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Review: Odyssey One by The Owl

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It's always an exciting prospect to discover a completely new artist (to you at least) that also has a huge wealth of material in a back catalogue primed and ready for exploration. I had this experience last year when I interviewed miserable.noise.club , and have had similar experiences with the likes of Tim Hecker and Merzbow in the past. I am now having this experience again with The Owl, the solo project of Leeds, UK based instrumentalist Paul Priest. Paul has also been a member of Gets Worse and Hundred Year Old Man among a slew of other bands who fall on the heavy/extreme/post/experimental spectrum. Under The Owl moniker there are a whopping 33 releases so far on  bandcamp , and Odyssey One will soon become number 34. The music across this discography can both solely focus on and wildly combine elements of drone, doom, noise, glitch, ambient, industrial and field recordings. There's no one specific sound or genre to expect from The Owl's music, but from what I have lis

Top 25: 2020

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I don't know if anyone else has noticed but it's been a bit of a strange year... a few things happened, a lot of things didn't happen, and the music world has faced challenges that were unimaginable this time last year. Without live shows and tours many artists have been hitting the studio to create new music or finishing off records that may not have seen the light of day this year had we not had to battle a global pandemic. As such it feels like there has been so many more records to listen to this year, and so many more new bands to discover. With this year being the first I've spent as a reviewer/critic, I have at times been overwhelmed by the amount of incredible heavy music appearing. It has also felt like the last few months particularly have seen a flurry of amazing albums, so whittling down this list to just 25 records took some restraint. After much deliberation, though, I managed to do it. Click the names of each for Bandcamp (blue) or Spotify (yellow) links.

Review: Peace & Doom Session Vol 1 by Purple Dawn

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It feels rather appropriate that my one of last reviews of this crazy year should be of a live album, and particularly from a new band who faced the predicament of not being able to play their very first gigs because of the pandemic. In a year when live music has been completely devastated through most of the world, bands have had to use their initiative to give their audiences some aspect of the live experience, so I really applaud Purple Dawn's efforts in putting together such a great release. Peace & Doom Session Vol 1 consists of a live set on the A side, of which there is also a video on Youtube , along with three brand new studio tracks on the B side. Purple Dawn's style is what you might call 'traditional' doom. It's heavy and groovy and errs on the slower tempos, but it's rooted in a time pre-Melvins and pre-Sludge, before punk and hardcore really got it's hands on the riffs of Sabbath. There's elements of old-school psychedelic rock here too

New Spins: 7th December 2020

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I've spent much of the week putting together my end of year lists and as such I haven't been listening to too much in the way of brand new music. There's three however that deserve a mention in another diverse week of New Spins. Grief Riffs Drones - LockDrone 1 If you're not a fan of British comedy from the 80s and 90s then you might not get  the pun here ; but as my blog name should tell you I love a good pun, and trust me this is a good one. Grief Riffs Drones is a side project featuring members of Warrior Pope, Fuck Knuckles and OrganChrist, three stalwarts of the Bristol, UK experimental heavy music scene. Recorded live as an improvised set at The Gryphon, one of Bristol's best underground venues, it's 36 minutes of noisey drone doom that feels inescapably live. It's been recorded and mixed with a great balance so you hear every element, but nothing feels so distinct and direct as to take away from the live feeling. You experience every sound at the same

New Spins: 30th November 2020

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It's been a little while since the last edition of New Spins, but before we head into December here are three of the best new things I've been checking out recently. Also it's Bandcamp Friday again this coming Friday, so take advantage of this day to support bands and artists however you can. Fungal Dimension - Self Titled A side project that came about through lockdown boredom (a very familiar story this year!) from the drummer of the rather splendid Earthbong , this is 80+ minutes of experimental ambient droning noise. it's split into two tracks which, much like his main band, evolve at a snails pace but still manage to keep an intensity and intrigue for the listener. Both tracks have their own character and flavour: Tides Of Mycellium has a very sparse and spatial feel to it, while Ancient Hallucinations is a more psychedelic droning track with some wonderful trippy percussive effects throughout. Having spent much of last week listening to Clawing's spectacular n

Review: Haunt by Vexing Hex

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When Ghost appeared on the scene a decade ago (damn I feel old!) they were one of the most exciting and oddball bands to appear in a long time, and their rise to fame was justifiably rapid and influential. It's unsurprising to see a wave of bands now coming through in their wake, and of all the bands I've heard from this scene Vexing Hex are probably the strongest. Musically the similarities to Ghost are indeed striking and they do a borrow a number of very specific elements from them too on their debut album. It would be dismissive of me to simply strike this Illinois trio off as a mere clone though, Vexing Hex definitely have more to them than that. Besides, with Tobias Forge's credibility sitting in the gutter right now it's pleasing to be able to listen to a fresh act take up the occult metal banner in an authentic way. Haunt begins with the intro track Hymn, a short but atmospheric mesh of droning choral harmonies. The vocal harmonies throughout the record are part

Review: In Somber Dreams by Mother Of Graves

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It seems like only a few short years ago when it was all about tech-death. In the wake of the late 2000s djent movement almost every new death metal band appearing on the scene was trying to push the boundaries of speed and technicality, whether they took any tropes from Meshuggah or not. Now though it seems the opposite is the case, and the bands at the top of the death metal scene are ones taking a slower and more solemn approach to death metal focussing more on atmosphere and melody. Bands such as Temple of Void, Spectral Voice and Hooded Menace have brought death-doom back into people's minds as a genre with far more potential than the often dreary and mundane gothic doom that it had developed into. It is at this point where we find Mother Of Graves; hailing from Indianapolis, this five piece combine sounds from across the heavy music spectrum and blend them into a style which far outstrips their genre tag. In Somber Dreams is a fabulous four track EP that does everything a fir

Review: The Still Forest, Bathed In Mist by Enter The Soil

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Following on from the release of Bleed This Earth's debut album earlier this year, multi-instrumentalist Justin Chorley has produced another record all of his own in the form of his long running solo project Enter The Soil. Utilising the same gloomy and depressive atmosphere that he developed with Bleed This Earth, The Still Forest, Bathed In Mist is a beautifully mournful album full of excellent ideas and musical concepts. Interestingly the record only has two tracks (the first and last) that even approach standard doom metal length; the tracks in between are shorter and more punchy than might be expected for a record in this style and it serves the record well to an extent. I do think, however, that some of the ideas here are a bit undersold and could have benefited from a little more development. Opening track Darkness Within Your Reach is a staggering journey through the mire, jolting from desperately slow chugs to droning funeral doom riffs, the melodies folding like sheets o

Opinion: Thou & Emma Ruth Rundle have beaten Pallbearer & Randall Dunn in the battle of the doom collaborations

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I rarely talk about production in much detail when I review albums, mostly because I believe it can receive far too much focus in heavy music commentary. For once though I am going to comment on production, so please forgive my lack of expertise in the subject, my comments come from the position of a disappointed listener not an offended sound engineer. This last week saw the release of two of the most anticipated doom albums of the year: Pallbearer's fourth full length album Forgotten Days and Emma Ruth Rundle and Thou's collaboration album May Our Chambers Be Full. Being a big fan of all the artists involved, and with a three hour plane journey to fill last Friday, these have been my most listened to albums of the last week. One of them has had far more playing time than the other though, and unfortunately it isn't the one from my seventh greatest doom band. Although rarely touted as a collaboration, I always get excited to see a big name band work with a new producer wit

New Spins: 26th October 2020

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Duma - Duma The guys at Cave Dweller Music (who I also write reviews for) put me on to this experimental release from Kenya. For a really great run down of the album check out their review , but in essence this is really like nothing I've heard before. Duma incorporate elements from grindcore and noisecore with disparate electronic particles that dance throughout the music, all the while bringing in afrobeat sounds and atmospheric field recordings to the mix too. This is definitely a record I urge people to check out if you want to open your mind and be inspired by some new heavy sounds Find it on Bandcamp here Falcifer - Falcifer Hailing from Switzerland, Falcifer do share their name with a particularly good Australian hardcore band, but that's all they share with them. Falcifer's atmospheric blackened doom is a thing of disgusting beauty, and on their first album they have combined some really interesting elements together to make something quite special. The riffs are sl