It seems wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen is quietly earning a name for Rock bands in recent years, with retro Psych trio The Sonic Dawn gaining a particularly favourable reputation. Eclipse (Heavy Psych Sounds) is the band’s third full-length release in four years and, despite being influenced by undisclosed personal tragedy, the sound is as bright as ever. Continue reading
The state of Maryland has a truly grand Doom legacy, and new quartet Alms aim to carry that on. Described by some as purveyors of a Funeral brand, the Baltimore outfit’s roots and product lean more towards seventies Occult Rock, despite the slow speed of some tracks. Continue reading
Turbowolf’s third album, The Free Life (So) is a whispy trippy nod to the beforetime. All I know is that I pulled out my lava lamp, put on some bell bottom trousers, dropped some acid, and flailed about the living room like I was at a Norman Greenbaum concert. The tracks have just enough psychedelic guitar sound to transport you back to the oh-so-colourful Sixties. Continue reading
The lush, cosmic parps opening Torpor (Svart), the second album from Brighton / Nottingham (UK) quartet Baron, suggest some kind of Jean-Michel Jarre Prog-fest. The ensuing sublime beauty blows that suspicion clean away, the band coming out like some Doors-infused Crosby, Stills and Nash excursion. The “Post” lead guitar and organ of opener ‘Dragonfly’ is pure Krieger and Manzarek; Alex Crispin and Blue Firth’s haunting harmonies stir the soul while the muffled pounding of Luke Foster’s Densmore-like drumming gently hypnotises the mind.
‘Mark Maker’ traverses a similar path, the almost dreamy pace and intonations gradually infused with a fuzzing chord yet descending to a sombre ‘church organ’ style section which, whilst striking in its solitude, leaves you wondering exactly what you’re listening to. The arrangement here, as throughout the album, is the key factor: soft, evocative leads strum over the coda with perfect timing, adding a piquant thrill to an already intriguing sound. The increasingly heady atmosphere of ‘Wild Cry’ leads further down the Jefferson Aiplane style ‘Hippie Rock’ path; while the ensuing ‘Dark Down’ sees Scandinavian Pop rhythms continue to sport those Americana influences like a hessian poncho.
None of this prepares the soul for the emotional wrecking-ball that is ‘Stry’, the first showing of real fire whilst still displaying Baron’s core subtleties in abundance. Initially a lonely stroll across an evening sun-kissed beach, wonderfully-stirring vocals suddenly morph into languid chants before the unexpected explosion into a potent, Drone-like state. The Fleet Foxes-esque melodic tones of ‘Sleepless’, meanwhile, are delicately fired by flickering keys and lead guitar, a sudden switch to Groove perfectly timed to click the fingers and wake the lazily-nodding victims from their peaceful trance.
Every ingredient within this entrancing piece of work plays a major role: Peter Evans’ pulsing, rolling bass the principal factor of ‘Deeper Align’s building swell before the track’s descent into Raga-tinged, heavy guitar-led atmospheres. Indeed there are so many influences in Baron’s armoury that the skill used in melding them together so effortlessly and organically leads to an even greater admiration of the band. The haunting atmospherics of closer ‘Albedo Dei’ carry the listener from an album that will leave an indelible mark on the psyche: the kind that will release something new with each listen, caressing the mind and soul whilst reminding the recipient of the loneliness of despair.
Memorable, magnetic, and nostalgic without being derivative, Torpor is a gloriously reflective experience.
When it comes to going in blind on a release it can be the best or the worst of times for a listener, On the one hand you can discover an absolutely storming new band, or you might come across (as I have many times in the past) discover an album that could be vastly improved by sending the CD case out to the reviewer blank with nothing but an apology note and some chocolates.
All I Want (Nuclear Blast) by Swedish female fronted doom five piece Avatarium luckily falls into the first category. Its sweet yet substantial sound fills your ears with enough melody, crunchy drone and riff to keep even the most melodic rock or gnarly doom fan satisfied. The first two tracks are recorded in the studio, with the latter three recorded live, especially pack the punch all tracks hope to deliver on their first listens, with the album’s title track providing to be the highlight of the release with its soaring vocal line and clearly Sabbath influenced riffs.
It would be easy to make connects to the likes of Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult as touchstones for the band’s sound, which borrows heavily from the 60’s/ early 70’s early hard rock scene. But the album owes a great debt to the likes of Jefferson Airplane (certainly not Starship) especially in front women’s Jennie Ann Smith’s epic vocal range, she really has a great set of pipes on here and she shows it off throughout the five tracks on offer.
Overall, All I Want is a great EP from the group and shows a lot of promise in what is to come. The sweet mix of the almost Janis Joplin vocals and the low end of the 70s hard rock influenced doom under it makes a great pairing as they effortlessly work against each other, packing just enough low end and bottle to stop it from falling into the weak end of the spectrum.
I’ve been promising myself I’d check out Coloradoan duo The Flight of Sleipnir for some time and latest album V. (Napalm) points out just how criminal my tardiness has been. Opener ‘Headwinds’ starts out all ‘Planet Caravan’ with gently warbling vocals drifting through dreamy psychedelia. Suddenly, emerging hostile screams escort mellow leads through bristling anger, an anger which is subdued somewhat by a mix favouring the moaning harmony. The ensuing ‘Sidereal Course’, a doom-laden Simon and Garfunkel meets Jefferson Airplane, is graced with a growling riff and brief explosions of fire and brutality, a ferocity that adds violence to the core feel, which has a real air of 70s Americana about it.
It’s a shame the pummeling drums and rhythms are frequently cocooned in a mono-style production; the desolate hostility of ‘The Casting’ dwarfed by a delicious, ephemeral lead sequence. The creativity here, however, is immense with ‘…Casting’s’ riffs lending a frosted black edge to a reflective folk-rock pace which is graced by seriously emotive tones, while ‘Nothing Stands Obscured’ blends a maudlin Haight-Ashbury vibe with London Grammar-style wistfulness before a stratosphere-rending, post-black conclusion. The easy, lilting harmonies of ‘Gullveig’ splinter on the rocks of a crashing riff and icy screams, an acoustic-infused folky Floyd meeting a harrowing mournful edge, in a marriage of beauty and acrid bitterness that sums up the album as a whole. ‘Archaic Rites’ has an indie female vocal ghosting over a gently veering undercurrent, augmented by a tasty hippy flute solo, a snarling riff and hypnotic oscillations closing an affecting track, whilst a lazy yet impassioned blackened groove is speared by truly spectacular lead work on closer ‘Beacon In Black Horizon’, David Csicsely‘s impressive drums quietly dictatorial, the eerie coda a lament to a fallen chieftain.
The differing elements of ‘…Horizon’ epitomise an album with feet in so many pies that it aurally represents the eight-legged beast the band is named after. As legs connect the horse’s hooves with one body so organically, so this duo melds its various strands into a belonging whole; to an inventive tour de force and an essential experience.