The Metal Files

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Archive for the ‘stoner rock’ Category

The Obsessed & Karma To Burn Concert Review, Austin, TX, June 7, 2016

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In general I’m not a big stoner rock/stoner doom fan.  I don’t think it’s because I’m not a stoner as I have a lot of friends who love that music but don’t get high.  Too much droning and not enough melody for me.

I was on the fence about going last night as I was still tired after the Whitesnake show the night before.  The Obsessed’s mgmt offered me a guest list slot so I sucked it up and went downtown.

As I arrived to the venue, Wino and co. were hanging out and I got a chance to speak with him one on one for a few minutes.  I showed him The Book and he was surprised by the entry in it.  “Where can I get a copy?”  I had met him several times before and didn’t realize until yesterday that they were in the book.  I should have known that at least based on their inclusion on Metal Massacre VI.  Duh.  I had him sign his entry and the CD cover.  In a rush to leave the house, I had forgotten the first Hidden Hand CD (my favorite Wino project ever) and the last St. Vitus album he was on.

My friends in Crimson Devils opened the show with a solid 30 minute set.  Jake and Curtis are fantastic musicians, good dudes and always a pleasure to watch.

There were 2 bands coming up next and I left to go get dinner.  By the time I got back, West Virginia’s Karma to Burn was getting ready to start.  My memory is a bit hazy but I think I saw them in Virginia in the late 90s, but can’t confirm that.  Almost all the way to the end of their first song, the growing crowd was standing at least 5 feet from the stage.  I walked right up front to help entice the rest of the crowd to move up and it worked.  Their set was solid, heavy and instrumental.  Highlight for me was their unrelenting drummer.  Although much of their stuff started sounding the same to me after a few songs, that drummer was damn near flawless.

Up next was The Obsessed.  Admittedly I’m not familiar with their stuff at all.  From what my friend told me, the first 3 songs were all Obsessed songs, then they played a Spirit Caravan song.  I’ve seen them before but again, I’m not familiar with the material.  After a couple more songs, I went home.  I was dog tired.  The band was solid and Wino’s guitar playing was good.  He looked confident playing it.  I will say this, though, and a few others noticed the same thing, Wino looked tentative when he was singing.  They’re midway through their tour right now so I don’t know if it’s just my perception or if he’s having some nervousness.  The guy is a seasoned veteran so I’m thinking it’s just my perception.

By the time I left, it looked like there were about 70 or so people there, which isn’t bad for a Tuesday night downtown.

Venomous Maximus – Beg Upon The Light (2012) Review

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I had seen Venomous Maximus at least 6 or 7 times before finally putting ears to any of their studio work.  They are always a treat live.  Super solid, energetic and G. Lee Higgins is the right person to front this band that calls Houston, TX its home.

A few weeks back at a show I bought their latest release, Beg Upon the Light.  It took me almost 2 weeks to finally get around to listening to it and now I feel like I have wasted 2 weeks!  I had to drive to Houston and back this week (2.5 hours each way) and listened to this 3 times on the drive.  Oh my!

This album is very well-produced.  I guess they are considered “stoner/doom” metal.  I hear so much more classic metal sounds that came from Metal Blade and other classic labels.  I hear elements of Tyrant, Damien Thorne, Mercyful Fate, Black Sabbath and Cirith Ungol.

Higgins’ voice may take some time for folks to get used to.  I, for one, think they’re perfect for the band.  There’s no death growl that is so rampant in the stoner/doom genre these days.  His voice is clean and clear and typically lower than most metal singers today.  Think King Diamond’s low vocals with Mercyful Fate with a little more “umph” behind them or maybe even those from early Moonspell (Wolfheart).  He has a really good sorrowful wail to his style.

The rest of band is spot on with their delivery.  I especially like Christian’s solos (I always want more solos!).  His solo intro on Path of Doom is such a beautiful nod to Mercyful Fate.  Bongo and Trevi round out the rhythm section perfectly.
Favorite tracks would be Path of Doom, Battle for the Cross, Hell’s Heroes and Moonchild.

I highly recommend this album and so far I’d call it my favorite album of 2012.  10/10.  Go see them live!

You can stream the whole album here.  Find them on Facebook, too.

Written by The Metal Files

November 8, 2012 at 8:51 am

Dove – S/T

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Dove is a band that you only hear whispers of and really only in certain circles.  I had the privilege of seeing them at a club I worked for around 2005.  Sadly there were only about 20 people there.  No matter, Dove was great.  The lineage of this band is pretty heavy and goes something like this:

Cavity–>Dove–>Floor–>Torche

Ah, you know Floor and Torche?  Yes, same ones.  I saw Floor a few months ago during FunFunFunFest in Austin and they are playing here again Saturday…of course I am seeing them again.  Mammoth Grinder is opening and they are quality as well.

But back to Dove.  This album crushes.  It’s near the best 30 or so minutes you can spend listening to music.  Heavy, down-tuned, melodic, no song clocks in over 3:55.  The CD has long been out of print and apparently a vinyl reissue came out a year or so ago.

1. Thank You For Your Patience 01:52
2. Goes Without Saying 02:05
3. On a Mission 04:13
4. Red King 01:45
5. Neither Today, Nor Tomorrow 01:55
6. Twenty Three Twelve 01:56
7. Somewhere Between 02:33
8. This You Can Trust 02:11
9. Without Warning 01:54
10. You and I 01:42
11. Start Running Now 02:43
12. Never a Straight Line 02:52
13. Sight and Seen 02:40
14. See You Soon, Love Always… 03:55

Download here…and enjoy!

Here’s a vid of Floor I shot last fall.

Written by The Metal Files

April 27, 2011 at 7:26 am

Pentagram – Last Rites

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The new Pentagram came out today!  I had pre-ordered it a few days ago and right when I got up this morning, I fired up my PC and let the download start.  All total today I’ve got 4 listens into it including letting it play while I am writing this and feel that it’s enough to give it a proper review.

I’ve got to say that I didn’t really care for any of the Pentagram stuff after Victor Griffin’s departure from the band in 1994 (no offense to Joe Hasselvander), it just was missing something special…and obviously it was VG’s guitar playing.  He’s got a great style that is just right for Bobby’s vocal stylings.

I had heard 2 songs from the album already and had already acquainted myself with them pretty well in the last week or 2; those songs being Call The Man and 8.  Both tracks have a great feel to them and sort of show a “mature” sound to the band.  This album seems to be a little more melodic than albums past.  Bobby’s voice sounds great…nice and strong.  Clean living has certainly given his voice some power again.  The song Into The Ground has some good vocal harmonies that I assume are Bobby’s.  Having downloaded the album, I have no liner notes to check.  That’s one drawback of going all digital these days.  Victor’s signature sound is all over this album.  His solos are great as expected.

The songs 8 and Windmills and Chimes really show a new side to their music that I hadn’t heard before.  They are a little more progressive and not so typical stoner/doom like they get classified as.  Windmills and Chimes (remake) is really quite a beautiful song and one of my favorites on the album for sure.  The song American Dream sounds similar to 8 when it starts but quickly goes in a different direction.  Walk In Blue Light (remake from First Daze Here) and Nothing Left really sound like they could have been used on Relentless or Day of Reckoning.  Great classic sounding Pentagram!  I have to admit that the only song that hasn’t grabbed me yet is Death In 1st Person.  It’s not a bad song at all, but just doesn’t hook me in like the rest of the album.

The only negative thing I can say about the album is in the production.  It’s a wee tad muddy and Bobby seems a little too low in the mix…but that’s just my opinion.  Otherwise I think it’s an awesome return to form by the band.

In general, it sounds like Bobby and Victor had fun making this record.  It’s got really good energy and positive vibes to it and I can undoubtedly say that if you have ever even remotely liked this band, you’ll like this album.

8.5/10 if I was forced to put a number on it.

*UPDATE* – I didn’t realize until yesterday (4/13/11) that most of the tracks on here are remakes.  While I am a little disappointed, the album still deserves the rating I gave it.  BUY IT!  Don’t download illegally.

Track Listing:

1. Treat Me Right
2. Call The Man
3. Into The Ground
4. 8
5. Everything’s Turning To Night
6. Windmills And Chimes
7. American Dream
8. Walk In Blue Light
9. Horseman
10. Death In 1st Person
11. Nothing Left
12. All Your Sins – Reprise

 

Yours truly and Bobby before their first of 2 shows at SxSW 2011.

Serpent Throne

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White Summer*Black Winter

I like a lot of instrumental bands but I’ve always found it difficult to find quality instrumental rock bands that didn’t write their stuff to sound like they were writing around having a singer.  Philadelphia’s Serpent Throne satisfies my instrumental craving perfectly.

I met the two guitarists, Demian Fenton and Don Argott, at the premier for the movie Last Days Here during the SxSW 2011 Film and Music Festival.  You can read my review of their movie here.  They are the guys behind the production/direction of the movie and in talking with Demian after the flick, he mentioned that he was in a band and I had forgotten about it until a few days after seeing the movie as I was wrapped up in a lot of SxSW activities.

Since then I have been spinning their stuff practically non-stop.  Metal has a lot of sub-genres and these guys would typically be classified in the stoner rock and doom categories.  To call them Black Sabbath worship is too easy.  Pretty much all metal bands worship Sabbath whether they know it or not.  Serpent Throne take it to a bit of a different level in my opinion.  They use lots great dual guitar harmonies that are reminiscent of Thin Lizzy in places.  I hear hints of Trouble (S/T LP era) in there as well, intended or not.  There are some cool hints of 70s Scorpions as well as Uriah Heep and Wishbone Ash.  Maybe some Cactus too.  It’s a nice blend of great rock and metal without sounding like they are just ripping off all of the classic bands.

I think it’s pretty tough for an instrumental band of this genre to continue to write stuff and keep it interesting and Serpent Throne has done that

The Battle of Old Crow

with all 3 of their albums: Ride Satan Ride (2007), The Battle of Old Crow (2009) and White Summer*Black Winter (2010).  I highly recommend picking up all of their stuff.  Battle of Old Crow and White Summer*Black Winter are available for download from Amazon and iTunes.  I had to buy the CD for Ride Satan Ride and convert it to MP3 myself as it’s not available for legal download.

Hopefully I’ll catch these guys live sometime, even if it means heading to Philly for it.  Would be cool to have them hit Austin for a show sometime.  I think they’d do well here, especially if they were in on a SxSW gig.  So, nice work, guys!  Hope all good things come out of Last Days Here as well.

Concert Review – Naam 3/18/11 SxSW

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I first caught Naam last year when they were on the bill with Voi Vod at SxSW 2010 and instantly became a fan.  Their breed of space rock, stoner rock, metal, psyche rock or whatever other monikers you want to give it really set well with me.

A month or 2 ago they stated that there would be no showing at SxSW 2011 because of management issues or something but ultimately they got it done and ended up doing a few shows around town.  I was able to catch the one at Headhunters on Friday.  They were on the back patio which is tiny and I was one of the last folks in the door…and that put my fat ass right in front of the band.  A little too close from a band’s perspective in my opinion but having everyone in their faces didn’t seem to matter at all.  They pushed through their set with intensity and the crowd really liked them a lot.  They were loud, heavy, solid.

Naam does it right.  They are tight and I really like the way they do their vocals by enhancing them with a lot of chorus, delay and reverb.  It fits with their music perfectly.  I’m especially impressed with John Bundy’s bass playing.  That guy works his Fender Precision bass like a $9 hooker.

Can’t wait to see them again!

You can buy their stuff on iTunes or via All That is Heavy.

Written by The Metal Files

March 23, 2011 at 7:48 am

Concert Review – Danava 3/17/11 SxSW

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It’s not very often that I hear/see a band that makes my jaw hit the floor and makes me want to run around and tell every person that I know to check them out.  That’s what Portland’s Danava did for me this year at the SxSW music festival.  I had never heard of this band until a few days before the festival when viewing the showcase at Valhalla that also featured Christian Mistress and Zoroaster, 2 other bands that I like a lot.  I didn’t get a chance to listen to them before the show so I went into this cold.

Dang!  These guys kicked into a 70s style jam fest that hit me right in the nuts.  When i say “jam” I don’t mean like some hippie jam band improv type of thing, this music was well-thought out riff-oriented hard rock.  I heard elements of a lot of my favorite bands like Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep, Wishbone Ash, Hawkwind, Allman Brothers, White Witch, Thin Lizzy and even more modern 70s worship style ala Witchcraft.

One of their defining attributes is their riffing style.  Lots of movement all over the fretboard with the 2 guitarists playing some great melodies.  Add in the bassist playing the same riffs behind them and it’s pretty badass to watch and hear.  He’s really a damn fine bassist in general.  It’s great to see a band that obviously rehearses a lot.  They’ve been on the road quite a bit over the last few years as well and that has a tendency to tighten a band up as well.  Mix in the clean vocals (very early Ozzy-era Sabbath/Bobby Liebling) and you’ve got a great mix.

After their set I was looking for some merch to buy but they didn’t have it handy.  Fortunately their music is on iTunes and I downloaded their entire catalog a few hours after seeing them (3AM!).  I was happy to catch them again a few nights later for free for a quick set.  Just great.  Period.

Highly recommended!

Written by The Metal Files

March 22, 2011 at 7:29 am