Clutch, Stöner, and King Buffalo at the State Theatre in Portland, Maine, October 3, 2021

Clutch’s 30 Years of Rock N Roll Tour came to the State Theatre in Portland, Maine on Sunday.

Clutch

Has it really been thirty years? If you look over the discography Clutch has created then it seems like it must be at least that long. One classic album after another, dozens and dozens of unforgettable songs. Not to mention the amazing live performances. I see Clutch six or more times every year, and I have the same thought at the end of every show: I can’t wait to see them again.

On the current leg of the tour, Clutch is supported by King Buffalo and Stöner. King Buffalo opened with thirty minutes of heavy psych music. The band recently released The Burden of Restlessness, one of three planned albums for 2021. They played a mellow set that grew in intensity as it went along, providing a nice ramp up for the rest of the evening.

King Buffalo

Stöner is Brant Bjork, Nick Oliveri, and Ryan Gut, the former two being original members of Kyuss. Their music takes a heavy stoner jam angle – it is the kind of thing you can easily get lost in.

Stöner

Like King Buffalo, Stöner is a trio. The solid basis for their music is guitar, drums, and bass, forming the lines and color for narrative vocals. They were definitely crowd-pleasers on Sunday night. Their current album is Stoners Rule.

Stöner

One of the more amazing things about Clutch’s live show is the set list changes every night. Sure, there are a lot of songs they play on the regular, but they do not have a fixed set they play for each stop like most bands when they are touring. They always post the set list after the fact on their Instagram account so you can look back over previous shows and see what I mean.

Clutch

In Portland they opened with “The Promoter,” one of the dozen+ hits from Blast Tyrant. An excellent choice to get the crowd fired up. Not that it needed much encouragement. They were Clutch fans, these people who gathered on Sunday night. And sure, you expect Clutch fans to show up at a Clutch concert, but this crowd knew the music by heart and were heavily into it, more than you would likely see on any given night. The energy of the fans combined with that of the band to generate a burgeoning synergy and create a crackling atmosphere.

Clutch

I am never disappointed with any Clutch song, but I can say that I am very excited to hear a couple of my favorites pop up that don’t make every set, including “Elephant Riders” and “Mice and Gods.” And the encore was magnificent, featuring “Electric Worry.”

Clutch

There was no controversy among attendees that the show was everything fans wanted and a whole lot more. There are still some dates you can catch – check out the band’s website for tour info. After this leg, Clutch is doing their usual holiday run between Christmas and New Year’s, too. Get out there and see them. I have seen them twice this year and I am hoping to double that before 2021 is done.

Photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Clutch, http://www.pro-rock.com/

Stöner, https://www.stonerband.com/

King Buffalo, https://kingbuffalo.com/

State Theatre, https://statetheatreportland.com/

Clutch, Stöner, and King Buffalo at the State Theatre in Portland, Maine, October 3, 2021

King Buffalo, The Burden Of Restlessness (2021)

Rochester New York’s King Buffalo return with their third album, The Burden Of Restlessness.

Not quite ten years ago, heavy psych rock band King Buffalo formed as a three-piece unit. The band is Sean McVay (guitar and vocals), Dan Reynolds (bass), and Scott Donaldson (drums). In these few years the band has released a number of EPs and two previous long-players. The plan is to record three full-length albums this year. Quite an impressive feat, that is.

“Heavy psych” is a broad category, but you get the idea. You expect friendly riffs and extended, laid-back passages. You do get that here, along with the band’s exclusive approach to composition. There is a set-up for each song, a solid rhythm platform, and often a piercing corollary line. These elements frame the steady vocals and lead guitar work, and the rambler bass lines as well. The effect is mesmerizing.

I am especially enthralled by “Grifter.” The heavy riffs overtake the punching line and soak your mind. “The Knocks” is another favorite with a great lead work, and also “Loam,” which is soulful and ambitious with a rapturous center. I find the entire album enthralling, I must say, and I will be gathering up the back catalogue immediately while I eagerly anticipate those two more albums this year. Right now we have this new one. Highly recommended.

The Burden Of Restlessness is out now. You can get CDs, vinyl, digital, and merch in the US at the band’s links below and in Europe from Stickman Records. King Buffalo is on tour in the Fall, crisscrossing the US and then doing a few shows in Canada in the new year. Judging from the new album, you don’t want to miss the live shows. Tour details are on the band’s website.

Links.

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

King Buffalo store, https://kingbuffalo.bigcartel.com/

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

King Buffalo website, https://kingbuffalo.com/

Stickman Records, https://www.stickman-records.com/shop/king-buffalo-the-burden-of-restlessness/

King Buffalo, The Burden Of Restlessness (2021)

Moon Coven, Slumber Wood (Ripple Music 2021)

The return to full-length form for Moon Coven brings more thoughtful melodic doom into the world.

The band is from Sweden and has been around for nearly ten years. They released a series of EPs leading up to the self-titled long-player in 2016. Slumber Wood is their second full album. The music has changed a little over time and now the sound produced has a very clear doom intent, the way I hear it, no matter what narrative element might be running at any given time.

The opener, “Further,” and its spiritual companion, “Ceremony,” establish a slow and deliberate pace of heavy stoner psych highlighted by and with the vocals which hover on the light side, and the ethereal. Then suddenly “Potbelly Hill” quiets the rumble down but keeps the doom going with softened sounds for the first minute before taking a turn by introducing a surprisingly turbulent riff that changes the tone of the song entirely. It is a bit dizzying. By the end of third track you don’t know what to think.

Next up is “Eye of the Night” and it sounds like a crime story. The short piece “A Tower of Silence” is a transitional passage to “Bahgsu Nag,” which starts off with a strum. The song has a very different sound, something all its own and apart from the others on the album. Bringing us ultimately to the last two songs, “Seagull” and “My Melting Mind,” which are more in line with the early tracks. The anchor song has a special resonance – maybe it is the phase shift – that ties a knot around you and hangs on. Truly, I can’t get it out of my head.

You can take this album in a number of different ways. The steady ardent doom with surprising bulges and flares is the way I took it and it settled in well with me. Recommended.

Slumber Wood is out now. Vinyl and CD versions are available, as well as the digital download.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/slumber-wood

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

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

Moon Coven, Slumber Wood (Ripple 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)

Cortez, Sell The Future review (Ripple Music 2020)

Album number three from Cortez is Sell The Future and it rides a heavy wave of riff-powered demolition.

From the Boston area, Cortez has been releasing music since their 2006 demo. They have had a couple of lineup changes over the years, as most bands do. For Sell the Future, earliest members Jay Furlo (bass) and Scott O’Dowd {Scotty Fuse} (guitar) are joined by long time players Matt Harrington (vocals) and Alasdair Swan (guitar). Alexei Rodriguez (drums) is newest, dating from 2017 (if The Metal Archives has it facts straight).

Harrington’s voice is powerful and fierce when he wants it to be and yet he can attenuate it for different emotions and effects. The compositions rely on solid grooves and big riffs, with well-placed and clever lead breaks adding nuance to the work. The rippling and surprising percussion bursts that you hear from Rodriguez in unexpected places are a fundamental building block to the unique sound of the band.

“No Escape” is a banger, and the perfect choice for an up-tempo lead off song. The title track is next and sets a serious tone with a purposeful riff up front then pushes on with a heavy swagger. The tempo gets a switch in advance of the lead break, which flays the carcass of reason. “Look At You” has a driving rhythm that just won’t let you turn away, and if you are not hooked on this album by the time the third song is over, I don’t know what to say to you. I cannot pick a single favorite, but I will point to the way the songs dissimilarities enhance the set as a whole – listening to the furiously paced “Vanishing Point” right after “Sharpen The Spear,” which has a more plaintive structure, puts you off balance in just the right way for the closer, “Beyond.” This album was worth the wait. Highly recommended.

Sell the Future is out now. Bandcamp is a good place to look for the digital, and there are couple vinyl variants there, too.

Band photo by Bruce Bettis.

Links.

Ripple Bandcamp, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/sell-the-future

Cortez website, http://www.cortezboston.com/

Cortez Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/cortezboston/

Cortez Soundcloud, https://soundcloud.com/cortezboston

Cortez, Sell The Future review (Ripple Music 2020)