Originally released seven years ago, the split between sonter/drone/doom legends Conan and psychedelic doom explorers Slomatics is seeing a reissue on vinyl in June. It’s a fine split, and one that has been reissued several times before, but it still has a lot to offer, given that it’s the kind of record that’s perfectly summed up by the cover art of a warrior riding a snail – it’s slow, it’s heavy, and it’s incredibly powerful.
Allfather want you to have fun when you listen to metal. Their debut album, Bless the Earth With Fire is full of the same kind of hard-hitting, powerful riffage as the likes of High on Fire, and it’s every bit as enjoyable. Wedding huge doom/stoner riffs to a hardcore sense of energy, this album is one sure to inspire headbanging and mosh pits in equal measure, making metal feel as exciting, as vital, and as fun as it ever did.
The press release accompanying this release states that The Black Swamp formed “for the love of the riff” – and judging by their latest EP, Witches, they fully understand the power of the riff. This four-track record is filled with sludge heaviness and a subtle sense of melody, with an ear for hooks that makes the EP addictive. Somewhere between Crowbar, Black Sabbath, and Mastodon, Witches is a rip-roaring feast of riff worship, as heavy and thick as the blackest sludge, whilst also possessing a blues-infused sense of groove and melody.
At what point do you realise that a band aren’t just a good band, but one that, in years to come, will be talked about as a great band; the kind who transcend genre, who practically everyone in to metal agrees that, yes, that band are awesome. For High on Fire, I think that point came with Death is this Communion, even if maybe we didn’t all realise it at the time. This is the point that proved – if there was any doubt – that High on Fire were in it for the long-haul, and deserve to be talked about in terms of the masters of the riff.
When isn’t a split a split? When it’s Totems. Though it would be somewhat accurate to consider the new record featuring Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard (MWWB) and Slomatics a split, it’s also been described by both bands as a collaboration, with the bands sharing ideas during the recording of Totems. It helps make the record stand out from most other splits released, and the creative process has obviously paid dividends, as the songs here build upon the success of previous records – Y Proffwyd Dwylland Future Echo Returns, respectively – to produce something captivating, and as strong as either band has ever been.
Retro-rock can be a pretty uninspiring place. How many bands that sound like Black Sabbath does the world actually need? And yet occasionally a band will come along, clearly recalling the masters of old, whilst managing to put their own spin on a long-established sound, making it sound fresh and urgent once more. Black Moth showed hints of their potential on previous albums The Killing Jar and Condemned to Hope, which took the retro stoner/doom template and added a garage rock, almost punk sense of energy to the sound. But with Anatomical Venus they have recorded a record that sees them step out of the shadows, feeling more confident than previous efforts, casting a dark spell via the medium of psychedelic soundscapes and classic rock riffs, all tied together with some of the strongest hooks this side of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. In other words, it’s catchy, heavy, and really rather good.
Funny to think how much has changed in this past year. Comparing where the world is now with where it was when I posted my first set of short reviews a year ago is sobering. Let’s try not to dwell on that though, and have some music instead. This month there’s words on the new single from melo-death band Eshtadur, Cornered At The Earth; artful post-punk by Russians Mirrored Lips on чичичи; hyperspeed fastcore on the split between Beartrap and Hummingbird Of Death; soul-crushing black/death on Breeding Ruin by Dawn Of Tyrants; grindcore as love by The Brood on The Truth Behind; and psychedelic doom/stoner from Heavy Temple on new record Chasit. Enjoy!