[Click on band name for samples and more info]
Cult of Luna/Julie Christmas - Mariner (Indie)
What happens when you take an already solid and successful Sludge Metal band and add the gorgeous/haunting vocals of NYHC veteran Julie Christmas? I’ll tell you what happens; you get a goddamn near masterpiece. The filthy riffs, killer tones and chilling atmospheres would be enough to get this one on the weekly list, but Ms. Christmas’ vocals really put this over the top. Every track is over 8 minutes long, but the song structures are fantastic and every section outdoes the previous one. I haven’t enjoyed a new release this much in a long time. You’re going to see this record on everyone’s year-end list.
Ommadon - Ommadon (Dry Cough/Medusa Crush)
The instrumental Scottish duo is at it again, cranking out 40 minutes of the heaviest Doom/Drone Metal this side of the Sunn. (Doom puns!) Side A is over 21 minutes and Side B clocks in at a more radio-friendly 19 minutes and neither track exactly moves along at a toe-tapping pace. It’s a lot of drawn out fuzz and feedback with the occasional cymbal crash, but somehow it all works. I don’t think it’s supposed to be soothing, but I find it hypnotic and somewhat relaxing.
Red Wizard - Cosmosis (Ripple)
Pretty boiler plate Stoner Metal from the San Diego quintet on their debut full-length. Color? Check. Wizard? Check. Spacy album cover? Check. Sabbath riffs? Check and check. These guys may not be breaking any barriers here; we’ve certainly heard all of this before and the vocals sound a little forced, but there’s plenty of tasty riffage and nifty bass work. This is just a lot of fun and that’s kind of the point, right?
Sourvein - Aquatic Occult (Metal Blade)
The North Carolina-based veteran trio returns with what is somehow only the 4th full-length release in their 20+ year history. This is more of the standard Sabbath-worship stuff, but with a little more of that swampy, Southern sound and some much needed grit on the vocals. Going against genre norms, the tracks are all in the 3-4 minute range, which allows the band to latch onto a gnarly riff and just ride it out instead of cramming in a bunch of nonsense.