Tag Archives: black sabbath

Review: Atragon’s I, Necromancer

Atragon’s debut EP Volume I is one of the earliest reviews I wrote for UK Scumscene, so it’s bizarre to see the band’s name crop up again almost five years later for their debut album I, Necromancer. My lasting memory of Volume I is that one of the tracks was pretty good and the other one was a bit dull. Well as it turns out, the good track (Jesus Wept) has been re-recorded for I, Necromancer alongside six new songs. My cynical side instantly thought, “So it’s taken Atragon five years to write six songs?” but that’s just me being a condescending prick because those five years have clearly seen Atragon improve dramatically.

Now Atragon’s Sabbath worship is certainly nothing new among doom bands, but what they do they do bloody well. Atragon’s songs usually kick off with an absolutely gargantuan riff that builds and builds over the course of the track. More elements are thrown into the mix including Jan Gardner’s bellowing vocals and some beautifully indulgent guitar solos that always punctuate the closing moments of the song in a wonderfully heroic way. Album opener Matriarch certainly follows this pattern and it’s repeated on the title track and Wallowing Wizard to great effect. There’s something euphoric about the way Atragon build to their crescendos.

Even though the song-writing on I, Necromancer is often quite simplistic, Atragon have seen fit to shorten the songs since Volume 1 and they now average around 6 minutes. This means that even though most songs are carried by one riff, it never gets to outstay its welcome. Plus, everything sounds absolutely massive now thanks to the fantastic production job done by Graeme Young at Chamber Studio. Doom metal lives and dies on its production and Atragon certainly chose well for this record.

The only time the song structure changes on I, Necromancer is for the eerie album closer Guilt Returns. This track chooses to dump almost all of the percussion and instead lets a moody bass line and guitar melody create some really unnerving atmosphere that’s accentuated by Gardner’s vocals. It’s a suitably expansive ending to an album that’s spent its entire time sounding enormous.

It may have taken a long time getting here but Atragon’s I, Necromancer is a gleefully gargantuan doom record that revels in its simplicity. Atragon aren’t exactly reinventing the wheel here, but if big riffs and even bigger crescendos are something that you get your rocks off to then Atragon certainly have you covered.

8/10

Atragon’s I, Necromancer is out now and available to download direct from the band.

Advertisements

Review: Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters’ Earth Hog

earthhog

I don’t usually like to refer to music as “stoner” because I think it’s quite a disparaging term that implies the music has no artistic merit, but when your band is called Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters I think it’s safe to say that you’re pretty happy with having your music referred to as “stoner”.

So this is the first mini album by Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters (referred to as Chubby from hereon), it’s called Earth Hog and it’s a beautiful blend of groovy stoner rock and Sabbath-esque heavy metal. The first thing you’ll notice about Earth Hog is that it rocks harder than a ten ton boulder crashing down an active volcano.

Riffs come thick and fast on Earth Hog and they’re drenched in snarling overdrive. The guitar is also bolstered by some superb, low-end basslines which might lead to some unfortunate trouser accidents. The record manages to rumble along at a fair old pace which is at odds with your usual stoner rock experience and it’s absolutely invigorating to hear.

What Chubby manage to do with each of the five songs on Earth Hog is staggering. They all kick off with a groove so massive it could shake a house to pieces and then they build into a more psychedelic and progressive affair but without meandering around with no purpose. Despite the songs averaging around five minutes a piece, each is a rollicking beast of a tune that is full of great melodies and they never outstay their welcome.

Earth Hog is such a wonderfully fat, chunky beast of a record. The grooves sway effortlessly throughout the entire album and the production job by Sam Thredder of Slabdragger fame is the sweet, little cherry on the top (albeit a massive, overripe one). There’s so much weight to this record and it suits the wonderful, riff-laden nature of Chubby’s music perfectly.

Earth Hog is an easy recommendation to make. If you’ve ever enjoyed a riff that might result in whiplash then Chubby have delivered an absolute haven of guitar wizardry. Earth Hog is loaded with some of the best grooves stoner rock has to offer and it’s one of the most satisfying debuts of any band.

9/10

Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters’ Earth Hog is out now. You can download it direct from the band by clicking here. A CD and cassette release is scheduled for March.


Review: Empress AD’s Still Life Moving Fast

empresscd2014

It’s so good seeing young bands signed to Roadrunner Records again and Empress AD are a perfect fit for the label’s roster. The band deal with the sort of thunderous, proggy, groove metal that bands like Mastodon deal with but they sprinkle their sound with an earnest and very British-sounding layer of alt rock which reminds us of bands like Reuben.

Empress AD have been honing their craft for quite some time and it really shows on Still Life Moving Fast. This record has a seriously accomplished sound that dives effortlessly in and out of massive riffs and slower, more contemplative moments of restraint. Empress AD make the quiet/loud dynamic sing on this record. The more reserved moments give way to some absolutely Earth-shattering grooves and the contrast makes their impact all the more powerful.

An album highlight comes in the form of Deeper in Disguise which bursts out the gates with a blistering riff before slowing down for a sombre moment. It isn’t long before the track once again bludgeons you with its Glassjaw-esque, post hardcore craziness. It’s a beautiful lesson in heaviness.

Things even manage to move into doom metal territory for the crawling, bass-heavy dirge of On My Return. This is the sort of groove that would make Black Sabbath jealous but it’s juxtaposed with a beautiful vocal melody by Ollie Loring before it opens up into a more spacey, desert rock sound. Empress AD have really packed a surprising amount of influences into these songs.

The only downside to Still Life Moving Fast is that it does get a little bogged down in its prog rock leanings. Some of the quieter moments meander around doing very little for far too long and it unnecessarily bloats the album. Delve into the Retrospect suffers from moments like these and it often feels like the band have extended the run time of the song for the sake of self-indulgence.

Regardless, Empress AD manage to hit a larger amount of highs than they do lows on Still Life Moving Fast. This is a wonderful prog metal album that is stuffed with interesting song structures that are also bolstered by some of the best riffs heavy music has to offer. This is an impressive beginning to what I hope is one of the UK’s brightest metal discographies.

8/10

Empress AD’s Still Life Moving Fast is out now and available to buy from Roadrunner Records.


Review: Trippy Wicked & the Cosmic Children of the Knight’s Underground

1013685_10151739637588446_1652042028_n

Trippy Wicked & the Cosmic Children of the Knight have been doing their thing since 2006 and during that time they’ve managed to put together 2 albums and an acoustic EP. Their latest release ‘Underground’ will be the band’s 2nd EP but it follows the desert rock/sludge metal leanings of their 2 albums and it sees the band mature and progress as musicians even further.

Trippy Wicked build their songs around a monolithic groove while vocalist and guitarist Peter Holland gets his psychedelic Ozzy Osbourne impression on. There’s no harsh vocals to be found here as Holland prefers to add melody to the band’s music instead of raw aggression. The band find themselves in a lovely little niche that means they sound like an ungodly mix of Black Sabbath and Kyuss.

Underground carries over these sensibilities but what it does try is make a more cohesive listening experience out of it all by generally keeping the songs in a slower pace instead of changing the tempos from song to song. The decision to slow everything down really works in Trippy Wicked’s favour as they now get to push their grooves to the forefront and give the listener some absolutely stunning riffs to headbang to. Stand out moments include ‘Echoes Return’ and the foreboding lurch of instrumental track ‘Enlightenment’ which both dish out more groove than you ears can handle.

Unfortunately despite the heavily improved song writing and cohesion, the EP does suffer from something the band have always had a problem with and that is production values. The fuzzy almost nasal guitar work isn’t given the weight it truly deserves and all the songs feel like they could have done with having the bass cranked up higher. Trippy Wicked are a band that should sound considerably heavier than this and their songs could really benefit from the power of a more elaborate mix.

This is the only real negative we can throw at the record and despite lacking a bit of punch you can really hear a huge progression in the band’s ability as song writers. There is no denying that songs like ‘New Beginnings’ would sound absolutely gigantic live but until Trippy Wicked get someone to capture that on record their music isn’t going to have the impact it truly deserves. ‘Underground’ is definitely not a bad EP at all and if you listen to the songs for their own merits they are all brilliant examples of sludge metal at its finest, but we can’t help but imagine how utterly enormous this EP could have sounded with the right producer.

7/10

Trippy Wicked & the Cosmic Children of the Knight’s Underground EP is out now and available to buy on digipak CD direct from the band.


Review: Limb’s Limb

What other altar is worth kneeling at besides ‘The Altar of the Riff’? There isn’t one. Limb know this. The stoner rock London four-piece have turned up to make some serious racket and it’s all encapsulated on their self-titled demo now available on CD through Witch Hunter Records.

Limb make a lot of noise in the Kyuss/Black Sabbath vein so fans of stoner/doom/sludge/fuzz will have plenty to like. In 11 and a half minutes, these three tracks plod along at a slower-than-average pace so you’ll bang your head at a decent, non-damaging rhythm.

Daemoness kicks things off suitably with a big, distorted groove that breaks down into a cleaner riff that lulls you into a false sense of security. Before you know it we’re back with the riffs and vocalist Rob Hoey provides a decent yell to keep the mood nice and brooding. Hoey’s vocals bring the biggest pull on this demo; his voice is commanding and the drawn-out screams give the band a massive sound.

Unfortunately the production and the mix can’t keep up with Limb’s music. The production is dull and muddy which only helps to flatten Limb’s sound instead of give it the shot of life that could really set it off. The mix also favours the bass a little too much. On the first listen we were under the impression Limb didn’t have a guitarist and only a bassist using a load of distortion, but lo and behold Limb do have a guitarist (his name is Pat Pask if you’re interested) but you wouldn’t know it on this release. With the guitar higher in the mix we could really appreciate those massive grooves a little more.

So what have we gathered from all this? Limb have a bright future and their Sabbath-inspired, sludge-worship makes for a great listen. They’re also great song writers with commanding vocals and huge riffs that will make for some great mosh pits. Unfortunately for them this is being masked with some flat production and shoddy mixing that could make this band sound immense. This will undoubtedly improve with time and we can’t wait to hear what the band do next, but this release is not showing Limb in the best light.

6/10

Limb’s Limb CD is available to buy from Witch Hunter Records via this link now.