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. They were middling for Clutch on a Fall tour and I caught up with them in Portland, Maine.
Clutch’s 30 Years of Rock N Roll Tour came to the State Theatre in Portland, Maine on Sunday.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Exactly what it looks like: a massive, four-volume compilation of instrumental Doom.
On their Bandcamp profile, Doomed and Stoned is described this way: “Sharing the music and the stories of the heavy underground since 2013, Doomed & Stoned seeks to document the explosion in doom metal and stoner rock, two styles that have grown up together since the 1970s and exist today in incredible stylistic variation and artistic excellence.” Their website features interviews and new release reviews, and they also sponsor some amazing compilations. I am most enamored with The Instrumentalists Vols. 1-4.
There are 87 tracks altogether across four digital albums. I tried to calculate the total running time and my calculator melted. The included bands range from iconic Doom instrumentalists like Clouds Taste Satanic to many I am sure you have never heard of before – I heard dozens of bands for the first time on these albums. I’m not going to list all the bands here because there are too many and it’ll just look like a name salad. Hit the link below to see the details of what’s up.
I am a longtime fan of instrumental metal and I have written about it regularly. Any subgenre of heavy music can be expressed without vocals, and Doom is especially well-suited to an instrumental treatment. Desert-Stoner-Doom can roll endlessly on the broad river of sound that exists outside of the human voice. It is captivating and engaging in a short engagements and over the long haul. There is no downside.
Is it too much Doom? Ridiculous. Of course not. There is never too much doom. Instrumental Doom can be focused on as the center point of what you are doing or it can be played in the background in an endless variety of situations. With these compilations, you are going to be set for a while. Highly recommended.
All four volumes of The Instrumentalists are available now on Bandcamp.
The fourth studio album from Portland, Oregon irregulars Red Fang is a grungy cavalcade of heavy music idiosyncrasies and discoveries.
I started listening to Red Fang closely with their self-titled compilation (c. 2009) that put the earlier two tour EPs together and added a new song. The spirited swagger comes through in the multiplicity of influences and outputs you hear. Murder The Mountains (2011) was like that, too, and so is the new one. You never know what the next song will be like. The last studio album from Red Fang was in 2016: Only Ghosts. Fans have been on the edge for this one and they are going to be pumped when they hear it.
There are thirteen tracks on the album including an on-ramp and two shorter bits. Want to know what the album is like? Here is a summary. From “Two High” we get: “Whatever you think I am / think again / whatever you thought I’d be / ain’t me.” That is the guiding principle at work on Arrows.
There are noisy transitions and peculiar wobbles here and there mixed in with the more linear compositions. The music pushes hard on tracks like “Anodyne” and on songs like “Fonzi Scheme” the construction is more laid back – still heavy, of course, but told at more of a stoner pace. “Why” is solemn and creepy while “Funeral Coach” is unexpectedly light hearted and “Dr. Owl” is more gruff than wise. I think you see what I mean. Be ready for anything and that is what you’ll get. They’re not coasting on this album. Recommended.
Arrows is out now and available everywhere. Red Fang has a big tour coming up including a stop at Psycho Las Vegas in August.
The sophomore album from Portland, Oregon’s Robots of the Ancient World finds the deepest desert grooves and sets them lose on the world.
The band is Caleb Weidenbach (vocals), Nico Schmutz (guitar), Justin Laubscher (guitar), Trevor Berecek (bass), and Harry Silvers (drums). The new album is their second long-player, following Cosmic Riders (2019) and a couple of EPs before that. The music is laid back guitar-driven desert stoner rock with fantastic and doomy palliative ordinances.
There are eight tracks on Mystic Goddess, all them fuzzy in their own way. Some songs start off on a peppy clip like “Agua Caliente” and others put the steady groove up front instead, as in “Wasteland.” However it starts you know you’ll find the guitars in there and Caleb Weidenbach’s mesmerizing voice, reminding you a little of an especially melodic Glenn Danzig. There is always a lolling riff that is mysteriously admirably energetic and a sparking lead break to look forward to as well.
The long song is “Lucifyre” logging in at nearly eleven minutes. Dressed in soft doom and saturated with mournfulness, the Eastern influences of the tune add an exotic tint to listening Western ears. It is definitely my favorite piece on the album. The final three minutes is given over to a fading essence slowly disappearing behind a voiceover. The wrap-up to the set is “Ordo Ab Khao,” a somber and thoughtful song to drift you on out to wherever you are going next. If you time its final notes to the bottom of your pipe then you have achieved perfection. Recommended.
Mystic Goddess is fully realized on Friday May 21st, so ready yourself. Get the new album at the Small Stone Records link below and the earlier music on Bandcamp.
The third album from Bewitcher is filled with sinister metal mayhem and headbanging kicks.
After releasing a handful of demos in the mid-twenty-teens, Bewitcher put out their first long-player in 2016, Bewitcher. Three years later there was Under The Witching Cross and the new one is a big step up in distribution and availability. This is a good thing for the metal listening public because the band has a style that will definitely appeal to a broad base of fans.
After a brief acoustic intro piece that transitions into the electric, the first song is “Death Returns…” It is a peppy metal positioning, upbeat in the rhythm and hoisting a roughened vocal presentation to tell a cautionary dark fantasy tale. It is goodtime music for bad times.
“Satanic Magic Attack” is another banger in a similar vein and we are getting the feeling that this is going to be a high-energy roll – and that is what you get, one song after another. Highlights include the title track with its short smash and grab attack and “Metal Burner” for a similar reason but at an even higher burn rate. “Valley of the Ravens” sticks in my head as well because it diverges and is more ponderous and has a weightier kind of power.
The out-song is “Sign Of The Wolf” and I think this one will get a lot of play on tour. I sure hope so. It is a great way to wrap up a good metal set, with catchy hooks and a short whirling lead break. I will be playing this album on the long summer road trips ahead. Recommended.
Cursed Be Thy Kingdom is out on Friday, April 16th in all the places you would expect.
Portland, Oregon’s own Ten Million Lights reach out through the murk of 2020 to pass along new music with the five-song EP Shine So Bright.
Ryan Carroll and Eric Block starting putting together the band a little over ten years ago. After a few EPs and two full length albums, Shine So Bright is the latest entry in the well hewn house of Ten Million Lights. The lineup is completed by Russ Ellis (bass) and Paul Hardie (drums), and these four musicians have together created a sound that passes between the realms of action and lament, haunting them both.
The set opens with a tromping beat and a little feedback on “Better To Know.” Carroll’s vocals are sweet and far away, floating in the world the guitars and pedals create. The music has a buoyant pop feel in the first three songs, and starts to turn more serious on the last two.
Given the generally serene and layered arrangements, the single element that stands out most is the drumming, which is crisp and clicks off the occasional free radical. The bass lines raise a voice of their own sometimes too, standing out in my memory on “The Swirl,” the longest song and most dismal in tone – also the closer. These five songs then listen like positive reassurance in the shifting sands we all now walk and also cautionary acknowledgement of the gravity of the situation. Balanced, I would call it.
Out on Friday, October 2, Shine So Bright can be had at Bandcamp and through the band’s website at the links below. Along with the singles that have been released from this new one, traipse through the back catalogue and associated music you can find on the band’s website. You are sure to discover some shining kernels there. Recommended.