Posts Tagged ‘Doom’

Bonnacons of Doom – “Esus”

Liverpool heavies Bonnacons of Doom return to the fold with a new EP that reworks previuos tracks from their debut, with edits by JD Twitch, Liars and, Capac. Also included is a new track, “Esus,” that proves once again why the band is such a stunner in Rocket’s roster. Making good on their name, the track gathers clouds of doom under a megaton blast of guitar and the soaring incantations of Kate Smith. Her vocals push the track towards oblivion as the track growls behind her. The band’s debut was a welcome surprise last year and they’ve apparently been working up some devastating live shows, more of which are on the way. The band embarks on a short UK tour starting on the 30th of August. The EP is out September 13th digital and on limited cassette.



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Centrum

Hooked into the drone consciousness of decades of Swedish psychedelia, avant-rock rumblings from across the Atlantic, and progressive nodes from the cosmic German gardens of the ‘70s, Centrum delivers their debut in thrall of the thrum. With members of Hills and Weary Nous in their ranks the duo starts with a solid pedigree. The pair turns För Meditation into an album of deep tissue drop-out that slots alongside contemporaries Myrrors as much as it hooks into the free-psych pastoral history of International Harvester or Träd, Gras och Stenar. Winky umlaut aside, the title’s not just for show here, this is some serious altered state psychedelia, built on a bedrock of harmonic rumble that the band uses to explore molten fuzz guitar runs, mystic organ rituals, and strings that run through Eastern waters.

There’s certainly a meditative state at work here, but the band doesn’t shy away from burning down their temples as well. Tracks saw into the psyche with an insistent OM, but blossom into doom-draped visions of slow-motion destruction by album’s end. The record is fittingly nestled among the lysergic legions of Rocket Recordings, contending nicely with their lineup of higher burning trip makers of late. För Meditation winds up more than its advertised price of inner peace and metronomic pulse, the album is a proper heir to the Swedish sects of psilocybin truth seekers and sweat lodge assassins.



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Buck Curran – “War Behind The Sun”

Guitarist Buck Curran last landed here with his shadowy Morning Haikus, Afternoon Ragas LP in 2018 and he’s back with a renewed darkness on “War Behind The Sun.” With a parched approach the track spreads like the doom sprawl of war across the horizon, an all-consuming ache that can neither be reckoned with or ignored. The track takes its influence from Raag Marva, a Hindustani raag that represents sunset and ushers in a feeling of anxiety and solemn expectation. Those feelings are translated well by Curran, turning the raag into a high-plains exorcism of light and goodness as it sweeps through the speakers. The track is released in advance of Curran’s upcoming album Delights & Dangers of Ambiguity coming in June on Obsolete Recordings.

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Paisiel

Released in short supply as a cassette on Portuguese label Lovers & Lollypops last year, Rocket Recordings is giving new life to the eponymous album by Paisiel, the duo of João Pais Filipe and Julius Gabriel. The album’s three tracks are dark sojourns through psychedelic jazz – wrestling with rhythms and running sax down the skin with the menace of a freshly sharpened knife. The pair coax one another constantly throughout the LP, challenging the other to make a step too far, to pierce the psychedelic barrier and scar the psyche beyond repair. On opener “Satellite” the drums pound in the brain with an anxious insistence – skittering in an endless tumult before the foreboding gnash of gongs makes it clear that something transcendental and otherworldly is afoot.

The space rock shivers continue to torment the onset of “Limousine in the Desert,” bandying echo and dust about in a sandstorm of sound that’s only hushed by a return to the polyrhythmic clatter of drums and the lonesome moan of the sax once again. Moans turn to squeals, squeals to squals as the band pounds out ritualistic furor that catches in the throat. The album is drenched in panic sweat, feeling every bit the soundtrack to imminent danger from all directions – the sky, the earth, the mind. There’s a feeling of ayahuasca and adrenaline in the veins and a teeth-clenched sudden realization that maybe there’s no danger at all. By that time the band rolls into the shortest and surest track in their album’s cycle. The panic calms, the dust clears and the earth crystalizes beneath the feet once again. They let the listener go with a grey trickle of rain that nourishes and numbs the psychic wounds inflicted over the past thirty minutes, but the scars remain.




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Ulaan Passerine

Steven R. Smith shines yet again under the Ulaan Passerine moniker. Having recorded under several aliases over the years (Hala Strana, Ulaan Khol, Ulaan Markhor) Ulaan Passerine is typically his most devastating and doom-laden handle. This time he cracks the sky and brings more rain over two tracks of somber guitar and anxious strings. The first side, “Evening,” embodies the slow slip of the sun below the horizon, though in Smith’s world it seems that the orange and red hues of late summer are always to be replaced with an overcast pall of barren early winter. Its hard not to hear the wind through the trees and pick up a pang of dread when the mid-section starts clanging. There’s always been something cinematic to Ulaan Passerine and a sense of pursuit is driven through the fibers of this track. Whether that pursuit is human or just nature catching up and gnawing at the bones of the listener, it remains to be seen.

The track, in contrast to some other works under this name, resolves into some sort of calm – a peaceful moment that shows a side of Smith that’s all too often hidden. His works are so typically fraught that its nice to hear his playing used to calm and heal rather than to spike the flight or fight response. But, present as ever, the darkness returns as we ease into side two’s “Dawning.” The feeling here is less fear and more resolve, a trek bourn out of duty with a heavy yoke of obligation tugging on the soul as it opens. As the piece moves into its second movement (each side seems to be split into three movements) that feeling doesn’t ebb, it just seems that the subject of Smith’s composition has moved closer to certain death.

The track, like the first, also resolves into a sense of calm. Whether its victory or a well earned death that ends this piece, only Smith knows. How no one has picked him up as a composer of scores is beyond me, but this should act as a good resume for anyone looking to soundtrack a gritty Norwegian thriller. As much as I enjoy the tension, though, New Evening was welcome in its third movement focus on light and air. It’d be great to have a whole record that drops the dread and just basks in this amber hue. This is not that record though, tread lightly and listen deeply.

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Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs

Newcastle’s Pigsx7 tear another hole in the fabric of reality with their sophomore LP for Rocket Recordings. The impossibly named band takes another swipe at their potent mix of Monster Magnet sludgelord psychosis bonded to the give no fucks, take no prisoners mentality of Motorhead. While that seems like a rather tall order to live up to, the band keeps pace here for six monstrous tracks that come on with the apocalyptic heat of a Mad Max location scouting. The songs on King of Cowards, based loosely on the idea of deadly sins and moral corruption, swing wild with a looser feel than those on their predecessor Feed The Rats. The band convened in the Italian countryside to commune with the dirt before laying down these tracks and the country air and lack of neighbors seems to have let them crank the throttle quite a bit and work out a sense of improvisation that licks the knife edge with a sense of danger.

The band brings ex-Gnod drummer Chris Morley into the fold this time around and his animalistic beat works to fuel the band’s appetite for action. While they keep those doom clouds rumblin’ they’re tethered much closer to to Terra Firma this time, scratching the pavement rather than rippling through the godheads themselves. Pigsx7 are still not ones for brevity, but they’re keeping it under the ten minute mark everytime, coming nowhere near Rats’ sidelong ozone-choker bookends. That sense of movement and change works well for the band. While they’re built for epics, its nice to see them tighten the belt on the record, no doubt saving some of the cosmos-scratching jams for the stage when they engage the longer numbers from KoC.

The relatively compact run times allow them to laser focus their brutality, hefting iron-ore riffs with ungodly strength and pummeling the listener until they wear away the rough ends into a numb shell. When Pigsx7 lay into your brain, they aim to knock at least a little something loose. Honestly, in this year, a little sonic lathe to tear off the top layer feels like a good idea. We’re all sinners in the Pigs’ eyes, and penance feels good.



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Bonnacons of Doom

The ephemeral Bonnacons of Doom have built their reputation in the live setting – making ritual, costume and anonymity part of their show. While they might not be the first psych band to don robes and masks, they’re certainly coupling the pageantry with potency for a psychedelic storm that’s heavy and haunted. This time around the lineup consists of members of Forest Swords, Mugstar and Youthmovies – all of whom decamped to Hookworm’s Suburban Home studios for a crusher mostly composed in one take. On tape the band’s aesthetics have little bearing on the experience, unless you as a listener are prone to fixing a mental image of the band in place for the duration of a record. Stripped from the visual trappings their music still holds firm though, retaining a sense of rite and ritual, blending drone, an appropriate amount of doom and religious vibrations into an album that’s fraught with visceral punch.

The label is not so off base to compare the band to Amon Duul II, they’ve got the same impulse to draw out improvs into ecstatic lengths, but there’s definitely a level of growling fury that might not have found its way into Duul’s work. Singer Kate (off with the surnames here) heightens the stakes on the agony vs ecstasy dynamic that burrows deep into Bonnacons work, pushing her vocals into non-syllabic acrobatics that singe as hard as the solos. BoD utilize the build and release model like any good Doom acolytes, and the payoffs are well worth it here but don’t just come for the clearcut burn. The band prove that their meditative thrum and cataclysmic comedowns in the aftermath of guitar destruction can be just as entrancing. The band’s debut arrives fully formed, leaving behind any claims of gimmickry on stage. What’s left of your eardrums you can mop up on the way out.

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Scattered Purgatory

For a band from Taiwan, Scattered Purgatory owe an awful huge debt to Germany. Their latest, Sua-Hiam-Zun, is forged from the same clouded waters that sprang Popul Vuh, Ash Ra Temple and Cluster. The album works with atmosphere as its medium, building tension through a massive cavern of sound that feels as if its sprung up slowly on all sides. The listener is trapped in glacial ice and moved with an inching dread towards fates unknown. The duo seems to merely take the German Progressives as a jump off, however, working their systems into festering, humming dystopian dreamscapes that remain anxious despite limited moving parts.

Synths growl like the bellows of huge furnaces, hot and dry with the arid stink of smelted metal. Those remain the bedrock of Sua-Hiam-Zun, but are often shrouded in a layer of fog that seems unbreakable, as if it stretches clear to the highest reaches of the album’s choked atmosphere. The real movement is contained to clattering and clanging percussive notes that seem to act as the inhabitants of Scattered Purgatory’s universe. Needless to say, that universe has no apparent love for itself – a negative space that’s full of life trapped under glass.

Scattered Purgatory takes aim at both doom and drone on this album and wind up finding the best of both. The widescreen drones, of course, do nothing to relax the mind as the band continues to punch the anxiety centers of our brains at each leaden moment, but the cinematic grandeur also comes with a feeling of strange imprisonment that’s harder and harder to resist as the album progresses. We see the end coming and are almost powerless to stop it, dragged down by dread and fear and perhaps hopelessness, but in its absolute domination of the horizon, the end seems almost breathtaking to behold through Scattered Purgatory’s eyes.




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Alder & Ash

Cellist Adrian Copeland follows up his equally harrowing album, Psalms For The Sunder with a new small press for Lost Tribe Sound. Clutched In The Maw continues his bleak, Cormac McCarthy world-building through classical composition. Though rooted in the cello like his previous venture, this album delves into processed sound on a much deeper level. However, while the processing adds to his landscape of decay and solemn isolation, it’s Copeland’s playing that’s at the core of the album’s stunning set.

He runs the full range of the instrument in a way that only those who are deeply classically trained can muster, but with the freedom of one who is not beholden to any notion of acceptable norms within the classical or neo-classical context. Copeland’s compositions scrape and gnaw, gasp and moan through the body of an instrument that shouldn’t seem like it has this much anguish inside of it. Each crushing drop of bile, blood and tears comes seeping through the speakers. There are those that choose to use their gifts to lift the listener up to see the sun through the fog. Copleand chooses to send us deeper into a hopelessness that’s flirting with the essence of Doom.

He digs us out of the hole by the end, though, proving he’s not as scarred by the darkness as the first half would lead a listener to believe. There’s an elegance and relief to “The Merciful Dawn” (as one might expect) and by the closer “The Glisten, The Glow” we’re back in some sort of daybreak, albeit one that’s streaked with greys. The album is a visceral run at anguish and acceptance, and ultimately a joy to behold.




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Headroom – “How To Grow Evil Flowers”

Earlier this year New Haven’s Mountain Movers slipped out a crushing blow that went largely unheraleded. It’s a shame too because few are delivering the kind of Michio Kurihara shadow-fuzz grind or dipping into the Bardo Pond deep end like the are. Thankfully, though, you get another shot at basking in the cold sun squall of guitarist Kryssi Battalene as she heads up her debut as Headroom.

The album opener “How To Grow Evil Flowers” is a lead-footed crusher that picks up the P.S.F. legacy and wraps it around a dark funnel of mournful psych energy. Any list of current psych shredders that omits Battalene does a disservice to themselves. She’s not looking to melt faces with aceylene heat, rather she’s got the chops to erode the ground underneath you with a steady rumble before you even notice your descent into the doom caverns below. Look out for Headroom on Trouble in Mind in October.




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