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/

http://stonemachineelectric.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/StoneMachineElectric

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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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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/

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/

https://www.facebook.com/craneon.es

https://twitter.com/craneon

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

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

Camel of Doom – Terrestrial

Leeds based Camel of Doom is something unique in the world of Stoner Doom as it incorporates some of the most psychedelic/spacey passages I’ve heard from a band in the genre outside of ‘Ivixor B/ Phase Inducer’ by Electric Wizard.  This is reflected in the band’s influences with 70s Prog/Psych (Bandleader Kris being a massive Hawkwind fan), Stoner, Death, Doom and Ambient all being ingredients of which the drug-like concoction that is Camel of Doom’s music is formed.

The band itself consists of founder Kris (Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards, Programming), Simon (Bass) and Ben (Drums) who joined shortly after ‘Terrestrial’ was released. Being a Camel of Doom fan I picked ‘Terrestrial’ for my first review on The Stoner Sound. I’d already bought it, but had yet to listen it. So without further ado, here are my thoughts.

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The first track, ‘Cycles (The Anger of Anguish)’ really manages to encompass the sound of the album as a whole, mixing heavy riffs, screamed vocals and ethereal passages. But the first thing to hit you in the face when you hit the play button is the tone, which is the audio equivalent of a charging rhino. The tone doesn’t cloud up the riffs (unlike some stoner bands who use so much fuzz that you can’t hear what they’re actually playing). The guitars on this track are audible and well defined. ‘Cycles (The Anger of Anguish)’ also showcases a change in the psychedelic aspect of the Camel of Doom sound, foregoing the characteristic saxophone of previous albums for a more, dare I say, generic doom choice of strings. This means the clean passages rely more heavily on effects and post production than they have in the past.

‘A Circle Has No End’ follows as a short guitar and synth interlude between two dense tracks, allowing you to catch your breath and prepare for the next dose of tone.

The dose of tone in question is ‘Pyroclastic Flow’, which aside from being one of the heaviest tracks on the album is also one of the slowest, dropping to a glacial, funeral doom tempo in the middle. The riffs that ensue are a blend of Sleep and Colosseum and the track essentially becomes a funeral stoner track, pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a song about being killed by an erupting volcano.

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Track four of the album picks up the pace with ‘Singularity’ which is a romp through sludge and stoner with soaring sci-fi synths floating over it all. Its a more energetic and conventional (for them) track that showcases an angrier side of Camel of Doom. The vocals on this track in particular are stunning and a big step up from their previous works, this makes it one of my favourite tracks from the album.

‘Nine Eternities’ is another short interlude, which has more of a focus on the psych/space aspect being a minute and a half of lush, whirling sci-fi synths slowly building up to the next track.

‘Euphoric Slumber’ is another lunge into the funeral doom riffs of ‘Pyroclastic Flow’, but with more of an emphasis on the psychedelic aspect. The almost post rock breakdown in the middle is definitely a moment to treasure as the crushing riffs dissolve into sweeping synths and guitars before slowly building up to the behemothic riffs of the beginning. This track is very fluid with tempo, constantly speeding up or slowing down which really keeps the listener interested, right up to the strange delayed outro.

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‘Sleeper Must Awaken’ is the first track on the album to have Kris sing as well as scream/growl and is a drastic change in mood from ‘Euphoric Slumber’ as the riffs are faster and there’s a more identifiable lead guitar line. Despite being the longest track on the album at just over 14 minutes, it doesn’t feel like it, possibly as a result of the more upbeat chords and faster pace. It’s certainly the most progressive track on the album which, as a progressive music fan, puts this in contention with ‘Singularity’ as my favourite track.

The final tune, ‘Extending Life, Expanding Consciousness’ is a melancholic synth and piano arrangement and is a stark contrast to the rest of the album. It’s almost a classical piece in composition, being somewhere on the scale between Draconian and Yes. It works well as an outro track after listening to an hour of slow, heavy riffs and despite being so different, it brings in some of the Camel of Doom touch as whirling psychedelic synths slowly fade in (and then out) towards the end.

Overall the most notable change from previous albums is the replacement of the psych sax with strings. This gives the album a more gothic feel to previous Camel of Doom albums though sacrificing some of psych aspects that made Camel of Doom unique. This could however be a step in a new direction for the band and has made me intrigued as to how they’ll evolve further on down the line. In conclusion then, this is another strong album from Camel of Doom and definitely worth a listen.

As usual, the album is available on Bandcamp and don’t forget to like and follow the band on their social media pages.

https://camelofdoom.bandcamp.com/album/terrestrial

https://www.facebook.com/camelofdoom

 

Words by Ollie Smith of Viridian Drift