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METAL RIOT’s Top 25 Albums Of 2021.

Posted by Morgan Y Evans - Walking Bombs on Wednesday, November 24, 2021 at 6:21 PM (PST)

King Woman at Saint Vitus Bar- Oct. 16th, 2021

Ok, friends. Here we are again… 2021 has been a serious slog while also being full of some amazing blessings.I was very happy to get to share another year of Metal Riot with you all and ride the vortex waves.I usually don’t post a lot for the month of December and we tend to be the second or third site to publish our list (after DECIBEL, generally).I am gonna spend a lot of December working, reflecting and being grateful for two years of sobriety and also contemplating The Wheel Of Time saga, etc.

THANK YOU to all the bands who made killer music this year and amazing people I was able to speak with or befriend, etc. YOU are the scene. XO.

I also deserve a break after having to deal with many unwanted trolls for simply pointing out to Mastodon that Brent shouldn’t be calling stuff “gay” as a pejorative.

Numerous people decided they needed to contact me and call me queerphobic names afterwards.A nd I am sure I have done way more for metal and punk than all of those shit trolls combined. The LGBTQAI artists in metal made some of the most amazing work in the scene this year and don’t deserve to be alienated by lazy and inconsiderate speech. I seriously had one moron named like Jarhead666 or something tell me I was butthurt and metal isn’t the place for my ‘CrItICal Sjw theory’ or some shit, because I introduced this goon to the concept of heteronormative centering, or some such.

But seriously, while I genuinely appreciated Brann talking to me and meant it when I told him I have loved those dudes as a band a long time (ever since being stuck near the Lincoln Tunnel years ago with a friend and finding that blasting Remission actually CAN move complete gridlocked traffic).

I’d just like to add that now as a result of that “bad day” -as David Draiman of Disturbed and the Mastodon camp are graciously calling Brent’s shitty moment- even more hateful speech has butterfly effected all over social media and caused emotional distress to many good folx just trying to find a place in metal. The seeds we sew matter.

A bad day is not being on the Jasta podcast. A bad day is Matthew Shepard.

That said, one love to you all.If anyone wants to blacklist me, well…I only write about what I want anyway.

And so…Here are METAL RIOT’s top 25 of the year for 2021. I expanded it from 12 this year because there was a true wealth of killer albums and because I am happy to be alive, celebrating music and able to flex my opinions on it…whether you think I am an ignorant SJW who doesn’t know anything or not.

(drumroll…) Album Of The YearKING WOMAN‘s soul scorching noir doom record Celestial Blues is hands down our album of 2021 for exemplifying so much that is awesome about heavy music’s potential in 2021, from cadences to symbolism to the transformative power of art. And of course bad ass riffs! It also makes Kris and co.the only band in the site’s history to win AOTY twice!I guess it was fitting that two of my favorite records this year would reference Paradise Lost (the other being this excellent groover fest from my friend Taraka, also highly recommended).

From the opening plaintive narration of the album title over spare, jazzy and sorrowful notes to the impossible, mournful but playful shuffle of “Golgotha” to the anguish and hypnosis of “Psychic Wound” and the crowd sing-a-long of the year “Morning Star”, Celestial Blues feels like stepping into a smoky, mythological theater, a personal passion play full of highs and lows brighter than sunlight or darker than a grim Gotham alleyway. King Woman remain a group who understand suspense, tension build and payoff more than many and here they have also crafted some of their most sophisticated arrangements yet paired with arguably the most anthemic vocal and lyrical work Kris has delivered to date.

KW live shots by MYE

Seed pic by Omari Spears @o.shoots

2. SEED‘s Dun Pageant is a likewise challenging, thrilling and rewarding plunge through the soul and psyche by another band with almost 100% their own sound, well deserving of our second place spot for 2021.This Anti-fascist, queer centric force from Boston is creating an incredible sonic refuge for outsiders who need a found family in the scene. And most importantly, their music is fucking incredible. Practically any song on this record can crack you wide open and move you to a flood tears or strengthen your resolve. There is a deep sense of poetic yearning and desire to belong embedded within these melodic, indie flirting doom songs which nonetheless offer an unyielding stance in the face of a cruel world. Fans of everything from the most dramatic PJ Harvey material to Across Tundras to slower, weird ass Jesus Lizard songs could find a home here amidst some of the most existentialist yet determined music I may have ever heard in my life.

3. Succumb‘s overdue return on XXI was worth the wait and then some.Mixed and mastered by Jack Shirley at the Atomic Garden with compelling artwork by Stefan Thanneur (my favorite cover art of the year), the record retained the band’s edgy death metal sound and upped the ante on the philosophical subtexts. Read all my further thoughts about it HERE in an interview with the band!

4. Underdark ‘s Abi told the Hellbent for Metal crew recently, if I accurately recall, that ‘folk music in England is traditionally lefty and BM is folk music’. Our Bodies Burned Bright On Re-Entry melds left wing class consciousness spirit with Slint/Enablers spoken word vibes at times and of course the fire in the veins black metal this UK group is a standard bearer of. Believing in the power of change and doing things their way, the band have managed to really get solid footing under their feet during a turbulent time in the music world. I can’t possibly do justice in a short plug to the vibrancy and life that is in every note and utterance on this record, but it is amazing. Also, they always make me want to play Forgotten Realms.

5. Violet Cold‘s Empire Of Love is a landmark release championing inclusivity and borderless genres, a masterstroke from an already prolific and trend setting act. Read my 5 star review HERE.

6. Gojira is the “biggest band” represented on our list this year. Gojira remain ambassadors for our planet and sanity in a world sorely lacking it , musical geniuses and dudes who are deeply respectful of the environment we get to call home.From refusing to be gaslit about Tibet to standing up for the Amazon to of course musing about the meaning of life in our Universe and creating some super headfucky yet face ripping arrangements, they remain pound for pound unfuckwithable on mighty Fortitude. And they 100% ought to win the Grammy the most out of those nominated, fyi.

7. Withered outdid even their impressive past work on the trudging and oppressive Verloren . That “Dissolve” guitar sound is to literally die for and you can never pin them down. It’s a mood. Once you take the time to really get inside this record it is completely addictive and really ought to come with a warning label because of how easy it is for this blackened sludge fest to completely remove any semblance of a remaining fuck given.Well done, lads. Carcass, The Lurking Fear and plenty of others made some dastardly records this year but this takes the cake for me in that category.

8. Filth Is Eternal‘s Love Is A Lie, Filth Is Eternal is a glorious and gritty punk record with the most attitude you likely heard this year.The non-stop energy and adrenaline was a constant go to for me when I needed a bucket of cold water thrown on me to snap me out of the morose of this miserable year. I fucking love this band with all my soul and you  readers should listen to this 20 times before we meet again if you want to stay friends.

Brian of Filth Is Eternal pic by Joshua Simons @groteskanimal

9. Wharflurch did the near impossible and stood out amidst a year positively drunk on top rate death metal releases.If you haven’t experienced this highly enjoyable bad trip yet for the first time you are in for a fucking treat.Very original and batshit act creating some brain melting yet skull crushing sounds simultaneously, if that makes sense.And seriously, who has a better album title than Psychedelic Realms ov Hell? I mean, come on!”Phantasmagorical Fumes”, indeed.

Tower NYC…lookin’
tougher than shit

10. Tower‘s Shock to the System has a classic trad metal looking cover that calls to mind epic releases of yesteryear from Scorpions or early Anthrax while pulling listeners in to one of the best modern bands influenced by the classics around. Along with Pounder’s Breaking The World or Haunt’s recent plethora of powerful pleasers, Tower demonstrate true heavy metal will never die (and this time with a little more Never Say Die era Sabbath influence mixed in, from the sound of things).The musical chemistry between Sarabeth and James remains one of the best in rock and the recording line-up brought this sophomore effort to new heights worthy of Linden’s falcon crye.The true shock to the system is how much enjoyment you can get from one album.

11. Krallice‘s lofi black metal on Demonic Wealth somehow marries the original bleakness of the genre with the loneliness of NYC and wet cardboard, broken dreams, rain dripping off a fire escape vibes amidst the death throes of capitalism.One of the best album titles in metal history? Yep. This is a run down worker unable to afford Christmas gifts type shit.Cold and atmospheric and unique with callbacks to 2nd wave and weirdo ambient stuff. Drums recorded on a phone!?Smash the uber rich after repurposing their built to break detritus. This album is the perfect Krallice response for a pandemic full of people just hoping to get through in one piece.

12. Nadja‘s Luminous Rot is an out of body experience more than a musical one, imo.I had a deep dive interview with the band that you can read HERE and remain incredibly impressed with this specific statement in (and out) of the timestream.

13. Catalyst Crime made the greatest symphonic metal release of 2021 by a considerable margin. If “Condemn Me To Chaos” doesn’t get lodged in your head for weeks at a time, I don’t know what the heck is wrong with you. Just listen to it.

14. Obsolete‘s Animate / Isolate blew me away with the Revocation worthy skill, young again hyper fast speed enthusiasm and melodic thrash aptitude on display.This record goes against the trends and is better for it, just a charming and bad ass chops fest that also remembers to induce headbanging amidst the whiz kid shit.Really, this band should be way bigger.

15. Crypta‘s Echoes Of The Soul is the funnest death/thrash hybrid of the year, a monster fuck you to naysayers and another notch in the belt for Brazil’s long and storied metal legacy.T he ladies in Crypta truly feel like a “band”, each member bringing a lot of personality and individualism to the table to add to the whole yet in a way where you couldn’t imagine the group with other members. The chops, the style and attitude paired with the consistent vibe that they breathe, eat and shit metal truly makes this one of the most exciting releases of the year, an energy that translates to the terrific and tyrannical material.

16. Finland’s REVULSION delivered a ferocious self titled debut via Transcending Obscurity way back in February.The intensity here will turn the head of pretty much any self respecting death metal fan yet is not just an endurance test. It even gives the new Cannibal material a run for the money in the punishment department. Bad ass af.

17. Pupil Slicer‘s Mirrors was explosive, mathy and meaningful in the best of ways.I am pretty sure no band went harder than they did in 2021 during their “Collective Unconscious” track. From the 1:47 mark-through to the end of the song, a riff reminiscent of the Moby cover of “New Dawn Fades” meets Coalesce at their meatiest twists and turns through tortured post-core-black-churning anguish and back through to the light.They didn’t really need to cover Converge when they are making originals this powerful already.

18. Gridfailure feat. Mac Gollehon‘s demented mad hatter excursions into noise jazz horror on Dismemberment Cabaret take the 18th spot.I am certainly biased here because Brenner from Gridfailure is a good friend and has collaborated with me often on my Walking Bombs releases over the years, but if you can’t hear the sheer fucksanity brilliance of these end times soundscape spasms featuring a very cool cat who played with everyone from Bowie to Billy Ocean, well…I feel bad for you. I certainly listened to this a hell of a lot more times than I did albums by much bigger legacy acts this year.

19. Book Of Wyrms are one of my favorite recent finds and I listened to this one a LOT. Serious chemistry and freedom allure here paired with incredible vintage vibes and the desire to roam. You can feel the band loving what they do with every passage and each frontier crossed.It feels like each song was from the result of true blue jamming, the old fashioned way. Sorely need more records like Occult New Age to usher in a real Aquarian doom metal/”new” classic rock age in hella style!”Colossal Yield” is pretty much a perfect song (except my computer says the track length is 4:21?).

20. Eremit‘s Bearer Of Many Names honestly got me more stoked than the Bell Witch record everyone was gushing about a number of years back, each passage here really momentous and worthy of the awesome, sci-fi Jurassic tomb fuckery artwork.You need to make TIME for this bad boy, but the rewards are many. Seriously gargantuan and impressive crater charred doom from Germany.

21. ABIOTIC have more emotional connection than your average tech death and made sure their return post-break up record was a memorable one. Truly sick leads. Many brilliant passages. Hard to turn off.

22. The recent JESS AND THE ANCIENT ONES Vertigo album is our second record of this year end list to feature really bad weather (along with Revulsion)!Make of that what you will.Unlike that Finnish death metal diamond in the rough, JATAO traffic in slinky and smart psych and doom.The continuation of sorts to the psyche shifting path they tread on The Horse And Other Weird Tales, the Vertigo release is well worth the ride.

23. Cultum Draculesti are lofi queer vampire BM perfection and their S/T record even outdid the excellent Antigone The Martyr. I adore how down the rabbit hole of their own vision they go, while also being capable of really eerie but musical moments like “Dhampir” that you can play around casual classic horror movie fans whilst laughing to yourself how unaware they are of how even more extra you are.

24. Cerebral Rot made the hands down FUGLIEST death metal this year, just so gnarly, evil and pitch perfect. The utter just disdain for humanity felt in every sickening and crude riff is off the charts. So fucking heavy. Excretion of Mortality is the loathing for the human condition that we all felt at some point this year.

25. Employed To Serve‘s Conquering is the essential metalcore experience of the year, a level up from a band who already are firmly focused on being long haul contenders, from every indicator. Unlike numerous contemporaries who got detrimentally more commercial in a manner that hinders their quality regardless of any tent expansion in fandom, EoS have perfectly shown how you can grow while not alienating your core fans who got you going.Conquering is not stagnant, but rather ENHANCED. It kicks down doors and has a level of conviction and attack that will leave you truly impressed.I’d love to see a bigger band like DevilDriver , Killswitch or Trivium do a full US tour in the next few years with these up and comers.

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photo by Jess Dankmeyer

East Coast extremists FULL OF HELL have forged a formidable path through the underground the last few years and now return with their latest uncompromising collection of anguish and triumph, Garden of Burning Apparitions. This is a towering record that will stop you in your tracks and consume YOU, instead of serving as empty consumption. Parts of this record prove you really can love both your Hammerhead and your Harmony Corruption, kids.

Some of the band stop by today to fill us in on the new and even noisier than ever variant of the band’s evolving sound and just what it means to be FoH in 2021.

Read more BELOW.

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Well, this was a fun one. There are many blood flinging thrash albums that have kicked our asses here and back again over the years, but which one has the best opening track of all time?

We asked a wide range of scene folks for their opinions. Prong, Exhumed, Psychic Hit, High Command, Titan To Tachyons, Crisis, Walking Bombs, Filth Is Eternal, Bad Wolves, Hororhaus, Stormland, Gridfailure, Luna 13, Extinction A.D., The End A.D. members and alumni plus our pal Drewdas Priest all chime in with thoughts.

Let the battle begin BELOW!

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A big thanks this week to the Succumb camp for doing this brand new interview with us promoting the new, must hear XXI release. Not quite a “best kept secret” anymore now that their star is rising, but certainly they remain a band you hope thrive yet also whom are so good you almost still want to covet their music to yourself in a secret, blood encrusted cave. I actually was worried they had broken up but still rocked one of their older debut shirt designs anyway cuz they fucking rule even if they HAD been one and done.

Thankfully, that wasn’t the case.

Cheri Musrasrik, of course, is a very enigmatic vocalist but the whole band have stepped things up from their already brilliant early material to deliver a complete knock out punch via this latest release. I knew they were special but always hoped they could be THIS special. If that doesn’t make sense now, it will when you hear the new record from this bleak and bludgeoning crew of cadaver kickers.

Thank you to Derek, Harry, Cheri and Kirk for all participating in this. Read more BELOW.

photo by Jack Grisham

October 19th will see the release of an amazing self-titled solo release from KIRA. Kira Roessler has always been a bold and inventive player in bands like Black Flag, dos, The Visitors and many other lesser known yet also influential underground acts.

 

Basically like many punkers I always thought Roessler was one of the coolest people to ever walk the face of this rotten world, so it was awesome to get to chat about the solo record that Kitten Robot Records is releasing after a thirteen year gestation of the material. Roessler has also branched out and been part of sound teams in recent years for Mad Max: Fury Road, Joker, A Star is Born(2018), and Game of Thrones Season 2, in recent years.

 

Kira was produced by Kira and Paul Roessler (TSOL, Josie Cotton, Richie Ramone) and is incredibly refreshing and layered, an uncompromising artist’s pure vision that hurdles genres to capture personal horizons.

 

Stream a taste of the solo album via “The Ghosts” here.

 

And READ MORE BELOW for the full and in-depth interview!

pic by Alex Bershaw

 

CINEMA CINEMA join us today with a new track! The band sometimes sound like Attila Csihar got into devilish mischief inserting hidden messages into back alley Sergei Prokofiev compositions instead of smoking a doob and listening for Satan’s commands in the bridge of “Stairway To Heaven” like normal rockers, so I was excited to see what they have cooked up next! The answer is…”Bratislava”!

The nine minute song is an enthralling exploration of feel and musical adventurousness as the band weave through dynamic peaks and valleys during their at times relaxing and at times anxious (but entirely intriguing) journey. At times it comes off like a Pinback and Don Byron slow burn mescaline voyage, which is obviously fucking amazing.

Ev Gold tells us:

“Things got chaotic in our attempt to leave after the gig in Bratislava, on tour a few years ago. I had to walk out into a lane of oncoming traffic with my hands up, to plea for a halt. Seemingly no way possible to back the van out otherwise. There was a protest outside of a castle a few blocks away from the show, which at first sounded ‘cool’, but wasn’t after all. People and cars flooded the streets. Our place to crash for the night fell through, now we needed to leave Slovakia and drive to Vienna to sleep. We finally made it out and got to a quiet stretch of road over the border, then heard sirens. Pulled over by Austrian Law Enforcement. It was a saga. Deserved a song years later.”

The song precedes the band’s sixth album, CCXMDII, nearing release in August through Nefarious Industries.

CINEMA CINEMA was established in 2008 by Brooklyn-born cousins, vocalist/guitarist Ev Gold and drummer Paul Claro. They’ve been described as “experi-metal punks” by the Village Voice, a “jolt of adrenaline” by BrooklynVegan, and “feral and unrelenting” by Big Takeover.

In 2019, the duo joined with Nefarious Industries to release their fifth album, CCXMD. Taking a stylistic left turn from any previously recorded output, they found themselves delving into ambient and atmospheric free-jazz territories. CINEMA CINEMA invited reed aficionado Matt Darriau – best known for his work with Grammy award-winning world-music ensemble The Klezmatics – to join the group for the collaborative, entirely improvised affair. Darriau had been a guest on the band’s 2017 LP Man Bites Dog, providing saxophone on a handful of tracks. The album was described as, “no-holds-barred punk-jazz,” by Brooklyn Rail, and, “as intelligent as it is unintelligible,” by Invisible Oranges.

CINEMA CINEMA now presents their sixth full-length, CCXMDII, which serves as companion and conclusion to 2019’s CCXMD. Woodwind expert Matt Darriau returns, bringing along more tools from his repertoire as the trio submerge themselves in the strange beauty of chaotic sound, found together in the moment. CCXMDII was engineered, mixed, and mastered by Vin Cin at Electric Plant Studios in Brooklyn, New York, with artwork, design, and layout by Lauren A. Kelley.

Nefarious Industries will release CCXMDII on CD and all digital platforms on August 20th. Find preorders including merch bundles HERE and watch for additional audio previews and more to post over the weeks ahead.

Touring extensively through the past decade, CINEMA CINEMA has performed over four hundred fifty shows across eleven countries. The duo has toured numerous times alongside SST Records founder Greg Ginn, including a fifty-plus-date 2014 North American tour opening for Black Flag, select dates supporting Black Flag in 2013, and shared dates in 2010, 2011, and 2012 with Ginn’s other outfits The Royal We and The Taylor Texas Corrugators. In addition, the band has half a dozen European tours to their credit, including a 2013 stint in support of Martin Bisi Band and a run of Summer festivals in 2016.

CINEMA CINEMA appears in and has contributed music to the critically acclaimed 2014 documentary Sound And Chaos: The Story Of BC Studio. The band was also included on BC35, a celebration of the 35th anniversary of BC Studio – alongside members of Swans, Sonic Youth and other studio alumni, released via Bronson Recordings in 2018.

CCXMDII Track Listing:
1. A Life Of Its Own
2. Cloud 2
3. Continued
4. Bratislava
5. Crack Of Dawn
6. Trigger
7. Cloud 4

CINEMA CINEMA:
Ev Gold – guitars/vocals
Paul Claro – drums/percussion

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Hard Rock Heroism 2021

Posted by Morgan Y Evans - Walking Bombs on Thursday, July 22, 2021 at 12:29 AM (PST)

With Guns N’ Roses eternal Appetite For Destruction inching towards its’ mid-thirties yesterday, it is a good time to consider the current state of hard rock genre. While the danger days of the Sunset Strip are gone or much more watered down than they used to be, the genre of hard rock as a whole was never confined to L.A. anyway. Disturbed and Avenged Sevenfold pull huge crowds and still rule the roost currently and bands like Rival Sons or Royal Blood have been holding down the fort. And don’t forget the charming and dedicated Wolfie Van Halen! Who are some artists in the genre that inspire y’all currently? It is ok, Niratias – as Chevelle tell us. So it is ok if you aren’t decisive. We got you covered!

Ayron Jones has impressed me lately with a blend of soul, grunge influences and so much more. Jones can really play but also knows restraint and dynamics. Plus, I love any Seattle musician who gives props to Kim Thayil as an influence. Check out the Child Of The State release and turn your frown upside down with some great tunes. Certainly one of the coolest dudes in the game right now.

We are past the time when bands like Candlebox or Bush were in super heavy rotation but that doesn’t mean there aren’t modern rock bands getting lots of love. Some acts such as In This Moment, for example, have some stage shows that rival pop acts in scale and imagination. And Clutch continues to grow and dominate everything they take a Kraken at.

Count The Pretty Reckless out at your own peril. The band’s fourth album is basically unstoppable and a huge and vindicating moment for the Taylor Momsen led act. The Pretty Reckless became the first female-fronted band to have five number one singles when “Death by Rock and Roll” rose to the top of the Mainstream Rock Chart. I know that term is frowned upon as we all want to consider cis women (or any woman) a musician before their sex or gender identity but it still is a fucking rad accomplishment however you frame it. Much respect.

I never understood people who trash talked Momsen. She seems cool as fuck and her band rocks. They certainly are dedicated to their craft and it honestly just reeks of the basest sexism when people dismissed her out of hand. Who is laughing now, fuck faces?!! hahaha.

In April 2018, the band’s longtime-producer, Kato Khandwala, was involved in a motorcycle accident and died later due to injuries from the crash. I commend Taylor and the band for not giving up in such a bleak moment and for the fact that Taylor was able to come back from a dark time and reclaim her health. What is more rock and roll than a personal redemption?

August will see the release of Power Trio from outspoken power rocker Danko Jones, one of the most talented and fiery live performers in the world.

The long running band deserve an award at this point for being genre torch bearers and literally never sucking.  Three cheers for hard rock’s continued survival!

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photo by Janina Gallert

It is always stimulating when a band makes a long term impact by never sacrificing their drive to expand consciousness. Not every band has the guts or resolve to be a Dead Meadow, Kylesa, a Pharmakon or a Skinny Puppy. It is not an easy task to never fail to resist kowtowing to the framework of popular entertainment norms. To make each statement count.

Luminous Rot by metalgaze sound painters Nadja (Leah Buckareff & Aidan Baker) shows the duo remain capable of resisting the autopilot tendencies of many a long running group, whilst still retaining hallmarks that made them appeal to noise hungry weirdos, artsy types and sewer dwelling mutants. It is amongst a short list of my very favorite musical ‘moments’ of the year.

It was truly a Wayne’s World “We’re Not Worthy” checklist moment for me to get to interview the group about one of the year’s most thrilling records, an album that deserves to be revisited often by listeners in 2021. Frankly, it makes a lot of other albums feel semi-amateurish and will go over some people’s heads. What else is new?

We discussed Southern Lord, sci-fi “norms”, David Pajo’s role, pandemic peculiarities and much more. Luminous Rot is particularly compelling in how it effortlessly melds both obtuse and more welcoming musical forms into a cohesive soak.

Read onward BELOW.

Tracking the album at Nada Recording Studio

I just recently self-released a new, punk influenced album on Bandcamp for my collaborative WALKING BOMBS multi-genre project called Tears We Should Have Shed. People have been really loving this one and I super appreciate the support and energy exchange with you.

This record was made safely against the odds during 2020 in beautiful, forested Upstate, NY. It deals with a lot of collective and personal grief and the idea of how do we move through and transform that without destroying ourselves as individuals or a whole. I was blessed beyond belief to have an amazing crew of friends work on this record with me, Elizabeth “Le Fey” DaPena (Globelamp), Sean Paul Pillsworth (Nightmares For A Week, Jerk Magnet), David Brenner (Gridfailure), David Bodie (ex-Time Of Orchids, Divest, Kayo Dot), Taraka Larson (Taraka, ex-Prince Rama), Jack Manley (The Jennifer Shop), and Justin Zipperle (Shadow Witch).

More info on each song from the album BELOW.

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photo by Joey Wharton

“We were always clear on wanting this record to sound live and feel like it could have been recorded in an earlier time, and to steer clear of the sort of slick, modern rock sound that some people prefer.” – Jay Lindsey

Richmond, VA doomy psych philosophers BOOK OF WYRMS are a band who completely rocked my socks off the most unexpectedly this year thus far. This is not to say I underestimated them but rather that I had never heard their hearty blend of intensely immersive and vibey riffs, haunting vocals and ‘feels like you are there’ production before. Suffice to say it was an incredible and welcome discovery.

It makes sense such a trippy but earthy band comes from such a beautiful and complicated state.

I knew I had to corral members onto these here blog ‘pages’ and get an interview. Their new full length Occult New Age is an essential tool for uplifting yourself through heavy and yet empathic creative roads. I work nights and so often have kind of crazy dreams in the day and just woke from one where there was a sort of mentally blocked character who became destructive or was almost choosing to be a killer, I’m trying to remember. He was kind of bullied in a small town for being sensitive to otherworldly forces by his own estimate and so was sort of frantic to prove or discover them around him to show he was telling the truth. But people pushed him down instead of nourishing his gifts so he was also almost resentful of the unknown. It was sad, actually. Waking from that and knowing I was going to publish this piece today, I couldn’t help but wonder what this dream entity/character’s life would have been like in their ‘story’ if they had a record as steeped in channeling and understanding these concerns as Book Of Wyrms have managed to write.

Occult New Age really feels like both a refuge and a tool as much as a place for your mystical, doom loving ears to call home.

Read more below.

One of the few good things about this pandemic life has meant time for people to dig deep and soul search for an even more meaningful sense of self-expression. After all, we have had reminders daily that time is precious and you ought to be true to yourself, right? As a writer it has also been a good chance to have random email convos with incredible and talented cool folks and Suzi Moon is certainly high on the list of radness level as far as “rad people I have gotten to communicate with” in recent times goes.

Suzi Moon radiates the essence of punk attitude and makes the balance of sweet and sour seem effortless in glam gutter songs like “I’m Not A Man” or the rollicking “Nuthin’ To Me” that you can snarl or sing-a-long with like nobodies business. Yes, the Civet and Turbulent Hearts alumna is going solo and has delivered a fantastic video for the instantly memorable “Special Place In Hell” track from upcoming debut EP CALL THE SHOTS.

Read our chat BELOW.

 

‘This album is essentially a reflection of the societal ills that hold us back from having the grand culture and community the United States loves to pretend it has.’ – KZ

Hello dear readers and happy Trans Day of Visibility. Hope people are lifting one another up today and feeling good and loved. I need cold water thrown on my face after the inane stupor I entered from just reading an article about how friggin’ Michale Graves might testify on behalf of some loser Proud Boy Jan. 6th insurrectionists. Uh, that’s your character witness? What is he gonna do? Get up there and go ,”You’re lookin’ through the eyes of a Psycho! An American Psycho (Whoa-oh!).” The sad part is I don’t know if that would work in the fash mob defendants favor more or less considering how compromised many of our courts are.

One thing that DOESN’T make me want to scream in frustration (at least not in a bad way) is listening to the cathartic and brilliant new record Modern Grotesque from melodic post-screamo East Coasters Dreamwell, pretty much the most impressive shit I have discovered in a long time. This record , especially after the shared PTSD of 2020 we are all semi-thawing from,  just feels like a massive release of hope, heart and triumphant defiance. A cry for a more caring and dignified world for people who are different, sensitive or just genuine… for the lovers, dreamers and you (to get more Kermit than Pepe up in here). It is an album that reminds me that feeling things is not weakness and which has some of the fiery and passionate type of playing that first got me into bands like UOA, At The Drive In or On The Might Of Princes.

Modern Grotesque also boasts some of the most impactful melodic playing I have heard in a long time this side of really good Modest Mouse, moments that just take artful twists and turns that couldn’t have been generated through a cynical aim and only through vibrant and vulnerable love for the music.

Please enjoy my chat with vocalist KZ as much as I did.

Read more BELOW.

Photo Credit: Jared Shute

photo by jarko mikkonen www.jarkkomikkonen.com

Vertigo from Finnish occult psych metal hybrid Jess and the Ancient Ones is nearly here, a brilliant bouquet of bold songwriting, deep mental excavation and explosive creativity. The Svart backed record (order HERE) releases this May in time for some of the finest weather for celebrating the sacred planet we inhabit -and too often regularly abuse- as well as the wider cosmos. It is an album that defies easy categorization even as it revels in nostalgia, riding waves of late 60’s bliss turned to unease through the dark heart of our current disoriented moment of mass ptsd and hopefully out the other side to better horizons. Rarely has escapism sounded so timely and alive, a defiance of folding up and dying without making a joyful, organ-steeped noise.

It is one of the most exciting, colorful and living testaments to rock you will hear this year and is in heavy rotation in my home, one of my favorite releases of 2021 yet by a long shot. The tornado on the cover might seem foreboding byt is also a fitting symbol of the intensity of the soaring vocals and enlightened playing within! It was a pleasure to pick the brain of guitarist Thomas Corpse about the release and other topics related to the band and their orbit.

Read more BELOW.

Add to My Radar   Add to My Radar

Hail The Sun…are a band.
Image credit: Lindsey Byrnes

Corporate clown Adam Levine (of Moron 5) recently did one of this oh so bold “rock is dead because I can’t tie my own shoes’ moments and said that he doesn’t feel like there are bands anymore. He told Zane Lowe that there aren’t enough in the pop limelight even if there are still some around, but doesn’t see how his watered down brand of commercial rock which promotes the gatekeeping of the industry via very narrow creative standards has contributed to the problem. This is also to say nothing of the fact that rock radio was intentionally killed off years ago.

Also, isn’t Adam in a band or is he admitting they are a formula?

It doesn’t help that mainstream press acts like no albums in rock came out after admittedly huge and impressive OK Computer or Toxicity or whatever 20 years ago (with the rare token rock nod to Greta Van Fleet or whoever). Even really incredibly nuanced and terrific rock records paired with an entire  documentary on American music history like Sonic Highways by the massive Foo Fighters that do help keep rock somewhat noticed get hipster scrutinized to shreds in an effort to suck the life out of them for clicks while subpar indie formula trash gets ass licked or we elevate fucking Tekashi69. Zoomers acting like emulating 00’s Paris Hilton fashion is the new “alternative” is not exactly revolutionary either. And while she may think that she is well intentioned, Miley Cyrus ripping off Plasmatics and Celtic Frost art while covering all the most basic hit songs from any 90’s band isn’t really doing it for me.

Adam Levine should have used his platform instead like Ke$ha who has recently boosted acts from Royal Thunder to Voivod! Not to mention she made the best pop crossover album of 2020 as well with High Road! THAT is what I am talking about. I certainly don’t like when bands act like we have to eradicate pop or rap or other genres but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fight for rock and let it be announced as DOA by lazy types like Levine who have massive industry privilege but barely use it for anything other than to bloviate and (formerly) “judge” people on bad tv shows.

Here are a few crucial current bands who truly ought to be on your radar. Put some respect on their names BELOW.

Upstate, NY heavy hitters SICKBAY have become a staple of the regional heavy scene, putting out material consistently and always upping their dark and deadly game. Death metal with a slight amount of hardcore crossover in the mix, Sickbay are clearly not worried about trends and just intent on creating the special blend of brutality that makes them tick. Jim Sinon stops by Metal Riot today to discuss the band’s history, latest bludgeon-fest Death’s Cold Grip and more BELOW.