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)

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)

Old Grandad, Vol. 666 ~ OGD EP (Hectic Records 2021)

Grooving stoner grunge from Old Grandad gets a re-issue.

San Francisco in 1994 is when the band came together. According to the story, “Will Carroll, Erik Moggridge, and Max Barnett created a thrash/death metal-flavored, Sabbath-inspired, Satanic-Floydian, groove-guzzling giant.” That is quite a confluence of influences and when you listen to the music on this re-issue you definitely hear them all.

In addition to the albums in question, Old Grandad produced The Last Upper in 1999 and Hocus Corpus in 2005. After that they were quiet on the recording front until 2019 when a new self-titled album came out. It is great to look back now with this new version of the early work and have a chance to take it all in.

The two albums included here are the first full-length Hectic Records release from 1995 and the 1997 EP. I hadn’t listened to Old Grandad very closely until I put this one on a couple times. It is a fascinating combination of those aforementioned elements, along with a considerable amount of screaming. The guitars are fuzzy, the rhythm is steady, and psychedelia abounds.

It is hard to take the themes seriously with song titles like “The Highs That Bind,” “Blatant Drug Song,” and “Don’t Call Me A Deadhead,” so instead settle in for a good time. I can’t say first-hand whether this music is an artifact of the time and place it was created in and therefore represents the circles Old Grandad moved in back in the day. I bet it does, though, and anyway we can all listen to it now no matter what. Recommended.

This re-issue of Vol. 666 ~ OGD EP is out now through Hectic Records. Bandcamp is the place to go.

Band photo by Lori Higbey.

Links.

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

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

Hectic Records, https://www.hectic.com/

Old Grandad, Vol. 666 ~ OGD EP (Hectic Records 2021)

Planet of the Dead, Pilgrims (2021)

The sophomore release from New Zealand space stoner doom band Planet of the Dead should definitely be on your radar.

Four musicians from Wellington make up Planet of the Dead, Mark Mundell (vocals), Malcolm McKenzie (guitar), Kees Hengst (bass), and Josh Hussey (drums). Their debut album came out last year, Fear of a Dead Planet. The new release is a fresh adventure with a familiar crew.

It is hard to think of a better summary of the band’s music than this, from the press release: Hurtling towards the forever yawning void within their busted-up space freighter, they draw inspiration from classic science fiction and horror, and push supermassive and megalithic riffs to the outer limits.

There are eight tracks on the album, and I starred every one of them on my media player as I listened, one by one. The music is heavy fuzzy doom set in the limitless expanse of the collective mind (space, that is). Utterly irresistible.

“Escape from Smith’s Grove” stood out for me with the shifts it takes from heavy doom to a more urgent agenda. “Pilgrim” is a set-stone artifact as well, and you cannot set aside the leviathan that is the closer, “The Great Wave.” This album will be on heavy rotation for the summer desert road trip ahead. Highly recommended.

Pilgrims is out on Friday, July 23rd – get more info at the band’s website and pick up the music and Bandcamp.

Links,

Bandcamp, https://planetofthedead.bandcamp.com/album/pilgrims

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

Website, https://planetofthedead.band/

Planet of the Dead, Pilgrims (2021)

Desert Druid and the Acid Caravan, The Witch (Dopesmoke Heavy Music Productions 2021)

Doom ridden incantations from Brazil surround and overtake you on the new EP from Desert Druid and the Acid Caravan, The Witch.

F. Klinger (bass, vocals), E. Lisboa (drums), and Nass (guitar) have been playing in the heavy music scene for ten years or more, and have now come together to form a trio of doom-makers. Their take is classic metal and straight-forward heavy bluesy doom that is a rich nectar for your ears.

The Witch, or written as it is on the cover of the album like it would have been in medieval typesetting, The VVitch, has four tracks, all of them designed to have an immediately effect and a big punch.

“The Witch” opens with a voiceover and a thick, fuzzy riff, showing off the clear disposition of the music. Influences of Black Sabbath are noticeable, and, really, the 1970s harder rock bands generally. “Total Madness” plods in surety and exceeds in dire expression with its distorted primary riff and mildly echoing vocal. There is a purposefulness to the formidable darkness the music generates that rises up and consumes you as you listen.

“Mistress of Black Heart” and especially the outro closer, “Witching Hour,” are focused on the atmosphere. The latter is a short instrumental piece with a prominent church bell and a great lead guitar line while “Mistress” is the longest song of the set – it rambles with a steady, relentless pressure and is capped with its own memorable guitar work.

The music is lyrically occult, doom in structure, and stoner in vibe. It is a combination that cannot miss. Recommended.

The Witch is out now and available through Bandcamp for US fans. There is a cassette available from Ruidoteka Records and the vinyl is out through DHU Records.

Links.

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

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

Label, https://www.facebook.com/dopesmokeprod/

Desert Druid and the Acid Caravan, The Witch (Dopesmoke Heavy Music Productions 2021)

Stöner, Stoners Rule (Heavy Psych Sounds Records 2021)

The natural progression from Live In The Mojave Desert is Stöner’s first studio album, Stoners Rule.

If you like stoner metal/rock then you like what the musicians in this new band do because Brant Bjork and Nick Oliveri pioneers of the sound and style. Both are founding members of Kyuss and, along with Ryan Güt, they are putting down the smoothest desert stoner groove there is.

The new album was recorded last Fall in Joshua Tree, California, and it sounds like it. You can feel the desert insisting and infusing and simply being there when you listen.

There are seven laid-back tracks on Stoners Rule, covering a range of subjects that appear to have emerged from the flowing consciousness that overtakes you in the desert under the right circumstances. In each, a steady bed of rhythm provides a solid base for vocal and guitar explorations.

“Rad Stays Rad” and “Nothin’” are the first songs that made their way into the airwaves and cyber pathways. They are good representations of the music on the album. I have an affection for “Stand Down” for the way it rambles, and you cannot miss the thirteen-minute closer, “Tribe / Fly Girl” that one takes a deep dive into your psyche. The lead guitar is a mystical spell spoken in six strings that transports you far away from anything that was bothering you on this earthly plane.

Stöner is on tour with Clutch (and King Buffalo in the northeast) this Fall – you don’t want to miss this show if you are a heavy music fan. Let’s go.

Stoners Rule is out now from Heavy Psych Sounds Records with the quick digital at the ready from Bandcamp. Highly recommended.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com/album/st-ner-stoners-rule

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

Website, https://www.stonerband.com/

Heavy Psych Sounds Records, https://www.heavypsychsounds.com/

Stöner, Stoners Rule (Heavy Psych Sounds Records 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)

Heavy Temple, Lupi Amoris (Magnetic Eye Records 2021)

The first long-player from Philadelphia Psychedelic Doom band Heavy Temple is a rumbling juggernaut that will roll you flat.

Heavy Temple is a trio that creates memorable and full-bodied music for your mind. Working with guitar, bass, and drum, they are able to establish and pursue complex ideas in a way that soaks into the listener in the most appealing ways. Lupi Amoris is their first full-length album, and they have also released two EPs in the last few years, Heavy Temple (2014) and Chassit (2017), as well as a split with Wolf Blood. The music and performance are languid, and Heavy Temple is a band you will surely be hearing a lot more about in the months and years to come.

The first song is “A Desert Through The Trees” and it starts up with a penetrating pulse that is soon joined into a rollicking jaunt that turns toward heavy burbling psychedelica. “The Wolf” has a way of being spacier while still bringing forth the big, heavy guitar sounds. “The Maiden” closes the half with a rambunctious telling.

Side B is “Isabella (with Unrelenting Fangs)” and “Howling of a Prothalamion.” The first song is the longest, nuzzling up to ten minutes. It unfolds slowly and surely and walks the earth with power and care. The lead guitar parts to me are the most memorable, particular the dual approach. “Howling” has a broad range with some segments that are rolling, rambling riffs and others that are ethereal and quirky. It is an unexpected and very strong closer.

Over the course of these five tracks told in about thirty-three minutes there is an enveloping experience few other bands could create. It’s a trip. Recommended.

Lupi Amoris is out tomorrow, Friday June 18th from Magnetic Eye Records. Explore the possibilities at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://heavytemple.bandcamp.com/album/lupi-amoris

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

Magnetic Eye Records, https://us.merhq.spkr.media/magnetic-eye-records/heavy-temple-lupi-amoris.html

Heavy Temple, Lupi Amoris (Magnetic Eye Records 2021)