Greetings, heaviest of heavy bloggers! Welcome back to Doomsday, our monthly roundup of All the Doom that’s Fit to Print.™ It’s that time of year again: between the holidays, year-end doomsday prep, and the natural industry slowdown that occurs at year’s end, this month’s Doomsday is slightly abbreviated in the number of offerings we’re serving up. No matter; the selections appearing in this month’s installment are more than strong enough to make up for the reduced numbers. Also, keep your eyes out for our year-end Doomsday roundup coming next month. 2017 was a crushing year for Doom and we can’t wait to highlight the standout releases we’ve been banging all year round. But enough chatter! Grab your earplugs; it’s Doomsday!
Marijannah – “Snakecharmer”
Straight out of the rapidly developing Singapore scene, Marijannah are here to bang heads, ride riffs, and, apparently, smoke copious doobage. This surprise single actually dropped mid-October and has been slowly been rising to the top of metal consciousness like so much dank smoke. But puff, puff, passing any further weed puns to the side for a moment, Marijannah seem poised to bring an exciting breath of fresh…air to the stoner/psych world with this single and hopefully a debut full-length in the near future.
Technically a supergroup of sorts, Marijannah brings together the best of the disparate elements within the Singapore scene: Rasyid from the almighty Wormrot joins members of Abolition A.D. and the recently defunct The Caulfield Cult to create a muscular stoner doom sound that’s completely distinct from any of the members’ original bands.
“Snakecharmer” doesn’t give listeners too much to chew on, but the single is sure to excite any fans of psych, stoner, or general riff-heavy doom. The band offers a fairly aggressive take on the style as the guitars are mixed high, the drums are energetic and keep the tempo slightly faster than may be generally expected with stoner doom, and the cleanish vocals have a soaring, retro-haunted quality that invokes the best of 90’s alt-rock and metal. All in all, this thing just rocks.
The band’s facebook page promises a full length in February 2018 via Pink Tank. Here’s hoping they stick to that schedule and the record continues and expands upon the sound of “Snakecharmer.” Until then, this lone single is going to get a workout.
Potion – Seven Sorcerers/Gravemaker
Continuing with our trend of micro releases, Potion is an emerging three-piece from Sydney who put out their debut EP of thunderous, hazy doom at the end of October. It’s exciting to have the opportunity to watch a band develop from the nascent level (the band’s Instagram account recently published a photo of the band’s first show ever) and, if Seven Sorcerers/Gravemaker is any indication, Potion seem to have a bright future ahead of them.
Regardless of the relative youth of the band itself, the two tracks on this release are fully formed, well-developed slabs of capital D Doom. The riffs are epic and engaging, the production is thick and booming, and the vocals ride the delicate line between shout/growl/scream that just seems to work well with this style. Generally speaking, the sound isn’t revolutionary but Potion pay respectable sonic homage to the more theatrical doom of old while also infusing enough modern signature touches to keep the tracks from falling into an exercise of pure nostalgia. In particular, the bridge on “Seven Sorcerers” and the eerie, melodic outro of “Gravemaker” allow the band to disrupt the hypnotic groove of each track, add a little atmosphere to the proceedings, and give vocalist/guitarist Lee Jowono a chance to throw a little bit of shimmery shredding on top of the ever-roaring rhythm section.
Keep your eyes on this crew, folks. Hopefully there is more music soon to come as Potion seem too well versed in monster doom riffing to rest on the laurels of this split single EP.
Conan – Man is Myth (Early Demos)
Like an early holiday gift from the doom gods, Conan put out a new collection of career-spanning demos this month. Any new release from the world champion caveman battle doomers is reason to celebrate and, true enough, Man is Myth is a happy surprise of sorts for fans patiently waiting the band’s new full length (set for release in early 2018). This is inarguably and unabashedly a minor release, but it’s still plenty exciting to have tracks representing the full spectrum of Conan’s discography in one package, with songs ranging from 2006 all the way through 2012 (and beyond).
Another unique and interesting wrinkle is that the album is roughly divided between “rehearsal room” demos and “studio” demos. Regardless of the setting, the tracks on Man is Myth are truly demos, with all the sonic roughness that implies. This is muddy, filthy doom throughout but the “studio” tracks do provide a slight uptick in production clarity that’s missing from the rehearsal room collection. It’s no large matter, however, as this collection is meant to give a glimpse behind the curtain and allow fans to hear the songs as they were developing from rough-edged, dirty bangers to more polished (and more thunderous) cuts that eventually made it on proper albums.
Fans concerned about loose-ended jams and half-formed ideas need have no fear. One of the more startling revelations is how well-developed these tracks already are, even in demo stage. “Battle in the Swamp” has the same forward-propulsion march as it does on Monnos and any Conan die-hard will instantly recognize the drum fill-intro of “Gravity Chasm” that, thankfully, remained intact on Blood Eagle. Indeed, these tracks are, structurally, largely the same as the songs that eventually landed in the official cannon, just presented in a new grimy, low-fi setting. Instead of a substantive reimagining of the tracks, Man is Myth is more of an alternative presentation of some old favorites.
As if anybody needed any additional incentive to check this out, though, the band includes the crushing, previously-unreleased “Domed Iron Boss” to close out the track list. Even in demo form, this thing is a doozy: all hazy drone, punishing weight, and long, simmering passages of feedback-laden dread. At nearly 15 minutes, the track lets Conan really stretch their legs and indulge in a bit of sonic experimentation, even while maintaining the thundering, ever-catchy doom trademark of the band’s sound. The final few minutes on “Domed Iron Boss” approach terrifying as the volume decreases, the distortion evaporates, and listeners are left with little more than a drum-and-bass-infused sense of encroaching, sinister menace.
Man is Myth can safely be categorized as a “fans-only” release but, after all, we’re talking about Conan here. Is there anybody that doesn’t fit into that descriptor? Get on this!