I started working on this post a month ago, but kept shoving it off to the side due to more urgent commitments. As time passed, I found a few more tracks to include. But still, I haven’t had time to write what I intended to write about each of the releases included here, and I’m not sure when that time would come. So I’ve decided to let the music mainly speak for itself, and I’ve picked out only one song from each release for this playlist, though in most cases you’ll be able to hear the full release if you’re interested.
All of the releases in this compilation are crushers — doom crushers, to be precise. But they’re not all cut from the same cloth. Some are apocalyptic, some are narcotic, some have harsh vocals, some have clean singing, and one has no singing at all. So get ready to travel in the low and slow lane, and if you have an eggshell skull it might be better to strap on a protective helmet.
The first track I’ve chosen comes from the second album by Morbid Evils, a Finnish band that includes vocalist Keijo Niinimaa of Rotten Sound. Entitled Deceases, it examines the subject of death from various perspectives, blending elements of sludge, doom, drone, and black metal. The album will be released on August 25 by Svart Records.
“Case I: Murder” opens the album. I mentioned that some of the music in this compilation is apocalyptic, and this is the main example I had in mind. Thanks to a drum beat you can feel in your colon and massive, groaning riffs, it’s heavier than a ten-ton weight. The buzzing guitar leads and grating howls laid over all that crushing also give the song a pestilential cast, a feeling of disease methodically eating you from the inside out. There are also moments when it sounds like bombs going off, just in case the weeping sores don’t finish you off.
Horrific, cold, and mad — this is staggeringly good.
The next song is “Wanderer of the Cosmic Void” and it’s one of two long tracks on Cosmic Void, the debut EP by the French psychedelic sludge band Owl Coven. The EP will be released on July 27 by Oakland-based Transylvanian Tapes, and it’s available for download now at Bandcamp.
The guitar reverberations and chilling vocal sample at the outset create a haunting but perilous atmosphere, but Owl Coven also demonstrate their ability to pound flesh and bone into goo and fragments. No clean vocals on this track, but instead a ghastly, serrated, blood-freezing sound. Relatively clean guitars surface again, unspooling a slithering, swirling melody that’s part opium dream and part cobra-swaying poison. The song will get heads nodding, too, because this coven begin to rock in the second half — punctuating their movement with an hallucinatory, squalling solo that’s a real head trip.
The Australian solo instrumentalist Judd Madden is prolific. Under his own name he has released 9 albums since 2010, and he has at least one other project that I know of, and maybe more. The newest release under his own name, which appeared on July 22nd, is an album with the wondrous title Cosmic Black Wizard Demon Horse Lord.
“Obliterate” is the second track on the album. Good name for it, though the serious demolition work doesn’t begin until Madden first gets his hooks in your head with a rumbling, tumbling drum progression to open the song. After that, it’s all pounding, crawling, and moaning, heavy enough to plow furrows in the cold graveyard earth through which the music drags its chain-bound listeners. Madden will mess with your sanity, too, using the noxious, unearthly tones of his guitar as his vicious tool. After that, things get more animated, more intense, more neck-snapping, more delirious — and no less crushing.
Bow down before your cosmic black wizard demon horse lord.
With that instrumental-only Judd Madden track acting as a sort of segue, now I’ll move into music that features clean vocals — but trust me, the music is no less crushing, and that’s perhaps especially true of the next band in this playlist.
Dwoom are based in Skellefteå, Sweden, and their line-up includes three members of the excellent death metal band Feral. On June 7 the Swedish label Bloodsoaked Records released Dwoom’s debut effort, an EP called Pale Mare Demo MMXVII.
The last of the three tracks on the demo is “Empty Temples“. On the one hand, the riffs are slaughtering, thanks to the kind of “warm” HM-2 guitar tone that sounds like an overheated rock crusher. On the other hand, that punishing heaviness is leavened with ethereal guitar melodies that sound sorcerous. On the third hand, the vibrant clean vocals bring to mind classic doom progenitors, but with an edge of grit. On the fourth hand, the song builds to a torrent of hard-rocking, obliterating sound loaded with hellish occult vibe. A damned good, dynamic mix of energy and contrasting sounds.
On July 14 Prosthetic Records released the debut album of a Minneapolis band named Livid. The album has a great title, which is entirely suitable for the music: Beneath This Shroud, The Earth Erodes.
I’ve picked the track “Nothing” as the next song for this Saturday playlist. The guitar tone on this track is massive, vibrating with radioactive hostility, and the bass line and drum smashes are of the bridge-collapsing variety. While they’re doing their highly destructive work on your skeletal integrity, the vocalist sends his voice aloft in wails of agony and anguish. It’s a transfixing combination — utterly hopeless, to be sure, but quite mesmerizing, all the way up to the end, when it sounds like everything is falling apart.
P.S. On August 15th Live Fast Die Recordings will release a vinyl Livid split with the Minnesota band No Funeral, which is also well worth checking out. It’s available for order HERE and is streaming HERE.
King Zog come from Perth, Australia, and their self-titled debut album, released on May 1, is the source of the final song here. I was drawn to this music by the fabulous cover art created by Dominic Sohor Design (UK). The full gatefold piece is damned sweet too:
Though I was tempted, for obvious reasons, to pick a song called “Fuck Island“, I instead chose the album’s penultimate track, “Witchsmoker“. There’s fucking in this song, too — it tells the tale of a man who slept with a Suffolk witch and burned with her at the stake in 1599.
As he burned he watched her there
mad dance, flaming hair
A tall stranger turned and said
“They look so good in red”
Of all the songs in this post, “Witchsmoker” is the swampiest, the bluesiest, the most narcotic — still heavier than the crowd at a Denny’s all-you-can-eat buffet, and plenty bleak, but a wickedly head-moving rocker, too. The vocalist has an impressive set of pipes, and the guitar solo that comes at you in the second half is delicious. Eat up! (Wouldn’t hurt to smoke up, too.)