PAST LIFE ROMEO – You Look Just Like Me EP

Past Life Romeo is a musical project from Camila Djadja, a multi-faceted musician previously associated with indie pop band Sugar Pills. This isn’t just a mere side project, however. Since ‘You Look Just Like Me’ was created during a period when they were “going through major changes in their life”, the music here sometimes represents a drastic overhaul from Sugar Pills’ accessible indie. It’s not always as easily likeable, but its many layers often represent something that’s more pleasingly complex.

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DOPETHRONE – Broke Sabbath

In the pre-release press materials for ‘Broke Sabbath’, Canadian sludge metallers Dopethrone referred to the album’s material as having gone “full on ‘Volume 4’…”, and although the band aren’t working in a pure doom genre, in terms of intensity, it’s possible to see what they mean. Sort of, at least. Back in ’72, Sabbath’s fourth album was their most uncompromising to date, and by association, one of the heaviest albums to date from metal’s first wave. Although far sludgier, the best material here certainly has the same relentless quality that tracks like ‘Wheels of Confusion’ would have conveyed decades earlier. Without quibbling too much over a difference in style, whichever way you slice it, this is an album that takes its art to the absolute extreme.

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SEITANS – Vegan Nights

Featuring members of The Furies, Seitans are an Italian punk band with a pre-occupation with Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, Tommy…and vegan food that gave them “the shits”. On this album, they take a classic Ramonescore sound and push it into overdrive, whilst aiming to entertain genre fans with a bunch of tales that involve a lack of animal products, perilous dates, Alice Cooper name checks, purse snatching and picking up a girl in a bar who might or might not be a famous actress.

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CATHARI – It Will Hurt The Entire Time You’re Alive EP

Cathari’s 2023 release ‘In God’s Infinite Silence’ presented six tracks of wonderful bleakness. On that record’s best tunes, the band’s doom metal influenced sound centred around a clean vocal and clean guitar, which often resulted in its oppressive feel coming from a gothic perspective. Going a little deeper, an intermittent concession to cold post-metal, as opposed to recycled Sabbath-isms, gave the band a strong sense of identity. When reaching for further extremes, passages where doom collided with abrasive black metal influences suggested Cathari were already drawing from a bigger well of intensity than most. Overall, the record left the feeling that the band might deliver something even more intense going forward.

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RED MESA – Partial Distortions

Red Mesa’s second album ‘The Path To The Deathless’ brought the world a selection of finely crafted riffs during the pandemic lockdown of 2020. At the album’s most melodic, tracks like ‘Death I Am’ injected an extra spookiness into a classic desert rock backdrop; at its most groove laden, Red Mesa blended the driving elements of early Sabbath’s faster offerings with an extra layer of fuzz that looked back to classic Corrosion of Conformity, and when occasionally stretching for heavier sounds, their slow and oppressive riffs showed a love for the mighty Electric Wizard. In terms of taking a bunch of key influences and chucking them into a giant stoner metal stew, it was the kind of album that genre fans would love.

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