There Were Wires, Somnambulists (Iodine Recordings 2021)

The long-remembered Somnambulists album gets a remaster and a re-release.

A somnambulist is a sleep walker. Not a label in common usage. Silent horror movie fans (are there any of those left besides me?) will recognize it from Robert Wiene’s classic German expressionist horror film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920). Otherwise, it doesn’t come up much. Cool word, though.

The band There Were Wires goes back to 1999 in Boston. Releasing demos and a long-player on their own, they hooked up with Iodine Recordings in early aughts and the result was Somnambulists. The album came out and was well received but the label and the band fragmented just after. Now in a renewal phase, a remastered version of the notable incarnation is coming to life.

Let’s walk through the museum and make a couple of comments.

The music is a movement through a number of genres – metal, hardcore, punk – and it generally has a well-produced feel. I like the doom elements interspersed among the frantic cracks, and the thrumming percussion that appears and disappears in a way that sorts out your arrhythmia.

The opening track is “New Doom” and I spent the most time with it, appreciating its directions and miasms. Instrumental passages like “Walking” give way to songs like “Get Cryptic” where Primus seems to be channeled and then were on to short ruptures and enigmatic sidelines. “Gasp” is a meditation, ten minutes overall and filled with infections and inoculations alike – it is an event all its own. The closer here is “Tunic,” a cover of the Sonic Youth song.

The compositions contained in this set could easily have been created today. The music does not sound at all dated or out of place. If anything it is particularly resonant now. If you are coming back to it today or if you have never heard it before, now is a good time to listen in. Recommended.

Somnambulists is out on Friday, April 16th. Hit the label link below for the recording and merch.

Band photos by Erin McCown.

Links.

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

Label, https://iodinerecords.com/

There Were Wires, Somnambulists (Iodine Recordings 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)

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)

Eyehategod, A History Of Nomadic Behavior (Century Media 2021)

The first full-length album in seven years from New Orleans legends Eyehategod is a mindbender and an earsmasher.

The last time I saw Eyehategod was at the Earthrocker Festival in 2018. What a lineup. It was Eyehategod, Corrosion of Conformity, and Black Label Society all setting the stage for Clutch in the steaming West Virginia sun at Shiley Acres. This was several years after their self-titled album and I hadn’t seen them since the Take As Needed For Pain era. It was a roar, and no mistake. I have been aching for new music from then since then in a bad way, and now here it is.

The band is Jimmy Bower (guitar), Gary Mader (bass), Mike Williams (vocals), and Aaron Hill (drums). The album is on the sludgy side, and that is a good thing. There are elements and instances of chaos that are sharp stabs, as well as grinding doom lodestone passages pointing you in the right direction.

“High Risk Trigger,” “The Outer Banks,” and “Every Thing, Every Day” are the show stoppers for me, but I can see how any of the tracks could be a favorite. If you are a fan you have probably already heard this album because, at this writing, it has already been out for two days. If you are new to Eyehategod, ideally you would see them live first. The world as it is today, though, you are going to want to grab this new album and start there. Then work your way backwards and listen to it all. You’ll be ready for the real thing that way when the live comes back. Highly recommended.

A History Of Nomadic Behavior is out now. Gather up the vinyl, CD, or digital at the links below.

Links.

Website, https://eyehategod.ee/

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

Century Media, https://www.centurymedia.com/artist.aspx?IdArtist=188

Eyehategod, A History Of Nomadic Behavior (Century Media 2021)

Gorr, Kvit Som Snøen, Kald i Blikket (2021)

Norwegian metal duo Gorr strike back with their second album in as many years.

Gorr is Gjøran Sæther, known as Skuggimaðr, and Evan Barton, known as Hateful Wind. The band is in the earlier stages and is still growing into its emerging identity. The musicians have done a lot of work under different fronts and so the experience the have, even if it is relatively new, is also notably deep.

The opening track has a desert vibe to it, which works in arctic environments, too. A solitary guitar alongside a hissing vocal is all that is utilized for the first minute and a half, and then minimal percussion swings in to finish it off. The very next song opens full blast with the vocals mixed heavy into the forefront, posting very black metal. Side one wraps on the contemplative “Mørkt Føre, Mørke Bak” – distressed, forlorn, hopeless.

Rapid riffs crack open the second triplet, forging an opening for rampaging percussion. “Ditt Uendelege Raseri” has a similar opening but a different trajectory, and it is more driving and persistent. The closing song has a droning quality to it at the jump, and an overwhelming, hyper-stimulated essence along with a new raspiness to the vocal. Any intimation of relief is entirely gone by now, and it is no longer simply sadness, it is suffering.

The artists describe the album, in part, this way: “The duality in relying on nature for survival and the very clear sense of doom that follows closely is reflected through this album. Life and death, combat and construction, noble goals and meaningless losses. This is Kvit Som Snøen, Kald i Blikket.” Even without the explanation many of these ideas come through very clearly in the music. It makes sense to me. Recommended.

Kvit Som Snøen, Kald i Blikket is out now and Bandcamp is the place to pick it up in the US.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://gorr.bandcamp.com/album/kvit-som-sn-en-kald-i-blikket

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

Website, https://gorr.no/

Gorr, Kvit Som Snøen, Kald i Blikket (2021)

Slaves To Fashion, The History Of Heavy Metal (2021)

Slaves to Fashion celebrates metal with a history lesson that will make you want to bang your head.

The band from Haugesund, Norway started out nearly twenty years ago as P:O:B. After a few lineup shuffles, they changed their name to Slaves To Fashion, releasing an EP in 2009 and then a long-player in 2011, Artistic Differences. They were playing a version of prog metal then, expressing their art through precision. The principals on the current album are Johannes Støle (vocals), Torfinn Sirnes (guitar), John Lind (bass), Vidar Ingvaldsen (drums), and Stein Arild Grønås (guitar).

The idea behind The History Of Heavy Metal is to celebrate heavy metal in all its guises. Each song therefore focuses on a specific period in the evolution and spread of metal, branching out along the lineage in sometime surprising ways. Which subgenres exactly? Have a look at the cool chart developed by the band inserted at the end of this review. There are a lot of different flavors of heavy music.

There are ten tracks on the album, ranging from the radio-friendly three minutes of “The NU Wine” to the epic thirteen minute rapture of “The Evergrowing Tree.” This is not a goof – in every case the music is rock solid and a genuine respectful homage to the type, with a number of playful references thrown in the lyrics that fans will spot immediately. I don’t have a favorite because they are all good but I do have a strong affection for that big 13-minute track as it is a showcase of just about everything, and the opener, “1970,” is a loving tribute to the early days and it hits home with me. Without fail, there is something here for every metal fan. Recommended.

The official release date for the CD and digital versions is Saturday, February 13th. Hit the Bandcamp link below. There will also be a special edition vinyl version later in the year that will include three bonus tracks.

Band photo by Stones Photography.

Flowchart from the band’s Facebook page.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://slavestofashion.bandcamp.com/album/the-history-of-heavy-metal

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

Website, https://www.slavestofashion.net/

Slaves To Fashion, The History Of Heavy Metal (2021)

Clouds Taste Satanic, The Satanic Singles Vol. 4 (Kinda Like Music 2021)

Clouds Taste Satanic releases Volume 4 in The Satanic Singles project, the final installment.

To recap [for the last time]…This New York instrumental metal band is peopled by these fine persons: Steve Scavuzzo (guitar), Rob Halstead (bass), Greg Acampora (drums), and Brian Bauhs (guitar). For years on end they have been producing their unique brand of vocal-free doom (and doom-adjacent) heavy music, typically in long form. Recently they decided to shift gears a bit a put out a series of shorter cover pieces as singles, leading to a collection early in Spring. The latest installment has just appeared – and it is the last one before the collection comes out.

Volume 4 has two tracks. Side A is a cover of the Cheap Trick song “Auf Wiedersehen” originally on Heaven Tonight (1978). Being the ever-peppy band that Cheap trick is, a doomish version of one of their typically pop-oriented rock songs is a delight. Consistent with the original, the guitar in this new version carries the founding momentum and gives it a nice twirl.

Side B is the CTS version of “Sleeping On The Roof” by The Flaming Lips from The Soft Bulletin (1999). The treatment on Volume 4 is to flesh out some of the airiness of the principles from the original while reinforcing the intended sentiment with a bigger sound. The melancholy shines through and cleaves a deeper trench, in my mind.

This was an interesting project. It has been great to get a couple new songs every month, like clockwork. I am really looking forward to the full set. Recommended.

Bandcamp has Volume 4 right now. If you want a hard copy, time to get going.

Links.

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

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

Spotify, https://open.spotify.com/artist/5QidF8yXlvTyGkDy24JImY

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvVu8mcXrE2eVjq_ApcGBmw

Overview Article on Clouds Taste Satanic, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2020/04/07/a-quick-look-at-clouds-taste-satanic/

Clouds Taste Satanic, The Satanic Singles Vol. 4 (Kinda Like Music 2021)

Kabbalah, The Omen (Rebel Waves Records 2021)

Kabbalah are brewing a psychedelic elixir in their cauldron of dreams and it is called The Omen.

The trio from Pamplona, Spain creates music that is a fascinating amalgam of contemporary fuzzy doom matched to a seventies-era rock passed through a grungy sifting machine where unexpected elements latch on, including beautiful melodic vocals and eerie themes and harmonies. The band has released a few EPs, as well as the full-length album Spectral Ascent (2017), leading up to the new one, The Omen.

The album is described in the band’s press release in part as an “occult rock grimoire where sticky melodies, funerary riffs and haunting vocals come together.” All of these things are true. I can think of a couple of bands from the past that appear to be clear influences on Kabbalah, but I have never heard anything quite like the music they make so let’s set those other names aside.

Some of the songs have a sharper edge, like the opener “Stigmatized” with its gravelly guitars, and “The Ritual,” which comes across more directly serious and dramatic. Much of the music is very laid back and hypnotic, with clearer seventies-inspired guitar tones and lovely, lilting vocals, as in “The Night Comes Near.” The echoing whispers and urging rhythms in “Labyrinth” come back to you at night when you are falling asleep, and the closer, “Liturgy,” is convincingly summative. You can feel the living desert infused in the notes of this music, and you when you close your eyes as the album plays you come to know the spirit of the ceremony.

If you rotate this album into your listening queue your life will be better. Recommended.

The digital for The Omen is at Bandcamp, Rebel Waves Records (an imprint of Ripple Music) has the CD and vinyl, and you can get a cassette from Stoner Witch Records.

Links.

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

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

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

Stoner Witch Store, https://stonerwitchrecords.bigcartel.com/products

Kabbalah, The Omen (Rebel Waves Records 2021)

Bloody Hammers, Songs Of Unspeakable Terror (Napalm Records 2021)

Horror shines bright on the sixth album from the North Carolina duo Bloody Hammers.

I have been listening to Bloody Hammers since the initial self-titled album in 2012. The very first track, “Witch of Endor,” is fuzzy and trippy and it sinks it talons in your neck. Spiritual Relics came out the very next year and it was just as clever and fresh. The occult themes and consistent horror underpinnings dress the reliable and forthright metal that has lead me to keep an eye open for new releases from band ever since.

The catchy musical sensibility of “A Night To Dismember” combined with the obvious tongue-in-cheek lyrics and melodic pop-punk execution makes the song an irresistible fuzzy cotton candy horror treat. What a way to kick off the album. The theatrical influences verily drip from the sleeves of these songs, titled as they are after cult movie classics like “Hands of the Ripper,” “The Brain That Wouldn’t Die, and “Witchfinder General.” Samples dropped in (as in White/Rob Zombie) are delightful little familiar punches: witness “Not Of This Earth.” The music is all about the riffs, percussion, and the voice, cast in a throwback robe that resurrects the most memorable elements of bands like The Cramps and more obscure gems like The Voluptuous Horror Of Karen Black [Aside: deep-dive this band some time, and especially seek out the album “A National Healthcare.”]. There is even one creepy pseudo-ballad, “Lucifer’s Light.” This album has everything.

Any fan of Bloody Hammers is going to love this record, I say with confidence. It does not sound exactly like the others, but it is not a wild departure, either. It is an homage that simultaneously remains true to form, and you will definitely want to hit the repeat button. Recommended.

Songs Of Unspeakable Terror is out today from Napalm Records. Grab it with both hands.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://bloodyhammers.bandcamp.com/album/songs-of-unspeakable-terror

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

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

Napalm Records, https://www.napalmrecordsamerica.com/bloodyhammers

Bloody Hammers, Songs Of Unspeakable Terror (Napalm Records 2021)