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Damnations Hammer - Disciples of the Hex (IMPORT) (CD) Cover Art Damnations Hammer - Disciples of the Hex (IMPORT) (CD)

Damnations Hammer's Lovecraftian doomy Death - deathly Doom, or whatever, turns out to be pretty darn awesome on this disc. Seriously, the crispiness of guitars' tone, the utter heaviness of a pounding bass sound, the drums of true doom and vocalist Tim Preston's serious attempt to sound like Mr. Warrior himself, they all together create one helluva scary and menacing atmosphere over the songs on "Disciples Of The Hex", that one and only Celtic Frost-ian atmosphere that always gets some loud applause and deep nods among a cultivated Metal crowd. But yeah, whether someone finds this UK trio's total Celtic Frost worship somehow disturbing - or even ridiculous and silly, I guess it's pretty much his / her headache then. I enjoy the album as it is offered to me: with its dozens of musical hints about being a true bastard child of Celtic Frost's past times. In fact, it's great even to notice some band has decided to give a fair try for Celtic Frost's heritage.

That's truly something worth cherishing I think - and Damnations Hammer should definitely earn a few extra thumbs up for that on "Disciples Of The Hex".

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Danava - Hemisphere of Shadows (CD) Cover Art Danava - Hemisphere of Shadows (CD)

Danava have always been able to separate themselves from other Iommi-inspired retro rockers by infusing an unabashed weirdness into all that they do. Hemisphere of Shadows, the Portland band’s third full length and first since 2008's UnonoU, is no exception, and, in fact, the addition of a second guitarist (Andrew Forgash) means the blitzkrieg of riffs are now twined-out to inflict a maximum assault of strange. With a much shorter run-time than previous albums and a decidedly tighter focus, Hemisphere of Shadows finds Danava reigning in their druggy psych-metal jams without strangling them, and without stripping them of their cosmic, downer, prog, and occult flourishes.

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Dark Buddha Rising - Dakhmandal (Deluxe Edition) (IMPORT) (2CD) Cover Art Dark Buddha Rising - Dakhmandal (Deluxe Edition) (IMPORT) (2CD)

Limited edition two CD boxset.

With bands like Dark Buddha Rising, that have a relatively simplistic approach to their songwriting, it's not that difficult to take a minor alteration in the music and turn it into a huge evolution of the overall sound, and this is exactly what happens with Dakhmandal. This time around the band seem to have focused a lot more on melody and vocals with their musical formula. The vocals, when they do appear, are cleverly placed around the peaks in the music, especially towards the ends of "K" and "N," almost as though they help the songs build up to their climaxes, and this is a new technique that really makes the music feel a lot more "complete," so to speak. In addition, the vocals usually come across as having quite a choir-like effect, which goes along excellently with the band's whole Buddhist/meditation themes.

Other than that, the fifth installation in the Dark Buddha Rising saga isn't really much different from the band's previous efforts: the repetitive guitar and bass-lines chug along at their slow, crawling paces, gradually building up to groovy, almost jam-like atmospheres the longer they extend into their duration. And, as usual, the eerie ambient effects of the keyboards help to add a whole, separate dimension to the band's music (opener "D," and the beginning of "M," particularly), giving them a strong sense of distinction that easily separates them from your average drone band.

With Dakhmandal, as you listen it somewhat feels like Dark Buddha Rising have some kind of secret hidden behind the multiple layers of groove and ambience that they craft. Some type of deeper, higher meaning that only further escapes your grasp the harder you try to understand it, an elaborate mind game of sorts. But, of course, that's just part of what adds to the allure of the music. There's truly something to be said of this whole "less is more" direction of the drone bands: the repetition of basic musical rhythms and patterns can conjure a sort of mesmerizing trance, almost like some kind of ancient shamanic ritual, and Dark Buddha Rising hit the nail of this concept right on the head with their latest release. Have you ever wondered what Dopesmoker would've sounded like as a dark ambient album? Well, wonder no more, my metal brethren, because Dakhmandal just might be your answer.

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Dark Buddha Rising - Inversum (CD) Cover Art Dark Buddha Rising - Inversum (CD)

Since the 2008 debut 'Ritual IX', the ensemble known as Dark Buddha Rising has mastered its craft album by album, show by show. Ominous riffing, colossal doom, swirling psychedelia, repetition, repetition, repetition. The recipe is carved in stone, yet it leads to different endings-or bottomless shafts. Tension, tension, tension, lunacy. 'Inversum', the band's fifth studio full-length, is the opening of the Third Cycle of Dark Buddha Rising. 'Inversum' is a monument built upon the foundation of their past work and is sculpted with the initial principles of Dark Buddha Rising to celebrate the Black Arts of Psychedelia. Hold tight. The winds are gathering.

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Dark Castle - Spirited Migration (CD) Cover Art Dark Castle - Spirited Migration (CD)

Dark Castle’s debut, Spirited Migration, guitarist/vocalist Stevie and drummer/vocalist Rob, who also handles synth, achieve an entirely developed atmosphere that borders on prog ambiance while maintaining a stripped-down aesthetic that confidently snarls in the direction of Oceanic-era Isis and younger, rawer Crowbar. Modern doom heads will find satisfaction to anyone who’s gotten off on Rwake, Deadbird, Zoroaster or Godflesh records. Not bad for two people, and certainly a promising beginning for this Floridian duo. It feels like the kind of album that no matter what they do from here will be sought after in the coming years.

Slow sludgy doom metal that fans of acts like Yob, Zoroaster, Soilent Green or Crowbar could appreciate.

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Dark Castle - Surrender to All Life Beyond Form (IMPORT) (CD) Cover Art Dark Castle - Surrender to All Life Beyond Form (IMPORT) (CD)

Guest appearances by Mike Scheidt (Yob), Blake Judd (Nachmystium), Nate Hall (U.S. Christmas), and Sanford Parker.

Easily the most all-encompassing and dynamic work the duo of guitarist/vocalist Stevie Floyd and drummer Rob Shaffer have delivered, “Surrender to All Life Beyond Form” finally captures the essence of Dark Castle the way it was meant to be portrayed; through the vast energy and uncompromising heaviness of their highly praised live show. Dark Castle’s brand of doom metal is unique in a way that the songs don’t depend on long, plunging drawn out pieces to create the effect the duo harness, but instead create an overwhelming sense of heavy dark atmosphere through a series of vicious, pummeling, and progressively structured songs that bleed together seamlessly to create an opus that will unforgivingly take hold of the listener without mercy. By combining a sense of deep spirituality and a very dark bludgeoning monolithic doom metal aesthetic at this album’s core, “Surrender to All Life Beyond Form” will serve as one of the most intriguing doom metal albums of the year.

Price: $6.66
Dark Tooth Encounter - Soft Monsters (IMPORT) (CD) Cover Art Dark Tooth Encounter - Soft Monsters (IMPORT) (CD)

Features Gary Arce (Yawning Man/Ten East), Bill Stinson (Ten East), Scott Reeder (Kyuss/Across the River) and Mario Lalli (Fatso Jetson/Orquesta del Desierto).

Dark Tooth Encounter is the name of the new music project from Yawning Man/Ten East lynchpin, Gary Arce, and drummer extraordinaire, Ten East’s Bill Stinson. Although joined by Scott Reeder (Kyuss, Obsessed, etc.) and Mario Lalli (Across The River, Fatso Jetson, etc.) on almost all of the seven tracks on their debut album, Soft Monsters, the approach is much more experimental and cerebral than many of the players’ previous work, sounding like an update on the classic ‘70s art-rock of Eno.

With Gary supplying guitars (inc. lap steel) throughout, as well as keyboards and electronics; the metronomic beats of Bill Stinson; the angular guitar of Mario Lalli and the fuzzed-out bass work of Scott Reeder, Dark Tooth Encounter remain a unique proposition. Purely instrumental, and aided by the astonishing production and studio work of Mike Shear, their music is a mixture of several different elements. Their sound incorporates small elements of the players’ other outfits, sure, but there’s also hints of math-rock, prog and shades of country-rock and psychedelia.

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Darsombra - Ecdysis (CD) Cover Art Darsombra - Ecdysis (CD)

Featuring the one man band of Brian Daniloski (Meatjack and Trephine).

Darsombra is the one-man project of Brian Daniloski of Meatjack and Trephine. Here he constructs a foundation of simmering ambience and adds layers of discordance, and it’s his grasp of judicious use of the economy of sound that keeps the album interesting. Sections of Ecdysi employ the sparse, ethereal stratospheric ethic that’s typical to the genre, but over half of the album employs a more textured, full approach. But that balance only gets to half the reason the album works. Less tangible, but equally important, is the way Darsombra manages to maintain a consistent flow by adding the right types, combinations and durations of noise, which helps avoid lag and/or repetitiveness. Daniloski keeps a chokehold on his guitar, prying out swelling shards of dissonance and rhythmic, accenting tones.

To hear - scratch that - to experience Darsombra is to take an astral journey into the depths of an unexplored cave, dark and mysterious, without light as we know it, to float through realms fearful yet fascinating, to be surrounded by blackness. Fusing guitar that drifts by yet scorches, and eerie electronic elements, not to mention disturbing vocal samples engineered into audio texture (note the opening track), Darsombra's music is massively compelling and must be heard. It is the sort of thing you seep into, you experience, you absorb, and which absorbs you.

Somewhere in the dark heart of Maryland known as Baltimore, there dwells a man by the name of Brian Daniloski who wields a guitar, his voice, and unspecified electronic wizardry to create weird and wondrous soundscapes. He prompts the critical scribes to once again pen the words, “This is the soundtrack to...,” and then leaves them scrambling for a way to finish the sentence. Perhaps “an art-house horror film in a foreign language with subtitles that are difficult to read, and an ending that, while ambiguous, is nonetheless quite somber.” Yes, that seems to fit the bill.

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Darxtar - Tombola (IMPORT) (CD) Cover Art Darxtar - Tombola (IMPORT) (CD)

Hailing from Sweden, one of the more prolific territories of progressive rock, Darxtar's Tombola is an interesting homage to Warrior on the Edge of Time era Hawkwind. I'm also very much reminded of the classic Greek psychedelic group PLJ Band and their unforgettable Armageddon album especially with regard to the distorted, trippy vocals. Tombola is a sort of concept album, with the songs tied together to form an overall impression of spacey psychedelia. From the very beginning, we know where this CD is going, from the ambient introduction of "Silently Driftin'" through the tripped out vocals of "High on Hopes". Occasionally, a different sort of vibe is captured on the psychedelic pop of "Aura Fiducia" or the Hendrix influenced "No Peak to Pass".

DarXtar is a contemporary branch of a classic, established Space Rock, the roots of which can easily be found in the first half of the 1970s. One of Progressive's most significant sub-genres is a combination of Spacey Psychedelic Rock either with Classic Symphonic Art-Rock and Jazz-Fusion, like in the case of Gong and Clearlight, or Classic Symphonic Progressive and Prog-Metal, the brightest representatives of which are Clear Blue Sky, Hawkwind, and, as I see now, DarXtar.

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Price: $17.99
Datura - All is One (Re-issue) (IMPORT) (CD) Cover Art Datura - All is One (Re-issue) (IMPORT) (CD)

Includes a bonus track and a hidden track!

WOW! Anyone into Kyuss, Monster Magnet, Sleep and heavy, HEAVY guitar riffs will absolutely eat this one up! GREAT spaced out stoner rock very similar to Kyuss. THIS is the record Kyuss should have made after "Blues For The Red Sun" most definitely!

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Price: $14.99