Wheel, Preserved In Time (Cruz Del Sur Music 2021)

The third album from Germany’s Wheel is a new epistle in their Epic Doom story.

The band started in 2006 as Eternal Sleep, changing over to the current name three years later. The self-titled album came out in 2010, followed by Icarus in 2013 and a live album the next year. The new record then is the first in eight years and as such it is the culmination of an extended formative process. After a brief lineup shuffle, the band has returned to its early roster: Arkadius Kurek (vocals), Benjamin Homberger (guitar), Marcus Grabowski (bass), and Carsten Jercke (drums).

The music is Doom Metal, leaning toward the Epic Metal thematic arena. The big riff is the primary structure as we might expect, and the speed lurks around mid-tempo (on the doom scale). The tones are heavy and the vocals enlarged creating an expanding sense of scope in the dark landscape of the compositions.

“At Night They Came Upon Us” is the first song and as an introduction to the set it does the job – everything that is to come is signaled from the beginning. There are clever melodies in the guitar lines and vocal harmonies meant to deepen the delivery. There is a reflective slow-down toward the middle and compelling lead guitar instantiations. A charge is mounted near the end before the song finishes as it began. A very satisfying and complete structure.

My favorite tracks are “Aeon of Darkness” and the big closer “Daedalus” because they represent best to my ear the essence of the album. Picking out a couple tracks, however, is not the best way to hear Wheel. The impact is greater if you listen straight through from beginning to end.

Preserved In Time is out now. Gather it up at Bandcamp.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://wheeldoom.bandcamp.com/album/preserved-in-time

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

Label, https://www.cruzdelsurmusic.com/blog/

Wheel, Preserved In Time (Cruz Del Sur Music 2021)

Soothsayer, Echoes of the Earth (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

The first full-length album from the Irish band Soothsayer is a mystical slab of doom rendered in gargantuan proportion.

As early as 2013 Soothsayer was coming together and forming its identity. They released an EP in 2015, The Soothsayer, and another the following year, At This Great Depth, then a live set last year, Live In Malta. Echoes of the Earth is the first full-length studio album, and while its formation could be seen in the distance and its arrival was predicted, the size and impact of it could not have been fully imagined nor accurately reckoned in advance. The music is doom metal played heavy with attentive disquietude and depth. The musicians are Líam Hughes(vocals and soundscapes), Con Doyle (guitars and vocals), Marc O’Grady (guitar), Pavol Rosa (bass), and Sean Breen (drums).

“Fringe” is a think piece comprised mainly of eerie voices and what sounds like someone swinging an eight-pound hammer in chains. “Outer Fringe” is a continuation of the former and it is where we get the first massive barrage of Doom Metal. “War of the Doves” turns up the direct aggression with a resounding thunderclap. The driving, pounding guitars are relentless, as is the overwhelming vocal assault.

“Cities of Smoke” pries open side 2 with a succinct and nuanced all-in engagement. The quiet moments are surrounded by distant howls of suffering and in the end the calamity has to come. “Six of Nothing” paired at the end with “True North” offer more than twenty minutes of unrivaled imagination. In this space is the heavy doom we have been hearing in other songs beside and between episodes of blistering pace and passages of strange narration accompanied by upsetting collateral drones. The elements are too numerous to delineate and the experience is diminished in description – you must put it to your own ears.

The music is inescapable – while you are listening you cannot tear yourself away. From the subtle effects and captured sounds to huge guitar riffs and the imminently compelling rhythm to the narrative and emotion conveyed by the unique and unforgettable vocals, this album demands your attention and gets it. Highly recommended.

Echoes of the Earth is out now in many forms from Transcending Obscurity.

Links.

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

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

Transcending Obscurity, https://tometal.com/

Soothsayer, Echoes of the Earth (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

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)

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)

Machinist! ~ Dead Hand, Split (Nefarious Industries 2021)

Dead Hand and Machinist! join forces to produce a hammerfall split that will leave your ears ringing.

Machinist! is a high-test metal band with a gravely disposition and clobbering attitude. The band – Jeff Hill (vocals), Jeremy McGuire (drums), Matt Marshall (guitar), and Matt Zagorski (bass) – offer two songs on the split. The first one opens with the flick of a Zippo then proceeds to tear down the tin shack with fearsome aggression in “Bask In The White Light.” The song bends to doom in the second half and finishes with noise. “The Nail” has a slower beginning but has just as much shouting. Never fear, they do wail on you and the tempo becomes clompy with a punk sneer before the wrap.

Machinist!

Dead Hand is a doom operation peopled by Clifton Carr (guitar and vocals), Shannon Harris (synth and vocals), Stephen Williams (guitar and vocals), Carson Pace (drums), and Andrew Seth (bass). Their track is “Muirgeilt” and it flows over you for almost eight minutes like thick cement laced with sharp, rusty pieces of steel. You feel a filtered gothic atmosphere, an overriding sense of decadence and, especially in the middle, inevitable suffocation. It is a terrorizing piece that conjures calamity.

Dead Hand

These three songs taken together are a menace to your sanity. The styles are very different and the complement each other. Recommended.

Friday March 19th is the release day, and with a digital preorder you can hear two out of the three tracks now. Bandcamp is the easy hook-up.

Dead Hand photo by Dakota Williams.

Machinist! Photo by Matt Zagorsky.

Links.

Machinist! Bandcamp, https://machinistga.bandcamp.com/

Dead Hand Bandcamp, https://deadhandcollective.bandcamp.com/

Machinist! Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/machinistga

Dead Hand Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/deadhandcollective

Label, https://shop.nefariousindustries.com/collections/machinist-dead-hand-split

Machinist! ~ Dead Hand, Split (Nefarious Industries 2021)

Thunder Horse, Chosen One (Ripple Music 2021)

Following up on the tectonic power of their self-titled debut, the new album from Thunder Horse is both crushing and uplifting, in a planetary resurfacing kind of way.

Stephen Bishop, Todd Connally, Uncle Dave, and Jason West are channeling the spiritual sources of the sound on this album, bringing the elementals to bear. This music is doom metal with a lot of lead guitar work and call-ins from classics in the form as well as Southern rock roots. The combination is fascinating and unique but it is the execution the moves the needle into the red. I hope this band is around forever.

“Let Them Bleed” opens with a single guitar hammering a slow, powerful riff. The guitar solo past the middle could be in song like “Comfortably Numb” as easily as it is here in this doom-laden smasher. “Among The Dead” appropriately slows the pace a bit and wiggles in the sinister. I expected then a charging rampage in the next song, “Rise of the Heathens,” and instead heard a dramatic presentation and an orderly push of the heavy front. There is a charge in there toward the end and the rampage is the ripping solo guitar.

The title track has a very heavy Black Sabbath vibe and delivery, all to the good. It is a stand-out track for me, and so is the rumbling “Halfway To Hell.” “Texas” is a surprise in its quietude and melancholy, and the short piece “Remembrance” is ethereal and transitory, bringing up Southern rock memories. The capper is a cover of “Dear Mr. Fantasy” and now I will never hear that song the same way again. There is also an extended version of “Texas” right at the end. This album is one you are going to listen to over and over. Highly recommended.

The vinyl has been selling fast, reports say, so it might already be too late. There is always a download, and maybe a CD, though. Have a look at Bandcamp or wherever you like to plunk down your money because Chosen One is out now.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/chosen-one

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

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

Thunder Horse, Chosen One (Ripple Music 2021)

Mausoleum ~ Anatomia, Split (HPGD Productions 2021)

Two titanic bands have joined together to crack the earth with a double punch of death and doom.

Mausoleum is a Pennsylvania Death Metal band that has been rounding the sun since 2001. Anatomia started in the following year with an eastern locus, pushing more in the Doom direction. Late last year they put together a limited split on vinyl and cassette, and now it is getting wider circulation with a CD version and a digital presentation through Horror Pain Gore Death Productions.

Side A is four tracks from Mausoleum titled Nyctophilia. This is their first release since 2017’s Cadaveric Displays from the Funeral. “Shadows On the Grave” begins with a driving flurry and a ravaging vocal all right in line with the theme established by the title. “Voices from Beyond” balances chaos with the need to understand and asks the tough questions. There is a great dueling lead guitar segment in there as well. “Shrieks of Fright” winds up from a plod to a rager that kicks you in the throat and then shows you the edge of the end of the world. “The Dark Abysmal” is the final nail and it is set to with a merciless hammer of conquest.

Anatomia has the B Side, putting down three strong tracks. “Mangled Flesh” is the introduction and it opens with a charging assault then rides waves of variegated speed, taking a moment for even a Funeral Doom reflection. “Rotting Innards” starts with stings then rolls out the grinding wheel to turn your bones to dust. The overall feeling is absolutely hopelessness. “In The Crypt” offers spirituality with a ghostly preponderance and a disturbingly quiet approach to disarticulation across eons. Like no other track on the album, this one makes/allows you to confront yourself.

Both bands foster themes of horror in their music and they are the perfect match, making this split a fortuitous culmination. Each has death and doom approaches that interact and crossover in separate and unique ways. Putting them together creates a bigger whole. Highly recommended.

The CD and digital download from HPGD will be available on Friday, March 12th. You can also pick up a t-shirt with the great cover art.

Links.

HPGD Bandcamp, https://hpgd.bandcamp.com/album/split-album-2

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

Anatomia Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/ANATOMIA-166448756742258/

Mausoleum Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/thezombiecult

Anatomia Bandcamp, https://anatomia.bandcamp.com/

Mausoleum Bandcamp, https://thezombiecult.bandcamp.com/

Mausoleum ~ Anatomia, Split (HPGD Productions 2021)