Occult Rock

Doctor Smoke – Dreamers and the Dead Review

Doctor Smoke – Dreamers and the Dead Review

Ghost created quite the marketable niche for themselves when they introduced the whole “faceless ghouls and demon Pope paying homage to Blue Oyster Cult and Mercyful Fate” schtick. It shouldn’t have worked as well as it did, but their notoriety speaks for itself. Other bands tried similar recipes with varying degrees of success but none came close to capturing the secret ingredients in Ghost‘s unholy special sauce. Ohio-based Doctor Smoke aren’t trying to ape those nameless ghouls so much as borrow the best parts of their sound to season their own proprietary slurry composed of hair metal, hard rock, NWoBHM, and a vague Foo Fighters appreciation.” Smoky bones and Ghost loans.

Witchcryer – When Their Gods Come for You Review

Witchcryer – When Their Gods Come for You Review

“I recall being quite taken with Witchcryer‘s 2017 debut Cry Witch when I stumbled across it in the rancid promo sump. A product of Las CrucesEarthen Grave, and The Living Fields members, it had a lively doom rock sound akin to Castle and Jex Thoth and frontwoman Suzy Bravo was a force to be reckoned with. In hindsight, however, I overrated the album as it was very short on content, and though its high points are great, it has downslopes and filler too, which is a bad sign for such a short album. Nonetheless, I was still excited to get my hands on their sophomore album When Their Gods Come for You and see what the last few years had done to their sound.” Gods and sirens.

Mama Doom – Ash Bone Skin N Stone Review

Mama Doom – Ash Bone Skin N Stone Review

“Occult rock has undergone something of a renaissance. Over the past few years, it would seem that a crop of Blue Öyster Cult devotees have taken a collective step outside of their salt circle and onto the lighted stage. Whether it’s the pop metal Satanism of Ghost, or the 70s-tinged stylings of groups like Lucifer, Blood Ceremony and Witch Mountain, occult rock with just the right amount of metallic edge has taken a very specific subset of the world by storm. So where does New York’s Mama Doom fit into the pentagramed paradigm?” I dismember mama.

Molassess – Through the Hollow Review

Molassess – Through the Hollow Review

“In 2006, siblings Selim and Farida Lemouchi started a psychedelic occult rock band called The Devil’s Blood. In 2013, it collapsed. During its existence, the band drew a loyal following in underground music. Its music balanced retro occult and innovative psych rock. Selim, guitar player and spiritual heart of the band, was uncompromising in his vision, resulting in shows that were as much Satanic rituals as they were concerts, including buckets of pig blood and candles all over the place. In 2014, after struggling with depression for much of his existence, Selim requested permission to die from his mother and sister shortly before taking his own life. 5 years later, Roadburn overlord Walter Hoeijmakers asked the former members of The Devil’s Blood whether they would be interested in creating a commissioned piece of music. Molassess was born.” Blood and life travel strange pathways.

Valkyrie – Fear Review

Valkyrie – Fear Review

“Summertime is when I’m most susceptible to the bleary-eyed charms of jammy, fuzzed out retro/occult doom. That kind of music just seems to go with warmer days and brighter skies. Virginia’s Valkyrie play their cards right by dropping their 4th album in the middle of a New York heat wave, as my brain is already hot-wired to embrace what they’re doing on Fear.” Fear is the riff dealer.

Avatarium – The Fire I Long For Review

Avatarium – The Fire I Long For Review

“Just as with their last outing, Avatarium‘s latest opus snuck up on me, having only learned of its imminent release a week ago. I’m not sure why this band escapes my metal detector/radar so effectively, but this 70s doom rock project founded by Leif Edling of Candlemass fame always makes for a pleasant surprise, as they’ve been quite impressive over their relatively brief life cycle. Health concerns have caused Leif to step away from the band more and more over the last few years, and on fourth album The Fire I Long For, he’s he’s been relegated to helping write a few songs.” Feel this fire.

Saint Karloff – Interstellar Voodoo Review

Saint Karloff – Interstellar Voodoo Review

“When I saw the name Saint Karloff bobbing in the promo cesspool, I was intrigued. Growing up with Saturday morning horror movies in the 70s and 80s, Boris Karloff was like my unauthorized babysitter and creepy uncle, so I felt compelled to hear the band that dared to hijack his name. Upon closer inspection I learned this Norwegian psychedelic occult/stoner act’s sophomore outing, coming hot on the heels of a 2018 debut, is one 40:23 minute song. I was dismayed by this, and immediately considered weaponizing it and dropping it on some unsuspecting staffer like a concrete piano from a fourth floor window. Then I pressed play.” Do that voodoo, that you doo doo, so well.

Kadavar – For the Dead Travel Fast Review

Kadavar – For the Dead Travel Fast Review

“When Ghost popped out of the ground/Vatican and started spinning their poppy, Satanic throwback rock for the masses, they inadvertently birthed a whole new wave of acts seeking to merge the same 70s rock influences with occult imagery and demonic subject matter. One of the earliest adapters of this “new” style was Germany’s Kadavar, who fused psychedelic rock with horror and occult themes in ways that were as good and sometimes better than anything Ghost had done before.” Now THIS is dead racing!

Lightning Born – Lightning Born Review

Lightning Born – Lightning Born Review

“Indeed, my indirect memories of the 70s feature objects and trends grown shabby from age and eventually replaced by neon colors, Reaganomics and synth pop. Raleigh, North Carolina’s Lightning Born, on the other hand, remember the 70’s in living detail and have preserved them in pristine amber on their full-length eponymous debut.” Lightning born, time frozen.

Sabbath Assembly – A Letter of Red Review

Sabbath Assembly – A Letter of Red Review

“In what should be considered a minor achievement, Sabbath Assembly are dropping their seventh album, A Letter of Red, with the identical lineup as 2017’s excellent Rites of Passage. This is the first time these strange occult-rockers have kept a static lineup, and that means we hope for an album of equal or better quality than the previous (which was a favorite of mine that year). However, the band makes it clear in their lead-up to the album that they are throwing a few change-ups our way: shorter songs, tight production, and a leaning towards 70s hard rock rather than the prog rock they treated us to on Rites of Passage. With the pedigree present, I’m sure they can pull off anything they attempt–can’t they?” Come back to the Sabbath?