Monday, 23 December 2013

THROW ME IN THE CRATER - "Throw Me in the Crater"

Hailing from Eindhoven and Tilburg (The home of Roadburn) in Holland comes a new sludge doom quintet by the name of Throw Me in the Crater.

Self released back in May of this year their self titled four track album is doom with a lyrical content of an all together different angle. Apocalyptic vision is of course nothing new in metal of all sub-genres but as the band name will imply these Dutch doom lords take an interested in a very specific area... volcanic activity and more broadly natural disasters, as well as the suffering and untold misery that they create.

Opening with "Year Without Summer" which I presume may refer to the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland which deposited ash over most of Europe and ironically severely effected the running of that years Roadburn Festival. In Iceland of course they may well have suffered a sky where the sun was blotted out for months on end, a year without summer! Of course I may just be reading too much into things.

Musically Throw Me in the Crater are a truly monolithic beast to behold! reverb practically drips and oozes off of the guitars whilst desperate, aggressive vocals ring out in pained, anguished fury! Proceeding slowly at first things soon gain speed and momentum. In doing so a catchy fuzz drenched melody is meted out yet always things stay raw, positively charged with a static filled tension and the constant rumbling thunder of the bass and drums which combine to create a truly doom like cacophony! As things descend into an almost lava like crawl the band sound truly oppressive, a slow drawling juggernaut of impending doom savagery!

I'd say that "Streams of Lava" is a lot more self explanatory and sees TMITC adopt a far more aggressive tinge to their already abrasive and belligerent sound! If I was to choose a style of Metal to put into music the concept of and the misery suffered by a volcanic eruption it would be sludge and doom and not just because of what the word doom implies. There is something about sludge, something truly malicious and foreboding, an untapped source of kinetic energy in musical form and many of these traits can be partnered with those of a volcano.

With more of a historical theme "Pompeii" has a sinister and cold blooded feel too it. Agonizingly slow, crushingly intense and seriously vitriolic, this is the band at their rawest and most lethal! With a dense methodical sound, their pent up anger is also thought provoking whilst still being a colossal force of nature! Things end with "I Am Your Crater", and bring to a conclusion one of the most original concepts for an album I've ever come across. Being true entertainers the band end on an upbeat fast paced number, still a sheer act of force yet with a more personal introverted vibe.

Be sure to put this LP on your Christmas list, its certainly on mine!


Monday, 26 August 2013

BELL WITCH - Longing

Finishing off today's doom trilogy I have traveled, in a sense, to Seattle in the US of A for the debut album of sludge/drone doom duo Bell Witch entitled "Longing".

As if the immaculate artwork for "Longing" wasn't enough, opening track "Bails (Of Flesh)" has been one of my favourite songs for the best part of this year when I first heard Bell Witch. It's long drawn out notes, the darkness that it shrouds itself in and the very subtle colder guitar tones that permeate the track giving it a depressive, despondent aura are simply breath taking. Never in a rush to get from the start to the finish, things crawl painstakingly along until the first roar of the anguished growled finally pierces the gloom which the band hath made! 

There is a dense under laying ferocity about Bell Witch, a deep cavernous sense of foreboding that increases progressively as the music continues along it's blackened and withered path. Yet with extreme heaviness also comes great subtlety and grace and in places this doom duo dispense with the bombardment and offer up a more melodic interlude or two, almost peaceful as the atmosphere changes overhead to one of hope mixed with a melancholy sorrow, the burning anger for the time being laid dormant under the surface. If I have one criticism of this album and it is only the one, I'd say whilst I see the need for cleaner vocals in places to mirror the bands style changes, they do need to be of a better quality than what is currently on offer, at least in places. At others they seem well executed and it may be a problem in production. 

Luckily cleaner vocals are in the minority on this album, an album which as any decent drone influenced affair does amount to epic track lengths and hence as they are in the minority my one and only gripe is a small one and can make way for the adulation of a truly superb body of work! An album of contrasts is what "Longing" serves up, from the darkest recesses of their collective minds comes a hint of light in places. In an ocean of undulating and churning ferocity comes an interlude of peace and reflection, yet at all times the sheer quality shines through!

8/10 - Luke Hayhurst

WIZARD'S BEARD - Four Tired Undertakers

I hail from the city of York at present in the north of England and one town over, just a few miles away in Leeds the music scene is thriving! One of the better bands to come from this seething metropolis of metal is the sludge doom four piece known brilliantly as Wizard's Beard, a band I happened to see live some months ago in the cellar of an school working class pub in Leeds. Let me tell you the rumble and thunder these lads churned out was mightily impressive and so leads me on to today's second review of three, Wizard's Beard's sophomore full length album releases entitled "Four Tired Undertakers"

Slowly and surely opening track "Subirse El Muerto" rises from the peace and quiet with deep, calculating guitar tones, firm but placid drum beats before a crescendo is reached, the clash of symbol rings out and harsh, half growled half screamed vocals permeate the tranquility as Wizard's Beard's heavy drawn out drawl and absolute doom laden ferocity is unleashed!

If the words crushing, destructive or monolithic were formed for one purpose only it would be as adjectives to verify the intense and heavy nature with which Wizard's Beard go about the task of churning out simply breath taking doom! Splendidly catchy in places, devastatingly thunderous in others, the band hit home and hit home hard again and again and again with all the grace and mercy of a category five hurricane, aftermath included! 

"Abandon the Wolf" is a pure thoroughbred of catchy riffs, a track that demands your head be banged and your mind me lost as the bands blanket you in a shroud of intense beats and thoroughly groove drenched melodies yet still packing in a few moments of slowed down ferocity as huge drum beats, riffs and growls are thrown up high to come crashing back down to earth with the strength and impact of a neutron bomb!

As the long drawn out ending to "Abandon the Wolf" reaches it's climax the aura around the album is an oppressive fog, alleviated momentarily by the opening bursts of "Daemon" which increases the easy going nature the band occasionally dabble with whilst tempering this style with more angry bursts of catastrophic heaviness with which Wizard's Beard seem so adept at! As things progress this song gets progressively darker, slower and more brooding as befits the subject matter at hand and by the end the band have you mired in a thick swamp of riffs and an evil lurking intent! The aptly named "Seeth Inside" starts with subtle tones that has you on the edge of your seat waiting for the explosion of heaviness you know is sure to come and true to form these lads don't let you down!

Heading towards the end of an album you simply don't wish to end and the band batter and pulverise their way through penultimate track "Accursed" with all the grace and subtlety of a brick to the face as this cathedral of noise and ferocity leads into the albums epic, an eleven minute finale entitled "Harbinger" that sees Wizard's Beard bring this montage of doom and filth to a well executed finish! Nothing creates the mindset for doom like being from Yorkshire and here is one example of exactly how to tap into that frame of mind. A must own album from a band you have to experience!

9/10 - Luke Hayhurst

NIGHTSLUG - Nightslug Demo

I apologise for the length of time it has taken me to post anything upon the Domkyrkan pages of late but goings on with Destructive Music have kept me somewhat busy. Domkyrkan, my doom side project however lives on and has not been forgotten, nor have the bands who are to feature. Therefore today I am treating all my faithful readers to a trilogy of doom, starting with the debut release from German sludge outfit Nightslug and their 2011 released self titled demo, later re-released on cassette by the excellent Cosmic Tomb!

Opening this three track demo is the song "Nightslug" which kicks things off in a deliberately slow, methodical manner and possessing all that you require from any decent sludge band, crushing down tuned riff-age, a solid back-line of thunderous crawling drumming and a thick meaty bass line, topped off with grime covered vocals, dripping with filth and aggression. Oh yes, this is a good start.

The drawl and groove of Nightslug's slow, ponderous and menacing sound is simply superb and oozing with a masterful display of technicality, as well as a huge amount of monolithic riffs that makes you think more of America's deep south than it does of Dusseldorf, Germany. Starting with the massive fuzzed out licks of bass play before the crashing of drums and ferocity of riffs kicks in, "The Curse Reborn" is a much shorter offering but oh so potent none the less! Much more of a groovy little number, this one still packs a real punch when Nightslug open the taps and lay down a solid line of crushing riffs, intense and brutal drumming and scorched vocals as "THE CURSE REBORN" is growled out over and over again!

It's a damn shame that this demo has to finish but at least it has the good grace to do so with a flourish as the quickened opening moments of the aptly titled "Roars of Rage" soon settle down for another bout of steely determined German sludge, raw, aggressive and down right heavy! You'll be pleased to know that this year sees the release of the bands debut full length album going by the name of "Dismal Fucker"... On the strength of this mere demo I'd say it's going to be a must own!

9/10 - Luke Hayhurst

Monday, 17 June 2013

TROLLKRAFTT - Bogs & Brimstone

Trollkraftt are a new UK blackened sludge quartet who have recently released their debut demo entitled "Bogs & Brimstone" which has been released through the label Cosmic Tomb.

Opening track "Trolls of Doom" starts slowly with sounds of the bog filtering through your speakers before the band kick in with full force, fast, grimy and raw. Oozing groove, Trollkraftt play hard and play loud, their sound is thick and viscous, murky and filth ridden. As well as that they are catchy, unbelievably catchy! Everything about the band from the music to the artwork screams putrid filth and decay and their blackened sound just rolls out oh so effortlessly. 

Amusingly entitled "Dragonslag" the bands second song brings the pace right down for some dangerous sounding sludge ferocity, packing an intensely ominous and oppressive feel, an out right aura of doom and death through down tuned grime encrusted riffs, savage gurgling vocals and a thick rumbling bass/drums line. Finishing off this impressive debut demo is the title track "Bogs & Brimstone" which features heavily prominent bass play and an increase in the bands already drawling sound. It isn't a quick demo that's for sure but soon enough you'll be glad of that fact as Trollkraftt pummel and manipulate you for well over half an hour of messed up blackened sludge brutality! Cracking little demo this!

9/10 - Luke Hayhurst

Saturday, 1 June 2013

SPACEGOAT - Spacegoat EP

If I'm honest I do have a fair few releases in my Domkyrkan 'To Review' folder but in a session of mindless bandcamp browsing I came across this little gem from Mexico and thought to hell with it, this is perfect for the blog! Say hello to Spacegoat, a psychedelic doom/heavy metal band who will, if you are like me and heavily into female fronted doom such as Jex Thoth, Witch Mountain or Blood Ceremony, completely capture your heart and soul! This is the bands self titled and debut release, a five track EP self released in 2012 and as a debut offering it one of the most accomplished and heart warming releases you are ever likely to hear! 

Take the opening track "Silver Swamp" whose deeply grooved and hypnotic riffs blend effortlessly with the rumble of the bass and drums and then wrap themselves around the beautiful and mesmerizing vocals of front lady Gina Rios! As the track trundles along pleasantly with far reaching atmospheric vibes and nuances you'll find yourself in a relaxing doom laden bubble before the more energetic "Thin Line" kicks in and Rios's vocals increase their intensity and a catchier, bouncier style of riff-age comes into play. Within moments the bands heavenly sounds and easy to pick up lyrics will have you singing along and before you know it you are gliding effortlessly into "Cosmica" and Spanish lyrics which roll off the tongue and add a far more exotic air to proceedings, as does the fast paced more heavy metal leaning sound.

Moving into "Black Glow" and another high temp number moving back into doomier territory and back to English lyrics as the band unleash one of their heavier and groovier tracks, with of course another healthy dose of soaring graceful vocal work. All good things must sadly come to an end but in finale track "Without Ceremony" the band make you want so much more with this huge slice of ramped up psychedelic doom rock goodness. If you have not yet had a taste of Mexican doom lords and lady Spacegoat then get on their bandcamp page and experience tis awesome band for yourself.

[8/10 - Luke Hayhurst]

Friday, 17 May 2013

Interview with Brief & Pia of Swedish Sludge Doom band SERPENT OMEGA!

For those of you who have followed this blog from its inception, you’ll know about its origins and where its name hails from and whilst the translation may not be one hundred per cent exact, Domkyrkan felt right! Why is this relevant for this interview? Well the name was taken from a short interview in Zero Tolerance with a band that has come to dominate my thinking and my attention, that being Swedish Sludge Doom four piece SERPENT OMEGA!  With their debut self-titled album released on vinyl via English label Mordgrimm the band are on the promotional trail and as you’ll know from my review it really is the full package from the eye catching artwork to the filthy sludged out tunes that lay beneath said cover, waiting for you to sample and feast upon its dark,  aggressive delights! Now though I feel it is time to move beyond the music and get to know the four individuals who have collectively created something truly outstanding and so I put together some questions and these amiable Swedes very kindly unloaded their thoughts.

Hails to you all and thank you for taking the time to speak with me. First of all I’d like to discuss the band’s name.
How did you come across and decide on Serpent Omega?
Your artwork and logo have very serpentine characteristics, are snakes and serpents something that means something to you all, or is it just a damn cool name for a Doom band?

Brief: Me and Jonsson decided on this shortly after we started the band, we wanted a name that meant something to us and reflected our music and we both immediately thought of the Ouroboros, but in our own words Serpent Omega wasn't far away after that.
You are pretty new onto the scene under this moniker having formed in 2011. Can you tell me what other projects you have been a part of and what kind of backgrounds, musically speaking, you all come from?
Brief: I have played heavy metal, stoner and punk since I was 13 in different constellations. i'm still involved in a few other bands but we don't rehearse that much.
How old were you all when you first got into the heavier side if music and which bands popped your cherry as it were?
Brief: When I was a kid I was really into heavy metal and I listened to bands like kiss, sabbath and judas priest. However, I was totally blown away by the rising stoner-scene that emerged in the early 90's and one album in particular made me realise what heavy was all about and that was sleep's holy mountain. I still listen to that record every day. when the Jerusalem bootleg came out that was it for me, nothing could top that I thought. but then sleep released dopesmoker a few years later.
Pia: The same goes for me, but you can cross judas priest and kiss off the list. I've always listened to heavy music in different forms, but it was Sleep and Sabbath that changed my world.
What bands would you say influence the Serpent Omega sound? Are you conscious of the influences that work their way into your sound and do you embrace those influences or are you always aiming to be as original as possible?
Brief: I wouldn't say we aim at sounding in a particular way, the sum of our separate influences create something grotesquely swelling and overpowered. as you probably can guess from the previous answer my biggest influence is sleep and just sheer volume  you should not only listen to music, you need to feel it.

How did Serpent Omega come to fruition? Were you all friends who decided to start a new project and see where it took you or was there a structure in place from the start where one person decided to start a band advertised accordingly?
Brief: Me and Jonsson has know each other a long time and we used to play in a few bands together before. I had an idea of starting a drone/sludge/metal-band when I moved to Stockholm in 2008 but the circumstances wasn't right at the time. I did have Jonsson in mind then already because he called and asked if I wanted come to Gothenburg and lay down some vocals for a crust-project he was involved with. Anyway it didn't happen then, but I went to visit him in the summer of 2010, we got really drunk and we said that we were going to start a band and that he had to move to Stockholm  eventually he did and we started out with another drummer who was involved in the first three songs (warmachine, red sun and smoke ritual) but that didn't work out and he left. we were rehearsing in this small place with really crap gear so we decided we'd go all in and turned every coin we literally had and bought lots of huge amps. With all the gear and right sound in place we tried out some vocalists but none of them felt that special. Jonsson knew Pia from before and she came to our studio to try a few songs. Eventually she pulled out something fierce and raw which we were really impressed by. We had no drummer at that time and since good drummers are exceptionally rare and Sakke is my brother in law we decided we'd give him a try and everything fell in place.
Moving on to the album, you decided to keep things simple by making it a self-titled record and also you made the decision that other than MP3’s which seems to be the standard these day, the album would be released on vinyl only. Can you explain how both decisions came about? Why not some long fancy name that involved witches serpents and all manner of doom related words? With regards to the vinyl only release, were you not worried that album sales will be lower as a lot of people tend to only listen to CD’s in this modern age?
Brief: I wanted it either to be self-titled or called volume one, the only options really.
Pia: Not having a name on the album was something we just felt was right for our debut. It would have been too pretentious to call it something, and at this point we want the music and the artwork to speak for itself. Can't explain it more than that really... And since vinyl is THE best way to experience an album (expect for live of course), both when it comes to the music and the album art, it was a simple choice. However, the album will be released on CD later on this year. As far as "sales" goes… We don't think in those terms…. But I believe that If you're into this kind of music you support the scene, and you will get it on vinyl because you know vinyl kicks ass. So no, we are not worried.
The album has been released via Mordgrimm from here in the UK. How did contact with the label come about and how soon was a deal done? Were their other labels interested and how is the relationship with Mordgrimm?
Brief: Mordgrimm contacted us, and they really liked what we were doing. A few other labels were interested but they were too slow and the deal with Mordgrimm was very generous we felt. The relationship couldn't be better i'd say.
You have played live with bands such as Grand Magus and more recently the increasingly popular Hooded Menace, what live show that you have been involved with stands out for you as you’re most enjoyable? Do you have a set track list for live shows or do you go with the flow and mood of the night?
Brief: For me, definitely those two shows you mentioned. the first one for sheer energy since it was one of our first shows and the latter one for the great support and atmosphere we got from sharing stage with Hooded Menace.
Pia: Same here. I think the gig with Grand Magus probably was as good as it gets. Everything was just perfect that night, and the bookers at Club Deströyer are such cool people. The sound was wicked and really - really - loud. The Hooded Menace show was amazing too... mainly because they kicked ass and we got along really well drinking mead in the middle of the night in some shady pub.

From the photos I've seen from your live shows there is often an eerie ambiance to the lighting and the mood on stage, helped by the antics and appearance of front lady Pia with her maniacal stares and corpse painted antics! Is there a lot of work and thought that goes into your live appearance or is it once more very much a go with the flow kind of attitude?
Pia: Everything that happens on stage is just an extended part of our music. It all goes together. I wouldn't say we put a lot of effort in to it, it's not like we have pyro or stuff like that. Haha! It all comes natural really, and we just happen to have a very primal and raw appearance live I think. It comes with the music and it rubs off on both us and the crowd.
Going back to the new album what kind of response have you had locally and also in the international press?
Pia: We're a bit blown away by all the positive response we've gotten so far, especially from international press. We've been well received in Sweden too, but I think fewer magazines and blogs have picked up on us here.
Now that ‘Serpent Omega’ is finished and out there you are able to take a step back and with the weight of creating and recording your first album now lifted from your shoulders how do you honestly feel about the music you have created? Are you happy with the album as a whole or is there parts and moments you’d like to change or tweak for next time?
Brief: It feels good, like something has landed but there are always things you want to improve, small things here and there, but I think that since we did all of it ourselves, it has a really cool dynamic to it. I think we need to always record and produce our own stuff, not let someone else do it, then we will lose energy and momentum.
Pia: I totally agree. Even though the DIY thing is fucking hard work, it suits us. I don't think anyone understands what we want to do better than ourselves, and it would be seriously difficult for an outsider to be a part of that and try to interpret the undercurrents of the band… Having said that, who knows what the future holds.
How did you find the recording process? I understand that Andreas [Guitar] did all of the production and mastering for the record, did this add extra pressure to get things perfect or did things go more smoothly having one of your own at the helm?
Pia: You know, for us it's natural to do everything ourselves, and since Jonsson has real hands on experience in both recording, mixing and mastering, it was an easy decision who would record our album. But since we're all perfectionists it took us a while to get it right. We were looking for a heavy but raw sound that was well produced but not slick. Jonsson spent a great deal of time, with us hanging over his shoulder, to make it sound the way we wanted it to. We think it turned out really well.
Finally, what plans do you have for the band now that the album is out? Are preparations for a new release in the pipeline and how about a tour of the UK? Any plans?
Brief: haha, we just released our record! so, no. the next record will take as long time as it needs to feel complete as well. the plans right now are just to play and write new stuff when and if we feel like it. The uk-tour is planned for 2014 in the spring!
Pia: Yeah, I think the music gets another layer of heaviness to it when we play live, so the primary thing is to get out and do that as much as possible. Bookers out there can feel free to contact us.

Serpent Omega's debut self titled album is out now through Mordgrimm!