War Iron - The Fifth and Final Sun (IMPORT) (CD)
Many bands profess to be heavy, but War Iron are a band that can truly defend their moniker. Fuzzed up bass lines downtuned to sonic defying lows and pounding neanderthalic drums provide the concrete slab to the wretched vocals of Andrew Bagwell. Fans of Iron Monkey, Burning Witch and other equally audio challenging artists can soak up the misery.
This is sludge at its most filthy, all low end rumbling with vocals no more than tortured screams. Twin Bass provide the bone-rattling dirge. This is the kind of stuff to accompany, say a weekend of virgin bloodletting and sticking red hot pokers up yer ass. Musically 'The Fifth and Final Sun' stays low in gear and sound. That's what's intended though as it slowly unravels working its way into your brain. Occasionally it all locks into a devilish groove, when it does it is over-powering. Drums are pounded into submission while the two bassists provide treacle thick riffs throughout. If you like the kind of earth shattering slow doom and sludge of Conan and Slomatics then War Iron may just be what you need.
Warchetype - Ancestral Cult of Divinity (IMPORT) (CD)
Ancestral Cult of Divinity showcases the kind of self-awareness you might expect in modern traditional doom, owing much of its sound to a darker interpretation of The Obsessed with nods to Trouble, Candlemass, Saint Vitus and Black Sabbath along the way, but Warchetype don’t shy away from displaying a heavier, death metal influence. Led by the snail’s pace riffage of guitarists David Bruguera and Jordi Boluda and fronted by the versatile Iban Arrieta, Warchetype cast an effective balance of new school and traditional doom, their roots showing through in the structure and tempo changes of their songs and the freshness with which they approach the sound providing that new school feel.
Warchetype - Goat Goddess Supremacy (IMPORT) (CD)
I think of Warhorse when I hear the great and powerful clean vocals, the heavy parts and the throbbing rhythms. As for Saint Vitus, they have put down the blueprint for the following song 'Marduk Stair's to Earth'. Lyrically themes are taken from Balzac, Homerus and Kafka. So these guys are no illiterates! The five depressing dark songs make this debut not an easy one to digest, but Warchetype has filled up a blank spot in the doom spectrum. Too little quality doom bands like this walk this Earth.
The Spanish answer to Electric Wizard and Warhorse. On their debut album Goat Goddess Supremacy, Warchetype express themselves with a dark, heavy doom heart apart from creating sinister and dark sound passages inside great compositions. They drone without being labeled a drone band, and are HEAVY like no one else.
Warlocks, The - Heavy Deavy Skull Lover (CD)
Features 2 songs not found on the vinyl version!
It doesn’t get much darker than this. Continuing on with their quest for a personal vision of druggy, droned-out psych rock, The Warlocks are back as a quartet. They may be half the band they once were (in number), but their sound has become more of a forceful, epic death dance than ever. They’ve torn away any veneer of radio friendliness and exchanged it for thunderous, zombified dirges and lengthy, cathartic 60’s trips. Though the hooks are few, a whispered, winding track like “So Paranoid” produces a lingering glow. This song is perhaps the red, pulsing core of the album, with other key tracks like opener “The Valley of Death” or the meditative “Dreamless Days” the strange, sadly romantic and experimental outer limits. The disc’s title says it all.
The strength of The Warlocks comes in its ability to revel in black light psychedelia without indulging in the brooding atmosphere so often associated with it. If your girlfriend just dumped you, you’ll find little comfort here, but certainly look to immerse yourself in androgynous good times, as Bowie fans come of age, and Radiohead fans take a step back from pretentiousness.
For someone like myself who has never dabbled in any psychedelic drugs before, this is probably the closest I'll ever get to that experience in my lifetime. The songs on this album take their glorious time getting going, such as the full two-minutes of droning guitar passages that precede the full band on the song "Slip Beneath" or the shuddering epic "Moving Mountains," which goes from a thinly plucked acoustic guitar line to full-fledged sonic assault in just under 11 minutes. In a sense, it's an album that kicks against every modern day musical ideal that has shackled how artists choose to express themselves nowadays. This is not a record that fits into the schema of an iPod shuffle, or a ringtone or meant to be heard for 45 seconds on a friend's MySpace page. It's organic music that grows with a methodical brilliance, building landscapes of sound that will take your breath away if you are willing to slow down and allow it to do so.
Warlocks, The - The Mirror Explodes (CD)
Although the Warlocks' characteristic wall of sound assault is still apparent, it's used in a very different way. The Mirror Explodes contains eight introverted and meditative tracks. Bobby Hecksher has a genuine talent for articulating the sounds of paranoia and derangement using various techniques. Unlike earlier albums, where he explored these concepts through themes such as hedonism and all its compelling darkness, in this release Hecksher seems to be taking the listener on a trip into the most unstable region of all - the subconscious. The Mirror Explodes is a heart-breaking piece of work. There's so much beautifully sonic sadness in each song. The restraint in each one, as if something is being held back, only helps to heighten the sensory effect it has on the listener.
The joy of the Warlocks' music is found in the details - the layer upon layer of fuzz and drone, the carefully chosen delivery of Hecksher's vocals, the pivotal role the bass is given - how at times it literally holds everything together. Every couple of months I go through complete Warlocks immersion. I think it's because they really don't quite sound like anyone else. Every album is so completely different, while still holding onto intangible elements which tie them all together. Dark, melodious and aurally confrontational, the band seem to subscribe to the belief that Noise is Power. The Mirror Explodes is a thoroughly beautiful record, and another fascinating journey with the band along the redefining lines of psychedelia.
Watchtower - Radiant Moon (Splatter) (10 inch)
Limited edition on splatter colored vinyl.
'The Radiant Moon' EP from Australia's Watchtower is a perfect cosmic ride into a doomedelic universe where THC-riddled meteorites rain down upon us all. Achieving a perfect balance between sludgy, plodding grooves and slow-burning aggression, Watchtower calls to mind the pummelling heyday of Electric Wizard, the relentlessness of Conan and the crusty swing of Weedeater. Throat-ripping, hip-shaking and piledriving, this weighty doom masterpiece features two crushing tracks on a gorgeous 10-inch vinyl platter.
WaterWays/Sons of Alpha Centauri/Hotel Wrecking City Traders - 3 Way Split (Color) (IMPORT) (LP)
Limited edition of only 500 copies with 180gr. tri-colored (red, yellow, and blue) vinyl.
Three great bands bound together by the love of great spiritual rock music.
First up WaterWays from the USA bring four tracks of dark surf rock that manages to be almost folky and bleak despite sounding sun drenched, light and airy, soaring and laid back. Of course the name WaterWays should be familiar to readers and the resume of the band members reads like a who’s who of the desert rock scene that gave birth to generator parties and of course, the mighty Kyuss. With long time friend Abby Travis as the vocal focus point, Stoner legend Gary Arce and long time friend Mario Lalli can showcase the musical symbiosis they have shown for over 25 years. Rounded out by Lalli’s Fatso Jetson brother Tony Tornay on drums, this band have pedigree that holds up to the standards set by the more famous Yawning Man. The similarities that will be drawn to Arce’s other band are inevitable, but WaterWays are a unique prospect in their own right and they go from strength to strength with each release.
I was first made aware of the second band Sons Of Alpha Centauri through their collaboration with Arce on the Yawning Sons album ‘Ceremony To The Sunset’ where the British Avant Garde rockers teamed with up the Desert Godfather to create 9 tracks of beautifully eclectic ambient music. Here the Sons appear in their own guise with the nine minute epic '27'. Apparently thought too long to feature on their 2007 self titled debut, this rare track has been dusted down and finally set free into the world. As you would expect from the genre defying instrumental rock pioneers this is a compelling, complex and lavish piece of music. The peaceful, introspective beginning gently builds in momentum as the track grows and grows until it breaks out into a chugging rocker that speaks to you through spacey accented guitar parts. The fact that it flies past is tribute to how adept the Sons are at crafting incredibly listenable music.
The final band are Australia’s Hotel Wrecking City Traders, a duo consisting of brothers Ben and Toby Wrecker who carve out ‘heavy noise explorations’. Their contributions to the split is the ten minute fuzz overdrive of ‘Palmo Victus’ that recalls the thunderous instrumentals of Karma To Burn with equal amounts of laid back cool and smoked out twists and turns. This tripped out piece is hypnotic and almost dirge like, as the simple single guitar playing against the tribal-lite drums. Clearly designed to explore altered mood states, the track is chilled and meandering, more concerned with the journey than the destination. What Hotel Wrecking City Traders bring to the mix feels slightly understated, but is no less important to the mood and feel of the record as it washes over you and leaves little hooks in your psyche. As you may sense I am in love with this split! Three bands who are not only awesome in their own right, but complement each other fantastically.
Waxy - Self Titled (CD)
Hailing from the Palm Desert and sounding like it too, Waxy has gained a great reputation in stoner rock circles around the world by touring with Kyuss Lives and playing shows earthlings?, Dead Meadow, Spindrift, Fatso Jetson, and Boots Electric. This CD features guest spots from John Garcia (Kyuss), Mario Lalli (Fatso Jetson, Yawning Man), Gare Arce (Yawning Man), Alfredo Hernandez (Kyuss, QotSA, Che), Ed Mundell (Monster Magnet, Atomic Bitchwax), and Brandon Henderson (Brant Bjork).
We Are Hex - Bleach Brigade (CD)
Bastard children of The Birthday Party, WE ARE HEX is the fire of the televangelist on a night of infomercials, the last union pup on the strip, and skid rubbed raw by a pleasant sin.
We Hunt Buffalo - Living Ghosts (IMPORT) (CD)
'We Hunt Buffalo' creates songs with hard hitting fuzz rock grooves and psychedelic overtones. It's a culmination of many years playing music together in Vancouver, Canada. The band has self-released two EP's and an LP since 2010 to both local and international acclaim. 'Living Ghosts' is the band's most dynamic record to date.