Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Wizzerd spins a tale of high fantasy, a sonorous Silmarillion

Wizzerd's latest, a self-titled double LP that happens to be an adventurous concept album to be the band's sophomore effort, released back on March 29th, debuted at number 7 in that month's Doom Chart.  This is a smokin' hot album that makes love to your ear holes, it penetrates you, it permeates you, it leaves you a sweaty, sticky mess afterward and you don't mind it at all. In fact, you want to drop the needle on the first track, "Druggernaut," and embrace it all again!  Damn, what a ride!

While the entire band, which hails from Kalispell, Montana, had story ideas and input into the project, ultimately, the development of the concept behind the LP is the brainchild of Phoenix (drummer Samael Moore).  It's a high fantasy tale, straight out of Dungeons & Dragons.

The album's narrative goes like this:

"A mysterious figure has usurped the throne of the great king...  The lands are in turmoil and people are dying.  A plague has spread across the lands, from ocean to ocean... but there is still hope!

Four heroes, accompanied by an immortal spirit, are on a journey to kill the usurper, end the plague, and save the land.  They come from the four corners of Great Gaia's Green World:

The Dragon, a fearsome rogue, a legend of his time, he slayed the Grand Elder Dragon of the Great Desert bringing a permanent end to the Age of Fire.

The Warrior, his family was killed in the first siege of the doomed.  Mortally wounded, he dragged himself into the the magickal Ancient Forest where he was blessed by the Dryad of the Elder Wood to become the Protector of the Natural World.

The Wizard, an elderly wiseman, a reclusive intellectual known by no name, who wields the power to bend reality.  He has witnessed mountains crumble, and oceans dry.  He has seen the Apprentice become the Adversary.

The Phoenix, an undying madman, his origins and purpose shrouded in mystery.  He has dwelled where the mountain tops meet the moon, and flown to where the sea meets the sky.

The Wraith, an aeons-old inter-dimensional immortal spirit, whose purpose is to bring about and maintain balance between all realities.  He rides within the AEther, observing all of times most crucial events.

The Wizzerd, the evil ruler who has usurped the throne from its rightful king.  He is the mastermind behind the devastating plague known as "The Doom."  His lust for power driven by KAEOS, has lead him to use his powerful crystal talisman to rob the people of the world of their souls, giving him magickal power beyond comprehension.

Will our heroes bring balance to their world, or will they perish at the hand of the Wizzerd?"

Wizzerd's structure is much like a fantasy novel - the opening track, that is the bonus track on the vinyl edition "Druggernaut," is a prologue.  The meat and potatoes of the story comes in the next three "chapters" or songs, leaving the final six songs to sort of serve of an appendix, or perhaps you can think of it as sort of a musical Silmarillion, as the final six tracks are essentially character sketches, one for each of the four heroes, plus their ethereal companion the Wraith, (ultimately the band's alter egos) and then one for the evil Usurper. Another interesting point fans of Wizzerd's debut album may notice, each of the four heroes, leaving aside the Wraith a more recent addition, represent one of the four regions from the debut album, "Desert," "Forest," "Ocean," and "Sky."  Dragon is desert, Warrior is forest, Wizard is Ocean and Phoenix is sky.

The album opens up with the epic track "Druggernaut," available only on the vinyl release.  It clocks in a shade over 14 minutes and serves as a prologue to the album, telling the tale of a monstrous being of stone, smoke and drug that crashes into a water planet.  The Druggernaut walks across this water world, crumbling into nothingness as he goes, completely falling apart creating the land of Gaia.  Philosophically, the band seems to be playing with the idea that every act of destruction is an act of creation.

This towering tune just oozes cool personality, and to be frank, it is reminiscent of another band that makes music in this genre, in a good way, and that is the mighty Sleep.  But "Druggernaut" is, for a lack of a better term, cleaner than anything Sleep has done.  That's not to say the fuzz isn't there, it is in the form of Jhalen Salazar (aka Dragon) and Jamie Yeats' (aka Wizard) guitars, but Layne Matkovich (aka Warrior) plays his bass so pure and insistent in the mix. It's the stand-out instrument here.
I have to mention Dragon's vocals on this one.  He absolutely fuckin' killed it!  It sounds like a duet, but in actually Jhalen handles all vocals.  Mad respect!

The album commences in earnest with "Great Mother Gaia," a balls out rocker. If you picked up the CD or purchased the download, this is where your album begins, and that's not a bad thing, this track will blow your drawers off. And, if you're not wearing any, all the better. If it wasn't for the instrumental coda on this tune I'd swear it was a Ramones or Black Flag cover.  It ultimately clocks in just a second under six minutes, but it has the feel of a Ramones three minute blitzkrieg until the lyrics conclude and the tempo changes pace for the remainder of the tune. 

I love the outro and how "Gaia" blends into the next track,"Kings of Esbat." I believe that's the work of  Wayne Randall (aka Wraith) on synthesizer, organ, audiomancy, and voice.

"Kings of Esbat" was the initial single from this release, back in February. This tune tells the tale of the Usurper claiming the throne.  It builds slowly at first, unwinding with a riffing guitar that climbs during the chorus.  The drums are kind of buried in the mix on this one until an odd little interlude where we're treated to the band's versatility as they bring in a mandolin (Wizard), a violin (Dragon) and a cello (Warrior), but I noticed the drums at this point also, crisply audible for the first time during the song.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the glassy, closing solo on this one.

"The Doomed" is a mid tempo jam, relaying the conditions of the plague to the listener.  Bleak indeed.  "A dark, demonic fright/ Has spread across the land" and "Plague has taken your soul/The Doomed shall soon become us all..." There's no mistaking Phoenix's drums here.  They're bold and out front on this one.  For such grim subject matter, this song is really one of the more upbeat tunes on the album. 
The jazzy character sketch "Dragon" opens side C, and is one of the more catchy tunes on the album, one that'll quickly have you singing along to the chorus.  "Black resin builds in your lungs/This Great War has only begun/Foul demon with vile smoke/He takes your life with every toke."

A drum roll at precisely the five minute mark signals an ass kicking is about to occur.  The tune breaks it into some high octane shit at that stage.  Gone is jazzy first two thirds of the song, replaced with some thrashing Pantera would have been proud to perform.  The lyrics are no longer sung but spit out, then, with about 1:22 remaining, the tempo changes again, into a loose chug and jam.

"Warrior" opens with a verbal telling of the character's tale, followed by the pounding of drums and a rising call to arms until Dragon begins to bellow the lyrics.  The colossal vocal delivery from Dragon on "Warrior" is a treat for your cochlea.  This is the vocal highlight of the album in my opinion, the sheer heights he hits here are stunning.  And the chorus calls of "WARRIOR!" just make you want to experience this one live, with its namesake's rumbling bass and the repetitive shouts.

Next... Did I hear a xylophone on this one?  "Wizard" kind of fooled me.  It was jamming along and I was expecting it to really kick in and cut loose with the crunchy guitar and drums well before it did.  Instead it took an atmospheric turn and put that off for a moment, and the song ultimately is curve ball on an album of mostly balls out rockers.  An interesting change-up pitch.                                     

"Phoenix:" the interwoven vocals and the washboard playing during the acoustic interlude really stood out to me.  Oddly, no washboard playing is credited in the linear notes.  Did I aurally hallucinate while doing repeated playbacks of this track for review?

Was that a didgeridoo?  The organ intro to "Wraith" signals that something very different is about to be unleashed.  Very different indeed.  The crawling, creepy guitar, the gritty vocals, the loping drumming, the synthesizers, everything about this track is unique on this album and it reminded me of something the Devon Townsend Project might have done.

The final track is dedicated to the protagonist, the usurper, the Wizzerd himself.  It's a fast-paced fantasy rocker, very much in the vein of what you'd expect from bands like Blind Guardian, until it reaches the chorus, where it slows down into more traditional doom territory.  After a verse-chorus, verse-chorus run through, the song collapses into a wall of sound to close out the album.

A powerful album, that gets better with each subsequent listen.  After my first two or three listens of it I knew I liked the album, but I wasn't convinced of it's greatest yet.  I was drawn in by songs "Warrior," "Dragon," "Phoenix" and "Wraith."  After I received my vinyl copy and I heard the Sleep-like quality in "Druggernaut," I think my interest in the album stepped up a whole new level.  This album deserves a lot more attention globally than it has been getting, and I'd really like to see it in several end of the year lists, preferably near the top.  I rate this album a damn near perfect score - 98.

Facebook Here.
Bandcamp Here.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

The Origins of the Heavy Metal Battle Jacket

The front of the battle jacket I recently completed.
At a metal or rock show battle vests and battle jackets are a pretty common site.  They're conversation starters, show pieces, pop art, ways for people to recognize one another, and so on. A battle jacket is a personal statement, depicting bands that are meaningful to the wearer.  Often times, the patches and pins sported on a battle vest or battle jacket will have been collected one at a time, by attending a show of each band represented, and sewn on the vest over the course of months or years.

The back of my recently completed battle jacket.
It seems an odd thing, metal heads who listen to the likes of Cannibal Corpse or Amon Amarth, Sleep or High On Fire, sitting around at a festival with a beer,  needle and thread during their down time, sewing their latest additions to their collection on their battle vest, but certain enough, this is not an uncommon site.

But that is just one way to assemble a collection of patches to make a battle jacket or battle vest.  With the internet available these days there are a number of online outlets, eBay, Facebook patch and Battle vest groups, etc. where a metal head can find a wide variety of patches and pins, including vintage '80s patches and band buttons.

But where did these heavy metal staples get their beginnings?  What are the origins of the common battle jacket?

The battle jacket actually got its start during, as one might expect due to the term "Battle," conflict between nations, specifically, during the years of World War II.

Air Force corpsmen would decorate their leather flight jackets with the insignia of their squadron.  They would include the number kills they were responsible for so they could have bragging rights, sexy women in various stages of undress were commonly depicted as well.  As the war went one, they added to their jackets items including pop culture icons such as Bug Bunny, Donald Duck and others.

Upon the war ending, these fly boys found themselves at home with nothing to do and many of them took up riding motorcycles for adventure.  In the meantime, they had discovered that the paint had flaked off their leather jackets and that it was much easier to sew patches onto denim, and that denim also would protect them while riding their motorcycles, so many riders switched over to denim for their club battle jackets.

As the 60's arrived there were two prevailing groups that lent themselves to the development of the battle jacket.  Both groups, the 60's gangsters and Woodstock era hippies, were dedicated to free self expression, rebelliousness, defying the norms and generally being a nuisance to the establishment.

These two outfits sort of merged with the rolling over of the calendar into the 70's.  Rock (now days referred to as classic rock) punk and heavy metal, arrived on the scene as if out of nowhere.  Band fashion was copied by the fans.

The punks were the first to incorporate customized jackets into their look, adding metal spikes to their jackets, something the heavy metal crowd would later adopt.

Perhaps the two men most responsible for influencing the leather and denim look among metal heads are Judas Priest's Rob Halford, and Motörhead's Lemmy Kilminster.  Halford is an aficionado of the leather and spikes look, while Lemmy was always seen wearing denim.

A battle jacket is a deeply personal thing and making one can be a rewarding experience.  Is it time for you to start collecting patches and look for the right piece of denim or leather, to start your jacket or vest.  I was 45 before I began my first one, pictured at the top of the page, sleeves at the bottom.

Editor's Note: Most of these photos were taken as the result of random searches of the net.  If you see one and know the owner or are the owner please feel free to message me for photo credit or to have it removed.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Green Lung's Woodland Rites early favorite for Album of the Year

South London's Green Lung dropped an album perhaps destined to be named Album Of the Year on at least a few lists back on March 20th.  Impressively, Woodland Rites debuted at number one in that month's Doom Chart poll and perhaps more impressively, the album has lingered in the countdown ever since, holding down the number 22 position after the June balloting was over and done with.

The band had released the Free the Witch EP in February of 2018 as a four piece and the Green Man Rising demo in June of 2017 before that.  It was the addition of organist John Wright to the existing chemistry of Tom Templar (vox), Scott Black (guitar), Andrew Cave (bass), and Matt Wiseman (drums) that gave Green Lung that extra kick on Woodland Rites that was missing on the previous two releases.

The album has received universal praise from sources such as The Obelisk, The Guardian, Doomed and Stoned, Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, and the list of doom media outlets singing the album's praises just goes on and on.  Add to it I Talk To Planets as it is most assuredly among a small handful of albums that are currently in the running to be named our Album of the Year as we reach 2019's midway point.

From the moment the needle drops on the opening track,"Initiation," and you hear the sounds of bird calls, soon joined by a gentle acoustic guitar strumming before the band cuts loose and lets you know this is going to be a heavy release, with Sabbathian overtones and plenty of witchery afoot.  Of course images from the film Wicker Man instantly rushed to the forefront of my mind.  It was my entry point into this genre all those years ago.

The songs on side one get progressively longer as the record goes on, "Initiation" at 2:33, "Woodland Rites" at 4:33, "Let the Devil In" checking in at an even five minutes and "The Ritual Tree" at 6:48.  It's my view that Green Lung is at its absolute best on the longer jams.  "The Ritual Tree," "May Queen," and "Into the Wild," all 6:41 or longer, are the strongest entries on the record, in my mind at least.

So, what can I say about the music itself that hasn't already been said?  It's riff driven drugged out doom, steeped in the occult, chock full of towering solos, a deep low end, and a smattering of samples thrown in for good measure.  You can practically smell the pine needles and feel the candle wax dripping as a druidic ritual is carried out deep in the forest.

It's good clean fun if your idea of good clean fun involves a ritual sacrifice, a bacchanal, and Green Lung center stage blaring out tracks from Woodland Rites as the evening's main event. Turn that shit up to 11 and tear off the knob! 100!

Bandcamp. Here.
Facebook. Here.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

AC/DC, how do the two eras of the band stack up against one another?

Brian Johnson (left) and Bon Scott (right).
I know this is mainly a stoner rock page, but every now and then I like to write about something else rock and roll related and today and I'm rating the two eras of the rock group AC/DC, and comparing what I think are the band's best 25 songs from each era of the group, Bon Scott's era fronting the band and since Brian Johnson took over vocal duties, screw Axl and his 15 minutes of fame, especially considering he didn't record with the band, thank god!

So, let's begin.

Bon Scott - Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, 1976)
Brian Johnson - Thunderstruck (The Razor's Edge, 1990)

Bon Scott - Touch Too Much (Highway to Hell, 1979)
Brian Johnson - Cover You in Oil (Ballbreaker, 1995)

Bon Scott - Big Balls (Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, 1976)
Brian Johnson - Rock N Roll Train (Black Ice, 2008)

Bon Scott - The Jack (High Voltage, 1976)
Brian Johnson - Rock Your Heart Out (The Razor's Edge, 1990)
Bon Scott - T.N.T. (High Voltage, 1976)*
Brian Johnson - Danger (Fly On The Wall, 1985)

Bon Scott - Rocker (Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, 1976)
Brian Johnson - Rock And Roll Ain't Noise Pollution (Back In Black, 1980)

Bon Scott - Jailbreak (74' Jailbreak, 1984)
Brain Johnson - Are You Ready (The Razor's Edge, 1990)

Bon Scott - Girl's Got Rhythm (Highway to Hell, 1979)
Brian Johnson - Play Ball (Rock or Bust, 2014)

Bon Scott - Shot Down in Flames (Highway to Hell, 1979)
Brian Johnson - Shoot to Thrill (Back in Back, 1980)

Bon Scott - Squealer (Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, 1976)
Brian Johnson - Sink the Pink (Fly On The Wall, 1985)

Bon Scott - Highway to Hell (Highway to Hell, 1979)
Brian Johnson - Moneytalks (The Razor's Edge, 1990)

Bon Scott - Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be (Let There Be Rock, 1977)
Brian Johnson - Big Guns (The Last Action Hero Soundtrack, 1993)

Bon Scott - Go Down (Let There Be Rock, 1977)
Brian Johnson - Shake Your Foundations (Fly On The Wall, 1985)

Bon Scott - If You Want Blood (You've Got It) (Highway to Hell, 1979)
Brian Johnson - Playing With Girls (Fly on the Wall, 1985)

Bon Scott - Love at First Feel (Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, 1976)
Brian Johnson -Stiff Upper Lip (Stiff Upper Lip, 2000)

Bon Scott - Whole Lotta Rosie (Let There Be Rock, 1977)
Brian Johnson - For Those About To Rock (We Salute You) (For Those About To Rock, 1981)

Bon Scott - It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll) (High Voltage, 1976)*
Brian Johnson - Heatseeker (Blow Up Your Video, 1988)

Bon Scott - What's Next to the Moon (Powerage, 1978)
Brian Johnson - Flick Of the Switch (Flick Of the Switch, 1983)

Bon Scott - Ride On (Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, 1976)
Brian Johnson - Evil Walks (For Those About To Rock, 1981)

Bon Scott - Rock 'n' Roll Damnation (Powerage, 1978)
Brian Johnson - Who Made Who (Who Made Who, 1986)

Bon Scott - Nigh Prowler (Highway to Hell, 1979)
Brian Johnson - Have a Drink On Me (Back In Black, 1980)

Bon Scott - Riff Raff (Powerage, 1978)
Brian Johnson - War Machine (Black Ice, 2008)

Bon Scott - Cold Hearted Man (Powerage#, 1978)
Brian Johnson - Let Me Put My Love Into You (Back In Black, 1980)

Bon Scott - Walk All Over You (Highway to Hell, 1979)
Brian Johnson - Hell's Bells (Back In Black, 1980)

Bon Scott - Let There Be Rock (Let There Be Rock, 1977)
Brian Johnson - Back In Black (Back In Black, 1980)

Okay, it's done.  And YES!  I realize there is a glaring omission.  I'm sick to death of that song so I did not include it, sue me.  You don't like my list, PLEASE, I entreat you, make yours and do it in my comments section and share with me and my readers.

*Originally appeared on an Australian only release.
# European edition only.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Blood of the Sun smoked my cerebellum

Blood Of The Sun's latest release Blood's Thicker Than Love keep's the intensity comin' from the initial drop of the needle all the way through the final run-out.  While the band didn't lay down as many tracks on this new album, with six, as they did on 2013's Burning On the Wing's of Desire, eight, the run time is extended by three minutes, 38 minutes then vs. 41 minutes now, so we're treated to longer, meatier jams this time out.  And those jams do not disappoint.

The opening track may be the most memorable, simply for it's title and chorus, "Keep the Lemmys Comin'."  Of course, on January 12, 2016, after Ian Fraser Kilmister, or "Lemmy" died on December 28, 2015, Food and Beverage magazine officially named the Jack and Coke "The Lemmy."  This song obviously honors the spirit both literally and sort of piously.  It's a dirge to the shit faced lifestyle:

"I gotta Keep drinking/I can't stop thinking/ready to hit the floor/Keep the the Lemmys Comin' All night long/ ready to lose control."

And the next morning:

"looking in the mirror/nothing seems clearer/what was the name of that girl?/Cutting through the fog/get the hair of the dog/and I'm ready to rock and roll/Keep the Lemmys comin' all day long and I'm ready to lose control"

All set to a blistering guitar and some smokin' keys, played by Dave Gryder, on top of a driving rhythm section.  This is a hell of a lot of fun and it's just the opening track.

Now I've got to admit, the title of the second song didn't catch me, at all... "My Time."  But after about 1:59 I was really starting to get into it.  "If you don't like it hit the road," indeed.  About the three minute mark the guitar just takes over this song completely, and man, I was ever wrong about this one.  Do not judge a song just because it may have a title that doesn't catch your eye.  This guitar solo fucking SMOKES!!!  And the organ does just enough to compliment it.

"Livin' For the Night," an epic eight minute jam is up next.  It's so easy to praise the guitar and organ work on every song, and the vocals, belted out by Sean Vargas, are solid, they're cleanish, gruff, but clean delivery style, the rhythm section kind of gets lost in the shuffle.  But on this tune in particular the bass, handled ably by Roger "Kip" Yma, and drums, played by Henry Vasquez, chug right along at a thunderous pace.  They just lay down such a powerful bottom end you can really feel it in the pit of your stomach with any volume of appreciable levels at all.

The twin guitar attack of Wyatt Burton and Alex Johnson is brutal.  Their playing on the "Air Rises As You Drown" is nothing short of an aural assault.

My favorite vocal on the album belongs to the fifth track, "Stained Glass Window," a tune about a bad relationship.  It also has some of the more unique keyboard work, not necessarily the best, but certainly different than what appears on much of the remainder of the album.  It's got almost a church hymnal like sound, which may be the point.

"Blood Off the Road" closes the album.  I LOVE the keyboard work to open this one. It is reminiscent of Deep Purple and many of their "hard driving tunes."

Basically this album fucking blew me away and I didn't expect that.  I was familiar with Blood of the Sun's body of work and while I had enjoyed it, I was NOT prepared for a slab of rock and roll this smoking hot.  Honestly, released this late in the year, it has to make me re-evaluate my current list of albums I was assembling for my year end Top 25 Releases From 2018, because it may earn a slot.

I rate this album a damn near perfect 95/100. 

An early November release, I certainly look for this one to make next month's Doom Chart.
You can get a copy of Blood of the Sun's new album here.
Blood Of the Sun on Facebook

Friday, November 2, 2018

FINALLY, I saw Monster Magnet Live

Monster Magnet (l to r): Dave Wydorf- guitar, vocals, electronics, Phil
Caivano - guitar, Garrett Sweeney - lead guitar, (Bob Pantella obscured
 - drums), and Chris Kosnik - bass.
After 28 years of fandom I FINALLY was able to see Monster Magnet, my all-time favorite band, perform live last week in Nashville.  My friends, it was every bit worth the wait. 

Dave Wyndorf, who turned 62 this past Sunday, October 28th, looked like he was still in his 30s, dancing around, doing high kicks with bassist Chris Kosnik, and switch from mic, to guitar to electronics with ease all during songs.

The band careened through a dozen tunes over and hour and half set that included a 20 minute encore where the band did an extended jam of "Spine of God" that included a snippet of Don McLean's classic tune "American Pie."  After slowing things down with "Spine" the band blew the roof off the joint when they closed with a rollicking version of "Powertrip."

Since Monster Magnet had not played Nashville dating back to its heyday back in the Powertrip/God Says No era of the group, Dave and company made certain to play a "hits" heavy set list.  While I would have preferred a show teaming with deep cuts myself, I would have been happy with Monster Magnet playing a Chinese menu or the phone book after waiting 28 years to see them live in all honesty.  So I can't complain too much.

The band opened with "Dopes To Infinfity" before dipping into the new material off of the latest release Mindfucker, playing a smoking version of the opeing track "Rocket Freak."  "Twin Earth," the lead single from Superjuedge many moons ago came next, followed by the title cut off the new album.  "Radiation Day" kind of surprised me.  I honestly would have expected "Unbroken (Hotel Baby)" from Monolithic Baby! if any track was going to be played from that album, or possibly "Master of Light" due to its inclusion on the Torque soundtrack, but I digress.

Laura Dolan of Electric Citizen stage right.
"Look to Your Orb For the Warning," a track that appeared in The Matrix and on the official soundtrack for that film, came next.  Then "Dinosaur Vacuum" from Superjudge and then back to the new album again for "When the Hammer Comes Down."  Monster Magnet closed out the main set with its two biggest hits, first off "Negasonic Teenage Warhead," which has become more of a household name among Deadpool moviegoers over the past couple years thanks to the character portrayed by Brianna Hildebrand, followed by the huge sing-a-long hit "Spacelord."

Support came from a local Nashville group, fellow New Jersey act Dark Sky Choir (who frankly slayed the audience) and Electric Citizen (Who I wrote about on this month's Doom Chart.)  Electric Citizen have a new album out called Helltown, and it's pretty damn good, so check it out here.

Monday, July 2, 2018

...and Five More You Should be Spinning!

Each month after the Doom Charts are released we'll take a step back to let people digest the 25 albums in that countdown, then we'll follow up with five more albums that we think you should be spinning in addition to the albums that MADE the Doom Charts.  Call this an addendum, or whatever you want, it's not necessarily the next five albums, as these were NOT voted on by the Doom Charts committee, but in all likelihood they did come from my ballot.  Without further ado I give you a Further Five you should be spinning...

Take one part Sabbath, one part Jane's Addiction, one part Mastodon, and one part Pink Floyd, throw in a dash of Hendrix and maybe a touch of Clutch, and the final product hails from the Pacific Northwest, cruising in on the spaceship rock and roll is Jollymon with their new nine-cut LP Voidwalker.

From the opening track "Tsunami" washing over you with it's monster stomp and sweet melodies and the claim that "We come in peace, but not the kind of peace you're used to see(ing)," to the processional march of "Sky Burial," this is one special release, deserving of 40 minutes of your attention, you know, just to get to know one another.  I think after you've been introduced properly, you'll want to spend even more time together, exploring deeper cuts, like bass in your face goodness of "Missile Commander," the groovy "Forecast" and reggae inspired "Slice of Life."

Up next is Bang with Best Of..., a compilation of the band's best tracks from it's first three albums released between 1971 and 1973.  This gorgeous double LP has been given a lot of TLC by label Ripple Music and it shows.

The poignant opener "Death of a Country," which could very easily have been written about present day America instead of 1971, is the 10 and half minute standout on the record, with a sultry bass line and urgent lyrics delivered in a crisp, smooth style.  The guitar tones are sharp and fill in around the bass nicely.  Other top tracks on this 18 track monster include "Our Home," the band's one charting hit song titled "Questions," "Mother," "Don't Need Nobody" and "Slow Down."  Bang is back!

Coming to you from the wilds of Quebec is Cleõphüzz with their new release Wizard of phüzz.

Though just a four song EP, it rates up there with some of the best releases of the year so far in 2018 IMHO.  A twister transports you to the world of Oz where you're off to meet the wizard in the classic tale The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.  You're not in Kansas anymore.  So it's only appropriate that one is similarly transported to the world of phüzz by this time a "Sandstorm," the 7:11 killer instrumental that opens the EP, and indeed, Kansas goes bye-bye, in exchange you find yourself in the rockin' desert, possibly of New Mexico or California.  Somewhere where stoner rock is prevalent.

Fuzz tones, or should I say phüzz tones, abound throughout the EP and the third cut, the middle eastern sounding centerpiece "Half Moon Ritual," features cello play as well as sitar.  This lush little 28 minute EP is a breath of fresh air for the summer and is a must buy.

One that just missed making the Doom Charts this past month is the kick ass album from El Rojo, 16 Inches Radial.  This one, from the five piece out of Morano Calabro, Italy, will make you want to drive your car fast and maybe do something stupid, like run from the cops in the process, haha, the lead track particularly will have you revving your engine - "Pontiac."

I can see myself easily blasting this behind the wheel of a 1977 black Pontiac Trans-Am Smokey and the Bandit style, running down the road doing 95 mph on the open interstate on a Coors beer run, working interference for Snowman. 

"We know the road."


Finally we come to the six cut deep album North from a band that combines and crosses multiple genres, including southern rock, grunge, 90s metal, and more.  Of course, I'm referring to Reykjavik, Iceland's Keelrider.  Released back in early March, this album has flown under the radar for far too long considering how strong it is.  It has clean, solid vocals reminiscent of Screaming Tree's Mark Lanegan, in my mind at least. 

While the grunge and 90s rock influences are easily detectable, this album is still rooted firmly in the stoner tradition, with the fuzzed out guitars and it has bears some 70s influences, though they are not as blatant as some of the other inspirations.  You have to listen attentively to pick them out in the mix.  All in all, though it's a kick butt record, reminds me of Mad Season, the best parts of Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, and the aforementioned Screaming Trees, but with a stoner rock twist.

Go North young man.