The Freqs, Poachers (2023)

Heavy rock stoner band The Freqs bring it on with their latest, Poachers.

At the tender age of three, The Freqs have their act together. In such a short time, it is surprising that the Salem, Massachusetts band is four EPs deep with the new record. Each album so far has been a step up, and the new one is no exception. The band is Seth Crowell (guitar, vocals), Ian Mandly (bass, keys), and Zack Fierman (drums).

“Poacher Gets The Tusk” gets things rolling with a heavy stoner riff and a surprisingly intense catchiness. It has a good cook to it, this song, with a syrupy passage in the center. Mostly fungus-free, this one is a winner. “Powertrippin’” is a bit stabby, with distorted vocals paired by a harsh guitar partner. Frenzied and clacking, the song excites your nerve endings like a fourth cup of coffee at breakfast. There is a very odd choir-like chorus in the softened center that might wrong-foot you, so watch out. “Asphalt Rivers” makes out like it is a gentle lounge piece. It is more than that, with creaturous ripples biding their time just beneath the surface. Soon enough they break through and rock your inadequate boat. It is unsettling.

Side two brings “Sludge Rats,” a song that sounds like it seems it would sound. At first. Like the other songs in this set, first impressions do not convey accurately the entirety of the enterprise. The swelling and growth of the music herein is industrious. “Chase Fire, Caught Smoke” has a delightful mystery to it, a devilish squirm that is enticing and mesmerizing. I love the tone. The last track is “Witch,” a raw, sludgy delicacy. I find the guitar in this song very appealing, highlighted here even more than in other songs. This album deserves a listen. Recommended.

Poachers is out on Friday, February 3rd in glorious digital at the Bandcamp link below.

Band photo by Zack Fierman.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://thefreqs.bandcamp.com/album/poachers

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

© Wayne Edwards

The Freqs, Poachers (2023)

Act Of Impalement, Infernal Ordinance (Caligari 2023)

Ten years in, Act of Impalement throws out some of their best metal so far with the new album Infernal Ordinance.

Formed in Nashville in 2012, Act Of Impalement is a metal band that layers and infuses a variety of heavy styles in their music. In the early days, the band released three demos, two EPs, and a split with Forest of Tygers. When 2018 came around, the first long-player emerged, Perdition Cult. Since then, fans have waited five tense years for new music, and now they have been rewarded. The studio lineup for the new album is Ethan Rock (guitar, vocals), Jimmy Grogan (bass), and Zack Ledbetter (drums).

In less than thirty minutes, Act Of Impalement rips through nine devastating tracks. First up is “Summoning the Final Conflagration.” The first notes are doom, supplanted almost immediately by chaos, followed then with a thrashing blackened explosion of riffs. Less than a minute in, they settle into a chopping groove that cuts a swath in the musical landscape as wide as the Mississippi. The vocals are a gruff croak, dry as desert-buried death. It is a very promising start. “Bogbody” drops in next, and it is a flat out sprint to the two minute finish line. There is some black metal riffing in the middle and a nice shred, too. “In Wolflight” we find a howl of despair and aggression, while “Specters of Unlight” returns to a longer form and takes a more challenging posture. The vocals are more whispery here, and the threat is real. This is my favorite track on the album because of its many components that are seamlessly woven together in what can sensibly be called a musical tapestry. Excellent.

“Creeping Barrage” is the short track I like best – the riff and vocals are in precise spiritual alignment. “Death Hex” stands out, too, with is beastly bass line. The last word is “Erased,” the longest song on the record. It offers a heavy doom set-up and finish, with blistering guitar instances that will cook your synapses. I think this album is the best yet from Act Of Impalement. Recommended.

Infernal Ordinance is out on Thursday, February 2nd through Caligari Records. Hit the Bandcamp link below for the quick grab.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://actofimpalement.bandcamp.com/album/infernal-ordinance

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

Caligari Records, http://www.caligarirecords.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Act Of Impalement, Infernal Ordinance (Caligari 2023)

Clouds Taste Satanic, Tales Of Demonic Possession (Majestic Mountain 2023)

Let the new music from Clouds Taste Satanic engulf you: Tales Of Demonic Possession.

Clouds Taste Satanic is the best instrumental doom band in the land. I have been a fan for as long as I have been aware of them. For about ten years and across six previous full-length albums (plus the exceptional Satanic Singles series), the metal quartet from New York has shown itself to be limitlessly inventive. The new album adds not only to their canon, but to their legend and lore. The band is Sean Bay (bass), Steven Scavuzzo (guitar), Greg Acampora (drums), and Brian Bauhs (guitar).

There are four long tracks on the new album, one for each side with each running about twenty minutes in length. First is “Flames and Demon Drummers.” The song begins softly and quietly. The music is a bit melancholy, but otherwise light-hearted. The big guitar riffs do enter, and they land firmly, with the rhythm wall standing up an avenue for the lead. The composition charts a path and sees it through, encountering a few unexpected ripples along the way. “Sun Death Ritual” follows and opens with an invitational guitar posture, bringing in the doom sentiment shortly thereafter. The guitar is very active, as it must be on all the tracks, really, carrying a lot of the weight in the instrumental setting. The sound here is grimier than the first track, in the best possible way. It turns spacey then comes back, and toward the end there is a march through a dark land that is harrowing, indeed. Fantastic.

The second disc gives us “Spirits of the Green Desert” on side three. The wind whistles through the crusty rocks and you begin to hear drumming in the distance. The music that comes up is a clear indication that spells are being cast nearby. What is not immediately clear is the manner of magic being invoked. The heaviness of the music is a sign, but before you know enough to react, you are bewitched, fixed in place, immersed. “Conjuring the Dark Rider” is the final piece. It is the most dramatic to my ears, and the song with the most narrative clarity. There is a fantastic jam just before midway that stays with me even now. The ending demonstrates incredible sway. This is excellent music all the way through, and it is exactly what I was hoping for in the new record. Highly recommended.

Tales Of Demonic Possession is out on Friday, February 3rd in multiple formats, including vinyl, through Majestic Mountain Records. Have a look at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://cloudstastesatanic.bandcamp.com/album/tales-of-demonic-possession

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

CTS roundup at FFMB, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2020/04/07/a-quick-look-at-clouds-taste-satanic/

Majestic Mountain Records, https://majesticmountainrecords.bigcartel.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Clouds Taste Satanic, Tales Of Demonic Possession (Majestic Mountain 2023)

Book Review: Doom Metal Lexicanum II, by Aleksey Evdokimov (Cult Never Dies 2021)

If you thought you had learned everything there was to know about doom metal from the first volume of Doom Metal Lexicanum, book 2 is going to be an eye-opener.

In 2017, Cult Never Dies published Aleksey Evdokimov’s Doom Metal Lexicanum in a rugged paperback edition. Four years later, they issued a second edition of that book in hardcover. At the same time, to the surprise and delight of everyone, a second volume of Doom Metal Lexicanum was also introduced. The second book is just as long as the first, potentially doubling the readers’ knowledge doom.

The original treatise focused on what is thought of now as traditional doom metal. The second volume shines a light on the death-doom bands, primarily, taking a close look at the harder edge of the genre, along with closely related sub- and adjacent-genres. Think more in the My Dying Bride, Katatonia direction than Candlemass. Every entry has basic information about the band, its history, members, and a select discography. More than enough to start an obsession. The first thing I do when I come across any doom-related band I am not very familiar with is look them up in these books. There are on-line resources, true, but the Doom Metal Lexicanum books have a lot more information.

Besides the entries on the bands, there are several interviews included at the end of the book: Gregor Mackintosh (Paradise Lost), Paul “Hammy” Halmshaw (Peaceville Records), Robert “Mags” Magoolagen (Academy Studios), Aaron Stainthorpe (My Dying Bride), and Martin Powell (My Dying Bride). These detailed one-on-ones give you fascinating insight into the art and industry of doom.

These books are both fantastic, and to me they are endlessly entertaining. I have a hard time putting them down, because as soon as I finish one entry, I am on to the next. I can read it straight through, alphabetically, or flip around the book and choose an entry at random. There is a lot here and, for doom fans, it is a genuine treasure trove.

Will there be a volume three? Who knows. While we are waiting to see what happens on that front, there is plenty to spend our time on in the first two. Highly recommended.

Book Details.

Doom Metal Lexicanum II, second edition

By Aleksey Evdokimov

Edited by Alex De Moller, with Simon Ferrie and Dayal Patterson

Published by Crypt Publications and Cult Never Dies in 2021

Hardcover

324 pages

ISBN: 978-1-915148-03-2

Link.

Cult Never Dies, https://cultneverdies.myshopify.com/collections/all-publications/products/doom-metal-lexicanum-2-book-hardback

© Wayne Edwards

Book Review: Doom Metal Lexicanum II, by Aleksey Evdokimov (Cult Never Dies 2021)

Photo Gallery: Drummers, Part 2

Anthrax, Blue Ridge Rock Festival
Armored Saint, Versailles, Ohio
Black Veil Brides, Blue Ridge Rock Festival
Dopethrone, Heavy Montreal
Goatwhore, Higher Ground, Burlington
Halestorm, Blue Ridge Rock Festival
Incantation, Piere’s, Fort Wayne, Indiana
Tommy Stewart’s Dyerwulf, Tennessee Metal Devastation
Voivod, Pure Filth Festival

Photos by Wayne Edwards.

© Wayne Edwards

Photo Gallery: Drummers, Part 2

Iron Void, IV (Shadow Kingdom 2023)

Iron Void emerges from the mist with their fourth full-length doom album.

Iron Void started twenty-five years ago in the UK, laying down the doom and dark fantasy. Over the course of a live album, an EP, and three previous full-length albums, Iron Void has become known for their focus on myth and dark stories, including the Arthur legend. The new album retains the heaviness but takes off in more pedestrian narrative directions, dealing with many everyday horrors. The band is Jonathan “Sealey” Seale (bass, vocals), Steve Wilson (guitar, vocals), and Scott Naylor (drums).

There is an intro ramp and then eight songs on the new album. “Grave Dance” is a mid-tempo stomper that has a heavy groove and a noodling presence. It is hard-driving metal that made for a great single last year. “Living On The Earth” is more contemplative, and doomier. “Pandora’s Box,” is a radio-length banger that weaves a wicked groove around the irresistible vocal delivery. This one will be a crowd pleaser, and no mistake. “Blind Dead” is more serious in tone, and heavier in the riff. It is exceptionally well set-up as a massive doom song at the end of side one.

Th back half of the record is every bit as good as the front. “She” leads the charge in a mysterious vein, quieter and in many ways more determined to get its message across. “Lords Of The Wasteland” is a dusty song of gigantic proportion. The lumbering behemoth could crush you and not even realize you were there. “Slave One” reminds me of a non-Ozzy Iommi riff and cadence, while the closer, “Last Rites,” is the kind of song that takes you over before you know it, and holds you in its sway until it finishes. Dramatic in a Ritchie Blackmore kind of way (if he were in a dreary mood), it etches its signature on the inside of your skull, tying a nice black bow on the set. Recommended.

Iron Void’s fourth album is out on Friday, January 27th through Shadow Kingdom Records on digital, CD, vinyl, and cassette.

Band photo by Rob Benson.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ironvoid.bandcamp.com/album/iv

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

Shadow Kingdom Records, https://www.shadowkingdomrecords.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Iron Void, IV (Shadow Kingdom 2023)

Seer Of The Void, Mantra Monolith (Venerate Industries 2023)

Seer of the Void is back with more impressive doom metal on their second full-length album, Mantra Monolith.

From Athens, Greece, Seer of the Void has been around since 2019. Their debut album, Revenant (2020), was a strong signal that they were a force to be reckoned with in the heavy music community. The release of their sophomore album, Mantra Monolith, puts them squarely at the center of attention. The band is Greg “Maddog” Konstantaras (bass, vocals), John Amariotakis (guitar), and Ilias Samartzis (drums).

“Astride” wakens the beast with beautiful doom. Konstantaras’ vocals have a dramatic weight to them, a sort of guttural pleading that is not asking anything, but rather is a definitive instruction. The lead guitar is not what I was expecting – it is a lithe and deadly serpent, twisting and curling hypnotically. “Electric Father” takes a different tack. It is a curious inculcation of Black Sabbath and Weedeater with an Adriatic tincture for good measure. Odd and wonderful. “Death is my Name” brings a different kind of clash, with clickety-clack percussion giving way to an undulating, basal ululating musical metalation. Listen to the track and tell me I am wrong.

All eight pieces of the set have their own space to operate in, and each contributes essentially to the whole. The band namesake track, “Seer of The Void,” is a favorite of mine due to its charging, relentless nature. It is an excellent policy statement for the band. “Demon’s Hand” and “Hex” compete in heaviness, and the latter has the edge. “Necromancer” wraps the proceedings with determined grit and boundless energy. This is an album you don’t want to miss. Highly recommended.

Mantra Monolith is out on Friday, January 27th through Venerate Industries. Check out the label’s on-line store below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://seerofthevoid.bandcamp.com/album/mantra-monolith

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

Venerate Industries, https://www.venerateindustries.store/

© Wayne Edwards

Seer Of The Void, Mantra Monolith (Venerate Industries 2023)

Ashen Horde, Antimony (Transcending Obscurity 2023)

Progressive blackened death metal band Ashen Horde summon essences from the beyond for their fourth long-player, Antimony.

Initially, Ashen Horde was a one-man band, but since its beginning the line-up has expanded to Trevor Portz (guitar, clean vocals), Stevie Boiser (harsh vocals), Robin Stone (drums), and Igor Panasewicz (bass). With at least seven EPs and three previous long-players in their catalogue, the band has a lot to offer. The new record expands and deepens the musicians’ legacy, moving them closer to the vanguard of contemporary metal.

After a short intro, “The Throes of Agony” is the ice breaker. At the beginning, the music feels like a battering from a rock hammer – on the pointy end. The weight of the metal accelerated by the swing assists in the deep penetration of the probing end. The lead guitar break is surprisingly lyrical, and the riffs have an underhanded hookiness to them. The vocals are half-hissed. When the elements are brought together this way, the blast beats enter easily and the gruff vocals, when they arrive, are perfectly in place. Excellent. “The Consort” brings its own introduction, which distracts from the cliff you are walking toward. The music reminds me of a dark carnival in many places. But then in the second half, there is a long guitar break that brings on nostalgia for metal from the past. The dueted vocals are a surprise.

Not counting the intro bit and the short “bonus” track at the end, there are eight longish songs on the album. Each is a combination of different genre lanes, assembled carefully for impact and consistency. Listening to the entire album is an unusual experience because, despite the angular differences in the pieces – both within and between – it all fits and flows so nicely together. “The Barrister” is an excellent example of this by itself. There is not much dissonance, although you will find it in places, like on “The Neophyte.” Overall, this is a great metal album that will have a broader appeal than I at first imagined. Recommended.

Antimony is out on Friday, January 27th through Transcending Obscurity Records. Tons of great merch and format variants are available for this release through the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ashenhordeband.bandcamp.com/album/antimony-black-death-metal

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

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

© Wayne Edwards

Ashen Horde, Antimony (Transcending Obscurity 2023)

Dead Will Walk, A New Day Of Dawning (Dawnbreed 2023)

European death metallers Dead Will Walk brand the pages of history with their latest music, A New Day Of Dawning.

It has been six years since Dutch death metal band Dead Will Walk released new music. Their first published work was a split with Entrapment in 2017 followed in that same year by their debut EP Unleash The Dead. Fans have been on tenterhooks ever since. The good news is A New Day Of Dawning will certainly sate their musical thirst. The band is Patrick de Vaal (guitar), Sander Vos (vocals, drums), and Rick Schonewille (bass).

There are six tracks on the new EP. “Raise the Horde” leads the way. It has a military feel to it, and, while the music fits firmly in the ranks of death metal, I enjoyed a nice flush of black metal rippling beneath the skin. “Nightscreams” is a paint peeler, with surging punk energy and a raking vocal delivery that matches perfectly the lyrics. The horror vibe is real and pulsing, saturated in the dark music. I anticipated a heavy dooming vault for “Concrete Wombs,” but the song turns out to be very active and it has a smashing nature to go along with the doom vibery and massive heaviness. The shifts are regular and sometimes sharp. It is like walking through a dungeon and discovering new terrors around each corner.

“From Moving Grounds” continues the contemplative slugging from the end of side one and takes it even deeper. There is a long heavy chop at center stage, contained by the established undulating moat. “Day of Dawning” is positively aerobic for long patches, accepting tinge and tint from other regards to complete the picture. The set finishes with “Headstone Tales.” My favorite track on the album, this anchor piece is a massacre at midnight, incorporating all the best elements the band has showed off so far and seamlessly integrating them into a dark anthem. Once you reach the end, your first thought will be that you must hear it again. Recommended.

A New Day Of Dawning is out on Friday, January 27th through Dawnbreed Records. Check it out at the links below.

Band photo by Ronald van de Baan.

Links.

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

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

Dawnbreed Records, https://www.dawnbreed.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Dead Will Walk, A New Day Of Dawning (Dawnbreed 2023)

Robot Death Monkey, Intergalactic Party Powder (2022)

Scotland’s Robot Death Monkey slap down another irresistible slab of metal on Intergalactic Party Powder.

For a dozen years now, Robot Death Monkey has been ruffling feathers in the stoner metal world. In a good way. They have released a string of fierce EPs, including Booze Cruise (2015), Big Pussy (2019), and Druid Odyssey (2021). The music is heavy groove metal with a rock and roll propulsion that you can’t get enough of once you start listening. The band is Shaun Forshaw (bass, vocals) Sam Forshaw (drums), Alan Travers (guitar), and Fraser Lough (guitar).

“Bantha Rider” has a great punch. The song structure does put me in mind of Clutch, but the music is much more metal, maybe in the Orange Goblin direction. Great riffs, great pound. The lead guitar solo is fantastic. It is an instrumental heavy metal feast. “Asgardian Micro Whitey” is another rambler, and our first clear listen to Forshaw’s vocals, which are rugged and declarative. The lead break on this song is lethal, and it’ll pin your ears back.

With a title like “Dragon Clit,” it almost doesn’t matter what the song sounds like. Thankfully, it turns out this track is a killer. The riffage is like a line of lance-wielding Spartans advancing unstoppably, all the while stabbing straight for your eyes. It is another instrumental juggernaut. “Kittens and Coke” opens gently, like a murderer laying in wait. Suddenly, the entire group jumps out, every hand swinging a heavy hammer. We are told straight up that there “is only one thing that I need: kittens and coke.” Well, sure, who hasn’t said that themselves? And here we have it set to music. This is a tasty party song the legions will welcome.

Listening to this four-song EP on repeat might lead to spontaneous human combustion. Recommended.

Intergalactic Party Powder is out now. Bandcamp is the reliable hook-up. While you are there, check out the band’s other albums – there is lot of great music ready to be heard.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://robotdeathmonkey.bandcamp.com/album/intergalactic-party-powder

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

© Wayne Edwards

Robot Death Monkey, Intergalactic Party Powder (2022)