ALBUM REVIEW: Aptera – You Can’t Bury What Still Burns


Aptera is here with their debut full-length album,You Can’t Bury What Still Burns (Ripple Music). Taking their name from the battle site between sirens and muses (that’s metal as fuck!), Aptera is an all-female foursome who performs some heavy seventies-inspired doom / sludge. Continue reading


ALBUM REVIEW: Valley Of The Sun – The Chariot


Valley Of The Sun transport us to a desert vista with their hard-hitting, classic blues rock fourth album, The Chariot (Ripple Music) The topographical downside is a straight-ahead tendency to skim the surface of the sand without revealing psychological depth or any hints at complicated thinking below.Continue reading


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


Valley Of The Sun Signs with Ripple Music


Photo by Hillarie Jason. The Middle East Nightclub, Cambeidge, MA 2/16/2020

Stoner Rock band Valley Of The Sun have signed a new record deal with Ripple Music, in conjunction with Fuzzorama Records. The four-piece from Cincinnati will release their next studio album in 2022. Catch them New Year’s Eve opening for Clutch!

Continue reading


Ripple Music’s RippleFest Cologne Books Savanah, Aptera, Fire Down Below, Astral Kompakt, Stonebirds, and Vug


Ripple Music has announced the final bands for RippleFest Cologne the 2021 edition. The fest takes place at Club Volta on November 27th. Tickets are on sale now! Joining the bill are up-and-coming European stoner rock acts Savanah, Aptera, Fire Down Below, Astral Kompakt, Stonebirds, and Vug.

Continue reading


REVIEWS ROUND-UP: Crystal Spiders, Duel, Doctor Smoke, and Tommy Stewart’s Dyerwulf


Crystal SpidersMorieris

With the second Crystal Spiders album, Morieris (Ripple Music), coming out just a year after Molt, it’s fair to say that it picks up where its predecessor left off. The guitar has a more noticeable presence courtesy of producer Mike Dean playing a more hands on role in the proceedings, but the songs remain primarily driven by Brenna Leath’s thumping bass and attitude-filled howls along with Tradd Yancey’s muscular drumming.

Continue reading


ALBUM REVIEW: Witchcryer – When Their Gods Come For You


Witchcryer’s second full-length album comes with a noticeably broader scope in comparison to their 2018 debut. In contrast to the more groove-friendly approach to Doom Metal seen on Cry Witch, the song lengths on When Their Gods Come For You (Ripple Music) run longer with a greater emphasis on atmosphere and methodical structuring. The lyrics also work to give the album a more palpable sense of purpose, running the gamut of underworld and death figures from various world mythologies.

Continue reading


SPLIT RELEASE REVIEW: Wizzerd Vs. Merlin – Turned to Stone Chapter III


Like the previous installment, the third chapter in Ripple Music’s Turned to Stone series is framed as a challenge between two contenders for Stoner Doom supremacy. But while Chapter II saw Howling Giant and Sergeant Thunderhoof put forth their competition as a battle of wits between mythic swordsmen, Chapter III is the culmination of an ongoing meme war between Merlin and Wizzerd. It also operates on a similar template as each band is given a full epic track to put their best foot forward.

Continue reading


ALBUM REVIEW: Sun Crow – Quest For Oblivion


 

Late 2020, the somber Seattle slayers of Sun Crow released their debut album, Quest For Oblivion. Though Ghost Cult missed the initial release, we’re happily taking advantage of the album’s re-release on Ripple Music. It’s no surprise the record topped doom charts, as it’s a perfect showcase of doom and gloom mastery.

Continue reading