Album Review: EARTHLESS – Black Heaven (Song Stream)



Black Heaven

Nuclear Blast Records

Release Date: March 16, 2018

It’s been more than four years since the last Earthless album, the mammoth double LP From the Ages, and to say things are a little different now would be an understatement. Since the 2005 release of their debut album Sonic Prayer, the San Diego power trio have built their reputation on a repertoire of expansive, instrumental psych-rock explorations, side-long, many-movement mindfucks that split the difference between Amon Düül II and Black Sabbath. Black Heaven, their latest effort (and first under the Nuclear Blast banner), is a leaner, meaner affair that’s way more James Gang than Flower Travellin’ Band. The songwriting and structures have been tightened up and whittled down (the longest song on Black Heaven is slightly less than nine minutes, which for Earthless is practically a pop single), based more on refined guitar riffs than semi-improvised rhythm section interplay and trimmed of a lot of hallucinogenic fat. Perhaps most jarring for longtime listeners will be the introduction of the human voice into the Earthless equation; four of Black Heaven’s six tracks feature guitarist Isaiah Mitchell stepping into the vocal spotlight. Doubters and worrywarts can relax and unclench, though; this is still Earthless through and through, plenty trippy, plenty heavy, and more than capable of levelling even the most hardened of psychic warriors.

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Album Review: FU MANCHU – Clone of the Universe


Fu Manchu

Clone of the Universe

At the Dojo Records

Release Date: February 9, 2018

Southern California fuzz mavens Fu Manchu may be the closest thing stoner rock has to an institution. Since 1990, honcho Scott Hill and his bandmates have been cranking out high-octane, revved-up power rock that’s served as a veritable musical template for countless heshmongers and bongrattlers that have followed in their skunky wake. And not unlike their fellow institutions The Ramones and AC/DC, since song one/side one of their debut album Fu Manchu have by and large stuck to the strengths that brought them to the dance in the first place: solid, steady grooves, razor-sharp hooks, and riff after riff after motherfucking riff, three miles thick and stacked on top of each other straight up into the sky. Their first release since 2014, Clone of the Universe (released via the band’s own At the Dojo Records), mostly hews to their tried-and-true practices, but with just enough twists and tweaks to avoid repetition and fatigue. The time signatures and song structures skew a little more prog than normal (in one instance, a lot more), and lyrically and thematically they’ve swapped out skateboards for starcruisers, but it’s really just a different picture airbrushed on the side of the tricked-out Fu Manchu custom van.

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State of the Art: New Jersey’s BLACK WAIL

Our autumnal excursion through the Garden State concludes in Jersey City, home of the Statue of Liberty, birthplace of funk legends Kool & the Gang, and for nearly four years now, home to chromium swamp creatures Black Wail. These fuzz-faced, big-muffed purveyors of doom boogie have been plying their wares since Spring 2014, over three EP releases and countless live shows, and their forthcoming effort Chromium Homes (Rhyme & Reason Records, in stores December 15) is a raw, rip-snorting blast of sharp hooks, bludgeoning riffs, syrupy-sweet harmonies, and out-and-out heavy metal anguish.

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TRUCKFIGHTERS’ Tour Van Smashed And Looted In San Francisco; Valuable Items Stolen

Stoner rock/metal trio TRUCKFIGHTERS from Sweden are currently touring the US, playing back to back dates on the West Coast. Yesterday night when they were busy performing live at the Brick & Mortar, San Francisco, some miscreants barged in to smash the band’s tour van, thus looting a lot of valuable things like cash and computers, that were inside the vehicle. While the thugs managed to run free and haven’t been caught yet, the band managed to make a Facebook post about it. Making their fans aware, the band said things like “a lot of cash” and computer were stolen from the van. This is definitely a grave issue as they are touring away from home and cash is very necessary while on tour, the band therefore made a plea to the American fans to buy some extra merch on the remaining tour dates, so that they can survive and get home back with the profit from the following merch sales. Here’s the band’s following statement on their official Facebook site,

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Album Review: BAND OF SPICE – ‘Shadows Remain’

Band of Spice

Shadows Remain

Scarlet Records

Unlike the bloodthirsty beasts and mythical creatures that serve as subject matter for so much of the metal genre, the demons and monsters that occupy the songs on Shadows Remain are all too real. The third album from the namesake project of Kayser and former Spiritual Beggars frontman Christian “Spice” Sjöstrand, Shadows Remain is a harrowing ride that documents the darkest days of the singer/songwriter’s life, a period induced by isolation and the abuse of various substances. It’s a record that wears its soul on its tattered denim sleeve, a brooding bruiser that simultaneously kicks your ass and breaks your heart.

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Album Review: UNCLE ACID & THE DEADBEATS – Vol 1 (Reissue)

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats

Vol 1 (Reissue)

Rise Above Records

Vol 1, the first album to carry the Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats moniker, has acquired a near-mythic status since its original release in February 2010 (not coincidentally, 40 years to the day after Black Sabbath was unleashed upon an unsuspecting world). Written, performed, and recorded entirely by then-unknown mastermind Kevin Starrs, the no-budget album’s entire production run consisted of 30 self-distributed CD-R’s. Starrs used what little profits there were to help fund the recording of the now-classic follow-up effort Blood Lust, and Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats (now a full band) were well on their way to becoming one of the darkest stars in the stoner metal universe. As their popularity grew, so did the reputation of Vol 1; it became highly sought by ravenous collectors, and highly exploited by unscrupulous bootleggers. Despite constant overtures from fans and label executives, Starrs refused to allow its reissue until he was able to personally oversee a thorough remixing and remastering; “It was a DIY project from the beginning,” Starrs explains, “so I wasn’t going to give it up and let someone else mess with it.” After six years on the record-tour treadmill, and with Uncle Acid on a well-deserved break, he fortunately found the time to mess with it himself, and Vol 1 will finally be hitting shelves (via Rise Above Records) and streaming services this Friday the 13th.

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BLACK LABEL SOCIETY just announced a massive tour encompassing the entire North America from coast to coast this coming winter. Joining hands with fellow rockers CORROSION OF CONFORMITY, EYEHATEGOD and RED FANG, this mega tour looks and promises to be a heavy weight one to end the year on a high note and similarly start the next year with the same fervour. Spanning exactly two months from this December 27, BLACK LABEL SOCIETY will be promoting their all new upcoming 2018 LP, ‘Grimmest Hits‘, which hits the stores on January 19, next year in the midst of the aforementioned tour. So if you’re planning to hit this up, be pumped cause you might end up witnessing one or two new tunes to groove to.

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Album Review: KADAVAR – ‘Rough Times’


Rough Times

Nuclear Blast Records

Forget the fuzzed-out riffs and the monster choruses, forget the facial hair and silk-and-velvet trappings; the single most ‘70’s thing about Kadavar might be their work ethic. The German stoner-psych trio has been in perpetual motion since their 2010 debut, locked in an album-tour-album-tour cycle that harkens back to the days of their musical forefathers, when bands plied and honed their craft through countless live shows and more than a year between records was simply unheard of. The end result of this ideology couldn’t be more evident. The band has become an incendiary live act, and each of their albums has built on the strengths of its predecessor. To say that trend continues here is a massive understatement; 2015’s Berlin was one of that year’s best albums, but with Rough Times, Kadavar may end up with the 2017 title all to themselves.

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Album Review: MONOLORD – ‘Rust’ [Tracks Streaming]



RidingEasy Records

‘Rust’, the third long-player from Sweden’s Monolord, is a mountain-sized monster of an album, a great, lumbering beast with a low heartrate and a horrifyingly bad disposition. The follow-up to 2015’s breakthrough ‘Vænir’ sees the band ascend into the upper pantheon of modern doom while maintaining and further honing a sense of melody that eludes most of their contemporaries.  ‘Rust’ is an exquisitely crafted truncheon designed for maximum impact, a phaser set on ‘Infinite Crush’; it’s also a moody, dynamic, emotive piece of work that stands with the finest heavy music released this year.

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Album Review: CANNABIS CORPSE – ‘Left Hand Pass’

Death Metal is brutality in its impurest form. The ferocious guitar riffs, earth breaking bass, deafening drum beats, and guttural growls define one of metal’s most extreme and unforgiving genres, and this abrasive sonic assault perfectly describes the style of weed obsessed death metal band CANNABIS CORPSE.

Despite the fact that the name CANNABIS CORPSE is a parody of gore loving death metal band CANNIBAL CORPSE (just needed to explain for all NONE of you who weren’t already aware), bassist/vocalist Phil Hall, drummer Josh Hall, and guitarist Ray Suhy take their doobie influenced and (admittedly) humorous metal quite seriously, and this can be heard on their most recent record ‘Left Hand Pass’ which is an absolute monster of an album with smashing guitar riffs, unforgiving guttural screams, and a slight hint of melody that hooks the listener from start to finish.

Simply put: it’s crushing.

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