Posted in Reviews on May 2nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
A long-awaited debut after several EPs, demos, a single and a split, Vestal Claret’s Bloodbath was released on vinyl through Cyclopean Records late in 2011. The album, a double-LP, found the Connecticut band’s lineup of vocalist Phil Swanson, guitarist/bassist Simon Tuozzoli and drummer Michael Petrucci joined by a range of guest guitarists and vocalists, including members of Forsaken, NightBitch and Black Pyramid (among many others), as they ran through more than an hour’s worth of dark, classic metal, touching on doom here and there but adherent to atmosphere more than to genre. The story of how Vestal Claret even got to that point is a winding one, with the band starting up in 2005 concurrent to Swanson’s fronting Upwards of Endtime before joining Hour of 13 and Tuozzoli recording initial Vestal Claret demos at his UP Recording Studio (where Bloodbath was also put to tape), and the band eventually bringing in Petrucci for drums, who now also plays in Tuozzoli’s heavy rock outfit King of Salem as well as fuzz-deliverers Curse the Son in addition to being a professional, touring percussionist for the Blue Man Group. But even through all of that and more – Swanson in and out of Hour of 13, Seamount, etc. – Vestal Claret managed to get a record out, and a different version now shows up on CD through the upstart label, Nine Records. What’s different? The guest appearances are gone, which leaves Tuozzoli, Swanson and Petrucci on their own as a trio for Bloodbath’s 71-minute duration, and the tracklisting has changed, giving the CD a different flow than the LP edition, with parts recorded following the first Bloodbath release. So basically, Bloodbath is two albums, with mostly the same songs, and this CD is the second of the two. The “band version.” I told you it was complicated.
I didn’t hear the original Bloodbath, so I won’t endeavor to compare the two, but it’s immediately commendable that the 12 tracks are they’re presented on the CD sound neither incomplete nor like there would even be much room to add more to them. Sure, the arrangements are fairly straightforward – guitar, bass, drums, vocals – but Vestal Claret sound like a cohesive unit across the album’s course and whether it’s on the catchy chorus of “Tales to Those Forgotten” or the dark, disturbing narrative of “Missing Girl,” they seem more than capable of getting their point across on their own. Opener “Hex of Harm” and the penultimate “Allowance of Sin” previously appeared on the Virgin Blood single (review here), and like that release and the band’s work elsewhere, they skirt a line between cultish devil worship and indecent, graphic lyrical description, Swanson’s lyrics pushing an envelope of Satanic psychosis particularly on “Missing Girl,” where cuts like “Ritual of Revival” and “Hex of Harm” (who knew black magic was so alliterative?) find him casting spells in his trademark vibrato, hit voice perfectly suited for Tuozzoli’s classic metal guitar work. “Hex of Harm” is the longest track on Bloodbath at 9:27 (immediate points for opening with it), and balances well the driving rhythm, strong hook and darkened atmospheres that follow, each piece leaning toward one or more such aspects of the band’s sound, like the more rocking “Devil’s Daughters” or the fuller build of “The Correlation,” which follow, as the album plays out its bleak course. Tuozzoli and Petrucci work exceedingly well together on faster tracks like “Blood Oath” and the slower vibing of the intro to “Submissive to Evil,” and though the music rarely veers into doomed territory, that feeling is never far off, particularly with the drama Swanson works into his delivery on “Missing Girl,” taking on a touch of a British accent for the verses over the chugging riff that gives way to a bridge that winds up as a secondary instrumental chorus. How many times Satan is evoked throughout these cuts, I don’t even know, but the best line comes from “Missing Girl”: “It’s always said the devil has his due/He’ll be paid in full before the day is through,” and though the song’s thematic is disquieting, its intro verses actually creepy as opposed to just creepy-sounding, it’s actually one of the best, most creatively expansive songs on Bloodbath. But wow, that’s creepy.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 14th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Polish imprint Nine Records sends over word of the long-awaited CD release of Bloodbath, the first full-length outing by Connecticut-based doom trio Vestal Claret. Thee Claret‘s lineup is an impressive assemblage, with frontman Phil Swanson (Hour of 13, Seamount, Upwards of Endtime, etc.) joined by guitarist Simon Tuozzoli (King of Salem) and drummer Michael Petrucci (Curse the Son), and their last release was the Virgin Blood 7″ in 2011 (review here).
Both tracks from that release — opener “Hex of Harm” and the penultimate “Allowance of Sin” — show up on Bloodbath as well, which according to the info below was recorded back in 2006. Long-awaited indeed. The band must be relieved to get it out. Text, links and music follow:
While this release stands in many ways as Vestal Claret’s official debut, Vestal Claret have in fact been releasing EPs, splits and demos as early on as 2006 with its actual formation in 2005 predating just about everything being heard in the current “occult” fashion genre at this time. There is no influence or inspiration from anything of the past two decades that provoked this release or its ideas and concepts. The material on this album was all written in 2006, but with contract in hand Vestal Claret was unable to release these recordings until now.
Most of you have probably already heard this stuff on the vinyl version released in 2011 by Cyclopean Records. Vinyl contains a “Bloodbath’s” guest-version, but here you are dealing with a “Bloodbath’s” band-version. It’s over 70 minutes of classic heavy metal. Meet the Beast himself!
1. Hex of Harm 2. Devil’s Daughters 3. The Correlation 4. Ritual of Revival 5. Missing Girl 6. Blood Oath 7. The Templar’s Idol 8. Tales to Those Forgotten 9. Endurement to the Heirs of Shame 10. Submissive to Evil 11. Allowance of Sin 12. A Call to Satan
Posted in Features on November 9th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Hailing from the rarely-fuzzed outskirts of New Haven, Connecticut, boldly tone-centric trio Curse the Son tap into the primal appeal of heavy rock at its best: classic riffs, unpretentious presentation, weighted groove and obscure lyrics. Their second full-length is called Psychache (review here), and it’s a beast of thickened riffing, spaced-out vocals, feedback-drenched stonerisms and easter-egg rhythmic intricacies. Led by guitarist/vocalist Ron Vanacore – whose fuzz is consuming and whose vocals blend late-Sabbath Ozzy with the far-back ethereal style of YOB‘s Mike Scheidt — Curse the Son have quickly developed into a standout not only in the Connecticut scene — there isn’t one to speak of — but among genre traditionalists as a whole.
More to the point, Psychachedisplays a resounding development in terms of style and execution from its predecessor, early 2011′s Klonopain(review here). No doubt part of that is the inclusion of drummer Mike Petrucci (also King of Salem, Vestal Claret and the Blue Man Group), whose professionalism in the rhythm section alongside bassist Cheech has brought Curse the Son to a new level entirely, but even in terms of Vanacore‘s own performance, the songs of Psychacheoffer a more confident, solidified listen, whether it’s the long-held notes of “Spider Stole the Weed” or the melodies creeping into opener “Goodbye Henry Anslinger.” The growth may (and hopefully will) prove ongoing, but with Psychache, the Hamden three-piece have sent a clear signal that it’s underway.
In the interview that follows, Vanacore discusses writing and recording the album, bringing in Petrucci on drums, the health problems he experienced in his throat during the time of recording — science has proven time and again that granulomas are some nasty shit — his ongoing musical partnership with Cheech, with whom he played in Sufferghost as well, opening for Kyuss Lives at their Connecticut show, and much more. This is the second time I’ve interviewed Vanacore (first here), and it’s not a coincidence that after hearing Psychache, I hit him up with more questions about the band’s processes and goings on.
Can’t imagine it’ll be the last, either. After seeing them live last year at the Fuzzfest they organized and again at this year’s Stoner Hands of Doom, they’ve made a convincing case for their blend of doomed lurch and engrossing stoner heft. Vanacore’s tone in particular shines through as a defining element, but Cheech‘s running basslines and Petrucci‘s crisp timekeeping are no less essential to the overall impression, the three coming together in classic power trio style with a chemistry still formative but threatening in its potential all the same. In short, I think they’re a good band, and I wanted to give Psychachemore attention. So here we are.
You’ll find the complete Q&A with Vanacore after the jump. Please enjoy.
Posted in Features on September 2nd, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
How surprised was I to win the Stoner Hands of Doom XII raffle last night? Well, I’m not exactly the guy who never wins anything, but I am the guy who says he never wins anything when he wins something once every eight to 10 years, so yeah, I was pretty blown away. I didn’t even really get the chance to go through the box of goodies last night — Pale Divine had just played and The Skull was about to take the stage — but the loot is plentiful.
My ticket won me a bounty of doomly goods, from Iron Man vinyl to CDs from Kin of Ettins, Beelzefuzz, Faces of Bayon, Black Cowgirl, Ichabod, One Inch Giant, and so on, plus posters for the last several SHoD fests, including one for SHoD VII in Arizona, when Acid King played. There are ones in there for SHoD X and SHoDXI as well, both of which I played in different bands, so it’s kind of special to have them, and an assortment of doomly patches and stickers — not to mention an entire wardrobe of t-shirts — but the highlight of the whole package has to be the official Stoner Hands of Doom XII pedal, which has the Skillit-designed skull artwork of this year’s fest painted right on. I can’t wait to get it home and hook it up to my ukulele. I’m dead serious.
Thanks obviously go out to Rob and the whole SHoD crew. One of the great things about being here the last several days has been seeing all the familiar faces. Today is the final day of the fest. When I came out of the El ‘n’ Gee last night, the entire town of New London appeared to be smashed, so it’s not such a surprise that it’s kind of sleepy and quiet now as I write this in a shady corner in the parking lot across from the venue, but soon enough, Minneapolis sludgers Witchden will start another full day of excellent heaviness that I’ll once more be documenting as we go along.
If you’ve been reading these posts, thank you for that. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have. It’s kind of a trip to be reviewing a band’s set and then have them come over and say hi, as happened a few times yesterday, but it’s been a lot of fun. More to come in a bit for day four of SHoD XII.
UPDATE 2:02PM: They had a hell of a trip to get here and a first-band-on crowd to play to, but Minneapolis sludgers Witchden were tight enough to show they had a little road time along their way. The two-guitar five-piece boasts Jeff “Kong”Moen, now apparently formerly of Sourvein on drums, and he provided both energy and crash behind vocalist Jason Micah, whose vicious screams came across with an almost hip-hop style presence. Maybe it was the upturned hat, but everyone else was pretty much headbanging, and his stage moves just gave off that kind of vibe. On the other hand, the riffs of guitarists were straight out of the sludge playbook, heavy enough to transcend the stoner and really get into some muddy nastiness. I bought the CD, and they were also selling handmade dugouts, which are apparently a thing that exist. They were $20 a pop, and as much as I like to support independent woodworking, I stuck with the album and think it was probably the right idea. A heavy start, and the first fog machine of the whole fest (surprised the hell out of me, like, “Oh yeah! Fog!” — it’s been a long weekend), but we’re underway for sure now.
UPDATE 2:46PM: They were a lot of fun, because they were literally kids — their parents were here — but Insano Vision also seriously brought it to SHoD XII, and by “it” I mean the inimitable vitality of rock and roll youth. They were fast and heavy and jumping around the stage, and it gives what I’ve been calling “energetic” all weekend an entirely different touchstone. A double-guitar four-piece from North Haven, I’d be amazed if a single one of them could gain entry to the bar area at the El ‘n’ Gee, but heavy is heavy. Lead guitarist Doug Glaser (above) tapped through a couple killer solos, jumping around the stage during set highlight “Unknown,” and while they still have their kinks to work out, they have plenty of time to do it. Very cool, very metal, and great to see some youngins kicking ass. As they’re local, I don’t know that I’d put them on after Witchden, but I think they surprised everyone here with both their chops and their presence. They tore through their set quickly, leaving a strong impression in their wake. Will be interesting to see how they develop, but it was more than pleasant to be caught off-guard as I was and I think a lot of others were as well.
UPDATE 3:39PM: I think I pulled my rock muscle. It was a pretty bold choice on New Jersey four-piece Infernal Overdrive‘s part to throw in the 12-minute jam (which was shortened, but still) “Motor” so early into the set, but they pulled it off, ranging far into psychedelic moodiness and then bringing it back into their own brand of classic-type riff rock. Brothers Keith (bass) and Marc Schleicher (guitar/vocals) held down cuts like “Viking” — which I’m dying to hear the final version of — the former with his customized Captain America bass, now featuring blue knobs. They’re always a show, huge on personality, but the songwriting backs it up. “I-95,” from their Small Stone debut, Last Rays of the Dying Sun (review here) is maddeningly catchy, and though Marc didn’t jump off the stage in his James Brown boogie routine, he and guitarist Rich Miele both sounded excellent and drummer Mike Bennett pushed a big rock finish over the top, the band’s logo proudly blazing off the front of his kick bass. For a band that doesn’t tour six or seven months each year, Infernal Overdrive always throw down, and every time I see them, I manage to enjoy it more than the last. Word is Hovel‘s brakes went out, and while they’re reportedly okay, they’re also reportedly not coming. Bummer, as it would’ve been cool to catch their set, but at least nobody got hurt.
UPDATE 5:OOPM: Some more familiar faces in Richmond, Virginia, SHoD veterans Fire Faithful. Their most recent full-length, Please Accept this Invocation (review here), was fit to please, if somewhat under-recorded, but like last year, the four-piece delivered in a live setting. As expected they called for backup (vocals) well into the proceedings, but the earlier “Wonton Lavey,” and “Dollar Bottomed Out” also stood out. The Ladies Faithful joined in for “Harvest Moon,” “A Devil in London” and the finale “King Macabre,” helping Fire Faithful do Virginia proud. Their Southern-style metal/doom is definitely traceable to its geography, with guitarist Shane Rippey‘s Pepper Keenan-style riffs and the post-Dave Sherman/Phil Anselmo vocal approach of Brandon Malone, but the band is clearly also working to come into their own more in terms of sound, and just going by this set, it seems to be worth their effort. There’s growth yet to be had, but they’re closer even than they were at SHoD XI. We’ll see when their next release drops how their development translates to the studio, but they’re getting there.
UPDATE 6:01PM: Near as I can tell, New Hampshire trio Skrogg only played four songs — “The Cajun Lady” and “Anita Ride” from their 2011 self-titled debut EP (review here) and two new ones — but man, that set was full. Low end permeated guitar and bass alike, and drummer Felix Starr had a floor tom mounted as his rack for extra thunder to stand up to Reverend Maxfield and Jasper Gloom. Maxfield handled vocals in addition to the guitar, delivering classic-rock-style lyrics with a dudely burl that seemed less like a put-on than some I’ve heard. Helps the authenticity cause that he spoke the same way. They cracked jokes between songs, with Starr referencing Wayne’s World (“I like to play”) and Dumb and Dumber(“the beer flows like wine”), among others, in the process. The two newer songs were both longer and more expansive instrumentally than the EP material, the first a wide-berth blues number and the second blending familiarly thickened fuzz into a twisted biker metal groove. They brought their own crowd to go with that already present at the El ‘n’ Gee, and I’d gladly wager that when Skrogg plays locally in New Hampshire, it’s a fucking rager of a party. I wouldn’t mind seeing it, but the export version was pretty killer as well. This is one of those bands who are just too dead on to not get picked up by some label sooner or later. I’ll look forward to hearing the new stuff put to tape.
UPDATE 7:02PM: Kind of a hard-luck set for Doom Capitol quality heavy rockers Borracho, who played SHoD XII as a trio sans guitarist/vocalist Noah. They made the best of it. Most of the set was instrumental — the midsection of “Grab the Reins” recognizable anyway — but guitarist Steve Fisher took the front position on “Concentric Circles.” Add to Noah‘s absence Fisher’s own technical problems with his Model T, and it’s probably not how they’d want to be remembered, but they still grooved the shit out of the El ‘n’ Gee, bassist Tim Martin also having his say vocally and filling the gaps in tone left by the lack of second guitar, the warmth of Martin‘s tone all the more audibly locked in with Mario Trubiano’s drumming. It was kind of an oddly-constructed set, with most of the instrumental material up front and then a last couple songs with vocals, but they made it work with what they had as a trio, though I think if they’d opened with “Concentric Circles” and then gone into the extended instrumental stuff, it might have flowed more easily. I don’t know for sure and so don’t want to conjecture, but I don’t think Noah is actually out of the band, just not here, so it doesn’t seem like something that was really planned for. Hopefully everything’s cool and Borracho can get back to four-piece form soon, and if for whatever reason that doesn’t happen, they still showed promise as a trio keeping the riffs at the fore.
UPDATE 8:04PM: This is a band about whom I can’t even really hope to feign impartiality. I’ve known frontman Ken-E Bones of Long Island sludge mainstays Negative Reaction for about a decade at this point if not longer, and drummer Joe Wood is my touchstone for awesome when it comes to human beings. Like you meet someone and go, “Wow, this seems like a really cool person.” My next step is to wonder if they’re as good a person as Joe Wood, and in every instance so far, the answer as been no. It was a thrill just to see these dudes, let alone watch them play a set. Of note, however, is that Bones and Wood have a new bass player in Jaime (pronounced hi-may), who replaces Damon Lippy. Not sure what’s the situation there, but as ever, Negative Reaction made for a strong trio, hitting up “Docking Bay 94″ and “Dopamine” from their 2011 outing, Frequencies from Montauk(review here) amid classics like “Go Die” and rousing opener “Loathing.” They got a good response from the crowd and seemed to be genuinely enjoying each other’s company and that of the audience, so right on. Add to that Bones flopping around on stage during the finale of “A Bit of Numb,” and you’ve got good times all the way through.
UPDATE 8:56PM: I’m starting to drag, and not a little, but Boston double-guitar foursome Summoner (né Riff Cannon, which if nothing else was a more descriptive name) were definitely not. Once upon a time — last year — I was in talks with the band to release their full-length, Phoenix, on The Maple Forum. That didn’t work out, but the band remains killer, vocalist/bassist Chris Johnson jumping up on drummer Scott Smith‘s kit early in the set and only getting more into it from there as guitarists Joe Richner and AJ Peters alternated between post-metal noodling and sludged-out crunch. I’d never actually seen them before, either as Summoner or their prior incarnation, but it was like they were trying to drive their music directly into the skull, no need for soundwaves or anything. They played in the dark, as some bands will do, but were a treat to watch, and if I was just a little bit more the vinyl-buying type, I’d be walking out of here tonight with a copy of Phoenix. Nonetheless, I’ll be revisiting my download of the record this week for sure. Their builds and crashes warrant yet another in an ongoing series of listens. Good band, and they seem like they’re only going to get better as they keep pushing themselves.
UPDATE 9:45PM: So here’s a bit of breaking news for you on a Sunday night: Massachusetts trio Black Pyramid just finished recording a new album — today. Apparently right before the three of them — guitarist/vocalist Darryl Shepard, bassist Gein and drummer Clay Neely – got in the car to come to New London. How badass is that? “Yeah, so we just finished our album, whaddya wanna do now?” “Let’s go play SHoD.” “Okay.” They rolled into the El ‘n’ Gee like the riff marauders they are and from there it was all battle axes and scimitars and bloodspurts. Most of what they played was off that new album, including a ripping instrumental that only served to emphasize how quickly they’ve come together as a unit and how tight they are performance-wise. Shepard brings a lot of personality to the band, and I don’t know the names of the songs, because they’re new and I’ve only just heard them here, right now, but there was one start-stop part where I feared for the lives of his strings he was hitting it so hard. I didn’t even know they were recording as of yet, so it’s awesome to hear that’s on the way, and gives me something to look forward to in 2013 as well as hopes of catching Black Pyramid again soon.
UPDATE 10:52PM: Holy shit. I finally got to fucking see Elder. You know those bands that every single time you would otherwise be in the same place on the same night — them on a stage, you probably drunk and awkward at a bar — it never works out? That’s me and Elder. It’s been years at this point. They’re in New York, I’m in Boston. They’re in Boston, I’m in Jersey. I’m in Boston, they’re in Germany. But here’s the thing. There’s not a chance I’d trade seeing Elder tonight for seeing them ever before, because right now, they’re at their absolute best yet. I don’t know if you heard the Spires Burn/Release12″ that was streamed here not too long ago, but it’s been nearly half a decade and Elder – guitarist/vocalist Nick DiSalvo, mulletted bassist Jack Donovan and drummer Matt Couto – just keep getting better. They slammed into “Release” from that 12″ and it was glorious, no shit, and capped an already fantastic set with the title-track from Dead Roots Stirring. My only mistake was opening the laptop too early, so I had to stay back by the bar longer than I would’ve wanted to and not go up front, but other than that, it was perfect. I’m trying really hard lately to guard myself against hyperbole, because while it’s great for having bands use your quotes in their promotional materials, it’s shitty criticism and every act has things that work and things that don’t. That said, Elder fucking made my night. I mean it. Of all the really, really cool shit I’ve already seen today — from old friends to bands I’ve never even heard of — to finally see Elder was incredible. Might be some of the best American heavy psych I’ve ever seen.
UPDATE 12:25AM: This was the first time I’d seen Iron Man since they acquired vocalist Dee Calhoun. In that time, they’ve put out two EPs — last year’s Dominance (review here) and the new Att hålla dig över, which I picked up tonight at the merch table. Calhoun‘s singing is pure Halford, right down to the face-ripping screams and the double-hand clutch on the mic, but god damn can he pull it off. If you want to compare to former Iron Man vocalists, he’s a better Halford than Joe Donnelly was an Ozzy, and Joe Donnelly did a pretty mean Ozzy. Decked out in bandanna, beard and doomly black duster, Calhoun gave Iron Man a presence of up front like I’ve never seen them have before, raw talent blended with performance edge, and it seemed more than ever like guitarist “Iron” Alfred Morris III has finally met his match in a singer. Morris is the walking embodiment of all that is Maryland doom (at very least, he makes up half and Earthride‘s Dave Sherman comprises the rest), so it goes without saying that he killed it, and watching them run through “Ruler” and other songs off the EPs and Iron Man‘s last full-length, 2009′s I Have Returned, like opener “I Have Returned” and “Run from the Light” gave me a new appreciation for the dynamic between Morris and bassist Louis Strachan, whose fills added both raw groove and vitality in playing off Morris‘ riffing. If there’s a more perfect way to cap off a Stoner Hands of Doom fest, I can’t think of it. For the finishing touch, they brought up SHoD organizer Rob Levey (above, with Calhoun) to sing the title-track from 1993′s Black Night, noting as they did that he fronted the band at that time. Before Iron Man started, Levey was on stage after they picked the raffle winner (I didn’t go two for two), and he said this was the best lineup of the band he’d seen in the last 15 years. I don’t have the same kind of experience with them, obviously, but they’re definitely in a new class, and well deserved. They brought the house down, and when they finished, I said a crazy amount of goodbyes and adjourned to the same parking lot where I posted from this morning. Seemed only fitting to round out the day in the same spot. As anyone who saw me move into the same corner and plug in my laptop during almost every band’s last song over the course of the last three days might be able to tell you, I’m a creature of habit. I’m going to get in the car in just another minute or so and drive back to where I’m staying, but unless some of the adrenaline in me from the end of SHoD XII dies down, I’ll add a conclusion to this when I land, so stay tuned. Not quite done yet.
Guitarist Ryan Adams of Connecticut traditional doom outfit Nightbitch recently got in touch with a link to a pro-shot live clip of the band in their new trio format. Nightbitch was previously fronted by none other than Phil Swanson — who has been in more bands than I can count but recently vacated the lead-singer post of Hour of 13 (still remaining in Vestal Claret and Seamount) — and drummer Chris Taylor has taken up the vocal role in this revamped incarnation.
Those aren’t easy shoes to fill, but Taylor does well with it, and as Nightbitch moves forward in following up their Sex and Magic EP (released last year on limited cassette and vinyl), it should be interesting to hear what he comes up with for melodies to complement Adams‘ doomly riffage and the formidable low end of bassist Mark Eles.
Here’s “Disrober/Sex and Magic,” filmed live somewhere in Connecticut:
Posted in Reviews on February 23rd, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
Comprised of two-thirds of the now-defunct stoner outfit Sufferghost, Hamden, Connecticut riffers Curse the Son emerge with the first full-length since their 2007 inception, the self-released Klonopain. It’s an album almost entirely unabashed in its influences, proudly flying the backpatches of Sabbath, Sleep, Trouble and Goatsnake in its seven component tracks, the vocals of guitarist Ron Vanacore fitting right in line with the heavier end of slow stoner/doom rock. Curse the Son, more or less in a wasteland as regards their local scene, maximize their tonal heft in Vanacore’s guitars and the bass of Cheech (no, it’s not thatCheech), as if making up for what other bands might also have on offer, while also keeping a more or less straightforward approach to the style that should be familiar to those experienced in the ways of the heavy underground. In many ways, Curse the Son is a scene band without the scene. All the more respectable then, for them to stand alone and not compromise on what they want to be musically.
And judging by the material on Klonopain – four tracks of which appeared on Curse the Son’s 2009 Globus Hystericus EP in previously-recorded versions – what they want to be musically is slow. To their credit, even when they’re not playing slow, on parts of “Anullus of Zin” or opener “Unbearable Doer of Wrong,” they sound like they are. Vanacore’s guitar tone is essential to this, as he takes a heavily-fedback solo on the opening cut, offsetting some of the Goatsnake-ery in the central riff, but still keeping that molasses-boogie feel. Drummer Rich Lemley does well with the tempo changes the riffs present, but isn’t a flashy player by any stretch or as present in the mix cymbal-wise as he might be on other records in this style. No doubt, Klonopain is led by the guitar and mixed in a way that heavily favors it, but for weedian riff metal, that’s more or less par for the course. Vanacore’s vocals – entirely clean and in the Sabotage-era Ozzy tradition – offer enough change throughout to stave off monotony, patterning themselves on “Y?” in a way that reminds of what Floor did so well and only recently got credit for: blending semi-melodic vocal accessibility with balls-heavy doom guitar, while also leaving room to kick into ultra-Sabbath mode toward the end, launching with a suitable “Right!”