Weed Demon – Crater Maker Album Review

Weed Demon – Crater Maker

Electric Valley Records

Release date: 03/04/2020

Running time: 46 minutes

Review by: 9/10

 

“Crater Maker”, by Columbus Ohio rascals Weed Demon, begins with the warm and welcoming hiss and crackle of vinyl.  Then we’re into the first track “Atmospheric Drag”, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’re in the wrong section of the record shop.  It’s a dark, folky country number that sounds like you’ve just stumbled into a saloon in a God forsaken Western town.  I was taken by surprise, but this song is both awesome and a fitting introduction to an album that isn’t afraid to wander off the obvious path.

When track two, “Birthquake” lumbers in, we’re in familiar doomy Sabbath territory.  It’s a stark contrast to the opening song, but brilliant as that was, this is what we came for.  Big, dirty riffage that’s slow yet powerful, the result is an instrumental song that relies purely on dynamics to excite and uplift.  This is bloody great stuff.

The next track, “Serpent Merchant”, is even heavier and more relentless – with growling vocals making a demonic appearance.  It all descends into a masterful, psychedelic break before the pummelling returns.  The album’s title track delivers a groove laden sludge, which again dissolves into a mellow passage at pretty much exactly the halfway mark.  Gradually becoming fuzzier, this soon explodes into a frenzied, aggressive section.

The remaining tracks offer more crunching guitars, thudding bass, booming vocals and pounding rhythms, always concentrating on the all-important doom riff.  Final track “Sporelord” wanders through several segments, before briefly fading away and returning with a quirky reggae style outro.

With four of the six songs here over the 8 minute mark, there’s a lot to explore and digest with “Crater Maker”.  Weed Demon have created a dense album that I enjoyed from the first listen and I’m still returning to weeks later.  Meandering into psychedelic space rock, groovy doom, country and ear-splitting sludge ensures “Crater Maker” is a complex release that’s worth hearing.

All this talk of weeds reminds me of a funny little escapade with my old mate Keith Moon.  Moony lived next door to his big pal Ollie Reed, who asked the loony drummer to keep an eye on his mansion while he was in Europe, filming some naff horror/arthouse nonsense.  Moon had a party, got totally blitzed and remembered at about 4am that he hadn’t mowed Ollie’s lawn for him.  Well, you can imagine the laughs we had, as Keith tried to start the ride-on petrol mower in the dark.  Without going into too much detail, a split fuel pipe and a discarded cigarette resulted in most of Reed’s garden looking like it had been napalmed.

Ollie wasn’t best pleased when he returned to see the unholy mess Keith had left him with.  But Moon just blamed Ringo Starr, who made a quick exit when drunken Ollie brought out his shotgun.  Ringo had the last laugh though, by marrying the most beautiful woman in the world.  Jammy git.

Weed Demon are on Facebook and Bandcamp, plus find them on Instagram here.

Check out Electric Valley Records here.

And go have a gander at Ever Metal, tell ’em Platinum Al sent you.

Son of Boar – Stoned Wail Single Review

Son of Boar – Stoned Wail

Self-released

Release date: 26/06/2020

Running time: 18 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

9/10

 

Singles don’t often get reviewed here at Ever Metal, purely because there’s so damn many of them.  They just can’t compete with the album reviews.  But rules are made to be broken, and this release from Son of Boar demanded some attention.  Having witnessed the live onslaught of this band at Pentre Fest earlier this year, Son of Boar have risen on to my personal favourites list, and I’m damn near rabid for any new material.

Waves crash as a mesmeric bass begins to chime, creating a deceptively ambient vibe.  Guitars and drums warm the sound as the band slowly build momentum.  They’re in no rush, but when the main riff kicks in, it’s worth the wait.  Luke’s vocals roar and the song rises like a leviathan from the depths.  “Stoned Wail” is 9 minutes of powerful, groove laden doom rhythms: thundering bass, churning guitars and crashing drums.  This fisherman’s tale is indeed a whopper of humungous  proportions.

With two additional live tracks (“Outlet” and the boogie influenced “The Weekend”), this is a great introductory package to a band destined for big things.  “Stoned Wail” is taken from the forthcoming debut album, which, to be honest, I’m shitting my shoes off in anticipation for.  TUSKS UP!

Get yerself on over to witness Son of Boar at Bandcamp and Facebook, or maybe YouTube if you fancy it.

Twitter and Instagram are: @son_of_boar

Desert Storm – Omens Album Review

Time for another album review: as originally published by Ever Metal, now here for your enjoyment too…

Desert Storm – Omens

APF Records

Release date: 01/05/2020

Running time: 40 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

9.5/10

Put your feet up, relax – pour yourself a drink and take the weight off your feet.  All you need to do is chill – I’ve already done the hard work.  I’ve found your new favourite band: they’re called Desert Storm, and their latest album has just been released by APF records.

If you’re new to the name, Desert Storm are from merry old Oxford; and since forming in 2007, have been building their following formidably.  They’ve appeared at major rock festivals; plus supported and toured with some personal heroes of mine (Corrosion of Conformity, The Atomic Bitchwax amongst others).  I saw Desert Storm a few years ago supporting the mighty Karma to Burn; they managed to steal the show from the headliners, as far as I was concerned.

Opening with a sombre, haunting spoken word piece, Omens proceeds to take the listener on a journey that is powerful, yet also introspective.  It’s an otherworldly trip that’s both visceral and immediate, but also demands greater exploration.

“Black Bile” demonstrates the strategy perfectly: heavy, grinding and relentless – with moments of melody that blend into the whole without jarring.  In absolute basics, this is the sludge of Down combined with the aspirational progressiveness of Mastodon.  Thudding, head banging riffs adorn “Vengeful Gods”, but there’s also an almost Morricone-like cinematic sensation as the song develops and grows.

At times anthemic, there are also magnificently effective sections of the songs that contrast beautifully with the hard driving doom metal.  “Pain, Grief and Suffering” features an extended mid-section that is beguilingly serene.  When the heavy re-enters, it’s all the more neck-breakingly persuasive.  Throw in a captivating solo and you’re on to a highlight.

“The Path of Most Resistance” builds from humble beginnings to a massive groove riff of Sabbathian splendour; whilst “Lockjaw” is short and brutal.  This leads us to the final track, “Rebirth”: a masterpiece that is heavy only in sentiment.  What a song.  Despite a medieval vibe, it’s the ideal soundtrack to spin whilst driving through the desert in a stolen Dodge Challenger as the sun sets, with Smokey on your tail.

Every song on Omens can be enjoyed on its own merits, but as a whole plays as a genuine compendium that the listener can enjoy from start to finish.  I knew Desert Storm were good, but I didn’t expect them to have grown so much.  Or deliver a new album with so much scope.  Here’s a British band that could step up into national – and then international – consciousness.  They just need your support.  Do it.  I’m off to buy the vinyl version.

Talking about deserts – did I tell you about that infamous escapade on one of my legendary soul-searching soirees into the Mojave?  I crept into my usual cave to seek shelter, only to encounter Jim bloody Morrison hogging it.   He was out of his gourd on peyote and mumbling about Aldous Huxley or some such.  There was no way I could meditate with that loon around, so I threw him out.  Break through that to the other side, Jimbo!  My Yaqui shaman and I needed the space to contact Atlantis.

STOP PRESS: Putting my money where my mouth is, I stumped up hard earned cash for a vinyl copy of this album.  I am very glad that I did!

Find Desert Storm on Facebook.

Buy their stuff on Bandcamp.

Find the band on Twitter and Instagram.

For APF records, check out their expertly crafted website here.

Ir find them on Facebook and Bandcamp, you won;t regret it.

Dozer Album Reviews

Not one, but three album reviews for you this week: Re-released by Heavy Psych Sounds, these three albums from Dozer are back and bouncing.  Here’s my review, as it originally appeared on Ever Metal and now here for your perusal:

Dozer – In the Tail of a Comet/Madre de Dios/Call it Conspiracy

Heavy Psych Sounds

Release date: 13/03/2020, 20/03/2020

Running time: 38 mins, 40 mins, 56 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10, 9/10, 9.5/10

Don’t you just love it when you find a new band to obsess about?  Music so awesome, so perfect that it just lights up your life.  Well, Dozer have filled that gap in my existence recently – I can’t believe how I endured without them before.  Though these three albums are all reissues from the early part of the 21st century, so fuck knows what I’ve been up to for the last 20 years.  Seriously, what was I doing back then that meant I missed out on this?

Hailing from the wonderful land of Sweden, a place which must have some kind of genetic master code for musical excellence, Dozer are a mighty stoner rock collective delivering heavy, intense and groove laden tunes.  I don’t know how or why the Swedes are so good at this – is it the long, dark winter isolation?  The never-ending day light in summer?  Agnetha Falkstog’s tight pants?  There’s something magical happening there, that’s for sure.

Italian label Heavy Psych Sounds have done the world a remarkable, philanthropic favour by re-issuing these three albums by the band.  And, praise Tony Iommi, on beautiful, sexy vinyl too.  This really is a wondrous, benevolent gift to bestow upon us.

So, what does the music sound like, you ask (at least you do if, like me, you were clueless enough to be unaware of Dozer previously)?  First album “In the Tail of a Comet” (8.5/10) erupts into beautiful, head nodding, rolling riffs from the off.  Layers of fuzzy, psychedelic invention and heavy rhythms usher us into their world.  A particular highlight is the finale, “High Roller”, where although the band take their foot off the gas a little, they create a trippy, vast soundscape to get lost in.

Nay-sayers may choose to point out Dozer’s obvious similarity to Kyuss; hell, even singer Fredrik Nordin sounds like a carbon copy John Garcia.  With their second album, “Madre de Dios” (9/10), that influence becomes less pronounced as their own creativity develops.  This second album seems more brutal, more aggressive.  It doesn’t take long, however, to reveal more textures and experiments with the formula – see “Earth Yeti”.  Album number 2 is a faster, heavier, punkier version of Dozer – yet still expanding on the desert rock template.

By the time we get to the final album of this reissued trio – the immense “Call It Conspiracy” (9.5/10) – Dozer have developed their own sound and personality yet further.  The Kyuss/FU Manchu influence is still there, but Dozer have grown into something of their own.  This album is the heaviest, most “metal” work – but still creative as it stretches those stoner boundaries into new, warped shapes.  Whether it’s full throttle rock’n’roll with lead track “The Hills Have Eyes” or groove laden head-nodder “Man Made Mountain”, there’s much to explore here.

Gushing praise, indeed: but if you, dear reader, are a fan of the crushing riffs, unrestrained groove and sonic washes of stoner/desert rock – these Dozer albums are highly recommended.  Tune in, turn on and explore these revived classics now.

Check out Dozer on Facebook.

Check out Heavy Psych Sounds on Facebook and on the interweb here.

Randy Holden – Population II Album Review

Randy Holden – Population II

Riding Easy Records

Release date: 28/02/2020

Running time: 32 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10

 

First of all, an important note for all readers: Randy Holden is NOT the name of a winning hand in strip poker.  I used the phrase at a recent gathering at my Rock’n’Roll Naturist Society club, and nearly got a bunch of fives from Ozzy as a thank you.  Tommy Lee was up for it though, as you can probably imagine.

Anyway, Randy Holden is actually a guitar pioneer who served some time with proto-metal giants Blue Cheer, before splitting to take the helm of his own project.  Population II was the result – a far ahead of it’s time Big Bang of doom and sludge metal.

Originally receiving a limited release in 1969, this album has earned cult status with afficionados of early heavy rock.  And it’s no surprise why; “Population II” is a huge sounding, riff driven behemoth that sounds like it simply can’t have been created in that time period.

But it was.  The era that popular culture tells us was the age of peace and love also birthed this unholy slab of heavy noise.  Randy Holden, like his previous bandmates in Blue Cheer, was happily stomping all over flower power.

Of course, “Population II” is totally over the top.  “Guitar Song” is the first track, featuring the somewhat unimaginative opening line “I love the sound of a guitar playing” – so no marks for lyrical finesse.  If you’re after poetry, this probably ain’t for you.  Instead it’s six minutes of slow, heavy driving riff-based rock that sets the tone for the album.

 “Fruit Icebergs” is an outstanding name for any song; in fact, I might steal it for a band name.  Slow like cooling lava, with a doom-laden melancholic sound –  It’s dark in a Sabbath way.  Whereas the shorter “Between Time” picks up the pace a little and borrows a chorus from “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”.

“Blue My Mind” is less gloomy, but certainly taps into the blues with a hint of Hendrix.  The final song, “Keeper of my Flame” is over 10 minutes of pulsating, repetitive riff wrestling that doesn’t out stay it’s welcome.  Ol’ Randy stretches for the epic here and pretty much nails it, strangling that guitar and taking the listener on a heroic journey.

Yet another history lesson for which we can thank the scholars at Riding Easy Records, Randy Holden’s “Population II” is back in circulation and worth taking time to investigate.  You’ll wonder how this was lost for so long.

Visit Riding Easy records on the interweb here.

Or on Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.

Don’t forget to visit Ever Metal – where this review first appeared  for all your rock and metal news.

Brown Acid: the Ninth Trip – Album Review

Various Artists – Brown Acid: The Ninth Trip

Riding Easy Records

Release date: 31/10/2019

Running time: 36 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

7.5/10 

Archaeologists of rock from Riding Easy Records have once again delved into the depths of the forgotten to present this, the ninth instalment of their “Brown Acid” series.  They have unearthed yet more obscure gems from the past, in order to entertain and enlighten those obsessives who love to investigate the DNA of rock.

Call it heavy rock, proto metal, garage rock – whatever, these Brown Acid compilations offer a wealth of hard to find material.

The songs may be long lost relics, but they sure ain’t amateur.  In fact, it’s surprising how well they’ve cleaned up – and how well produced some of them were in the first place.  Take the first track, White Lightning’s “Prelude to Opus IV”, which is surprisingly grand and opulent.

I won’t play favourites, but Peacepipe’s “The Sun Won’t Shine Forever” has an almost Stooges like sound, filtered through Californian psychedelia.  Magi’s “Win or Lose” sounds like Grand Funk playing an MC5 song, while Stonewall’s “Outer Spaced” holds the most outrageous riff of the set, with perhaps a touch of Hendrix.

Elsewhere, the fantastically named Fibreglass Vegetables offer up a more laid back, groovy but still heavy song with “Pain”.  “Rebel Woman” by Erik (a simpler name, but that’s cool) is another superb rocker that demonstrates some real song writing and arranging talent.

Not as bluesy as Zeppelin or as heavy as Sabbath, the songs on offer are a fine example of rock’n’roll of the time.  It doesn’t take much to imagine the guys from Fu Manchu listening to these pre-stoner rock goodies, sat in their van waiting for the cry of “surf’s up”.

This 9th edition of the Brown Acid compilation offers retro quality, never kitsch or silly, with tons of infectious music.  It’s easy to wonder why some of these bands never became more famous.  At least Riding Easy have done the hard work for us, dusting off the artefacts and preserving them for all to enjoy.

Track list:

  1. White Lightning – “Prelude to Opus IV”
  2. Peacepipe – “The Sun Won’t Shine Forever”
  3. Magi – “Win or Lose”
  4. Fibreglass Vegetables – “Pain”
  5. Erik – “Rebel Woman”
  6. Stonewall – “Outer Spaced”
  7. Ice – “Running High”
  8. Spacerock – “Going Down the Road”
  9. Buckshot – “Barstar”
  10. 9 – “Paradiddle Blues”

Visit Riding Easy records on the interweb here, they also have a Bandcamp page.

You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

And don’t forget to check out Ever Metal, which is where this review originally appeared.

Wizard Rifle – Album Review

Time for another review I wrote for Ever Metal, which you can now read at the Virtual Hot Tub:

Wizard Rifle – Wizard Rifle

Svart Records

Release date: 30/08/2019

Running Time: 45 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10

 

Right, about time I got back to business with these album reviews for my pals at Ever Metal.  But how do you define the indefinable?  ‘Cos that’s basically the issue I’ve had with this review (not writer’s block, honest).  Comparing Wizard Rifle to other bands in myopic, lazy journo style just doesn’t seem to cut it with these guys.

There’s too much going on with Wizard Rifle’s self-titled album to accurately pin down a clumsy similarity to someone else.  It’s a mixture of loud, obnoxious metal, post rock, screamy hardcore punk and grungy sludge; with waves of psychedelic beauty tying it together.

Despite the unholy wall of noise that the band produce there are just two of them – guitarist/vocalist Max Dameron and drummer/vocalist Sam Ford.  That’s a hell of a racket for just two people.  They’re not short of ideas either, as the genre blending demonstrates.  Maybe that’s an advantage of just two minds, rather than several – Dameron and Ford display some ingenious telepathy weaving their creations together.

Loads of energy too – “Rocket to Hell” (great title) is a glorious, shouty opener, and “Caveman Waltz” is a possible contender for Riff of the Year.  It chugs like a drug fuelled locomotive trying to jump the Grand Canyon.

There are only five songs on this record, but as none of them are under seven minutes in length, there’s plenty of value for money.  The guys have learnt to expand a song and explore its possibilities in a way that keeps the ear engaged.  Like on the 12 minute epic “Funeral of the Sun”, which stretches out hypnotically but loses none of its heavy intensity.

Wizard Rifle are from the Portland, Oregon area – which as it’s the Pacific North West, must surely be Big Foot country.  So, I’m gonna coin a lazy journo phrase and label this sound Big Foot Rock.  Remember, you read it here first.  And yes, when this band are huge and Big Foot Rock takes over Western Civilization, I’ll be claiming the royalties for inventing that label.

Big Foot Rock T-shirt, sir?  That’ll be £19.99.  “Now That’s What I Call Bigfoot Rock, Vol 1” vinyl compilation?  Just £27.99.  Can I change a fifty?  Oh, keep the change?  Thank you very much.

The Wizard Rifle Facebook page is here.

You can find Wizard Rifle on Bandcamp here.

The Ever Metal website is here.

Giant Dwarf – Giant Dwarf Album Review

And now, I present an album review I wrote for Ever Metal; a recording that became one of my favourites of 2019:

Giant Dwarf – Giant Dwarf

Self Released

Release date: 09/04/2019

Running Time: 36 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

9.5/10

 

I’ve never been to Australia.  Don’t need to go there really, I know exactly what it’s like.  It’s like that David Bowie video where he’s inside a big concrete block in the middle of nowhere.  “Let’s Dance” – that’s the one.  Or it’s like Mad Max 2: all arid desert, people surviving on dog food and a struggle to exist without civilisation.

So, it’s quite apt that such a barren, isolated place has decided to gift us with an album that is, quite frankly, a masterpiece of desert rock.  Or outback rock, if you will.

This is “Giant Dwarf”, by the band Giant Dwarf, who hail from somewhere called Perth in Western Australia.

Right from the start, with opener “Golden Walrus”, the album bursts from the speakers like Gandalf after a month-long Charles Atlas course.  The songs are tough and uncompromising, yet cerebral.  “Black Thumb” and “Kepler” in particular will make you put your foot down on the accelerator and bang your head – whilst absorbing the intricate tapestry of the universe.

It’s all pounding rhythms and hypnotic, repeating riffs.  On first encounter, the album seems very – shall we say, inspired by – Kyuss and the first Queens of the Stone Age album.  Aaron Soppo (vocals) can even do a pretty convincing Josh Homme impersonation.  Which is no bad thing, in my book – in fact, it’s a sure fired recipe for success.

Further investigation reveals far more than this obvious comparison, however.  As well as a more fuzzed-up guitar sound – not unlike a particularly fried Fu Manchu – there’s a trippy, psychedelic sheen to the muscular groove.  There’s even sitar and didgeridoo on here, in wave after wave of glorious chunky riff and rolling beats.

“The Deluge” illustrates this breadth of feeling with a six minute plus track that undulates between exuberant rocker and introspective meander in just one epic song.

If I have one small criticism, I’d like to hear a track like “Strange Wool” – a mind melting instrumental track that’s quite brilliant – dragged out to three times it’s two-minute length.  Even more development and experimentation would really push Giant Dwarf further into a new dimension.  But keep the edge-of-the-seat rockers too, OK guys?

“Giant Dwarf” comes within a koala’s cock of perfection.  Powerful like the venom of a Death Adder, yet enticing like Natalie Imbruglia.  It really is that good: from out of nowhere, an album that will surely be in my end of year Top Five.

Find Giant Dwarf on Facebook and on Bandcamp.

Check Giant Dwarf out on Spotify here.

There’s some cool stuff on YouTube here and here, too.

PS: apologies for the dig at Australia, it’s just a joke.  I’m sure it’s nice there really.

The Electric Mud – Burn the Ships Album Review

Another album review that appeared not too long ago on EVER METAL – now catching up on my site:

The Electric Mud – Burn the Ships

Self Released (Dewar PR)

Release date: 23/08/2019

Running time: 38 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

8/10

Let’s get the important stuff covered off first.  For any of you who thought this band were something to do with that lot from the seventies who sang “Tiger Feet”, you’re wrong.  The Electric Mud have very little in common with their glam rock similar-name sakes.  Of course, a professional such as myself would never make a mistake like that.

The Electric Mud hail from Fort Myers, Florida – and specialise in a making a steaming hot gumbo of stoner rock and dense, swampy blues.

“Burn the Ships” is the Electric Mud’s second album.  Through the course of seven songs, the listener travels from the sweltering everglades through time and space – as vintage sounds melt with modern.

Opening track “Call the Judge” oozes an irresistible Southern rock’n’roll groove, starting proceedings with a triumphant swagger.  Grab a beer and a whiskey chaser, you know it’s going to be a lively night in the Roadhouse.

The Electric Mud show their stoner credentials on tracks like “Priestess”, which melds inventive riffs with pace and dynamics.  “Good Monster” weaves funky, head bobbing grooves and “Reptile” lunges out of the depths, attacking like a gator whose mother’s been made into a pair of shoes.

There’s some stunning musicianship on display here; the guitars of Constantine Grim and Pete Kolter are crunchy yet nimble when required.  Tommy Scott’s bass rumbles and glides perfectly.  Pierson Whicker’s drums can smash and bang yet can be refined when necessary.  Kolter’s voice, smoky yet soulful, is an addictive asset in itself.

Songs range from rocking brawlers to heartfelt blues with awesome proficiency.  “Black Wool” and “Terrestrial Birds” showcase these slower moments really well, allowing the music to breathe and worm its way under your skin.

The variety of sound – together with the confident delivery and clever song writing – is what makes “Burn the Ships” engaging and successful.  In the best tradition of stoner rock, The Electric Mud can combine old and new, fast and smooth, dirty and graceful.  Their Southern charm, marinated in the blues, give this band their unique identity.

Although it feels maybe one song too short, “Burn the Ships” is full of character and demands repeat listens.

By the way, I used to see quite a bit of Mud – and lots of other glam rock bands – in the early seventies.  Mud used to take a paddling pool everywhere with them, to do some backstage mud wrestling.  Hence the name, you see?  Though it never worked.  Not once did they persuade lovely dance troupe Pan’s People to get involved.  Or Suzi Quatro.  It usually just ended with the band in the mud bath, drunk on Babycham and fighting with Slade.

The Electric Mud website is here.

The Electric Mud Facebook page is here; Twitter is here and Instagram is here.

Find The Electric Mud on Bandcamp here.

Platinum Al’s Top 10 Rock/Metal Albums of 2019

2019 has been an exceptional year for new music.  It started off slowly, but by the end of the year I was struggling to keep up.

As per last year, Ever Metal asked me to produce a Top Ten of my favourite rock and metal albums of the year.  So here we go:

  1. Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard – Yn Ol I Annwn
  2. Speedealer – Blue Days Black Nights
  3. Obey – Swallow The Sun
  4. Acid Reign – The Age of Entitlement
  5. Sunn O))) – Life Metal
  6. Earth – Full Upon Her Burning Lips
  7. Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovel – Very Uncertain Times
  8. Giant Dwarf – Giant Dwarf
  9. Monolord – No Comfort
  10. Crobot – Motherbrain

All fantastic records.  Honorable mentions this time to Kadavar, Firebreather, L7, Wizard Rifle and Duel.

For more rock reviews, interviews and top tens, head over to Ever Metal.

Happy New Year everybody – wishing you a very healthy and prosperous 2020!

And thanks for vising Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub!  Make sure you come back next year, and if you’ve got any requests or suggestions, please get in touch.