Torche – Admission

The term Stoner / Sludge is an insult to US quartet Torche and, what’s more, has never even come close to defining them or their blend of crushing backgrounds and soft harmonies. Fifth album Admission (Relapse Records) sees Jonathon Nũnez assume guitarist duties from the departed Andrew Elstner, with Wrong frontman and former Kylesa bassist Eric Hernandez taking over the bass role. Continue reading

Bellrope – You Must Relax

Being self-analysed as having “…the total absence of tonal sanity” can cover a multitude of sins for a band, including that of openly peddling a load of pretentious shite in the name of self-expression. Fortunately, German quartet Bellrope contains some serious pedigree, being formed from the Musk Ox-bludgeon that was Black Shape Of Nexus, so debut long-player You Must Relax (Exile On Mainstream Records) is dripping with intrigue even before it begins. Continue reading

High Priestess – High Priestess

Serious praise has been heaped on LA trio High Priestess and judging by the majesty of this self-titled debut album (Ripple), much more is coming. As the name implies, the band peddles a mystical, dark yet melodious slow crush, but there’s a joyous inventiveness here that sets it apart from its peers. Continue reading

Iron Witch – A Harrowed Dawn

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I first saw Liverpool’s Iron Witch around five years ago, supporting the once-mighty Kylesa and looking ready, with a little nervousness, to take on the globe. Cue the obligatory hard knocks and line-up changes…debut album A Harrowed Dawn (Secret Law Records) has seemed an age in the making but boy, has it been worth the wait. Continue reading

Wrong – Wrong

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I always enjoy getting to review a début release from a band, and the recently formed noise rock group, Wrong, from Miami is no exception. Getting my hands and ears on the self-titled EP (Relapse), even if only at the 31 minute mark, has proven to be a valuable addition into my music library. Doing some further research on the group, I discovered that guitarist/vocalist, Eric Hernandez, is actually a former two-time drummer for sludge titans, Kylesa. As for the overall groove in the record, it is headbang worthy but also peppers in some aggression that is sure to please a large variety of fans. Each track does a good job in being its own entity but also sticks true to the theme.

While most of the tracks were less than 3 minutes long, there were a handful that certainly stuck out in my mind. One of the more aggressive tracks, ‘Mucilage’ has a very hardcore background to it with a great outro that has the feel of a breakdown without actually being one. One of the “longer” tracks, ‘Fake Brain’, does the best job at mixing both main influences of the aggressive side of hardcore and the noise rock side. The rhythm has heavily distortion in the guitar tone while the leads are higher pitched, tremolo picking riffs. At points, it sounds like the song wants to be powerviolence in the crescendos but stays clear of that type of chaos. Lastly, what would a self-titled record be without a self-titled song. Yes, the second to last track is entitled ‘Wrong’. This one just breaks the three-minute mark and is also a great example of the hardcore rhythm meets noise rock leads. The solo in the song is absolute scorcher as well so make sure to put on sunscreen before getting to the later stages of this release.

Going in to the first playthrough, I was not so sure of what to expect from this new group. However, I am happy to say that this EP is going to be up there with some other EPs I have listened to that will certainly be vying for a spot in many end of year lists. This is only the beginning of Wrong as I am sure they will continue to create and record music that just sounds oh so right.

7.0/10

TIM LEDIN

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Indian Handcrafts – Creeps

Indian Handcrafts Creeps album cover

Following 2012’s Civil Disobedience for Losers (Sargent House), stoner duo Indian Handcrafts release Creeps (Sargent House) to kick off the last quarter of 2015. I was first introduced to this band when they toured with Red Fang back in 2013. They were impressive as a two piece back then and have yet to let up.

The first few songs of the album are pretty good, as expected. However, it isn’t until ‘Maelstrom’ that things change and the music really grabs you by the literal and/or metaphorical nads. This is a great song that showcases just how talented this duo is. It opens with some guitars that throw you back to the eighties for a moment before morphing more into something that you would expect to hear in a new installment of Heavy Metal. It’s so heavy and fuzzy, I love it. Whether you’re banging your head or shaking what your mama gave ya, this track will make you move.

‘The Divider’ is another groovy, riff filled track. This is one of those songs that gives me a case of what the kids call the “feels” when things slow down around the three and a half minute mark. It hurts so good though. I would absolutely love to see this played live. Even without providing me with my beloved bassist, Indian Handcrafts still shreds creates a depth and warmth to their sound that is difficult to duplicate.

This album has a lot of catchy riffs sprinkled throughout it, but the second is where it takes on a life of its own, sprouts wings, and drags you along for the ride. That alone makes this worth a listen. At the very least, do yourself a favor and check out the two songs I mentioned above. Don’t forget to catch Indian Handcrafts currently supporting Kylesa on a tour date near you. See you in Boston!

7.5/10

ALEIDA LA LLAVE

Kylesa – Exhausting Fire

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Ever think you could compare 70s New wave to Savannah Psych-Sludge outfit Kylesa? No, me neither…

A new Kylesa album used to be a huge event in the Quinn household until 2010’s Spiral Shadow (Season of Mist) showed a mellowing of the lambent, crushing anger, introducing more of the band’s progressive drift. Two albums later and it’s sadly obvious that the band is continuing the journey further from their harsh roots.

Exhausting Fire (Season of Mist) isn’t devoid of bulldozing riffs: opener ‘Crusher’s entrancing verses displaying the customary steel which fires up a laconic, Blondie ballad-style chorus highlighting the increasing melody in Laura Pleasants’ voice. The ensuing ‘Inward Debate’ is Philip Cope’s first foray into action, immediately infusing the sound with a buzzing anger: yet his performance in ‘Moving Day’ is more indolent, an almost spoken-word delivery, Pleasants’ honeyed backing and jangling hookline giving way to a fuzzed coda.

This is a less inventive, softer Kylesa, seemingly happy after all these years to plough a furrow without traversing the path of discovery. Briefly howling leads and a growling riff awaken the dreamy, drifting ‘Falling’, the kind of track the band are becoming more well-known for. The Talking Heads-esque ‘Night Drive’ is a cool evocation of the cosmic violence of the Spiral Shadow era, a lazy Prog infused with swelling, pulsing power. ‘Blood Moon’ however, is more indicative of the second half of the album, its blend of Asian-influenced MOR and bludgeoning Punk feeling tired and occasionally flaccid: a tiredness which the insouciant, Nirvana-like ‘Growing Roots’, only occasionally tempting with spiralling swells, further highlights.

Closer ‘Out of My Mind’ sees more of those terribly wearisome vocals – in all honesty, the biggest problem here – destroy a gradual pogo-fest. It’s by no means dire, just desperately disappointing and lacklustre. Here, it seems, we have a once-crushing colossus now older, battered by tough times, and content to peddle uninspired stodge which eclipses many other bands’ output, but insults Kylesa’s legacy and name. Intermittent flashes of dazzling, indelible former glories save us from a worse fate. Exhausting Fire? Exhaustion seems not a million miles away…

 

5.5/10.0

 

PAUL QUINN