One of the great success stories of the last ten years or so, the inexorable rise of occult rockers Ghost has been nothing short of astonishing. From their inception in 2006 and the release of full length debut Opus Eponymous (Rise Above Records) four years later, the act from Linköping have gone on to become one of Sweden’s greatest ever exports.
For the most part, the fourth album from Jess And The Ancient Ones continues down the low-key approach to Occult Rock that was established on 2017’s The Horse And Other Weird Tales. Just about every song on Vertigo (Svart Records) is driven by a short length, an upbeat structure, and extensive layers of psychedelic instrumentation. Aside from the eleven minutes of the closing ‘Strange Earth Illusion,’ the first two albums’ more drawn-out runtimes seem to be a thing of the past.
With the release of their fourth full-length, Demon Head has gone from a particularly rustic Occult Doom band to full-on Goth Rock with a few sparse Doom elements. Glossy guitars and Robert Smith-esque vocals among other elements became prominent with 2019’s Hellfire Ocean Void and Viscera (Metal Blade Records) pushes them to an even further extent. But while this album should feel like the culmination of a well-realized evolution, the results are those of an unfortunately awkward misstep.
Bloody Hammers are the Hard Rock husband and wife duo Anders Manga (Vocals, Guitar, Bass) and Devallia (Keyboards/Organ). Hailing from Transylvania County, NC, the Gothic-Metal rockers released Songs of Unspeakable Terror (Napalm Records). Of the Horror-Punk record, Manga says, “When the pandemic hit and I realized I’d be stuck at home for a while, I started thinking I needed to dig into a music project. I was oddly inspired by the unknown, and fear that this plague was gonna wipe us all out. I needed a creative escape.”
Consisting entirely of musicians from the eccentric Demon Bitch with equally esoteric pseudonyms, Detroit’s White Magician settles firmly into the world of heavy Occult Rock on their first full-length album. “The Agents Of Fortune”-esque cover art is enough to indicate that any comparisons to Blue Öyster Cult are likely intentional; the band exercises a similarly freerolling attitude with an ominous undercurrent. But while Dealers Of Divinity (Cruz Del Sur Music) gambles on a well-trod formula, the group seems to have a couple of aces up their sleeves.
Ghost Cult scratched one off the interview bucket list recently by chatting with Andy Gibbs of Thou! We talked all about Thou’s new collaborative album with Emma Ruth Rundle – May Our Chambers Be Full (read our review here), due out on October 30th via Sacred Bones. Andy candidly chatted about writing with Emma, long in the works and put into fruition via Walter Hoeijmakers of Roadburn, how the band and Emma complemented each other, the concepts delved into the album, working with photographer Craig Mulcahy, their hoped-for joint tour and festival plans for the album getting ruined by covid-19, the bands’ penchant for covers and slowing down on them in the future, and what the next phase of Thou music might look like. Purchase the album here and listen to our chat.
Roadburn Festival, largely due to the impetus of its main organiser and curator Walter Hoeijmakers, has often acted as a hub for all manner of interesting collaborations between artists who sit in the arty or experimental corners of the heavy music world. May Our Chambers Be Full (Sacred Bones) the new collaboration album from Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou, is the latest creation which owes a debt to the festival, conceived as it was in the wake of the two artists’ joint set at 2019’s Roadburn.Continue reading
After nearly two decades spent exclusively on the live circuit, Blue Oyster Cult returns with their fifteenth full-length album, The Symbol Remains (Frontiers Records Srl). In a way similar to the recent releases by fellow Seventies Rock legend Alice Cooper, the band opts for a kitchen sink songwriting method. The fourteen tracks play out like a career retrospective of sorts, exploring a variety of moods between classic-minded rockers, synth-heavy AOR numbers, and atmospheric occult excursions.
After releasing two albums and an EP under the Witch Hazel moniker, the York, Pennsylvania quartet has rebranded as SpellBook. Their first album under this new moniker, Magic & Mischief (Cruz Del Sur Music), doesn’t deviate too far from their established Occult Rock style. There are a multitude of Seventies Rock grooves fitted with a slight Doom crunch that is quick to recall their contemporaries in groups like Lucifer, Demon Eye, and Icarus Witch.
It’s oddly satisfying when an album’s title is also an accurate descriptor for the music it contains. This is more or less the case with Old Blood’s second full-length album, Acid Doom (DHU Records/Metal Assault Records). While the group’s style may not be crushing in the traditional sense, their brand of Heavy Psych has a dark sultriness that should sit well with fans of groups like Uncle Acid and Blood Ceremony. And considering the four-year gap since their self-titled debut, it’s fair to say that things have only gotten more off-the-wall in that time.