Self Released

Sun Below – Sun Below Review

Sun Below – Sun Below Review

“With summer fast approaching in my neck of the woods, some good old stoner rock vibes are always welcome. Up and coming Toronto act Sun Below are dropping their debut self-titled album and all the ingredients for a good old time in the land of fuzz and sand are in tow. Sun Below boast a stripped back, garage-y production, fat guitar and bass tones, laid-back jammy vibe, lots of trippy psychedelic flourishes and crude, no-nonsense vocals.” Sun, sand, stoners.

Jointhugger – Surrounded by Vultures Review

Jointhugger – Surrounded by Vultures Review

“Infamous satirical news site The Onion has a particularly infamous article that is re-run every time there is a mass shooting in the USA. No, I’m not here to make a political statement; the point of the article in question is to comment on the repetitive nature of the occurrence. I’m just wondering whether I should make such a generic, re-runnable review for the glut of stoner doom bands that all sound exactly the same. You know the type: they don’t know whether they want to be Black Sabbath, Sleep or Kyuss, always add “psychedelic” to their self-description for no reason, and bury their lack of variation and originality by playing louder and adding more fuzz. Jointhugger play stoner doom; can they break the cycle?” Stone cold.

Franklin Zoo – The Dandelion Child Review

Franklin Zoo – The Dandelion Child Review

“I know we’ve been harping about shitty band names a lot this year, but come on. Franklin Zoo? Why? Is your music about 6-year-olds getting their first biology lesson because two bonobos decided to get exhibitionistic? Do you have a tearful ballad saluting Harambe? Apparently not, since The Dandelion Child addresses the philosophic studies of Soren Kierkegaard.” Animal farming.

Siren’s Rain – Rise Forth Review

Siren’s Rain – Rise Forth Review

“Sometimes, the cover of an album is meaningless, you know, just a cliched picture of a skull or zombie or something to adorn the record sleeve. Sometimes, however, the artwork can tell you a lot, both about what to expect from a record and about the band behind it, which presumably signed off—or in a few cases even designed—the artwork in question. In the case of Tacoma, Washington’s Siren’s Rain and their self-released debut album, Rise Forth, the artwork triggered an all too familiar sinking feeling.” Graphic displays.

Manfrea – Noire Review

Manfrea – Noire Review

“Novel genre mixes are always fun. I thought I had one of those when I grabbed Noire, sophomore effort from Moscow musicians Manfrea, from the bin. Blackened metalcore, it said. Russia seems to have developed a penchant for experimental, envelope-pushing metal, so it’s only natural my thoughts went to bizarre concoctions of Trivium and Darkthrone and the question how two such disparate genres could possibly mix. My esteemed colleagues immediately shot down such ruminations when I pondered these questions aloud, by proposing the suspicious half of this amalgamation might be more along the original, non-melodic metalcore line, which would make the figurative distance between genres considerable shorter.” Near and Noire.

Viserion – Natural Selection Review

Viserion – Natural Selection Review

“For a relatively young genre, metal has found its fair share of adherents who quickly discovered their musical niche and haven’t budged from that sound. While this applies to both listeners (I’ll proudly wave the tattered OSDM banner until the day I die) and practitioners, it’s most noticeable with new and emerging bands not only harken back to a particular sound, but actively refuse to grow beyond it. Much like the Vogons in the immortal tome A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, these bands refuse to evolve. This may merely be my own bias showing, but this phenomenon seems to be most pronounced amongst the black metal set. Ever committed to all things trv, it would appear these corpse painted cretins believe that metal peaked somewhere around 1993. So when I picked up Viserion‘s debut Natural Selection, I was understandably apprehensive.” Status woe.

Eastern High – Halo Review

Eastern High – Halo Review

“The year of shitty band names continues with Eastern High. If you think that moniker sounds like a high school, well, that’s because it is, located in Cardiff, Wales. In fact, the school is the top result when you search for Eastern High. But unlike its handle, the band (which is from Sweden, not Wales) apparently hides enough quality to make dear TheKenWord cuss me out for snatching it from the promo bin while he was looking the other way.” Moderate speed times at Eastern High.

Archangel A.D. – Casus Belli Review

Archangel A.D. – Casus Belli Review

Archangel A.D. play thrash about as retro as it gets. But even retro thrash has its particular flavors, in this case an even split mixture between Metallica and Annihilator. Aside from the opener, which might as well have been called “King of Spades” for as close as it hews to Motörhead’s classic. Nevertheless, there’s a more than satisfying amount of hooky riffs on Casus Belli, as well as a surprising amount of variety.” Belli of the beast.

Planet of the Dead – Pilgrims Review

Planet of the Dead – Pilgrims Review

“A doom/stoner album with songs about classic horror and sci-fi books and movies? Sounds right up my alley. New Zealand’s Planet of the Dead take on all sorts of material, from Dune to Alien to Slaughterhouse 5, and do so with a sludgy simplicity here on their second album, Pilgrims. Their debut album, Fear of a Dead Planet, came out just last year, so this is a pretty quick turnaround by today’s standards. Channeling the usual suspects such as Black Sabbath and Kyuss, and coming off a bit Bull Elephant-adjacent, this quartet hits the sweet spot in album length, with eight songs spread out over less than forty minutes, making for an release that’s easy to get into from start to finish. Do they hit the mark on all eight tracks?” Space sludge.