Album Review- Spillage: Blood Of Angels

 

 

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Spillage, Chicago’s hottest Doom Metal group at least in my eyes are finally back! Oh how I have been looking forward to this release ever since I heard the first album a few years ago. With their self titled debut filled with endless grooves, heavy as molasses riffs and memorable songs, their sophomore output had a lot to live up to for me. While I wanted the group to keep their core sound in tact, they needed to add to it in both production and musicianship. Now with a very stable lineup finally intact, Spillage have returned with “Blood Of Angels”!

Opening the album similarly as the first, is the title track with the Organs adding a more almost theatrical feel here with intense layering and atmosphere that really engulfs the listener. This track overall is a very mid-paced groove heavy track that pretty much just shows Spillage have returned and are slicker and heavier than ever. I know before I have stated how present a very almost Alice In Chains sound the band has and new vocalist Elvin Rodriguez has brought that sound even more with the grit and soul that adds more emotion to these songs and it really works. While the opener is a nice slab of Doom, the major highlight comes with the next one two punch of the tracks “Living In Hell” and “Free Man” barreling in one after another. Both tracks feature insanely infections riffs especially through the verses and speed up towards the end adding a real solid aggression with the band going into full jam mode. Especially with “Free Man”, their is definitely a progression in the songwriting here with the band going into more straight forward Heavy Metal territory and it works terrifically. Now the next song “Rough Grooved Surface” is the only song that is a bit of a let down for me. The lyrics basically an ode to vinyl are a bit cheesy and don’t fit a lot of the album and is a track that feels more I suppose gimmicky than the others. The album does pick back up with “Disappear” with a nice solid bass groove throughout and a killer intense mid section again. I also like the vocals on here they almost have a psychedelic feel. Evil Doers continues with the bands self proclaimed “Power Doom” sound with the vocals having some Gothic undertones to them and is another home run track. Eyes Of A Snake has a nice bluesy groove to it as well and sticks with the bands familiar formula and has some nice dueling riffs from Nick and Tony with synths backing them up. It shows how much more solid the band has become. Voice Of Reason is a nice dark ballad to round out the album with a solid brooding yet beautiful atmosphere and definitely shows of some seventies Scorpion influence as well. The other thing to note is there is a bonus track of the bands rendition of Black Sabbaths “Dirty Women” that while being a straight forward cover and not over-shining their rendition of “Devil Woman”, it is still a ripper and a nice little surprise at the end.

Overall, besides the minor grip I have with one track, the band are back in full force. You can really tell how Bruce Franklin of Trouble really cared for the production on this album with every instrument given room to breath on every track, showing the real rock solid chemistry behind this fine slab of “Power Doom”.

 

8.5/10

Cirith Ungol retrospective part 2: King Of The Dead

After the release of their debut album, Cirith Ungol sort of fell by the wayside. The band took two years slowly crafting their second album mainly because of it being self produced by the band and unfortunately their first didn’t make so much of a bang. However, by 1984 the landscape was changing with American Metal becoming more popular, but not in the way everyone had initially thought. Glam metal was on the rise and Thrash was becoming the hottest underground sensation. However, the band still forged on and released “King Of The Dead”. The album is definitely a lot different compared to “Frost”, but is it better?

Well, spoilers, it is a hell of a lot more of an exciting album.

 

Track Rundown

1.Atom Smasher- Opening with a very bouncy and heavy mid paced riff, this song definitely shows that the band has evolved. From Bakers hard shrieking that really drew me in the first time I had heard the song to the band production-wise sounding much better and focused than the first album. The drumming especially is very hard and heavy hitting with a very doom metal vibe to them. The chorus really catches you and has a very mid paced power metal feel as well. We also see Jerry Fogle taking over full guitar duties on this album as well and his soloing is very distinct with a crisp distortion that is a staple of his guitar tone. Overall, this is a fantastic opener simple as that.

2.Black Machine-This song has become a fan favorite as it really is a live kind of song. It is quite a simple song but the main riff which plays through the whole song is very infectious. It has a doom vibe as it trudges along but with the epic vocal style, it retains a very unique heavy dingy power metal feeling that is reverberated throughout the whole album and something I was able to pick up on on my first listen as it really is pronounced in the songwriting. Another great mid paced simple yet effective song.

3.Master of the Pit-This song retains some of that 70’s progressive edge mainly throughout the soloing aspects of the first album. Their is definitely a lot going on in this track which rides mainly on the rhythm and groove of the bass and drumming. It really picks up towards the end making this perhaps one of the most intense song Cirith Ungol had recorded up to this point.

4.King of the Dead- Much like “Master of the Pit”, there is a slow build to this song before it gets to the more brooding verses and short but epic chorus lines. The beginning reminds me a bit of Black Sabbaths “War Pigs” (perhaps where the doom-esque influence comes from) but with a bit more going on within it. The title track has perhaps become one of the bands most recognizable songs for the simple but almost mid tempo power metal feel blended with brooding doom metal riffing. I also have to note that this is one of Bakers best vocal performances on any of their albums just from how he can sustain notes with so much grit and grain in his voice not being lost. Simply put, if you ever have to listen to one Cirith Ungol song, this is very high on the list.

5.Death of the Sun-This song takes a more simple hard rocking route with some frantic riffing that is a bit reminiscent of the first album as well, however it feels like a much more focused song. I do like how around the mid mark, the main riff takes on a weird time signature with solo’s plastered all over. It really shows the musicianship the band really holds on the album. Straight forward underground heavy metal at some its best and creative.

6.Finger of Scorn-The acoustic guitars are a nice change of pace but when the main guitars kick in I feel they are set way too far back into the mix but they do get up front again for the main bulk of the song which im sure was the intention but it just feels a bit awkward in execution. The song still carries the notion of “epic metal” very high with a more melodic hard beating chorus that is one of my favorites on the album.

7.Toccata in Dm-A cover of the classical piece by Sebastian Bach done through guitar and bass which is not a bad cover. It still conveys a sense of dreading emotion to it and is played with precision. Not much to say about it but an interesting inclusion.

8.Cirith Ungol- This song is definitely one of the most “out there” ones on the album with a lot of very unique riffs thrown into the mix and very odd time signatures tossed around. The verses are even a bit strange but work. While it isn’t my favorite on the album, it is a good ending showcasing the band really putting a lot of creativity in their music.

 

Overall, the album solidifies itself with an 8.5 out of 10. Looking between the first two albums, it is easy to see why “King of the Dead” production and musicianship-wise is such an improvement. The songwriting has become much more focused into creating a steady sound that the band has since been identified with. From becoming a strange proto metal/prog hard rock band to a more straightforward progressive epic doom act, Cirith Ungol really shaped their sound with this album. While the production isn’t quite perfect and is still kind of spotty in some areas, it doesn’t quite hinder the experience the album gives. The band would stick to this harder sound with their next album entitled “One Foot In Hell” two years later.

Tour of the Doomed: The Riff Strikes Back

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After multiple successful Days of the Doomed fests, promoter “Mercyful” Mike Smith finally put the show on the road this year with the Tour of The Doomed featuring Apostle of Solitude, Beelzefuzz, Spillage and legendary 90’s Heavy Rock act Sheavy on their first ever outing in the United States. I was lucky enough to catch the tour at Reggies in Chicago on August 13th and overall, it was a very solid show.

 

Apostle of Solitude

First up for the evening was Apostle of Solitude. Their set consisted of heavy slower brooding Sabbath inspired riffing with more melodic vocal deliveries. The band was very tight in their performance but their set I felt lacked a bit of variety. In particularly their last few songs I felt just went a bit too long until their very last song which went for more speed with the band ending on a very explosive note. Overall, not bad but could’ve used a bit more variety in songs.

 

Beelzefuzz

Prog/Doom act Beelzefuzz were up next on the bill and definitely were one of the most unique bands of the night. With a very proto metal sound with proggy elements, these guys were very entertaining. Again, they definitely had their songwriting chops down very well and even brought Spillage vocalist Elvin Rodriguez on stage to duet with one of their earlier songs. Overall, I felt their set was very well paced and definitely earned them some new fans as well.

 

Spillage

Ahh, Spillage what can I say about this band? Ever since hearing some of their material back on MHXradio almost three years ago, I fell in love with their sound. I was able to see them a few years back but seeing them with their new frontman(who had a leather vest sporting a Born Again patch which is badass) and showing off some new tracks was a real treat. The new songs blended very well keeping the hard rock feeling their first album held dear but with a bit more of a progression to it. They were definitely my favorite of the night as being a big fan and supporter it is almost to be expected.

 

Sheavy

Finally, we have the elusive and grooving rockers Sheavy hailing from Canada. This was history in the making as they had never toured the US before so it was a real treat. They played I would say a good balance of classic and newer songs from “Electric Sleep” to “Shadows” and everything in between. I do wish they could have played “Born In A Daze” which is a favorite of mine but oh well. The set I felt was well balanced with slower and faster songs peppered throughout and their sound was impeccable besides the vocals being a bit buried at times. Overall, a very solid closing for the show as a whole.

 

Overall, like I said besides a few nit picks with how sets were paced, it was a very solid show. You got hat you paid for, hard rocking, chugging and grooving doom metal from some of the best of the best. I am hoping this tour does well and we get another like it either next year or in coming years, I know a lot of acts that would be clamoring to do a show as heavy as this. The tour runs until the 19th of august ending in new york so if you can catch any shows between now and then, do it, you won’t be disappointed.

Headbanging Highlight of The Week: Nazareth- Loud ‘n’ Proud

 

For this weeks highlight we are going way back to the year 1973 with the fourth album from Scottish hard rock band Nazareth entitled “Loud n Proud”. Nazareth have been one of those 70s bands that always eluded me until about three months ago when I decided to pick up a copy of their “Anthology” CD at a discount store. After listening to both discs multiple times, I had become almost obsessed with the band. The thing that makes their music so interesting is the fact that they have a heavy edge to them but they have a lot of more melodic up beat pop songs that are just as good and how every album had something to enjoy.  But enough rambling, let us taker a look at one of my favorite albums they released in the 70s.

 

The album opens very bombastically with the bumping rocker “Go Down Fighting” featuring some awesome slide guitar work from Manny Charlton and some of Dan MCcafferty’s best vocals on any Nazareth album. Out of all their albums, this one is definitely one of the most consistent at least in terms of harder rocking songs with another being the infectious cover of “Teenage Nervous Breakdown” and “Not Faking It” being one of my all time favorites from the band. “Turn On Your Receiver” is another great one with a very boogie rock feel to it and Dan’s vocals balancing the raspy and melodic feeling perfectly. The song “Child in the Sun” is the ballad of the album but is still a great melodic 70’s rock song that Nazareth delivers perfectly. The heaviest moment of this album is the epic closer “The Ballad of Hollis Brown” which was originally written by Bob Dylan. Thus is definitely the most interesting song on the album in that compared to Dylans version, it is miles different with the song being dominated by some of the heaviest fuzzed out droning bass that anyone at the time had ever been doing. The song overall has a very proto-doom feel to it and in a way is heavier than anything Sabbath did up until this point. Combining the bass with MCcafferty’s wailing and dread filled sounding vocals really makes for a chilling atmospheric song. Overall, if you want a Heavy and melodic solidly written 70’s Hard Rock album, this one is one you need to check out. The band have a lot of great albums similar to this one such as “Razamanaz”, “Expect No Mercy” and others but I feel they peaked with the heavy rock sound on this album.

 

Headbanging Highlight of the Week: Blue Cheer-What Doesn’t Kill You

 

Welcome to another headbanging highlight of the week where I tell you guys what I am currently listening to and what you should check out! This week we are going back a decade to 2007 with an album that I personally think is quite overlooked from a band that was considered one of the heaviest bands of their time. Blue Cheer who formed in the mid 60’s releasing their ear splitting 1968 classic “Vincebus Eruptum” which was essentially the bluesy styles of the trio Cream taken to it’s logical extreme at the time. The band released a few more albums before imploding in the 70’s before coming back with a straight forward heavy metal record entitled “The Beast Is Back” in the mid 80’s and retaining a more heavy metal style through a few more records and tours until 2007 when the group released “What Doesn’t Kill You” which was their last before band leader and founder Dicky Peterson passed away shortly after. Blue Cheer have always been one of my favorite trio’s but unlike groups such as Cream, they never really got the recognition I always felt they deserved. Well i’m going to tell you exactly why their final album was just as heavy as most bands that were releasing albums at the same time.

 

Now this album  features only two out of three original members with Peterson and drummer Paul Whaley being them with Andrew Mcdonald joining on guitar who does a great job. a more stoner rock style with fuzzier guitars grooving riffs and Petersons now very gravely vocals which are battered to hell but work and add a layer of dinginess to alot of these song. From the straight heavy blues metal opening “Rollin Them Bones” which is one of the quintessential songs about weed to the calmer and more melodic “Young Lions In Paradise”, The album definitely is one that I play a lot. The production is very well done with every instrument mixed fairly well together. The soloing has a lot of grit but is still clear and that is something I really enjoy. Peterson’s vocals like I said are very beat up which is noticeable in songs especially like “Gypsy Rider” which is actually my favorite and one of the heaviest songs on the album with a very Black Sabbath feel in the main riff of the song. You also have some vintage sounding fuzz guitars found in grooving songs like “Maladjusted Child” which give off that heavy 70’s feel a lot. The album more so in the second half is very consistent blowing off bluesy hard rock number one after another which does feel quite monotonous however the really good songs detract from the album becoming dull. I would suggest the first half over the second but if you are a fan of stoner rock, heavy 60’s fuzzed out rock music or anything in that Heavy 70’s style, then you should pick up this final album from one of the most underrated trio’s of all time.

Album Review: DUEL- Witchbanger

 

“Witchbanger” is the second full length album from Texas Heavy/Stoner Rock band DUEL and was released on April 28th, 2017. After last years stellar “Fears Of The Dead” this Texas quartet returns to offer up another slab of 70’s inspired heavy metal. I can’t believe it has taken this long to get to talking about this album, but finally here we are. So lets see if DUEL were able to expand on the first album or if they fall into the dreaded sophomore slump.

 

Track Rundown

1.Devil-Opening with the sound a guitar plugging right into a simplisitic dirty blues based riff and Tom Franks’ heavy and very powerful vocals, the song has this almost “power-doom” vibe to it that makes it heavy but singable to with a catchy and very rock solid chorus. I really like the production it is very much like their first album but the vocalist seem to pop a bit more and have a bit more grain to them. The soling is smooth and faithful to the genre with a lot of groove being the main focal point. This is a great opener and shows the band being even more up front than they were on the first album.

2.Witchbanger-This is one of the most grooving tunes on the album with the  main riff in the verses following the melody of the vocals. One thing that Duel manages to capture is their ability to sound really tight but be really loose in their style at the same time where it feels like they are jamming in a garage somewhere. The chorus riff always gets stuck in my head but the weird vocal melody before that riff hits is a little weird, it just feels a bit out of place. The song is definitely a good number and one that would work very well live if I had a chance to catch these guys.

3.The Snake Queen- This tune has this almost classic rock aka early KISS feel until the hazy vocals come in which do work very well. The vocal melodies I think help the band establish more of a signified sound for themselves and gives the song more of it’s doom vibe as well. The song is a bit more laid back but the chorus really hits hard as it comes more up front with a more straightforward riff sludging all the way through. The song does eventually hit that more grooving tempo DUEL like to use in a lot of their songs and even though it is a shorter part, it works quite well and gives the track some extra flavor.

4.Astro Gypsy- One of my favorites on the album for sure. It has that Sabbathy Jazzy feel to it with some wah’ed out guitar riffing going on the slower bits. This is a tune that shows the more creative feeling of the band and has a very ZZ Top vibe as well. Definitely a highlight on the album.

5.Heart Of The Sun- I almost get a Witchfinder General feeling from this tune, it has a very melodic presence especially in its composure and it really works against the heavier songs on the album. It also shows bits of the progression within the bands songwriting capabilities also. Thus song also has one of the best solos on the album as well.

6.Bed Of Nails-This tune has an interesting riff to it as you think the melody is going to go one way, but the band tweaks it a bit and it works. However, as this song does have some of those melodic moments as the last track did, I don’t feel like it is as strong as “Heart Of The Sun” but still has some good qualities about it with some tasty solo guitar work throughout.

7.Cat’s Eye- This is another tune that has a mores simplistic approach to it with a heavy chugging riff through the verses and the chorus as well. As far as a straight forward heavy doom/rock song it works quite well. The solo is one of the heaviest on the album as well as it kicks in right after a break on the song. It is pretty short but it works for what it is.

8.Tigers and Rainbows- This song has a groove that works very well and sports one of the strongest choruses throughout as well. This song takes alot more turns than the last few do similar to the last track on their debut with the softer mid section in the song. The song does end with this more psychedelic heavy jam which works but also feels like the half of two songs combined into one it just feels a bit disjointed but isn’t a bad closer either.

Overall, I give the album a fair 7 out of 10. While this album does have a few problems with some of the songs being a but too simple or disjointed, the songs that are good are really freakin good. DUEL have definitely expanded their songwriting with added melody and more intricate sections within their songs. While their are things that this album do better than their first , the first does some things better than this one does. However, this album I still would give a spin as it definitely has sustainability in any collection of the lovers of heavy rock or doom metal.

Headbanging Highlight of the week- Question of Madness: The Dark Corners of The Mind

Dark corners of the mind

Welcome to Headbanging Highlights of the week! This is a new segment on the site where every week I will give one album new or old that perhaps I haven’t had a chance to review or is an album I have been spinning recently. This week I have an album that I recently heard about through well the bass player Alfonso Polo Thanks man! The album is entitled “The Dark Corners Of The Mind” by Questions Of Madness and was released in 2010. This album leans more toward a more doom metal sound however it isn’t the kind of doom metal that leans toward black sabbath or any of those “heavy 70’s” type doom bands but it has more of a progressive doom sound. Mainly in songs like “Hollow Caves” where their are a lot of interesting segments within the rhythm of the song which is one thing that was quite appealing to me was how solid the instrumental segments on the album as a whole are. With chugging guitars that go into more galloping segments, the album flows very organically with a dark sludgy yet modern sound and the vocals while being more on the traditional heavy metal side give the songs even more of a punch and hook that gets you really into them. Overall the album is a great doom metal record with a progressive edge to it that definitely stands out among a lot of releases from the genre. If you can find yourself a copy, I highly recommend giving it a good listen, it is an album that is surely to please fans new and old. Bass player and main contributor Alfonso “Poncho” polo is currently writing songs for a new album under the same group name and is looking to get a new line up together to record as well!