ALBUM REVIEW: In The Woods… – Diversum


 

Authenticity.

 

The concept defies explanation, evades forensic inspection and can tie even the greatest philosophers in knots. Yet it’s something that we seek in artistic expression, and somehow we instinctively know when we encounter it.

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ALBUM REVIEW: MMXX – Sacred Cargo


 

A new doom metal “supergroup” releasing a COVID-19 lockdown album in late 2022. That sentence, which describes MMXXSacred Cargo (Candlelight) in plain terms, will no doubt inspire a variety of different thoughts and feelings in people with an interest in such things. Some might dismiss the concept (album) out of hand. After all, the band’s name translates as “2020” and, well, not only is it not 2020 anymore, but the mere mention of that year is liable to inspire at least a wearied eye-roll if not a flashback to genuine out-and-out despair.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Frayle – Skin and Sorrow


 

Skin & Sorrow (Aqualamb) is the second full-length release from Cleveland, Ohio’s “heavy, low and witchy” duo Frayle. The band consists of multi-instrumentalist Sean Bilovecky and singer Gwyn Strang, who between them cite the influence both doom metal (Black Sabbath, Kyuss, Sleep) and avant-garde pop (Björk, Portishead). Frayle’s stated aim is to create “music for the night sky”.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Telekinetic Yeti – Primordial


The fabulously named Iowa-based duo Telekinetic Yeti release Primordial their follow up the rather excellent Abominable on Tee Pee Records, and appropriately it’s a beast.

Notably minimalist in its composition, which serves to emphasize the satisfyingly abrasive low end, title track Primordial kicks off proceedings with a very potent low and slow deep groove. This is made even more impressive by the lack of a bass player.Continue reading


ALBUM REVIEW: Thun – II


Thun is back with their second album, II (Eat Lead and Die Music) picking up where they left off with even more environment-loving Lovecraftian doom metal. In fact, Thun are so environmentally focused that they are only releasing this album digitally. The band states that a digital release is the most energy-efficient way to enjoy music, feeling that producing more plastic is counterintuitive to what the album’s message is. Bonus points for the band standing up for what they believe in.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Alunah – Strange Machine



The UK doom scene continues to pump out solid releases and the latest from Alunah is no different. Strange Machine (Heavy Psych Sounds) kicks right off with the album track and does not let up on the psychedelic rock/doom metal mixture. A lot of fans of the scene tend to just say things like “Oh it’s just more Sabbath worship”, but rest assure, these Birmingham natives are not here to hit copy and paste.Continue reading


ALBUM REVIEW: Messa – Close


Italian Doom Metal band Messa has completed the follow-up to their critically acclaimed Feast For Water (Aural Music) entitled Close (Svart Records). Messa is one of those bands that instantly caught my attention by combining melancholic, haunting music with impressive, powerful vocals. After the release of Feast For Water, which is considered one of the best Doom Metal records in the past five years, I was already wondering about how a new album from the band would turn out. I believe that there is always a bit of extra pressure to write a follow-up album after a “breakthrough album”, but the Italians were able to just knock it out of the park once again with Close.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Shape of Despair – Return To The Void


 

Shape of Despair are no strangers to the Funeral Doom Metal scene. In fact, they are arguably pioneers of the quite-niche genre, having debuted in 1998.

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REVIEWS ROUNDUP: Kurokuma, Sleepwulf, Fostermother, Hazemaze, and Obsidian Sea


Kurokuma Born Of Obsidian

Having released multiple EPs and splits since their 2014 formation, Born Of Obsidian is the first proper full-length from Kurokuma. The UK group plays a style that could be best described as ritualistic Sludge Metal, incorporating tribal percussion somewhere between Sepultura circa Roots and Gojira overseen by a hypnotic aura not unlike Oranssi Pazuzu. The former influences are most immediately apparent on the one-two punch of ‘Smoking Mirror’ and ‘Sacrifice to Huitzilopochtli,’ which are largely driven by downright bouncy rhythmic chugs punctuated with extra fuzz.

 

However, the band’s atmospheric side gets time to shine as the album goes on. ‘Jaguar’ saves the harsher guitar crashes for its climax, allowing the percussion to provide a more subtle buildup that is given even greater precedence on ‘Ololiuqui’ and the closing ‘Under The Fifth Sun.’ It’s an accessible listen as far as this sort of freakout sludge goes; the less than forty-minute runtime isn’t too tough to digest, and the rhythmic focus gives it a more pulsating presence than most. A strong journey suited well to the balance of brutal and trancelike.

8 / 10

 

SleepwulfSunbeams Curl

Sleepwulf’s second album, Sunbeams Curl (Heavy Psych Sounds) continues down the path of Doomy Occult Rock set up by their 2020 self-titled debut. The mood is a tinge more ominous with a slightly heavier push in the guitars and tighter drumming, but the vocals retain that jovial warble with enough of that rustic aesthetic to trigger comparisons to Witchcraft, Kadaver, and Graveyard.


‘Stoned Ape’ and ‘Toad Licker Mushroom Picker’ are the biggest highlights, adding some extra Psychedelia as suggested by their righteous titles, while ‘Man Under The Mountain’ dares to stomp into full-on Doom territory. It’s a simple package perhaps better done these days by groups like Green Lung and Magic Circle, but enjoyable enough to satisfy fans of those bands looking for more of the same.

7 / 10

 

FostermotherThe Ocean

Fostermother’s sophomore album sees some considerable expansions to their Shoegaze-informed brand of Heavy Psych. In addition to a move to Ripple Music giving The Ocean a larger platform than before, the songs noticeably run longer and play heavier than those on their 2020 self-titled debut. The album isn’t too drastically different from its predecessor but upgrading to a trio lineup certainly gives the proceedings some appropriate power.


Putting more emphasis on the Doom portion of Stoner Doom admittedly makes for less varied songwriting, but this methodical approach works well in its own ways. The guitar and bass fuzz are as thick as ever with the vocal effects providing an ethereal contrast without getting too overwhelmed. Things really pick up in the second half as ‘Unholiest Of Days’ and ‘Redeemer’ put in more upbeat hustles, the former seeming to channel classic The Sword, that are strongly counteracted by the title track’s particularly oppressive riff set. It may not have the same quirky appeal for me as the debut, but The Ocean is a worthy step forward.

8 / 10

 

HazemazeBlinded By The Wicked

Hazemaze plays the sort of Doom Metal that’s somewhere between Cathedral and Electric Wizard, driven by fuzzy mid-tempo riffs and an occult aesthetic without getting too zoned out. Their third album, Blinded By The Wicked (Heavy Psych Sounds), offers more of the same albeit with a somewhat darker tinge than their previous efforts. While the execution is admittedly vanilla at times, there are some strong songs that come out of it.

 

‘Divine Harlotry’ is my pick of the litter for its winning riff and equally catchy chorus with ‘Malevolent Inveigler’ coming close with its thicker riff set. There’s also promise in the atmospheric keys on ‘Ceremonial Aspersion’ and ‘Luciferian Rite.’ Another album that’s simple in design with a style arguably done better elsewhere, but enjoyable enough to warrant a listen.

7 / 10

Obsidian SeaPathos

Obsidian Sea has seen some neat evolution since they formed in 2009, rooted in Saint Vitus-esque Traditional Doom and gradually picking up a more laid back, Psychedelic disposition ala Orodruin, Pale Divine, and Kings Destroy. Their fourth album, Pathos (Ripple Music), pushes the trajectory forward even further with the hazy overtones threatening to completely overtake the Doom riffage. Fortunately, it’s a natural transition as the guitars keep an organic vibe, the vocals are pleasantly workmanlike, and the structures allow for plenty of jammed out instrumental segments.


In a fun twist, the more mellow tracks may be where the album shines the most. ‘The Long Drowning’ is a pretty smooth Blues track complete with climactic speedup, ‘I Love The Woods’ has an almost Folky touch appropriate for its pastoral theme. Elsewhere, ‘Sisters’ has an almost Grungy swagger and ‘The Meaning of Shadows’ closes the album with its most disorienting, Prog-oriented structure. It’s great to see the evolution that came about with 2019’s Strangers followed-up with even bolder confidence.

 

8 / 10

CHRIS LATTA