[Click on band name for samples and more info]
Black Pussy - Magic Mustache (Made in China)
I’ve been waiting for this record to come out since I saw these dudes open for Vista Chino in October 2013 and it was well worth the wait. While the debut album, On Blonde, was recorded mainly by frontman Dustin Hill, this second release is a collaborative band effort and blows the debut out of the bong water. This is one of the smoothest stoner rock releases to come out a while, which is no surprise given that the band has studied under the tutelage of Mr. Brant Bjork.
Brothers of the Sonic Cloth - Brothers of the Sonic Cloth (Neurot)
The debut album from this Seattle trio is devastatingly heavy. Combining doom, sludge and stoner metal, the record plods and crushes with the best of them. I really enjoy the way the understated drums compliment the monstrous riffage, and the vocals from the legendary Tad Doyle are actually pretty solid for a sludge album. I recommend giving this one a few spins at maximum volume in order to absorb all of the typical Pacific Northwest heaviness and nuances.
Furor Gallico - Songs from the Earth (Scarlet)
This is a pretty fun Folk Metal release, though it’s a bit uneven. This is the second full-length release from the Italian 8-member(!) band and it’s full of the usual folk melodies and weirdo instrumentation, including harp, violin, whistles and bouzouki, whatever the hell that is. The instruments are the star of the album, as the vocals are a bit on the atonal side. I think these guys would be a force with a melodic vocalist, but this one passes the test anyway.
Harrow - Fallow Fields (Broken Limbs)
If you’re into that folksy Black Metal scene with nature influences (see: Ulver and Agalloch), you’ll like this one. The Victoria, BC trio blends somber acoustic passages with scorching Black Metal on the four epic, 8+ minute tracks that make up their 3rd album. I take a pass on most BM albums, but I really dig the more progressive, epic side of the genre. This is the perfect record for driving across the Canadian permafrost, which is exactly how I was able to experience the album last week.
King Woman - Doubt (The Flenser)
This one kind of came out of nowhere. This is the third EP released by the San Francisco quartet and it’s pretty stunning. Check out the absolutely haunting female vocals soaring above the doom guitars and atmospheric elements. This band is apparently just a side project for frontwoman Kristina Esfandiari, so I’m not sure if any full releases are on the horizon. If there’s more where this came from, count me in as interested.