Sofa King Killer—Midnight Magic (2004)

Sofa King Killer—Midnight Magic (2004)

Sofa King Killer—Midnight Magic (2004)

Details

Produced by Thorla and Seelye. Mastered by David Torrey at DRT Masteringart. Released on Retribute Records, 2004.

Wikipedia

Band

  • Ryan Burgy—Vocals
  • Chris Chiera—Guitar
  • Paul Bartholet—Bass
  • Brad Thorla—Drums

Tracks

  1. It’s Fun To Be The Bad Guy
  2. Taller Buckets Hold More
  3. The Getaway
  4. The God Out Of Reach
  5. Killing People Is Easy
  6. No Other Path To Pursue
  7. An Ode To Myself
  8. Don’t Slow Me Down
  9. Thiboderux
  10. Holy Bottle

Review

Sofa King Killer were a sludge metal band from Akron in Ohio. According to Wikipedia,

Sofa King Killer’s (abbreviated as SKK) vision was to create a hybrid band of different genres including doom metal, sludge metal, rock and roll and punk rock. The band was known for guitar riffs inspired by Black Sabbath, drums of the Melvins and the vocals of Eyehategod.

If this album is anything to judge them on—and there’s not much more in their back-catalogue, so it will have to do—they’ve done a pretty good job realising their vision.

I imagine this would be a great album to listen to on a long train journey, sitting staring out of the window. The pace of the songs stays pretty consistent, the audible landscape varies little, slowing down here and there, but on the whole bouncing its way through one dirty riff after another.

This is the kind of album that I can listen to on repeat, the kind of album I can listen to and enjoy but which doesn’t distract me for getting on with other pieces of work. This would be great music for writing to, or coding to.

Chiera’s guitars are heavy and loose, tuned down and distorted; Bartholet’s bass guitar rumbles along the bottom occasionally shining through when given the space; Thorla’s drums hold it all together, plenty of cymbal crashes, with the snare tick-tocking to keep the beat; while over the top Burgy’s vocals are throaty and hoarse. It’s tight and loose all the same time. With each song I found my head nodding as I bounced along to the groove.

Conclusion

No surprise but I found this album really enjoyable. Sludge metal has been one of my delightful finds in this project: the average score that I’ve given a sludge metal album is 81%.

It’s a shame that Sofa King Killer split in 2009. I’d liked to have heard more from them. I’ll just have to track down their debut album Stout-Soaked Songs (2000) and see how it compares.

Review score: 90%

Bonus

Advertisements

Sloth—A Whole Other World of Fun, aka 13 Songs 13 Samples (2007)

Sloth—A Whole Other World of Fun, aka 13 Songs 13 Samples (2007)

Sloth—A Whole Other World of Fun, aka 13 Songs 13 Samples (2007)

Details

Thanks to At War With False Noise and Paul of Suma. Released in 2007.

Encyclopedia Metallum

Band

  • Ubersloth—Vocals, guitar, drums, electric organ
  • Uberneecie—Vocals
  • Derek Erdman—Guitar, vocals, noises
  • Mr Bearbomb—Guitar, vocals, electric organ
  • Picnic table—Guitar, vocals
  • Sam Pitts—Bass, vocals
  • Dan Pitts—Piano
  • Wedge—Drums, vocals, percussion

Tracks

  1. 1
  2. the wooleybear looked at you?
  3. 3
  4. stak ’em up
  5. 5
  6. a night at the park
  7. 7
  8. i farted
  9. 9
  10. derek’s song
  11. 11
  12. at the laundromat (you can have fun)
  13. 13
  14. your record collection
  15. 15
  16. pika flower shop
  17. 17
  18. b. bob
  19. 19
  20. wrestling quiz
  21. 21
  22. ufo zombies
  23. 23
  24. political song
  25. 25
  26. lagoons

Review

There is something about this album of random snippets and samples, integrated with sludgy, stoner-style punk tracks that is wonderfully affirming. In a world obsessed with global celebrity, there is an honesty and a fragility about this collection that I really warm to. It reminds me in so many ways of something raw like Nirvana’s debut album Bleach.

The thirteen samples —the suitably odd tracks — which appear to be lifted mostly from films and TV have no common theme, but they do a nice job of connecting one song to the next. I did wonder if they would get annoying but listen after listen I quite enjoyed their randomness.

The thirteen songs are varied in style, though all feel loose and laid back but all very different, for example, “the wooleybear looked at you?” (track 2) reminds me of something punky like Black Flag. “stak ’em up” (track 4) is a bit bluesy. “derek’s song” (track 10) has a very Primus feel to it: repetitive and a little atonal and whiny.  “at the laundromat (you can have fun)” (track 12) is a riff on the chord progression A-F♯-G. “ufo zombies” (track 22) reminds me of The Misfits, not necessarily in style but vibe and attitude.

Conclusion

I really rather like this album. It is odd and quirky and unique and interesting. I would definitely choose to listen to this again.

Review score: 85%

 

Raging Speedhorn—Live and Demos (2004)

Raging Speedhorn—Live and Demos (2004)

Raging Speedhorn—Live and Demos (2004)

Details

Double-CD package: CD one is live, CD two is demos. All live tracks were recorded from the desk at various locations by a combination of Dave Lamb (The Garage) and Dave Stokes (Ozzfest and the University of Manchester); additional crowd recordings were taken by John Nixon.

All demo tracks were recorded at Premier Studios, Corby between 1999 and 2001. All were either produced and engineered by Iain Wetherall or Co-produced by Iain Wetherall and Raging Speedhorn.

Band

  • John Loughlin—Vocals
  • Bloody KevVocals
  • Tony Loughlin—Guitar
  • Gareth Smith—Guitar
  • Jay Thompson—Guitar
  • Dave Thompson—Bass
  • Darren Smith—Bass
  • Gordon Morison—Drums

Tracks

CD1 : Live

  1. Crowd Noise [Live At Manchester University 27 October 2002]
  2. Knives And Faces [Live At The Garage, 16 August 2000]
  3. Chronic Youth [Live At Ozzfest, 26 May 2001]
  4. Redweed [Live At Ozzfest, 26 May 2001]
  5. High Whore [Live At Manchester University, 27 October 2002]
  6. Mandan [Live At The Garage, 16 August 2000]
  7. Dungeon Whippet [Live At The Garage, 16 August 2000]
  8. Scrapin’ The Resin [Live At The Garage, 16 August 2000]
  9. The Gush [Live At Ozzfest, 26 May 2001]
  10. Superscud [Live At The Garage, 16 August 2000]
  11. Ride With The Devil [Live At The Garage, 16 August 2000]
  12. Random Acts Of Violence [Live At The Garage, 16 August 2000]

CD2: Demos

  1. Redweed
  2. Mandan
  3. Slow Process
  4. Hit Single / Thumper
  5. High Whore
  6. Knives And Faces
  7. Down
  8. Random Acts Of Violence
  9. Death Row Dogs
  10. Spitting Blood
  11. Necrophiliac Glue Sniffer
  12. Superscud

Review

Live side

What is rather nice about the live CD from UK sludgecore metallers Raging Speedhorn, is the consistency of recording from the sound-desk. This could easily be a recording of one single concert, rather than pieced together from three different gigs across three different years.

What I have really enjoyed about this disc is that it contains only songs that I’ve never heard before, having earlier this year reviewed Before The Sea Was Built (2007).

Raging Speedhorn seem to have a good live sound, a good rapport with the crowd (to the point that they have to repeatedly tell the crowd to keep off the stage), and a great energy. You get the sense that this is a good band to watch.

The music is suitably sludgy, a bit shouty but solid. Definitely something I would willingly return to.

Demos side

And now for many of these songs again (plus a handful more) but in demo form…

Many band demos sound very rough, recorded on whatever the modern equivalent of a Tascam 4-track portastudio is, but these tracks are well balanced and could very well be released without too many people not realising that they’re not the finished articles… or have I been listening to too much 1980s hardcore today?

The songs have energy and drive. Even tracks like “Hit Single/Thumper” (track 4) which didn’t grab me immediately have a fun hook that had me smiling and bobbing my head by two minutes’ in. Good stuff.

I rather enjoyed “Down” (track 7) which opens with something not too far removed from Metallica’s “The Thing That Cannot Be” but transitions into a very sludgy groove that crawls beneath a barked vocal. As does “Death row dogs” (track 9)… in fact, come to think of it, that description doesn’t really narrow down any of the songs. This is a resounding sludgecore-fest!

Conclusion

Live albums can often be hit or miss affairs; albums of songs demos even more so. But this release really nails it in both camps.

The live songs have drive and an energy that I’m sure give you a  good sense of what Speedhorn’s concerts are like. All good stuff, good stuff.

Finally, if you’re curious to see the cover before it was given a negative treatment, here you go:

What the original photo looked like

What the original photo looked like

Review score: 75%

Devil Sold His Soul—A Fragile Hope (2007)

Devil Sold His Soul—A Fragile Hope (2007)

Devil Sold His Soul—A Fragile Hope (2007)

Details

Produced by Jonny Renshaw and Devil Sold His Soul. Engineered and mixed by Jonny Renshaw. Recorded at Bandit Studios, Gloucestershire. Mastered by John Dent at Loud Mastering, Taunton.

Website | Twitter

Band

  • Ed Gibbs—Vocals
  • Matt Elphick—Guest vocals on “Awaiting the flood” and “The coroner”
  • Jonny Renshaw—Guitars
  • Iain Trotter—Bass
  • Paul Kitney—Samples
  • Dave Robinson—Drums (on album)
  • Alex “Leks” Wood—Drums (listed in sleeve notes)

Tracks

  1. In the absence of light
  2. As the storm unfolds
  3. The starting
  4. Sirens chant
  5. At the end of the tunnel
  6. Between two worlds
  7. Awaiting the flood
  8. Dawn on the first day
  9. The coroner
  10. Hope

Review

I asked my three children, just based on the look of the album cover, “Does this look like it’s going to be a good album?” All three (aged, six, six and four) said “No”. I think they were only partly right. But it’s not the music, once again it’s the vocals I take issue with.

The music is interesting. It has depth, it has dynamics, it has other things that begin with ‘d’. The music is built around the guitars: big chords, big strumming, a nicely overdriven sound. In places the guitars are clean and picked which produces a nicely layered sound. The bass is punchy, the drums sit beneath it all cutting though in all the right places. I love the music: it’s bold and modern.

In places the lyrics are sung; Ed Gibbs has a nice tenor voice. But for the most part everything is SHOUTED. But it’s not the good kind of shouting. This isn’t the gruff vocals of a Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth, ex-Bloodbath) or D. Randall Blythe (Lamb of God), it’s the uncontrolled shouting of a worse-for-wear girlfriend bawling at her drunk boyfriend at 1.00 am outside a nightclub.

And that’s where my issues lie with this album. To my ears, I would go as far as saying, the songs are ruined by this style of vocals. And that’s a real shame.

I have to say that I realise that there will be people out there who love this style of vocals. I accept that, and I want to be clear in saying that the vocals aren’t rubbish they are just in a style that is not for me.

That said, I want to hold on to this album. The music is great and where the lyrics aren’t completely shouted from start to finish (like in the final track, “Hope”) I really enjoyed it.

Conclusion

They often say that the devil has all the best tunes. Well, clearly here he’s sold his soul or something. A great pity.

Review score: 65%

16—Drop Out (1994)

16—Drop Out (1994)

16—Drop Out (1994)

Details

Engineered and mixed by Jeff Forrest at Doubletime Studios, San Diego from January–October 1994. All music created and produced by -(16)-. Special thanks to Chris Elder.

http://16theband.bandcamp.com/

Band

  • Cris Jerue—Vocals
  • Bobby Ferry—Guitar
  • Tony Baumeister—Bass
  • Jason Corley—Drums

Tracks

  1. Trigger happy
  2. Pumpfake
  3. Tocohara
  4. Sniper
  5. Felicia
  6. Fucked for life
  7. Bloody knuckles
  8. Butterfly labels
  9. Seeds and stems
  10. 16

Review

I find it amazing how some albums just make sense. Even on the first listen. There is no wrestling with it, there is no listening to it again and again, trying to tease out its finer nuances, trying to appreciate its hidden meaning. This is one of those albums for me.

It comes as no real surprise that I’ve enjoyed this album as I gave Curves that Kick (1993) 95% and Bridges to Burn (2009) 90% and perhaps there is an element of familiarity with -(16)- that makes me feel like I’m coming home listening to this album, but that can’t be the whole picture.

Sludge is a fusion of doom and hardcore punk, which sounds like it should be kind of bipolar genre: weaving an uncomfortable path between bass-y, slow and depressed riffs and in-your-face, energy. But it works. What does that say about me that I connect with it so readily?

This album gave me the same excitement that hearing Helmet for the first time did. There is an eagerness about the music, and energy that is contagious. It’s not so much drop out as a pick me up.

This album, like their others, still has a strong Helmet- and southern-metal-vibe, with what sound like drop-tuned, stop-start guitar riffs. But it’s not all about the guitar, the bass guitar comes to the fore though on many of the songs, such as ‘Sniper’ and halfway through ‘Felicia’.

Conclusion

Another winner from -(16)-. They have managed to produce an album that makes me feel as though I’ve been listening to it for years, rather than just a couple of days. Good work.

This project has been amazing for unearthing bands like -(16)- that I would never otherwise have heard. I’m still so grateful to Calum for gifting me this enormous pile of CDs for free.

Review score: 95%

Video

16—Bridges to Burn (2009)

16—Bridges to Burn (2009)

16—Bridges to Burn (2009)

Details

All music created and produced by 16. Recorded, engineered, and mixed by Jeff Forrest at Doubletime Studios in San Diego, CA in 2008. All lyrics written by Cris Jerue. Mastered by Scott hull at Visceral Sound. Released on Relapse Records, 2009. Album artwork by Florian Bertmer.

http://16theband.bandcamp.com/

Band

  • Cris Jerue—Vocals
  • Bobby Ferry—Guitar
  • Tony Baumeister—Bass
  • Jason Corley—Drums

Tracks

  1. Throw in the towel
  2. Skin & bones
  3. Me & my shadow
  4. Man interrupted
  5. Flake
  6. You let me down (again)
  7. Monday bloody Monday
  8. Permanent good one
  9. So broken down
  10. Thorn in your side
  11. What went wrong?
  12. Missed the boat

Review

I loved -(16)-‘s first album Curves that Kick (1993), which I described as “a fusion of Helmet, Bleach-era Nirvana, lesser-known San Francisco band Less and even elements of Godflesh.” I had high hopes then for this album and the southern Californian sludgesters haven’t let me down.

I generally know straight away if I’m going to enjoy an album for the week that I give myself to listen to it. I had this album on in my car for at least half of last week and last.fm attests to my having played -(16)- more than the next three bands put together.

What struck me immediately was just how much fuller their sound is on this album compared with their debut album. This is a stickier, sludgier, doomier album. It has the groove and laid back feel of a proper ‘southern’ metal band like Down, or even Clutch, but they haven’t lost touch with their hardcore punk roots either.

While opening track “Throw in the towel” and “Man, interrupted” have a distinctly bluesy, southern groove, just like their debut album many of the songs still carry a Helmet-like vibe to them, for example “Skin and bones”, “Me and my shadow”, and “You let me down (again)”. “Flake” pulls in some definite Godflesh moments.

Conclusion

I’ve had this album on repeat for almost the whole week, so the songs have all merged into one. But it’s definitely a keeper: I’m going to be listening to this album for a long time to come.

Review score: 90%

Video

Lair of the Minotaur—War Metal Battle Masters (2008)

Lair of the Minotaur—War Metal Battle Masters (2008)

Lair of the Minotaur—War Metal Battle Masters (2008)

Details

Recorded at Volume Studios in Chicago by Sanford Parker, October 2007. Mixed by Sanford Parker and Steven Rathbone. Mastered by Scott Hull. Music and lyrics by Rathbone. Produced by Lair of the Minotaur. Executive production by Sanford Parker.

Band

  • Donald James Barraca—Bass
  • Steven Rathbone—Guitar, vocals and synth
  • Chris Wozniak—Drums

Tracks

  1. Horde of undead vengeance
  2. War metal battle master
  3. When the ice giants slayed all
  4. Slaughter the bestial legion
  5. Black viper barbarian clan
  6. Assassins of the cursed mist
  7. Doomtrooper
  8. Hades unleashed

Review

This is actually the very first album I listened on this project. Having just bundled four carrier bags of CDs into the back of my car I grabbed one at random to listen to on my drive home. And this was it. And I was impressed.

Having listened to the album for the best part of a week I have to say that I am still impressed. There is no pretence about this album. This is heavy music with clear influences from the likes of early Metallica, Slayer, and Death, as well as elements of doom and sludge metal. It’s a good mix.

Throughout the album, the guitars sound amazing. Some bands dial in a harsh, thin distortion often from effects pedals or digital effects, but these guitars sound like they are simply screaming through not much more than an over-driven amplifier: not too warm, but with just the right amount of crunch.

The album opens with feedback before warming up with a few crashing chords as it builds the tempo into the ‘Horde of Undead Vengeance’.

Track two, the title track ‘War Metal Battle Master’ has more than a tip of the hat to Ride the Lightning (1984) era Metallica, including a riff at 1’00’ that had me singing in the car, quite involuntarily:

Do unto others as they’ve done to you
But what the hell is this world coming to?

from ‘Fight fire with fire’.

Next up, ‘When the ice giants slayed all’ has more than a little feel of being a Slayer track, as the song title hints at. Not just the thrashing power chords but the dual, squealing riffs too that punctuate the middle of the song.

Even at three tracks in, with so many respectful nods of the head to these thrash titans this album doesn’t feel ripped off, there is an integrity to the music, in the tradition of everything is a remix. This album is like a melting pot of the best elements of the thrash genre. And I like what has been formed from that combination. I like it a lot.

I’d really be doing the album a massive disservice too if I didn’t mention the song titles. How ‘metal’ are these?! I know I’ve listed them above, but let’s just appreciate them once again:

  • Horde of undead vengeance
  • War metal battle master
  • When the ice giants slayed all
  • Slaughter the bestial legion
  • Black viper barbarian clan
  • Assassins of the cursed mist
  • Doomtrooper
  • Hades unleashed

How much more metal could this be? And the answer is… none. None more metal. It’s like the results from a perfect metal song title generator.

Track seven ‘Doomtrooper’ has a quite a different feel to much of the rest of the album. It opens with an atmospheric, almost Arabian feel—with horns (literal and metaphoric)—before handing over to a pounding, doom-laden riff and the deepest, gruffest vocals of the album, like a slowed-down Morbid Angel.

The album closes with a mournful riff that opens ‘Hades unleashed’ which quickly morphs into something that could easily have been on Slayer’s Hell Awaits (1985) album

Conclusion

I really like this album. So much so that I didn’t want to have write this review as it would mean I needed to move on to the next album. And I know what’s coming up, and on my first few listens of that I really didn’t like it. Please make it stop. Please me have to listen to this album for another week.

Of course, I will. This is going to be on my MP3 player for quite a while to come. Brilliant! Thank you Lair of the Minotaur.

Review score: 100%

Video

WARNING! Utterly ridiculous video for a thrashing masterpiece resplendent with lots of fake blood, an imitation eye, and erm… naked, lesbian, vampire cannibals!?