Farflung – 5

Farflung are absolute stalwarts of the heavy space rock scene and have shared stages with some great acts such as The Melvins, Voivod, Fu Manchu, Nebula, Amon Duul, Hawkwind, Silver Apples and have collaborated with many more. This Californian band consists of Tommy Grenas (Lead vocals, oscillators, synths and guitar), Michael Esther (Guitar, synths and vocals), Paul Hischier (Guitar), Abby Travis (Bass, vocals and keys) and Chris Nakata (Drums, guitar, bass and vocals).

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‘5’, the first full length from Farflung since 2008’s ‘A Wound in Eternity’ was recorded at Saturn Moon Studios, Tarantula Ranch and Rancho De La Luna. It features guest appearances from the likes of Nik Turner (Hawkwind), David Catching (Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal) and Gene Trautmann (Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal).

As you would expect from a Space Rock band, this album is chock-full of psychedelic, effects-laden synthesizers and swirling guitar overlays intertwined with frenetic, varied vocals. This chaotic slab of noise is underpinned by some brilliantly tight instrumentation. The rhythm guitars, drums and bass all work together to provide a solid foundation, never getting too complex which really allows the psychedelic aspects of this release to shine. It’s the sign of a good band that know how to write parts that benefit the song as a whole.

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Heavy Psych Sounds’ releases always boast absolutely stellar production and ‘5’ is no exception. The drums are snappy yet natural. The guitars and bass are chunky and heavy without and muddiness and the vocals and synths glide effortlessly above it all, always perfectly audible with some great panning work.

Pretty much all the songs on this album have sections where the whole band seem to simply wash into a psychedelic, spacey jam and back out again like an ebbing tide. This can be heard on ‘044MPZ’, a song that literally sent shivers down my spine towards its end.

The artwork for this release is some kind of misty shoreline, which really sums up its sound as previously mentioned. This is Cosmic Rock at its finest.

Make sure you grab this release on May 27th via Heavy Psych Sounds and catch the band on tour (poster below).


https://www.facebook.com/Farflung-official-Site-21088343878

https://twitter.com/Farflungmusic

http://www.heavypsychsounds.com/


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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

Black Rainbows – Stellar Prophecy

Hailing from Rome in Italy, Black Rainbows are the boot shaped country’s answer to Fu Manchu. This heavy psych rock is made up of Gabriele Fiori, Alberto Croce and Giuseppe Guglielmino.

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‘Stellar Prophecy’, the follow up to last years ‘Hawkdope’, is the fifth full length release from Black Rainbows and is another perfect slice of sun-drenched, desert fuzz goodness. If Monster Magnet, Fu Manchu, Wolfmother and Hawkwind all drove together down a dusty highway, this would be in the tape deck.

The production on this release is just perfect. The drums lurk just under the surface of the mix, and are brilliantly solid and warm. The guitars and bass are like layers of an onion, stacked upon one another to create a larger mass that when coupled with the swirling, psychedelic lead lines and synths create an almost globe of trippy sound all the way around your brain. The vocals add to this effect and are creatively panned with heaps of delay, again layered to what seems like infinity.

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The tracks on this album are ordered brilliantly and just as you begin to drift off in your own little world, accompanied by the psychedelic almost meditational-like longer tracks, you’re pulled back into reality with huge catchy riffs. The album itself is around fourty-four minutes long but it feels like half that and you’ll find yourself spinning this one over and over again.

The artwork for ‘Stellar Prophecy’ is fantastic and lends itself well to Black Rainbow’s cosmic, fuzzy sound. Black Rainbows are wizards, performing the ritual of fuzz!

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All in all, it’s no surprise that this album absolutely rocks. Black Rainbows have been honing their craft for eleven years and it totally shows. You’d be mad not to grab this album when it drops on April 15th via Heavy Psych Sounds Records.

https://blackrainbows.bandcamp.com/

https://twitter.com/BLACKRAINBOWSii

https://www.facebook.com/BLACKRAINBOWSROCK

http://www.theblackrainbows.com/

Sykopath Condor – Cell 36

Sykopath Condor is a four-piece stoner metal act from Luton in the UK. The band consists of George Zafirakis (Vocals), Kai Wolf (Guitar), Ashley Clark (Bass) and Ashley Morton (Drums). George and Kai hail from Greece and Germany respectively and this injection of European influence really gives Sykopath Condor a true sound of their own.

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After touring their debut material extensively, the band decided on a darker, heavier tone and set to work recording their follow up album, ‘Cell 36’ – a genre-bending slab of stoner infused heavy metal. This self-released album, set upon the world like a rabid dog out for blood in the summer of last year was recorded and mixed by Justin Saban of Latent Lemon Studios and the production is really solid.

The drums are nice and snappy which helps to build that solid metal foundation upon which the stoner grooves of the guitars and bass sit. There’s not a huge amount of extra instrumentation going on here which really gives it that ‘four guys in a room mic’ed up’ sort of sound – something that works extremely well with stoner rock. George’s vocals have a ‘husky’ quality to them, which reminds me of a more southern-tinged Ben Ward from Orange Goblin. Overall, the band have a similar vibe to the aforementioned stoner titans, with a bit of Down and Kyuss thrown in for good measure.

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Overall, this is a brilliant taste of things to come from Sykopath Condor, while still being a great album in its own right. The band remind me of another UK act doing the rounds right now called Master Charger and it would be great to catch the two on a stage together (if it hasn’t already happened!). If you’re a fan of the more metal side of the stoner spectrum, make sure you give ‘Cell 36’ a listen – you won’t be disappointed!

As always, make sure you support the band by catching them at a gig or buying their album:

https://sykopathcondor.bandcamp.com/

https://twitter.com/SykopathCondor

https://www.facebook.com/Sykopath-Condor-189968771013176

Vodun – Possession

Vodun is a three piece band from London that mix riff-filled psychedelic-tinged heavy rock with soulful vocals, all tied together with a heavy west African influence. They describe themselves as comprising of ‘three central forces, rather than individuals’, those forces being Oya (vocals), Ogoun (drums) and Marassa (guitar).

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‘Possession’ is the debut effort from Vodun and what a debut it is! The album has been mixed by Brit-nominated Tom Dalgety and this really shows in the tight, snappy sound. The vocals sit in the mix extremely well and the drums and guitars are totally dialled in.

The sound on this album is quite frenetic. Rather than big bombastic doom style riffs, Vodun are much more fast and technical and at some points even verging on math-esque – something I definitely wasn’t expecting. Having said this, it’s a refreshing change.

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Usually with this kind of music the drums are sparse. Vodun again change up this dynamic by using quite packed and busy drumming which really helps to cement that ‘tribal’ sort of sound (aside from the actual tribal drums which are again used to great effects).

Moving on to the vocals, this is where Vodun really shine. While the rest of the instrumentation is fantastic, it’s Oya’s voice that tie everything together. For this kind of music, soulful vocals are a rarity but it fits tremendously well. Oya has bucket loads of power in her voice and she uses it with great aplomb. Having said that, during the bands’ more introspective and psychedelic passages, the vocals really do seem as if they’re being sung by an ethereal spirit.

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In summary, Vodun bring a refreshing new sound while still retaining the heavy aspect that we all love. ‘Posession’ is a fantastic slice of genre-bending psych rock and it will be great to see where the band go from here.

‘Posession’ is due to be released on 25th March via Riff Rock Records. Make sure you get out to one of Vodun’s upcoming tour dates (below) as well as support them by buying the record and following them on all the usual social media sites.

https://www.facebook.com/VODUNBAND

https://twitter.com/vodunband


 

Tour Dates (co-headline w/ Limb)

April

1 Sheffield, The Washington

2 Manchester, Rebellion 

3 Milton Keynes, Craufurd Arms

6 Coventry, The Arches

7 London, The Lexington (Vodun Album launch gig)

8 Bristol, Stag & Hounds

9 Oxford, The Wheatsheaf


Words by James Crozier

Boss Keloid – Herb Your Enthusiasm

Boss Keloid is a progressive sludge band hailing from the unlikely riff stronghold of Wigan, UK (home to some other great acts such as Mower). The band is comprised of Paul Swarbrick (Guitars), Adam Swarbrick (Bass), Stephen Arands (Drums) and Alex Hurst (Vocals). Having supported bands such as Raging Speedhorn, Soulfly, Gurt and Slabdragger as well as a UK tour supporting Widows, these northern sludge merchants are currently one of the bigger bands in the Manchester/North West scene right now.

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The cleverly titled, ‘Herb Your Enthusiasm’ is a ten track slab of weighty riff worship. This, the band’s second effort, was recorded and mixed by Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studios (Conan, Electric Wizard, Napalm Death) and mastered by James Plotkin (Khanate, Isis, Conan, Palms).

It goes without saying then, that the sound on this album is absolutely massive. The guitars definitely have some sort of persistent octave effect, which really helps to give the riffs a ‘solid’ feel; sometimes the tone is so rolled off that it’s almost synth like.

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To give you some perspective, in a live situation Boss Keloid actually have physical weight behind their music. I last saw the band at Riff Fest in the summer and they somehow managed to create a barrier of tangible pressure between you and the stage – it’s that heavy. It’s probably helped greatly by the absolute slab-like foundation provided by Stephen and Adam on drums and bass respectively.

Alex’s vocals are drawn out and ethereal, with tons of vocal harmonies like a choir of corrupted monks. It’s really refreshing to hear clean vocals in a British sludge band and this, coupled with some brilliant time signature changes really sets Boss Keloid apart from their peers.

Without naming and shaming, a huge majority of bands from Manchester and the surrounding areas seem to worship Down to the point that nothing they come out with is original. I can firmly say that this is not the case with Boss Keloid and well done to them for not falling into that trap.

If I had to compare them to other bands, Boss Keloid are essentially Baroness and Intronaut, being forcefully and slowly pushed into thick quicksand by Meshuggah.

The artwork for ‘Herb Your Enthusiasm’ paints a scene from some sort of otherworldly dimension. There are both elements of the theatrical as well as weaving, swirling roots and this seems to sum up Boss Keloid perfectly as a band.

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All in all, Boss Keloid should be immensely proud of what they’ve created with ‘Herb Your Enthusiasm’. It’s original, immensely heavy and actually extremely catchy. While I’d love to see a bit more variety in terms of tempo, this is one of the best UK sludge albums I’ve heard in recent times and I can’t wait to catch the band on their upcoming mini tour with Barbarian Hermit.

‘Herb Your Enthusiasm’ is out on April 8th via Black Bow Records. As always, like and follow the band on social media to show your support!

https://bosskeloid.bandcamp.com/

https://twitter.com/BOSSKELOID

https://www.facebook.com/bosskeloidband

The Texas Chainsaw Dust Lovers – Me and the Devil

The Texas Chainsaw Dust Lovers are a riff-fuelled fuzz rock band that hail from Paris, France – despite the fact that they have a very American sound!

The band is comprised of Clément Collot (Guitar & Vocals), Nagui Méhany (Guitar & Harmonica), Christophe Hogommat (Drums) and Étienne Collot (Bass). The Texas Chainsaw Dust Lovers have shared the stage with some great bands, including The Midnight Ghost Train and Black Spiders.

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The latest release from the band is called, ‘Me and the Devil’. The grammatical faux pas of the name is completely forgiven as soon as The Texas Chainsaw Dust Lover’s unique brand of fuzzy rock hits your eardrums. The guitar tones are both smooth yet aggressive, the drums are super tight and well thought out and Clement’s vocals are outstanding. The production values are also top-notch.

In terms of sound, TTCDL have a really unique style, but they definitely wear their influences on their sleeves! There is an obvious Clutch and Queens of the Stone Age influence as well as more subtle ones pulled in from elsewhere, such as Ennio Morricone’s classic scores. While they might not be an actual influence, there are some huge similarities to the later Arctic Monkeys albums (where they dropped the indie rock aspect and became much more stoner rock-esque, no doubt helped along by Josh Homme when he produced them).

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The Texas Chainsaw Dust Lovers are really coming into the scene from a fresh angle. While the trademark fuzzed-out guitars and wide, loose drums that are a hallmark of stoner rock are still present, you can tell that all the songs on this album have been thought about in terms of songwriting and aren’t just a collection of riffs and licks.

I wholeheartedly recommend that you grab a copy of this fantastic slice of atmospheric fuzzy rock’n’roll, find the longest, dustiest road that you can and absolutely crank the volume! The Texas Chainsaw Dust Lovers have crafted a superb, sexy album and I personally can’t wait until they find their way across the channel and play some UK shows!

‘Me and the Devil’ is out on the 28th of March, released by Besta Records. You can pre-order the album on Bandcamp right now and if you don’t go and follow this band on all social media, you should be arrested, because it’d be a crime not to give these guys a listen.

https://texaschainsawdustlovers.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/TheTexasChainsawDustLovers

 

Words by James Crozier