CLASSIC ALBUMS REVISITED: Mastodon Breaks Through With “Crack The Skye”

After emerging from the muddy underground in a wonderful muck of sludge, prog, hardcore, and doomy weirdness out of Atlanta in the early aughts, Mastodon built up a strong reputation after their crucial third album, Blood Mountain (Reprise). They were not shy about embracing their proggier side, and they never needed a push over the edge to go fully away from most conventional types of metal they were known for at the time. Their second major label album came at a time of transition that would alter the course of the band and see them leave the underground and embrace a different path. That change led to the creation of Crack The Skye (Reprise) which is now ten years old.

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King’s X Hit Record “Dogman” Turns 25 Years Old

The early-to-mid 1990s was a wild time for heavy music. With the Seattle bands like Pearl Jam and Nirvana blowing up and killing off a lot of hair metal bands, and Metallica and Pantera dominating, and death and black metal gaining steam and mainstream success, other kinds of rock bands struggled to cut through. King’s X already had four albums out by the time Dogman (Atlantic) landed in shops. Their heavy rock flirted with metal, but really they have always bucked trends and classifications. Interpreting their influences and their bare lyrics full of religious symbolism and metaphors have earned them a legion of fans and lengthy career worthy of respect. Continue reading

Ghost Cult’s Album Of The Year 2017: Mastodon – Emperor Of Sand

Mastodon, photo credit Jimmy Hubbard

We made it! We’ve reached the end of our countdown of the Top Albums of 2017. As voted on by our global team of experienced editors, reviewers, photographers and tabulated by fearless Ghost Cult Associate Editor Steve Tovey: we give you our number 1 pick: MastodonEmperor of Sand (Reprise). Continue reading

Stone Temple Pilots Close To Naming New Singer

In an interview Stone Temple Pilots co-founders Dean and Robert DeLeo revealed that the band has chosen a new singer and are close to naming him. The announcement comes just a few months after the death of the previous singer Chester Bennington, also of Linkin Park. Original singer Scott Weiland died on December 5th, 2015.  Continue reading

Stone Temple Pilots ‘Core’ Album Turns 25 Today

Released on the same day in 1992 as Alice In Chains’ Dirt, Stone Temple Pilots burst on the scene with Core (Atlantic), an album that immediately vaulted the band from a virtual unknown to a buzz band. Although there had been a bidding war to sign the band in their pre-Core days, a name change from Mighty Joe Young had kept the band off of some critics radar, but not the fans. Once they heard the first strains of this great new hard rock band, they would be hard to resist. With the untimely deaths of original singer Scott Weiland, and more recently Chester Bennington in the rearview, but keeping this important band in our hearts, let’s look back at this iconic early 90s album and band.  Continue reading

Prophets Of Rage Drop New Video, Debut Album Announced For Next Fall

Hip-Hop/Metal supergroup Prophets Of Rage featuring members of Public Enemy, Cypress Hill, and Rage Against The Machine have dropped a new video for their new track ‘Unfuck The World’. Directed by Michael Moore, you can watch the video below. Continue reading

Mastodon Begins Recording Their New Album With Brendan O’Brien

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Mastodon fans rejoice! Brent Hinds and Brann Dailor have confirmed on their Instagram accounts that the band is in the studio right now recording their seventh full length album. Continue reading

Audio: Wolfmother Streams New Single – Gypsy Caravan

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Rockers Wolfmother has released a new single for streaming from their forthcoming album Victorious (Universal Music Group). The track ‘Gypsy Caravan’ can be heard at this link or below:

Frontman Andrew Stockdale commented on the creative process for the new album:

“Back in the early days, I’d play guitar, bass, and drums and then present the ideas to the band and we’d work on the arrangement together,” he says. “I thought it would be cool to get back to demoing ideas by myself and playing everything. It’s a good way to do things because it can make the style more cohesive.”

Stockdale wrote the album himself playing guitar and bass. For the recording sessions he brought in Josh Freese (Nine Inch Nails, Bruce Springsteen, A Perfect Circle) and Joey Waronker (AIR, Beck, Rem) to split drum duties.

Stockdale continued to wax about the sound of Victorious:

We wanted to get back to that big sound. The album is a balance of garage-y energy and big production. It’s wild, energetic … perfect for a festival main stage.”

Wolfmother vioctorious album cover 2016

Victorious was tracked at Henson Studios in Los Angeles with two-time Grammy-winning producer Brendan O’Brien (Pearl Jam, Ac/Dc, Chris Cornell, Bruce Springsteen).

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Blackberry Smoke – Holding All The Roses

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I have a musical comfort zone. And it’s all the way over there with the Jackson Flying V’s and double-bass drums. It may even include some spandex (not on me, though…) Yet here I am, sitting here, rocking on the porch (sofa), nodding along to the Southern vibes of Atlanta, Georgia’s Blackberry Smoke and their fourth album Holding All The Roses (Earache).  And I’m more than fine with that.

Following the critical and commercial success of The Whippoorwill (Earache/Southern Ground) would have daunting to many bands, but not the Smoke, who shacked up with mega-producer Brendan O’Brien (Pearl Jam, AC/DC, Bruce Springsteen). Any fears that such a hit-maker would sterilize their sound are quickly dispersed by the laidback singalong to ‘Let Me Help You Find The Door’ and it’s rock n’ roll shamble. The title track shuffles in next, picking up the beat, with some clean guitar fingerpicking and a more uptempo come-and-join-us chorus. Whereas the temptation could have been to seek the big bucks and accidentally fall into the trap of producing sanitized radio rock, instead Blackberry Smoke have infused their music with even more of a traditional Southern flavour, and, boy, does it suit.

Blackberry Smoke are no gimmick band, just a class one with their hearts in yesteryear and a love of venerable records, releasing an album full of simple pleasures; of pure, excellent songs. There are many highlights, the pick of which are the two melancholy numbers, the deeper, bluesier ‘Woman In The Moon’, where Charlie Starr’s lazy delivery comes into its own, and ‘No Way Back To Eden’ (a track I’d have been tempted to close the album on), both of which prove the quintet have that added depth all the best have. In amongst the swathes of Creedence Clearwater Revival (and several other subtle references I’m too unschooled to know) ‘Too High’ is wistful country and ‘Rock and Roll Again’ is the sound of the Deep South ripping on Status Quo and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Call Me The Breeze’, while ‘Payback’s A Bitch’ has a work-shy hook that will infect you like sidewinder venom, as Holding All The Roses unfurls it’s kick-ass blues rock beauty with a smile.

I’ll level. If Blackberry Smoke weren’t on Earache, the chances are high I wouldn’t have been interested in checking them out. Chances are also as good as getting a 7+ on a 15 hand in pontoon we wouldn’t be included them in the hallowed digi-pages of the good ship Ghost Cult without the same, or similar, connection. And we’d have missed out on a warm, chilled out doozy, so hats off to Dig and all concerned for branching out and expanding their traditional net. I’m delighted they did. I’m not going to go off and dive into a whole other musical genre, but I’m glad the Smoke have entered my life and my music collection. They won’t be for everyone who frequents a metal site, but they should be for people who value unassuming good rock songs.

If there is justice out there, the winds will spread the Blackberry pollen far and wide.

 

8.5/10

Blackberry Smoke on Facebook

 

STEVE TOVEY