Saturday, 20 December 2014

The Sludgelord Presents: The Best of the Beard 2014

Black Moon Circle - Black Moon Circle


One of the best psychedelic albums (bands) of the year. For a few months, it was never far from my turntable. Pure space rock!


Blood Farmers - Headless Eyes



 Such a balanced record, heavy…groovy… trippy. If Pink Floyd dug horror movies, this would be their “Wish You Were Here”


Blues Pills - Blues Pills



After a couple of EPs, this album sees Blues Pills reach their full potential. Fun all the way through, this is a great rock and roll record. Please just stop re-recording “Devil Man”.


BoneHawk - Albino Rhino



Strong, steady grooves, killer guitar harmonies, catchy vocal hooks. BoneHawk is almost what you wish QOTSA still were. One of the best independent releases of the year.


Brank Bjork - Black Power Flower:



The grooviest album (possibly ever), Brant Bjork is officially the hippest cat in the room. Prior to its release, I didn’t know what to expect and frankly, was pretty indifferent about the whole thing. Now I can’t stop listening. This album always puts a smile on my face and a shake to my strut. Can you dig it?


Child - Child


Look up the definition of “heavy blues” and here they are. Fucking brilliant throughout. Amongst a pretty transient rotation, it hasn’t left my iPhone all year.


Conan - Blood Eagle 


Conan's best work to date. Heavy as fuck and with plenty of riffs to keep things moving, this album is as brutal as it gets. The sound of violence.


Corrosion Of Conformity - IX 



Possibly the final chapter from the reformed “Animosity” lineup, as Pepper is said to be returning to the fold. As happy as I am about that, I’ve loved what COC has done over the last few years and this album is an excellent exclamation point to this riff-tastic era in the bands long history.


Electric Wizard - Time To Die



Love it… hate it… It’s the Wizard at their darkest and most depraved. Sometimes more noisescapes than outright riffage, I dig the shit out of it.


Foghound - Quick, Dirty & High



With killer, simplistic riffs and catchy-as-hell-sing-along hooks, Foghound has made a party album that is a breath of fresh air and a whole lot of fun. It amazes me that this band hasn’t been picked up by a label. Vanrock of the highest order!


The Golden Grass - The Golden Grass:



On the lighter side of the heavy psych spectrum, The Golden Grass just craft great rock tunes that sound straight off the 70’s AM dial. This album will be the summer jams for years to come.   

      
Hornss - No Blood, No Sympathy



Neanderthal sludge rock with enough weird to make a Melvins fan proud, this was a sleeper hit in my world and a very welcome surprise. It’s raw as hell and a damn good time. Break out the bongs and the battlejackets!


Mamont - The Valleys Below



What?!? The singer left? Killer EP of Swedish stoney grooves and bluesy licks, I hope they find a way to forge on.


Mars Red Sky - Stranded In Arcadia



Man, I don’t really know what to say about this album… It’s the sound of the moon reflecting off the glassy stillness of Lake Eerie on a cool summer night… on mushrooms.


Melvins - Hold It In



Maybe the most fun Melvins album ever! The Butthole injection (get it?) brought new life to the old Melvins formula. The heavy stuff is as heavy as ever and the noise is supreme, but there’s something different going on here. This album is as good as (and similar in it’s scope to) anything they released during the Atlantic years.


Monolord - Empress Rising



The heaviest album of the year. Riff worship at it’s finest. It was a classic the second the needle hit the wax. Easily RidingEasy Records best release to date.


Mothership - II


I saw them live last year and was blown away by how heavy they were, this album captures the essence of that experience. The road has done wonders for this band and they’ve delivered a jaw-breaking slab of heavy Texas riffage. Amazing job all around.


Mount Carmel - Get Pure



These cats just plain rule. “Real Women” is by far one of my favorite albums and although this is a bit of a 180 from that, it is just as good, if not better. And check the skills on these dudes! Chops for days…

Salem’s Pot - …Lurar ut dig på prärien



Those crazy kids just keep getting weirder and weirder, and I fuckin dig it! The heaviness subsides a bit to make room for a more psychedelic edge, but they’re still dark as hell and twisted up in knots. Hail Satan!


The Scimitar - Doomsayer



Darryl Shepard and Co. pick up right where Black Pyramid left off and deliver an excellent album full of thick, tasty riffs, articulate arrangements and rock solid doom. Throw in a top notch Motorhead cover for good measure, let’s party!


Slomatics - Estron



Yeah… just epic… fucking epic! If this album came out later in the year, it would be on the top of every list. Brilliant record in every way… also never left my iPhone.



Slow Season - Mountains



Huge fan of their debut and psyched to see this album get the proper vinyl treatment from RidingEasy Records. They are to Zeppelin what Orchid is to Sabbath, and that is a major compliment in my book. Absolutely slamming classic rock album, it will be a favorite for years to come.


Swamp Machine - Mondo Magic


These dudes just broke up, total bummer! Was looking forward to this album and loved it right off the bat. I always wondered why didn’t the band get more attention? I thought this album was incredible from day one. It’s what traveling through a collapsing star sounds like.

Wo Fat - The Conjuring


Wo Fat are the kings of heavy Texas fuzz! These dudes rule, this album rules. Heavy psych… blues… jams… fucking riffs!!!! They’ve mastered the sound, it’s unlike anything else…. IT’S FUCKING WO FAT, MAN!


Yob - Clearing The Path To Ascend



This list has been arranged alphabetically because I don’t really believe in ranking releases in a “Best Of” order. Besides, my choices would change almost daily…. Except for Yob. “Clearing The Path To Ascend” is the album of the year and “Marrow” is the song of the year (decade?). Admittedly a novice when it comes to Yob’s catalogue, at first listen it was hard to escape hyperbole. After a few listens, it became clear. With “Marrow” being the emotional and musical apex, “Clearing The Path To Ascend” is an extremely important album that transcends classification of genre and reaches beyond the limits of my vocabulary. It’s just too goddamn good for words.


Listen to Electric Beard Of Doom: Episode 40 – The Best Of The Beard: 2014 on Saturday, December 27th at:

10am EST on Core Of Destruction Radio (www.coreofdestructionradio.com)
5pm EST on Grip Of Delusion Radio (www.gripofdelusion.com)


Or listen to any episode… anytime… anywhere at: http://www.mixcloud.com/ElectricBeardOfDoom/

American Heritage - Prolapse (Album Review)


Album Type: Full-Length
Date Released: 24/11/2014
Label: Solar Flare Records

‘Prolapse’ CD/DD/LP track listing:

1. Eastward Cast the Entrails
2. Anxious Bedwetter
3. Obliviocrity
4. Constant and Consuming Fear of Death and Dying
5. Mask Of Lies
6. Blackbird
7. Hu
̈rtin’ Crüe [Descendents Cover]
8. Thirsty and Miserable [Black Flag Cover]
9. Bulletproof Cupid [Girls Against Boys Cover]

American Heritage are:

Adam Norden | Bass, Vocals, Guitars
Erik Bocek | Bass
Mike Duffy | Drums
Scott A. Shellhamer | Guitars

Review:

American Heritage come at you with their sixth full length, 'Prolapse', like a bulldozer with a broken brake pedal. It's big, it's unstoppable, and it destroys. And much like the aforementioned bulldozer, frankly it doesn't do much good and its component parts would probably be better used elsewhere.

With that curious name, ostensibly nationalistic enough to concern more sensitive members of the left, American Heritage aren't a bad band. Hell, they do their thing pretty well. However, that thing struggles for relevance in a post-atmo-sludge, post-John-Baizley-coverart scene. At around 33 minutes stretching over nine songs (three of which are covers); the album feels a little brief and unconcerned with making the best of itself.

With those Mastodon-esque riffs resting upon drums that flit and double upon themselves more than drive, 'Prolapse' certainly does meat and potatoes prog-sludge well. Their music belongs to that brighter, tighter side of sludge, one that cares to raise its gaze from the grime and putridity of Iron Monkey brand misery and look you in the eye with confidence and clear direction. Through this, the album keeps its feet firmly on the ground and never strays into Intronaut levels of atmo-sludge wanderings that stand at the other end of the spectrum.

The vocals, like the music, seem to borrow liberally from the Baroness and Mastodon textbook. Yet to compare them to either of these bands is not entirely fair, with American Heritage displaying an aversion to bullshit and frills that even 'Remission'-era Mastodon or 'Blue Album' by Baroness could not claim to boast. Honestly though, it was the tasteful bullshit and frills that made 'Remission' and the 'Blue Album' my favourites in their respective discographies, with 'Prolapse' coming across as flat from missing a little of this.

I can't help but feel all this has been done before, 2008 has been and gone. In a landscape littered with bands of all genres pushing boundaries or in some cases flat out ignoring them, 'Prolapse' raises concerns over how a band like American Heritage will stay relevant or release music worth getting excited over. Of course there is an audience for this, people will listen to it, people will enjoy it. But then again some people still like Anvil.'

Words by: Jake Mazlum

You can pick up a copy here

For more information:


Ichor - Depths (Album Review)


Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 5/9/2014
Label: Bastardized Recordings

‘Depths’ CD/DD track listing:

1. Deep Rising (00:48)
2. Apophis (03:19)
3. Ra´iroa (03:41)
4. While Giants Sleep (05:10)
5. The Beasts Approach (03:50)
6. The Heretic King (04:22)
7. Leviathan (03:27)
8. Deny Your God (03:35)
9. Desire Of The Depth (04:09)
10. Cthulus Sons (03:15)
11. Hadal Sirens (06:27)

Bio:

ICHOR. Definition: 1: an ethereal fluid taking the place of blood in the veins of the ancient Greek gods ICHOR started their crusade in 2008. After they have released a demotape on their own the band released their first full-length album "The Siege" in 2009. This album was recorded and mixed by Phil Hillen from the SU2-Studio, and mastered by Simon of War From A Harlots Mouth. After this release the band went on the road and toured with bands like Aborted, Benighted and The Black Dahlia Murder. In 2010 ICHOR released their second album “Benthic Horizon" which was recorded in the mighty Hertz Studio ( Behemoth, Decapitated, Vader, Hate ) in Poland. “Benthic Horizon" appeared in Europe via Bastardized Recordings and was re-released in the UK by Siege of Amida in 2011. After another year of tireless touring through Europe ICHOR went to the Hertz studio again to record their third full-length album “Depths" that will now appear on Bastardized Recordings. "Depths" is a journey into the deep sea, an escape into destruction and the downfall of mankind, which has to re-create and to struggle with obsession, with power, war, suffering and the passion for survival

Ichor is:

Damiel | Guitars
Jo | Guitars
Norb | Bass Guitar
Eric | Vocals
Dirk | Drums

Review:

Death metal bands are extremely prevalent in the…. “scenes”, for lack of better terminology. Sorry, my hackles rise at the mention of this asininity. Anyway, DM (as I will refer to it now) is really very common, which also means there is tons of mediocre to trash bands out there, standing between you and the pretty sweet bands. This, unfortunately, is usually what people think of when you say Metal as well, unless they think Metallica. And they will think Cannibal Corpse, or if they really don’t care, just bands yelling in guttural tongue at you as they play indecipherable noise at 3x full volume. In the case of Ichor, the band of today’s review, they couldn’t be more wrong. (The idiots; not CC, they are never wrong)

The album is entitled ‘Depths’, and is exactly what you brilliant readers think: Cthulhu! And no, now that I’ve typed that name, the worm has already entered your brain and you can’t turn away.  Lett the things just outside your vision step fully into our dimension and engulf you with their unnamable Madness. So sit back and relax. It’s not so bad when you let the Colors from Beyond in. Trust us. I mean ME!

So the album starts with the short intro of ‘Deep Rising’, which is pretty good and a finely done opener. After its short: 48 seconds, we are thrown into a whirling maelstrom on top of a reef, as ‘Apophis’ starts up. The band does well not to exceed their talent level, and keep it fairly tame. They are solid, with a great sound from their production crew, and it shows some damn fine technical ability. They are cohesive; staying in fair time and speed with each other, and no one thing overrides the others. They want it to be as one, and they keep to it. The singer keeps a scathing vocal attack on the listener, and he does it for a majority of the run times. He has to have Wolverine’s regenerative powers, as it’s pretty brutal. He gives us many chances to growl along, as he has many spots where he extends the words into a guttural cry. The guitars are excellent, as they play bedrock solid rhythm, with leads thrown in here and there to add lots of color. These aren’t the fastest leads or rhythms, so don’t expect something stunningly technical, but they are excellent and keep you interested. All of this is backed up by a very good drummer, who doesn’t seem to overly use the double kicks like lots of modern bands.

Very much a fan at this point and we can move on. The album package is pretty nice, with what I would take to be R’lyeh (where in his house dead Cthulhu waits dreaming….), crooked and malformed.  Dread tentacles rise and look none too happy about it. It’s well rendered and executed, and tops it like a blood red cherry.

The album has a break in period to my ears, and I’ll explain that. The first half is no less fun than the second, but it’s similar to playing a tube amp. When you just turn it on and play, it’s pretty awesome, but it just seems to get better after it’s had a good chance to warm up. ‘Depths’ plays the same way, as soon as ‘Leviathan’ pops off, the album gets better. There is absolutely no basis for this opinion, but the sound just seems to click some minuscule piece into place, and it’s awesome. For what it’s worth, ‘Leviathan’ and ‘Desire of the Depths’ are my picks on the album, but it’s easily one I can listen to start to finish. Ichor knows what they like, and they don’t play to keep up with a fad. Its solid death metal and it’s very good.

Words by: Hunter Young


You can pick up a copy here



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Lost Orb - Low Ebb's Lament (Single Review)

Low Ebb's Lament cover art

Album Type: Single
Date Released: 08th December 2014
Label: Self Released

Low Ebb's Lament – Track Listing

1.Low Ebb's Lament 17:22

Members

Chris West: Guitar, Bass
Chantal Brown: Vocals
Tony Reed: Drums

Review:

Lost Orb is a new musical project featuring Chris West (Trippy Wicked), Chantal Brown and one of my current fave musical heroes – Tony Reed of Mos Generator and Stone Axe fame, have came together to form an altogether different kind of band. Lost Orb is a Drone/Ambient/Sludge/Doom/Stoner/Trippy Band that has epic riffs with beautiful vocals to match courtesy of Chantal.

Low Ebb's Lament is one of the best singles I have heard this year. It's 17 minutes of droned out majestic experimental bliss. Parts Sleep, Sabbath, Led Zepplin and OM as Lost Orb take you into some far out trippy realms. The last time Chris and Tony teamed up this year was for the insane Dr. Crazy. Lost Orb is entirely different. It's a more surreal, blissful and even uplifting doom-laden experience that will last long in the memory.

It's firmly rooted in 70s Heavy Rock where imagination is key as Lost Orb have unleashed something special here. Do yourself a favour and download this incredible song now. It's available on BandCamp Buy Now Download. Chris has told me that Lost Orb are working on a full release next year. On this evidence Lost Orb are going to be one of the best bands to check out in 2015.

Awesome. Plain and Simple.

Words by Steve Howe

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Future Old People Are Wizards - FAUX PAW (Album Review)


Album Type: Album
Date Released: 13th October 2014
Label: Zeal Records

Faux Paw – Track Listing

Teenage hospital
Undo the redo's
Little big one
Somewhere
Nightstreet
Ocean sea water
Curly
Eastern sabbath
Snow
Because
Cotton sheep

Bio

Future Old People Are Wizards, sometimes also shortened to FOPAW, is a band from Gent with Stijn Vanmarsenille (Drums Are For Parades, Maya's Moving Castle and Waldorf) on guitar and vocals. Nele De Gussem (Maya's Moving Castle,…) takes on the bass, but instead of going for the classic bass guitar, the bass sounds are created by some brutal synths. Responsibility for the drum lines lies with Piet Dierickx (Animal Muppet whom you may have seen in action with Drums Are For Parades, Monsoon and Soulwax).

Members

Stijn Vanmarsenille (vox, guitar, synths)
Nele De Gussem (keys, vox)
Piet Dierickx (drums)

Review:

Future Old People Are Wizards is a suitably odd name for this beguiling trio from Gent, Belgium. “Faux Paw” is their debut full length but you would be forgiven for thinking that this was the work of a band at the height of their powers. The bewildering number of ideas and styles on display here is more than most bands cover in an entire career. However, it’s to FOPAW’s credit that they are not weighed down by this abundance of inspiration but instead meld it into a surprisingly cohesive whole.

Opener “Teenage Hospital” manages to traverse a diverse number of styles and tempos during its 4 minute duration; eerie Faith No More keyboards, spiky guitar leads, crushing Melvins riffage, melodic breakdowns, the child of Josh Homme and Layne Staley on vocals, etc., etc. The band somehow execute this expansive variety of moods in such a way that it manages to come across as a catchy song rather than a queasy mess of incompatible ideas which is quite an achievement.

This sets the tone for an album which engages and excites throughout, throwing in new sounds and influences at every twist and turn without weighing down the music. Key to this is the prominence of keyboards. Often only really used in metal bands to provide subtle ambience or layers of atmosphere, here the synths are often the lead instrument and integral to FOPAW’s sound. An eclectic array of tones are used throughout from the skronking organ freakout in “Undo The Redo’s” to the strange BBC Radiophonic Workshop noises at the start of the proggy glam stomp of “Somewhere”. There are elements of the retro synth wizardry of Zombi throughout and the short mid-album instrumental “Ocean Sea Water” even recalls the woozy ambience of Boards of Canada.

The prominence of keyboards has not lead to any deficiencies in the riffs department though. Again, there is a wide palette on display here from the thunderous Torche stylings of “Undo The Redo’s”, plenty of spiky off-kilter Queens of the Stone Age vibes throughout and even a touch of noise titans Part Chimp and heavy pitch shifter abuse of “Jupiter” era Cave In on “Because”. It’s the likes of the aforementioned Torche and cheerful stoners Tweak Bird who provide the best point of reference though as FOPAW take a similar dayglo pop vibe and fuse it to the crunch of metal to create a colourful psychedelic sound. The overall effect is a bit like the Flaming Lips if they decided to dedicate themselves to the way of the riff.

This is particularly evident on the colossal 12 minute finale “Cotton Sheep”. Its lengthy duration and total lack of metal elements may sound like an incongruous and anticlimactic way to finish the album but it works a treat. Beginning with 5 minutes of swirling solo synth soundscapes before the whole band joins to begin a subdued electronic ballad similar to eclectic indie rockers Menomena. This builds to a soaring pay-off that wouldn’t have been out of place on an older M83 album.

Faux Paw” is a highly impressive debut from FOPAW that reveals more and more with every listen. On this evidence I eagerly await the next dose of Wizardry from this intriguing trio.

Words by Charlie Butler

Thanks to Bucky Brown for arranging the promo. Faux Paw is available to buy now on CD and Vinyl through Zeal Records.


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