Robot Death Monkey, Intergalactic Party Powder (2022)

Scotland’s Robot Death Monkey slap down another irresistible slab of metal on Intergalactic Party Powder.

For a dozen years now, Robot Death Monkey has been ruffling feathers in the stoner metal world. In a good way. They have released a string of fierce EPs, including Booze Cruise (2015), Big Pussy (2019), and Druid Odyssey (2021). The music is heavy groove metal with a rock and roll propulsion that you can’t get enough of once you start listening. The band is Shaun Forshaw (bass, vocals) Sam Forshaw (drums), Alan Travers (guitar), and Fraser Lough (guitar).

“Bantha Rider” has a great punch. The song structure does put me in mind of Clutch, but the music is much more metal, maybe in the Orange Goblin direction. Great riffs, great pound. The lead guitar solo is fantastic. It is an instrumental heavy metal feast. “Asgardian Micro Whitey” is another rambler, and our first clear listen to Forshaw’s vocals, which are rugged and declarative. The lead break on this song is lethal, and it’ll pin your ears back.

With a title like “Dragon Clit,” it almost doesn’t matter what the song sounds like. Thankfully, it turns out this track is a killer. The riffage is like a line of lance-wielding Spartans advancing unstoppably, all the while stabbing straight for your eyes. It is another instrumental juggernaut. “Kittens and Coke” opens gently, like a murderer laying in wait. Suddenly, the entire group jumps out, every hand swinging a heavy hammer. We are told straight up that there “is only one thing that I need: kittens and coke.” Well, sure, who hasn’t said that themselves? And here we have it set to music. This is a tasty party song the legions will welcome.

Listening to this four-song EP on repeat might lead to spontaneous human combustion. Recommended.

Intergalactic Party Powder is out now. Bandcamp is the reliable hook-up. While you are there, check out the band’s other albums – there is lot of great music ready to be heard.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://robotdeathmonkey.bandcamp.com/album/intergalactic-party-powder

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

© Wayne Edwards

Robot Death Monkey, Intergalactic Party Powder (2022)

Photo Gallery: Keys

Underoath at Blue Ridge Rock Festival
The Contortionist at the Old National Centre, Indianapolis
Munly and the Lupercalians at Muddy Roots
Flux Capacitor at Nectar’s, Burlington
Nekrogoblikon at Higher Ground, Burlington
Antagonizers ATL at Muddy Roots

Photos by Wayne Edwards.

© Wayne Edwards

Photo Gallery: Keys

Photo Gallery: Drummers, Part 1

Apocalyptica at Blue Ridge Rock Festival
Kittie at Blue Ridge Rock Festival
Midnight at the Andrew J. Brady Music Center, Cincinnati
Mike Vallaley and the Complete Disaster at Muddy Roots
Municipal Waste at Pure Filth Festival
Summoner’s Circle at Tennessee Metal Devastation
Theory of a Deadman at Blue Ridge Rock Festival
Warbringer at The Vogue, Indianapolis

Photos by Wayne Edwards.

© Wayne Edwards

Photo Gallery: Drummers, Part 1

DoctoR DooM, A Shadow Called Danger (Ripple 2023)

DoctoR DooM, the four-piece stoner rock act from France, helps you start your year off right with A Shadow Called Danger.

I first came across DoctoR DooM when I heard their album This Seed We Have Sown (2015) that I picked up during a Ripple Music sale. The vibrations I experienced that day live in my synapses still. I have been waiting ever since for another infusion – at last it has arrived. The band is Jean-Laurent Pasquet (vocals, guitar) Bertrand Legrand (guitar), Michel Marcq (drums), and Sébastien Boutin Blomfield (bass).

The new album is heavier than the last, doomier in parts. The first track, “Comeback to Yourself,” starts off that way, heavy, but shifts into a lighter frame after a number of bars and starts to cook. Immediately, you start to feel 1974 rising from its resting place and sweeping the room with renewed vigor. Light yet meaningful, delivered with purpose. The perfect jump. “What Are They Trying to Sell” follows with a different tone. I don’t know what they had in mind when they wrote it, but to me it makes me see the beach from the perspective of the PCH. But then it slows and becomes dramatic, telling a different story. It is a journey. Nice organ work on this track by Jim Blomfield, too.

“Ride On” is a quiet piece, filled with eager solitude that builds to eventual explosion. The switch (or you might call it a progression) happens in other songs, too, like “Hollow.” Here though it is more gradual and has the biggest tidal change. These songs, the whole album, are lookbacks in a way, sure, but they are reinventions more than replications. In that sense the music is filled with surprises even as it brings on nostalgia. The beautiful and sad “Sarabande” closes the show and leaves you wanting more.

If the new album is any measure, the second decade of DoctoR DooM will be even better than the first. Recommended.

A Shadow Called Danger is out now through Ripple Music. Explore the possibilities at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://doctordoom.bandcamp.com/album/a-shadow-called-danger

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/doctordoom09/

Ripple Music, https://www.ripple-music.com/

© Wayne Edwards

DoctoR DooM, A Shadow Called Danger (Ripple 2023)

Ahab, The Coral Tombs (Napalm 2023)

Extreme doom metal band Ahab drags you beneath the waves and shows you horrors on their latest album, The Coral Tombs.

It all began in Germany in 2004. Ahab arose. The music they create is typically categorized as funeral doom, but that does not capture it very well. I don’t dispute the description. I simply think that their music covers considerably more ground (or sea, as the case may be) than you might expect from the typical funeral doom band. Besides that, the narrative theme is specific and sweeping, especially on the new album, which is the fifth long-player from the band, marking their nineteenth year in existence. Ahab is Cornelius Althammer (drums, Daniel Droste (vocals, guitar), Christian Hector (guitar), and Stephan Wandernoth (bass).

“Prof. Arronax’ Descent Into The Vast Oceans” is a long story. It starts out shrieking, then goes suddenly dead quiet. A funeral doom pace ensues, but the music itself is more lyrical than you might expect for that genre. Enormous oppressive guitar riffs do slowly emerge, threatening to overwhelm the movement. Instead, there is a long guitar soliloquy. “Colossus Of The Liquid Graves” comes next and presents for all the world as a deep sea terror tale in sound and action. The vocal croak comes from a humungous beast at depth, and the clear singing that follows might be from a doomed soul. You start to feel an entrenchment of evil in this music, and it is a feeling that only deepens as you wind your way through the tracks that follow.

The first two songs put you through the wringer and there is still fifty minutes to go. Epic mysticism is in store for you on “Mobilis In Mobile,” and the drowning of hope is inevitable on “A Coral Tomb.” The writing might very well be on the seafloor but still there is no avoiding the magnificent conclusion voiced in “The Mælstrom.” The music is expansive, existing in a realm not often traversed by bands, no matter how heavy. Recommended.

The Coral Tombs is out now through Napalm Records. Press the links below to harvest it.

Band photo by Stefan Heilemann.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ahab.bandcamp.com/album/the-coral-tombs

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

Napalm Records, https://label.napalmrecords.com/ahab

© Wayne Edwards

Ahab, The Coral Tombs (Napalm 2023)

Azken Auzi, Azken Auzi (Argonauta 2023)

Sludgy doom band Azken Auzi release their self-titled debut.

Stationed in Toulon, France, Azken Auzi is a new band formed by musicians from other metal acts. Deciding they wanted a change of pace, they veered from death metal and noise toward atmospheric doom, frequently touching on funeral doom landscapes. Their new album is a deary delight.

“Disgrace” brings notes of fear to the beginning of the set. Slow and ominous, the lead-in sets up perfectly the gruff howls of despair that follow in the vocals. This is grim stuff, and unrelenting. “Azken Auzi” is up next, and it takes the music down a notch into funeral doom territory. Over the course of the song the tempo does pick up considerably, but the sentiment does not brighten. It is a thunderclap that keeps rolling. “I Hate You” is almost pleasant in comparison. The hopelessness and sorrow saturate the musical palate of this song as well, although here there is a sense of movement, an active sort of despair, you might say. Hate, after all, is actionable.

“Rho Scorpii” offers a sort of emotional parallax because the droning rhythm can set you down the path of darkness but there is also a reassuring known-ness to it as the song progresses. This is the sort of music that could go on for twenty minutes and you would still be hanging in there with it. “K.R.L.H.” is a graveyard dirge; lovely, drowning darkness. The pace turns after a while, and the narrative seems to switch toward a campaign – a path of intention. “Home” is the anchor and the longest track of the set. It has a tentative beginning that is clearly heading toward something else – change is in the air. This song is the most exploratory, and it covers the most ground. At the very end there is a bonus track, which is an alternate version of the title song. I appreciate the dark menace of this music and the dedication of the compositions to their purpose. Recommended.

Azken Auzi is out now through Argonauta Records. Get yours at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://azkenauzi.bandcamp.com/album/azken-auzi

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

Argonauta Records, https://www.argonautarecords.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Azken Auzi, Azken Auzi (Argonauta 2023)

Müut, Made Me Do It (2023)

Warsaw stoner rock band Müut lets loose on their debut long-player, Made Me Do It.

Müut began just a couple of years ago. Initially inspired and informed by punk and hardcore music, the compositional direction of the band eventually shifted toward a hard rock version of stoner rock, with big nods to classic forms. The result is a cracking set of rock and roll with exotic undertones. Müut is Vlad Guzmán (vocals, bass), Mateusz Pacholczyk (drums), Krzysztof Geryk (guitar), and Szymon Kaim (guitar).

“Another Bill To Pay” is a hard-charging rock song, up-tempo and loaded with catchiness. The lead break is designed for broad appeal as well, not taking up too much space. A very good, rollicking beginning. “Graso” seeks to keep the energy high, but in a very different way. The opening lyrics have a stabbing quality to them, like an attack on the listener. They mellow as the song continues, but you never forget the opening peal, which is itself repeated for good measure. “Fight The Müutonegro” offers a nostalgic appeal to old school tropes, and so does “Braindead,” in many ways, although different ones. These familiar bits a remolded and integrated into modern settings, giving them new life. Side one ends on “Enter Thy Name,” a pensive, reflective number that is an effective cooldown.

The back half continues with the premise establish by the early songs. I especially like “Last Tattoo,” which has a dominating presence and is a genuine battering. The tone changes midway, and the song transforms somewhat, making it all the more appealing. The final track stands out as well, “Salvation Fix.” It is a gruff way to exit, and I like it a lot. This record is good hard-edged rock and roll. Give it a spin.

Made Me Do It is out now. In the US, Bandcamp is a good place to pick it up.

Links.

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

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/muut.band/

© Wayne Edwards

Müut, Made Me Do It (2023)

Demonio, Electric Voodoo Of The Black Dawn (Regain 2022)

Italian stoner metal band Demonio puts it all together on Electric Voodoo Of The Black Dawn.

Demonio is a power trio that plays doom stoner heavy psych metal music that will open your mind, whether or not you are chemically prepared for the journey. Peopled by Matteo (bass), Paolo (drums), and Anthony (guitar, vocals), Demonio have put out a long-player and an EP in the past couple of years, titled, respectively, Electric Voodoo (2021) and Black Dawn (2022). The new record collects these two in one place and makes them available in new physical editions to go along with the digital that already exists.

The spirit awakens with “From the Grave,” a trippy, groovy, guitar-driven delight. If anything is coming out of the grave, it is just popping up to light the bong, so never fear. “Lust for the Dark” takes a step back to consider the impetus of carnality and its association with dim lighting. Heh-heh. Not really. It is a slower cook, and that just makes the notes all the more tender to the touch. The lead guitar is either the charmer or the snake, and, whichever is true, the effect is hypnotizing. “Acid’s Dream” is fuzzier and grungier and every bit as potent. The established range is challenged throughout, enriching the musical environment.

The title tracks have a special place in the set. “Electric Voodoo” is a warbly enabler, encouraging deeper explorations than have so far come to pass. “Black Dawn” is one of the longer songs in the compilation, and it makes expert use of all the afforded space. The long, languid middle keeps your mind from exploding, and the punching ending is an excellent send-off. Recommended.

Electric Voodoo Of The Black Dawn is out now in digital and CD through Regain Records, with a vinyl version to follow in 2023 from DHU Records.

Links.

Demonio Bandcamp, https://demonio666.bandcamp.com/album/electric-voodoo

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

DHU Records, https://darkhedonisticunionrecords.bigcartel.com/

Shadow Records, https://www.shadowrecords.se/

Helter Skelter Productions, https://www.facebook.com/helterskelterproductions/

Regain Records, https://regainrecords.bandcamp.com/album/electric-voodoo-of-the-black-dawn

© Wayne Edwards

Demonio, Electric Voodoo Of The Black Dawn (Regain 2022)

Book Review: Doom Metal Lexicanum, by Aleksey Evdokimov (Cult Never Dies 2021)

If you ever have any questions about doom metal, the answers are in this book.

Aleksey Evdokimov has compiled and assembled an astonishing amount of information regarding doom metal music. On the surface, Doom Metal Lexicanum is exactly what it appears to be: an encyclopedia of doom metal bands. You do get broad coverage of more bands than you can imagine. I thought I knew a lot about this vein of music, but clearly I was wrong. There are bands here I have never heard of, dozens and dozens of them. The entries are different lengths, depending on how long the band has been around, how much they have performed, and the number of albums they have released. For new bands or short-lived one, you will find a couple of paragraphs. For legendary groups like Candlemass, the entry goes on for pages.

Evdokimov covers 360 bands, in doom and closely related fields. I performed an experiment wherein I tried to think of a band that wasn’t in the book. I didn’t do very well. In fact, I couldn’t come up with any, except for ones that aren’t really doom bands or are new enough to have missed the publication deadline. The coverage is comprehensive and, while it might not be exhaustive, it is close enough to confound any metalhead I know. In addition to the entries describing the bands and their work, you also get a few essays at the end of the volume discussing related topics like witchcraft and black magic in doom, Lovecraftian influences on the music, and so on.

The current incarnation of the volume is the second edition. The author notes that the text has been revised only slightly. Essentially, the selected discographies have been updated for important new albums that have emerged in the four years that passed since the first edition, along with a few minor other changes, but the text from the first edition remains largely intact. The new edition is in hardcover, which is an improvement over the original paperback, and the layout is a bit different, too, also enhancing the reading experience.

If you are a doom metal fan, this book is absolutely essential. You can order a copy through the link below or gather one up at your preferred bookseller.

Book Details.

Doom Metal Lexicanum, second edition

By Aleksey Evdokimov

Published by Crypt Publications and Cult Never Dies in 2021

Hardcover

324 pages

ISBN: 978-1-915148-02-5

Link.

Cult Never Dies, https://cultneverdies.myshopify.com/collections/all-publications/products/doom-metal-lexicanum-book-2022-hardback-edition

© Wayne Edwards

Book Review: Doom Metal Lexicanum, by Aleksey Evdokimov (Cult Never Dies 2021)

Commentary: Too Much More — Four Day Festival Exhaustion (2023)

Are four-day music festivals too much of a good thing?

Aftershock, Sacramento

Do you remember when big music festivals lasted for three days? I do. It was just a couple of years ago, before the covid-19 pandemic. Ah, the good old days.

All major music festivals were cancelled in 2020 because of covid, so when the next year rolled around – and we were still facing covid restrictions – festival promoters had the idea that an extra day added on to the festival would be a nice bonus because we all had missed out completely the year before. That sounded pretty good at the time. More bands, more beer, more food, more music. And it was pretty good. The first year. 2023 is the third year in a row where four-day music festivals are commonplace, and it is starting to wear me down.

The thing about four-day festivals is they are really long, an expensive. For fans, that is an extra day they have to take off work, an extra day in a hotel (or camping), and extra day of food and drink expense. It adds up. For some people, like me, the third day was a bit wearisome, having spent day one and day two hitting it hard. A fourth day can test your limits of endurance, and if it does that, the fun really starts to slow down.

So why does the fourth day persist? I can think of a few reasons off the top of my head. For one thing, there is the illusion of value. Prices have gone up for festivals, but they did not go up 33% as we might expect for that extra day. Four days then seems like a good deal to people (setting aside those extra day expenses I mentioned a second ago). Most importantly, the fourth day persists because there really isn’t any choice, is there? If you are going to a festival in the area where you live, you probably don’t have three or four different ones to choose from every year with the kind of music you want to see. So, you take what’s available.

Heavy Montreal

From the promoter’s point of view, four-day festivals make more money because they sell food and booze and merch for an extra day. The rental of the festival grounds might be a little higher, but the biggest expenses are fixed cost – the headliners, the stages, etc. – so an extra day does not add to those costs much, if at all. They would have to pay more bands to play, if there were more bands playing. You might have noticed, though, that many of the big festivals have reduced the number of acts per day as they added an additional festival day. Are there really more bands? Not many.

I think the situation is that four-day festivals have become expected, so scaling back might be perceived as a loss in value and quality. Therefore, we might just be struck them for a while. Personally, one of my favorite festivals was always Heavy Montreal, and that is a two-day festival. It was paired with the one-day ’77 event (a punk festival), so you could easily opt out or in, depending on what you wanted to do. Psycho Las Vegas has the optional add-on Psycho Swim on the Thursday before the festival, making a nice separating option. That’s a good way to go, too. The only thing you can do along these lines for most four-day festivals is by one day at a time, which is priced to be considerably more expensive.

Sunday Afternoon at Louder Than Life, Louisville

I hate to miss out on the big festivals where heavy metal bands play, but I am worn down by the four days. This year, I am going to concentrate on the smaller events (one- and two-day metal fests) and the ones that kept it to a tight three. For the most part, anyway. I do expect to be at Blue Ridge Rock Fest this year, and probably Aftershock, but otherwise I am capping it at three days. So, that’ll be Psycho Las Vegas without the swim (I’ll be there on Thursday but look for me sitting at the tables), Metal Threat, Heavy Psych Sounds, Hell In The Harbor, Rock Fest, and festivals like that. I love music festivals. I just don’t want too much of a good thing.

Photos by Wayne Edwards

© Wayne Edwards

Commentary: Too Much More — Four Day Festival Exhaustion (2023)