Valley of the Sun - Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk (IMPORT) (CD)
Valley of the Sun are from Cincinnati, which helps to explain the energetic edge in this excellent collection of songs in the key of head rush, Signed to the Truckfighters personal label, Bassist Ryan McAllister, Guitarist Ryan Ferrier and drummer Aaron Boyer, power trio their way through 10 tracks with a case of Stage 4 Kyuss - Monster Magnet infectiousness.
Valley Of The Sun - Volume Rock (IMPORT) (CD)
Volume Rock. Of all the words in the English language that could be drawn upon to illustrate the sheer sound and substance of Cincinnati’s Valley Of The Sun, you’d be hard pressed to find two better. Picking up directly where they left off on last year’s Electric Talons Of The Thunderhawk, the Queen City rockers are back in 2016 with a brand new album on Sweden’s formidable Fuzzorama Records.
Volume Rock is the culmination of the band’s determination and ability to not only write and record great rock songs, but also their drive and ambition to become one of the best bands to emerge from the underground. As The Obelisk proclaimed as early as 2011, “There’s no question that Valley Of The Sun are placing themselves at the forefront of the new generation of American heavy rock.”
Valley, The - Self Titled (CD EP)
This Seattle trio brings upbeat and bombastic energy to the table they call rock. This is good pop sensibility with the love of a Big Muff pedal. The Valley is most influenced by early Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth, and Mudhoney. I really cannot stress enough the energy this release exudes. It just never lets up and there is this perfect marriage of sing along melodies and fuzzy riffs. The production is great too, with a very live feeling. The bass sound is pretty mean, with some great fuzz as well. If you’re looking for soaring melodies with some warm fuzz, then look no further. The Valley is full of energy and never gives you time to take a breath. You’ve come to the right place to rock.
The band’s heavy distortion, heavy guitars and heavy drums are balanced by melodic songs and catchy vocals. With equal parts grunge and pop punk, the Valley blend two styles I love, but rarely find together.
Their fuzz-heavy sound hits a couple early ’90s cornerstones, from the atmospheric dips and swells of bands like Swervedriver and My Bloody Valentine to the lighter sludge of the early Sub Pop catalog. The band places pop overtones in otherwise heavily textured rock.
Various Artists - Electric Funeral Cafe Vol. 3 (IMPORT) (3CD)
This limited edition release includes stickerpack and a download code.
An outstanding compilation featuring some of the finest names from the stoner/psychedelic/sludge scene. Spread over 3½ hours, here are tracks from 41 bands from nine different countries, presented on three CD's in a deluxe digipack. Amongst the bands are Eternal Elysium, Lucifer Rising, Contra, Dreadnought and many others.
Various Artists - Electric Ladyland (Redux) (2CD)
Electric Ladyland (Redux), a 16-track, song-for-song recreation of the original Hendrix album, with covers by All Them Witches, Claymation, Earthless, Elder, Elephant Tree, GOZU, King Buffalo, Mos Generator, Summoner, Wo Fat, Mothership, Open Hand, Origami Horses, Superchief, The Heavy Eyes and Tunga Moln.
The third and final studio album by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, originally released in October 1968 by Reprise Records. The double album was the only record by the band produced by Jimi himself. 'Electric Ladyland' was the Experience's most commercially successful release and their only number one album.
Various Artists - Meantime (Redux) (CD)
"The first time I heard "Unsung," I immediately fell in love... the drumming, the guitar attack, the disengaged vocals and the Brooklyn grit all captivated me, as it did for many others. Meantime was a post-hardcore masterpiece. It was new, raw and an amazing record from start to finish that had me and my bandmates completely hooked."
"Meantime was the defining noise-rock release for many of us coming of age in the early nineties," Vitali says. "Having a label and the ability to bring together bands to cover an artist's work of this magnitude is tremendously rewarding. It's like writing the ultimate love letter to the band or artist, covering their album from start to finish, as if to say, 'the work you made influenced us all so deeply, and we want to show you how thankful we are that you created this.' Meantime is a masterpiece and our intent in bringing together KEN mode, I Am Become Death, Kings Destroy, Ironweed and others is to say to Helmet that, nearly 25 years later, we still are in awe of the record you guys made."
Various Artists - Molten Universe Vol. 2 (IMPORT) (CD)
Time for the second compilation from the folks at Molten Universe. Volume 1 had only Swedish bands, but on Volume 2 there´s also contributions from the rest of Scandinavia ('cept for Denmark) and even a band from Belgium. A few of the songs are exclusive to this compilation, others can either be found on demos, 7” vinyls or fullength albums.
This is one of the heaviest rock compilations I have heard in a while. 16 bands, all from either Sweden, Finland, Norway and Belgium...all balls out rock and one of my favorite mix comps I can remember, and that is saying a lot for me because I usually hate comps.
Various Artists - The Death of the Sun (IMPORT) (CD)
Two projects featuring members of Esoteric and Murkrat.
Dust to Dearth provide drifting and chilling female vocals with ethereal dark ambient keyboard layers. Harrowing and mournful. While Lysergene shift gears from their debut CD with 3 new tracks of dark drone and minimal desolate ambient tracks in the vein of early Lustmord. Melancholic and misanthropic.
Vattnet Viskar - Self Titled (IMPORT) (CD)
Vattnet Viskar advertises their style of playing as ‘ambient blackened doom’, which is definitely one way to describe it. What it doesn’t include is what a lot of people will see coming: this New Hampshire based band is influenced by Cascadian / post-Black metal styles. What Vattnet Viskar does on this EP, though, is take those influences by the horns and steer them in a new direction.
The context for doom elements in this style of black metal are all over Wolves in the Throne Room’s debut LP, Diadem of 12 Stars. However, this album is beyond just elements of doom, it is woven into the fabric of the entire outing. By the accounts of the band, drummer Matt St-John is their only ‘trained’ musician. The band takes advantage by letting the drums do a lot of powerful work here. Even when the music loses the distortion in favor of acoustic strumming it is always waiting to erupt (and not just with a blast beat!), always moving. Perhaps that is counterintuitive to doom, but it’s the same effect that Jamie Saint-Merat has in Ulcerate. St-John is paddling upstream in a sludgy creek with all his might throughout the album, and that is a big reason the music is so climactic.
In terms of the rest of the band’s sound, the vocals are put up front in the mix and add a raw, roaring power (coincidentally, they can be best described as roars, rather than wails or shrieks). The guitars and bass play a wall of sound behind them, but the relatively clean production allows all the elements to be audible (both the vocals and production have more in common with Altar of Plagues than Ash Borer). If you’re waiting for a clean reverb-laden guitar buildup, you will actually find one in the latter half of ‘Intention Oblivion’, but what you won’t find is anything pretty. Instead, this album is a dark, driving affair.
Versus the Stillborn-Minded - The Eternity Itch (IMPORT) (CD)
These Germans are hailing from doom-town Nuremberg and have been around since the year 2000. "The Eternity Itch" is their fourth release. Versus The Stillborn-Minded are not half as awkward as their name suggests, yet positively unwieldy. The ingredients of their sound - raw vocals and a sluggish pace adding up to lengthy songs - may be familiar in the context of sludge metal, but the group add a psychedelic tinge and a considerable amount of changes, both musically as well as mood-wise, to their compositions. While this does not quite make them progressive in any way, it creates interest and keeps your attention span.
Opener "Cut And (Still) To Be Threshed" swerves from traditional doom lead guitars across Neurosis-like passages to postrock of a kind not unlike the sadly defunct Tephra used to play. Singer Boris is capable of a broad palette of expressions, especially during the closer "Shed!", which also sees Versus The Stillborn-Minded apply a lot of tempo changes alongside spacy synthesizers, reminding this listener of the debut album by Last Chapter from Texas. The group has a good grasp on painting images with its music, for example during "Faint Pulse Found", which due to its plodding character indeed makes you think of a metabolism struggling to stay alive.
In the end you crave for more of this, although the album is not short at all, because of Versus The Stillborn-Minded's original approach and inventive ways of working with the established (i.e. slow, down-tuned heaviness). The apparent concept on which "The Eternity Itch" is based makes this record the more appealing. If you are looking for something else by the wayside, which is not catchy but compelling nevertheless, please look no further than this.