Sunday, April 12, 2015

Royal Thunder 'Crooked Doors',

I've been getting into a lot of female-fronted doom lately. There's something about the female voice that fits in so well with the doom/occult rock sound. I've been listening to The Devil's Blood for a little while now. I was bummed to hear about them calling it quits, and later  band founder Selim Lemouchi's death. Selim was the brains behind the band, with his sister Farida on vocals. Very psychedelic, meodic and satanic, The Devil's Blood were a very well crafted ritual. Farida's vocals and the feel of the music made them sound like an evil, heavy Jefferson Airplane. I know the music is not similar, but that's where her voice takes my mind. This is the album 'The Time of No Time Evermore', my favorite album of theirs. Worth a beginning to end listen. Choice tracks 'Christ or Cocaine' and 'The Anti-Kosmik Magick"

 The Oath are another lady-centric group worth getting into. The vocalist is a woman and the sole guitar player is a woman. Rock in general is such a dude fest that having the creative force behind a good band is an impressive feat, shame. I am sad to say that this group has also disbanded. The guitar sound is nastier than The Devil's Blood. A bit fuzzier with a taste of Motorhead and Mercyful Fate riff inspiration. The vocals are drony, but still melodic. Unfortunately The Oath only released one album, but a great album. Choice cut 'Black Rainbow'

Finally, the reason for this post, Royal Thunder's 'Crooked Doors' album. I've been aware of this band and picked up the album after seeing it's praise pretty much everywhere I looked. Holy Shit the vocals. Mlny Parsonz's pipes possess so much power. You can hear the soul in her voice, the pain, the conviction. It is perfectly at home weaving through the peaks and valleys of wall of doom she sings over. I would be amiss to leave out the genius of guitarist Josh Weaver and drummer Evan Dirprima. Both creating the perfect canvas for Parsonz. The range of her raspy voice make her sound like a heavy metal Stevie Nicks. The flourishes and melodies from Parsonz's voice makes you believe that the music means something. Her voice is equal parts agony and beauty. By listening alone, I knew I was in love with this woman, with this voice. The music takes you through the history of all proto-heavy metal. You hear classic rock, heavy metal, prehaps a touch of grunge all woven into a pregressive groove. The mellow, the heavy and the guitar solos. Everything is where it needs to be. 'Crooked Doors' makes me want to be a better musician, a better person even. I've never been much for paying attention to the lyrics to anything I listen to. I more appreciate how the vocals fit into the atmosphere that the music creates. Parsonz's voice makes me pay attention. I want to know what's she's belting her lungs out about. Needless to say, I'm blown away by this album. The surprising thing about it to me, is that the music seems accessible. I could see any casual rock fan getting into Royal Thunder. I could see them tour with The Foo Fighters as easy as them touring with Mastodon. Atlanta certainly seems to be the go to birthplace for all modern sludge. Royal Thunder will, hopefully be the stuff of legend.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats Mind Control, get into it

    I'm going to start a string of 'throwback doom', if you will with the album Mind Control from Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats. As soon as I heard the band name, I had a pretty good idea of what they would sound like. Looking at the cover of the album only further confirmed my assumption. This band has the perfect name for the music they play. The easiest way I can describe the music is if someone tried to make black metal in the 70's. Mind Control is the band's 3rd album, released in 2013. The instruments, the musicians styles and the recording equipment are all purposefully vintage to recreate the sound of 70's heaviness. They would fit in perfectly opening for Black Sabbath as they toured for any of their first 6 albums.
    Mind Control opens with 'Mt. Abraxas, a meandering, guitar harmony (guitarmony?) laden trek to the summit. The vocals, all of which are harmonized, seem to speak to you from the great beyond. The sludge concludes with a nasty breakdown that'll make you wish you wrote it. Up next is Mind Crawler, an upbeat headbanger, with faint keys keeping the tempo. You can almost see the drummer shredding on vintage, piss colored cymbals. The bridge has you chanting the title of the song before the rock outro. Poison Apple is what I enjoy most about the throwback genre. Simple non-power chord riffs, with key changes during the verse, that take you into descending power chords. Coupled with the heavily vibratoed keys take you to the chorus of hammering power chords and into a triumphant solo. No Yngwie here, just exactly what the song calls for. Desert Ceremony begins with booming drums and a riff relying on the lower octave of a standard tuned guitar. The ascending riff, with all the guitarmonies you could need, leads into another tasteful solo. Then comes the rocking post solo riff, snare on the upbeat-style. Evil Love start with an almost Judas Priest sounding 3/4 riff. I've always maintained that its difficult to write a riff in 3/4 that doesn't sound metal. And a lot of times ruin you down stroking hand. The key changing melodic bridge excites me as a musician, it always reminds me of a Diamond Head song. Death Valley Blues is the first song on the album to begin with a more mellow sound before breaking in, metal slow jam-style. Your classic mellow verse/heavy chorus formula here. The drums have a bit of a shuffle to them, I can only assume, a nod to the great Bill Ward of Black Sabbath, who was always a swing style player. The mini solo comes in hard with vocals matching the guitars following, bringing the slow jam to a headbang climax. The middle-eastern sounding into to Follow the Leader secures this group's rightful place in an alternate version of the 70's that would make the world a better place. Tracks like this are always so well placed on albums. No discernible beat or structure, it gives you times to reflect on everything you've taken in so far. It's what Dawn Patrol is to Rust in Peace. It drones, it hypnotizes, it makes you wish it never ends. But the glorious feedback lets you know it is. Onto Valley of Dolls, which starts with with a single note riff dripping with doom. Band in, you get the full force of it. It's what you can do with single notes that a lot of groups miss and try to over complicate and over layer. The album's closer, Devil's Work, is a quarter note chug into oblivion. I believe in listening to albums, not songs. If it doesn't work as an album, then you have filler in there. Songs that shouldn't be there. Devil's work walks you up the steps to Valhalla.
    That breaks down Mind Control, beginning to end is the best way to do this one. As will be most of the albums I suggest. Strap on a Les Paul, run it through a fuzz pedal and be inspired.

Doomy Tunes Back in Action

I'm glad I remembered this blog. I've recently been addicted to buying records and I like to share my thoughts. Kind of talking to myself about music. It'll be therapeutic I'm sure. I don't have shit else to do anyway. I'll be talking about a lot of doom. I've been into doom hard for the last few years. The genre intrigues me. There are so many different styles of music that could be considered 'doom'. 70's style occult rock, groovy Sabbath worshipers, oversaturated soundscapes and stripped down evil. Clean vocals, growls, chanting are all at home. It won't all be doom though, just what I've recently picked up or feel like talking about. If it turns people on to music new to them, the far out. And who knows, If I ever get any music together I can waste everyone's time with that as well.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Albums you should be listening to: Earth's Primitive and Deadly

If you are a fan of doom or any kind of world-creating heavy music and you don't have this album, you are seriously fucking up. Earth, which is what Black Sabbath were known as before picking the best band name ever, started out as a lo-fi instrumental drone band. Repetitive, instrumental, drummerless, glorious drone. I picked up a couple of their earlier records, basically just heavily distorted, droning riffs. They were on SubPop records in the 90's, which is best known as the go to grunge label. They went on hiatus and returned with a drummer and slightly different sound. Primitive and Deadly was released in 2014 and blew many away, appearing on many 'best of the year' lists. The music is heavy, psuedo-drone, melodic and shimmering. I constantly catch myself humming the melodies and singing the few lyrics that appear on the album while at work. The music seems like some sort of ominous, audio meditiation. I began playing Final Fantasy 9 after putting it off for ever. I noticed there is really no audio in the game, aside from some sound effects and a PSone style soundtrack. I listen to this album while I play and it has become the soundtrack to this world. Just sitting and listening to the album takes you one a journey. The dark melodies and haunting vocals provide an atmosphere that is both crushing and beautiful. I appreciate the album art and feel that, in genres like this, it's more important to the feel of the album. You could just listen to the album and sit and examine the cover. It's a picture that perfectly represents what the music creates. It hypnotizes, it calms and it's huge. Sit back and absorb. Listen to on the best sound system you have available.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Mastodon's 'The Hunter' brings the Thunder; a review

I have been a long time fan of Mastodon. I remember finally buying Remission in 2003, the year of it's release,
after listening to the Lifesblood EP at a party. I was familiar with the cover, having seen it in the many metal magazines I frequently read at the time. Mastodon's intense mix of sludge and atmosphere amazed me. I sat for many hours in my bedroom at home playing the album over and over again, atempting to figure the songs out. With each release by the band, Leviathan in 2004, Blood Mountain in 2006 and Crack The Skye in 2009, they grew emensly as musicians and songwriters.How I long to someday find a group of musicians like this to jam with. They are clearly all where they want to be now. The band's three vocalists, bass player Troy Sanders, lead guitarist Brent Hinds and drummer Brann Dailor share the singing duties. In some parts all three singing at once. Their voices differ quite pleasntly. Troy's voice is always a little bigger and more harsh, Brent's voice is more piercing, and Brann's voice is mellower, almost droaning. But in a good way. To many Crack the Skye was too proggy and conceptual and if stacked up against Remission, it would sound like a different band. Or a different side of the same coin. Mastodon's music has the ability to take on a journey. The imagery they associate with the songs through their music videos, album covers and the backdrops and footage they have behind them as they preform. The kaleidoscopic soundscapes.

The Hunter is the band's most recent effort and the culmination of everything they've learned ofer the years. The group remains as heavy as their namesake as the first three tracks completly knock you out.

Sounds like this

'Black Tounge' is very remenecent of the band's 'Blood Mountain' Days and is full of slamming riffs.
'Curl of the Burl'is an immeadiate favorite. The song is super heavy, as it is played in one of the bands usual tunings where the 6th string on the guitar is tuned to a bowel shaking A. This is Mastodon's modern sound. The guitar melody after the band comes in mimicing the verse vocal melody. Brent's verse vocals find themselves comfortably in the heavyness. All three of the bands vocalist sing the chorus you'll be repaeating every other time the song arrives at it. They have a video for this track, enjoy:

'Blasteroid' takes me back to the'Remission'-'Leviathan' days. Harmonizing clean vocals share the soundscapes with the screaming of " I want to drink your
fucking blood'. The song also features one Mastodon trademark, to me anyway, the complicated open-string riffs.
'Stargasm'sounds true to the band's 'Crack the Skye' state of mine with the atmospheric intro laden with spacey effects. The upbeat grooving verse riif leads into even more spacey breaks, with the infectious "you're on fire" lyrics.
'Octopus has no Friends'could have easily been on 'Leviathan', both in sound, and that it has 'Octopus' in the title. The octave-vocals over the complicated verse riff could also date it to then as well.
'All the Heavy Lifting'is another example of infectious heavyness that I associate with these gentlemen.
The title track 'The Hunter' is the first mellow break in the track listing.This is the kind of song that would have been mostly instrumental on 'Remission', before the group's vocalists found their voices. Make way for Brent's blues-jam solo before the song re-intros and the solo just takes over the song.
'Dry Bone Valley'takes me back to ' Blood Mountain' initially and the vocals take it away. The lead vocals on this are done by Brann, the drummer, who you'll remember sang the first part of the verse on 'Crack the Skye's' 'Oblivion'. A short wah-drenched solo seems like it should have been longer, but, you got to do what's good for the song.
'Thickening' is another mellow jam that starts off with a huge delay enhanced guitar solo, before going into some slightly dirty open-stringed, strummy guitar riffs. The songs picks up with haunting, harmonized vocals and goes into more solos! There are solo breaks galore in this song. These guys get it.
'Creature Lives' stands out from the rest of the album, or Mastodon's entire catalog, as it is completely
composed by the groups percussionist Brann. The sweeping harmonies and creepy laughing the track starts with give way to a simple, clean guitar riff that a hint of the vocal melody to come. The songs strikes me as a nursery rhyme, that is not an insult by any means. I honestly plan on learning this and playing it to my children. The choir-esque build up to the chorus are whimsical and fit perfectly in this simple, catchy song.
'Spectrelight' takes you back the heavy atmoshpere Mastodon calls their home. The track also features the albums only guest musician, Neurosis vocalist/guitarist Scott Kelly. The guitar tone in the begining of
'Bedazzled Figernails' and a wonderful halfway point between clean and distorted guitar. The lower register verse vocals are beautifully contrasted by the soaring harmonized vocals that follow. There's also, what sounds like, a therimin in the vocal breaks that make the song
sound at home in the Twighlight Zone.
The album closes with 'The Sparrow', a song that starts as a mellow relaxer that goesin to a nasty riff that will make anyone do a 'guitar face' and air guitar along. The pleasant vocal melodies make this tune a great way to come down from an album that takees you to every part of this galaxy.

My rating system will be how much awesome the album puts into The Thunderbucket
As you can see, Mastodon's 'The Hunter' fills The Thunderbucket to the top.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

We Butter the Bread with Butter brings the Thunder

We Butter the Bread with Butter (WBTBWB) are a German deathcore band that has an odd use of keyboards and orchestration to their music. All of their lyrics and song titles are in German, yet their name is not a translation. The band are perhaps the most original deathcore band I have heard, which is saying a lot considering the genre is pretty boring and monotonous as a whole. The use of keyboards range from black metal-style, epic orchestrations to dance-techno. But it all mixes very well with the detuned guitars, blast beats and pig squeals. The vocalist, whatever then hell his name is, also sets the band apart. He sings in every style fit for metal you can think of, from growls to screams to pig squeals to pseudo-singing German gibberish.
One of the bands best songs has no keyboards in it however. The song is called "Godzilla" and features hilariously place movie clips and a super brutal breakdown after the second Godzilla scream, enjoy:

I believe that song was written before they had a keyboard player and was released as a bonus on their first album. Another hilariously excellent "unreleased" song  of theirs is a song called "Christmas Song", but is pretty much a deathcore version of "The Little Drummer Boy"
I hope you listened to it at least until the vocals start, and then laughed about how awesome it is. The song "Breekachu" starts with a slow tecno sounding melody and turns into a death slow jam.
Another hilarious grindfest is a song called "Extrem", the beginning is absolutely hilarious and the rest of the song just kills.
The final song I'll post about this band will be in " save the best for last fashion" is a song called "13 Wunsche" or 13 Wishes. The song starts of sounding like some Lady Gaga radio garbage and then after a verse and a sweet interlude the same intro melody plays with the whole band and just slams.
The video has translated lyrics, but who cares. Stay tuned for the next Thunderpost!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Grand Magus Brings the Thunder

Here is my first in a never ending series of posts of Bands That Bring The Thunder. These will be me spotlighting bands I think people should know about. The story of me knowing about Grand Magus starts with a band practice a couple of months ago when the drummer of my band Justin shows up to practice with a album he got from Dreadful Sounds, a record store on North High St. in Clintonville go there. Anyway, he showed me the album and told me that the band sounds like all of my favorite bands put together. As tall an order as that is, I gave it a listen. Justin was right on the money.
Grand Magus is a band of three Swedish dudes making some of the best heavy metal I have heard. The album Justin showed me was Iron Will, the band's 4th official Release. Right away I heard some subtle Iron Maiden influence and a definite taste of Black Sabbath. Janne Christofferson's voice sounds like he listened to a lot of Deep Purple. The riffs are catchy, the solos are tasteful and there are big epic choruses.
Grand Magus started out as more of a doom band and on Iron Will came into their own on as an amazing heavy metal band. The group just released the album Hammer of the North and it is the best thing I have heard from them or any other band. The songs are perfect.
Above is the video for Hammer of the North, one of my favorite songs right now. enjoy
Here is the video for At Midnight They'll Get Wise, also off of Hammer of The North
Above is a youtube video of As The Oar Strike The Water, from Iron Will. Not a music video but the cover art is amazing and it's a great song.
So concludes the first of Bands That Bring the Thunder, stay tuned for many more