Deadly Vipers, Low City Drone (Fuzzorama 2022)

The new album from Deadly Vipers, their second, is a welcome stop on the international stoner road: Low City Drone.

From Facebook, “Deadly Vipers is a French stoner-rock band from Cabestany.” There really is not much information in the press materials, and I had not heard of this band before so I find myself a bit adrift. On their FB page there is a little more, for those who are willing to browse. We find that the first album was called Fueltronaut and was released in 2017. That’s about it. The music is a fuzzy, bluesy stoner rock affair, and I am all in for that. Drop the needle.

It all begins with “Echoes From Wasteland,” a song that has a slow build leading to, as promised, extra fuzziness. It is a nice intro piece that sets up “Atom” nicely. The vocals are sassy and the guitar is cantankerous. There is a turbulent spacefuzz section where we appear to be wandering in the cosmos. Soon enough, never fear, we gain orientation and everything turns out all right. “Low City Drone” shows up next, with all the expectations that a title track bears on its back. Even without the titular nomenclature, it is clear that this nine-minute song is the center of the record’s universe. As it goes on, the music begins to weigh you down in a familiar, comforting way, nearly building a codependence where anxiety creeps in on the thought of the song ending. The guitar work here is amazing and the vocals are defining.

In other parts of the set there are fascinating nooks and crannies, places of both zest and rest. Take each on its own terms and avoid comparing any instantiation to another because they are not necessarily fellows. “Welli Welloo” is a tasty up-tempo bumper that is worth a second listen. “Last Rise” is a slower track, and it has a wonderfully dooming feel to it that I really liked. The lead guitar will eat you alive. The cool down is “Big Empty,” a well-paced, reflective bit that that shows up at exactly the right time. As I said, I hadn’t heard of Deadly Vipers before but I am glad I know about them now. Recommended.

Low City Drone is out now through Fuzzorama Records. In the US, Bandcamp is a good place to pick it up.

Links.

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

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Deadly1Vipers/

Fuzzorama Music, https://www.fuzzoramarecords.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Deadly Vipers, Low City Drone (Fuzzorama 2022)

Witchfinder, Endless Garden (Mrs Red Sound 2022)

Hazy stoner doom band Witchfinder cast out their new EP into the world, Endless Garden.

Just a few years ago in France, Witchfinder began creating music with hallmarks of doom, sludge, and heavy psych. Leaning toward the stoner end of the room, they released two full-length albums, a self-titled one in 2017 followed by Hazy Rites in 2019. There is a new long-player on the horizon, and meanwhile they offer Endless Garden. Witchfinder is Clément Mostefai (vocals and bass), Stanislas Franczak (guitar), Thomas Dupuy (drums), and Kevyn Raecke (keys).

There are two long tracks on the new EP beginning with “Eternal Sunset.” Any song that runs nearly eleven minutes will have some change-ups, or an arc, or both. Here we have a quiet opening, reflective music establishing space to expand into. Guitars and keys arrive in due course. There are moments that seem like self-contain songs themselves, and other, longer stretches that feel like a movie soundtrack. The vocals are spacey, almost cavernous at times, adding depth and mystery. The hallmarks of riff-driven stoner rock never stray too far from focus.

“The Maze” starts with a wandering bass, paired with a guitar that looks in a different direction. The mood here is darker than on the first song, instilling trepidation in the listener. The vocals offer what seems like a warning, or at least a sinister tale to put you on your guard. Decisive plodding appears, and is like a marching force on a mission; they will not be swayed. There is a sudden, violent shift at the end, an abrupt black metal moment that signals the conclusion of the conflict.

The band has planned a full-length album for later in the year. These two songs will hold us over until then. It is also a rewarding enterprise to listen to Witchfinder’s earlier albums in the interim. Recommended.

Mrs Red Sound will release Endless Garden on Friday, June 3rd. Bandcamp is a good stop when you are looking for this music.

Links.

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

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

Mrs Red Sound Records, http://mrsredsound.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Witchfinder, Endless Garden (Mrs Red Sound 2022)

Epitaphe, II (Aesthetic Death 2022)

French progressive doom band Epitaphe head off into new territory with their sophomore long-player, II.

Epitaphe began as far back as 2009. They released a demo in 2018, and their debut full-length album the following year, appropriately titled I. The musical style has elements of progressive death metal and funeral doom, usually rolled out in long movements. The first album had more of the latter, while this new one relies less on funeral doom. There is no mistaking that it is the same band, however, and the fans they have gathered so far will be grandly fulfilled by the new music.

There are three tracks that hover around the nineteen minute mark, plus an introductory movement and an outro. “Sycomore” begins the session sweetly, leaving you completely unprepared for the full-on assault that is “Celestial.” The ravaging brutality of this blistering metal affront is complicated by melodic vocals that materialize only to be devour by course growls. There are reinforced shocks throughout and, eventually, you can sense that disruptions are in the offing but they always still startle you when they hit.

“Melancholia” dives in with percussive creations that are tectonic, elemental. The compositional structure flattens out at times, allowing familiarity to lull you toward the ordinary, but it never stays that way long enough to give a firm footing. You only think you know what is next. This middle portion is my favorite of the set, and I especially appreciate the lead guitar work and, later, the funeral doom.

“Insignificant” recalls the intro piece with its initial gentleness, like a minstrel who has wandered into a dark, sinister forest and only slowly begins to realize what has happened. The metal here has a theatrical feel to it, and a sense of story is strong throughout. “Merging Within Nothingness” is a short cooldown. How you feel about it will depend on how you experienced the rest of the album. For me, I had a moment to realize, at least partially, the significance of what I had just listened to.

There is an arc here. Listening from beginning to end is more important with this album than with many. The full procession is the way to go. Highly recommended.

II is out on April 11th in digital, on CD through Aesthetic Death, and Gurgling Gore has the cassette.

Links.

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

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

Aesthetic Death, https://www.aestheticdeath.com/

Gurgling Gore, https://www.gurglinggore.com/

© Wayne Edwards.

Epitaphe, II (Aesthetic Death 2022)

Viande, L’abîme dévore les âmes (Transcending Obscurity 2022)

The debut full-length album from Viande is a contentious black metal rendering, L’abîme dévore les âmes.

Viande began in France nearly ten years ago. They have released a demo and an EP in the interval, so the recorded material is not large – making the new long-player an important event for fans. Membership in the band is something of a mystery with the musicians preferring to get by on an initial rather than a full disclosure, preserving a sense of the uncanny. The musical style is, generally speaking, black metal. This category is known for brutal renderings and you can put Viande on the rough side of the room as far as that goes. The songs are savage and loud, fierce and tearing.

L’abîme dévore les âmes (in English, “the abyss devours souls”) holds eight tracks. The first song of an album is usually either a signal or a warning. “Les Dents Du Gouffre” is both. It is a red flag of terror showing clearly that devastation lies ahead. This is monstrous, eerie black metal that lays a blade against your throat while it brings an iron hammer down on your skull.

If, like me, you don’t speak French, pass some of these titles through an on-line translator and you’ll get a quick idea of the themes: “La Tombe Avide,” “Traitre A La Vie,” and “Le Souffle Des Os.” True enough, these notions are not exclusive to Vainde and they are regularly deployed by black metal bands, and other purveyors of extreme music. Here, however, the essence is treated differently, with greater attention to otherworldliness, to eldritch lore, at least in the feeling of the composition. Dramatic ambient and doom-heavy passages allow dread to soak through to your bones and siphon off your breath steadily, deliberately, completely. Each songs is a new terror.

If you like dark metal with a poisonous attitude and no regard for the stability of your state of mind, then this album is for you. Recommended.

L’abîme dévore les âmes is out on Friday, April 15th through Transcending Obscurity Records. Have a look at the possibilities at the links below.

Links.

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

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/viande666/

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

© Wayne Edwards.

Viande, L’abîme dévore les âmes (Transcending Obscurity 2022)

Djiin, Meandering Soul (Klonosphere Records 2021)

French psychedelic rock band Djiin are back with their sophomore studio album, Meandering Soul.

Chloé Panhaleux (vocals, electric harp), Allan Guyomard (drums), Tom Penaguin (guitar), and Charlélie Pailhes (bass) are Djiin. Their musical style is a fusion of progressive rock and stoner/psychedelic music. That sounds like a clash more than a fusion, but Djiin make it work with impressive fluidity. Meandering Soul is the band’s third release, after a live album and The Freak (2019).

There are six tracks on the new album. “Black Circus” begins cautiously, transforming into a casual vamp before rolling out the dooming slog. Vocalist Chloé Panhaleux layers her voice in a dizzying array of low and high, serious and languid. When she pauses, a prog segment kicks in, then tags her back in. It is like two different plays are going on at the same time on opposite sides of the stage and the spotlight is shifting back and forth. This pliant uncertainly leads smoothly into “Void.” The song is more of an evolution in and between its constituent parts than as the previous track, until the screaming near the end, that is. “Red Desert” has a heavier sound, a meatier vibe. And it has a louder feeling to it, a more out-loud intentionality.

The back half begins with a dark, sly smile – “Warmth of Death.” It takes about five minutes for the song to unwind, and it really cuts loose after that. “White Valley” is my favorite of the set for its guitars, the vocal treatment, and the melodious discord it enjoins. “Waxdoll” is the final piece, and it breaks the gate at a cracking pace. The middle is exploratory, and the off ramp is ethereal. There are so many different moving parts on this album that it is difficult to keep track of them. But then there is no need to, is there. Just listen and take it as it comes. Recommended.

Meandering Soul is out now from Klonosphere Records. Touch the links below.

Links.

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

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/djiin.theband/

Klonosphere Records, https://www.klonosphere.com/

Djiin, Meandering Soul (Klonosphere Records 2021)

Frau Fleischer, When The Sun’s Down (Sliptrick Records 2021)

French industrial cabaret metal band Frau Fleischer turn the world up a notch on their new album, When The Sun’s Down.

The band is made up of Gabriel Daimon (vocals), Greg Lambert (guitar), and Franz Schultz (electronics) . The core of the music is industrial dance metal, but it branches out in all manner of directions from there, most interestingly, as far as I am concerned, toward the cabaret. When The Sun’s Down is their first album.

The band describes their musical intentions, in part, this way, “Like the sound of a steak thrown heavily on a white canvas, we must bleed out the darkness to reach the dancing floor and, together with you, transform this pain into our own powerful cry.”

There are nine rambunctious tracks on the album, every one filled with hypnotic hyper-energy. “Sacrifice” is the first crack in the assault on all that is. Clearly, this is snarling dance music – a club take on industrial metal that channels the ethereal spirit of Soft Cell. Catchy, insistent, repetitive in exactly the intended way, the music is designed to make you move.

The addition of a strong theatrical element to the compositions is a significant innovation. Without it, Frau Fleischer might blend in with the many others trying to attract attention. As it is, this band stands out for their ingenuity in combinatorics and for the confident beauty of their presentations. I am attracted to the guitars and the harsh aspects of the industrial elements. And the vocals, too, as in the fashionably rolling “Holy Crown” and also in the somewhat more mechanical “Bloody Curls.” The different tones and takes provide a warming friction.

Frau Fleischer is outside my musical comfort zone and I didn’t know what to expect from the music going in. What I heard made me want to know more. Recommended.

When The Sun’s Down is out now from Sliptrick Records. Poke around the links below and you will find what you are looking for.

Links.

Website, http://fraufleischerband.fr/

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

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

Sliptrick Records, https://sliptrickrecords.com/

Frau Fleischer, When The Sun’s Down (Sliptrick Records 2021)

Little Jimi, The Cantos (Mrs Red Sound 2021)

French psychedelic trio releases their sophomore album, The Cantos.

The band – Benjamin Monnereau (guitar, vocals), Guillaume Arancibia (guitar), and Antoine Le Gall (drums) – began in 2017, issuing their first recordings. A full-length album followed the next year, and now there is The Cantos. The music is rock, and to me it sounds heavy and inspired by stoner, progressive, and heavy psych bands. The early rock influences stretching back into the 1960s and 1970s are in there functioning as the bedrock to the band’s sound. Another way to think of it is that these elemental characteristics are the launching point for the music Little Jimi creates.

There are six longish tracks on the new album. “First Cantos” starts it all off, and it has an acoustic intro and an ethereal vocal bed that takes us into space in the first half, after which things turn heavier. The extended, fuzzy instrumental movement progresses into light doom before becoming buoyant in the final moments. “The Way” also opens gently, and it has more of a 1960s psychedelic feel. “Palace Afternoon” is a trip, a fuzzed out, dark Pink Floydian affair. It is a stunning, memorable piece.

Side two starts big on guitars, and even without a bass the heavy rhythm line is prominent at the beginning and the end on “Machetehew.” “Indian Rain” is the proggiest track while the closer, “Last Cantos XXIV,” has an uplifting feel to it. This music has a heaviness that I like but the compositions are transformed in concert with many other elements that act more like a conflux than a balancing. I am glad I listened. Recommended.

The digital album is out on Friday August 20th with the LP version to follow on September 17th through Mrs Red Sound and both versions can be had at Bandcamp.

Band photo by Christian Arnaud.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://littlejimi.bandcamp.com/album/the-cantos

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/LittleJimi.music/

Mrs Red Sound, https://mrsredsound.com/

Little Jimi, The Cantos (Mrs Red Sound 2021)

Pisswitch ~ St. Barthelemy’s Temple, Split (Babylon Doom Cult Records 2021)

A split that takes the concept literally with bands that operate on opposite ends of the spectrum: Pisswitch and St. Barthelemy’s Temple.

Two bands of mystery come together to release a tantalizing split. Not much is known about either one. St. Barthelemy’s Temple is a black metal band from France that describes its sound as being reminiscent of Eyehategod. Meanwhile, according to the press release, Pisswitch has no web presence whatsoever and is peopled by “leading figures from today’s raw black metal scene.” OK then. Anonymous it is.

Each band contributes three long tracks. The music on each side is very different.

Pisswitch offers up tortured, raw doom with spare, hissing black metal vocals that languish in the abyss and guitars that seem to be sounding a warning at the gates of hell. Slow, immiserating, hopeless. It is beautifully dark music.

The music from St. Barthelemy’s Temple for the split, compared to Pisswitch, might be described as more traditionally black metal. The first track is heavy on the doom side, while the second picks up the speed and sponsors the percussion and vocals that are familiar to dedicated black metal fans in the first half of the song. The finish is an excellent blackened doom enterprise.

While these bands do sound very different, their music works well together on this split. They both create doom and black metal music, each one leaning in an opposite direction. They complement each other. Recommended.

The split is available this Friday, July 9th, from Babylon Doom Cult Records. Try the link below. You can watch/listen to a teaser trailer on YouTube as well by following the St. Barthelemy’s Temple Facebook link.

Links.

St. Barthelemy’s Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/St-Barthelemys-Temple-108916979189279/

Babylon Doom Cult Records, https://www.babylondoomcultrecords.com/product/pisswitch-st-barthelemys-temple-pisswitch-the-cold-mouth-of-the-earth-lp/

Babylon Doom Cult Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/babylondoomcultrecords

Pisswitch ~ St. Barthelemy’s Temple, Split (Babylon Doom Cult Records 2021)

Nervous Decay, Nervous Decay (Great Dane Records 2021)

French Old School Death Metal specialists unleash their first full-length album.

Nervous Decay released a demo in 2019 and single in 2020. The new album includes the songs from those issues newly recorded with a couple of debut tracks. The style is straight-up pummeling Death Metal with a significant nostalgic nod to the past and a critical eye to innovation. The band is Guillaume Pavaillon (vocals and bass), Gregoire Bonin (guitar), Guilhem Lesage (drums), and Nathan Thebault (guitar).

The opener is “Cerberus’ Brace” and it hits the mark with blazing guitar blasts and speedy riffs. The vocals have a delightfully feral quality to them, and the rhythm section makes prominent appearances. “Daily Poison” follows and pushes the metal just as far, taking turns and explorations in technical directions and inserting ear-catching hooks. All seven songs in the set are ones you’ll want to hear again and again.

I especially like “Shield of Delusion” which has an eerie, doom-laden approach. “Lobotomy” is another song that I keep hearing in my head as it positively roars at the front and back while also including a sort of dream sequence within. This album hits hard in all the right places. Recommended.

Nervous Decay is out now. In the US, Bandcamp is a good place to gather up the goods.

Photo from the band’s Facebook page.

Links.

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

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Nervous.Decay.Band

Label, https://www.greatdanerecs.com/eshop/web/?lang=en_US

Nervous Decay, Nervous Decay (Great Dane Records 2021)

Exanimis, Marionnettiste (Klonosphere Records 2021)

New French musical project Exanimis issue their first long-player, Marionnettiste.

The story is that the band “was created by former students of the Music Academy International, who all shared a passion for extreme and technical musical styles and set out to create a sound that merges the atmosphere of horror and fantasy soundtracks with the heaviness and technical intricacies of metal.” So far so good. Looking over the usual internet resources for info on the musicians in the band, not much comes up, suggesting a glistening newness. The only way to know is to listen.

There are nine tracks on the album, including an on- and off-ramp and one brief transition piece in the middle. After one pass, the target does seem to be Dream Theater, although the themes are more along the horror lines, or at the very least, darkening in that direction. The opening segment is a prelude, and it starts out quietly, as they do, building slowly and theatrically to include a bigger sound and a creepy chorus of voices. The first principal song is “The Wrathful Beast,” and it has a very Danny Elfman-esque structure, but even more elaborate and with rapid blasting percussion and big electrical guitar moments to go along with the orchestration. There are a lot of moving parts here, and the lead vocal is of a toned-down death metal variety (meaning not quite as harsh as you might encounter in a typically death metal band).

If it is complex arrangements you are looking for, this is the place. The sheer number of elements is sometimes overwhelming and can seem excessive. Sorting them all out will take more than one listening. And this is just the first relative short piece running only five minutes. The epic is “Cathedral” at the end, clocking in at over sixteen minutes, and it has rivals. This is beyond prog metal. It pushes into a land of its own creation that at times seems like an endless house of mirrors. The music is full, that’s for sure, and it has a heaping dose of metal and dark, edgy thematic constructions. All these things together lead me to recommend the album for the more adventurous métallurgistes out there.

Marionnettiste drops on Friday, March 5th at the label link or Bandcamp.

Links.

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

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

Label, https://www.klonosphere.com/

Exanimis, Marionnettiste (Klonosphere Records 2021)