Raging Speedhorn – Lost Ritual

Raging Speedhorn is a name that for many of our readers needs absolutely no introduction. This band is quite literally a stalwart of the UK heavy metal scene; their reunion and subsequent gigs reaffirming their place at the top of the pile.

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For those not in the know, or just out of the loop, Raging Speedhorn are a six-piece sludge/alternative/hardcore outfit from Corby in the UK. The band expertly blend the fast-paced, raw stylings of ‘proper’ hardcore with monolithic, sludgey riffs and a relentless dual-vocal onslaught. The band have supported the likes of Slipknot, Rammstein, Slayer and Cradle of Filth to name but a few.

Speedhorn have been accepted back into the live scene in the UK with open arms, especially by the burgeoning stoner/sludge/doom cohort. This influence seems to have rubbed off on them (a great thing for us riff consumers) as ‘Lost Ritual’ leans far more to this side of things than their earlier releases.

Having seen Raging Speedhorn plenty of times since their comeback (the Halfway to Hell t-shirt has been sported on many an occasion in the last year and many times on stage!) and hearing a few of the new songs played live, I knew that ‘Lost Ritual’ would be an amazing album. I’m pleased to say that this is true and without disrespect to their earlier work, it’s by far the best thing they’ve ever produced by a million miles.

‘Bring Out Your Dead’ is the perfect track to open with; chugging guitars and ferocious vocals set the scene for the rest of the album. Raging Speedhorn relentlessly spit their unique brand of heavy into your ears for a further eight blistering tracks before the finisher, ‘Unleash the Serpent’ which is a monolithic slab of sludge. While the band certainly have a distinct style, this album never gets stale – despite being ten tracks long, listening through the whole way felt like a few minutes which is a sign of a great album.

A special mention has to go out to Dominic Sohor, the creator of this record’s artwork. Dom is the go-to man these days for stoner/sludge/doom artwork and it’s not hard to see why. While I could list all the great bands he’s worked with, it would probably dwarf this article. Suffice to say, he’s an insane artist and you should check his work out.

All in all, ‘Lost Ritual’ is a stellar album by a killer band. Just as the scene was becoming swamped by Down clones, the true masters of modern British heaviness have returned with their best work to date and you’d quite frankly be a fool not to go out and buy this record on the day it comes out.

Words by James Crozier


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Stone Machine Electric – Sollicitus Es Veritatem

Stone Machine Electric is a duo from Texas. With their downtuned, slow guitar playing they have made absolutely sure that there is no need for bass in their sound. There is plenty of low-end on this record which is provided by Dub (guitar, vocals) and Kitchens (drums, vocals, theremin, synth). They were formed back in 2009. Since then they have recorded ‘The Garage Tape’ and ‘The Amazing Terror EP’ as well as this year’s ‘Sollicitus Es Veritatem’ (their first full length album). This release consists of five lengthy songs, ranging from seven to almost nineteen minutes and is their finest offering to date.

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The opening track, ‘I Am Fire’, starts with a slow-burning haunted touch to it. You can hear their Sabbath roots when the first riff kicks in after three and a half minutes and from there on its pure riff ‘n’ roll at its finest. A complimentary fact here is their smart vocal use and the rest of the album is based on the same formula as well. You get the feeling that Dub’s vocal duties kick in exactly and only when the song demands it. It doesn’t matter if it’s only for the last two minutes of the song because they let their riffs and cymbal smashing do the talking.

In the next song, ‘Dreaming’, the atmosphere builds up slowly until, as the lyrics say: ‘I’ll take you down and take you further’. The tempo picks up pace and they show their ‘jam’ side with a three minute guitar solo and heavy drum pummelling.

‘PorR’ is the next track and right from the start it has this ‘stoned, room full of smoke, huge reverb on the guitar’ kind of feel to it. The melody is one of those that you think you’ve heard it thousand times already but actually, it’s just that good that it sucks you right in. For some it may have that ‘Planet Caravan’ vibe which I’m sure no stoner rock fan would mind. Here again there is just a ton of excellent guitar solos accompanied perfectly by the drums. ‘PorR’ is my favourite track on this album for sure.

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A riff and cymbal explosion is the perfect start to longest track on the album called ‘Demons’. After the headbang-worthy first section, they start to slow it down a bit and here you can actually hear how low they tune their guitar when only a single note is being played without any effects; it sounds just like bass and the drums follow in that old school ‘rim shots’ way. They mix it back and forth until almost halfway through the song. At this point, the style shifts to an almost drone, noise style interlude. A couple of minutes after, the song gradually continues its second half with beautiful soloing that keeps on going and going and here is the perfect time for the listener to close his eyes and just relax. About 3 minutes before the end you are snapped out of the trance when the riffs start growling again. A great touch at the end of this song is liberal use of a flanger-style effect!

Unfortunately, every album has to end and in this case it is with, ‘I Am Fire (Slightly Burned)’.  The sog begins with a bunch of synths, theremin and who knows what other effects and sounds. This is their psychedelic side shown in majestic way. I wonder how it would sound if Stone Machine Electric ever decided to record a pure psychedelic rock album – I would be very much interested in hearing that! The last couple of minutes really reminded me of bands like Ufomammut, Monolord, Zoroaster and other psychedelic doom champions.

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The production and overall recording on ‘Sollicitus Es Veritatem’ is done flawlessly. It’s really clear and powerful from start until finish. That however is not surprising at all after you find out that the man behind it is Kent Stump of Wo Fat fame!

In this genre its really easy to fall under the surface and sink as there is a million bands all over the world playing the same music, having the same idols, playing on the same gear as everyone else etc. This is not the case with Stone Machine Electric. Is it because how tight they two play? Is it because the riffs are never boring and always move in all kind of directions? Or maybe because of their unique psychedelic interventions when you least expect them? It’s all of that and much more. What a great record and a great journey.

A word to Wo Fat: bring these guys to Europe with you on the next tour please!

Words by Vedran Stimac


http://www.stonemachineelectric.net/

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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/

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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

Craneón – Hacia El Sol

Hailing from Madrid in Spain, Craneon are a heavy psychedelic rock band comprised of Juanjo de Latorre (Vocals / Guitars), José Luis Serzo (Drums / Backing Vocals) and Javier Schoendorff (Bass). The band has shared the stage with stoner rock stalwarts Karma to Burn as well as Pendejo, Deville and Been Obscene.

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‘Hacia El Sol’ which means ‘Towards the Sun’ is the next release from Craneon and was recorded by Christophe R. Moure at Conladiva Studios. The album was mixed and mastered by Manuel Cabezali.

Craneon’s sound is an enthralling mix of the progressive alt-rock stylings of Porcupine Tree, the soaring vocals and experimentation of Opeth and the strange psychedelia of 70’s psych progenitors such as Hawkwind.

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The instrumentation is excellently mixed, with heavy riffs and softer melodic lines blending into one another and intertwining with various vocal harmonies. The bass and drums add a solid foundation to this, fading in and out from heavy to light giving the band a real sense of dynamism.

For me, by far the best song on this release is ‘Romo’, an epic seven minute blend of psychedelia and almost post-rock style composition with occasional glimmers of sludgey heaviness.

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The artwork for ‘Hacia El Sol’ was created by Santiago Talavera. It’s a really surreal scene that uses parts of instruments and gear to create an excellent landscape. Cymbals are used as both the sun and clouds (or spaceships depending on how you view it) and the microphone standing on a cab is almost like a table where the viewer looks out upon Craneon’s genre breaking music.

Even if you are not a Spanish speaker, make sure you grab this album; it’ll definitely grab you. There’s not much to dislike about ‘Hacia El Sol’ if you’re a fan of the more experimental side of things. Craneon bring the psych in bucket loads while still retaining that heavy sound, almost like a Spanish Mastodon.

http://craneon.es/

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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

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