Thursday, 27 July 2017

RIFF REWIND (04/03/2015): Warhorse - ‘As Heaven Turns To Ash’ (Reissue)


In a time where doom is flourishing in all directions and manners, Southern Lord exhumed the sole full-length from Massachusetts' Warhorse. Long out of print, rabidly sought after, and unconditionally vital in foreshadowing the plethora of current acts who partake in long form, recklessly downtuned sound voyages, 2001's ‘As Heaven Turns To Ash’ was  reissued on double LP and digital formats on February 24th, 2015 combined with their final 7" EP, I Am Dying.

Formed in 1996 and lasting the best part of a decade, Warhorse wallow deep down, grooving at the kind of frequency usually associated with imminent natural disaster. But in addition to their intricate delivery, Warhorse possesses an experimental, verging on psychedelic streak which gave rise to gritty and memorable riffs, and saw them sharing stages with the iconic likes of Electric Wizard, Khanate, Acid King, High On Fire and Unearthly Trance.

‘As Heaven Turns To Ash’ and ‘I Am Dying’ are sinister demonstrations of ultra-heavy riffs as a weapon, and with Southern Lord delivered a stellear  rerelease, doom fans worldwide will need to start saving pennies for the subwoofer damage they are sure to inflict.  Today we are rewinding the riffs back a mere 2 years in order present As Heaven Turns To Ash’. So if you missed it the first time or even following its reissue in 2015, be sure to remedy your error by checking out our review in full below.

By: Daniel Jackson

Album Type: Full-Length
Date Released: 29/09/2001 
(24/02/2015 for the reissue)
Label: Southern Lord

Were ‘As Heaven Turns To Ash’ to be released in 2017 for the first time, it would be in a league with 2014 standouts Conan and Ommadon and the reason, much like ‘As Heaven Turns To Ash’ itself is simple: execution. Especially for its time, but even now; Warhorse knew how to craft a deep fucking tone. If you told me that the guitars were tuned to a previously non-existent z flat and played through a baritone guitar, I’d believe you.

‘As Heaven Turns To Ash’ DLP//DD track listing:

1. Dusk
2. Doom's Bride
3. Black Acid Prophecy
4. Amber Vial
5. Every Flower Dies No Matter The Thorns (Whither)
6. Lysergic Communion
7. Dawn
8. Scrape
9. And The Angels Begin To Weep

I Am Dying EP:

1. I Am Dying
2. Horizons Burn Red

The Review:

Warhorse may not sound all that unique by today’s standards, but in 2001 ‘As Heaven Turns To Ash’ just wasn’t something you heard every day. It’s pretty easy to figure out from which wells Warhorse drew their inspiration: Black Sabbath, Sleep, and Eyehategod. In 2017, you’re going to look at that list and think “So? There are hundreds if not thousands of bands in that camp, and I’ve gotten my fill of it over the last 10 years”. That’s a fair point. It’s hard to argue that as of this writing, doom with stoner tendencies is a well-worn style and bands have needed to add more and more into the mix to come up with a fresh approach. There have been a few that have made stripped-down, basic doom in the Sleep and Eyehategod traditions work, though they’re often the exception rather than the rule.

Were ‘As Heaven Turns To Ash’ to be released in 2017 for the first time, it would succeed in that same way, with the added benefit of a much larger audience for their style. It would be in a league with 2014 standouts Conan and Ommadon and the reason, much like ‘As Heaven Turns To Ash’ itself is simple: execution. Especially for its time, but even now; Warhorse knew how to craft a deep fucking tone. If you told me that the guitars were tuned to a previously non-existent z flat and played through a baritone guitar, I’d believe you. The drums are given plenty of weight in both performance and in production. In a way, this album should serve as the bar which all bands in a similar style should strive to meet, at least production-wise.

The song writing here is strong, despite being deeply indebted to its influences. It also helps that whenever it sounds like the album might be stuck in a groove or idea for too long, the band knows when to include a softer dynamic break or change the emotional tone enough to keep things from getting stale. There are several softer instrumental pieces throughout the album, and along with the subtle diversions sprinkled in throughout the bulk of the album, they manage to avoid letting the bloom fall off the rose.

I’m not entirely certain what ended Warhorse after just one full length and a few EPs. I’d certainly speculate that it’s possible they just had the one album in them. The two songs from the ‘I Am Dying’ EP that came out the following year (also included in this reissue as bonus tracks) suggest that Warhorse were kinda running in place. Even on ‘As Heaven Turns To Ash’, nearly twenty minutes of the album had been recorded in demo form around three years earlier. It would be safe to say that even considering the brief window of time they were together; Warhorse wasn’t a terribly prolific band. They came together and created one great album’s worth of material and moved on. You’d have to try pretty damned hard not to respect that.

INTERVIEW & ALBUM PREMIERE: Hull Noise Collective Battalions unleash pure sludge fury with "Moonburn"

Hull, jokingly referred to in some quarters as “hole” and viewed by others as perhaps the worst place to live in the UK, it is perhaps best known for its sea life centre “The Deep”, rather than home to some of best upcoming UK bands, enter Battalions

A four-piece band, formed in 2010, Battalions have forged their own sound, playing local shows with great vehemence, sometimes to many, sometimes too few and in spite of original members leaving the fold, Battalions are attacking the underground scene with a renewed strength with their new album ‘Moonburn.' Recorded at the renowned Skyhammer Studios with Chris Fielding of Conan, the band would have to deal with further setbacks, with members once again leaving and potential label support not forthcoming  ‘Moonburn’, will hit the streets on August 5th 2017 via  their own ‘Hull Noise Collective’ imprint once again.

Today ahead of the albums official release, we hooked with front man and bearded gent Phil Wilkinson to discuss the bands formation, influences and the recording of the new album.  Not only that, we’re stoked to be able to present the first exclusive stream of “Moonburn” in full all, of which you can check out below and remember  in SLUDGELORD you can trust.  

Can you give us an insight into how you started playing music, leading up to the formation of Battalions?

I first started playing music when I was around 15, me and a few friends started a bedroom band covering Raging Speedhorn songs, it never made it out of the bedroom. After that my first proper band was a band called Centurions, followed by a stint in Introrectalgestation before a few years of doing nothing. Battalions came about from me and our original drummer being bored of not playing gigs and wanting to start a band that stood out in the local scene in Hull, big bass heavy riffs with tortured vocals. A formula that stands to this day!

Although you are set to release “Moonburn” (your second full length), for folks unfamiliar with your band, is there any bands on the scene past and present that you would use as a reference point bands to describe your band, and who or what continues to inspire you and push you to try new things?

There’s the obvious, that’s evident in most of our songs – Black Sabbath, AC/DC & Clutch, we are also heavily influenced by the likes of Raging Speedhorn, St Vitus, and my personal influence and vocal idol, Iron Monkey. Bands currently about pushing us to excel are all the bands we’ve toured with this year, each band playing at the top of their craft, and when you play with them each night you only want to do better yourself – most notably, 1968, Ritual King & Regulus.

What can you tell us about your upcoming record and where do you feel it sits within the context of current metal scene?

“Moonburn” is 7 tracks of pure rock fury, with a little more diversity than our first album ‘Nothing to Lose’. Written and recorded within a year of releasing our first album, to us it is an advancement of our sound, bringing the big bouncy riffs to the forefront, whilst also keeping the song short and snappy, keeping with our members punk and hardcore roots. We feel it sits comfortably straddling various heavy genres, from sludge and stoner, with nods to classic rock and big riffs!

Does anything spring to mind when you think about the completion of your upcoming record and how is the mood in the camp at present?

We are just excited to finally get it out there, a lot of hard work has gone into releasing this record, especially so as we are doing it completely DIY. The mood is one of pure excitement, things are stepping up a gear and it’s great to be involved with something that people seem to appreciate and enjoy.

What stands out as your overarching memory from the recording sessions?

Having Sam Orr (of the amazing 1968, if you haven’t already, we implore you to check them out!) come down and hang out for a few days around recording his solo for “Amazonian Woman” was great, and helped the mood stay very positive. Other than that, I must say the biggest memory is the morning after the night before, when our Dennett drank a bottle of gin to himself, and had a few hours sabbatical to pray to the porcelain god.

With a solid gold album in the bag, how is your schedule shaping up over the next 12 months?

Firstly, thank you for calling it solid gold! We are extremely proud of the record and the songs. We have a very busy schedule, starting with headlining the Rock Stage at Humber Street Sesh, a local festival that last year saw 35,000 people attend. Following that we have just been announced for the New Blood stage at Bloodstock festival. After that we have a short Scottish run with Psychotic Depression, along with a tour in the works with California’s Armed for Apocalypse. Other than that we just aim to tour the album as much as possible!

Finally, do you have any final comments/word of wisdom you’d like to bestow upon us?

Give everything you do 110%, the rewards are there, its hard work going it alone, but worth it when you have something you can truly be proud of. Be friendly, make friends with the bands you play with, enjoy every minute of the ride.

“Moonburn” is available to preorder/buy here

Band info: facebook || bandcamp

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

TRACK PREMIERE: "Controllers Destroyed" (Live) by Brant Bjork from the forthcoming album "Europe '16"

Welcome back the sweet scent of freedom. Breath in the greeheen! BRANT BJORK has come to revive your spirit: The Kyuss- and Fu Manchu legend has just announced his first ever live recording

From the opening guitar riff of "Europe '16", recorded in Berlin, one can sense the buzz of classic rock electricity that transcends into new spheres. This is controlled madness between trippy and doomy, groovy and sludgy!

Set for release September 22nd on Napalm Records, BRANT BJORK has now revealed the cover artwork and track list of his first and highly anticipated live record.  Not only that you can check out an exclusive track from the album below 

“This record is live. Live records are ugly and they should be. When a band plays live, they let their hair down. Live is all that really matters. There are those moments in life when everything is ok and these are the moments when you are doing exactly what your here on the planet to do. You're right where you are supposed to be with no shame, no fear, no regret, no envy, no hatred and no apology. I always say this band brings a feeling. The feeling is always primary and the sound, secondary. At least to me. In the book of Tao, there is a passage..."naming is the origin of all particular things". I use here the term ugly to refer to my naming of my particular relationship with my soundscape. my my my. Why the term ugly? Because its the opposite of pretty. As the popular saying goes, "It is what it is". As for my music, my band and this live record, I prefer to say, "it is what it isn't".” - Brant Bjork on Europe '16.

“Europe ’16” track listing

1. Buddha Time
2. Controllers Destroyed
3. Humble Pie
4. Stakt
5. The Gree Heen
6. Lazy Bones-Automatic Fantastic
7. Stokely Up Now
8. Dave's War-Dave's Peace
9. Biker No. 2
10. Freaks Of Nature
11. Low Desert Punk
12. Let The Truth Be Known-Jumpin' Jack Flash

To also celebrate the release of the record, you can catch BRANT BJORK on tour in  Europe here:
Live Rituals

04.08.17 GR - Almiros Magnisias / Los Amiros Festival
05.08.17 AT - Waldhausen / Lake on Fire
06.08.17 HU - Budapest / Tixa
08.08.17 DE - Hamburg / Sommer in Altona
09.08.17 DE - Stuttgart / Universum
10.08.17 CH - Duedingen / Bad Bonn
12.08.17 BE - Kortrijk / Alcatraz Festival
14.08.17 CH - Martigny / PALP Festival 

'Gree Heen Europe 2017' with special guest Sean Wheeler:

26.09.17    Stockholm | Debaser Strand
27.09.17    Stavanger | Folken
28.09.17    Oslo | John Dee
29.09.17    Gothenbourg | Sticky Fingers
30.09.17    Copenhagen | KB 18
01.10.17    Hamburg | Logo
02.10.17    Leipzig | UT Connewitz
03.10.17    Bielefeld | Forum
04.10.17    Amsterdam | Melkweg
05.10.17    Eindhoven | Effenaar
06.10.17    Pratteln | Up In Smoke
07.10.17    Aschaffenburg | Colossal
08.10.17    Brussels | Botanique
09.10.17    Rennes | Ubu
11.10.17    Bilbao |  Kafe Antzokia
12.10.17    Porto  | Cave 45
13.10.17    Lisbon | RCA Club
14.10.17    Madrid | Caracol
15.10.17    Barcelona | Bikini
16.10.17    Marseille | Jas Rod
17.10.17    Torino | Blah Blah
18.10.17    Ravenna | Bronson
19.10.17    Zagreb | Vintage Industrial Bar
20.10.17    Wien | Arena ( with Stoned Jesus + Beastmaker )
21.10.17    Munich | Keep It Low

Band info: facebook 

ALBUM REVIEW & TRACK PREMIERE: Eternal Black - "Bleed The Days"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 08/08/2017
Label: Independent

The sheer weight of the riffs will indeed threaten to pull you under, as they deliver just the right amount of menace to go with the fuzz. There is a hefty dose of soul in the music here, along with a pervading blackness.

“Bleed The Days” CD//DD track listing:

1). The Lost, The Forgotten and The Undying
2). Snake Oil and Coffin Nails
3). Sea of Graves
4). Into Nothing
5). Stained Eyes on a Setting Sun
6). Bleed The Days
7). All Gods Fail

The Review:

Proper American doom! There's your starting point for this review. Their three track EP from a couple of years back got my attention, so this record was anticipated by me as hopefully being a good one. The band have made good on their early promise and delivered a real beast of doom. Think The Obsessed and Saint Vitus as reference points- with a hefty dose of Sabbath in the background of course.

There are not too many bands around like this, not just any more, but ever. Eternal Black, as my last review noted, till the same soil as Scott Weinrich and his sundry projects- that is to say that there is a hefty dose of soul in the music here, along with a pervading blackness. There are concise riff chargers like opener “The Lost, The Forgotten and The Undying” and the band open up and get loose with jazz-like bass work and rhythms on second track “Snake Oil and Coffin Nails”. The sheer weight of the riffs on “Sea of Graves” will indeed threaten to pull you under, as they deliver just the right amount of menace to go with the fuzz. Ah, this Brooklyn band know how to channel the spirit of Dave Chandler, that's for sure.

The haunting instrumental “Into Nothing” progresses the record's dark feel and acts as a bridge between the first and second half. Naturally, things are just as dark for the following three tracks. “Stained Eyes on a Setting Sun” is a slithering festival of murk, with some seriously fuzzy riffing. The title track is a real stand out in terms of atmosphere and vibe- pure Vitus worship in the riffs and sound.

The album closes with the close to eleven minute track “All Gods Fall”, which is a rather epic finisher to this fine doom album. Just as with the 2015 EP, the band are not reinventing the doom wheel, but they are making fine classic doom in the proud American tradition. This is low, slow and as dark as the band's name suggests. For anyone looking for that Vitus/Maryland vibe, this is absolutely for you. If you don’t belief me, check out the stunning title track “Bleed The Days” which we are streaming  exclusively below

“Bleed The Days” is available to preorder/buy here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

REVIEW: Cloud Rat/Disrotted - "Split LP"

By: Charlie Butler

Album Type: Split 12”
Date Released: 02/06/2017
Label: Dry Cough Records |
Halo of Flies

This is an awe-inspiring release from two incredible bands who can seemingly do no wrong at the moment and continue to deliver an embarrassment of heavy riches in 2017.

"Clout Rat/Disrotted" Split DD//LP track listing:

1). Cloud Rat – “Holding the Picture”
2). Disrotted – “Disrotted”

The Review:

Cloud Rat and Disrotted continue their intense 2017 release schedules with a killer split LP of contrasting styles. This split has come into being due to the strong bond between the two bands and while it may seem a strange stylistic pairing in theory it works a treat in practice.

Michigan’s Cloud Rat depart from their usual format of short, sharp bursts of mayhem and deliver one eighteen minute monster. “Holding The Picture” begins in familiar territory, a whirlwind blur of chaotic screamo and relentless grindcore. The volume soon dips and the tempo decreases as the track develops into a slow-burning epic that smoulders with restrained power. This more melodic approach recalls Converge’s calmer moments delivered against a barren dustbowl backdrop reminiscent of Earth. It is a breathtaking achievement to create a beast of such sublime complexity and weighty emotional impact from the band’s minimal set-up of vocals, drums and guitar augmented only by occasional piano. This may not be Cloud Rat at their heaviest but they ably demonstrate that they lose none of their intensity and impact when they push their sound into quieter and more experimental realms.

Disrotted’s contribution to this split is twenty three minutes of slow-motion terror entitled “Disrotted”.  The Chicago trio deal in a potent blend of Burning Witch / Monarch! style drone doom that creates maximum impact from minimal motion. Once the band launch into their sluggish, broken groove of feedback-drenched riffs and primal drums there is no escape from its dark density. The passage of time becomes irrelevant as they subject the listener to an experience that is crushingly bleak yet strangely soothing.

This is an awe-inspiring release from two incredible bands who can seemingly do no wrong at the moment and continue to deliver an embarrassment of heavy riches in 2017.

“Cloud Rat/Distrotted” is available here (UK/Europe) & (US/ROW) here

Band info: Cloud Rat || Disrotted

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Olde - "Temple"

By: Mark Tremblay

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 11/08/2017
Label: STB Records |
Medusa Crush Recordings

Olde’s Temple” is doom metal done the way it should be. It is well-crafted, forward-thinking, and a contender for one of the best records of the year.

Temple” CD//CS//DD//LP track listing:

1). Subterfuge
2). Now I See You
3). The Ghost Narrative
4). Temple
5). Centrifugal Disaster
6). Maelstrom
7). Castaway

The Review

Olde can be best defined as “Efficient Doom Metal”; creating atmospheric and riff-centric music without wasting time. Olde’s Temple” showcases their most refined music to date; there is not another doom band that understands how to write great riffs, without them overstaying their welcome. Olde runs the gamut of everything the genre offers; from Kyuss-y blues, to darker and more punishing in bands like Yob.

The album starts with two quick stoner metal tracks; “Subterfuge”, and “Now I See You”; hypnotic riffs by riff-master Greg Dawson. Ryan Aubin’s familiar groove oriented drum style is particularly highlighted on these tracks, showing why he is the best drummer in the genre. The album takes a darker turn with more plodding dirge’s in “The Ghost Narrative” and “Temple”. Not only do they create a necessary balance in the records pace, but also show off some of the best lead guitar work on the record. The guitar solo on “The Ghost Narrative” is particularly brain melting.

The album concludes with their best track “Castaway” a very Baroness infused track filled with huge open chords, and interplay between major and minor keys. This song also flexes their atmospheric muscles; utilizing faint guitar feedback and other sound clips in a much more advanced manner to their previous release. This song concludes the album on an interesting footnote of what is to come for Olde.

Olde’s Temple” is doom metal done the way it should be. It is well-crafted, forward-thinking, and a contender for one of the best records of the year.

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

TRACK PREMIERE: Sussex old school death metallers Subservience make you suffer with "In Depravity They Dwell"

On August 11 2017, Black Bow Records will release “Forest Of The Impaled by UK death metal band SUBSERVIENCE.

Drawing influence from the classic death metal bands of yesteryear as well as the recent breed of modern greats, brutal Sussex quartet Subservience are gathering a good reputation across the country and beyond with their corrosive blend of groove laden extreme metal. You will find no self-indulgent displays here; Subservience put on a stage show that certainly pulls no punches

Their live show has earned them a reputation as one of the heaviest bands on the south coast, and has rewarded them with slots at Download Festival and Hammerfest, as well as support slots with underground heavyweights Blood Red Throne, Xerath, Bloodshot Dawn, Hour of Penance, Demonic Resurrection, Flayed Disciple and Eye of Solitude

Brimming over with concentrated fury and a taste for chaos, they have released several increasingly brutal EPs that had been met with a great reception among their ever growing fan base. Their debut album has been mixed and mastered by Paul “Win” Winstanley and is set for release on August 11 2017.  Today and only at THE SLUDGELORD you check out a brand new track below.  A must for fans of Old School Death Metal, Entombed, Deicide and Bolt Thrower.

Band info: bandcamp || facebook