I’m not going to start this write-up and pretend like I have a solution for grief or that I’ve made peace with the fact that Trevor Strnad of The Black Dahlia Murder is no longer with us. As of this writing, it’s been nearly a week since his passing and frankly, I’m still trying to process that. Telling myself that it can’t be true since I’ve seen Strnad and his bandmates have seemingly all the fun onstage at least seven times.
In time I’ll accept what has occurred. But let’s take a look back.
Rising UK Metal band Employed To Serve have announced a last-minute run of UK headline shows, set to kick-off in Huddersfield on May 17th 2022. South London metallers, Burner, will be opening proceedings across the 9-date tour, whilst shoegaze two-piece, Zetra, will appear as special guests across both Milton Keynes and St Albans. These dates are in addition to this summer highly-anticipated festival dates such as Rock For People, Graspop Metal Meeting, Roskilde Festival, Resurrection Festival, and a tour planned as the direct support opening for Gojira. The band are supporting the new album Conquering (Spinefarm Records, review here) out now!
Ghost is currently on tour supporting their new album Impera in Europe with Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats and Twin Temple! At tonight’s (April 18th, 2022) show in Paris, the band announced they will be the headliner on the June 18th date of this years’ massive Hellfest lineup, which already looks like one of the greatest bills in history! Catch Ghost with Metallica, Guns N Roses, Iron Maiden, Scorpions, Deftones, Gojira, and more soon! Watch the announcement video to the clergy below, and read our reviews of Impera and Ghost live!
Deftones kicked off their first tour date of 2022 last night at The Moda Center in Portland, Oregon. It was also their first show with just announced new touring bassist Fred Sablan (ex-Marilyn Manson). The band played a deep, eighteen-song setlist full of their hits and three songs from their 2020 album Ohms (Reprise Records, review here :). Watch fan-filmed footage of the band and check out!
Bassist Sergio Vega is no longer a member of Deftones. Vega, who joined Deftones officially in 2009, posted to his popular Instagram account with the news of his departure. The band had shared a new photo minus Vega on social media, sparking speculation. He continues to be a member of Quicksand and has plans for more producing and DJ projects. You see his video below. Deftones will kickoff their long-awaited Notth American tour with Gojira.
Thrash. Post-Thrash. Punk. Speed. Sci-Fi. Industrial. Proto-Industrial. Avant Garde. Space. Alternative. Progressive. Nuclear. Some quite frankly preposterously named musical genres and subgenres, but into all of which Canadian act Voivod has been unwillingly pigeon-holed over the years. Having firmly refused to be anchored to any one particular style, the band has actually become a little more settled of late, their current approach now reined all the way back to just including all of the above and a small handful of others.
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
Sleepwulf – Sunbeams 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
Fostermother – The 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
Hazemaze – Blinded 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 Sea – Pathos
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.
Twenty-plus years into a career doing anything in the world might make you take your foot off the gas pedal, especially an industry as brutal as the music industry. However, Manitoba’s Comeback Kid continue to challenge themselves to keep refining their sound, and sharpening their focus over a series of releases. The bands’ new album Heavy Steps (Nuclear Blast/New Damage) shows the veteran band of the scene lifting up the rest of us up with defiant music set on highlighting what makes life worth fighting for. uniting us.
The levels of frustration felt by New Jersey HEAVY Metalcore merchants Fit For An Autopsy can only be guessed at, though it doesn’t take much to speculate that by the time they were heading into the studio in 2021 they were feeling pretty hard done by. With worldwide high-profile touring and festival slots planned on the back of the universally acclaimed and sound-perfecting opus The Sea Of Tragic Beasts (Nuclear Blast), instead of riding a tidal wave of riffs and show-stealing gigs, a COVID enforced grounding put the shackles on plans if not for world domination, then a serious amount of scaling up.
And so attention turns to the Ghost Cult Top 20. The albums of the year, as voted (democratically) for by the writers, crew, contributors, alumni and just cool as fuck people that make up the establishment here at Castle Ghost Cult.Continue reading →