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)

Eremit, Bearer Of Many Names (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

German Doom Metal trio Eremit offer their second full-length album, Bearer Of Many Names, to the multitudes.

Eremit’s first album, Carrier of Weight, came out in 2018 and it started something big. It had three songs, the short one being eleven minutes long and the long one covering thirty three minutes. Even for a doom band, this is epic-length work and in conveys a commitment to concept and idea that would become a hallmark of the band’s approach. The line-up is Marco Baecker (drums), Pascal Sommer (guitar), and Moritz Fabian (vocals and guitar).

Desert Of Ghouls is an EP that was released last year – two songs, twenty minutes – and it was a welcome transitional release for the new album. It is not necessary to listen to the earlier releases to become immersed in the latest one, but I do recommended it because there is an arc here from the beginning to the now and beyond. Like Carrier Of Weight, there are three tracks on Bearer Of Many Names.

“Enshrined in Indissoluble Chains and Enlightened Darkness” (29:22) opens with six quiet minutes of uneasiness then explodes suddenly with a Black-Metal-esque eruption to show you the trepidation was in order. The doom approach is slow and fatally heavy, punctuated by the tectonic shifts in the percussion, guitar, and voice.

“Secret Powers Entrenched in an Ancient Artefact” (18:36) is a bit more funereal to my ear than the first track and “Unmapped Territories of Clans without Names” (18:27) is the eeriest, pressing against the edges of ethereal and ritual music. Everything about the music on this album is absolutely mesmerizing. Listening to any track by itself is a welcome a welcome journey. Even so, listening to all three in order is worthwhile enhancement.

I have been following Eremit through its brief career and I have enjoyed the first two releases. The new one is the best so far and it sets a higher standard for Doom Metal in this vein. Highly recommended.

Bearer Of Many Names is out now from Transcending Obscurity, one of the very best heavy labels around – if you are into variants, bundles, and merch, they always deliver. Look over the links below and dive in.

Links.

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

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

Eremit store, http://eremit.limitedrun.com/

Transcending Obscurity, https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/

Eremit, Bearer Of Many Names (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Wytch, Exordium (Ripple Music 2021)

The debut album from Sweden’s Wytch is a rugged and dynamic statement of intent burgeoning with both straight-forward and clandestine perambulations.

Formed in 2017 as Aska, the band released an EP under that name and then switched to Wytch for their first long-player, Exordium. The musicians have performed with numerous other bands over the years, including Vintersorg. The roster is Simon Lundström (bass), Fredrik Nilsson (drums), Niklas Viklund (guitars), Mattias Marklund (guitars), and Johanna Lundberg (vocals).

There are eight tracks on the album. Each song is set up with a clever and catchy hook that the song develops around. It is a bluesy heavy psych sound defined by those rummaging guitar parts and Johanna Lundberg’s unforgettable, haunting voice. The zippy lead breaks are sometimes pepperpot shots and at other times are languid and insinuating. Sturdy bass and drum lines free the voice and guitars to crossover each other while simultaneously self-actualizing therewith, engendering a synergistic construct. It all sounds effortless but of course it couldn’t be. Music like this is rare.

Stand-out tracks for me are the pairings of expansive “Blood” with “Evil Heart” and doomy “Break You Down” with “You.” That’s half the set, isn’t it – I’m not really narrowing it down much. The thing is when you first hear any song on the album it immediately draws you in and holds onto you with a mystical spell that may or may not be sinister. It is not like a Siren song but instead it is more like the snowfall that awakens the intrepid journeyers in The Wizard Of Oz. It just doesn’t make any sense to stop listening. Recommended.

You can get Exordium right now. Look over the options at Ripple Music’s store or on Bandcamp.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/exordium

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/people/Wytch-Band/100063579726744/

Ripple Music, https://ripplemusic.bigcartel.com/product/wytch-exordium-limited-digipak-cd

Wytch, Exordium (Ripple Music 2021)

Vokonis, Odyssey (The Sign Records 2021)

Sweden’s Vokonis has created a progressive rock/metal album designed to push out against borders and boundaries and exist in that expanded space.

With three previous full-length albums stretching back only to 2016, Vokonis seems to be on a mission. The earlier music was more in the stoner/doom lane (it seemed to me) and the newer work is heading toward the prog. That is a touchy transition that Vokonis has managed effectively. The band is Simon Ohlsson (guitar, vocals), Jonte Johansson (bass, vocals), and Peter Ottosson (drums), with Per Wiberg on keyboards for this album.

I always look first for the longer songs because I appreciate the necessary complexity and endurance required for an extended composition. There are six tracks on Odyssey, half at radio length and half tending toward the epic frame. “Rebellion,” then, is an opening shorter piece that sets up the nine-minute title track that follows. The clear vocals allow for straight-forward narrative delivery atop the keyboard beds and pulsing guitar riffs. “Odyssey” is a big story and it is beautifully imagined. Listening to the guitar diversions and occasional gruffing vocalizations you realize they are the milestones that mark the way and that will spark memories on re-listening.

“Blackened Wings” and “Azure” are shorter, up-tempo skirmishes that liven up the set and add a couple of my favorite breakaway moments. It is “Hollow Waters” that stands out most to me for the way it combines elegance and power so seamlessly and effectively. The closing track is the longest, “Through The Depths,” and I see it simultaneously as a culmination and a retelling of what has come before – it is filled with ambitious ideas and soaring moments; peppered with lyrical stopovers as well as truculent byways. For fans of the band and fans of transitional prog, this is an album you will want to hear. Recommended.

Odyssey is out now in all its myriad realities and tangential essences. Bandcamp is a good place to start looking over the choices.

Links.

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

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

The Sign Records, https://thesignrecords.bandcamp.com/

Vokonis, Odyssey (The Sign Records 2021)

Moon Coven, Slumber Wood (Ripple Music 2021)

The return to full-length form for Moon Coven brings more thoughtful melodic doom into the world.

The band is from Sweden and has been around for nearly ten years. They released a series of EPs leading up to the self-titled long-player in 2016. Slumber Wood is their second full album. The music has changed a little over time and now the sound produced has a very clear doom intent, the way I hear it, no matter what narrative element might be running at any given time.

The opener, “Further,” and its spiritual companion, “Ceremony,” establish a slow and deliberate pace of heavy stoner psych highlighted by and with the vocals which hover on the light side, and the ethereal. Then suddenly “Potbelly Hill” quiets the rumble down but keeps the doom going with softened sounds for the first minute before taking a turn by introducing a surprisingly turbulent riff that changes the tone of the song entirely. It is a bit dizzying. By the end of third track you don’t know what to think.

Next up is “Eye of the Night” and it sounds like a crime story. The short piece “A Tower of Silence” is a transitional passage to “Bahgsu Nag,” which starts off with a strum. The song has a very different sound, something all its own and apart from the others on the album. Bringing us ultimately to the last two songs, “Seagull” and “My Melting Mind,” which are more in line with the early tracks. The anchor song has a special resonance – maybe it is the phase shift – that ties a knot around you and hangs on. Truly, I can’t get it out of my head.

You can take this album in a number of different ways. The steady ardent doom with surprising bulges and flares is the way I took it and it settled in well with me. Recommended.

Slumber Wood is out now. Vinyl and CD versions are available, as well as the digital download.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/slumber-wood

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

Ripple Music, https://ripplemusic.bigcartel.com/products

Moon Coven, Slumber Wood (Ripple Music 2021)

Thunder Horse, Chosen One (Ripple Music 2021)

Following up on the tectonic power of their self-titled debut, the new album from Thunder Horse is both crushing and uplifting, in a planetary resurfacing kind of way.

Stephen Bishop, Todd Connally, Uncle Dave, and Jason West are channeling the spiritual sources of the sound on this album, bringing the elementals to bear. This music is doom metal with a lot of lead guitar work and call-ins from classics in the form as well as Southern rock roots. The combination is fascinating and unique but it is the execution the moves the needle into the red. I hope this band is around forever.

“Let Them Bleed” opens with a single guitar hammering a slow, powerful riff. The guitar solo past the middle could be in song like “Comfortably Numb” as easily as it is here in this doom-laden smasher. “Among The Dead” appropriately slows the pace a bit and wiggles in the sinister. I expected then a charging rampage in the next song, “Rise of the Heathens,” and instead heard a dramatic presentation and an orderly push of the heavy front. There is a charge in there toward the end and the rampage is the ripping solo guitar.

The title track has a very heavy Black Sabbath vibe and delivery, all to the good. It is a stand-out track for me, and so is the rumbling “Halfway To Hell.” “Texas” is a surprise in its quietude and melancholy, and the short piece “Remembrance” is ethereal and transitory, bringing up Southern rock memories. The capper is a cover of “Dear Mr. Fantasy” and now I will never hear that song the same way again. There is also an extended version of “Texas” right at the end. This album is one you are going to listen to over and over. Highly recommended.

The vinyl has been selling fast, reports say, so it might already be too late. There is always a download, and maybe a CD, though. Have a look at Bandcamp or wherever you like to plunk down your money because Chosen One is out now.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/chosen-one

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

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

Thunder Horse, Chosen One (Ripple Music 2021)

The Electric Mud, Burn The Ships review (Small Stone Records 2020)

Florida Heavy Blues instigators The Electric Mud return with more high voltage swamp metal on Burn The Ships.

The debut album of The Electric Mud came out two years ago, Bull Gator. It is bluesy, guitar-driven Southern stoner rock. Listening to it does bring up thoughts of that first Molly Hatchet album, but The Electric Mud is heavier and presses the lurking power of their music harder. The title track tells us “I’m the mighty jaws of an ancient god,” and a little later in the same song, “I’m the crooked old hand of death itself.” The songs are smooth and muscular. A very impressive debut.

The band is Constantine Grim (guitar), Pierson Whicker (drums), Peter Kolter (vocals and guitar), and Tommy Scott (bass). All four are from Florida, and have an abiding respect for the rock music tradition from the South (Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the like) as well as the classic metal roots of icons like the origin band, Black Sabbath. Their music is not a simple combination of latent elements of famous bands, however. They have taken their influences and inspirations and melded them with their abilities and art to fashion a lasting instrument of collective resonance.

The new album cranks up the speed and depth a notch, creating an even bigger wake than the earlier release. “The First Murder On Mars” is the opener (and the single you can hear now). It starts the set out fast and sharp, with stabbing guitars and crisp drumming. “Stone Hands” switches to a heavier hammer, and “Reptile” swings them both at the same time. “A Greater Evil” is a the cool evening breeze that blows through your open car window  and then darkens as the sun goes down. The triplet of “Call The Judge,” “Priestess,” and “Good Monster” is thirteen minutes of trouncing bliss – it takes you away from whatever was in your head before. I keep hitting these three over and over. “Ledbelly” is an amazing display of percussion, and “Terrestrial Birds” starts out as a lullaby until the guitar starts singing the blues and telling you a story that won’t let you sleep. This in an incredible album that will reach across to a wide array of heavy music fans. Highly recommended.

Burn The Ships CDs, vinyl, and downloads are available from Small Stone Records through Bandcamp (and elsewhere) beginning this Friday, September 25. You know how it works: the download is there forever but the hardcopies can go fast, especially the vinyl. Listen to Bull Gator on Spotify now. If you like it, consider a preorder if you want some of that orange vinyl.

Links.

http://www.theelectricmud.com

https://theelectricmud1.bandcamp.com/releases

http://www.facebook.com/TheElectricMud

http://www.smallstone.com

http://www.facebook.com/smallstonerecords

https://smallstone.bandcamp.com/album/burn-the-ships

The Electric Mud, Burn The Ships review (Small Stone Records 2020)