DoctoR DooM, A Shadow Called Danger (Ripple 2023)

DoctoR DooM, the four-piece stoner rock act from France, helps you start your year off right with A Shadow Called Danger.

I first came across DoctoR DooM when I heard their album This Seed We Have Sown (2015) that I picked up during a Ripple Music sale. The vibrations I experienced that day live in my synapses still. I have been waiting ever since for another infusion – at last it has arrived. The band is Jean-Laurent Pasquet (vocals, guitar) Bertrand Legrand (guitar), Michel Marcq (drums), and Sébastien Boutin Blomfield (bass).

The new album is heavier than the last, doomier in parts. The first track, “Comeback to Yourself,” starts off that way, heavy, but shifts into a lighter frame after a number of bars and starts to cook. Immediately, you start to feel 1974 rising from its resting place and sweeping the room with renewed vigor. Light yet meaningful, delivered with purpose. The perfect jump. “What Are They Trying to Sell” follows with a different tone. I don’t know what they had in mind when they wrote it, but to me it makes me see the beach from the perspective of the PCH. But then it slows and becomes dramatic, telling a different story. It is a journey. Nice organ work on this track by Jim Blomfield, too.

“Ride On” is a quiet piece, filled with eager solitude that builds to eventual explosion. The switch (or you might call it a progression) happens in other songs, too, like “Hollow.” Here though it is more gradual and has the biggest tidal change. These songs, the whole album, are lookbacks in a way, sure, but they are reinventions more than replications. In that sense the music is filled with surprises even as it brings on nostalgia. The beautiful and sad “Sarabande” closes the show and leaves you wanting more.

If the new album is any measure, the second decade of DoctoR DooM will be even better than the first. Recommended.

A Shadow Called Danger is out now through Ripple Music. Explore the possibilities at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://doctordoom.bandcamp.com/album/a-shadow-called-danger

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/doctordoom09/

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

© Wayne Edwards

DoctoR DooM, A Shadow Called Danger (Ripple 2023)

Azken Auzi, Azken Auzi (Argonauta 2023)

Sludgy doom band Azken Auzi release their self-titled debut.

Stationed in Toulon, France, Azken Auzi is a new band formed by musicians from other metal acts. Deciding they wanted a change of pace, they veered from death metal and noise toward atmospheric doom, frequently touching on funeral doom landscapes. Their new album is a deary delight.

“Disgrace” brings notes of fear to the beginning of the set. Slow and ominous, the lead-in sets up perfectly the gruff howls of despair that follow in the vocals. This is grim stuff, and unrelenting. “Azken Auzi” is up next, and it takes the music down a notch into funeral doom territory. Over the course of the song the tempo does pick up considerably, but the sentiment does not brighten. It is a thunderclap that keeps rolling. “I Hate You” is almost pleasant in comparison. The hopelessness and sorrow saturate the musical palate of this song as well, although here there is a sense of movement, an active sort of despair, you might say. Hate, after all, is actionable.

“Rho Scorpii” offers a sort of emotional parallax because the droning rhythm can set you down the path of darkness but there is also a reassuring known-ness to it as the song progresses. This is the sort of music that could go on for twenty minutes and you would still be hanging in there with it. “K.R.L.H.” is a graveyard dirge; lovely, drowning darkness. The pace turns after a while, and the narrative seems to switch toward a campaign – a path of intention. “Home” is the anchor and the longest track of the set. It has a tentative beginning that is clearly heading toward something else – change is in the air. This song is the most exploratory, and it covers the most ground. At the very end there is a bonus track, which is an alternate version of the title song. I appreciate the dark menace of this music and the dedication of the compositions to their purpose. Recommended.

Azken Auzi is out now through Argonauta Records. Get yours at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://azkenauzi.bandcamp.com/album/azken-auzi

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

Argonauta Records, https://www.argonautarecords.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Azken Auzi, Azken Auzi (Argonauta 2023)

The Necromancers, Where The Void Rose (Ripple 2022)

French horror metalists The Necromancers have new stories to tell on their third album, Where The Void Rose.

Since 2015, The Necromancers – a heavy rock / doom band from France – have been telling dark tales set to music. They have released two previous full-length albums, Servants of the Salem Girl (2017) and Of Blood and Wine (2018). Get ready for mid-tempo doom with plenty of fuzzy riffs. The band is Simon Evariste (bass), Benjamin Rousseau (drums), Basile Chevalier-Coudrain (vocals, guitar), and Robin Genais (guitar).

Not a concept album as such, Where The Void Rose “tells the story of a decaying world, where some try to hold the hordes in the depths while others yearn to plunge into the abyss, exhilarated by the discovery of new knowledge and eager for answers in the face of the inevitable. Venturing to the junction of the land and sea, the band confront the tumult of the ocean and explore the sunken ruins of our civilization…” You can think of it as a collection of horror stories with related themes.

There are six songs on the new album, opening with “Sunken Huntress,” which heads out at a dead run. The music has a feeling of quest to it. You get the impression you are on a hurried journey on horseback with an expiring deadline hovering over you and desperados at your back. “Crimson Hour” slows the pace considerably, turning more reflective and carrying a heavier tone, generally. It is the longest cut on the album and enjoys the space to explore. “The Needle” has a nice 1980s riff leading into a rumbling bass line and narrative set-up that creates anticipation. The vocals range from melodic to gruff, driving the drama in the story.

Side two gives us “Orchard,” an ominous track, draped in a dark cloak and seeping mystic energy. The guitar in this song is a wondrous thing. “Where the Void Rose” is not what I expected from a title track in that it has an unusual gate and trajectory unlike the other music on the album. It is beautiful and engaging; somber and thought-provoking. They are playing the long game on this one, and the build goes all the way to the end. “Over the Threshold” finishes things off on a rumbling note with high energy and dark promises. It is a fantastic way to wrap the set up. Recommended.

Where The Void Rose is out now in digital through Ripple Music. CD and vinyl versions will ship in January 2023. Check out the label shop or Bandcamp to pick it up.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/where-the-void-rose

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

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

© Wayne Edwards

The Necromancers, Where The Void Rose (Ripple 2022)

Barabbas, La Mort Appelle Tous Les Vivants (Sleeping Church 2022)

French doom band Barabbas offer their latest for your dark enjoyment, La Mort Appelle Tous Les Vivants.

Barabbas began about fifteen years ago in France. Their first EP, Libérez Barabbas, came out in 2011, and was followed by the band’s debut long-player, Messe pour un chien, in 2014. The new album is only their second full-length release, which is surprising given its power and depth you hear when you listen to it. The band is Saint Stéphane (guitar), Saint Rodolphe (vocals), Saint Thomas (guitar), Saint Jean-Christophe (drums), and Saint Alexandre (bass).

There are seven primary tracks on the new record, plus an intro and an off ramp. The band states that their primary influences are Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus, and Cathedral. You can really hear that in the music and, as far as I am concerned, it is all for the better. “Je suis mort depuis bien longtemps” opens with massive, killer riffs followed by earnest, pressing vocals. I do not speak French so the vocals are a pure instrument to me, and they sound fantastic. The music takes a solemn turn as it edges toward the halfway mark, then the lead guitar comes in and knocks you out. A great opener.

There are up-tempo tracks like “Le saint riff rédempteur” that get you blood pumping at the beginning of the song and others that are almost doom ballads, like “Le cimetière des rêves brises,” where the darkness is more measured. In every case, the guitar work is exceptional, and the heaviness is always the driving force. Look to “Mon crâne est une crypte (et j’y suis emmuré)” for some of the most engaging doom I have heard all year. This album has me going back and listening to everything Barabbas has done before. Highly recommended.

La Mort Appelle Tous Les Vivants is out now through Sleeping Church Records in digital and CD formats. Have a look at the links below – Bandcamp is always a good bet in the US.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://sleepingchurchrecords.bandcamp.com/album/la-mort-appelle-tous-les-vivants

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

Sleeping Church Records, https://sleepingchurchrds.com/en/

© Wayne Edwards

Barabbas, La Mort Appelle Tous Les Vivants (Sleeping Church 2022)

Beyond The Void, The Machinist (Great Dane 2022)

Death metal disrupters Beyond The Void release their first full-length album, The Machinist.

Beyond The Void is a death metal band from France. They have been around for less than a lustrum, releasing their inaugural EP Ex Nihilo Nihil in 2020. Their truculent brand of metal is even better expressed in the long form of the new album. The band is Antoine Grasser (guitar), Maxime le Corre (drums), Cyril Cozza (vocals), Antoine Bieber (guitar), and Laurent Schmitt (bass).

After an eerie prelude of disturbing angular strings, the album gets going with a signature titular song. The vocals are gruff, with occasional pairings for depth and hiss. The guitars are aggressive, stabbing, with hooks appearing and going off at unpredictable intervals. There is a detectable 1980s injection that is nice to hear, and a number of other elements that are difficult to characterize. Swimming and fighting together, these musical pieces somehow achieve synergy. “From The Sky” follows, the longest track and a departure into a more measured, but no less peculiar, landscape. The slow pace dissolves into frenzy before much time passes, spinning you around and showing you a different view. The effect is exhilarating while also being disequilibrating.

The album is one fired canon after another. Their music has been described as brutal death metal, and it is, some of the time. That is not all, though, as there is a mad collaboration with less caustic musical enterprises that smashes together in a sonic particle collider yielding spectacular results. Look for “Hymns Of Annihilation” especially as the perfect example of this creation in action. “The Shadow In My Mind” is a wild one that will make you dizzy, and the title track is an urgent closer. After listening to this record, I consider myself shook up. Recommended.

The Machinist is out now through Great Dane Records. In the US, Bandcamp is a good place to pick the digital or CD.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://greatdanerecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-machinist

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

Great Dane Records, https://www.greatdanerecs.com/eshop/web/

© Wayne Edwards

Beyond The Void, The Machinist (Great Dane 2022)

Witchfinder, Forgotten Mansion (Mrs Red Sound 2022)

Witchfinder brings out another great record with their third full-length album, Forgotten Mansion.

The French psychedelic doom quartet Witchfinder is Clément Mostefai (vocals, bass), Stanislas Franczak (guitar), Thomas Dupuy (drums), and Kevyn Raecke (keyboard). Since their first album dropped just five years ago, they have been on a winning streak with Hazy Rites two years later, and the well-received Endless Garden earlier EP this year. Their newest album is some of the best music they have made so far.

“Approaching” has a trippy, psychedelic ramp that pushes into a classic doom guitar drop. The vocals are cast from the distance in an echoey framing which pulses perfectly inside a mind that has achieved an altered state. The lead guitar segment that first appears is laid back and effective, setting up a tempo shift and that offers a mid-song lift, providing fertile ground for the following Iommi-inspired riff. The construction of the song is a credible integration of psychedelic entreaties in a doom architecture. “Marijuana,” which features Haldor Grunberg adding vocal depth, puts the lead guitar near the front, placing it as a signpost for the changes that follow. Here again we have the beautifully heavy, fuzzy riff and rhythm that carries the water for the ethereal vocals. Excellent. And then “Lucid Forest,” the shortest song so far at a mere five and a half minutes, slides in trippingly and lightens things up a little. It is still heavy, of course. It seems more reflective to me than its predecessors, changing the mood a might. The keys are more prominent in my ears, too, and the lead guitar break stands out.

“Ghosts Happen To Fade” is my favorite track. I like the entire album, but this one lands just right in my ears and brain, touching a place with the guitar that hadn’t been activated yet. The vocals are more sinister here, and that has an appeal as well. “The Old Days” wraps things up and brings back the straightforward doom at the front of the track. The music turns up the psych knob halfway through and reminds us of the range of the band. The album is solid psych-doom through and through. Recommended.

Forgotten Mansion is out now through Mrs Red Sound Records. Bandcamp is the place to go in the US to pick this one up.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://witchfinder.bandcamp.com/album/forgotten-mansion

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

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

FFMB review of the Endless Garden EP, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2022/06/06/witchfinder-endless-garden-mrs-red-sound-2022/

© Wayne Edwards

Witchfinder, Forgotten Mansion (Mrs Red Sound 2022)

Electric Jaguar Baby, Psychic Death Safari (Rebel Waves 2022)

The new album from Electric Jaguar Baby continues the fuzzed up garage rock trance, Psychic Death Safari.

Since 2015, eclectic duo Electric Jaguar Baby from Paris, France has been creating fascinating vibes. Over the course of the intervening years, a trio of EPs and their debut album have left a trail for music lovers to follow that is wickedly diverse and endlessly entertaining. The identity of the central musical pair remains mysterious, but we do know that there are guest appearances on the album by Luca of Go!Zilla on vocals and organ, and Jed of ZigZags on guitar.

The band describes the new album as “a gangbang between Ty Segall, Josh Homme, Jack White and Ozzy Osbourne, sprinkled with retro and occult 70’s vibes”. If that doesn’t capture your imagination then you must be in a coma.

“Hitmaker” opens with a catchy 1970s rock riff then continues with similarly-styled vocals. It hooks you immediately – there is no way to not hang out and listen. “Flashlight” is a little denser, a bit trippier. It sets a cruise and rolls on down the gently winding highway. By the time we get to “Shiver River,” I had an Amboy Dukes flashback. Every song cooks, and the listening is good.

There is a lot to like on this record. One of my favorite tracks is “Hellcome” – love the lead guitar and the assertive past-central riff. And come on, “Jaguar’s Boogie” is a thing of beauty. If you are into garage rock, 1970s sensibilities, and fuzzed up trippy stoniness, there is no way you can go wrong here. Recommended.

Psychic Death Safari is out now through Ripple Music’s Rebel Waves Records on vinyl, CD, and digital. If you like what you hear, check out the band’s back catalogue at their Bandcamp page (link below).

Links.

Electric Jaguar Baby website, https://express.adobe.com/page/SarZGmiV5SG7Y/

Bandcamp, https://electricjaguarbaby.bandcamp.com/album/psychic-death-safari

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

Ripple Music, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/psychic-death-safari

© Wayne Edwards

Electric Jaguar Baby, Psychic Death Safari (Rebel Waves 2022)

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)