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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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).


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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/

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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

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 https://desertstorm.bandcamp.com/

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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.

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