Review & Track Premiere: Shallow Grave, Threshold Between Worlds

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 24th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Shallow Grave Threshold Between Worlds

[Click play above to stream the premiere of ‘The Horrendous Abyss’ from Shallow Grave’s Threshold Between Worlds. Album is out Oct. 31 on Sludgelord Records, Cursed Monk Records, Black Voodoo Records and Minor Label.]

All that happens in the first 30 seconds of Shallow Grave‘s second album, Threshold Between Worlds, is a fade-in of an introductory riff, and yet even that seems crushing. The Auckland four-piece made 55-minute their self-titled debut (review here) in 2013 via Astral Projection, and while they’ve trimmed the runtime down to an LP-ready 38 minutes for four songs, the sense of impact remains a major concern. Mostly, I’d think, for seismologists. It is not long after that fade-in that Shallow Grave begin the 10-minute “The Horrendous Abyss” in earnest, with a buzzsaw tone worthy of namedrops like Beast in the Field and Swarm of the Lotus from guitarists Tim Leth (also vocals) and Mike Rothwell, furious low end distortion from bassist Brent Bidlake and an almost noise-rocking rhythm from drummer James Bakker, who succeeds in pushing deeper into “The Horrendous Abyss” while cutting through the mire with a snare that seems to hit with no less of a thud than the toms.

Largesse is the order of business, and business is lethal, but in “The Horrendous Abyss” and onward through “Garden of Blood” (9:41) and side B’s “Master of Cruel” (13:11) and “Threshold Between Worlds” (5:31), the band craft an atmosphere of chaotic churn, marked by vicious noise and, for all the madness unfolding, a feeling that the worst violence is still being held back. To wit, “The Horrendous Abyss,” in its eighth minute, pulls back to minimalist guitar notes, but even these are backed with windy drones, giving all the more a feeling of being alone somewhere in the wild. Presumably, we’ve arrived at the titular locale. That’s actually how the track ends, fading out to let the faster start of “Garden of Blood” come on to stomp itself between the line of sludge and brutalist noise. An angularity of rhythm emerges, and Leth‘s largely indecipherable vocals call to mind Tomas Lindberg in their rasp, but the primary impression thanks to a consistency of tone is still one of lumber, and Shallow Grave take due time to revel in it.

And who would argue? The foreboding is palpable early in “Garden of Blood,” as it was throughout “The Horrendous Abyss,” and before it hits the 2:30 mark, “Garden of Blood” slows its pace to a crawl and lurches-out for the next minute, growing an increasing wash of noise as its march leads toward an inevitable decay, drums cutting out just prior to four minutes in and the volume receding to let an airy guitar take hold momentarily before a momentum of riff picks up — exactly the source of the two band-comparisons above, neither of which one is inclined to make lightly — and shoves forward through the next several minutes, once again increasing in wash before the vocals return, caked in echo and even less human/humane for that. It may not be a horrendous abyss, as the first song was, but neither is it a relaxing beach-day getaway.

shallow grave (photo by Damian McDonnell)

Instead, it is an apex of pummel that reveals the second movement in “Garden of Blood” for the linear build it’s been all along, cleverly concealed by the surrounding onslaught. The last two minutes of “Garden of Blood” are given to a noisy, mechanical-seeming drone that fades out to conclude side A and prepare the ground for “Master of Cruel,” which in effect is the closing argument Shallow Grave will make here. A swell of low distortion provides a bed for the drums to come forward in the mix — bit of a role reversal there, since it’s been the drums anchoring the proceedings all along throughout “The Horrendous Abyss” and “Garden of Blood” — before an impressive and extended scream from Leth brings with it a surge of guitar.

By the time they’re past three minutes deep, the drums are gone entirely, and is the guitar, as they recede completely to a drone as the foundation for a line of standalone guitar soon enough met with cymbal wash. Just when you might think you have them figured out and that they’re starting another forward build in the vein of the preceding cut, instead of making their way through with deceptive patience, they thrust ahead all at once into a huge-sounding plod, brutally delivered before evening out to a steady hi-hat-punctuated roll. They are not yet, it’s worth noting, at the midpoint of “Master of Cruel,” the title of which would seem to betray its ambitions.

That steadying transition leads to a push-pull nod that will consume much of the second half of the track, as the vocals show up amid a proceeding decrease in tempo and increase in noise. By the time they’re 11 minutes deep, the direction is set and telegraphed to the listener: once more into the morass. Undulations of harsh frequencies mark the noisy finish, less about feedback directly than one might think, but still working on another long fade into a drone that shifts directly into the shorter closing title-track, which executes a tonal deathblow in a midsection surrounded on either side by noise. The effectiveness of those elements isn’t to be understated. Drones in the transitions, long fades, etc. — these are the things that help craft the atmosphere that winds up playing such a significant role in the effect of Threshold Between Worlds on the listener.

I won’t take away from the force of their delivery or the intensity of their heaviest moments — how could I? — but it’s the ambient factors that let Shallow Grave‘s sophomore release become more than just a very heavy sludge record and really begin to find its own personality in terms of style. And that personality may be psychopathic, but that still counts. With a half-decade between their debut and Threshold Between Worlds, it doesn’t seem fair to anticipate a follow-up anytime soon from Shallow Grave, but when/if it does happen that they put out a third release, one might expect them to continue to toy with this balance, as it seems so crucial to their purposes overall. At the same time, to think at all of Threshold Between Worlds, it feels less safe making predictions of any sort for what might come. Other than darkness, which most certainly is lurking on the horizon for all.

Shallow Grave on Thee Facebooks

Shallow Grave on Bandcamp

Sludgelord Records on Bandcamp

Cursed Monk Records on Bandcamp

Black Voodoo Records on Bandcamp

Minor Label website

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Burn Ritual Preorders up for Blood of the Raven

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

burn ritual

Late last year, San Antonio doom rockers Burn Ritual signed to Cursed Monk Records on the heels of their successful debut EP, Like Suffering. That two-songer, released on limited tapes (gone) and CDs (gone and back), showcased a weighted tonality and flourish of classic Sabbathian melody, and the two songs currently streaming from their upcoming full-length, Blood of the Raven, would seem to follow suit. Play your cards right — i.e., look at the bottom of this post — and you can hear “The Mirror” and the album’s title-track now, and they’re both a clarion to the converted, calling to worship. Preorders are up for the album now through Cursed Monk ahead of the official release date, which is Oct. 1.

The PR wire put it like this:

burn ritual blood of the raven

Cursed Monk Records are thrilled to announce that pre-orders are now open for Burn Ritual’s highly anticipated debut album Blood of the Raven

Blood of the Raven will be released October 1st on CD and Digital Download via the Cursed Monk Records Bandcamp. Each preorder comes with the immediate download of the first two tracks from the album, plus a free woven Burn Ritual patch for the first number of orders, although patches are limited. Preorders can be made directly from our Bandcamp.

Based out of San Antonio, TX, Burn Ritual brew their own brand of heavy riffs, bluesy hazy vocals, and massive hypnotic fuzzed out tones. The band combine their love for traditional doom and stoner rock bands with modern elements making it a unique but familiar journey for the listener. Originally the brainchild of vocalist/guitarist Jake Lewis, who performed and recorded on most of the band’s positively received debut EP Like Suffering. The one man project soon paved way for the necessity for a full band of musicians to bring the songs to the stage the way they were meant to be heard. Now a full four piece band, Burn Ritual has shared the stage with bands such as The Lucid Furs, Black Pussy, and Goya.

The Black Sabbathian foursome has really cemented their sound with Blood of the Raven. And what they have delivered is an album full of monster hooks and gargantuan riffs drenched in a fuzzy psychedelic haze. A must have for every fan of the genre.

Let the burn ritual commence.

Burn Ritual is:
Jake Lewis – vocals, lead guitar, keys
Brent Standifer- drums
Richard Perez – guitar
Chris Trezona – bass

https://www.facebook.com/burnritualband/
https://burnritual.bandcamp.com/
https://cursedmonk.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/cursedmonk/
https://www.instagram.com/cursedmonkrecords/

Burn Ritual, Blood of the Raven (2018)

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Weed Priest Premiere “Vampyr” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

weed priest

Irish sludge nasties Weed Priest issue their four-song full-length, Consummate Darkness, on Halloween via Cursed Monk Records. There is a moment toward the chug-mad ending of album opener “Witch’s Curse” that, somehow fittingly to the title, conveys a sense of the genuinely unhinged. I don’t know if the idea was that, as his own guitar and that of Sean “The Tormentor” Sullivan and the bass of Ragas Iscariot devolve into crackling amp noise, the vocals of Adam Diavol — points all around on the names, guys; lest we forget Micheál Dúlachán on drums — shift from the lower-register extreme growing to a higher-pitched cackle. Is this the witch in “Witch’s Curse” speaking directly to the listener? I don’t know, but it sounds utterly fucked, and I’m pretty sure that’s the point. Point taken.

Weed Priest issued their thick-rolling self-titled debut long-player (review here) in 2013 and brought with their volume worship a sense of grim-hued ritualizing. Consummate Darkness feels more about rawer scathe. Set up across two vinyl sides on which a shorter track leads into a longer one —weed priest consummate darkness “Witch’s Curse” (8:04) into “Vampyr” (10:33) on side A; “SkyDaddy” (6:36) into “The Mass” (14:29) on side B — the record isn’t without a sense of structure, but as the horror sample leads to the plodding, post-Electric Wizard launch of “Vampyr,” Weed Priest find themselves engaging a grittier form of extremity, less outwardly crushing and more about the overarching filth conjured through the riffs and the rhythmic nod, the theme taking shape really in “Vampyr” and finding catchier foothold in the speedier “SkyDaddy” before “The Mass” brings about a last push into rumbling oblivion, grueling and mirroring the viciousness of “Witch’s Curse” early while finding spaciousness later in its extended solo section.

Brutal? Why yes it fucking is. That would seem to be the point. One can hear a dynamic shift between the more “rock”-based songcraft of “SkyDaddy” and “The Mass,” certainly, but Weed Priest are far less about showing off their range than they are about bludgeoning their audience with it, and that suits them. “The Mass” ends Consummate Darkness on a long-fading drum march and the funereal vibe is noteworthy; a dirge undertaken with a relished sense of dismemberment, flayed skin and any number of other medieval cruelties having been brought to bear through volume and tempo-be-damned sonic terror.

Today I have the pleasure of hosting the video premiere for “Vampyr” from Consummate Darkness, which can be preordered now via the links below. Please find it on the player here, followed by more info from the PR wire, and if you think your personal constitution is up to it, enjoy.

Here we go:

Weed Priest, “Vampyr” official video premiere

Weed Priest’s second much anticipated full length album “Consummate Darkness” is coming out on Samhain (31th of October) 2017 as vinyl, cd and digital via Cursed Monk Records.

“Lo and behold! From the depths of the smoke filled dungeons, from the tops of the mountains of madness, the priest is coming back with the new opus. Four hymns depicting the unholy ceremonies of union with darkness, four sermons of crawling doom, four spits into the face of conformity and meekness.”

Adam (guitar, vocals), Ragas (bass) and Adrian (drums) were brought together by the love of classic Black Sabbath sound, seventies psychedelic rock, doom/sludge metal and their interest in occultism in 2009. In 2011 Weed Priest released a well received demo CD. A grandiose debut self-titled full length album came out in 2013 and is now sold out. It was followed by “Worship” EP (2014). In 2014 the drum throne was taken over by Michael. Second guitar player Sean also joined. Two split releases followed: split single with Northern Irish doom brothers Astralnaut (February 2015) and split EP with Italian doomsters Black Capricorn (September 2016).

WEED PRIEST:
Adam Diavol – lead guitar/vox
Ragas Iscariot – bass
San “Balor” Sullivan – guitar
Micheál Dúlachán – drums

Weed Priest on Thee Facebooks

Weed Priest on Bandcamp

Weed Priest BigCartel store

Cursed Monk Records on Thee Facebooks

Cursed Monk Records on Bandcamp

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Burn Ritual Sign to Cursed Monk Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 11th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Texas doomgazers Burn Ritual issued the two-song EP Like Suffering this past summer, and the hazy ways the then-one-man outfit showed have been enough to get the now-a-full-band picked up by Irish imprint Cursed Monk Records. My chief question going forward is whether the garage-raw nod of “Unleash the Dogs” and “Like Suffering” will be maintained now that Jake Lewis has a complete lineup working around him, but I guess we’ll find out in the New Year when he and the rest of his cohorts get around to recording and releasing the album.

Until then, if you didn’t hear Like Suffering, which was mastered by Mos Generator‘s own Tony Reed, you’ll find it at the bottom of this post courtesy of the Burn Ritual Bandcamp. Here’s the announcement from Cursed Monk about having snagged the band for the impending release:

burn ritual

Burn Ritual have joined the cult of the Cursed Monk

Burn Ritual have signed with Cursed Monk Records!

Burn Ritual is a doom metal band based out of San Antonio, Texas, brewing its own brand of heavy riffs, bluesy hazy vocals, and massive hypnotic fuzzed out tones. The band combine their love for traditional doom and stoner rock bands with a modern element making it a unique but familiar journey for the listener. Burn Ritual is the brainchild of vocalist/guitarist Jake Lewis, who performed and recorded on most of the band’s debut EP Like Suffering, which was mastered by Tony Reed of Mos Generator.

The one man project soon paved way for the necessity for a full band of musicians to bring the songs to the stage the way they were meant to be heard , loud and in your face! Now a full four piece band, Burn Ritual plans to keep performing for the rest of the year and then start recording its first full length album in the beginning of 2018 which will be released by Cursed Monk Records.

Burn Ritual’s positively received E.P Like Suffering was released by the band in August 2017 and can be heard here.

https://www.facebook.com/burnritualband/
https://burnritual.bandcamp.com/releases
https://www.facebook.com/cursedmonk/
https://twitter.com/CursedMonkRec
https://www.instagram.com/cursedmonkrecords/
https://cursedmonk.bandcamp.com/

Burn Ritual, Like Suffering EP (2017)

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Weed Priest to Release Consummate Darkness Oct. 31

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 12th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

weed priest

Cursed Monk Records has posted preorders now for Consummate Darkness, the second album from Galway, Ireland, riff worshipers Weed Priest. I’ll grant that after my recent experience traveling to Dublin for the Obelisk-sponsored inaugural edition of the Emerald Haze festival, I’ve got Irish heavy on the brain, but even if that wasn’t the case, I remember full well the “holy shit that’s fucking insane” impression Weed Priest made with their 2013 self-titled debut (review here), and their follow-up 2015 split with Astralnaut (review here) was only too gleeful to follow suit.

The four-piece also put out a split last year with Black Capricorn that you can hear at the bottom of this post, and I’ll hope to have more to come on Consummate Darkness ahead of its Halloween release date through Cursed Monk. Until then, here’s the announcement and background on the band, courtesy of the label via the PR wire:

weed-priest-consummate-darkness

Cursed Monk Records are proud to announce that Weed Priest’s sophomore album Consummate Darkness will be be released on Vinyl. CD and digital, via Cursed Monk Records, on October 31st 2017.

“Lo and behold! From the depths of the smoke filled dungeons, from the tops of the mountains of madness, the priest is coming back with the new opus. Four hymns depicting the unholy ceremonies of union with darkness, four sermons of crawling doom, four spits into the face of conformity and meekness.”

Adam (guitar, vocals), Ragas (bass) and Adrian (drums) were brought together by the love of classic Black Sabbath sound, seventies psychedelic rock, doom/sludge metal and their interest in occultism in 2009. In 2011 Weed Priest released a well received demo CD. A grandiose debut self-titled full length album came out in 2013 and is now sold out. It was followed by “Worship” EP (2014). In 2014 the drum throne was taken over by Michael. Second guitar player Sean also joined. Two split releases followed: split single with Northern Irish doom brothers Astralnaut (February 2015) and split EP with Italian doomsters Black Capricorn (September 2016).

Weed Priest’s second much anticipated full length album “Consummate Darkness” is coming out on Samhain (31th of October) 2017 as vinyl, cd and digital via Cursed Monk Records.

Weed Priest can offer a truly heavy doom metal experience. They have built their reputation as a solid live act and have shared stage with the likes of Church Of Misery, Wounded Kings, Meth Drinker, Hooded Priest, Argus, Gorilla Monsoon, Hour of 13, Black Capricorn, Slomatics, Conan, and many more.

Consummate Darkness is available to preorder now via the Cursed Monk Bandcamp, where you will also be able to stream Weed Priest’s brand new track, “Vampyr”

WEED PRIEST:
Adamus de Sabbator – vocals, guitars
K.H. Rhaagulus – bass
Sean ‘The Tormentor’ Sullivan – guitars
Mígorr – drums

https://www.facebook.com/theWeedPriest
https://weedpriest.bandcamp.com/
http://weedpriest.bigcartel.com/
https://cursedmonk.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/cursedmonk/

Weed Priest, “Summertime”

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