Saturday, 21 May 2016

Metal Bounty Hunter : Volume 8 – Sunmask Special

Metal Bounty Hunter : Volume 8 – Sunmask Special

Sunmask is a new Canadian label specialising mostly in doom metal and I’d like to offer my support by reviewing a bunch of their releases. I’ve already covered Sea Witch, Strange Broue and their excellent Shooting Guns/Zaum split but there’s many cool new stuff to check out. My country is producing some excellent bands and it’s a blast to see them released on analog formats (tapes and vinyl discs) by a legit label.

Check out the Facebook page to stay up to date: Sunmask

Lüger – The Lethal Tape (2016) / 84%

This Montréal quartet recently played live with The Death Wheelers (featured below) but I had to fucking this gig because I’m basically a boring dude. I really like this release, they mix a bunch of stuff and they do it very well. The tape starts with this introduction called “Red Magick” which sets the tone for the whole thing with its horrific and undead samples. Lüger are sort of a super heavy horror rock band who just mess around with the styles with ease and fun. Combine stoner metal, huge doom riffing, dirty heavy metal and you have their sound. It can differ from songs to songs, like “Lycanthropia” almost recalls Orange Goblin while “Snakebait” sounds like a doom version of Mötley Crüe and Motörhead.

The vocals of Jimmy Target (also in a rock & roll/stoner rock band called Jimmy Target and the Triggers) are just fueled by alcohol and hookers. Like the music, it’s captivating by its dirtiness but also how smart and well thought out it sounds. I can’t wait for a full length from these guys.

The Death Wheelers – Mind Blowing Trip (2015-2016)
Witchstone – Summon the End (2016)

Split released on tapes or vinyl by Sunmask


The Death Wheelers is Max Tremblay’s counterpart project to Strange Broue. While his other band plays huge doom/stoner vocals hugely inspired by Electric Wisard and the likes, this project is purely instrumental and like a bunch of Hells Angels high on satanic cocaine, it rocks hard. The songs are short burners with huge, thick bass lines and heavy as fuck doom riffs. There’s also many B movie (or just cult ones like Easy Rider on “Freewheelin’”) samples opening the tracks giving the Death Wheelers a welcoming nostalgic and vintage feel. There’s this fun atmosphere, perfect for driving at night and it’s almost as good as Karma to Burn, which are the masters of instrumental stoner metal in my opinion.

Actually released last year, the then sold out EP is now part of this split release with Witchstone and their two new tracks. I wanted to review their first full length released in 2014 so tackling this split is a pretty good opportunity to write about them. The quartet from Calgary is widely different than The Death Wheelers in the way they doom their metal. The two long pieces are full of old school horror doom influences with both venomous sludgey vocals and clean ones, super cool psychedelic guitar solos and slow riffs. The mix of harsh vocals and a musical background based mostly on doom/rock isn’t quite dichotomic (check out Black Magick SS for rock with harsh vox!), it really fits the occult mood they’re going for. Both songs are really damn good, they’re able to be atmospheric without forgetting to write compelling riffs.

This is a good split even though both bands don’t really fit together quite well. I think it should had been marketed differently but that’s just me! Anyhow, both sides are pretty damn solid examples of how good the Canadian doom/stoner/whatever scene is.

Witchstone on Bandcamp
The Death Wheelers on Bandcamp

Longhouse – Earth From Water (2015-2016) / 79%
Re-issue on CD by Sunmask

This trio from the Canadian capital of Ottawa plays top notch heavy sludge metal. The cover art inspired by the world turtle mythology really caught my eye, it’s pretty gorgeous and fits the quasi atmospheric side of the band well. They include some sad traditionnal doom melodies from time to time such as on “Gehenna Gate” and some progressiveness, especially in the well composed and modern guitar melodies. There’s also some heavy metal here, the epic instrumental banger “Phrygian Doom” sounds a bit like something Iron Maiden would do nowadays

The vocals of Josh Cayer are high
pitched nasty groovy growls, not too different from what we’re used to from the sludge world but they’re effective and not overly present or tiresome. Longhouse, the type of habitations the Iroquois native people used, evidently use this background as their main inspiration and more bands should write about this spiritual and often dark subject matter. Alongside bands like Monobrow or Norilsk, they’re one of the finest doom bands from the greater Ottawa area.


The Weir – Calmess of Resolve (2015-2016) / 75%

Re-issue on vinyl by Sunmask

This band from Calgary plays slow, crushing atmospheric sludge akin to what Cult of Luna used to do. It’s heavy, extended numbers full of despair and feelings. While it’s nothing original and new for the experimented listener, they’re a fine band who’s able to develop those long songs correctly. The fourteen minutes instrumental title track is especially strong with the way it’s built and executed. The other songs have your typical harsh vocals but they’re sort of buried underneath the somewhat blurry mix.

Post metal, atmospheric sludge or whatever is a genre strong on building heavy and emotional crescendos and The Weir are good at them. While it’s a decent album, it’s possibly just not memorable enough for me to revisit it often. I guess they’re good enough to open for Neurosis when they’ll tour Alberta.


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