Kardashev, Liminal Rite (Metal Blade 2022)

The second full-length album from Arizona deathgaze band Kardashev is Liminal Rite.

Breaking ground in 2012, Karadshev is peopled by founders Nico Mirolla (guitar) and Mark Garrett (vocals), along with Alex Rieth (bass) and Sean Lang (drums), who both joined in 2019. With three EPs and the full-length album Peripety (2015) under their collective belt, the band now ventures forth on Liminal Rite. The style of music they play has received a variety of labels ranging from progressive metal to atmospheric deathcore and on to the catch-all post-metal. Most recently, deathgaze has been frequently leveraged as a description. As with most successful bands, the music of Kardashev has been growing and evolving with the passage of time.

There are eight principal tracks, an intro, and two interstitials on the new album. The story is spoken by drummer Sean Lang, and the music surrounds these establishing ideas. Talking about the narrative, Nico Mirolla says, “Liminal Rite explores how the past can both wound and seduce, leading us down a path of self-destruction. It’s an anecdotal tale from a fictional man’s perspective late in life on how perception and reality do not always coalesce. His experience tells a larger message of how our minds often create a false view of the past. Sean’s narration is him expressing the man’s perception and recollection of life. The failure of his memory, the nature of dementia, and how it plays into his experience are all encapsulated by the narrative sections.”

The music has a serious air about it, a sense that it is the result of a preponderance of manifest ideas that could not be contained. The spoken word passages begin on the first track, a short ramp into the blistering “Silvered Shadows” where percussion blasts and riffs rail against it all. Melodic vocals sweeten the harsh realities that are made solid by the growling, croaking singing that follows. The mixture is the paradigm throughout.

Stand-out tracks for me are “Lavender Calligraphy,” which is hopeful sounding and “Compost Grave-song,” which is the opposite. The final two tracks together run over twenty minutes, “A Vagabond’s Lament” and “Beyond The Passage Of Embers.” Taken together they lift my respect for this album, which was already climbing with each song that came before. The music here is challenging and exceptional, and not to be missed. Recommended.

Liminal Rite is out on Saturday, June 11th through Metal Blade Records. Examine the many varieties of physicals at the links below.

Links.

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

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

Kardashev website, https://kardashevband.com/

Metal Blade Records, https://www.metalblade.com/kardashev/

© Wayne Edwards

Kardashev, Liminal Rite (Metal Blade 2022)

Monasterium, Cold Are The Graves (Nine Records 2022)

Cold Are The Graves is the new album from doom powerhouse Monasterium.

Hailing from Kraków, Poland, Monasterium is an epic doom band that formed in 2014. Up to now they have released two full-length albums, including their self-titled debut in 2016 and Church Of Bones in 2019. Known for grand and sweepingly dramatic doom metal compositions, Monasterium walks the world revealing dark secrets in a shroud of arcane mystery. The band is Michał Strzelecki (vocals), Tomasz Gurgul (guitars), Filip Malinowski (bass), and Maciej Berniak (drums).

There are eight compelling songs on the new album, beginning with “The Stigmatic.” Strzelecki’s voice is the pillar the guitar riffs surround, establishing an emblematic insistence that is returned to frequently throughout the record. The pace is measured and the rhythm is sturdy, granular. It is a bit like a doom version of a combination of Ronnie James Dio and King Diamond, told in a lower tone. “Cimmeria” follows and the pace accelerates. This song puts me in mind of 1980s era dark fantasy metal, reminiscent in some ways of early Fates Warning in its slower tempo moments. Excellent, pushing and surging metal.

“The Great Plague” brings us back to darker times, and structures its composition in a somber theatrical stance. “Seven Swords of Wayland,” on the other hand, has the feel of an adventure tale to it even as it retains a serious menace, rather in the manner of Iron Maiden, you might say, in their extended pieces. And then “Remembered” is completely different, with a sorrowful gentleness and the pervasive worry of loss.

“The Siege” marches out and “Necronomicon” angles the fear of eternal torment toward our visage. The danger seems very real in the listening, and the lead guitar work here is the most compelling so far. The album ends on the title track, the longest and most musically diverse piece of the set. The elements that define the band really come together here, from the solid doom to the elegant lead guitar to the stalwart vocals. This final song closes the curtain with a memorable flourish. Recommended.

Cold Are The Graves is out on Nine Records on Friday, June 10th. Check it out at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ninerecords.bandcamp.com/album/cold-are-the-graves

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

Nine Records, http://shop.nine-records.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Monasterium, Cold Are The Graves (Nine Records 2022)

Gwar, The New Dark Ages (Pit Records 2022)

The mighty Gwar has returned to scorch the earth once again with their 15th album, The New Dark Ages.

Richmond, Virginia monstrosities of metal, Gwar, entered the universe in 1984. Prophetic year, wouldn’t you say? These costumed warriors have been entertaining fans with punk, hard rock, and metal music, and especially their stage performances, all these years. There have been changes along the way, including the devastating loss of founding member Dave Brockie in 2014. Through it all they have never faltered, and they continue now as strong as ever on the Black Death Rager World Tour.

What’s this band all about, you might wonder, if somehow you’ve never come across them before. Here is a snip of the bio from their Metal Blade Records page that will catch you up. “The story of GWAR is carved across the history of this barren and hopeless planet, but GWAR themselves are not of this world … their story begins in the deepest reaches of outer space. Long ago, the beings who would become the rock band GWAR were part of an elite fighting force, the Scumdogs of the Universe. For eons, they served as thralls to a supreme being known only as the Master. But one by one, each future member of the band earned a glaring reputation for being an intergalactic fuck-up. And so, they were banished, sent away on a fool’s errand to conquer an insignificant shitball floating in a dark corner of the universe: the planet Earth. Once here, GWAR shaped the face of the globe, destroying and rebuilding the natural world, and giving rise to all of human history. Aliens to some, gods and demons to others, our erstwhile Scumdogs fucked apes to create the human race, and this fateful unplanned pregnancy would prove to be truly disastrous!”

OK, but there is more. Each album is a new story with more adventures. The narrative thread to The New Dark Ages is even detailed in an illustrated missive. “The album concept is tied to a companion graphic novel, GWAR In the Duoverse of Absurdity, which will also be released by Z2 Comics on June 3rd. In the graphic novel the band are sucked off into an alternate universe to do battle with their evil twins and the specter of rogue technology.”

Besides the long arc of the album, each song has a story. “Berserker Mode,” for example. This is what the lead singer himself has to say about the song. “This is my origin story, about transforming into a drug-jacked unpredictable liability on the battlefield. But like me, it has a softer side, a tale of the struggle of becoming my authentic self…a sexy, multi-donged, vajazzzled, Viking cow beast known as…The Berserker Blóthar!!”

Never at a loss for words, Blóthar has this to say about “Motherfucking Liar,” one of my favorite tracks on the album. “This song is for anybody who’s sick of all the pieces of shit talking out of both sides of their mouth. Motherfuck a motherfucking liar.” Were truer words ever spoken? You decide.

There are thirteen songs on the album altogether, including the final epic “Death Whistle Suite.” It is rousing metal that can be used to get your adrenaline flowing, or can be a model for the way you live your life. Heh heh, maybe that live-your-life approach is not such a great idea. Either way, the music is filled with satire and loaded with great riffs and hooks. It is definitely engaging and entertaining.

You can listen to Gwar and take the middle ground. Some people could, anyway. When you see them live, however, you are either in or out because you cannot escape their overwhelming presence on the stage. Neither can you elude the lavishly shared fluids. For my part, count me in. Recommended.

The New Dark Ages is out now through Pit Records. You can get it just about anywhere, and hear it through the usual services. Put it in the queue on your way to their show, because live is the best way to experience Gwar.

Live photos by Wayne Edwards, Piere’s Entertainment Center, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 2022.

Links.

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

Website, https://gwar.net/

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

© Wayne Edwards

Gwar, The New Dark Ages (Pit Records 2022)

Primitive Man at The Monkey House, Winooski, Vermont, May 30th

Denver’s Primitive Man is on the road with Mortiferum, Jarhead Fertilizer, Body Void, and Elizabeth Colour Wheel. Spirit Possession joins in July for several dates as well.

The show at The Monkey House featured the first five bands, beginning with Elizabeth Colour Wheel. It takes a lot to describe Elizabeth Colour Wheel. They are a doom band, I would say, but their approach is unique. The lead singer wanders through the crowd during the performance some of the time – at other times she is playing the keyboard or lying on the ground. There is a great deal of stomping on stage, and shrieking can often be heard. I could go on, but you really need to see the performance live to appreciate it fully. There isn’t much like it out there.

Body Void is well known in Vermont. They are a doom duo, performing as a trio. Teetering on the funeral doom edge some of the time, slow ponderous riffs are abundant in their performance. Their latest album is Bury Me Beneath This Rotting Earth, housing four long tracks all running over twelve minutes each. Their live performance maintains the ambience of the studio recording.

The first thing you notice about Jarhead Fertilizer is the overwhelming assault of percussion that lands hard from the beginning to the end and at all points in between. Their music is a death metal / hardcore / grindcore slam that will shake you fillings loose. This was my first hearing of them and I was left wanting more.

Just when you think you can take a breath, Mortiferum hits the stage and really pins your ears back. Their newest album is Preserved In Torment, and it is a death/doom metal manifesto. I first heard this band on the split they did with Hyperdontia a couple years ago and I have been waiting anxiously to see them live ever since. They were incredible in every aspect. They have made my list of bands I will see whenever possible, and it is a short list.

The headliner stood in posture of contemplation. Primitive Man, touring their Insurmountable album, lived up to what the press has been saying about them. The new EP is exceptional (link to review below), and their doubtless execution of doom leaves you speechless when you witness it. The music seems to emanate from them as a primal force of nature; their instruments are as creatures themselves. Put yourself in their path and you will be changed.

The tour goes on through mid-July so there are many chances to see these bands in action. Don’t miss out.

Photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Primitive Man, https://primitivemandoom.bandcamp.com/album/immersion

FFMB review of Insurmountable, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2022/06/01/primitive-man-insurmountable-closed-casket-activities-2022/

Mortiferum, https://mortiferum.bandcamp.com/

Jarhead Fertilizer, https://jarheadfertilizeroc.bandcamp.com/

Body Void, https://bodyvoid.bandcamp.com/

Elizabeth Colour Wheel, https://elizabethcolourwheel.bandcamp.com/

The Monkey House, https://www.monkeyhousevt.com/calendar

© Wayne Edwards

Primitive Man at The Monkey House, Winooski, Vermont, May 30th

Witchfinder, Endless Garden (Mrs Red Sound 2022)

Hazy stoner doom band Witchfinder cast out their new EP into the world, Endless Garden.

Just a few years ago in France, Witchfinder began creating music with hallmarks of doom, sludge, and heavy psych. Leaning toward the stoner end of the room, they released two full-length albums, a self-titled one in 2017 followed by Hazy Rites in 2019. There is a new long-player on the horizon, and meanwhile they offer Endless Garden. Witchfinder is Clément Mostefai (vocals and bass), Stanislas Franczak (guitar), Thomas Dupuy (drums), and Kevyn Raecke (keys).

There are two long tracks on the new EP beginning with “Eternal Sunset.” Any song that runs nearly eleven minutes will have some change-ups, or an arc, or both. Here we have a quiet opening, reflective music establishing space to expand into. Guitars and keys arrive in due course. There are moments that seem like self-contain songs themselves, and other, longer stretches that feel like a movie soundtrack. The vocals are spacey, almost cavernous at times, adding depth and mystery. The hallmarks of riff-driven stoner rock never stray too far from focus.

“The Maze” starts with a wandering bass, paired with a guitar that looks in a different direction. The mood here is darker than on the first song, instilling trepidation in the listener. The vocals offer what seems like a warning, or at least a sinister tale to put you on your guard. Decisive plodding appears, and is like a marching force on a mission; they will not be swayed. There is a sudden, violent shift at the end, an abrupt black metal moment that signals the conclusion of the conflict.

The band has planned a full-length album for later in the year. These two songs will hold us over until then. It is also a rewarding enterprise to listen to Witchfinder’s earlier albums in the interim. Recommended.

Mrs Red Sound will release Endless Garden on Friday, June 3rd. Bandcamp is a good stop when you are looking for this music.

Links.

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

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

Mrs Red Sound Records, http://mrsredsound.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Witchfinder, Endless Garden (Mrs Red Sound 2022)

Druids, Shadow Work (Pelagic 2022)

A new cauldron full of conjuring boils forth with Shadow Work, the next Druids album.

I would not necessarily have thought to look toward Des Moines, Iowa for ritual doom metal, but that is where you will find it with Druids. Drew Rauch (bass, vocals), Luke Rauch (guitar, vocals), and Keith Rich (drums) are purveyors of more than simply doom. For almost fifteen years, intense, spellbinding sounds have been emanating from the continental middle ground, and later, the mountain west. After three previous long-players, including 2019’s Monument, they have now laid down their most impressive tracks to date with Shadow Work.

Comprised of six long songs and two shortish tracks, the ruminating starts on “Aether.” I get the ritual feel here, from the very beginning. It is not an ayahuasca situation, at least not in my head. There is a meditation and there is also an offering. As the music continues on “Path To R,” “Ide’s Koan,” and especially “Hide,” the mantra is there if you will only hear it; the sentience is present if only you will avail yourself of it. The percussion, driving bass, and illustrious guitar work channel the mainsource and the vocals are guiding calls, relatively rare in the scheme of things but absolutely necessary.

The second half is every bit as pulverizing. “Dance of Skulls” is perhaps my favorite track on the album because of the way it opens your mind, opens into your mind. It is transportative in its declarations and repetitions, imploring you simultaneously to let go and to embrace. “Othenian Blood” is the scariest track, and “Traveller” is an excellent transition to the final movement, “Cloak-Nior Bloom.” It would be bestial to listen to only part of this record. There is meaning in each individual bit, and, while that meaning is preserved within the fullness of the complete experience, it is also enhanced. If you miss this album, you will be diminished. Highly recommended.

Pelagic Records releases Shadow Work today, Friday, June 3rd. Investigate at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://druidsiowa.bandcamp.com/album/shadow-work

Website, https://druidsiowa.com/

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

Pelagic Records, https://pelagic-records.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Druids, Shadow Work (Pelagic 2022)

Sergeant Thunderhoof, This Sceptred Veil (Pale Wizard 2022)

British stoner metal band Sergeant Thunderhoof stomp the terra again with This Sceptred Veil.

Sergeant Thunderhoof has been around for nearly ten years, and in that time they have released three previous full-length albums, an EP, and a split. It was that split I heard first, actually, Ripple Music’s Turned to Stone, Chapter 2: Masamune & Muramasa where they shared a side with Howling Giant. I was captivated by the more-than-twenty-minute song and since have sought out more at every opportunity. This Sceptred Veil is the best music they have produced to date, as far as I am concerned.

There are nine tracks on the new album. “You’ve Stolen The Words” is a wakening. The heavy fuzz arrives almost immediately, conveying the distant mercurial voice, ever melodic and punctuated now and then with exceptional exertion. This is desert stoner music but high plains, I must insist, with mountains near enough by to have an influence. I can feel melancholia in the song.

“Devil’s Daughter” comes next, and it is a little more actively probative, and, additionally, oracle-like. The riffs conceal the solemn thunder leeching from the dark grey clouds edging nearer, largely unnoticed atop the foothills in advance of the spiritual lead guitar line. Fantastic. And then with not a moment to gather yourself, “Absolute Blue” surrounds you with its silken folds. The first three songs establish the necessity that the next six songs be heard.

The album is marvelous – a wondrous, heavy fuzz presence that pulses and undulates and lifts you away. “Foreigner” is filled with power and “Woman Call” is extra bluesy. Every song makes important and impressive use of guitar, and still “Show Don’t Tell” stands a bit apart on that front. The final passages are “Avon & Avalon Parts I & II,” together running over eighteen minutes – could be a full album side. These two deserve a separate review unto themselves (but sadly will not receive it here). Coming where they do in the set, the impact is significant as the story emerges and the mysticism unfolds. This album is amazing, and I hope it reaches the ears of all the people of the earth. Highly recommended.

This Sceptred Veil is out on Friday, June 3rd through Pale Wizard Records.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://sergeantthunderhoof.bandcamp.com/album/this-sceptred-veil

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

Pale Wizard Records, https://palewizard.bigcartel.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Sergeant Thunderhoof, This Sceptred Veil (Pale Wizard 2022)

Primitive Man, Insurmountable (Closed Casket Activities 2022)

Denver doom trio Primitive Man raise massive cliffs of new music on Insurmountable.

Primitive Man took a big swing at the jump with their debut full-length album Scorn in 2013. Since then they have been laying down split after split, demos and EPs, and two more long-players, Caustic (2017) and Immersion (2020). They are not letting any moss grow here. Primitive Man – Ethan Lee McCarthy (guitar and vocals), Jonathan Campos (bass), and Joe Linden (drums) – are a force to be reckoned with.

The new record has three original songs and a cover. “This Life” begins on catastrophic riffs at funeral doom speed. Absolutely pulverizing, but without the implied hopelessness you might expect at this tempo. Don’t get me wrong – it is not encouraging. It is still animate. It speeds up a little here and there but not much. This doom is measured. “Boiled” offers ambient weirdness and disturbances.

“Cage Intimacy” squeals and scratches and writhes. The first vocals are as dark as dark gets. It is a grim giant moving about unaware of the smashing it is doing. Rabid black metal breaks out for a time, then the noise takes over. By the time the doom returns the damage is done. The final cut is “Quiet,” the cover of a Smashing Pumpkins song. It is taken to new heights with Primitive Man at the helm. This is the doom treatment we always knew that song needed.

I saw a live set at The Monkey House in Winooski, Vermont a couple days ago. I’ll pop a couple of photos here, and there is a separate article coming out in a few days about that show with many more photos of Primitive Man and the other bands. Their performance was massively heavy, and the show balanced the music nicely, alternating between doom, death metal, and other adventures.

Insurmountable is out now through Closed Casket Activities. Pick up the new EP, and see Primitive Man on tour now supported by Mortiferum, Jarhead Fertilizer, Body Void, and Elizabeth Colour Wheel. Check out the tour poster below for upcoming cities, dates, and supporting band roster.

Live photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

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

Website, https://www.primitivemandoom.com/

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

Closed Casket Activities, https://closedcasketactivities.com/

The Monkey House, https://www.monkeyhousevt.com/calendar/

© Wayne Edwards

Primitive Man, Insurmountable (Closed Casket Activities 2022)

Killswitch Engage, Live At The Palladium (Metal Blade 2022)

Killswitch Engage releases the recording of their 2021 Palladium livestream event this week.

Do you remember last year? The pandemic was still roughing us up, sort of like it still is today. Back then, though, there were more restrictions than there are right now on live music so we fans were treated to a number of livestream events to offset the sadness of not getting together in person. I remember the Clutch livestreams particularly, and there were many other bands following suit. A few were captured for posterity, including the August 6, 2021 performance by Killswitch Engage at The Palladium in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Coming together on the cusp of the new millennium, Killswitch Engage has had an enormous impact on heavy music. Over the years they have released eight full-length albums and a heaping helping of splits and EPs. Typically labeled metalcore, the aggressive musical presentations of heavy metal were formative for the category. I have been lucky enough to see them several times at festivals and, if a choice has to be made when two bands are playing at the same time, Killswitch Engage is probably going to get the nod. The band is Jesse Leach (vocals), Adam Dutkiewicz (guitar), Joel Stroetzel (guitar), Mike D’Antonio (bass), and Justin Foley (drums).

This show was very different, not only because of it being a livestream but also because of the content. The set included both the Atonement (2019) album and the Killswitch Engage (2000) album in full. Talk about bookending. It is an amazing performance and it is incredible fan service with a little surprise toward the end. Beyond the band’s fan base, this concert is a good vehicle for new listeners to jump in. Recommended.

Live At The Palladium is out on Friday, June 3rd through Metal Blade Records on digital, vinyl, and CD/Blu Ray combo. I would get the Blu Ray in order to actually see the show, if it was me. I understand the both attraction of vinyl and the convenience of digital as well. This might be a tough choice. What to do?

Links.

Bandcamp, https://killswitchengage.bandcamp.com/album/live-at-the-palladium

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

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

Metal Blade Records, https://www.metalblade.com/killswitchengage/

© Wayne Edwards

Killswitch Engage, Live At The Palladium (Metal Blade 2022)

Peth, Merchant Of Death (Electric Valley 2022)

The debut album from Texas heavy psych band Peth is an alternate history of the past today.

Apart from the fact that the band has formed recently, there is not a ton of information freely floating about in the ether. There are four of them in the photos, band members. Mmmhmm. You can hear vocals, guitar, bass, and drums in the music. That adds up. If you want to sift through the band’s Facebook page for clues, there is a link below. Let’s have a listen to the album and see what it reveals.

On “Dwarvanaught,” the straight-forward rhythm sets you up for musical imbibement no matter how altered your state. The vocals and general presence in the song put me in mind a little of the band Ancient Days that I saw recently at Black Circle Brewing in Indianapolis – echoey; Eldritch. The lead guitar work is a thing of beauty. “Amok” sneaks up on you like an Amboy Duke, heralding a somewhat older origin than the first song. The guitar is big on this track, too, and it is a bit more questing than before. “Abolish the Overseer” channels Iommi for the opening riff. The otherworldly voice has a different impact in this setting, and still again is an exceptional complement.

“Let Evil In” is a barn burner, and no mistake. The thrusting guitar cracks open the primordial egg and, when you step inside, what you find is a surprise. “Stoned Wizard” is swirling fuzzy darkness filled with muscular riffs. The title track is notable for its execution of Sabbathan classicism. It is a delight. The big closer is the ten-minute epic “Karmic Debt.” It is a patient piece with a couple of killer sequences and a worthy payoff for seekers.

I had a lot of fun listening to this album. It is haunted by the past, heavily. Peth takes this and transforms what might be a curse into a mythic blessing. I will be listening to this album again and looking forward to the next one. Recommended.

Merchant Of Death is out on Friday, May 27th through Electric Valley Records on digital and vinyl.

Links.

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

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Peth.usa

Electric Valley Records, https://www.electricvalleyrecords.com/

The Cosmic Peddler, https://thecosmicpeddler.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Peth, Merchant Of Death (Electric Valley 2022)