Top 10 Doom Metal Albums Of 2013

  1. As Autumn Calls – ‘Cold, Black & Everlasting’
  2. Age of Taurus – ‘Desperate Souls of Tortured Times’
  3. Hamferd – ‘Evst’
  4. Funeral Circle – ‘Funeral Circle’
  5. SubRosa – ‘More Constant Than The Gods’
  6. Demon Lung – ‘The Hundredth Name’
  7. Beelzefuzz – ‘Beelzefuzz’
  8. Aeon Aphelion – ‘Visions Of Burning Aeons’
  9. Avatarium – ‘Avatarium’
  10. Lycus – ‘Tempest’

In 2013 we also enjoyed great albums from: Jex Thoth, Magic Circle, 71TONMAN, Blood Ceremony, Procession, Queen Elephantine, Windhand, Tombstones, Hypnos, Goatess, Cathedral

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Album Review: 71TONMAN

71TONMAN

71TONMAN

71TONMAN
’71TONMAN’
(Self-released, December 2013)
9/10

Poland’s 71TONMAN masterfully mix sludge, doom, stoner, epic and heavy metal to create an intoxicating debut release. Telling the story of a  post-apocalyptic world, this self-titled concept album is bold and ambitious, and 71TONMAN pull their ideas and varying musical styles together with great skill and confidence.

Each song is expertly constructed and has a clear personality of its own (without ever straying too far from the band’s sludgy core) and each is hugely engaging, with massive riffs and sublime chord progressions set against a backdrop of despair and end-of-the-world anarchy. Singer J.J. alternates between quivering growls and psychotic shrieks, but always with a kind of musicality behind them rather than rage, relentlessly building a mood of anguish. The band has also done an excellent job of self-producing the album, with every instrument getting a fair bite of the doom pie. 

Formed 2011 in Wroclaw in western Poland,  71TONMAN describe themselves as ‘”Fat, low and slow” but this does not quite do them justice because their music is more sophisticated than that. They are perhaps at their best during the album’s more atmospheric and epic passages, such as the brilliant ‘Cyborg Jesus’, but are equally happy to attack your eardrums stoner-style. An example  is the track ‘Face Fuckin’ Machine’ which stomps along at a fair pace, before kicking in with a classic metal guitar solo.

That’s one of the great things about this album: you never know what twist it’s going to take next – they must be great fun to see live.

The only minor complaints might be the over-use of narrated parts and the choice of cartoon album artwork that clearly isn’t intended to be taken too seriously but which might put off some listeners. Other than that, the only problem is the fact that the album has to end. But when it does, you can go back to the start and listen all over again. And again. And again…

Listen and buy here: http://71tonman.bandcamp.com/album/71tonman

LIVE REPORT: Slabdragger, Gurt, Burden Of The Noose

Burden Of The Noose

Burden Of The Noose

Who: Slabdragger, Gurt, Burden Of The Noose
Where: Our Black Heart, Camden, London
When: Friday 13th 2013

The UK sludge scene is buoyant, and this show at Camden’s Black Heart was evidence of why. London’s SLABDRAGGER, whose profile was raised last year when opening for the mighty Saint Vitus, were top of the bill here, headlining an exciting line-up of British talent.

First up were BURDEN OF THE NOOSE, who unleashed a fearsome, dual-vocal hurricane of metal. The Birmingham sextet’s music is like a genre-orgy, mixing heavy-riffing sludge with dirty grindcore and rabid black metal.

The two vocalists combine like an unstoppable hammer and knife attack, with Karl Lane’s growls pummelling the breath from your body, before the screaming Andy Barraclough slices chunks off. We’re not sure we believe in Chaos Theory, but, if it is true, God knows what kind of damage is being caused by the hellish racket emitted from Lane’s throat. Who knows, maybe his Camden roar set off a small earthquake in provincial China.

He began the show in amongst the audience, which got things off to a friendly start, and in fact both singers were extremely engaging and seemed to be enjoying themselves. BOTN put in a powerful, crowd-pleasing performance, with songs such as ‘Circle Of Shit’ showcasing their natural feel for cruel riffs that weaken your knees while the Maiden-esque crash endings revealed a sense of fun.

Gurt

Gurt

The pleasure continued with local lads GURT. Their visceral, thrashing sludge was very well-received by a packed Black Heart, with the massive ‘Sophisticate’ and thumping ‘You Ain’t From Around These Parts’ being particular highlights. Or should that be lowlights?

Frontman Gareth Kelly was a compelling presence, bouncing up and down centre-stage like a demon, his possessed voice soaring high then lurking low with impressive versatility. Congratulations also to Bill Jacobs of Diesel King, who was filling in on drums and got a well-earned round of applause for his flawless performance.

And then came ‘Little Donkey’. Yes, ‘Little Donkey’. This is GURT’s rather special Christmas song, available to buy here – http://whenplanetscollide.bandcamp.com/album/gurt-little-donkey

As possibly the least Christmassy song ever recorded (even in spite of some undeniably Christmassy lyrics going on there) we think that a serious effort should be made to ensure this the nation’s 2013 Christmas No.1. Failing that, you should definitely play it during your Christmas dinner – it’s guaranteed to raise some seasonal cheer!

SLABDRAGGER rounded things off, and it turned out to be the end of an era for the band, who announced that this would be the final time they’d play their older material. “It’s fucking embarrassing,” laughed co-singer Yusuf Tary. “We’ve been playing this stuff for five years!” (Man, how does he think Tony Iommi feels?)

Slabdragger's Yusuf Tary

Slabdragger’s Yusuf Tary

If this is to be the last time we hear the old stuff, what a way to go out! SLABDRAGGER, with Sam Thredder sharing vocal duties with Tary, delivered an electric performance that had the venue’s foundations trembling and its floorboards bouncing… albeit pretty slowly. The band’s dense, Electric Wizard/Yob-style riffery and ferocious vocals thundered from the stage like a World War 2 howitzer.

These are exciting times for SLABDRAGGER and, having now shut the door on their older songs, it’ll be interesting to see how the new material in 2014 will further push the band’s creative abilities. For now, though, time to savour a massive night of sludge from three excellent British bands.

Read more about the UK doom scene in this great article: http://www.ninehertz.co.uk/viewitem/4313

STONE DAGGER: New demo from ex-hardcore legend

brendan-radigan

Stone Dagger is the latest project from Brendan Radigan, who made his name at the heart of Boston’s hardcore punk scene but who has recently turned his attentions towards the doomier end of the metal market. ‘The Siege Of Jerusalem’, the band’s new two-track demo tape, is further evidence that he’s chosen the right path.

Earlier this year, Radigan’s distinctive and hugely expressive voice (which is reminiscent of Eric Wagner… or maybe Robert Plant) was unleashed upon an unsuspecting new audience through Magic Circle, a doom metal band formed of four US hardcore veterans. Their excellent self-titled debut album was a revelation, jam-packed with ideas and ingrained with a compelling ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath’ vibe. Above all, Radigan’s high-octane, raucous vocals stood out. Who knew that they guy who did this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aD4XVgsW7do could also do this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-5RdDRZOoQ?!

Radigan’s new band, Stone Dagger, also touch upon Black Sabbath, but the music is much more rooted in the 1980’s than anything from the previous decade. ‘The Siege of Jerusalem’ is glorious, doomified epic metal that doesn’t really sound like anyone else – which is quite an achievement in itself. Imagine Cirith Ungol and Manowar had a baby, made it listen to Iron Maiden and Trouble until it was old enough to walk, and then kicked it out onto the streets to fend for itself. That baby is Stone Dagger, and it’s hungry as hell.

We want to hear more from Stone Dagger, a new metal band with a potent mix of power and originality. Definitely one to watch out for in 2014, especially if they choose to focus on the doomier stuff. But then, we would say that.

Listen to ‘The Siege Of Jerusalem’ here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZUqFukI4fM

stone-dagger-demo-2013