Split Review: AAWKS / Aiwass – “The Eastern Scrolls” (Psychedelic Stoner Doom/Rock)

Written by Westin and Kirk

AAWKS / AiwassThe Eastern Scrolls
> Psychedelic stoner doom
> Ontario, Canada / Texas, US
> Releasing August 25
> Black Throne Productions  

Westin: I regularly come to you bearing a new album, but today has something a little different – we have a split review for you, and what better way to discuss this than with a split review? As the two eminent fans of stoner metal at the Noob Heavy camp (though Kirk would easily take the crown as Genre King), Kirk and I have decided to join in on the spirit of cooperation found here. I will be covering AAWKS’ contribution, while the Aiwass half will fall to Kirk. The Eastern Scrolls is available via Black Throne Productions.

Hailing from Ontario, I first became aware of AAWKS’ psychedelic stylings thanks to their stellar, and criminally overlooked, 2022 album Heavy on the Cosmic. Where that record was an explosion of colours, bright and groovy, swaying on cosmic eddies and tripping on space dust, the split nature of The Eastern Scrolls allows them to explore something a little different. That groove still punches through, but with a nearly fifteen minute single track in “1831”, there is a sense of the endless trudging on through the darker currents of spatial movement. The guitars are a little heavier, a little meaner, carrying the weight and reality warp of excess dark matter that textures the chiaroscuro shade of the music.


This track feels more akin to something released by Electric Wizard, taking on a more metallic edge, and will scratch that itch for anyone seeking that kind of tonal scuzz. The band routinely saunter between the plodding, ritualistic beat-riff-beat of doom and the hypertense anxious energy of stoner, but find room for more ambient and weird vibes, like nine minutes through when heavily effects-laden vocals waft between drifting notes and time-keeping drums under some pulsing strings. It reminds me of mid/late-70’s era Black Sabbath when the band got more progressive and experimental, pushing the limits of what Ozzy’s vocal delivery could embody, like a strung out ghost lurking on the margins of an astral highway.

“1831” ends on this drifting rhythm that eventually fades into sound effect and warped vocal sample, like a ship out of fuel carried aloft solely by inertia, anxiously awaiting an inevitable collision with whatever mass is out there, unseen on some pitch black horizon.  

Kirk: When people start talking about Texas, what are some of the first things that come to your mind? Is it ten gallon hats, guns, cowboy boots, big hair, unnecessarily large pickup trucks, and barbecue? If so, I don’t blame you; Texas might be the most stereotyped state in the United States after Florida (don’t get me started on Florida…), and that’s completely understandable. The people of Texas don’t exactly do a great job of fighting back against those stereotypes (looking at you, Senator Ted Cruz), and that’s a shame, because some pretty awesome stuff was born in the Lone Star State.

Did you know that Austin, Texas is the home of one of the first-ever psychedelic rock bands? It’s true! The 13th Floor Elevators called Austin their home, and while they didn’t exactly blow up the Billboard Hot 100 (assuming that was a thing in the mid ‘60s), they left an indelible mark on rock and roll music that can still be seen today (though the only other band I know of to use an electric jug is The Black Angels, but that’s a completely different issue altogether). So, with such a rich musical history, it’s no surprise that Austin’s psychedelic doom project Aiwass has tapped into this rich tradition to craft heavy music like no other.


Sounding a bit like Black Sabbath if they consumed psychedelic mushrooms to the same extent they drank alcohol, Aiwass’s contribution to this split album—“The Unholy Books”—is a nigh-13 minute behemoth of a track that will both pulverize your bones with its dense, heavy riffs and reach into the dark recesses of your subconscious as it relieves your mind from its fleshy prison. The throbbing of the bass coupled with the ethereal cry of that guitar creates the perfect tone to which both your body and mind can just melt away like a clock in a Salvador Dali painting. Think if The Doors and Sabbath were to join forces and craft a truly otherworldly sonic masterpiece, perhaps the ultimate trip for every cell in your body to experience as they’re being blasted into infinity together. By the time the tempo shifts—at 9:55 to be exact—chances are whatever’s left of you is mere protoplasmic ooze, just enough to wipe up with a few paper towels.

Album photography by Daria Bilyk


The singular focus to this split – two bands, two tracks – lends itself to a strong sense of musical identity. Both AAWKS and Aiwass make perfect use of space and texture to fashion a fascinating tale about a lost element of American spiritual history. Whether it’s AAWKS’ brand of cosmic stoner rock or Aiwass’ trippy take on doom metal, these musical cousins—doom metal and stoner rock—share another common thread amongst themselves. It also proves that what was once old can be new again; psychedelic rock, doom metal, and stoner rock are far from new styles of music, but what is being done with them here is fresh, new, and definitely worthy of attention. What’s happening on The Eastern Scrolls is nothing short of magic.