Friday, May 26, 2017

General Grievous- What Do You Do at The End of The World? (2017)

General Grievous, who shouldn't be surprised if they receive a cease and desist from Disney/Lucasfilm play extreme sludge with hateful and loathsome malice. I get the feeling these dudes draw most of their influences outside of the sludge genre. However this is firmly grounded in sludge. While the production suggests something more slick, this is still filthy sludge that runs black through their veins. The drummer on this album plays at a very moderate to slow tempo, but plays with this frenetic energy and is fucking killing it with his double kick work. Maybe comparable to Mastodon's early shit, but this is even way different than that. I'm kinda scratching my head to think of who I'd compare them to, and I can't think of anything.  There's moments where the guitar and kick drum chug together as one, which is typical for metalcore, deathcore, and maybe even djent, but this is definitely not that. This is bulldozer sized sludge that is heavy as fuck and makes no compromises. It's dark and grotesque and moves very precise like a well oiled machine (not unlike the band's namesake). In fact I'm sure you could replace John Williams' score in Episode 3 for Grievous' major fight scene with the band's music, it would probably be dope as fuck and make a shit ton of sense. They are the aural equivalent of his entire existence. Also just throwing this out there, you know it's a great EP if you're waiting for the next song to start playing after their final song. Definitely a fan of this band. They kind of bring some elements into sludge that for whatever reason I don't hear very often, and I think that's fucking great and I hope they keep pushing in that direction. Oh I totally forgot to write these dudes are from Russia as well. So many good Doom/Sludge bands coming out of Russia, and these dudes are my favorites. Highly recommend this one! Cheers! -Samir

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Gravehuffer- Your Fault (2017)

Gravehuffer is the kind of band that doesn't give a fuck about genre conventions and just play whatever the fuck they want. If they wanna play a blistering fast hardcore punk song, they just fucking play it. If they wanna include thrash riffs, fuck it who cares throw it in. Blast Beats? Fine by me, just insert them over here. "Your Fault" is not sloppy by any means. The riffs are tightly woven together, like Ed Gein's human skin furniture collection. Combining Sludge, Thrash, Crust, Hardcore Punk, and some Grindy parts, these dudes make some gnarly sounding jams. The guitars are chunky and hefty, and definitely suited for playing the different subgenres they kind of speed through. The singer kinda reminds me of Kevin Sharp from Brutal Truth. It's hoarse and gutteral without being considered a death growl and not just straight forward screaming. It's​ very unique sounding. Overall "Your Fault" is definitely an amalgam of metal subgenres, but nothing that is too experimental. It's brutal, blunt, and you can bang your head to it. What more would you want or need? Cheers! -Samir

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Boris Randall- All That is Black (2017)

Meet Boris Randall. Boris is an incredibly talented gentleman with more than twenty-five years of experience playing horror punk and heavy metal in bands such as the Splatterpunks, Hallowmas, and Necrophagia. His most recent work, a solo album entitled "All That Is Black", is a grand force of heavy, doom-infused, sludge-hardened metal that will leave your speakers shaking. On this record Boris did everything: all writing, recording, and mastering. When you hear it, you're getting a true, 100% solo effort. It's a tiny window into this man's soul - and he has some solid stuff in there. It starts out with the slow, hazy track "Blaspheme The Cross" but then smoke clears up a bit afterwards and you can see more of the hard edge that the album brings. The sound is deep and the guitar and bass synchronize to produce a tone that COULD bludgeon you, but will only push you around a bit in a rocky groove. The third track changes up the vocals and becomes a Danzig-esque tune, the fourth track is a short instrumental with an almost uplifting riff, and then the rest of album continues on with the wicked clamor introduced by the second song. This isn't a sound that will brutalize you, but it will rough you up a little with a friendly pounding. This is definitely an impressive release from a single man - another good one for his ever-growing discography! -Brandon

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Battle Hag- Tongue of The Earth (2017)

Ancient. Epic. Evil. Battle Hag. The band claims to originate from Sacramento, CA, but it seems more likely that they came from a realm far beyond our own, entering this world by way of an arcane, inter-dimensional portal. Whatever the case may be, they have combined their magicks with the folks at Transylvanian Tapes in order to deliver "Tongue of the Earth"; five monolithic tracks of death-doom carefully crafted with a somber but mighty tone. Instrumentally, the band presents a powerful doom metal sound, laden with sorrow and impressive layered guitars. Every track has been forged with a mystic energy and as a result the riffs and solos almost have a medieval mythological feel. On your first listen, you might start off thinking that this could be epic doom - until the vocals kick in. With deep, wicked growls slowly evolving into coarse, thunderous shouts the vocals are an explosive force tearing through each song with an unworldly pain. The whole package presents a deep, undying grief that resonates with a dark strength. Every track on this album is compelling, and even if you're not normally a death-doom fan, I recommend giving this one a try. -Brandon

Monday, May 22, 2017

Unexpected Specter Interview

I had the chance to interview Rosario who goes by the Unexpected Specter, some time ago. He does a lot of work with bands, and one look at his Instagram or Tumblr you can see why he's churning works out for bands left and right. There's definitely an overall theme in his work which is usually in black and white and hand drawn. You'll notice a lot of skulls, bones, decay, animals, and just nature in general. It's bleak, primitive, and raw, and looks great for a band t-shirt, sticker, poster, or flyer. Anyway, I wanted to know how Rosario works, especially someone who does a huge chunk of his output focusing on art for bands. 

Super Dank Metal Jams: When did you start drawing? Did you go to school for it or take any classes directed towards illustration?

Unexpected Specter: I've been drawing since I can remember, it was always a constant in my life. By 4th grade I was creating comic books of my own characters with multiple issues. I took classes in high school and went to a few years of college for animation, but never finished. Did a lot of studying on my own, lots of trial and error.

SDMJ: When did you decide to make art for bands and monetize it?

US: I am a musician as well and played in several bands over the years. So it made sense to combine these two passions.I would always do my own band's art and work for friends' bands etc. It was not until a few years ago I decided to try and make a living off of it. A decision that didn't come lightly. I found it difficult at first to charge bands and put a monetary value to the artwork.

SDMJ: What bands were you in or currently playing in? Anything on Bandcamp, YouTube, or Soundcloud?

US: I played in a post hardcore band years ago and nothing remains online from that project. Sometime ago, a buddy and I wrote a doom/folk album and that is up on bandcamp.

SDMJ: When you say making a living off of it, does this mean this is a full time gig for you, or is this just something you do on the side?

US: I do freelance full time.

SDMJ: Do you doodle a lot for fun or practice?

US: Yes, for sure. When I am not doing commissions, I work on personal projects. Work that might become prints or maybe trying out some new techniques.

SDMJ: You seem to have a preference for hand drawn over digital. Why is that?

US: A couple of reasons. One, I am still very much a tangible person when it comes to certain things. I still buy physical comics and music and just can't let go (literally) of holding a piece of paper in my hand. Two, I feel I have more control with open and ink and I do a lot of stuff with paint splashes. Some things you can't just replicate. There is also this safety net when working digital that I don't care for. If I miss draw a line in ink or spray too much ink in a direction, its there no going back. It could lead down a direction you might not have gone down, that's exciting to me.

SDMJ: How do you manage doing your art with your normal life? Do you have a routine you like to stick with?

US: Definitely, I find it really a necessity to have a routine. Block out certain times of the day for differing sections of my life.

SDMJ: What's your daily routine look like?

US: It varies a bit, but I usually start with emailing, either reaching out to bands that caught my ear or communicating with bands that I was in a previous contact with, and with bands i'm currently working with. Then some ink to paper, sketches or final pieces which ever the day is calling for.

SDMJ: What is your goal when working with bands?

US: That I created a piece of work that represents both the band and myself.

SDMJ: What is your favorite piece of work you worked on?

US: Over several years I have been working on a one shot comic, that I will be releasing soon. I am very proud of it. I worked on every aspect of it and it is a story I am excited to tell.

SDMJ: What's the comic about?

US: It is called "Three Day Pallbearer" and I should be releasing it fairly soon. Its about a couple of life long friends and dealing with losing loved ones. It takes place just after the American Civil War.

SDMJ: Who are your favorite artists? Who do you look up to? Who would you say is an influence on your work?

US: There are a few artists that were a big influence in my early years, Jim Lee and Jack Kirby. From seeing their art, which not only was I in awe over as a kid, it would also set me on a path to want to do what they do. Later in life around high school, I discovered Ralph Steadman and my mind was blown.


SDMJ: What are your favorite comics from Lee and Kirby? Any memorable issues that stick out in particular?

US: It's hard to pick a favorite Kirby book, too much to chose from. I will say, the character designs of Thing and Darkseid are some of my favorite. The texture of their skin and broad features are killer. As for Lee, early  X-Men and Wolverine work definitely an influence on me growing up. Also his work on Batman: Hush is fantastic.

SDMJ: Where do you get your ideas from? How do you stay inspired?

US: Nature. It is a never-ending source of inspiration. So many variations of life and each life has different forms and phases. There are a lot of time throughout an average day when I see something and say, I want to draw that.

SDMJ: What are you currently listening to or what would you recommend listening to?

US: Bands I have been listening to a lot lately, not just one album but their whole catalog: Converge, Neurosis, Deftones, and Faith No More. Also, I had the pleasure of doing some work for Moon Curse for their last album "Spirit Remain". It is a really great record that I have had in pretty steady rotation since I got it.

SDMJ: What advice would you give yourself if you could travel back in time to when you first started?

US: To work at it as a constant. Keep creating always, even if nothing is on your mind to draw just start drawing something, and put pen to paper.

So here's our very second interview for the blog, and I opted to interview an artist rather than a band. Why might you ask? Well other than being truly interested in Unexpected Specter's work, in general I want the interviews here to be more of an exploration into the mechanics of things. A sort of "How does it work?" from the interviewee's perspective. So expect more interviews here to be focused on the behind the scenes aspect of things, and the people who are more involved with that. I'm not going to shy away from interviewing bands, but expect them to be more specific.

Here are some other recent artworks done by Unexpected Specter. Enjoy! Cheers! -Samir

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Merchant- Beneath EP (2017)

Welcome to the dark and horrid journey to despair that is the new Merchant EP. Beaneth starts out pretty psychedellic and trippy (although still dark) before it really starts steamrolling over people. They play sludge metal that's as thick and black as tar, and as heavy as a fucking tidal wave of molasses. With only two songs both clocking in at under 15 mins each, this EP is pretty​ relentless, and crushes and flattens with it's monumental weight. The hulking monstrous guitars create a dark mountainous soundscape of filthy tones and mighty detuned riffage. The bass is grand like a fucking mammoth, solid and bulky, charging mightily and shaking the earth beneath (pun maybe intended here). The vocals are coarse and wrath like, cutting through the mix with the delicate touch of a rusty switch blade knife. Overall this EP is great, and you can add Merchant to the list of great Sludge/Doom bands from Australia, because they definitely deserve to be on one. Cheers! -Samir

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Beastmaker- Inside The Skull (2017)

Well sad news today... Chris Cornell died last night in Detroit. I'm sure many of you reading this are fans of Soundgarden music or have been affected by it in some way or another. "4th of July" will always be one of my favorite Soundgarden songs and Thou's cover of it is so fucking crushing. Anyway, on to the review. RIP dude.
Loudwire posted the full album stream of this yesterday and I was like how could I not listen and review this album? When I heard "Lusus Naturae" for the first time I was like "Wow, my new favorite band!" I was instantly sold. The songs were simple and straight forward with no filler, and they're catchy, heavy, and sinister as fuck. The songs had the atmosphere of an old Hammer Film. There's a lot of dread and foreboding in the tunes, all accompanied by Trevor William Church's ghastly yet melodic sung vocals.
"Inside The Skull" picks up right where "Lusus Naturae" left off. What you get here is nothing but horror infused doom laiden heavy riffage and it fucking rules! Only difference I can hear right off the bat that kind of separates it from the previous release is the wider use of dynamics, and an underlying NWOFBHM influence that I may not have picked up on the first album. However you can really hear it in the solos and they fucking rip on this one. I'm not much on solos unless they add something to song, and Church's solos are top notch.
This album is all about the evil riffs. This is one way I feel Beastmaker separates themselves from the rest. They have a retro sound that appeals to the Sabbath lover in me, but its thick and heavy and they manage to make it their own rather than just being another copy. They write good and memorable riffs, that you can hum and band your head to. Plus I found myself even singing along to some of them chanting "Abomination... Of God's Creation", Overall I probably don't have to convince many of you to listen to this, as you probably were going to anyway. I fucking dig it and its one of my favorites of the thus far. This is going to be on repeat for days! Cheers! -Samir