Four great albums, four shorts reviews, as always. This time though, it’s four doom ass albums so you’ll want to collect them all. Four very distinct flavors from all over the world, and mostly trios… why are stoners/doomers always hanging out in threes? Now you also don’t HAVE TO tilt your phone because the images are all on the same side, in theory.
Chrome Ghost – The Diving Bell (2019)
A straight up incredible album and no doubt one of the best doom albums from last year. This is like the Opeth of doom in that it’s very emotionally affecting but also technically impressive with the song writing. The Diving Bell has an amazing variety of clean vocals, the best I’ve heard on a modern post/doom record. The opening track “Walts in the Shadow of the Hillside” should be all the introduction you need, it somehow provides exactly the mood the album cover depicts. This artwork is a stunning piece from Molly Devlin who has a very nautical theme to her work that I enjoy a lot and has been doing some really cool stuff with jellyfish lately. Back to the album, it’s a dynamic piece of work. There’s some passages that are very alternative rock but it’s like the best of alt rock and it accompanies the doom seamlessly in tone.
Expect a journey of emotional depth and harrowing surprises from the darkness of those depths. You won’t want to leave these moments once they are upon you, it’s an invitation to drown.
Major Kong – Off The Scale (2020)
I was first introduced to Major Kong on that massive 4 Way Split last year and I’m glad to see they very much continue the tradition of that release not just in terms of spacey sounds but art direction also. They’re a very creative instrumental stoner metal band who manage to keep it fresher than any other, it’s a more pure sound that develops naturally, wildly. Without having to structure around vocals or lyrics. The cover art, track titles and audio oddities are all you need to get a grasp on this record. They use extra instruments like a theremin to make a lot of droid-like sounds befitting the theme of robots in space, I’m honestly surprised I don’t hear it on more doom albums – there’s more than just fuzz on this one. It’s equally complex and simple, it’s thought provoking but also a lot of fun. Off The Scale is cocaine for your third eye.
The artwork is by the same person who did The 4 Way Split which accounts for those similarities, it’s an incredible retro scifi piece by Kuba Sokólski Illustration. It reminds me of the 4th dimensional “object” in the TV show Threshold, anyone watch that shit? It was crazy.
Zyclops – Inheritance Of Ash (2020)
This album is basically the definition of sludge. It’s written, performed, recorded and mixed all with the purest and abrasive of doom aesthetics in mind. It has the noise of Conan with the vocal strength of Isis, though both show a fit of variety or change with each song that reveals competence and originality. The sound is colossal and will sit on your chest weighing you down for the duration – as you kick and howl for breath, so will Zyclops. It’s a hell of a way to start a discography off, not many debut EPs have this much zest to them so it will be very interesting to see what they pull out on a full length. This will sure as shit be one to watch for all the doomheads out there looking for something much darker to groove to. The end note on this one is utter chaos and despair.
The songs are also paired with quiet poetic lyrics that take no time getting to the heart of the track, this shit is haunted, if you couldn’t already tell by the cover art by Ryan Pankratz. It’s name your own price so there is no reason not to get it.
Swamplord – Swamplord (2020)
I AM THE SWAMPLORD. Really digging this Russian stoner doom trio, there’s big bog energy here. It’s a debut album with very clear aspirations, to make a stoner record with a dank and earthy aesthetic and they did that, quite well to boot. The lyrics and vocals are in english though not perfect, which is the best way to have it on this kind of record. It brings a lot of character. Almost everything sung about can be found on the cover such as a Stone Witch, dark woods, haze and a bunch of other murk. The only thing missing is a depiction of Foggy Lady which I am definitely curious about. The instruments are pretty simple but it’s a classic sound that’s very easy to listen to, there’s some good higher solos and some lengthy sustain on the gain. I really like that they stuck to their theme in terms of both sound and presentation.
It’s a good long form record to throw on and just vibe out, or in the background of a great session. Man this music makes me miss weed, damn Australia for not legalising it. Fuck it, if you live in Brisbane… It’s not illegal to solicit drugs from the void is it? Haha. Go support this record, no one seems to really know about it yet. They don’t really have a presence anyway either.