Wizzerd, Space‽: Issue No.000 (Fuzzorama 2022)

Mountain stoner band Wizzerd throw down the fuzz on their third full-length album, Space: Issue No.000.

I don’t know what I have been doing with my life, but I didn’t hear anything from Wizzerd until the Ripple Music split Turned to Stone Chapter III: Wizzerd vs. Merlin. That one turned my head. Stoner mountain music is a real thing. I mean, I always think first of the desert when fuzztones ring, but this manner of music transcends all environments. Doomchild (2016) was the first, followed in 2019 by the self-titled album. And then there are a couple of demos and a string of EPs from Wizzerd circulating in the cosmos – a good chunk of music to make your way through on a journey you will never forget. The band is Jhalen Salazar (guitar, vocals), Jamie Yeats (guitar), Sam Moore (drums), and Layne Matkovich (bass).

The new record has eleven tasty tracks, beginning, appropriately, with “Launch,” which is a ramp of calamity to “Sisters of the Sun.” Listen to the opening bars of “Sisters” and you will know right away which island you have landed on. Happy-go-lucky transforms into a more serious-sounding hammering fuzztone that hangs on to the end, with dashes of guitar enthusiasm. Staying in space, “Supernova” continues the exploration on essentially the same plane. It does feel like the urgency has amped up on this one, and I love the dual guitaring. “Attack of the Gargantuan Moon Spiders” does not take place in space but might as well for the way it fits in with the early tracks. You can feel a down shift, and it is a good, rollicking gear. The psychedelica is kicking in hereabouts and once it gets its tendrils in you, there they stay.

What appeals most to me about this record is the incredible guitar work. The trippyness is fine thing, too, but I will always walk across the room and point at the guitars. There is a loose-form jamminess to many of the passages and those meld better with your psychic self in its altered state, but no alterations are actually necessary to enjoy the music. Watch out for “Space Chase” to give you an adrenaline injection, and “Doom Machine Smoke Break” for a nice hypothetical cool down that is actually a deep dive into the nature of things. This album definitely cooks. Recommended.

Space‽: Issue No.000 is out on Friday, September 30th through Swedish label Fuzzorama Records. In the US, Bandcamp is the easy place to pick it up (once it appears there – at this writing there is only a single showing up … patience).

Links.

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

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

Fuzzorama Music, https://www.fuzzoramarecords.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Wizzerd, Space‽: Issue No.000 (Fuzzorama 2022)

Birth, Born (Metal Blade Records 2022)

San Diego prog rock band Birth issue their debut full-length album, Born.

Birth emanated from the band Astra, the latter having released an impressive set of albums, including The Weirding (2009) and The Black Chord (2012). They play progressive rock in a style that might remind you of King Crimson at times, or the deeper moments of Yes. Jazz inlays and ethereal engagements combine with celestial pulses and expeditions featuring ever-present key work and mesmerizing guitars. The band is Conor Riley (keys, acoustic guitar, vocals), Brian Ellis (guitar, keys), Trevor Mast (bass), and Thomas DiBenedetto (drums).

There are six tracks on the new album, beginning with the title song. O man, what a way to kick things off. It is a psychedelic flashback that could be a combination of ELP and Yes with more cosmic energy infused into monumental conceptions of Earth. Illustrious keys and vibrant guitar enterprises give way to thoughtful, languid explorations. It was difficult to resist simply hitting repeat over and over on the first song. “Descending Us” comes next with a more serious-sounding set-up. The vocals transform from bard to soothsayer as the song goes along, and the guitar is a constant reminder of flux, creation and destruction.

Throughout the album, we experience this manner of journey and description at every turn. We are invited, really, to consider what is happening around us at the terrestrial level as well as the celestial one, and all spaces in between. “Cosmic Tears” is perhaps my favorite song on the album as it, for me, showcases best the way in which a paradigm can be constructed – it imagines the edges of understanding then peers within them and beyond. The writing and performance are exceptional. Highly recommended.

Born is out from Bad Omen Records and Metal Blade Records on Friday, July 15th. This is one to mark on the calendar.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://birthprog.bandcamp.com/album/born

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Birth.prog

Bad Omen Records, http://www.bad-omen-records.com/

Metal Blade Records, https://www.metalblade.com/us/

© Wayne Edwards

Birth, Born (Metal Blade Records 2022)

Spiral Skies, Death Is But A Door (AOP Records 2022)

Radio-friendly heavy psych band Spiral Skies release their second album, Death Is But A Door.

Centered in Stockholm, Sweden , Spiral Skies is a band of mystery. They released an EP in 2015 called A Queendom To Come, and their debut full-length album, Blues For A Dying Planet (2018), attracted good notices. Their musical style is an amalgam of 1970s and 1980s European rock themes combined with a light version of heavy psych, perhaps designed to reach a broader audience than a heavy stoner vibe likely would. The band is Frida Eurenius (vocals), Dan Svanljung (guitar, key, didgeridoo), Jonas Lyander (guitar), Eric Sandberg (bass), and Daniel Bäckman (drums).

There are nine tracks on the album, starting with “The Endless Sea” which begins sweetly then turns toward the aggressively dramatic before you have a chance to get fully settled in. The shifting landscape in this composition signals what is to come. Not every song plays with this much variety, but a good deal of ground is covered throughout the set. “Into The Night,” for example, is a peppy, radio-friendly song, and a diversion from its predecessor. It reminds me a little of some of the music by Demon I used to listen to in the eighties, except more lyrical and, well, better.

“Time” is a track to look out for as it has nice lead guitar work. The closer, “Mirror Of Illusion,” is quiet and reflective, and it turned out to be a favorite of mine as well. The music is very listenable. Frida Eurenius’ voice is beautiful to hear, and the compositions are engaging and approachable. The guitar-driven light stoner vibe is just the ticket when you are in that place in your head. Recommended.

Death Is But A Door is out through AOP Records on Friday, March 25th. Links below.

Links.

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

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

AOP Records, http://www.aoprecords.de/

© Wayne Edwards. All rights reserved.

Spiral Skies, Death Is But A Door (AOP Records 2022)

Madmess, Rebirth (Hassle Records 2021)

The debut album from Portugal’s Madmess is an ambitious sashay in the psychedelic universe.

Madmess is from Portugal, and they are currently stationed in the United Kingdom. Plying their trade in the crowded psych-rock scene, the band – Ricardo Sampaio (guitar), Luis Moura (drums), and Vasco Vasconcelos (bass) – stomp a heavy groove. It is a weighty sound with a treble edge and plenty of fuzz. They released Madmess in 2019, a long EP. Rebirth is the band’s first full-length album.

There are five long tracks on Rebirth. The echoing “Stargazer” breaks the frozen surroundings with its glow and has the feel of intergalactic exploration. Forceful rhythm allows for sharp lead guitar attacks. The lead break toward the end is particularly raucous and benefits from exploiting two aligned yet independent tracks. The title song starts out quieter but doesn’t stay that way for long. In fact, they drop a riff so heavy that it would feel comfortable in a doom scene. The guitar sparkles in the gloom and brightens the track immeasurably.

“Albatross” has a mournful ply. It is not as sad as Zappa’s “Watermelon in Easter Hay” but it made me think of that song for some reason even though it doesn’t sound like it at all. The music throughout is essentially instrumental in that vocals are not a large part of any track and this song is the set stone of that ideal. “Shape Shifter” is comfortable rollick with languid, easy-on-the-ears guitar work.

“Mind Collapse” made my think of a long drive on a lonely highway at dusk, just a person alone with their thoughts as they wander and focus and move around to this and that. This one might be my favorite of the bunch but I have to say all five songs resonated with me. I hope Madmess head over to the US in 2022 because this is a band I am aching to see perform live. Highly recommended.

Rebirth is out Friday, December 10th, through Hassle Records.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://madmess.bandcamp.com/album/rebirth

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

Hassle Records, https://store.hasslerecords.com/

Madmess, Rebirth (Hassle Records 2021)

Djiin, Meandering Soul (Klonosphere Records 2021)

French psychedelic rock band Djiin are back with their sophomore studio album, Meandering Soul.

Chloé Panhaleux (vocals, electric harp), Allan Guyomard (drums), Tom Penaguin (guitar), and Charlélie Pailhes (bass) are Djiin. Their musical style is a fusion of progressive rock and stoner/psychedelic music. That sounds like a clash more than a fusion, but Djiin make it work with impressive fluidity. Meandering Soul is the band’s third release, after a live album and The Freak (2019).

There are six tracks on the new album. “Black Circus” begins cautiously, transforming into a casual vamp before rolling out the dooming slog. Vocalist Chloé Panhaleux layers her voice in a dizzying array of low and high, serious and languid. When she pauses, a prog segment kicks in, then tags her back in. It is like two different plays are going on at the same time on opposite sides of the stage and the spotlight is shifting back and forth. This pliant uncertainly leads smoothly into “Void.” The song is more of an evolution in and between its constituent parts than as the previous track, until the screaming near the end, that is. “Red Desert” has a heavier sound, a meatier vibe. And it has a louder feeling to it, a more out-loud intentionality.

The back half begins with a dark, sly smile – “Warmth of Death.” It takes about five minutes for the song to unwind, and it really cuts loose after that. “White Valley” is my favorite of the set for its guitars, the vocal treatment, and the melodious discord it enjoins. “Waxdoll” is the final piece, and it breaks the gate at a cracking pace. The middle is exploratory, and the off ramp is ethereal. There are so many different moving parts on this album that it is difficult to keep track of them. But then there is no need to, is there. Just listen and take it as it comes. Recommended.

Meandering Soul is out now from Klonosphere Records. Touch the links below.

Links.

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

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/djiin.theband/

Klonosphere Records, https://www.klonosphere.com/

Djiin, Meandering Soul (Klonosphere Records 2021)

King Buffalo, State Theatre, Portland, Maine, October 3, 2021

King Buffalo opened for Clutch during part of their Fall tour, leading into performances by Stöner then the headliner. The show at the beautiful State Theatre in Portland, Maine was one for the ages.

All photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Website, https://kingbuffalo.com/

Spotify, https://open.spotify.com/artist/06D0YfeNZgBA7XWQ79Y42R

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

© Wayne Edwards.

King Buffalo, State Theatre, Portland, Maine, October 3, 2021

Thangorodrim, Liberation of Unbound Chaos 666 (Blood Blast 2021)

California mystical rock band Thangorodrim conjure a mesmerizing debut album with Liberation of Unbound Chaos 666.

The new release is the first long-player from Thangorodrim, but they have released two previous EPs – their self-titled effort in 2015 and Soul Of Fire the following year. They have been on a trajectory toward Liberation of Unbound Chaos 666 for a few years. The band is bassist and guitarist S.K.B. and vocalist C.G. BloodCrown. The drummer for the recording sessions is credited as C. C.

The album has eleven long tracks with the shortest being in the five minute range and the longest running over thirteen minutes. There is plenty to hear here so you can acquaint yourself with the band’s music if you have never heard it before.

The music starts with “Through The Devil’s Door”: a slightly clangy ritualistic premise captures your attention and then the searching vocal filaments work their way in. The music is slow and insinuating for about three minutes where it turns more urgent and engaging. Toward the end there is a discordant outro. In general, the music is guitar-driven rock with persistent desert rock stylings. The guitars are sometimes heavy but it would be a stretch to call it metal.

With so much content you can expect a rich journey – I could write a thousand words on every song. There are many passages that land in the stoner space and others that are clearly more psychedelic. The musicians have a lot to say and they are patient. They go in whichever direction gets their point across best. The trip takes about an hour and a half and I have done it twice so far. I think I’ll do it again. I am going to use that word once more: this music is mesmerizing. Once you get started it is hard to put down. Recommended.

Liberation of Unbound Chaos 666 sees full release on Friday, November 5th through Nuclear Blast Records’ digital arm, Blood Blast Distribution. Bandcamp is a handy place to pick it up, along with merch and bundles.

Photo by S. Zamora.

Links.

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

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

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/c/ThangorodrimOfficial

Thangorodrim, Liberation of Unbound Chaos 666 (Blood Blast 2021)

Yawning Man, Rock Formations (Ripple Music 2021)

The classic album from Yawning Man, Rock Formations, gets a re-release through Ripple Music.

Originally unleashed in 2005 by Alone Records, Rock Formations has become a reference point for music with psychedelic desert vibes. The musicians are Gary Arce (guitar), Alfredo Hernandez (drums), and Mario Lalli (bass), and they created something that was immediately admired by both fans and peers.

Spacey desert surf music is what you can expect, heavy on all those attributes. That’s on every song. Each one has its own particular memorable inflection and direction. You can’t forget the opener, “Rock Formations,” because it gets at you first with its beguiling ways. “Perpetual Oyster” has compelling and engaging percussion that stands out, and then “Stoney Lonesome” is an unforgettable melancholy whisper. 

“Advanced Darknuss” has a very sinister construction, despite the title. It does not instill dread, but it definitely creates a mood. I could say the same thing about “She Scares Me” but I would mean something very different. That song puts me in mind of a David Lynch movie. For a complete switch in mood, try “Buffalo Chips,” which makes me feel like I am in a 1960s western being filmed in Spain. 

This instrumental music is sometimes haunting, sometimes quirky, and at other times it sparks nostalgia in you on an individual level. This album is groundbreaking, and it will be considered a classic whenever enough time passes for that label to kick in — I wouldn’t feel bad about calling it that already. If you haven’t heard it yet, this new incarnation is an excellent opportunity. Recommended.

Rock Formations is out now in digital and vinyl and can be had through Bandcamp or Ripple Music’s site.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/rock-formations

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

Yawning Man website, http://yawningman.com/

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

Yawning Man, Rock Formations (Ripple Music 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)

Monster Magnet, A Better Dystopia (Napalm Records 2021)

Monster Magnet comes out with a cover album of psychedelic songs you have probably never heard before.

The legendary Monster Magnet was formed in New Jersey on the cusp of the nineties. Creating an innovative fuzzy sound that sparked memories of the psychedelic past, Spine Of God (1991) and Superjudge (1993) are now classics that set the stage for the popular success of Dopes To Infinity (1995) with the radio hit “Negasonic Teenage Warhead.” Best remembered in the mind of society afterwards for Powertrip (1998) and Mastermind (2010), Monster Magnet has always created music on their own terms. The band is founder Dave Wyndorf (vocals) along with Phil Caivano (guitar), Garret Sweeny (guitar), Alec Morton (bass), and Bob Pantella (drums).

You never know for sure what the next Monster Magnet album is going to be like. The Last Patrol came out in 2013 and then the very next year the band released a “re-imagining” of that album, Milking The Stars, with substantially altered arrangements. Then in 2015 Mastermind got a make-over with Cobras And Fire in a similar fashion. Mindfucker (2018) was tailored for the wild turn the world took in 2016 and now we have A Better Dystopia, a collection of covers that many fans will be entirely unfamiliar with. Consider this: Is it a cover tune to the listener if they never heard the original?

An odd choice, this album, but a bold and brilliant one. Drawing mainly from psychedelic-styled work from a by-gone era, the songs chosen by Wyndorf and crew have a contemporary resonance. Some of these were new to me and are genuine deep pulls. Here is the track list to marvel at: “The Diamond Mine” (Dave Diamond), “Born to Go” (Hawkwind), “Epitaph for a Head” (J. D. Blackfoot), “Solid Gold Hell” (The Scientists), “Be Forewarned” (The Macabre), “Mr. Destroyer” (Poo-Bah), “When the Wolf Sits” (Jerusalem), “Death” (Pretty Things), “Situation” (Josephus), “It’s Trash” (The Cave Men), “Motorcycle (Straight To Hell)” (Table Scraps), “Learning to Die” (Dust), and “Welcome to the Void” (Morgen).

The song that interested me most was Dust’s “Learning To Die.” I love Dust and this song in particular has always been one of my favorites. Like all the music on this album – and every album by Monster Magnet – energy and passion blazes through no matter the tempo or perspective. Expect fuzzed-up heavy psychedelic stoner rock. First listen to this album all the way through, then go out and dig up the originals. It is a trip comparing the new versions with the way-back-whens. Highly recommended.

A Better Dystopia is out now in myriad forms to please each and every one of the people of the Earth.

Links.

Napalm Records, https://www.napalmrecordsamerica.com/monstermagnet

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

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

Monster Magnet, A Better Dystopia (Napalm Records 2021)