DAXMA – Ruins Upon Ruins EP

Two years on from their devastating ‘The Head Which Becomes The Skull’ Californian doomsters Daxma (pronounced Dahk-ma) unleash a career best with the ‘Ruins Upon Ruins’ EP. Their first release for Blues Funeral Records, it might look like a stop-gap since it features just two songs but the reality is somewhat different. Each of the featured pieces stretches beyond ten minutes (one even fills a full quarter of an hour), meaning that, combined, the two riff laden offerings actually have a running time that’s almost as long as various rock LPs from the late 60s.

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GIANT DWARF – Giant Dwarf

Every once in a while, a band comes along that sounds almost exactly like their logo and album artwork. This is one of those times. With a sound that falls somewhere between heavy psych and stoner rock, Perth’s Giant Dwarf deliver a world of fantastic riffs on this debut album. These guys have so obviously realised that it can be more effective to take influence from others and do that well, as opposed to presenting an odd mish-mash of more original sounds but end up with a record that’s going to be perhaps quite marginal. It’s resulted in a release that’s full of belters that fall somewhere between classic ‘Dopes’ era Monster Magnet and the more focused Queens of The Stone Age – pretty much guaranteed to please most listeners who loved stoner and space rock in the late 90s…and still find themselves craving some deep fuzz.

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HIGH PRIEST – Sanctum EP

Formed in 2016, Chicago’s High Priest mix doomy metal and heavy blues sounds in a way that’ll be guaranteed to please fans of ‘Americas Volume Dealer’ era Corrosion of Conformity as well as those who’ve made it all the way through the particularly lengthy 2CD edition of Jerry Cantrell’s ‘Degradation Trip Vols. 1 & 2’. Here is a band that not only loves a heavy riff but truly understands that heaviness is at its most effective when applied to a strong melody. As a result, ‘Sanctum’ is a must-hear.

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1968 – Ballads Of The Godless

At the very beginning of 2016, a doom-blues/stoner trio crawled from the wilds of Cheshire and into the ears of an unsuspecting audience. Amping the blues much further than most had dared, their debut EP presented a cornucopia of heavy riffs; their music a fuzzy love letter to metal’s founding fathers. Almost twelve months later, that EP remained almost unsurpassed, marking a place among the year’s finest metal achievements. A year on, the band signed with Black Bow Records – home to Bast and Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard – for a well received follow up.

2018’s ‘Ballads of The Godless’ – released through HeviSike Records is, well, heavy. Sometimes drainingly so. However, if you’ve already been acquainted with the 1968 sound, the album brings forth plenty of superb riffs; riffs which, when dressed in the band’s signature sludgy sound, have a timeless appeal. Timeless, of course, if you like Orange Goblin, Electric Wizard, Sloburn and Slomatics. As before, if you’re able to see through the heaviness, it also includes some fine, blues tinged sounds that – thanks to a very old-fashioned production style – are a welcome nod to a world of fuzzy analogue grooves in an all too digital age.

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PINK COCOON – Alienation

For the purposes of this studio recording, Montreal’s Pink Cocoon isn’t a band, but the work of multi-instrumentalist Zolla Marc. He’s a man who cites a fairly diverse selection of rock and blues acts among his influences, ranging from the predictable Black Sabbath and Electric Wizard, to the more unexpected – quite often, metal based performers won’t take time out to praise Robin Trower, especially when praise for Hendrix seems likely to get more attention. He also name-checks The Distillers and The Pretty Reckless among bands who’ve helped shape his playing and sound. For most stoner practitioners, the musical sphere starts with the first four Sabbath albums, moves into Hawkwind and then goes back to Sabbath’s ‘Never Say Die’…y’know, for variety, so while you’d be hard pushed to hear the influence from Brodie Dall or Taylor Momsen on this debut release, it’s still thrilling to know Zolla isn’t stuck in a musical rut.

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