Thursday, 9 November 2017

The Snack Series – Lays BLT

The Snack Series – Lay's BLT

Price: $2.99 Canadian for a 180 grams bag. Not too bad.

Packaging: Bright blue with a big BLT on the bag. I’m a bit disappointed by the fact it’s a smaller bag than their usual bigger ones but considering Lay's did some weird experiments in the past (during their contests, remember the cinnamon buns flavour? EWW!), it's understandable that they're not doing gigantic bags for their temporary or special releases.

Texture/look: Normal colour, same as the original Lay's brand but there's some black spots on the chips. Nothing quite special here.

Taste: It doesn't really taste like a BLT at all but this was to be expected with simulated flavors. The flavor at the forefront would be mayonnaise and then there's some slight bacon and tomato in the aftertaste but I had to eat the whole bag in 30 mins to find those. I'm a big mayonnaise fan (it's not an instrument, by the way) but those Lay's weren't really interesting. I'd say that they're a bit better than the Bacon Lay's though.

Spend your snack money on something else. They're not bad but they're uninteresting and uninspired.

6/10

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Metal Bounty Hunter: Volume 11 /// 2017 DOOM SPECIAL


"Doom metal is dead", that's what Reverend Bizarre told us back in 2007 but more than ten years after the final album of the Finns, the genre is still alive and kicking. Thank god! Here's a bunch of demos or extended plays released this year. Canada, Germany, the US and even Israel are represented in this special volume. 
Enjoy!



Palmistry – Demo (2017) / 80%

Magickal Doom from Poutineland


Full disclosure: I work with half of Palmistry as a gig promoter/booker in Montréal
and I also know his wife who's the second half. My relationship with them has nothing to do with my appreciation of their music. Doom metal is dead, anyway.

This new project from Montréal unleashed their first demo back in July and it's an insanely great first effort. Composed of a young couple, Palmistry plays super catchy trad doom with a penchant for epic moments and melodic leads. Obviously influenced by Candlemass, their music goes beyond worship and has this special touch.

The two songs are short (for doom, eh) affairs and considering it's a demo, it's really well produced. The guitar is crisp and just plain fun. The riffs are well composed, dynamic and has this quasi arabic vibe. It feels like crusader doom! The solos on "Capharnaüm" are subtle, soft and aren't unecessarily flashy. The vocals of the feminine side of the duo are solid. They sound like an occult incantation and they're pretty ballsy.

All in all, the Palmistry demo shows a lot of potential and talent and I'm stoked to be able to follow their development. It's great when the music made by friends is actually good and you don't have to force yourself to dig it!



Fvneral Fvkk ‎– The Lecherous Liturgies (2017) / 91%


Essential doom, epic as fvkkkkkk!

With members from known to almost known German bands such as Ophis, here comes Fvneral Fvkk and despite their silly name, they probably released the best doom demo/EP of 2017. Their style is midway through epic doom and traditional doom and they're already at the top of their game. I mean, we're talking of veteran musicians and not simply newcomers. The situation is similar to Dautha, the new Swedish band formed by members of Griftegård, Scar Symmetry or Wardenclyffe.
Those guys know what sound they're looking for and they have the experience and skills to create it.

Fvneral Fvkk comes from the tradition of tongue in cheek doom bands but even if their lyrics are blasphemous and somewhat fun, the riffs and compositions are serious. They do evolve in the modern doom sound as well, the Warning/Pallbearer sound is present but the Germans bring an added urgency and evilness to the formula. The production is crisp, the guitars heavy as fuck and the vocals sombre and dark. The songs are packed to the brim with desecrated doom and there's no wasted moments to be found here.

It's an essential release for any doom fans and I don't know how they'll be able to top it.


Make sure to get the digital version with the 3 tracks since the bonus song is also excellent.





Bridegeist – Waste of Kings (2017) / 75%


Fresh and tight sword & sorcery doom


The Wichita, Kansas quartet doesn't waste any time in establishing their identity. Their sound is huge, rough and immensely heavy. The dual guitars makes 'em quite fun and punishing and the harmonies are present underneath the heaviness. Just like Khemmis, they do like to mix sludgey influences to their heavy/doom and it's apparent in the use of semi harsh vocals used by Steven Turner.

Their metal is groovy, full of catchy manly riffs and while it's mostly extroverted metal, it's easy to enjoy. I mean, complex and "smart" metal is often shit and annoying. You get what you ask for here, solid steel for twenty minutes.

Residing in the same city as epic metal forefathers Manilla Road could had been an ordeal but Bridegeist delivers their own take on sword and sorcery by cranking the amps to the max and by being more aggressive than a pack of hungry hounds.


Lavaborne – Demo 2017 / 65%


Peculiar Midwest garage doom

With the technology we have today, demos are a bit of a dying art. It's totally possible to have a semi professional suburbian recording done in your mom's basement nowadays. Unfortunately, that's not the case for this demo. Ok, Lavaborne's production isn't that bad but I've heard better for doom demos. Chris Latta's (also in Spirit Division) vocals are decent but they're way too loud in the mix and it's hard to focus on anything else. His deep voice almost goes into spoken word territory at times and it adds a certain weird charm to the band. The drum machine is annoying as it often is in metal.

The songs are pretty good though, it's heavy/doom but it's peculiar and doesn't really sound like what we could expect of the genre. It has a wide array of influences ranging from grunge, hard rock to thrash. While I can't really say that I'll go back to the demo, I can say that it's interesting

P.S.: I have conflicting feelings about the artwork. It looks like a skateboard ad made in collaboration with a local nu-metal band. Sorry Chris!







Still Dead – Demo no. 1 (2017) / 67%


Still Dead are the first Israeli doom band I've came across that aren't Orphaned Land (who played doom for like twenty minutes anyway) and they're not bad at all! The raw production highlights the thick bass lines and the cavernous clean vocals well and for a debut release, it's quite professional.

The songs are moderately lengthy and offer a lot of repetitive riffs and atmosphere. It's a gloomy affair with Still Dead as you could expect from their moniker.

The thing is that the songwriting is mostly derivative and boring. They're not really fresh, exciting or super heavy to compensate for the lack of groundbreaking ideas (a direction many doom bands pick) but it's worth checking out if you want to hear true doom coming from an unusual location!


Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Church of Void – Church of Void (2017) / 83%



Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen

Church of Void from Finland has always been a pretty damn good band but they never really won me over until their contribution to the split album “Coalition of the Anathematized” released last year. In the company of their countrymen Cardinals Folly and the totally underrated Swedish trio Acolytes of Moros, their two songs (“Moonstone” re-appears here) convinced me that they were ready to fight for Finland’s traditional doom metal throne.

The quintet lead by Magus Corvus is surely inspired by the classics of the mid-paced doom style (see Pentagram, Count Raven or Saint Vitus) but they still manage to sound fresh and exciting by bringing some external elements to the fold. Judging by their chosen aesthetics, it’s not really a stretch to say that those guys dig goth rock (true goth rock, hey!) as it’s the main flavor found in their doom recipe. In a way, I’d compare it to “Sister”, the final offering of In Solitude but with a different core sound. God knows I really liked the swansong of the Swedes.

Compared to some of their contemporary trad doom compatriots, Church of Void attacks with two guitars and this really gives the band depth and might. It’s quite obvious in the ending of “Lovecraft” with its lush and subtle instrumentation. It’s also one of the strongest moments of this self titled effort since it goes somewhere else for an instant.

The compositions are often epic in scope but also totally restrained and pack a punch. There’s two songs near the eight minutes mark but they’re not a band willing to go all in like The Wandering Midget (the reigning kind of Finn trad doom, by the way) with extended Reverend Bizarre-esque tracks. That’s probably a good thing since it’s pretty damn hard to pull off if you’re not, well… Reverend Bizarre.

They’re not an “epic doom” band but they have some slight ties to that sound from time to time. I can hear remnants of The Gates of Slumber in the vocals and the galloping riffs (check out “Passing the Watchtower” and its intense riffing.) Corvus has a deep, powerful voice. He’s pretty expressive and totally has the romantic but misanthropic feel you need to have as a doom vocalist. 

I believe the strongest asset of Church of Void is their cunning simplicity masked by strong musicianship and a top notch atmosphere.
This apparent or alleged simplicity makes them a bit too safe but they do have their moments of complete ecstasy. As far as I’m concerned, they’ll never be the best doom band out of Finland but they’ll always have their place as a close advisor to the king as they’re basically faultless.

Church of Void on Facebook

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

The Snack Series - Doritos Sonic Sour Cream



Price: Doritos are getting pricier and pricier but there's no way I'm not gonna try their new flavours! The 250 grams bag was like $4.50

Packaging: The packaging is INTENSE. Bright guacamole green with some purple and a big ass bowl of sour cream and some red onions. It definitely attracts the eye... and the hand. Finally, a big plus for the totally bonkers name. Sonic sour cream? Gotta go fast, right?

Texture/look: It's the same as your usual Doritos flavor. Were you expecting something wildly different? The chips are as white as snow. Perfect if you're a cunt and you're listening to some NSBM while eating 'em!

Taste: Not too dissimilar from a ranch taste but it's absolutely better. There's this tangy sour cream flavor and it's persistent in a lovely way. I'm not too sure it tastes like sour cream but whatever! It's a bold taste and definitely another success for Doritos. I'll definitely buy again.

9/10

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

The Wandering Midget – From the Meadows of Opium Dreams (2012) / 93%



The contender to the Finnish trad doom throne

In light of the new split between The Wandering Midget and the Hands of Orlac, I’ve decided that it was time to finally review this grandiose album.

Let’s start with the obvious elephant in the room: One cannot talk about The Wandering Midget without mentioning the late Reverend Bizarre so I’ll get it out of my system in the first paragraph. Samuli Pesonen’s vocals share an uncanny similarity to the ones of Albert Witchfinder but they’re perhaps not as hyperbolic in their intonations. What you get is still highly evocative and theatrical quasi operatic vocals and it works wonderfully well with the musicality of the Finnish power trio.

The main strength of the LP resides in its extended compositions and how well they’re written. It sure is trendy to write long songs in doom but most bands can’t do it correctly (most of doom/stoner, per instance) but the Midget knows how to keep things interesting and succeed at changing the tempos without breaking their psychedelic atmosphere. From the Meadows… starts with “Prince of Fire”, a five minutes banger before unleashing three monsters of doom. From the epic twenty minutes of “Temples in the Sky” and its mournful first half to the groovy rifftastic fest of “She-Wolf”, it’s a monumental testament on how trad doom can be both fun and intricate.

The Midget relies on heavy riffs, melodic lead guitar lines and a solid and subtle rhythm duo. Pesonen (or Samuel Wormius) is the obvious star of the Opium Dreams with his guitar playing and his immense vocal performance but his companions delivered a captivating performance too. They’re able to transcend some of the conventions of the genre by inflicting some deep introspective moments in their songs. They’re the type of bands that can rock hard but also know when to slow down and just make their emotional baggage talk.

Pushing Cardinals Folly, Garden of Worm or Serpent Warning (Pesonen used to sing for ‘em) to the sidelines, The Wandering Midget are the definite contenders to the Throne of Finnish Doom Metal. This is a masterpiece.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

The Snack Series - Doritos Mojo Citron & Doritos Heatwave




Doritos Dinamita mojo citron - 4/5



Another of those special Doritos experimental flavors. Compared to the others, this one isn't spicy. There's a little tangy but the dominant flavor is lime. The corn flour taste is predominant too and it's enjoyable.

I really appreciate the circular shape of the chip. It's easy to put in your mouth (in a phallic kind of way) and it makes the experience more complete. The crispiness of the chip is also a big plus.

Doritos are making some really avant garde tortillas right now and it's a resounding success. I really hope they do bigger bags of this series


Doritos heatwave - 3/5


In one of my earlier snack reviews, I proclaimed that the Doritos Chili & Lime were their spiciest ever but damn, the new Heatwave flavor is the new champion. 

There's something weird about 'em as they're not as crispy as their other tortilla chips.They're somewhat more granular and fragile. It's not something detrimental though

The taste is at first really BBQish but then turns into an explosion of heat! The spiciness stays vibrant for a while too.I'll be honest, I'll admit that they were a bit too much for me. Still, They're good! Try them now as they're only available for a limited time.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Possessed Steel – Possessed Steel (2014) / 80%


ODIN CALL THUNDER FROM THE SKY!”





The Toronto band is about to release their new record so let’s go back to their debut EP before they do, shall we? The quartet plays honest and powerful epic heavy metal. They’re in between bands like Cauldron, Phantom, Axxion and Cromlech if we’re talking about the trad metal scene found in the Ontario metropolis. They have the doomy and uber epicness of Cromlech and the speed and charisma of their other brethren.

After a short classical piano introduction, we’re served four songs about mythology (Greek, Nordic & Roman) and fantasy. Rest assured, it’s done in a manly Manowar-esque kind of way and not in a wimpy LARP/Rhapsody way. Sullivan’s vocal delivery is clean and somewhat powerful but can spit some venom when it’s necessary, he’s pretty decent even if Possessed Steel isn’t the kind of band with legendary vocal acrobatics. I’ve learned to like barely adequate singers in heavy metal (see Angel Sword or Scalare) as they give the bands a charming and welcoming feel. Nonetheless, Possessed Steel’s vocal identity is a bit above average as far as I’m concerned.

At times, they remind me of a tighter and to the point Atlantean Kodex as they’re classy but still true to the roots of what makes heavy metal a compelling genre. I guess that’s the sound you try to get when you worship both Manilla Road and Omen? Three of the songs are around the six minute mark and they’re packed with metal nutriments. They do need to work on some aspects of their compositions to make them a bit more cohesive (judging by the first track from their new one, they did it) but I enjoyed the EP a lot.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Dwoom – Pale Mare Demo MMXVII (2017) / 85%



Swedish Rules Divine - Part 2

I always preferred the Finnish doom scene but the mighty Sweden always delivers the good. I’m not exactly crazy about their current crop of traditional doom (see Below or Anguish) but their stoner scene is pretty healthy with bands like Monolord (constant touring helps!) or Vokonis. Dwoom from Northern Sweden not only has the best name around but they got a renewed epic doom sound and their debut demo is a slab of insanely great pure hot iron.

The main feat of Dwoom is that they play doom metal with HM2 pedals. I’m not a gear expert or musician but I can easily recognize this sound and it did wonders for this band. It’s basically like Hooded Menace but without the horror inspired death metal of the Finnish band. The quartet injects an almost illegal dose of steroids to the epic doom sound of Candlemass and it’s a shame the demo is only seventeen minutes, give me more!!!

Gustav Lund has nothing to envy to both Johan Längquist or Messiah. The dude can sing! He has this operatic approach common to epic doom but he’s sometimes a bit rougher. There’s some rare harsh vocals too but it’s mostly a clean affair.

The subtle organ notes too and this gives a tenebrous feel to the crushing doom played by Dwoom. Their atmosphere is spot-on too, it’s groovy, entrancing and will make your neck move. The three songs are tight, mid-paced numbers with strong guitars and catchy vocal lines. Simply put, Dwoom are above-average and this demo is highly promising.

Ceremonial Bloodbath – Command Sacrifice (2017) / 82%


Sliced open by a rusty ceremonial dagger




The new quartet from Vancouver formed by members of Ahna, Haggatha and Mudlark plays unadulterated, intense death metal. The quasi-raw demo contains five tracks and most of them are over the five minutes mark. The track named after the band (I always like those) is eight minutes long and it’s a total banger full of evil riffs.

Their best skill is their ability to switch from slow to fast in an instant and keep the songs insanely heavy and cohesive. They play their death metal with some black and doom influences and while it fits the current scene of occult death metal cultists (see Dark Descent, Iron Bonehead etc), their compositions are fresh and exciting. No need for overblown originality when you have riffs this good anyway.

The natural production works well for their archaic and ancient sound. We’re served Slayer/Deicide-esque soloing (see the aptly named “Hordes of Demons Feeding”) and cavernous, unhinged vocals. It’s primitive and deadly. Their riffs are bouncy and dangerously chaotic. They constantly stab you in the gut with a rusty but really sharp ceremonial dagger.

I’m hoping that they will not polish their sound too much for their future releases, it’s totally adequate for their sound. It’s perfect to sacrifice human lives to whoever you think should rule the world. Command Sacrifice is one of the best demos of the year and if you like your extreme metal dirty and bloody, check them out.


Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Emblem – Emblem (2017) / 88%


Newfoundland's soldiers of steel


Heavy metal from Newfoundland, eh? Yes, sir and it's awesome. The debut self titled album sounds like if the maritime province is still an English territory and never entered the Canadian confederation in 1949. Their sound is basically beefed up NWOBHM and they deserve all your attention.

The main element they have that most other current heavy metal bands lack is the intricacy and attention to details of their compositions. Their songs (such as "Encased In Stone") are often long, detailed and filled to the brim with riffs and solos. What's enjoyable is that they're able to push the genre to this level without distilling it with outside influences such as progressive, thrash or doom. It's pure pummeling heavy metal from start to finish with interesting, super metal lyrics (fantasy, horror, medieval) and above average soloing from the pair of guitarists composed of Knee and Cooper.

You know a band is good at their craft when it's hard to pinpoint their influences. This means that they took their time to assimilate enough metal and create something worthwhile and not derivative. I mean, sure, you’ll hear Iron Maiden here since there’s the same love for intense and soulful soloing on Emblem but overall, this is devoid of pure particular worship towards anyone.

While the riffs are solid and all the songs are good, vocalist (and bassist) Harry Clarke is my clear highlight of this record. He reminds me of Blaze Bayley a little, not really because their voices are similar but because they’re both manly, powerful and evocative singers. I think he allows Emblem to sit at the grownups’ table, that’s just how good he is. He shines on “The Mountain Trail” where the best vocal lines on the album can be found.

With that said, the album can feel a bit bloated with those long numbers (not as bloated as modern Maiden though!) and it’s a bit samey. While I like the rich foundations of those songs, some editing could had made the album even better. A long epic song could had been enjoyable too as I'm sure they have the balls and the required skills to pull it off.

With their epic, memorable compositions without any fluff or gimmicks, Emblem should establish themselves as the best heavy metal band in Canada. Incredible debut.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Tractor Pulling – Ghost Hungerland (2007) / 88%



NWOFHM #11 - Pulled Pork Fuckery





The intent of Jussi Lehtisalo with this New Wave of Finnish Heavy Metal scene he gave birth to was to create an artificial and totally insane metal scene in his native city of Pori. Tractor Pulling just like Krypt Axeripper, Pharaoh Overlord, Arkhamin Kirjasto, Motorspandex, Aktor or Steel Mammoth (all reviewed by yours truly) bring his heavy metal vision to life in a completely batshit insane way.

Tractor Pulling is mostly comparable to Krypt Axeripper (also released in 2007) as they have similar eccentric heavy riffs and almost has the same vocal delivery. Jussi’s voice here is rougher around the edges and it’s also reflected within the compositions. The two compositions of this single are doomier and heavier overall. They’re also a bit more longer than those on Mechanical Witch. You’ll have to check both “projects” and compare them with each-others.

The guitars are raw, almost rooted in thrash/speed metal, the drums is fast but kept simple and the guitar leads have this quasi melodic surf rock quality to them. This is traditional metal played by someone who distanced himself from any of the obvious, popular influences or staples of the genre. It takes a really talented mad genius to make this alien kind of metal while keeping things oddly familiar at the same time. Be ready.

Citadelle – Citadelle (2016) / 85%



Defend the citadel!




France had one of the best heavy metal scenes in the world during the 80s with bands like Sortilège, ADX, High Power or Vulcain and Citadelle from the Occitanie region worships this sound. A wise decision, if I may say so. This is their debut release, a great demo.

With one of the members of Weird Light (the best doom band to ever exist in France) at the forefront of the band, Citadelle were only destined to greatness. France is of course a country with a long and famous (sometimes infamous) history so it makes sense for the band to use it as their background. This demo is based mostly on the Crusades (as illustrated by the artwork) and it’s more than adequate theme!

After a short introduction, we’re served four portions of high octane heavy metal in French with melodic clean vocals and I’ve been told that they’re an acquired taste by non-francophone people but I personally had no issues with them. I guess it helps when you understand the lyrics… Max is a bit rougher on “Hérétiques” but his delivery is fun and fits the music like a glove.

« Les flammes de l’enfer brûlent au fond de mes yeux! »

They rely on effective, to the point songwriting with bouncy classic metal riffs and the inclusion of well placed solos works well within the songs. They’re not a super technical or complex band, relying more on strong traditional melodies. There’s also some slight folk influences (in a Skyclad kind of way, of course) found in the combination of riffs and vocals. The last track ends with monastic or religious chanting to add a Catholic feel to the tape release.

If you’re a fan of French heavy metal, you’ll definitely enjoy Citadelle. The production is solid, the riffs are pretty fantastic and the theme is spot-on. They’re currently working on their debut album and I have high expectations for it.

Jordablod – Upon My Cremation Pyre (2017) / 93%


Sweden rules divine



This young three-piece from Malmö, Sweden possibly released the best black metal album of 2017 with their debut full length album (out on the always reliable Iron Bonehead.) It’s everything I like about the genre in one marvelous package full of riffs and killer atmospheric bits.

While clearly looking at the olde gods of the genre such as Bathory, there’s a definite will to keep things balanced between ancient and actual. That’s something you can find in contemporaries allies such as The Ruins of Beverast or Tribulation. Like those two bands, creating an occult atmosphere was one of the goals they gave themselves and they truly did that with this record. Jordablod do something new but in a subtle way, it’s all in the details. Their style is an amalgam of primal black metal and barbaric (in the best way possible) death metal. It can recall the earliest foundations of the genres where things weren’t written in stone. They play around with different slow-burning atmospheres, some of them can recall the cold feel of pre-Christianity Sweden where Viking rituals were common (“Hin Håle”) while some others are rooted in fast quasi-folky metal à la Melechesh (“A Sculptor of the Future”.). Those numerous perspectives gave this album an additional coating of quality.

Despite those influences, they’re never silly or sugary. It’s done with good taste and a profound understanding of how their music should sound. At times, Jordablod sounds like a more organic Negative Plane. They both took the first wave sound and made it contemporary. The guitars are vivid, in your face and even in the softer, slower moments, there’s stuff happening. There’s absolutely no filler on this record. The guitar tone has this complex otherworldly charm. The band shines on those epic moments (see the conclusion/solo of “Liberator of Eden”) and I think they’re up there with Primordial for this long-winded intense approach to metal. Just like its artwork, Upon My Cremation Pyre is a grandiose, colourful record full of twists and turns


Weeping Sores - Weeping Sores (2017) / 72%



The pus is mostly gone

The new project formed by two members of both Pyrrhon and Seputus explores a slower style than what we’re used to with those guys. The duo of Moore and Schwegler is joined by a violinist and the instrument adds an extremely sorrowful layer to their compositions.

Their debut extended play is made up of four extended compositions with a lot of stuff happening. The better comparison I managed to find is that it’s midway between the atmospheric brutal death of Ulcerate and the sadness found in My Dying Bride’s heaviest material. It’s a pretty original take on death/doom as it’s mixing both the technical and angular side of modern death metal and the simplified, raw aggression of primal doom/death. The riffs are dense and often repeated (see “The Shadow in the Seer”) till your brain is mush and then, a violin break appears and the mood is transformed. It's not always quite cohesive but I must say I thought the violin is the best thing about their music.

The last track starts with a calm, soothing introduction before delivering loads of heavy riffs. Sometimes it almost sounds like they’re playing slowed down groovy deathcore, it’s peculiar. It doesn’t work all the time but there’s a lot of good ideas found on the record. The fact they succeeded at making a novel sound work is a feat in itself, let’s see if they’ll manage to go somewhere really interesting with their sound.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Vokonis – Olde One Ascending (2016) / 90%



They do love their craft!

This is without a doubt one of the finest doom albums of 2016. Despite that fact, it took me a while to gather my thoughts and do a review. This challenge is a perfect opportunity to do just that. To me, this album is more satisfying than the entire Sleep discography. I know, this is perhaps hyperbolic but eh, this is great stuff, guys!

The power trio from Sweden sounds like a ton of brick on steroids. Those guys probably eat six to eight eggs a day to maintain their heaviness. I mean, to appeal to the ancient ones, you need to be convincing cultists or they will not answer your dark prayers. Vokonis' prayers are repetitive but highly effective. It’s perhaps their only weakness but they were wise enough to keep the album relatively short for doom/stoner standards. This is mostly the fault of Ohlsson’s vocals, they’re a bit redundant and samey but they do not lack power, no sir. I really love when he goes all in and screams the hell out of those bonkers lyrics (check out the huge closer “Hazmat the Ashen Rider”.) That said, this small default certainly adds another layer of psychedelic stoner to their sound.

Like Conan (the British band, not the character), their main appeal is the power of their sound. The production is an absolute gem and adds ten thousand pounds of pure steel on everything. The guitars, the clear highlight of the record, are Jabba-esque. The leads are also pretty good (like the one minute solo on “Olde One”) as they expand the sound towards proggy fields. Still, a good tone is nothing without good riffs and they deliver on that front too. The lush six to eight minutes songs are never boring and are constantly offering the olde gods something worthwhile.

They're not a slow band either, they maintain a steady mid-paced speed throughout the record as they alternate between groovy as fuck riffs and trance inducing leads. Their doom is simply fun and rewarding.

Sure, what Vokonis plays isn’t the most original style but they do it with verve and talent. Perhaps not as adventurous as a band like Elder, they’re nevertheless as talented and worth hearing.

Rookscare – Ecotone (2016) / 86%



Psych-hick


Rookscare from West Virginia are one of those bands with an interest in melding many different genres to make a new identity for themselves. I can say they managed to do exactly that with this excellent extended play. Ecotone, the zone between two ecosystems fits the wide array of genres they use but also links their southern, rural roots to their theme.

Their Metal Archives doesn’t do justice to what they play but I guess it fits the band since we can’t put an essay in there. They’re sludge in the same sense than Acid Bath or Melvins are sludge as the genre is only a part of their whole conceptual scheme. Rookscare incorporates swampy acoustic passages, progressive black metal, heavy and even trad doom at times. All of this is surrounded by a constant attention to subtle details and a thick layer of psychedelia. The vocal approach also reflects this uncompromising kitchen sink formula, from clean to harsh, they’re always interesting and hostile.

The EP opens with the extensive title track and it’s followed by another long piece before delivering the sludgey, bass heavy to the point closer of “Brother James”. It’s an album full of contrasts but the mood remains constantly depressive and uneasy. It’s like if three hicks were hunting a bunch of jocks from the east coast with axes, sawed-off shotguns while smoking really potent weed out of heavy iron pipes.

Oksennus - Sokea idiootti (2016) / 84%

Finland is weird. We all know that. Still, I wasn’t quite prepared for Oksennus’ music. I was intrigued by the simple yet out there artwork so I decided to check their sound and I wasn’t disappointed. Most stuff released by Caligari Records is high quality and this is no exception.

Oksennus (vomit in Napero-speech) relies heavily on the excellent bass to build their compositions, the bass is heavy and fast but at the same time, it’s also soft and melodic. It creates some sort of dichotomy with the guitars that are often quite noisy and metallic. There’s this conscious choice to make the rhythm section louder than the guitars and it works well for them. The bass creates the main melodies and the guitars just builds the foundations underneath. It’s a cohesive album, it’s the songwriting that’s just very fucked up and original. They took the current blackened doomy death metal trend, stripped it of everything, burned the house and built a new one from scratch. There’s also this odd technical feel, probably inspired by how they thought Demilich used to sound.

The vocals are mostly deep cavernous howls but the track “Ekstirpaatio” features some clean but ominous chanting, reminding me of a twisted version of Viikate. All in all, like with most metal genres, Finland shows that it’s able to put its own touches to something and make it crazy. Oksennus’ music is cold, unforgiving and worth looking into if like the Finns, you hate everything but saunas.

Malebranche - Enlisé (2017) / 78%



In Movement

The young quartet from Montréal took their time to produce their first release and it was a judicious decision. They went straight to the EP format and did no demos. That’s fine nowadays where it’s entirely possible to get a great sound with ease. That’s something the boys of Malebranche got right on their debut.

In fact, they got a lot of things right. They got their style right, for sure. At first, I wasn’t quite convinced by their approach but it won me over after a while. Their blend of black metal genres is subtle and effective. They include elements of post black metal without never fully embracing it, same for Cascadian atmospheric black metal. Those two sub genres are toppings to the intense, fast paced black metal style of Malebranche. They’re a good representative of the actual Québec black metal scene as they’re removing themselves from the famous aesthetics. Like Basalte, Eos or Entheos, they’re the new wave of like-minded bands who aren’t afraid of exploring other genres.

Their compositions are dense and even though they’re not really lengthy, they’re epic in scope. The riffs are evocative and varied, the vocals obscure and powerful and the drumming strong and above average. Their sound is midway through traditional blistering black metal and the more subdued, prone to ambient side of the genre. A strong debut.

Bandcamp

Thursday, 27 April 2017

The Body/Full of Hell - One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache (2016) / 87%

"THAT'S NOT EVEN MUSIC, MAN!"

Two of today’s most belligerent forces of the underground got together to create this uneasy record. The young quartet from Maryland, Full of Hell, aren't afraid of experimenting and going all in when noise is concerned (see their collaboration with Merzbow) and Lee and Chip from The Body, two veterans of the "we'll do whatever the fuck we want" music academy, gave them the chance to go all in.

Throughout the ten songs, we're served abrasive and explosive music with a wide array of influences. Despite the numerous sounds of "One Day...", it's a coherent record with an overarching theme; nihilism... or a parody of nihilism. The Body are not to be taken too seriously most of the time and from what I've heard, their lyrical approach is based on some very dark humor.

The dirges found here are not letting go of your neck and heart for a bit more than forty minutes. The screeching vocals of Chip King (best name) and the deeper approach of Dylan Walker are perfect voices if you want to invoke total despair. The track "World Of Hope And No Pain" is a short summary of the vocal duality and it hits hard. The misery and pain found on those songs is personal but also universal, it speaks of suicide, depression but in a way devoid of emotional discharge and cheesiness. It's often more self-loathing than pure nihilism, in fact.

One of the highlights for me are the drums. At times, both a drum machine and a real drum are playing at the same time (such as on "Bottled Urn") and it creates an interesting dichotomy of styles and aggression. Sometimes it feels like The Body are using the technical skills of Full of Hell to provide an expansive yet super tight musicianship for their relatively simple but insane compositions. If it wasn't mad enough, the inclusion of short samples of neurotic TV extracts adds another dimension to the whole thing. The last track "Abel" ends with an extended one and it's just creepy. Its brother song "Cain" almost sounds like if Radiohead was actually dangerous instead of catering to boring college kids.

The ability of creating such a wall of sound with so many elements comes from their skill in using a multipurpose blender. From industrial sludge metal, slow powerviolence, striking grindcore to brooding ambient, harsh noise and even some martial black metal, the collaboration just unleashes its venom track after track. Sure, it's not quite accessible and some people would say it's not really "musical" but it's an overwhelmingly great album and it succeeds at all its goals. It's making you feel like shit but at the same time, you enjoy it.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Vapeur – l’Indifférence (2017)

   



Dans les vapeurs de vos cris?


Le projet montréalais Vapeur lance cette semaine sa deuxième galette et c’est certainement celle qui va révéler le quatuor rock à un plus large public par sa production sonore aboutie et sa foudroyante pochette armée de couleurs vives et psychédéliques. Après « L’effort » sorti en mai 2016, les garçons sont de retour avec «L'indifférence », un effort résolument plus ancré dans le punk et le groove. Tout comme les trucs fuckés sur la couverture, la qualité est au rendez-vous.

Les ambiances sont variées chez Vapeur. Il a presque autant d'ingrédients sonores que de choix de condiments pour tes hot dog vapeur d'après brosse. Nous pouvons passer du glam rock à tendances hard au rock garage incorporant aussi bien les influences de Malajube que des Américains de The Strokes (leur leader étant même honoré par le titre de la quatrième pièce :« Casablancasse-toi ») et au punk rock à ambiance feutrée.. Nous entendons également de profondes racines pop rock qui fait du EP un explosif mélange nourri de mélodies accrocheuses assumées. Malgré tout cela, le talent principal du groupe est de faire un rock francophone ayant comme acteur principal les guitares électriques. C’est quelque chose de rare dans le paysage rock québécois qui, ces temps-ci, nous sert des plats atmosphériques et planants (outre bien sur le son boosté de Galaxie) et c’est intensément rafraîchissant.

Les textes d’Andrew Duquette-Boyte évoquent des images pleines de folie nostalgique et sa livraison vocale délibérément fracassante convient parfaitement aux riffs de guitares acérés que Vapeur nous livre à la tonne. Ces jeunes hommes fringants nous prouvent que le rock en Français peut réellement fonctionner et frapper fort et j’en demande plus. Vaporise-moi.


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Un beau 8.5 hot dog vapeur sur 10


Friday, 24 March 2017

Cardinal Wyrm – Cast Away Souls (2016) / 80%

Twisted and original doom

The Bay Area trio’s third album reaffirms the band's status as an odd beast in the doom metal world. With this style of metal, it's often easy to pinpoint the influences of a particular band. It's usually Black Sabbath, Pentagram or Candlemass or a combination and mixtures of various slow to mid-paced ingredients. With Cardinal Wyrm, things are different and odd. While they're apparently keeping things in the traditional realm, their sound is original and transcends classification and borders.

As a pseudo doom specialist/connoisseur, I kept trying to find similar bands to them but to no avail. Like their fellow American doom bands of Yob or SubRosa, they managed to blend several elements, innovate and ultimately come up with a fresh and vivid sound. The nearest comparison I came up with is the striking might of Celtic Frost’s Monotheist/Triptykon with the atmospheric sadness of My Dying Bride. This might even be a stretch but it shows how far Cardinal Wyrm goes. It’s an otherworldly version of Gothic doom transformed by the will and the powerful force of an ancient one.

Compared to their previous album, Cast Away Souls is a bit shorter and this was a good decision as one hour albums are often too long regardless of their quality. The six extended tracks record is tight, varied and explore different moods throughout an apparent simplicity and ultra heavy riffs.

Pranjal Tiwari’s vocals are cleans but also quite idiosyncratic in a military kind of way. Since he’s also the drummer, there’s a necessary connection between the vocals and the percussion and it creates some weird rhythms adding to the peculiarity of the band. The addition of Leila Abdul-Rauf (Vastum, Hammers of Misfortune...) can be heard through some harsh vocals and cleans as well but the band principally evolves as a duo (Leila plays the bass live.) Despite this, the sound is full and doesn’t lack anything. The music is quite complex but that’s not something automatically noticeable. You need to look for the hidden details underneath the heavy, repetitive and intricate guitar playing of Nathan Verrill.

While it’s not always fully memorable, Cast Away Souls is a strong record full of twists and turns. Like Realmbuilder does for epic heavy metal, Cardinal Wyrm plays their doom in a vacuum. It’s like they brought their instruments to Mars and composed their songs with the distant memories of their influences. The obvious nods to outside forces were cast away (pun intended.) Svart Records has been releasing strong and progressive thinking material ever since their inception and this one is no exception. One of the most original doom bands around, this is refreshing to hear when there’s so many Electric Wizard copies around.

Bandcamp

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Quayde LaHüe - Quayde LaHüe (2016)

Randy Quayde LaHüe

Behind this peculiar band name hides a solid traditional metal/rock band with a strong sense of originality and a take no prisoners approach. The band is quite elusive on the omnipotent internets outside of their Bandcamp page but let it be known that they share three of their members with the excellent Christian Mistress also from the Pacific Northwest area.

The comparisons between the two bands being inevitable, I'll play the game. They're both fronted by women who have more in common the rough 80s days of heavy metal (see Acid or Détente) than anything with corsets released by Nuclear Blast or Century Media. The vox of Jenna Fitton have this natural way to charm you with how imperfect and cozy they are. She just rocks hard and it's truly fun to hear. It's just much more interesting than yet another diva who went to music school. They also evolve in the same nice but CM are more metallic. If you like the Christine Davis' band, you'll surely like this one as well. They like their music groovy, sad but hopeful and with a strong dark imagery.

The riffs of Diedrich and Wulf (not a German band, guys) are infectious and melodic in their lo-fi feel and their simplicity. They have good ears for hooks and catchy leads without turning the whole thing into a technical snooze fest. They worship Thin Lizzy and the rockier side of NWOBHM and you should too.

This twenty-five minutes release is also quite varied. Alternating from mid-paced quasi ballads ("Same Old Song") to melancholic riffier affairs like the opener "I Am Unworthy", Quayde LaHüe are keeping things slow, sad and loose. The production is tight though and it makes you feel like you're right there with the quintet in their rehearsal room. Sometimes modern heavy metal is a crunchier and heavier version of past oeuvres but this retains the same atmosphere as many bands from the formative days of the genre. Days where the line between rock and metal wasn't set in stone.

This first release is right there with Angel Sword, Legionnaire or Scalare as far as heavy metal is concerned. It's classic stuff with a distinctive and voluntarily amateurish sound that is miles ahead of their "well produced" peers catering to newcomers who just discovered Battle Beast. This is a super good EP, I can't wait to hear more stuff from this band.

Bandcamp

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Rivette – In Vertigo (2016) / 85%



NWOFHM #10: Uno, dos, tres... catorce

I'm at a place called Vertigo! It’s everything I wish I didn’t know

This power trio from Finland plays an addictive form of heavy metal combining extraneous rock elements and it was one of my highlights of late 2016. I’m not totally sure this is an accurate portrayal but the first thought I had during my initial listening session was that Rivette was a heavy metal version of Dire Straits. This was perhaps due to the pop hooks combined with heavy guitar acrobatics but I still think this is a funny summary of their sound.

Their style of riffing is peculiar and it’s hard to compare them to contemporary metal bands since they don’t really fit within any scenes. Perhaps they could fit in the made up and weird as fuck New Wave of Finnish Heavy Metal and that’s why Jussi Lehtisalo, owner of Ektro Records and creator of this scene signed them. Rivette are able to mix the uplifting feel of early NWOBHM (see the likes of Trespass) with a bunch of other influences like AOR, classic rock, 80s alternative rock and even 70s progressive rock. Esa (guitar, vocals) reminds me a lot of Peter Gabriel/Phish (I believe they’re the same person) and it’s super interesting to hear those sort of vocals in a heavy metal/hard rock setting. Listen to the final track of the record to hear this vocal approach, it's awesome.


While there’s certainly metal riffs in there, it doesn’t really feel metal most of the time. The EP has this smooth, lush feel and it’s quite impressive considering there’s no keyboards and it’s just three dudes trying their best to beat Rush at their own game (hint: nobody can.) The best quality the trio has is their ear for emotional and super catchy melodies. Just with the first minute of “Outrun the Night”, I was hooked and pleased. While their songs aren’t quite long (the longest is 6 minutes), they use some instrumental passages to their advantage and they do it well. They let the songs breathe and only “Arms of Lightning” is a straight up bulldozing rocker. Fun guitar leads, thick but pleasing bass licks and speedy drums is what you get with Rivette.

They’re at their best when they focus on their introspective side (like the title track) and go beyond heavy metal and I think their potential is tremendous. This is a rock solid debut extended play that I’ve been spinning a lot since early December and if you want originality in your traditional metal, they would certainly work for you.



Tuesday, 7 February 2017

The Snack Series - Kettle Brand Potato Chips / Honey Dijon





Price: The chips bags of Kettle are always less expensive than Miss Vickies' stuff so that's a good reason to check them out. I think it was $3.50 Canadian so like 10 cents for my American readers.

Packaging/extra information : Frankly, the bag was too hard to open, it's not quite cool when you're drunk or high and in need of a snack. The colour is bright though so it's easy to spot if you forgot where the light switches are. It's those sort of plastic-y bags that, I guess, can keep the chips fresh for a while.

Texture: Their chips are super crispy and cooked more naturally than most brands. They're the regular size of what you can expect from a normal chip and that's totally fine with me. Originality is overrated!

Taste: The taste is precise. The mix of the sugary and idiosyncratic feel of honey with the bitter and strong dijon mustard element brings a bold approach but not one that you get tired of after like ten chips (I ate the bag in one sitting, of course.) They're perhaps not as excellent as the aforementioned Vickies but they're a good alternative as they have a bunch of different flavors. I'll try the blue cheese one next time

All, in all, this is a decent choice while you watch the hockey game. The Habs still managed to lose though.
7.5/10


Friday, 3 February 2017

Haggatha – V (2017) / 87%


Death on the Fraser River


This quartet from Vancouver evolves in the depressive side of loud metal and they're excellent at making you feel uneasy in a totally enjoyable way. V, their third full length (but 5This quartet from Vancouver evolves in the depressive side of loud metal and they're excellent at making you feel uneasy in a totally enjoyable way. V, their third full length (but 5th release) hits all the right notes with its six numbers full of dread and hatred.

Haggatha is a band with an impressive songwriting who manages to fill their tracks with a wide array of super loud and roaring riffs. Unlike some sludge/doom bands that we can encounter in the scene right now, they don't waste any time and they deliver a relatively brief but rewarding album. A lack of edition and a tendency to fill the hardware (see Windhand and their seventy minutes records) are too common and it's refreshing to hear a band not interested in filling their material with filler. Their previous album had a long seventeen minutes track as its second side but V is more balanced with tracks between four and eight minutes. Let's just say that there's no disposable moments to be found here! I discovered the band with their new album but their formula was clearly established in the past and they're just working on the details to push their songs to the next level. What I can say, is despite not being an audiophile connoisseur, the mix and production of V is stronger and fits the sound of the band like a bloody glove.

Sure, Haggatha are not pushing the boundaries of sludge into unknown territories like Cult of Luna or Kylesa did but that's perfectly fine. Being original for the sake of getting a "best new music" review on Pitchfork is trying too hard anyway. They're instead going for an Eyehategod sound but rather than taking too much heroin, they prefer bong hits. This makes them slower and heavier! Outside of the riffs, their main distinctive characteristic would be the two vocalists, they both do harsh vocals but one prefers the high pitched ones and the other the deeper sort. The two approaches are adding a cool and versatile side to the band. Rest assured, there's no happy sides to Haggatha, it's all about being miserable and broken and I wouldn't want it any other way.

Bone chilling and tremendous riffy as fuck sludge/doom is what you're getting with Haggatha. It's a fitting start to 2017, it will not help you in these dire times but it certainly fits the new world atmosphere.
th release) hits all the right notes with its six numbers full of dread and misery.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Darkthrone – Arctic Thunder (2016) / 95%




Ted and Gylve are going camping again


Ever since their creation already three decades ago, Darkthrone has been mastering the metal arts. From death metal to icy black metal and hardcore punk fueled heavy/thrash, Ted and Gylve always did what they wanted and it’s never been anywhere near close to mediocrity. While we can go back to their classic trilogy for our black metal needs, I’ve been loving their recent material a lot and I often listen to their underrated and somewhat overlooked mid-era period (Hate Them in particular). The point of this introduction is to say that their whole discography is fucking immaculate and that’s a testament to both endurance and passion.

After my immediate love affairs with Circle the Wagons and The Underground Resistance, I was really expecting Arctic Thunder to be incredible. Unfortunately, I was a bit skeptical at first, it just wasn’t as good as I wanted to be. It seemed like a collection of good riffs without a cohesive feel or actual songs. I kept trying though as I knew the magic was there somewhere. The album was on constant rotation in December and January and turns out my understanding of it was waiting for me by the campfire. It was looking at the bright stars and the crisp flames wondering what I wasn’t grasping. With a judgmental look on its immaterial face, the record pierced my soul and I finally understood it. 

The main quality of Arctic Thunder is that it’s metal down to its core. It’s all about the riffs and it doesn’t hide anything under a false sense of gimmicks, an overcooked production or flashy but sterile musicianship. The album is like a strong imperial India pale ale, it contains a looooot of hops and it fills you up to the brink. The amount of riffs it has is almost criminal. I do think that some songs could had been longer but the tightness and the contained attitude is what makes this record so great. It’s epic by the strength of its riffs alone. The power of Nocturno’s guitar is enough to elevate the entire thing to another level. Perfect metal guitar tone.

Darkthrone doesn’t care about fluff or unnecessary elements, it’s riff after riff, thunderous drum beat after drum beat and bone shaking harsh vocals singing frosty anthems till you’re dead. 

BOREAL FIENNNNNDS

To talk about the sound of this record, we need to talk about their evolution since their watershed album The Cult Is Alive. They’ve been shedding their black metal skin since more than a decade while incorporating traditional metal elements (especially on their 2010 and 2013 records), punk, crust, D-beat or thrash metal. For this 2016 opus, it’s like if they decided to go back in time yet again but to an alternate dimension. One where black metal is still an essential part of their sound but where they wouldn’t have to leave their modern (read “ancient”) influences aside.

They took the sound developed on their previous five full lengths, mixed things up, pushed the black metal aura to the front and just went for the jugular. The album, rich with mid-paced riffs is apt at mixing thrashy black with some old school proto doom/death (Fenriz mentioned Dream Death himself and Satan knows he knows his shit) and it’s a lethal combination. Arctic Thunder brought back Darkthrone’s black metal from the dead but when you mess with necromancy, the corpse of your ancient friend can come back... changed. In this case, it came back as evil as before, hungry, angry and with a curious interest for hiking and camping.  

Nocturno handles almost all of the vocals on this record and it adds to the darker and murkier atmosphere they were going for. While I liked Fenriz’s silly but insanely great clean vox (listen to TUR’s “Valkyrie”), it wouldn’t had been a great fit here and like the old Norwegian wizards they are, they were wise enough not to include them here. Ted’s vocals are awesome (that’s not news for y’all, I hope) and he shines on the opener “Tundra Leech”. It made me want to sing the title while walking in the snowy roads of my city. 

TUNDRA LEEEEECH!

The quasi lo-fi production of Darkthrone has reached its peak here, I absolutely love the tone of the guitars and the drumming is both natural and loud without being overdone. The songwriting while highly condensed is all over the place and it’s due to the riffs variation. They can channel Iron Maiden (check out the intense title track), their buddies of Aura Noir, Celtic Frost or even Sabbath without breaking a sweat. There’s no much variation except for some slower tempos but it’s not needed. Darkthrone doesn’t do things for you, anyway. 

All in all, Darkthrone is still proving that they’re one of the best metal bands of all time by looking at the genre’s extensive repertory and making it their own. Making relevancy an unknown concept, the Norwegian duo aims for excellence and memorability and they succeed at both. Arctic Thunder is timeless, precious and essential metal

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Local Sounds: Volume 7.0






Happy new year everyone. I’m back with the seventh volume of Local Sounds, a series showcasing the best non-metal music being made in Montréal and Québec. I have three excellent releases to talk about today.




Les Indiens – Shaman UFO (2016)

The Quebec City quartet impressed the hell out of me when I’ve seen them in Montréal (with Grand Morne and Gerbia) back in 2014 but I pretty much forgot to check their latest album until the first month of 2017 appeared. On this lush full length, the dudes created a super cool form of rock with extensive metal influences. With nods towards Kyuss, Sleep and (obviously) Black Sabbath, Les Indiens unleashed a wide array of heavy riffs with enjoyable but buried vocals (their lyrics are all in French.) Furthermore, they have this spacey vibe as demonstrated by the Shaman UFO interludes and the use of psych elements right from Flower Travellin' Band's handbook. The production is also top notch and their sound is a natural mix of modern feedback and vintage roots. Massive, fun and interesting, this is an album worth checking out for fans of loud and smart rock music.

Bandcamp







Security – Arid Land (2016)

The debut extended play from this duo (two members from Dernier Sex) is faithful to its geographical origin. Like Montréal's winters, it's cold but mysterious, lifeless but highly active like an undead corpse. Composed of four numbers, the EP combines lush industrial with loud but subtle drum machines, coldwave, ambient, noise rock and drone and it's highly addictive and evocative. The warm clean vocals of Anna Arrobas are providing a peculiar contrast with the icy instruments, they’re in the background giving us hope that winter is almost over. It’s stripped down music to its core and the relationship between the guitar and the bass of Élie B. Faubert is one of balance and complementarity. I was expecting something great after heir fantastic performance with Rakta right before the summer and this didn't disappoint at all.

Bandcamp









Atsuko Chiba – The Memory Empire (2016)


The Montreal quintet is definitely one of the most interesting bands we have. Released during a gig with the excellent Milanku back in December, this three songs extended play explores the many facets of Atsuko Chiba’s identity. From the Rage Against the Machine inspired hip-hop vocal attacks to the psychedelic synths and funky metallic moments. Their palette of sounds is as extensive as the one of The Mars Volta and it’s truly difficult to pinpoint everything they do and create. They’re able to move the listeners with their drawn-out instrumental movements such as the opening of closer “Damonsta Titillates” and they don't even rely on repetitiveness or the generic crescendo formula used by most post-rock bands.. Borrowing elements from many scenes, the band is an outsider who’s doing what it truly wants. They’re shaking genre conventions with heavy guitars, thunderous bass licks and progressive explosions and I love it.

Bandcamp