Wolftooth, Blood and Iron (Napalm Records 2021)

The third album from Wolftooth is their best yet: Blood and Iron.

Wolftooth is from Indiana. In 2018 they released their first album independently, Wolftooth. The band’s second album came out two years later from Ripple Music, Valhalla. That is when I first heard them, and I was greatly impressed. That album was one of the best I heard last year. The new one is a continuation of epic-scale heavy metal with colossal riffs and melodic vocals embracing lush lead guitar work. It is their best album yet. The band is Jeff Cole (guitars), Johnny Harrod (vocals, drums), Terry McDaniel (bass), and Chris Sullivan (vocals, guitar).

Blood and Iron has nine tracks. A quick look at the cover art and a browse through the song titles will tell you right away that the lyrical themes tilt toward fantasy and epic legend territory. The band has this to say about their new album – “Blood & Iron is the culmination of all the work that we as a band have put into forging our sound over the last four years. Musically, we feel that we’ve honed what works well for us while expanding on what was already there. This album represents a more mature direction, relying on classic heavy metal influence with a strong nod to our proto-metal roots. Lyrically, the album focuses on kings, battle, conquest and myth. These elements together coalesce into a riff-laden slab of heavy metal that we are all proud of.”

What I like especially about this music is the solid layering, the meaty length given to each song, and the lead guitar work which has an urgent quality to go along with is melodic essence. The title track is the perfect example of all this. As much as I liked last year’s Valhalla, I have to say I like the new one even better. The bluesy elements and fuzzy stoner presence is a winning combination with the fantastical lyrical ideas and the epic scale of the compositions. Top marks all around. Highly recommended.

Blood and Iron is out now through Napalm Records. Check out the label’s Wolftooth page, the band’s own site, or Bandcamp to see the available varieties.

Links.

Website, https://wolftoothmetal.com/

Bandcamp, https://wolftooth.bandcamp.com/album/blood-iron

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

Napalm Records, https://napalmrecords.com/english/wolftooth

Wolftooth, Blood and Iron (Napalm Records 2021)

Stöner, State Theatre, Portland, Maine, October 3, 2021

Stöner is Brant Bjork, Nick Oliveri, and Ryan Gut, the former two being original members of Kyuss. Their music takes a heavy stoner jam angle – it is the kind of thing you can easily get lost in. They were middling for Clutch on a Fall tour and I caught up with them in Portland, Maine.

All photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

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

Spotify, https://open.spotify.com/artist/2mkGbwg4uYaUlmQDZpga27

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

Stöner, State Theatre, Portland, Maine, October 3, 2021

Sun Below, Sun Below (2021)

The new concept album from Toronto’s Sun Below continues the Sativa Rock tradition the band pioneered.

Altered state seekers of truth Sun Below are a heavy psych / stoner rock trio from Toronto. Having released a string of EPs in 2018-19, they are back now with their first full-length album. The musicians in the studio are Jason Craig (guitar, vocals), Will Adams (drums), and Garrison Thordarson (bass).

The band describes the album as a “concept recording that follows a figure, the Holy Drifter, on his journey through visions and across time.” The record is an impressive enterprise, clocking in at over seventy minutes. A few songs from the earlier EPs reappear here where they fit in nicely with the roving narrative.

“Chronwall Neanderthal” opens the set with a fuzzy rambler riff and punctuating vocals. The song gains a mind of its own, like an untended garden, and roams a psychic landscape it seems to create as it goes along. The doom goes a bit heavier on the next track, the first epic-length bit of business, “Holy Drifter.” This is one you can settle in with and see what you see as your mind drifts. Indeed, the whole album is like this generally: laid-back emanations that can be explored or merely watched by your mind’s unblinking eye.

There is a lot to digest here, all of it good. I most enjoy the massively long songs because that’s a lane I like to inhabit. Shorter pieces like “Shiva Sativa” – a personal favorite of mine from the album – offer a break in the landscape and give additional perspectives more difficult to generate in the lengthier pieces. They all work together to create the whole. This is an excellent doom album that can be snapped off in smaller bits or taken in one big dose. Either way it is a ride filled with wonders. Recommended.

Sun Below is out now. The easiest get is at Bandcamp.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://sunbelow.bandcamp.com/album/sun-below

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

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClD8r5eZv1Tb8GJWOce_nCQ

Sun Below, Sun Below (2021)

Merlock, You Cannot Be Saved (2021)

The new EP from psychedelic stoner band Merlock is a reflection on the past and a projection into the future.

From the wilds of Spokane, Washington comes Taylor D. Waring (vocals, guitar), Andrew Backes (bass), and Lucas Wild Barrey (drums). Merlock, trimmed down to a trio, plays doom-ridden psychedelic metal tuned through a smoky filter. The new album is their third EP, following Merlock (2018) and That Which Speaks… (2020).

You Cannot Be Saved has six tracks including three re-worked songs from the earlier EPs, a track from the past that hadn’t been recorded up till now, one new song from the forthcoming long-player, and a tasty cover of “Electric Funeral.” The music was recorded “live on Halloween weekend to capture the band’s organic energy and psychedelic leanings.”

Having heard some of this music before, it is interesting to see how it has changed with the “live” recording and the refashioned line-up. I have to say the groaning guitars and grungy lead and vocals land even better with me this time around, especially on “Idolon.”

I felt a ravaging sense of hopelessness when listening to “Where No One Goes” which I quite liked. I ran that track twice. The lead work toward the end is a sonic transcendence. “Gloomtrain” is much more actively vehement and draws my appreciation for that reason.

The cover of “Electric Funeral” is faithful in the rhythm and vastly different in the vocal presentation. I found it fascinating. Truly, the inflection completely changes how you feel about this song even with the same lyrics Ozzy sang. I like all the tracks on the album but it is worth listening in just to hear this cover. Recommended.

You Cannot Be Saved gets let loose on November 19th. That’s a Friday. Check out the band’s website for more info or look to Bandcamp for the concise circumstances.

Links.

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

Bandcamp, https://merlock.bandcamp.com/album/you-cannot-be-saved

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

Merlock, You Cannot Be Saved (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)

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)

Green Lung, Black Harvest (Svart records 2021)

London heavy psych band Green Lung rolls out their second long-player, Black Harvest.

Green Lung is a relatively new band, having come together in 2017. They released a demo that year, then the Free The Witch EP the next. Woodland Rites (2019) was their first full-length album. The Metal Archives lists band members as Joseph Ghast (bass), Matt Wiseman (drums), Scott Black (guitar), Tom Templar (vocals), and John Wright (organ).

The album is filled with massively heavy riffs living in the same pasture with folk metal sensibilities and a magical reality that takes deep tokes on the regular. The music is generally heavier than what you hear in bands that get categorized in folk metal, and it is often more up-tempo than you hear in music labeled heavy psych. The lead breaks tend to be more metal than stoner bands, too. So what is this? It is Green Lung. Lend them your ear.

Black Harvest has ten tracks offering up an enticing variety of sounds and experiences. Four singles were released in advance of full drop, each showcasing different aspects of the band’s expressions. “Leaders of the Blind” has a ripping lead break that sank it’s teeth deep in my mind while “Upon The Altar” is more mystical in tone and still very heavy. Indeed, this song is perhaps the most complete representation of the band in the set.

The final two songs are showstoppers. “Doomsayer” delivers a dark message and then “Born To A Dying World” is oddly reassuring in its initial gentle delivery of bad news. Lyrical vocals and soulful guitar movements in the early part of the song are punched by heavy riffs then overrun by dramatic elements before the final consolation. Here endeth the album. Recommended.

You can get Black Harvest now on CD, digital, and vinyl through Bandcamp, the merch store link below, or Svart Records.

Links.

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

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

Merch store, https://www.hellomerch.com/collections/green-lung

Svart Records, https://svartrecords.com/product/greenlung-black-harvestalbum/

Green Lung, Black Harvest (Svart records 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)

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)