Find us on Facebook!

To keep updated like our page at:

Or on Twitter:

Or E-mail us at:

Thursday 24 February 2022

Reviews: Sleepwulf, Annihilator, Bitter Branches, KYOTY (Reviews By Rich P, Matt Bladen, Zak Skane & David Karpel)

Sleepwulf - Sunbeams Curl (Heavy Psych Sounds) [Rich P]

“Come to realize, life will begin when Satan is king”. This is how Sleepwulf’s 2020 debut record ends and how their new album, Subeams Curl, begins. There is no debate what you are getting into subject matter wise with the (mostly) Swedish band’s second album and first on stoner/psych powerhouse Heavy Psych Sounds. Sleepwulf brings the proto for sure; 70s soaked vibes harkening back to Sabbath and the like with some killer riffs but leaning in even further into the proto side and less towards the stoner/doom. An interview I read from Psychedelic Baby magazine a band member mentioned the 70s “lost tracks” proto compilation Brown Acid Series (on Riding Easy Records) as something that the band are into, which is a perfect description for where the band lands on the musical spectrum. Throw in some more recent bands like Kadavar and Witchcraft and you start to paint a picture of what Sleepwulf is bringing to the table.

What you get from Sunbeams Curl however is in no way derivative. Sleepwulf has developed their own sound, borrowing from all their influences, and adding their own spin, to produce a killer record and a uniqueness where I could call them out with just a couple of notes of a song, like what you get with the groovy/evil Sex Magic Manifestation. Sunbeams Curl is filled with characters from evil nursery rhymes and mystic imagery as they frolic around the dark forests of Sweden. I can picture the title character in Toad Licker Mushroom Picker skulking around the trees, eyes wide, behind the killer proto soundtrack that you get throughout the eight tracks. Man Under The Mountain could be a character that wandered over from a Zeppelin outtake, with a fun guitar solo and a nice crunchy gallop. Green Man Dead, my favorite track on the record, pairs an evil riff with a groove that many of the stoner bands of today should pay attention to and incorporate into their songs. “Green Man Dead, paint the forest red…”. Try not seeing this while listening.

I love the feel of this record. I am in the dark forest, soundtracked by top notch proto/bluesy/stoner orchestra, meeting (or running from) a unique cast of characters and trying to survive on a diet of mushrooms and fear, trying to keep from selling my soul. Amazing stuff. I really dig the sound and production of this record. It’s exactly how I want songs in this genre to sound. The vocal stylings of Owen Robinson are the perfect narration for these three-minute stories. With Sunbeams Curl, Sleepwulf has released a must listen to album for anyone who is a fan of proto/70s metal, and who loves some heavy character imagery in their rock. A co-headlining tour with a band like Green Lung would be a perfect fit. My only complaint is I am left wanting more after this short eight track journey. I’m not ready to step out of the forest and back into real life by the time the last note rings out. Check it out, highly recommended and will be somewhere on my year end list for sure. 9/10

Annihilator  - Metal II (earMusic) [Matt Bladen]

Record label earMusic embark on probably their most ambitious re-release project. They are re-issuing nearly all of the Annihilator discography, under the watchful eye of Annihilator main man Jeff Waters. Starting off before the campaign itself, there's Metal II, which is a re-recorded version of the 2007 album Metal where Waters brought in guest musicians to contribute to the Canadian thrash bands legacy. On Metal II Waters has decided to re-record most of the album with only two additional musicians. Mainly as a tribute to Alexi Laiho and Eddie Van Halen as Downright Dominate still features Laiho's solo and a cover of Van Halen's Romeo's Delight.  

Metal II brings in Dave Lombardo on drums and Stu Block (ex-Iced Earth) to sing on it. Now Metal was a good album, possibly the start of Annihilator's latter career resurgence, the praise coming for the guests if course but musically too it was seen as Annihilator getting down with the modern metal scene. So Metal II has the same songs (and instrumental guests) but has been revamped a little due to the inclusion of Lombardo's experienced/explosive drumming style and the multifaceted voice of Block in place of Dave Padden. It's packed with those all so tasty Waters riffs, building multiple different styles into every song. 

The progressive style of Annihilator has always been much more appealing to me than many other thrash bands because of their eclectic style that is displayed here. From the classic metal style of Heavy Metal Maniac/Army Of One to the more dramatic Haunted and full on thrashers such as Chasing The High it's Annihilator doing what they do. In my opinion I prefer this version to the original and it serves as a tribute to two great musicians. With a re-release campaign coming soon this is great way to dive into Annihilator, if you haven't before. 7/10

Bitter Branches – Your Neighbours Are Failures (Rude Records) [Zak Skane]

Listening to this album I’ve got to complement the production on this, the fabrication on this album sounds raw and grungy like a true punk album should sound. I also got to admire the energy and the intensity that they’ve captured on to record; the vocalist sounds passionate whilst singing about the current troubles of our time gaining our attention from the first word of the opening track Along Came Bastard

The drums bark and snap at you with very strike of the stick and the guitars and bass crunch and grind producing an energetic sonic brew. Personal highlights on this album are the opening track Along Came Bastard with its gradual eruption contributed by snarling toms in the drum intro to the frontman growling about his anger about the abuse of power from authority, The quirky rhythms of The Man Who Cries generates the jarring edge that modern Punk and Hardcore that bands have took influence from, such as The Dillinger Escape Plan and Every Time I Die and the grungy slow burn of Plastic Tongues

Overall it was a decent listening experience, I liked the gritty emotion that portrayed though out the album mixed with the experimental sound textures that remind me of bands like Daughters and Swans. I will warn you if you are looking for more pop song structures from bands such as The Ramones or The Clash you going to be disappointed, 7/10

KYOTY - Isolation (Deafening Isolation) [David Karpel]

Think of this album as a gallery of modern art aimed at your gleaming metal heart. This exhibit is advertised as a look into how the pandemic affects individuals connecting despite Isolation. Ten stark, abstract paintings with bleak, mostly one word titles typed in bold, capital letters on the brief information cards posted next to the works decorate the walls. Some are larger than others, one is wall sized. The hidden dj plays a soundtrack that crushes the ephemera of post rock into crunchy sludge compositions. As you spend time standing or sitting and contemplating each work, your own experiences, beliefs, traditions, and current feelings are essential to your sense of the piece. 

Your participation, in other words, is essential to your experience of the art. Put together through the separations of coronavirus quarantines with recordings shared electronically, Isolation is a collection of post-rock instrumentals that paint soundscapes upon which we can project our own pandemic narratives. Nick Filth and Nathaniel Raymond of KYOTY incorporate sludge, industrial, and doom to create a soundtrack for the times that build images through the sensations shaped by the music. This is one of those albums you’ll want to savor with headphones and a dedicated mindset. In Quarantine, doom slams down the gates, lowers the bridge, and sets fire to the moat. The citadel of your mind simmers in claustrophobia. Closed off. But safe? Is this Poe’s Masque of the Red Death? The audio excerpt, “nobody knows that I’m in here” returns from the simmer to the declarative stomp of bleak time. 

Ventilate increases the sense of paranoia and fear. A struggling mechanized breathing apparatus sound starts and then serves as a foundation for the first minute and a half, a forced push into a rhythm that eventually drops the machine breathing and continues the steady, sludgy pace, painting an impatience into the forward, building motion of the song. Breathing with effort, there’s no time to vent the sense of anger and despair that comes with all of this fear, greed, and loneliness. A slowing, gasping machinery closes the song in feedback, a hammerfall drum beat, and gloom. Onus follows. A monotonous strum leads to a red light like beeping that emphasizes the sense of loneliness. Soon, passages of blast beats with ethereal guitar melodies layered over them track the nervous energy of believing yourself accountable, acting for the public good, even through the monotony and loneliness of isolation. 

Each track allows the narrative to expand, but the theme runs prevalent, so each song feels like part of a whole. Holter, named after a portable EKG, checks our pulse with a sense of collective waiting for the next beat.While Languish builds a facade of comfort that eventually destroys itself, Rift acknowledges that nothing is normal anymore. Industrial blast beats rage that this is not real life. There is a divide between how we are and how we’re supposed to be. This comes back in the final song, but before we get there we must meander in the glorious, universal questions of Faith. Respite and Memory continue to build on similar themes, slow, sludgy, heavy, pounding, and then Fog, A Future Like A Past Imagined culminates with the idea that going back to normal isn’t the goal because even that past is made up. Normal was never normal. And neither is the future. 7/10

No comments:

Post a Comment