Album Review – Bast / Nanoångström (2018)

Set against a bleak science fiction backdrop, exploring the human conditions of loss, isolation, and change in the wake of time’s passage, the new album by this three-piece act from the UK has everything you crave in Sludge and Doom Metal.

Founded in 2008 in London, England, the three-piece experimental vortex of blackened intensity and forlorn, mournful doom known as Bast returns now in 2018 with Nanoångström, the follow-up to their 2014 critically acclaimed debut release Spectres, continuing the band’s trajectory into narrative driven arrangements and experimental compositions. Including a beautiful artwork designed and directed by the band’s own lead singer and guitarist Craig Bryant, and also featuring an exclusive piece by Manga legend Shintaro Kago as well as guest vocals by Chris Naughton of England’s leading purveyors of Black Metal Winterfylleth, Nanoångström is set against a bleak science fiction backdrop, exploring the human conditions of loss, isolation, and change in the wake of time’s passage, all enfolded by the crushing fusion of Sludge and Doom Metal blasted by Craig and his bandmates Gavin Thomas on bass and Jon Lee on drums and backing vocals.

Low-tuned, melancholic and whimsical sounds invade our senses in the intro Distant Suns, warming us up for the crushing Far Horizons, a 10-minute Sludge Metal exhibit led by the rip-roaring riffs and growls by Craig, while Jon flawlessly pounds his drums in a delicate but fierce way at the same time, with the song’s crisp and flammable riffs being intertwined with somber and more serene passages, even presenting hints of Atmospheric Black Metal. Then featuring the aforementioned guest vocals by Chris Naughton we have The Beckoning Void, an explosion of contemporary Sludge and Doom Metal where the bass punches by Gavin sound truly menacing and thunderous, while Craig keeps shredding his strings mercilessly. Moreover, the song also presents nuances of classic Black Metal added to the drumming by Jon, hammering our heads and piercing our minds mercilessly, with the song’s second half getting more progressive and vibrant until its majestic finale.

The title-track Nanoångström begins as sluggish, introspective and obscure as possible, with the band’s stringed duo extracting Stygian tones from their instruments, while Jon slowly and steadily smashes his drums. In addition, Craig’s anguished growls get more and more desperate as the music progresses, before everything evolves into a Progressive Sludge Metal extravaganza that would make the guys from Tool really proud. Then rumbling guitars and bass lines permeate the air in the also sluggish Doom Metal tune titled A Red Line Through Black, remaining at a truly obscure tone until a wave of progressiveness takes over and the music morphs into a hard-hitting feast of classic Sludge Metal riffs, frantic and intricate beats, and enraged roars. Put differently, it can’t get any heavier nor more eccentric than this. Lastly, Chris joins Bast once again in The Ghosts Which Haunt the Space Between the Stars, where the band brings forth 12 minutes of crude, melodic and cutting Progressive Sludge Metal, a full-bodied headbanging hymn spearheaded by Craig and his aggressive, harsh growls, while Jon keeps extracting sheer Black Metal sounds from his beats. And their sonic havoc goes on ruthlessly, not giving us a single second of peace until its abrupt and powerful ending.

In a nutshell, Nanoångström has everything fans of contemporary and dark Sludge and Doom Metal are always craving, elevating Bast to new heights and positioning them as one of the most interesting exponents of the genre. If Bast’s sluggish music is your cup of tea, you can grab your copy of Nanoångström from their own BandCamp page or from the Black Bow Records’ Big Cartel, and after you do that just remember your days will never be bright or peaceful again. Well, I guess those are not the sensations you want to fell while listening to first-class Doom Metal, which means Bast more than succeeds in taking you to the most obscure side of music with Nanoångström.

Best moments of the album: The Beckoning Void and The Ghosts Which Haunt the Space Between the Stars.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Black Bow Records

Track listing
1. Distant Suns 2:40
2. Far Horizons 10:24
3. The Beckoning Void (feat. Chris Naughton) 10:53
4. Nanoångström 11:10
5. A Red Line Through Black 9:56
6. The Ghosts Which Haunt the Space Between the Stars (feat. Chris Naughton) 12:34

Band members
Craig Bryant – vocals, guitars
Gavin Thomas – bass
Jon Lee – drums, vocals

Guest musician
Chris Naughton – guest vocals on “The Beckoning Void” and “The Ghosts Which Haunt the Space Between the Stars”

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Album Review – Lunatic Hooker / Embracing The Filth (2017)

Be embraced by the filthy and crushing Grindcore with a Sludge Metal twist crafted by five British musicians who got together to reignite their inner fire and passion for extreme music.

The music business can be spirit crushing and soul destroying, where bands that start as groups of friends with a passion for music can end up disillusioned, with the flames of their passion near extinguished. This happened to British musicians George (vocals), Ross (guitar), Tim (guitar), Duncan (bass, vocals) and Rafael (drums) in their respective bands, but rather than let those last flickering embers burn out for good, they got together to reignite the fire, forging in 2014 a new evil entity that goes by the name of Lunatic Hooker, blasting a roaring fusion of Grindcore and Sludge Metal perfect for nonstop slamming and headbanging.

After the release of a two-track demo in 2015 and a single with their cover version for Motörhead’s all-time classic (We Are) The Road Crew in 2016, this London-based squad is unleashing upon humanity their debut full-length opus, titled Embracing The Filth. Featuring twelve tracks of unrelenting, punishing and pulverizing Extreme Metal, all enfolded by a captivating artwork by Dan Capp (Winterfylleth) and crackling with that irresistible rediscovered electricity, Embracing The Filth is one of those albums you might not know what you’re dealing with at first, but that you’ll get addicted to as soon as you hit play and let its piercing sounds invade your ears.

Rafael and his doomed beats ignite the sludgy party named My God Is Bigger than Yours (what a clever name for a song), before chaos reigns through the putrid gnarls by George and the dirty and fast riffage by Ross and Tim. Once again uniting Grindcore with Sludge Metal, demonic sounds emanate from all instruments in Beard Feared, in special the blast beats by Rafael and the devilish growling by George, with its brutal slamming rhythm drawing influences from Slayer, Napalm Death and other devastating groups; followed by The Pen Is Mightier than the Sword, another song with a very intelligent name that also presents crushing riffs and beats while George sounds more demonic than ever (and let me say that, if you survive the intense circle pit this song can generate, you’re pretty much immortal), and Unearthed Dead Children, a sonic onslaught of Grindcore bursting heaviness through the cavernous growls by George and Rafael’s ruthless drumming.

The title-track Embracing the Filth lives up to its name, being a dirty, crude and absolutely vile composition of darkness. Moreover, it feels like the guitars by Ross and Tim are an extension of George’s sick vocals, consequently enhancing the song’s overall impact, with Rafael once again showing no mercy for his drum set. In Blood Eagle we face an eerie start that lasts for almost half of the song before the band gets back to their sick high-speed musicality, with its guitars and drums exhaling sheer Grindcore, whereas Fucks All brings elements from Hardcore and Thrash Metal to their already aggressive sonority. Tim and Ross keep firing some sick dirty riffs to make the whole song more demonic, also presenting Black and Death Metal blast beats thanks to the unwearying Rafael. And the excellent Cult Chaos begins at full speed, reminding me of some of the most visceral creations by Cannibal Corpse, with all instruments sounding extremely sharp from start to finish. Hence, this slamming composition should work really well during their live performances.

In Transformation Walrus, a song inspired by and featuring footage in its official video from Kevin Smith’s 2014 film Tusk, darkness takes control of the band from the very first second, with George leading his crew with his deranged growls, before See the Light, perhaps the most violent of all tracks, showcases deeper guttural vocals by George and the merciless drums by Rafael highly influenced by old school Death Metal. In other words, Lunatic Hooker offer us two and a half minutes of pure brutality, with some harmonious guitar lines and solos to give more balance to the overall result. There are two more songs to go in this demonic opus, starting with Spain in the Neck, another recommended soundtrack for a sick mosh pit where Ross and Tim sound like two beasts with their flammable strings, while Rafael keeps the adrenaline high with his unstoppable beats. And finally, the closing of their awesome casket comes in the form of a 6-minute demented extravaganza named Sarlac, where George reaches the deepest and most obscure growls of the entire album. Slow and steady, almost sounding like Funeral Doom, this composition is very different from all previous tracks, showing the band’s crisp versatility in Extreme Metal.

If you feel more than ready to be embraced by Lunatic Hooker’s filthy and crushing Grindcore with the sluggish twist coming from their Sludge Metal vein, go join their demented crew at their official Facebook page and enjoy more of their cutting music at their YouTube channel. In Embracing The Filth, available at the band’s Big Cartel, at the Black Bow Records’ BandCamp and on Amazon, Lunatic Hooker were extremely successful in concentrating all their passion for extreme music and transform that metallic amalgam into reality, leaving all doors open for another blast of their vicious music anytime soon, and hopefully for many years to come as well.

Best moments of the album: My God Is Bigger than Yours, Embracing the Filth and Cult Chaos.

Worst moments of the album: Blood Eagle.

Released in 2017 Black Bow Records

Track listing
1. My God Is Bigger than Yours 3:16
2. Beard Feared 2:32
3. The Pen Is Mightier than the Sword 3:08
4. Unearthed Dead Children 2:48
5. Embracing the Filth 3:07
6. Blood Eagle 4:13
7. Fucks All 2:46
8. Cult Chaos 3:24
9. Transformation Walrus 3:32
10. See the Light 2:35
11. Spain in the Neck 2:46
12. Sarlac 6:24

Bonus track
13. (We Are) The Road Crew (Motörhead cover) 2:44

Band members
George – vocals
Ross – guitar
Tim – guitar
Duncan – bass, vocals
Rafael – drums

Album Review – Warcrab / Scars of Aeons (2016)

Enjoy one of the most complete and thrilling Sludge Metal albums of the past few years, courtesy of six exceptional musicians from the UK.

Rating4

coverIt’s time to get extremely heavy with the precise fusion of Death, Sludge and Doom Metal blasted by British squad Warcrab, a sextet that has been on the road since 2009 offering their warlike music to fans of the dark side of underground metal, starting with their self-titled debut EP in 2012 and then with their 2014 EP named Ashes of Carnage. Hailing from Plymouth, a city on the south coast of Devon, England, Warcrab are back with new material and will crush your head with the darkened and sluggish compositions found in Scars of Aeons, their debut full-length album and one of the best of the genre from the past few years in my humble opinion.

The music by Warcrab is not only highly recommended for connoisseurs of Sludge Metal, but it’s also an amazing alternative for fans of bands like Bolt Thrower, Amon Amarth and Slayer due to the more aggressive approach coming from their Death Metal influences. That exciting mix of different types of extreme music led them to play numerous shows across the UK in 2015, sharing the stage with renowned artists such as Vader, Incantation and Desecration, which also turned out to be an excellent source of creativity and potency for the music found in Scars of Aeons. If there’s a word that can be used to define their musicality, I would say that word is “heaviness”.

The intro to the opening track Conquest couldn’t be more obscure and damned, but it’s when drummer Rich Parker starts pounding his drums that a dark feeling truly impregnates the air. Martyn Grant’s vociferations boost the vileness of the song, with guitarists Paul “Budgie” Garbett and Leigh Jones being spot-on with their heavy and demonic riffs throughout the song’s eight raw and fierce minutes, ending with a sensational solo by lead guitarist Geoff Holmes. The following song, Destroyer of Worlds, is tailored for breaking your neck and pulverizing your spinal cord, with the Death Metal vocals by Martyn matching perfectly with the musicality generated by the rest of the band. It is a kick-ass combination of the heaviness and moodiness of Sludge Metal with the belligerence of Death Metal, or in other words, the level of brutality in this amazing composition is definitely not for the lighthearted. And increasing their speed a bit and leaning towards a more Death Metal vibe, Warcrab keep attacking us all with their visceral music in the solid In the Shadow of Grief, where all guitarists are in perfect sync while Rich continues to fire his rhythmic and potent beats.

group-photoIn the sensational Bury Me Before I’m Born, Geoff’s soulful solos are exactly what’s needed to give more balance to the overall inhumanity generated by the band in the beginning of the song, before Martyn growls his possessed words in a demonic way. Moreover, it has a primeval and tribal feel that gets mesmerizing as the song progresses, with the thunderous bass by Dave “Guppy” Simmonds snarling like an evil monster in the background. Warcrab still have a 10-minute ode to darkness and hate to offer us all, the title-track Scars of Aeons, a groovy and powerful composition where Martyn leads the band’s Doom Metal assault with his deranged growls and screams. Despite being a neck-breaking tune, it also brings forward a good amount of melody and harmony to the listener, proving how talented the whole band is, gradually slowing down and getting more and more blackened and melancholic until all is said and done.

As aforementioned, I consider Scars of Aeons one of the most complete and thrilling Sludge/Doom Metal albums of the past few years, offering all the elements traditionally found in this type of music and at the same time presenting a fresh vibe thanks to the sensational job done by all Warcrab guys with their instruments. They deserve our respect and support for carrying the flag of extreme music in such a classy way, and in order to do that we should all give them a shout at their Facebook page, bang our heads to their music at their YouTube channel, and obviously purchase Scars of Aeons at the Black Bow Records’ BandCamp page.

Best moments of the album: Destroyer of Worlds and Scars of Aeons.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Black Bow Records

Track listing
1. Conquest 8:29
2. Destroyer of Worlds 4:47
3. In the Shadow of Grief 5:56
4. Bury Me Before I’m Born 4:51
5. Scars of Aeons 10:09

Band members
Martyn Grant – vocals
Geoff Holmes – lead guitar
Paul “Budgie” Garbett – guitar
Leigh Jones – guitar
Dave “Guppy” Simmonds – bass
Rich Parker – drums