and true friends (like music …), cultural barriers between people and/or populations, basically universal problems that seem to affect human relationships at any scale and often with tragic results, and so forth. And, as I had commented about the album teaser, Peacemaker sound like a wild beast that only seems to be tamed …Peacemaker’s brand of “doom” appears to be preferably conjugated via flows of groove-laden yet abrasive downtuned riffs over which the band knit their multifaceted, yet very traditional style.  Cult 45 includes 8 tracks summing up to 33 minutes. The dynamic, crushing opening track,  The Siberian Problem, was originally closing the album sampler and resembling a final explosion of energy. But this load of energy seems to be the way this band wants to enter the scene: rapid tempo changes, heavy riffage and roaring drumming propelling a killer mixture of doom distortion and old-school heavy metal, Black Sabbath and Angel Witch jammi8ng with High on Fire. Add Al Osta’s rough and sludgy singing for this and further incendiary ballads and you’ll end up with scars on your skin.

    Track Follow The Rats further develops Peacemaker’s dynamic side to keep you fit with headbanging via its pumping heavy metal rhythm and raging crusty singing. 
    But Peacemaker’s doom can also rapidly turn to slow and plodding, dull and dry, and even almost occult, like, for example in crushing yet somber ballads like Dead Man’s Key and Sorrow Trip. In particular the huge Dead Man’s Key possesses a markedly ritual and somewhat ancient character possibly for its dark, hypnotic nursery rhyme-like development. Noise explosion by downtuned guitars, howling guitar solos, drums, cymbals and scary roars alternate with  “silent” intervals where Al Osta whispers over the dull vibrations of a few piano keys. While listening to this great song, I would not be surprised to hear the original lyrics abruptly switching to one of those blood-chilling, eerie, bitterly moral tales by Yeats!
    In these slow ballads Al Osta’s rough and deep vocals are not as raging as in some of the faster tracks and in Ravens Creed (I still remember his devastating performance with Ravens Creed at the Live Evil Festival two years ago …), but Al’s narrative skill is perfect for materializing the darkest sides of Peacemaker’s songs.

    A further serving of slow Sabbathian, fuzzy doom comes via track Sorrow Trip, the seventh in the tracklist. This is another slow-moving doomy ballad lead by a catchy swinging rhythm and drenched with an almost laid-back swampy bluesy vibe alternating with strained, dreamy desert psychedelia. But Al Osta’s raucous vocals will bring you down to earth while simply whispering another sinister tale …  Beside the remarkable variation style of heavy doom metal across the album, there is further surprise coming from totally acoustic and delicate, folkish songs like the instrumental, guitar- and keyboard-driven Mane of Serpents. Therefore the drumming solo introducing the following track Soul Cheater will seem even more rumbling and solid and the fast thrashy riffs plus the shots of raspy chanting will crack your neck. Some great metal here …Peacemaker’s heavy metal soul is further conjugated in the killer solos dominating the core of the heavy track Journey of the Faithful where pace is slightly slowing down, maybe as a transition to the swinging doom ballad that will follow, Sorrow Trip. The album is closed by Grey Skies, another somber and dreamy acoustic song which starts after the last riffs of ballad Sorrow Trip have slowed down to pachidermic heaviness. Same touch as Mane of Serpents, somber and melancholic and little by little contaminated by some spacey psychedelic effects.

    Is it an unexpected way for closing an album full of granitic tunes? Yes, maybe, but read the band’s words about this intimate acoustic outro: “ The North of England has a certain melancholy in the air. You look to the sky. You see nothing.”. How doomy! Cult 45. What a crushing album … Well, Peacemaker did it, we have another kickass, heavy doomy metal band. Album Cult45 is full of killer, addictive tunes and features to discover. Moreover, all in all, the album itself is a surprise compared to the album teaser. The latter was announcing a dominantly Sabbathian doom band, whereas the full album revealed that Peacemaker are also a splendid bone-crushing heavy metal band. Peacemaker’s album Cult45 came out during June 2013 and can be purchased via Bandcamp (full stream) or via the band’s merch website via the links below.


    1. The Siberian Problem
    2. Follow The Rats
    3. Dead Man's Keys
    4. Mane of Serpents
    5. Soul Cheater
    6. Journey of the Faithful
    7. Sorrow Trip
    8. Grey Sky

    Words: Marilena Moroni

    Peacemaker Merch | Big Cartel

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    Horror movies and heavy metal have always shared a bloodstream. Although one predates the other by a good fifty years, it is hard now to think of one without the other. Ever since Black Sabbath decided to name themselves after a Mario Bava film from 1963 (I tre volti della paura), metal bands that have followed their lead have found inspiration in the fright films of yesteryear and today. Venom, the original bad boys of black metal, decided to strike an earnest satanic pose (which was all a gag) because they disliked the Hammer Studios-like aesthetics of Black Sabbath, who always managed a “O God, please help me” in their songs about the devil, paranoia, and cocaine. By the early 1990s, doom metal bands recast their eyes back towards the late 1960s and 1970s, a time when movies increased their violent content without decreasing their mood, sensuality, or artistry. In crafting songs that highlighted the works of such maestros as Bava, Jesús Franco, Amando de Ossorio, and others,  doom metal acts distanced their sound and brand from the gore-obsessed death metal scene and the all-too-serious Norwegian black metal movement.

    In today’s metal scene, which showcases increasing levels of intermarriage between sub-genres, the horror film still reigns supreme as both a subject for songs and as an eye-catching aesthetic. Ilsa, a quintet from Washington, D.C.’s outposts in Maryland, are a crust punk-meets-doom metal band with plenty of cues taken from black metal and sludge. Ilsa are also yet another horror movie-obsessed band, with a name taken from Don Edmonds’s notorious Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS (1975) and a catalogue with at least one record named after a 1972 Italian giallo film (Tutit i colori del buio). On their latest release, which is a split 7” with Seven Sisters of Sleep, the men of Ilsa cover Bolt Thrower’s majestic “The IVth Crusade.” Bolt Thrower, who are undoubtably the most underrated and overlooked death metal band of all time, were integral in creating the fusion sound of death/doom - a small sub-genre that embraces both death metal’s howling vocals and drop-tuning with doom’s funereal pacing and emphasis on heaviness, not hardness.

    Ilsa’s take on “The IVth Crusade” is a faithful copy that only includes one unoriginal moment - the feedback-laden ending. Overall, Ilsa did the mosh pit classic a good service, and their rendition of “The IVth Crusade” is impressive, if only a little too faithful.

    On the other hand, the record’s version of Hellhammer’s “Messiah,” which is performed here by Los Angeles’s Seven Sisters of Sleep, is a somewhat subtle alteration of the original. Falling closer on the sludge side of things, Seven Sisters of Sleep manage to keep Hellhammer’s original tempo throughout most of the song, but somewhere in the middle, they slow it down to an inhuman crawl and wail out like Mike IX Williams caught in a sewer. In many ways, Hellhammer is the perfect band for both Seven Sisters of Sleep and Ilsa, for the Swiss band’s unholy concoction of thrash metal, hardcore punk, and early black and death metal mirrors today’s high rate of interbreeding. In the end, Seven Sisters of Sleep’s new take on “Messiah” is both fitting and excellently done.

    This split 7” is quick (a hair under eleven minutes long) and brutal. If you want a microscopic moment of head-banging frenzy, then you couldn’t make a better choice. If you want to explore what the new generation of metal has to offer, then this is also the right place. Both Ilsa and Seven Sisters of Sleep do justice to heavy metal’s past, and, more importantly, they are keeping the black wax candle of metal burning brightly towards the future.

    Track List:
    1.    Messiah (Seven Sisters of Sleep)
    2.    The IVth Crusade (Ilsa)

    Words: by Benjamin Welton

    Seven Sisters of Sleep/Ilsa Split 7” is currently available from A389 Recordings.

    Ilsa’s Facebook: HERE
    Seven Sisters of Sleep’s Facebook: HERE
    Split 7” Bandcamp: HERE

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    The rain has just stopped, and the earth reeks of wet grass, peat, and fog. I am sitting in a churchyard. The vicar looks like Chesterton’s Father Brown, and the local ladies all have the busybody demeanors of Miss Marple. The overall feeling is twofold: 1) this is the quintessential English scene, and; 2) a murder is about to be committed, with a body in the library and a eccentric sleuth on the way.

    I for one understand and embrace this mood, plus mine has a specific soundtrack. Besides the required rotation of “Black Sabbath,” my mythologized rural English churchyard is set to the sounds of Witchfinder General - arguably the most overlooked band from the NWOBHM period. One part Black Sabbath and one part Iron Maiden, Witchfinder General struck a pose that at once embraced the occult trappings of early doom metal as well as the sex, drugs, and rock and roll stereotype that was as much apart of Venom’s style as their cartoonish Satanism.

    Before I proceed into the actual history of Witchfinder General, I would like to first explain my odd association between a 1980s doom metal band and the prosaic country of William Wordsworth. I first found Witchfinder General in the very early days of Myspace (the same place where I first stumbled upon related bands like Electric Wizard and Pagan Altar).

    The day was a rainy one in northern West Virginia, and everyone in the household was dealing with the seasonal depression that comes when autumn turns into gray winter. I was upstairs in my room, trying hard to avoid my dad and his downstairs kingdom where awful Western movies reigned and snoring was frequent.

    While deeply immersed in an Internet pilgrimage (my term for the aimless scrolling and clicking that manages to eat up incalculable hours), I selected Witchfinder General’s page mostly because I wanted to learn more about the exposed breasts that the “Profile” picture hinted at. The picture itself was taken from the “Death Penalty” (1982) album cover that featured famed British glamour girl Joanne Latham. The cover art shows the members of the band and one member of their road crew cavorting around in a Staffordshire graveyard with a semi-nude woman (Latham) in a vulnerable position. The debauched group appear to be depraved monks and one soldier dressed in the uniform of Cromwell’s New Model Army. It is suggested to the viewer that something unspeakable about is about to happen, and indeed the image resonates with all the markings of a gory horror film.

    This aesthetic was chosen on purpose, for Witchfinder General owe their namesake and much of their image to a 1968 horror film starring Vincent Price. Michael Reeves’s “Witchfinder General” tells the tale of Matthew Hopkins (played by Price), a semi-legendary “witchfinder” of seventeenth century England. Set amidst the backdrop of England’s bloody civl war (1642-1651), “Witchfinder General” scandalized its era with its gratuitous scenes of torture and sexualized violence. For a metal band, there is probably no better type of film to be associated with, plus Witchfinder General’s choice of material links them with the genre’s forefathers - the aforementioned Black Sabbath, who also named themselves after a 1960s horror film.

    For much of their career, Witchfinder General lived in the shadow of Sabbath, their major influence. When the band was formed in 1979 by singer Zeeb Parkes and guitarist Phil Cope in the quiet town of Stourbridge, Worcestershire, the intention was to re-create and re-shape the original blueprint of Sabbath. For the most part, Witchfinder General were successful in this effort, and their debut album certainly sounds closer to the original metal sound than many of its NWOBHM contemporaries.

    In seven songs, “Death Penalty” presents simplistic, yet heavy, doom-like metal that contains few of the punk influences that were then so current in the British heavy metal scene. On undisputed classics such as the driving “Free Country,” the plodding “Death Penalty,” and the band’s sing-along “Burning a Sinner,” Witchfinder General carve out a distinct sound that occupies a middle space between ‘70s hard rock and the crushing early doom of Pagan Altar. Vocalist Parkes is often seen soaring in the high register on “Death Penalty,” whilst Cope (who also played bass on the record) churns out crunchy riffs that stay right in the mid section. Overall, “Death Penalty” is a classic heavy metal record and its many adherents in the denim and leather crowd is well earned.

    On their next record - 1983’s “Friends of Hell” - Witchfinder General, now a quartet featuring bassist Rod Hawkes and drummer Graham Ditchfield, tried to further their traditional sound, but with a greater emphasis on slow, monstrous riffs. In many ways, “Friends of Hell” is superior to its predecessor, but most either disagree or merely see the two records as two parts of one, single piece of music. On the surface, “Death Penalty” and “Friends of Hell” share much in common. As with their debut, the cover to “Friends of Hell” showcases the band as perverted antagonists on the hunt for sexually vulnerable young women. This time around, the men of Witchfinder General are wrapped in the eighteenth century garb of the notorious Hellfire Club, and their victims now are four women instead of just one.

     The sexual threat present on the cover of “Friends of Hell” is noticeably lacking in the album’s music. Whereas “Death Penalty” contains songs with such provocative titles as “Burning a Sinner” and “Invisible Hate,” “Friends of Hell” contains songs with seemingly innocuous titles as “Music,” “Requiem for Youth,” “I Lost You,” and “Quietus Reprise.” Of course, this safe exterior belies a tough, heavy interior, for the head-banging classic “Love On Smack” and the bluesy “Shadowed Images” are some of the meanest entries in the entire Witchfinder General catalogue. By the time that the sluggish doom masterpiece “Quietus Reprise” ends, a listener cannot help but to feel that they have just been exposed to a classic.

    Indeed, “Friends of Hell” is not only a classic, but it’s the last Witchfinder General release worthy of mention. After fractious in-fighting (which led to the phrase “Burning a Singer,” a well-worn pun used due to the constant fights swirling around Parkes), Witchfinder General initially called it quits in 1984. By then, NWOBHM had given way to NWOAHM, or what is more popularly known as the thrash metal movement. Witchfinder General’s doom stylings were suddenly out of favor, and the slower brands of heavy metal would have to wait until the 1990s for wider exposure.

    By 2008, Witchfinder General had reformed without Parkes. On “Resurrected,” founding member Phil Cope attempts to guide the resurrected band to a new generation of fans. Musically speaking, “Resurrected” is a convincing effort, but somehow the magic seems gone. While it works well as a nostalgic release from one of the forefathers of doom, “Resurrected” is a record meant only for old diehards.

    While this might be a tragic turn of efforts for other bands, Witchfinder General still have unimaginable clout in the doom metal underground. Partially because they never “broke” like Iron Maiden or Motörhead, and partially because they never disowned the gleeful sleaze of their first two albums, Witchfinder General today remain firmly entrenched in the pantheon of heavy metal. The atmosphere that they cultivated on “Death Penalty” and “Friends of Hell” lingers on in the world of doom, plus, speaking personally, Witchfinder General remains in the mythical realm of music for me because they were THE band that introduced me to a new vision of heavy metal. Previously, my history with metal consisted entirely of Black Sabbath on the radio and Glenn Danzig on MTV. At the time that I discovered Witchfinder General, I was a punk kid with an addiction to fast tempos. Witchfinder General helped to change that, and it was their music, along with their image, that forever altered my opinions on certain cultural modes, from heavy metal, horror films, and beyond.

    Words:Benjamin Welton

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    This is part two of a three part series dealing with obscure proto-doom records from the early 1970s

    It’s best to start off honest. So, accordingly, it’d be a stretch to call “Mourning,” the only full-length record from Floridian rockers Bolder Damn, a doom metal record. “Proto-doom” yes, but the emphasis should be heavily applied to “proto.” “Mourning” is an inchoate record that certainly points the way towards the more recognizable elements of traditional doom, but actually falls short of being anything other than jangly garage rock with the occasional whiff of a fuzz pedal.

    After forming in the city of Fort Lauderdale in 1969, the men of Bolder Damn (John Anderson on lead vocals and guitar, Robert Eaton on drums, Ron Reflett on bass, and Glenn Eaton on guitars) quickly cut their teeth in the same Floridian roadhouses and dive bars that would eventually raise Jacksonville’s more famous Lynyrd Skynyrd. Along the way, Bolder Damn earned a reputation for their shocking stage show (which apparently borrowed liberally from the playbook of Alice Cooper) and their quasi-revolutionary lyrics. After all, Bolder Damn’s short history (1969 to approximately 1972) was completely surrounded by the Vietnam War and the youth revolt that it inadvertently ignited. Bolder Damn came from this socio-politico morass and brought along high wattage amplifiers, thus making “Mourning,” a record recorded in 1971 and released in 1972, just another record of post-hippy, blue collar teenager angst.

    The opening song on “Mourning” is the hard boogie butt-buster called “BRTCD.” Like their contemporaries in Sir Lord Baltimore, Bolder Damn’s type of heavy rock, which is represented by “BRTCD,” encompassed both groove and plenty of wah-wah freakouts. “BRTCD” is an apt distillation of how little removed early ‘70s rock was from its acid ancestor from the late ‘60s. Before the rise of Black Sabbath and its sludgy, gloomy sound, most heavy and hard rock was still mired in the groove-orientated and blues-based sounds of traditional rock and roll, with some spoonfuls of sexual revolution for good measure. In short, unlike Black Sabbath or later metal acts, Bolder Damn can be construed as “baby making music.” This of course does not entirely describe either Bolder Damn or “Morning,” their sole gift to the music world.

    The other angle to “Morning” can be best seen in such tracks as “Breakthrough” and “Dead Meat.” In the former track, the youth politics of the era can be easily espied, for the track begins with the din of battle. For Metallica enthusiasts, “Breakthrough” will sound eerily familiar to the beloved “One.” Conversely, fans of Creedence Clearwater Revival will find “Breakthrough” a somewhat pallid cousin to “Fortunate Son,” CCR’s populist rant against the inequalities of the military draft. Indeed, “Breakthrough” has the same warm, lightly distorted aggression of “Fortunate Son,” but unlike the CCR staple, “Breakthrough” contains a metallic guitar solo that recalls the Detroit antics of bands like The Stooges and The MC5.

    While “Breakthrough” takes a more pop stance against Vietnam, “Dead Meat” goes darker with a sort of gothic psychedelia that presages a million future doom metal acts. Over fifteen minutes long, “Dead Meat” initially begins as a funeral dirge about the cultural clashes between 1970s youth and their supposedly oppressive elders. Then, in a haze of rabble-rousing, “Dead Meat” becomes a driving rocker and then a heavy downbeat ditty that is shrouded in fuzz and slow-building doom. More so than any other track on “Mourning,” “Dead Meat” argues for Bolder Damn’s inclusion in the pantheon of forgotten doom ancestors.

    All in all, “Mourning” is a lyrically and conceptually sad record that displays a mostly upbeat brand of hard rock. Songs such as “Monday Mourning” and “Rock On” can be confused with a garage pop of an older sort, and such classifications wouldn’t be far from the mark. Still, “Mourning” hints at and often suggests that harder edges are lurking around the corner. These reveals mostly come at the behest of guitar solos, which pump out plenty of metal. It’s a shame that Bolder Damn couldn’t live past “Mourning,” for their only record, which was originally released by a minuscule San Francisco imprint called Aquarius Records, shows tons of promise. As it stands today, “Mourning” is mostly an electric museum piece that is only admired by heavy metal and hard rock occultists - those weird antiquarians who love nothing better than re-discovering lost “classics,” or in the case of “Mourning,” forgotten could-have-beens.

    Words: Benjamin Welton

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    HIGH ON FIRE has released a brand new single titled "Slave The Hive" today. As part of the band's upcoming Scion A/V-sponsored headlining tour, HIGH ON FIRE drops the new single which marks the first new music from the California metal champions since the spring 2012 release of "De Vermis Mysteriis". A limited-edition seven-inch single will be available at all tour dates with a video for the song to be released simultaneously.
    The previously announced Scion A/V-presented HIGH ON FIRE tour will run from November 10 through December 12. Norwegian rock sextet KVELERTAK, who have had one of 2013's buzziest hard rock releases with the Kurt Ballou-produced (CONVERGE) album "Meir", will open all dates. DOOMRIDERS (Nov. 10 to 23), PACK OF WOLVES (Nov. 25-27) and WINDHAND (Nov. 29 to Dec. 12) will be featured as the evening opener on different legs of the tour.

    HIGH ON FIRE released the first official live recordings of its career with the two volume set "Spitting Fire Live", which has been hailed as "high-volume intensity" by the Austin Chronicle, "hot as the infernos" by Pitchfork and a "documentation of the band's undiminished ferocity onstage" by the SF Weekly. Recorded over a two-evening New York City headlining stint at both Bowery Ballroom and Brooklyn's Music Hall Of Williamsburg last winter, "Spitting Fire Live" showcases HIGH ON FIRE at its incendiary best, containing songs from each of the band's critically acclaimed studio albums including last year's "De Vermis Mysteriis".

    Source: Blabbermouth

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    "The Mouths Of Madness", the video for the title track of the new album from San Francisco-based doom rockers ORCHID, can be seen below. The CD was released on April 26 via Nuclear Blast Records. Guitarist Mark Thomas Baker stated about the extensive "The Mouths Of Madness" production process: "Most of the tracks on 'The Mouths Of Madness' were cut in early June 2012. We were pretty fresh off of our European tour and full of confidence. The basics done at that time were the best recording experience that we've had so far. Everybody got along great and did great work.
    "We did this album with a completely different guitar sound than 'Capricorn'. I think it sounds much heavier in that regard. We take a lot of time to get things right. I hope people enjoy it and let it sink in. I think it's miles above our past efforts."

    Mastering engineer Richard Whittaker, who also took care of the latest BLACK SABBATH and THIN LIZZY rereleases/analogue transfers, comments: "I've been a huge fan of ORCHID since I first heard their debut EP back in 2009, and they've certainly come a long way since then. So, as you can imagine, to be asked to work with ORCHID on their records was an honour and a pleasure. They're a great bunch of guys and a stellar band to be involved with. "'The Mouths Of Madness' is such a well-crafted and awe-inspiring album. Sonically, its 1974 meets 2013 which, for me, takes the SABBATH/PENTAGRAM vibe to whole new level."

    ORCHID was named "the best and most important doom band of the past five years" by Rock Hard Germany's editor-in-chief Götz Kühnemund. In addition, BEHEMOTH mainman Adam "Nergal" Darski stated: "BLACK SABBATH should do an album like 'The Mouths Of Madness'!"
    Since its inception in 2006, ORCHID— which features in its ranks well-known tattoo artist Theo Mindell on vocals — has achieved massive global awareness with their stunning releases "Through The Devil's Doorway" (EP, 2009) and "Capricorn" (full-length, 2011).
    On November 15, ORCHID will release "The Zodiac Sessions", which consists of "Through The Devil's Doorway" and "Capricorn". 

For "The Zodiac Sessions", both releases have been completely remastered and put on one CD in a lavish digipak featuring an all new cover art, created by the band's gifted singer, Theo Mindell.

    On November 1, ORCHIDwill kick off a European headlining tour alongside labelmates BLUES PILLS and SCORPION CHILD.

    ORCHID is:
    Theo Mindell: Vocals
    Carter Kennedy: Drums
    Mark Thomas Baker: Guitar
    Keith Nickel: Bass

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    I was a little dead these recent months.. partly because of university work, partly other shit but here we go again.

    Bloody Hammers is one of the bands that has the ability to make a few really really good songs, but then their overall work kind of sucks at some point. This variation in quality can be very tricky for the listener. You say to yourself "wow, this stuff is really good, how come I don't know these guys" but then you hear the whole album and disappointment knocks on the door. And I can honestly say that it's pretty difficult for me to rate their second album "Spiritual Relics".

    The sophomore release of the quartet from North Carolina is hard to define. It doesn't really fall between the boundaries of classic traditional doom. There is a lot of leaning towards gothic rock, specifically in "Science fiction", "Shiver" and "The Transit begins". There are a lot of elements that remind me of famous gothic bands, maybe mostly because of the vocals. Illogically, after a few strong doom riffed songs and powerful choruses follows a mellow cheesy gothic song. No idea why, I can only guess that the musicians wanted to produce a varied album. It surely works for a lot of people, but my "cheesiness" tolerance is not that big. There are some good moments when the bass enters in to introduce some variety to the songs. Also the keyboard part is quite awesome, but you can hear it too rarely.

    Here comes again the duality of this album. The vocals are really cool in some of the songs, but then again the ones that suck the most do so exactly because of the vocals. Maybe one of the reasons I'm really hooked to some of the songs - "The Well of Nazareth" is one such example, is because the singer so reminds me of Dax Riggs's singing in Acid Bath. In the faster and in the slower songs likewise. "Night of the long knives" is mediocre. It would have been a fine song if it wasn't for the stupid chorus which makes it sound like some modern idiocy.

    Something really good about this album it that it has this darker, almost "horror movie"-like feeling to it. Doom or not, gothic or not, it has this weird dark feel to most of the tracks. Unfortunately, the mellowness of the bigger part of the tracks will repel the hardcore doomsters as it did repel me. I am writing this review because this band deserves to be checked out. Even if you're gonna skip some songs, there are a bunch that are good. If you haven't listened something that would remind you to the Southern stale, sick feeling of Acid Bath, there is a grain of music on this record that could remind you of it.

    Words: Teddy Mateeva ( Sixth From The Sun )

    Bloody Hammers | Facebook

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     I hope you're not really expecting me to tell you what kind of genre of metal this is. With Swedish Acolytes of Moros you have stepped into the extremes of traditional doom. "Illusions of Progress" sounds like a lost demo version of not so unexperienced Reverend Bizarre. And for such a young band this is quite an immense achievement.

    I guess a lot of people would find this album kind of boring, because really - it does not discover the dark side of the moon. It's more or less something you have heard in one form or another. However, if you're an oldschool lover you'd probably be really pleased to hear the release. Even these days when doom metal has reached its biggest popularity you don't meet stuff like Acolytes of Moros around the corner. The music here is really pushed to the extremes of slowness and nihilism.

    "Illusions of progress" consists of 4 tracks, one being a very short intro, so let's say three full-blooded tracks. As every proper doom metal recording should - you receive a banging awesomeness with song length no less than ten minutes. Yes right, ten minutes long is the shortest track. So if you're some confused person waiting for a happy fast metal song, pack your suitcase quicker and leave the hall. The production of this baby here is top notch for a small budget. Actually, I would prefer that kind of stuff over overproduced modern crap anyday. So really, even if it's a little low production "Illusions of progress" is completely listenable and in no way sounds like a garage recorded doom (even if it is).

    I will proceed with the singing, because the vocals are my favourite part in this EP. You can easily imagine the singer chanting from a high mountain. Damn, he sounds like leading a funeral procession. Finnish and Swedish singers know their doom. As honest as I always am, no one does these types of chants better than Scandinavian people, there must be some spell behind it. Take Horse Latitudes as an example, damn fine stuff. The singing goes from this high as fuck type of epic way of pronunciating the words to angrier gutteral almost black metalish type of singing. Don't really think of black metal shrieking or something, it's just an association.

    Bass guitar is quite audible and this gets and instant plus. Real long guitar solos are not present, the guys have sticked to more straightforward stuff which is one reason I can't seem to fully dig this release. The last track is really atmospheric and does sound to me like a low tuned bassy atmospheric black metal. As lucky as I am to have read some of the lyrics, I got to say I am impressed with them as well. As cold as the music is, the ideas that stand behind the lyrics are so as well. As the name of the EP suggests itself, don't hope to find any rays of sunlight here. But since lyrics are kind of something you should interpret for yourself, let's leave that here.

    To sum up my overall impressions, "Illusions of Progress" is a very successful effort, though still lacking some elements. It's more or less an introvert kind of album, sad but not really angry. It doesn't get you for the balls and throw you to the other corner of the room. I think there is a lot of potential to be developed here and will surely check what goes on with these folks. Doom on.

    Words: Teddy Mateeva ( Sixth From The Sun )


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    Doom metal legends TROUBLE played their first show with their new lineup — featuring singer Kyle Thomas and bassist Rob Hultz — on October 12 at the Day Of Doom festival in Barcelona, Spain. Fan-filmed video footage of the concert can be seen below.

    Hultz is no stranger to the heavy metal, hard rock, and doom metal genres as his lengthy music resume boasts. While still in high school, he joined an East Coast hardcore band called SOCIAL DECAY which served as his introduction to recording and touring. After a decade, he left with the guitar player to form the doom metal band GODSPEED and was signed to Atlantic Records. Their debut album was recorded at Electric Lady Studios in New York and produced by Rachel Bolan of SKID ROW. The band was represented by Gloria Butler Management and toured with iconic bands such as BLACK SABBATH, DIO and CATHEDRAL, to name just a few.

    In 1996, Hultz helped form SOLACE, another notable doom metal band, which was signed to Meteor City Records, and played large arenas, clubs, and festivals such as Roadburn and Hellfest. Their last recording, "A.D.", was released on Small Stone Records in 2010 and voted Best Metal Album of the Year on iTunes. Since then, Hultz has lent his talents on projects for LETHAL AGGRESSION and DISEASE CONCEPT.

    Commenting on the band's decision to recruit Hultz, TROUBLE founder and guitarist Rick Wartell stated: "Bruce Franklin and I played the bass parts on 'The Distortion Field', with the exception of one song. However, as we began preparing to tour in support of the album, it became really important to choose the right person for the band. Rob is not only a great bass player but also a total pro with an impressive band history, and he's got the TROUBLE personality so he definitely fits in well. We look forward to him joining us on the road and being a bandmate for a long time to come."

    "The Distortion Field", the first studio album in six years from TROUBLE, sold around 760 copies in the United States in its first week of release. The CD landed at position No. 25 on the Top New Artist Albums (Heatseekers) chart, which lists the best-selling albums by new and developing artists, defined as those who have never appeared in the Top 100 of The Billboard 200.

    Released in Europe on August 23 via FRW Records, the 12-song follow-up to 2007's "Simple Mind Condition" was helmed by veteran producer Bill Metoyer (SLAYER, W.A.S.P., ARMORED SAINT, DARK ANGEL, SACRED REICH, CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER, D.R.I.) and marks the recording debut with TROUBLE of lead singer Kyle Thomas following the departure of the group's frontman of four years, Kory Clarke (of WARRIOR SOUL fame).

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    This is the final installment of a three part series dealing with obscure proto-doom records from the early 1970s.

    Thou Shalt Suffer. Old Funeral. Morbid. What do these bands have in common? Well, besides a shared Scandinavian heritage, these three bands are all well-known because they are the preludes to much bigger and much better bands. Thou Shalt Suffer became Emperor, Old Funeral gave its members to Immortal, Mayhem, and Burzum, and Morbid sacrificed their lead singer to Mayhem, the fiery founders of Norwegian black metal. Dust, a New York City-based outfit from the early ‘70s, is another band that is notable for bequeathing its members to other institutions. While guitarist and vocalist Richie Wise would go on to produce Kiss (with the help of Kenny Kerner, Dust’s lyricist, producer, and manager) and bassist Kenny Aaronson would go on to play with the likes of Edgar Winter, Bob Dylan, and Foghat, hard-hitting drummer Marc Bell, the man responsible for Dust’s tremendous back-end, would gain fame and some fortune as Marky Ramone of the mighty Ramones.

    Initially forming in the late 1960s, Dust started out as just three big city kids who were heavily influenced by the British rock scene of the time. Chief among these influences were bands like Cream and Led Zeppelin, with a dash of The Rolling Stones thrown in for good measure. Added to this mixture was good, old-fashioned American muscle backed by plenty of amplification and enough youthful vim and vigor to blow-up Detroit ten times over. It’s no wonder then that Dust found their biggest audiences in the Midwest (St. Louis in particular), for their brand of bluesy, down-to-earth hard rock seems like the perfect analog to the blue-collar mentalities of the then forming Rust Belt.

    In just two records, Dust set the stage for later hard rock and heavy metal bands, both in terms of their music and their artwork. In the former, Dust, who had a penchant for delving into country music at times, mostly kept to a standard rock and roll formula that gave special leeway for sheer volume and the accompanying bombast. In the latter, Dust marketed themselves with equal amounts of mystery and fantasy. On their first record, which is merely named “Dust,” the trio choose a picture of ragged skeletons propped together in the Spanish Republican fashion, who often left monks and nuns out in the open air for the purposes of proletarian ridicule. Given the fact that “Dust” was released on Kuma Sutra Records, then one could accuse Dust for smearing together sex and death like pornographic French philosophers.

    On their second record - “Hard Attack” - Dust linked themselves with the artwork of Frank Frazetta, an illustrator and painter who would later become synonymous with Conan, the Barbarian and Floridian rockers Molly Hatchet. Dust obviously tapped into Frazetta’s talents well before either Molly Hatchet or Scotland’s Nazareth, and long before the boys from Jacksonville started “Flirtin’ with Disaster,” Dust were playing a type of gutsy, unpolished hard rock that often sounded more Southern than South Bronx.

    Of the two records, “Hard Attack” is the superior, but “Dust” is not without its own special power. “Dust” opens with “Stone Woman,” a twangy rocker that showcases the slide guitar talents of Wise. “Stone Woman” also puts on display Bell’s furious drumming, which is so fast that at one point it sounds like Bell employed a double-kick drum well before Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor. The boys in Dust must have hit a dry spell in their personal lives when they were recording “Dust,” for “Chasin’ Ladies” follows “Stone Woman” as yet another adolescent ode to the charms of the opposite sex. “Chasin’ Ladies” is at once catchy and floating (at least vocally speaking), but its heavy and chaotic core underscores the hard rock ambitions of Dust. After the country and western episode of “Goin’ Easy,” Dust then return to solid earth on the vicious “Love Me Hard” and “From A Dry Camel,” a psychedelic metal masterpiece. “From A Dry Camel” is a threatening, wah-wah-heavy metal song that effectively uses the gong years before Alex Van Halen discovered that particular percussion instrument. “From A Dry Camel” shows the traces of Black Sabbath, while at the same time highlighting the Orientalist tendencies of that era’s hippy hessians with their weed smoke and their plugged-in Gibsons.

    In 1972, a year after releasing their self-titled debut, Dust were starting to realize that they had already hit a ceiling insofar as touring went. Never radio friendly and never recipients of major label support, Dust suffered the fate of a lot of bands from that era. Luckily for them, they were all talented enough to find careers after Dust, and lucky for us, right before they exited on stage left, they left behind “Hard Attack.” “Learning To Die,” the record’s fourth track, is worth the sticker cost alone. “Learning To Die” is the type of song that helps to remind you why you fell in love with rock and roll in the first place - it’s multi-varied, rollicking, and, most importantly, loud.

    Other standout tracks on “Hard Attack” include the pummeling “Suicide” (which eerily presages High On Fire), the punk-y “All In All,” and the dreamy ballad “Thusly Spoken.” Taken as a whole, “Hard Attack” feels like a trip through J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth on acid, or some other kind of barbarous adventure seen through the prism of a kaleidoscope. Despite the often overwhelming presence of modern throwback metal bands, “Hard Attack” and Dust seem like things impossible to copy today. After all, why would you want to copy them? Dust did all they needed to in two albums, and if the documentary “Such Hawks, Such Hounds” is any indication, then the short life of Dust has had a disproportionate influence on the long history of hard rock and heavy metal. Few bands are this lucky, and even though they picked their own name (and thus chose their own fate), Dust won’t be turning to ashes anytime soon.

    Words: Benjamin Welton.

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    In life we dream; our minds wander to places fantastic and terrible in the small hours of twilight where nothing living can go. Weightless, ethereal and ambivalent we drift aimlessly through places that both want and reject us attempting perhaps by accident to learn antiquarian secrets or indulge in lustful fantasies. In shapeless beauty all things are meaningless and trivial as we seek our own paths. Esoteric fully embodies a nightmarish visit to the astral-plane.

    The sounds of eternity engulf the listener from the first few notes. A viscus fluid both beautiful and wretched drowns the senses and is absorb into the soul as the listener is hit with a triple guitar attack. Very few bands can pull off the three guitar sound. Esoteric is one of those bands. One lead, one rhythm and one clean. The clean guitar goes to distorted from time to time and utilizes a bevy of effects. Thick delays and echos accent and reinforce the misery and hatred of each riff. Long dirges of wonder and fear drag you slowly, through spacious alien landscapes so vast you will lose yourself completely until the first disc ends.

    Keyboards sublimely flood the background with eerie and inhuman sounds as if a dead orchestra is playing a long forgotten droning symphony. The drums are huge and minimalistic; thundering blows of despondent rage shake you with earth shattering blows. The singer growls with the fury of a bear and shrieks with the sorrow of a banshee. Mostly these are accented/augmented with echo and/or delay only making their message more intense with each syllable.

    The production is top notch and the song writing is flawless. The bands style is very much intact here but there's more to it. The double disc is full of long and soul eroding tunes guaranteed to leave you breathless and destroyed. This gets a 9/10. This is funeral doom played with pure bitterness and bleeding nerves.

    Words: Grimmdoom

    Official Website

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    It’s almost time …
    Few days are left before meeting again the US heavy doom metal bunch Second Grave. You just have to wait for the Halloween night for enjoying a new injection of blazing heavy doom rock … The band from Boston (Massacchusetts) are back with new heavy tunes that draw power and inspiration from the same prolific source that fed their great self-titled debut EP (HERE). The band involves the skills and the creativity of several experienced musicians, like singer and guitarist Krista Van Guilder (Warhorse, Obsidian Halo, Lucubro), bassist Dave Gein (Black Pyramid), guitarist Chris Drzal (Obsidian Halo) and drummer Chuck Ferreira (Nodscene).  Two tracks only, yes, but substantial both in length and in munchies!

    The release is opened by an over 6 minutes-long dynamic heavy metal ballad called Mourning Light, where the band unleashes streams of infectious and epic energy conveyed by a cascade of classic, galloping heavy metal riffs. The melody is very much groove-laden and the rhythm easily induces to headbanging, but the downtuning of the guitars and the consequent heaviness underlying the only seemingly catchy refrains remind the listener that this is a band deeply rooted into doom. Krista’s vocals are passionate and epic, highly melodic and powerful as well especially during the rumbling parts of the ballads. Intimacy is added when aggressive electric riffs take a break halfway through the ballad, and soft touches on the bass/guitar chords and some slow drumming keep the time and build up a seducingly groovy, instrumental psych-desert rock serenade. Rapidly the rhythm builds up and waves of blows coming from the drums join forces with the howls from the lead guitar until the initial leading dynamics and Krista’s hot vocals are brought back into action.

    The second track, the almost 12 minutes-long suite Drink the Water, is where the band is conjugating their doom roots more extensively. If Mourning Light might somehow cheer up your spirits, Drink The Water sort of turns the light down and covers everything with a funereal veil. Drink The Water starts as a gloomy doom ballad lead by a Sabbathian plodding rhythm. The passionate heat emanating by Krista’s dramatic vocals contrast with the buzz of the downtuned guitars busy with their sinister-sounding riffing. But  the band is too skilled and creative for limiting to simple slow plodding doom. As a matter of fact there are refreshing tempo changes and variably dynamic, heavy metal refrains merging with the leading doomy melody. Also the chanting follows the variability of the sounds and rhythms and double vocals may even be heard in emotional choruses. The closure of this long track is surprising! The last two minutes or so are dominated by a sinister funereal, drony doomy march where a few, slow dull beats of a distant bronze bell resound and some hellish screams or deadly rattles tell of a charming lady morphing into a tremendously evil banshee probably as midnight is approaching …

    Black Sabbath, NWOBHM, Merciful Fate or so come to mind when wanting to list the “basic” ingredients of what is heard in these two juicy ballads. But thinking about more recent bands, the fascinating and morbid retro-sounding blend of dynamic heavy metal and Sabbathian grimness can’t but remind me of what heard in acts like Ghost Tower from USA and Rise and Shine from Sweden. The similarity with Rise and Shine especially holds, for me at least, for the comparable chanting style and vocal tone and range between Krista Van Guilder and Josabeth Leidi. Great singers indeed …

    Second Grave’s new EP/single Antithesis was recorded by Clay Neely at Black Coffee Sound and was mastered by John Brenner of Revelation. The dark, charming ornaments on the sleeve were designed by Cory Heisson. The release of the new EP as limited edition (500 10″ vinyl copies) is via Pariah Child Records, the UK label also featuring Argus and Eight Hands for Kali in its roster.  The release will officially take place on Halloween Night 2013. This event is coupled with the involvement of the band in the Stoner Hands of Doom XIII festival in Richmond, VA, on November 9th 2013. And hopefully this is also the sign that more tunes are due out by this cool bunch of heavy rockers, because two tracks are definitely not enough ….

    Words: Marilena Moroni

    1. Mourning Light (6:38)
    2. Drink the Water (11:41)

    Official Website

    Stream the suite “Drink the Water” via The Obelisk: HERE

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    Here is something for the doomsters who also appreciate nasty tunes done well …

    Sickrites have been poisoning our brain since quite a number of years by now and always with top quality according to the standards of certain metal genres, i.e., ultra-heavy, filthy and morbid sounds coupled with grim atmospheres. Some fine releases contributed to build up and consolidate the activity of this Russian band. I want to mention the impressive 2010 debut EP “Praise the Dawn of Desecration” and the two killer 2012 splits with Canadian band Nuclearhammer (“Abomination to the Lord”) and another scary Russian band, Ill Omened (related to Pseudogod, on Nuclear War Now! Productions).

    So time has come for the Russian quartet for crowning this impressive first part of their hopefully long career with a more than due release, the debut full-length album.  The album is called Irreverent Death Megaliths and came out at the end of September 2013 via the French underground label Cryptic Vision Arts. Irreverent Death Megaliths is a collection of ultra-dark ballads that will make you plunge into a dark and malignant world for over 47 minutes. The full-length is probably the best type of release for adeuately expressing the skill and the creativity of this cool nasty band as well as the multiple shades of their sound and style and also because, we know, darkness has got so many shades …

    Let’s meet the sick minds behind this band. Sickrites are Morkh on underworld vocals, A. on guitars, H. on bass and synths and Kim on drums. These guys, who live separated by a few days of travel between each other in the immensity of the Russian distances, like to play old school, definitely, and quite orthodox sepulchral metal stemming from blending and elaborating gruesome slow, sludgy death metal with excursions into wild, infernal black metal. The core of their style is a hybrid encompassing, say, Incantation, early Morbid Angel, Winter, Prophecy of Doom, Bathory, Morbosidad and Celtic Frost.  But beside following the references, Sickrites are able to attract the listener with some quite personal, original features in their style. Surprise is one of the winning keys for this band. Sickrites are able to conjugate their “old”, filthy, obscure “tomb” metal driven by distorted guitars, roaring bass and pummeling drumming, with sounds coming from disparate genres. Skills and inspirational song-writing capacity enable these guys to build up impressively rich and haunting songs that continuously unfold their multifaceted nature with repeated listening.

    Tracks are oppressive both when dominated by slow plodding, suffocating doomy pace and when lead by tight, breathless martial pumping rhythms cutting down your breath. Mid-tempo rhythms prevail, although whenever doom and gloom prevail, the quartet will soon bring you back to flaming hell by bursting into bonecrushing riffing and insane, war-like blastbeat. But the other way round may happen as well: wild, war-like attacks may digress into almost mournful, slow and atmospheric, doom-laden melodies. An example of this is heard in the majestic opening track Pillars of the Fallen Light. But Sickrites also introduce a host of different elements like spices carefully dosed by an expert chef. You will be often enthralled by a stream of groove provided by the swinging rhythm of Darkthrone-like black metal refrains and probably swift hints to Venom-like heavy metal riffs. You’ll be charmed by the adoption of bizarre solutions (e.g., in Necrogenesis Voids), complex drumming patterns (e.g., in The Temple) and/or almost prog-like, epic narrative riffs (e.g., also in Moloch Ascending).

    The Sickrites guys also like to create rapid, scary incursions into bleak industrial ambience or else cosmic terror either via some glacial or unusual post-modern electronic sounds (e.g., in the initial part of track Dwellers of Fleshtombs) or else by inducing some sort of sickly ethereal or venomous psychedelic black metal atmospheres distantly recalling Oranssi Pazuzu. For example, try the greatly atmospheric closing track Procession to Belial. In track The Rite the band even depict definitively northern, glaciated atmospheres by means of a ritual, almost funereal chanting echoing in the wind and, surprisingly, introducing a charming, dark folk-like ballad, very much in the vein of the Wardruna experience!  All these different ingredients and details are being combined into Sickrites’ nasty, toxic, incandescent, occult black-death metal which will eventually leave you with a sensation of mysterious darkness. Morkh’s vocals effectively contribute to impart that sense of archaic solemnity. Morkh’s growl is mostly deep, low and very menacing, more sepulchral than beast-like. His style is comparable with a type of chanting that I personally enjoy hugely and which is heard in several occult death and doom-death metal bands like Wrathprayer, Void Meditation Cult, Father Befouled, Encoffination, and alike. Sickrites’ Irreverent Death Megaliths is a majestic and greatly charming opus, one of those albums which will not easily leave your stereo device because it is morbidly attractive and addictive like an ancient book full of nasty fairy tales and dangerous magic formulas.

    Sickrites’ Irreverent Death Megaliths LP is available in different cool versions, be it traditional black vinyl, smart clear vinyl or else the fancy picture disc whose decoration is like the one in blood red and populated by weird Hieronymus Bosch-like hellish beasts on the LP sleeve, done by band member H. It is worth mentioning that also singer Morkh is a cool graphic designer for black-death metal bands. You can admire part of his artistic collection .HERE. Sickrites are a cool band, and their new album is one of those to have and listened to and absorbed, for being scared, during winter …

    Words: Marilena Moroni

    Sickrites @ Cryptic Vision Arts Records

    Video - Dweller Of The Fleshtombs

    Irreverent Death Megaliths LP - tracklist:

    1.     Pillars Of the Fallen Light     04:07      
    2.     Necrogenesis Void     05:01      
    3.     Dweller Of The Fleshtombs     05:34      
    4.     Deathstorms     04:23      
    5.     The Temple     04:55      
    6.     New World Hosanna     04:22      
    7.     Moloch Ascending     05:38      
    8.     The Rite     03:09      
    9.     Darkness Tremendous     04:52      
    10.     Procession To Belial     05:33

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    Seattle's organic doom metal quartet, SAMOTHRACE, has confirmed yet another new tour, and are preparing to hit the road once again next week. As they continue to enthrall live audiences around the globe with the material from their sophomore LP, Reverence To Stone, the latest West Coast run is set to begin this Sunday, November 3rd in Reno, Nevada with four subsequent shows in California to follow -- Oakland, Santa Cruz, Fullerton and Glendale -- showcasing SAMOTHRACE co-headlining all shows alongside atmospheric artisans, Subrosa.

    Additionally, SAMOTHRACE is just days from announcing another expansive headlining stateside run of dates which will branch off from the pending mission with Subrosa. For the Subrosa portion of the tour Damon Kelly (Stoneburner, Heathen Shrine) will be joining SAMOTHRACE on bass, and on the subsequent tour dates to be announced in the coming days, Pete Hodous (Lesbian, Golgothan Sunrise) will be laying down the low-end.

    SAMOTHRACE Fall Tour Dates:
    11/03/2013 Jub Jubs Thirst Parlor - Reno, NV
    11/04/2013 Oakland Metro Oprahouse - Oakland, CA
    11/05/2013 The Catalyst Atrium - Santa Cruz, CA
    11/06/2013 Frankie Tear Drops - San Luis Obispo, CA
    11/07/2013 Slidebar - Fullerton, CA
    11/08/2013 Complex - Glendale, CA

    The acclaimed Reverence To Stone was released in July of 2012 via 20 Buck Spin, the label responsible for unveiling the band to the masses on the masterful 2008 debut SAMOTHRACE album, Life's Trade. Through two lumbering, expansive tracks, the band explores more cavernous realms of thunderous tone hand-in-hand with even more beautiful and organic elements than ever on Reverence To Stone, all culminating in an incredibly real-sounding, psychedelic doom metal that continues to prove SAMOTHRACE as one of the top bands of the genre. Since the LP's triumphant release, the band has trekked across the US regionally several times and also ventured across all of Europe on their debut tour of the continent, and as they continue to book more dates this Autumn, continue their most intense touring cycle in the band's entire lineage.

    Listen to all of Reverence To Stone  RIGHT HERE, and check out the current tour poster, live footage from the European tour and more  HERE.
    Worldwide contact with all SAMOTHRACE and 20 Buck Spin coverage requests.

    Samothrace | Bandcamp
    Samothrace | Facebook
    20 Buck Spin | Official Website
    20 Buck Spin | Facebook

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    It's interesting to see the bevy of bands that have taken up Katatonia's banner long after they've thrown it away. This band is easily in the various generations of said neophytes along with Rapture; however, unlike Rapture who took to almost cloning their idols, Daylight Dies takes the blueprint and makes it their own.

    There are lots of moderately fast to moderately slow riffs with the band taking a few melodic death queues here and there (similar to October Tide) and topping them with a very prominent lead guitar. Downtrodden yet energetic the music is always moving and while the riffs aren't crushingly heavy as their peers they get the point across. The lead is flattered by the rhythm as both go from clean to distorted at any given time, rarely playing the same thing in tandem. Lots of subtle poly-rhythmic nuances are littered throughout the album. The drums have a strange urgency to them. The bass is more laid back and doesn't follow the guitars too much. The vocals are a bit off putting in a few ways, specifically they sound like they'd be better in a melodeath band than a doom/death band. The lyrics fit the music only too well as story's of loss and betrayal help to accentuate the modern misery of this music.

    Despite the Katatonia reference this music is very inspired and original. The guitar work is outstanding and quite tasteful as both guitars are basically doing different things constantly in every song; taking the lead/rhythm paradigm to a new level. The leads and solos are both beautiful and sad but never repetitious or masturbatory. The bass and drums both play their parts well and with more purpose then their influences would have you believe.

    The production is raw but it works with the music. This album isn't a landmark by any means but it was the first stone in the foundation of how the band sounds, perhaps more ambitious than what's come since or perhaps more naive; it's great either way. This gets an 8/10.

    Words: Grimm Doom

    Official Website

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    It was set to be an amazing night. I mean how can things go wrong when both Pallbearer and Ancient VVisdom were on the bill? Sadly, the eternal truth is that things can always get worse. Well, in this instance, things can get partially worse.

    It was your typical night in Burlington, Vermont - that small city that I have claimed as my home ever since the University of Vermont made the foolhardy decision of letting me teach an introductory English class. When Pallbearer came to town, I was no longer teaching English and I was no longer attending school. Did this mean I had more free time? Hardly, but occasionally I could carve out some “Me Time” here and there. Metal Mondays, a weekly gathering of beer and debauchery in the heart of Grateful Dead country, usually falls under the rubric of allowable slacker time. After all, Metal Mondays are the few times when I can hang out with my fellow metalheads over pints and our shared interests in all things loud and stupid.

    On this particular night, I spent a very metal and merry time with two dudes I had never seen at the festivities before. One of them was a former grad school compatriot, while the other was his cerebral friend. Of the two, one was clearly a diehard doom fan. Let’s call this guy Josh. Well, Josh was wearing a Maryland Deathfest t-shirt that night, and for the most part, his interests could be pared down to two key utterances: 1) “The best band at MDF was Melvins,” and; 2) “I was so bummed when I couldn't see Sleep.” It was clear to me after two seconds that Josh was the type of guy that I could get along with.

    The other dude in this triangular equation (let’s call him Stan) at first seemed out-of-sorts. Stan is a well-known and open admirer of European power metal - a genre that I consider too cheesy to mention in polite company. If this isn’t bad enough, Stan, who is not a gregarious man by any means, often turned our shared classes into digressions about his interests in conceptual prog rock and his overwhelming knowledge of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fictional universe. I mean the guy by his own admission can speak “a little Elvish.”

    Needless to say, our combined nerd factor that night would have broken any Geiger counter. And, as is so typical in the heavy metal community, our radioactive love for the riff meant that we belonged to a boys only club by default. Ask my girlfriend - she’ll tell you that I am at my least attractive when I am pontificating on the finer points of Norwegian black metal or the animalistic imagery that is produced by the first five minutes of “Crowbar” by Crowbar.

    Well, luckily for her, that night she stayed home. I don’t think she would have liked to have seen me playing the air guitar with Josh and Stan, nor would she have gotten a kick out my hour-long heandbanging session courtesy of Pallbearer. Worst of all, she would have been personally hurt by my childish reaction to the news that Ancient VVisdom was not going to be gracing the stage that night. Somewhere along the vast highway system of the Northeast, Ancient VVisdom ran into some van trouble. Rather than empathize with the four chaps from Texas, I pouted and snarled “sonofabitch” out loud when I heard the news.

    While I was healing my wide open wounds (Stan and Josh weren’t fans, so they did not care too much), two local acts took to the stage. The first was a bass and drum duo who presented a musical mix-up of jam, space rock, and funk metal. They weren’t all that bad, but their fans ruffled my silly elitist feathers with their dancing and chipper smiles. “This isn’t a Phish concert,” I thought, “so stop with all the flower power gyrations.”

    To be fair, only two out of the three dancers were obnoxious. The two were a cute couple, so naturally they can’t help but to instill in people the urge to brain them with blunt axes. The third person - a motherly type - seemed pretty awesome. Josh and I both appreciated the fact that she was supplying the younger couple with plenty of brews. Better yet, this party mom really seemed to dig it when the weirdo duo on stage made things a little heavy. My mom worshipped James Taylor and Van Morrison, so this beer-swilling matriarch seemed like Miles Davis in comparison to my old mum (who was a swinger in her own day).

    After these three and the band that they so enjoyed left the stage, they were replaced by Abaddon - a local blackened death metal band with some serious skills. Abaddon sound fairly polished to my ears, even though their professional catalog is almost non-existent. Abaddon’s lead singer, who used to work in a grocery with my best bud in Burlington, has some the meatiest and harshest growls that I have ever heard, on record or not. The icing on the cake is that Abaddon are fans of “Trailer Park Boys” and even have a song called “Shithawks.” That night, while Abaddon were going through their set, the lead singer noticed that a hipster girl in the crowd was sporting a back patch that contained the glorious triumvirate of Bubbles, Ricky, and Julian. Thinking that he had made a like-minded friend, the singer would begin every song with a line or two quoted from the hit Canadian TV show. He was obviously trying to get the girl to play along, but surprisingly, she seemed dumbfounded by what he was saying. Tragically, Abaddon had found a poseur caught out of their element.

    In between this banter, Abaddon played a full set of mean, crunchy, and lightning fast tracks. Even though I had seen them plenty of times before, I still banged my head and threw up the horns in appreciation for their sheer badassness. Josh and Stan seemed mildly into it. Without saying anything, their tepid response to Abaddon told me that this type of metal just didn’t appeal to them. Luckily, Stan and Josh aren’t the type to outright hate something they don’t like, so the irksome argument of metal sub-genre versus metal sub-genre didn’t happen that night.

    When the pulverizing drums of Abaddon stopped, Pallbearer took the stage. The first one on was bassist Joseph D. Rowland. I had bought a Pallbearer t-shirt off of him earlier in the night, so I kidded myself that he and I had some sort of connection. Since I am the type who is mortified by the prospect of actually meeting the bands he likes, I would never act on this mythical connection. Sam, another pal of mine who showed up late, isn’t so shy, and while Rowland was tuning up, Sam approached him with three cheers for aluminum basses. Rowland didn’t really respond and just kept on tweaking his tone.

    After Rowland, the rest of the band started gearing up for a very loud gig. Lead singer and guitarist Brett Campbell had been watching Abaddon earlier, so by the time he was plugging in his Fender Modern Player Telecaster, some of the crowd were trying to chat him up like an old chum. Again, like Rowland, Campbell kept his focus on configuring that massive tone that his band requires for their live shows and recordings.

    By the time that Pallbearer’s opening song kicked in, I knew that I was in for something special. I had been to plenty of Metal Mondays before, but this one was the loudest. Hell, it even put Napalm Death to shame in terms of sheer volume. That night it felt like the Earth was shifting, and since Pallbearer probably played every song off of “Sorrow and Extinction” that night, the Earth might have actually collapsed for all we knew. Josh and I didn’t care; we were too busy being those dorks who keep their heads down and their horned fingers up. We knew that we were going to hurt in the morning, and we knew that we weren’t going to be the most enthusiastic people at the office the next day. None of that mattered though; Pallbearer was playing in front of us, so the world was going along just fine.

    Amazingly, Josh and I seemed like the only two people who were getting it. Pallbearer played for well over an hour that night, but the crowd had thinned considerably after just ten minutes. While Pallbearer’s type of doom can be overbearing (especially considering the fact that Pallbearer let the feedback do its thing in between songs), the fact of the matter is that Pallbearer are one of the best young metal bands around today. All the critics think so, and even though rock critics are often guilty of some serious miscues, a majority of them can’t be wrong.

    More than anything else, this reaction proved one thing: doom metal is the genre’s hardest drink to swallow. While the other forms of extreme metal have gained some acceptance in one form or another, doom metal remains heavy metal’s most overlooked child. Yes, doom metal is musically simplistic and does not “progress” metal in the way that that term implies. However, doom metal’s abandonment of speed and technicality in favor of slow and heavy riffs is exactly what makes it one of heavy metal’s last redoubts of true rebellion. Many metal fans may claim to be against trends, but often times when they are confronted with something that runs counter to their preconceived notions of what heavy metal is, they uniformly pan it like the conformist they claim to abhor. This is a sad fact, but it is a fact that has plagued all underground movements since the dawn of rebellion.

    Such sermonizing of this sort came to me much later. While Pallbearer were playing, all I cared about was Pallbearer. They crushed me and they exhausted me. When that concert ended, I felt like had just survived an MMA match - my guts hurt, my neck was making funny noises, and my hands were throbbing like they had just been stung by an army of wasps. In short, I felt like a good metalhead who had just done his proper duty. I went out that night in order to support a great band, and fortunately, I got to share this with some good people. Sub-genre spats aside, the heavy metal community is still an amazing place, and on the night when Pallbearer came to town, the whole hippie city of Burlington seemed so grow much cooler.

    Words: Benjamin Welton

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