Buffalo Revisited, Volcanic Rock Live (Ripple Music 2022)

Australian metal pioneers Buffalo, performing as Buffalo Revisited, release their first live album, called Volcanic Rock Live, to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the studio original.

Buffalo is a band a lot of fans today never came across but I am convinced they would be happy to hear them if they got a chance. The Australians released five full-length albums back in the 1970s, the most well-remembered being Volcanic Rock (1973). Founder and front man Dave Tice has been performing in recent years as Buffalo Revisited, playing songs from the early albums. Interestingly, Buffalo never released a live album. Until now.

Recorded on June 6, 2018 at The Bald Faced Stag Hotel in Sydney, Buffalo Revisited plays the entire Volcanic Rock album. Troy Scerri (guitar), Steve Lorkin (Bass), and Marcus Fraser (drums) joined Dave Tice to make it happen.

Some of my all-time favorite music was created in the 1970s, so I figured I was going to be on board with this one, too. I had heard Volcanic Rock before, and a couple other Buffalo albums, so I was ready.

What you realize immediately about this music is it’s a great stoner record. Laid back riffs and weathered lead guitar work seep easily into your readied head. By the second song, “Freedom,” I had settled in. I remember having a fleeting thought hoping the album was playing on a loop because I did not want to get up. Tice sounds great, and he and the other musicians celebrate the 45th anniversary of the classic album in style.

Whether you have heard of Buffalo before or not, you should listen to this album. If you are a fan of the Ripple Music catalogue, then this is for you. It fits right in. Highly recommended.

Volcanic Rock Live is out now from Ripple Music and available at Bandcamp or through the label’s on-line store.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/volcanic-rock-live

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

Ripple Music, https://www.ripple-music.com/

Buffalo Revisited, Volcanic Rock Live (Ripple Music 2022)

Madmess, Rebirth (Hassle Records 2021)

The debut album from Portugal’s Madmess is an ambitious sashay in the psychedelic universe.

Madmess is from Portugal, and they are currently stationed in the United Kingdom. Plying their trade in the crowded psych-rock scene, the band – Ricardo Sampaio (guitar), Luis Moura (drums), and Vasco Vasconcelos (bass) – stomp a heavy groove. It is a weighty sound with a treble edge and plenty of fuzz. They released Madmess in 2019, a long EP. Rebirth is the band’s first full-length album.

There are five long tracks on Rebirth. The echoing “Stargazer” breaks the frozen surroundings with its glow and has the feel of intergalactic exploration. Forceful rhythm allows for sharp lead guitar attacks. The lead break toward the end is particularly raucous and benefits from exploiting two aligned yet independent tracks. The title song starts out quieter but doesn’t stay that way for long. In fact, they drop a riff so heavy that it would feel comfortable in a doom scene. The guitar sparkles in the gloom and brightens the track immeasurably.

“Albatross” has a mournful ply. It is not as sad as Zappa’s “Watermelon in Easter Hay” but it made me think of that song for some reason even though it doesn’t sound like it at all. The music throughout is essentially instrumental in that vocals are not a large part of any track and this song is the set stone of that ideal. “Shape Shifter” is comfortable rollick with languid, easy-on-the-ears guitar work.

“Mind Collapse” made my think of a long drive on a lonely highway at dusk, just a person alone with their thoughts as they wander and focus and move around to this and that. This one might be my favorite of the bunch but I have to say all five songs resonated with me. I hope Madmess head over to the US in 2022 because this is a band I am aching to see perform live. Highly recommended.

Rebirth is out Friday, December 10th, through Hassle Records.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://madmess.bandcamp.com/album/rebirth

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

Hassle Records, https://store.hasslerecords.com/

Madmess, Rebirth (Hassle Records 2021)

King Buffalo, Acheron (2021)

The second album of a proposed trilogy from King Buffalo is Acheron.

King Buffalo is a heavy psychedelic rock trio from Rochester. They have been quite prolific in the last lustrum, and their new album is the second of 2021. They excel musically at the long form and Acheron is a welcome showcase for their talents. The band is Sean McVay (guitar, vocals, keys), bassist Dan Reynolds (bass), and Scott Donaldson (drums).

Each song on the new album is about ten minutes long, and there are four of them. “Acheron.” You hear dripping water, running water, then a guitar. Percussion and rhythm. Gentle vocals in a surprisingly upbeat tone for a song sung in a cave (the album was recorded underground at Howe Caverns in New York). Punctuating coarse intrusions do not despair the languid underlying currents, even when the roughhousing guitar takes the lead for an extended time.

“Zephyr” has a different attitude, a more active demeanor. Still there is the gentleness, which we can begin to interpret by now as intrepidness. The guitar leads are expansive, as if moving toward an ideal that has been established by the keys. “Shadows” I find to be more reflective than the first two tracks, more introspective. It ticks and pulls at your inner core.

“Cerberus” is the deepest song, in my hearing. It feels dank and unsettling, a little frightening, even. The distorted lead guitar claws at the fabric of reality, searching for a way out (or maybe a way in). The tension grows and builds all the way to the end where the riff gives no respite. The music is dramatic and powerful.

There is no telling where the third part of the series will land. So far, though, with the first two sessions locked in, it looks for all the world like the totality will be something special. Make sure you hear The Burden of Restlessness and then go spelunking with Acheron. Highly recommended.

Acheron is out now. Look to the band’s website or Bandcamp for hardcopies and/or stream it wherever you stream.

Live photo by Wayne Edwards, State Theatre, Portland, Maine, 2021.

Links.

Website, https://kingbuffalo.com/

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

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

King Buffalo, Acheron (2021)

King Buffalo, State Theatre, Portland, Maine, October 3, 2021

King Buffalo opened for Clutch during part of their Fall tour, leading into performances by Stöner then the headliner. The show at the beautiful State Theatre in Portland, Maine was one for the ages.

All photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Website, https://kingbuffalo.com/

Spotify, https://open.spotify.com/artist/06D0YfeNZgBA7XWQ79Y42R

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

King Buffalo, 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)

Green Desert Water, Black Harvest (Small Stone Records 2021)

Psychedelic blues rock band Green Desert Water reveal meaning and mystery in their new album Black Harvest.

Green Desert Water is a heavy blues rock trio from Spain. After an early EP, Solar Plexus was the band’s first long-player in 2018. The new album is a moving rejoinder to their debut and a stunning accomplishment in its own right. The musicians are Juan Arias García (bass), Dani Barcena (drums), and Kike Sanchís (guitar and vocals).

“Sacred Tree” winds the crank at the open with fuzzy riffs and an easy-going attitude. The hook continues into “Dead Sacred Tree” for a little while before shifting to a drearier enterprise. The song ends as abruptly as a flipped switch and the next track, “Too Many Wizards,” jumps in with a solo voice. The song seems to come to a conclusion a couple times only the ramp up for more chorus. It catches you up and yet you are happy with whichever way it turns.

The title track wakes with a doom drubbing as heavy as a swinging leaden door on a medieval church. The pace does pick up as the song goes along, all the while remaining stern. The pleading lead guitar is an art trap hiding in plain sight. Soulful vocals and hearty rhythm are a glide down a calm river.

“The Whale” is a highly anticipated moment given the cover art and it delivers on the surreal ideal of the image. Sudden changes here occur without warning and with complete disregard for your emotions. There is a lot of that going on in the entire album, as a matter of fact. “Shelter of Guru” is savory and sweet in the lyrics and music, respectively. The final push is “Soul Blind” and it is 75% soothing, 25% bestial. The place you find yourself at when the music stops has to be experienced to be understood. Highly recommended.

Black Harvest is out now from Small Stone Records. Have a scrabble at the label’s website or take the express route at Bandcamp.

Links.

Website,

Bandcamp, https://smallstone.bandcamp.com/album/black-harvest

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

Small Stone Records, http://smallstone.com/

Green Desert Water, Black Harvest (Small Stone Records 2021)

Lavender Sweep Records, From the Mountains to the Sea (2021)

Volume 1 of From the Mountains to the Sea is an exceptional introduction to some of the best music you haven’t heard yet.

Lavender Sweep Records is run by “a small group of people from the Welsh city of Swansea, with a shared love for forgotten musical formats, film and various forgotten fads…” That adds up. Now, I don’t know the first thing about the heavy music scene in Swansea. That’s why this new compilation from is perfect for me. I have no preconceptions when I press play on From the Mountains to the Sea. I just hear what I hear.

The first track is a banger by Acrimony called “Satellite 13.” Up-tempo guitar-driven music that hits all the right spots. The perfect starter. Taint is next and it has a whole different take on the world. Much more in the sludge lane, the vocals are coarse and doom is the keystone. And then Sootbelly hits he stage with “Girls ’N Cars,” a four-minute rager on the title subjects. By now you’re going and it’s time for another beer. These three bands together would be a great show.

There are eighteen tracks on this album, each one an eye-opening discovery and not a single dud in the bunch. There is a metric ton of great music here, so picking favorites is a chore, but I will say I am enamored with Buffalo Kings, Sump, Sigiriya, and Sons of Thunder. I had to cut this list way down from where it started, just to keep it manageable.

Without this set I might have missed these bands entirely, but now they are on my radar. The range of musical styles is broad indeed while remaining in the heavy music realm. You definitely want to hear this. Recommended.

From the Mountains to the Sea is out on Friday November 12th through Lavender Sweep Records. Check it out at the links below.

Links.

Website, http://www.lavendersweeprecords.com/

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

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Lavender-Sweep-Records-748698365283653

Lavender Sweep Records, From the Mountains to the Sea (2021)

Thangorodrim, Liberation of Unbound Chaos 666 (Blood Blast 2021)

California mystical rock band Thangorodrim conjure a mesmerizing debut album with Liberation of Unbound Chaos 666.

The new release is the first long-player from Thangorodrim, but they have released two previous EPs – their self-titled effort in 2015 and Soul Of Fire the following year. They have been on a trajectory toward Liberation of Unbound Chaos 666 for a few years. The band is bassist and guitarist S.K.B. and vocalist C.G. BloodCrown. The drummer for the recording sessions is credited as C. C.

The album has eleven long tracks with the shortest being in the five minute range and the longest running over thirteen minutes. There is plenty to hear here so you can acquaint yourself with the band’s music if you have never heard it before.

The music starts with “Through The Devil’s Door”: a slightly clangy ritualistic premise captures your attention and then the searching vocal filaments work their way in. The music is slow and insinuating for about three minutes where it turns more urgent and engaging. Toward the end there is a discordant outro. In general, the music is guitar-driven rock with persistent desert rock stylings. The guitars are sometimes heavy but it would be a stretch to call it metal.

With so much content you can expect a rich journey – I could write a thousand words on every song. There are many passages that land in the stoner space and others that are clearly more psychedelic. The musicians have a lot to say and they are patient. They go in whichever direction gets their point across best. The trip takes about an hour and a half and I have done it twice so far. I think I’ll do it again. I am going to use that word once more: this music is mesmerizing. Once you get started it is hard to put down. Recommended.

Liberation of Unbound Chaos 666 sees full release on Friday, November 5th through Nuclear Blast Records’ digital arm, Blood Blast Distribution. Bandcamp is a handy place to pick it up, along with merch and bundles.

Photo by S. Zamora.

Links.

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

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

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/c/ThangorodrimOfficial

Thangorodrim, Liberation of Unbound Chaos 666 (Blood Blast 2021)

High Desert Queen, Secrets of the Black Moon (Ripple Music 2021)

Groovy, fuzzy, and ever soulful, High Desert Queen brings its music to the masses with Secrets of the Black Moon.

Austin, Texas desert rockers High Desert Queen are fairly new to the scene but have already landed a firm position in the melee. Mystery surrounds the band with only sparse photographic evidence and in-person experience to speak on their essence. Setting aside the who, what, and when, listening to their music is what really pays off.

There are seven songs and a quirky element on Secrets of the Black Moon. First up: “Heads Will Roll.” Confident riffs greet you along with a general fuzziness and a welcoming vocal entreaty – you gotta roll my head, it says. All right then. “The Mountain Vs. The Quake” is the story of achievement and “As We Roam” echoes a secret without revealing it completely. All of this is wrapped in an irresistible package of hypnotic guitar rhythm and lead. It is hard rock, indeed, and desert rock, for sure, and you might find there is a state-altering component too if you listen for it.

Side two road a little harder on me, and I liked it. “Skyscraper” offers up a very heavy riff at the start paired with gentle, coaxing vocals. “The Wheel” has the swing of doom, broadcasting as it does a deep and somber tone and vocal melancholia. “Bury The Queen,” an ode, churns slowly like the purposefully roiling of the primordial ocean, manifesting a formless creation to the endless wonder of a newly interested universe. The music can be thought provoking if you want to take it that way, or you can just ride along and let it be part of you. The choice is yours and there are no wrong answers. Recommended.

Secrets of the Black Moon is out now through Ripple Music. You can snag your copy from the label’s Big Cartel site or through the ever-ready Bandcamp.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/secrets-of-the-black-moon

High Desert Queen website, https://highdesertqueen.com/

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

Ripple Music, https://ripplemusic.bigcartel.com/product/high-desert-queen-secrets-of-the-black-moon-deluxe-vinyl-editions

High Desert Queen, Secrets of the Black Moon (Ripple Music 2021)

Clutch, Stöner, and King Buffalo at the State Theatre in Portland, Maine, October 3, 2021

Clutch’s 30 Years of Rock N Roll Tour came to the State Theatre in Portland, Maine on Sunday.

Clutch

Has it really been thirty years? If you look over the discography Clutch has created then it seems like it must be at least that long. One classic album after another, dozens and dozens of unforgettable songs. Not to mention the amazing live performances. I see Clutch six or more times every year, and I have the same thought at the end of every show: I can’t wait to see them again.

On the current leg of the tour, Clutch is supported by King Buffalo and Stöner. King Buffalo opened with thirty minutes of heavy psych music. The band recently released The Burden of Restlessness, one of three planned albums for 2021. They played a mellow set that grew in intensity as it went along, providing a nice ramp up for the rest of the evening.

King Buffalo

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.

Stöner

Like King Buffalo, Stöner is a trio. The solid basis for their music is guitar, drums, and bass, forming the lines and color for narrative vocals. They were definitely crowd-pleasers on Sunday night. Their current album is Stoners Rule.

Stöner

One of the more amazing things about Clutch’s live show is the set list changes every night. Sure, there are a lot of songs they play on the regular, but they do not have a fixed set they play for each stop like most bands when they are touring. They always post the set list after the fact on their Instagram account so you can look back over previous shows and see what I mean.

Clutch

In Portland they opened with “The Promoter,” one of the dozen+ hits from Blast Tyrant. An excellent choice to get the crowd fired up. Not that it needed much encouragement. They were Clutch fans, these people who gathered on Sunday night. And sure, you expect Clutch fans to show up at a Clutch concert, but this crowd knew the music by heart and were heavily into it, more than you would likely see on any given night. The energy of the fans combined with that of the band to generate a burgeoning synergy and create a crackling atmosphere.

Clutch

I am never disappointed with any Clutch song, but I can say that I am very excited to hear a couple of my favorites pop up that don’t make every set, including “Elephant Riders” and “Mice and Gods.” And the encore was magnificent, featuring “Electric Worry.”

Clutch

There was no controversy among attendees that the show was everything fans wanted and a whole lot more. There are still some dates you can catch – check out the band’s website for tour info. After this leg, Clutch is doing their usual holiday run between Christmas and New Year’s, too. Get out there and see them. I have seen them twice this year and I am hoping to double that before 2021 is done.

Photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Clutch, http://www.pro-rock.com/

Stöner, https://www.stonerband.com/

King Buffalo, https://kingbuffalo.com/

State Theatre, https://statetheatreportland.com/

Clutch, Stöner, and King Buffalo at the State Theatre in Portland, Maine, October 3, 2021