Quarterly Review: Spidergawd, Eight Bells, Blue Rumble, The Mountain King, Sheev, Elk Witch, KYOTY, Red Eye, The Stoned Horses, Gnome


Here we are in the Spring 2022 Quarterly Review. I have to hope and believe you know what this means by now. It’s been like eight years. To reiterate, 10 reviews a day for this week. I’ve also added next Monday to the mix because there’s just so, so, so much out there right now, so this Quarterly Review will total 60 albums covered. It could easily be more. And more. And more. You get the point.

So while we’re on the edge of this particular volcano, looking down into the molten center of the Quarterly Review itself, I’ll say thanks for reading if you do at any point, and I hope you find something to make doing so worth the effort.

Here we go.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Spidergawd, VI

Spidergawd VI

Like clockwork, Spidergawd released V (review here), in 2019, and amid the chaos of 2020, they announced they’d have a new record out in 2021 — already the longest pause between LPs of their career — for which they’d be touring. The Norwegian outfit — who aren’t so much saviors of rock as a reminder of why it doesn’t need saving in the first place — at last offer the nine songs and 41 minute straight-ahead drive of VI with their usual aplomb, energizing a classic heavy rock sound and reveling in the glorious hooks of “Prototype Design” and “Running Man” at the outset, throwing shoulders with the sheer swag of “Black Moon Rising,” and keeping the rush going all the way until “Morning Star” hints toward some of their prior psych-prog impulses. They’ve stripped those back here, and on the strength of their songwriting and the shining lights that seem to accompany their performance even on a studio recording, they remain incomparable in working to the high standard of their own setting.

Spidergawd on Facebook

Stickman Records website

Crispin Glover Records website


Eight Bells, Legacy of Ruin

eight bells legacy of ruin

The first Eight Bells full-length for Prophecy Productions, Legacy of Ruin comes six years after their second LP, Landless (review here), and finds founding guitarist/vocalist Melynda Marie Jackson, bassist/guitarist/vocalist Matt Solis, drummer Brian Burke, a host of guests and producer Billy Anderson complicating perceptions of Pacific Northwestern US black metal. Across the six songs and in extended cuts like “The Well” and closer “Premonition,” Eight Bells remind of their readiness to put melodies where others fear tread, and to execute individualized cross-genre breadth that even in the shorter “Torpid Dreamer” remains extreme, whatever else one might call it in terms of style. “The Crone” and other moments remind of Enslaved, but seem to be writing a folklore all their own in that.

Eight Bells on Facebook

Prophecy Productions on Bandcamp


Blue Rumble, Blue Rumble

Blue Rumble Blue Rumble

Swiss four-piece Blue Rumble bring organically-produced, not-quite-vintage-but-retro-informed heavy psych blues boogie on their self-titled debut full-length, impressing with the sharp edges around which the grooves curve, the channel-spanning, shred-ready solo of the guitars, and the organ that add so much to where vocals might otherwise be. The five-minute stretch alone of second cut “Cosmopolitan Landscape,” which follows the garage urgency of opener “God Knows I Shoulda Been Gone,” runs from a mellow-blues exploration into a psych hypnosis and at last into a classic-prog freakout before, miraculously, returning, and that is by no means the total scope of the album, whether it’s the winding progressions in “Cup o’ Rosie (Just Another Groovy Thing),” the laid back midsection of “Sunset Fire Opal” or the hey-is-that-flute on the shorter pastoral interlude “Linda,” as if naming the song before that “Think for Yourself” wasn’t enough of a Beatles invocation. The strut continues unabated in “The Snake” and the grittier “Hangman,” and closer “Occhio e Croce” (‘eye and cross,” in Italian) shimmers with Mellotron fluidity atop its central build, leaving the raw vitality of the drums to lead into a big rock finish well earned. Heads up, heavy rock and rollers. This is hot shit.

Blue Rumble on Instagram

Blue Rumble on Bandcamp


The Mountain King, WolloW

the mountain king wollow

It’s palindrome time on Mainz, Germany’s The Mountain King‘s WolloW. Once the solo-project of guitarist/vocalist/programmer Eric McQueen, the experimentalist band here includes guitarist Frank Grimbarth and guest bassist Jack Cradock — you can really hear that bass on “II In Grium Imus Noctem Aram et Consumimur Igni” (hope you practiced your conjugations) and through five songs, they cross genres from the atmospheric heavygaze-meets-Warning of “I Bongnob” through the blackened crunch of the above-noted second cut to a gloriously dreamy and still morose title-track, and the driving expanse of “V DNA Sand.” Then they do it backwards, as “V DNA Sand” seems to flip halfway through. But they’re also doing it backwards at the same time as forward, so as The Mountain King work back toward album finale “bongnoB I,” what was reversed and what wasn’t has switched and the listener isn’t really sure what’s up or down, where they are or why. This, of course, is exactly the point. Take that, form and structure! Open your mind and let doom in!

The Mountain King on Facebook

Cursed Monk Records website


Sheev, Mind Conductor

Sheev Mind Conductor

Berlin trio Sheev prove adept at skirting the line of outright aggression, and in fact crossing it, while maintaining control over their direction and execution. Mind Conductor is their debut album, and it works well to send signals of its complexity, samples and obscure sounds on “The Workshop” giving over the riffs of immediate impact on “Well Whined.” The channel-spanning guitar pulls on “Saltshifter,” the harmonies in the midsection of “All I Can,” the going-for-it-DannyCarey-style drums on the penultimate “Baby Huey” (and bonus points for that reference) — all of these and so much more in the nine-song/53-minute span come together fluidly to create a portrait of the band’s depth of approach and the obvious consideration they put into what they do. Closer “Snakegosh” may offer assurance they don’t take themselves too seriously, but even that song’s initial rolling progression can’t help but wind its way through later angularities. It will be interesting to hear the direction they ultimately take over the course of multiple albums, but don’t let that draw focus from what they accomplish on this first one.

Sheev on Facebook

Sheev on Bandcamp


Elk Witch, Beyond the Mountain

elk witch beyond the mountain

Dudes got riffs. From Medford, Oregon, Elk Witch draw more from the sphere of modern heavy rockers like earlier The Sword or Freedom Hawk than the uptempo post-Red Fang party jams for which much of the Pacific Northwest is known, but the groove is a good time just the same. The six tracks of Beyond the Mountain are born out of the trio’s 2021 debut EP — wait for it — The Mountain, but the four songs shared between the two offerings have been re-recorded here, repositioned and sandwiched between opener “Cape Foulweather” and closer “The Plight of Valus,” so the reworking feels consistent from front to back. And anyway, it’s only been a year, so ease up. Some light burl throughout, but the vocals on “Coyote and the Wind’s Daughters” remind me of Chritus in Goatess, so there’s some outright doom at work too, though “Greybeard Arsenal” might take the prize for its shimmering back-half slowdown either way, and “The Plight of Valus” starts out with a seeming wink at Kyuss‘ “El Rodeo,” so nothing is quite so simply traced. Raw, but they’ll continue to figure out where they’re headed, and the converted will nod knowingly. For what it’s worth, I dig it.

Elk Witch on Facebook

StoneFly Records store


KYOTY, Isolation

kyoty isolation

If “evocative” is what New Hampshire post-metallic mostly-instrumentalists KYOTY were going for with their third full-length, could they possibly have picked something better to call it than Isolation? It’d be a challenge. And with opener “Quarantine,” songs like “Ventilate,” “Languish,” “Faith,” and “Rift,” “Respite” and closer “A Fog, A Future Like a Place Imagined,” the richly progressive unit working as the two-piece of Nick Filth and Nathaniel Parker Raymond weave poetic aural tapestries crushing and spacious in kind with the existential dread and vague flashes of hope in pandemic reality of the 2020s thus far. Still, they work in impressionist fashion, so that the rumbling crackle of “Onus” and the near-industrial slog of “Respite” represent place and idea while also standing apart as a not-quite-objective observer, the lighter float of the guitar in “Faith” becoming a wash before its resonant drone draws it to a close. At 70 minutes, there’s a lot to say for a band who doesn’t have lyrics, but spoken lines further the sense of verse, and remind of the humanity behind the programming of “Holter” or the especially pummeling “Rift.” An album deep enough you could listen to it for years and hear something new.

KYOTY on Facebook

Deafening Assembly on Bandcamp


Red Eye, The Cycle

red eye the cycle

Andalusian storytellers Red Eye make it plain from the outset that their ambitions are significant, and the seven songs of their third full-length play out those ambitions across ultra-flowing shifts between serenity and heft, working as more than just volume trades and bringing an atmospheric sprawl that is intended to convey time as well as place. In 46 minutes, they do for doom and various other microgenres — post-metal, some more extreme moments in “Beorg” and the morse-code-inclusive closer “Æsce” — what earlier Opeth did for death metal, adding shifts into unbridled folk melody and sometimes minimalist reach. Clearly meant to be taken in its entirety, The Cycle functions beautifully across its stretch, and the four-piece of guitarist/vocalist Antonio Campos (also lyrics), guitarist/vocalist Pablo Terol, bassist Antonio Muriel and drummer Ángel Arcas, bear weight of tone and history in kind, self-aware that the chants in “Tempel” brim with purpose, but expressive in the before and after such that they wherever they will and make it a joy to follow.

Red Eye on Facebook

Alone Records store


Stoned Horses, Stoned Horses

The Stoned Horses Self-titled

Originally recorded to come out in 2013, what would’ve been/is the Stoned Horses‘ self-titled debut full-length runs 12 tracks and swaps methodologies between instrumentalism and more verse/chorus-minded sludge rock. Riffs lead, in either case, and there’s a sense of worship that goes beyond Black Sabbath as the later “Scorpions Vitus” handily confirms. The semi-eponymous “A Stoned Horse” is memorable for its readiness to shout the hook at you repeatedly, and lest a band called Stoned Horses ever be accused of taking themselves too seriously, “My Horse is Faster Than Your Bike” is a sub-two-minute riffer that recalls late-’90s/early-’00s stoner rock fuckery, before everyone started getting progressive. Not short on charm, there’s plenty of substance behind it in “Le Calumet” like a northern Alabama Thunderpussy or the last cut, “The Legend of the Blue Pig,” which dares a bit more metal. Not groundbreaking, not trying to be, it’s a celebration of the tropes of genre given its own personality. I have nothing more to ask of it except what happened that it sat for nearly a decade without being released.

Stoned Horses on Facebook

From the Urn on Bandcamp


Gnome, King

Gnome King

Antwerpen’s Gnome make it a hell of a lot of fun to trace their path across King, their second full-length, bringing in The Vintage Caravan‘s Óskar Logi early for “Your Empire” and finding a line between energetic, on-the-beat delivery and outright aggression, letting “Ambrosius” set the tone for what follows as they careen though cuts like the instrumental “Antibeast,” the swinging and catchy “Wencelas” and the crunching “Bulls of Bravik.” How do they do it? With the magic of shenanigans! As King (which “Wencelas” was) plays out, the suitably hatted trio get up to high grade nonsense on “Kraken Wanker” before “Stinth Thy Clep” and the 11-minute we-can-do-whatever-we-want-so-let’s-do-that-yes closer “Platypus Platoon” buries its later march amid a stream of ideas that, frankly, kind of sounds like it could just keep going. They are adventurous throughout the eight songs and 42 minutes, but have a solid foundation nonetheless of tone and consciousness, which are what save King from being a mess. It’s a hard balance to strike that they make sound easy.

Gnome on Facebook

Polderrecords website


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One Response to “Quarterly Review: Spidergawd, Eight Bells, Blue Rumble, The Mountain King, Sheev, Elk Witch, KYOTY, Red Eye, The Stoned Horses, Gnome”

  1. Mark says:

    Eight Bells just jumped the queue to the top of my Bandcamp wish list. Reminds me a bit of Dead to a Dying World who put out a fantastic album a couple or three years ago.

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