Pensevor – Klothod

Pensevor are a four piece band from Farnborough in the UK. This hypnotic sludge-doom collective is comprised of Mark Jennings (Vocals), Patrick Hopkins (Guitars), Ky Hopkins (Bass) and Richard Fennings (Drums).

‘Klothod’ is the full-length follow up to Pensevor’s 2013 self-titled debut EP. This latest release was recorded and mixed by the band’s drummer, Richard and then given to Danny Page to perform the rite of mastering!

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Pensevor, who are currently competing to win a coveted spot on the lineup at Bloodstock Festival this year, are absolute purveyors of melancholic drone-doom. The original EP was a very sparse affair in terms of instrumentation and while it’s nice to see that the band have added some more variety in to their songs, they still retain that brilliant atmosphere of complete doom-ridden hopelessness.

The production on this album is a bit of a double edged sword. At some points the lo-fi sound does help add to the atmosphere of each track; however I can’t help but wish that there was more weight to the low end to really bring out the crushing riffs that have been crafted by Patrick and Ky. Nevertheless, the actual songwriting on this album is great with the right mix of slow doom and drone sections that mean this album never gets too repetitive and that’s what really matters.12347849_800751700053454_8537583244237992630_n.jpg

My favourite track on this album has to be the aptly named, ‘I Despair’. It’s just shy of eight minutes long, making it one of the longer tracks on the release and it’s a fantastic slab of totally forlorn doom. This tune is like a gigantic, remorseful troll struggling to its feet, surrounded by those it has just killed.

‘Klothod’ is a masterclass in the kind of Doom only the British can produce. It’s foreboding and deeply morose. I very much look forward to the next release from this brilliant band!

‘Klothod’ is available on May 6th via Hibernacula Records

https://pensevor432.bandcamp.com/

https://twitter.com/Pensevor

https://www.facebook.com/Pensevor

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Hollow Leg – Crown

Florida – The sunshine state; Home to Disneyworld, disturbingly large alligators and of course, swamp-stoners Hollow Leg. This riff-fuelled four piece is comprised of Brent, Tim, Scott, and Tom.

‘Crown’ is the follow up to the band’s 2013 release, ‘Abysmal’ and once again showcases the band’s own spin on riff worship! Fans of High on Fire, Weedeater and Crowbar (and of course the band themselves!) will feel right at home with this brilliantly heavy slab of Sludge-infused Stoner-doom.

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This latest release from Hollow Leg was mixed by Sanford Parker (Corrections House) and mastered by Collin Jordan (Minsk). Such pedigree on the production side of things means that the album is stunningly well produced. While there’s heaviness in absolute abundance, the songs never seem ‘muddy’.

Guitars here are full of fuzz with a lovely rolled off style tone. This complements the solid bass and drums perfectly and means that when the huge, effects-laden lead lines come soaring in, they can really sing! Hollow Leg’s vocals have quite a unique quality about them.  The best I can compare them to is other hybrid growled/shouted vocals such as that of bands like Viking Skull – no bad thing at all!

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The majority of the tracks on this album are pure in your face sludge. Having said that, there are some points where the listener is given some respite (not that it’s needed when every song is so chock-full of amazing riffage). The middle track, ‘Atra’ serves as an interlude of sorts before the band launch right back into their unique brand of southern stoner-sludge.

All-in-all, ‘Crown’ is a fantastic addition to both Hollow Leg’s repertoire, as well as any stoner/doom connoisseur’s collection. There’s riffs upon riffs, all of which are as good as the last and you’ll be finding yourself putting this one on repeat for days. All my fingers and toes are now crossed for a UK tour because this release is astounding and I would love to hear the songs played live!

You can grab this album right now via Argonauta Records.

https://hollowleg666.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/hollowlegfl

Desert Storm / Suns of Thunder Split (Desertfest)

Both Desert Storm and Suns of Thunder are stalwarts of the UK stoner/sludge/scene, so it comes as no surprise that these two bands feature on one of the upcoming Desertfest splits as representatives for the festival.

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The first track on this great little slice of stoner rock is ‘Signals From Beyond’ by Desert Storm, who are currently one of the best bands in the UK right now (and for some time). This tune is classic Desert Storm with huge riffs, rock solid bass and drums and Matt’s signature gravelly vocals. Hopefully this excellent track makes it on to the oxford based band’s hugely anticipated upcoming album.

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Suns of Thunder are a balls-out rock ‘n’ roll four-piece from Swansea in South Wales. The band’s ‘Earn Your Stripes’ is taken from the groovy, swagger-filled album, ‘Start as You Mean to Get Down’ and is the second song on this split. It’s a bombastic slab of bluesy stoner rock with stop-start riffs that are as blisteringly heavy as they are catchy.

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You can grab this release on April 29th via H42 Records and while you do so, make sure you go and get the whole back catalogue of both these great bands – there’s not a bad track between them!

 https://sunsofthunder.bandcamp.com

https://www.facebook.com/sunsofthunder

 

 https://desertstorm.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/desertstormuk

https://twitter.com/desertstormuk

False Gods – Wasteland

False Gods is a four piece sludge metal band from New York in the USA, with a big hardcore influence bubbling under the surface. The band consists of Mike Stack (Vocals), Greg March (Guitars), Paulie Stack (Drums) and Brian “bro town” Kaminsky (Bass).

‘Wasteland’ is their debut EP, recorded at Full Force Studios in Ronkonkoma in New York with Joe Cincotta (This is Hell, Suffocation, Incendiary) late last year.

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False Gods don’t really fit into any sort of category and really can only be labelled as ‘extreme’. There’s heavy, groovy riffage in abundance and you might be tempted to label them as doom/sludge which, for the sake of categorisation I’d say is where they’d fit best. Having said that, there’s a solid hardcore foundation going on behind the scenes and this is especially apparent with Mike’s raspy, unrelenting vocal attack. Aside from the obvious, there’s also a hint of atmospheric/post-metal going on, which can be heard at the end of Wasteland, the title track.

The production quality on this EP is fantastic and really manages to capture the rawness of False God’s core sound. The band utilise dissonant chords to great effect and the mix makes them sound absolutely punishing. A good example of this is the beginning if the final track, ‘I Can See You for What You Truly Are’.

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The artwork on this EP is extremely haunting, depicting some sort of spectre gently cradling an unconscious woman. This adds to the vibe of total nihilism that this EP gives off.

All in all, ‘Wasteland’ is a great introduction to False Gods – a band that I am sure we will see much more of in 2016. Full length please!

False Gods will be self-releasing ‘Wasteland’ on April 22nd 2016. As always make sure you support the band by following them on social media and buying their EP!

https://falsegods1.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/falsegods1/

Slabdragger – Rise of the Dawncrusher

If you hadn’t guessed from the name (to be honest you should know this band already!), Slabdragger are a Sludge band based in London with heaps of Stoner and Doom thrown in for good measure. The band consists of Yusuf Tary (Bass/Vocals), Sam Thredder (Guitar/Vocals) and Jack Newnham (Drums). The band’s previous release ‘Regress’, was a thunderous chunk of heaviness and now, a staggering five years on we have been given, ‘Rise of the Dawncrusher’.

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With such a prolific band in the UK scene, it’d take pages to list all the bands they’ve played with. Having said that, considering this trio have shared a stage with the likes of High on Fire, Moonspell, Hang The Bastard, Desert Storm, Boss Keloid, Raging Speedhorn, OHHMS, Conjurer and a hell of a lot more in just the past half a year it doesn’t take a genius to know that this band is a serious player in this game.

‘Rise of the Dawncrusher’ was recorded and mixed at The Cro’s Nest Studio by guitarist Sam and mastered by Steve Austin of Today is the Day.

Those of you who already know Slabdragger will be familiar with their earth shaking sound and if you thought they couldn’t get any heavier, you were oh so wrong!

The guitars on ‘Rise of the Dawncrusher’ are so powerful and weighty that they could launch the titanic from its watery grave right up through the atmosphere and into space. A lot of bands try to do this and fail – it ends up being a huge muddy mess. This isn’t the case with Slabdragger and its here that I feel their pedigree really shows. The riffs are absolutely humongous, but there’s still an insane amount of clarity which really make Slabdragger stand out from the crowd.

The vocals on this release are a mix of pained screams and more drawn out cleans, which really adds another layer of depth to Slabdragger’s already thick sound.

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Drummer Jack must not be excluded from this however. The drumming on this album is absolutely sublime and the hits are few and far between in the best possible way. With this kind of plodding sludge/doom, the best bands give these monolithic riffs room to breathe while still providing an almost ritualistic beat behind and this album is no exception.

As previously mentioned, the production on this release is fantastic. ‘Rise of the Dawncrusher’ perfectly encapsulates Slabdragger’s live sound. It’s unrelenting, yet every instrument sits nicely in the mix despite the extreme low end.

In terms of length, this album is over an hour long. Despite this, there are only five tracks with only one of those being under ten minutes. This might put some less seasoned doom listeners off, but sticking with it is well worth it. There’s not a bad riff on the whole album and at no point do you find yourself thinking that certain parts are unnecessary.

The album art was created by comic artist and writer Jimmy Pearson. It’s an almost epilepsy-inducing portrayal of a huge, unwieldy ship drilling into what is presumably Earth. You can almost feel the weight behind it and that pretty much sums up the whole album. It’s a relentless, lengthy affair that drills right into your brain and stays there for days because the songs, while long, are catchy as hell.

In summary, based on my previous experience of Slabdragger both recorded and live, I never really had any doubt that ‘Rise of the Dawncrusher’ would be anything less than one of the best sludge/doom albums of this year. What did surprise me is that the band has managed to improve on an already winning formula and have produced a truly worthy successor to Regress. In short, buy it. You will not regret it.

‘Rise of the Dawncrusher’ is out now via Holy Roar Records

https://slabdragger.bandcamp.com

http://www.holyroarrecords.com/artists/slabdragger

Allfather – Bless The Earth With Fire

Allfather is a band that blends monstrous, sludgy grooves with aggressive hardcore to devastating effect. The band are based in Rochester in the UK and are made up of Alan (guitar), Andrew (bass), Joe (guitar), Kieron (drums) and Tom (vocals).

Having previously reviewed their debut EP (as well as sharing a stage with them), I knew I was in for a treat and Allfather have not disappointed. This is a band that has cut their teeth supporting some really belligerent acts such as Cold World and Venom Prison; it really shows in the new sense of almost hostility that pervades Bless The Earth With Fire.

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The tones on this record are massive. Allfather might be very doom/sludge influenced but the guitars and bass are hardcore central with the distortion cranked. It’s abrasive in the best way. The riffs themselves are an eternal battle between punk chord battery and sleep-esque sludge worship intersected with monolithic breakdowns that are heavier than a blue whale.

The drums and vocals are sparingly used – as they should be – to really accentuate the weight of these riffs. It’s like the guitars are a constant wave, slowly eroding a cliff face, while the drums and vocals are wayward ships, crashing into it full force, both combining to utterly destroy all in their path.

The production on this album is really tight, but at the same time it’s not clinical and helps recreate that raw edge that make Allfather so awesomely aggressive in a live setting. Personally, the bass could be more present, but that’s coming from a doom/stoner fanatic.

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My personal favourite on this release has to be the 11-minute epic, ‘Death, and Hell Followed with Him’. The track begins with some great atmospheric clean guitars, eventually morphing into a monolithic doom riff that still retains Allfather’s destructive sound. The best thing about this is the multiple guitar harmonies that practically sing over the pounding low end – this is something I’d love to see more of from the Allfather lads in future releases. Around halfway through, the track turns into full on hardcore with a blistering solo. It’s basically a microcosm of everything Allfather are about.

The artwork for Bless The Earth With Fire is brilliant and basically sums this album up. Impending darkness and doom surrounds some kind of volcano that is erupting with so much force that the clouds bend around the explosion.

In summary, this album is an absolute slab of refined nihilism. My only complaint is that it’s too short and I positively cannot wait to hear what the band come out with next.

Bless The Earth With Fire will be released on 29th April via Static Tension Recordings. You can pre-order the album here. As always, make sure you go buy it and follow the guys on Facebook and Twitter.

https://www.facebook.com/allfathermetaluk

https://twitter.com/AllfatherUK

Electricjezus – Котлован

It’s rare for a piece of music to establish its intent so clearly from the very first chord but Electricjezus leave little room for doubt. When the first raw, floppy stringed, fuzzed out chord of “Сырая Тишина (Humid Silence)” hits, you are left with no illusions: with Ruslan on guitars, bass, organ, vocals, and his partner in crime Oleg on drums,  two-piece, Electricjezus are here to serve up classic sludgy, downtempo doom shipped fresh from Dmitrov, Russia.

The EP gets straight to work with long drawn out chords, laced with feedback and thumping drums; a sound squarely in the middle of early Earth and The Melvins at their most malignant. As the track progresses, we’re treated to all the required creepy discordances, hypnotic riffs and razorblade vocals that the genre demands. It’s a mellow (well, mellow for doom) start to the recording – more “eyes shut and sway” than “beware the harbinger of the end-times: he comes”.

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“Плоть и Кровь (Flesh and Blood)” changes things up without deviating too much from the formula, with a killer stop-start riff which gives way to more sludgy riffs, but this time the approach is more visceral and unhinged with Ruslan’s vocals becoming more of a central feature. It’s a welcome change of pace.

It’s somewhat ironic that the shortest track of the EP (Пыль Dust) should offer the greatest breadth of stylistic variations. It opens with an almost punky (again distinctively Melvins-esque) riff, then twists toward more classic sludge riffing. That in turn gives way to a galloping triplet-time riff which illicits thoughts of Baroness and early Mastodon before returning to the standard doomy fare via more creeping, menacing riffs. Though the band must be applauded for exploring more musical ideas, it occasionally feels disjointed and I feel some great relief when the band settle back into a down tempo groove towards the end of the song.

Собачий Вой (Dog’s Howl) returns to more familiar ground, beginning with a synthy organ which is pummeled into the ground by the heaviest guitar work that Electricjezus have served up so far. The guitars are drenched in reverb and the tempo is dropped to its lowest point so far. Ruslan’s vocals are at their rawest here – the sound of vocal chords pushed past their limits and Oleg’s drumming is restrained and primal. This is what the band do best: it’s by the books doom. There’s little innovation going on, but it’s done perfectly and sounds like the soundtrack to an invasion of angry dinosaurs as the world burns around you – precisely as this kind of music should. Top stuff.

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The final track on the EP begins and immediately fills me with dread – not because of monstrous riffs or otherworldly guitar sounds, but because I quickly realise that this is a cover of Berlin’s 1986 super-hit “Take My Breath Away”. I am terrified that we have entered a frightening new era of comedy doom band covers. But somehow Electricjezus have pulled this off. I think because contrary to many “tongue in cheek” covers they appear to be approaching this cover with great love and affection for the original – it’s angry, slow, doom laden love, but as the several-minutes long fade-out leaves a fuzzy halo hanging in the air I can’t think of a better ending for the EP.

Before we end, I feel compelled to address the production of this record. The band’s Bandcamp page lists the tag “lo-fi” and that’s certainly true to an extent and there’s a level of “genre appropriateness” to the whole thing, but there comes a point where the lo-fi approach doesn’t always feel that it best serves the music. Guitars and vocals speak well but the drums are often at once over-authoritive, yet sounding muddled in the mix. I can’t help but feel that a touch more clarity, refinement and restraint would have made the EP that much more impactful.

In Котлован, Electricjezus have demonstrated that they are intimately aware of how to do this brand of doomy sludge and if that’s your cup of tea you could do far worse than to check them out. For my part, knowing that they’ve honed their craft so exactingly, I’d love to hear what happens when they stretch themselves beyond the constraints of the genre.

As always, you can grab the album on Bandcamp – don’t forget to like and follow the band on their social media pages too!

https://electricjezus.bandcamp.com/

https://twitter.com/Electricjezus

https://www.facebook.com/Electricjezus-575252375818127

 

Words by Alex Caithness of Longfallboots