REVIEWS ROUND-UP: Crystal Spiders, Duel, Doctor Smoke, and Tommy Stewart’s Dyerwulf

Crystal SpidersMorieris

With the second Crystal Spiders album, Morieris (Ripple Music), coming out just a year after Molt, it’s fair to say that it picks up where its predecessor left off. The guitar has a more noticeable presence courtesy of producer Mike Dean playing a more hands on role in the proceedings, but the songs remain primarily driven by Brenna Leath’s thumping bass and attitude-filled howls along with Tradd Yancey’s muscular drumming.


This dynamic also results in the songwriting prioritizing hazy Doom ventures with the eight-minute ‘En Medias Res’ and the closing ‘Golden Paw’ best maintaining the spooky aura. Of course, songs like ‘Septix’ and ‘Harness’ allow for a more active stomp to come through and ‘Pandora’s Box’ dips into Punk. The developments may be gradual, but Crystal Spiders keeps their momentum going quite nicely.

7 / 10


DuelIn Carne Persona

Duel came roaring out of the gate with a love of groups like Thin Lizzy, KISS, and ZZ Top on full display and each of their albums has tinkered with that established Stoner/Hard Rock style. Coming off the comparably low-key vibe of 2019’s Valley of Shadows, In Carne Persona (Heavy Psych Sounds) injects a little extra gumption in the band’s energy. There’s some room for Desert Rock introspection on ‘Behind The Sound’ and the closing ‘Blood On The Claw,’ but the driving tempos on tracks like the opening ‘Children Of The Fire’ and ‘Bite Back’ demand the most attention. ‘The Veil’ is the most noteworthy highlight, featuring a mid-tempo strut and charismatic swagger straight out of the Ace Frehley playbook. 2016’s Fear Of The Dead may still be their best when it comes to sheer balls-out energy but this album may be one of their most balanced efforts thus far.

8 / 10


Doctor Smoke Dreamers And The Dead

Seven years after debuting with 2014’s The Witching Hour, Doctor Smoke’s Occult Rock style gets some extra heft on their second full-length. The production on Dreamers And The Dead (Ripple Music) has a little more muscle behind it that allows for more forward performances, particularly with the weighted guitar and more active drum work. This in turn gives the shuffles on songs like ‘Waking Dreams’ and the title track some extra drive while the verses on ‘Out Of Time’ dip into Speed Metal. I find myself wishing it was a bit hookier but overall, it’s a strong effort that should sit well with such groups as Cauldron, Icarus Witch, SpellBook, and Demon Eye.

8 / 10

Tommy Stewart’s DyerwulfDoomsday Deferred

As with their 2017 self-titled album, Tommy Stewart’s Dyerwulf continues developing their Experimental Doom Metal style on Doomsday Deferred (Black Doomba Records). Atmosphere remains the duo’s top priority as the songs take on eclectic structures often defined by the enveloping bass effects, droning rhythms, and distantly haunting vocals. But in contrast to the previous album’s more meandering pace and questionable sense of direction, the songs here have more compact, off-the-cuff executions with a more effective production job to match.

The vocals elevate the opening trudge of ‘Shadow In The Well’ and the jovial ‘Two Trog Yomp,’ the tribal rhythms and extra effects give ‘Indiscriminate Trepidation’ a disorienting flavor, ‘Why The Rotting Sun Speaks In Tongues’ puts in some horror house soundscapes, and there’s even a spot for some bass shredding with ‘Madness For Two.’ It may still be a tricky nut to crack for listeners seeking a more straightforward listen, but it’s great to see this project getting tighter with each release.


7 / 10