ALBUM REVIEW: King Woman – Celestial Blues


Kris Esfandiari has released many different styles of music under many different monikers. There is Miserable, a solo, Shoegaze project of Esfandiari. Then, there’s NGHTCRWLR, an Experimental, Noise, Industrial outfit. With each project more different than the last, Esfandiari is a versatile and inventive vocalist gifted at making transgressive music. On Celestial Blues (Relapse Records), Esfandiari returns as King Woman. Following up 2017’s Created in the Image of Suffering, the sophomore album from King Woman is a shocking release that is like horror.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Jakethehawk – Hinterlands


At first, Jakethehawk’s second album closely adheres to the relentless wave of Stoner Doom. But while Hinterlands (Ripple Music) is rife with the heavy riffs and spaced-out psychedelia typical in the genre, it reveals a deep pool of influences that include Prog Rock, Shoegaze, Alternative, Folk, and a bit of Southern Rock among other tastes. The results are similar to the eclectic blend seen on Fostermother’s 2020 debut, though with a dramatic scope more in line with the likes of Howling Giant or Sergeant Thunderhoof.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Portrayal of Guilt – We Are Always Alone


Who decided to file Portrayal of Guilt under Screamo? Where should we file them? I don’t know, that’s for folks who spend their time and energy in the endless heavy music genre debates and on websites like Encyclopaedia Metallum to decide. You know, the type of people that will insist that Annihilator isn’t a Thrash band as they really fall under Speed Metal. They are truly doing the Lord’s work. But to slap the screamo tag on Portrayal of Guilt, particularly on We Are Always Alone (Closed Casket Activities) seems a bit simplistic.

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EP REVIEW: Thou and Emma Ruth Rundle – The Helm of Sorrow


Having established a successful collaboration with 2020″s May Our Chambers Be Full (Sacred Bones Records, review here), Thou & Emma Ruth Rundle flesh things out further with The Helm Of Sorrow (Sacred Bones Records). The four songs on this EP are more or less cut from the same cloth. A blend of Sludge, Grunge, and Shoegaze serves as a stylistic backdrop for the dynamic synthesis and occasional clashes between Rundle’s harrowing restraint and Thou’s distorted violence.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Deftones – Ohms


“Deftones 2020” would be quite the fitting campaign slogan this year. Faced with frightening realities, unexpected downs, and challenging changes, Deftones have swooped in to provide a sonic escape and maybe even a ray of hope in a time that has been plagued by a series of unfortunate events. Though President Chino Moreno may seem like a stretch (for now), Deftones have spun these unforeseen circumstances and unprecedented experiences into something fans can hold onto during this period of struggle: the highly-anticipated LP, Ohms, due out September 25th (Warner Records). 2020 is also a hallmark year in the Sacramento-born band’s career, as they celebrate 25 years since dropping their searing debut Adrenaline, 20 years since releasing their incomparable album White Pony, 10 years since unveiling their emotive and piercing record Diamond Eyes, and one presidential term since gracing fans with their eighth studio album Gore. Now, vocalist Chino Moreno, guitarist Stephen Carpenter, drummer Abe Cunningham, programmer Frank Delgado, and bassist Sergio Vega welcome Ohms, 10 tracks of heavy and reflective material that mirror the emotional distress of the pandemic and lockdown, the political power struggle that the world is witnessing, and the internal conflicts many are facing.Continue reading


ALBUM REVIEW: MJ Guider – Sour Cherry Bell


Sour Cherry Bell (Kranky) is the second full-length release from New Orleans-based artist Melissa Guion, who releases music under the moniker MJ Guider. It primarily deals in atmosphere. Guion uses heavily processed electronic textures, often drenched in thick treacle-like reverb, to create moody and evocative soundscapes. There are synthetic drum sounds, but this is certainly not dance music. The emotion-laden washy chord sequences recall the 1980s “Gothic” music and perhaps the “shoegaze” that followed in its footsteps, but this is music that doesn’t fit neatly into any category. Many of the sound-worlds have a lush warmth which lends them a meditative quality, but there is also an unsettling element of tension, as though dissonance and harmony are in competition with each other. Guion’s voice is tender and graceful and with it, she weaves flowing melodies. But the voice is often intentionally distant – buried in the mix and concealed by long reverb tails. It feels as though Guion has intentionally engineered a situation where opposing elements battle it out for dominance. These songs could have been presented in a radio-friendly indie package, but instead, the melodies and words only just lift their heads above the walls of noise that encase them. It takes audacity and boldness to attempt this sort of approach which flouts so many of the accepted rules of composition and music production. It seems that Guion was pushing the boundaries of her creativity and her tools: “I was curious to see how far I could go with them, even if that meant reaching the ends of their capacity to do what I wanted.”Continue reading


Deftones’ Career-Defining Album “White Pony” Turns 20


Success has a way of messing with a good band. First world problems compared to the millions of bands that never make it, sure. However, so often when an emerging band that has fast become a genre leader, big corporate record labels can foul up the flow. This was almost the case of White Pony by Deftones, and the case where the hype was lived up to by pencil pushers, bean counters, and greed almost wrecked the game. White Pony is the band’s pivotal third album, where they built off the stylistic changes that came in with Around The Fur (Maverick) and pushed their sound further than before. In the process, they severed themselves far from the Nu-Metal wave that was exploding at the time and firmly created a new camp of “Deftones Music” as a category. That is, until, the label got in their business later on.Continue reading


BlackLab Shared New Video for ‘Insanity’, New Album Due Out this Spring


Witchy Japanese Doom band BlackLab will release a new album this spring, Abyss, due out May 8th via New Heavy Sounds. You can catch them at their first show ever outside of Japan at Desertfest London! The group has shared a new video for their new single ‘Insanity’, and you can watch it right now!

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ALBUM REVIEW: Sleep Token – Sundowning


The advent of Sundowning (Spinefarm Records), the debut album from London-based shoegazer Sleep Token, goes back over a year: so its release, ahead of a major US tour, has seen a level of furore largely unknown in Metal circles. Hiding identity under a cloak a la Ghost, there’s an added mystique here from an embracing of spiritual and somnolent values (the album’s title is the term given to the daily crash of dementia, for example), while melody is to the fore of the core sound.Continue reading