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.


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.


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.


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.




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.



deathCAVE, Smoking Mountain review (Satanik Royalty 2020)

The Naked High, Tap Into The Evil review (2020)

Montreal stoner/groove band The Naked High set the bar at a new level with their second album, Tap Into The Evil.

The foursome is Phil Rod (bass), Simon Ouellet (vocals), Hugo L-C (guitar), and Charlie Cayouette (drums). Their first album (self-titled) came out in 2017 and established the basis for their style and symptoms. The songs are dark and stalwart, and lay more on the doom line than the new one does. Their sound has evolved and is a little like a metal/doom version of Dangerous Toys, if that band had been a metal band (instead of a hair band), as they have a very bluesy persuasion to their compositions folded into a combination of squealing lead lines and heavy doom riffs. It is quite unusual and it is extremely compelling. Indeed, this band would fit right in on a label like Ripple.

The six songs on the new album all have a crisp sound and crack with a sustained energy. “Jewel of the Crowd” starts it all off, and the rhythm riff is a plundering thump with an infectious vocal and probing, muscular lead break to round it all out. This structure remains on display throughout but there is also something different that stands out on every song – “Rebirth” has, for example, that amazing bass line you can hear prominently under the wizened lead work. And there is “Pull of the Void” which has many Black Sabbath homages and propels its story of struggle and uncertainty through carefully selected musical elements. Every song is its own creation and they all stand together. I listened to both of The Naked High’s releases back to back and still wanted to hear more. I like this kind of music and I specifically really like the way this band does it. Recommended.

Tap Into The Evil is out now. You can get the download or vinyl at Bandcamp, and you can stream both their albums on Spotify, Apple Music, and so on.




The Naked High, Tap Into The Evil review (2020)

Satyrus, Rites review (2020)

Italian doom project Satyrus release their first ode, Rites.

The members of Satyrus have been/are actively involved in other bands, largely focusing on non-doom subgenres like death metal, industrial, prog, hardcore punk, thrash, and so on. They have come together here to feed their need for pure doom. The musicians are Frankie Pizzimenti (guitar), Freddy Fish (bass), Gianni Passafiume (vocals), and Morgan Perrone (drums).

There is not an enormous amount of information floating around in the States about these four, apart from some of their previous associations and the fact that Facebook reports their hometown location as Palermo. That site also lists their influences as Black Sabbath and Coven. That has the ring of truth.

Rites is a self-released collection of five long songs that all boil in black blood of the earth. The opener is “Black Satyrus,” twelve minutes of mystical incantations, sinister intimations, and fuzzy dread. It has a slow build culminating in a lead solo that pierces the swollen cocoon that has been woven by the lead up. “Shovel” follows with a more determined thrust and a faster tempo. The lead guitar is positively frenetic for a doom song. That, in fact, is a characteristic of the album that you do not always see in music with this label: an active and independent lead guitar. It keeps you engaged in the music and also prevents you from dissolving into yourself from the mesmerizing bass and riffs.

I mark “Stigma” as the stand-out track on this release. It has a crunchy stomp and an almost bluesy vocal line. The lead guitar breaks come is as melody, another voice. About a third of the way through the song, the cadence shifts to an urgent anxiety only to be surrounded and soon encased in fuzzy riffs. A catastrophe occurs in the final third where grating animalistic noises are heard and then put to an end by ranging new beat. It’s a trip.

Available now at Bandcamp and Soundcloud, and also streaming on Spotify, Rites is a welcome addition to doom lore. Recommended.




Satyrus, Rites review (2020)