INTO THE STORM / SMOOTH SAILING – Split EP

Metal oriented split releases are great, especially when they feature a couple of cult bands that share a similar musical root. The 2015 split between Cult of Luna and the lesser known Old Wind was interesting, and especially so considering Old Wind absolutely trounced the band most people would have bought the release to hear. Better yet, the 2018 split between Slomatics and Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard achieved the same fate: after years of championing sludge and doom riffs, Ireland’s finest were outshone at almost every turn by the amusingly named Welsh upstarts. It was a release that no doom lovers should be without and one that proved that Mammoth Weed’s moment of glory had truly come.

A split between Into The Storm and Smooth Sailing is a natural phenomenon. Both bands have a similar approach to heaviness yet have their own style, so it’s easy to favour one over the other. Also – and perhaps this is the deal clincher here – Like Melvins and Fantomas, there’s some crossover with regard to band members. This EP is also a good way to get some previously unheard material out to both long standing fans and new listeners alike.

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MAMMOTH WEED WIZARD BASTARD / SLOMATICS – Totems (Split)

What happens when you take two doom bands whom have a mutual respect for each other and give them one side of an LP each? Possibly one of the heaviest records ever! ‘Totems’, from Black Bow Records, combines five previously unreleased tracks – three from Slomatics and two from Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard – and presents the ultimate in doom, though somehow without things ever feeling as if they’re verging on a pointless macho pissing contest.

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THE WHITE SWAN – The White EP

Towards the end of 2016, Canadian doom merchants The White Swan unleashed their debut EP. Although just offering the discerning riff-junkie just three tracks, on ‘Anubis’, Mercedes Lander and her crew of heavyweight sludge lovers proved that quality always wins out over quality. Between the band’s own ‘Blood’ – a perfect fusion of heaviness and an odd, treacly psychedelia – and the heaviest version of Wings’ ‘Jet’ ever – hearing is believing – the release was an instant classic. Several months on, their eagerly awaited follow up doesn’t so much pick up where the previous tracks left off, but tries its utmost to smash the previous efforts into smithereens [in this case, meaning a thousand pieces; at no point do The White Swan attempt to put their heaviest stamp upon anything written by Pat DiNizio, but it might be a fun idea…]

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EMPTYBROOK – Emptybrook EP

Summer in Finland is short. Very short, apparently. Maybe that’s why this band have chosen a moniker that at once conjures images of nature, only to couple the pastoral visions with the idea of something lacking. There’s no babbling brook here, no salmon leaping…just emptiness. It’s the near perfect choice of name as it turns out, as an empty brook suggests dashing hopes. Maybe it’s those dashed hopes that have made these four Finns so scathing, since Emptybrook’s music attacks with a scowl, a hardened vocal and an echoing reverb that’s deeply unnerving.

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