Being huge fans of the band’s earlier material from their “Enter” and “The Dance” days, we constantly grew apart from their Pop-ish music over the last few years. While they have some great songs here and there, most of their ‘mainstream’ recent music has not impressed us much. Well, with the EP “Paradise (What About Us?)” we are quite surprised that the band returns to some of their earlier foundations (“Mother Earth”) and delivers quite an excellent short release.
The immediate standout is the EP’s title-track, featuring an amazing duet with none other than Tarja Turunen. In this high-intensity tune the band busts out the heavy distorted guitars and excellent atmospheric arrangements. Both Sharon and Tarja do an excellent job in this track making it quite dramatic and intense. The music is nowhere near as Pop-ish as bands like Amaranthe, making us quite enjoy this song. With the remaining tracks being demo versions, we still stand to see how much they change for the actual album, but for now we will focus on how good they are.
Groovy, spacey, psychedelic are a few words that come to mind when listening to Sons of Hippies and their latest full-length release titled “Griffons at the Gates of Heaven”. Mixing Psychedelic/Space Rock influences with Post Shoegaze and a very catchy Alternative Rock foundation, this three piece band delivers 12 superb tracks that take the listener through a trippy journey. With authentic retro instruments like a mellotron and moog paired with a sitar and some weird audio oscillations, the band has a wide spectrum of appeal for fans of any of the previously mentioned genres.
Setting a very unique mood in the trippy opening “Forward”, we are immediately intoxicated by the catchy guitars and Katherine Kelly’s signature vocals. The band’s auditive exploration continues with the hypnotic “Mirrorball”, one of our favorite tracks of this release. The atmosphere of this track is magical thanks to the ethereal backing vocals and shoegaze-ish vibe. The guitar driven “Dark Daisies” shows more of the band’s versatile songwriting skills, in a very unique and oddly constructed song.
With a huge Southern influence, today we have Moonbow and their extremely catchy release “The End of Time”. Featuring seven tracks of whiskey infused Hard Rock/Metal, this odd group of characters manage to craft one of the most complete and engaging releases of 2013. With a Survivor participant on vocals and members of Hank 3’s and Hermano, this odd mismatch works wonderfully when it comes to producing excellent melodies.
The album opens with a very Southern vibe on “End of Time”, all down to the riffs we get that awesome feeling to immediately start drinking. The gracious vocals of Matt Bischoff are a true perfect fit to the band’s sound, perfectly complementing the Stoner Metal infused guitars. David McElfresh does a great job in handling the guitar duties to create a very lively and authentic atmosphere. While “Journey Of Their Iron Horse” is a superb and catchy tune, we found that the distorted vocals sounded a bit odd, taking some of the magic away.
Spawning from the ingenious mind of Markus Siegenhort (Lantlôs), today we have the very unique and retro sounding LowCityRain and their equally named debut full-length release. Featuring over eight tracks of melancholic Post-Punk/New Wave/Electro music, this is one album that you can expect to hear in a gloomy lounge on a cold and rainy night. We are quite thankful that Markus didn’t decide to switch Lantlôs direction to release this music, and he instead made this 80’s sounding project that is quite emotional and catchy.
Opening with the superb “You Are Everyone, You Are Everywhere”, we immediately get a very gloomy vibe thanks to its dramatic atmosphere. Fans of Amesoeurs will rejoice with this track (and release), thanks to the excellent vocals and carefully crafted retro vibe. The electro elements are quite intoxicating on tracks like “Grey Views”, nicely contrasting the somber vocals. The guitar work is quite solid, creating a very 80’s vibe of bands like The Cure.
With a heavy knack for killer riffs and powerful melodies, France’s Rotten Liver delivers “Purification by Debauchery”. Avoiding sounding like anybody else, this band takes the best elements of bands like Vreid, Midnight, and old-school Darkthrone and creates their own brand of filthy Black’n’Roll that will have you headbanging since the first song.
Opening with “Infamous Nil”, the band immediately delivers waves of killer riffs and a very cool melodic vibe. The snarls are quite fitting for the music, but it is the creativity and catchiness behind the song that makes it quite enjoyable and devastating. “Become the Arcanthropos” keeps the flow of the album going with another onslaught of sickening riffs and a very dark-yet-melodic atmosphere that Rotten Liver perfectly creates.
The killer releases of summer of 2013 keep piling up with Autumnblaze delivering the long awaited “Every Sun is Fragile”. With an ever changing musical style, the German outfit delivers a very heartfelt Depressive/Post-Rock album that is filled with amazingly catchy songs and very melancholic atmospheres. Pushing their sound even further than on “Perdition Diaries”, fans of Green Carnation to Gothic Rock outfits will love this release instantly.
Markus Baltes has really pushed the band’s sound over the years but with the opener “New Ghosts in Town”, the listener will immediately know how far they have gone now. There are almost no harsh vocals, and the music is mostly on the Rock side of things, however, there are still some Metal influences present. This track is quite dramatic and thanks to the imposing clean vocals the overall atmosphere is quite dramatic. As heard on “Invisible Fields”, the band guitars are still quite catchy making the music perfect for some heavy duty headbanging.
Delivery waves of Pyschedelic Retro Doom Metal with some Rock influences, today we have Black Magician and their EP titled “The Pursuviant”. In this very unique but short EP, slated to be released on 7” vinyl, this UK band manages to craft a very mystical and unique sound that ranges from heavy Doom passages, to all out Hammond Organ-fueled psychedelic sections. While never lacking creativy, this is one of the most interesting EP’s we have received in a while.
Opening with the pounding album title track, the band seems to be going down a straightforward Doom path, but as soon as the organ kicks in, the mood drastically changes. The band manages to fuse into the heavy riffs some very cool organ arrangements paired with interesting guitar leads. This track immediately shows that this band has a very unconventional sound.
Being highly shocked by the sudden disbandment of The Devil’s Blood, we received the news of Selim Lemouchi continuing doing music under a new moniker with high hopes and expectations. Under his new ‘band name’ Selim Lemouchi & His Enemies, Selim delivers this short but sweet EP featuring three songs of trippy and engaging Occult/Psychedelic Rock music. While not as explosive and catchy as The Devil’s Blood pre-breakup material, all the tracks presented here have that sense of melody and weirdness that we loved so much from TDB.
Opening with “Echaton”, we immediately feel the dark atmosphere descend upon us. The Doomy and Occult vibe in this track is quite thick and enjoyable since it reminds us a bit of Jex Thoth and her enigmatic music. This track is quite relaxing and mysterious, with very soothing guitars and hypnotic drums. “Thistle” is a track that has a familiar TDB vibe, but with a more direct and less polished approach. The vocals are quite fitting for the music and greatly enhance the experience.
Delivering waves of powerful riffs, today we have Venomous Maximus and their debut-full length “Beg Upon The Light”. Originally released in 2012, Napalm Records has taken into their hands to properly release this album and get this band the amount of exposure they deserve. Featuring 10 tracks of a very unique mixture of Occult Rock and Stoner Metal, this band has a very different musical approach when compared to other Occult Rock bands that focus on adding psychedelic elements and a groovier vibe.
After a cheesy intro powered by organs, “Path of Doom” leads the way with very heavy and Sludgy riffs. The vocals are quite powerful and contrasting, reminiscent of Heavy Metal acts from the 80’s. The Doom-esque “Give Up The Witch” nicely continues the onslaught of riffs that this band has crafted for such an interesting release, with a high emphasis on catchiness, they immediately command the listeners attention.
Recently demised The Devil’s Blood returns with one last hurrah with the raw and direct “III: Tabula Rasa or Death and the Seven Pillars”. Never intended to be the last release of the band, and never properly completed, this release maintains the mystical magic of the band with a less refined and perfected packaging. Featuring the last seven tracks we will ever hear from this excellent band, this release is indeed very good, but it also has a bittersweet taste of what it could have been if the band polished it as much as their previous releases.
The release leads off with a 22-minute epic under the title “I Was Promised a Hunt”. Supposedly written backwards, this track is a tour de force that goes through tons of different moods and delivers an excellent introduction to the band’s swansong release. The female vocals are outstanding as always and they immediately induce a trance-like state. There are also some male vocals that while odd at first, provide a nice contrast to F’s singing and the lush choir arrangements. The atmosphere in this track is quite dense (as always) and has a very dark vibe to it, greatly enhanced by the brilliant guitar work.