Weedevil, The Return (Abraxas Records 2022)

Weedevil presents dark stories told in doom on their first full-length album, The Return.

From São Paulo, Brazil, Weedevil is Flávio Cavichioli (drums), Lorraine Scar (vocals), Dani Plothow (bass), Paulo Ueno (guitar), and Bodão (guitar). The records show that the band has been releasing material for only a couple of years, with two EPs and a live album already out. The Return is their first long-player, and it is solid through and through.

The new album includes five huge slabs of doom. First up is “Underwater.” It is a steady heavy beat that seems at first slightly softened by Scar’s vocals until you realize what she is singing about. The music matches the desperation of the narrative and complements the turn towards dark power that occurs. “The Void” follows and grinds on you like pyramid stones being dragged up a ramp, forcing down the weight of history and reality on your being.

“The Return” has a deep-seated witching feel to it. To wit, “Offer me green grass and accursed men’s head / I will keep the beast away, if I’m well fed.” The circumlocution reinforces the powerful chant and the spell sinks ever deeper in. On “Isn’t A Love Song” the approach is more melodic but the messaging does not stray far from grim tidings, even with the beautiful piano in the finish.

The final track is “Genocidal.” It has an impressive tall-wall presence in the guitars and a creepy, disturbing whistling at the front. As with every track, Scar’s vocals are a center point, and a place of return. This song is the most determined, grimmest conclusion in a set that has been full-force doom all along. It is a welcome end that has you turning back to start at the beginning and experience it all over again. Recommended.

The Return emerges on Friday, April 8th in digital through Abraxas Records, with vinyl to follow from DHU Records.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://weedevil.bandcamp.com/album/the-return

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

DHU Records, https://darkhedonisticunionrecords.bigcartel.com/

© Wayne Edwards.

Weedevil, The Return (Abraxas 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)

Barús, Fanges (Aesthetic Death 2021)

French atmospheric death metal band Barús makes a musical offering to see the year out.

Formed in 2015, Barús traverses the unsteady borders of death metal and everything else. The first music the band released was their self-titled EP in 2015 followed by the Drowned long-player in 2018. There is not an enormous amount of information about the musicians themselves readily available in the atmosphere, but the Metal Archives declares the band was formed after Project Jim split up, and the press release declares that on the new album “the band adopted a fluid and open collaborative process involving both musician Anthony Barruel and writer Sarah Onave.” Ah well, as I often say, it is the music that matters the most and, to find out about it, all we have to do is listen.

There are two tracks on the new EP, “Fanges,” which runs nineteen minutes, and “Châssis de Chair,” clocking in at a mere fifteen. The title track was put together mostly from a distance because of the global pandemic. As you might expect, any musical piece that runs so long will have several movements that collect into the whole. The opening is quiet and tentative, and, while death metal lives a rich life herein, there are long passages that are sludgy, and even ambient. There is a lot to experience.

The band describes “Châssis de Chair” as a composition that “works as a mirror-track to ‘Fanges’ by re-expressing the same core elements, albeit through an entirely opposite approach” that was “recorded live inside the band’s rehearsal space, focusing on a raw visceral performance with no overdubs or additional layers.” This description is apt – the song begins loud and fierce, revealing its deeper layers only as the music progresses. The “live” nature of the recording shines through as well in its temper and feel.

The order of the tracks could have been a coin toss, but hearing them this way is definitely best – the studio track first and the unperturbed flow second. If you are a listener who appreciates the long form and who is looking for a lavish journey, you will find it here. Recommended.

Fanges is out on the last day of 2021 through Aesthetic Death for the CD and Breathe Plastic for the tape. You can pick it up at Bandcamp in either format, and digital as well.

Links.

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

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

Aesthetic Death, https://www.aestheticdeath.com/

Breath Plastic, https://breatheplastic.bandcamp.com/

Barús, Fanges (Aesthetic Death 2021)

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)

Doomsday Profit, In Idle Orbit (2021)

The debut album from Raleigh, North Carolina’s Doomsday Profit is a thoroughly ominous, earthy mood slinger.

The band – Bryan Reed (guitar and vocals), Kevin See (guitar), Ryan Sweeney (bass), and Tradd Yancey (drums) – came together very recently. They released a demo last year, and this new album is their hot-on-the-heels debut. The musicians have all been around the music scene for some time in different capacities. The variegated experiences and paths they have taken individually join together here synergistically, resulting in captivating music.

The first song on the album could be a single – “Crown of Flies.” Cleary doom music, it also has attributes that sway broader appeal with melodic and even catchy elements. So too with “Scryers of the Smoke,” a song that adds early lead guitar warbles to draw in listeners and a chorus line to get the audience singing along: Abandon hope, abandon hope, speak the Scryers of the Smoke. Good hooks, both. And in the middle there is an extended reflective cooling period with great rhythm and more excellent lead guitar.

“Cestoda” is massively heavy up front, the epitome of low and slow. “Consume the Remains” turns the other way with a catchy riff and a mid-tempo rambler attitude. “Destroy the Myths” places a drum cadence at the jump and continues to have an orderly feel to it throughout. “Bring Out Your Dead” is the epic of the set, pacing in at over ten minutes and casting a funeral doom pall in its opening salvos. Conjuring the coldness of the grave with an expanse as big as space, this song delivers on the expectations brought by the title.

I like everything about this album. The extension on the basic foundations of doom and the integration of clever ideas from other forms works a winning advantage. Recommended.

In Idle Orbit is out on Friday, November 12th, at the links below.

Links.

Website, http://www.doomsdayprofit.com/

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

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

Doomsday Profit, In Idle Orbit (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)

Swarm of Spheres, Brother, Take Five (No Why Records 2021)

Canadian metal trio Swarm of Spheres is back with their first new music in eight years on Brother, Take Five.

The band – Mark McGee (drums), Jay Chapman (guitar and vocals), and Andrew Rashotte (bass and vocals) – came together a little over ten years ago as Swarm of Spheres. Their self-titled demo was released in 2011, followed by Invest in Your Death two years later. Since then it has been quiet on the recording front until now. The band’s musical style is “in the stoner/sludge metal neighbourhood, leaning more towards the busier, faster-paced side of the tracks.” That sounds good to me. Let’s take a listen to Brother, Take Five.

“All Piss, No Vinegar” is short and savage, a compact little rager that gets your blood up at the jump. Feedback is the starting gun for “A Heart of Gold & A Face Like Ray Liotta.” What a great title. This is a big, fast, loud song with crackling guitars and a good pound in the rhythm. The first taste of what I would call stoner elements are here too. “Life is Kyfe” has a kind of formal feeling to it, strained through a punk colander. It made me feel spikey.

“Blood, Swass & Tears” has a rambling riff at its musical core. The heavy trudging in the middle brings it all together for me. “Ibuprofen” is very doomy with some discordant elements, and “Brother, Take Five” is the anchor, bringing that in-your-face attitude to the front of the stage. The tempo slows in the middle, and the lead guitar that lives in there is inspirational. I really enjoyed this EP all the way through. I hadn’t heard Swarm of Spheres before and now I am glad to have made their acquaintance. Recommended.

Brother, Take Five is out in digital and on vinyl through No Why Records on Friday, October 15th. The always reliable Bandcamp is a good place to pick it up.

Links.

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

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Swarm-Of-Spheres-258028310927228/

No Why Records, https://nowhyrecords.bandcamp.com/

Swarm of Spheres, Brother, Take Five (No Why Records 2021)

Yellowtooth, The Burning Illusion (Orchestrated Misery Recordings 2021)

The Indiana metal band Yellowtooth lay down a fresh slab of heavy music to menace your listening hours.

The band has been around for more than ten years, releasing a handful of demos, an EP, and two previous albums, most recently Crushed By The Wheels Of Progress in 2015. It is good to have some new music to get the summer started. The band is Peter Clemens (bass, vocals), Henry McGinnis (guitar, vocals), and Dave Dalton (drums).

The album has eight songs and one transitional piece. The first track, “From Faith To Flames,” has a solemn beginning that quickly flips into a more threatening tone. The use of two disparate vocals is very effective and unusual. Combining this with the slow heavy rhythm and the lead guitar that has a Woody Weatherman quality to it at times is very effective and compelling. “Atrocity” is up next, a more up-tempo piece that has a flickering, stabbing urgency. There is an eerie intro segment for the next track that brings us into heavy doom territory, “Astronaut’s Journey.” A surprisingly light touch with the guitar eases the music along and stands in direct contrast to the vocal style.

The ideas and intimations established at the front of the record are carried on throughout. The trio makes the most of every instrument and puts forth new ideas combined with fundamentals to generate heavy music with a broad appeal. I will definitely be looking for Yellowtooth on festival rosters and venue flyers from now on. The band’s Bandcamp note reads in part, “We are not out to reinvent the wheel but to jam and drink.” They definitely have the jamming part down and I will trust them on the drink. Recommended.

You can get the digital version of The Burning Illusion now and the CDs start shipping on Friday, April 30th.

Links.

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

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

Yellowtooth, The Burning Illusion (Orchestrated Misery Recordings 2021)