Learning to Crawl

Waaaay back in May this year, when we were still enjoying torrential rain of Biblical proportions, I posted about a band I had picked up on called Crawl, who hailed from Douglasville, Georgia.  At the time, I described their initial outings – little more than demos posted on Soundcloud – thus:

“A recent discovery has been a band that hails from Douglasville, Georgia and who go by the name of Crawl.  Only formed this spring, the band comprises Eric Crowe on guitar[of FULCI and ex-Social Infestation, Molehill & Hog Mountin], John Holloway on bass [Of Legend] and Tommy Butler on drums. This three-piece like to play heavy, downtuned southern rock with gusto.  Not yet in possession of any releases, you’ll have to check out these two tracks from Soundcloud and make your own mind up, but early signs sound promising.”

Well, they’ve now got their proverbial shit together and produced a really cracking 4 track ep, which is so sleazy and dirty it makes you afraid to touch the speakers.  The line up for this release is: Tommy Butler – Drums , Eric Crowe – Guitar & Vocals , Brad Claborn – Guitar, Bass.

In case you don’t know, Crawl delight in getting soaked in southern bluesy sludge – think Weedeater having a whiskey and crack evening with Tony Iommi and you’re not even close!  Slow and enjoyably fast in the same song, they have really come together on this release, a notable progression since their initial forays.  My feet were tapping away as I listened to this on the Mac, and I can only imagine how great this sounds in a smoky, sleazy club with the bass cabs pushing the fetid air right into your chest!

This eponymous slab of doom is buzzing with low frequency mischief and it shoots right up to the higher reaches of Rip It Up’s releases of the year.  There are, it has to be said, far too many bands out there unwilling to get a bit of dirt under their fingernails, and frankly this is the aural equivalent of an evening of the strongest pale ale and the hottest curry you can imagine – searingly good stuff, boys.  Play this loud, right now!

Hell Comes Home

I thought I would mention a cracking 7″ release I came across that you might like.  I’ll be checking out some more stuff from Hell Comes Home Records in the near future, but for now, just check out this split ep by Burning Love and Fight Amp.  It’s sludgy, heavy and hardcore.  What more ingredients could we want in our kit of punk parts?

Ok, so what are we looking at here?  Let’s start with Burning Love.  Formed in Toronto, Canada in 2007, these boys have form, with members of former sludge band Our Father in evidence – and it shows with the heavy, downtuned attack of this single.  A five piece, featuring the superbly named Easton “The Business” Lannaman on drums, they have put out on this release.  Check their sound below.

Fight Amp, on the other hand, are a three-piece from Noo Joisey, USA.  They’ve recently released their third album, Birth Control, and they really kick ass with a dose of super-low tuned, sludgy hardcore that kind of brings to mind Torche and their ilk.  This is nice.

Just play these loud, ok?

Galaxicon: Deeply Dark Doom

Memphis, Tennessee has a heritage of rock n roll that is almost unequalled by any city except Liverpool.  Let’s face it, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Elvis, Roy Orbison, B.B. King and many other notables either originated here or got their break playing in the city.  And it so happens that I have been contacted by another band that hails from Memphis, although it’s unlikely that their style of music will ever be mentioned in the same breath as those listed above.  That’s not because I don’t rate them; it’s because they play uncompromising, heavy doom!  Meet Galaxicon.

Galaxicon is Paul on drums, Ben on guitar/vox and Shawn on bass/vox.  Between the three of them they construct a towering, dark edifice of doom so negative and angry that if you walked around it, you would most likely be sucked in.  They bring to mind bands like Zoroaster, and thus their excellent spin-off, Order of the Owl, in the sense that they whip up an unrelenting fury that doesn’t just drift off into downtuned stoner, but hauls in influences from other areas such as Sabbath-y rock, the desperation of Death Metal and even the good time, whiskey – soaked groove of Weedeater.

On 7th July they release their debut album on Good for Nothing records, entitled ‘Old Gods‘.  It is a diverse affair, because of the mix of styles and also tempos and structures.  It’s mastered by James Plotkin, who also worked on the Slomatics excellent release amongst others.  Never ones to shy away from complex timing changes, which is one thing I always loved about bands like Metallica and Sepultura, these boys have got a good ol’ grounding in music and it shows.  It’s always a risk that things get too dark when listening to doom bands, but Galaxicon manage to pull it out of the swamp and crank up the tempo when things get too inward looking and intense.  The sleeve design also wins points for having an inverted pyramid, a single eye and mystic symbols in one design.

Check this release out, crack the top of a bottle of Bourbon if that’s your thing, and whip up a doom in your living room with this one!  Hot tip: start with track no. 1, ‘Serpent Savior’, crank up the volume and let the doom hit you!

Gurt Top, my Babber!

….As they say in Bristol.  But right now, forget all about that.  The news I am here to tell you about concerns a release that has impressed me considerably – but first, indulge me and let me tell you a story.  It’s [kind of] relevant.

Way back in the day, both DeHud and I were based in rural East Anglia, from where in true teenage tradition we were desperate to escape to the sunlit uplands of….well….anywhere more exciting than there, basically.  Gangly, punk and notably unlucky with the girls, our evening amusement generally involved going out to the nearest town, drinking some weak lager in a pub filled with trendy, wedge haircut wearing ‘smoothies’ as they were then known, becoming enraged that Howard Jones or Duran Duran were weakly broadcasting their anemic sub pop musical dirge from the pub jukebox, and then heading back to our respective homes – often in DeHud’s ageing, maroon Mini.

I mention this because, uniquely, his Mini had a cassette player – but not positioned where you would expect, nice and accessible on the dashboard, but rather bizzarely UNDER the driver’s seat.  This meant that every time he wanted to change tapes, it would involve a frustrating, complex and altogether dangerous manoeuvring which often led to him wandering out into the middle of the road while oncoming drivers watched bug-eyed with terror.  But it generally worked, and so our journeys were filled with tinny, compressed and in-every-way-upsetting-to-an-audiophile emissions of punk music – one or two times it would chew up the tape and go really fast, or just descend into a kind of quiet fuzz.  It raged!

Back to now, in the present day.  The above anecdote really just underlines the ‘oldness’ of the cassette medium – I remember the vast choice you had – from basic, ferrous tapes from Rumbelows right up to the fancy ‘Metal’ tapes that I only ever saw when a posh kid at school got a high end hi-fi for his birthday, and brought in a tape of some Rush album or other, on a METAL cassette.  He made sure everybody knew it was a METAL cassette as well, the smug cunt.

But issuing a new release on cassette?  I’ve only just got used to vinyl again!  It’s true, and according to Chris from Superhot Records, top UK stoner/sludge band GURT have just done it!

Says Chris: “Do you still drive a crappy old car that still has a tape player? Still got the same old NWA, Michael Jackson and Roxette tapes kicking around that are all stretched and warped? Well it’s time to update your collection with the first tape release on Superhot Records; The Gurt Collection.

Volume 1 on one side, Redwin on the other (both CD editions now sold out) and a some unreleased stuff to boot. Limited to 50 copies and pressed onto orange cassette tape, this is some of the heaviest, filthiest UK sludge around at the moment.”

It’s true, and you can get the release The Gurt Collection from the Superhot Records store here.  It is truly staggeringly heavy, and is great stuff, as we have come to expect from this band.

….and side 2 is also here:

Slomatics – Doom in Slow Motion

Above – Slomatics – photo by Mark

There, I’ve done it again.  Spent what seems like an age listening hopefully to a batch of tracks, and then, SMACK!, one jumps out and not so much screams at me, more like slaps me around the face with a large, wet cod.  Or something.  Having been soaking in the heavy delights of Liverpool’s excellent Conan for a while now, I hadn’t realised that they had released a split album last year [EP more like] with Belfast band Slomatics.  So, intrigued by the link, I checked the Northern Irish band out; what a staggering release it is. 

And my real reason for posting is that their new album is now recorded, and being readied for mixing!

Many bands take the slow, downtuned approach.  I have said this before and will continue to say it – playing slowly and heavy does not a great, listenable track make.  Slomatics take the concept of slow doom and beat it until it pleads for mercy.  Goodness me; a bassline so thick that it sounds like it emenates from the very bowels of Planet Earth; drums that are delivered in heavy, meaty slaps; all topped off with guitar riffs that are sooooo deeply detuned and heavy that you feel yourself being slowly crushed.  Remember that film, ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth‘? This is the soundtrack it should have had.  Blistering heat strips skin from the bones, the very essence of our beings left stunned, charred yet pleased.

My experiences have led me to conclude that the Lester Bangs / Julian Cope view, that there is a Righteous path that some music takes you down, is essentially correct.  There is a certainly a purifying element in the brutality of the music that Slomatics play; somehow, because it is so slow, so low and so brutal it transcends normal judgments that we make about any song we hear.  This has the magic ingredient – the thing that bands like the MC5 and Sunn, for example, were shrewd enough to see – that some musics are attuned so that they reach our [essentially Pagan] souls and, by arriving there, impart their message directly.  Slomatics have decided that, in this weakened state, any information that they pass to the listener will bypass their learned conditioning, and go straight into their brain!  Awlright!

The band themselves describe their approach thus:

“Slomatics are a heavy rock band from Belfast Ireland, formed in Late 2004 with the words of Can’s Jaki Liebezeit ringing in their ears – “Monotony is a good thing”
With this aim the band stripped away all the fat, and focussed their energies on the singular power of the riff, aided by a slew of Matamps and fuzz pedals. Ditching the conventional concept of a bassist the band use low frequencies and minimalist rhythms to hammer home their message.”

This is huge, epic doom; for sheer ambition, Slomatics should be awarded the freedom of their native Belfast.  Three tracks on the split EP just do not let up.  Their power is absolute.  I for one cannot wait for the next [third] release from this band, and we will most certainly be featuring it when it arrives!  Meanwhile, listen to and then buy this – both bands are too good to miss.

Review: Iron Witch – Post Vegas Blues 7″

Regular readers may recall a short piece I did on Liverpool sludge merchants Iron Witch a few weeks ago.  This was to mention their LP, ‘Single Malt’.  I also trailed the fact that there was an imminent release of  a 7″ entitled ‘Post Vegas Blues’ due out on Thirty Days of Night records; well today is that day. 

Rewind to Sunday just gone; when DeHud and I made our third excursion under the Mersey and into Liverpool of the weekend; I was up to visit and although the fabled MerseyRail ‘Sunday engineering works’ made part of the trip a mandatory bus ride, we arrived in a sweltering city under a slightly less flimsy pretext [going to see some bands] than had been the case on the Friday and Saturday [errr…to consume quite a lot of beer].

So, repairing to a couple of busy pubs and slaking our thirst with liberal applications of cold German pilsner, we anticipated seeing Iron Witch; however as we finally located the low key venue, a club known as Basement 20, we were surprised to see there was nobody about.  It was as dead as the proverbial dodo.  Oh, why hadn’t I checked Twitter before going out?  It turned out that the venue had been shut down the previous night by the new owner, and so the bands had been left venue-less.  Ach!  Never mind; we will see them soon.  And here’s the next best thing.

Technically a 2-tracker, one side [do downloads have sides?]  is actually, confusingly 2 tracks in itself – ‘Gunshot Residue/Exceed the Dose‘ which begins with a really storming, sludgy, boot in the arse mid-paced, downtuned romp in the grass [if you’ll pardon the pun].  The trademark oodles of feedback, slightly distant, desperate sounding vocals sit well in the mix, with crushing slabs of guitar and thick, slowly vibrating bass strings giving the recording a nice dirty, bottom-heavy feel.  Slight traces of good, all-out hardcore emerge later on in the track, before a slow breakdown into monstrous riffing.  This is head and shoulders above the ‘Single Malt’ outing in terms of production quality, lending the songs a real kick.

Post Vegas Blues‘ – the title track to state the bleedin’ obvious, starts with building layers of slow, doomy guitar riffs that bring to mind Brainoil or Weedeater. Powerful waves of sludge flow as the drums slap lazily, building up an unstoppable wave of power.  The listener fears being overwhelmed by the downtuned frequencies that assault their eadrums, yet curiously feels the need for more.  Like some great dinosaur writhing in its death agonies, the track picks up and again lumbers along at mid pace, bringing to mind Poison Idea at their Pig-and-Jerry angry best, with some Southern blues thrown in for good measure.

This is a cracker, and rather like our discovery of the Liverpool Pub of the Year, the Roscoe Head, it offers me some consolation for missing them live!  Get it!

Iron Worzel: Sludge from Down Under

We at Rip It Up try to keep our fingers on the slow-beating pulse of the music scene; it’s a labour of love searching out exciting bands to post about, and listening to stuff people send us.  For the most part, we manage to seek out new releases as and when they happen: sometimes however you realise that you just cannot keep up, such is the volume of self-released music crawling out of dingy rehearsal rooms and dimly lit studios the world over.  So I’ve got pals from Crawl to thank for this tip: an Australian band called Iron Worzel, who have released an eponymous 6-track EP of the most toweringly heavy, slow, downtuned goodness.  Not a new release by our normal standards, this was so good that I felt it had to be featured anyway.  The EP runs to roughly 30 minutes, and in that time we are treated to some classic doom music.

Starting off soooo slowly, the opener, ‘Iron Worzel‘, builds in intensity and wakes up like some revolting sea creature, with super-downtuned guitar and bass, drums which are hit every 30 seconds or so, and agonised vocals that detail  suffering of unimaginable proportions.  However, at 3 minutes 46 seconds, the track kicks off like a good old bar room brawl.  Chugging along like a good dose of vintage Extreme Noise Terror, complete with dual vocals to boot, this is an utter delight and an eye-opener.  Licks from a mutated Sabbath embellish the doom, which slows back down to agonising speed at the end of the track.

Wood from Wood‘ wastes no time on formalities.  Rather than introducing itself politely, we are simply assaulted by a vast metallic riff, with drums spitting out from the mess of bass and guitar.  ‘Franky und Kator‘ continues the mid-speed metallic attack, with an early Slayer-esque feel to it, but in a world where Slayer has been crossed with Bristol squat punks Chaos UK!  This even has a bluesy, Southern interlude as well.

The next track, ‘Final Straw‘, is another fast, downtuned delight, with a simple riff lending effect and a tight rhythm section keeping momentum.  These guys play listenable, almost tuneful sludge!  ‘Rust’ follows, an epic nearly nine minute doom jam that mixes Prong with a dose of sludgy heaviness that bands like Iron Monkey and Brainoil are experts in.  The final track, ‘Never Too late‘, really does sound like a more sludge-inflected Extreme Noise Terror or Deviated Instinct; a faster jam, but hard hitting and perhaps more metallic.

Listening to this is kind of mandatory really, with a decent set of speakers if possible. 

Back to Poland Again: Satellite Beaver

I’ve had a few days off from the website.  As I mentioned on Saturday’s brief post, I’ve been up in the sweltering heat of the home of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Liverpool, paying my northern counterpart, DeHud, a visit.  The vague plan was to catch up, compare notes on music, and drink some beer.  We ended up doing all the above, as well as  completing a 15 mile sponsored walk in the giddying sun, and we almost saw the mighty Iron Witch, our attempt being sadly frustrated at the last minute due to the venue being closed down the night before.  Now, I’m back home and ready to breathe some life back into Rip It Up.   And I shall start by going, unashamedly, back to one of our favourite countries right now to alert you to a band called ‘Satellite Beaver‘ who hail from Warsaw. 

If you are a regular reader, then you’ll already know about our love for bands such as Major Kong, who have hit on that mighty doom style sound, but mixing it up also with unusual and interesting styles that you might not expect when listening to many of the identikit doom bands doing the rounds at the moment.  Thus, I was refreshed by the discovery of the new release by Satellite Beaver, entitled ‘The Last Bow‘ EP.   The band, comprising Szymon who handles vocals and  guitar, Tomek on guitar and Robert on drums, [they are currently searching for a bassist] crank out four heavy tracks on this EP and by the sound of it, they are a band worth watching.  Mixing a dark, sludgy, downtuned sound with influences as diverse as [to my ears, anyway] bands such as the mighty Prong, a bit of Weedeater, then chucking in some Sabbath-y riffs, a touch of Corrosion of Conformity, and a massive, crushing guitar attack, they have got me excited.

Released on 10th May, this is a fine investment of 3 Euros, and all the tracks stand up, my faves being ‘Urania‘, which is fabulously heavy, ‘Way Before‘, which is more metally, and ‘Roadtrip‘, which is stoner heaven.  Get it now, and we’ll keep you updated on their actions, which include the recording of a debut album – here’s a quick update from drummer Robert, who got in touch to let me know what they are doing:

“We will also tour a little bit of Denmark and Germany this autumn (September or so). We’re also heading e-lite culture festival near Berlin this July (19-22), cameral stoner rock event in Stolzenhein (100km from Berlin) with Lonely Kamel, Tschaika, Sungrazer, Ruins of Wyrd, etc.”

Drone from the Underside of the Earth

I’ve been away for a couple of days, so apologies for the lack of posts since Wednesday.  I have a life outside of Rip It Up! But as I type, sitting at DeHud’s macbook during a weekend visit up north which I hope will include a gig, I wanted to post about this compilation which has appeared on the Bandcamp site of Australian label Art as Catharsis.  Entitled ‘Drone from the  Underside of the Earth’, it is a showcase for all things heavy and downtuned from Down Under.

Now it has been said before that Sydney’s mighty Hard Ons are Rip It Up’s fave band of all time.  They themselves are influenced by all sorts of other great music that came out of Aus in the past – bands such as The Saints and Radio Birdman for example.  But this massive compilation, running to 26 tracks, shows a whole new generation of heavy bands.

Running the gamut of styles, from the Sabbath-inflected stoner rock of Arrowhead’s ‘Blood from a Stone’ to the super-heavy metallic sludge of Space Bong’s ‘The Death Kneel’, this is a really interesting compilation.  Art As Catharsis is a well established label with quite a few releases of interest, some of which I hope to post about before too long.

In the meantime, get this on loud.  It’s a free sampler and can be had from AAC’s Bandcamp page.

Order of the Owl: Power Sludge from Atlanta

Main photo (c) Shawn Evans with thanks & respect.

Order of the Owl is a band out of Atlanta, Georgia.  They are fronted by Brent Anderson (Zoroaster, Terminal Doom), which suggests a fine pedigree in itself.  I was lucky enough to see Zoroaster last year supporting the mighty sludgelords Weedeater, and the power of that band is evident here.  Anderson is joined by  Corey Pallon, Casey Yarbrough and studio member Richard Googe.  Between them they have created a massive sound which defies even our usual superlatives.

The EP ‘In the Noon of the After Day‘ is on Bandcamp, containing two tracks – ‘Cocaine Super Demon‘ and ‘Bandsaw’.  Both tracks, it is no exaggeration to say, are dense and crushing.  This is vintage stuff.  Classic, psychedelia – influenced rock played through vintage Orange amps yields chorused chanting, slapping, thick drums, and slower-than slow power.

Order of the Owl releases should come with simple instructions painted clearly on the sleeves: “press play…..stand well back!”  Because what emerges from the speakers is a doom jam that recruits all the most primal, brutal and therefore soulful grooves that have been made by cats as righteous as the Motor City 5, Sabbath and Motorhead.

The deep, distorted bass, the four thick strings vibrating slowly and at a frequency several octaves lower than any guitar string rightfully should, provides a foundation to the tracks.  The drums, thick and leathery as they receive the mother of all poundings, construct a metronomic framework that resembles a vast, shabby gallows lit by an angry, red sky.  Amid a lazy blue haze of smoke, the fuzzed out guitar, drop tuned to an indecent extent, constructs wave after wave of riff power that simply builds and each layer seems to feed off the one below it, lending the whole track an awesome depth.

Sludgy doom metal of this kind is rarely played as convincingly as this.  It’s what Wayne Kramer and the boys would have produced if they had been born 35 years later and soaked in Bourbon and Southern blues.  And yet you might feel your revolutionary soul shout ‘Wait!, They’re not shouting political lyrics! How could they be compared to the ‘5 ? ‘.  Well, kids, my ageing, tattered mind says different.

Y’see, the very nature of this slow, sticky sludge music is so utterly Pagan, operating as it does on frequencies so low that they both move your soul and damage the constraints imposed on you by this unjust society, that just by taking a deep draw on a spliff and cranking up that bass, Order of the Owl are sticking it to The Man in their own way.  The message they are sending doesn’t need to be cut into the run out groves or the album played backwards to reveal it.  The message is clear: let’s play heavy rock and fucking roll!

You feel like you need to take a shower after listening to this a few times.  Your skin has been coated in grimy, oily, toxic gloop, it’s in your hair, your eyes and your ears.  Your clothes will require washing at 60 degrees.  The speakers will be oozing it too.  Utterly, transcendentally wonderful.