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.