Ruby The Hatchet, Live At EarthQuaker (Magnetic Eye Records 2022)

Ruby The Hatchet drops a 7-inch teaser – Live At EarthQuaker – anticipating a new album later this year.

Love at first listen is the way I would describe what I think of Ruby The Hatchet. The first music I heard from the band was Valley of the Snake (2015) and it sent me down the rabbit hole to find everything else that existed by them. The music is lush psychedelic rock, heavy and smooth and soulful. Jillian Taylor’s vocals are haunting and unforgettable, and the guitar-driven environment is one of a kind. The most recent long-player was Planetary Space Child (2017) and that one also still gets heavy rotation at the Shardik Media offices, I can tell you.

The new record has three songs. Two of the tracks are early versions of songs that will be on the upcoming album emerging later this year, and they were recorded live in Akron, Ohio at EarthQuaker Devices – that’s the maker of the pedals Ruby The Hatchet and so many other bands use for tone and effect. The third is a cover of the Uriah Heep standard “Easy Livin’.”

“1000 Years” opens quietly and has a steady build with endearing plateaus. The guitar line is a somber affair, urging drama toward the end. “Primitive Man” is a trippy number that lays on the smooth and rolls up a few rapid punches for you, too. Apparently, these are initial versions of songs that will be on the upcoming album, but they sound finished to me – more great Ruby The Hatchet music.

“Easy Livin’” popped up in 2019 as a stand-alone single. You know the song and, while you can probably imagine what it might sound like when Ruby The Hatchet sings it, the real thing is even better. It is nice to have this take wrapped in with the two new tracks.

Live at EarthQuaker is out now through Magnetic Eye Records in CD, vinyl, and digital. Ruby the Hatchet is on a mini tour right now, bookending with shows opening for Candlemass. See them whenever you can, and make sure you get to Las Vegas this year for Psycho Las Vegas as their performance is certain to be a highlight.

Links.

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

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

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

Magnetic Eye Records, https://us.merhq.net/us/Artists/Ruby-The-Hatchet/Ruby-the-Hatchet-Live-at-Earthquaker.html

Ruby The Hatchet at EarthQuaker, https://www.earthquakerdevices.com/ruby-the-hatchet

© Wayne Edwards

Ruby The Hatchet, Live At EarthQuaker (Magnetic Eye Records 2022)

Greenbeard, Variant (Sailor Records 2022)

Greenbeard gives us Variant, a bluesy album with heavy desert grooves and many unexpected turns.

From Austin, Texas, Greenbeard is Chance Parker (guitar, vocals), Buddy Hachar (drums), Pat Seals (bass), and Joe Samson (guitar). They have been stalking the stage for a few years now and have released several albums, including 2014’s self-titled EP, Stoned At The Throne (2015), Lödarödböl (2016), and then another EP, Onward Pillager (2018). The new set covers quite a bit of ground, and showcases both the songwriting and performance talents of the band.

Let’s track-by-track this one, shall we? “Creatures of the Night” charges right at you with a groovy hard psych attitude that is almost like a fuzzy surf version of acid rock. It cooks, and the lead breaks are a joy to hear. “Burns Like Basketweave” is spacier than the opener, with a pushing, buzzy throb. The dream sequence just past the center is a tribute to psychic exploration. “Get in the car. No time to explain.” Now this is a driving song, and I guess that shouldn’t be a surprise given the title. There is a slow, catchy vamp in the middle that goes bluesy and walks back that driving-down-the-road feel in exchange for a whole different vibe. The backing vocals will give you chills.

“Diamond in the Devil’s Grinder” is a slow heavy blues number. A beautiful song with amazing guitar segments and an unforgettable saxophone. The tempo gets whipped up in the final third for a big finish. “Sanitario de la Soul” sends you on a long, deep path of self-reflection. “Exodus” brings back the push and the heavy roll. The buzz in the guitar is on the roar again. It has a great climbing chorus that sets up a blistering lead guitar break-out.

The last song is “Bare Bones.” It starts with a clang and rings on with high energy riffs that sound amazing even when lights come back on. Put me down for a “hell yes” on Greenbeard. This album is excellent. Recommended.

Variant emerges April 9th through Sailor Records in the US and Kozmik Artifactz in Europe.

Band photo by Dave Creaney.

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

Greenbeard website, http://www.greenbeardtheband.com/

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

Sailor Records, https://www.sailorrecords.com/

© Wayne Edwards.

Greenbeard, Variant (Sailor Records 2022)

Thangorodrim, Liberation of Unbound Chaos 666 (Blood Blast 2021)

California mystical rock band Thangorodrim conjure a mesmerizing debut album with Liberation of Unbound Chaos 666.

The new release is the first long-player from Thangorodrim, but they have released two previous EPs – their self-titled effort in 2015 and Soul Of Fire the following year. They have been on a trajectory toward Liberation of Unbound Chaos 666 for a few years. The band is bassist and guitarist S.K.B. and vocalist C.G. BloodCrown. The drummer for the recording sessions is credited as C. C.

The album has eleven long tracks with the shortest being in the five minute range and the longest running over thirteen minutes. There is plenty to hear here so you can acquaint yourself with the band’s music if you have never heard it before.

The music starts with “Through The Devil’s Door”: a slightly clangy ritualistic premise captures your attention and then the searching vocal filaments work their way in. The music is slow and insinuating for about three minutes where it turns more urgent and engaging. Toward the end there is a discordant outro. In general, the music is guitar-driven rock with persistent desert rock stylings. The guitars are sometimes heavy but it would be a stretch to call it metal.

With so much content you can expect a rich journey – I could write a thousand words on every song. There are many passages that land in the stoner space and others that are clearly more psychedelic. The musicians have a lot to say and they are patient. They go in whichever direction gets their point across best. The trip takes about an hour and a half and I have done it twice so far. I think I’ll do it again. I am going to use that word once more: this music is mesmerizing. Once you get started it is hard to put down. Recommended.

Liberation of Unbound Chaos 666 sees full release on Friday, November 5th through Nuclear Blast Records’ digital arm, Blood Blast Distribution. Bandcamp is a handy place to pick it up, along with merch and bundles.

Photo by S. Zamora.

Links.

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

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

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/c/ThangorodrimOfficial

Thangorodrim, Liberation of Unbound Chaos 666 (Blood Blast 2021)

High Desert Queen, Secrets of the Black Moon (Ripple Music 2021)

Groovy, fuzzy, and ever soulful, High Desert Queen brings its music to the masses with Secrets of the Black Moon.

Austin, Texas desert rockers High Desert Queen are fairly new to the scene but have already landed a firm position in the melee. Mystery surrounds the band with only sparse photographic evidence and in-person experience to speak on their essence. Setting aside the who, what, and when, listening to their music is what really pays off.

There are seven songs and a quirky element on Secrets of the Black Moon. First up: “Heads Will Roll.” Confident riffs greet you along with a general fuzziness and a welcoming vocal entreaty – you gotta roll my head, it says. All right then. “The Mountain Vs. The Quake” is the story of achievement and “As We Roam” echoes a secret without revealing it completely. All of this is wrapped in an irresistible package of hypnotic guitar rhythm and lead. It is hard rock, indeed, and desert rock, for sure, and you might find there is a state-altering component too if you listen for it.

Side two road a little harder on me, and I liked it. “Skyscraper” offers up a very heavy riff at the start paired with gentle, coaxing vocals. “The Wheel” has the swing of doom, broadcasting as it does a deep and somber tone and vocal melancholia. “Bury The Queen,” an ode, churns slowly like the purposefully roiling of the primordial ocean, manifesting a formless creation to the endless wonder of a newly interested universe. The music can be thought provoking if you want to take it that way, or you can just ride along and let it be part of you. The choice is yours and there are no wrong answers. Recommended.

Secrets of the Black Moon is out now through Ripple Music. You can snag your copy from the label’s Big Cartel site or through the ever-ready Bandcamp.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/secrets-of-the-black-moon

High Desert Queen website, https://highdesertqueen.com/

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

Ripple Music, https://ripplemusic.bigcartel.com/product/high-desert-queen-secrets-of-the-black-moon-deluxe-vinyl-editions

High Desert Queen, Secrets of the Black Moon (Ripple Music 2021)

Crystal Spiders, Morieris (Ripple Music 2021)

The second Crystal Spiders album, Morieris, is an even bigger deal than the first.

The duo Crystal Spiders released their first long-player just last year, Molt. I listened to that album as recently as two weeks ago. It has been on my mind ever since it came out. There is just something about the music that mesmerizes and lingers in your mind. The phrase “highly anticipated” doesn’t really capture my state of mind leading up to the drop date of the new album, Morieris.

The band is Brenna Leath (bass) and Tradd Yancey (drums). Joining them for the session on guitar is Mike Dean. There is also a guest appearance by High Priestess Nighthawk of Heavy Temple on cello.

The first song of the set starts out spacey and groovy, leaning into the mystery with hypnotic vocals and spell-casting guitar. That’s the title track. “Septix” comes next and lays a commanding bass up front to set the stage, turning into a rambler after ninety seconds or so – the perfect accompaniment for a drive down a dark country road at night alone.

“Harness” brings the doom and then shifts to high-test. The middle section of reflective solo work is a breath before the charge starts again. Indeed there is a lot of up-tempo music on this album, offering an excellent balance to the more ethereal passages. “Pandora,” for example, is a two minute rager that perfectly sets up the epic “En Medias Res,” a song that takes all the time it needs, offering desert overtones and tantalizing strings over eight sumptuous minutes.

“Maelstrom” and “Golden Paw” are the final two songs, the former being a super fuzzy, adrenaline-fueled spectacle and the latter a contemplative cool-down. Having heard Molt we might have been able to anticipate the general form on the new album but we could not have known its breadth and depth. Morieris is excellent in every way – concept, composition, and execution. Highly recommended with no reservations.

Morieris is out now through Ripple Music. Bandcamp and the Ripple store are linked below. You know how this works – the physicals often go fast so if you are a collector you want to jump on it.

Band photo by Marissa Straw.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://crystalspiders.bandcamp.com/album/morieris

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

Ripple Music, https://ripplemusic.bigcartel.com/product/crystal-spiders-morieris-deluxe-vinyl-editions

FFMB review of Molt, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2020/09/28/crystal-spiders-molt-review-ripple-music-2020/

Crystal Spiders, Morieris (Ripple Music 2021)

Witchcryer, When Their Gods Come For You (Ripple Music 2021)

Austin, Texas heavy metal band Witchcryer offer up a new set of songs filled with beguiling incursions.

Witchcryer has its origins in the upper Midwest with guitarist Jason Muxlow and saw its completion a little farther south with Javi Moctezuma (drums), Marilyn (bass), and Suzy Bravo (vocals). There is a heavy doom in the atmosphere and desert rock in the stylings. But then, see, the vocalizations often come in from another realm entirely, and there are transitions you wouldn’t expect from a doom or desert rock band. So this then is Witchcryer, its own category. Their inaugural album, Cry Witch, set a high bar and the new one, When Their Gods Come For You, sails right over it.

There are eight songs on the album and every one of them has its own way of taking you over. The clomp and wallop of “Hellmouth” is quantitatively mesmerizing. When the vocal enters it seeks your ears like an shaman’s ayahuasca chant. “Nemesis, The Inevitable” is a deadly serious declaration delivered with such surety it is almost matter-of-fact, as if this statement of intent has already happened. It’s right in the title, I guess: inevitable.

“The Devil & The Deep Blue See” lures with a mystic enheartening almost solemn in nature while “I Rise!” is a full-force charge at resistance, ending in conquest and victory. And then there is the title track which anchors the set. It begins gently, patiently. The music builds hypnotically, unnoticed until you start to feel the walls shaking around you. Quiet again, and then another swell. Suzy Bravo makes everything believable, her every word, and Jason Muxlow seals the story with mesmerizing guitar work. When Their Gods Come For You is definitely one of the best desert-doom-heavy-dark-blues-metal-rock albums of the year. Highly recommended.

Out now from Ripple Music, you can catch up at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/when-their-gods-come-for-you

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

Ripple Music, https://ripplemusic.bigcartel.com/product/witchcryer-when-their-gods-come-for-you-deluxe-vinyl-editions

Witchcryer, When Their Gods Come For You (Ripple Music 2021)

Ripplefest Texas, August 7, 2021

Taking place at the Texas Ski Ranch in New Braunfels, Texas, Ripplefest is going to be a day of crushing music.

The line-up will eat you alive: Mothership, Wino, Freedom Hawk, Howling Giant, Void Vator, Bone Church, Witchcryer, Holy Death Trio, Thunderhorse, Switchblade Jesus, Forming the Void, High Desert Queen, Mr Plow, and Fostermother.

We have reviewed many of these bands in the past year or two and this will surely be a festival to remember. Get ready for some of the best desert, doom, heavy music there is.

At this writing there were still tickets available. Hit the link below before it is too late.

Ripplefest Texas Tickets, http://www.outhousetickets.com/Event/17387-Ripplefest_Texas/

Ripple Music, https://ripplemusic.bigcartel.com/products

© Wayne Edwards.

Ripplefest Texas, August 7, 2021

Stöner, Stoners Rule (Heavy Psych Sounds Records 2021)

The natural progression from Live In The Mojave Desert is Stöner’s first studio album, Stoners Rule.

If you like stoner metal/rock then you like what the musicians in this new band do because Brant Bjork and Nick Oliveri pioneers of the sound and style. Both are founding members of Kyuss and, along with Ryan Güt, they are putting down the smoothest desert stoner groove there is.

The new album was recorded last Fall in Joshua Tree, California, and it sounds like it. You can feel the desert insisting and infusing and simply being there when you listen.

There are seven laid-back tracks on Stoners Rule, covering a range of subjects that appear to have emerged from the flowing consciousness that overtakes you in the desert under the right circumstances. In each, a steady bed of rhythm provides a solid base for vocal and guitar explorations.

“Rad Stays Rad” and “Nothin’” are the first songs that made their way into the airwaves and cyber pathways. They are good representations of the music on the album. I have an affection for “Stand Down” for the way it rambles, and you cannot miss the thirteen-minute closer, “Tribe / Fly Girl” that one takes a deep dive into your psyche. The lead guitar is a mystical spell spoken in six strings that transports you far away from anything that was bothering you on this earthly plane.

Stöner is on tour with Clutch (and King Buffalo in the northeast) this Fall – you don’t want to miss this show if you are a heavy music fan. Let’s go.

Stoners Rule is out now from Heavy Psych Sounds Records with the quick digital at the ready from Bandcamp. Highly recommended.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com/album/st-ner-stoners-rule

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

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

Heavy Psych Sounds Records, https://www.heavypsychsounds.com/

Stöner, Stoners Rule (Heavy Psych Sounds Records 2021)

Robots Of The Ancient World, Mystic Goddess (Small Stone Records 2021)

The sophomore album from Portland, Oregon’s Robots of the Ancient World finds the deepest desert grooves and sets them lose on the world.

The band is Caleb Weidenbach (vocals), Nico Schmutz (guitar), Justin Laubscher (guitar), Trevor Berecek (bass), and Harry Silvers (drums). The new album is their second long-player, following Cosmic Riders (2019) and a couple of EPs before that. The music is laid back guitar-driven desert stoner rock with fantastic and doomy palliative ordinances.

There are eight tracks on Mystic Goddess, all them fuzzy in their own way. Some songs start off on a peppy clip like “Agua Caliente” and others put the steady groove up front instead, as in “Wasteland.” However it starts you know you’ll find the guitars in there and Caleb Weidenbach’s mesmerizing voice, reminding you a little of an especially melodic Glenn Danzig. There is always a lolling riff that is mysteriously admirably energetic and a sparking lead break to look forward to as well.

The long song is “Lucifyre” logging in at nearly eleven minutes. Dressed in soft doom and saturated with mournfulness, the Eastern influences of the tune add an exotic tint to listening Western ears. It is definitely my favorite piece on the album. The final three minutes is given over to a fading essence slowly disappearing behind a voiceover. The wrap-up to the set is “Ordo Ab Khao,” a somber and thoughtful song to drift you on out to wherever you are going next. If you time its final notes to the bottom of your pipe then you have achieved perfection. Recommended.

Mystic Goddess is fully realized on Friday May 21st, so ready yourself. Get the new album at the Small Stone Records link below and the earlier music on Bandcamp.

Band photo by Eddie Brnabic.

Links.

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

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

Small Stone Records, https://smallstone.com/release/ss-185-robots-of-the-ancient-world-mystic-goddess/

Robots Of The Ancient World, Mystic Goddess (Small Stone Records 2021)

Earthless, Live In The Mojave Desert (Giant Rock Records 2021)

Volume 1 of the Live In The Mojave Desert albums is the Earthless set and it is a nova.

The Live In The Mojave Desert project gathered five bands in a remote location, recorded live sets and filmed the isolated performances. The model for this was Pink Floyd’s famous Live At Pompeii, which had no audience. In addition to Earthless, the other bands are Nebula, Spirit Mother, Mountain Tamer, and Stoner, all getting video and audio releases.

Earthless is Mario Rubalcaba (drums), Isaiah Mitchell (guitars), and Mike Eginton (bass). I started listening to them for their long-form instrumental rock/metal compositions. More recently they have occasionally included vocals. The music is desert groove, heavy psych mystical guitar-laden jams. It is the kind of thing that can really take you away.

The set includes three songs, “Violence Of The Red Sea” (16:52), “Sonic Prayer” (21:02), and “Lost In The Cold Sun” (39:09). If you are an Earthless fan then you have heard these all before, especially “Sonic Prayer.” You also know, if you’re a fan, that every time the band plays a song you have heard before it is different – the familiarity is there, important segments and melodies and movements, and still it is new and different. Every time. That is one of the main reasons why I listen to Earthless so often. I know the music and it is always new. Highly recommended.

Nuclear Blast Records is in charge of the digital and the physicals come from Giant Rock Records. There are many different versions out there. I suggest watching the video in addition to listening because seeing the performance is in line with the original intention of the project and I believe it enhances your experience. If you want a keeper for the video, a blu-ray edition is being produced.

Band photo by Atiba Jefferson.

Links.

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

Earthless website, https://www.earthlessofficial.com/

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

Giant Rock Records, https://www.liveinthemojavedesert.com/

Streaming links, https://earthless.bfan.link/live-in-the-mojave-desert

Earthless, Live In The Mojave Desert (Giant Rock Records 2021)