I Am, Eternal Steel (MNRK Heavy 2022)

Texas death metal band I Am bring the heat on their new album, Eternal Steel.

I Am is a deathcore / death metal band from Texas that came to be around 2011. After the Momento Mori EP in 2015, I Am released two killer full-length albums, Life Through Torment (2017) and Hard 2 Kill (2018). Their music is notable not just for its power but also for speed. They have combined thrash and death metal elements with enough of a hook and a groove shining through to make the sound unique. The band is Andrew Hileman (vocals), Tom Reyes (guitar), Chris Burgess (guitar), Erik Rodriguez (bass), and Ian Scott (drums).

I Am gets their point across on the new album through eleven electrifying tracks. “The Primal Wave” poses the first question and introduces the heavy sound punctuated by rapid ripples and brought forth fully by Andrew Hileman’s menacing singing. “Surrender to the Blade” continues the campaign with a steady, driving riff that morphs into a dervish at exactly the right moment. The lead break is eerie and enticing and two thirds of the way through there is another shift. It is impressive how the initiated theme remains in place as it is put through its paces in such variety. “The Iron Gate” follows, a sorrowful, dooming affair, setting up the title track. “Eternal Steel” races through the open field, bewildering all who give it a glance. This song gives you a savage battering you won’t soon forget.

Other stand-out tracks include “Infernal Panther,” again along a doom lane with homage to early heavy metal icons you will recognize right away, and “Heaven On Earth,” a song that pushes on with unswerving confidence – it also has a fantastic lead guitar break. “Manic Cure” is the final statement, and here we go out on a bang when the speed, power, and groove all come together in a signature piece of work. This new album is exceptional, even better than Hard 2 Kill, I think. Go get yours. Recommended.

Eternal Steel is out through MNRK Heavy on Friday, September 9th in digital and an array of physicals.

Photos by Wayne Edwards, taken at Piere’s Entertainment Center, 2022.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://iamtxmusic.bandcamp.com/album/eternal-steel

I Am website, https://iam-eternalsteel.com/

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

MNRK Heavy, https://mnrkheavy.com/

© Wayne Edwards

I Am, Eternal Steel (MNRK Heavy 2022)

Spirit Adrift, 20 Centuries Gone (Century Media 2022)

Texas metal band Sprit Adrift reflects on days gone by with 20 Centuries Gone.

Springing up from Austin in 2015, Spirit Adrift began on the doom side of the field and moved quickly toward full-force, straight-ahead heavy metal. Loaded with unforgettable riffs and stunning lead guitar work, the music they play will make them one of your favorite acts the first time you hear them. Their flawless live performances ensure their place as a big draw at festivals and as a must-see for any tour they are on.

There are two new songs on the latest EP and six covers. The first original is “Sorcerer’s Fate.” It starts out steady with a hook that does the trick and draws you in. A charging chop follows and then we hear Nate Garrett’s solid-as-a-rock vocals. A bridge leads us to a different perspective on this dark fantasy journey, and off we walk into the distance. “Mass Formation Psychosis” follows, opening with cautious acoustic strums that break for dramatic electrical instigations. The song settles into a feisty doom posture and we are thenceforth entranced. It is a superlative heavy track that goes out on a rugged, heady riff.

The songs Spirit Adrift chooses to cover are mostly lesser-known tunes from seminal artists in metal and rock. I like this approach very much as it draws attention to work that fans might not be as familiar with, even if they are fans of the band in question. The songs are “Everything Dies” (Type O Negative), “Hollow” (Pantera), “Escape” (Metallica), “Waiting For An Alibi” (Thin Lizzy), “Nasty Dogs and Funky Kings” (ZZ Top), and “Poison Whiskey” (Lynyrd Skynyrd). Quite a selection, huh?

The variety of musical types and formations across the cover tunes is formidable. The gothic saturation of the Type O Negative song paired with the solemn sorrow of Pantera’s “Sorrow” and then on to the more rambunctious attitude of “Escape” is a conjuror’s amalgamation. Any time a Thin Lizzy song plays, original or cover, my soul brightens, and “Waiting For An Alibi” is a fantastic track. Goddamn I miss Thin Lizzy, even after all this time. Spirit Adrift captures the ZZ Top fuzz just right, and that Lynyrd Skynyrd cover might be the most recognizable of the bunch to a broad audience. I like everything about this record. Set all else aside and listen to it right now. Highly recommended.

20 Centuries Gone is out now on digital. Find it through the band’s website (link below). Spirit Adrift still has a couple of tour dates with Crowbar, then they will be back out again later this year. They are an exceptional live band – make sure you see them whenever you get a chance.

Photos by Wayne Edwards taken at Piere’s Entertainment Center in 2022.

Links.

Spirit Adrift website, https://www.spiritadrift.com/

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

Century Media, https://www.centurymedia.com/artist/spirit-adrift

© Wayne Edwards

Spirit Adrift, 20 Centuries Gone (Century Media 2022)

Fugitive, Maniac (2022)

Texas metal band Fugitive lights up the heavy music scene with their sudden new EP Maniac.

Fugitive is Seth Gilmore (vocals), Blake Ibanez (guitar), Victor Gutierrez (guitar), Andy Messer (bass), and Lincoln Mullins (drums). Those names might be familiar since this band is made of musicians from Power Trip, Creeping Death, and Skourge. This new EP dropped without notice or fanfare and it hit the metal scene hard. If you haven’t heard it yet, you need to get right on that. In fact, don’t even finish reading this review. Proceed directly to the music.

There are five killer tracks on Maniac. “The Javelin” is a great instrumental song with one big growl and a huff. It is two minutes of a chopping, rolling riff that is the perfect walk-on music. “Maniac” is more actively aggressive, lashing out for action. It flat out rips. Gilmore insists, and the percussion is a steady surety with bursting ripples. The big riffs are here, too, and the lead guitar is weaponized.

You can smell the gasoline on “Hell’s Half Acre.” This is exactly the song I would have wanted to hear when I used to drive around drinking on the back roads all those years ago. Adrenaline-infused groove metal with lightning strike shreds. The long wind-down at the end is a thing of beauty. Damn. “Neutralized” sounds like a theme song for a haunted asylum movie. It is jackhammer metal that will unlock your joints.

“Raise The Dead” is the last nail pried from the coffin lid. Everything about this song demonstrates that when they play it live it could go on for ten minutes without a second thought. The riff and rhythm are fundamental, and the vocals are both a pledge and a delivered result. I can’t wait to see these guys at Psycho Las Vegas – and I will have by the time this review is published. Highly recommended.

Maniac is out now. Hear it anywhere, and buy it at Bandcamp.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://fugitivetx.bandcamp.com/releases

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

© Wayne Edwards

Fugitive, Maniac (2022)

Fleshrot, Unburied Corpse (Me Saco Un Ojo 2022)

Texas’ own Fleshrot present their inaugural album, Unburied Corpse.

The death metal scene in Texas is flourishing these days. Fleshrot is a relatively new band from Lubbock, having released a demo and a split (with Phantasmagore) in 2020. Out now with their first full-length album, they play an intense style of death metal that carries a monstrous weight with it.

There are seven songs on the new album. Let’s take a quick sniff at each one. The opener is “Wrapped In Entrails,” and the doom influences are writ large in this terra stomper. “Intricate Dissection” is short and to the point, with croaking, growling vocals and a persistent guitar thrust you have to dodge or else it’ll get you right in the face. “Draining The Liquified Remains” is the grimmest of doom in the opening bars. About a minute in, it takes off on a rampage of death metal. The lead guitar sounds like a warning siren, and the doom returns toward the end to consume whatever is left.

In the title track, Fleshrot hits the high speed button and scorches the earth ahead of a marching army of metal that tromps through land thereafter. “Post Burial Extractions” is a song that forms a coalition to raise the dead through the application of death metal toward a specific goal. This is my favorite on the album. It is the ideal combination of dark mystery, death metal, and doom.

“In Filth and Pain” is another short one, and it tips the velocity scales then it beats a wretched path toward the pit. “Haunted Visions of Sick Depravities” is the perfect bookend to the saga begun by the opening track. Fleshrot is only getting going but they are already on the road to the land of Texas legends. Listen to the album and see if you agree. Recommended.

Unburied Corpse is out on August 1st through Desert Wasteland Productions in the US and Me Saco Un Ojo Records in Europe.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://mesacounojo.bandcamp.com/album/unburied-corpse-2

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

Desert Wastelands Productions, https://desertwastelands.com/

Me Saco Un Ojo Records, https://www.mesacounojo.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Fleshrot, Unburied Corpse (Me Saco Un Ojo 2022)

Creeping Death at The Vogue, Indianapolis, May 19th

Carcass, Immolation, and Creeping Death came to Indianapolis this week in the final days of their Spring tour. I have an article and photos coming up in Ghost Cult Magazine describing the whole affair. Meanwhile, here are a few Creeping Death photos that will not be in the article to tide you over. I’ll post separate galleries tomorrow then the next day for Immolation and then Carcass, anticipating the future. I put a link to the Ghost Cult article below.

Photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Ghost Cult Magazine article, https://www.ghostcultmag.com/concert-review-carcass-immolation-creeping-death-live-at-the-vogue/

Creeping Death, https://mnrkheavy.com/collections/creeping-death

The Vogue, https://thevogue.com/calendar/

© Wayne Edwards

Creeping Death at The Vogue, Indianapolis, May 19th

Wo Fat, The Singularity (Ripple Music 2022)

The seventh album from Texas stoner doom band Wo Fat is a world of its own, The Singularity.

Wo Fat hit the ground running with their first album The Gathering Dark (2006). It is legendary now, and it set the stage for a blistering run of records including Psychedelonaut (2009), Noche del Chupacabra (2011), and The Black Code (2012). The band plays psychedelic stoner doom rock that sounds like it was anointed by the cosmos. The new album is another chapter of astonishing guitar-based music that beguiles the listener and holds them in its sway.

The new album has seven big tracks, with a run time averaging over ten minutes each. You can hear “Orphans of the Singe” in the distance. As the music gets closer, you bend toward it and fall in. Down the rabbit hole. This is desert groove jam music; sounds that way to me. There is magic here, the kind that coalesces from nowhere just as the sun is disappearing beyond the horizon. Incredible jams over inspired rhythm. And then some.

I don’t know how it is possible to be so engaging over such a range with this level of endurance. It just keeps getting better as you listen. Skipping ahead a couple of tracks (about twenty minutes or so), “The Unraveling” claps its sinewy hands on you and gives you a good shaking. It is an up-tempo, high energy push. “The Witching Chamber” follows and you feel enchanted but not inveigled. Riffs bigger than the Mississippi is wide form an encampment where you could live for the rest of your days if you wanted.

How could there be more? Then the title track queues up and you know that you are still in it and the journey is not over yet. “The Oracle” ends the set on a sixteen-minute parable of psychedelic swamp doom that has no peer and faces no rival. The musicians have a breathtaking command of composition, improvisation, instrumentation, and elevation. I feel bad for anyone who has not heard this album yet. Highly recommended.

The Singularity is out now through Ripple Music. Check them out on Bandcamp or the Ripple site. What you should really do is subscribe to Ripple Music on Bandcamp – if you had done that, you would have The Singularity already.

Links.

Website, https://wofat.net/

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

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

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

© Wayne Edwards

Wo Fat, The Singularity (Ripple Music 2022)

Haunter, Discarnate Ails (Profound Lore 2022)

Texas death metal band Haunter pull out the stops on their new album, Discarnate Ails.

Centered in Austin, Haunter came together in 2013. The music they make is a fusion of black and death metal elevated by progressive percolations. Combining subgenres is not new, of course, but the level of success achieved depends on the way the mixing is done. Haunter always gets it right, and they are top-of-the-line experts if their last record, Sacramental Death Qualia (2019), is any measure. There is an arc to the band’s career that, given Discarnate Ails, appears to be heading upward. Listed musicians on the new album are Bradley Tiffin (vocals, guitar), Enrique Bonilla (guitar), and Cole Tucker (bass).

There are three long tracks on the album. “Overgrown With The Moss” opens the set with gentle discovery. It is as if you are wandering through a forest that slowly turns darkly magical as you pass through it. You notice a raised placed in the earth. You go over to investigate and, brushing aside the overgrowth, you unleash something unimaginable. The black metal is there, and the wonder of progressive ingenuity is too – that is what supports the ten-minute-plus running time and maintains your interest through all the valleys and crypts and plains.

“Spiritual Illness” clangs out brusquely, and has the feeling of an attack. “Chained At The Helm Of The Eschaton,” on the other hand, is filled with mystery and wonder in its opening melody and has a resonating cooldown that is beautiful to hear. All three tracks have their own unique postures and progressions, and they all are mesmerizing. Recommended.

Discarnate Ails is out on Friday, May 6th through Profound Lore Records. Take note also that Haunter is scheduled to perform at Fire In The Mountains this year, a unique music festival held at the Heart Six Ranch in the Tetons. If you can get there, definitely do it because it will be an experience like no other. Links to the record and the festival appear below.

Band photo by Oscar Moreno.

Links.

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

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

Profound Lore Records, https://profoundlorerecords.com/

Fire In The Mountains Festival, https://fitmfest.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Haunter, Discarnate Ails (Profound Lore 2022)

Greenbeard, Variant (Sailor Records 2022)

Greenbeard gives us Variant, a bluesy album with heavy desert grooves and many unexpected turns.

From Austin, Texas, Greenbeard is Chance Parker (guitar, vocals), Buddy Hachar (drums), Pat Seals (bass), and Joe Samson (guitar). They have been stalking the stage for a few years now and have released several albums, including 2014’s self-titled EP, Stoned At The Throne (2015), Lödarödböl (2016), and then another EP, Onward Pillager (2018). The new set covers quite a bit of ground, and showcases both the songwriting and performance talents of the band.

Let’s track-by-track this one, shall we? “Creatures of the Night” charges right at you with a groovy hard psych attitude that is almost like a fuzzy surf version of acid rock. It cooks, and the lead breaks are a joy to hear. “Burns Like Basketweave” is spacier than the opener, with a pushing, buzzy throb. The dream sequence just past the center is a tribute to psychic exploration. “Get in the car. No time to explain.” Now this is a driving song, and I guess that shouldn’t be a surprise given the title. There is a slow, catchy vamp in the middle that goes bluesy and walks back that driving-down-the-road feel in exchange for a whole different vibe. The backing vocals will give you chills.

“Diamond in the Devil’s Grinder” is a slow heavy blues number. A beautiful song with amazing guitar segments and an unforgettable saxophone. The tempo gets whipped up in the final third for a big finish. “Sanitario de la Soul” sends you on a long, deep path of self-reflection. “Exodus” brings back the push and the heavy roll. The buzz in the guitar is on the roar again. It has a great climbing chorus that sets up a blistering lead guitar break-out.

The last song is “Bare Bones.” It starts with a clang and rings on with high energy riffs that sound amazing even when lights come back on. Put me down for a “hell yes” on Greenbeard. This album is excellent. Recommended.

Variant emerges April 9th through Sailor Records in the US and Kozmik Artifactz in Europe.

Band photo by Dave Creaney.

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

Greenbeard website, http://www.greenbeardtheband.com/

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

Sailor Records, https://www.sailorrecords.com/

© Wayne Edwards.

Greenbeard, Variant (Sailor Records 2022)

Fostermother, The Ocean (Ripple Music 2022)

Psychedelic Texas doom band Fostermother offer their second full-length album to the expanding universe.

I liked Fostermother’s first album, the self-titled one that came out in 2020. It is an excellent stoner album and, while I wouldn’t call it light-hearted, it had a kind of buoyancy to it, a sort of groove. The new album is a bit slower in tempo and a touch dimmer in tone. Whether in a loud moment or a quiet one, you can feel the doom surround you. It will definitely appeal to the band’s fans, and will gather up a new crowd among those who had been standing around the edges. The credited musicians on The Ocean are Travis Weatherred (vocals, guitar, drums, and synth) and Stephen Griffin (bass, keys, and guitar).

“Sunday” opens the show with a tentative pulse. A better way to put that is the music makes you feel tentative and on edge when you hear it. The vocals have a mystical and somewhat unsettling tonal quality – they seem like they might be a warning. The riff is heavy, buzzing with shadows. We know at the gate, then, that this is a doom album in the stoner lane that also has a dark shade to it. “Seasons” goes even deeper in a heavy, fuzzy trudge and the next track after that, “Hedonist,” punches it up a bit in the first look before quietening down and going ethereal. The journey we are on with this music is becoming a shifting kaleidoscope of blues and reds and yellows.

Each next step puts you a little off balance with a new tilt, and while there is familiarity in every track, I did not get the feeling of being in loop. Some of the songs have a grungy feel to them, like “Dark Desires.” Others force an insistent dismalness, like “Arrival.” Each port that is visited has its dangers and its charms. Put Fostermother on your must-hear list from here on out. Highly recommended.

The Ocean is out now from Ripple Music. Bandcamp and Ripple’s website are where you can get the details.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://fostermother.bandcamp.com/album/the-ocean

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

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

Fostermother, The Ocean (Ripple Music 2022)

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)