CONCERT REVIEW: Mastodon – Opeth – Khemmis Live At The Masonic


 

The Masonic Temple is one of the most outstanding buildings in Midtown Detroit. The regal Neo-Gothic architecture and cathedral-like design makes it a prime tourist attraction for Motor City. Part of this historic building’s appeal is the theatre and its massive stage. The stateliness of this structure and the 55 by 100 foot theatre platform made it the perfect pick for Mastodon and Opeth to bring their co-headline tour. The bands rolled into town on a cool Spring evening last week and brought Denver’s own Khemmis with them. Having three currently hot and popular bands under one roof is every modern metalhead’s dream.Continue reading


ALBUM REVIEW: Cage Fight – Cage Fight


Cage Fight is the new project from James Monteith, guitar wizard for technical / prog metal outfit TesseracT, and is a very different sound from what he delivers in his day job. Initially featuring Jon Reid on bass and Nick Plews on drums, the three-piece produced a number of instrumental demos before drafting in the extraordinary talents of French vocalist Rachel Aspe, formally of the band Eths, after James had seen a Black Dahlia Murder cover that Rachel had posted online. Continue reading


EP REVIEW: Heriot – Profound Morality


With very little in the way of recorded music released prior to this release but notably a swathe of well received and high profile support slots including recently with Rolo Tomassi; UK metallic hardcore outfit Heriot have forged a scintillating reputation in a short space of time. Now with the eagerly anticipated debut EP Profound Morality (Church Road Records), the band are showing that they are truly living up to expectation by delivering a short but sharp release which reveals surprising depth.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Once Human – Scar Weaver


Five years used to feel like a long time in music. Entire scenes have risen, consumed all and fallen away to be a nostalgic footnote (or an ever-lasting sea change) in the same length between Once Human‘s last release and Scar Weaver (earMUSIC), their re-birth of a third album.

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ALBUM REVIEW: In Hearts Wake – Kaliyuga Booster Pack


Eighteen months after the release of their fifth album, Australian metalcore merchants In Hearts Wake have nicked a trick from the Roadrunner Records playbook of the nineties with the Kaliyuga Booster Pack (UNFD) and are re-releasing their 2020 opus with a handful of goodies ahead of hitting the road in 2022.

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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


ALBUM REVIEW – Fit For An Autopsy – Oh What The Future Holds


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.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Khemmis – Deceiver – Nuclear Blast


Hailing from Denver, Khemmis is a blossoming band that has been turning heads since they began to jam in 2012. They cultivated their own little corner in the extensive genre of Doom Metal by creating a strong, unique voice among the other hopeful hordes and wannabes. The success from their second full-length, Hunted (20 Buck Spin) released in 2016, gave them a spotlight and they have been thriving in its beam ever since. Now these fellas are trimmed down to three members, have signed a new record deal, and are getting ready to release their fourth full-length album, Deceiver (Nuclear Blast). The raw, artistic depths that this group can reach with their heaviness is tunneling even deeper on this new record. By intensifying their emotional provocation and sound, Khemmis has struck gold. Continue reading


CONCERT REVIEW: Gojira – Knocked Loose – Alien Weaponry: Live at The Clyde Theatre


Northeastern Indiana may not be the first area that would come to mind when considering a hotspot for art and culture. Yet Fort Wayne’s Clyde Theatre is a state-of-the-art facility that presents and celebrates some of the world’s greatest artists. Originally a movie house from the fifties, this recently renovated theatre carries a vibrant vintage vibe making it a local gem to the surrounding area. The place was lit with life last Sunday evening when hundreds of metal lovers swarmed through the venue’s historic doors. The French Extreme Metal act, Gojira was in town. These modern metallers have been on US soil for the last couple of months promoting their new album, Fortitude (Roadrunner Records, read our review here), which came out this past Spring. Fort Wayne was their third to last stop on this run, yet they made it clear they would be back state-side very soon. Over the last few years, Gojira is a group that has heated things up for the scene. They brought two new budding bands on tour to complement their fire. Alien Weaponry and Knocked Loose have their own high temperatures to give off, which ignited an evening of feverish and fantastic excitement. Continue reading


ALBUM REVIEW: Employed To Serve – The Conquering


When yet another massive riff, this time during the early stages of track nine ‘World Eater’, hits – you know the sort… the type of riff that makes your face do the same involuntary wince/”oooooo” combo as sucking a lemon straight after brushing your teeth might – the smile can’t help but break out on your face: The Conquering (Spinefarm Records) isn’t just Employed To Serve upping the ante; their fourth album goes deeeep.

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