Consuming in its atmospheric darkness and vicious in intent, the debut album from Boston trio Rozamov arrives not without the ground suitably prepared. Actually, it’s been something of a wait. Founded in 2011 by the trio appearing here of guitarist/vocalist Matt Iacovelli (also piano), bassist/vocalist/noisemaker Tom Corino (also of Kind) and drummer Will Hendrix (since replaced by Jeff Landry), as well as guitarist Liz Walshak, they would quickly turn around two EPs, a self-titled and Of Gods and Flesh, in 2012 and 2013, offering heavy-toned crusher riffs with a thrashy edge and a nascent undertone of doom.
It didn’t seem unreasonable to think a full-length would follow soon after, but Rozamov took something of a turn at that point. They parted ways with Walshak (now in Sea) and undertook their first real stretch of touring. I don’t know what other work they were doing, but by the time 2015 came around and they released their cross-coastal split 7″ with L.A.’s Deathkings (review here), they were a different band. Still heavy, still nasty, but driven in a post-sludge direction in a new way and one that, excitingly, was more their own than what they’d shown on their earliest work. As their first long-player, This Mortal Road lands via Battleground Records and Dullest Records with five tracks/40 minutes that draw that line further out to a new point in their longer-term progression. It has been a while in the making, but it’s a pivotal declaration from Rozamov of who they are as a band, and it comes through loud and clear in these songs. Emphasis on loud.
With a recording and mix by Jon Taft at New Alliance Audio and mastering by Nick Z. at New Alliance East Mastering, This Mortal Road seethes with a particularly New England-style anger and intensity. It is bookended by its two longest pieces in the opening title-track (10:49) and closer “Inhumation” (11:29), and finds a sense of variety in switching between Iacovelli‘s shouts and cleaner, post-Oborn howls, and Corino‘s shouts, which particularly on the rolling second cut “Wind Scorpion” remind of Rwake‘s poetic extremity. There is precious little letup, as “This Mortal Road” makes plain at the outset, beginning almost like the listener got there late with an unfolding mid-paced intro that leads the way into the first verse, cleaner-sung than much of what will follow and thoroughly doomed.
At about three minutes in, the roll-and-rumble comes to a halt and they turn to a quieter but still tense stretch of guitar and either keys or guitar effects leading to an instrumental midsection that gradually, patiently, brings them around to the opener’s grueling, shouted apex, in which the full impact of their churn really begins to show itself, perhaps as a precursor to “Wind Scorpion,” which is marked out by Hendrix‘s tortured thud and the play between the bass — which, on a tonal level, feels like it might just bury us all — and the airier impulses of the guitar.
When they hit into a stop, as they do several times in the verse, I don’t care what speaker you’re listening on, it sounds like it’s about to blow. Vocals are shouted with a sense of the space in the room in which they were recorded, but not necessarily buried in the mix for effect, and as “Wind Scorpion” passes its midpoint, Corino and Iacovelli seem to come together on vocals in a moment of extra-righteous malevolence, transitioning into a slow-motion nod drawn to more resonant thudding and a plotted but effective layered-in lead that rounds out. They cap side A with a final chug that, in the context of the lurch and push before it, feels almost humorous in its understatement.
It’s important to note that while This Mortal Road is unquestionably structured to break into two sides, as mentioned above, the flow front-to-back is linear and the resulting full-album feel palpable. Listening digitally or on CD, there’s a quick stop between “Wind Scorpion” and the subsequent “Serpent Cult,” which brings back the clean vocals, but in their order as much as in how “Serpent Cult” feeds into the two-minute interlude “Swallowed and Lost” and that feeds into the finale, Rozamov do well in creating an immersive experience — think Steve Buscemi in a woodchipper, you children of the ’90s — across the presentation of the record as a whole, which is something that, as a newer and less mature outfit, they probably wouldn’t have been able to do.
“Serpent Cult” proves a worthy centerpiece of the tracklist as it oozes forth to execute its seven minutes of hellscaping, and though its instrumental aspects are thoroughly, persistently sludged, the shifts in vocal approach offer diversity both on their own and in relation to “Wind Scorpion” before it. Vague speech, either sampled or spoken, accompanies the piano of “Swallowed and Lost,” and the movement into “Inhumation” — a title that brings to mind some lost death metal band from either Florida or New York — comes via a brief foreboding drone. Fittingly enough, “Inhumation” is the darkest, most outwardly brutal inclusion on This Mortal Road, making its way toward a crawl in its second half that seems bent on tearing itself apart from about its seventh minute onward.
Noble, and I’m not sure how else Rozamov might’ve ended the album other than with the noise and feedback they do, but it follows a churning roll into the bleakest sphere the band has yet to occupy, as though they were forcibly willing themselves to be heavier, meaner, rawer. That impression, savage as it turns out to be in the actual listening experience, is another sign of how much they’ve grown, and while This Mortal Road was recorded over a span of months, the obvious efforts Rozamov have put into crafting their aesthetic with it can be heard in the overarching cohesiveness of purpose in the songs. In other words, it took a while for the band to realize This Mortal Road, but This Mortal Road seems to be all the more realized for that, and as their debut, it strikes with deceptive efficiency and poise. Is it possible for something so harsh to be progressive? One gets the sense that as Rozamov continue forward, they’re setting themselves up to pursue an answer.
What, you thought I wasn’t going to post the first audio to be made public from Elder‘s new album? What’s been titled Reflections of a Floating World and given a June 2 release date through Armageddon Shop and Stickman Records gets its first peak in the teaser clip below, along with some of the art by Adrian Dexter that, from what I saw when I was fortunate enough to be in the studio with the band back in December, will be something of a highlight in and of itself among 2017 outings. And then we get to the music. Kind of.
It’s only a little over a minute long, and much of that is given to a showcase of texture — that is to say, the Massachusetts three-turned-four-piece aren’t giving away all the goods their first time out — but from what I got to hear of Reflections of a Floating World, texture is actually going to be a big part of the progressive step forward they’re taking from 2015’s Lore (review here). Seems fair to expect a good amount of ambience this time around, and late in the clip below there’s just a little slice of their more rocking side, which never felt particularly likely to go away, particularly after the shimmering display of balance they put on with the last record.
Elder, who celebrate 10 years as a band in 2017, were recently confirmed for the Days of Darkness Festival this October in Baltimore (info here), and you’ll have to forgive my assumption that many more tour dates will be announced in the months ahead. The big question in my mind at this point is what Elder will ultimately do with all that momentum they had coming off Lore, and how much will 2017 be their moment? Can they capture that kind of lightning in a bottle twice? If anyone could…
Ponder it while you watch the clip below, and enjoy.
More to come:
Elder, Reflections of a Floating World teaser
Our new album is entitled “Reflections of a Floating World”. It will be released on June 2nd, 2017 via Stickman Records and Armageddon Shop.
Here’s a short teaser featuring a preview of some music and artwork by Adrian Dexter. We are looking forward to sharing more details including the full album art, track listing, tour dates and a full song with you soon!
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
Turns out Gozu‘s upcoming Northeastern run is only half the story. There’s a whole other coast to cover! My understanding is the Boston four-piece are hard at work putting together riffs and structures for a quick-turnaround follow-up for 2016’s Revival (review here) and have plans to hit the studio this summer, but before they get there, they’ll head West in April to join Ape Machine for 11 dates heralding the worthy cause of the latest full-length.
Revival was, as you’ll recall, issued by Ripple Music, and after playing Psycho Las Vegas and touring Europe with Holy Grove in the months following its release Gozu signed a deal to release their next album through Metal Blade imprint Blacklight Media. Momentum is obviously on their side as they get ready to record again, and I’m intrigued to find out whether that push plays into the intensity of the new material itself — Revival wasn’t short on drive. I’ve already nagged them about letting me do an in-studio feature when they go in, so I’ll keep you posted on what I know when I know it.
Here’s the tour announcement for the West Coast run, courtesy of the PR wire:
Gozu announces northeast and west coast USA tour dates
Massachusetts-based rock/metal outfit Gozu has announced a short run of tour dates next week, which will see the band perform in Philadelphia (PA), Brooklyn (NY), Dover (NH), and Portland (ME). Following this northeast trek, Gozu will appear on the west coast in April alongside Ape Machine. See below for all dates!
Gozu tour dates Feb. 22 – Philadelphia, PA – Kung Fu Necktie w/ The Age of Truth, Kingsnake Feb. 23 – Brooklyn, NY – Lucky 13 Saloon w/ Pants Exploder, Eyes of the Sun, Eat Feb. 24 – Dover, NH – The Dover Brickhouse w/ KYOTY, Tar Feb. 25 – Portland, ME – Geno’s Rock Club w/ Sylvia, All Night, Lousy
Gozu tour dates w/ Ape Machine Apr. 12 – Los Angeles, CA – Viper Room Apr. 13 – San Diego, CA – Soda Bar Apr. 14 – Santa Cruz, CA – Blue Lagoon Apr. 15 – Sacramento, CA – Starlite Lounge Apr. 16 – San Francisco, CA – Elbo Room Apr. 17 – Fresno, CA – TBA Apr. 18 – Bend, OR – Volcanic Theater Apr. 19 – Eugene, OR – Old Nicks Apr. 20 – Portland, OR – Kenton Club Apr. 21 – Seattle, WA – Funhouse Apr. 22 – Bremerton, WA – Manette Saloon
Formed in 2010, Gozu have released one EP and three full-lengths to-date, and are currently writing their fourth studio album, set for a 2017 release via Blacklight Media / Metal Blade Records. Fronted by Marc Gaffney on vocals and guitar, Doug Sherman on guitar, Joe Grotto on bass, and Mike Hubbard on drums, the band’s sound is tailor-made for blasting out the car speakers via international radio airwaves. Having already been aired on national television (USA) via MTV (‘Road Rules’, ‘Dudesons’, ‘Real World’), NBC, and NASCAR, Gozu aims to take their critical and commercial success to new heights on their upcoming debut for Blacklight Media / Metal Blade Records, with worldwide touring to follow. Previously, the group shared the stage with the likes of St. Vitus, Pallbearer, Lo Pan, Storm of Light, Helmet, Elder, Mos Generator, and Fu Manchu in the States, as well as Yob, Church of Misery and Kvelertak in Europe at Roadburn (Netherlands) and DesertFest Berlin (Germany). 2017 will surely see Gozu back on the road again, and at the forefront of the heavy rock and metal world.
Gozu line-up: Marc Gaffney – guitar and vocals Joe Grotto – bass and low end Mike Hubbard – drums and percussion Doug Sherman – lead guitar and sounds
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 6th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
It’s been kind of quiet from the camp of Boston heavy rockers Gozu since the announcement late last year that they’d signed to Metal Blade Records imprint Blacklight Media for the release of their next album. They shared the stage with Truckfighters last month in Somerville, MA, and I’ve heard rumblings about a return to Europe sometime in 2017, but my sense is they’ve been taking advantage of the winter season to hunker down, stay inside and set to work on the follow-up to 2016’s excellent Revival (review here), the charge of which was delivered via Ripple Music.
A release in 2017 would be Gozu‘s fastest turnaround, and of course there are contingencies like label scheduling, pressing, distribution, etc., to consider — let alone the recording process itself — so I don’t know if we’ll see it this year or in 2018. They were in the ‘Definitely Could Happen’ section of my most anticipated albums list, and particularly with the momentum they have on their side after the new signing, touring Europe with Holy Grove, and so on, yeah, it’s possible, but we’ll have to wait and see what materializes. While the energy of Revival was a big part of what made it work so well, I’d rather they didn’t actually rush the writing process, especially since their next outing has the potential to expand their reach so greatly with Metal Blade‘s promo/distro machine behind it. So yeah, off to the rehearsal space with you guys.
Nonetheless, one gets restless, right? And a couple days out are good for the soul, so Gozu will head south from MA later this month and make their way back to New England, playing Philly, Brooklyn, New Hampshire and Portland, Maine, along the way on a kind of during-the-week winter getaway tour. Shaking off the rust? Maybe testing out a new song or two? You’ll have to go to a show to find out, I suppose.
They’re keeping some cool company as well on the run. Dates/particulars follow:
Gozu – Winter Run 2017
Looking forward to seeing y’all!! Some upcoming shows with lots of friends!
Gozu live: 02/22 Philadelphia PA Kung Fu Necktie w/ The Age of Truth, Kingsnake 02/23 Brooklyn NY Lucky 13 Saloon w/ Pants Exploder, Eyes of the Sun, Eat 02/24 Dover NH The Dover Brickhouse w/ KYOTY, Tar 02/25 Portland ME Geno’s Rock Club w/ Sylvia, All Night, Lousy
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 26th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
Not to say I called it or anything — though I most definitely, definitely called it — but Boston three-piece Rozamov have announced a considerable round of tour dates in support of their forthcoming debut album, This Mortal Road. It’s a run that will take them from one coast to the other as they herald the March 3 release on Battleground Records and Dullest Records, and includes a certainly noteworthy appearance at the Austin Terror Fest, put on by the same crew as the South West Terror Fest.
There are a few open days around that appearance that I assume will be filled by gigs at SXSW or on their way to or from Austin, but either way, it’s a substantial amount of travel and an awesome barrage of shows, so all the best to Rozamov on hitting the road hard and getting out to deliver their onslaught in-person. I haven’t heard the record yet, but I’m rooting for these guys already to make a significant impression this year. A tour like this won’t hurt.
From the PR wire:
ROZAMOV Announces US March Tour Supporting This Mortal Road Full-Length
Boston’s ROZAMOV will tour across the US in support of their upcoming debut full-length, This Mortal Road, beginning directly in conjunction with the album’s release through Battleground Records and Dullest Records.
The new ROZAMOV tour will begin with a record release show the day This Mortal Road is issued, Friday, March 3rd, in Allston, Massachusetts. From there, the band will venture in a clockwise path around the country through the entire month. At press time, nineteen shows have been confirmed, with several additional performances yet to be announced. Hush will join ROZAMOV on first three shows in Brooklyn, Baltimore, and Richmond, and the tour also includes a set at Austin Terror Fest. The remaining dates will be issued in the coming days, as the band issues further information and audio to the anxiously anticipated This Mortal Road.
This Mortal Road will see release March 3rd on vinyl through Battleground Records, on CD and cassette through Dullest Records, and digitally through ROZAMOV. Digital preorders are posted HERE, and physical preorders at Battleground HERE and Dullest HERE.
ROZAMOV Tour Dates: 3/03/2017 O’Briens – Allston, MA *record release show 3/08/2017 The Well – Brooklyn, NY w/ Hush 3/09/2017 The Depot – Baltimore, MD w/ Hush 3/10/2017 25 Watt – Richmond, VA w/ Hush 3/11/2017 Star Bar – Atlanta, GA 3/12/2017 The Nick – Birmingham, AL 3/13/2017 Shantytown Pub – Jacksonville, FL 3/18/2017 The Lost Well – Austin, TX @ Austin Terror Fest 3/19/2017 Zombies – Amarillo, TX 3/20/2017 Moonlight Lounge – Albuquerque, NM 3/21/2017 Yucca Taproom – Tempe, AZ 3/22/2017 Complex – Los Angeles, CA 3/24/2017 High Water Mark – Portland, OR 3/25/2017 Funhouse – Seattle, WA 3/26/2017 Club X – Salt Lake City, UT 3/27/2017 Bar Bar – Denver, CO 3/28/2017 Riot Room – Kansas City, MO 3/29/2017 Livewire Lounge – Chicago, IL 3/30/2017 Buzzbin – Canton, OH
With five monolithic passages consuming over forty minutes of textured, melody-laced doom metal, This Mortal Road presents a sonic catharsis featuring the longest, heaviest, and most progressive tracks ROZAMOV has ever created. The crushing production was recorded and mixed by Jon Taft at New Alliance Audio, and mastered by Nick Z at New Alliance East Mastering, the album finalized with photography by Andrew Weiss and layout by Matt Martinez.
Boston’s Worshipper offer a suitably crisp reminder of the quality of hooks proffered on their debut album last year with their new video. The clip, for the cut “Darkness,” is somewhat obscure visually, but the message could hardly come through clearer. Shadow Hymns (review here) was released by Tee Pee Records and found a place for itself on the fine line between heavy rock and classic metal, managing to harness an atmospheric presence amid what was otherwise unabashed structural traditionalism.
I called it one of 2016’s best debuts, and it easily was that, but it was also one of the most individualized, refusing to bow to aesthetic when it might cost Worhispper some detriment to songwriting.
Maybe that doesn’t make sense until you actually hear what guitarist/vocalist John Brookhouse, guitarist Alejandro Necochea, bassist/backing vocalist Bob Maloney and drummer Dave Jarvis proffer on a song like “Darkness,” but the niche they craft between familiarity and nuance of style and performance is something special and something particularly rare for bands making their debut. The interplay of acoustic and electric guitar on “Darkness,” for example, could otherwise consume the work of groups looking to indulge some progressive vision, but Worshipper back away from this impulse and instead let the track’s chorus do the talking for them.
With Brookhouse‘s vocals out front, the scorch-prone leads of Necochea peppered with class throughout, and the dead-ahead drive from Jarvis and Maloney, the execution of “Darkness” happens smoothly and efficiently, and the song is lean without giving up a natural feel. They probably could’ve picked any number of tracks from Shadow Hymns and made a video for it and I’d say the same thing, but that doesn’t make it any less true. It just makes it a really good album.
Credits follow the clip below. Please enjoy:
Worshipper, “Darkness” official video
WORSHIPPER – “Darkness” from the album ‘Shadow Hymns’ Music by Worshipper Lyrics by John Brookhouse
Sometime in between now and its March 3 release, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to expect Boston atmospheric doomers Rozamov to announce the tour currently being booked with which they’ll support This Mortal Road, their debut full-length. The only question is how long and how far it and they will go. Set for issue through Battleground Records and Dullest Records, Rozamov‘s first outing requires emphasis as such — that is, I have to remind myself they don’t already have an LP out — because of all the three-piece have accomplished over the last couple years, establishing their dominance in their local scene and branching out to tour, play Psycho California, release two EPs and other shorter offerings besides, open for Slayer, on and on. Dudes have done a lot to lead into this record. Can’t imagine they’ll start half-assing now, in the crucial moment of bringing it to bear. Keep an eye out for tour news, and likely more besides.
For example, today I have the particular pleasure of unveiling the cover art — photography by Andrew Weiss, layout by Matt Martinez — for This Mortal Road, as well as the tracklisting for the five-song offering and a brand new teaser featuring a quick snippet of their bleak wares. I could ramble on about how much I’m looking forward to this record, but you don’t care, and the really important stuff — the art, tracks, and video — is below. So let’s do that.
It comes, of course, from the PR wire:
Boston-based ROZAMOV has issued the details and a brief trailer for their upcoming debut full-length, This Mortal Road, which is set for co-release through Battleground Records and Dullest Records in March.
With five monolithic passages consuming over forty minutes of textured, melody-laced doom metal, This Mortal Road presents a sonic catharsis featuring the longest, heaviest, and most progressive tracks ROZAMOV has ever created. The crushing production was recorded and mixed by Jon Taft at New Alliance Audio, and mastered by Nick Z at New Alliance East Mastering, the album finalized with photography by Andrew Weiss and layout by Matt Martinez. The cover art, track listing, and a brief trailer for This Mortal Road, featuring a clip of audio, have been issued.
This Mortal Road will see release March 3rd on vinyl through Battleground Records, on CD and cassette through Dullest Records, and digitally through the band. Stand by for additional audio samples, an official video, and more to be released in the coming weeks. A North American tour is currently being booked in support of This Mortal Road.
This Mortal Road Track Listing: 1. This Mortal Road 2. Wind Scorpion 3. Serpent Cult 4. Swallowed And Lost 5. Inhumation
Posted in Reviews on January 2nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan
Now having spanned multiple years since starting way back in 2016, this Quarterly Review ends today with writeups 51-60 of the total 60. I’ve said I don’t know how many times that I could go longer, but the fact of the matter is it would hit a point where it stopped being a pleasant experience on my end and I’d rather keep things fun as much as possible rather than just try to cram in every single release that ever came my way. Make sense? It might or it might not. I can’t really decide either. From the bottom of my heart though, as I stare down the final batch of records for this edition of the Quarterly Review, I thank you for reading. Let’s dive in.
Quarterly Review #51-60:
Crippled Black Phoenix, Bronze
Nine albums and just about 10 years on from their 2007 debut, A Love of Shared Disasters, the UK’s Crippled Black Phoenix arrive on Season of Mist with the full-length Bronze and remain as complex, moody and sonically resolute as ever. If we’re lucky, they’ll be the band that teaches a generation of heavy tone purveyors how to express emotion in songwriting without giving up the impact of their material, but the truth is that “Champions of Disturbance (Pt. 1 & 2),” “Deviant Burials,” “Scared and Alone” and take-your-pick-from-the-others are about so much more depth than even the blend of “heavy and moody” conveys. To wit, the spacious post-rock gaze of “Goodbye Then” gives a glimpse of what Radiohead might’ve turned into had they managed to keep their collective head out of their collective ass, and the penultimate “Winning a Losing Battle” pushes through initial melancholia into gurgling, obtuse-but-hypnotic drone before making a miraculous return in its finish – then closer “We are the Darkeners” gets heavy. Multi-instrumentalist, founder and chief songwriter Justin Greaves is nothing shy of a visionary, and Bronze is the latest manifestation of that vision. One doubts it will be the last.
Nothing shy about Trouble in Eden, the third full-length from San Jose heavy rockers Zed and second for Ripple Music. From its hey-look-guys-it’s-a-naked-chick cover to the raw vocal push from Pete Sattari –which delves into more melodic fare early on “The Only True Thing” and in rolling closer “The Mountain,” but keeps mostly to gruff grown-up-punker delivery throughout – the 10-tracker makes its bones in cuts like “Blood of the Fallen” and the resonant hook of “Save You from Yourself,” which are straightforward in intent, brash in execution and which thrive on a purported “rock the way it should be” mentality. Well, I don’t know how rock should be, but Zed – Sattari, guitarist Greg Lopez, bassist Mark Aceves and drummer Rich Harris – play to classic structures and seem to bring innate groove with them wherever they go on the album, be it the one-two punch of “High Indeed” and “So Low” or the Clutch-style bounce in the first half of “Today Not Tomorrow,” which leaves one of Trouble in Eden’s most memorable impressions both as a song and as a summary of their apparent general point of view.
Limited to just 200 copies on We Empty Rooms and Gotta Groove Records, the Collective Fictions split 180g LP between Melbourne noise duo Dead and Mark Deutrom (Bellringer, Clown Alley, ex-Melvins) is a genuine vinyl-only release. No digital version. That in itself gives it something of a brazen experimentalism, never mind the fact that one can barely tell where one track ends and the next track starts. Purposeful obscurity? Maybe. It’s reportedly one of a series of four LPs Dead are working on for the next year-plus, and they present two cuts in “Masonry” and “In the Car,” moving through percussion and mid-range drone to build a tense jazz on the former as drummer Jem and bassist Jace make room for the keys and noise of BJ Morriszonkle, which continue to play a prominent role in “In the Car” as well, which is also the only inclusion on Collective Fictions to feature vocals, shortly before it rumbles and long-fades snare hits to close out Dead’s side of the LP, leaving Deutrom – working here completely solo – thoroughly dared to get as weird as he’d like. An opportunity of which he takes full advantage. Over the course of four tracks, he unfurls instrumentalist drone of various stripes, from the nighttime soundscaping of “The Gargoyle Protocol,” which seems to answer the percussive beginning of Dead, through the spacier reverb loneliness of “Presence of an Absence,” like a most pastoral, less obtuse Earth, dreamy but sad in a way that denotes self-awareness on the part of the title, or at very least effective evocation thereof. Likewise, “Bring the Fatted Calf,” with its gong hits, Master Musicians of Bukkake-style jingling and minimalist volume swells, is duly ritualistic, which makes one wonder what the prog-style keys at the open of “View from the Threshold” are looking at. Deutrom moves through that side-closer patiently but fluidly and ends at a drone, tying up Collective Fictions as something of a curio in intent and execution. By that I mean what seems to have brought the two parties together was a “Hey, wanna get weird?” impulse, but each act makes their own level and then works on it, so hell yes, by all means, get weird.
Any record that starts with a narration beginning, “In the not too distant future…” is going to find favor with my MST3K-loving heart. So begins The Apocalypse Trilogies: Spacewolf and Other Dark Tales, the cumbersomely-named but nonetheless engaging Salt of the Earth Records debut full-length from Toronto’s Ol’ Time Moonshine, whose 2013 The Demon Haunted World EP (review here) also found favor. The burl-coated outing is presented across three chapters, each beginning with its own narration and comprising three subsequent tracks – trilogies – tying into its theme as represented in the cover art by vocalist/guitarist Bill Kole, joined in the band by guitarist Chris Coleiro, bassist John Kendrick and drummer Brett Savory. They shift into some more complex fare on the instrumental “Lady of Light” before the final chapter, but at its core The Apocalypse Trilogies remains a (very) heavy rock album with an undercurrent of metal, and whatever else Ol’ Time Moonshine bring to it in plotline, they hold fast to songwriting as the most crucial element of their approach.
Italian four-piece Ufosonic Generator (also stylized as one word: UfosonicGenerator) make themselves at home straddling the line between doom and classic boogie rock on what seems to be their debut album, the eight-track The Evil Smoke Possession, released through Minotauro Records. Marked out by the soaring and adaptable vocals of Gojira – yup – the band offer proto-metal shuffle on shorter early cuts “A Sinful Portrait” and the rolling nod of “At Witches’ Bell,” but it’s the longer pairing of “Meridian Daemon” (7:47) and “Silver Bell Meadows” (6:53) on which one finds their brew at highest potency, sending an evil eye Cathedral’s way without forgetting the Sabbathian riffery that started it all or the Iron Maiden-gallop it inspired. They cap with the suitable lumber of their title-track and pick up toward the finish as if to underscore the dueling vibes with which they’ve been working all along. Ultimately, the meld isn’t necessarily revolutionary, but it does pay homage fluidly across The Evil Smoke Possession’s span, and as a debut, it sets Ufosonic Generator forward with a solid foundation on which to progress.
Issued digitally in late-2015 and subsequently snagged for a 2016 vinyl issue through Krauted Mind, Nocturnes is the debut full-length from Dublin five-piece Mother Mooch, and in its eight tracks, they set their footing in a genre-spanning aesthetic, pulling from slow-motion grunge, weighted heavy rock, psychedelic flourish and even a bit of punk on the shorter, upbeat “My Song 21” and “L.H.O.O.Q.” Those two tracks prove crucial departures in breaking up the proceedings and speak well of a penchant on the part of vocalist Chloë Ní Dhúada, guitarists Sid Daly (also backing vocals) and Farl, bassist Barry Hayden and drummer Danni Nolan toward sonic diversity. They bring a similar sensibility to the closing Lead Belly cover “Out on the Western Plain” as well, whereas cuts like opener “This Tempest,” “Into the Water” and “Misery Hill” work effectively to find a middle ground between the stylistic range at play. That impulse, seemingly innate to their songraft, is what will allow them to continue to develop their personality as a band and is not to be understated in how pivotal it is to this first LP.
To my knowledge, this only-70-pressed five-song tape release is the second self-titled EP from off-kilter North Carolina heavy rockers The Asound following a three-songer back in 2011 (review here). Offered by Tsuguri Records, the new The Asound starts with its longest track (immediate points) in the 6:54 “Moss Man” and touches on earliest, most righteous High on Fire-style brash, but holds to its own notions about what that that blend of groove and gallop should do. Through splits with Flat Tires (review here), Magma Rise (review here), Lenoir Swingers Club (review here) and Mark Deutrom (review here), the trio of Guitarist/vocalist Chad Wyrick, bassist Jon Cox and drummer Michael Crump have always had an element of the unpredictable to their sound, and that’s true as centerpiece “Human for Human” revives the thrust of the opener coming off “Controller”’s less marauding rhythm, but the sludgy rollout and later airy lead-work of “Pseudo Vain” and chugging nod of closer “Throne of Compulsion” speaks to the consciousness at play beneath the unhinged vibes that’s been there all along. They’ve sounded ready for a while to make a full-length debut. They still sound that way.
Immediate bonus points to Richmond, Virginia’s Book of Wyrms for titling a track on their full-length debut “Infinite Walrus,” but with the Garrett Morris-recorded tones they proffer with the seven-song/53-minute Sci-Fi/Fantasy (on Twin Earth Records), they don’t really need bonus points. The five-piece of vocalist Sarah Moore Lindsey, six-stringers Kyle Lewis and Ben Coudriet, bassist Jay Lindsey and drummer Chris DeHaven mostly avoid the sounding-like-Windhand trap through stretches of upbeat tempo, theremin and other noise flourish, and harmonies on guitar, but they’re never far from an undercurrent of doom, as opener “Leatherwing Bat” establishes and the long ambient midsection and subsequent nod of centerpiece “Nightbong” is only too happy to reinforce. “All Hallows Eve” gets a little cliché with its samples, but the dueling leads on 11-minute closer “Sourwolf” and included keyboard noise ensure proper distinction and mark Book of Wyrms as having come into their first long-player with a definite plan of action, which finds them doing well as a showcase of potential and plenty immersive in the here and now.
Despite the sort of cross-cultural ritualism of its cover art, Oxblood Forge’s self-titled debut EP has only the firmest of ideas where it’s coming from. The Whitman, Massachusetts-based five-piece boasts former Ichabod vocalist Ken MacKay as well as bassist Greg Dellaria from that band, and guitarist Robb Lioy (also in Four Speed Fury with MacKay) alongside guitarist Josh Howard and drummer Chris Capen, and in a coherent, vigilantly straightforward five-tracker they touch on aggressive fare in “Lashed to the Mast” as their Northeastern regionalism would warrant – we’re all very angry here; it’s the weather – and demonstrate a knack for hooks in “Inferno” and “Sister Midnight,” the latter blending screams and almost Torche-style melodies over clam chowder riffing before closer “Storm of Crows” opens foreboding with Dellaria’s bass and moves into the short release’s nastiest fare, MacKay sticking to harsher vocals as on the earlier “Night Crawler,” but in a darker instrumental context. They set a range here, and might be feeling things out in terms of working together as this band, but given the personnel involved and their prior familiarity with each other, it’s hard to imagine that if a follow-up is in the offing it’ll be all that long before it arrives. Consider notice served.
Ukrainian trio The Heavy Crawls set out as a duo called just The Crawls and released a self-titled debut in 2013 that was picked up in 2015 by ultra-respected German imprint Nasoni Records. Under the new moniker, they get another stab at a first album with the 10-track/42-minute classic rocker The Heavy Crawls, the three-piece of founding guitarist/bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Max Tovstyi, drummer Inessa Joger and keyboardist/vocalist/percussionist Iryna Malyshevska evoking spirited boogie and comfortable groove on “She Said I Had to Wait” and the handclap-stomping “Girl from America.” Elements of garage rock show up on “Too Much Rock ‘n’ Roll” and the soul-swinging “I Had to Get Away,” but The Heavy Crawls are more interested in establishing a flow than being showy or brash, and the payoff for that comes in eight-minute closer “Burns Me from Inside,” which stretches out the jamming sensibility that earlier pieces like the organ-laced “One of a Kind” and the staccato “Friday, 13th” seem to be driving toward. Some growing to undertake, but the pop aspect in The Heavy Crawls’ songcraft provides intrigue, and their (second) debut shows a righteous commitment to form without losing its identity to it.