Warlung – Vulture’s Paradise

Vulture’s Paradise Album Cover Art

Warlung – Vulture’s Paradise
Heavy Psych Sounds
Release Date: 04/11/2022
Running Time: 44:00
Review by Rory Bentley 
7/10

As bands like Green Lung and Jess and The Ancient Ones amongst many others are garnering a big buzz in the underground, it was only a matter of time before a fuzzed up psychedelic rock band would make their way onto my release radar. Although I tend to avoid nostalgia like the plague when looking for new releases to review, there’s something about the warm analogue tones of Warlung’s brand new release “Vulture’s Paradise” that I immediately found incredibly appealing and eminently listenable.  I remember feeling the same way when my uncle loaned me Witchcraft’s “The Alchemist” album when that dropped; despite my deep immersion in Sludge and Metallic Hardcore I couldn’t resist those lovely round guitar tones and that feeling of being in the rehearsal room with the band. Every now and then one of these kinds of bands will hit me in the feels at just the right time and that’s exactly what this album does.

Lifting the guitar tone entirely from Black Sabbath’s “Volume 4” is always a fantastic idea in my book, so when ‘Hypatia’ proceeds to riff my fucking face off from the get-go I’m already a happy boy. The washed-out slightly distant sounding melodic vocals are the perfect foil to the crushing slabs of fuzzed up noise and really add to the hazy psychedelic atmosphere of the record.

Things kick up a gear with the powerful melodic chorus of ‘Sky Burial’ as lush guitar lines spiral around your speakers and set the table for a full tilt Space Rock freakout in the second phase of the song which sits somewhere between peak Monster Magnet and ‘Children of the Grave’. Vocally it doesn’t sound a million miles away from Ghost’s occult catchiness, which is no bad thing unless you suck and hate good songs.

After conjuring the feeling of an intense peyote trip in the desert on the title track, the band really hit their stride on the titanic ‘Demonocracy’ which initially combines the lumbering power chord blasts and downright filthy verse riffs of ‘Snowblind’ before shifting into a mid section that is so caked in NOLA Sludge that it might be crawling with alligators. A real highlight!

Thankfully the band are capable of more than just (admittedly masterfully done) Sabbath worship, as demonstrated by the driving up-tempo swagger of ‘Return Of The Warlords’ which arrives at the perfect point in the album to switch gears and keep things interesting. Follow up track ‘Marauders’ offers an even slinkier and more taut interpretation of this approach.

Just when the fun but less memorable one-two of ‘Caveman Blues’ and ‘Worship The Void’ threaten to slightly flatten the album’s trajectory, the majestic ‘Runes’ comes in to close things out  and save the day. Atmospheric, folky, soulful and hypnotic with its tribal rhythms, this is a real standout and a sound which I’d happily hear a whole lot more of. The trajectory of “Vulture’s Paradise” sees Warlung going from being competent Iommi acolytes  to a vintage sounding band with many tricks up its sleeve. They tick all the Psychedelic/Stoner boxes that the beard/trucker-hat faithful enjoy, but there’s a melodic sensibility and knack for a catchy chorus which means that everyone can enjoy it.

If you like your Psychedelia with a little songcraft and a lot of melody then there’s a high chance Warlung are going to be a delightfully distorted late-addition to your favourite jams of 2022. Hook this guitar tone into my veins!

‘Sky Burial’ Official Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Hypatia
02. Sky Burial
03. Vulture’s Paradise
04. Demonocracy
05. Return of the Warlords
06. Grave Marauders
07. Caveman Blues
08. Worship The Void
09. Runes

LINE-UP:
George Baba – Guitar/Vocals
Philip Bennett – Guitar/Vocals
Chris Tamez – Bass
Ethan Tamez – Drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Rory Bentley and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Brant Bjork – Bougainvillea Suite

Bougainvillea Suite Album Cover Art

Brant Bjork – Bougainvillea Suite
Heavy Psych Sounds
Release date: 28/10/2022
Running time: 41:16
Review by: Alun Jones
8.5/10

Brant Bjork must be a very busy boy at the moment.  We’ve already had an album out earlier this year from his desert rock supergroup, Stoner, and now here’s a solo effort too.  He’s a multi-talented, multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter and no mistake, offering up sonic expeditions of varying styles and pace.  Most of all, though, Brant seems to be a decent bloke who’d be ideal company for a beer or three.

For “Bougainvillea Suite”, we’re in a more laid back, but still rockin’ mode.  The album is like a combination of Santana and Steppenwolf, full of relaxed but vital summer vibes. ‘Trip on the Wine’, our first song, has a similar stomp to The Door’s ‘Five to One’, but less angsty. The late 60s-early 70’s groove is maintained throughout, with ‘So They Say’ embellished with a sweet, melodic construction and ‘Broke That Spell’ having an early Purple raunch.

Stoner band mate Ryan Gut adds percussion and keys, whilst the final member of that trio, Nick Oliveri, pops up on ‘Bread for Butter’.  This track and ‘Ya Dig’ are two of the more direct, heads-down rockers, whilst the extended blues jam of ‘Who Do You Love’ is trippy territory augmented with some almost Stooges-like lead guitar.  This last track is a real highlight, it’s like a long-forgotten experiment involving all of the bands I’ve mentioned!

And that’s it: eight songs that whilst not easy listening, can be mellow, psychedelic and still rock your bones.  “Bougainvillea Suite” would make perfect summer evening listening, with a beer and a BBQ as the clear sky fades to black, after good times with good friends and a long day shredding a pool.  But it was released in late Autumn, so what do I know?  Just buy it and enjoy.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Trip On The Wine
02. Good Bones
03. So They Say
04. Broke That Spell
05. Bread For Butter
06. Ya’ Dig
07. Let’s Forget
08. Who Do You Love

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Alun Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Sonic Flower – Me And My Bell Bottom Blues

Me And My Bell Bottom Blues Album Cover Art

Sonic Flower – Me And My Bell Bottom Blues
Heavy Psych Sounds
Release Date: 30/09/22
Running Time: 45:23
Review by Dark Juan
10/10

Greetings, all you disaffected types out there. I am Dark Juan and you are all my people. I want the bullied, the abused, the wall-eyed and insane. I want the trans community and the homosexuals and the asexual and the intersex. I want you under my protective wing and to feel safe. Dark Juan does not promote hatred. Dark Juan promotes love and respect for all. Every human on this world bleeds the same colour and we are ALL brothers and sisters, irrespective of the colour of our skin, which God or other deity we choose to follow (or not) and what creed we respond to. There is too much hatred on this little blue spot in the infinite cosmos and it is time the world began to change, because it’s the only fucking one we have. It is time for love to conquer all, like it is supposed to. I have become increasingly aware of late that due to situations of despots invading other countries than their own, and the British (for this is where I have dropped roots again) government proving singularly inept, that I have started to become politicised. While I fall on the side of right in all cases, I do not wish to have my life turned upside down by the actions of thugs and thickheads in suits and by entrenched viewpoints perpetrated by old people trying to justify their ancient hatreds.

I stand with the women of Iran, currently fighting religious despotism in their country, and their right to wear whatever the fuck they like on their heads, against a regime of old men used to telling others what to so in the name of god.

I stand with the people of Ukraine, fighting against an illegal invasion by a bullying former ruler who wishes to turn the clock back to a Soviet past.

I stand with oppressed people all over the world. They all have a friend in Dark Juan, and anyone who reads this shit I write and requires a friend only needs to get in touch and I will be there for them. Such is true power, and such is love. 

Enough proselytising. Instead, let me discuss the merits of Japan’s Sonic Flower, being a side project of half of Church Of Misery in the first instance, and now of three quarters of it. “Me And My Bell Bottom Blues” represents songs that have been sitting in the Sonic Flower vaults for some fifteen years, after the band went on an extended hiatus due to day jobs interfering with the righteous power of the groove and the previous guitarist becoming inconveniently pregnant and being a parent interfering with the righteous power of the groove.

Sonic Flower are the embodiment of the righteous power of the groove. Yes, folks, we are in Psychedelic Blues Rock heaven again. The year is 1973, Dark Juan has long straight hair with a sweatband and is riding in a Volkswagen Type 1 bus with a bunch of hippies and is tripping so hard on several kinds of LSD, that he is simultaneously viewing the world through his third eye, his pineal gland and from three dimensions away from normal reality. This is mildly confusing as Dark Juan cannot tell what is a person and what is a telegraph pole at the moment… The soundtrack to this journey through the senses and what passes for my subconscious is fuelled by the music of Cactus and Sir Lord Baltimore and Savoy Brown and their ilk and this is what Sonic Flower sounds like. Bluesy, swirling, majestic riffs and drawn out, wailing blues guitar solos are the order of the day here in an unapologetic homage to the bedrock of the formation of Heavy Metal. Yes, without this form of music, there would be no Metal at all. So, you really should pay attention to the older bands.

Opening with ‘Swineherd’, this listener was kicked in the arse straight away by the immediacy of Sonic Flower’s sound – a masterful mix by Yukito Okazaki (THE Japanese Doom guru, according the PR blurb), bringing out a depth and richness in sound that is both unusual and essential for bluesy, Psychedelic Doom. Everything is absolutely in a perfect place in the mix and it’s absurdly easy to hear everything with extraordinary clarity. The guitars are by turns sharp and predatory, or warm and intimate, the bass throbbing and penetrating (fnarr fnarr!) and the drums powerful and concussive throughout. It’s all a resonant and vibratory audio-hallucinatory trip through your own mind…

‘Love Like Rubber’ showcases the talents of frontman Kazuhiro Asaeda, the man having a medium pitched, slightly raspy delivery that’s fucking perfect for this kind of music, not unlike Free’s Paul Rodgers in places. This should not be a surprise considering that he is a former frontman of Church Of Misery. This album is bloody magnificent. 

I’m on my knees, salaaming piously at the Altar of Grooviness here. Sonic Flower have taken me on an expansive trip through the magic of Psychedelia and the Blues and the riffs and the sheer groove of the band cannot be denied. Within seven seconds of the first song starting, I was being told off by Mrs Dark Juan for gyrating wildly round the lounge, accidentally damaging the printer and upsetting the Smellhounds, both of whom were peacefully slumbering next to her while she makes a giant head, that due to the colour choices of her fabrics, LOOKS LIKE IT HAS BEEN FLAYED. Mrs Dark Juan merely stated that she thought it looked cute. I despair and wonder if she has some form of problem in recognising what cute is due to a lifetime of horror films… ‘Quicksand Planet’ ups the drug-fuelled musicianship by having a strange, kind of sitar influenced opening before the gloriously fuzzy guitar kicks in and the ultrafuzz bigmuff bass boots you in your psilocybin flooded head. It’s impossible to not dance to this, even my arse-cheeks are doing their own thing while I am seated upon them. Sitting with my eyes closed, I am just letting the Blues-fuelled trippiness wash over me in a gloriously warm and rainbow-hued flood and by god I want more. More Sonic Flower. There are no other bands, there is only Sonic Flower…

The closing track is also called ‘Sonic Flower’ and it’s a terrific, rumbling behemoth of everything that is great about Doom and Psychedelia – massive, MASSIVE riffs, an impassioned and well performed vocal and so much groovetastic grooviness Dark Juan’s sex wee tanks have burst and there’s environmental warnings in place for the North of England because of this rather amazing Japanese band. If you are fans of the likes of Wolfmother, Sir Lord Baltimore, Lucid Sins, Red Spektor and the like, I can confidently predict that you are going to fucking ADORE Sonic Flower as much as Dark Juan does. Although, I should say that the quality of their song-writing and their musicianship and their prowess means that they should be taken seriously by everyone into heavy music.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (特許取得済みの Dark Juan 血しぶき評価システム) awards Sonic Flower a full-on groovy 10/10 for their absolutely stunning take on old school Bluesy Psychedelic Rock. 

TRACKLISTING:
01. Swineherd
02. Love Like Rubber
03. Black Sheep
04. Captain Frost
05. Quicksand Planet
06. Poor Girl
07. Sonic Flower

LINE-UP:
Tatsu Mikami – Bass
Kazuhiro Asaeda – Vocals
Fumiya Hattori — Guitar
Toshiaki Umemura – Drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Nebula – Transmissions From Mothership Earth

Transmission From Mothership Earth Album Cover Art

Nebula – Transmissions From Mothership Earth
Heavy Pysch Sounds Records
Release Date: 22/07/2022
Running Time: 39:00
Review by: Alun Jones
9/10

As I write this, we’re sweltering in a record-breaking heatwave.  North Wales, which is where I’m based – and also where the nerve centre of Ever Metal can be found – has had some of the highest temperatures in the whole of the UK.  It’s crazy.  And so, a new album from desert rock titans Nebula seems extremely apt right now.  “Transmissions From Mothership Earth” has arrived at exactly the right time.

And it arrives with a welcome burst of fuzz drenched psych rock, exactly as expected, in the first track, ‘Highwired’.  Big fat riffs, dashes of space rock and a whiff of herbal cigarettes: classic Nebula, really.  Up next is the title track, which adds some nice, sixties secret agent vibes to the melting pot, together with a punishingly heavy section.

‘Wilted Flowers’ begins with a mellow guitar section before exploding into a thunderous head tripper.  There’s a feel of Mudhoney and the Stooges with Nebula’s best work, as evidenced here and with ‘Melt Your Head’.  Other tracks like ‘Warzone Speedwulf’ and ‘The Four Horseman’ sound like early Monster Magnet dripped in acid fried Steppenwolf and left to dry in a Tarantino desert landscape.    

No surprises then with this latest Nebula release, and with titles like ‘I Got So High’ you can guess exactly what to expect.  But who cares?  “Transmissions From Mothership Earth” is a solid album of pounding rhythms and spaced-out fuzz rock.  It’s bound to make my end of year best of list, and right now it’s the perfect soundtrack for summer.  Enjoy, fellow explorers – it’s gonna piss it down with rain tomorrow. 

Talking about nebula and space and galaxies and all that, did I tell you about the great telescope trick we played on Bill Ward once?  It was at Brian May’s house, and he’s well into all that astrology business.  Bri’s got this huge telescope for star gazing.  So Tony, Ozzy, Geezer and me persuaded Bill to take a look.  What he didn’t know was that Brian had put black paint inside the lens, so Bill ended up with a great big, black monocle on his face.  Bill didn’t realise, and walked round like that all night – extremely paranoid as to why all the guests were laughing at him.  Great fun!

TRACKLISTING:
01. Highwired
02. Transmissions from Mothership Earth
03. Wilted Flowers
04. Melt Your Head
05. Warzone Speedwulf
06. I Got So High
07. Existential Blues
08. The Four Horseman

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Alun Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Lord Elephant – Cosmic Awakening

Cosmic Awakening Album Cover Art

Lord Elephant – Cosmic Awakening
Heavy Psych Sounds
Release Date: 08/07/22
Running Time: 42:39
Review by Dark Juan
10/10

Good afternoon, my naughty little pumpkins. It is I, Dark Juan, and I have returned from dropping Mrs Dark Juan off at the family tattoo studio (Squid Shock Tattoo in Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire, only a year’s waiting list!) to be tattooed by our son in law. Being at somewhat of a loose and mildly depressed end while this is happening, (mainly because I am not being tattooed and I am not good enough to tattoo the Dark Judges from 2000 A.D. on my thigh by myself without it looking like a sugar-fuelled and deeply psychotic toddler has attacked me with a tattoo machine), I have returned to Dark Juan Terrace, sans beer (because I have a rule about drinking which means I don’t drink after 5 p.m. – this is entirely arbitrary and based on the famous, and actually entirely acceptable country song “It’s Five O’ Clock Somewhere” by Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffet – to my considerable surprise this is also a rule that my mother in law follows, FOR THE SAME REASON!) and having run out of milk for brews, I have opted to submerge myself in my beloved Metal, so I don’t get bored, as the Devil makes work for idle hands. 

Hence, I am currently floating in the outer reaches of cosmic experience with the aid of Italian instrumental Stoner trio Lord Elephant. Instrumental Stoner. Now there’s a thing I didn’t know I needed to hear. Especially Italian stoner. Now, that sun-kissed land of beautiful ladies, incredible Renaissance religious art (now there’s an interest you didn’t know Dark Juan has. Caravaggio’s angels are TO DIE FOR) and extraordinary wines is a wonderful place, Dark Juan having been blessed with visiting it twice and falling in love with it, yet smoked out Stoner grooves are not something Dark Juan immediately associates with Italy, being rather more used to horrifically cheesy Euro handbag house music and a fine line in melancholy Gothic Metal (Lacuna Coil and Blue Hour Ghosts, I’m looking at you both. Actually that isn’t true. I’m goggling at Cristina Scabbia. I was once absolutely delighted to have a report about Cristina sashaying past an acquaintance wearing a party frock at a show in London once, and said acquaintance witnessed a young man walk into a pillar because he wasn’t watching where he was going because he was busy ogling the Italian object of most Metal blokes’ desires) of superior quality.

Yes, Instrumental Stoner. I was wondering whether the music itself would be enough to sustain the interest of the listener, because a gravel gargling vocalist is normally the…. well, norm with this kind of music. Yet, it pleases your correspondent mightily to report that instrumental Doomy, fuzz-filled Stoner may well be the way forward. Lord Elephant may have cornered an esoteric little part of the scene that no-one has considered. Opening two tracks ‘Cosmic Awakening Parts 1 and 2’ (‘Forsaken Slumber’ and ‘First Radiation’ respectively) are simply monolithic, mountainous, slow building magnificence. Tube screamers and fuzz phasers are the order of the day on this recording. Riffs of sublime majesty writhe elegantly and sinuously throughout the music, with plaintively wailing lead lines screaming for attention cut through the nebulous grooves with extraordinary clarity. I kid you not, readers, there are parts of this record that are less music and more string bent electric alchemy. This, of course, is a Very Good Thing.

‘Desert Collision’ sees these three Italian stoner auteurs pick up their metaphorical skirts and break orbital velocity for a trip out among the stars. Speedy for Doom Metal, the groove soon slows down to neck-threatening slow mosh speed and changes from exploratory magnificence to slow, grinding bludgeoning. So far, so cosmically epic.

‘Raktabija’ (being an asura, or loosely translated, a demon in Hindu mythology. Never let it be said that you are not edified and educated by my rabid ranting) continues the acid and mogadon fuelled explorations of the outer limits of groove, and it is not too much to state that Dark Juan has achieved some kind of understanding of the universe without the copious quantities of psilocybin he normally resorts to because of Lord Elephant. ‘Covered In Earth’s Blood’ has a simply gorgeous little nugget of dissonance running through the tune – it adds a kind of rigid little motif that draws you back from all the nebulous galaxy exploring that’s going on and just anchors your attention in a manner that is far greater than the sum total of its musical contribution.

My favourite tune on the record is the simply sublime ‘Stellar Cloud’ because of the sheer, unadulterated Bluesiness of it all. Riffs all stemming from the same root abound and spread majestically above the head of the intrepid listener as they concentrate their awareness inwards and soar off in an exploration of their own mind and soul, solos peeling through the thunder and fury of the metal to remind them that they are still corporeal…

The final cut on this rather marvellous record is ‘Secreternal’ and appears to be an experiment by Lord Elephant into a number of different theories – just how slow music can go before it is reclassified as continental drift, just how much fuzz is too much (the answer is none. All the fuzz in the world will never be enough) and just how possible it is to create a black hole by bludgeoning and compressing the listener under the weight of their utterly mighty sound until they become neutronium and trigger the heat death of the universe. Obviously, these were not completed under laboratory conditions and their reports haven’t been published and peer-reviewed so it can’t be classed as science. 

The production on this album is beyond majestic. Crushing, yet with excellent clarity, fuzzy yet with real bite and with drums that power through the mix like a bunch of mentally deranged jackhammer wielding bastards, it makes for such a sonically dense listening experience that the British Army are looking at it to replace the armour on their main battle tanks. It is one of the finest production jobs I have ever heard on any record, let alone a Stoner album. It is clean yet utterly filthy, heavy yet easy to listen to and more satisfying than the aftermath of a… no, I can’t put that. That would be wrong on so many levels. 

It is very satisfying indeed. There, we have successfully managed to say something without offending anyone. There’s a first.

Also, I just looked back at the blurb I got with the record and have discovered that this is a DEBUT long player! Lord Elephant sound like they have been together for decades, having an easy-going, fluid sympatico with each other that belies the fact that this platter is their first. An almost perfect debut offering, then, and one that has no faults. Believe me, I tried but Lord Elephant’s intoxicating blend of stoner groove, psychedelic weirdness and blues rock chops is just too irresistible.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (Il sistema brevettato di valutazione degli schizzi di sangue di Dark Juan) has returned from its voyage to the Outer Dark and the many, many grams of psychedelics it has been ruining its brainstem with to award Lord Elephant 10/10 for a debut of monolithic magnificence, mountainous grooves and universal trippiness. Stellar, baby.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Cosmic Awakening Pt. I – Forsaken Slumber
02. Cosmic Awakening Pt. II – First Radiation
03. Hunters Of The Moon
04. Desert Collision
05. Raktabija
06. Covered In Earth’s Blood
07. Stellar Cloud
08. Secreternal

LINEUP:
Leandro Gaccione – Guitar
Edoardo De Nardi – Bass
Tommaso Urzino – Drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Darj Juan and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Sleepwulf – Sunbeams Curl

Sunbeams Curl Album Cover Art

Sleepwulf – Sunbeams Curl
Heavy Psych Sounds
Released on 18/02/22
Running Time: 35:49
Review by Dark Juan
10/10

Bonjour, mes petite enfants terribles! It is I, the mighty and puissant Satanic love machine that you know as Dark Juan, who, rather than his usual exuberant defiling of virgins and over the top displays of joie-de-vivre, is actually quite fatigued and is hunched double on the sofa at Dark Juan Terrace. 

No, I am not hunched over in a state of indiscretion. Filth. 

I have just had a rather… extraordinary duty period at work and I have the pleasure of a 72 hour one to look forward to before the end of the week and your favourite Satan-supporting metal hack writer is a bit tired. 120 hour working weeks will do that to people. Anyway, I did mention this to Chief Wrangler Beth “I Don’t Want Your Fucking Excuses, You’ve Had Sleepwulf Since February, I Want RESULTS, You Massive Shitbiscuit, Lest I Unleash The Spirit Of Owain Glyndwr On You And You Know What His Views About The English Were Because You Lived In Wales Once” Jones and she was sympathetic, where I was merely pathetic.

So, two months after release, I have finally pulled my fatigued finger out of my exhausted arse to tell you about “Sunbeams Curl”, the latest platter to be released by Swedish / Scottish Psychedelic Proto-occult Metallers Sleepwulf (to be fair, they are three quarters Swedish and a mere quarter Scottish) on the rather groovy Heavy Psych Sounds label. To paint a picture with words – Sleepwulf sound like they have access to a time machine and a secret studio stacked to the fucking gills with good old fashioned, valve driven analogue equipment, such is the organic and retro element to their sound. Granted, they are ploughing a furrow initially reopened by the likes of Wolfmother, but Sleepwulf are rather more interesting than the howling Australian hair pixie and his merry bunch of antipodean miscreants. How can you not be fascinating with song titles like ‘Toad Licker, Mushroom Picker’?

It is well known that Dark Juan is something of an enthusiast of all things acid-fuelled and Psychedelic – normally combining experiencing groovy albums with the assistance of psilocybe or some other reality bending replacement, but I have found today that crushing fatigue works nearly as well as a metric fuckton of LSD to alter perceptions of both music and your surroundings.

However, what’s left of Dark Juan’s cruelly abused nervous system was jolted into surprised life from the first note of album opener ‘Satan Is King’ because, well, he fucking is, isn’t he, and together my Dread Lord and I will bring down the false church and put all the fake priests and their sheep-like flocks to the sword and burn the word of God in colossal pyres of righteous, cleansing flame, demolishing the houses of all the false gods and preparing the way for the One Who Walks Backwards….

Sorry. ‘Satan Is King’ does not fuck about, a simple and short lead line leads into a riff of magnificent chunkiness and the mid-ranged tones of Owen Robertson (he is NOT Swedish) reach out to drag you into his universe. This state of immediacy is actually welcome, and makes a change from a lot of Psychedelic Rock and Metal, which normally wanders around the studio looking for the spliff its dropped for the first two to five minutes of an album before remembering why it is there and fucking GETTING ON with it. Second song ‘Green Man Dead’ immediately calls to mind the mighty Cream, but with a harder metallic edge – the groove-o-meter is already in the red. With Sleepwulf we are risking possibly catastrophic levels of grooviness. There is not a high enough Groove Quotient in the world. I’m not sure the universe as we know it can survive the whole album and it all might collapse into some form of ubergroovy, drug-fuelled, worldwide orgy of free love. 

It has to be said, I’m not against this idea and I would be delighted if Sleepwulf were the soundtrack because they are frankly a fucking good band. The guitar work of Sebastian Ihme is absolutely spellbinding – switching from Cream-like blues to snarling Metal and drifting Psychedelia with ease and fluidity. The bass player (Viktor Sjöström) is also a damned fine musician, his fuzzy, chunky bass anchoring the music beautifully – especially on ‘Sex Magic Manifestation’ where his prodigious bottom end follows the sinuous main riff closely and rumbles nicely along during the solo. Also, Dark Juan, being a practitioner, always appreciates songs about the occult and sex magic, doesn’t think there’s nearly enough of them and particularly enjoyed the line “A Garden Of Eden on the end of your tongue”. Yes, yes INDEED…

Things get really interesting on ‘Stoned Ape’ where the band go for a full spectrum epic Stoner and Hammond organ extravaganza. And then Sleepwulf really turn the tables on the listener who thinks that they may have a handle on the music on ‘Tyrant Song’ where they gleefully out-Tull Jethro Tull in a wholly exuberant and undeniably cheerful fashion. To say I am enjoying this album (I’m on my third back-to-back listen as I write this nonsense) is like saying the sea is fucking wet. It’s jolly splendid!

Production wise, on my first time round, I thought the sound was woolly and indistinct, but I was wrong. The mix is a very subtle thing, making the music sound more classic than it has any right to be. ‘Sunbeams Curl’ sounds just like it belongs in flares and a ratty denim jacket, in a field, tripping balls on LSD like they are a fucking MKULTRA / MKNAOMI test subject, circa 1972. And this, for the style of music being performed, is EXACTLY fucking right. A supremely clear and sterile, dare I say modern production would kill this album stone dead – instead there is an organic, all-encompassing warmth and LIFE to the sound and everything is actually perfectly audible, even the drums of Carl Lindberg, even though they are sat quite far back in the mix.

What are the downsides of this album then? Well, sometimes Owen Robinson’s vocal limitations make for some clipped attempts at phrasing and it feels like he doesn’t really let rip with his singing (he sounds supremely laid back) on the record. Live, I can easily imagine him turning into a demented whirling dervish. And that’s about it. The songwriting and musical arrangements are superb and the lyrics shot through with a wry humour and an overarching theme exploring the human condition.

Well worth splurging your hard-earned on, these guys. If you like classic, Bluesy Hard Rock or Psychedelic madness, or even a bit of Theatrical Prog, Sleepwulf will be right up your street. If you’re open to listening to other genres within Rock and Metal and you want a starting place to dip into the rainbow world of Stoner Rock and the genres I detailed previously then this is a fine place to start. Dip your toe in and be amazed.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (Det patenterade Dark Juan-systemet för blodstänk) officially gives everyone notice that Sleepwulf are on the shortlist of Dark Juan’s top ten releases of 2022 already. 10/10 for a fucking banging record.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Satan Is King
02. Green Man Dead
03. Sex Magic Manifestation
04. Stoned Ape
05. Man Under The Mountain
06. Tyrant Song
07. Toad Licker, Mushroom Picker
08. Bury Me Backwards

LINE-UP:
Viktor Sjöström – Bass
Carl Lindberg – Drums
Sebastian Ihme – Guitars
Owen Robertson – Vocals

LINKS:

Sleepwulf Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of ‘Dark Juan’ and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

HazeMaze – Blinded By The Wicked

Blinded By The Wicked Album Cover Art

HazeMaze – Blinded By The Wicked
Heavy Psych Sounds
Release date: 28/01/22
Running Time: 40:30
Review by Gaz Bates
8/10

HazeMaze have returned, darker and more sinister than their previous releases! “Blinded By The Wicked” is 41 minutes of riff worship, leading you down the storied path of one of mankind’s darkest sides, cults and their leaders. You will be on edge as the menacing soundscape taunts you with stories of Man’s evil doings and weak mindedness. Following on from Doom and Heavy Metal titans like Black Sabbath, Hazemaze bring a collection of heavy guitar riffs, trembling bass and drums that drive each song forward on this journey of macabre. 

The opening track, ‘In The Night Of The Light, For The Dark’ wastes no time in sinking its fangs into you. Catchy and groovy, you will be swaying along. The bass tone here is reminiscent of Geezer Butler’s tone on the album “13”, too.

Moving forward with songs like ‘Devils Spawn’ and ‘Ethereal Disillusion’ you feel that the tone is one to make you feel uneasy in the dead of night. ‘Sectatores Et Principes’, which I believe translates to “Followers & Leaders” is a beautifully crafted piece of music. Keeping with the tone of the previous songs it has a sinister edge; there’s a Folk Horror feel that would be at home in films like “The Wicker Man”. 

Once this is over you are taken back to what this album really is all about; Rock ‘n’ Roll.  ‘Ceremonial Aspersion’ hits you in the face with a groove and a hint of Psychedelia, which leads nicely into the Doom laden ‘Divine Harlotry’. Now you remember earlier I mentioned Rock ‘n’ Roll? Well, it’s more Doom ‘n’ Roll (the band’s words) and, ‘Luciferian Rite’ is the most fitting song on the album for this description; unrelenting and vocally as catchy as anything you will hear! I will be front and centre singing along with this one. 

Closing out the album we have ‘Malevolent Inveigler’; 7 minutes of Doom-soaked riffs, the bass does exactly what it needs to and the drums, as with the rest of the album, really drive this home.

It’s a great offering to the Riff Gods Of old from the Swedish Doomicidal Trio. HazeMaze are back and they mean business.

TRACKLISTING:
01. In The Night Of The Light, For The Dark
02. Devil’s Spawn
03. Ethereal Disillusion
04. Sectatores Et Principes
05. Ceremonial Aspersion
06. Divine Harlotry
07. Luciferian Rite
08. Malevolent Inveigler

LINE-UP:
Ludvig Andersson – Guitar/Vocals
Nils Einéus – Drums
Estefan Carrillo – Bass

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Gaz Bates and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Duel – In Carne Persona

In Carne Persona Album Cover Art

Duel – In Carne Persona
Heavy Psych Sounds
Release Date: 01/10/2021
Running Time: 38:41
Review by Alun Jones
8.5/10

Wait, it can’t be time for a new Duel album, surely? It only seems like yesterday that I reviewed their last work for Ever Metal. Time flies when you’re having fun, eh? Well, that last album “Valley Of Shadows”, also from Heavy Psych Sounds, was released back in 2019 – so yes, it’s time for more Duel. My cryo-freeze unit must have kept me out of trouble for longer than I thought.

Austin, Texas is where they came from, though Duel’s real home is good ol’ heavy metal and greasy hard rock. Whereas with the previous record review, I made comparisons to stoner rock and 70’s proto metal, this time around, “In Carne Persona” has a much more trad metal approach. Thundering out of the gates on the very first track, ‘Children Of The Fire’ has a galloping, early Maiden sound.

The NWOBHM influence rages throughout the album, with some classic Sabbath heaviness and Thin Lizzy style melody for good measure. Second track ‘The Veil’ illustrates both sides of those 70’s references with a pounding riff and laser sharp solo.

Tracks like ‘Anchor’ and ‘Bite Back’ take the intensity of Trouble or Saint Vitus and ramp up the pace with a ferocious Priest-like power. ‘Lizard Tongue’ delivers the boogie, whilst final track ‘Blood On The Claw’ provides an epic finish to the proceedings. Bringing the album to a huge and satisfying conclusion; it builds slowly, contrasting heavy chugging sections with refrained passages.

Superb bombastic vocals crown masterful musicianship that evokes the past masters, making “In Carne Persona” another triumphant album from Duel. Throughout it all, Duel create a dark and brooding atmosphere, that effectively stamps their own authenticity on the old template. Dark but never grim, it’s always exciting.

I remember a duel of sorts in my days with Purple. One night whilst on tour somewhere, we decided to have a game of beer Russian roulette. Thirty cans of lager on the table, one had been shaken up by yours truly and placed randomly back amongst the others. Participants would then open one can at a time next to their ear; one unlucky player would obviously suffer the frothy consequences.

Gillan, Lord and Blackmore all started well – springing open cans next to their heads which didn’t explode, so they could drink them down. Eventually, and inevitably, it was Ritchie who took the shaken beer to the head, he was soaked and screamed petulantly at Gillan, blaming the singer for his misfortune. It wasn’t like he didn’t know what to expect! Blackmore stormed off leaving the rest of us in hysterics. What was really funny was, when Ritchie wasn’t looking, I’d switched cans on him with another frothed up bullet. Ha!

‘Children Of The Fire’ (Audio)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Children Of The Fire
02. The Veil
03. Anchor
04. Behind The Sound
05. Bite Back
06. Wave Of Your Hand
07. Dead Eyes
08. Lizard Tongue
09. Blood On The Claw

LINE-UP:
Tom Frank – Guitar & Vocals
Shaun Avants – Bass & Vocals
Justin Collins – Drums
Jeff Henson – Guitar & Vocals

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Alun Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Hippie Death Cult – Circle Of Days

Circle Of Days Album Cover Art

Hippie Death Cult – Circle Of Days
Heavy Psych Sounds
Release Date: 21/05/2021
Running Time: 37:15
Review by Dark Juan
10/10

Hello, dear children of the night, who, like me, are probably vastly overheated and cranky, as summer stubbornly persists over northern England, and doesn’t appear to be going away after a couple of days like it normally does, to be replaced by the iron grey skies and stair rods of driving rain that we are used to, and at the moment would frankly welcome. I have a tan! I haven’t had a fucking tan since 1996 and now my beautiful alabaster skin has a definite brown tinge to it and my goff credentials are utterly ruined forever. No more can I mock goths in hot weather, knowing that secretly I am one (for the record I am currently seated in the lounge at Dark Juan Terrace, clad in black Vans, black denim cut off shorts and black St. Pauli totenkopf t-shirt) of the pale revenants of the night. Instead, I have a “healthy glow” and I want no part of it!

I am instead consoling myself with gallons of iced cider and the latest offering to the altar of Ever-Metal.com from the excellently named Hippie Death Cult of Portland, Oregon. That is in the United States of America, if your geography is as poor as some of the young gentlemen in my charge at my other job. One of them pointed at India the other day and was absolutely convinced it was France and wouldn’t be told otherwise until I showed him the Channel fucking Tunnel and that it came out at Calais and not fucking Chennai.

In other news, briefly, Field Marshal and our Great Leader Rick “Don’t Try Sucking Up To Me, It Won’t Get You Anywhere, You Shocking Tart” Tilley fielded some enquiries about just what it is Mrs. Dark Juan creates while I write this nonsense. I sent him a picture of her latest creation and now he is traumatized (completely and utterly – Rick). However, Anabelle from Cradle Of Filth seems quite taken by it so as far as I’m concerned, it’s all gravy. Mrs. Dark Juan is now currently making fingers(!) while listening to some form of baroque ghost story. Her psyche is absolutely shot to fuck with a constant diet of horror films, M.R. James stories and the darkest imagination for creations I have ever known…

Oh yeah, music review…

Hippie Death Cult – Oregonian, as I believe I have already said. I’m sorry. I’m a bit hungover after the wicked strength lager I drank last night. HDC are really a quite interesting band who have taken the sounds and expansiveness of progressive music and melded them to a combination of the grittiness of classic rock sensibilities and the fuzz overdrive of doom and stoner. The result is rather extraordinary, being fuzzy and slow enough to please the doomsters, yet offering some absolutely incredible riffing and pounding heavy metal to entertain the mainstream crowd, and also having a lovely touch of exploratory madness to lift the music from the mundane or the repetitive. In short, It’s fair to say it’s fucking brilliant and I am a massive fan after this, their sophomore effort.

The sound is extremely cohesive, the mix solid and the production clear and legible, even if the snare drum is lacking some punch. The bass is clearly and cleanly heard and the guitar snarls and roars with a real classic rock sound. As an experiment, I bought some proper old 70’s cans from my mate Tony and played this record back-to-back through them, to compare them to the headphones I normally use. Hippie Death Cult sound absolutely fucking huge through the older phones and merely competent (production wise, this is) through the newer ones. Therefore, I am junking the newer ones immediately.

The opening song on the record is called ‘Red Meat Tricks’ and sets a tone that just begs you to listen more, melding classic rock vibes with progressive elements and some glorious coruscating riffs and solos including a scale in the middle eight that just made me wet my pants with sex wee excitement. Guitar and bass are both used as lead instruments and this offers even more interest on a song that beguiles as well as slays. The second song is entitled ‘Hornet Party’ and the chord medley at the start of the tune immediately just says ‘Seasons In The Abyss’ and Slayer to me, before blasting into the ionosphere with some speedily concussive metal, being sinuously wrapped around by that chord medley. The song as a whole reminds this metal loving idiot of a mix of Slayer and ‘Hooker With A Penis’ era Tool, and let’s be honest that’s a fucking great thing – Tool and Slayer are two of the greatest exponents of their art there are.

Track three, ‘Walk Within’, is where we diverge from the more metal elements of the music and has piano and clean, fingerpicked guitar and a dreamy, ethereal vocal line with a much more proggy sound – it kind of reminds me of a less folky Blood Ceremony throughout the song, until it ends with a huge, dissonant crash and into the fourth cut of the album – ‘Circle Of Days’’ which opens with a  superfuzzy doom riff before morphing gently into a supremely technical and complex prog metal song, but with rather more earthiness and soul than most prog and technical metal – there’s gorgeous harmonies, intertwining vocal lines, guitar that alternately wounds and bewitches, yet it maintains a relaxed and smooth groove than you can lean into and special mention must be made of vocalist Ben Jackson. The boy has a fucking amazing set of pipes on him. Equally happy performing a wail worthy of the Ozzmeister himself, to a gravelly low pitched (but still clean) sound, to a more than passable Dave Wyndorf analogue, Ben proves his versatility on every single song and is a fine, fine rock singer. The last tune on the record is called ‘Eye In The Sky’ and is by far the most psychedelic offering on here, with soft wah on the chiming, shining guitars, until four minutes in when the song takes a massive left turn and delivers a metal riff of such shining splendor (imagine Jerry Cantrell at his heaviest in Alice In Chains and make it more metal) I can’t help but fall to my knees and give thanks to the gods of meal for giving me this to listen to. And the solo. Oh, my FUCKING GOD THE SOLO!!!!!!

Yeah, it’s fair to say I am a bit of a fan and Hippie Death Cult (and others like them) are EXACTLY the reason why I trawl the underground for music – under here is where the ultraclassic live. This is where you find the most egregious talents and the greatest music. With rare exceptions, I find the underground bands more astonishing than the mainstream ones. There is NOTHING like Hippie Death Cult in the mainstream and that is to the mainstream’s detriment, because this is sheer inventiveness and music made for the sake of performance. Hippie Death Cult are truer to the soul and idea of metal than Metallica and their ilk will ever be. This record is heavy as fuck, rich, organic, chock full of feeling and absolutely fucking amazing.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System has listened to this record three times back-to-back already and shows no sign of slowing down because it’s just so fantastic. 10 out of fucking 10 without a question. Buy this. Now. Don’t argue. Just buy it.

Red Meat Tricks’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Red Meat Tricks
02. Hornet Party
03. Walk Within
04. Circle of Days
05. Eye In The Sky

LINE-UP:
Ryan Moore – Drums
Eddie Brnabic – Guitar
Ben Jackson – Vocals/Keys
Laura Phillips – Bass/Vocals

LINKS:

Hippie Death Cult Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of ‘Dark Juan’ and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Acid Mammoth – Caravan

Caravan Album Cover Art

Acid Mammoth – Caravan
Heavy Psych Sounds
Release Date: 05/03/2021
Running Time: 40:17
Review by Chris Galea
7.5/10

“Caravan” consolidates the music style of Acid Mammoth…a Stoner Doom that’s heavy, dense and fuzzy. However, some changes are immediately noticeable in respect to the band’s previous album “Under Acid Hoof”.

For example, overall, I feel there has been a marked improvement as far as production and mixing is concerned, even though the sound of the snare drum takes some getting used to. The singing of Christos Babalis Jr. sounds less like Ozzy than in previous releases – that wasn’t a bad thing of course, but it’s good to hear Jr. try to assimilate his own personality into the singing.

Maybe it’s just my impression but there also seems to be an effort to infuse more melody into the dark atmosphere of the band’s music. And there are more guitar solos than before. Sometimes all this doesn’t entirely convince (as in ‘Berserker’ or in parts of ‘Ivory Towers’) but when this new approach works, it works marvellously. Case in point is the title-track, an epic 11-minute plus song dense with hypnotic riffs. I also felt a significant improvement in the drumming of Marios Louvaris, more in the sense of feel than technique.

So, although I’m not absolutely won over, “Caravan” is definitely a step up for Acid Mammoth.

Imagine Black Sabbath meeting Hawkwind to serenade the world as it burns…I reckon that ‘serenade’ would sound pretty close to “Caravan”.

‘Caravan’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Berserker
02. Psychedelic Wasteland
03. Ivory Towers
04. Caravan
05. Black Dust

LINE-UP:
Chris Babalis Jr. – Guitar & Vocals
Chris Babalis Sr. – Guitar
Dimosthenis Varikos – Bass
Marios Louvaris – Drums

LINKS:

Acid Mammoth Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Chris Galea and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.