Thorr’s Hammer was a seminal 1990s doom metal band from the pacific northwest/Norway that included Sunn O))) and Goatsnake members Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson. Now former drummer Jamie Sykes, who has been battling several medical conditions, has gotten a preliminary diagnosis of Renal Cell Carcinoma, or a mass on one of his kidneys. Jamie’s family has set up a Gofundme campaign to help with the mounting medical costs. Please help if you can, and if you can’t donate, a simple click of the share button will aid in raising awareness. Continue reading
Los Angeles is the site of The Power Of The Riff Festival this weekend, including a sold-out pre-party tonight celebrating all things uber heavy and underground. Continue reading
Desertfest Antwerp takes place this weekend in Belgium, at the legendary Trix Club. Named for the distinct cult style of California’s Palm Desert style of rock, doom, and psychedelic influences, pioneered in the 90s by bands like Kyuss, Acid King, Fu Manchu, Goatsnake, Monster Magnet, 60 Watt Shaman and more. The fest itself and its related other events represent the best in underground culture, with music ranging from stoner rock, doom, indie bands, and other styles to please fans of discerning taste. Ghost Cult’s Susanne A. Maathuis, who is covering the fest this weekend for us had some questions for Dimitri Vossen – one of the organizers of the fest. Continue reading
As we dash towards the holidays and the end of the year Ghost Cult is feeling good about this season of giving. So we are giving our fans a chance to get to know our partners, peers, and friends from bands in the world of music. They will chime in with some guest blogs, end of year lists, and whatever else is on their minds as we pull the plug on 2015. Today we have José Carlos Santos, who writes a lot about music, being Senior Writer for both Terrorizer and Rock-a-Rolla UK, Chief of staff for LOUD! from Portugal, shared with us his favorite 10 albums of 2015.
1. Solefald – World Metal. Kosmopolis Sud (Indie Recordings)
Pushing the envelope isn’t the half of it. The first song on this truly revolutionary record is called ‘World Music With Black Edges’, and that’s exactly what it is. It should be just about all the guideline you’ll need before embarking on this journey. Black metal, electronics, Frank Zappa and African sounds, among many, many other things, are thrown into a free-flowing, astoundingly cohesive whole. In an age where having two songs that don’t sound like each other is already considered “genre-hopping”, Solefald are one of the few bands worthy of the term avant-garde.
2. Royal Thunder – Crooked Doors (Relapse)
The best pure, true rock album in years, Crooked Doors sees Royal Thunder fulfill the potential they have always shown, and move up to the pantheon of the greats. It feels and sounds timeless – if you hand it to someone and say that it’s a lost 1978 classic, it’ll make the same sense as if you’ll tell them it’s 2024’s album of the year you just brought back from the future in your time machine. A great song is a great song, and they’re all great here.
3. My Dying Bride – Feel The Misery (Peaceville)
My Dying Bride are back to the masterpieces – 14 years after their last truly great record, The Dreadful Hours, Feel The Misery recaptures the tragic sorrow and the decadent grandeur we’ve always loved from them.
4. Revenge – Behold.Total.Rejection (Season Of Mist)
Because fuck you.
5. Dødheimsgard – A Umbra Omega (Peaceville)
The other band alongside Solefald that warrants the proper use of the avant-garde tag, Dødheimsgard have given us a mysterious, shape shifting record, full of dark nuances and details that we’ll still be discovering come the time for the 2016 lists. The best thing Vicotnik’s done since ‘Written In Waters’ – and yes, I’m including ‘666 International’ in that appraisal.
6. Tau Cross – Tau Cross (Relapse)
Amebix are no more, long live Tau Cross. Not only is this the logical successor to the astounding ‘Sonic Mass’, it’s also enriched by the extra talents of Voivod’s Michel “Away” Langevin and crusty guitarists Jon Misery and Andy Lefton, all of them lead to greatness by the might of Rob Miller, who is still one of the most unique songwriters in extreme music.
7. Sigh – Graveward (Candlelight)
Sometimes you’ll have to pause halfway through ‘Graveward’ and wonder how is this possible – roughly five million tracks are all going in a different direction, all at once, and yet everything makes perfect sense, there is order and flow in the middle of the craziness and chaos. Alongside Solefald and Dødheimsgard, you’ve got enough insanity this year to wreck your brain for years to come.
8. Therapy? – Disquiet (Amazing Record Company)
Most of you might only know Therapy?’s most popular phase, but the true essence of the band has been in their last four or five fiery, adventurous and energetic records. ‘Disquiet’ is the best of them all, a mix between instant punk-ish gratification and deep, deceptively simple songwriting that’ll allow for multiple repeat plays without a hint of exhaustion. Also, closer ‘Deathstimate’ is a serious contender for song of the year, or decade, or whatever.
9. Goatsnake – Black Age Blues (Southern Lord)
It’s been a 15 year wait, but for each year of absence there’s a kickass bluesy riff that’ll stay in your head forever. Goatsnake just picked up where they left off, literally – the first song is called ‘Another River To Cross’, a nod to ‘Flower Of Disease’s closer ‘The River’.
10. Steve Von Till – A Life Unto Itself (Neurot)
Rarely has such a subtle and generally quiet record packed such a thunderous emotional punch – the Neurosis guitarist/vocalist might present himself in the sparser, most minimalist fashion, just one man lost in the woods with an acoustic guitar, some effects and his coarse, haunting voice, but these songs will reach down into your heart and squeeze it with the force of a thousand men.
Part four of the Ghost Cult Album of the Year countdown for 2015.
One staff team. Over 550 albums covered by Ghost Cult over the last twelve months. One epic race to be crowned Album of the Year.
Read on to dive into the Ghost Cult Top 20…
20. Soilwork – ‘The Ride Majestic’ (Nuclear Blast)
“The Ride Majestic continues the slow and subtle evolution of the Soilwork sound; sounding fuller, richer and shinier than all that have gone before. In a career of great albums, the aptly named The Ride Majestic is truly outstanding.”
19. Parkway Drive – ‘Ire’ (Resist/Epitaph)
“While the main focus is still here in the now frontier, by opening the floodgates, Parkway have allowed themselves to write a batch of great metal songs that reference classic rock, traditional metal, 90’s groove metal and metalcore while still sounding resolutely and proudly Parkway.”
18. Dragged Into Sunlight / Gnaw Their Tongues – ‘N.V.’ (Prosthetic)
“A genuinely effective whole, the Noise elements are relatively subtly played, often used to accentuate and highlight the Metal rather than entomb them. Whether judged as a collaboration between two artists with similar aesthetic goals or as an album in its own right, N.V. is an unrestrained success”
17. Bring Me The Horizon – ‘That’s The Spirit’ (RCA/Columbia)
“That’s The Spirit is Horizon maturing into a fine young adult, confident, strong and secure in themselves and the knowledge that they are now master craftsmen. Successfully combining every good aspect of alternative rock and metal of the last fifteen years, That’s The Spirit is Bring Me The Horizon’s ‘Black Album’ moment.”
16. Elder – ‘Lore’ (Armageddon Shop / Stickman)
Exemplary progressive stoner metal, with meticulous dynamics and depth, breadth, power, restraint, and mountainous music that builds to an almighty epic of a crescendo
15. Between The Buried And Me – ‘Coma Ecliptic’ (Metal Blade)
Ghost Cult Album of the Month – October “The record that they were always promising to make but you weren’t sure was possible, on Coma Ecliptic, Between the Buried and Me have exceeded all expectations and delivered not only the album of their careers but one of the most monumental ambitious rock concept pieces this side of Operation Mindcrime.”
14. Gloryhammer – ‘Space 1992: Rise Of The Chaos Wizards’ (Napalm)
“Gloryhammer are ridiculously entertaining. If you somehow manage to listen to new album Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards without grinning like an idiot all the way through it, then quite simply, you’re getting Metal wrong.”
13. A Forest Of Stars – ‘Beware The Sword You Cannot See’ (Lupus Lounge/Prophecy)
“Enthralling storytelling and atmosphere, as well as explorations into psychedelic territory and pastoral folk amid the crushing black metal dynamics; fourth effort Beware the Sword You Cannot See is an unabashed masterpiece.”
12. Goatsnake – ‘Black Age Blues’ (Southern Lord)
“Clear, soulful tones elevate the songs above the rest of their stoner/doom brethren and vocal lines will lodge in your head for days after. An excellent comeback album from a band that has been away for far too long. Let’s hope they decide to keep this motor running for a little longer this time around.”
11. Royal Thunder – ‘Crooked Doors’ (Relapse)
“There are no throw away songs on this album, and every track rewards repeated listens. Crooked Doors is the sound of pressure cooking sand into glass and then into diamonds, all with an alchemy fuelled by magic and loss.”
Saturday we kick things off with Beelzebong, who give us the swamp soaked heavy slur of stoner doom riffs we’ve been so craving. These guys know how to his the sweet spot of heavy and oppressive, yet hypnotic. They turn the crowd in front of the Desert stage into a sea of bobbing heads, a sight that makes for great start to the day.
Since we get some rare sunshine in the beginning of October, we decide to recover from last night’s first day in the brittle warmth of the autumn sun in the outside seating area, and catch up with some friends.
Monomyth, these masters of the hypnotic cadence are not new for me but a lot of people were happily surprised by their prowess. Their gigs tend to sound like one long jam, and amazingly don’t get boring while they weave on and on in an almost circular way, pulling you deeper into the trance-like state their music conveys. While these guys make some really spacey psychrock, the usually omnipresent guitar noodling is quite minimal and has a more rhythmic notion with this band, repeating and embroidering on the same pattern, building layers and layers of spacey goodness.
After the enjoyable Monomyth set we catch a quick glimpse upstairs in the Canyon stage of Vandal X, these Belgian noise rockers pick up the tempo and shake us awake. Distinctly punky, yet a little heavier and stranger than punk, these guys kick you straight in the teeth. Having apparently inspired such bands as Raketkanon according to the booklet these forefathers of the no-nonsense, bash your head into the wall kind of noise rock are living up to their title. Noise Noise Noise, indeed.
After the rude awakening with Vandal X we go downstairs to see Greenleaf. The moment the band starts the grove is amazing, the thick heaviness is there, and everything sounds incredible, if a bit stripped down to make room for what we assume is going to be vocal driven Stoner. Pinching just a little too much I get the distinct feeling the vocalist is trying to sing a way that doesn’t fit him naturally, and the rest of the music just isn’t intricate enough to be able to ignore a less than impeccable vocal performance.
Thankfully the guys from Mars Red Sky are there to cheer me right up again, with their 70s infused doom. Their groove is one of the best and most catchy of the festival. In a genre often drowned in fuzz and distortion the use of oftentimes clean bass lines is refreshing and really hitting that spot. Soaring guitar lines coupled with remarkably light vocals with just enough echo to make their music sounds quite otherworldly. The contrast of heavy and light, floating and sinking make this band a fascinating experience well worth listening to.
Now I have the hard task of writing a review of Orange Goblin… Orange Goblin is one of the heavyweights in the genre, and seeing them live is nothing short of spectacular. They clearly have that oh so British touch in their approach to metal that takes a lot of influence from punk and just a general slow burning anger at the world no other nationality has quite mastered, maybe it’s the weather. The riled up crowd starts milling in front of the stage in an enormous moshpit that doesn’t let up until the set is over.
To kill the time before Earth start and not just hang around chatting to the many wonderful people this fest attracts, we go catch a few songs by Causa sui. The trippy background projections are pretty cool, but sadly the band evoke a distinct feeling of trying too hard to fit into the psychrock box. The whole thing feels a bit formulaic, and instead of expressing the joy of letting a trip come over you as good psych does, they just leave me with a vague sense of emptiness.
Earth have the honor of headlining today, and I’m quite interested to see how they do. The band is known for it’s super slow and heavy laid back instrumental drone, and while this is in itself wonderful music, it’s something that is really hard to get into when you’ve been on your feet all day and have just seen Orange Goblin destroy the Desert stage with a vengeance. This is a band you definitely need a chair and a good dose of substances for to really get into, but for me, at that time of the day, they just were a bit too slow in their heavy. About midway through, the after party starts, at which we get a second dose of Orange Goblin madness, but this time behind the dj set.
Sunday, lazy Sunday. We start things of with a local Belgian band who’ve clearly not lost any steam over the weekend. Tangled Horns pretty much tangle us in their horns. Fast paced with a franctic frontman who will climb anything makes for a great show. There is a definite raunchy twist in the stoner these guys make, that does definitely remind of 90’s grunge and even a punky atmosphere. Definitely a band worth catching live.
Next we keep the pace up just as high, with the party band extraordinaire Valient Thor. They are one of the few bands on the bill to really get people moving and have banter between songs. As it is a time-honored tradition in the stoner and doom scene to stare at your shoes and mumble thank you, it is refreshing to hear a man remind us we’re all really descendant from space dust in a hilarious way before linking it to the next song and setting off another bout of frantic, happy party punk. These guys would do well at any festival.
After grabbing dinner at one of the many food carts, we go watch Ufomammut. Over the last few years this group has made a reputation for being transcendent and while I see why people love them and where this reputation comes from somehow it just doesn’t hit that special place that makes the experience more than just music for me personally. They still were good but I didn’t see the magic others clearly see in them.
Sometimes there are bands that do everything right and still miss something, and just don’t work. Usually this is personal taste thing and hard to put your finger on, but with Bongzilla I feel I know exactly what was missing for me. These guys make standard sludge, and they do it well, but it’s all a little too clean. Sludge for me needs to be dirty and redneck and Louisiana swamp infested. It needs to feel wild and a little dangerous, heavy and sticky like the sweat is running down your back into your asscrack and the mosquitoes are eating you alive. Sadly this little bit of swamp of dirt and grit is exactly what was missing with Bongzilla.
My disappointed mood was quickly turned when friends I’d made urged me to stay downstairs and skip Fatso Jetson in favor of the Australian band Child. We got treated to a three-piece making some of the heaviest blues I’ve heard in ages, with a groove that was utterly unparalleled by any band on the bill, and most of all a voice that will melt the polar icecaps. The remarkably heavy main riffs get broken up by beautifully soulful blues guitar lines creating a refreshing contrast.
To conclude our stay in Antwerp I use the last of our coins to buy a few of the excellent cocktails at the little cocktail stand outside, and head upstairs for the final after party, not getting home until five in the morning, exhausted, charmed and satisfied. Until next time, Desertfest Belgium.
Aficionados of all things heavy rock and doom are descending on Antwerp Belgium this weekend for the coming second edition of Desertfest at the Muziekcentrum Trix venue for. Kicking off at 3 PM on Friday the 9th, Desetfest Belgium will continue the run of brilliant Desertfest shows, killer bands and just an overall cool vibe. Over 40 bands on three stages will turn it up to 11 and wail until the early morning light. In addition to the bands, the Trix venue has an art gallery and the “Hippie Market” for merch and other wares, and food options too.
Friday’s lineup features massively heavy Monolord as the headliner. Joining them will be likely impressive turns by Moon Duo, Dozer, Stoned Jesus, Wucan and a A DJ aftershow party.
Saturday is led by festival second headliner and Brit doom gods Orange Goblin. They are a can’t miss act live. Also appearing on the bill on this day are a plethora bands Greenleaf, Monomyth, and Belzebong on the main Desert Stage. Other bands to check out on Saturday USA Out of Vietnam, Mars Red Sky, Bathsheba, Sunder and Pendejo.
Sunday is positively stacked on the Desert stage with fest headline act Goatsnake, followed by Bongzilla, Ufomammut, Valient Thorr and Glowsun. Fatso Jetson, Child, 3rd Ear Experience, Sienna Root, and Maudlin are other bands you don’t want to miss.
Ghost Cult is proud to serve as a media partner for Desertfest Belgium. You can still get tickets at this link: