Buffalo Revisited, Volcanic Rock Live (Ripple Music 2022)

Australian metal pioneers Buffalo, performing as Buffalo Revisited, release their first live album, called Volcanic Rock Live, to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the studio original.

Buffalo is a band a lot of fans today never came across but I am convinced they would be happy to hear them if they got a chance. The Australians released five full-length albums back in the 1970s, the most well-remembered being Volcanic Rock (1973). Founder and front man Dave Tice has been performing in recent years as Buffalo Revisited, playing songs from the early albums. Interestingly, Buffalo never released a live album. Until now.

Recorded on June 6, 2018 at The Bald Faced Stag Hotel in Sydney, Buffalo Revisited plays the entire Volcanic Rock album. Troy Scerri (guitar), Steve Lorkin (Bass), and Marcus Fraser (drums) joined Dave Tice to make it happen.

Some of my all-time favorite music was created in the 1970s, so I figured I was going to be on board with this one, too. I had heard Volcanic Rock before, and a couple other Buffalo albums, so I was ready.

What you realize immediately about this music is it’s a great stoner record. Laid back riffs and weathered lead guitar work seep easily into your readied head. By the second song, “Freedom,” I had settled in. I remember having a fleeting thought hoping the album was playing on a loop because I did not want to get up. Tice sounds great, and he and the other musicians celebrate the 45th anniversary of the classic album in style.

Whether you have heard of Buffalo before or not, you should listen to this album. If you are a fan of the Ripple Music catalogue, then this is for you. It fits right in. Highly recommended.

Volcanic Rock Live is out now from Ripple Music and available at Bandcamp or through the label’s on-line store.

Links.

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

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

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

Buffalo Revisited, Volcanic Rock Live (Ripple Music 2022)

Mother Iron Horse, Under The Blood Moon (Ripple Music 2021)

The sophomore album from Salem’s own Mother Iron Horse is a sludgy revelation.

Mother Iron Horse is a doom/sludge quartet from New England. They released an EP called The Curse in 2018, followed by the long-player The Lesser Key in 2019. Adam Luca, the band’s vocalist and guitarist, described the approach they took to the new album this way in a recent Metal Injection interview: “Our first album was recorded in a way that we could play live. I remember the mindset being that whatever we did on that record we could do live without missing a beat. Now, facing the notion of not being able to play a live show for the foreseeable future[, o]ur approach was much different. Instead of bringing our world to the listener. Our goal was to transport them from wherever they may be and bring them to ours. For better or worse, this album is escapism in its purest form.”

The music is gritty, with growling vocals and palatably heavy riffs. The set cracks open with “The Devils Work,” a fierce and competitive story. “The Witches” has a penetrating seriousness in its rhythm and a soaking eeriness in the vocals and the accompanying partnered guitar. “Old Man Satan” grabs the reigns next and it is a mid-tempo carriage ride through a leafless forest. We are definitely in the band’s hands by now.

Sometimes the music takes a slower, more grinding approach, as in “Samhain Dawn,” or even an ethereal one, like “Samhain Night.” I hear doom in every corner, and the singing brings strain and a feeling of violent energy. We frequently witness dread and feel the menace but somehow it does not seem like a threat because, even as listeners, we feel like we are part of it. I think that is what the band was going for, and they pulled it off. Recommended.

Under The Blood Moon is out now through Ripple Music. Pick up one of the physical incarnations or groove on the digital.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/under-the-blood-moon

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

Mother Iron Horse, Under The Blood Moon (Ripple Music 2021)

High Desert Queen, Secrets of the Black Moon (Ripple Music 2021)

Groovy, fuzzy, and ever soulful, High Desert Queen brings its music to the masses with Secrets of the Black Moon.

Austin, Texas desert rockers High Desert Queen are fairly new to the scene but have already landed a firm position in the melee. Mystery surrounds the band with only sparse photographic evidence and in-person experience to speak on their essence. Setting aside the who, what, and when, listening to their music is what really pays off.

There are seven songs and a quirky element on Secrets of the Black Moon. First up: “Heads Will Roll.” Confident riffs greet you along with a general fuzziness and a welcoming vocal entreaty – you gotta roll my head, it says. All right then. “The Mountain Vs. The Quake” is the story of achievement and “As We Roam” echoes a secret without revealing it completely. All of this is wrapped in an irresistible package of hypnotic guitar rhythm and lead. It is hard rock, indeed, and desert rock, for sure, and you might find there is a state-altering component too if you listen for it.

Side two road a little harder on me, and I liked it. “Skyscraper” offers up a very heavy riff at the start paired with gentle, coaxing vocals. “The Wheel” has the swing of doom, broadcasting as it does a deep and somber tone and vocal melancholia. “Bury The Queen,” an ode, churns slowly like the purposefully roiling of the primordial ocean, manifesting a formless creation to the endless wonder of a newly interested universe. The music can be thought provoking if you want to take it that way, or you can just ride along and let it be part of you. The choice is yours and there are no wrong answers. Recommended.

Secrets of the Black Moon is out now through Ripple Music. You can snag your copy from the label’s Big Cartel site or through the ever-ready Bandcamp.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/secrets-of-the-black-moon

High Desert Queen website, https://highdesertqueen.com/

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

Ripple Music, https://ripplemusic.bigcartel.com/product/high-desert-queen-secrets-of-the-black-moon-deluxe-vinyl-editions

High Desert Queen, Secrets of the Black Moon (Ripple Music 2021)

Crystal Spiders, Morieris (Ripple Music 2021)

The second Crystal Spiders album, Morieris, is an even bigger deal than the first.

The duo Crystal Spiders released their first long-player just last year, Molt. I listened to that album as recently as two weeks ago. It has been on my mind ever since it came out. There is just something about the music that mesmerizes and lingers in your mind. The phrase “highly anticipated” doesn’t really capture my state of mind leading up to the drop date of the new album, Morieris.

The band is Brenna Leath (bass) and Tradd Yancey (drums). Joining them for the session on guitar is Mike Dean. There is also a guest appearance by High Priestess Nighthawk of Heavy Temple on cello.

The first song of the set starts out spacey and groovy, leaning into the mystery with hypnotic vocals and spell-casting guitar. That’s the title track. “Septix” comes next and lays a commanding bass up front to set the stage, turning into a rambler after ninety seconds or so – the perfect accompaniment for a drive down a dark country road at night alone.

“Harness” brings the doom and then shifts to high-test. The middle section of reflective solo work is a breath before the charge starts again. Indeed there is a lot of up-tempo music on this album, offering an excellent balance to the more ethereal passages. “Pandora,” for example, is a two minute rager that perfectly sets up the epic “En Medias Res,” a song that takes all the time it needs, offering desert overtones and tantalizing strings over eight sumptuous minutes.

“Maelstrom” and “Golden Paw” are the final two songs, the former being a super fuzzy, adrenaline-fueled spectacle and the latter a contemplative cool-down. Having heard Molt we might have been able to anticipate the general form on the new album but we could not have known its breadth and depth. Morieris is excellent in every way – concept, composition, and execution. Highly recommended with no reservations.

Morieris is out now through Ripple Music. Bandcamp and the Ripple store are linked below. You know how this works – the physicals often go fast so if you are a collector you want to jump on it.

Band photo by Marissa Straw.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://crystalspiders.bandcamp.com/album/morieris

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

Ripple Music, https://ripplemusic.bigcartel.com/product/crystal-spiders-morieris-deluxe-vinyl-editions

FFMB review of Molt, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2020/09/28/crystal-spiders-molt-review-ripple-music-2020/

Crystal Spiders, Morieris (Ripple Music 2021)

Witchcryer, When Their Gods Come For You (Ripple Music 2021)

Austin, Texas heavy metal band Witchcryer offer up a new set of songs filled with beguiling incursions.

Witchcryer has its origins in the upper Midwest with guitarist Jason Muxlow and saw its completion a little farther south with Javi Moctezuma (drums), Marilyn (bass), and Suzy Bravo (vocals). There is a heavy doom in the atmosphere and desert rock in the stylings. But then, see, the vocalizations often come in from another realm entirely, and there are transitions you wouldn’t expect from a doom or desert rock band. So this then is Witchcryer, its own category. Their inaugural album, Cry Witch, set a high bar and the new one, When Their Gods Come For You, sails right over it.

There are eight songs on the album and every one of them has its own way of taking you over. The clomp and wallop of “Hellmouth” is quantitatively mesmerizing. When the vocal enters it seeks your ears like an shaman’s ayahuasca chant. “Nemesis, The Inevitable” is a deadly serious declaration delivered with such surety it is almost matter-of-fact, as if this statement of intent has already happened. It’s right in the title, I guess: inevitable.

“The Devil & The Deep Blue See” lures with a mystic enheartening almost solemn in nature while “I Rise!” is a full-force charge at resistance, ending in conquest and victory. And then there is the title track which anchors the set. It begins gently, patiently. The music builds hypnotically, unnoticed until you start to feel the walls shaking around you. Quiet again, and then another swell. Suzy Bravo makes everything believable, her every word, and Jason Muxlow seals the story with mesmerizing guitar work. When Their Gods Come For You is definitely one of the best desert-doom-heavy-dark-blues-metal-rock albums of the year. Highly recommended.

Out now from Ripple Music, you can catch up at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/when-their-gods-come-for-you

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

Ripple Music, https://ripplemusic.bigcartel.com/product/witchcryer-when-their-gods-come-for-you-deluxe-vinyl-editions

Witchcryer, When Their Gods Come For You (Ripple Music 2021)

Doctor Smoke, Dreamers and the Dead (Ripple Music 2021)

The second album from Ohio heavy rockers Doctor Smoke stirs the cauldron and speaks the words.

The Witching Hour came out in 2014. That album set a rattle in my bones that still gives me a tingle now and then. The music is a collaboration with darkness and groove, horror and insight, and it presents the world to you in a way you might not have thought about before. And yet it rings absolutely true. There are not a lot of groups who can do that, so Doctor Smoke occupies a rarified ethereal realm. The band is Matt Tluchowski (guitar and vocals), Steve Lehocky (guitar), Jeff Young (bass), and Cody Cooke (drums).

Ten sinister tracks of rock and metal mayhem, that’s what Dreamers and the Dead is. The tendency is toward mid-tempo enhanced by an enthusiastic flair that moves the music along like an evenly distributed accelerant. Rebellious shifts abound revealing alcoves and clandestine mysteries. As an example, “These Horrid Things” is a song burbling with variegation and insistent twists highlighted by elegant guitar work. And it is not the only one. The entire album is an enigma in the sense that it is fascinating – a reliably wicked puzzle from which you cannot look away.

I particularly appreciate “What Lies Beyond” with its lounge-tuned section followed immediately by a ripping lead break, and title track, with its blunt assessment of the nature of reality. This album absolutely cracks. I was enormously impressed by the band’s first album, and I like this new one even better. If you don’t yet have Doctor Smoke on a playlist you are really missing out. Highly recommended.

Dreamers and the Dead is out now from Ripple Music. You will find the digital, CDs, vinyl, and merch at the links below.

Links.

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

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

Ripple Music, https://ripplemusic.bigcartel.com/product/doctor-smoke-dreamers-and-the-dead-deluxe-vinyl-editions

Doctor Smoke, Dreamers and the Dead (Ripple Music 2021)

Turned To Stone Chapter III, Wizzerd vs. Merlin (Ripple Music 2021)

Ripple Music’s battle split series Turned To Stone throws down on Chapter Three with Wizzerd vs. Merlin.

The previous Turned To Stone splits are Chapter 1: Enter Galactic Wasteland by Mr Bison / Spacetrucker and Chapter 2: Masamune & Muramasa by Howling Giant / Sergeant Thunderhoof. These both came out in 2020 and they are magnificent musical pairings. As with Chapter 2, this new release has each band contributing a single song that runs a full side length.

From Kalispell, Montana, Wizzerd goes toward the fuzzy psychedelic realm with their entry, “We Are.” It starts out with forest creatures in the background and an acoustic guitar on its own. It is a slow build from there. Soon enough the electric fuzz kicks in and we are rolling. There are many movements, expansions, and explorations over the course of nineteen minutes. It is a beautiful and curious thing.

Merlin, from Kansas City, Missouri, has a more epic- and quest-like take on their side, “Merlin’s Bizarre Adventure.” I got a Grail lore feeling on the opening notes. The vocals are very mysterious and a little disturbing. This one is a trip, too, but of a whole different kind. There is a peppy jazzy break fairly early in the twenty-two minute run and it is an identity that returns. Toward the end the spooky comes back. Well done.

I love this split series because it either introduces me to bands I didn’t know before or gives me new music from bands I already follow. The synergy of the artistic twinning is icing on the cake. Recommended.

This one is out now. On the digital album, there is also a single edit of each song if you are short on time. Check out Ripple Music’s site or Bandcamp.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/turned-to-stone-chapter-iii-wizzerd-vs-merlin

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

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

Merlin Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/MERLIN666

Merlin Bandcamp, https://merlin666.bandcamp.com/

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

Turned To Stone Chapter III, Wizzerd vs. Merlin (Ripple Music 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)

Ripplefest Texas, August 7, 2021

Taking place at the Texas Ski Ranch in New Braunfels, Texas, Ripplefest is going to be a day of crushing music.

The line-up will eat you alive: Mothership, Wino, Freedom Hawk, Howling Giant, Void Vator, Bone Church, Witchcryer, Holy Death Trio, Thunderhorse, Switchblade Jesus, Forming the Void, High Desert Queen, Mr Plow, and Fostermother.

We have reviewed many of these bands in the past year or two and this will surely be a festival to remember. Get ready for some of the best desert, doom, heavy music there is.

At this writing there were still tickets available. Hit the link below before it is too late.

Ripplefest Texas Tickets, http://www.outhousetickets.com/Event/17387-Ripplefest_Texas/

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

Ripplefest Texas, August 7, 2021

Bone Church, Bone Church (Ripple Music 2021)

The self-titled album from Bone Church gets a re-issue with bonus tracks.

One of my favorite albums from 2020 was Bone Church’s Acid Communion. It is as solid a set of blues-infused heavy groove you are likely to come across. Each song is an extension and a complement to the one before. It is fantastic.

When you hear a record like that, you want to go back and listen to everything else the band has released. Ripple Music is making that easy for you with a deluxe re-issue of the first Bone Church album. The new edition has the complete original Bone Church set plus two live tracks.

As soon as you drop the needle on the first album you see where the second came from. The music is heavy metal laid down with the confident ease of musicians channeling primal elements. “Altered States” and “Pale Moon Sacrifice” are my favorite tracks but they all qualify as top picks. These are the two songs that have live versions included on the re-issue so that puts me over the moon.

Bone Church is going to be at Ripplefest Texas on August 7th and I can’t wait to see them play live. At this writing you can still get tickets to that event (link below) so grab them while you can.

Bone Church is out now. Don’t let another day go by without hearing it. Highly recommended.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/bone-church-reissue

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

Ripple Music, https://ripplemusic.bigcartel.com/product/bone-church-s-t-reissue-limited-digipak-cd

Ripplefest Texas tickets, http://www.outhousetickets.com/Event/17387-Ripplefest_Texas/

Acid Communion review, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2020/06/03/ripple-round-up-2020-round-01/

Bone Church, Bone Church (Ripple Music 2021)