Domkraft, Seeds (Magnetic Eye Records 2021)

The third full-length album from Sweden’s Domkraft is an inflexion point for Doom Metal music.

I first heard (a recording of) Domkraft play live as part of the Day of Doom event put on by Magnetic Eye Records at the Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn, November of 2019. It was a killer bill and Domkraft gave an amazing performance. Since then I have been eagerly awaiting any new music from them. The band is Martin Wegeland (bass and vocals), Anders Dahlgren (drums), and Martin Widholm (guitar). They play heavy, measured doom metal that can shake the rivets lose in a seismograph.

There are seven tracks on Seeds: three long, three medium, and one transition piece. I usually look out for the longer songs because I like the way you can feel transformed in the drawn out expansive space so the first two tracks, “Seeds” and “Perpetrator,” running as they do about eighteen minutes together looked like the perfect launch pad. And they definitely are, both having gigantic, crushing riffs and relentless rolling rhythm. I was immediately taken back to the live recordings and the contemporaneous experience mixed together with my memories of what I had heard before, generating something bigger.

The three tracks in the middle are shorter, but they hit me just as hard, especially “Into Orbit” which I came back to a couple times after the first run through. The anchor song is “Audiodome” and it starts out at full blast, arguing that turning the power down is not an option. The arch toward the vanishing point is subtle and deliberate. There is nothing to do but hold on. When it is over, you are right where you want to be. Every time I listen to Domkraft I like them even more. Highly recommended.

Seeds is out on Friday, April 30th, and is available through finer discerning retailers.

Links.

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

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

Magnetic Eye Records, https://us.merhq.spkr.media/magnetic-eye-records/domkraft-seeds.html

Domkraft, Seeds (Magnetic Eye Records 2021)

Sun Crow, Quest For Oblivion (Ripple Music 2021)

When I think of Doom Metal this is what I hear in my head: Sun Crow’s debut album.

Quest For Oblivion was released late last year by the band, and now it is getting broader distribution through Ripple Music. The musicians are Ben Nechanicky (guitar), Brian Steel (bass), Keith Hastreiter (drums), and Charles Wilson (vocals). The band as it is might be fairly new, but the members have a solid history of honing their talents and together they are pure metal lava.

There are eight tracks on Quest For Oblivion, four of them over ten minutes long. The album starts with “Collapse,” a slow-opening heavy doom statement with planetary-scale riffs and soul-freeing power. The music is unhurried. Sure of itself, the composition moves in its own natural direction. “Black It Out” is next with a quicker build and a sound just as big. “End Over End” hits next, and it might be my favorite track on the album, although picking one among this pack is a fool’s errand because every song has so much to admire. Here I am enthralled by the lead guitar work and voice, the rollicking drums and muscular bass which together compartmentalized my mind and gave me a feeling like I was existing in a distinct cranial collective rather than a single source of thought.

There are two shorter songs, six and five minutes each, and they have a generally quicker tempo – “Fear” and “Nothing Behind.” The shift is a shove that rattles you around to secure your attention for the final two, “Hypersonic” and “Titans.” The penultimate song is a trip to the stars the final one brings the celestial to the terrestrial and shakes the prehistoric structure of the earth. Taken together as a full set or one song at a time, Sun Crow has set a standard with Quest For Oblivion to which other doom music will be compared. Highly recommended.

The digital download is available now at Bandcamp through the band directly or through Ripple Music. Physicals ship in July from Ripple.

Links.

Sun Crow Bandcamp, https://suncrow.bandcamp.com/

Ripple Bandcamp, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/quest-for-oblivion

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

Sun Crow, Quest For Oblivion (Ripple Music 2021)

Heavy Trip, Heavy Trip (Burning World Records 2021)

Instrumental heavy psych trio Heavy Trip re-release a full-length album of succulent guitar delights.

That’s a mushroom on the cover, not weed. Make the appropriate adjustments.

The band is from British Columbia, I hear. Information about them is thin on the ground. A trio, according to the Bandcamp page, and there is photographic evidence of this. The music is amazing instrumental heavy psych guitar-based transcendence. The album is out in a new edition from Burning World Records following the success of its original release last year.

There are four tracks on the album, all of them absorbing, each one chewing at the edge of the infinite. If you think of the music of Earthless as a point of reference, that is not a bad place to start. Heavy Trip have their own unique ways, of course, their own path to the majesty of what is. It is Desert Doom Stoner Heavy Psych Mountain Metal music for the mind expanding crowd.

Here’s the deal: I like this album almost too much to comment on it. There are big riffs and heavy grooves, and the music is so lush it provides sustenance. My advice is drop everything and go listen to it right now. Highly recommended.

Heavy Trip is out already. Check out the band’s website, Burning World Records, or Bandcamp for the goods.

Links.

Website, https://heavytripdudes.com/

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

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

Label, https://www.burningworldrecords.com/

Heavy Trip, Heavy Trip (Burning World Records 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)

Greenleaf, Echoes From A Mass (Napalm Records 2021)

A new album from Sweden’s Greenleaf is always a reason to celebrate and the new one pushes the envelope on anticipation.

Greenleaf has been laying down tracks for a couple decades now. Their most recent album was 2018’s Hear The Rivers and while the new one has the familiar presence that earlier one had, it is a step up and beyond. The band is Tommi Holappa (guitar), Sebastian Olsson (drums), Hans Fröhlich (bass), and Arvid Jonsson (vocals).

The album has ten fuzzy, psychedelic tracks that will wrap around you and soak right in. The opener is “Tides,” a get-to-know you track that lays down the blanket in the grass. “Good God I Better Run Away” follows and it is bursting with energy and urgency. It is positively loaded with wonderizing guitar work. Then “Needle In My Eye” has an ethereal quality to it, echoing as it does off the walls and telling as it does a sinister tale. You hear these three songs back-to-back and you start to drift, confident in your choice of music.

All the pieces come together on this album in the way we expect from the earlier ones. I get an extra bounce on this one, though – something about it is bigger to me. Every song has something extraordinary about it. “A Hand Of Might” sticks in my mind for its rolling tremulousness; “March On Higher Grounds” for its restless insistence. “What Have We Become” is the last song of the set and it is a meditation. On what? That might be different for every person who listens to it. At first it put me in a fog but by the end my vision had cleared. It is a good way to come down.

Echoes From A Mass is waiting for you right now. Links below. Highly recommended.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://greenleaf-sweden.bandcamp.com/

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

Label, https://label.napalmrecords.com/greenleaf

Greenleaf, Echoes From A Mass (Napalm Records 2021)

Jakethehawk, Hinterlands (Ripple Music 2021)

Pittsburgh psychedelic metal band Jakethehawk deliver a new entry into their evolving canon of self-styled Appalachian Desert Rock with the trippy Hinterlands.

I saw Jakethehawk on a livestream sponsored by their record label a few weeks back. There were four bands on the bill and they were all great, but it is Jakethehawk that I remember most because their performance was fluid and expressive despite the claustrophobic nature of livestreams. I hadn’t heard them before and that preview got me excited for Hinterlands.

In 2018 the band released an EP, Year Of The Hawk, and a long-player, To Build A Fire. The music is a steady, cosmic, psychedelic effluence with hearty riffs, smooth vocals, and mesmerizing lead guitar breaks.

Hinterlands has six tracks, mostly in the six minute range. They tend to have gentle openings about half the time and languid movements into heavier lands. The other half have heavier gates with the mysticism on the inside. There is an ethereal ambience surrounding it all like a heavy mist, and sometimes the music and voice function like incantations, or even mantras, and they draw you all the way in to a place where the edges blur. The edges of everything blur.

The music is a brand of stoner rock you could say, and it is non-aggressive after that fashion, but it is not frivolous – the music has something important to show that comes through on every piece. The lead guitar is especially fervent, teed up as it is by the other instruments. I could pick as favorite any song on the album and be telling the truth, never regretting the declaration.

Hinterlands fulfilled my every expectation; it actually over-delivered. Highly recommended.

The album dropped today on Ripple Music, and you can pick it up at the label link below in digital, CD, or vinyl. For the previous albums, hit the first link for the band’s Bandcamp link.

Links,

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

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

Ripple, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/hinterlands

Jakethehawk, Hinterlands (Ripple Music 2021)

Sumeru, Blood Ordinance (Brilliant Emperor 2021)

Australian metal band Sumeru reveal their first new music since 2018 with Blood Ordinance.

For more than ten years Sumeru has been playing metal. They are typically labeled a Doom or Stoner band, but they often play up-tempo, even speedy music, and on the new release high velocity is very much in evidence. They have published two full-length albums so far, Holy Lands (2014) and Summon Destroyer (2018) to complement their self-title demo from 2013. Blood Ordinance features new vocalist Jake Willoughby, and it is an excellent introduction.

There are two songs on the EP. “Cold Chamber” leans way over on the Death Metal side with its up-tempo opening and outwardly challenging vocals and percussion. It is a genuine aural throttling. It does slow down about three and a half minutes in, layering more standard Doom filaments in the channels. The final minute is a beautiful, solemn outro. “Foundry of Dread” also starts out as a banger and never lets up. If you are waiting for the song to turn over to disquiet and foreboding haunts you are out of luck. It is fierce all the way through.

The EP is out now and when you buy it from Brilliant Emperor you get three digital bonus tracks. There is no mention of the bonus tracks on the Bandcamp page, so I’m not sure what happens there. The previously unreleased bonus tracks are reported to be “Blood Ordinance,” “Kingdom,” and “Spines.” Recommended.

Links.

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

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

Label, https://brilliantemperor.bigcartel.com/

Sumeru, Blood Ordinance (Brilliant Emperor 2021)

Green Druid, At The Maw Of Ruin review (Earache Records, 2020)

Heavy doom flows out of the Mile High City as Green Druid releases At The Maw Of Ruin.

Fairly new to the music scene, Denver’s Green Druid drew a lot of attention with their first album Ashen Blood in 2018. That album had a patient darkness to it and a kind of melancholy bitterness salved by eldritch metal choirs. An impressive start, and the new album continues the message of that emergent force, traveling deeper into the bleak hereabouts.

The Metal Archives reports the band is Ryan Skates (bass), Mikey Honiotes (drums), Graham Zander (guitar), and Chris McLaughlin (vocal and guitar). Together the music they create is a sinister weaving of laid back stoner doom and threatening assault. Cold melodic vocals transform into the hissing of orc mages then into the howl of a raging berserker and back again. The locality of intent moves from the immediate to the cosmic, and the focus of the attack switches from bludgeon to knife’s edge between your labored breaths.

The new album has six tracks, the shortest of which is eight minutes. The road begins with “The Forest Dark” and a thumping, tree felling riff. Something is in that forest and it is after you – the dread and menace is thick in the music. “End Of Men” is a ride upon a gentle river that quickens into a threat, one that does not seem survivable because as the water roughens it leads into the black unknown. “Haunted Memories” is a murky dream that does not go away when you wake. There is an amazing extended bass solo in “A Throne Abandoned” and salubrious lead guitar in “Desert Of Fury / Ocean Of Despair.” The final track is a cover of the Portishead song “Threads,” and it engenders a pleading hopelessness far beyond the original. Taken together, these songs form a set of music expertly matched to the promise of the title. Highly recommended.

At The Maw Of Ruin is out now and available for instantaneous purchases at Bandcamp and other digital distributors. You can order CDs and vinyl as well. There is even a signed CD available at Earache’s US store (link below).

Band photo from the Metal Archives.

Links.

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

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

Soundcloud, https://soundcloud.com/green-druid

Earache store, https://webstore.earache.com/green-druid

Earache US store, https://uswebstore.earache.com/green-druid-at-the-maw-of-ruin-signed-cd

Green Druid, At The Maw Of Ruin review (Earache Records, 2020)

Black Elephant, Seven Swords review (Small Stone Records 2020)

The fuzzed-out Italian metal blues stoner band Black Elephant comes thundering back with Seven Swords.

The new album is a follow-up to 2018’s Cosmic Blues, which established the band’s bone fides. There is a clear theme for Seven Swords but not a consistent one. Maybe the way to put it is there is a strong theme running through the album. References to Japan appear in nearly every song, ranging from sumo with Yokozuna to art with Yayoi Kusama to solemnity with seppuku. But then there are other apparently entirely unrelated pieces, too, setting the listener on the path of jovial tongue-in-cheekedness which fits in with a stoner perspective quite well. The musicians are Alessio Caravelli (guitar and vocals), Massimiliano Giacosa (guitar), Marcello Destefanis (bass), and Simone Brunzu (drums) – a power rock set-up that delivers heavy desert blues and some sideways surprises.

The albums opens with a soft, spacey blues insinuation title “Berta’s Flame” that drops a heavy foot a couple times between whispers before a guitar lead rips the reality wide open halfway through. “The Last March of Yokozuna” begins life at first as a vacation on a South Pacific island, takes a big stomp, then quietens down again. And then the set really starts to rip. “Yayoi Kusama” has an opening groove that is almost boogie and the fuzziness verily surrounds you, rubbing your ears until you tingle. “Mihara” is a warbling space journey and, while the space journey continues throughout, guitars do rise from the lower decks and take over. “Red Sun and Blues Sun” is a rollicking good time promenade through a summer psychedelic garden with gentle musical shifts at every new blossom. “Seppuku” is heavy blues and deadly serious in its grinding waves, as the title suggest it would be. “Govinda” wraps everything up, and listens like a nine minute guided meditation that swells and shrinks and reveals.

Seven Swords is out Friday, August 28. If you preorder it on Bandcamp, you get “Berta’s Flame” right now and the rest at the end of next week. There are also CD and LP choices that all include digital downloads, too. Get your fuzz on. Recommended.

Links.

https://smallstone.bandcamp.com/album/seven-swords

http://www.smallstone.com

Black Elephant, Seven Swords review (Small Stone Records 2020)

deathCAVE, Smoking Mountain review (Satanik Royalty 2020)

Seattle Doom Metal trio deathCAVE unleash their first full length album, Smoking Mountain, to remind us that nothing is permanent.

The musicians are Freiburger (bass, vocals), Benny Koslosky (drums), and Tony Muñoz (guitars, vocals). Last year the band released an impressive three-song demo and now they have opened up and broadened their musical scope with Smoking Mountain. The title refers to a volcano (there is a famous one just south of the Seattle area we might all remember), literally and as a symbol of the geologic evolution of the planet that takes everything with, animals, land, and sea.

The set opens with great foreboding and drama, the sinister feel of the tone and notes wraps you like a shroud: “Death Cave.” The song breaks into speed blasts now and then and remains grim throughout. “Last Breath” follows and it is full-on doom. “The Road” has a strong Black Sabbath homage elements, and on “The Seer” venom verily drips from the opening voice while the guitars and percussion carry you along like a rumbling river. “Poison Wizard” wraps it all up, and offers a sharp guitar dalliance in a dense layer of smoke that is the distorted bass line. The acerbic tantrum of the principal instruments challenges the direction of the vocals but in the end they come together as a conquering force. There are three guests on the album, all singing: Dave Verellen, Andrea Vidal, and Neil McAdams. These additional voices deepen the impact of the album and expand its reach. It is the right kind of heavy. Recommended.

Out now, Bandcamp is the fast lane to grab up Smoking Mountain. There were even a couple cassettes remaining of the band’s demo when I checked a minute ago, but I don’t know about now – get there quick to see if you can grab one of the last few instances of this rarity.

Band photo by Onyx Wolf Gang Aerial.

Link.

http://deathcave.bandcamp.com

deathCAVE, Smoking Mountain review (Satanik Royalty 2020)