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.
Kingnomad’s Prog Rock tendencies have been at the forefront from their inception, but these elements are expressed in their purest form on Sagan Om Rymden (Ripple Music). The group has about completely phased out the Stoner Doom tinges that helped shape their first two albums, allowing their third to expand their dynamics without a single hint of fuzz to be found. While this does make a less heavy album on the surface, a combination of energy and commitment to atmosphere results in what is easily the band’s boldest effort yet. Continue reading
While Judicator’s fifth full-length offers their signature brand of historically themed Power/Prog Metal, it comes at a more personal angle this time around. The story of Let There Be Nothing (Prosthetic Records) is based on the life of Belisarius, a 6th century Byzantine general who reclaimed remnants of the Western Roman Empire while wrestling with a crippling marriage. The album never quite reaches the catharsis of 2015’s At The Expense Of Humanity, but it’s nice to see their Blind Guardian worship be tempered with a little extra pathos. Continue reading
Coming off a self-titled demo in 2019, Midnight Dice’s first EP, Hypnotized (Underground Power Records/Hoove Child Records), sees the Chicagoans continuing to build their momentum. Comparisons to the musicians’ previous band Satan’s Hallow remain inevitable as Hypnotized rides on a similarly anthemic Classic Metal style. However, there are also developments that show the band beginning to carve out a more distinct identity. Continue reading
While a self-titled album often serves as a summary of an artist’s particular style, Vestal Claret’s third full-length is unlike anything else they’ve done before. The Doom Metal that defined the occult collective’s past efforts has been completely phased out in favor of a subdued presentation that is somewhere between Folk and introspective Psych Rock. An esoteric aura still wafts with vocalist Phil Swanson (Hour of 13, Sumerlands) offering his signature mournful, nasally wail, but the vibe has more in common with Hexvessel or Sabbath Assembly than Pagan Altar. Continue reading
The first full-length album from Seattle’s Greyhawk is a particularly interesting iteration of the NWOTHM scene. A focus on hooky songwriting with an epic tone makes for easy comparisons to such contemporaries as Visigoth and Traveler as the production carries a polished sheen similar to the likes of Haunt or Idle Hands. While these factors would initially suggest that the band is just another notch in a long line of derivatives, they find a lot of ways to set themselves apart on Keepers Of The Flame (Fighter Records).
Mancunian trio Burial stand out for more reasons than the impressive collective build of its members: its particular brand of Blackened Death has ensured that the band maintained a popularity within its locale and beyond. Their third album Satanic Upheaval (Apocalyptic Witchcraft Recordings) is its first outing in four years and is just as uncompromising in its approach. Continue reading
Ripple Music is one of those labels, that you can pretty much buy all their albums without hearing them, and they are just going to be strong from start to finish. They have a great roster and one of the newest additions for 2019 is Horseburner! They do not burn horses and in fact, are sweet dudes from what we gather. Their music, however, gives no quarter at all: punishing the ears and the soul. Rising from West Virginia, these guys get their Stoner Rock and Trad influences on without being derivative or sacrificing that base instinct to rock. On Thief, Horseburner establishes themselves as a major future creative force. Continue reading
In further proof of Metal’s worldwide appeal, dropped-out troupe Age Of The Wolf hail from Costa Rica. There’s pedigree in the ranks too, with ex-Corpse Garden six-stringer Christopher de Haan at the forefront of their sound, and the Extreme Metal experience of the quartet lends a seriously hard edge to Stoner-flavoured debut Ouroboric Trances (Aural Music). Continue reading
Ghost Cult had the pleasure of catching up with Erica Stoltz of Brooklyn’s trad/stoner band Sanhedrin. They just released their excellent new album The Poisoner via the Cruz Del Sur label. Erica caught us up on the process of creating the new album, working with co-producer Colin Marston, the bands’ hands-on approach to sound recording and writing collaboratively, contrasting the classic scenes between New York and San Francisco, her lyrical inspirations and personal experiences that color the new album and much more! Continue reading