Ripple Music is releasing some of the best heavy music in the business. Their catalogue is truly amazing. We got behind here at The Cabal and couldn’t do full reviews of these albums, but we couldn’t let them go by without comment, either. So here is one paragraph on each. Oh, and don’t forget to add “Highly Recommended” to the end of every paragraph because it belongs there.
Wolftooth, Valhalla (May 22)
Many have noticed and remarked that there is a strong presence of New Wave Of British Heavy Metal style in Wolftooth, and allow me to pile on. There is a broad resurgence of this kind of music, with varying results – the result here on Valhalla is impeccable. Part of the success in the music is that it’s neither an homage nor a repetition. Instead, the songs integrate NWOBHM with other approaches like doom metal. “Firebreather” stands out to me because of its companioning rhythms and urgent march passages. “Scylla & Charybdis” is another one that has lodged in my mind, this time due to its eerie roll and escalating intensity. There is not a bad one in the bunch. No skips required.
War Cloud, Earhammer Sessions (May 22)
“Vulture City” opens the album with a solid crack right to your brainpan. The classic metal style holds up for War Cloud throughout, and their playing is spot on. Earhammer Sessions was recorded live, presumably in studio at Earhammer Studios. It adds up. The band stated that they wanted to capture the energy and vibe of the set they had been playing on their European tour. I didn’t see that tour but this album does have a live feel to it with its raucous explosive fury. “Chopper Wired” is a fine example of what I mean with the drum solo in the second half of the song. You don’t usually get that kind of thing in a studio album. “White Lightning” follows immediately and it is not possible to push Lemmy out of your mind listening to it. What I am saying is: this is rock and roll.
Forming The Void, Reverie (May 8)
The vocals are soaring and echoey, making them sound either ethereal or extraterrestrial or both. The distorted rumbling guitars form impressions and make assertions about time, space, and in between. Reverie is the band’s fourth full-length release, and their confidence shows. They are pushing at the edges of the sound they have been working with over the past five years, and the results are impressive. The feel of the album is gloom, and it is epitomized by “Ancient Satellite,” starting out as it does with dreary hopelessness. It does take a turn toward false hope a couple of times, but the ending sounds like the last wandering transmission of a conquered planet. You will have to look elsewhere for happiness but you can find an excellent doom album right here.
The Watchers, High and Alive (April 24)
The four songs on this EP were captured live at the House of Rock in Santa Rosa in Fall 2019. The set starts out menacingly, then slips in a wah-wah and a phase shifter which lightens the atmosphere a little on “Black Abyss” but not the guitars. “Just A Needle” has a nice buzzy bounce. The main lead break sounds like a spy novel. “Sabbath Highway” is a heavy metal rodeo that rolls right over you. “Starfire” is my favorite track on the album because of its sheer exuberance, but I mean it when I say they are all great. The musical precision combined with pulsing vitality of the band is an incomparable combination.
Bone Church, Acid Communion (March 13)
One of the best bands in the heavy guitar-driven bluesy industry brings a monster to your doorstep. “You’re always welcome at the Church of Bone where you can live the life divine.” The track I most remember is “Iron Temple” for its expansive stature, and it is also the place in the set where the music shifts gears a little and leads into the valley of the closing movement. On the other hand, “Iron Temple” could be the mountain that is summited and traversed from the beginning of the album and the end of the album. That debate is one for the listeners to work out on their own. The final song on the album is the title track, almost nine minutes long, and it is an epic story told with powerful, heavy guitars. I am delighted by Acid Communion and I can’t wait to get my ears on more.
Ripple Music, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/
Wolftooth, Valhalla, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/valhalla
War Cloud, Earhammer Sessions, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/earhammer-sessions
Forming The Void, Reverie, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/reverie
Bone Church, Acid Communion, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/acid-communion