Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The Sludgelord and Doomed & Stoned Present: An Interview with Goya at Day of the Shred Fest


A definition of Do it yourself (DIY) is the method of building, modifying, or repairing something without the aid of experts or professionals, the reason I mention this, is that there is an increasing trend for bands to do things themselves, indeed if you have a vision of what you are trying to represent or wanting to achieve and have the means to be able to do it yourself, then invariably you are best placed to do so. 

Yes, the financial support of a big label invariably leads to better distribution of your music, which in turn leads to better tours, which means possibly reaching more fans, but ultimately for a fan what DIY represents, is that CD or vinyl or shirt you buy, goes directly to band, who in turn reinvest back into their music.  This is nothing new of course, every band starts this way, but due to the medium of social media, a band can reach so many more people now, then say, 30 years ago.

One such band who personify DIY, is the band Goya, who with the release of their record ‘777’ have steadily became a hot topic within the stoner doom community.  For me, ‘777’ is a future classic in waiting (and this is not just my belief), indeed Goya financed, recorded and distributed the record themselves, and it is a mark of their sheer determination and passion for music, that their hard work is finally starting to pay off with their recent signing to revered boutique label STB Records. 

With a forthcoming split with Wounded Giant (review here) and a second full length coming in 2015, make no mistake, by this time next year, one of the big labels will be knocking on their door.  Prior to their appearance at Day of the Shred fest, Frank Heredia hooked up with the band, who gave a full and frank insight into the band and also what we can expect from the band over the next 12 months. 

The Sludgelord and Doomed & Stoned are proud to present, the 2nd of our series of interviews from the aforementioned Day of the Shred fest.  So sit back, enjoy and keep it sludgy. 

Words by: Aaron Pickford

Monday, 24 November 2014

The Jackpine Snag - The Firetower EP (Review)


Album Type: EP
Date Released: 30/4/2014
Label: Silver Maple Kill Records

‘The Firetower EP’ DD/Vinyl track listing:

1). Brother Eye (02:25)
2). With Wings (02:59)
3). The Missaukee Strut (03:12)
4). What I Done (02:44)
5). The Grand River Float (02:24)
6). La Ventura (04:03)
7). Gonna Wreck My Life (03:00)

Bio:

The Jackpine Snag started in Sept 2010. Joe Hart contacted Nick Merz and Todd Karinen about jamming some newer stuff he had worked out, and it immediately took off. within a few weeks of rocking in Joe's basement, they had 5 or 6 songs. now, they needed a name. after talking to his dad, who used to be a forest ranger, Joe really like the story about how jackpines can grow into one another and then die, leaving a nasty looking growth of wood, or a snag. so the name came from there. The Jackpine Snag played the first show in Feb of 2011. they played shows throughout the rest of the year, until Nick decided he was going to move to boise Idaho at the end of the year. after Nick left, Joe and Todd recruited Greg Lamb to fill the bass slot. after acclimating himself to the music, the band continued with their lucky streak of playing on great bills, which still is going today. in Feb of 2013, they released a 7" ep called The Omega Stump

The Band:

Joe Hart | Guitar,Vocals
Greg Lamb | Bass
Todd Karinen | Drums

Review:

You know how some bands never sound as good live as they do on the album? As if they just couldn't reproduce the same intensity?  The Jackpine Snag, from Lansing Michigan, is not one of those bands. The three piece band consisting of singer/guitar player Joel Hart, drummer Todd Karinen, and new bass player Jason Roedel offer up their second effort "The Fire Tower" on Silver Maple Records.

The band refers to their sound as "Heavy Blues Grunge Doom Rock Stuff", mostly in jest, and although all of those would apply, they don’t fit squarely into any of those. The guitar tones are dirty, low and fuzzy, and even desperate and maddening at times on songs such as ‘La Ventura’, which is also the longest on the album, clocking in at just over four minutes. Short, punchy and to the point is what you'll get.

Right from the first track, ‘Brother Eye’ you get the pounding rhythm with that dirty, nasty gritty guitar sound, coupled with Joe Hart's at times soulful and sometime howling vocals. But...what I like most about the Jackpine Snag is their sense of timing. Pauses and rests and changes all seem flawless, and they use plenty of them. If this kind of music kept the same progression and only used three chords, it would be punk. These songs don't do that. A perfect example is track three ‘The Missaukee Strut’. The rests and changes keep everything interesting, and once again the vocals go from a whisper to a howling scream, never making you comfortable, keeping you on edge. 

For my money, the song ‘The Grand River Float’ really sums up The Jackpine Snag and the album. It highlights all instruments, quick, to the point, and both soulful, nasty and desperate. I like to say to anyone who makes the mistake of listening to me long enough to let me wax philosophical, that good music, no matter what style, should make you feel something, anger, happiness, angst, whatever. Something, ya dig?   ‘The Firetower’ makes me feel a little angry, a little sad, especially if you listen to the lyrics. Also, it makes me feel really good, because as intense as these songs are, they are beautifully written. I'm not just saying that to write fluff or out of kindness. I have never, nor will I ever do that.
I fucking mean it.

There is a sweet melancholy wrapped around a crashing intensity and fuzz guitar that kinda makes you want to throw some "metal horns" and start stomping around. I don't know about you, but that pretty much does it for me. When any band can do that to me, they win.  I'm sold.  Incidentally, for the record, I have *NEVER* been fairly blazed, and played *ANY* of the JPS's records at 33 speed, just to watch the walls bleed, and demons flap around the room. Nope. Never happened, and I will continue to deny it.

Words by: Mike Borsum

You can pick up a copy here

For more information:




The Sludgelord & Doomed & Stoned Present: An Interview with Windhand at Day of the Shred Fest


On the 1st of November 2014, The Sludgelord continued our ongoing union with Doomed & Stoned by sending our intrepid contributor Frank Heredia along to the inaugral Day of the Shred fest in Santa Ana, California.  Over the next few days The Sludgelord and Doomed & Stoned will present a series of interviews from the festival, the first of which we share with you today.  

Frank was fortunate enough to speak with Garrett Morris and Dorthia Cotrell from Richmond, Virginia's Windhand, just before their trailblazing performance.  So sit back and on behalf The Sludgelord and Doomed & Stoned, enjoy the interview.  You can also check out our review of the festival here



Filmed & Edited by: Hugo Guzman
Inteview by: Frank Heredia

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Blue Snaggletooth - Beyond Thule (Album Review)


Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 3/11/2014
Label: Arbco Records

‘Beyond Thule’ DD/LP track listing:

01. Reptiles (02:49)
02. Sleeping Mountain (04:57)
03. Serpent And The King (03:43)
04. Silver Goddess (03:17)
05. Gawkers (04:37)
06. All You See (04:34)
07. Nameless Cults (03:19)
08. Ahamkara (07:07)
09. Transmutation (02:41)

Bio:

Fronted by guitarist and singer Chris “Box” Taylor (who previously played with Mazinga, Powertrane, and Michigan legend Scott Morgan), Blue Snaggletooth was formed in 2009, when Taylor teamed up with bassist Ian Harris, guitarist Jess Willyard, and drummer Ian “Pit Viper” Sugierski. The band began making a name for themselves playing Michigan rock clubs, and their debut album, 2011’s “Dimension Thule,” sold out it’s initial pressing.

But while the first edition of Blue Snaggletooth was solid, it wasn’t meant to last, as personal commitments led to Harris, Willyard, and Sugierski leaving the group. But you can’t keep a good beast down, and Taylor has resurrected Snaggletooth with a new lineup that’s even heavier and more impressive than the first.

Guitarist Casey O’Ryan and bassist Joe Kupiec are rock & roll prodigies steeped in hard rock and classic boogie – as Taylor says, “They’re not brothers, but they should be,” and they give the band groove, energy, force, and powerful commitment. (In the grand tradition of everyone in Black Flag getting a tattoo of The Bars, O’Ryan has already gotten himself inked with Blue Snaggletooth’s artwork.) With Mike Popovich driving the groove behind the drums and Taylor wailing and laying down rhythm licks up front, this new edition is a hard rock dream machine, ready to take your mind and your ears deep into the cosmos. (And the band’s shows look as cool as they sound, with Jaime Magiera screening deeply trippy video projections to accompany the wall of sound.)

The second generation of Blue Snaggletooth isn’t wasting any time. The band is working up material for their next album, and Taylor and O’Ryan have already banked fourteen new songs that they hope to take to the studio by the end of 2013. If anyone is proving that you can honor hard rock’s past while pumping fresh blood into its future, it’s Blue Snaggletooth. Hop on board their spacecraft while there’s still room for new riders

The Band:

Chris Taylor | Guitar, vocals
Casey O’Ryan | Guitar
Joe Kupiec | Bass
Mike Popovich | Drums

Review:

Blue Snaggletooth's second effort ‘Beyond Thule’ is straight up Stoner/Proto Metal. A Gibson SG and a Classic 60's Epiphone through Orange Amps, balls out in your face Stoner Rock. If there isn't something in your soul that can't relate to heavy, yet grooving guitar and thunderous bass with wailing solos, then your name is probably Gunther, and you wear corpse-paint to your day job at Oslo Burger.

Anyway, before I even get to the music, I have to mention the awesome album art by artist Jeremy Wheeler, which was made to be seen under the black light.  If you want to purchase an actual copy of this album, you can forget a CD, because you only get it in clear vinyl, and digital download. These are cool all by themselves.

Back to the music: I fully confess, I like story songs, Ones that tell a cool story as well as rocking the fuck out. Who doesn’t? Whether its old country ballads about gunslingers, or space/stoner rock bands doing the same, you got me.  I listen to all kinds of music like everyone, so songs like Marty Robbin's ‘El Paso’, or even Gordon Lightfoot's ‘Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald’ haunting story songs, always catch my attention. This is what these songs remind me of. Not because the melodies are similar, but because of the places these songs take me.  Blue Snaggletooth is all over that.

My personal favourite is track 2, ‘The Sleeping Mountain’. Not only is the chorus catchy as hell, but it gives that direct but vague warning, "Don’t rouse the beast that sleeps, below the sleeping mountain,"  It doesn’t ruin it by telling you exactly what’s under there, just that it's big, and last time it was around, everything sucked for a million years. So holy-shit don't wake it up! I didn’t have a choice to like this song or not. The Star Wars figure collecting, Dungeons and Dragons playing kid in me that grew up to also like loud as Hell guitar music can't help but like this.

That story theme continues on the next track ‘The Serpent and the King’, this time evoking a classic Good vs. Evil struggle.  The next track, also tells the story of the ‘Silver Goddess’, the crowning Jewel of the album though, would have to be track 8, ‘Ahamkara.’ While perhaps speaking the band's philosophy or at least a message of transcendentalism, it also delivers a ripping fuzzed jam.

I decided to wait to review this album until I had the chance to see Blue Snaggletooth live, which I was fortunate to do just last week. To me, as I have mentioned before, the measure of a good band is one that can deliver in the studio AND on the stage.  If you can write a good song, that’s great, but if you can't reproduce that same energy or vibe on stage, it's only so useful.  Blue Snaggletooth is not that band. They bring it just as hard live as on the LP. They don't screw around in that department. But...what sealed the deal and made me a genuine fan of this band, was when I checked out their merch after their set. 

See, I am not a tiny girly man wearing skinny jeans. I can eat two or three tiny men for lunch. So, usually, when I see a new band I really like, and ask them if they have shirts in my size, the answer is a polite "No fatty. No shirt for you. Fat people don't get to represent."  Not so this time. They had my back with my sized "Fat Bastard" B.S.T for a mere ten bucks. What? A band that actually thought that maybe some of their fans might not fit into a "Large"?

In all seriousness, ‘Beyond Thule’ is a fun album. It’s got those heavy-groove riffs played loud. The songs actually entertain, not just assault the ears. I like a metal blitzkrieg too, but sometimes it's time to relax, light one up and space out with something less than blisteringly fast.  This is a great album if you dig this kind of sound. If you are like me and believe the best guitar tones were invented in the early 70's, and there should be more story songs set to these guitar tones, then you should probably buy this album right now.

Words by: Mike Borsum

You can pick up a copy here

For more information:





OLMEG - Primordial Soup (Album Review)


Album Type: Album
Date Released: 12th December 2014
Label: Self Released

Primordial Soup – Track Listing

1. Trans-dimensional
2. Megalomaniac
3. The Wolves
4. Nest
5. Told You So
6. Scolder
7. Grinding The Gears
8. Mettle
9. Behind Disguise

Bio

OLMEG are on the never ending search for the big riff and the heaviest curly groove. The fuzzed–out, psychedelic rock power trio deliver masses of deep rolling Riffs that get inside your head.

OLMEG is the Masai term for ‘The Outsider’

Members

Tim Byrne - drums
Jared Smith - guitars, vocals
Matt Dawkins - lead vocals, bass guitar

Review:

Rarely has a band name been so appropriate as with Olmeg. Albeit hailing from Melbourne, Australia, the band has taken their name from Masai and it means The Outsider. Yes, I stole this from the band's Facebook page but don't sue me because there's no money to be had. Seriously though, the name is perfectly fitting for them since their take on heavy psychedelic stoner rock is a rarity, a true gem within an oversaturated genre. No, you don't believe me? Read on then and see what I mean.

Heavy on reverb, fuzz and riffs just as psyched out stoner rock should be, Olmeg have added two brilliant ingredients which puts them light years ahead of the rest. The first is melody. Within all the heaviness, there's a lot of melody imbedded in the songs which in turn makes them so much better. Don't get me wrong, I love heavy music and riffs but to make a song unique you have to change it up. Olmeg does so by not piling riff upon riff, instead they expand the songs by letting them breathe by adding melody. This is even further enhanced by my second point...instrumental! Some of their songs are instrumental and I love that if it's done right. Since Olmeg are far beyond good, it is done right making this combination is a revelation.

Another aspect of their difference is how these two parts are blended with the band's psychedelic tendencies which involves long spaced out jams with a touch of blues added as extra flavour. Combining all this with heaviness, riffs, reverb, groove and fuzz you have a killer concoction that few others can match.

Special mention goes to the trippy and spacey 'Trans-dimensional' and 'Nest'. 'Told You So' is in the same vein but has more of jammy feel to it. 'The Wolves' is the proper stoner track while 'Mettle' is a mixture of it all.

Olmeg are a brilliant new acquaintance to me who sets the bar very high with 'Primordial Soup'. I love it when a band "sneaks" up on me unleashing an avalanche of great songs burying me deep in their in their wake. The guys have another full-length available, 'Slab' that I recommend as well. Fantastic music by a band that deserves world recognition!

Words by Håkan Nyman

Thanks to Robbie and OLMEG for the advanced promo. Primordial Soup will be available to buy from December 12th 2014. Headover to BandCamp where you can download their excellent debut album for free or Buy Now Download.

For More Information

MAGI - A Million Questions - Exclusive Song Stream


Bio

MAGI is an Atmospheric Doom Metal band from North Carolina (USA). Founded in 2011 by Brandon Helms (of From Oceans To Autumn and Mountains Among Us), at first it started out as a metal/drone project, then quickly evolved into a full band profile. MAGI released their first ep titled "33rd Degree" in April of 2011 and their 2nd ep "December" later that same year. In the Summer of 2014 the band began recording their new songs and that’s when their blend of atmospheric doom metal and post-metal begun to take shape, with strong influences from YOB, Rorcal and Jesu. The first full length titled “Forget Me Not” is scheduled by January 26th on ARGONAUTA Records.

Members

Brandon - guitars, vocals, programming
McCllelan - bass
Helms - drums

Info

Our good friends at Argonauta Records have given Sludgelord HQ an exclusive stream of the first song to be released from MAGI's forthcoming debut album – Forget Me Not – to be released on January 26th 2015. So here is your first exclusive of the excellent new song – A Million Questions.

It will show you what to expect on MAGI's debut album and I for one cannot wait for this record to be released upon the world. Our review will be published very soon.



Words by Steve Howe

For more information

MAGI


Arognauta Records

Shades of Black: An Interview with Dawnbringer


(c) Jim Newberry

Towards the end of September, I had the pleasure of writing a review for the latest Dawnbringer album, ‘Night of the Hammer’. Having had even more time with the album since that review was published; it’s an album that hasn’t worn out its welcome and it remains in my top 5 albums of the year. While the album itself is ultra-satisfying, getting the opportunity to bother Chris Black with some follow up questions in an attempt to better understand one of my favorite albums of 2014 was indeed a privilege. My list was brief, but his responses are brimming with helpful insight into the album. Most of you reading this already know that “Professor” Black is as loaded with insight as they come. He was kind enough to satiate my curiosity as well as offer up news that he might not be ready slow down or take a break just yet.

Sludgelord: I’d like to start by asking about one of the changes from ‘Into the Lair of the Sun God’ that struck me immediately. Your vocals aren’t as raspy as they were on that album and the emphasis now seems to be on a cleaner, more powerful delivery coupled with a lot of harmonies. What led you to change up your singing style? Do you look to anyone for inspiration vocally?

Chris Black:  Not specifically, but it’s true that I did spend a lot of time strengthening my voice during 2013.  I gained a lot of confidence and let go of a bit of the “character singing” I’ve done in the past.  The downside was that once I had gotten more comfortable in my natural voice, the more raspy delivery didn’t feel so natural anymore.  Earlier this year, I made fully-formed demo versions of all of the songs that would appear on ‘Night of the Hammer’.  This process allowed me to really focus on the tone of the vocals and some different recording techniques such as double-tracking and the harmonies you mentioned.  I’ve been singing harmonies for quite a while now, but you could say I’ve gone rather over-the-top on some of these tracks.

SL: “One-Eyed Sister” is a very interesting song in that after the first fifty seconds or so, it’s essentially the same central riff for over three minutes until the song ends. Through smart use of vocals, guitar leads and layering it never feels repetitive. Was that something you had in mind while writing/recording the song, or did the song just feel more natural revolving around that one main riff?

CB:  The muso term for this is Ostinato, when there’s this repeating phrase or pattern
underneath a more dynamic exterior.  Depending on the changes that are introduced on top of the Ostinato pattern, there is potential for great tension and release, or perhaps some very rich harmonies.  I’ve done a lot with this technique in the past (“What Are You Running From” in particular) but in the case of “One-Eyed Sister” I don’t think there was the specific intention to do so.  That song truly “wrote itself” as they once in a while do.  I am very glad to hear you enjoyed it.


SL: Concerning the recording of the album: did you go in wanting to achieve a specific sound or was it something that you just let unfold while recording? Are there any albums that you specifically look to as the ideal in terms of production?

CB:  It’s always something of a discovery when we arrive at the studio and bring the album out of the imaginary realm.  I have something in mind, of course, but it’s vague.  I’m more concerned with the notes, the rhythms, things being organized.  I feel sometimes that I should assert my opinion a bit more, but I also don’t intend to micromanage the engineering aspect of things, so it’s something of a balance.  It can be a problem of vocabulary as well, since not everyone would use the same terms to describe a guitar sound.  I’m quite limited in this area and tend to defer to the guitar players and/or engineer.  I don’t know about any ideals, because an album’s production has to suit the music, and vice versa.  Candlemass’s ‘From the 13th Sun’ and Ulver’s ‘Nattens Madrigal’ both great to me, but it would be a bit strange to hear them reversed, sound-wise.

SL: The previous two full length albums featured highly-detailed and beautiful artwork to accompany them. ‘Night of the Hammer’ features a wide-shot black and white photo, which is a pretty stark contrast. How does the photograph tie into the overall direction of ‘Night of the Hammer’ when compared with Christina Casperson’s artwork for ‘Nucleus’ and ‘Into the Lair of the Sun God’?

CB:  We have our own subtle patterns and cycles, but we also don’t want to become repetitive. I felt that ‘…Sun God’ was not enough of a progression from ‘Nucleus’; that while it was an improvement, it covered much of the same musical ground.  So along with the motivation to explore some new things musically, it would be necessary to take the visual imagery in a new direction as well.  ‘Into the Lair of the Sun God’ turned out to be a difficult album to follow, partly because I kept finding myself in the same old places on the guitar, without really improving on what we’d already done in 2012.  So I had to search for some new environments.  The album cover relates to this as well, because perhaps I am still viewing this album from a distance.


SL: “Not Your Night” and “Funeral Child” take the album in some pretty different places (The former being much faster than the rest of the album and the latter bringing King Diamond to mind, vocally). How do they fit into the album as a whole? How important is it to you to try out new or different elements like these?

CB:  It’s very important, as you’ve probably gathered.  Around 2009 or 2010, I discovered that taking risks could really pay off.  Lyrically at first, then vocally, and now musically as well.  I need to try something brave on each album, even if it fails.  I don’t know that these particular songs would be great examples of that, but perhaps.  We surely have a lot of high-speed stuff in our early catalog, and there was a bit of King Diamond falsetto on the songs “11:58” and “Midnight” from ‘In Sickness and In Dreams’.  So the precedent was there, although listeners who know us from ‘Nucleus’ to the present might find them a bit startling!  In any case, it definitely seemed prudent to balance out the gloomy and melodic stuff and build the tension in the second half of the album. 

SL. The melody in the opening section of “Xiphias” has a kind of triumphant or even joyful emotional tone that you don’t run across all that often in metal outside of say Slough Feg, some power metal and maybe a handful of others. Do you think metal as a genre has matured to a point where the general audience is a bit more accepting of happier musical themes? Should that be a bigger part of what heavy metal offers the listener as a genre?

CB:  Yeah, the verses of that one are in a major key, which is unusual for sure.  What can I say? Sure, there’s space for that kind of thing within heavy metal.  What about the song “Prodigal Son” by Iron Maiden?  Or “Devils” by Motörhead?  Those songs are utterly unique within their catalogs.  I’m not making any direct comparisons to “Xiphias”, but I think certainly in the context of an album such as ‘Night of the Hammer’, the change in tone shouldn’t be hard to accept.  Anyone who is turned off by the folk elements would have already bailed by that point anyway!  And that’s fine with me.  Nothing will ever be unanimous.


SL: You also just put out the High Spirits full length ‘You Are Here’ about 6 months ago. Between High Spirits and Dawnbringer; in the past 4 years you’ve put out 5 full lengths, a couple of EPs, plus you’ve contributed to Pharaoh, Aktor, Superchrist and so on. How have you been able to put out that much quality music in such a short window of time? How much longer can you keep up this pace? Surely you’ll need to come up for air at some point.

CB:  Yeah, I will need a break soon.  I think by summer of 2015 I may have reached something of a stopping point, creatively speaking, but who knows.  There are a number of factors contributing to my current pace.  Right now, I have both the motivation and the opportunity to make music on a full-time basis.  Maybe later I will still have the opportunity but lose the motivation.  Or more likely, I might always have the motivation but not always have the opportunity.  So I’d be foolish not to “seize the day”.  My workload has never involved much touring.  I do maybe 25-30 shows a year, and that’s enough for me.  So that leaves a lot of time for writing and recording.  I have a very reliable and talented crew of musician friends, great label relationships, and also a growing means for doing a lot of my own releasing and distribution.  The whole Dawnbringer catalog before ‘Nucleus’ is out of print, for example, and we’re working to change that in the near term, along with a big surprise coming in early 2015.  If I told you what it was, you might not believe me.  But let’s just say if nothing else, people will discover that ‘Night of the Hammer’ isn’t the first time we’ve reached into the unknown and sensed its fearsome gravity.  So yeah, lots happening!

SL: Thank you so much for your time!

CB:  It was a nice change of pace to actually answer specific questions about the music I make, so likewise thank you very much for that opportunity.  I can’t tell you how refreshing that is in an age when so many are simply re-compiling internet clutter.  Cheers!

Intro & Interview by: Daniel Jackson