The online publication CVLT Nation has released an impressive string of whole album covers featuring metal and punk bands from around the world. In addition to Black Sabbath, you can check out album tributes to Black Flag, Misfits, Bathory and more. The Vol 4 sessions boast some of the best current doom bands making music today including Potion, Mindkult and Yidhra.
Oakland band Yarrow slows down and stretches out Tomorrow’s Dream to a dreadful crawl and manages to sneak in a taste of the first Black Sabbath album during a short segue. Reinterpretations abound all over the album highlighted by Bongripper’s 14 minute(!) rendition of the desolate studio exploration FX. CHRCH feels right at home amping up the terror on Cornucopia whose opening riff surely had a hand in conceiving all of the bands on this comp. Amazing renditions of absolutely classic songs.
The perpetually touring Horseburner somehow found some time to record a new album in between shows and they have really raised the bar for other stoner rock bands. The Thief is an album with just as much mood and shading as riffs. The band sound tight as they explore some wider soundscapes such as the intro to A Joyless King. This new batch of songs will sound great live so make sure you look for them most likely soon in a town near you.
Portland’s Holy Grove is a modern doom metal band that perfectly balances forward looking song writing while leaning heavily on past musical influences. In fact, those past influences mean so much to the band that they posted a playlist of tunes that gave them the inspiration to craft the epic “II” (thanks for the Beck, Bogert, Appice tip by the way). II is the anticipated follow up release to the band’s 2016 self-titled debut album which garnered well-deserved praise for strong doom riffage and Zeppelinesque vocals. Using that album as a launching pad, Holy Grove blast off for the stratosphere with II.
The drum kick to start off the album swiftly demonstrates the band’s intent to up the heavy on this new release. Crazy drum-fills provided by Eben Travis throughout opener Blade Born adds an extra layer early on that signifies a heavier direction for the band. II clocks in at over 43 minutes spread across five tracks which allows the band to explore each song thoroughly. Epic closer Cosmos is a showcase for the entire band, especially vocalist Andrea Vidal. Her wail fades perfectly into a Trent Jacobs guitar solo just past the half-way point of the track that sets the course for the closing of the album. Many bands will never be able to write a song as epic as Cosmos and Holy Grove has found it within themselves on only their second release. This bodes well for the future of the band, but in the meantime set the controls for the heart of II and get lost in the riffs.
Drug Cult’s self-titled first release comes fully formed
like a seasoned veteran band hitting it’s creative peak. Guitars grind and wail on opening track
Serpent Therapy as if they are awakening from a long slumber before finally
hitting a groove above two and half minutes into the song. The Wall is the absolute highlight of the
album that breaks open with lumbering riff that seems to gain steam like a
charging elephant. The song contains a
sweet hook that nearly turns the song into a hummable tune.
The tone and feel of the album is very much set through the production,
especially with the sound of Aasha Tozer’s voice weaving with the guitars and
frequently rising above the fuzz. It has
the vintage feel of an Electric Wizard album with a cleaner sound and without
the movie clips. Bloodstone late in the
album seems to capture that drugged out feel that I think the album is
attempting to convey. Hearing Tozer hypnotically
repeat “Blood is the drug I have been searching for… I want more” creates a
chilly soundscape unique to the album.
My guess is that this album will show up on many “best of” lists coming
our way in a couple months.
A lot of new or current stoner/doom/fuzz metal bands seem to have a sound that can be traced back in some small part to Seattle grunge legends Alice In Chains. Whether it is Jerry Cantrell’s guitar tones, the vocal stylings close to Layne Staley’s, or just the band’s dirge-like sound qualities, AiC’s influence is clearly in the mix. Green Dragon’s debut full length released earlier this year incorporates some of those qualities with the results being one of our favorite 2018 releases. The band hails from the basements of Maplewood, New Jersey and is made up of veterans of the local metal scene.
In addition to the aforementioned AiC touches, this album is loaded with plenty of fuzzed-out Sabbath riffs and distorted vocals that quickly engage you on the first listen. Songs such as Dark Rider show the band’s ability to switch gears between an eerie shuffle to an all out fuzz riff groove and back in a single song. Dead Space kicks down the door showcasing the band’s more up-tempo sound with a riff that could have been right at home on any Kyuss record. Hoping this is just the beginning for Green Dragon as we look forward to more excellent riffs and some touring if we are lucky.