[Click on band name for samples and more info]
Blues Pills - Blues Pills (Nuclear Blast)
The debut album from this American-Swedish-French quartet brings back the soul of the late sixties and adds in some heaviness from the proto-metal days to create a must-hear album. The driving bass lines harken back to the Budgie glory days, while the soaring female vocals add a touch of class to the mix. The blues riffs and leads from the 18-year old guitarist are simply stunning.
Brimstone Coven - Brimstone Coven (Metal Blade)
The third album from West Virginia's doom rockers nails the retro metal feel. Simple, yet heavy riffs and creepy harmonized vocals dominate most of the album. They approach Ghost B.C. territory at times, which is good or bad depending on how you feel about those guys. I think there's a little more emphasis here on substance versus style. Solid album.
Cardinal Wyrm - Black Hole Gods (Unsigned)
The Bay Area doom/sludge trio returns with their second album, featuring 8 tracks of punishing doom with vocals reminiscent of classic Candlemass. It's a nice combination that I'd like to hear more often in the current doom world. The riffs are killer and the lead guitar work is outstanding. Other than a short intro and an interlude, the tracks all clock in at over 7 minutes, but there's enough variety and doomy goodness to keep the head banging throughout.
Cemetery Fog - Towards the Gates (Iron Bonehead)
This week's obligatory death/doom release comes to us via this Finland duo, who break out the punishment on their debut EP. Evil keyboards mesh perfectly with the heavy riffs and death/black vocals to create an ominous atmosphere unrivaled by any other release this week. I usually stay away from EPs, but this one is just too good to pass up. Looking forward to a full-length from these guys to see if they can keep it up over a full album.
John Gallow - Violet Dreams (I, Voidhanger)
Rochester's John Gallow has been dooming it up since the late 90s with a handful of bands, but this is his first solo release. I hate to use another Candlemass reference this week, but that's the most apt comparison. Slow, plodding riffs and majestic vocals highlight the 14 tracks contained on this release. The songs are a bit progressive, shifting directions at any given moment, which is pretty cool. I really like the organ elements as well.
John Garcia - John Garcia (Napalm)
The Kyuss/Vista Chino/Unida/Slo Burn frontman steps out with his first solo record and it’s a pretty solid affair. With john Garcia, you know you’re getting some of the best vocals in rock and roll, regardless of his surrounding cast. The music is a little more straightforward stoner rock on this effort. The crushing heaviness of Kyuss is few and far between, but that’s not the intent. There are still plenty of tasty riffs and catchy hooks. Garcia stays true to his desert roots with a mellow album that touches on the 70s without sounding dated or retro.