The Sword

Robots of the Ancient World – Mystic Goddess Review

Robots of the Ancient World – Mystic Goddess Review

“Sometimes a band name conjures a very specific image or reference before you know a single other thing about it. In the case of Portland, Oregon’s Robots of the Ancient World my mind went immediately to the slightly plump and rather ungainly automata portrayed in the distinctly average film, Hellboy II: The Golden Army. That apparently invincible army was sent to devastate humanity in payment for various slights our race committed against elves and the like. Scroll over to reality and another thing apparently sent to devastate humanity, Covid-19, was playing havoc with Robots of the Ancient World, almost ending their sophomore effort, Mystic Goddess, before it properly got off the ground. The five-piece entered the studio to record the follow up to their 2019 debut, Cosmic Riders, only for producer Jack Endino to fall ill, “wrecked from this weird flu from hell,” as Robots guitarist Justin Laubscher puts it.” Infected bongs and olde bots.

Elden – Nostromo Review

Elden – Nostromo Review

“I selected Nostromo by Elden on the basis of being both a literature and sci-fi nerd (Joseph Conrad’s 1904 novel and Alien, respectively, though Alien itself is referencing Conrad by naming its ship Nostromo), hoping the resultant album would invoke a similarly strong response. How fare these Swedes when embarking in their own vessel called Nostromo?” In space no one can hear you nerd.

Blessed Black – Beyond the Crimson Throne Review and Album Premiere

Blessed Black – Beyond the Crimson Throne Review and Album Premiere

“Album premieres are a gimmick. At least that’s what I thought until I had the chance to showcase this lovely example of epic/doom/stoner metal courtesy of up-and-coming Cincinnati rockers Blessed Black. Of course, to review an album is one thing, but to premiere that album, it better be worth clicking on more songs than just the single, and that’s certainly the case here.” Blessed luck.

GoatHawkBuffalo – Come to Temple Review

GoatHawkBuffalo – Come to Temple Review

“It’s been quite a long time since I thought about ‘Portlandia,’ the I-have-to-assume wholly accurate depiction of life in Portland, Oregon. But reading the promo material for GoatHawkBuffalo’s full-length debut, I was put in mind of the particularly curious ‘We can pickle that’ sketch. Not because GoatHawkBuffalo are from Portland – the five-piece is based in Copenhagen, Denmark – but because of this statement from guitarist Asger Abel Sørensen, talking about how the band live-recorded Come to Temple but “subsequently recorded various crazy overdubs – we’ve had microphones in empty Jack Daniels’ bottles and buckets of water, we also ran a guitar signal through a pickle …”” Brine and brawn.

Black Wizard – Livin’ Oblivion Review

Black Wizard – Livin’ Oblivion Review

“I’m not, nor have I ever been, a stoner. This has more to do with the fact that lil’ Eldritch wasn’t cool enough in school to have friends who smoked weed than it does with any particular disdain for marijuana’s effects, and as a result, I’ve never really understood the appeal of stoner rock/metal. I have a great appreciation for traditional doom bands that can mold slow ‘n’ low sounds into something emotionally compelling, but the stoner approach is typically too lethargic and lacking in proper melody for me to embrace as a relatively straight edge bystander. Bearing this stance in mind, know that you, dear reader, may derive significantly more mileage out of Black Wizard’s fourth LP, Livin’ Oblivion, than myself.” Of weeds not done.

Doom Side of the Moon – Doom Side of the Moon Review

Doom Side of the Moon – Doom Side of the Moon Review

“In the royal chamber of overrated albums, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon sits atop a burnished throne that has cradled its posterior for many decades. I’ve tried countless times to love DSotM, bouncing between the CD, the SACD remaster, and an 180g vinyl pressing in desperation to discover what it is about this album that has resonated with so many people. Alas, illumination eluded me, and while I found portions of the record appealing, I struggled to generate more than a shrug when consuming the album as a whole. Not everyone shares my ambivalence, least of all Kyle Shutt, who has decided to honor the 50 year anniversary of DSoTM with the self-titled Doom Side of the Moon.'” Commence to fightin’.

Cortez – The Depths Below Review

Cortez – The Depths Below Review

“It’s occurred to me that when I go stoner, more times than not, I tend to lean against bands just west of me. Bands like Kyuss, Sleep, High on Fire—all residing in sunny California. Funny enough, my favorite stoner outfit is all the way out in England. Hell, if you were to look at my stoner collection, you’d think Orange Goblin was an outlier and that stoner metal was an American thing. And my review of Temptation’s Wings newest record wouldn’t challenge that assumption. And now, the stoner bug has bit old Grier once again. I desire something to make my eyes puffy, my ears happy, and chill me the fuck out.” Lead or gold?

Katla – Embryo Review

Katla – Embryo Review

“Ah, the seventies. An excellent decade for wanton sex, drug abuse and consequently, psychedelic music. In the common mindset, the foremost psychedelic band is of course Pink Floyd, and with good reason. But another influential band that tends to get overlooked, is Hawkwind, who had a bit more oomph than the aforementioned space rock colossus, using experimental timbres and textures to accentuate their otherwise fairly straightforward proto-metal. The influence of Hawkwind (who, amazingly, are still around) is clear on the debut of the trippy Swedish quartet Katla.” A might (Hawk)wind blows.

Howling Giant – Black Hole Space Wizard (Pt. 1) Review

Howling Giant – Black Hole Space Wizard (Pt. 1) Review

“Stoner metal, moreso than other metal subgenres, stands and falls with the power of The Riff. Crushing, churning, buzzing like a particularly eloquent chainsaw, The Riff can lift a band out of stoner mediocrity and into the realms of the Gods. But a limp and forgetful riff will ensure the music passes through your head like a breath of wind through torn sails. Howling Giant play stoner metal. Black Hole Space Wizard Part 1 is only their second four song EP, so they haven’t been around for very long yet. So do these Nashville greenhorns possess the power of The Riff?” Into the giant hole!