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Tuesday 10 October 2023

Reviews: Wolf Prayer, Morag Tong, Brave Liasion, Kings Rot (Reviews By Rich Piva, Matt Bladen, James Jackson & Erick Willand)

Wolf Prayer - Spell Of The Crimson Eye (Barhill Records) [Rich Piva]

I am always down for some German stoner/psych, so let’s see what the second album from Wolf Prayer, Spell Of The Crimson Eye, is all about. I have not heard any of their previous stuff before, so I am going in with fresh ears here, and what I am picking up is certainly enjoyable to the guy who hears a lot stoner/psych rock.

A nice four-plus minute spacey/psych instrumental starts us off, and it’s a fitting way to set the table for what’s coming up, and what is coming up as pretty darn great. Desire sounds like if The Cure decided to be a stoner rock band, and yes, it is as cool as it sounds. The psych jam Oblivion sounds like if Pink Floyd did a rendition of Neil Young’s Down By The River. I have said it before and I will say it again, give me organ in my rock all day long.

I love the psych vibes on Doctrine, it is sparce and big at the same time, minimal and huge sounding all at once. Cards Of Evil is a great psych rock jam, and I love it when it really kicks in about 90 seconds in and of course the organ solo. Luna leans more on the stoner side; I dig the riff and I am getting a post hardcore vibe from this one. The closer is a nine-minute doom inspired track with a Iommi riff, some sweet organ, floating psych guitars, and more of those Cure playing post stoner rock that everyone should experience.

This was a nice surprise, as nothing sounds quite like what Spell Of The Crimson Eye is bringing to the table. I really dig this, and I think if you lean towards the psych rock side of things the new Wolf Prayer should be near the top of your list to check out this week. 7/10

Morag Tong - Grieve (Majestic Mountain Records) [Matt Bladen]

Yeah that'll do. Dropped in my inbox late on Saturday evening, Grieve is the second album from London psychedelic heavies Morag Tong. This first on the ever excellent Majestic Mountain Records, Grieve is a huge leap towards a much more layered approach for Morag Tong. 

Having mastered the crushing sludge/doom riffs on their previous releases, here they explore new ground with longer more ambient, atmospheric moments where the lock into extensive instrumental grooves, driven by the percussion of Adam Asquith giving him a rest from screaming with anguish down the microphone. Yep we have a singing drummer but Adam hold both the positions brilliantly, applying the raw voice when needed keeping a steady pace for tracks such as Passages, which is the shortest song here.

Of course there’s plenty of room for changing the scrip with a titanic 20 minute closer, the drumming keeping the changes in pace perfectly as James Atha’s bass controls the motion. Alex Clarke and Lewis Crane igniting the distortion and fuzz when needed but also flowing with cleaner passages to bewitch. The final track No Sun, No Moon is the gargantuan piece where Morag Tong are really pushing the limits of their sound, this second album shows where he band want to go in the future, working at the boundaries of the sludge stoner circles. 8/10

Brave Liaison - Will This Hold Together (Fort Records) [James Jackson]

This four track EP from Cambridgeshire based Brave Liaison follows a series of single releases and 2021’s full length album Everything’s Affected, upon which the band were previously known as Tom Lumley & The Brave Liaison. 

Opening track Dead is a lively number, channeling Alt Rock with a glorious chant of “Dead” that any audience member would soon get behind; according to the bands Facebook page there’s is a high powered live show and it’s easy to see why based on the energy within this opening track. Following on is Better Off, another song with an equally catchy feel to it and another chorus that is easy to see being picked up by the audience. Spike takes third position here and is the bands most recently released single, again it’s another track that will have the fans singing it back to the band. 

Bringing the EP to a close is Situations, another slice of Alt Rock, written with the audience in mind and the intent of having them sing back the catchy lyrics. It’s all well written and deserves the credit that the band appear to be getting, they’ve had recognition from a few radio stations and been on the lineup for various festivals over the last few years; personally it’s not something I’d listen to again but I can’t help thinking that each song would have my feet tapping in a live performance, hell I might even nod in time too. 5/10

King’s Rot - At The Gates Of Adversarial Darkness (Hypnotic Dirge Records) [Erick Willand]

Canada produces some very atmospheric Black Metal to be sure and King’s Rot have been delivering the cold since 2017. Haunting vocals, catchy melody and large sweeping riffs abound on this their second full length, At The Gates Of Adversarial Darkness.

Opening track Blazing Winds Of Torment set the pace and vibe wonderfully with quiet atmospherics and the sounds of a large ancient door being dragged open and slammed shut again, chains and footsteps on cold stone follow, then the drawing of a blade and blasting of drums as the track starts proper. It's brief and I love little flourishes like this, it’s simple but effective and all together makes for a great opening track.
Album title track, At The Gates Of Adversarial Darkness opens with pounding drums and a classic “ugh” grunt. It’s galloping, intense approach topped with howling vocal delivery and razor swinging riffs. There is a clear driving force here, a collective purpose that permeates these songs with darkness and urgency. Twilight Breath Incantation and Beneath The Hunters Moon encapsulate this vibe with sheer intensity and dudes I am here for it. Then comes I Am The Door In Between that starts with a breath…a sigh and then blazes Black Metal right into your mind. It’s short but intense with a mesmerizing riff.
Final two tracks, Last Dance Of The Eternal Flame and A Burnt Offering For The Vermin King feel like a pair, especially as the end of Eternal Flame bleeds right into A Burnt Offering. Small details like this largely go unnoticed these days but can really help tie an album together. Last Dance is the main track on this album in my opinion, riff heavy and just this side of grandiose it rocks just right and will linger in your mind. Last track Vermin Lord brings the grim with the deepest vocals and some intense swirling riffage that fits the blasting drum work perfectly. A solid album closer.
Each of these songs is tight and well written with clear production that keeps the proceeding just grim enough without drowning out anything, all the darkness, none of the mud. On top of that only two of these tracks clock in under 5 minutes but not once did I notice or feel like a song was dragging on too long. Paired with human made cover art clearly inspired by the Gates of Mordor and a sweet vinyl release this adventure lands a solid 7/10

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