Monthly Archives: March 2013

REVIEW: Howl – Bloodlines, play Sidebar March 28

What are you doing Thursday night? You are going to see Howl at The Sidebar, that’s what. Why? Because they rock, and they have a new album out, and they drink Narragansett beer by the case, and I can spell Narragansett, which is in Rhode Island, which is where Howl is from.

ILSA, Spoilage and Dead Gods are also playing. All reasons enough. Now about this new record.

Howl

Howl’s new album Bloodlines further establishes the group as true heavy hitters in a metal market miasma dominated by snail’s pace funeral doom and core-of the week screamers. Blending blackened vocals, solid blues infused melodies with churning riffs and thrashy rhythms, Howl gives me everything I want in a metal band.

They have their doomier moments, true, but it also makes sense that this group has toured with Skeletonwitch and Red Fang, who keep the tempo upbeat and the drums pounding most of the time. I pretty much love everything about Bloodlines.

If you like groups like High on Fire, old Mastodon and Crowbar, Howl will appeal to you.

Record reviews are hard for me, so I will just give you some highlights. The second track “Midnight Eyes” roars forth and immediately assumes a thrash pace likely to get audiences moving. The chorus is headbang-worthy. This leads straight into another great song, “Demonic.” Great lyrics and memorable riffs. “One Last Night” almost has a post-metal melody, and I really like that, but it never strays from Howl’s mission of melting faces with those unrelenting power riffs.

“Down So Low” slows things down a bit to a sinister pace, with more baritone vocals coming through. “With a Blade” is among the most “doom-like” sounding songs on the album. No doubt the flavor-of-the-week kids will enjoy the fuck out of this down-tuned delight. Thankfully, “Of War” brings the tempo back up a bit. The slightly more progressive, Mastodon-y sounding “The Mouth of Madness” is also a slower track featuring death metal like chugga-chugga- guitar work and vocal harmonies.

There are some other songs on there; just buy Bloodlines when it comes out April 30. You won’t be sorry.

See you suckers tomorrow.

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REVIEW: War Injun/Doomdogs 7" split

International penpals were once a method people had to learn about other cultures. Maryland’s War Injun and Sweden’s Doomdogs have created such a dialog with their new 7″ split released by Svart Records. In this case, however, it’s a dialog of doom.

War Injun describe themselves as power doom, though I’d put them squarely in the stoner rock category along with Pentagram and similar. This band is all about the riff delivered expertly by Kenny Staubs and Dave Morgan. Their rhythm section, which consists of JB Matson and Tony Comulada, lays down a crushingly heavy foundation for every song.

Their contribution to the split is the previously unreleased “Smokethrower” featuring former singer JD Williams. Vocal duties were recently filled by Jack Roemer (also of Tank Murdock and formerly of Dead Men Sway). During some recent live performances Roemer, no doubt by some shamanistic spell, has been able to make War Injun’s lyrics even more thunderous than they were with Williams.

“Smokethrower” is most definitely a rockin’ tune featuring rapid-fire verses halted by a more ponderous chorus. The varied pace adds drama.  The guitar tone is flawless, obliterating everything in its path. It’s a fitting swan song for Williams and a great showcase for the talents that remain in War Injun.

On the flipside, we have “Oceans of Despair” from Doomdogs, who  play somewhat more melodic doom, but their sound is definitely companionable with War Injun.  Vocalist Tomas “GG” Eriksson projects the lyrics with a kind of raw operatic flare over the powerful riffage provided by guitarist Christer Cuñat, whose solos are reminiscent of 70s blues-rock. The song features an extended funky jam segment with a fat bass and sizzling lead. The tune marches to its somewhat untimely end, whereupon the song seems to abruptly fall apart. Except for this unsettling conclusion, “Oceans of Despair” is a stellar response to War Injun’s call on the other side.  Former member Emil Rolof is featured on drums and Patrik Andersson Winberg on bass, who is set to perform his last gig with the group on April 6.

War Injun’s drummer explained that the split came about because the two groups were fans of each other music. “We actually hooked up with Doomdogs through Facebook,” Matson said. (Well, doesn’t everyone?)

The split has also become something of a promo for a Doomdogs/War Injun tour slated for late summer. And for War Injun, at least, it offered a means to transition into writing and recording with their new singer.

“We are nearly done with the writing process for our next full length ‘Left For The Wolves’, which will be released before August,” Matson said. “Jack is working out tremendously. War Injun is without a doubt, the most solid of a unit as it has ever been. We have already written five new songs with this lineup, and it’s the best music we have ever written. The 2013 Summer Tour starts August 2 in Fort Worth, Texas and continues through August 11 from Texas to Florida and then straight up the East Coast. Leather Nun America (California) are touring with us, and if all things work out, so will Doomdogs.” 

Check out both songs below. 

Arckanum to release Fenriz Kindir in May

Swedish black metal project Arckanum will be putting out a new album called Fenriz Kindir (that is, Fenriz’s Children) on May 14 with Season of Mist.

Fenriz Kindir coming soon from Arckanum
Check out this intense album art! 
According to band founder Shamaatae, “This album is a dedication to the flaming giant-wolf, son of Loki; created from the Chaos-fires of Múspellsheimr. It is a tribute to the wrathful giant-wolf, son of Angrboða, found in the Ironwood where he is breeding hordes of giant monstrous wolves with Angrboða. His victorious name is Fenrir, also called Tungls Tjúgari! Hail Fenrir!”

He continues: “The sounds and music on this album are my auditory vision of the march of Fenrir convoyed with his hordes of giant wolves from the depths of the underworld to face Ragna Rök with warlike glory – deformed giant-wolves swarming in thousands.”
Be still my nerdy, little  black metal heart. This recording looks like it’s going to be the soundtrack to that Norse Literature course I devoured in college. 
Shamaatae explains:  The Old Norse saga Völuspá (40-41) says, ‘In the east of the Ironwood (Járnviðr) she the Old One (Angrboða) sat and there bore Fenrir’s Kin (Fenris kindir). One of which became the most worthy of them all, the One taking down the sun/moon with a two-pronged pitchfork (tungls tjúgari), in a troll’s shape. He fills his belly with the corpses of dead men and defiles the houses of gods with blood. The sun’s beams blacken during summers and the weather grows stormy.’ The later saga Gylfaginning (51) reveals Fenrir’s flaming Múspell-descent during Ragna Rök: ‘Fenrir shall advance with gaping mouth, and his lower jaw shall be against the earth, but the upper against heaven, he would gape yet more if there were room for it; fires blaze from his eyes and nostrils… The Sons of Múspell shall go forth to that field which is called Vígríðr, thither shall come Fenrir also…'”
I like when a songwriter provides you with the citations from the literature. Do go on….
“This is my tribute to the wrathful, harsh and untamed anti-nature of Fenrir’s mighty essence! The anti-cosmic enemy of the worlds! Heill Tungls Tjúgari! Heilir Fenris Synir!”
Ok, so listeners will be immersed in some themes of deep Norse mythology. What about the music? What should we expect from the talented and mysterious Arckanum. Nothing but magic. Check out the guest players on each track!
The track listing and guest players for Fenriz Kindir are as follows: 
1. Fenris Kindir Grúa
2. Tungls Tjúgari: Peter Asp, horns.
3. Dólgrinn
4. Hatarnir: Lena Klarström: female vocals; Peter Asp: howling guitars.
5. Hamrami: Ljuder-Stefan Westberg: horns and violins.
6. Fenris Gangr
7. Vargøld: Olof Lindberg and Peter Asp: chorus and horns.
8. Angrboða: Lena Klarström: female vocals.
9. Úskepna
10. Spell
11. Sólbøls Sigr: Ljuder-Stefan Westberg: keyed fiddle (nyckelharpa) and violins.
12. Lycanthropia [Necromantia cover, bonus track on digital and LP editions]

My birthday is in May. I know what I will be reserving for myself. I can’t wait. 

Here’s a track from Arckanum’s last recording from 2011.

GUEST BLOG: Growing up with Lord Dying

Lord Dying, an emerging heavy metal band based in Portland, Oregon, combines an intense metal experience with lyrics on the darker side of human existence – songs about depression, doom and dismemberment, peppered with heavy riffs and a not-so-hidden distaste for humanity.

Lord Dying

I’ve (**see note below) known two of the band members – Chris Evans (guitar) and Erik Olson (guitar, vocals) since elementary school, growing up in Sandy, Utah. Chris was the kid who wore black Nirvana T-shirts to school in third grade and Erik’s parents’ basement was a noted pit stop for several bands on tour. We all loved music and played in bands off and on since middle school. Chris reminds me he’s been a metal fan since Erik gave him a copy of Megadeth’s Rust in Peace for his birthday in the fifth grade. This past fall I saw Lord Dying rock in Richmond, Virginia, during their last U.S. tour with the band Red Fang at a completely packed, sold out show. I recently chatted with Chris about their new album coming out this coming June on Relapse.

Since forming two and a half years ago, Lord Dying has developed their own sound and formed a clear metal style. The band consists of four members in addition to Chris and Erik, including Don Capuano (bass) and John Reid (drums). I asked Chris what influences their music and he tells me they draw on various styles such as thrash, doom and prog. He tells me his tastes are much broader now as he draws on other musicians than exclusively metal bands, for instance the classical guitarist Augustine Barrios, whose complex fingering techniques make their way into his own riffs.

Lord Dying has toured with bands such as Witch Mountain, Black Cobra, Gaza, Danava and most recently Down, lead by the singer of Pantera, where they played three shows together in Seattle, Portland and Boise, Idaho. In 2012 they played two U.S. tours, first with Witch Mountain and most recently with Red Fang. It was during this last tour they received their record deal from Relapse Records.

Erik, me and Chris at the Richmond, VA show.
“We were pretty much the last ones to find out,” Chris laughs, “It was a big surprise. One of the guys from Relapse kept calling us before the show to hang out and we didn’t know why.”
I ask Chris if it’s difficult to be on tour. “It’s definitely a lot of driving and waiting around for the thirty minutes we’re on stage, but it’s worth it. We play shows every night and never get enough sleep. But when we get home we want to be back out again.” They plan to continue touring this summer and line up bigger metal shows so they can promote their new album. 
Their musical process involves frequent collaboration and experimentation. Erik writes all the lyrics and song titles and has more lyrics written then they have songs for. After splitting up for awhile, Chris and Erik started playing together again when Erik moved to Portland and came over to jam.
“We wrote our first song right then. John and I started the band and were looking for another guitarist. When we jammed with Erik it all came together. We knew what we needed to do. The chemistry was still there.” Indeed, that first night they wrote their first song, “In a Frightful State of Gnawed Dismemberment”, which will appear on their full-length LP coming out in June (also available at here) and quickly started playing riffs and pouring out new songs. The band has remained in its current form since Erik joined.

For west-coasters, Lord Dying has two shows lined up in their home base of Portland, one at the venue Branx on March 8th, and Stump Fest on April 20th. You can follow them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/LordDying and Twitter at https://twitter.com/Lorddying for tour information and band updates. Expect to be blown away!

**NOTE: This blog post was written by my friend Jacob Koskimaki, who is super smart and works at the University of Virginia. Together with his friends from Lord Dying, we are converting him into a metalhead.

Full stream of Vreid – Welcome Farewell

Vreid, the Norwegian black and roll band that arose from the ashes of Windr in 2004, have a new record, Welcome Farewell, set for North American release March 5, 2013. Their blend of black metal, punky thrash and straightforward rock and roll combined with captivating song writing and lyrics puts them into my “what’s not to like?” category. I can put on any one of their albums and listen from start to finish without wanting to skip a song. I only hope a North American tour accompanies this release.

A recent press release about Vreid’s new recording describes the work this way:

Notorious for their well-researched, historically-inspired lyrics, the band’s third and fourth offerings, I Krig and Milorg, were both concept albums based around the liberation work in Norway during World War II. Liberation was also the keyword on VREID’s last offering, V, but placed in a broader historical/philosophic perspective. The lyrics on Welcome Farewell describe a lifecycle through a series of short stories, seen from an existential point of view and, inspired by Hváll’s own local community with its nature, architecture and historical artists such as Arne Garborg and Otto Valstad, are more personal than ever before.

The members of Vried are Hváll – Bass; Sture – Vocals/Guitar; Strom – Guitar and Steingrim – Drums.

www.vreid.no
www.facebook.com/vreidofficial?fref=ts
www.indierecordings.us

You can listen to a full stream of the new album here: 
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