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)

Boss Keloid, Family The Smiling Thrush (Ripple Music 2021)

The soundscape presented by the new Boss Keloid album Family The Smiling Thrush rivals the stirring of primordial oceans.

Going back more than ten years, Boss Keloid has been creating some of the most interesting and sweepingly original heavy music on the planet. They have a way of translating musical complexity and quirkiness into a common language that everyone can hear. The band is Paul Swarbrick (guitar), Alex Hurst (vocals and guitar), Ste Arands (drums), and Liam Pendlebury-Green (bass).

Sometimes sounding a bit like Emerson, Lake, and Palmer while at other times moving more in a Zappa vein and then suddenly shouldering a hard turn into the inexplicable, Boss Keloid’s music cannot be predicted. Family The Smiling Thrush opens with the nine minute track “Orang of Noyn.” The song defies succinct description. Heavy prog rock is a functional label but it leaves a lot out. The music takes you over and you quickly lose track of how long you have been listening. If another song hadn’t started after, I am not sure how long it would have taken me to realize the first track had ended.

“Gentle Clovis” is up second and it has a reassuring anthropological feel to it. You get transported back to the 1970s with the keys and guitars in the lines, riffs, and echoes. There is a battering drama at the end that is entirely appropriate and it runs right on into the next piece, “Hats The Mandrill.” If you are not feeling the scope of the musical vision at this point then you should start the album over and try again because by now it should entirely surround you.

There are builds big and small throughout, all of them engaging, and welcoming and demanding, too, simultaneously. I was particularly swept up by the pair “Smiling Thrush” and “Cecil Succulent.” I suspect that the experience will land differently for individuals and yet still I wager there will be places you are drawn to, no matter how much you like the work in its entirety. There will be a part that takes hold of you and finds something to fulfill you didn’t even know was wanting. The album is elemental. Recommended.

This one is out tomorrow. Some of the limiteds have already flown, but you can still get physicals through Bandcamp or Ripple Music, and the digital is there, too.

Links.

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

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

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

Boss Keloid, Family The Smiling Thrush (Ripple Music 2021)

Shun, Shun (Small Stone Records 2021)

The debut album from North Carolina rockers Shun casts a wide net.

Working throughout 2020, Jeff Baucom (bass), Matt Whitehead (vocals and guitar), Rob Elzey (drums), and Scott Brandon (guitar) managed to put together an album recorded in pieces throughout a residence from the basement to the garage. After the recording and mixing was finished, you cannot point to any significant deviations from an hypothetical studio creation. It is a job well done.

The music is a sort of fuzzy power pop metal with plenty of quiet moments. “Run,” for example, is a melodic pop metal song with a sleepy segment and “Sleepwalking” takes us back a few decades and turns up the fuzz a notch. In both these cases, whether intentional or not, the coordinated elements crossover for broad appeal.

“At Most” is the first big construction of the album, three songs in. It shows compositional complexity and conceptual nuance and depth. Later, there is “Undone,” a ballad, and “A Wooden House,” a more forceful power ballad. The band is walking to all the corners of the stage, leaving no space lonely.

The set sees a strong finish with “Heese” where we hear the best lead break of the album and “Once Again,” which is a bluesy wave-off with clever intermittent riffs. The amount of ground covered on Shun is impressive in itself, and well establishes the abilities of the musicians to create and deliver a heavy rock sound that is widely inclusive.

Later this week you can pick a copy of Shun – Friday June 4th – on CD, vinyl, or digital.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://smallstone.bandcamp.com/album/shun

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

Small Stone Records, http://smallstone.com/

Shun, Shun (Small Stone Records 2021)

Wytch, Exordium (Ripple Music 2021)

The debut album from Sweden’s Wytch is a rugged and dynamic statement of intent burgeoning with both straight-forward and clandestine perambulations.

Formed in 2017 as Aska, the band released an EP under that name and then switched to Wytch for their first long-player, Exordium. The musicians have performed with numerous other bands over the years, including Vintersorg. The roster is Simon Lundström (bass), Fredrik Nilsson (drums), Niklas Viklund (guitars), Mattias Marklund (guitars), and Johanna Lundberg (vocals).

There are eight tracks on the album. Each song is set up with a clever and catchy hook that the song develops around. It is a bluesy heavy psych sound defined by those rummaging guitar parts and Johanna Lundberg’s unforgettable, haunting voice. The zippy lead breaks are sometimes pepperpot shots and at other times are languid and insinuating. Sturdy bass and drum lines free the voice and guitars to crossover each other while simultaneously self-actualizing therewith, engendering a synergistic construct. It all sounds effortless but of course it couldn’t be. Music like this is rare.

Stand-out tracks for me are the pairings of expansive “Blood” with “Evil Heart” and doomy “Break You Down” with “You.” That’s half the set, isn’t it – I’m not really narrowing it down much. The thing is when you first hear any song on the album it immediately draws you in and holds onto you with a mystical spell that may or may not be sinister. It is not like a Siren song but instead it is more like the snowfall that awakens the intrepid journeyers in The Wizard Of Oz. It just doesn’t make any sense to stop listening. Recommended.

You can get Exordium right now. Look over the options at Ripple Music’s store or on Bandcamp.

Links.

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

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/people/Wytch-Band/100063579726744/

Ripple Music, https://ripplemusic.bigcartel.com/product/wytch-exordium-limited-digipak-cd

Wytch, Exordium (Ripple Music 2021)

Void Vator, Great Fear Rising (Ripple Music 2021)

The new set from Los Angeles metal masters Void Vator will shake the winter off you and get you reaching for the moon and stars.

Stranded came out in 2019 and I knew immediately this was a band I needed to keep track of. The music was crisp and piercing, fast and ferocious, and wrapped up in a delivery system that went straight into your bloodstream. “Put Away Wet,” “Everything Sucks,” “Monster” … one song after another a festival for your ears, and endless reservoir of adrenaline. The music is up-tempo metal fearlessly riffy and recklessly speedy on the curves.

“I Can’t Take It” is a disruptor, the perfect attention-getter. What’s this, you think, and it gets you walking that way. “I Want More” is second on the album and if anything it is a notch up on the frantic. A more urgent clip, a tenser atmosphere. The vocals are stabbing in the verses and salving in the chorus. The lead break is a blur or whirling blades. “There’s Something Wrong With Us” is Caesar crossing the Rubicon. There’s no turning back after you hear it.

“Great Fear Rising” strikes a monumental accord while “MacGyver’s Mullet” is a clipper cruising down country roads in the summertime steam. Something here for everyone – “Poltergeist” has an eerie story with a sinister feel and “Infierno” feeds into delirium like Act II of Peer Gynt. There are all manner of shades and tints on the album and for me nothing to dislike. I would call it a step up from the previous record even though I don’t have any serious criticisms about that earlier one, either. What you get here is great hard-hitting music flowing from every opening and crack.

Out now from Ripple Music, Great Fear Rising will sign you up to the Void Vator legion forever. Recommended.

Links.

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

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

Void Vator, Great Fear Rising (Ripple Music 2021)

The Limit, Caveman Logic (Svart Records 2021)

The Limit hands us catchy fast-paced hard rock and roll where guitars and rhythm rule.

Check out this band roster: vocals by Bobby Liebling (Pentagram), Sonny Vincent (Testors) and Hugo Conim (Dawnrider) on guitars, Jimmy Recca (The Stooges) on bass, and the drummer is João Pedro Ventura (Dawnrider). Supergroup territory, and no mistake. And then we cannot escape the fascinating mix of experience in The Limit. The confluence of these musical histories produces music that is punk-influenced hard and heavy rock, along with a number of captivating variations. The songs have catchy hooks and eclectic subjects. The whole set radiates a compulsive listenability.

The album starts out with four bangers in a row, “Kitty Gone,” “Black Sea,” “Human vs. Nature,” and “These Days.” Pulsing riffs in the rhythm and a guitar pacing the vocal is the norm, with snappy lead breaks memorable choruses. The punk sensibility comes through and the sound is bright.

“Over Rover” takes a bit of a turn, with an alternating slowed down moments and hyped up bursts. “Enough’s Enough” is bluesy and soulful, while “Caveman Logic” snarls and barks right in your face. “Death of My Soul” is a short piece with a dark tone, and “Life’s Last Night,” which is even shorter, is a sort of companion rager that resurrects the energy.

“When Life Gets Scorched” wraps things up, and it effectively conveys the idea of the end of the show. Putting it that way makes me think that I’d really like to see this album played straight through live. That would be a great night. Recommended.

Caveman Logic is out on Friday, April 9th from Svart Records. The quick get in the US is Bandcamp.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://the-limit.bandcamp.com/album/caveman-logic

Label, https://svartrecords.com/

The Limit, Caveman Logic (Svart Records 2021)

Miss Lava, Doom Machine (Small Stone Records 2021)

Lisbon psychedelic rockers Miss Lava release their first full-length album in five years, Doom Machine.

Miss Lava has been lighting up stages in Portugal and across Europe for almost fifteen years. They play a feisty blend of heavy psychedelic rock with broad appeal and crossover atomism. The new one is their fourth LP, and they have released a couple of EPs as well. The band is: Johnny Lee (vocals), J. Garcia (drums), K. Raffah (guitar), and Ricardo Ferreira (bass, vocals).

Doom Machine has twelve tracks with eight primaries connected by brief interstitial elements. There are also three bonus tracks on the CD and digital versions. The opener is the rousing “Fourth Dimension” that lays down a super fuzzy high energy riff supported by pelting percussion. It has a catchy pop sensibility that labels this one a single for sure. “The Mire” follows and has a more solemn, mystical feel to it and psychedelic desert flavors. “Magma” is a tantalizing bridge guitar bit leading to the second movement of three songs, each working a different angle and conveying an alternate perspective.

The second set of six tracks have a somewhat different feel to my ears, more exploratory with a deeper kind of emotional venting. I am especially drawn to “The Fall” and the title track for these reasons, with the latter going full-on spaced-out at its end, warping the set into infinity. The bonus tracks are great, too – not leftovers or throwaways, they are up-tempo and surging songs that exist in their own space and at the same time enhance the album as a vital part of the whole. Recommended.

The CD and digital versions of Doom Machine come from Small Stone Records and there is vinyl at Kozmik Artifactz.

Band photo by José Dinis.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://smallstone.bandcamp.com/album/doom-machine

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

Small Stone Records, https://smallstone.com/artist/miss-lava/

Kozmic Artifactz, http://shop.bilocationrecords.com/

Miss Lava, Doom Machine (Small Stone Records 2021)