White City Graves – Album Review

White City Graves – One Of Us

Self-Released (MDPR)

Release date: 20/08/2021

Running Time: 29 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10

White City Graves released this album back in August, but I’m reviewing it in October.  Not because I’m a slacker, but because this album is totally appropriate for the Spookiest Month of the Year.  That’s right folks, we’ve jumped on the Horror Punk ghost train again, so buckle up and be prepared for a rollicking roll on the tracks to hell.

To be fair, there’s definitely a Misfits/Danzig influence with “One Of Us”, but White City Graves cast a wider net than just horror punk.  Aggressive as it is, and with the undoubted splash of melody from those aforementioned bands, these songs also owe a big debt to ugly metal bands like Motorhead, Venom and Mercyful Fate.

Like Tad jacked up on speed and Monster Energy whiskey cocktails, it’s furious and frightening.  We’re only one motel stop from chainsaw killers and rabid werewolf bikers – all of which makes Al rub his hands with glee.

“Bump in the Night” starts with a sample of an obscure B-movie (of course) and proceeds in the manner we’d expect: punk’n’roll at 200mph and snarling vocals.  “Lights Out” is a frenzied rocker with the hugest chorus on the album – think the Anti-Nowhere League partying in a haunted house and you’ll be there.      

The band give a nod to their Seattle roots with an exemplary cover of Soundgarden’s “Hunted Down”, a surprising song choice, but it makes perfect sense.  WCG take the original and inject even more brutality, but retain a little of the psychedelic feel of the original.

I’ve no idea who Brooks is, but “Brooks is Here” features a helluva fast, almost psychobilly freak out.  “Make My Blood Boil” and “Day in the Death” have a similar feel, though “Deeper” takes a more metallic approach with some added Sisters of Mercy atmos.

“One of Us” is fast and nasty, unafraid to have some fun with the horror punk cliches, but adding a ruthless heavy rock influence.  Like the best of Seattle bands, it’s an irresistible collision of punk and metal that’s fun and makes the listener beg for more.  Why aren’t more bands like this? 

My old mate Ronnie James Dio used to love Halloween.  He had fantastic costumes too: demons, zombies, imps.  I used to have to take him out Trick or Treating every year, acting as his minder.  Of course, I looked more like his parent, and most of the people thought little Ron, knocking on their door, was a child.  He got loads of candy though, and he always shared it with me.  Happy days.

Check out the fantastic White City Graves on Bandcamp, Spotify, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.

This review is presented to you by Platinum Al and Ever Metal.

Here Lies Man – Album Review

Here Lies Man – Ritual Divination

RidingEasy Records (Us/Them Group)

Release date: 22/01/2021

Running time: 61 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10

OK: we have something very interesting here.  Something quite special.  Apparently, this is the fourth album from Here Lies Man, so I’ve got some catching up to do.  The bands unique selling point is their amalgamation of Black Sabbath with Afrobeat, and it’s a refreshing interpretation of a genre that continues to morph and bewitch the listener.

On this release, founding members Marcos Garcia (vocals/guitar) and Geoff Mann (drums) are joined by Doug Organ on keyboards and JP Maramba on bass.  Here Lies Man devoutly worship the riff in full-on Iommi style, but they’re piloting their space vessel on an exploratory course into previously uncharted galaxies.

Yes, there are chunky, heavy guitar riffs galore – but with a stroke of mad scientist genius the rhythms power the engine with a new force.  Tracks like “I Wander”, “Night Comes” and album highlight “Can’t Kill It” don’t just rock, they don’t just groove: there’s something – dare I say it – danceable in the songs on Ritual Divination.  So much so, that I might just have to go and shake my not inconsiderable booty right now.

There.  That’s better.  Just had to groove on out there, people – but I’m back now.  Here Lies Man have crafted something very infectious.  Snippets of 70s style heavy rock (“Collector of Vanities”), dizzy space rock (“In These Dreams”) and incessant beats (everywhere) create something that’s heavy AND fun.

If I have one criticism, it’s that the album feels slightly too long.  All this inventiveness is sometimes hard to keep up with, despite its addictive nature.  Over time, however, I’m guessing the additional length of the recording will probably deliver greater rewards.   

Ritual Divination by Here Lies Man: boldly rocking where no one has rocked before.

My old mates in Black Sabbath used to enjoy going off in random directions, too (usually because of the, er… substances).  One time, Bill Ward decided to play yet another prank on diminutive vocal god Ronnie James Dio by taking an axe to all the furniture in Ron’s hotel room and hacking off eight inches from the bottom of everything, to make it all smaller.  Chair legs, table legs, bed – the lot.  Moved the pictures – and the mirror on the wall – lower down by a foot, etc etc.

When Ronnie arrived, not only did he not get the joke, he really didn’t get the joke at all.  He thought it was a special room for the vertically challenged, congratulated the Hotel Manager and gave me a big cash bonus for booking him such a fabulous room.  Cheers, Bill!

Check out Here Lies Man website, on Bandcamp and Facebook.

Visit RidingEasy Records website and on Bandcamp.

This review was brought to you by Platinum Al and Ever Metal.

Firebreather – Under a Blood Moon Album Review

Firebreather – Under a Blood Moon

RidingEasy Records

Release date: 27/09/2019

Running time: 49 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10

 

You’ve got to hand it to the Swedes.  They’re pretty damn good at whatever they turn their hands to.  Cheese with holes in, chocolate, clocks… No wait, that’s the Swiss.  The Swedes are the ones who are awesome at flatpack furniture and – most importantly for us – music.

Firebreather are a trio of doom-mongers from Gothenburg in Sweden.  Comprising Mattias Noojd on vocals and guitar, Kyle Pitcher on bass and drummer Axel Wittbeck, these riff-lords are adept at creating massive, epic songs that are both brutal and beautiful.

The music pounds and pummels, but as in opening track “Dancing Flames”, the churning riff becomes hypnotically entrancing.  “Our Souls They Burn” is unleashed with a super-heavy grind that’s underpinned by a powerful groove.

It’s hard to pick a stand-out or favourite track, though the relentless structure of the songs creates a vast tapestry of music that blends together.  This is savage and also seductive, like the wilderness of their native Scandinavia.  Hence, we get the thunderous beat of title track “Firebreather” and the contrast of the slow rhythmic build and almost melancholic vibe of “The Siren”.

Repeated listens are definitely recommended: familiarity with “Under a Blood Moon” coaxes the songs to open up and reveal more treasures each time.  The listeners’ mind can imagine patterns and shapes cascading, like watching flames burn and dance.  It’s a solid album from Firebreather that only promises to grow and endure.

All this talk about fire-breathing brings back memories of my old mate Ronnie James Dio’s fascination with the Dungeons and Dragons board game.  Back in the early 80’s, when he was fronting Black Sabbath, Ronnie was obsessed with it.  He’d constantly badger the band to play it with him, which they did – begrudgingly.

Tony and Geezer amiably played along to humour their titan-voiced tiny singer.  I recall one time though, when Bill Ward had really had enough of elves and dragons – he threw a huge pitcher of ale over the game.  Ronnie was livid, Tony and Geezer were trying to stifle laughter.  Especially when Bill kicked the table, banged his big toe and fell about screaming in agony, ripping a hole in his wife’s tights.  Bill was always wearing his wife’s tights.  I think they kept him warm.

You can find Firebreather on Facebook and Twitter: @FIREBREATHERGBG.

Check them out on Bandcamp here.

This review originally appeared on the Ever Metal site, which you can visit here.