Rorcal & Earthflesh, Witch Coven (Hummus Records 2021)

Witch Coven is the confluence of two rivers coming together in a symphony of Black Metal and Doom wretchedness.

Rorcal is a well-known Doom Metal band from Switzerland that started around 2006 and has released many long-players and EPs through the years. Earthflesh is Bruno da Encarnação who was the bassist for Rorcal until recently and is collaborating with the band under his new moniker. Other band members include Ron Lahyani (drums), Jean-Philippe Schopfer (guitar), Diogo Almeida (guitar), and Yonni Chapatte (vocals). The new album is quite different from what they have done before. It is at times harsh and dissonant, and overall is a fascinating combination of Doom, Noise, Ambient Metal, and Black Metal.

There are two long songs on the album. “Altars of Nothingness” opens with nearly three minutes of voices, like a small choir, in very creepy harmony. The middle is a ritualistic combination of Doom and Black Metal, with sizzling noise and ambient menace to accompany the vocal suffering, clipped and punched by percussion and crushing riffs. The long song ends with what sounds like the screaming of a mammal being sacrificed on an altar and then those voices again as the last thing the sacrifice hears.

“Happiness Sucks, So Do You” is side 2 and it is savage and confrontational at the gate. It is a relentless battering of percussion and guitar sawing and Black Metal vocalizations for the first third. Then we break through into the abyss, and the mood turns to hopelessness. Passing through then ultimately into a merciless dragging through sharp edges and heavy smashings. By the end you don’t have much left and all you can do is reflect.

The two pieces are very different. Both are challenging and journey-oriented. Taking different paths, they are separate explorations in a dark place that in the end combine into a discernable revelation. Recommended.

Witch Coven is out now. The digital is an easy get at Bandcamp, and Hummus Records has vinyl and merch bundles.

Links.

Website Rorcal, https://www.rorcal.com/

Bandcamp Rorcal, https://rorcal.bandcamp.com/

Bandcamp Earthflesh, https://earthflesh.bandcamp.com/

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

Facebook Earthflesh, https://www.facebook.com/earthfleshnoise

Label, https://hummus-records.com/

Rorcal & Earthflesh, Witch Coven (Hummus Records 2021)

Abigorum, Vergessene Stille (Void Wanderer 2021)

The Melodic Black Metal duo Abigorum have finished their second full-length album, Vergessene Stille.

The band is Aleksey Korolyov from Russia and Tino Thiele of Germany. Their previous album, Exaltatus Mechanism, came out in 2019 (with former bandmate Sandra Batsch in the mix). While the music contains many styles, the primary elements are Black Metal and Doom, tied together with ambient intentions.

There are five tracks on the album, four long pieces and a short wind-down at the end. The opener is “Erhebt eure mit Blut gefüllten Hörner” and it is the perfect example of the overarching trajectory of the music with its clear Black Metal persuasion casting about in the Doom and dread. “Der geheimnisvolle Käfig” has a more up-tempo, almost peppy opening segment, but it quickly takes a dark turn, showing you something menacing in the shadows before the bright-light distraction kicks back in. When it comes back, though, there is a demon in there. This song is sinister, and it is the one I remember most.

The title track leads Side 2, followed by “Zerbrechlicher kleiner Geist.” The former brings a maddening warbling drone that transforms into deep Doom and a weighty feeling of sorrow, while the latter has a more theatrical feel to it, painting dark images in penetrating tones. The final word is “Rast und Abschied.” At first it sounds like a storm rumbling up from the void, but then it turns into a curse, and maybe an unsettling prediction. Taken together, the music from Abigorum on this album is a unique and fluid combination of ideas expressed in a captivating theater. Recommended.

Vergessene Stille is out on April 13th in a variety of forms. Duplicate Records will release an LP version, Satanath Records and Black Blood Records will have CD versions, and Void Wanderer Productions is producing a cassette version. There is also always the digital download.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://abigorum.bandcamp.com/album/vergessene-stille

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

Void Wanderer, https://voidwanderer.com/

Duplicate Records, https://duplicaterecords.no/

Satanath Records, http://satanath.com/

Black Blood Records, https://www.blackbloodrecords.de/html/01-news.html

Abigorum, Vergessene Stille (Void Wanderer 2021)

Sun Crow, Quest For Oblivion (Ripple Music 2021)

When I think of Doom Metal this is what I hear in my head: Sun Crow’s debut album.

Quest For Oblivion was released late last year by the band, and now it is getting broader distribution through Ripple Music. The musicians are Ben Nechanicky (guitar), Brian Steel (bass), Keith Hastreiter (drums), and Charles Wilson (vocals). The band as it is might be fairly new, but the members have a solid history of honing their talents and together they are pure metal lava.

There are eight tracks on Quest For Oblivion, four of them over ten minutes long. The album starts with “Collapse,” a slow-opening heavy doom statement with planetary-scale riffs and soul-freeing power. The music is unhurried. Sure of itself, the composition moves in its own natural direction. “Black It Out” is next with a quicker build and a sound just as big. “End Over End” hits next, and it might be my favorite track on the album, although picking one among this pack is a fool’s errand because every song has so much to admire. Here I am enthralled by the lead guitar work and voice, the rollicking drums and muscular bass which together compartmentalized my mind and gave me a feeling like I was existing in a distinct cranial collective rather than a single source of thought.

There are two shorter songs, six and five minutes each, and they have a generally quicker tempo – “Fear” and “Nothing Behind.” The shift is a shove that rattles you around to secure your attention for the final two, “Hypersonic” and “Titans.” The penultimate song is a trip to the stars the final one brings the celestial to the terrestrial and shakes the prehistoric structure of the earth. Taken together as a full set or one song at a time, Sun Crow has set a standard with Quest For Oblivion to which other doom music will be compared. Highly recommended.

The digital download is available now at Bandcamp through the band directly or through Ripple Music. Physicals ship in July from Ripple.

Links.

Sun Crow Bandcamp, https://suncrow.bandcamp.com/

Ripple Bandcamp, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/quest-for-oblivion

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

Sun Crow, Quest For Oblivion (Ripple Music 2021)

Obscure Fate, Raven’s Call (Inverse Records 2021)

Finland’s Obscure Fate raise the flag on their brand of heavy metal with Raven’s Call.

The band began as a solo project of guitarist Kaleva Kovalainen in 2008. Over time, the band as it is today began to take form. The other musicians are Tapio Härkönen (vocals), Jari Keränen, (drums), Joni Moisanen (guitar), and Antti Möttönen (bass).

The music is a broad-based heavy metal approach, setting up the song structure around catchy riffs, with punctuating elements stemming frequently from syncopation. There is often a guitar line in harmony with the lead vocal. Speaking of the vocals, Härkönen presents mostly clear singing with a gruff edge and an epic lilt. The compositions have a highly-produced fullness to them, and therefore have a radio feel, targeting wide appeal.

The EP has four songs, all in the digestible three-to-four minute range. They are all up-tempo with solid bases and dark fantasy / mythical themes. The straight-forward hard rock approach is enhanced by crisp lead breaks and singable lyrics – these elements are on brightest display with the title song. I imagine hearing this music on a summer night outside at a festival. That would be the way to go. Recommended.

Raven’s Call is out now. Bandcamp is an easy place to get it in the US, and it is available on a variety of other services as well.

Links.

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

Website, https://obscurefate.net/

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

Obscure Fate, Raven’s Call (Inverse Records 2021)

Heavy Trip, Heavy Trip (Burning World Records 2021)

Instrumental heavy psych trio Heavy Trip re-release a full-length album of succulent guitar delights.

That’s a mushroom on the cover, not weed. Make the appropriate adjustments.

The band is from British Columbia, I hear. Information about them is thin on the ground. A trio, according to the Bandcamp page, and there is photographic evidence of this. The music is amazing instrumental heavy psych guitar-based transcendence. The album is out in a new edition from Burning World Records following the success of its original release last year.

There are four tracks on the album, all of them absorbing, each one chewing at the edge of the infinite. If you think of the music of Earthless as a point of reference, that is not a bad place to start. Heavy Trip have their own unique ways, of course, their own path to the majesty of what is. It is Desert Doom Stoner Heavy Psych Mountain Metal music for the mind expanding crowd.

Here’s the deal: I like this album almost too much to comment on it. There are big riffs and heavy grooves, and the music is so lush it provides sustenance. My advice is drop everything and go listen to it right now. Highly recommended.

Heavy Trip is out already. Check out the band’s website, Burning World Records, or Bandcamp for the goods.

Links.

Website, https://heavytripdudes.com/

Bandcamp, https://heavytripdudes.bandcamp.com/releases

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

Label, https://www.burningworldrecords.com/

Heavy Trip, Heavy Trip (Burning World Records 2021)

Bones Of The Earth, II (2021)

The story continues on the second concept album from Arkansas metal band Bones of the Earth.

The band is a Doom trio from Arkansas. The musicians are Erik Ebsen (guitar), Raif Box (bass and vocals), and Cody Martin (drums and vocals) Their first album, The Imminent Decline of Human Spirit, came out in 2019 and started the tale. This new one, Eternal Meditations of a Deathless Crown, continues the story of a cycle of transformation in the universe where organic life eventually becomes artificial life, and then reverts to organic again.

You can see parallels between this concept and all sorts of things around you all the time. Even while there is constant change the same themes and instances seem to come up again and again, like they are on some long-run cycle that cannot be broken. Doom and Sludge Metal surely are the appropriate musical perspective to tell a story like this.

The opening foray is the instrumental “Decline,” voiceless except for some whispering at the end. “Machine Rising” is a syncopated calamity. The vocals are projected to the straining point and the music bends at sharp angles as the steady sound base holds up a platform for the other pieces to excel. There is an ebb and flow to the album with each song adding another piece to the puzzle and presenting it in a different way. The track “Inoperable,” for example, has amazing guitar work and a heavy blues feel that swirls in the eerie menace of the world it inhabits.

There is an unstoppable quality in the music. You feel like you are on a ride that has no exit. Progressive-sounding elements twinkle in the sludge and doom, but they are not reassuring. No, they are the sound of the mechanical overlord, the cadence of inevitability. Trapped in the system, in the cycle, anxiety builds in the music and it gets to you as you listen. The story genuinely is part of the music and it comes through naturally. The album is exceptional. Recommended.

CDs, cassettes, and digital downloads are out on Friday April 2nd. Pick up a copy so you can get the whole story. The first album is also on Bandcamp in case you want to see how this all started.

Links.

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

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

Bones Of The Earth, II (2021)

Odd Circus, Mantha (Good Idea Music 2021)

Free-form improvisation is the orifice through which the music expands into creation on the new album from Odd Circus.

The band describes its music this way. “Forged in improvisation, the band’s music navigates a boundary-less sonic landscape that embraces the unknown and welcomes the bizarre. The result is an experimental style of psychedelic art-rock that weaves its way into garage, fusion, krautrock, no wave, post-rock, noise, hard psych, and sci-fi prog.” The musicians are Graham Robertson (saxophones and effects), Partin Whitaker (drums), Crews Carter (bass and effects)

If this music comes from live free-form improvisation then color me amazed. The notes read that the set is compiled from this process, so maybe they worked in the form and captured the lasting bits for the album. Whatever the process, the creativity is a boundless expansion that takes no time to consider what is possible.

With drums, saxophone, and bass, enhanced with “effects,” the fullness of these instrumental pieces is a marvel. It is heavy and driving and up-tempo for the most part, splashed and slammed with surprises. When the music slows a touch or quietens for a while, an eerie sensibility takes over that complements the pulsing urgency of the other passages. Progressive post-rock, we could call it, and with the saxophone you can’t take your finger off the jazz button either, but if it is jazz, its dark.

Each piece flows into the next, and still they all have their own perspectives and outcomes. The titles of the tracks are named after mythical entities like “Djinn” and “Dybbuk” and “Wendigo,” providing the perfect launch for the musical explorations.

Pushing aside predilections, the music on this EP will find its way into your psyche. It will be an altered state experience for the heavy music crowd, and we could all use that now and again. Recommended.

Mantha drops on Friday, April 2nd. Bandcamp is your best bet for a hook-up in the US.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://oddcircus.bandcamp.com/album/mantha

Website, https://www.oddcircus.net/

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

Odd Circus, Mantha (Good Idea Music 2021)

Mortify, Grotesque Buzzsaw Defilement (HPGD 2021)

The new EP from Mortify will punch you into unconsciousness with Grindcore madness in less than 10 minutes.

Mortify is Ryohei Kikuchi (drums), Takuya Koreeda (guitar), and Adam Jennings (vocals). After demos in 2017 and 2019, they followed up with the full-length album Stench of Swedish Buzzsaw that holds twenty songs with a running time of ten minutes. They are on the same trajectory with the new one, Grotesque Buzzsaw Defilement, that has thirteen songs in under ten.

So what do we know? Mortify is a fairly new band that plays short, blazing Grindcore with a buzzsaw through-line. OK. Ready to go.

If we do the math here, these songs are going to be less than a minute for the most part. The shortest is twenty five seconds, pushing the envelope on the idea of a fully realized stand-alone concept. Mainly, they are getting in and getting out quick, with a blistering pace and destructive attitude.

My favorite tracks are “Flesh Creep,” which is a thirty-five second doom song that opens the set, and “100 Rats,” a beautiful horror story that shreds all surroundings and has a catchy riff. “Mangy Mutts” and “Deviant” also spoke to me because of the guitar riff in the former and the oppressive, weighty shots in the latter. I’d love to see the band perform this entire album live, straight through in a sweaty, claustrophobic club. That’d be great.

If you are not into commitment but you are a fan of fast, loud, and aggressive music, this one is for you. Recommended.

Grotesque Buzzsaw Defilement is out on Friday, April 2nd from Horror Pain Gore Death Productions. Hit the Label Bandcamp link below for the download, CDs, and merch in the US.

Links.

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Mortify666/

Bandcamp, https://mortify666.bandcamp.com/album/grotesque-buzzsaw-defilement

Label Bandcamp, https://hpgd.bandcamp.com/album/grotesque-buzzsaw-defilement

Label, http://www.horrorpaingoredeath.com/

Mortify, Grotesque Buzzsaw Defilement (HPGD 2021)

Suzi Quatro, The Devil In Me (SPV Steamhammer 2021)

The unstoppable Suzi Quatro returns with a new studio album that pops and cracks with multifaceted looks at rock and roll.

The first album I ever heard from Suzi Quatro was Rock Hard (1980). There she stood on the cover wearing black leather and holding the fire engine red bass. At the time I assumed she played only hard rock, but as I started going through the earlier albums I quickly understood that she had already had an impressive career with big pop hits and a variety of albums in different styles. Whenever a new record came out from her it was a good day for me. Her music is not what I usually listen to if we go by the numbers, but I am a huge Suzi Quatro fan.

The album opens with a couple of bangers. “The Devil In Me” is a raucous rock and roll rambler with a Bob Seger spirit while “Hey Queenie” is more of a rock-sprouting lounge tune. The album takes a walk through a wide variety of styles and looks on differently seasoned rock hooks and structures. Every one of them has a familiar feel and a fresh take. The music is mostly upbeat and fast-paced, with a couple of reflective tracks and one straight-up ballad.

There are a several stand-outs for me on the record. “You Can’t Dream It” is one with its urgent pace and prominent bass work. “Do Ya Dance” hit me at an Alice Cooper angle in the 1970s sense. “Isolation Blues” is a soulful, meandering tune with a great saxophone part. And the closer, “Motor City Riders,” is the perfect guitar and piano rock and roll flashback to close the show. This album is a big win for every Suzi Quatro fan.

The Devil In Me is out now – hit the links below. Recommended.

Links.

Website, http://www.suziquatro.com/

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

Label, https://shop.steamhammer.de/products/691043-suzi-quatro-the-devil-in-me

Suzi Quatro, The Devil In Me (SPV Steamhammer 2021)

Greenleaf, Echoes From A Mass (Napalm Records 2021)

A new album from Sweden’s Greenleaf is always a reason to celebrate and the new one pushes the envelope on anticipation.

Greenleaf has been laying down tracks for a couple decades now. Their most recent album was 2018’s Hear The Rivers and while the new one has the familiar presence that earlier one had, it is a step up and beyond. The band is Tommi Holappa (guitar), Sebastian Olsson (drums), Hans Fröhlich (bass), and Arvid Jonsson (vocals).

The album has ten fuzzy, psychedelic tracks that will wrap around you and soak right in. The opener is “Tides,” a get-to-know you track that lays down the blanket in the grass. “Good God I Better Run Away” follows and it is bursting with energy and urgency. It is positively loaded with wonderizing guitar work. Then “Needle In My Eye” has an ethereal quality to it, echoing as it does off the walls and telling as it does a sinister tale. You hear these three songs back-to-back and you start to drift, confident in your choice of music.

All the pieces come together on this album in the way we expect from the earlier ones. I get an extra bounce on this one, though – something about it is bigger to me. Every song has something extraordinary about it. “A Hand Of Might” sticks in my mind for its rolling tremulousness; “March On Higher Grounds” for its restless insistence. “What Have We Become” is the last song of the set and it is a meditation. On what? That might be different for every person who listens to it. At first it put me in a fog but by the end my vision had cleared. It is a good way to come down.

Echoes From A Mass is waiting for you right now. Links below. Highly recommended.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://greenleaf-sweden.bandcamp.com/

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

Label, https://label.napalmrecords.com/greenleaf

Greenleaf, Echoes From A Mass (Napalm Records 2021)