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)

Djiin, Meandering Soul (Klonosphere Records 2021)

French psychedelic rock band Djiin are back with their sophomore studio album, Meandering Soul.

Chloé Panhaleux (vocals, electric harp), Allan Guyomard (drums), Tom Penaguin (guitar), and Charlélie Pailhes (bass) are Djiin. Their musical style is a fusion of progressive rock and stoner/psychedelic music. That sounds like a clash more than a fusion, but Djiin make it work with impressive fluidity. Meandering Soul is the band’s third release, after a live album and The Freak (2019).

There are six tracks on the new album. “Black Circus” begins cautiously, transforming into a casual vamp before rolling out the dooming slog. Vocalist Chloé Panhaleux layers her voice in a dizzying array of low and high, serious and languid. When she pauses, a prog segment kicks in, then tags her back in. It is like two different plays are going on at the same time on opposite sides of the stage and the spotlight is shifting back and forth. This pliant uncertainly leads smoothly into “Void.” The song is more of an evolution in and between its constituent parts than as the previous track, until the screaming near the end, that is. “Red Desert” has a heavier sound, a meatier vibe. And it has a louder feeling to it, a more out-loud intentionality.

The back half begins with a dark, sly smile – “Warmth of Death.” It takes about five minutes for the song to unwind, and it really cuts loose after that. “White Valley” is my favorite of the set for its guitars, the vocal treatment, and the melodious discord it enjoins. “Waxdoll” is the final piece, and it breaks the gate at a cracking pace. The middle is exploratory, and the off ramp is ethereal. There are so many different moving parts on this album that it is difficult to keep track of them. But then there is no need to, is there. Just listen and take it as it comes. Recommended.

Meandering Soul is out now from Klonosphere Records. Touch the links below.

Links.

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

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/djiin.theband/

Klonosphere Records, https://www.klonosphere.com/

Djiin, Meandering Soul (Klonosphere Records 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)

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)

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

Crystal Spiders, Morieris (Ripple Music 2021)

The second Crystal Spiders album, Morieris, is an even bigger deal than the first.

The duo Crystal Spiders released their first long-player just last year, Molt. I listened to that album as recently as two weeks ago. It has been on my mind ever since it came out. There is just something about the music that mesmerizes and lingers in your mind. The phrase “highly anticipated” doesn’t really capture my state of mind leading up to the drop date of the new album, Morieris.

The band is Brenna Leath (bass) and Tradd Yancey (drums). Joining them for the session on guitar is Mike Dean. There is also a guest appearance by High Priestess Nighthawk of Heavy Temple on cello.

The first song of the set starts out spacey and groovy, leaning into the mystery with hypnotic vocals and spell-casting guitar. That’s the title track. “Septix” comes next and lays a commanding bass up front to set the stage, turning into a rambler after ninety seconds or so – the perfect accompaniment for a drive down a dark country road at night alone.

“Harness” brings the doom and then shifts to high-test. The middle section of reflective solo work is a breath before the charge starts again. Indeed there is a lot of up-tempo music on this album, offering an excellent balance to the more ethereal passages. “Pandora,” for example, is a two minute rager that perfectly sets up the epic “En Medias Res,” a song that takes all the time it needs, offering desert overtones and tantalizing strings over eight sumptuous minutes.

“Maelstrom” and “Golden Paw” are the final two songs, the former being a super fuzzy, adrenaline-fueled spectacle and the latter a contemplative cool-down. Having heard Molt we might have been able to anticipate the general form on the new album but we could not have known its breadth and depth. Morieris is excellent in every way – concept, composition, and execution. Highly recommended with no reservations.

Morieris is out now through Ripple Music. Bandcamp and the Ripple store are linked below. You know how this works – the physicals often go fast so if you are a collector you want to jump on it.

Band photo by Marissa Straw.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://crystalspiders.bandcamp.com/album/morieris

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

Ripple Music, https://ripplemusic.bigcartel.com/product/crystal-spiders-morieris-deluxe-vinyl-editions

FFMB review of Molt, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2020/09/28/crystal-spiders-molt-review-ripple-music-2020/

Crystal Spiders, Morieris (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)

Acidemia, Podridão (Acid Swamp Records 2021)

The first full-length album from Brazilian Doom Metal trio Acidemia is Podridão.

Acidemia formed in Lages, Brazil, in 2015. According to the press release, the band member are Henrique Pereira Soares (bass, vocals), Mateus Varela (guitar), and Thiago Granetto (drums). They first put out an EP titled Extinction in 2018 and then a live album two years after that. The band’s inaugural long-player, Podridão, shows off their steady determined sound on the big stage.

The music is an integration of dead slow heavy doom with occasional and alternating dissonant elements that produces a unique sound. The opening track, “Névoas de Ácido,” seems at first to be a straight-forward doom set-up but before long it ambles off in an unexpected direction that preserves the dread while elevating the musical discourse.

The focus of the compositions is the rhythm framework and vocals, casting strong foundations before heading off unpredictably toward jagged cliffs and fields and valleys in the heavy music landscape. On “Mórbido,” for example, there is an extended section some might receive as jazz. On the title track, in between the crushingly heavy guitar riffs, there are some mad diversions. Surprises become the norm.

The closer is the twenty-one-plus minute endurance test, “Caximbo.” It might be my favorite track because there is so much going on in it. If does, after all, run the equivalent of a full album side. It shows off both the most ordinary and reliable aspects of Acidemia as well as the strangest ones. If you hear no other track, listen to “Caximbo,” but I think the better thing to do is take the entire set in at once. It is a rare find off the beaten path. Recommended.

Podridão is out now. In the US, Bandcamp is the easiest way to get it.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://acidemiaoficial.bandcamp.com/album/podrid-o

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

Acidemia website, https://www.acidemia.com.br/

Acidemia, Podridão (Acid Swamp Records 2021)

Stöner, Stoners Rule (Heavy Psych Sounds Records 2021)

The natural progression from Live In The Mojave Desert is Stöner’s first studio album, Stoners Rule.

If you like stoner metal/rock then you like what the musicians in this new band do because Brant Bjork and Nick Oliveri pioneers of the sound and style. Both are founding members of Kyuss and, along with Ryan Güt, they are putting down the smoothest desert stoner groove there is.

The new album was recorded last Fall in Joshua Tree, California, and it sounds like it. You can feel the desert insisting and infusing and simply being there when you listen.

There are seven laid-back tracks on Stoners Rule, covering a range of subjects that appear to have emerged from the flowing consciousness that overtakes you in the desert under the right circumstances. In each, a steady bed of rhythm provides a solid base for vocal and guitar explorations.

“Rad Stays Rad” and “Nothin’” are the first songs that made their way into the airwaves and cyber pathways. They are good representations of the music on the album. I have an affection for “Stand Down” for the way it rambles, and you cannot miss the thirteen-minute closer, “Tribe / Fly Girl” that one takes a deep dive into your psyche. The lead guitar is a mystical spell spoken in six strings that transports you far away from anything that was bothering you on this earthly plane.

Stöner is on tour with Clutch (and King Buffalo in the northeast) this Fall – you don’t want to miss this show if you are a heavy music fan. Let’s go.

Stoners Rule is out now from Heavy Psych Sounds Records with the quick digital at the ready from Bandcamp. Highly recommended.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com/album/st-ner-stoners-rule

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

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

Heavy Psych Sounds Records, https://www.heavypsychsounds.com/

Stöner, Stoners Rule (Heavy Psych Sounds Records 2021)