-(16)- – Dream Squasher (Review)

16 - Dream Squasher-(16)- are a sludge metal band from the US and this is their eighth album.

Apart from 2017’s split with Fistula, I’m unfamiliar with -(16)- and their work, although I’ve been aware of their existence for decades. Due to their pedigree, and the fact that the press blurb recommends them for Continue reading

Goatwhore – Vengeful Ascension (Review)

GoatwhoreGoatwhore are a black/death metal band from the US and this is their seventh album.

Not only is this a band with just an amazing name, but ever since they first coalesced into existence around members of stunning personal favourites Soilent Green and Acid Bath, I’ve always had an incredible soft spot for Goatwhore. Continue reading

Sourvein – Aquatic Occult (Review)

SourveinThis is the fourth album from these US Sludge/Doom veterans.

Sourvein return with an aquatic-themed album, it seems.

The band play their sludge with a raw energy that seems to tap into something primeval and old, probably something lurking in the deepest waters in the darkest ocean.

With a heavy sound that’s warmly analogue, these songs have a kind of retro vibe to them that manages to eschew any of the normal bullshit trappings that such a term usually involves. Rather, what we have here is music that’s honest, visceral and not afraid to get dirty, (wet?).

The songs have groove and melody, both of which are used well throughout the playing time. It’s an endearing mix of influences that combine on this release, with everything from Electric Wizard, Eyehategod, Black Sabbath, Acid Bath and Mastodon making it into the melting pot.

Short tracks don’t outstay their welcome, and Sourvein know how to flourish a song with a relatively short playing time for maximum effect.

There are some quality and earthy, (aquatic?), guitar solos included, alongside a bass that just sounds really, really good.

The singer reveals himself to be quite versatile, with clean and rough singing, as well as throaty shouts used where necessary. He has a lot of presence and charisma, which can also be said of the songs as a whole. Taken together the music and the vocal performance make for a very strong collection of tracks that are both catchy and memorable.

Well, this is very, very enjoyable. Sourvein stick out from the crowd as having something a bit special and being a bit different from the norm.

You gotta get this, or Poseidon will be pissed.

Dolven – Navigating the Labyrinth (Review)

DolvenDolven are from the US and this is their début album.

Dolven are an unusual proposition. They play acoustic Neo-Folk Doom. That’s right; unusual and unexpected, but it works. Electric guitars are used, but only for solos, and only very sparingly.

With only three songs having vocals, this is a largely instrumental release. It’s designed to be expansive and atmospheric, juxtaposing the beautiful with the terrible darkness of existence. Grand claims I know, but once again, it works.

This is not the kind of music you idly throw on when you’re getting ready to go out, (unless you’re of a particular mindset, of course), rather it’s the kind of release that demands more attention from you. This is not hastily-consumed, throwaway music; this is music that has depth and soul, insofar as anything can be said to.

These tracks have both a lightness and heaviness to them, a sideline of the eternal war between light and dark, pointlessness and meaningfulness. It’s a surprisingly emotive journey through 42 minutes, one that reminds just how expressive acoustic guitars can actually be in the right hands. The thing which springs to mind as I listen to this is Scream of the Butterfly by Acid Bath, which is one Hell of a compliment as that’s one Hell of a song.

When they do appear, the vocals are deep and mournful, emphasizing the Doom aspect of the slow, thoughtful music.

This is an album that’s unexpectedly enticing, drawing you in with its veiled charms into a world of almost-medieval Neo-Folk, all translated through the lens of Doom Metal and re-transcribed into acoustic interpretations that carry the weight of influence from its former incarnations into what is ultimately its final form – Navigating the Labyrinth.

Fed up of the same old thing and looking for something a bit different? If so, in many ways this is as impressive and essential as it gets.