My, they have been busy of late with some excellent tuneage coming near your ears this year! What better way to sum up the events of last year with a release schedule of grunging, stoner, doom and sludge to nourish us nether-beings and keep us hanging on.
Kicking off this mighty crop is 1968, a British rawk band funnelling the colours of Black, Blue and Purple, of the Sabbath, Cheer and Deep kind! Names after their mutual musical love of the albums released in that halcyon year 1968.
This four track EP Fortuna Havana was released on Feb 10th, so is hot off the press, and the amps are still humming with that sweet fuzz vibe! 1968 offer full pelt power rock assault. Riffs, lead solos, and I fully expect dusty flares and billowing shirts to boot! Opener “Vorpal” makes no bones about what is going on here, amplifier worship of the hazy 1960s. and it’s a boogie beauty getting me get my thang on straight away!
“War Dogs” brings in some more thoughtful song structure as this is a grower, as it develops along a Leafhound line. And it all comes together for the stomping closing title track. Wow, what a ride, the cowbell is safe and well with this outfit!
To promote this they are heading out with Batallions in the spring 2017 around the UK as well as working on their debut album in readiness for an autumn release.
1968 seems quite a departure for Black Bow who have been known for sludge classics, oh wait, what’s this I hear? GRIM RAVINE takes me back to regular surroundings with an atmospheric claustrophobic sludge EP The Light is from Below which released on February 17th, 2017.
It’s as if this is the remains after the night 1968 play the stage. All the detritus, cigarette butts, sweat, spilt beer and shed skin have been swept together to form something hideous, like the girl that crawls out of the TV in Ring movies. Another four track affair, but it couldn’t be further apart in style. “Shrine of Misery” opens up like an irritating old wound. A depressing, howling bulldozer. “Translunary” offers respite with simple, gentle guitar and some percussion, but this just worries me for what to expect next, as I know the barrage will return. Yup, a further 20 minutes of doom misery that takes me further in to this open wound to explore places I wouldn’t choose to venture to. Dark, gloomy suffocating dank places, the depths of ancient forests on damp cold dusks. “Vacant Mass” closes this EP and even if the light is coming from below, I really can’t allow myself to slip any further down as I don’t think I will be capable of getting back out.
Worrying wounds, again Black Bow offer us Deadwound. A debut EP Identity Shapes mixes the emotional draw of hardcore with the relentless power of sludge creating an almighty sound. This five piece are another British band and who have already played with Hang the Bastard and OHHMS will give you an idea of what to expect from their sound. It is as intense as Grim Ravine, but instead of the suffocating sound it energises me to stand up and cause dissent in the ranks. I want to throw things, I want to smash things. I want to be that change to make the world a better place. Deadwound, to me, are the sound of frustration…how many times do we hear the same stories, please, warnings and cries from corners of the world, yet the powers that be stand by and watch.
Deadwound will easily straddle different sub-genre camps appeasing hardcore fans, metal heads and sludge warriors as their sound has a nod towards every direction, with stand out tracks such as “Kult Warrior” and “Babylon” when the whole shit storm comes down.
My last EP offering I have here is Spellcaster from Witchapter, again from Britain. Self-styled as swamp metal they bring forth down tuned solid, abysmal doom. Telling stories of persecution of early healers branded as witches and the destabilizing effect it had on the status quo of the Roman Catholic Church society. “Through Smoke and Sulphur” offers some refrain from the caustic barrage of set opener “Veiled Aggressor.” The sentiment and anger is felt throughout this EP, similarly to the feelings aroused by Deadwound, yet I feel somewhat helpless as we all know how these persecutions end. As helpless as I felt whilst listening to Grim Ravine.
“Through Smoke and Sulphur” offers some bottomed out riffs a-plenty, an expansive landscape of riff n roll. But the helplessness returns with the closing title “Everywhere I see my Grave.” Powerful percussion is permeating the fuzz of guitar and bass illustrating as points of reference as to where I see my grave! It honestly sounds as though I am lying in a grave as the soil is tossed on the top, and there is nothing I can do. Suffocating and terrifying.
On a lighter note to end this piece I paraphrase someone from the Oscars many, many years ago. “The British are coming” and Black Bow have opened the gates!