Spider Ball 2020 at SXSW Books The Well, Life, Rainbows Are Free, Geezer, Void Vater, Shark Muffin!

One of the most anticipated events of SXSW is announced as Gravitoyd Presents and The Bird Barn Austin present Spider Ball 2020 showcase by Ripple Music and Small Stone Records with a killer lineup of Stoner, Doom, and Psychedelic Rock bands! The full list of bands includes The Well, Life, Rainbows Are Free, Geezer, Void Vater, Shark Muffin, The Glasspack, Lowcaster, Pale Grey Lore, The Boleys, Dayeater, Holy Death Trio, Jason Kane & The Jive, Temptress, SecondHand Shag, Warlung, Marco And The Human, Smokey Mirror, WoodenEarth, The Bobby Lees, Bridge Farmers, Monte Luna, Yatra, Grave Next Door and many more listed below. We also have the running order too! Taking place at Spiderhouse on March 20th all day and night from 1PM to 2 AM. Continue reading

Witchfinder – Hazy Rites

Satan rules!” states the bio of French Doom/Stoner trio Witchfinder. Dear, oh dear…more expected is the apparent devotion to hedonism and, on the band’s second album Hazy Rites (Black Bow Records), both are seemingly hallowed in equal measure. Continue reading

Cracked Machine – The Call Of The Void

The West Country, the South East corner of England famed for its history and beauty, is also renowned for producing devastating heaviness with a soupçon of versatility. Step forward Cracked Machine who, since emerging from Wiltshire in 2015, have surfed both cosmos and deserts out of the reach of radar. Continue reading

The Sonic Dawn – Eclipse

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

Komodor – Komodor

The world of Psychedelic Rock has enjoyed a population resurgence over the past couple of years, with all manner of newcomers coating their grooves in a warm, oscillating fuzz. In such a world it helps to gain patronage from a respected name and French sunshine crew Komodor have done just that: debut mini-album Komodor (Soulseller Records) carrying contributions and production work from Swedish Psych rulers Blues Pills. Continue reading

NOIZ All-Dayer, Rebellion, Manchester UK

Noiz Alldayer ghostcultmag

He was so deeply huddled under a blanket that it took a while to locate the source of the voice hollering my name. Eytan Wineapple, curator of the rumbling beast that was the NOIZ All-Dayer, initially celebrated its second incarnation looking like death warmed up. After a long couple of days, with Wineapple escorting eventual headliners Dukatalon to Sheffield and back, they eventually bedded down in today’s venue. “They got here around 3 a.m., and I tucked them all in!” joked Rebellion manager and event collaborator Hayley. Five minutes later, the flat-capped Wineapple was bounding around like a madman: putting to serious shame Ghost Cult’s scribe who, twelve hours later, and still nearly three hours from the denouement, interviewed said host in a rather weary and addled fashion…

NOIZ is not your average festival. Displays of album-style art and guitars in various stages of completion (one of which is raffled off later in the day) stand beside the S.O.P.H.I.E. merch stall in the upper level of the club-style venue. A dedicated handful, meanwhile, witness the pulverising Industria of openers Khost: looking for all the world like a couple of local scallies bumbling about on a stage, yet laying waste with a mystical power which deserved a better slot and much more attention. The Birmingham duo’s ambient, crushing set, its implosive chords and guttural scours blending with a wonderful and passionate line in Middle-Eastern vocal samples, ended bang on time: a courtesy that some of the festival’s other performers could have tried harder to match.

Continue reading

Hag – Fear of Man

Hag-Fear-Of-Man-Cover

Another year, and more juicy low-end horror to get our teeth into. London trio Hag has been around for five years yet Fear of Man (DNAWOT Records) is the band’s debut album – and it’s a hulking, resonant beast of a thing.

The opening title track is a curious amalgam of Black Sabbath and the grungy/post-hardcore infusion peddled by the likes of Kowloon Walled City: vocalist Ian Baigent finding a middle ground between Ozzy Osbourne and the scarring pain of Scott Evans. The ensuing ‘Kingdom O’ and the brutal ‘Trauma Yauma’ set the tone for the rest of the album with a vicious, Stoner-Sludge vibe: a speedier, Melvins-style bluster given a Doc Marten to the arse, with Baigent’s growl reminiscent of Matt Pike. ‘…Yauma’, however, cascades beautifully to a staggered, psych-drenched second movement which shows the band’s invention alongside some endearing rough edges.

A potent production brings every ingredient to the fore, giving the roars of ‘Rainbow Dust’ no little beef whilst forcing huge riffs and Tamas Kiss’s titanic drums through the soul. The High on Fire link grows throughout the album, in particular through the sandpaper groove of ‘Low’, and the slightly ponderous yet fathomless ‘Metal Detector Man’ and ‘White Lion’. The swelling, ferocious riffs and powerful drums prove the overriding influence of the Americans, but a unique English personality allows those variations to shine through and help the band find their own identity.

The intricate, Jazz-tinged structures of the latter tracks, following a ‘stop-go’ format, are augmented by Bluesy leads which, although fleeting, leave their mark and exemplify that nasty charm. The rhythms of the penultimate ‘Beaten at Your Own Game’ pummel the mind whilst leading the senses a merry dance, with Robin Freeman’s bass work utterly ground-shaking. Closer ‘Wrong Bar’, meanwhile, shows both the few flaws and soaring attraction of Hag’s nefarious intent: a slightly limited vocal working alongside crushing power; an occasionally lumbering pace twisted and transformed by sheer oscillating muscle and flowering creativity.

This is an album that will continue to grow, overshadowing any limitations while flinging forward the boundless ammunition in Hag’s arsenal.

 

7.0/10

 

PAUL QUINN

Death Hawks – Sun Future Moon

12038117_896899493712506_4634922042602080706_n

The snowy vistas and verdant forests of Finland are more often associated with the grimmest of black metal pandas than the out-there world of psychedelia but it seems no-one told Riihimäki natives Death Hawks, for they have just released their third album in the short space of four years and sound as if they have just stepped off a Californian freeway, so breezy and sun-kissed is their third album Sun Future Moon (Svart).

Employing elements from a variety of disparate genres including blues and world music, Death Hawks clearly have no musical boundaries and like all good psych, aim to transport the listener to a different world altogether. Opening track ‘Hey Ya Sun Ra’ is a languid, trippy opener you might hear at a hippy yoga retreat as thoughtful keys intermingle with heavy-lidded vocals and skittish yet gentle drums. The pace quickens on the engaging ‘Ripe Fruits’; an upbeat hip-shaking little number where trumpet, jangling piano and spacy keyboard swells co-exist gracefully. ‘Dream Machine’ follows with its engaging vocal hooks, instantly hummable guitar licks and those ever-present bubbling sound effects in the background to remind you that Dorothy, we’re not in Kansas anymore.

Unfortunately, the middle and second part of the record fail to maintain the levels of intrigue and beguiling wonder that the first part set so well. ‘Behind Thyme’ is a deadly boring stroll through pastoral acoustic folk that you half suspect will segue into ‘Kum ba yah’ at any minute, ‘Seaweed’ is the kind of elevator muzak meets whale-song that plays in shops that sell dreamcatchers and crystal skulls, while the lazy synths of ‘Wing Wah’ are what you’ll hear at a psy-trance rave at 5am when the DJ decides to make stuff up on the hoof.

Truly a record of two halves, Sun Future Moon has some treats for those who enjoy quirky psychedelic rock but far too much quasi-mystic fooling about for this embittered scribe.

 

6.0/10

 

JAMES CONWAY

[amazon asin=B0153CGRP6&template=iframe image]

Vardan – Between the Fog and Shadows

Dead222_VARDAN_BetweenTheFog_CD

There’s prolific, then there’s this bloke. Staggeringly Between the Fog and Shadows (Moribund) is the thirteenth full-length release in the last two years, and the seventh this year alone, from Italian blackheart Vardan. Given that, you’d think that his sound would be somewhat generic and withered by now but, save for a somewhat ungraceful production which has hissing riffs and atmospherics duelling with polished keys and drums, initially this isn’t bad.

That this is Black metal, there’s no doubt: the shimmering riffs and frozen rasps in abundance from the outset. There’s a mournful pace throughout, however; the opening title track possessing a tag-line riff that is hypnotic, rather repetitive and with little in the way of blastbeats or fast-picked tremolos. As layers are gradually added the track is saved from a certain tedium as the now-monotonous ostinato becomes ever-more dwarfed by effects and pain-filled shrieks.

A dulled, twanging lead and intriguing drum pattern gives the ensuing ‘Solitary Death of a Forest Spirit’ a curious and unexpected beginning. The subsequent explosion of icy wastes and a more prominent vocal is a welcome edge and, although the gentle rhythm suggests something intrinsic is missing, a forlorn, haunting beat is retained. This lack of speed does, however, highlight the tiresome structure, becoming even more noticeable as the track lengths stretch.

The opening rhythm of closer ‘Of Dead Dreams Through Funeral Eyes’ bizarrely brings the Manic Street Preachers ‘A Design for Life’ to mind, as a brief flare of fire dwindles to the almost sedentary, melancholic meander governing the album. In truth those flashes of sparkling riff and harsh aura detract from the fact that, in the background, very little changes: even in the hostile, emotive, yet achingly slow second movement of an almost interminable nineteen minutes.

There’s nothing particularly bad about the album. In reality however, only Psych or Prog metal can get away with unflinching patterns of this length, largely due to the promise of twists and turns along the way. Sadly there’s no such surprise here: only the irritation of decent sounds being undermined by an unvarying tendency to drift.

 

5.5/10

 

PAUL QUINN