Review: High on Fire – Electric Messiah

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Label: eOne

I’m not sure exactly what happened, but it barely seems that long ago that High on Fire were first unleashing their highly effective brand on sludge-laden, riff-heavy doom metal upon the world. Yet somehow, it’s twenty years since the band first formed. Not that you’d necessarily know it from listening to Electric Messiah. Album number eight from the Matt Pike-led trio is a monster of Godzilla-sized riffs, drums so crushing that could shatter buildings, and vocals as powerful and charismatic as they come; so, all is it should be, then. And yet, there’s an almost progressive edge to some of these songs that, somehow, sits comfortably alongside High on Fire’s riff-fueled fury.

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Review: The Crotals – Horde

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Label: Tenacity Music 

Rock’n’roll’s simple, isn’t it? You put together some riffs that make people want to dance, play them loud, and you’re pretty much sorted. That’s the theory, anyway; in practice, it’s much harder to get those qualities just right, and to write songs that are as fun to listen to as they are to play. It’s a balance that The Crotals largely get right on new album Horde, with plenty of swagger, and a heaviness that’s reminiscent of Entombed-via-Motorhead. Throw in some Kverlertak-esque grooves, and Horde becomes an interesting proposition, that’s a lot of fun; but it’s also one that is slightly less than the sum of its parts.

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Album of the Day: Slomatics / Conan – Split

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Label: Black Bow Records

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.

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Album of the Day: Allfather – Bless the Earth With Fire

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Label: Self-released

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.

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Review: The Black Swamp – Witches

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Label: Self-released

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.

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Album of the Day: High on Fire – Death is this Communion

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Label: Relapse Records

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.

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Review: Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard / Slomatics – Totems (split)

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Label: Black Bow Records

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 Dwyll and Future Echo Returns, respectively – to produce something captivating, and as strong as either band has ever been.

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