Onhou, Monument (Tartarus 2022)

Dutch doom lords Onhou further the devastation with their second long-player, Monument.

Onhou came together in Groningen, Netherlands in 2016. They play sludge and doom metal accentuated with synth auras. They loosed a self-titled EP on the world in 2018, and then their debut full-length album, Endling, in 2019. Somber, cold, and devastating, Onhou’s music demands your attention. According to the Metal Archives, the band is Henk (bass), Arnold (drums), Alex (guitar), and Florian (keys).

There are four long tracks on the new album. First is “When On High.” It starts with heaving guitar indulgences, adding in growling vocals atop the monstrous rhythm. The keys show up later in prominence, slicing like heavy, sharp swords. Moments of reflection are howls in the void. “Null” is more veiled in its threat, more sinister in its tone. Like a lurking monster on the edge of the shadows, impossibly large and unstoppable. Death and black metal vocals are echoing insinuations that are realizable in any given present. In the release notes, this remark is made: “Whereas the band intended for their debut to be uncomfortable, Monument drags you ever deeper into dark, withering worlds where time is gruesome and unforgiving, and the echoes of what once was have long since been lost and forgotten.” You feel that deeply on “Null.”

Side two opens with “Below.” When the music begins, you strain to listen. As it grows and builds so does your apprehension. The music is claustrophobic, dungeon-like. The doom guitar riffs drop at about the two minute mark and all hope is lost. The vocals are torturous, sometimes disembodied. Disturbing is not a strong enough word to describe this music. The set ends on “Ruins.” The feeling of a lost ancient place is palpable as the music surrounds you. You are in a spot that was devastated in the past by you know not what. The worry is: has it gone? The composition is some of the most haunting music I have heard in a great long while. Indeed, the entire album is an unforgettable experience. Highly recommended.

Monument is out on Friday, December 9th through a joint venture between Lay Bare Records and Tartarus Records. In the US, Bandcamp is the place to get it.

Band photo by Richard Postma.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://onhou.bandcamp.com/album/monument

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

Tartarus Records, https://shop.tartarusrecords.com/

Lay Bare Recordings, https://laybarerecordings.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Onhou, Monument (Tartarus 2022)

-(16)-, Into Dust (Relapse 2022)

California sludge masters -(16)- face the blurring void on Into Dust.

The story begins in 1991 when the early moments of -(16)- coalesced. Their music is usually referred to as sludge metal, which it certainly is, but it also exists in a confidence interval that includes hardcore, punk, and stoner inclinations, to name only a few. Over the past thirty years, they have made a critical ascent. During this time, they have released a formidable amount of music, with multiple EPs, splits, and nine full-length albums, including Into Dust. The band is Bobby Ferry (guitar, vocals), Alex Shuster (guitar), Barney Firks (bass), and Dion Thurman (drums).

“There’s a story arc in the lyrics that start with an eviction notice served amid the ruins of Hurricane Irma in the Florida Keys, to running aground metaphorically and drowning in midlife, bearing witness to the modern suffering of hunger and poverty on the Mexico California border,” Bobby Ferry says about the latest record. That covers a lot of ground. When I listened to the album the first time, I got involved with each song separately, and the arc did not sink in. That is not meant as a criticism, but rather as a declaration of how compelling each individual element is.

The first track is monster, “Misfortune Teller,” leaning heavily on the rhythm and regiment to put you on the path. There is more of a presence for the lead guitar on “Dead Eyes” and, especially, “Ash in the Hourglass,” where we get a tasty groove, too. “Scrape the Rocks” downshifts a might and has a sorrowful feeling to it as a result. It is also quite grungy. In the very next space, “Null and Eternal Void” tugs the eclectic ear and hits grating and coarse elements hard. You really feel it all coming together by now if it hasn’t hit you before.

Other tracks that stay with me after the second time through are “Never Paid Back” for its dark and elegant gloominess, and the comprehensive closer, “Born on a Barstool.” It opens with quiet flittering lounge jazz then splits your skull with a titanically heavy drop about a minute in. It brings the proceedings to a finish a in a way you won’t forget, back at that jazz bar. Recommended.

Into Dust hits the streets on Friday, November 18th through Relapse Records. Touch the links below.

Band photo Chad Kelco.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://16theband.bandcamp.com/album/into-dust

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/16theband

Relapse Records, https://store.relapse.com/

© Wayne Edwards

-(16)-, Into Dust (Relapse 2022)

Down Photo Gallery, Blue Ridge Rock Festival 2022

Photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Down website, http://down-nola.com/

Blue Ridge Rock Festival, https://blueridgerockfest.com/

FFMB article on Blue Ridge Rock Festival 2022, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2022/10/06/blue-ridge-rock-festival-alton-virginia-september-8-11-2022/

Ryze-Up Magazine feature, https://www.ryze-up.com/ryze-up-magazine-current-issue/ryze-up-magazine-october-2022/

© Wayne Edwards

Down Photo Gallery, Blue Ridge Rock Festival 2022

Lust Witch, We All Die Alone (2022)

Indianapolis doom band Lust Witch unleash a sludgy new EP, We All Die Alone.

The band is Taylor Hoang (bass, vocals), Ian Gernhardt (guitar, vocals), and Mason Plummer (drums). The music they play is a doom/sludge integration that leans into the heavy riff and presses it to the blackout stage. We All Die Alone is their first album.

There are four songs on the EP, each labeled with a word from the title. “We,” then, is first. It offers a disorienting stance in the opening couple of minutes, with disconcerting staccato chants hurled that are surrounded by a sputtering generator of surges and recessions. A more ordered and persistent thrumming sets in and pushes toward the conclusion, leading into “All.” The second track is more cinematically dreary, like a Hammer horror movie with deep, rich tones. The pace accelerates and the vocals broaden in profile throughout the first half. The fatal chop returns and the listener faces enpummelment.

“Die,” the longest track on the album at nine-and-a-half minutes, continues the litany. The initial tone here strikes me as melancholy. The constant reminder of awaiting eternity bears down on you here, too, and by now it is really getting under your skin. In whatever tempo shift or transition we might find ourselves, there is that constancy waiting for us at the end, altogether unavoidable. And, ultimately, we face it “Alone,” as the final track drives home. Truly, these songs form a suite that is easily, arguably, a single piece. The final movement is smoothest around the edges and also the saddest because of the singular inevitability it describes.

This music was recorded live in the studio, and the band must have been channeling the ethereal muse because they have created a memorable, fundamental slab of doom. Give it a listen and then go see them live. Recommended.

We All Die Alone is out now. Pick it up at Bandcamp – link below.

Band photos by Wayne Edwards

Links.

Bandcamp, https://lustwitchdoom.bandcamp.com/album/we-all-die-alone

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Lust-Witch-110221191691214

© Wayne Edwards

Lust Witch, We All Die Alone (2022)

Morbid Evils, Supernaturals (Transcending Obscurity 2022)

Morbid Evils unleash a quadrangle of doom on their third long-player, Supernaturals.

Doom trio Morbid Evils began in Finland in 2014, and released their first full-length album the very next year, In Hate with the Burning World. Next there was a split and a live album, record number two hit the streets in 2017, Deceases. After this massive flurry of recorded activity, the studio went quiet for a lustrum. The silence is now broken with what might be the band’s most accomplished work to date, Supernaturals. The musicians are Keijo Niinimaa (vocals, guitars, bass), Jarno Virkki (drums), and Tuomas Varila (guitar).

There are four huge tracks on the new album, averaging about ten minutes each. First up: “Fearless.” The song begins with loud, low drones, distortion, and funeral doom riffs. The vocals are titanic howls, and a guitar line follows along with them for added emphasis. Three minutes in, the pace snaps to a heavy groove and the vocals clarify slightly. A dangerous heaviness continues to abide. These movements trade off to the finish. With “Anxious,” there is a similar set-up, but it is not as dreary. Still brutally heavy, the beast has lifted its head and now sways it like a pained metronome. The slowest moments are deeply haunting; the lead work, revelatory.

“Tormented” opens side two. At less than nine minutes, it is the shortest song in the set, and it has a notably different vitality compared to the ones that have come before. More aggressively hopeless, the lead guitar line breaks into chaos alongside the vocals at midway, then the song resets for the long slope toward the finish. The final song is “Supernatural,” and it is oppressively bleak. With a segment of good death metal chops followed by dark tonal passages and a resolution in devolved hopelessness, this track is the one where the deal is sealed. Supernaturals is an exceptional doom album that will live in my queue for the foreseeable future. Recommended.

Supernaturals is out on August 19th through Transcending Obscurity Records. Look to Bandcamp or the label’s website for the usual wide variety of versions and merch – Transcending Obscurity really is one of the absolute best record labels for collectors in terms of the extensive variety of products they offer.

Links.

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

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

Transcending Obscurity Records, https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Morbid Evils, Supernaturals (Transcending Obscurity 2022)

Crowbar and Spirit Adrift at Piere’s, Ft. Wayne, July 31, 2022

It was a big night of monstrous riffs at Piere’s when Crowbar and Spirit Adrift stormed the stage, along with openers Wolftooth, Blood Of Heroes, and Lust Witch.

You know The Riff Beast Tour is well named if you have ever heard Crowbar. As the headliner and anchor of the evening, they provided the biggest, most massive guitar pronouncements. There were many incredible preludes as well when the opening acts were on the stage.

First up was Indianapolis doom band Lust Witch. This trio is working on a new EP called We All Die Alone, and you’ll be able to grab before too long. I love doom metal so this was the perfect way to start the evening as far as I was concerned. The band was already playing when I got inside the venue and I am sorry I missed part of their set because I really liked what I heard.

Danville, Illinois metal band Blood of Heroes came next. Having recently signed with Dark Star Records, they have several up-coming dates to promote their presence and get ready for more roadwork and newly recorded music. They play in a heavy metal groove lane, and put out an energetic live performance. I am looking forward to the follow-up to their debut album Symbolic Voices (AMG).

Wolftooth is from Richmond, Indiana. Their most recent album is Blood & Iron (Napalm Records), and they played several songs from that set. Their record label describes their sound as “offering a colossal slab of genuine, proto-metal influenced heaviness with a deep dose of doom essence and addictive stoner riffage to boot.” I can’t argue with that. Spirit Adrift’s lead singer described them as “corn-fed Iron Maiden,” and certainly their sound can be experienced in the Iron Maiden vein. Whenever you see them on a bill, make sure you get to that show.

I have written about Spirit Adrift regularly since I saw them for the first time at Aftershock in 2019. They are a straight-up heavy metal band with killer hooks and amazing guitar work. Lead singer and guitarist Nate Garrett has an ideal voice for their brand of music, and every time I have seen them has been an occasion. I would go to festival on the strength of them performing there alone. Spirit Adrift has a new EP coming out soon with a couple of originals and a half dozen covers – expect to hear a lot more about that album in this column when it drops.

Crowbar is an iconic sludge metal band. Fronted by the legendary Kirk Windstein, Crowbar has been putting out music for more than thirty years. Zero and Below is their newest album, and it forms the basis for the current Riff Beast Tour. When I was reviewing that record, I wrote, in part, “Windstein’s vocals blast power and energy that combine with the titanic riffs and percussion to forge an instantly recognizable and unforgettable sound.” Somehow, in all my years I had never seen Crowbar live. I don’t know how that is possible, but the situation was remedied on the last day of July in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Crowbar is out for the next few weeks with Spirit Adrift. Both bands continue after that in separate directions for dozens of dates throughout 2022. Go out and see them when they enter your orbit. It’ll be a show you talk about for months to come.

Photos by Wayne Edwards.

Band Links.

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

Spirit Adrift, https://spiritadrift.bandcamp.com/

Wolftooth, https://wolftooth.bandcamp.com/

Blood Of Heroes, https://www.bloodofheroes.net/

Lust Witch, https://www.facebook.com/Lust-Witch-110221191691214/

Piere’s Entertainment Center, https://pieresentertainment.com/

Photo Galleries.

Spirit Adrift, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2022/08/06/photo-gallery-spirit-adrift-at-pieres-ft-wayne-july-31st-2022/

Wolftooth, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2022/08/05/photo-gallery-wolftooth-at-pieres-ft-wayne-july-31st-2022/

Blood Of Heroes, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2022/08/04/photo-gallery-blood-of-heroes-at-pieres-ft-wayne-july-31st-2022/

Lust Witch, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2022/08/03/photo-gallery-lust-witch-at-pieres-ft-wayne-july-31st-2022/

© Wayne Edwards

Crowbar and Spirit Adrift at Piere’s, Ft. Wayne, July 31, 2022

Behold! The Monolith, From The Fathomless Deep (Ripple Music 2022)

Los Angeles metal band Behold! The Monolith have created a doom-laden masterpiece with their new album From The Fathomless Deep.

Behold! The Monolith have gone through some changes since their inception fifteen years ago. They have released an EP and three previous long-players prior to the latest album. The band has shifted and reshaped since the sudden loss of vocalist and bassist Kevin McDade in a car accident in 2009. Reorienting to a trio on the new album, Menno Verbaten plays bass and sings, Matt Price is on guitar, and Chase Manhattan, drums. This latest music is some of their heaviest to date.

There are six tracks on From The Fathomless Deep. “Crown/The Immeasurable Void” opens the set and establishes a weighty foundation. All instruments, including voice, hit on the first note laying out a heavy front of doom. Slow and monstrous, you can feel the behemoth getting closer as the song moves along. The tension grows throughout and, when you hear a quiet passage, it is positively ominous. “Psychlopean Dread” has a mysterious beginning and melancholy lead work. Verbaten’s gruff vocals churn primordial forces to create meaning from the mist. “Spirit Taker” picks the pace up, and then some. The stabbing guitar riff and rapid-fire percussion catch you off guard and hit all the harder for it. It’s a rager.

Side two leads with “The Wailing Blade,” a song that has a less ominous but more directly threatening tone. It is short and cracking. “The Seams of Pangaea” is a fascinating title when you think of the implications it carries, and the music delivers a full-on expression of the possibilities. The overlayed lead guitar work is exceptional, and the Pink Floydian movement is an experience. The album closes on the eleven-minute epic “Stormbreaker Suite.” This piece has some of the most progressive segments on the record, to my ear, anyway. Over the course of the song, an ambitious array of ideas is explored, and the answers are found.

The is album is very heavy, and it is one of my favorites, not just from Behold! The Monolith, but among the all the albums I have heard so far this year. Highly recommended.

From The Fathomless Deep is out now through Ripple Music. Secure your treasures at the label’s site, or at Bandcamp, like I did.

Links.

Band website, https://beholdthemonolith.com/home

Bandcamp, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/from-the-fathomless-deep

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

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

© Wayne Edwards

Behold! The Monolith, From The Fathomless Deep (Ripple Music 2022)

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)