Satyrus, Rites review (2020)

Italian doom project Satyrus release their first ode, Rites.

The members of Satyrus have been/are actively involved in other bands, largely focusing on non-doom subgenres like death metal, industrial, prog, hardcore punk, thrash, and so on. They have come together here to feed their need for pure doom. The musicians are Frankie Pizzimenti (guitar), Freddy Fish (bass), Gianni Passafiume (vocals), and Morgan Perrone (drums).

There is not an enormous amount of information floating around in the States about these four, apart from some of their previous associations and the fact that Facebook reports their hometown location as Palermo. That site also lists their influences as Black Sabbath and Coven. That has the ring of truth.

Rites is a self-released collection of five long songs that all boil in black blood of the earth. The opener is “Black Satyrus,” twelve minutes of mystical incantations, sinister intimations, and fuzzy dread. It has a slow build culminating in a lead solo that pierces the swollen cocoon that has been woven by the lead up. “Shovel” follows with a more determined thrust and a faster tempo. The lead guitar is positively frenetic for a doom song. That, in fact, is a characteristic of the album that you do not always see in music with this label: an active and independent lead guitar. It keeps you engaged in the music and also prevents you from dissolving into yourself from the mesmerizing bass and riffs.

I mark “Stigma” as the stand-out track on this release. It has a crunchy stomp and an almost bluesy vocal line. The lead guitar breaks come is as melody, another voice. About a third of the way through the song, the cadence shifts to an urgent anxiety only to be surrounded and soon encased in fuzzy riffs. A catastrophe occurs in the final third where grating animalistic noises are heard and then put to an end by ranging new beat. It’s a trip.

Available now at Bandcamp and Soundcloud, and also streaming on Spotify, Rites is a welcome addition to doom lore. Recommended.

Links.

https://www.facebook.com/satyrusdoom/

https://satyrus-occult.bandcamp.com/album/rites

Satyrus, Rites review (2020)

Sorge, review (2020)

Directly from DC to you, heavy eclectics Sorge release their debut EP.

Coalescing in 2017, Sorge has been engineering a swelling evolution in sludge and doom. The band is Christian Pandtle (bass), Joshua Gerras (guitars and vocals), Mike Romadka (drums), Logan Boucher (lead guitars), and Jake Filderman (synthesizers). That’s a lot of musical firepower, and they use it all. The keys and sounds wrap around and through the traditional heavy music instruments, fomenting resolutions undiscovered in other places. Gerras’ voice puts me sometimes in mind of David Eugene Edwards (that’s a deep pull, folks – you’ll probably have to look that up), but he sets it in these exploratory compositions perfectly. Joined with the insistent rhythm and the churning guitars and the synth, the result sounds like what might emerge in nature after a cosmic incident.

There are four long songs on the EP, taking the minute count to almost full-length measures. The wake-up is “Faith of a Heretic,” a complete introduction to the Sorge way of doing things. The song has a classic doom intro, then the beat picks up and the vocals change. The lead guitar walks you in another direction before the synth steps in to shine jagged light on the story. “A Horse In Turin” and “Argent” (my favorite track) hold the middle ground, expanding on ideas presented up front. The closer, “Astral Burnout,” has the heaviest feel to me, and it is the most up-tempo. Guitars rule in this landscape, and the doom riffs are pepped up by the lead work near the end. This set is an excellent beginning for the band, showing talent and promise. Recommended.

You can grab the new Sorge EP at Bandcamp and the usual places tomorrow, Friday June 5. There is talk of physical versions of the album coming out down the road but right now it’s the digital. Hearing it is the most important thing.

Band photo by Matt Carter.

Links.

https://www.facebook.com/sorgedc

https://sorgedc.bandcamp.com

Sorge, review (2020)

Witnesses, Doom II review (2020)

The latest from Witnesses is a dark and gloomy affair, and it is one you’ll be glad you had.

Greg Schwan is the force behind Witnesses – he is the composer and he plays many of the instruments, with a few collaborators and guests, including Matt Kozar (Ebow and guitars), Kody Ternes (vocals), and Scott Loose (making an appearance on the title track). The music is hard to pigeonhole, although it can certainly be described in the case of Doom II as doom metal expanded along (and crossed over) additional lines. It is bleak and full of misery and suffering. If that sounds intriguing, then we are getting somewhere.

“On This Black Ocean” opens with one minute of heavy, crushing riffs, steady and all doom. The music breaks to a bass line and a melodic voice that begins the narrative. This is a theme album, with a clear dramatic arc. From the published summary, “The album consists of six songs about a plague born at sea, which makes it to land, to a village that hopes its story will not be forgotten.” Timely. “On this black ocean / we were sent with a warning / but days ago we lost sight of the shore / the captain went mad / and down below they’re showing signs.” The juxtaposition of the soft voice and the plague theme along with the sudden clubbing guitars is not merely compelling, it is captivating. “I Hope Their Prayers Aren’t Answered” is next, and it begins in a frantic clapping frenzy. The doom settles in and the story continues. In the middle of this 11+ minute song, madness and fear take hold, and the music is discordant at times. The first half ends with the title track, a single cymbal note repeated, then desperate passages; percussion, violins, and the guitar again. The devastating guitar. And there we are, not halfway through yet.

Look, this is not a traditional doom album. It is not catchy. But the compositions are fully realized, rendered, and fascinating, and the theme and music are heavy. I think it is excellent. What I am going to do now is dig up everything I can find that Greg Schwan has published and listen to it. Recommended.

Doom II is out today, Sunday May 31. Bandcamp has it, and Soundcloud and Spotify. Imperil your expectations and listen.

Links.

https://witnesses-nyc.bandcamp.com/album/doom-ii

https://www.facebook.com/witnesses.nyc/

Witnesses, Doom II review (2020)

High Priestess, Casting the Circle Review (Ripple Music, 2020)

The new album from High Priestess is the next step in their atmospheric doom ensemble that will take you to places you have never been before.

High Priestess is a three-piece band from Los Angeles: Katie Gilchrest (guitars, vocals, organ), Mariana Fiel (bass, vocals), and Megan Mullins (drums, percussion). Their first album, High Priestess, met with significant praise in 2018 for its rich compositions and boundary-challenging style. The guitars and themes of the music are heavy yet often the music is deceptively gentle at times, insinuative. Many of the passages in their songs have a deep desert aura and are mesmerizing to the point of hypnosis. And still the heavy is in there, and so is the doom.

The new album is Casting the Circle.The opening track, fittingly titled “Casting the Circle,” is a somber meditation for the first couple of minutes, and then it opens up into an aerial view of an encamped army on a low sloping hillside at dusk with campfires just beginning to appear. “Erebus” follows and it definitely feels like a dark ritual and a spell. Fitting, given the name. Very mystical and creepy. Halfway through the 9+ minute song, a forlorn guitar bleeds into the soundscape and tells a story of blood magic and sadness. The mood is heavy in these first two pieces. In the third song, “The Hourglass,” there is more of a narrative message and the song structure is rather Floydian, to an expanding positive effect.

The centerpiece of the album is the 17 minute “Invocation.” It is a long journey that is well rewarded. The parameters are established early, and by the five minute mark the band is working in a beautiful and intoxicating guitar lead before transitioning into the choral mantra of the cycle. By the end you have become an initiate. The album closes with “Ave Satanas,” an echoey acapella conclusion of beautiful, overlaid voices. As a whole, Casting the Circle is entirely satisfying. It is complete in its construction and execution. It is original and captivating, so much so that it lodges itself among your memories and in your desires. This is one you will not soon forget. Recommended.

The CD and vinyl, as well as streaming and digital download, are available today, April 10, 2020. You can get them at Bandcamp and the usual other outlets (links below).

Photo: The band photo is from their Facebook page, by @roadrash666.

Links.

http://www.highpriestessmusic.com

https://highpriestessmusic.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/highpriestessmusic/

High Priestess, Casting the Circle Review (Ripple Music, 2020)

A Quick Look at Clouds Taste Satanic

What got me started on this was the reissue of The Glitter of Infinite Hell which dropped a few weeks ago. It had been out of print for a while (in the physical) so the new issue is great for fans. I listened to it again, and started (figuratively) thumbing through the rest of the catalogue. It made me want to do a flash review of their every release. So here we are.

Firstly, Clouds Taste Satanic is an instrumental doom band that came together in Brooklyn in 2013. The members include Steve Scavuzzo (guitar), Sean Bay (bass), Greg Acampora (drums), and Brian Bauhs (guitars). I am a giant fan of instrumental metal music and CTS is one of the best bands doing it. What really stands out about their music is that when you are listening to it you do not spend any time waiting to hear vocals because you aren’t thinking about them and you genuinely don’t miss them at all. These compositions are specifically designed to create emotion, content, and context without voice, and they work to dramatic and powerful effect. I have written just a couple sentences on each release about what my first thoughts were listening to them again today. I think you should listen for yourself and see what they do to you. I do not have a favorite on this list. They all sound great to me.

To Sleep Beyond The Earth (2014). This is one long song in four parts, a total of 44 minutes and 51 seconds. The first part sets up the conflict while the second is reflective. The third part to me seems like the argument where opposing positions are voiced and fought over. In the final part, the conclusion is far from inevitable but you could guess at it successfully and it does bring everything together. The album is heavy, solid doom and it is a loud signal of what was to follow.

Your Doom Has Come (2015). This album has six songs of varying lengths which are not necessarily related to each other. Overall, it is more aggressive than the first album, especially songs like “One Third of the Sun” and “Beast from the Sea” which are like a punch in the face as well as a kick in the head. Louder and angrier in tone, this music is a new space for the band.

Dawn Of The Satanic Age (2016). What I hear in this music is a march to power. A steady campaign toward a goal. As with the previous release, there are six songs on this album, and here they have the shortest average running time of all the material to date. It is almost like they are building blocks, or are part of a sort of chrysalis that will become something else. It is all about going somewhere, becoming something bigger.

The Glitter Of Infinite Hell (2017). There are four songs on this album, “Greed,” “Treachery,” “Violence,” and “Wrath,” each running in the 18 minute range. It begins and ends with a deadly sin, and in the middle we have betrayal and (presumably) bloodshed. I’d say these certainly go together thematically. The music in every song calls out to form a golem that carries out the deed, an avatar that conjures the elemental essence of the concept.

Evil Eye (April 2019). In the first of two releases last year, there are two songs, about twenty minutes each. “Evil Eye” is as creepy and sinister as the title implies, creating an atmosphere of dread and a constant feeling of peril and impending disaster. It is like listening to a dramatic, horror-filled play. “Pagan Worship” is more solemn and casts the mind’s eye toward a broader spectrum of endeavor with an under-bite of sadness. It is also fraught with inevitability, especially in the second half.

Second Sight (October 2019). In the second release of 2019 there are again two songs, this time a little over twenty minutes each. “Second Sight” is a vigorous caprice, endlessly energetic. It has more changes, turns, and shifts than I could count and is filled with endless surprise. “Black Mass” starts not with a fade in but with the drop of a heavy hammer. The guitar, bass, and drums keep that hammer pounding throughout, and the overlay of piercing leads details the message. The music turns ceremonial about 14 minutes in before snapping into the blistering final movement. This is the band’s sixth full-length release and there is no sign of repetition or slowing of creativity.

So there you have it. Six doom albums, all finding different ways to express human and mystical consequences of being. You can listen to Clouds Taste Satanic music anytime – in the background or with deliberative and precise focus. Loud or quiet, day or night. All their music is available on streaming services, and there are some physical copies floating around out there, but there a little hard to find sometimes – the very inspiration for the Glitter reissue. Highly recommended.

Links.

https://cloudstastesatanic.com/

https://cloudstastesatanic.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/CloudsTasteSatanic/

A Quick Look at Clouds Taste Satanic

T-Shirt Inventory, First Wave

We started posting photos of t-shirts a couple weeks ago on social media, you know, to smash the boredom down a little since there is no live music right now. Why not post them here, too? Witness, then, Wave One.

Tomb Mold, Planetary Clairvoyance
High On Fire, the Purple Orchid Shirt
Earth Rocker 1 Festival Shirt
Cult of Luna, Scary Owl Shirt
Carolina Rebellion, The Final Festival

T-Shirt Inventory, First Wave

Death the Leveller, II, Review

Death The Leveller is an Irish doom metal band that has found the perfect name to describe the vibe and turn of its music. Clear, resonant vocals travel over the solid ground of heavy guitars and steadying percussion to convey elegantly the profound message of mortality.

The name of the band comes from a poem (published in 1646) with the same title written by James Shirley, an English dramatist. Shirley tells us in the poem what we already know but we like to pretend isn’t true: death will claim us all, and in that sense, we are all the same. Death is the great leveler. This theme is fertile ground to plow for a doom metal band.

In some ways, Death the Leveller is a continuation of the band Mael Mórdha, from which three members of the current line-up came: Dave Murphy (bass), Shane Cahill (drums), and Gerry Clince (guitars). Denis Dowling joined on vocals, and the band released its first album, I, through Journey’s End Records in 2017. Although it is referred to as an EP, the four songs on I total almost 40 minutes and that makes a full-length release in my book. Compared to the last Mael Mórdha release, I was more somber, more ponderous, and had no whistle. The thematic focus has tightened, too, and the attitude engendered by the name of the new band showed through on all the tracks.

The new release, II (Cruz Del Sur Music, 2020), is an expansion of the ideas from the formative release. Soaked with melancholy, the songs have the sense of epic ballads and the stories of loss and tragedy. This is not folk metal in any way, though. It is heavier. It is doom. The first song, “The Hunt Eternal,” sees life as an endless hunt where everyone plays a part: Are you predator or prey? This notion is fundamentally human. What the song brings out is the truth that the hunter/hunted, predator/prey relationship is also animalistic, and the proposition that this conflict is eternal. The music gave me a deep sense of solitude which is a juxtaposition to the universal nature of the roles – we all share in the situation and at the same time we are all alone. Primed by the opener, the second song, “The Golden Bough,” named after the famous mystical book, carries you away into the ether in the first half then blasts you with lightning in the second when the guitars turn sharper and more aggressive before finishing off with a shroud of pure desolation. “So They May Face The Rising Sun” is a bit more funereal at the beginning and the end, while the final song, “The Crossing,” is nearly an homage to the earlier album, but it is laced with the more biting tone of the inevitable future that awaits us all.

Death The Leveller II is out March 13th and you can listen to/watch the lyric video now for “The Hunt Eternal” (link below). You can also pre-order the physical from Cruz Del Sur Music – streaming and downloads will be available on Bandcamp and other platforms. If you want to see them live you need to go to Ireland, for the moment at least. With any luck Death the Leveller will play a few US dates in 2020. They would be a perfect surprise addition to Psycho Las Vegas …

Links.

Lyric video for “The Hunt Eternal,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSgcfhx1mjg

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

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

Cruz Del Sur Music, https://www.cruzdelsurmusic.com/

Death the Leveller, II, Review

Bull Elephant, New Release Review

The self-titled opener Bull Elephant (Eat Lead and Die Music) stormed onto my computer and stabbed me in the ears this morning. A metal band with a secret roster, Bull Elephant calls itself “hybridoom” on Instagram and “progressive doom” on Twitter. The music to me moves between what we have come to know as doom and branches out into death metal territory, with even a little speed in a couple of flashes and maybe a folk metal moment, too. This diversity of music styles in the same set by a single band speaks to the range of interest that fans have – we like lots of different kinds of metal.

Here is how the press release describes the album: “Bull Elephant is the story of a slain African elephant that occultist Ahnenerbe SS attempted to bring back from the dead as a new form of battle asset. However, before re-animation could be completed it was intercepted by a mysterious witch-shaman, pursuing her own agenda and redirecting the undead creature’s purpose.” Wow. How’s that for a concept to construct an album around?

Across seven songs, the concept is interpreted more in the music than even in the lyrics. The title song begins the rampage with a growling roar hurtling out of the darkness. This is doom. 40 seconds in there is a tempo change and the vocal goes melodic only to peal into rage a half a minute later. You get the sense of something wrong in paradise. These tempo changes are used in the next couple of songs as well, but in different ways to further the ideas of breakdown and change. Suddenly in the middle of the album “Corrupted Truth” launches a blast of speed that will loosen your teeth. The intermittent chaos is cranked up a notch in the second half, culminating in the closing song that sums up the whole affair, “Dread Reactor.” This final song has great hooks and the heaviest guitars, along with cascading percussion and deadly persuasive lead breaks. You can feel the zombie elephant stomping the terra – if you close your eyes and put your mind in right place, you can live in the middle of it. It’s a monster track.

The official release date is November 29, 2019, but you can check out a song or two ahead of time on YouTube. Bull Elephant is getting a lot of play in the office around here and it still sounds strong every time. Highly recommended.

Bull Elephant, New Release Review

Horseburner, Set Review, Monkey House, Winooski, Vermont, October 8, 2019

I have been going to music festivals all summer – huge, overwhelming affairs held in the great outdoors with multiple stages and thousands of people, dozens of bands. They’re great. I love them. Going to one after another of these extravaganzas, it is easy to forget that there are other ways to enjoy music. Like in a club, or a bar. I was really happy, then, to go to the Monkey House tonight in Winooski, Vermont to see Horseburner and get a refresher course on how a small venue can, in many ways, be a bigger experience.

Horseburner is a doom band from West Virginia. They are gearing up for a US tour in November and made a stopover in the North Country supporting their newest release, The Thief (out now on Ripple Music). Horseburner was the middle act on the Tuesday night show between the opener, Sachem, and the headliner, Wolfhand, both these other bands being Vermont products. The Monkey House is a great little bar in a small town that is adjacent to Burlington, the largest place in Vermont (but it is still not very big). There are not a lot of places to hear heavy music in the Burlington area, so metal fans are lucky to have the Monkey House which DOES sometimes feature loud rock – the Sunday lineup this week, for example, includes Scaphism, Callous, Crypitus, Hell Priest, and Shitangel. It is a small bar, so bands like Horseburner have a sound that is sometimes a little too much for the space. But that is one of the things that is so great about seeing bands in bars and small places because it is a whole different experience. Hearing a song in a tight room late on a Tuesday night is a whole other thing than hearing the same song by the same band on a Saturday afternoon standing outdoors in a parking lot in front of a giant stage.

Horseburner only had 35 minutes and they made the most of it, featuring new material and cracking the whip from the small stage in the back. During the heavy driving movements, the four-piece creates a full sound, giving the impression that the room is being surrounded by an advancing army. The bridges are dramatic, and lead you right off the cliff. Quiet, even soft moments don’t last long, and the occasional lead break, when it comes, is blistering. It was an excellent set.

Check out Horseburner while they are out on the road next month rolling all over the US. And listen to The Thief, too – it is on Spotify or you could always buy it at Bandcamp and other places. Having seen them play at a bar, now I’ll be looking for Horseburner on the festival circuit. They have made my list.

Horseburner, Set Review, Monkey House, Winooski, Vermont, October 8, 2019

Void King, Barren Dominion (Off The Record, 2019).

Doom Metal keeps expanding at what seems like an exponential rate. It is a little puzzling, but trends are never easy to predict. Maybe it is the stoner angle so much of doom relies on – it caught a wave on the edges of the ever-widening decriminalization of cannabis products at the state level in the US. Or maybe it is just that there is a lot of grey area with crossover potential so the fan base is expanding like slowly rising waters in a gradual flood. Whatever it is, there are more doom bands than ever now, and that’s good for me because I am a doom fan.

One band to keep an eye on is Void King, who have a new release called Barren Dominion blowing in on a dark wind from the Midwest. Contemplative, buzzy, and riffy, the eight songs have a consistent structure of rising from quiet to urging persistent percussion and then heavy drops the doom. Jason Kindred’s vocals put me in mind of Tony Martin’s performance on The Eternal Idol with echoes of Danzig laced in there as well. The effect is impressive, and vocals pile on to the other instruments in creating a big sound that fills all the corners of your head. This new one is the band’s second release, and it is a step up in song writing and performance that signals an expanding future. It is difficult to stand out in the doom field because there are so many bands, perhaps necessarily, that have a similar sound. It is therefore difficult to produce something memorable like Barren Dominion.

If you can catch Void King live, that’s the way to go. Their next gig is in Indy on September 14 at Black Circle Brewing – it is the release show for Barren Dominion and it will be a great way to spend your Saturday night.

Links…

Buy: https://voidking.bandcamp.com/
Band Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/voidkingband/

Words by Wayne Edwards, © 2019.

Void King, Barren Dominion (Off The Record, 2019).