Musicians Spotlight: Jason Higson from Yanomamo

Heya, I’m Jason Higson & I play guitar in the sludge/doom band, Yanomamo from Sydney Australia. 

Yanomamo formed in late 2011 via a shared love of huge, dirty riffs, feedback & B-grade horror movies to unleash the sounds in our collective heads. We have toured Australia extensively over the last 10 years playing shows with the likes of Conan (UK), Black Cobra (US), Jucifer (US), Kylesa (US), Monarch (Fra) & many others.

We recently released our latest EP ‘No Sympathy for a Rat’ on Blighttown Records. It’s available on 10” vinyl & digitally via bandcamp. The EP was recorded & mixed by Adrian Griffin & was mastered in New York by the legendary Alan Douches at Westside Mastering. We are extremely happy with the results.

The Yanomamo sound is thick & very heavy yet it swings with a stoner metal groove.

In my spare time, I run a small label called Iommium Records. I look to release music by sludge/stoner/doom artists that I really like from anywhere in the world. 

To date, I have released Yanomamo’s 2017 album ‘Neither Man Nor Beast’ on vinyl  & VVarp’s ‘First Levitations’ album on cassette. 

Later in 2021 will see the 3rd Iommium Records release; a 7” split single featuring Yanomamo & the incredible Slomatics from Belfast, Ireland.

Yanomamo:

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Iommium Records:

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I’ve selected 4 of my favourite albums that have influenced me the most over the last 10 years of writing riffs for & playing guitar in Yanomamo.

Bongzilla – Gateway (2002)

I’ve been a huge Bongzilla fan for forever … they are a huge influence on my sound & attitude towards writing heavy, sludge/doom riffs. The thickness of the overall sound; the twin Les Paul attack of Spanky & Muleboy, Cooter’s sludgey bass tones & especially the incredible drumming of Magma all work so well together. 

The majority of Bongzilla’s riffs are really easy to play, but they are incredibly effective … and super heavy … and that’s something I always keep at the forefront of my mind when riff writing – It doesn’t have to complicated to be good!

Bongzilla have said in interviews that Gateway is their ‘rock album’ … their attempt at making a Lynard Skynard record! This album is so heavy but it still swings like crazy. From the monstrous, churning opening riff of Greenthumb into the heavily stoned vibes of Stone a Pig, into the swinging brutality of Sunnshine Green this album is the perfect stoner metal album as far as I am concerned. 

There is not a band song on this album, no filler, just heavy swinging stoner metal masterpieces.

I’m absolutely stoked that Bongzilla are back together & are about to release their new album ‘Weedsconsin’… my pre-order is in!

Church of Misery – Houses of the Unholy (2009)

Another band that I have absolutely loved for years. I got to see them live on their first tour of Australia & Yanomamo were supposed to support them on their second tour but unfortunately, I was overseas … I’m still bitterly disappointed about my poor timing. They were absolutely mind-blowing live. 

This album continues the theme of songs about serial killers, which I love as I am deeply fascinated by serial killers. The guitar work of Australian guitarist, Tom Sutton is glorious. Heavy doomed out, 70s Sabbath-Worship riffs interspersed with tripped out psychedelic lead breaks. The overall production reminds me of classic 70s heavy rock albums from great bands like Groundhogs, Leaf Hound & of course Pentagram.

I love the diversity of the dynamics in Church of Misery’s songs … From loud to soft, from intense to subtle, from brutally slow to swinging. For me, this makes the listening experience so much fun.

The opening track El Padrino is an absolute masterpiece. This is one of those songs that when I listen to it I think “Fuck, I wish I wrote this riff!”. The main riff is just an all-time classic filthy stoner/doom riff that never gets old. 

On Shotgun Boogie, the band swings with absolute ferocity that doesn’t let up. The Sir Lord Baltimore cover, Master Heartache is a scorcher & the band really make the song their own. Born to Raise Hell is another absolute riff-fest that swings from the chandeliers. 

I’m really looking forward to new album from Church of Misery soon … especially after the disappointment that was 2016’s And Then There Were None …

Cuda – Hellfire EP

Cuda were a stoner rock band from Madison, Wisconsin (USA) who formed around 2000 & broke up shortly thereafter. The band name comes from the Plymouth Barracuda that was a 2-door pony car made between 1964 & 1974. 

The line-up was Cooter & Spanky from Bongzilla on bass & guitar respectively along with Nuge on Drums & Gunner on Guitar/Vocals.

The Hellfire EP is the only thing that they ever recorded & released. However, this 4 track EP is 27 minutes of absolute pure, stoner rock fury. Way more upbeat than anything Bongzilla have done & not tuned anywhere near as low; Bongzilla tune to B Standard, this EP is in D Standard. This EP proves that you can do great stoner rock fast & the guitar work on this album is really something else, especially the lead guitar work by Nuge. 

The EP kicks off with Orange Army with a sample from the movie Dazed & Confused. The song is full of thick, blistering riffs that make you feel like you’re speeding through the desert in the beforementioned Plymouth Barracuda.

Raven Bitch is a mostly instrumental that kicks off a little slower with a brutal riff reminiscent of early High on Fire before transitioning into a classic stoner rock shuffle. Minimal vocals come in with about 2 minutes left from the 7-minute track.

SRF is an all banger from start to finish, full of slippery riffs & crashing cymbals. “Can you feel it?” Nuge screams … oh yeah, buddy! Absolutely.

The EP closes out with the title track Hellfire which probably the fastest track. Starting out a little slower but working to a blistering pace complete with scorching guitar solos of a quality not usually found on stoner releases like this. Definitely a step above.

If you haven’t heard this, and many people haven’t, do yourself a favour immediately.

Sourvein – The Will to Mangle

Sourvein, to me, are a really underrated band in the Sludge/doom scene. The band is basically T.Roy & whoever he can assemble to play other instruments for albums & tours, including Liz Buckingham from Electric Wizard who was in the band from 1998 – 2003.

Dating back to 1995, they have 15 releases including albums, splits & Eps, but in my opinion The Will to Mangle from 2002 is the standout. This album crushes from start to finish. 

The album kicks off with Bangleaf & another riff that I wish I had written … T.Roy’s vocals sound like they have been recorded in a basement & they are perfectly brutal. Sea Merchant is an epic sludge dirge that is reminiscent of being dragged slowly through the mud via a circular riff that doesn’t let up.

The darkly aggressive nature of this album is what makes this album special for me. 

The darkly aggressive nature of this album is what makes this album special for me. The feeling of desperation & aggression permeates throughout & is exaggerated by the production, which is prefect for this type of dark sludge. 

There is no letup even towards the end of the album. Another stand-out for me is Carve Blind (In Faith) which is the most aggressive song on the album, raising the intensity (which is already high) considerably.

I wish this album would be reissued on vinyl. It took me years to even find the CD version & it isn’t available digitally anywhere, which is a real shame. More people need to hear this album!

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