Radian, Discordian (Elburno Records 2022)

Ohio sludge upstarts Radian are back with a new record, Discordian.

Akron, Ohio is Radian’s hometown. The band formed in 2017 and released its debut studio album in 2020, Chapters. They play sludge and doom metal with an ear toward listenability sometimes absent in other bands. Discordian is a long EP with compelling songwriting that is sure to expand Radian’s fanbase. The band is Mike Burns (guitar), Jeff Sullivan (drums), Bill Govan (bass), and Jeff Fahl (vocals).

There are six tracks on the new album. Interestingly, the lyrics on “The Discordian” remind me a little of the approach Alice Cooper took on Flush The Fashion, style-wise. It is a great opener, fast and clippy – a rousing slap in the face to get your attention. “To Light and Know” is more direct-to-scene doom than the opener, and it is spacey, a little disorienting. So to with “Painless Void,” the longest track in the set. The flavor of doom is rich here.

“The Sun Spoils” turns the earth on side two with a methodical beat and riff. Wonderfully dreary, this one is my favorite on the album because Jeff Fahl’s vocals really sink in here. “At The End Again” makes you feel like the clock as about to strike midnight and, when it does, something terrible is going to happen. There is a significant dirge factor present that I respect. “They Look Like Good Strong Hands,” despite the clear reference, does not sound like a song you would hear in The Neverending Story. The sentiment of that scene in the movie (we’ve all seen it, right?), however, comes through with no mistake.

I am on board with this new Radian album. I am already looking forward to the next one. Recommended.

Discordian is out on Friday, June 24th through Elburno Records.

Band photo by Josh Fitzjarald.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://radianakron.bandcamp.com/releases

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

© Wayne Edwards

Radian, Discordian (Elburno Records 2022)

Bog Body, Cryonic Crevasse Cult (Profound Lore 2022)

Bog Body brings forth their first full-length album, Cryonic Crevasse Cult.

Not your typical death metal band, Bog Body is made up entirely of vocals, bass, and percussion generated from two musicians. Putting out a demo in 2018, Through the Burial Bog, and a split with Primitive Warfare in 2020, The Gate Of Grief, you might wonder if they have anything else to say. It turns out that’s a yes.

Think about it for a minute. Bass and drums and vocals. Is that enough? It is certainly a lane, and the limiting choice of instruments narrows the avenues for expression. Then again, it requires the composers to be especially creative if they are to achieve anything fans want to hear. I think they have done it.

The music is death metal, heavy on the sludge, and it leans toward black metal sentience, metered down a bit. The bass lines are doing some heavy lifting here, as you might expect. Speed comes from the percussion first in the absence of guitar, and the bass line keeps up. The vocals exist in a muted blackened doom metal realm.

There is a welcome variety in the music as we roll through. “Ice Stained Kurgan” has a deep, mysterious formulation to it, while songs like the title track are high velocity poundings. The set opens on “Paralytic Pit of Swallowed Graves” and closes with “The Graveyard Of Dead Cratons,” two songs that, musically, stand well apart. Indeed, while “Paralytic” is a mood-setter and serves to orient expectations for the rest of the album, “Graveyard” is my favorite track for its firm stance on its own identity. The commitment to heavy music is present throughout, and I can say no other band sounds quite like Bog Body. Recommended.

Cryonic Crevasse Cult is out on Friday, May 20th through Profound Lore Records in digital and on CD.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://bog-body.bandcamp.com/

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

Profound Lore Records, https://profoundlorerecords.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Bog Body, Cryonic Crevasse Cult (Profound Lore 2022)

Woorms, Fatalismo (SuperNova Records 2022)

Sludge metal maestros Woorms order a reckoning on their new album Fatalismo.

Woorms is a fairly new band, having started about five years ago. Being centered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, might have had something to do with the sound that emerged from them – after all, just think of the list of bands that have come from the area. Whatever led them to the path they are on now, let’s just be glad they are making music for us hear. The musicians are Joey Carbo (guitar, vocals, keys), John Robinson (bass), and Aaron Polk (drums).

There is an overriding sense of unsettledness and generalized tension that verily beams throughout this album. Each song is an individual instantiation of the overarching idea, telling a specific, but not always transparent, story.

As an example, in its first half “This Is Nothing Short of Character Assassination” is a delightful soundtrack piece you might expect to hear when a particularly complicated part of a heist movie is underway on the screen. That set-up puts you in a particular frame of mind. The second half of the song is soliloquy, and what a story there is in it. Strife, struggle, and ultimately a solution. But exactly who is the narrator? You know what I mean – is this something someone is saying to you or is it a story about somebody else. Hard to say.

Then think about this one, “Mezzo Mort,” which is an amazing expression of frustration, at least that’s the way I hear it. The percussion and bass line are incredible, and the lyrics are words to live by. Maybe. Or maybe not. To where do these observed actions take us? Where would following along lead us? Exactly.

The music is sludge in its origins but it exists in a broader realm. More than usual, I feel I am projecting when I think I hear influences of Primus and the Melvins in there. What do I know? I like the music I am hearing. It is heavy, sometimes complex and sometimes simple and sometimes both at the same time. This new one has got me looking in all directions for Woorms. Recommended.

Fatalismo is out on Friday, May 13th through SuperNova Records on digital, with physical formats to follow directly. Scoop them up at Bandcamp or your other favorite places.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://woorms.bandcamp.com/music

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

SuperNova Records, https://supernovarecordsusa.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Woorms, Fatalismo (SuperNova Records 2022)

Crowbar, Zero and Below (MNRK Heavy 2022)

The twelfth studio album from Crowbar is yet another monumental earth-shaker: Zero and Below.

One of the biggest sounds to emerge from the New Orleans heavy music scene, Crowbar are pioneers of sludge metal. Kirk Windstein (vocals, guitar), Matt Brunson (guitar), Shane Wesley (bass), and Tommy Buckley (drums) deliver not merely a new album, but a vitally important one. There is no half in their game – it is a full-on assault from beginning to end.

Sludge metal is a lethal amalgam for doom and aggression. Windstein vocals blast power and energy that combine with the titanic riffs and percussion to forge an instantly recognizable and unforgettable sound. While Crowbar has been a clear influence on many successful bands, they have never rested on their success and, for more than thirty years, they have held the throttle wide open.

There are ten killer songs on Zero And Below. The opening track hits you at speed, “The Fear That Binds You,” and turns you right around. The guitar riff is like an advancing legion. “Her Evil Is Sacred” animates the wicked into a reckoning. “Confess To Nothing” leans into the doom realm heavily to great effect, then the pace pounds on with “Chemical Godz.” The music keeps you moving this way and that.

There is all manner of pace and shift in this set. “Denial of the Truth” imbibes a kind of “Planet Caravan” vibe, but it is much heavier than that classic. “Crush Negativity” pushes steamroller weight while “Reanimating A Lie” is more nimble in the clip and every bit as heavy in the narrative. “Bleeding From Every Hole” is a show-stopper, and I would put the title track high up on the list, too, with its surrounding, melancholy ever-presence. This record wreaks havoc from every angle. Highly recommended.

Zero and Below is out now through MNRK Heavy – vinyl, cassette, longbox, digital … whatever you want. Grab them while you can. And see Crowbar on the road – they are out now with Sepultura and Sacred Reich on tour, and they will be doing dates with Gwar, Nekrogoblikon, and The Native Howl later in the spring and summer.

Band photo by Justin Reich.

Links.

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

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

MNRK Heavy Records, https://mnrkheavy.com/

Crowbar, Zero and Below (MNRK Heavy 2022)

Transcending Obscurity 2022 Label Sampler (2022)

Here it is, the official preview of the upcoming year in heavy music from Transcending Obscurity Records: the 2022 label sampler.

An independent record label headquartered in India, Transcending Obscurity has been quietly growing in catalogue and international reach since its inception in 2005. Now, albums from them routinely hit the top ten annual lists in every heavy music corner of the world. If you are a regular reader of this column then you know a lot about them already because I write about TO all the time as they have been one of my favorite records labels for many years. I reviewed twenty-five of their albums last year for Flying Fiddlesticks – more than any other, nudging out even Ripple Music in the stats.

Hit the links below to see the full contributor list. Bandcamp is the easiest route and that is the place to pick up the collection itself for free. To give you some idea of how it all breaks down, here is the categorization provided by the label for what is included in the sampler: Tracks 1-12 – death metal; Tracks 13-15 – black metal; Tracks 16-30 – dissonant/ brutal/ atmospheric/ experimental death metal; Tracks 30-33 – grindcore; Tracks 34-35 – doom/ sludge metal.

You can tell the music is tilted in the death metal direction, but whatever persuasion of heavy music fan you are, there is a metric ton of music here to enjoy. There are many familiar names on the roster – Wombbath, Lurk, Veilburner, Replicant, Imperlialist – and many more I know less about that I can’t wait to hear. The sampler is massive, and it is free.

You cannot go wrong with Transcending Obscurity. I have been an avid follower of the label for a good long while and I never miss an album they put out because I know the quality is going to be there. Count on reading about many of the records as they come out this year and, meanwhile, grab the sampler and hear what you are in for. And if you like merch, you cannot do better than the product line Transcending Obscurity offers. Highly recommended.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://transcendingobscurity.bandcamp.com/album/label-sampler-2022

US Store, https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/

Main Website, https://tometal.com/

Transcending Obscurity 2022 Label Sampler (2022)

Beldam, Live At The Golden Pony (HPGD 2021)

The live album from sludge masters Beldam is an historical artifact of doom and despair.

This is one from the archives, recorded live at The Golden Pony in Harrisonburg, Virginia on January 8, 2017. Beldam is a band that started out in Charlottesville, Virginia and has moved around since then. In a mere three years they released two impressive albums, Still the Wretched Linger (2016) and Pasung (2018). The new one was captured in between these releases and completes a menacing triptych.

There are five looming tracks on the album. The first three are from Still the Wretched Linger, “The Foundling,” “From Grave To Cradle,” and “Needles.” From the opening bars that rise over the cheering crowd you get an intimate feeling of being in the room surrounded by the dark energy. The weight of the guitar and impenetrable bass is immense. The warbling, wandering lead guitar and searing vocals press the air from your lungs in the opener, and the music only gets heavier from there. The pace ranges from dead slow and absolutely crushing to pounding and assertive — the latter is particularly notable on “Needles.”

The two final pieces originally appeared on Pasung, so they are being performed here to promote that album. “Vial of Silence” sounds like it was recorded in a torture chamber that never closes.

“That Which Consumes You” identifies the burdens of life that wear on us and tells the story in an eerie, dank kaleidoscope of torment. It is an experience.

I would like to hear more music from this band but if the internet is to be believed, the future is uncertain. We do have the two studio albums and now this live musical artifact. Recommended.

Live At The Golden Pony is out now from Horror Pain Gore Death productions on CD and digital.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://hpgd.bandcamp.com/album/live-at-the-golden-pony

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

Horror Pain Gore Death Productions, https://www.horrorpaingoredeath.com/

Beldam, Live At The Golden Pony (HPGD 2021)

All Hail The Yeti, Within The Hollow Earth (Minus Head 2021)

Mythical sludge metal band All Hail The Yeti go deep on their new album, Within The Hollow Earth.

All Hail The Yeti have been banging out music for fifteen years, including three long-players: All Hail the Yeti (2012), Screams from a Black Wilderness (2016), and Highway Crosses (2018). Their take on the word is that it is full of mystery and that legends hold some valuable information about elemental truths. These ideas are expressed in heavy groove metal with sludgy sensibilities. The musicians are Connor Garritty (vocals), Dave Vanderlinde (guitar), Nicholas Diltz (bass, vocals), Ryan “Junior” Kittlitz (drums).

Within The Hollow Earth has seven tracks at common length opening with the pummeling “Bury Your Memory,” a song stout enough to hammer you thoughts flat. “Headless Valley” gets your blood up with a pursuing, pulsing riff that enjoins a warning and a prediction. This song is a monster slap with terrifying flashes alternating with a misleading periodic calm.

“Funeral Heart” is a ravaging affair in its raking riff and the story is even harsher. “Cold Dead Leaves” is a show-stopper, offering up a deep, dark bitterness and wicked guitar. The melodic vocals that float across the transom of these songs amid what by comparison seems a clambering explanative assault is a creative construction that delivers effectively fresh tellings of hoary themes. Truly, the ideas are infused with a bristling enthusiasm that elevates them, making them new and fascinating.

The chop of “The Cry of the Waheela” and the resolute finality of “The Great Dying” bring the set to a close. The jabs and haymakers just keep coming in this music. It is a wicked walking dream that inflames your senses. Recommended.

Within The Hollow Earth is out on Friday, November 12th. Snap it up at Bandcamp.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ahty.bandcamp.com/album/within-the-hollow-earth

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

All Hail The Yeti, Within The Hollow Earth (Minus Head 2021)

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)

Bones Of The Earth, II (2021)

The story continues on the second concept album from Arkansas metal band Bones of the Earth.

The band is a Doom trio from Arkansas. The musicians are Erik Ebsen (guitar), Raif Box (bass and vocals), and Cody Martin (drums and vocals) Their first album, The Imminent Decline of Human Spirit, came out in 2019 and started the tale. This new one, Eternal Meditations of a Deathless Crown, continues the story of a cycle of transformation in the universe where organic life eventually becomes artificial life, and then reverts to organic again.

You can see parallels between this concept and all sorts of things around you all the time. Even while there is constant change the same themes and instances seem to come up again and again, like they are on some long-run cycle that cannot be broken. Doom and Sludge Metal surely are the appropriate musical perspective to tell a story like this.

The opening foray is the instrumental “Decline,” voiceless except for some whispering at the end. “Machine Rising” is a syncopated calamity. The vocals are projected to the straining point and the music bends at sharp angles as the steady sound base holds up a platform for the other pieces to excel. There is an ebb and flow to the album with each song adding another piece to the puzzle and presenting it in a different way. The track “Inoperable,” for example, has amazing guitar work and a heavy blues feel that swirls in the eerie menace of the world it inhabits.

There is an unstoppable quality in the music. You feel like you are on a ride that has no exit. Progressive-sounding elements twinkle in the sludge and doom, but they are not reassuring. No, they are the sound of the mechanical overlord, the cadence of inevitability. Trapped in the system, in the cycle, anxiety builds in the music and it gets to you as you listen. The story genuinely is part of the music and it comes through naturally. The album is exceptional. Recommended.

CDs, cassettes, and digital downloads are out on Friday April 2nd. Pick up a copy so you can get the whole story. The first album is also on Bandcamp in case you want to see how this all started.

Links.

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

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

Bones Of The Earth, II (2021)