[Click on band name for samples and more info]
Acid King - Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere (Svart)
This is the first new release in 10 years for the legendary San Francisco Stoner/Doom trio. While I’m not intimately familiar with their back catalogue, I feel safe in saying that they haven’t lost their touch. The heavy, plodding grooves that the band is known for are highlighted by the smoky vocals and searing leads of frontwoman Lori S. These guys were in on the ground floor of the Stoner/Doom scene and pretty much carved out the sound that we’re all familiar with now – hypnotic, hazy and heavy as fuck. This is a must-listen album for worshippers of the almighty riff.
The Atomic Bitchwax - Gravitron (Tee Pee)
I haven’t taken a chance on this Jersey Monster Magnet spin-off trio since their debut album in 1999. That was a solid Stoner Rock album, but the most memorable part was the audio clip of Jesco White talking about “a-huffin’ the aeroplane glue in a samrich bag”. Now they’re back with their 6th album and it’s safe to say that I may have missed the boat on these guys. This is a headbanger right from the outset. Gnarly, fuzzed-out riffs, pounding drums, audible bass grooves and vocals that remind me of the Pepper Keenan CoC era. Balls to the wall Stoner Metal, as good as it gets.
Blizzen - Time Machine EP (High Roller)
I generally give EPs a cursory listen and then move on to full-lengths, but this one grabbed me from the start. The German quartet’s debut release is chock full of 80’s Speed Metal glory. “Strike the hammer…Strike! Fight for metal…Fight!” You just can’t go wrong with choruses like that. As with all of these throwback Speed/Thrash releases, there’s nothing really new here, but it sounds incredibly fresh regardless. Chugging riffs, harmonized leads, soaring high-pitched vocals and catchy hooks. If you’re a denim vest and/or Trans-Am guy, this is probably right up your alley.
Gruesome - Savage Land (Relapse)
This entire album is essentially a tribute to the Leprosy-era Death sound. While I’m more of a fan of the later period, progressive side of Death, this is about as close as anyone has ever come to replicating Chuck Schuldiner’s genius. Formed last year by 4 Californians who all play in like 30 other bands, Gruesome is certainly one of the more technically proficient Death Metal bands I’ve stumbled across recently. I don’t know if this was a one-off homage, but it would be cool if they started with Leprosy and kind of worked their way through the entire Death trajectory. You can never have enough Death in your life.
Horsehunter - Caged In Flesh (Magnetic Eye)
This is the album most likely to decimate your speakers this week. Loud, ugly, gnarly Stoner/Sludge/Doom in the vein of Sleep. Four songs, 41 minutes – the Aussie quartet doesn’t fuck around on their debut album. From the Sabbathian riffage in the 16 minute opener to the mellow, acoustic interlude to the full-throttle sonic sludge at the end, this one just rolls right along, crushing everything in its path. Long songs are challenging as a listener, but this whole record just has a perfect flow to it, so it’s not as daunting as it seems. Really nice launching point for these guys. Looking forward to hearing more.
Mare Infinitum - Alien Monolith God (Solitude Productions)
Long-time readers know that I’m a total homer for anything on Solitude Productions, so this is probably the least surprising choice this week. Long-time readers also know that I only put stuff in my columns if I personally dig it, so that says something about the best damn label in Russia. On their second album, this Russian duo perfectly melds Doom and Death with atmospheric touches. I particularly like the usage of both clean and aggressive vocals on this record. They shift from a classic Candlemass sound right into a Peaceville Death/Doom fury at the drop of a hat. Lots of layers on this one, so give it a few spins to soak it all in.