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)

Creeping Death, The Edge of Existence (MNRK Heavy 2021)

Texas metal mongers Creeping Death pile on the aggression and suffering with their new EP The Edge of Existence.

Releasing their first demo in 2015 and an EP the following year, Creeping Death came out of the gate hot. Even in those early days it was clear that this band from Denton had the potential to make a permanent mark on heavy music. With each new release you can hear subtle differences in the music as it evolved. The style is Death Metal, increasingly in a classic lane, and the latest EP reinforces the propulsion toward this vanishing point. The musicians are Reese Alavi (vocals), Trey Pemberton (guitar), A. J. Ross, III (guitar), Eric “Rico” Mejia (bass), and Lincoln Mullins (drums).

The Edge of Existence has three new songs, “Relics From The Past,” “Humanity Transcends,” and “The Edge of Existence,” plus re-recorded and re-oriented versions of all three songs from Sacrament Of Death (2016): “Sacrament Of Death,” “Doused In Flames,” and “Skinned Alive.”

The three new tracks pulse in the heartland range of a growling Death Metal landscape. Taken together, they are the arc of a nightmare, a punishing treatment of struggle weighed down by the leaden crush of inevitability. Sonically consistent with Wretched Illusions (2019), the sound feels a little deeper on these three, leaning a bit more in the doom direction. Oh, they do rage, especially “Humanity Transcends.” They just do it with a somewhat denser center of gravity.

The re-recorded songs are a nice addition to the set. It is good to hear these songs get a bright shaking. I particularly like “Sacrament Of Death” in this triplet, and “Skinned Alive” buzzes and sparkles like a kicked hornet’s nest. If this doesn’t get fans fired up I don’t know what will. Recommended.

October 8th is the drop date for The Edge of Existence, released through MNRK Heavy. Hook-ups below.

Links.

Creeping Death website, https://www.creepingdeath.net/

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

MNRK Heavy, https://mnrkheavy.com/

Creeping Death, The Edge of Existence (MNRK Heavy 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)

Band of Bastards, Delete. Repeat. (Redacted Records / SilverDoor Music 2021)

Texas-style hardcore/punk unit Band of Bastards throws down a big sound in a tight package.

Based in Austin, this new operation is peopled by stage-worn emissaries bearing ferocious tidings. The band is Jason Reece (vocals), Andrew Leeper (guitar), Sam Rich (drums), and Erick Sanger (bass).

Most of the dozen songs included on the album are less than two minutes long with a couple on the bubble and only a rare excursion past 180 seconds. High energy and high speed is what you can expect. “False Idols” is a little bit of a downshift in the tempo area while still being very clippy so there aren’t any breaks in the whole set. Full tilt all the way.

Every song is a clap on the back and I wouldn’t skip any of them, even the second time through or the third. This music gets under your skin and when it does you are glad to have it there. This is on the conversational edge of hardcore, the broad side. There is a lot of crossover potential here. Recommended.

Delete. Repeat. is out on Friday July 23rd. Get in line now.

Links.

Pre-save, https://backl.ink/147339121

SilverDoor Music, http://www.silverdoormusic.com/

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

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCG-tqDUjsvisj-xKFpEGXng

Band of Bastards, Delete. Repeat. (Redacted Records / SilverDoor Music 2021)

Amigo The Devil, Born Against (2021)

The Murder Folk maestro Amigo The Devil returns to remind us of the woe of reality with Born Against.

Amigo the Devil is Danny Kiranos. In live performances he stands alone on the stage, usually alternating between an acoustic guitar and a banjo to accompany his solitary voice. His music is most often described as Murder Folk because of the subjects he sings about. If you asked me, I would call it Acoustic Doom.

Several EPs have been issued and a couple of compilations came out to gather them up. In 2018 the full-length album Everything Is Fine appeared, and now we have Born Against. The themes Kiranos explores are sometimes unusually graphic in the context of the musical delivery and that aspect will grab your attention. What you stay for, though, is the depth of the feeling conveyed and human story that underlies it all.

Two singles appeared before the album dropped, “Another Man’s Grave” and “Quiet As A Rat.” The former is delivered in beautiful troubadour style and is the perfect example of the juxtaposition I was referring to – the singing and the theme seem at odds. Of course, they really aren’t, are they? That might just be part of the point. In the latter, the Chicago-jazz style gives the song more of a playful background for the violence that is described. The video for this song is truly inspired – drop everything now and watch it on YouTube if you haven’t seen it yet.

You’ll recognize the singles, then, when you listen to the album, but don’t gloss over the rest of the set. My favorites are “Murder In The Bingo Hall” and “24K Casket” in the up-tempo category and “Different Anymore” along with “Shadow” in the more somber lane. Even so, every track is memorable. I recognize something in my life, my history, or myself in every song. Kiranos is giving voice to things we feel but that we choose to hold in silence. It is good to hear it aloud, even if the truth is hard to take.

Born Against is out now. Buy it on Bandcamp or hit the link to the website for Amigo The Devil and there are links to everywhere else there, too. Highly recommended.

Live photo by Wayne Edwards, 2019 Sonic Temple Festival.

Links.

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

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

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

Amigo The Devil, Born Against (2021)