In terms of cinematic doom metal, there are few albums finer The Howling Void’s fifth release ‘Runa’. It’s slow and enormous sound is one that truly provides an immersive listening experience; a collection of heavy tunes which, after hearing, suggests that any follow up would lead to disappointment. The Howling Void’s mainman, “R”, did the only sensible thing: he stepped back and allowed plenty of time to pass before unleashing another album into the wild. Almost three years in the making, 2016’s ‘The Triumph of Ruin’ does not disappoint. It’s perhaps a little softer and a little more gothic in places, but the forty minutes worth of music within very much represents some fine and brooding riffery.
Sharing a label with Harrow, Darkspace and Krasseville, it was always obvious that Drought’s debut album wouldn’t be an easy listen. Quickly gaining positive notices from cult music blogs situated in the deepest corners of the internet, ‘Rudra Bhakti’ set itself a place among lovers of extreme music, while simultaneously presenting something that barely represents music at all. There’s extreme and there’s extreme, and Drought piledrive noise across twenty four brutal minutes, leaving behind something that borders on the unlistenable, almost to the point of representing some kind of bizarre aural self-harm.
Hailing from Dublin, metal four-piece Devolted originally came together due to a love of old-school heavy metal. A few line-up changes led to a shift in their sound and their 2016 EP ‘Broken Kings’ isn’t so much leather jackets, twin leads and dubious mullets as a really thoughtful blend that takes in bits of classic metal and a huge slab of groove as well as touches of thrash and hardcore. It’s four songs, while not too far removed from lots of stuff you’ll have heard before, shows the work of a band that’s keen to mix up their influences and come up with something that is – at least musically – both entertaining and powerful.
A prolific songwriter and member of Los Angeles’ I See Hawks In LA, Robert Rex Waller, Jr puts his mark on 2016 with a covers project ‘Fancy Free’. Named after the Oak Ridge Boys hit that has pride of place midway through his thirteen track journey through the past, his choice of title could also refer to the decrease in pressure that comes from having material already written.
A band previously described as having “vim and verve”, Herfordshire’s The Lunar Effect play a brand of stoner and desert rock that so often has a definite American sound. Taking bits of Kyuss, Trouble, Sun Voyager and the obligatory seasoning of Sabbath, their work is riff heavy, but often tempered by a welcome spaciousness giving proceedings a slightly trippy nature. Following their 2014 home recorded EP, for 2016’s ‘Strange Lands’, Jon Jefford (vox/g) and Daniel Jefford (d) now find themselves as part of a full band and with a slightly bigger recording budget. This gives their first full length release more scope than they ever had before.