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)

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.

Links.

https://www.facebook.com/tnh.stonerrock/

https://thenakedhigh.bandcamp.com/

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.

Links.

https://www.facebook.com/satyrusdoom/

https://satyrus-occult.bandcamp.com/album/rites

Satyrus, Rites review (2020)