Tag Archives: desert rock

Review: Monolithian’s The Waning Moon

The mighty Monolithian have finally returned and they come baring a new 26 minute mini album called The Waning Moon. The blackened doom two-piece still manage to floor me with their enormous, devastating take on doom metal and with The Waning Moon they’ve even managed to cross over into new and unfamiliar territory.

However, before we get to said territory, opener Crone kicks things off and reminds us exactly what makes Monolithian one of the best low tempo metal bands out there. This 6 minute monster of a tune has a preposterously huge riff and a pounding rhythm that will certainly get those invisible oranges raised high. But then we get to the middle eight breakdown and the entire song steps up a notch with a black metal attack that will fuel a serious mosh pit or two. Crone is the sort of song that only Monolithian can make and it’s one of the strongest openings of any doom release.

But what have we here? The next song Nyarlathotep sees Monolithian reaching parts unknown; a reserved, psychedelic take on desert rock that’s expansive, atmospheric and hugely welcome. Monolithian once again manage to prove that despite being only two members strong, they still have a lot of ideas in reserve that can push their music into exciting new territory. It’s here where the album begins to show more variety in the song-writing and it proves that Monolithian are more than just a band who play slow, crushing doom flourished with fast bits.

The rest of The Waning Moon showcases the more familiar Monolithian sound of doom paired with black metal but now with the aforementioned exploration of desert rock, creating devastating slabs of sludgy, bass-lead metal that manages to sound utterly gargantuan. The scale of Monolithian’s music on The Waning Moon is verging on ridiculous, but it’s delivered with such confidence that it’s almost impossible not to lose yourself in.

The Waning Moon is a hugely successful burst of down-tempo aggression that sees Monolithian drawing on even more varied influences to great effect. It’s been hugely engrossing watching this band go from strength to strength on every release and if The Waning Moon is anything to go by then Monolithian’s next long-player will be an essential doom purchase.

9/10

Monolithian’s The Waning Moon is out now and available to buy direct from the band on limited edition purple vinyl.


Total Rock: Catbird’s Sunday Roasting 17/1/2016

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On Sunday the 17th of January 2016 we finally returned to Total Rock to appear on Catbird’s Sunday Roasting! If you missed our appearance on the show then you can click below to listen to the podcast on MixCloud. Here’s a list of our picks and the time-stamps for each song are listed beside them:

11:59 – SikTh – Philistine Philosophies
42:18 – Boxkite – Cycles
50:29 – TORPOR – As Waves Crash
1:04:23 – Gnarwolves – Boneyard
1:14:25 – I, The Lion – Hold Strong
1:20:21 – Eulogy – Deaf Cult
1:44:17 – Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters – Chopsticks and Bad Meatballs
1:50:20 – Iced Out – Man’s Ruin
1:53:58 – TEEF – Consumed
1:56:25 – Samoans – Stompbox
2:05:06 – Mage – One for the Road


Year End: The 10 Best Albums of 2015

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10) Let’s Talk Daggers – A Beautiful Life

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“Regardless, Let’s Talk Daggers have made one of the most electric rock albums of the year. If you can appreciate guitar music that doesn’t sacrifice technicality for song-writing then Let’s Talk Daggers have delivered a record that does just that and even more. A Beautiful Life is an absolute tidal wave of riffs, tempo changes and yelping and despite the madness of its contents, Let’s Talk Daggers have brought it all together into one cohesive yet exhausting piece.”

Click here to read the full review.

9) Limb – Terminal

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“Terminal is the natural continuation from Limb’s self-titled debut and it’s an infinitely more enjoyable and masterfully crafted slab of hard rock. The band haven’t rested on their laurels and continue to get better on every record they release. The pressure is certainly on for the next release, lads!”

Click here to read the full review.

8) Torpor – From Nothing Comes Everything

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London doom behemoth Torpor wiped the floor with the rest of the doom offerings this year. The long-form nature of Torpor’s songs is beautifully tempered by the bands wonderful song-writing which ebbs and flows in a wonderfully natural way that means that 11 minute monsters like From This Time never outstay their welcome. Every riff on From Nothing Comes Everything is a crushing beast of a thing that demands some serious head-banging. This record is a real masterclass of doom song-writing.

Full review coming soon.

7) Svalbard – One Day All This Will End

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“By the end of the closing moments of Lily, Svalbard have taken you on a post hardcore journey like no other. One Day All This Will End is one of the best punk releases birthed in the UK and Svalbard have mastered an amazingly eclectic sound that’s equal parts angry, beautiful and forlorn. One Day All This Will End is essential listening to fans of post hardcore and a welcoming introduction to anyone looking to explore the more progressive side of hardcore.”

Click here to read the full review.

6) Employed to Serve – Greyer Than You Remember

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“It’s impossible to justify any criticism towards this record. Employed to Serve have absolutely mastered their craft and if dense, bastard-heavy hardcore is your thing than Greyer than You Remember is filled wall-to-wall with some of the genre’s finest moments. The album barely gives you a moment to breath in favour of demanding you mosh harder and it’s almost euphoric in its density.”

Click here to read the full review.

5) xRepentancex – The Sickness of Eden

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“xRepentancex have delivered a debut album that’s so furious it feels like it could tear apart at the seams. The Sickness of Eden is a hardcore record every fan of the genre should own and it’s almost beautiful in its sheer relentlessness. God knows how you follow an album this consistent. Good luck guys.”

Click here to read the full review.

4) Press to Meco – Good Intent

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“Press to Meco have delivered an album that showcases exactly what the trio are capable of. It’s a glorious, exciting monster of a record that is stuffed with technical wizardry and choruses so big that they deserve to be blasted across festival audiences all summer long.”

Click here to read the full review.

3) Old Skin – Beneath the Trees

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Old Skin’s debut album was the most bittersweet release of the year because while it is one of the best metallic hardcore albums this country has ever produced, its release also marked the demise of the band. Given away as a pay-what-you-want download to mark the final chapter of Old Skin’s career, this is an apocalyptic hardcore onslaught that never lets up. Old Skin might be gone but they’ve left behind one of the most disgustingly heavy records this country has ever produced and it deserves to be heard by everyone.

Full review coming soon.

2) Oblivionized – Life is a Struggle, Give Up

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“Life is a Struggle, Give Up is Oblivionized firing on all cylinders. This is an unforgiving attack of tech-metal, grind and deathcore that is sculpted with finite detail and it’s not afraid to hit you over the head with a monolithic riff for good measure. This might be an exhausting ordeal on your first listen, but give it the time it deserves and it will slowly unveil a metal record for the ages.”

Click here to read the full review.

1) Caïna – Setter of Unseen Snares

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“Setter of Unseen Snares is an album of unbridled fury, bleak atmosphere and eventually, shimmering post metal beauty. This is one of the most diverse and brilliantly executed black metal albums I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to and it deserves to be heard by more than just fans of the genre.”

Click here to read the full review.

Notable Mentions
Monolithian – The Finest Day I Ever Lived, Was When Tomorrow Never Came. (click here to read the full review)


Review: Limb’s Terminal

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Desert rockers Limb are not messing around with their sophomore album Terminal. The band only released their debut album last year and despite a change in drummers, they’ve powered into this new record and produced something really special.

What’s instantly recognisable about the Limb’s music is how much their song-writing has improved in such a short space of time. While elements of their self-titled debut could sometimes feel under-produced, Terminal sounds utterly monolithic in comparison.

After the short introduction of Three Snake Leaves we are treated to one of the best songs Limb have ever written in the form of Ghost Dance. Ghost Dance is the groovy riff-beast you expect all Limb songs to be, but this time there’s more melody in vocalist Rob Hoey’s voice and there’s a greater urgency to the music. Limb are done with messing around on this record and each song often starts with some of the best riffs hard rock has to offer.

This continues with the absolute barnstormer that is Micromegas. Bolstered by a chunky, Motorhead-like riff, this is an astoundingly massive sounding rock song that deserves to be heard by as many fans of heavy music as possible. The band’s dancey, sludgy grooves grab you by the throat, force you to head-bang before giving you a moment to gather yourself and then it’s back to the fun.

Fun is something we’ve spoken about a lot when referring to Limb as this is something all too rare in the sort of down-tuned, often po-faced sludge that the band deal in, but Terminal is still stuffed full of enjoyable, overblown silliness in the form of songs like Down By The Banks. Limb revel in their almost classic rock leanings and it’s a gleeful thing to be involved in.

Terminal is the natural continuation from Limb’s self-titled debut and it’s an infinitely more enjoyable and masterfully crafted slab of hard rock. The band haven’t rested on their laurels and continue to get better on every record they release. The pressure is certainly on for the next release, lads!

9/10

Limb’s Terminal is out now and available to purchase from Cargo Records.


News: Ben Aucott from Mage Passes Away

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We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Ben Aucott, guitarist for Scumscene-favourites Mage.

Ben’s passing is a figurative gut-punch that’s going to sting for quite some time. I’ve been an enormous fan of Mage since their first album and they’ve been kind enough to personally thank us in the liner notes for their last two releases. It’s always been a pleasure working with them and it pains me to say that we send our sympathies to Ben’s friends and family during this difficult time.

If there’s any positives to take from all this then let it be known that Ben managed to marry the love of his life just over a week ago. Ben’s a hero in my eyes.


Review: Karma to Burn and Sons of Alpha Centauri’s Split 7″

American desert rockers Karma to Burn have joined forces with Kent prog rockers Sons of Alpha Centauri and the result is a double dose of instrumental rock that’s big on groove and not much else.

KARMA TO BURN
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Karma to Burn’s contribution is a spacey, 4 minute track called Six that hammers home a pretty satisfying groove but does little else to hold your attention. The track ends up playing out like a very long album opener which would be fine if the band had a stronger track to follow it up but they don’t as each band on this split only contributes a single track.

4 minutes, one riff; that’s all you’re getting. Fingers crossed Sons of Alpha Centauri have a little more to offer because this is an inconsequential opening on a 7” that costs seven of your British pounds.

5/10

SONS OF ALPHA CENTAURI
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Sons of Alpha Centauri thankfully put forward a song that has a little more meat on its bones. Their contribution is a song called 66 (get it? Six66? GROAN) and the song is a somewhat proggier affair than Karma to Burn’s effort. The off kilter guitar work brings back memories of classic earthtone9 which is certainly a compliment compared to Karma to Burn who brought on feelings of boredom.

Unfortunately while this composition actually bothers to move and progress into different riffs, the band’s sound really needs something else. The instrumentation just isn’t interesting enough to hold your attention without any vocals and this is where Sons of Alpha Centauri fall down. Sons of Alpha Centauri are making the sort of alternative rock that bands like Tool have been so successful with, but while bands like that include all the elements needed to flesh out their sound, Sons of Alpha Centauri don’t feel like they have enough in their repertoire to hold your attention.

6/10

Instrumental rock is a difficult genre to deal in because as both bands on this split have proven, missing an element as important as a vocalist can end up making your music sound sparse and uneventful in the process. Both Karma to Burn and Sons of Alpha Centauri need to spend more time making their music move in interesting and engrossing ways if they are to continue as instrumental acts.

Karma to Burn and Sons of Alpha Centauri’s 7” split is out now and available to buy from H42 Records and direct from Sons of Alpha Centauri.


Review: XII Boar’s Pitworthy

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It’s been 2 years since XII Boar piqued our interest with their Split Tongue, Cloven Hoof EP but now the band have returned with their first long-player and it’s got the rather bold title of Pitworthy. If that doesn’t indicate a record promising a collection of songs that’ll make you move then I don’t know what is.

XII Boar are still making their special blend of bluesy, groovy rock with a touch of metal (think Black Spiders wrestling with Panic Cell) and it’s still as engrossing as ever. Opening track Sharpshooter bursts out the gates with a riff that is going to ignite their fans into a feeding frenzy and it’s a joy to listen to.

Things continue in a similarly riff-heavy fashion. XII Boar have a real knack for writing a great slab of hard rock that’s stuffed full of hooks and their music has a strangely danceable quality to it. If you put The Schaeffer Boogie on in any of the UK’s many rock clubs it would have the whole place humming along to the melody in no time.

Unfortunately, Pitworthy suffers from a problem that the band didn’t have to worry about previously thanks to the shorter length of their EP. By the album’s half way point you’ve heard everything XII Boar have to offer. I was suffering from some painful fatigue during the middle of Pitworthy and when Tommy Hardrocks gleefully barks, “bitch” I was beginning to worry why a band needs to use a sexist slur in 2015. It isn’t shocking anymore and it’s simply quite embarrassing to hear such sloppy lyricism.

The final nail in the coffin comes with the last song on the album. The song in question is called Quint and it shows an incredibly self-indulgent side to XII Boar that is completely unnecessary and dull to listen to. The tighter more direct song-writing that’s explored through most of the album is completely dumped in favour of an eleven minute desert rock jam that’s so bloated it might burst due to overindulgence.

XII Boar were so very close to making a hard rock debut that would be remembered for decades. The band have a wonderful sound that’s stupidly fun to listen to and when they get it right their music is full of groove and enough hooks to fill a butcher’s pantry. Sadly, Pitworthy becomes a tiresome and bloated experience that indulges in extended desert rock jams far too often. When XII Boar pack all their ideas into shorter songs they’re absolutely on fire but sadly these songs only take up half the record. A missed opportunity.

6/10

XII Boar’s Pitworthy is released independently by the band on the 9th of March. You can pre-order it direct from the band by clicking here.


Review: Mage’s Last Orders

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When I noticed that Mage’s latest album Last Orders was only 7 tracks long I began to worry that the groove-metallers might have rushed an album out that wouldn’t make it to the half hour mark. What I was not prepared for was how much the band have grown as song-writers since Black Sands. Mage have evolved into a doom-ridden, sludgy beast of a band. The groove is still there but the band have seen fit to take elements from various down-tempo heavy music like desert rock and fuse it with their signature sound to create a thunderous slab of quality metal that’s immensely satisfying to listen to.

The band have also decided to indulge their proggier leanings by generally writing far longer songs than the band have created previously. Melodies are often not revisited once they shift into a new riff and there are some impressive bursts of speed in tracks like Dark Matter and Old Bones. These thrashier moments are beautiful little additions that help break up the slower pace of the album which is a genius move as the down-tempo nature of the band’s music could’ve become a bit tiresome.

Special mention has to be given to guitarists Woody and Ben who deliver massive riff after massive riff. There are plenty of thick, chunky chords to bite into throughout the album and they’re decorated with some impressive solos like the one on The Fallen. A good solo should always favour melody over technicality and Mage are fully aware of this which is why each solo on Last Orders is a really momentous occasion.

Rounding out this rather meaty package is the wonderful production job by Chris Fielding who keeps the guitar and bass tones as murky and filth-ridden as you’d expect them to be on a sludge metal record. Fielding has seen fit to give the bass prominence in this mix and it suits the huge, spacey vibe of songs like Lux Mentis and Beyond to a tee.

The only real negative we can sling at Mage is that they are an excellent sludge band in a sea of excellent sludge bands. Mage inhabit the same space as bands like Limb, Gurt, Black Moth and Trippy Wicked and they’re often a very similar experience. If more groovy, desert sludge is what you want then Mage have you covered but if you’re after something with an identity of its own then you might be out of luck.

Regardless, Mage have put together a stunning sophomore album that improves on every element of the band’s sound and marks a massive leap forward from their debut album Black Sands. Last Orders is an enormous, neck-bothering monster of an album that sludge fans will be stupid to miss.

8/10

Mage’s Last Orders is out now and available to order on CD via Witch Hunter Records.


Review: Megalodoom’s Tectonic Oblivion

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When I discovered that Megalodoom were an instrumental doom band I simply couldn’t fathom how the band were going to catch my attention for an entire record without any vocals. Doom metal is traditionally slow-paced and a single riff can be drawn out for an entire song so without anything going on in the vocal department I was instantly sceptical of how the band were going to keep things interesting. Thankfully my preconceptions have been knocked for six because Megalodoom have a lot more to their music than what you’d normally expect from a doom band.

At only four songs long, Megalodoom’s second EP Tectonic Oblivion manages to total a healthy 26 minutes of punishing heaviness and it never gets boring for the entire duration. Tectonic Oblivion never rests on one riff for too long and manages to cram every song with as many intertwining melodies as possible. What Megalodoom achieve so well is making all these melodies fit flawlessly together and every song on the EP progresses in a natural fashion that’s extremely satisfying to listen to.

Megalodoom are also rather brilliant at texturing their music with a clever use of various guitar effects like in the lovely, atmospheric introduction to Polar Vortex. Even when the song kicks into gear the whole piece is given a wonderful, spacey quality thanks to the incessant use of phaser. It all sounds very other-worldly, like the soundtrack to a secret, underground civilisation of mosh greebos.

The band also manage to draw influences from desert rock which is instantly apparent from the opening riff to Amp Woe which is a song that the mighty Kyuss would be proud of. Once again it’s not too long before another beast of a riff follows and the band even manage to step things up a little with a subtle but effective tempo change. This is wonderfully progressive stuff with the slower pace allowing you to appreciate it all at a palatable speed.

Rounding the EP out is the beautiful production that smothers everything in a lovely dose of bass whilst also sounding like the band are playing the music in the middle of the outback. Tectonic Oblivion is certainly a very big sounding EP title and it does a perfect job of describing how utterly enormous it all sounds. What’s even more impressive is the band have recorded, mixed and mastered this EP themselves making this a truly DIY effort. If you’re playing doom metal and looking to record then I think you better be giving the Megalodoom boys and gal a ring.

Megalodoom’s Tectonic Oblivion is a thunderous beast of an EP that manages to escape the potential boredom that their lack of vocals could have caused. The band have put together a hugely satisfying selection of riffs and melodies that tie together beautifully and create a behemoth of an EP that doom fans should be clawing over themselves to own.

8/10

Megalodoom’s Tectonic Oblivion EP is available to download from Witch Hunter Records right now.


Review: Limb’s Limb

We’ve finally arrived at Limb’s first long player and it’s been a hell of ride. The desert sludgesters have delivered a demo (confusingly under the same name as this album), a 7” EP and a magnificent split with fellow sludgemeisters Gurt and now the band are putting their statement of intent out there with this their début self-titled album.

Limb stick pretty close to their tried and tested formula of crushing grooves, slow tempos and throaty roaring. Only two of the tracks appearing on this record have reared their head in the past with ‘Daemoness’ featuring on their first release in a much dirtier guise and ‘Gift of the Sun’ also getting a re-recording after it’s appearance on the 7” of the same name. Both songs sound as enormous as ever with ‘Daemoness’ sounding absolutely gigantic thanks to the brilliant production values that weren’t a privilege back when Limb started doing their thing.

As per usual, Limb’s axeman Pat Pask and bassist Sam Cooper absolutely steal the show thanks to their undeniable talent for writing a ball-busting riff. Every song that appears on Limb’s self-titled LP boasts a groove that’ll have you stomping around the house like a Viking stalking his next meal.

It’s also great to hear vocalist Rob Hoey move away from his lower-pitched yell to a full-on scream in songs like ‘Eternal Psalm Pt II’. It seems odd that we should be praising a man for simply screaming in a slightly different fashion, but when you hear the song kick into gear with Hoey’s vocals it sounds absolutely electric.

However, the real brilliance of Limb’s song-writing is the progressive nature of the music. Sludge metal doesn’t really sit well with progressive song structures but Limb rarely revisit a melody in any of their songs which keeps you gripped throughout the entire record. This is an extremely clever approach on Limb’s part because the consistent use of slow tempos means that the record could have become extremely tiresome if it wasn’t for the smart song-writing.

The only drawback comes in the form of drummer Jodie Wyatt. There’s nothing wrong with Wyatt’s simplistic yet hard-hitting style, but what is going on with that ride cymbal? I know this is a petty little niggle but I couldn’t help but notice that Wyatt favours the ride over a crash which brings an almost muted cymbal hit into the mix and she’s uses it a lot. Again, I realise this is an almost pathetic complaint but I can’t help but wonder what this record would’ve sounded like if Wyatt favoured the crash and gave the songs some satisfying impact.

Regardless of this small complaint, Limb’s self-titled début album is a beast of record that’s stuffed with Earth-moving riffs and enough groove to bring a legion of followers to the band’s cause. Limb have delivered the record they were always threatening to and it’s a welcome addition to any sludge fan’s collection.

8/10

Limb’s self-titled début album is out now through New Heavy Sounds and available to buy on CD and vinyl from Cargo Records.