Atmospheric, enthralling, terrifying, this blackened doom will send a chill down your spine. From the eerie, nightmarish vocals to the superbly progressive keyboards, there is all-pervading sense of fear. At times, the ‘metal’ takes a back seat in favour of creepy atmospherics, which is a shame because the heavier passages are the most effective. The biggest problem, though, is that there are either a few saucepans in the drum kit or the computo-drums were programmed by Casio. Spectral Tower, a two-man outfit from California, create a strange, beautifully bleak landscape that might benefit from a fuller, richer sound and more consistent spine of metal throughout.
Bitchcraft’s riffs will chew your ears off. These Sabbath obsessives from Poznan in Poland get all warm and fuzzy for the godfathers of doom, producing potent stoner jams in the name of Iommi. The female singer (is she the subject of band’s dubious title?) delivers some strong melodies, her voice rising elegantly, then dropping lower in the mix where it sounds like it emanates from a coffin. Her voice is haunting, but on occasion her phrasing sounds awkward; a minor distraction. While happy to worship at the overcrowded Altar Of Sabbath, Bitchcraft deliver sufficient originality and quality to make this spaced-out, four-track EP an enjoyable addition to the club.
‘Rite Of Ascension’ (EP)
You can’t argue with Mammoth Storm’s objective: “heavy riffs in the name of doom” is their mission statement. The young Swedish band, formed late 2012, achieve their ambition in bucket-loads: the two 13-minute-long tracks on this demo are heavy and hypnotising if not especially inspiring. Despairing, coarse vocals echo and reverberate over densely distorted riffs that create a thick meaty soup. There is some subtly haunting guitar work, which adds to the atmosphere of miserable horror. A promising debut.
‘King Goat’ (EP)
Having been blown away by King Goat at a London gig towards the end of last year, we were really looking forward to this one. At times, this EP climbs higher than a mountain goat, especially when new(ish) vocalist Trim turns on the Messiah Marcolin power boost. Trim has a great high range but often reverts to a growling style that does not sit perfectly with the band’s epic/prog tendencies. The first of the three songs on this release is a 13-minute monster, although the first eight minutes are taken up with a strangely innocuous pysch-jam intro. Thereafter, when the real music kicks in, King Goat are reminiscent of an Epicus-era Candlemass. And that means good. The revoltingly cool artwork, incidentally, is by Yliana Paolini.
‘Vol 1: And the sea and the stars, they became as one. And so we left this world’
This is slow, sludgy stoner metal from some weird, wizard-inhabited alternative universe. Power Fortress tread a fine line between personality and pretension, and at times totter dangerously close to the latter. Ostentatious song titles are well and good, but must be backed up with some seriously original music. True, these Texans produce an impressively sickening rumble, laced with sour riffs and genuine pain. But the wild, shrieking vocals dominate all, and the music becomes secondary. At times there is a brutal ecstasy to the tuneless wailing, but more frequently it just gets in the way.
Groovy stoner metal meets sludge on this thoroughly enjoyable self-released album from the Brisbane quartet with the ludicrous name. These guys love sci-fi and fantasy, and their passion shines through, most notably perhaps in the awesome artwork (courtesy of local artist Iain Danvers) and in the song ‘Game of Cones’, which is a particularly splendid cover of the ‘Game Of Thrones’ theme music. Generally the songs move effortlessly from slow, bleak and depressing to uptempo and cheeky, with great riffs and tempo changes keeping things interesting. In fact, the constant mood swings can make it tricky to build momentum. Fans of Conan and Sleep will find lots to enjoy here, not least the curious songs titles.