Thursday, January 20, 2011

5 Quick Album Reviews

SardoniS - SardoniS
Damn good instrumental metal. SardoniS was sent to me by Reg at Heavy Planet to listen and review. I had actually already owned the album, but I appreciated the thought. That was back in September or October, and I just now listened to their debut album. I was in no rush because of it's instrumental nature and I've never been a huge fan of the genre. Like sludge metal, I think that I am not the ideal person to review instrumental music, just because I am tainted against it from the get-go. But I had just woken up and I wanted something simple to enter the day with so I turned on SardoniS. What followed was anything but simple, SardoniS is one of the most complex and richly sounding instrumental bands I've ever heard. The album transcends genres, all of which sounded at least half-way decent. This is something very difficult to do without the aid of vocals of any kind, and they somehow kept it all fresh throughout the album, something else that is difficult (for me) with instrumental bands. While not all the tracks were winners - it had it's share of ups and downs - it was an easy album to get through, and I didn't find myself wandering away in thought as I do with most bands. I was continuously surprised and entranced with the differences of sound, track to track. This is something to listen to, if you're a fan of instrumental stoner metal or not.

Blue Aside - The Orange Tree (EP)
A new band with a new album that has been getting rave reviews across the net, time for me to sit down and give them a try. Blue Aside grows from the ashes of Palace In Thunderland, but unlike the other spin-off group, Black Pyramid, Blue Aside is much more grounded in the stoner aspect of sound. The Orange Tree is a five-song EP that showcases the future of the act. During my research of the group, I heard repeatedly that the first two tracks, "The Traveler of Time and Space" and "Otis' Sun," were what made the album, and that is correct. These songs are long, groovy, and really grow on you quick. The following three tracks really don't hold a candle to the beginning songs. "Black Rays," track four, seems under-produced - like the group is singing together in a bar - and quite poppy. I could see this being on an alternative rock station, it's a stark change of style compared to the rest of the release. The Orange Tree shows promise of what Blue Aside can offer, but in itself isn't something that will be on repeat on my stereo. They diversify their sound too much, when they should be focusing on their stoner/doom sounds, these are the best moments.

The Fërtility Cült - Eschatology
The Fërtility Cült is a semi-progressive stoner/doom band that mixes in horns (I'm guessing a sax) and other odd sounds into their music. There also is liberal use of the keyboard throughout Eschatology, and it blends with the bass and saxophone pretty damn well. While their first track, "Cosmic Kaishakunin," really didn't do it for me, the album picks up with the second, "Into the Sacred Grove." All of the instruments are in full swing, the lyrics are minimal but work, and the various breakdowns all add to the feeling and sound. Jazz-stoner isn't something you hear very often, but it would be applicable for Eschatology. The album's best moments are when it incorporates all of it's sounds and effects into the song. On the more doom-laden track, "Rheopolis," the song come off boring an uninspired, but the following one, "Völkerwanderung," brings back the feel of jazz-metal and it is better for it. The group has a very Blood Ceremony vibe to them, of course sub-out flute for sax and a female vocalist for a male, other then that they are kind of similar. Their use of interesting instruments, psychedelic doom, and semi-droning lyrics (what little there were) really pull the two together in style. I could see them touring together and rocking it out!

The Dust Bowl - Beyond The Sun
Down-and-dirty stoner, with the occasional douse of rockabilly, would sum up The Dust Bowl fairly well. I can't find any information about this group (believe it or not, it gets drowned out by the actual dust bowl of the 30s) so I'm going to call Beyond The Sun their debut album and let it be. Also I have to guess that these guys are not any kind of English, mostly from the overly-apparent accent in the first song, "My Blood," and also because a lot of Scandinavian acts mix rockabilly and surfer rock into their music. Just sayin'. Anyway, The Dust Bowl is ok, just ok. The music is decent, the vocals are so-so and the grouping of styles works pretty well. Some of the songs come across as foolish and some themes that are included are a bit much, but other then that it wasn't unpleasant to listen to. Beyond The Sun just isn't going to be having a whole lot of repeat plays this year. [EDIT]: Actually I did end up finding some info on the group, they hail from Spain (I swear it's a weirder accent then Spanish) and have their whole album up for free download at BandCamp. So check it out if you wish.

Green & Wood - Green & Wood
I've recently been on a doom bender; I've been scooping up every doom band within every sub-genre of doom that I could find. I must have added 100 artists to my collection, and probably 200 albums, Green & Wood being one of them. This group is stoner, this group is doom, this group is great. Right from the get-go you know what you're going to get, leading off with "Banquet of Jupiter," a grinding stoner/doom song with a bit of gothic (not full-on mind you) vocals, sounding like a pair of gents singing in an echoy room, It's not too distorted, but it adds an effect that is actually kind of neat. Track two, "Rockin' Real Hard," does exactly what it says; it rocks real hard and the following song, "Heathen Copse," has an opening riff that would make Black Sabbath proud - one of their most doom-oriented songs. Although that is only the first half of the album, you know what you're getting, a Sabbath-tinged, groove-laden rocker with serious jam capabilities. A side note: apparently the lead singer is a professional skateboarder by the name of Ethan Fowler, he and his professional-photographer partner, Magda (never says a last name), play their stoner/doom with a semi-folk vibe, equating themselves to Robin Hood and Maid Marian. Not really important for the album, but kind of a neat side story.

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