Wolvennest: Void (Van Records)
Void is second album from Belgian six piece Wolvennest. This is a big album, big length wise, as it comes in at 69 minutes. It’s also big sound wise, this album sounds huge. What we have here is a combination of doom, black metal, drone and heavy psych. The songs are long, and take their time, this is a band that will not be rushed. The basic structure of most of the material on offer here is very simple, but the way the songs are played bring complexity into the mix. The riffs are mainly of a doom style, but are played with a bit of a black metal feel. The track L’Heure Noire has the most obvious black metal tremolo picking, but even where there is no obvious BM techniques, this album has the spirit of ominous darkness that is synonymous with black metal.
The rhythm section bring a drone feel to the album, the bass and drums pulse and throb in a meditative way that borders on being trance inducing. There is also a lot of electronics used on this album, and these help to back up the droning / pulsing quality of the album. The vocals are very distinctive, both male and female vocals are used, both in English and in French. The track Ritual Lovers is a stunning piece of work, a male and female voice combine to make this sound like a dark, smokey, clandestine version of Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg’s Je t’aime.
The track is fantastic, and effortlessly sexy. There is a dramatic, gothic feel to a lot of the material, I get the feeling that Type O Negative fans would love this album. Most of the material on this album has a darkly religious feel to it, live this must feel like a ritual; pensive, reflective and thoughtful, but also theatrical and emotionally charged. The final track La Mort is a great example of how incredibly clever this band is. La Mort is 17 minutes long and it features one four note riff repeated for the entire track. The band constantly change how they play the riff, it starts quietly and slowly builds to be a huge, brooding monster of a song. The track doesn’t have any vocals other than a spoken word part in the second part of the song. At no point does this feel boring or repetitive, each member of the band subtly modifies how they play the riff, so the song has a sense of constantly changing and morphing its form.
This is a beautifully original album. Although I’ve tried to describe the album as well as I can, this sounds like nothing I’ve ever heard before. In many ways it’s a little like the Thy Catafalque album I reviewed a few weeks ago. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t sound like that album, but it has the same level of originality and innovativeness that that album has. If you love heavy music, and have an open mind, I urge you to check this out. It’s a meditative, thoughtful, achingly sexy, pulsing, droning, heavy, beautiful, bewitching and exquisite masterpiece. 9/10
Wolfblood: Nightriders EP (Reaper Metal Productions)
This is the first Ep from Copenhagen based band Wolfblood. So, what has the first release from this four piece got in store for us? The EP features 5 tracks, 4 original tracks and 1 cover. All the original tracks come in at just over 2 minutes, and the cover is just over 3. The main sound on offer here, is perfectly described by the title of the second track Rot N Roll. Punky, sleazy rock and roll, and that should tell you who this bands main influence is. Motorhead are all over this EP. The tempo, the style of riffs, the lead guitar style have all been borrowed from Lemmy and his pals. There are other influences to be heard here, there’s a little of Aura Noir, I can also hear a bit of faster Orange Goblin in there.
But as all the bands that Wolfblood sound a little like were also massively influenced by Motorhead, that is the main sound on offer. The songs here, are breakneck rockers, fun, exiting, and everything that Rock (Rot) and Roll should be. The final track, a cover of Tank’s song Turn Your Head Around, brings the EP to a satisfying ending. Nightriders is not original or groundbreaking in any way. But, I think Wolfblood are far to busy snorting cheap speed and shotgunning cans of Special Brew to give a flying fuck about breaking ground! Great fun! 7/10
Weed Demon - Astrological Passages (Electric Valley Records)
Weed Demon are a 4 piece from Columbia, Ohio, Astrological Passages is the band's first full length, and comes 3 years after an EP called Stoned Yo Death. Astrological Passages features 4 long tracks, with the album coming in at 42 minutes. What we have here is hugely sludgy stoner doom. Everything about this album is massive; giant, towering riffs that have a groove the size of a planet. I genuinely don’t think it’s possible to listen to this album without banging your head, I get the feeling this is a band who excel live, this material must work so well in a live environment. The guitar solos are beautifully bluesy and fit perfectly with the songs.
The vocals are great as well, Jordan Holland (bass and vocals) has a gargantuan bellow, that works so well with these songs. Although there are similarities with other sludge / stoner bands like Nomad, Eyehategod and on the quieter moments a little of Sleep. Weed Demon have their own sound, there is a slight psychedelic quality to this album that suggests that there was a lot of jamming in the writing of this album. The album is brought to a close by the 12 minute instrumental Jettisoned. This track has the interesting addition of a harmonica. This works so well that it makes me wonder why we don’t hear more harmonica in sludge / stoner / doom. Its a great way to end what is a very satisfying and enjoyable album. Highly recommended. 8/10
Message In A Cloud - Anassa (Ikaros Records)
Anassa is the first album from Greek 5 piece Message In A Cloud. Message In a Cloud started out as a 1 man project from the bands main man Kikos Loukopoulos, before he decided to make Message In a Cloud a full band. The album features 6 instrumental tracks that come in at just over 40 minutes. The music on offer fits loosely into a post rock / post black metal / black gaze format. There are elements of Alcest and Violet Cold and maybe a little of Deafheaven’s softer output.
The overall sound is probably closest to Alcest, as far as how extreme and intense the album is. There is also an electronic feel to some of the tracks. You Used To Die In My Arms has a beautiful opening part that has a definite glitch techno sound to it that works really well, and fits with the overall sound of the album. The main feel of this album is beautiful and, although there is a melancholic edge to most of the album, cathartic. It soothes the listener, it feels like a cool hand on on fevered brow.
I recently did a (standup) gig in London during the current (horrific) heat wave. I had to endure a 4 and a half hour bus journey home on a bus where the air conditioning was not working, and I’d had to run from the tube to get to the bus in time. I was stressed, uncomfortably hot and in a very bad mood. Once we were moving I put this album on and in 40 minutes, this album soothed and calmed me enough to handle the journey home. If you’re planning on having a crazy time at Bloodstock this year, get this album for the journey home. Anassa is a beautiful, cathartic piece of work, I’ve really enjoyed listening to it. 8/10