Brown Acid: The Thirteenth Trip – Album Review

Various Artists – Brown Acid: The Thirteenth Trip

RidingEasy Records

Release date: 31/10/2021

Running time: 35 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10

Back in early 1970, I was in LA working for Jim Morrison, singer of the Doors.  Morrison was a pretentious, drunken bore – but we did have a few old laughs.  This one time, Jimbo was mid-liaison with a young lady in her upstairs apartment, and I had to pick him up in his new car before the pair were interrupted by her husband.  Parked in a gleaming white Dodge Challenger under the first-floor window, there was no fire escape and Jim had to jump out of the window onto the roof of his car.  It was a hard top, not a cabriolet, and Jim’s fat arse flattened it like an egg box when he hit it.  He wasn’t in the best shape at that point.  Wrecked that beautiful car, too.  Luckily, I could still see out of the window, and drove off in hysterics, while chubby Jim tried to squeeze into his tiny leather trousers.

Great days, indeed.  And the memories of that time always come flooding back when I spin one of these Brown Acid compilations from RidingEasy Records.  Yet again, the guys have dug out some long-lost treasures of the early hard rock and proto metal variety, to return phoenix like from the netherworld.

Things get underway splendidly with “Run Run” by Max, a funky riff rocker that will light up your lava lamp straight away.  It’s probably my favourite on another strong collection.  Next is “Dark Street” by Ralph Williams and the Wright Brothers – fuzzy guitars and great vocal melodies with a faint air of menace.  Geyda provide “Third Side”, another pacey rocker, reminiscent of the MC5.

Following that, there’s Gary Del Vecchio, who’s apparently “Buzzin’”.  But then, who wasn’t in those days?!  It’s party time blues rock in the vein of early Zep.  John Kitko is suffering from “Indecision”, as proven by the psychedelic jam of the start contrasting with the speedy, aggressive main body of the song – with Alice Cooper-like vocals.   

“Hope” by Bacchus reminded me of old Jimbo’s band doing “Roadhouse Blues”.  Master Danse are up next with a very heavy blues number, “Feelin’ Dead”.  It’s a slow, ponderous song with a melancholy vibe – which I’ll swear was stolen by The Cult for their obscure B-side “Wolf Child’s Blues”.

Orchid offer up the weakest track on the album, “Go Big Red”, a fairly unexceptional garage rock number.  It’s fun and still has some charm, though.  Then you’ve got Dry Ice and “Don’t Munkey with the Funky Skunky”, a crazy fast paced number that’s like The Monkees and Jimi Hendrix jamming a Eurovision novelty song.  On drugs.  Finally, a strong final track from Good Humore, “Detroit” – a catchy tribute with a sprinkling of MC5 at their most rock’n’roll.

And there we have it: another fine collection of rock fossils unearthed and displayed for our enjoyment, never to be forgotten again.  It may be “the Thirteenth Trip”, but this ain’t unlucky for some – it’s gold all the way.

Remember that World Wide Web thing? Well, you can check out RidingEasy Records at various site webs, such as their own, Bandcamp, Facebooks, Twidder, ChewTube and Insta.

This review was presented to you by Platinum Al in association with Ever Metal.

Scarecrow – Album Review

Scarecrow – Scarecrow II

Wise Blood Records

Release date: 22/10/2021

Running Time: 44 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10

You could say I was a little confused when I first heard “The Endless Ocean Overture”, the opening track on this second album from Scarecrow.  I know the clue’s in the song title, but this really is a big, full on orchestral piece – complete with moody storm sounds and crashing waves.  I thought the Ever Metal Delivery Monkey had sent me one of those symphonic metal monstrosities by mistake – there are NO GUITARS here.  At least not on the first song.

Not that it’s a bad track – it’s actually very atmospheric and very bloody clever.  Just a bit of a surprise, that’s all.

Scarecrow are a Russian doom rock band, taking their inspirations from the classic seventies masters like Sabbath and Zeppelin.  When track 2 – “Blizzard” – kicked in, I realised my mistake.  Yes, here we have it: blues based heavy rock that could have easily been produced in 1973.  Groovy riffs, batteringly good drum breaks, high pitched wailing vocals – all the tropes are present and correct.  “Blizzard” has all these, plus relentless changes of pace which means the listener can bang their head or swing their bell bottom jeans all in one song.

“Magic Flower” has a slower, doom blues sound with some mouth organ for additional retro stylings.  There’s even a folky mid-section with some Plant-esque banshee screams.  Up next is “Spirit Seducer”, a rocker that’s more of the Iommi sound already hinted at, and some pounding rhythm. 

Scarecrow are nothing if not ambitious.  “The Moors” is a hell of an epic: warm acoustic guitar intro; doom laden heavy riff, ethereal keys: all the ingredients are here, and happily we reach another Sabbath like peak in the middle of the song.  Some of the orchestral feel of the opener makes a well-judged return here, adding to the bombast. 

When I heard the intro to “The Golden Times”, it was easy to make the comparison to Sabbath tracks like “Orchid” and “Fluff”.  This song flows along serenely, with the vocals making me think I’d started listening to a new Wolfmother recording.  Another multi part piece, best to just mellow out and enjoy the ride – till the increasing pace runs off with your ears.

The range and scope of this album really is very impressive.  “Scarecrow II” is an accurate love letter to the giants of yester year, whilst firmly placing the bands feet alongside contemporaries like Uncle Acid and Graveyard.  Scarecrow has delivered an album that features new spins on the old ideas co-existing with brave, surprising augmentations.     

Check out Scarecrow on Bandcamp and Facebook.

You can find Wise Blood Records on Bandcamp, Facebook and the interweb.

This review has been brought to you by Platinum Al in association with Ever Metal.

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot tub #27

I promised we’d revisit Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub for another Singles Night, so here we go! Another evening of playing 7 inch singles and having a few cocktails (or beers, or whatever you thirst for). There’s a massive pile of these 45 rpm records to get through, so prepare yourself!

As a quick recap for the uninitiated, I have a stack (or several) of singles that I haven’t played yet. Some have been gifts, some have been picked up – usually very cheaply – from record shops, record fairs, charity shops and carboot sales. The idea is to play through the stack of vinyl one at a time, A side the B side, and enjoy the tunes.

Now I present to you my latest playlist:

  1. Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Taste the Pain” / “Shoe Me Your Soul”
  2. The Stranglers – “European Female” / “Savage Breast”
  3. The Wee Papa Girl Rappers – “We Rule” / “Rebel Rap”
  4. Salt-n-Pepa – “Shake Your Thang” / “Spinderella’s Not a Fella”
  5. Vanilla Ice – “Ice Ice Baby” / “It’s a Party”
  6. Motley Crue – “Girls, Girls, Girls” / “Sumthin’ for Nothin'”
  7. Neil Pepper (Elvis) – “Stairway to Heaven” / “The Beatnix – “Stairway to Heaven”
  8. Sham 69 – “Hurry Up, Harry” / “No Entry”
  9. Kenny Everett – “Snot Rap” / “Snot Rap (Part 2)”
  10. The Turtles – “Happy Together” / “Like the Seasons”
  11. Aerosmith – “Janie’s Got a Gun” / “Voodoo Medicine Man”
  12. Don Fardon – “Indian Reservation” / “Hudson Bay”
  13. Cerrone – “Je Suis Music” / “Rocket in the Pocket”
  14. Marty Wilde – “It’s Been Nice” / “Bad Boy”
  15. Taja Seville – “Love is Contagious” / “Mama”
  16. B.A. Robertson & Maggie Bell – “Hold Me” / “Spring Greens”
  17. Fiddler’s Dram – “Daytrip to Bangor” / “The Flash Lad”
  18. Bob Geldof – “The Great Song of Indifference” / “Hotel 75”
  19. Gary Shearston – “I Get a Kick Out of You” / “Witnessing”
  20. Mr. Mister – “Kyrie” / “Kyrie (Extended)”

A note on disc number 7 above: Neil Pepper is an Elvis impersonator, and The Beatnix are a Beatles tribute band. On this record, both have covered the Led Zeppelin classic in the style of their inspirations.

The latter half of this playlist started to wander in to some strange, unknown territory – along with featuring some decidedly dodgy songs. A while back, I purchased a box of about 100 singles at a carboot sale for a fiver, quite a lot of which was quality music. Here though, some of the dregs have started to float to the surface.

It’s not all bad though, and there’s a fair spread of awesome tracks scattered through out the list to make it a fun listen. Plus a lot of variety too, from The Crue’s dumb party metal, to classic 60’s pop from the Turtles, 80’s pop with Mr. Mister and some great old school hip hop.

I’m favouring Sham 69 and The Stranglers as particularly fine songs. And of course the Red Hot Chili Peppers, which I bought because although the A side I have on an album, I wanted the B side to add to my collection.

Singles Nights are always a cool way to spend an evening. I’ll update you with another killer playlist soon.

Live in the Mojave Desert – Album Review

Various Artists – Live in the Mojave Desert

Heavy Psych Sounds Records

Release date: Various

Running time: Various

Review by: Alun Jones

Rating: see below

Hello there!  Remember me?  It’s me, that bloke who occasionally reviews albums for Ever Metal and spins ropey old yarns about rock’n’roll.  Yeah, him.  Sorry I’ve been absent for a while, had a few things on my all-you-can-eat buffet plate recently.  More about that another time (if the lawyers allow me).  For now, recline in your favourite easy chair, and let’s review.  With me?  Good.

Right then, bit of a mammoth task, this one.  “Live in the Mojave Desert” is actually a series of five albums, each recorded live (of course) amongst the sand and rocks of the Californian desert.  It’s probably like Star Trek, when Kirk and crew are roaming around the cliffs and valleys – but in the dark, and with guitars and lights and stuff – and no one dies (hopefully).

Up first in my sequence of albums is the legendary Earthless, a band who should need no introduction.  I listened to their offering whilst on a trip to North Wales; sadly the surf was flat, but the sonic musings of this three piece fitted perfectly the rolling roads between green valleys and big skies.  In the land of druids and standing stones, witches and warriors, this was a perfect soundtrack.  The songs are a journey in themselves, awash with psychedelic Hendrix style explorations.  Only three songs, but they’re plenty lengthy and offer huge scope.  It’s actually quite beautiful. (9/10)

Next on the list was Mountain Tamer, a band I’m not familiar with previously, but a cool name.  And a cool name goes a long way with me.   The Mountain Tamer sound is raw and in-your-face, with mighty, meaty riffs that clunk around in full-on doom style.  There’s also a mind expanding, trippy element to their music, leaving me with the impression of Black Flag in a collision with Hawkwind.  This unique approach is best exemplified by stand out tracks “Black Noise” and “Scorched Earth”, but it’s all damn fine. (8/10)

An offering in this series from my old buddies Nebula was very welcome, their brand of psych drenched sci-fi hard rock being something I’m somewhat partial to.  This is the album with the most obviously “live” feel – not that it’s sloppy at all, the very occasional tiny imperfections and wall of fuzz give a genuine and celebratory vibe.  Opening track “To the Centre” is a feedback drenched, blistering explosion.  “Giant” is another standout track with a bouncing, crazy gonzo riff. (8/10)

Spirit Mother are another band I’ve not heard before, and they were a real surprise.  Their first song, “Tonic (Exodus Inc)” is straight off the soundtrack of some forgotten Italian/Turkish 1970s horror movie.  The band take the standard desert/doom rock and add violin, and everything veers off in a totally unexpected direction.  From mournful 70s rock on “Ether” to creating their own genre of gothic Spaghetti Western (“Dead Cells”), it’s like Morricone on peyote orchestrating The Exorcist.  Strangely beguiling. (8.5/10)

The album I listened to last in the collection was the debut release of STÖNER, the very aptly named stoner rock “supergroup” which features Brant Bjork (Kyuss, Fu Manchu, solo etc) and Nick Oliveri (Kyuss, QOTSA, Mondo Generator etc etc).  With Brant’s drummer, Ryan Güt whacking the tubs.  As a fan of these rogues’ other bands, I was definitely curious about this release.  No fear here: this is exactly what I hoped it would be: desert rock royalty.  “Rad is Rad” features a relentless, rolling bassline that drags the listener along on a head-nodding journey whilst Brant croons in his laid-back manner.  The big, groovy bass continues in “The Older Kids”, and the tracks develop a trancelike vibe as it progresses.  And strap yourself in for the final song, “Tribe/Fly Girl” – over 13 minutes that will melt your eyeballs.  Definitive. (9/10)

That’s it: five albums, five bands, and a mind-blowing excursion into the remote desert valleys.  Whether showcasing how it should be done, or abducting the listener in a smoke-filled UFO to be probed in new realms, these live collections are a trip.

Here’s a ton of links! Click away for more info on this awesome music…

Start with Heavy Psych Sounds, they have a website, Bandcamp, Facebook and Instagram.

Earthless do the web thing here, with some Facebook and Twitter.

Mountain Tamer kick in the sky with Facebook and Bandcamp.

Go crazy with Nebula via Facebook.

Spirit Mother have you covered with some weberation, Facebook, Bandcamp and Insta.

Finally, have a look at Stoner’s web presence here and Facebook it too.

This review was brought to you by Platinum Al in association with Ever Metal.

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #26

Welcome, music lovers! Yes, we’re back at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub for another leisurely evening of spinning 45 rpm records and drinking a hell of a load of cocktails. It is on, brothers and sisters!

So what’s going down? It’s pretty simple. I have a stack of vinyl singles (hence “Singles Night”) and I’m playin’ ’em in order, side A then B, just for the heck of it. Because it’s fun. And you might just hear some great tunes. No cheating: play each single in the pile, with no skipping (even if it’s a dud).

Here’s the latest playlist. Grab a drink, this is gonna be fun…

  1. Dread Zeppelin – “Stairway to Heaven” / “Jailhouse Rock”
  2. INXS – “Suicide Blonde” / “Everybody Wants U Tonight”
  3. Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Bad Moon Rising” / “Lodi”
  4. Rainbow – “All Night Long” / “Weiss Heim”
  5. AC/DC – “Heatseeker” / “Go Zone”
  6. INXS – “New Sensation” / “Do Wot You Do”
  7. Budgie – “Keeping a Rendezvous” / “Apparatus”
  8. Eagles – “New Kid in Town” / “Victim of Love”
  9. Free – “My Brother Jake” / Only My Soul”
  10. Village People – “In the Navy” / “Manhattan Woman”
  11. Mike Post ft. Larry Carlton – “The Theme from Hill Street Blues” / “Aaron’s Tune”
  12. Sammy Davis Jnr – “What Kind of Fool Am I” / “Gonna Build a Mountain” / “Someone Nice Like You” / “Once in a Lifetime”
  13. Giorgio Moroder w/ Philip Oakey – “Together in Electric Dreams” / “Together in Electric Dreams (Instrumental)”
  14. S’Express – “Superfly Guy” / “Funky Killer”
  15. Sting – “Demolition Man (Soulpower Radio Mix)” / “Demolition Man (Film Version”
  16. Slade – “Far Far Away” / “OK Yesterday Was Yesterday”
  17. Shakatak – “Feels Like the Right Time” / “Corina”
  18. Roy Orbison – “Only the Lonely” / “Here Comes That Song Again”
  19. Earth Wind & Fire – “In the Stone” / “Africano”
  20. Little Eva – “The Loco-Motion” / “He is the Boy”

And were there any duds in this selection? Well, nothing disastrous, though “Hill Street Blues” was a bit of a mood changer.

But just look at the strength of the list over all: some absolute beauties from AC/DC, Free, Rainbow, CCR and double INXS. Plus that Budgie single (which is a really nice 7 inch picture disc, by the way) is totally cool.

Some great pop classics in there, too. Village People and Giorgio Moroder? Floor fillers!

Thanks for joining me for another Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub. Let’s do it again soon. In the meantime, keep your media physical and your drinks cool.

Brown Acid: The Twelfth Trip – Album Review

Various Artists – Brown Acid: The Twelfth Trip

RidingEasy Records

Release date: 20/04/2020

Running time: 33 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10

Well, who’d have thought it?  Here’s the twelfth instalment of the Brown Acid series from RidingEasy Records, their ongoing exploration of rare, lost and forgotten treasures from the late 60s and early seventies.  These proto-metal, hard rock and heavy psych riches are continuing to turn up, thankfully curated and shared with a new, wider audience.  They still haven’t run out of steam, which is very good news.   

This time, the Professors of Rock (“Prockfessors”, anyone?  Nah, never mind) have released ten more crazily good tracks from the past.  As can be expected, the bands are deep fried and the guitars are fuzzier than a Macdonalds burger-flipper’s chin.

And so, we commence with “Mother Samwell” by The Waters: a blinding, acid-drenched rocker from 1969.  How can this have been lost for so long?  Up next is “Vibrations” by Village S.T.O.P.; featuring Hendrix style guitar in another pacey rocker.  Though very much of their time, these songs pack a ton of energy – you’re gonna want to freak out.  Right out.

“1930” was quite a year, claim White Lightning, with a funky, chunky marauder of a tune that’s like Grand Funk, on the rare occasions GF got it right.  Shane serves up some proper skronky organ with “Woman (Don’t You Go)”, reminiscent of a shrieky, early Purple.  Then the keyboards get even skronkier with Ace Song Service’s “Persuasion”, though the attack is harsher.

Opus Est really kick out the jams with “Bed”, which has a killer riff that would please Gibbons or Page.  The Mopptops have a terrible band name (maybe that’s why they disappeared), but their song “Our Lives” is one of the heavier, more vicious sounding tracks here.  It’s a punk rock bruiser that seems totally out of time – surely this can’t be 1968?

A bland band name, but Artist inject their song “Every Lady Does It” with enough hip-shaking Hendrix raunch to raise the roof.  Great chorus too; this is faultless.  Then it’s more great lo-fi garage ZZ Top with “Comin’ Home” by Stagefright, before we finish with Dickens (great name!) and their weird fuzz metal with minimal production, “Don’t Talk About My Music”.

Whether they’re discovering hidden gems in dusty tombs, or exhuming abandoned corpses and bringing them back to life – pick your metaphor: the RidingEasy Forensics Department have managed to surprise yet again.  Their quest seems never ending, but we can be thankful that these dedicated scholars continue to discover hitherto abandoned sonic delights.

It’s harder to pick out gems which shine brighter than the others this time around, but “Brown Acid: the Twelfth Trip” manages to reach a high standard across the board.  Very enjoyable, and recommended listening for when Jimi and Janis pop round for some mushroom tea.

Why not do some internets with RidingEasy records on their website, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or Insta?

This review was proudly presented by Platinum Al in association with Ever Metal.

1968 – Album Review

1968 – Salvation, If You Need…

Self-released & No Profit Recordings

Release date: 20/04/2021

Running time: 44 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

9.5/10

For this review of “Salvation, If You Need…”, the second album from UK stoner rock titans 1968, I promise that there will be no messing about, no silly stories, no nonsense whatsoever.  I’m not even drinking.  Rather, I will endeavour to write a serious review that treats this album with the respect it deserves.  Not enough respect to get the article written on schedule, mind; but hey – I never said I was perfect.

Anyone familiar with 1968 from their previous efforts will not be disappointed to learn that the band’s strengths are in full flow here.  Thankfully, they’ve also pushed boundaries and explored their psychedelic tendencies further than ever before.  Witness opening track “Railroad Boogie”, which teases a funky Blaxploitation groove before unleashing the glorious big riff sound that we expect.

Comparing 1968 to Kyuss is far too obvious and lazy.  Jimi Ray’s voice has some of that gruff John Garcia sound (with a little later-period TSOL vocalist Joe Wood), though his vocals have matured to a sincere, soulful timbre.  See also, guitarist Sam Orr: schooled in Sabbath riffology and Lizzy attitude, here his Hendrix aspirations are allowed to fly unrestrained.  Magnificent washes of sound cascade and add colour everywhere, without being obtrusive.

“Blackwing” is the highlight for me: a refrain that’ll slip into your ears and lodge there.  It’s pointless trying to remove it.  Whether happy accident or hard slog, this is an epic riff.  “Eastern Wind” follows a similar path, but offers enough of its own controlled chaos to stand on its own two feet. 

Tom Richards’ bass warms up “Here It Lies” and expertly keeps the vibe dialled on a grungy, early Soundgarden pace.  The raw, unrefined blues of “Small Victories” and “God Bless” also allow drummer Dan Amati to show he can play refined and delicate, as well as thundering and determined.    

Yes, 1968 are undoubtedly still inspired by the classic rock of the late 60s/early 70’s, but we’re also drinking beers in Satan’s Dive Bar, somewhere in Seattle, with a jukebox that’s stuck on Badmotorfinger.  And some Budgie, too, based on the solid cover of that band’s “Guts” that shows up here.   

Look, I’ve tried to be serious for once, and I hope you appreciate it, reader.  “Salvation, If You Need…” is a truly magnificent piece of work.  I’ve been playing it for ages and it hasn’t aged.  I’m still discovering little delights everywhere.  It has scale and pace that other bands don’t dare trifle with.  A contender for Album of the Year, so long as I can get hold of the imminent vinyl release.

Now, who wants to hear about the time Ozzy, Belinda Carlisle and me gate-crashed Venom’s Satanic picnic?

I lied about not drinking, by the way.     

You can find 1968 on Bandcamp, and also follow their social media adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

This Platinum Al review has been produced with the aid of Ever Metal.       

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot tub #25

Yes, that’s right: it’s time for another Singles Night! This is no crappy Channel 4 dating show featuring halfwit Instagram influencers, no sir. The type of single we’re talking about here is the vinyl kind – 45 rpm records, beautiful black plastic discs. Seven inches of pure joy!

For the newcomers, I have a pile of unplayed vinyl singles, which I listen to consecutively (A side, then B side). Accompanied by a few drinkies, it’s a most excellent evening of entertainment.

Here’s the latest playlist, featuring some total bangers:

  1. AC/DC – “Touch Too Much” / “Live Wire” / “Shot Down in Flames”
  2. The Piranhas – “Tom Hark” / “Getting Beaten Up” / “Boyfriend”
  3. Judas Priest – “Evening Star” / “Beyond the Realms of Death”
  4. Hollywood Beyond – “South Africa” / “The Cocteau Twins – “Orange Appled” / The Fall – “Lucifer Over Lancashire” / Zodiac Mindwarp & The Love Reaction – “High Priest of Love”
  5. Pretenders – “Brass in Pocket” / “Swinging London” / “Nervous But Shy”
  6. Billy Idol – “Rebel Yell” / “(Do Not) Stand in the Shadows”
  7. Television – “Prove It” / “Venus”
  8. Def Leppard – “Rocket” / “Release Me”
  9. U2 – “The Unforgettable Fire” / “A Sort of Homecoming”
  10. Pet Shop Boys – “Always On My Mind” / “Do I Have to?”
  11. A Flock of Seagulls – “Wishing (I Had a Photograph of You)” / “Committed”
  12. Frankie Goes to Hollywood – “Relax” / “One September Monday”
  13. Big Country – “Chance” / “The Tracks of My Tears”
  14. Duran Duran – “Wild Boys” / “(I’m Looking for) Cracks in the Pavement (1984)”
  15. GB Band – “Smasheroo” / “Long Distance Calling”
  16. Petula Clark – “Downtown” / “You’d Better Love Me”
  17. Paula Abdul – “Straight Up” / “Straight Up Power Mix”
  18. Slade – “All Join Hands” / “Here’s to…”
  19. Foreigner – “Say You Will” / “A Night to Remeber”
  20. Chuck Berry – “Reelin’ and Rockin'” / “I Will Not Let You Go”

Whoa, a lot of EPs and mulitple B sides, there!

There you go: another twenty top quality tunes that I enjoyed rocking out to in the Virtual Hot Tub. Well, except maybe Foreigner. But at least Chuck Berry saved the day!

That playlist spans the years and the genres, with some of my favourite artists like AC/DC, Billy Idol and Zodiac Mindwarp rubbing shoulders with pop legends and underground classics. Which ones are you a fan of?

See you soon for another Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub!

Spelljammer – Album Review

Spelljammer – Abyssal Trip

RidingEasyRecords (UsThem Group, Palmer Turner Overdrive)

Release date: 26/02/2021

Running time: 44 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

8/10

A slow build of distortion, punctuated by air raid sirens, heralds the onslaught of “Bellweather”, the first track on the latest Spelljammer opus.  These guys are in no rush.  Instead, the listener sinks slowly into the mire, as first guitars and bass, then drums, stealthily enter.  Over the course of six plus minutes, the track builds beautifully, setting the style for the album to follow. 

Spelljammer are from Stockholm, Sweden – and comprise Niklas Olsson (bass and vocals); Robert Sörling (guitar) and Jonatan Rimsbo (drums).  It’s been five long years since their last album, but now they’re back with a huge, ponderous collection of sludgy, doom laden music.

Second track, “Lake”, follows the hypnotic incline of the opener with a brutal riff and throaty vocals, before descending into a medium paced headbanger.  This track nicely encapsulates the contrasts between heavy, thunderous ferociousness and trancelike wonderment.

The band composed these songs in the seclusion of a remote house in the country.  The various shifting sections of the songs obviously reflect that concentrated effort, with a perfect ebb and flow.  Sections wind intricately between the monstrous and the calm. 

“Among the Holy” starts with a creeping pace before erupting into the album’s biggest rocker.  The title track opens with a sample from some obscure horror movie, and I need to know which!  After that, it’s crawling doom which picks up speed a little in a Sabbathy manner – complete with distorted vocals.

Talking of Sabbath, “Peregrin” feels like one of those Tony Iommi instrumentals on “Master of Reality”.  It’s actually quite wonderful.  Finally, “Silent Rift” is over ten minutes of all that’s gone before, ramped up even higher.  The pace is slow, there’s no haste, Spelljammer take their time and let the music grow and breathe.

The listener will also need to take their time and truly absorb this album.  Stick on your ear goggles, turn the lights down low and bask in the inventiveness.  “Abyssal Trip” is a record that’s been carefully composed and nurtured.  The enjoyment here is in the journey and all its interwoven elements.      

As we’re talking of jam, I’m reminded of an episode with my old Black Sabbath mates.  We were at legendary Rockfield studios in Wales, and following a late night in the studio and an even later nights boozing, the band were relaxing on the lawns on a gorgeous summer day.  Bill fell asleep on the grass, and Ozzy decided to take the remains of the strawberry jam from breakfast and smear it all over Bill’s beard.  Sure enough, ten minutes later, Bill woke with a scream – brushing wasps from his face.  He jumped up and ran to a nearby pond, jumping in face first.  When he emerged, Bill looked like a Sasquatch.  He spent days rubbing ointment on his face and was finding dead insects in his beard for ages.   

Seek out more Spelljammer info on Bandcamp, Facebook and Instagram.

RidingEasy Records are also on the web, Bandcamp, Facebook and TubeYou.

This review was brought to you by Platinum Al in association with Ever Metal.

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #24

One of my favourite types of night in: a random stack of 7 inch vinyl, and a big old crate of booze. I’ve not held a Singles Night at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub for a little while, so allow me to put that right.

You see, I’ve got a load of 7″ singles that I haven’t listened to yet. They come from various sources, though most are second hand. So I play ’em through, A side then B side, and enjoy the sonic delights. Accompanied with a tipple of two.

Here’s the latest batch:

  1. Mudhoney – “Warning” / Meat Puppets – “One of These Days”
  2. Cockney Rejects – “The Greatest Cockney Rip Off” / “Hate of the City”
  3. Metallica – “The Unforgiven” / “Killing Time”
  4. The Shipbuilders – “Silk Road” / “La Fee Verte”
  5. Huey Lewis & The News – “Stuck With You” / “Don’t Ever Tell Me That You Love Me”
  6. The Archies – “Sugar, Sugar” / “Melody Hill”
  7. Boney M – “Painter Man” / “He Was a Steppenwolf”
  8. Twiggy – “Falling Angel” / “Virginia (And the Circus Side Show)”
  9. Freddie Mercury & Montserrat Caballe – “Barcelona” / “Exercises in Free Love”
  10. Yes – “Going for the One” / “Awaken Pt. 1”
  11. Bad Manners – “Special Brew” / “Ivor the Engine”
  12. Kylie Minogue – “Better the Devil You Know” / “I’m Over Dreaming (Over You)”
  13. The Jam – “Going Underground” / “The Dreams of Children”
  14. Siouxsie & The Banshees – “Cities in Dust” / “An Execution”
  15. Gary Numan – The Live E.P.: “Are “Friends” Electric?” / “Berserker” / “Cars” / “We Are Glass”
  16. Del Shannon – “Runaway” / “Jody”
  17. The Smurfs – “Silly Little Song” / “Little Smurf Boat”
  18. The Proclaimers – “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” / “Better Days”
  19. Stray Cats – “Stray Cat Strut” / “Drink That Bottle Down”
  20. Eurythmics – “Sexcrime (Nineteen Eighty Four)” / “I Did it Just the Same”

From Metallica to the Smurfs, there’s a right old mixture in that playlist. A nice wide coverage of genres from pop, disco, ska, prog rock, punk and – wonder of wonders – even some opera. Not to mention all the various subgenres on the list (Goth? Post punk? New Wave? Make your own conclusions).

Another fine evening of music, I can recommend a Singles Night for the variety and fun. Dig out your old singles collection and have a knees up!