Find us on Facebook!

To keep updated like our page at:

Or on Twitter:

Or E-mail us at:

Tuesday 10 October 2023

Reviews: Kadabra, Molly Karloff, Azimut, Stonemiller Inc. (Reviews By Rich Piva, Matt Bladen, Mark Young & James Jackson)

Kadabra - Umbra (Heavy Psych Sounds) [Rich Piva]

I am super excited to be listening to a second album from Spokane, Washington’s Kadabra considering how much I loved their 2021 debut album. The trio pay a nice mash up of doom/psych/proto with excellent results, as evident by their first album, Ultra, landing in my top 20 for that year. Now we have the next chapter in their spooky and evil anthology, Umbra, jam packed with eight killer examples of how this type of rock should be done.

As I have mentioned in the past, I am a sucker for doom paired with organ, so right off the bat you know I am going to love Umbra. Two bands called out in their promo materials are Uncle Acid and Dead Meadow, which is a pretty accurate starting point. I also hear a more doom version of the Black Angels, or a more psych version of Green Lung. No matter what, all those things are awesome, and so is Umbra, starting with the total psych trip of the instrumental opener White Willows. Trippy and spooky, it’s the perfect way to bring us down the path to what’s next, as the riffs and organ kicks in. 

High Priestess is where the evil fun really begins. A killer psych doom riff and Uncle Acid worship, you can tell that Umbra is going to hang with Ultra and maybe even surpass it. I love the reverb drenched, layered vocals that to me make this right on par with the band mentioned earlier and have Kadabra stand out amongst their peers. For a trio these guys make complex and huge sounding songs, case in point the next track, Midnight Hour. A killer opening riff and killer work on the drums with the organ placed elegantly in the background, this is how doom should sound in 2023. Dig that crazy psych solo too. We flow without pause into The Serpent, which is organ forward doomy goodness that reminds me a bit of a slowed down version of something from the new Moon Coven album, which, considering that is my current album of the year, is saying something. 

There is nothing subtle about the occult vibes on Umbra given the song titles and the overall evilness, as The Devil is here, announcing himself with riffs and organ and some bad ass and somehow catchy proto doom goodness. I love the instrumental opening to Battle Of Avalon, especially how it then leads into the fasted tempo and heaviest track on Umbra, with another killer heavy psych solo. Mountain Tamer loses none if the awesomeness as Umbra continues down the black hand path with more Moon Coven vibes, some killer harmonized vocals, and a super psych breakdown halfway through, which leads us to Serpent 2. I am a big fan of calling back to earlier tracks on an album, and the acoustic driven closer is a great way to finish this chapter of this dark journey.

It's tough to find anything to complain or even nitpick about on Umbra. There is no sophomore slump here for Kadabra, as the band has taken several steps forward with their second offering. Give me an organ driven doomy psych trio all day every day, led by Kadabra and their beautifully evil take on the genre. 9/10

Molly Karloff - Breaking Out (Molly Makes Records) [Matt Bladen]

Breaking Out is the debut album from UK rockers Molly Karloff, the trio, based in Oxford play rock n roll with a lot of hooks and little sleaze, perfectly suited for maximum play on Planet Rock as they bring pounding riffs of Royal Blood, with the swaggering dirt of AC/DC, it's got nods to bands such as QOTSA, Alice In Chains and Band Of Skulls. 

What's key here are the songs, the way they are written, composed etc means that you're brought along for the ride immediately Simon Gee cranking out a filthy guitar tone on If You Don't Know My Name, as Jowie Adkins carries a punchy drumbeat and Dan Podbery brings the gutsy bass to the grungier rockers such as In The Night and Higher Than The Sun. Breaking Out Was produced by Mike Exeter, the Grammy Award winner making it sound loud, proud and vital. From the huge choruses on Faceless, where Gee's rough vocals are joined by some backing harmonies, to the percussive thrust of Cult Of Personality or the lumbering AIC groove of Black Flame.

Molly Karloff's debut album see them announcing their intent with some riffy, heavy, grungy rock n roll. 8/10

Azimut - Dans Les Méandres (Self-Relase) [Mark Young]

The six piece from Grenoble, France bring their newest collection of Electronica-tinged Post-metal that takes from different genres and moulds them into an excellent piece of music. It’s one that is often breath-taking, but It is best served in one sitting.

Desseins Illusoires a simple meandering passage plays out until the screamed vocals kick in courtesy of, the arrangement suddenly takes on new life as the subtle keys come in and the riff builds to a more urgent attack without actually speeding up. The guitars seem to be building upon themselves in a constant, those chords really firing through in perfect sync and it’s a fine start.

Echo Limpide, with a gentle breeze reflecting its title that is soon wiped away by the dirt and grime as the vocals come in. The pacing is typical of some of the modern sludge / doom but without the dense sound behind them. This is more of a feeling imbued from the parts they play, allowing them to subvert your expectations away from typical heavy music. A lot of the heavy lifting is done by Franck Marcadon, his delivery providing the base for which the music can spring from. It’s an absolute tour de force from him. 

Persona Non Grata launches in with an almost black-metal-esque attack, cranking that style making a wall of sound as it climaxes into Au Coeur ďune Destinée Erratique. Ramping up those atmospherics and bringing a slow, easy riff to proceedings, supported by soft keys. The vocals come in, with the guitar pulling the song along whilst the keys stay in the background keeping that melody going. Its another superb example of making something heavy without resorting to down tuning. Acting as a reset switch Douce Frénésie brings the electronica with an Instrumental that even in its short run time is inventive and fits within their more experimental canvas.

Catharsis is exactly that, a near 8-minute primal scream which just shows the absolute depth of skill and vision they possess. Euphémismes now charts a more traditional heavier sound and tack. This is quite the change and shakes it up nicely to allow them to bring a touch of melody into it. The balance is on point and the guitar tone is spot on as they change it again, moving from the dark into a more shining arrangement. The constant is the voice, but special mention to Jonathan Battandier for the control, skill and just fantastic movement with the drums. This is especially the case with Thanatophille, which is possibly the most furious song here, and maybe the most traditionally metal sounding of the songs here. That is not to say it’s routine, it certainly isn’t.

What comes next is just the album closers of album closers. Palabres Enflammées. This has an almost joyful start, jangly guitar and a happy face at least until the vocals come in. Even with the heavier approach, it still doesn’t sound heavy, if that makes sense as they expand the arrangement in a way that picks up the pace as it changes direction in the aural equivalent of a three-act play. Its just class and so cohesive it doesn’t feel as though 13 minutes has passed by.

Part of the Eptagon Collective which showcases projects that range from extreme metal to digital art, and this shows as each song has those differences required in order to make the lengths feel shorter than they are. I’ve said that they take from many genres, at least the spirit of those and it is an incredibly dense piece of work that deserves your full attention. Any criticisms I have are purely subjective and I think I would have liked to have seen more electronica present and possibly a more ruthless approach to the running time, but again that would alter the effect and lessen the power the songs have. 

For fans of Post-metal, experimental etc you will find one of the albums of the year. If your bag is death / thrash / speed etc then you may find this overly long. But, if possessed of an open mind you may find a lot to love here. I certainly did. 8/10

Stonemiller Inc. - Welcome To The Show (Massacre Records) [James Jackson]

There are many things to say about the 80’s and for someone who was only born in the latter part of the 70’s, I missed the heady days of Hair Metal, the Sex, Drugs & Rock n Roll that made bands like Motley Crue, Poison and Guns N Roses infamous. Germany’s Stonemiller Inc have taken it upon themselves to bring the hard rock sound of that era back and infuse it with a sound that is a bit more contemporary, according to the bio that is. 

From the very first note of The Face I Reflect, I’m reminded of Party All Day by similarly 80’s obsessed band Steel Panther and given that both bands are intent on bringing the Metal of the 80’s back to the fore it’s no wonder that Steel Panther spring to mind and this potentially, is my biggest problem with the album, it all sounds so much like something else, because Welcome To The Show plays out like a greatest hits album, each track is seemingly a tribute to the acts of the past. All of the stereotypes of 80’s hard rock & heavy metal are here, wrapped up in one package as each song contains elements that will undoubtedly remind you of songs most commonly found upon Dad Rocks albums or 50 Essential Songs For The Car. 

The standard issue power ballad is in there, nestled alongside other fist pumping tracks more than ready to become arena anthems but I’m not sure whether the songs will still be played 40 years on and sung along to as fervently as those original hits still are today. Whereas the musically similarly inspired Steel Panther will forever hold a special, and seedy, place within my cd collection, Steelmiller Inc will not, despite the fact that the songs are well written, very well played and sung whilst expertly conjuring up that nostalgic overtone that they are going for, it’s the rather juvenile lyrics that Steel Panther are known for that tip the scales for me. 

For anyone that wishes to take a step back in time and reminisce upon those good old days with an album that so obviously wears its heart on its leather sleeve then this is probably a must have. 5/10

No comments:

Post a Comment