Fell Harvest, Pale Light In A Dying World (2021)

The first full-length album from Fell Harvest is a crafty construction of raw elements melded into a refined finish.

Southeastern Wyoming is the home of Fell Harvest whose musicians are Joseph Fell (bass and vocals), Liam Duncan (guitar), and Angel Enkeli (drums). They released an EP on the front edge of the pandemic in March last year and worked on this new one during the long months after that. The music is heavy yet quite variegated in note and feel.

Fell Harvest is often referred as a doom metal band but you wouldn’t know it from the first track, “Titanicide,” which sports a vigorous tempo. The title track comes next and the doom definitely lands on it. Solemn and sorrow-filled, the song is not a dirge but instead offers many undulations. Fell’s vocals are commanding and are the center point when active. Guitar rhythms are persistent and recurring, insisting their story is heard.

“Lark in the Morning” starts almost funereally but has a massive eruption during its transit and it is a stand-out track on the album. “The Wind that Shakes the Barley” opens acoustically, ultimately turning into a cross between Death Metal and a sea shanty. “The Barren Fields” leans in on the heavy and has a surprising, stabbing lead break. There is clearly a journey here, and a lot of searching.

The closer is “The Ghosts of Scapa Flow,” the longest cut and a strong contender for my favorite track. There is no rush to it and neither is there any hesitance. The song has its own life and takes what it needs to generate what it wants. A fine resolution.

Pale Light In A Dying World is out now. You can pick up the digital and CD at Bandcamp. Recommended.

Band photo by Sean Castenada.

Links.

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

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

Fell Harvest, Pale Light In A Dying World (2021)

Lykhaeon, Opprobrium (Repose Records 2021)

Lykhaeon tells the tale of Persephone’s abduction by Hades in the most appropriate musical form: Black Metal.

Lykhaeon is a Swiss doom-laden black metal duo that began in 2013. It is comprised of “Kerberos – Throat and Doom and Meister T. – Tomb and Summoning.” Their first album came out in 2015, Tanz der Entleibten, followed by an EP in 2018, Ominous Eradication of Anguished Souls. The new album has a different feel than the first two entries in their catalogue. It is deeper and more complex.

Opprobrium tells the classic story of Persephone … “When the lust of immortals becomes insatiable, it is frequently the realm of mortals that serves as the spring from which all desire can be quenched and any thirst satiated. Such is the fate of Persephone, who is – according to some tellings – the victim of a cruel ploy, a conspiracy incarnate, whereby her flesh is beset by the desire of the deity Hades. In his arrogance, appearing before her on a gilded chariot, treachery allows Hades to abduct the seed.” There is a lot going on, and this is just the set-up.

The story is linear enough – it is just that there is so much to take in, making the album somewhat overwhelming. There are seven tracks, five of which I would call primary. You want to listen to them all straight through the get the full story, of course. Musically, there is a long intro that is very effective in setting the stage and instilling dread before the opening lyrical salvo of “A Stain Upon Celestial Rule,” presented in a familiar Black Metal motif encased in iron-heavy doom. A good beginning.

There is a familiar pattern to the music that, once established, lends a feeling of surety during the dark journey. When divergent passages break through, they are all the more powerful held against the established path. I especially like the sequence of “Descent Into Ruinous Splendor” and “Scorching the Wings of Destiny” – I admire the compositional ingenuity, the musical execution, and the lyrical commitment. Lykhaeon are all-in on this album, and it shows.

If you are looking for a classic tale set in the Black Metal universe and scaled to epic proportions, this album is for you. Recommended.

Opprobrium is out now. Have a look at the links below.

Links.

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

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

Repose Records, https://www.reposerecords.com/

Lykhaeon, Opprobrium (Repose Records 2021)

Blue Ridge Rock Festival, Danville, Virginia, September 9-12, 2021

A relatively new festival that has grown enormously in the past couple of years is the Blue Ridge Rock Festival in Virginia. This year the festival will be held at a new venue, the Blue Ridge Amphitheater in Danville, Virginia.

Headliners are Megadeth, Breaking Benjamin, Rob Zombie, Limp Bizkit, Five Finger Death Punch, Shinedown, and Papa Roach.

Other bands I am lining up to see at the festival are Clutch, Black Label Society, Halestorm, Testament, Hatebreed, Anthrax, Lamb of God, Fever 333, Saul, Nonpoint, Beartooth, Corrosion of Conformity, Mastodon, The Hu, Killswitch Engage, and Gojira, plus an enormous number of other great acts. I think there are more bands at this festival than any other in North America this year. It is an incredible lineup.

While the festival is sold out, you can check out the link below for more information. You know how this works – if you want a ticket you can still get one because people will be buying and selling them.

Someone (me) from Shardik Media will be at the festival. See you in the crowd.

Link.

Festival info: https://blueridgerockfest.com/

Blue Ridge Rock Festival, Danville, Virginia, September 9-12, 2021

Louder Than Life Festival, Louisville, September 23-26, 2021

The big show this year at the Highland Festival Grounds in Louisville is Louder Than Life, returning with a bigger show than ever before.

Stretching over four days this year as a return bonus after missing last year, the big news at Louder Than Life is that Metallica will be playing both on Friday and Sunday nights – and they are playing different sets each night.

Thursday night the headliner is Korn and Nine Inch Nails is the feature on Saturday. Other big hitters taking the stage over the weekend include Judas Priest, Snoop Dogg, Staind, Jane’s Addiction, Killswitch engage, Anthrax, Beartooth, Ghostemane, Sabaton, Cypress Hill, and loads more.

You can still get tickets to Louder Than Life (at this writing). Check out the link below.

Someone (me) from Shardik Media will be at the festival. See you in the crowd.

Link.

Festival info: https://louderthanlifefestival.com/

Louder Than Life Festival, Louisville, September 23-26, 2021

Psycho Las Vegas, August 19-22, 2021

Festivals are getting going again in the US and the first big stop to make is Psycho Las Vegas.

Missing a year of Psycho Las Vegas is a wound that can be salved by heading to Nevada next month for one the of the best heavy line-ups around. During the 2019 festival, The Mandalay Bay operated three stages – one in the arena, one at the House of Blues in the casino complex, and another in a lounge. All very different vibes and all full-on musical bliss. I am expecting this again in 2021.

The headliners for 2021 are Emperor, Down, and Danzig. Other bands I am excited to see this year are Exodus, Cannibal Corpse, High On Fire, The Sword, Red Fang, Obituary, Pig Destroyer, Eyehatehod, and far too many others to mention. For heavy music fans, Psycho Las Vegas has become an annual pilgrimage.

Don’t forget Thursday night Psycho Swim with music outside at the Daylight Beach Club. True, it is 100 degrees or so in the daytime but when the sun goes down so does the temperature and it is very comfortable. Plus it is a beach and you can get in the water. The bands for this year’s Psycho Swim include Old Man Gloom, Bongzilla, and many others.

There were still some tickets available at this writing. Hit the link below to see what’s up.

Someone (me) from Shardik Media will be at the festival. See you in the crowd. And at the tables.

Link.

Festival info: https://vivapsycho.com/

Psycho Las Vegas, August 19-22, 2021

Planet of the Dead, Pilgrims (2021)

The sophomore release from New Zealand space stoner doom band Planet of the Dead should definitely be on your radar.

Four musicians from Wellington make up Planet of the Dead, Mark Mundell (vocals), Malcolm McKenzie (guitar), Kees Hengst (bass), and Josh Hussey (drums). Their debut album came out last year, Fear of a Dead Planet. The new release is a fresh adventure with a familiar crew.

It is hard to think of a better summary of the band’s music than this, from the press release: Hurtling towards the forever yawning void within their busted-up space freighter, they draw inspiration from classic science fiction and horror, and push supermassive and megalithic riffs to the outer limits.

There are eight tracks on the album, and I starred every one of them on my media player as I listened, one by one. The music is heavy fuzzy doom set in the limitless expanse of the collective mind (space, that is). Utterly irresistible.

“Escape from Smith’s Grove” stood out for me with the shifts it takes from heavy doom to a more urgent agenda. “Pilgrim” is a set-stone artifact as well, and you cannot set aside the leviathan that is the closer, “The Great Wave.” This album will be on heavy rotation for the summer desert road trip ahead. Highly recommended.

Pilgrims is out on Friday, July 23rd – get more info at the band’s website and pick up the music and Bandcamp.

Links,

Bandcamp, https://planetofthedead.bandcamp.com/album/pilgrims

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

Website, https://planetofthedead.band/

Planet of the Dead, Pilgrims (2021)

Paradise Lost, At The Mill (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Paradise Lost release their second live album of 2021, At The Mill.

The importance of Paradise Lost to the heavy music community is difficult to overstate. They are pioneers in transformative doom metal and are founders, really, of what became gothic doom. Since forming in 1988 they have released sixteen studio albums, including 2020’s Obsidian. Their place is permanent in the history of metal and they continue to create and innovate with each passing year.

This new album is a recording of the livestream the band did last fall at The Mill Nightclub in Yorkshire, England, their hometown. It follows Gothic – Live at Roadburn 2016 that came out earlier this year. Both are complete sets but there is almost no overlap between them. The set list for At The Mill is “Widow,” “Fall from Grace,” “Blood and Chaos,” “Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us,” “Gothic,” “Shadowkings,” “One Second,” “Ghosts,” “The Enemy,” “As I Die,” “Requiem,” “No Hope in Sight,” “Embers Fire,” “Beneath Broken Earth,” “So Much Is Lost,” and “Darker Thoughts.”

If you are a fan you will know all the songs. The melodic metal tinted with dark, gothic themes and enriched by the lyrical lead guitar work is nectar to your ears. Paradise Lost has always been known for its compelling live performances and they are holding nothing back on At The Mill. While the band already has many live albums in their catalogue, I recommend this one as well to hear their current state of excellence.

At The Mill is out this Friday, July 16th, through Nuclear Blast Records. You can get the digital at Bandcamp and the vinyl or CD/Blu Ray combo at the Nuclear Blast shop. The Blu Ray is a good option if you missed the original livestream.

Links,

Bandcamp, https://paradiselostofficial.bandcamp.com/album/at-the-mill

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

Nuclear Blast, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/products/sonstiges/paradise-lost-at-the-mill-cd-blu-ray-.html

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/user/paradiselostuk

Paradise Lost, At The Mill (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Towards Atlantis Lights, When The Ashes Devoured The Sun (Melancholic Realm Productions 2021)

The musicians in Towards Atlantis Lights are Ivan Zara (guitar), Kostas Panagiotou (vocals, keys), Riccardo Veronese (bass), and Ivano Olivieri (drums). Their music is often described as funeral doom, and they label it this way: Arcane Doom Metal. The band’s first album, Dust of Aeons, was released in 2018 by Transcending Obscurity. This follow-up album is both a continuation and expansion of the ideas and sound from their inaugural record, this new one being more active and aggressive.

There are six tracks on the album including a fairly short intro piece, “Alpha & Omega,” that wanders the listener in. The narrative themes concern civilizations in the distant past, and that is an excellent framework for the music of the band. “The Minoan Tragedy” is the first full song, and it is a fifteen-minute heavy doom rumination with mostly clean vocals punctuated by coarse growls and rapid guitar cataracts, most memorable near the end.

“The Forgotten Tribes” is even eerie and heavier – it is my personal favorite for the way the vocals and guitars work together. “The Bull and the Serpent” starts off at a high-tempo sprint while “Mad Prophetess” soaks you with heaviness up front before lashing out in sudden bursts. “Pelasgian Tales” features ethereal guitars and voiceover to tell the tale.

If you liked the first album, this one will appeal to you as well. It is full-throated doom that surrounds you completely and takes you away. Recommended.

When the Ashes Devoured the Sun has a street date of Friday, July 16th. You can pick up the digital or CD through Bandcamp.

Links,

Bandcamp, https://pantheistuk.bandcamp.com/album/when-the-ashes-devoured-the-sun

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

Towards Atlantis Lights, When The Ashes Devoured The Sun (Melancholic Realm Productions 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

Ripplefest Texas, August 7, 2021

71TonMan, War Is Peace // Peace Is Slavery (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

If you like your Doom slow, massive, and pulverizing, 71TonMan is the band for you.

71TonMan has been shaking the earth for ten years. Their first album, 71TonMan, came out in 2013 and Earthwreck followed four years later. The new one is a three-track EP, and each song is very different.

“War Is Peace” is that slow, massive, and pulverizing music I was talking about. The riffs are so heavy your headphones will threaten to collapse under the pressure. It is hammering Doom Metal. “Peace Is Slavery” is more actively aggressive, more like Death Metal – faster, with more vocals and ravaging percussion – in the first half of the song. In the second half, the weight of the world pushes down hard.

“Ignorance Is Strength” finds an ethereal plane to enter on. It is spacey, with a creepy intermittent voiceover. A little over halfway through a beeping beacon disturbs the journey, and the voice is back, even creepier. This continues to the end and the voice becomes more compelling, convincing, hypnotizing. By the time you realize you are being talked into something it is too late.

I recommend this EP particularly for the first two killer tracks. The third is best absorbed as part of a meditation in an altered state. How you get to that altered state is up to you, but once you are there “Ignorance Is Strength” will start to speak to you on a whole different level.

War Is Peace // Peace Is Slavery is out now from Transcending Obscurity. You can order through Bandcamp or at the label’s US store.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://71tonmanband.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/71TonMan

Transcending Obscurity, https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/

71TonMan, War Is Peace // Peace Is Slavery (Transcending Obscurity 2021)