A Fragile King: Vallenfyre

Rating: 80%

R-3418834-1329668619.jpeg.jpgThis album was released in 2011 as Vallenfyre’s debut, as a super group. It consists of Paradise Lost’s lead guitarist on lead vocals and guitar, At the Gates’s drummer Adrian Erlandsson, and My Dying Bride’s guitarist Hamish Hamilton Glencross. It also features Scoot on bass and guitarist Mully.

I really like this album simply because it’s old school Death and Doom Metal. Yes, old school Death Metal drenched in Doom Metal. Not Melodic Death Metal! Plus it features three guitarist. My most recommended song on this album is “Cathedrals of Dread”. 

The instrumentation has this doomy feel that goes with it’s overall sound. The guitars have this crunchy sounding tone along with screaming leads. The guitars are toned down which help to achieve that sound. The vocals are gritty are well.

The song structures are what you would expect from this genre of music. Slowed and heavy with some faster tempos thrown in. It’s got some really nice riffs that are super tight. Those leads and fill ins are just screaming. The drumming is pretty good too.

Track listing:

All Will Suffer 4:09
Desecration 4:56
Ravenous Whore 3:02
Cathedrals Of Dread 3:52
As The World Collapses 3:13
A Thousand Martyrs 3:24
Seeds 4:45
Humanity Wept 2:18
My Black Siberia 3:49
The Divine Have Fled 3:41
The Grim Irony 4:39

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Live In Los Angeles: Trouble

Rating: 75%

R-3701505-1399668135-8102.jpegRecorded in 2008 an almost 13 year hiatus, Live In Los Angeles was released by Doom Metal rockers Trouble. Now, they did do some minor touring here and there for gigs until Wagner left with the new album in 2007 “Simple Mind Condition.” With new vocalist Kory Clarke replacing Eric Wagner, the band got moving again for a new tour. So, no comparison when it comes to the vocals. Wagner just had that voice for this band. Clarke’s vocals are just way to raspy and gritty for the overall classic sound.

Musicianship is pretty good. It’s good to hear these guys live as I have not heard anything of them since 1995. So, when I saw this album on vinyl, I could not pass it up. Not for $8.00 anyway. So, Clarke’s vocal work moves the band forward. He has some bog shoes to fill in which for the tour, he did alright. He just ins’s Eric Wagner. The bass work by Chuck Robinson is very clean. The riffs, scales, and leads conducted by Bruce Franklin and Rick Wartell are pretty good. They done a hell of a good job at harmonizing the fill in solos as well as keeping rhythm with tempo. Drummer Jeff Olson throws out some nice tempos and rhythms. 

The overall sound of the music is a tad bit gritty and not as clear as it could be. That might also contribute to my bias feelings toward Clarke. The sound again, is a bit weak.  It’s got great riffs and great leads. Either way, it’s one of those things where you take it or leave it. And for me, I would take it, just because of the fact, that I haven’t heard much from this band during the last decade.

Track listing:

A1 Intro 2:37
A2 RIP 4:37
A3 The Sleeper 3:21
A4 Touch The Sky 3:29
A5 Plastic Greenhead 3:50
A6 The Eye 4:49
B1 Simple Mind Condition 3:58
B2 Mr. White 3:36
B3 End Time 6:05
B4 Trouble Maker 4:05
B5 End Of My Daze 5:00

Trouble: Trouble

Rating: 90%

Trouble_-_Trouble.jpgI loved this album when it was released in 1990. Trouble was one of the first American Doom Metal bands whose history goes back to 1979. I remember when 100.7 GRX in Baltimore was shutting down and several songs from this album were played over the airwaves. Many of my friends were like “what the hell is this?” Well, this was American Doom Metal at it’s finest.

You can’t beat the musicianship. Eric Wagner was one of a kind. He had some harsh sounding vocals, but, he could hit those high notes with no problem. Then you have the riff and lead masters on guitars Bruce Franklin & Rick Wartell. Bringing the harmony and tempos to the front was bassist Ron Holzner & drummer Barry Stern. Adding in some of the keys was  Jeff Olson.

Musically, this album has much to offer. Great vocals, catchy riffs, and killer lead solos. The drumming is exceptional. It’s clean, rich and meaty. It has a good bit of energy behind it, considering that it is a Doom Metal record. The production is pretty damn good.

Track Listing:

“At the End of My Daze” – 3:13
“The Wolf” – 4:33
“Psychotic Reaction” – 3:15
“A Sinner’s Fame” – 4:18
“The Misery Shows (Act II)” – 7:21
“R.I.P.” – 4:08
“Black Shapes of Doom” – 3:47
“Heaven on My Mind” – 4:09
“E.N.D.” – 2:23
“All Is Forgiven” – 5:12

In the Name of Suffering: Eyehategod

Rating: 85%

7209In 1990, and released in 1992, “In the Name of Suffering” by Eyehategod is the most primitive, doomy, muddy, and gritty sounding album that I’ve heard of in a long time. Many people skip over this important album for some reason. To me, this is one of Eyehategod’s most important albums in their catalog.

The musicianship is very tight. You have the tortured style screaming vocals done by Mike Williams. The ultra feedback, down-tuned, heavy, and distorted riff masters Jimmy Bower & Mark Schultz on guitar. Their sound alone is what makes this album sound gritty and muddy. Then you have bassist Steve Dale and drummer Joe LaCaze.

Musically, again the sound is very raw. The song tempos are drawn out which is why it gets the label Doom Metal. The timing and tempos set by the band are aggressive. Nothing like this was released up until Eyehategod did it. If you like Sludge Metal mixed with Doom Metal and you prefer the sound to be as raw as raw can get, then this is a good album to try. The guitar sound alone is very course and grainy. I do like the Hardcore Punk influences that you can hear, here and there.

Track listing:

1. “Depress” 4:58
2. “Man Is Too Ignorant to Exist” 2:37
3. “Shinobi” 5:15
4. “Pigs” 2:59
5. “Run It into the Ground” 3:10
6. “Godsong” 2:44
7. “Children of God” 3:10
8. “Left to Starve” 3:09
9. “Hostility Dose” 2:43
10. “Hit a Girl” 4:18

Paegan Terrorism Tactics: Acid Bath

Rating: 90%

220px-PaeganTerrorismTacticsIn 1996, Acid Bath released their second and last full length album “Paegan Terrorism Tactics.” To me this is a forgotten or very little known gem with regards to the Sludge Metal genre. It featured vocalist Dax Riggs, guitarists Mike Sanchez & Sammy “Pierre” Duet, bassist Audie Pitre, and drummer Jimmy Kyle.

I remember when I first heard these guys, which was this album here. I amazed at how good the vocals sound and how clear the distorted guitars were. It wasn’t as sludgy sounding as Sludge Metal should be. The heavy and mid tempo style basically had a Doom Metal structure, but there was a southern metal influence to it.

Musically, this is a dark album from the contents of the vocals to the overall song structure themselves. There is a creepy sense of humor to some of the song structures, “Graveflower” is one of those examples with the introduction and verse. There are some nice guitar riffs, followed by drumming. The sound and production is really clean. You can tell that these guys really put in the effort as there isn’t much filler within this album. It’s a shame that there isn’t more material out there on the band as these guys were part of the rise of Sludge Metal.

Track listing:

1. “Paegan Love Song” 5:40
2. “Bleed Me an Ocean” 6:15
3. “Graveflower” 6:07
4. “Diäb Soulé” 4:34
5. “Locust Spawning” 4:40
6. “Old Skin” 1:11
7. “New Death Sensation” 6:44
8. “Venus Blue” 4:42
9. “13 Fingers” 4:10
10. “New Corpse” 3:22
11. “Dead Girl” (ends at 7:23; hidden track “The Beautiful Downgrade” begins at 22:29) 24:08

The Pale Haunt Departure: Novembers Doom

Rating: 85%

The_Pale_Haunt_Departure.jpgI love the sound of traditional Death Metal. It reminds me of when I was growing up and had bands like Obituary and Death to listen to. But, Novembers Doom to me is directed toward a more modern sound and a more mainstream avenue vs. traditional Death Metal. But, not all is lost on this album. You see there are other influences playing a role into the sound of Novembers Doom. You have the rich Gothic and the elements of Doom Metal that are intertwined giving this album a rich taste.

Musicianship is good. Vocalist Paul Kuhr has a good voice when it comes to those harsh vocals and he’s can sing good on those clean vocal works. Both guitarists Vito Marchese and Larry Roberts produce some decent riffs and good solos. Bassist Mike Legros and drummer Joe Nunez do a great job at keeping the flow of the music going.

Musically, Novembers Doom produces some decent Death Metal riffs that are surrounded by more atmospheric and melodic styles that blend Doom and Goth together. Lot’s of great guitar work that can be crunchy one minute and soft the next. There’s a good ballad on this album called “Autumn Reflection.” This song breaks up the mood and flow of the faster material.

Song structures are in good order. Lot’s of strong riffs, good drumming and heavy bass. I love the piano work on “Autumn Reflection.” The main verses feature a more harsh vocal style, while the chorus is more clean vocal work. There’s a lot of great song writing here that shows how original the band is. I love the concept on this album. It deals with the passing of a father who comes back to watch over his son. It’s good to have originality back into music and that is exactly what Novembers Doom does here. Great album all around and a great listening experience.

Track listing:

1. “The Pale Haunt Departure” 05:44
2. “Swallowed by the Moon” 05:57
3. “Autumn Reflection” 06:06
4. “Dark World Burden” 06:09
5. “In the Absence of Grace” 08:09
6. “The Dead Leaf Echo” 07:30
7. “Through a Child’s Eyes” 05:32
8. “Collapse of the Falling Throe” 06:36

Dopethrone: Electric Wizard

Rating: 90%

1530.jpgIn 2000, Electric Wizard released “Dopethrone.” “Dopethrone” is a Doom Metal album that features Jus Oborn on vocals, guitars and all effects, bassist Tim Bagshaw, and drummer Mark Greening. This is regarded as their best album.

The sound of Electric Wizard can be best described as sludgy, gritty, fuzzy, spacey and downright muddy. This is what makes Electric Wizard in my opinion, a great Doom Metal band. They take elements of Sludge Metal and Stoner Metal, combining those styles with traditional Doom Metal. The end result is an album that sounds raw with a big gritty finish to it.

The song structures are long and drawn out as they should be for this genre of music. There’s lots of audio clips and weird sound effects that gives this a more modern sound to the music vs. the traditional Doom Metal bands like Trouble and Candlemass. To best describe the overall sound, song structures, and production, I would almost use the words fuzzy, gritting, dirty, muddy, and thick. Lyrically, the album is well constructed.

Musicianship is very well thought out by the band. The guitar work has a ton of heavy, slow crunching, and heavily distorted riffs. There’s nothing polished with regards to the guitar. There are some solos and fill ins which do help to break the rhythm from bogging down.

Setting the tempo and timing of the music is the bass and drums. The bass is deep and heavy riding along side of the guitar. I has a thick sound like almost tar and is surprising clearly heard and not being drowned out.

The drums are complex using a ton of off beats staying course with a more atmospheric Doom style. The drums lines, still with the usual slower timing gives the band a major boost with regards to that thick and heavy sound. I will agree that at times, the drums seem to be almost drowned out by the guitar and bass.

The vocals are amazingly clean and polished. Although, they seem to be placed further in the background of the final mix. They have a pretty grimy sound to it as if they were submerged in mud. The vocals are an even keel of clean and screams, but without the harshness that one would expect to hear in modern Metal.

Track listing:

1. “Vinum Sabbathi” 3:05
2. “Funeralopolis” 8:43
3. “Weird Tales””Electric Frost””Golgotha””Altar of Melektaus” 15:05
4. “Barbarian” 6:29
5. “I, The Witchfinder Aka Las Torturas de la Inquisicion” 11:04
6. “The Hills Have Eyes” 0:46
7. “We Hate You” 5:08
8. “Dopethrone” 20:48