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Tag: heavy psych

Slomo Sapiens Bring Their Ominous Heavy Psych and Metal Attack to Brooklyn

Philadelphia power trio Slomo Sapiens play a no-nonsense blend of stoner boogie, doom metal and heavy psychedelia. Their latest limited edition cassette, Slomos Volume 1 is streaming at Bandcamp. They’re bringing their disquieting intensity to a Bushwick gig on April 24 at around 9 PM at Our Wicked Lady. There’s a techy opening act and then a couple of similar acts afterward: none of them are worth seeing. The venue’s webpage says cover is $13.60: it’s probably safe to say that the door person is unlikely to be making change with dimes and nickels, so bring fourteen bucks if you’re going. Things are getting weirder and weirder everywhere we look!

The first track on the album is Sandpounder, a catchy bumpa-bumpa-bumpa fuzztone stoner boogie tune. Frontwoman/guitarist Ceallaigh Corbishley brings surprising angst and nuance to the second track, There’s Nothing More Evil in This World Than Time, shifting from bassist Greg Geiger and drummer Jon Pritchard’s ominous gallop to a toxically swirling ambience and then back.

Slurry hammer-ons, dystopic vocoder sonics and macabre chromatics fuel the next tune, Spook the Prince, up to a dizzying, dissociative rhythmic interweave. Salem is a surreal mashup of twangy surf rock, sludgy slowcore grit and skin-peeling wah-wah riffage. They wind up the cassette (pun intended) with Chi, an echoey sound collage with some tantalizing twin guitar leads half-buried in the mix.

Yet Another Tab of Treats on the Latest Brown Acid Compilation

Every year, in celebration of 4/20, the warped brain trust behind the Brown Acid vinyl compilations release a new volume in the series. The initial concept focused on resurrecting rare heavy psych and proto-metal singles from the late 60s and early 70s. As the years went on, the project grew into a quasi-solstice celebration, twice a year, and began to encompass heavy funk as well as the occasional thrashy, garagey R&B or protest song, which makes sense considering that a lot of this music dates from the Vietnam War era. The brand-new fourteenth volume – streaming at Bandcamp – is a characteristically wide-ranging and entertaining celebration of stoner excess. For whatever reason, this one is somewhat more pop-oriented: Nuggets on Thai stick.

The first track is Fever Games, by Harrisburg, Pennsylvania band the Legends. Stoner boogie gives way to heavy funk in this 1969 Hendrix homage with a devious Little Wing quote – not the one you think – and Iron Butterfly drums.

Detroit duo Mijal & White’s 1974 B-side is a throwback to early heavy British pop bands like the Herd: some excellent extrovert drum work here. The real rediscovered gem on this playlist is Texas band Liquid Blue’s 1969 obscurity Henry Can’t Drive (why can’t he get behind the wheel? Guess).. Lead guitarist Ted Hawley would go on to become an important figure in Texas blues: his slithery multitracks here are exquisite.

The San Francisco Trolley Company were actually a Michigan band, represented by their fierce 1970 original, Signs. With the group’s cheap amps spewing dust-bunny overtones, it stands up strongly alongside the heavier Detroit acts of the era like SRC.

The contribution from West Virginia garage rock project Blue Creed is pretty generic. One of the most obscure but tightest and catchiest tunes here is Play It Cool, Transfer’s slyly shuffling, slightly surfy 1974 shout-out to stoners on the DL. Even less is known about Appletree, whose cowbell-driven single You’re Not The Only Girl (I’m Out To Get) is built around some tightly scrambling lead guitar work.

There’s an interesting blend of Beatles and Hendrix in I’m Tired, by Chicago collar-county area band Cox’s Army. The last song is the Columbus, Ohio crate-digger favorite Raven’s 1975 mostly one-chord jam Raven Mad Blues, a prime example of the extreme hippie self-indulgence the Brown Acid records sometimes descend into. Punk rock was born as an antidote to monstrosities like this – although as a comedic coda to this latest installment, it’s pretty priceless. May there be many more.

Original Heavy, Slow Psychedelic Sounds From Blue Heron

Albuquerque metal band Blue Heron have influences as diverse as Fu Manchu, Kyuss and Acid King, but ultimately they don’t sound like any of the other many stoner metal bands kicking around the desert, metaphorically or otherwise. From their debut single – streaming at Bandcamp – it’s clear they go for slow tempos and let the songs breathe: no wasted notes here.

In the seven-minute A-side, Black Blood of the Earth, the band slowly and imperceptibly bring up the doomy chromatics out of slurry hypnotic riffs as bassist Steve Schmidlapp holds the center and drummer Ricardo Sanchez adds imaginative fills and flourishes. The second part of the song is a slowly drifting heavy psych jam, frontman Jadd Shickler whispering about a “cross-collateralized matrix” and other mysterious things as guitarist Mike Chavez prowls through acid blues.

With growly downtuned bass along with fuzztone and wah-wah grit from Chavez, the B-side, A Sunken Place is closer to Sleep. Fun fact: in addition to fronting the band, Shickler – who back in the day fronted popular mid-zeros stoner metal band Spiritu – runs Blues Funeral Recordings as well as Red Lead PR, devoted exclusively to promoting metal acts. Anyone wondering what his cred is should hear the single: the guy obviously lives for heavy sounds. It’s always tempting to plagiarize his press releases since the invariably nail what a band is all about.

Legendary, Prophetic Heavy Psych Band Winterhawk’s Albums Are Back in Print on Vinyl

San Francisco band Winterhawk were years ahead of their time. They’re best remembered for frontman/guitarist Nik Alexander’s distinctive mashups of 70s acid rock and Cree Indian folk music. Alexander was fiercely proud of his heritage, and that connection to the land resonates potently in the band’s many politically-oriented songs. In addition to rocking out ancient folk melodies, they sometimes employed indigenous instruments like shakers and wood flute. Drummer Alfonso Kolb would frequently diverge into native rhythms as well.

Their first two albums were 1979’s Electric Warriors, which was more psychedelic, and Dog Soldier, a considerably harder-rocking effort from the following year which is more erratic. Both have been newly digitized and are back in print. Electric Warriors is streaming at youtube, and Dog Soldier is there as well.

Electric Warriors is the better of the two. The songs are longer, more overtly political, and the band’s sound is unmistakably original: it’s impossible to think of another act from the era who sounded anything like this. The first track, Prayer, builds from a delicate Cree melody to a burst of riff-heavy rock and then a return, with native flute over Alexander’s acoustic guitar textures.

The band follow with Got to Save It, a stomping, Stonesy eco-disaster cautionary anthem punctuated by Alexander’s unhinged, bluesy guitar breaks and savage pickslides. Black Whiskey is not a good-time drinking song but an indictment of the alcoholism which after all these years still plagues the Indian population.

Restaurant is over-the-top hilarious: this girl is a chocolate sundae with a cherry on top, yeah! The band return to potently relevant, Cree-flavored acid rock with the anti-nuclear power broadside Selfish Man. The band rise to a triumphant war cry as they gallop through Custer’s Dyin’ and close the record with Fight, a haphazardly heavy, redemptive epic which is all over the place stylistically and must have been a huge concert crowd-pleaser back in the day.

On Dog Soldier, the group are tighter, but they’re also trying to sound like .38 Special a lot of the time. The ever-present chorus pedal gives much of the material a dated feel, and they hardly distinguish themselves by aping the pop side of Blue Oyster Cult or acoustic Led Zep. But the quality rises as the album moves along. We Are the People is a towering, defiantly timeless reminder of how much more civilized the North American natives were, compared to the imperialist invaders. There’s also Crazy, shifting between hammering riffage and a spare, cantering native rhythm; We’re Still Here, a surreal attempt at politically-fueled disco; Warriors Road, a subdued acoustic freedom-fighter anthem; and I Will Remember. a stark, mystical folk tune. Good to have this distinctive band back in print.

An AC/DC Cover Album Worth Owning?

A lot of people forget that when AC/DC first hit these shores back in the late 70s, they got filed in the punk bins. The difference was that Angus Young was faster than most of the punk lead guitarists. Otherwise, AC/DC songs are easy to play, as anyone who cut their teeth learning this stuff will tell you.

So is there any reason why you would want to own a cover album like the new double vinyl compilation Best of AC/DC [Redux], or spin it at Bandcamp? For one, the bands are killer, and the new versions are surprisingly original. In case anyone is wondering how you might possibly do anything interesting with an AC/DC cover, this is your answer. And while most of the singers on last year’s editions of the Redux cover compilations decided to channel their inner Ozzy, the guys in these bands aren’t trying to be Bon Scott, or Brian Johnson, or…there was another guy after him, right?

Witchskull kick off the album with the prototypical four-on-the-floor riff-rocker Sin City, peaking out with an appropriately unhinged Marcus De Pasquale guitar solo before a sudden bass break. Likewise, Supersuckers’ Overdose takes the over-the-top shredding to the next level of WTF.

Kal-El‘s remake of It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘N Roll) is crunchier and sludgier: the organ track is an unexpectedly cool touch, even if it isn’t as insanely ridiculous as Greta Gertler‘s ukulele version. Mos Generator’s Tony Reed teams with Fu Manchu’s Bob Balch to reinvent What’s Next to the Moon as spare, sinister 80s goth rock: who would have thought? Ghost Ship Ritual‘s epic, ornate version of The Razors Edge is just as radical, and arguably the best song on the record.

One of the innumerable funny things about AC/DC is that despite Angus Young’s distaste for Ron Wood’s guitar playing, a lot of early AC/DC is awfully close to Ron Wood-era Stones. And some of those songs are here. But Kryptograf‘s Bad Boy Boogie ends a lot closer to the band’s Highway to Hell peak. And Solace do Whole Lotta Rosie as bad-to-the-bone boogie, with a deliriously good guitar duel out.

Blue Heron play Walk All Over You as Melvins-style sludge. Riff Lord‘s For Those About to Rock (We Salute You) is arguably heavier and a lot more dense than the original. Red Mesa‘s If You Want Blood is the closest thing to the original here – if it ain’t broke, right?

Caustic Casanova‘s take of Dog Eat Dog is closer to X, less over-the-top than the way cult favorite female-fronted New York AC/DC cover band Big Balls would do it. Fueled by drummer Rubin Badillo’s spot-on rolls, Electric Frankenstein play High Voltage as the Dead Boys would have. Domkraft wind up the record with a characteristically bludgeoning take of Night Prowler, AC/DC’s shameless ripoff of the Stones’ Midnight Rambler. All this makes you feel like a kid again: drop the needle and pick up your axe.

Tantalizingly Dark, Heavy Psychedelia and Doom Metal From Holy Serpent

Plundering the hard drive today for a dark, heavy rock treat from many months back. Holy Serpent’s Endless album – streaming at Bandcamp – hit the web just over a couple years ago. The Australian group blend doom metal with heavy psychedelia that tends to be on the hypnotically loopy side. Their songs are slow, and long: this band likes roaring chords and anthemic riffs rather than noodly solos.

They build the first song, Lord Deceptor, around a slow, gritty, buzzing post-Sabbath chromatic riff that’s more allusive than outright morbid – and ridiculously catchy. Uneasy, lingering leads from frontman Scott Penberthy along with synth wafting in from the sunset complete the picture.

The band switch between a cantering groove and a halfspeed roar with Into the Fire: it could be a particularly sludgy Black Angels song with more distortion. Dave Bartlett’s bass introduces Daughter of the Light over a Lance Leembrugen’s tantalizingly light drumbeat, then the enigmatic riffage comes crushing in; as they like to do on this record, they hint at evil chromatics more than they hit them head-on.

The pulse gets tenser and the guitars more ominous and enveloping in Hourglass. For No One is not a Beatles cover but a slowly swaying, buzzing original with a simple, disquieting lead line floating overhead. The closing cut, Marijuana Trench follows a long trajectory up from Nick Donoughue’s unexpectedly delicate, hazy acoustic intro to some knotty rhythms and the album’s most lush, enveloping sweep.

The Lucky Thirteenth Volume of the Brown Acid Heavy Psych Compilations Is Out Today

Over the course of a dozen compilations, the tireless crate diggers behind the Brown Acid series have unearthed innumerable rare heavy psychedelic, heavy soul and proto-metal singles and deep cuts. At what point is the bowl finally played? Where does the trip wind down to the point where it’s time to kill what’s left of the case of beer and crash? Not now. The Thirteenth Trip is out on vinyl today and streaming at Bandcamp.

Previous compilations have spanned from the late 60s to as recently as 1981. The year 1972 is a big one for this playlist. The first cut is Run Run, a riff-rock curio by Montreal band Max. Nice high-midrange guitars, barely passable English lyrics, such that there are any.

Ralph Williams’ Dark Street immediately validates the Brown Acid esthetic, a lithely pulsing heavy blues with some tantalizingly tasty lead guitar work. “Dark street, you are my life,” Williams asserts, even if “I haven’t got a single thing to eat.”

Third Side, by Geyda, is a mostly one-chord Spooky Tooth-style number: skittish drums, minor sixth chords. In a primitive way, it embraces non-binary thinking. No joke.

Gary Del Vecchio’s Buzzin is a feast of sizzling riffage, overdubbed call-and-response style in each channel: as the liner notes tell it, he was the lead guitarist on the Max single. John Kitko’s 1972 acid rock gem Indecision obviously took even more time in the studio for the icepick-precise lead guitar multitracks: bizarrely, it ends cold, seemingly cut off. Did the master tape run out, or break off? We’ll probably never know.

Tampa band Bacchus’ 1972 single Hope is a heavier take on what the Doors did with Roadhouse Blues: they would go on to become Fortress, who had some success with their 1981 album Hands In The Till.

“How can I live without this disease, yeah?” Master Danse’s singer intones in the Detroit band’s monstrous 1972 blues Feelin Dead. It’s both a tribute to the band’s Detroit roots, and one of the most venomous anti-Boston songs ever written. Vengeance would be on the Murder City’s side that year: Red Sox manager Eddie Kasko started a rookie against the Tigers in a pivotal late-season game, with disastrous results.

Orchid’s Go Big Red is one of the great mindfucks that pop up here and there throughout the Brown Acid series. It’s a squeaky-clean garage-pop song with a couple of fuzztone guitar breaks that sound so improbable, it’s as if some studio stoner decided to overdub them just to fuck with the band…or to get them to pay for their time.

These compilations also occasionally feature a novelty song or two. Dry Ice’s garagey Don’t Munkey with the Funky Skunky speaks for itself, a cheap attempt at what Brownsville Station would do much more effectively with Smokin in the Boys Room. The last song on the record is Good Humore’s souped-up soul shout-out to their Detroit home turf.

In a very auspicious development, Riding Easy Records is launching a new series focusing on rare 80s metal. That promises to be even more of a gold mine, considering how advances in low-budget cassette recording fueled an explosion of both studio and live material.

A Heavy Psychedelic Gem From 2016 Takes on New Relevance

The ancien regime gets old and feeble and increasingly entitled. They’ve repressed the peasants for so long they think they can get away with new levels of sadism and torture.

But they’re doomed to fall. How many times have we seen this throughout history?

The French royalty, 1789. The Russian tsarist regime, 1918. The Nazis, 1945.

The Gates Foundation, 2021.

You live your life in palaces
Raised up inside your head
Time shield from the world
Underneath your bed
Trapped in the materials
Insatiable until you’re dead
….So scared that you will fall, out of touch
…You think it’s fun
Using words instead of guns
Hiding in a cell
Without a door or even walls
Knowing how to feel so scared
That you will fall
Out of touch in your palaces

That song, Palaces, is the high point of heavy psych band Panic in Eden‘s album In the Company of Vultures, which hit the web about five years ago and is still streaming at Soundcloud. It starts as a brooding acoustic folk ballad and then shifts from 70s stoner metal to four-on-the-floor punk fury and eventually an outro straight out of LA Woman. Who knew it would be so prophetic?

The rest of the record is strong, and psychedelically diverse. The chromatic menace of the intro to the first track, Out For Blood, is a false start: it quickly turns into a web of 70s bluesmetal riffs set to tricky rhythms, Slade meets Rage Against the Machine. Who’s to Blame is a surreal mashup of early Genesis and Led Zep stumbling through open-tuned acoustic blues. The catchy anthem War on the Rocks could be political….or just a kiss-off anthem to a femme fatale.

Passerby is a 70s psychedelic epic with a bizarre, mythical lyric: “Is it wrong to question what we’re taught?” frontman Lucas McEachern finally asks. The group follow the mutedly sinister instrumental White Elephant with the spiraling riffs and clanging guitars of Could It Be You, which wouldn’t be out of place on Nektar’s Down to Earth album.

Hang with Shapeshifter through the math-rock to the psychedelic freakout. The band finally go over the edge into dystopian circus rock, as they’ve been hinting all along in The Waltz. They close with the cynical, diabolical heavy blues of A Revelation At Its Finest.

Careening Through Space with Psychlona

Psychlona are very heavy and very immersively psychedelic. They like hypnotic riffs, and volume, and organic textures that degenerate naturally into distortion and fuzz. And it’s obvious that this album wasn’t recorded to a click track. If your idea of a good time is getting so stoned that you can’t get off the couch, this is your jam. This music doesn’t move around a lot, either: it just hits you over and over again. The band’s 2016 album Mojo Rising – which has nothing to do with the Doors – is streaming at Bandcamp.

The distantly tolling guitar riff that kicks off the opening track, Stone, doesn’t hint at the all-enveloping crush that develops soon after. The band’s publicist nailed it when he mentioned early Orange Goblin; early Sleep is another good comparison, especially when it hits you that this is basically a one-chord  jam.

From there the group  – guitarists Phil Hey and Dave Wainfor, bassist Martyn Birchall and drummer Scott Frankling – ride a wave of screechy fuzz into Ride, the second track. It’s a funny, brisk boogie in an early Fu Manchu vein, where the guys want to get into the weed and the wine but the girl talking in the right channel isn’t into it. Down in the Valley may be hypnotic, but it’s an evil place – and that halfspeed Psychotic Reaction hook will have you nodding your head despite yourself.

Big River is about as far from Johnny Cash as you can possibly imagine, following Sleep-y fast/slow dynamics with layers of wah wafting through the mix: here and there Birchall’s bass slithers up for air. The band go back to heavy stoner boogie for Your God, an even more immersive one-chord heavy spacerock jam.

Master of Reality wah bass converges with into-the-fan vocals in Juju, as the band go doublespeed and back. Black Dog is not the Zep classic but an original where the foursome careen their way up to another doublespeed wah guitar boogie. They close with Beakfoot – all of a sudden the grit is off the bass, replaced by watery 80s sonics as the guitars go unexpectedly bluesy, over nine minutes worth of a one-chord jam where everybody in the band eventually goes through every one of their stompbox settings to keep things interesting.

Swedish Metal Band Alastor Deliver a Morbid, Psychedelic Response to the Insanity of 2020 and This Year

Swedish metal band Alastor‘s riff-metal surrounds you in walls of distortion and fuzz, but with refreshingly oldschool production values and swirly organ which amps up the psychedelic factor. The band like slow, sludgy songs with tarpit acid blues solos and more interesting structures beyond simple verses and choruses. Only a couple of tracks on their new album Onwards and Downwards – streaming at Bandcamp – clock in at less than seven minutes. It’s interesting to hear a band that’s always been associated with doom metal switching out the usual macabre chromatics and horror riffs for a more circling, mesmerizing, immersive attack.

There’s cold clunk from Jim Nordström’s drums behind frontman Robin Arnryd’s spring-wound, growling bass as the opening track, The Killer in My Skull follows a slow sway, up to the distorted, circling chords and distant organ in the hypnotic, riff-driven midsection.

The second track is Dead Things in Jars, a toxically foggy update on Master of Reality riff-sludge with slowly shifting rhythmic changes, guitarist Hampus Sandell’s screaming wah lines winding down quickly to a slow space-blues interlude.

Death Cult is an unexpectedly fast, pounding, slurry number that’s a lot closer to Brian Jonestown Massacre spacerock. Sandell gets the fuzz and the distortion going with his hammer-on riffs as the bass and drums take a much slower prowl in Nightmare Trip.

They follow the brief rainy-day acoustic guitar interlude Pipsvängen with the album’s epic title track, slowly shifting from one anthemic, burning theme to another, making you wait for the big payoff. They close the album with Lost and Never Found, a grim metal take on a ba-bump stripper theme.

As a whole, the album is a response to the insanity of the past fourteen months. You may wonder why a Swedish group would be complaining about the lockdown, considering that Sweden basically didn’t (and their COVID death rate was much lower than regions that did). Well, Sweden is cashless: there’s no need for lockdowns when all citizens’ purchases and whereabouts can be surveilled. Public health, after all, is just a pretext for instituting a locked-down 24/7 surveillance state.