Weedevil, The Return (Abraxas Records 2022)

Weedevil presents dark stories told in doom on their first full-length album, The Return.

From São Paulo, Brazil, Weedevil is Flávio Cavichioli (drums), Lorraine Scar (vocals), Dani Plothow (bass), Paulo Ueno (guitar), and Bodão (guitar). The records show that the band has been releasing material for only a couple of years, with two EPs and a live album already out. The Return is their first long-player, and it is solid through and through.

The new album includes five huge slabs of doom. First up is “Underwater.” It is a steady heavy beat that seems at first slightly softened by Scar’s vocals until you realize what she is singing about. The music matches the desperation of the narrative and complements the turn towards dark power that occurs. “The Void” follows and grinds on you like pyramid stones being dragged up a ramp, forcing down the weight of history and reality on your being.

“The Return” has a deep-seated witching feel to it. To wit, “Offer me green grass and accursed men’s head / I will keep the beast away, if I’m well fed.” The circumlocution reinforces the powerful chant and the spell sinks ever deeper in. On “Isn’t A Love Song” the approach is more melodic but the messaging does not stray far from grim tidings, even with the beautiful piano in the finish.

The final track is “Genocidal.” It has an impressive tall-wall presence in the guitars and a creepy, disturbing whistling at the front. As with every track, Scar’s vocals are a center point, and a place of return. This song is the most determined, grimmest conclusion in a set that has been full-force doom all along. It is a welcome end that has you turning back to start at the beginning and experience it all over again. Recommended.

The Return emerges on Friday, April 8th in digital through Abraxas Records, with vinyl to follow from DHU Records.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://weedevil.bandcamp.com/album/the-return

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

DHU Records, https://darkhedonisticunionrecords.bigcartel.com/

© Wayne Edwards.

Weedevil, The Return (Abraxas Records 2022)

Monolord and Firebreather at Black Circle Brewing, March 19, 2022

Two bands from Gothenburg, Sweden rolled in to Indianapolis on Saturday night and laid down the doom.

Black Circle Brewing is a restaurant and bar in Indianapolis that attracts an impressive roster of heavy music acts throughout the year. On Saturday night, it was Monolord and Firebreather who took the stage. Both stoner / doom bands from Sweden are touring on new albums. The local opener was Ancient Days, and they have new music out, too.

Ancient Days is a five-piece doom outfit with a mysterious, bewitching vibe. I arrived at Black Circle just as they started to play, so I head their sonic emanations spilling out into the neighborhood as darkness was folding over the city. It was an amazing way for the show to begin. Check out their music at Bandcamp – their latest album is Sign of the Times.

Firebreather is playing every stop on the tour, and they have a titanic rumble about them. Their latest album is Dwell In The Fog, and once you hear it, you won’t be able to stop listening. The music is a rambling groove of rushing heavy, and their live performance is a nonstop push that probes your cerebellum and gets your head swinging.

Monolord is a band I have been following for years and years. Your Time To Shine is their latest album, and I have been on the bandwagon since Empress Rising. I don’t know how it is possible, but this is the first time I had ever seen them live. I have heard every song they have released and I’ve seen recordings of their performances, but being there is a whole different experience. That’s why we go to shows, right.

Black Circle Brewing is a small, intimate place. There is no pit, so you can stand right up by the stage, which rises only a couple feet so it feels like the band is in the same space you are. The show was sold out and the crowd was a solid sea of doom fans. We got everything we were looking for and more. Unsurprisingly, this performance made me want to see Monolord again even more, if that is possible. Then again, how could it go any other way? I know for sure I’ll catch them at Psycho Las Vegas at the end of the summer – get those tickets while you still can because that event is going to legendary.

Monolord and Firebreather have several more dates in March in Texas, Arizona, and southern California. Check out the tour poster below and see if they are coming your way.

All photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Monolord, https://monolord.bandcamp.com/

Firebreather, https://firebreatherdoom.bandcamp.com/

Ancient Days, https://ancientdays.bandcamp.com/

Black Circle Brewing, https://www.blackcirclebrewing.com/black-circle

© Wayne Edwards.

Monolord and Firebreather at Black Circle Brewing, March 19, 2022

Crowbar, Zero and Below (MNRK Heavy 2022)

The twelfth studio album from Crowbar is yet another monumental earth-shaker: Zero and Below.

One of the biggest sounds to emerge from the New Orleans heavy music scene, Crowbar are pioneers of sludge metal. Kirk Windstein (vocals, guitar), Matt Brunson (guitar), Shane Wesley (bass), and Tommy Buckley (drums) deliver not merely a new album, but a vitally important one. There is no half in their game – it is a full-on assault from beginning to end.

Sludge metal is a lethal amalgam for doom and aggression. Windstein vocals blast power and energy that combine with the titanic riffs and percussion to forge an instantly recognizable and unforgettable sound. While Crowbar has been a clear influence on many successful bands, they have never rested on their success and, for more than thirty years, they have held the throttle wide open.

There are ten killer songs on Zero And Below. The opening track hits you at speed, “The Fear That Binds You,” and turns you right around. The guitar riff is like an advancing legion. “Her Evil Is Sacred” animates the wicked into a reckoning. “Confess To Nothing” leans into the doom realm heavily to great effect, then the pace pounds on with “Chemical Godz.” The music keeps you moving this way and that.

There is all manner of pace and shift in this set. “Denial of the Truth” imbibes a kind of “Planet Caravan” vibe, but it is much heavier than that classic. “Crush Negativity” pushes steamroller weight while “Reanimating A Lie” is more nimble in the clip and every bit as heavy in the narrative. “Bleeding From Every Hole” is a show-stopper, and I would put the title track high up on the list, too, with its surrounding, melancholy ever-presence. This record wreaks havoc from every angle. Highly recommended.

Zero and Below is out now through MNRK Heavy – vinyl, cassette, longbox, digital … whatever you want. Grab them while you can. And see Crowbar on the road – they are out now with Sepultura and Sacred Reich on tour, and they will be doing dates with Gwar, Nekrogoblikon, and The Native Howl later in the spring and summer.

Band photo by Justin Reich.

Links.

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

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

MNRK Heavy Records, https://mnrkheavy.com/

Crowbar, Zero and Below (MNRK Heavy 2022)

Matt Pike, Pike Vs. The Automaton (MNRK Heavy 2022)

The newest music from Matt Pike takes the form of Pike Vs. The Automaton.

Matt Pike is an icon of heavy music. I we are all familiar with his work in High On Fire – one of my all-time favorite bands – and Sleep. I saw him perform with Sleep at Heavy Montreal in 2018 and with High On Fire at Psycho Las Vegas a couple years ago. Damn. He is an amazing talent. Now, in addition to Sleep and High On Fire, Matt Pike has a new project, Pike Vs. The Automaton. The reference in the title is to Talos, a giant bronze robot of Greek mythology that was established as a protector of Crete, patrolling the island and chucking enormous boulders at any invaders. This music fights against the protectors of the establishment, then? Sounds right.

The new album is a little more on the psychedelic side, according to Pike, than his other work. It does sound a bit different, but in the best possible way. There are all manner of divergent moments sprinkled throughout, including the thoughtful and quiet “Land.” This is a heavy album, though, and make no mistake. The vocals are forceful overall, and the unforgettable guitar work goes straight for your spine and sets it alight.

There are ten songs on the album running over an hour altogether. My favorite tracks are the longest ones, but that is a peccadillo of mine that runs deep. Still, “Trapped In A Midcave,” “Apollyon,” and “Leaving The Wars Of Woe” are all truly inspired compositions that clock over eight, nine, and ten minutes, respectively. Look, I know what I am doing, here – when I hear these long songs, I imagine seeing the live performance, and longer pieces where Matt Pike is leaning into it and wailing on the guitar are my favorite concert memories.

To be clear, you don’t want sleep on the short ones. “Acid Test Zone” is a savage little rager, and the opening song, “Abusive,” is a mood-setter if there ever was one. So, yeah, this album does sound a little different from the others we’ve heard so far yet still it fits right in. Fans of High On Fire and Sleep are going to love it. Highly recommended.

Pike Vs. The Automaton is out now and available everywhere. Check out a stream then pick up a physical product from MNRK Heavy while they are still available.

Links.

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

MNRK Heavy Records, https://mnrkheavy.com/collections/pike-vs-the-automaton

Matt Pike, Pike Vs. The Automaton (MNRK Heavy 2022)

Obsidian Sea, Pathos (Ripple Music 2022)

Bulgarian proto-doom trio Obsidian Sea bring their fourth album into clear view: Pathos.

Obsidian Sea came together in 2010 in Sofia playing a classic rock style layered into doom horizons. Prior to the new record, the band released a demo at the beginning and three long-players since – Between Two Deserts (2012), Dreams, Illusions, Obsessions (2015), and Strangers (2019). Their musical approach relies on melodic passages and extended diversions set in sweeping idiomatic paradigms of venerable rock and roll. According to the Metal Archives, the band is Bozhidar (drums), Anton (vocals and guitar), and Delyan Karaivanov (bass).

There are seven songs on Pathos, each hovering in the five-to-six minute range. Well-worn, reliable set-ups are played as bedrock formations holding up incredibly well-executed guitar work and impressive compositional talent. You can expect fuzzy guitars on the regular and softened melodic expressions that form a low hedge for the greater guitar adventuring.

Some of the song titles are quite grim. Witness the first two tracks, “Lament the Death of Wonder” and “The Long Drowning.” The music itself, while living in the land of doom, is not depressingly-oriented and the vocalizations are more earnest and dramatic than they are dreary and dank. Dark fantasy more than horror, you might say.

My favorite tracks include “The Revenants” and “Mythos” as they both highlight the features I have just mentioned, and I appreciate the sternness of the guitar moments. The former song especially has a mystical sensibility. The final piece is “The Meaning of Shadows,” and it approaches the avant-garde in comparison to its fellows. It also has a delightful noir aroma, a sinisterness. The song builds toward the end into an urgent finale, functioning as a gleeful capstone to the set. Excellent, all the way around. The music is not what you might typically think of when doom is being discussed, but it has a legitimate place in that world. Recommended.

Pathos is out now through Ripple Music. Snap it up at the label’s website, Bandcamp, or any of all those other places you can get music.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/pathos

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

Ripple Music, https://www.ripple-music.com/

Obsidian Sea, Pathos (Ripple Music 2022)

Beldam, Live At The Golden Pony (HPGD 2021)

The live album from sludge masters Beldam is an historical artifact of doom and despair.

This is one from the archives, recorded live at The Golden Pony in Harrisonburg, Virginia on January 8, 2017. Beldam is a band that started out in Charlottesville, Virginia and has moved around since then. In a mere three years they released two impressive albums, Still the Wretched Linger (2016) and Pasung (2018). The new one was captured in between these releases and completes a menacing triptych.

There are five looming tracks on the album. The first three are from Still the Wretched Linger, “The Foundling,” “From Grave To Cradle,” and “Needles.” From the opening bars that rise over the cheering crowd you get an intimate feeling of being in the room surrounded by the dark energy. The weight of the guitar and impenetrable bass is immense. The warbling, wandering lead guitar and searing vocals press the air from your lungs in the opener, and the music only gets heavier from there. The pace ranges from dead slow and absolutely crushing to pounding and assertive — the latter is particularly notable on “Needles.”

The two final pieces originally appeared on Pasung, so they are being performed here to promote that album. “Vial of Silence” sounds like it was recorded in a torture chamber that never closes.

“That Which Consumes You” identifies the burdens of life that wear on us and tells the story in an eerie, dank kaleidoscope of torment. It is an experience.

I would like to hear more music from this band but if the internet is to be believed, the future is uncertain. We do have the two studio albums and now this live musical artifact. Recommended.

Live At The Golden Pony is out now from Horror Pain Gore Death productions on CD and digital.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://hpgd.bandcamp.com/album/live-at-the-golden-pony

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

Horror Pain Gore Death Productions, https://www.horrorpaingoredeath.com/

Beldam, Live At The Golden Pony (HPGD 2021)

Bog Wizard, Miasmic Purple Smoke (The Dregs Records 2021)

Midwestern heavy doom act Bog Wizard roll the dice on a new record, Miasmic Purple Smoke.

Bog Wizard is a stoner trio from Michigan. And not Detroit but up in hinterlands of Ludington – north, west, and cold. Ben Lombard (vocals, guitar), Harlen Linke (percussion, vocals, synth), and Colby Lowman (bass) channel their own interests in heroic fantasy and Dungeons and Dragons into smoky musical doom. Their Campaign EP came out in 2018, followed two years later by From The Mire and then a split with Dust Lord, Four Tales of the Strange. The new one is the band’s second longplayer.

There are four meaty tracks and two bite-sized ones. “Barbaria” fronts the set with deliciously clodding doom riffs. Slow, heavy, and whimsical, the simplicity of the music allows for quick absorption. “The Rogue” follows like a gliding galley loaded with menace and bad intentions. It has a faster tempo and more of a grinding sense to it, and a long, welcome cool-down. “Grim Dark” is one of the short pieces that puts a nice unsettling bump on side one.

The title track leads the second triplet, kicking off with an Iommi-inspired riff and an excellent vocal pairing. Truly, the voices are the telling remark throughout this song, with a couple of extra-fuzzy divergences. “Stuck in the Muck” is a transitory tantrum that is a lot fun heading toward the closer, “The Void Beckons.” Synths and a funeral doom guitar welcome you in to a mystical world dripping with deep dark dankness. It is the longest trip on the album and it is a thoroughly satisfying journey.

You don’t have to be a D&D fan to enjoy this music. It is great slow, old school doom with some keys mixed in and just the right attitude. Recommended.

Miasmic Purple Smoke is out now. Take a deep drag at Bandcamp.

Links.

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

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

The Dregs Records, https://thedregsrecords.bigcartel.com/

Bog Wizard, Miasmic Purple Smoke (The Dregs Records 2021)

Worm, Foreverglade (20 Buck Spin 2021)

Florida gloom band Worm continues further down the path of deep dark doom on their third album, Foreverglade.

Formed around 2014, Worm’s early music was more oriented toward a straight-forward black metal tint. As they moved along, the doom emerged and quickly intensified into a lead-heavy oppression. Evocation of the Black Marsh came out in 2017, followed two years later by Gloomlord. The driving force behind Worm is an entity known as Phantom Slaughter whose work is enhanced on the new album by Nihilistic Manifesto, L. Dusk, and Equimanthorn. I wonder if those are their real names.

Foreverglade opens with the title track, sure in its stance and determined in its eeriness. It is a creeping combination of funereal guitar riffs, muffled death metal vocals, and ethereal, almost ritualistic sounds. On “Murk Above The Dark Moor” the composition has moments that are choir-like in their dirge and reverence, positioned against passages slightly paced up and massive in their density. And then, unexpectedly, there is a lead guitar break that is transportive. Side one closes with “Cloaked In Nightwinds,” the longest track on the album. It is a churning, clompy excavation of darkness.

“Empire Of The Necromancers” has an active beginning volley that is positively rapid compared to the tracks that came before. Excellent lead work early on in the song is a memorable highlight, as are the lyrical keys. “Subaqueous Funeral” is a single-length dark beauty with a pulse and flow that is engaging and mesmerizing in the guitar. “Centuries Of Ooze” brings the curtain down on the set, returning to the solemnness of the opening but even more mysteriously. I am a funeral doom fan and this music could fit in that category for its sheer heaviness, but it is more active than the typical strain and so creates its own description and enigma. Recommended.

Foreverglade is available on Friday, October 22nd through 20 Buck Spin. Ordering information can be found below at the label’s website and Bandcamp for the digital, CD, and cassette versions. There is a vinyl edition that is due January 28th, coming out later because of the well-known worldwide vinyl backlog.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://wormgloom.bandcamp.com

20 Buck Spin, http://www.20buckspin.com

Worm, Foreverglade (20 Buck Spin 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)

Nefariym, Morbid Delusions (Inverse Records 2021)

The debut full-length album from Nefariym tears open the fabric of musical reality: Morbid Delusions.

Coming together only two years ago, Melbourne, Australia’s Nefariym was created by veteran metallers Mark Kelson and Richie Poate. The music can generally be thought of as Death Metal with the duo’s own novel twists with plenty of Doom and Sludge in the mix as well. There have been a couple singles released by the band but this album is the first deep journey fans can listen to and assess.

The album contains an intro piece, nine new songs, and a cover of a metal classic. The first full track is “Succubus” and the band comes out blasting with a monstrous adrenaline-fueled assault from every instrument. Black/Death Metal hybrid vocals give the song the perfect tinge. “A Morbid Delusion” follows and it is another ripper – a high speed conundrum for your brain that’ll need a minute to process. The production lays together the rhythm with the vocals with a harmony guitar line that fills the entire available space, while an early lead break sounds like a madman railing against the injustices of existence.

Toward the end of “A Morbid Delusion” the tempo slows a bit and provides a perfect segue to “Tearing Flesh From The Bone” which has an excellent Sludge/Doom essence. This is my favorite track for its sheer heaviness and the unforgettable refrain. Throughout the album the alternating between high-tempo songs and slower doomers is enthralling. I found the entire set captivating, including the cover of Celtic Frost’s “Circle Of The Tyrants,” which both provides an anchor for the album and delivers an homage. Highly recommended.

Morbid Delusions hits the streets on Friday September 24th through Inverse Records.

Links.

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

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

Nefariym website, https://nefariym.com/

Inverse Records, https://www.inverse.fi/shop/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=939

Nefariym, Morbid Delusions (Inverse Records 2021)