Green Druid, At The Maw Of Ruin review (Earache Records, 2020)

Heavy doom flows out of the Mile High City as Green Druid releases At The Maw Of Ruin.

Fairly new to the music scene, Denver’s Green Druid drew a lot of attention with their first album Ashen Blood in 2018. That album had a patient darkness to it and a kind of melancholy bitterness salved by eldritch metal choirs. An impressive start, and the new album continues the message of that emergent force, traveling deeper into the bleak hereabouts.

The Metal Archives reports the band is Ryan Skates (bass), Mikey Honiotes (drums), Graham Zander (guitar), and Chris McLaughlin (vocal and guitar). Together the music they create is a sinister weaving of laid back stoner doom and threatening assault. Cold melodic vocals transform into the hissing of orc mages then into the howl of a raging berserker and back again. The locality of intent moves from the immediate to the cosmic, and the focus of the attack switches from bludgeon to knife’s edge between your labored breaths.

The new album has six tracks, the shortest of which is eight minutes. The road begins with “The Forest Dark” and a thumping, tree felling riff. Something is in that forest and it is after you – the dread and menace is thick in the music. “End Of Men” is a ride upon a gentle river that quickens into a threat, one that does not seem survivable because as the water roughens it leads into the black unknown. “Haunted Memories” is a murky dream that does not go away when you wake. There is an amazing extended bass solo in “A Throne Abandoned” and salubrious lead guitar in “Desert Of Fury / Ocean Of Despair.” The final track is a cover of the Portishead song “Threads,” and it engenders a pleading hopelessness far beyond the original. Taken together, these songs form a set of music expertly matched to the promise of the title. Highly recommended.

At The Maw Of Ruin is out now and available for instantaneous purchases at Bandcamp and other digital distributors. You can order CDs and vinyl as well. There is even a signed CD available at Earache’s US store (link below).

Band photo from the Metal Archives.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://greendruid.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/greendruidband

Soundcloud, https://soundcloud.com/green-druid

Earache store, https://webstore.earache.com/green-druid

Earache US store, https://uswebstore.earache.com/green-druid-at-the-maw-of-ruin-signed-cd

Green Druid, At The Maw Of Ruin review (Earache Records, 2020)

Soilwork, A Whisp Of The Atlantic review (Nuclear Blast 2020)

The new Soilwork EP is Long Play in length and grand in stature.

I jumped onto the Soilwork bandwagon with Sworn To A Great Divide in 2007, and that was their seventh full-length album so I started out way behind the curve. Discovering the rest of their music over the years by hearing the subsequent new releases while simultaneously going through the back catalogue was a journey and a quest. Melodic Death Metal segue to Metalcore and Groove, the music was always full bodied and finished with precision.

The new EP is 38 minutes long with an epic opening song that runs nearly half that total length. Soilwork has produced some long songs, but nothing like this. And significantly, there is a lot of story here, which makes sense given the nature of the construction. The band for A Whisp Of The Atlantic is Bjorn Strid (vocals), David Andersson (guitar), Sylvain Coudret (guitar), Sven Karlsson (keys, samples), and Bastian Thusgaard (drums).

Andersson tells us that each songs has an underlying core, “From the desire of ‘Feverish,’ the urge of ‘Desperado,’ the determinism of ‘Death Diviner,’ the insights and questions of ‘The Nothingness and the Devil’ and the acceptance and spiritual searching of ‘A Whisp of the Atlantic.’” The centerpiece title song is a complicated composition ranging over a broad spectrum of music and feeling in its seventeen minutes. It does not stand alone on the album, but it could, in my estimation. It is theatrical and cinematic, by which I mean the presentation of the story through the music exists on the large broad scale and also on a close, intimate one. It is hard to imagine that a band with legendary status like Soilwork would continue to innovate to this degree and post such a milestone so far along their path, but here they have done it. Recommended.

December 4th is the drop date for A Whisp Of The Atlantic. It is an essential element in the Soilwork canon.

Band photo by Stephansdotter Photography.

Links.

Soilwork website, https://www.soilwork.org/

Soilwork Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/soilwork/

Nuclear Blast, https://www.nuclearblast.de/en/label/music/band/discography/details/6963921.70960.a-whisp-of-the-atlantic-ep.html

Soilwork, A Whisp Of The Atlantic review (Nuclear Blast 2020)

Clutch, Doom Saloon 2.5, December 1, 2020

Clutch is doing another livestream on December 18th aptly titled Live from the Doom Saloon Volume III. To get the word out, they released a video of the band playing four songs in that space.

Neil Fallon introduced the songs, and the first two are well known from getting attention of late, “Motherless Child” and “Run, John Barleycorn, Run.” Then they played “Wishbone” from Elephant Riders. I did not see that one coming. The big news, though, was the last song, a cover of Black Sabbath’s “Lord of this World,” and it flat out smoked. Fallon said they were doing it just for fun, and the fan reception has been overwhelmingly positive. During the livestream, the attendee counter hit a high of about 2,200, but by the next day there had been more than 35,000 views. Word must have gotten out. I hope this song lands in their regular rotation when touring starts up again.

You can watch a recording of the event at the YouTube link below, and the poster for the upcoming livestream is down below that.

Watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1–o-r1sjYk

Clutch, Doom Saloon 2.5, December 1, 2020

Hadal, December review (Planet K Records 2020)

Returning for a second round of depression and grief, Italian doom band Hadal leads listeners down the path of sorrow and shows them surprising sights.

In 2017, Hadal released their debut album , Painful Shadow. They established in that work their musical fashion of a baseline quietude disturbed by external forces, leading to the alternating clean-to-coarse vocals that also seem to demonstrate the internal struggles of people in modern society. The new album continues those principles and furthers them in a deeper exploration.

After a drear four minutes, speed is amplified in the opener “December” and the clean vocals burn away in a growl. As the title song ends, it bleeds directly into “River,” a song of weeping sadness at the beginning where the guitar partners the melancholy vocal on its path to the underworld. The bass line is a settling force in the middle of the song and abruptly the guitar is the solo voice trembling us forward. By now the essence of the album is firmly in hand and we have but to float along with it.

The compositions extract the fullest measure of the weariness of dark month of December that is, after all, just the doorway to winter, leaving the worst ahead. Echoes of the first album appear and infuse the new music while fresh ideas and approaches emerge and prosper. Some songs, like “Red Again,” step away from passive observation and become directive. Others have an almost ballad quality, as in “The Obscure I.” “Nothing Here” boasts an up-tempo beginning that turns meditative, and the closer, “Stormcrow,” offers an epic metal tone with nearly frantic bookends. Taken together, the album is a diverse expedition housed in an environment of doom that contains many vibrant aspects. Recommended.

December 5th is the day the album becomes fully available from Planet K Records and through Bandcamp. Investigate the options at the links below.

Links.

Hadal website, http://www.intothehadal.com/

Hadal Bandcamp, https://intothehadal.bandcamp.com/releases

Hadal Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/HadalOfficial

Planet K Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/planetkrecords

Planet K Bandcamp, https://planetkrecords.bandcamp.com/album/hadal-december

Hadal, December review (Planet K Records 2020)

High Command, Everlasting Torment review (Southern Lord 2020)

Following up on the success of last year’s Beyond The Wall Of Desolation, High Command release new music.

In the frozen expanse of six long winter months every year in Massachusetts, idle hands led to the creation of heavy music. Conjured and fostered by Ryan McArdle (guitar) and Kevin Fitzgerald (vocals), the music created by the band is labeled crossover frequently for its combination of heavy influences and elements from speed to torn metal.

The EP is two songs, and the motivation for the music is summarized as follows in released materials. “In an age of mystery where knowledge is shared through steel, Everlasting Torment offers two fables of esoteric savagery. Gaze upon the sanguine dawn where ancient lands were carved by ice and stone. Scream for mercy as you bear witness to an arcane god’s unquenchable thirst for bloodshed. Ride the frost winds north to the fantastical lands of Secartha. See where the madness began…” That sets a mood, doesn’t it. Let’s listen to it.

“Everlasting Torment” is first up, walking into the room with a meaty riff and an eastern mysticism we used to hear occasionally in Dio-related music. A minute in, however, the speed kicks the table over and it is all adrenaline. “Sword of Wisdom” is even eerier up front, with threatening aural effects and again a dark and menacing marching heathen army intro. When the switch flips this time, the rolling thunder is completely different and has a surging insistence that is further plead by argumentative percussion. The lead guitar work is searching and whimsical, breathing a jet of fire on the sizzling embers. The song goes out wicked, and you can tell there is more to the story. I can’t wait to hear what comes next.

Everlasting Torment is out on Friday, December 4th from Southern Lord at the usual places for downloads. Triple B Records is releasing a vinyl version in a few weeks. Recommended.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://highcommand.bandcamp.com

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/HighCommand

Label, http://www.southernlord.com

Label Bandcamp, http://southernlord.bandcamp.com

Label Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/SLadmin

High Command, Everlasting Torment review (Southern Lord 2020)

Diamond Head, Lightning To The Nations 2020 review (Silver Lining Music 2020)

For the 40th anniversary of the seminal album Lightning To The Nations, Diamond Head has re-recorded it in its entirety.

It is hard to overstate the impact of Diamond Head on heavy music. The album in question came out in 1980 on the vanguard of the New Wave OF British Heavy Metal, inspiring many bands, including, famously, Metallica. They released three full length albums in the 1980s, had a short resurrection in the 1990s, and since 2005 have been producing new music regularly, including last year’s The Coffin Train. Founding member Brian Tatler (guitar) is joined by Rasmus Bom Andersen (vocals), Karl Wilcox (drums), Andrew “Abbz” Abberley (guitar), and Dean Ashton (bass, organ) for the new recording.

Lightning To The Nations 2020 sounds amazing, and comparing it to the original is challenging unless you grabbed and held onto one of those early LPs. There was a remastered version of this album released in 2011 and it is on Spotify, so you can track-by-track those two, if you like. There are noticeable differences, but all my money is on this year’s release as it is crisp and deep, and it is the newest incarnation of the music presented the way Brian Tatler wants it to be. The two songs that get most of the attention are “Am I Evil” and “It’s Electric” – deservedly so because they are outstanding. Still, there are big riffs and fantastic lead work throughout the entirety of the recording, so don’t skip the others.

Besides revitalizing the seven original songs, there are also four covers: “No Remorse” (Metallica), “Immigrant Song” (Led Zepplin), “Sinner” (Judas Priest), and “Rat Bat Blue” (Deep Purple). My favorite is the Deep Purple cover. If I had been asked which Deep Purple song Diamond Head would cover having such a rich catalog to choose from, “Rat Bat Blue” would not have been very high on my list, but it is absolutely fantastic. Guitars stand in for the crazy keyboards of the original, and this new one cracks.

Additional info and links below. If you are a fan of this classic music, it is time to start debating which version you like best. If you are hearing it all for the first time, just sit back and enjoy. Recommended.

Band photo by Nic Gaunt.

Links.

Wesbite, http://www.diamondheadofficial.com

Band Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/DiamondHeadOfficial/

Silver Lining Music, http://sl-music.net

SLM Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/Silver.Lining.Music.Ltd

Diamond Head, Lightning To The Nations 2020 review (Silver Lining Music 2020)

Scour, Black review (Housecore Records 2020)

The trilogy is now complete as Scour releases the final EP in the cycle, Black.

The band Scour is the stuff of dark dreams: Philip H. Anselmo (lead vocals), Derek Engemann (guitar, vocals), John Jarvis (bass, vocals), Mark Kloeppel (guitar, vocals), and Adam Jarvis (drums). These musicians came together in 2015 and started a musical project to be released in three parts. First was Grey (2016), and then Red (2017), and now the final installment has arrived, Black.

The music has a ravaging brutality about it, a dedication to Black Metal and Grindcore principles. “Doom” breaks the silence with sirens, fair warning and a sign that the onslaught is underway. The music is a massive, pulverizing force, directed along by the drums and liberated through vocals and a piercing, succinct lead break. “Nail,” “Propaganda,” and “Flames” pile drive new legendary pillars into the heavy landscape as Anselmo’s voice is joined in chorus, flanked by guitar and with underlay of bass and drum. “Microbes” is a beautiful instrumental track with melancholy violins and a disturbing, increasingly destabilizing piano. The menace builds with bigger strokes and added vocals, leading at the end to “Subprime” – the closer and the final hammer down on the shattering granite.

The band brought in guests Pat O’Brien, Erik Rutan, and, improbably, Jason Momoa for the recording of the last piece of the puzzle. Every element came together in synchrony and synergy. Black is the best end to the trilogy I could imagine. Recommended.

The music is available now at the links below in many forms. Listen to the earlier installments first, then dive into Black.

Band photo by Joseph P. Dorignak IV.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://scourhc.bandcamp.com/album/black-ep

Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/scourband

Label, http://www.thehousecorerecords.com

Label Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/housecorerecords

Scour, Black review (Housecore Records 2020)

Revolting, The Shadow At The World’s End review (Transcending Obscurity 2020)

The next episode in the Revolting saga is another Old School Death Metal juggernaut.

Rogga Johansson is the driving force in Revolting. Joined by Tobias and Martin on the new album, they play in the Swedish Death Metal vein, old school style. That means a fast tempo, razor sharp, tight lead shreds, and the classic invader/dominator commanding coarse vocals. The band released a demo in 2008, and since then has issued an EP, a split with Morbid Ossuary, and six full length albums, the most recent being Monolith Of Madness in 2018. The Shadow At The World’s End, then, is their seventh LP, and if anything it is more creative and energetic than the ones that have come before.

There are nine songs on the new album, all at radio length and every one a ripping sonic roar. “Defleshed” is the opener, and from the first note it is like coming in on the middle of a high speed car chase. The vocals are gruff yet decipherable, and the riffs are layered. “1888” is next with a clompy rhythm up front for a short breather before the title track throws sparks and kicks it up a notch. There are a few somewhat down-tempo paced tracks, like “Daggers That Mimic Life’s Pain,” and there the power goes into the heavy so “slow” is not really a good way to describe the music. The whirring pace of songs like “To The Bitter Bleeding End” keep you on your feet all the way through, and the relative brevity of the compositions allows no attention drift. This is another excellent set from Revolting. Recommended.

The Shadow At The World’s End is available now. You can get the digital at Bandcamp. You can also order any of the amazing bundles offered by Transcending Obscurity through Bandcamp or through the labels’ US store.

Links.

Revolting Bandcamp, https://revoltingdeath.bandcamp.com/album/the-shadow-at-the-worlds-end-death-metal

Revolting Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/revoltingdeathmetal

Label website, https://tometal.com/

Label Bandcamp, https://transcendingobscurity.bandcamp.com/

Label US Store, https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/search/?q=revolting

Revolting, The Shadow At The World’s End review (Transcending Obscurity 2020)

Obscurae, To Walk The Path Of Sorrows review (American Decline 2020)

Obscurae returns with a heavy blanket of atmospheric Black Metal: To Walk The Path Of Sorrows.

Chad Davis is the mastermind behind Obscurae. He is the composer, singer, and he plays all of the musical instruments in the production (Matt Davis plays bass on some tracks). The music is a saturating assault that aims to find a way to stay with you, haunting you long after the external sound has subsided. It is Black Metal that incorporates symphonic and hyper-ambient synergies to inculcate a destabilizing paradigm of tenebrosity in the psyche of the listener.

“Upon The Shadowthrone Of Night” separates you from the silence with a gentle urging invocation for the first two minutes as it opens the album. Then the onslaught begins. A barrage of sound bowls you over, pinning you down while the ghostly shrieking vocals penetrate you with their dark spell. Discerning the individual elements of the music takes concentration as it rushes together in an aural tsunami.

Each subsequent piece is an alternate take on gloom and sorrow, another story on the path to sinister ends. The choral sections are most noticeable to me in “Into Fullmoon Descent” and “Eerie Freezing Winds,” but they are with you much of the time. The cumulative effect of the oppressive sound is overwhelming. The curtain closes with “Stillheten,” four minutes of funereal keys that match the opening of the set. Hearing it at the end feels like a coffin being lowered into the ground.

Available on November 27th at the American Dreams shop link below and on Bandcamp (where two bonus tracks are included), To Walk The Path Of Sorrows is a long stare into darkness.

Photo from the Metal Archives website.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://obscuraebm.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/obscuraeband/

Shop, https://american-dreams.zone/product-category/american-decline-release/

Obscurae, To Walk The Path Of Sorrows review (American Decline 2020)

Clutch, Weathermaker Vault 1 review (Weathermaker Music 2020)

Clutch collects the singles they have been releasing over the past several months in Weathermaker Vault Series, Volume 1.

The idea behind doing this at all is to release fan favorites and songs that the band has played live a lot over the years because they have evolved as time has passed. These new studio versions are closer to the way you hear the songs when you see Clutch in concert, and several of the songs are covers that were not released on studio albums. In some cases, they differences on the re-records are small, but in others the comparison between the original recordings and the new ones show that the differences really stand out.

The album has ten songs on it, nine of which has already been released as digital singles: 1. Passive Restraints, 2. Electric Worry, 3. Run, John Barleycorn, Run, 4. Evil, 5. Fortunate Son, 6. Algo Ha Cambiado, 7. Spacegrass, 8. Precious and Grace, 9. Smoke Banshee, and 10. Willie Nelson.

On “Passive Restraints,” Randy Blythe of Lamb of God joins the band and creates an amazing synergy. “Electric Worry” has a slightly more stripped down sound here (and no harmonica) like, again, it is on concert – always one of my favorites. “Run, John Barleycorn, Run” was only previously available on a split from some years back. “Evil” and “Fortunate Son” are fantastic covers of those legendary songs, and “Algo Ha Cambiado” is a briefer version than the one that appears on Strange Cousins from the West. “Spacegrass” gets an extended treatment, and “Precious and Grace” is a ZZ Top cover. “Smoke Banshee,” another one of my personal favorites (that is a long list when we are talking about Clutch songs), never sounded better, and on “Willie Nelson,” we find out he “only smokes killer weed.”

Should you buy this? Of course. If you are a Clutch fan, you want all these songs together, even if the singles are floating out there separately somewhere. If you are a collector, you will want to look for the vinyl (or even the CD) as it’ll be a hot sold out item almost immediately. And if you like music, this is great music. C’mon. It’s Clutch.

The full album drops on Friday, November 27th. You can order the CD all over, at Amazon and whatnot, and the digital in the usual places. There is a vinyl version at the Clutch merch site (link below) that should be available soon to order. Highly recommended.

Links.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/clutchband

website: https://www.pro-rock.com

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/officialclutch

Clutch merch: https://www.clutchmerch.com/

Clutch, Weathermaker Vault 1 review (Weathermaker Music 2020)