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Doomsday // March 2024

I could pretend we always planned to cover both January and February on this edition of Doomsday. But I appreciate you too much to lie to you.

25 days ago

I could pretend we always planned to cover both January and February on this edition of Doomsday. But I appreciate you too much to lie to you. The reality is that February is a bitch of a month and I completely forgot to run Doomsday. That's right: we had a fully submitted column and I simply...forgot to post it. So, here you go - a recap of the first two months of the year 2024. Actually, looking at it now, this sort of summary serves a purpose, namely it highlights what a fucking incredible year it has been already for doom, stoner, and everything in between. I mean, there are two album of the year candidates in here already, as well as plenty of other excellent albums.

Truly we are blessed. And so, spitting at time's eye (and specifically at February, that cold, wet, miserable runt of the litter), here is Doomsday. Rock on!

Mountain Caller - Chronicle II: Hypergenesis

Getting to follow Mountain Caller’s journey over the past few years has been a true joy. From back in the day when we and a few other progressive stoner enthusiasts were writing about them, through the wider appeal that The Truthseeker garnered them, and all the way to here when Hypergenesis, their 2024, is one of the year’s most expected. The journey is enhanced even further by how good Hypergenesis really is; it feels like a culmination of all of the little elements and ideas that Mountain Caller have been adding to their sound over the past few years. 

As a result, it is their most dynamic album yet, ping-ponging from the more somber, contemplative, doom and stoner Mountain Caller vibes and the more progressive, agile, and groovy foundations of their style. “Daybreak”, the opening track, is more indicative of the former, setting a melancholic and yet hopeful mood to the album which works very well with its covert art, the protagonist perched on the beginning of a deeper journey. “Dead Language” channels this protagonist even further with the inclusion of excellent vocals that work well with that more agile, groove-centric style that I mentioned. The way these two sounds approach work makes “Dead Language” the centerpiece of the album, filled with danger, momentum, and unstoppable riffs. 

Further along the line you’ll also find  "March of the Göll", which we were proud to premiere a few months ago, back in 2023, and which works even better as part of the album’s overreaching flow and the next chapter it represents in the band’s history. Taken as a work in and of itself, but especially as another step in the enchanting story of Mountain Caller’s rise to power, Hypergenesis is a phenomenal progressive stoner album as we’ve come to expect from the band, but also the group continuing to challenge what they do and what they do well. I love listening to it not only because it’s great to listen to but because it, once again, makes me very excited for the future of Mountain Caller.

-EK

Writhen Hilt - Ancient Sword Cult

Straight up heavy metal (what’s someone known as “traditional” heavy metal) doesn’t release enough noteworthy albums to merit its own column at Heavy Blog. Therefore, we are happy to host it here at Doomsday, which makes sense as doom and heavy metal have always been two interlinked genres. Regardless of the overall quantity coming from this originator of the metal sound, the quality of albums in the recent few years is undoubtable. Writhen Hilt is one more example. If you long for the sounds of the olden days, when heavy metal was all barbed wire, bare steel, and unbridled aggression, look no further than Ancient Sword Cult. It channels those years where heavy and doom metal were one and approaches its production, album structure, and overall sound with a modern approach that is nonetheless extremely faithful to the classic. Lightning midnight steel!

P.S if you’re unsold for some reason, listen to “Mountain” and bask in its solos and then come back to me.

-EK

Disastroid - Garden Creatures

In a subgenre hyperfixated on nostalgia for the heavy metal heyday of the 1980s, San Franciscan duo Disastroid have infused their strain of sludgy, riff-laden doom with a healthy dose of 90’s grunge. The pairing works to an extremely satisfying degree, swapping leather pants and eyeliner for ripped jeans and Converse. With Garden Creatures, their sixth full-length album, Disastroid embraces stoner fuzz and rock energy for a kinetic experience that feels just right for those of us emerging into the haze of summer. 

The signature sound of Disastroid has always been unorthodox riffs filtered through a heavy veil of fuzz, pairing a surprising hit of technicality with the effortless cool of doom. Garden Creatures finds the same sludge for the intellectual stoner metalhead in full form, with the smoky edge of vocalist Enver Koneya’s adding a mournful note to the album’s muscular riffs. The layer of grunge sticking to Disastroid’s deceptively languid grooves further juxtaposes their sound against the cool of classic doom, evoking a rockstar too far gone. On “Figurative Object,” Koneya howls for help over sludgy guitars that cascade into headbanging riffs. The track captures the beautiful nightmare of ‘the show must go on’ and showcases how Disastroid continues to hone their unique sound.

 

-Bridget Hughes 

AlphaWhores - I

In some weird alternate universe exists a world exactly like our own, except the alt-rock/metal radio era that came to rise in the late 90s and throughout the 00s was actually really good. In this bizarro paradise, Panamanian multi-instrumentalist brother-sister duo AlphaWhores thrive with their vibrant, melodic, and sludgy doompop, probably becoming everyone’s favorite band instead of the likes of …well, pick your choice. However, we’re not in a bizarro paradise, so in this reality, AlphaWhores are quietly cooking up something that’s kinda in line with the sounds from that era, but with the help of decades of other kickass heavies working their way into the mix, too. Fear not Doomsday readers, there’s some heavy duty goodness here worth every bit of your volume knob.

Opener “Same Team” starts off with this kinda True Widow by way of Netherlands sorta vibe. It sets the figurative and literal tone nicely with uber-heavy guitars and (for lack of a better word) a grungy rhythm that brings to mind the likes of Sean Kinney’s work Alice In Chains. It also touches on many of the AlphaWhores hallmarks that lend to their appeal: vocal interplay, interesting vocal and guitar effects, a sneaky catchy chorus, and some tasteful, engaging songwriting. I find this last point a common hurdle for most power duos, but these two really have it dialed in — regardless of who is playing what. Elsewhere, tracks like “Raw Nerve,” “Forever Leaving,” and “Days of Sin” hit a variety of emotive highs and satisfying, chunky sludge.

I’ll admit, there are moments that lean a bit too “radio” for my own tastes, and there are some admittedly cumbersome choruses (see: “You Could’ve Been Something (But Instead You Are You).” Yes, that’s the hook!), but despite these nitpickings, I’ve kept coming back. I find it’s just a matter of keeping that bug outta yer kiester about it, but moreso it’s a testament to AlphaWhore’s unusual flavor and particularly keen songwriting. Give it a whirl, you might surprise yourself.

-Jordan Jerabek

Slift - Ilion

Ah, the dubious pleasure of writing about an album twice in one month. Luckily, in this case, the pleasure contains all of the sweetness without the sting, as I could probably write five different entries about Ilion. The album is so expansive, rich, and ambitious that it contains multitudes upon multitudes of different ideas. This time around, seeing as I’ve already covered its general thrust and sound, namely stupendously excellent French psychedelic rock, doom, and stoner, allow me to focus on the album’s structure. 

Being as it is a story of getting lost in space, Slift have done something quite clever with how Ilion is laid out; the album’s first few tracks are all fire and fury, representing the opening passages of the story and the protagonists’ journey. Its center is filled with ambience and open spaces, the vast void of space coming to dominate the narrative and the story’;s perspective. Lastly, the last few tracks return to the more forceful approach of the first part but much mellowed out, more progressive rock than anything else. This, of course, represents the transformation of the end of the heroes’ journey, their flame and verve transformed into wisdom, contemplation, and acceptance.

The use of these motifs in such an effortless way to the extent that you can completely enjoy the album without noticing any of this is nothing short of brilliance. Instead of overwrought and didactic lyrics and simple, crude storytelling devices, Slift augment the far-reaching tale at the heart of Ilion by cleverly constructing the album’s sound around it. It’s the true mark of a successful concept album, elevating it from merely an experiment in storytelling and into an engrossing fable in and of itself. Also the riffs fucking bang OK? Listen to this album!

-EK

Misleading - Face the Psych

What the fuck, Misleading? What wormhole did you take to arrive on Earth to deliver this record that’s simply too huge for any simple human brain to process? If I’m being honest, to say Face the Psych is the product of some alien masterminds might actually be selling these dudes short, because this is as about as unearthly of a psych album that’s ever crossed my ears in recent years, if not ever.

This Portuguese group absolutely brings it in terms of elastic energies, body-quaking volume, and undeniably trippy songcraft. The diversity of instrumentation is ushered in on opener “Visual Tempo” serves as a fair warning. Their heavy use of effects bends guitars to sound like horns, keys morph from vintage organs to cosmic roars, and reverb-soaked vocals dissipate into incomprehensible noise. It’s an unabashedly loud record, serving both their mammoth riffage and their delirious fervor for mind-bending and jammy narrations well. Touches like a little snare rattle peeking through via the open guitar riff in “Tutte le Nove Vite” or the feedbacking buzz in “Spazio Nascosto” will encourage those with a proclivity for volume to roll that dial up and then rip it off. Amp worship lovers will find a lot to love here — and probably in many new and refreshing ways.

There’s a certain Earthless-like quality to their style where free-spirited guitar leads take up spaces typically filled by vocals and scene-setting, amorphous atmospheres carry listeners through Face the Psych’s somehow too-brief 50-plus minutes. It makes the moments where vocals peek through a little more substantive, but it also makes getting lost in Misleading’s spacey washes of sound and boundless torrents of distortion that much easier. Take into account this record’s dynamic presentation, bounding from vintage-sounding heavy psych to heady krautrock to hulking doom to all the other surprises in store here, it’s an addicting listen that dares even the most persistent listeners to indulge. I suggest to simply take the album title as a challenge: face this psych. Now.

-JJ

Lord Dying - Clandestine Transcendence 

Portland, Oregon’s progressive sludge wizards Lord Dying re-emerged with an expanded lineup and even greater ambition with Clandestine Transcendence, an immersive concept album that takes their melancholic and crushing sound to soaring new heights. 

Picking up where 2019’s Mysterium Tremendum left off, Clandestine Transcendence finds The Dreamer achieving his greatest wish: death. The immortal being who grieved their unending journey throughout Mysterium Tremendum has found a way to reach eternal rest. The tension and fury that formed a harsh current on Lord Dying’s previous work has found a melancholic-yet-relieved edge that guides The Dreamer on his final days. Augmented by bassist Alyssa Mocere (former Eight Bells) and drummer Kevin Schwartz, Lord Dying is even more inventive and confident in their distinctive prog/stoner/sludge sound. 

The sonic palette of Clandestine Transcendence is a masterclass in juxtaposition, playing different styles and sounds off each other for cinematic effect. The album immediately grabs listeners with mournful, softly droning clean vocals that contrast against the harsh growls of Erik Olson. The stoner rock groove of “The Universe is Weeping” leans into the haunted drones, setting the stage for the gut punch of “I AM NOTHING I AM EVERYTHING,” a grungy burst that captures the ferocity of The Dreamer’s pursuit of death.

A more optimistic feel erupts with “Unto Becoming,” which harnesses the sounds of stoner rock to energize us as The Dreamer gets closer to his goal. But with death, even one as welcome as The Dreamer’s, also brings grief. “Final Push into the Sun” mimics a funeral dirge with melancholic and melodic tones, accented by synths. The descent to the end triggers a vibe shift on Clandestine Transcendence, with the crushing haze of sludge moving to the forefront. Stoner riffs add muscle as death cascades over the listener,  enveloping us in the stages of grief as the universe mourns an end that was never supposed to arrive. 

-Bridget Hughes

Eden Kupermintz

Published 25 days ago