A mighty and bellowing HAIL to thee, O Heaviest of Bloggers! I hope you all had a much deserved month of spooky dookies. I was REALLY striving to go 31 for 31 with horror movies, but I didn’t quite make it. I did get in quite a few good ones, including some really solid horror-adjacent movies like I Saw the Devil. However, I would strongly recommend the Western-influenced folk horror The Wind. It had been on my list for awhile and popped up on Netflix, so my wife and I finally took a peek at it. Folk horror is having a great renaissance right now, and this is a brilliant example of what directors can do these days on tiny budgets for streaming platforms. On the other end, I was less impressed by Halloween Kills. Halloween is my absolute favorite horror series, so I’ll watch whatever Michael Myers gets up to. But there was a lot of unnecessary melodrama to the movie that I didn’t find necessary. I will say that I dug the idea of vignettes of what the citizens of Haddonfield are doing on this final (?) night of Myers rampage. The movie also had some beautiful shots and great kills, both of which saved it for me. If you like Halloween as a series, you’ll enjoy it.

As much as I’m sure y’all are fine with a little horror movie chat, you came here for big booming riffs and marijuana references. And boy howdy are we delivering again this month! The fall is always a great time for our favorite subgenre. There’s always great releases, and the feeling in the air makes it perfect for listening. It’s like spring but for riffs! Not only is that the case but we’ve also got a pretty wide variety of sounds to deliver this month. From the upbeat realms of desert rock to the darkest moments of blackened sludge, your boys are here to deliver the good stuff. Enough of my yappin’, LET’S GET SOME RIFFS.

OphisSpew Forth Odium (funeral death-doom)

Y’all know I love me a good subgenre band. There’s something about the combination of sounds I find irresistible. It’s like mixing your sweet with your salty. One thing I’ve come to truly love is that sweet spot of death and doom. I’ve noticed a lot of bands like calling themselves death-doom but few bands really hold up to that combination. You’ve got may be slow, you’ve gotta have riffs, and you have to sound just NASTY. Which is why I have to promote Ophis and their latest, Spew Forth Odium. Few bands represent everything that death and doom metal have to offer, but god-DAMN does Ophis do it the best I’ve yet to hear.

Spew Forth Odium is an incredible sound to me. It is equal parts melodically beautiful and completely disgusting (in the best way conceivable) at the same time. This quartet writes tragically gorgeous melodies on par with bands like Swallow the Sun. Opening track “Default: Empty” is the best representation of what Spew Forth Odium is. The dramatic rise and fall of the instrumentation pairs well with the lyrical topics of malevolent abandonment and ultimate tragedy. It’s not very often you hear such a combination that really drives home an artist’s ideas like that track, but Ophis seems more than capable since “Default: Empty” is only the beginning of the angry sorrow that is Spew Forth Odium.

Speaking of which, let’s get to the anger. While the melodies and lyrics speak to more mournful ideas, the overall presentation speaks to the more aggressive side of doom and death metal more on par with Hooded Menace on Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed. I think I love this kind of sound because it seems like such a clash of ideas to me. The interplay between the gruff and long-winded barks from vocalist Phillipp Kruppa along with the extreme heaviness of the guitars really put forth how enraged the music is, and the plodding nature of some of the song tempos make their belligerence seem much more methodical as though they have really intensely pondered every single conceivable angle of their anger. One might normally see anger and think fast and reckless, but that is simply not the case with Ophis. The slower nature of their music makes it that much more intense, and I believe it’s that intensity that I love so much. If you hadn’t heard of Ophis before reading this, check out Spew Forth Odium and know that you’re in luck with the surprising size of their back catalog. That’s my next goal.

-Pete Williams

Green LungBlack Harvest (stoner doom, folk doom)

What exactly was I expecting from Green Lung’s follow up to the excellent Woodland Rites? That album landed like a massive, mildew-covered meteor in my lap. More than anything (I write as I wear the “Into the Wild” t-shirt) I loved it for its buoyancy and for its exuberance; doom and stoner metal tends to get dragged down by occult seriousness and darker shades of aesthetics. But Green Lung are all about the celebration of tradition, nature, and the magic inherit in life and their music follows suit, full of groovy drums and dance-inducing riffs. Woodland Rites was also incredibly popular, catapulting the band into the community’s eyes and setting them on the path to really explode. 

All of these ideas coalesced into high expectations from Black Harvest and, I must say, initially I was a bit disappointed. I felt like the album lacked some of the fun and wide-eyed approach of the previous release and was too bogged down by Green Lung needing to sound bigger than ever. But then I did something which is incredibly important for us to do for bands that we love: I gave them another chance. And another. And another. I sat down with Black Harvest in different situations and I let it wash over me, trying to free myself of preconceptions and expectations. And you know what? Finally, it clicked for me. I was driving my car and the windows were rolled down. There was a glorious sunset unfolding before me. And suddenly, I understood what Green Lung were going for with Black Harvest: it’s arena stoner metal.

Allow me to explain. I definitely do not intend to use “arena” here in a derogatory way as is common in music journalism and critique. There is absolutely nothing wrong with writing sweeping, crowd-pleasing tracks that induce the feeling of “the arena” in the listener, the feeling of singing along with a great track in the midst of a crowd. And that’s 100% what Green Lung are doing on Black Harvest. Some of the more intimate, folksy elements from Woodland Rites are gone and I do miss them. But their place is taken by massive guitar riffs and way more prominent synths, drawing on tones taken straight from the heyday of psychedelic rock. Every track (except for a few interludes and ballads) is designed to sweep you away. I mean, just listen to the solo on “Leaders of the Blind”; it’s probably the “largest” and most rock n’ roll that Green Lung have ever sounded. And that’s the idea behind the whole album: loud, sweeping, punching stoner rock that takes absolutely no prisoners and wastes absolutely zero time on getting to those epic moments we all love rock for.

So, with this understanding, I was able to appreciate Black Harvest for what it was, namely the celebration that has always run through Green Lung’s music writ large. The very fact that it’s so different to Woodland Rites also makes me excited for the band’s future because they’ve proven they can reconfigure their sound and still stay true to what made me fall in love with them originally. And what more could you expect from an album which follows a band’s breakthrough release? Not much else.

-Eden Kupermintz

Blackwater HolylightSilence/Motion (doomgaze, stoner metal)

I may have written this exact sentence dozens of times, but what we ultimately want to see in our favorite artists is evolution. You don’t want to see an artist just doing the same thing over and over again. Retreads aren’t very exciting, even to those who like what you were doing in the first place. More content is fine, but interesting and unique content is much better. With that in mind, I have to highlight Blackwater Holylight’s third release, Silence/Motion. The Portland, OR quartet has been making some really fun and introspective stoner metal in their previous two releases, but Silence/Motion brings something new into the mix. It sounds like an evolution of their previous sound but at the same time altogether different and new from previous releases.

In their first two albums, Blackwater Holylight embraced the solid standard of stoner metal: lots of big riffs absolutely slathered in fuzz. The sound meshed beautifully with bassist Alison “Sunny” Faris’s vocals. Silence/Motion brings an element of mystery into the mix by adding more introspective doomgaze kinds of sounds. The new record feels more akin to a Slowdive record that way but still with the doom, fuzz, and bass. In that way, it’s a wholly unique and original sound that fits right in with the introverted fans of Doomsday.

What impresses me the most is how the production qualities on Silence/Motion make up the most significant change in the band’s sound. All of the changes you can hear in the songs and songwriting were already part of what the band did though maybe they weren’t as front-and-center as they are now. The production on the record helps create a new ambiance for the band to live in and promote the new direction they’re going in. I think it serves every track well and makes this a personal favorite for me this month. I really hope Blackwater Holylight continue to evolve this new developing sound because I absolutely adore it.

-PW

BishopBishop (blackened sludge, industrial)

I was going to clack out a few paragraphs about Abstracter’s incredible new blackened doom adventure, Abominion (seriously, don’t skip it) but I honestly got distracted, and then subsequently obsessed with Bishop’s self-titled debut. Though the two share a few sonic similarities, this French quartet’s attention to atmosphere is what kept me on the hook and continues to pull me back into this damn record on the regular. There’s just something about getting absolutely engulfed in the wonderfully dismal and grimy world they’ve built. Each composition is oppressive and intimidating, but also ruminative and dynamic – it just hurts so good.

First things first, Bishop truly bring the weight and intensity with avalanching, suffocating riffage akin to that of Hexis or Celeste. There’s some definite oof-factor in their guitar tones, and they play with a finesse that hits a real sweet spot, allowing them to leap from gritty, off-kilter shit to patient, introspective passages without really letting up on energy. Now, that’s not to say they’re lacking in dynamism or nuance. Wisely, they take a page from the book of Dirge, using affectations of noise and drones to both underscore and contrast their tumultuous brand of sludge. The attention to detail is really key in making this all come together, there’s an ever-present sense of progress as subtle textural shifts or accents take shape even amongst their most chaotic moments, culminating in something that plays differently on active or passive listens. It can demand and direct your attention, but it can also bleed into something more meditative; it’s some truly trippy, dark, heavy stuff.

The nearly eleven-minute opener offers a fair assessment of what you can expect to find on this album; there are some twists and worthy areas of exploration unearthed in the other tracks. “Untitled IV” offers similar ruminations as the opener, centering on thunderous, warped blackened sludge while shading with industrial ambience, while “Untitled II” is more noise-forward, delivering blow after blow with sadistic calculation before going completely off the rails with reckless speed and violence – then back again. “Untitled III” finds a different gear entirely with some uniquely heavy electronic textures at the forefront as layers of guitars direct the mood. The vocals fit nicely with everything, distorted and highly affected, but not so much as to lose that confrontational flair. There’s definitely a familiar feel to Bishop’s sound, but their approach brings listeners to places rarely travelled by blackened sludge bands. Long story short, get lost in this one, you just might not want to come back.

–Jordan Jerabek

Crystal CoffinThe Starway Eternal (blackened sludge)

After an incredible demo and last year’s stunning The Transformation Room, I would’ve figured we wouldn’t hear from Crystal Coffin again for a little while. Holy hell, am I glad to be wrong. I guess the boys from Vancouver got tremendously bored during the pandemic, so they just thought, “Eh, what the hell. Let’s make a record about Chernobyl.” And now we have The Starway Eternal, a brilliant record that captures so many different sounds and ideas that it would be hard to encapsulate everything in a blurb. But here at Doomsday, we love a challenge so I’m gonna try.

If you haven’t listened to Crystal Coffin yet, I have 2 things for you to know. First, just what in the hell is your problem? No, seriously. Second, imagine a half Mastodon/half High on Fire black metal hybrid. I hate describing incredible bands like Crystal Coffin by using these kinds of references, but The Starway Eternal really cements that descriptor for me. There are a lot of mesmerizing melodies packaged in fuzzy riffs and a blackened atmosphere that tell a story through progressive songwriting that feels incredibly satisfying by the end of the closing track “Mega Tomb (including Tomorrow’s Ghost)”. This is genuinely one of the most beautiful records I’ve heard this year.

More to the record itself, I am truly impressed by the leaps of growth this band has done since The Transformation Room, and that record was already pretty brilliant on its own. The Starway Eternal sees the band deepen the blackened parts of their sound, creating a dark and awe-inspiring atmosphere. If you were going to tell the story of a nuclear scientist ascending to the stars to become a being beyond human, creating an environment meant to make you feel tiny was the way to do it. There’s also some brilliant rhythms courtesy of their sludge influences that further draw you into the music, enveloping the listener in a universe all its own. No amount of effusive praise can truly encapsulate exactly how I feel about The Starway Eternal. It’s easily one of my very favorite records of the year, and I’m excited to be able to live with it for awhile.

-PW

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