About six weeks ago, I had a major change in my work situation, and what was a part-time job that took up very little of my day-to-day became a much bigger factor in terms of how I spend my time. I’ve mentioned it here in bitching posts mostly on Fridays, but it’s been a big shift that’s meant a lot of late nights working and still trying to keep up with The Obelisk and still see The Patient Mrs. every now and again.
I tell you this because in an effort to catch up with the humongous backlog of reviews I have, I’ve decided to tackle 10 at once. Whether or not this is the most responsible use of my limited time, I don’t know, but it’s something I’m trying and hoping it works out. It’s going to be a challenge (how many different ways are there to say “heavy?”), but these are records that I don’t really have the time I thought I did to dedicate when I said I’d review them, and that were sent to me in physical form. If they were digital, I’d probably just let them go and say screw it.
And I know this isn’t going to be the deepest analysis I’ve ever done, but hopefully it’ll be enough to convey what’s going on with each release. Thanks to the bands for submitting their hard work, and as ever, to you for reading. Deep breath and dive in:
Demon Lung, Pareidolia
For being named after an Electric Wizard song, Las Vegas foursome Demon Lung aren’t nearly as weedian as one might expect. Rather, the band (who formed last year) keep to a pretty traditional-type doom style on the four tracks of their self-released debut EP. The guitars are high in the mix, but they’ve more or less got the formula down here — riff out and do it slowly. “Death Mask” has a satisfying chug in its closing moments and the more ambient finish the EP gets with its title-track speaks well of where they might go from here. No complaints. Demon Lung on Bandcamp.
Elmi, From the Ground
An experimental/noise/drone Norwegian duo who are short neither on volume nor tone, Elmi take bass indulgences and mash them headfirst into Hammond and mellotron. Extended pieces like the 19-minute “Nyaraladronetep” and 14-minute “Unhappy is He to Whom the Memories of Childhood Bring Only Fear and Sadness” are unrepentantly abrasive, but the experiments vary. In comparison, the sample-led “Maciara’s Revenge” is almost sweet. Limited to a physical pressing of 121 copies in honor of its vocal-droning closing track, the From the Ground has already been followed up by a live album of which only five CD copies remain. Elmi on Bandcamp.
Large Marge, Large Marge
It’s ass-kicking Southern heavy grooves, dual-riffing, screams and yowls and no shortage of feedback to dirty it up, and the more I hear Large Marge’s self-titled, self-released debut full-length, the more it earns its Johnny Weills-era Alabama Thunderpussy comparison. That’s a good thing. The dudely Louisiana-based foursome are pro-produced and do right by the mix to keep Aaron Myers’ vocals subsumed beneath his and Luke Duke’s guitars, making them sound even bigger. “Black Coffee” isn’t a Black Flag cover, but by the time they get around to the psychedelically ranging “Stoned Waltz” and “Up in Smoke,” I’ve forgotten that and the rest of my woes. Large Marge on Facebook.
Lavagoat, Monoliths of Mars
Their 2010 full-length (review here) also impressed with its complexity, and Saskatoon four-piece Lavagoat’s second outing, Monoliths of Mars, greatly expands the scope. Four tracks and 45 minutes, the crush of “Forge of Vulcan” is offset by spaced-out atmospheric noise and a continuation of the Cathedral-style vocal cadences that showed up last time out on “Planet of the Dead.” Wonderfully varied in its approach and monstrously heavy, the album culminates with the 21-minute title-track, which unfortunately drops to feedback and drones after seven minutes in, but revives near the end for a bit of psychedelic exploration. Recommended. Lavagoat on Twitter.
Mammoth Grove, Taste of What’s to Come
A bit of a sampler EP from this Calgary outfit, but still worth a look for the quality of songcraft and raw but still lush feel the four tracks elicit. Mammoth Grove inhabit a pastoral sphere and without forcing one second of what they do on Taste of What’s to Come, manage to engulf the listener before the 2:47 of instrumental opener “Hazey Wave” is over. “Talon” and “Million Miles” are more classically progressive than was some of their also-humble 2011 self-titled EP, and rawly produced with the vocals high in the mix of closer “Emerald,” but it’s still enough to get the titular taste of where they’re headed, and I continue to be intrigued. Mammoth Grove on Bandcamp.
Misty Morning, Saint Shroom
Released on limited-to-250 transparent red 12” vinyl by Doomanoid Records, the Saint Shroom 22-minute EP by Roman doomers Misty Morning offers two extended tracks of ceremonial doom, thick riffs and gruff vocals peppered with synth flourish and deft tempo shifts. Both “Saint Shroom” and “Jellotron” work in a similar vein (the latter is most post-Cathedral, vocally), but the release is really too short for the formula to get tired. I wonder how it would hold up on a full-length, and I wonder if there isn’t a way to play up the weirdness that shows up at the end of “Jellotron” more in the songwriting. Misty Morning on Bandcamp.
The self-titled and self-released full-length debut from Texas trio Mothership was recorded by Kent Stump of Wo Fat and holds much of the same fuzzy appeal as that band, if put to a use more directed at early metal than heavy rock. It’s balls-out, either way. Righteous solos from Kelley Juett well complemented by Kyle Juett’s bass and Judge Smith’s drumming, the songs get somewhat redundant after a while, but I might be single-minded too if I was this good at one thing. Cool shit, professional production from Stump and a bastard of a groove on “Elenin.” And everywhere else. Mothership on Bandcamp.
Muffler Men, Trigger and Fly
A pop-minded Belgian threesome heavily indebted to Queens of the Stone Age, Ghent’s Muffler Men have a highlight for their first LP, Trigger and Fly, in opener “Daily Taste of Summer,” and the only trouble with that is that then you have the rest of the record to get through. Fortunately a track like “Mistakes” offers a landmark, but by the time the horns kick in on closer “All Dressed Up,” it’s so “I Think I Lost My Headache” that I’m wondering why I’m not listening to that song in the first place. Not bad for what it is, and crisply executed, but there’s room to grow stylistically. Muffler Men on Facebook.
Nauticus, The Wait
Kudos to Finnish progressive metallers Nauticus for making an album that’s as rich visually as it is sonically. The Wait’s art is striking, and the music of the double-guitar five-piece follows suit, bending a Tool influence ever so slightly to make it more their own. At 59 minutes, it’s an album that requires full attention to be really appreciated, though it should say something that after listening to it for an hour I’d still be up for such a thing. They broadcast their self-indulgence, but a slew of guest appearances and complex arrangements make each song as fascinating on its own as when taken together as a whole. Nauticus on Bandcamp.
With songs so simple they’re like AC/DC on amphetamines – which I guess is how heavy metal was made in the first place – boozy, sleazy rockers Thunderfist hail from the serenity of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. That may or may not account for the havoc they wreak on this self-titled outing through ECG Records, but their upbeat, unironic fuckall is appreciated in any case. Tracks are short and sweet and unafraid to leave bruises. A bit of classic rock ‘n’ roll misogyny takes away from the charm, but that kind of thing is apparently inevitable. I’ll take the rolling groove of “The Wizard’s Lament” over the more forced-sounding “None of Your Business,” but that’s me. You may feel differently. Thunderfist on Facebook.
Thanks again for indulging me. Back to normal tomorrow.
Tags: Demon Lung, Elmi, Large Marge, Lavagoat, Mammoth Grove, Misty Morning, Mothership, Muffler Men, Nauticus, Thunderfist