[Click on band name for samples and more info]
Arrakis - Ammu Dia (N/A)
Following a handful of EP releases, this Greek trio has finally put out a full-length album. While instrumental Stoner Rock is tough to maintain over the course of an entire record, these guys manage to keep it interesting for the most part. The guitar tones are delicious and the trio format allows the bass to peek through when necessary. The songs average just over 8 minutes, so there’s plenty of room for gnarly solos and trippy psychedelic jams, but the crunchy riffs are the main course.
Ommadon - Empathy for the Wicked (Golden Mantra)
Speaking of long songs, the 4th album from this Scottish duo contains just two songs totaling over 55 minutes, which is a lesson for brevity for a band whose songs clocked in at 39 and 47 minutes the last time around. At first listen it feels like an extended fuzzy feedback session with the occasional drum hit, akin to the old standby, Dopesmoker. I’ve always been fascinated by this type of instrumental Doom band. Do they rehearse these songs down to the minute detail, or do they just press record and let the fuzz fly? Regardless, there’s enough tone and riffage here to satisfy all fans of the slow and low, even though Side B is mostly wasted on senseless noise.
Prophets of Saturn - Retronauts (HeviSike)
Now we get to this week’s top release, the 2nd album from the Leicester, UK quartet. This may be the closet anyone has come yet to challenging the throne of Electric Wizard. This record is a little more upbeat and a little less nihilistic than the offerings from EW, but these guys offer an inspired take on the occult Stoner/Doom thing without sounding clichéd. While this is a Doom record through and through, I dig the bluesy Stoner Metal riffs that create the backbone for the maelstrom. In typical UK Doom fashion, the vocals are buried a bit and over-processed at times. Also, how many bands have played that opening riff on the third track? The 16-minute closer is a tour de force, though.