Premonition 13 – 13

Premonition 13

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Scott ‘Wino’ Weinrich has been at the forefront of stoner and doom metal for a good twenty-five years now, in an incredible career in which he can count himself a part of Saint Vitus, The Obsessed, Spirit Caravan, and many, many more besides. The man is a true living legend, and like all good living legends within the wider rock community, the man just does not stop. Having got extremely prolific lately with his solo projects and Shrinebuilder, he returns here with ‘13’, the debut album by his latest project, Premonition 13.

Wino revealed in a recent interview that he and guitarist Jim Karow had been jamming together for nearly two decades prior to writing and recording ‘13’, inspired by a love of ancient cultures, particularly the Mesoamerican. It begins atmospherically, the gradual, airy build-up achieved through the e-bow guitar, forming the introduction to ‘B.E.A.U.T.Y.’, the album’s longest song, which when it kicks in, reeks of Place of Skulls-esque riffery. It slips back into this ambience further on. Measuring in at nearly nine minutes long, it’s a laid back rocker that could only be created under the desert sun.
The album rocks up a little more with the reckless abandon ‘Hard To Say’, flash with some incredible soloing from Wino, and the heavy stomp of ‘Clay Pigeons’. It then simmers back down into psychedelic territory in ‘Senses’, which creates a real laid-back vibe, given how mellow the song is. The album heads back into typical Wino domain with ‘La Hechicera de la Jeringa’ – building up with a prelude before hitting you with Sabbathian riffage. It doesn’t stand out for me, particularly against Wino’s huge body of work, but it’s still a quality tune nonetheless.
The album loosens up again a little later on with ‘Deranged Rock ‘N’ Roller’, a song somewhat Motorhead in spirit, and the anthemic ‘Modern Man’, which sees Karow given a chance to shine by taking over on vocal duties. He does an effective job and  the song has a simple yet cracking chorus. These forays into good-time territory are unusual but certainly welcome; that is, until closer ‘Peyote Road’ which reclines with Wino almost evoking the spirits of the plains against the hum of the e-bow. You could picture yourself in the desert staring at nightfall whilst listening to this song, it truly creates that impression. It winds the album down in much the same way ‘B.E.A.U.T.Y.’ introduced it, and provides a perfect companion piece in respect.
One sense you get from this album is that Wino is really having fun here. There’s a real passion in his voice, particularly as ‘Clay Pigeons’ kicks in. When he shouts ‘uh!’ , his heart and soul is right in the song. He’s definitely in the zone. On more than one occasion, there’s a real power in his voice, defying the darker approach that marauds his work in Saint Vitus and The Obsessed and the melancholy that was evident on his incredible acoustic album, ‘Adrift’. That’s certainly unusual but it’s not out of place, and his trademark style still has plenty to show here. He’s more than ably assisted by Karow, who doesn’t miss the opportunities to shine; and by the rhythm section of drummer Matthew Clark (Ostinato) and bassist Brian Daniloski (ex-Meatjack), both of whom add significant backbone to the mix.
It’s not quite classic Wino, not by any stretch, but it’s another solid offering involving the overlord of stoner and doom metal, another line on the resumé, and another body of work that fans of his work (and those less familiar) shouldn’t go without.
Peter Clegg

End of Level Boss ‘Eklectric’ album launch – tomorrow!

Just received notification that London’s quirky stoner-metallers End of Level Boss are belatedly launching their album ‘Eklectric’ (which we briefly reviewed here) at a show at the address listed on the flyer above, taking place tomorrow night (Saturday 30th July)! And as you can see, genre-defying instrumentalists Astrohenge are supporting too. Furthermore, it’s totally free! So if you’ve got nothing too and quickly need a plan (and you’re within reach of this venue, unlike myself), get yourself down there – it’s sure to be a damn good night.

(Cheers to Lauren from Rarely Unable for the heads up)

Peter Clegg

New stuff: Opeth/Mastodon

The spate of quality albums coming out lately is nothing short of stupendous, and anticipation is high for two of metal’s biggest hitters, Opeth and Mastodon, both of whom have released songs from their new albums this week to tease fans for what’s to come.

‘The Devil’s Orchard’ is the first single to be released from Opeth’s tenth album, ‘Heritage’, and in my opinion, it’s quality stuff. While there’s no guttural vocals from Åkerfeldt it’s classic Opeth, punctuated now and again with the refrain ‘God is dead’. About halfway through, the progressive influences really kick in, and you can definitely feel the likes of King Crimson and Yes being called and conjured in there. It’s Opeth, but not as we know it, and I’m digging it!

I see there’s been a lot of nay-saying about Opeth’s planned direction with this album. Åkerfeldt has spoken openly about Opeth embracing their progressive influences and was pretty clear about ‘Heritage’ not including any death metal vocals. You can’t say you weren’t warned. If you don’t like it for what it is musically, then fair enough, that I can accept. But just because the Cookie Monster doesn’t make an appearance doesn’t suddenly make it bad. Kids, get off your high horse. Kudos to Opeth for not giving a damn and actually making a record they want to make, instead of satisfying what everybody else wants. Check it out below.
Opeth – The Devil’s Orchard

Additionally, Mastodon have released the first cut from their new album ‘The Hunter’, in the shape of ‘Black Tongue’. Mastodon have somehow managed to put out killer album after killer album – just when you think they can’t get any better, they seem to defy expectation.
The metal community seems to be going nuts for this track, and I couldn’t resist checking it out either, being a huge Mastodon fan. I’m not sure if my expectations got the better of me on this one though. ‘Black Tongue’ is a good song, without question. There’s a few interesting riffs in there, and it has that ‘Blood Mountain’ vibe about it, which isn’t a bad thing at all. That said, I’m not sure it’s all its cracked up to be. I’ve listened to it a few times and there’s nothing sticking in my head yet. That said, there’s still plenty time. ‘The Hunter’ isn’t out for another few weeks yet. That’s another few weeks for ‘Black Tongue’ to attempt to grow on me, and Mastodon have yet to disappoint. I just hope the decision to ditch another concept album in favour of ‘having more fun’ (as evidenced in the promo shot above) doesn’t mean a less-than-excellent album.
Mastodon – Black Tongue
Opeth’s ‘Heritage’ is released through Roadrunner on September 19th in the UK. Mastodon release ‘The Hunter’ through Reprise on September 26th.
Peter Clegg

Worthy of Your Time: End to Empires

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I only first caught wind of this band when they were announced as Closure’s replacement at Black Breath’s show at The Well (which we reviewed here). I was blown away by how awesome they were that night. Despite one or two technical glitches, they delivered an outstanding set that’s deserving of bigger things. Hence, End to Empires are the next band that we see as worthy of your time!
Hailing from Leeds and formed out of the ashes of D-Rail and The Vs. Project, End To Empires play uncompromising hardcore/metal with a slight d-beat slant, reminiscent of acts like Annihilation Time and Disfear. They released a three-track demo in 2010 through Beefy Records, and was a blistering example of things to come. They have since gone on to release a split 7” with fellow bruisers, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne’s Lavotchkin, which is available through Thirty Days of Night Records. They’re now working on new material for a forthcoming EP, while assaulting audiences in and around the North of the UK.
Everything End to Empires can be found at their official website, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and all. They deserve to be heard over a much wider area than the concrete jungles of the North, so go check their records and shows out, and spread the word for one of UK hardcore’s finest up-and-comers.
Peter Clegg

What’s the point of half-year lists?

I don’t mind lists. As you may recall, I posted one a few weeks back. I’m drawn to them like my cat is to Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer wrappers. I’m always intrigued to see what’s included on them, and to add my two pennies if given the chance. What’s surprised me is that lately, half-year top 10/15/25 lists for albums of 2011 so far have been cropping up all over the shop. And I’m sick of it.
What’s the point?
Many of the lists I’ve viewed tend to take a look at what’s hot in America right now and while I can’t disagree a number of those albums are shit hot, my more open approach to music means I see things quite differently in some instances, as I’m sure many of you reading this to. Many of them lord the epic album, you know, the one that plumbs emotional depths, reaches astral heights and has some stunning twenty minute shape shifting song that drops your jaw.
That’s all well and good, but what for the records that just bolt out the gate and collide with you in such a way it smears your insides all over the back wall? I get the feeling that somewhere along the way, we lost our desire for the kick ass album. If an album can make me feel like I’ve just taken a swift beating from Manny Pacquiao, its succeeding in its job. A twenty, thirty, even forty minute album can be every bit the success the 79:59 monster can be. Most of these lists don’t appear to give that consideration.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got a list constructed too. But I’m not going to publish it until the end of the year. It basically flips, flops, switches etc. many, many times over the course of the year because my mind is so active at this there’ll be times when it might be the best thing since sliced bread, and others where I’m thinking I was a bit hasty with that praise. I’m not naming any bands because that would just defeat the point of this post – but there are one or two, I’ll admit.
There’s still many a damn good album to come out yet and I intend to keep an open mind. I just get the feeling that, inevitably, you’ll draw the overall impression that you’re constantly comparing every record from here on in to that number one on your list. It would just feel slightly skewed to do so.
The English Premier League isn’t decided after 19 games. We don’t decide who’s won the 100 metre sprint after 50 meters, and you can’t decide how good a film is if you’ve only watched the first half. All slightly different in comparison to top ten lists, but the point here is the same – half-year lists are pointless. Let’s enjoy the rest of 2011’s offerings. Cheers!
Peter Clegg

Acephalix – Interminable Night

Interminable Night
Southern Lord/Agipunk

Acephalix were originally more or less a crust-punk band, but on their second full length (if you can call it that), they’ve made a shift towards death metal. Regarding the term ‘full-length’ – ‘Interminable Night’ contains only seven tracks and clocks in at 25 minutes. But that’s all that’s required for you to get your ass kicked by this album.
You won’t find any blasting at all here; instead you’ll find plenty of crusty-death action that harks back to bands like Dismember and Nihilist. There’s nothing innovative going on here, but what they have got is head-pounding riffs in abundance and they’re designed for get fists in the air and heads banging up and down in worship. Tracks like ‘Christhole’ and ‘In Arms of Nothing’ are designed to damage and damage they do. The guitars scream pure evil at times, particularly during the solos, which hark like Kerry King’s in the way they sound on occasion as they wail into contention.
Vocalist Dan has an immense range about him, possessing a real guttural roar at times, which at times he holds for almost inhuman lengths of time and can warp into a scream at the right moments. It adds an extra dimension to Acephalix’s sound in itself; again, it’s not innovative, but it’s bloody effective.
If you had to nitpick, there’s not much variety between the songs, but it’s rare that I enjoy albums in such a way that I just want to go ape and at 25 minutes, it’s short enough to do just that and not get bored at all. There’s just enough variation at least in terms of speed – they do slow it down a little on the closing title-track – but it never feels to relent. Death metal is in safe hands with acts like Acephalix on the horizon.
This album has been out a few months now and was on limited pressing – originally 1000 copies through Agipunk, and a further pressing of 2000 CDs through Southern Lord. It’s still available as a CD; links below. It’s a worthy investment.
Peter Clegg

Sourvein – Black Fangs

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Black Fangs

2011 has thus far been a cracking year for sludge metal, particularly when acts like Crowbar and Weedeater are pumping out quality records and the likes of Eyehategod are destroying venues all over the shop. Hence, Sourvein’s return is all too welcoming if southern-fried sludge is your thing.
Sourvein know too well the power of the riff, hence the production on ‘Black Fangs’ places the guitar (provided here by James Haun) to the fore. Bassist Ahmasi O’Daniel and drummer Jeffrie Moen provide capable amounts of groove and crash to back up those riffs, while vocalist T-Roy Medlin stays just below the top of the mix. As always, he sounds like a ravenous, unhinged beast trying to break out of a cage. Overall, the album sounds gritty throughout the furious hateful onslaught and that’s the way it should be.
The majority of the album, for me, is decent sludge metal – nothing over the top in terms of something memorable or something to force into that slow nodding jam; but there are some killer tracks to be found; opener ‘Fangs’ begins with some trademark sludge feedback, before launching into the main riff. Vocalist T-Roy Medlin roars the place down, and if that transition into the second riff is as devastating live as it on this record, there’ll be a few people black and blue in the pit.  Outstanding.
That’s a knack that Sourvein, whatever the line-up, have down to a fine art, and although not every song on ‘Black Fangs’ stands out to memory, the casual ease with which they seemingly conjure with riffs is evident – ‘Nighteyes’ builds the pressure and releases it with atomic power, a dirge that constricts and suffocates in equal measure; similarly, ‘Gemini’ has this effect later in the album – although it’s rather more like getting clubbed round the head as they shift gears again part way through the song. There’s a couple of faster numbers too – ‘Gasp!’ and ‘Nomadic’, the latter of which giving a nod to 70’s riffage, certainly one of the album’s highlights.
It’s an album reeking with whiskey-drenched bile, filthy riffs and a sonic pulverization that will resonate for some time. It won’t quite top my personal list of sludge highlights in 2011, although I’ll keep that close to my chest for now. But I certainly enjoyed this record and you should too. ‘Black Fangs’ is an excellent return from these North Carolinans.
Peter Clegg

Sublime with Rome – Yours Truly

Sublime with Rome
Yours Truly

Fueled By Ramen

Let’s get this out of the way first and foremost – Sublime with Rome’s ‘Yours Truly’ doesn’t quite meet up to the bar set in the band’s glory days in the 90’s. I personally don’t find new vocalist Rome Ramirez as appealing a vocalist as the late Bradley Nowell – not that there’s anything wrong with his voice; it certainly suits this latest incarnation of Sublime and befits the legacy – but Nowell’s had a lot more personality. Or at least that’s how it feels. On top of that, the songs sound a lot more accessible – again, not necessarily a bad thing – but Nowell lyrically was pure excellence, and the songs here simply don’t match up in stature against the band’s heyday.

That’s not to knock the album completely, for bassist Eric Wilson and drummer Bud Gaugh still have what it takes to write catchy, groovy and potentially successful songs, on the first album to use the Sublime name in some form since the original Sublime disbanded in the wake of former vocalist/guitarist Nowell’s death in 1996. For those of you not looking to rush, the majority of the album is laden with some great chilled out jams and reggae grooves, ‘Same Old Situation’ and ‘You Better Listen’ and ‘Spun’. Rome’s voice – while not entirely as great as Nowell’s – is just as soulful and suits the direction of the album here.
There’s perhaps a little too much reggae influence though, as it threatens to cast a shadow over the rest of the record in terms of its overall presence. Fans of the original Sublime’s hardcore punk leanings may be disappointed with the lack of forays into high-energy material. Those songs in particular are welcome when they appear – the lead single and album opener ‘Panic’ is full of bounce thanks to some excellently timed saxophone, and ‘My World’ and ‘Paper Cuts’ provide a speed boost just as the album begins to lull into something of a coast. From that point on though, its back onto Easy Street, and whether the poppier stylings are your bag is another question altogether.
To continue to compare Sublime with Rome with the days of old is futile. On its own merits, ‘Yours Truly’ is actually a decent album in its own right, and although it’s not classic material by any standards, these songs will still burrow into your head speaks for the quality of the music. If you’re in need of something a little different and just in need of something a little more laidback, you could do far, far worse.
Peter Clegg

Decapitated – Carnival Is Forever


Carnival Is Forever
Nuclear Blast

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Poland’s Decapitated should have been death metal royalty by now. Formed at an early age and on an upward wave following killer album after killer album, their progress was suddenly and tragically halted in a tour bus accident in Belarus in 2009, which took the life of drummer Witold ‘Vitek’ Kiełtyka at the age of 23, and left then vocalist Adrian ‘Covan’ Kowanek facing a painfully slow recovery ever since. Such adversity would have finished off lesser bands, but Vitek’s brother Vogg (Waclaw Kiełtyka) would not let the Decapitated flame die.
The new look Decapitated returned last year, now consisting of Filip ‘Heinrich’ Hałucha on bass, Rafał ‘Rasta’ Piotrowski on vocals, and Kerim ‘Krimh’ Lechner taking Vitek’s position on drums, leaving Vogg as the only founder member remaining. They devastated live audiences across the world and then set to work on fifth album ‘Carnival Is Forever’.
As with all previous releases, ‘Carnival…’ has eight tracks and is straight on the hammer with ‘The Knife’, which sees Rasta unleash an almighty scream roughly a quarter of the way in. His voice has more range than previous vocalists Covan and his predecessor, Sauron, those screams featuring more than guttural growls and roars from past releases. There’s a lot more variation to them than his predecessors, although whether this suits you, the listener, is down to individual taste. For me personally, it was a minor quarry at first, but something I managed to get over fairly quickly.
The title-track sets out to be the album’s centrepiece, a near 9-minute song that begins with some lone echoey guitar from Vogg, before launching into the heavy section. It reverts back to a quieter, eerie section again, giving the song room to breathe before blasting back into action. It’s not perfect but at least it don’t plod along, which so many bands striving for the epic button fall into the trap of. These new darker elements also crop up later in ‘A View From A Hole’, which sees Rasta getting in on the progression with some unsettling whispered vocals.
At first, ‘Carnival…’ does feel like Decapitated are trying to settle into a groove. The first half is a little hit and miss at times, and the grooves aren’t quite as memorable as they were in the past. That said, the album does begin to pick up as it goes on and the songs seem to get better and better. ‘404’ is reminiscent of Meshuggah in places but maintains its own identity, chameleonic as it shifts between riffs and beats, topped off with an electrifying solo from Vogg. And ‘Pest’ brings in some buzzsaw shred and some serious blasting. The closer, ‘Silence’, is feels somewhat reflective, almost as though it’s a requiem for the fallen members, particularly Vitek. It’s a fitting tribute, if that’s how it was intended, and it’s an ideal comedown to the freneticity with its single, haunting guitar.
It was always going to be hard for Decapitated to create an album to reach the bar set by the likes of ‘Nihility’ and ‘Organic Hallucinosis’ and overall they fall just slightly short. Krimh in particular puts in a shift behind the kit, but he is always going to be compared to Vitek and those memorable moments that Vitek was able to provide through his own incredible ability aren’t replicated here.
That was always going to be a challenge with the major upheaval they have endured, but despite that, Decapitated have proved they are still a potent force, proving they can still blast with the best of them, while introducing one or two new elements to their sound. Come the end of the year, it probably won’t quite be among the top death metal releases of 2011, which you could definitely say for their previous records; but it still blows most of the competition out of the water. It’s good to have them back.
Peter Clegg

Visions: Weedeater – Mancoon/Turkey Warlock

This one’s for Mike.
Weedeater returned earlier this year with the impressive ‘Jason…The Dragon’ and have decided to release a video for the pairing of ‘Mancoon’ and ‘Turkey Warlock’. Directed by David Brodsky and part of the Scion A/V video series, it’s presented as part performance vid, part silent nightmare as the band are captured by some smartly dressed man and a man in a raccoon mask (a ‘mancoon’?!). It’s brilliantly entertaining and both songs kick ass. It was directed by David Brodsky, filmed in the backwoods and swamps of the band’s backyard. Enjoy!
Peter Clegg