Posts Tagged ‘Metal’

Randy Holden – Population II

Riding Easy went all in on the reissue of this solo LP from Randy Holden — a heavy hitter to be sure, though more beholden to the riff than the hook. With no less than five versions of the LP, they seek to assert its classic status. In this light, Holden is held up as being from Blue Cheer, and to be sure he was in Blue Cheer for about an album, playing on their ’69 LP New! Improved! Blue Cheer, in the expanded lineup that attempted to improve upon the perfection of the band’s Vincebus Eruptum from the previous year. While this BC album is well produced, it fails to capitalize on the lighting strike that tore through VE, melding garage to a sludge that would become metal in years to come. Though I might more accurately give Holden the edge for helming guitar duties in The Other Half rather than Blue Cheer, if pressed on his legacy. In that outfit he cut blues with a rusty hacksaw, aiming for psychedelia, but coming up just short of a full trip. Population II splits the difference between his previous endeavors, thickening the stew with the classic sludge of Blue Cheer, but adding in a good dose of the ragged soul of The Other Half.

What’s been said here is that Holden hit on Doom before Doom existed, and sure there’s a certain sense of foreboding dread in some of the passages here, but in the same year Sabbath would scare the shit out of anyone holding this up as Doom’s genesis. That’s not to say that Population II doesn’t have a heavy whollop… it does. Holden claims this was never officially released, but Hobbit, who also released Saphire Thinkers alongside a few other collector’s fodder like Rockin’ Foo and Plain Jane around the same two year span seems to have obtained a tape to press. The label reeks of tax shelter ethics, so its certainly possible that they scooped this one up without too much official insight. The record’s been bootlegged endlessly in the interim but Riding Easy give it the royal treatment, returning Holden’s debut to a platform that might warrant his live legacy. The metal merchants and the sludge huffers gonna love this if they don’t already have it, so dig in.




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Fuzz – “Returning”

Ty Segall pairs up with Steve Albini yet again, this time with power trio Fuzz for the band’s third LP (dubbed III, what else?). The first taste of the album is undeniably grit-riddled, twelve-feet tall and barreling down at the listener with a white-sun intensity that’s to be expected of Fuzz at this point. While Segall doesn’t shy from heavier moorings in his solo work, he does seem to save the most substantial metal shavings and sonic fury for Fuzz when it counts. “Returning” focuses on the power of the individual, a towering rally cry to the rabble and a focus point for meditation through the blaze of guitars that frame its features. The band’s last outing was a double-wide gatefold tumble into psychedelic shred headspace looking forever to light the wick and explode Fuzz’ impact with as much force as possible. From the sounds of things, they aren’t flagging in intensity, maybe just sharpening the finer points until they draw blood.





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Psychedelic Speed Freaks

After resurrecting High Rise’s sonic assault II from the cataloged caverns of PSF, Black Editions gives fans of guitarist/ear drum antagonist Munehiro Narita another treat with the issue of his revamped trio Psychedelic Speed Freaks’ eponymous LP. When the band first rolled out, High Rise dubbed themselves Psychedelic Speed Freaks, originally counting Narita with Masashi Mitani, Asahito Nanjo, and Ikuro Takahashi among the ranks. Presumably the name was an homage to the record label they’d eventually claim as a home, but the label thought the name was a little too on the nose once they were signed on board, hence the swap to High Rise. The switch back to their old handle doesn’t change much about the direction of the band’s sound. Still anchored by Narita’s “motorcycle fuzztone” guitar, the record is perched in the red and not looking to relent. David Jasso steps up on bass this time around and also adds in a dose of Lemmy-indebted vocals that scrape and strain to push themselves over the top of the cyclone assault of guitar and drums.

Straddling the lay lines between psych, metal, thrash, and doom, the band creates a punishing document for 2019 that expands on the dynamic that Narita and Asahito Nanjo crafted and damn near perfected over their initial run. It’s easy to imagine that there are plenty of newer volume feeders out there who never got the chance to experience High Rise in their paint-melting prime, so Psychedelic Speed Freaks seek to right a wrong and bring more joyous noise to the universe both (barely) between the grooves here and in the live setting. From all accounts they tore the doors off of Black Editions’ Festival last month and hopes are on that they keep it up with more dates. The kind of heat that this thing is putting out hasn’t been much matched of late, with perhaps the exception of Feral Ohms, who’ve always seemed to be heirs apparent to High Rise.

Goes without saying that if you’re a High Rise fan, this one’s essential. Honestly, if the term Japanese psych gives you any goosebumps this one should already be on your shelf. It’s a total crusher in every sense of the term.




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Kanaan

On their debut, Norwegian trio Kanaan embrace a lineage of prog, psych, and metal that melts together into a powerful album that’s able to broadside the listener while remaining nimble on its feet. The band’s equally comfortable picking through the twists and turns of The Eleventh House as they are with bottom-heavy burners like Sabbath and The Flower Travellin’ Band. They use the album’s length to work their way towards the leaden boots of the latter over time, steadily shedding layers of intricacy in exchange for fuzz and fury. “A. Hausenbecken” finds the band bending their metal into sculptural shapes – still rusted and barbed, but beautifully striking from a distance. As Windborne wears on the beauty is somewhat subsumed by force and forged into a blunt instrument, though even that blunt instrument is decorated with a splash of painted and etched symbols that can’t help but haunt.

Like much of the El Paraiso Catalog, the band isn’t content to sit still stylistically. They echo Causa Sui’s absorption of prog’s high-minded, over-arching themes, Mythic Sunship’s blend of jazz and psych into a primal force, and even Futuropaco’s attention to rhythm. The latter they dip into on the motorik middle ground of “Harmonia,” which, as the title might suggest, plays into the Kosmiche touches of the referenced German lightspeed travelers. The track serves as a sweat respite in the middle of the album, a moment when the knots of the first two tracks are untied and a bracing point before the album’s second side tears into a growl of heaviness. Yet another worthwhile pickup from this Norwegian stable of cosmic shamans and prog denizens.



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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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GØGGS

While the reflex on any Ty Segall adjacent project is to focus on his contribution, in reality GØGGS runs rampant with Chris Shaw’s hand on the tiller. The Ex-Cult singer brings his panic-sweat intensity to the band’s sophomore album, knocking out eleven new visceral body blows that drape power metal in the cloak of ozone churning prog. Where their first album played with themes of experimentation, on Pre-Strike Sweep, they step much further into the darkness of their impulses. Ex-Cult always cut to the bone, with little time for atmosphere or instrumental acrobatics, so its good to see Shaw (alongside Segall, Charles Moothart and Michael Anderson) stretching out into the dust-choked cosmos, basking in the oven temps of salt flat freakouts and digging through the drainage of fuzz deluged swamps.

The band’s clearly been rifling through their heavy psych catalogs – Hawkwind, Sabbath and Captain Beyond waft through – though they’re not lingering long with the Lords of Light, instead churning the afterburner effects of space rock into a kind of sickness that’s infecting their arsenal of punishing riffs. They tend to more often lace up the heavy boots of Sabbath, but the boys replace Ozzie’s hash howl with enough cocaine to tweak him far beyond the Void. The thick cloud of ever-present rumble is punctuated by screaming leads on tracks like “Disappear” and “Morning Reaper.” The latter also contorting itself through a Pere Ubu possession of tinfoil twists before opening the lava gates of molten metal mania. The last album had its moments, but its clear that what’s come before was just a preamble to the sonic assault that’s formed here.

The assembled members have enough catalog between them to knock your luggage over the weight limit and then some, but the way they’ve found egalitarian ground between their respective takes on fuzz-huffing heaviness is key here. Moothart brings the bottom-end blowout of Fuzz, Shaw the wide-eyed intensity that’s his trademark, Anderson snags some of his atmospheric rinse from his days in CFM, and, yes, around it all Segall wraps his adaptive brain and engineer’s ear to bring this all together to an apocalyptic boil. For album number three, the band just need to pepper in their mercurial take on “Planet Caravan” and they’d be set to roll.




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Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs – “Cake of Light”

UK sludgelords Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs return with a new album on the docket for Rocket. The band is still marrying the vocal intensity of Lemmy at his sharpest and most abrasive with the twenty-foot heat wave of Monster Magnet and the relentless char of Corrosion of Conformity. The record examines the impulses behind sin and guilt, jumping off from their moniker’s obsession with sevens to explore the most notorious association with the number. The first single, the amusingly named “Cake of Light” is anchored to a juggernaut of a riff, bashing the eardrums with the hammer of fuzz as wielded by the gods of rumble themselves. If the oppressive heat hadn’t knocked the wind out of you last week, then this track will surely do the week creeping into this week.


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Feral Ohms

Not one second of Feral Ohms’ debut lets up. The trio doesn’t give the listener a minute to catch a breath, and thank the Norse gods of thunderous destruction for that. It’s an acid bath for the soul of the universe, stripping away layer after layer of tar long since calcified and crusted into the shape of society. It appears that Ethan Miller has returned to the his position as frenetic lightning rod for amp fired chaos and it’s damn good to have him back slinging scorch. The world needs this eponymous long player more than we could ever know. As mentioned here previously, Miller found solace away from the white ball of fury that burned bright in Comets On Fire, but began a creep back with Heron Oblivion last year. Feral Ohms asserts his permanence in the pantheon of psych.

The band’s been building a clutch of singles since around 2013, but it wasn’t until Castle Face prefaced the album with a live shot that they sprang into wider consciousness. All of the live cuts find their way onto the album as well as the majority of their singles, albeit re-recorded with a technical lineup that speaks to a top tier of heavy psych sound work (Eric Bauer, Phil Manley, Chris Woodhouse and JJ Golden). It’s very possible that repeated spins of the album could melt speakers into a twitching puddle of gelatinous matter. That’s not even hyperbole, I’m worried about your system. Baton shit down and buckle up. 2017 has proven that despite long lingering reports to the contrary, the guitar still has a place of vitality in music. Few other albums assert this as definitively as Feral Ohms.





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Mac Blackout Band

Mac Blackout (aka Marc McKenzie) has been a fixture here for a while, running a vein through Chicago’s garage rock underground for a good solid clip at this point. As leader of RSTB faves Mickey, McKenzie will always have a soft spot in my heart for creating one of the last ten years’ most fun power pop records. As the Mac Blackout Band though, the pop side has melted away a bit and the full on garage-punk assault is in total swing with just a whiff of metal floating on the air. Burning Alive is a raw nerve of pent up aggression and full bore rock shot out of the barrel wild and loose. The album is practically shaking with beads of sweat, tumbling and scuffing its way through the speakers looking to get into a fight as soon as possible.

The record blasts out of the start with the fiery anthem “Rise Up” and that pretty much sets the tone for the record to come. Once Blackout has you on your feet and ready for a rumble he just stokes the blaze of fight burning in your core and lets the furious riffs and tornado of toms do the rest. The album isn’t remapping the garage rock landscape, but as I’ve said countless times, that’s not always the point. It’s a fun record that’s unhinged at its best, bringing to mind fellow Midwestern legends Timmy’s Organism. At its worst, its still a damn fun ride, that begs for volume, lowered windows and blank stares from the passersby.




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Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs

Its shaping up to be a heavy, sludge encrusted week around here, so naturally I’ve set sights on the debut from UK space juggarnaut Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs or Pigs x7 as they are, mercifully, better known. The album is only three tracks long, but much like that heavy slab by Dhidalah yesterday, they’ve got no affinity for brevity and little remorse for unleashing a half ton torrent of noise upon the listener. The album opens with “Psychopomp,” clocking in just a tad over fifteen minutes of sludge, a suite of grit, blood and bile that feels like there may be no hope of ever seeing light again. Usually on a track pushing the stopwatch toward the quarter hour there’s an eye of the storm, or some sign of relent, but Pigs x7 open hot and pretty much clear cut any ounce of hope you had living in your system before the needle pop out of the groove.

The second cut is dubbed “Sweet Relief,” but that may only apply to the length here, shortening their bite to a standard four minute mile and cranking up the Sabbath via Monster Magnet vibes to a rolling boil. The song shows no sign of letting in any light, and its a damned good thing. This, right here, is the seething, twitching, festering raw nerve burn that we need right now. It’s a catalyst call to harness the dark and spit it back with a heart beating diesel and a clear mind. The last cut is, almost improbably, running long on the opener, and for a split second they trawl in with a bass knot that’s peaceably inviting before shredding any solace with the full assault of everything that’s come before. Feed The Rats is in the running for my favorites in the metal department this year. I know its damned early, but this one feels like its going to be the one to beat.



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