Sludgy riffs and groovy rhythms on debut album by Kraków doom band, Moonstone

Moonstone is stoner doom band hailing from Kraków, Poland. Formed in 2017, the group is made up of guitarist and vocalist Jan Maniewski, bassist Wiktor Kozak, and drummer Kacper Kubień. The trio pumps out rounds upon rounds of fuzzy, downtuned riffs and sparse, chantlike vocals on top of a hypnotic rhythm sections that chugs along like a freight train, plowing away everything in its groovy path.

Their debut self-titled album was released on December 28. The five song, 35 minute album is heavy from start to finish summoning the hypnotic riffing force of bands like Sleep and Belzebong, and infusing it with some bluesy Sabbathian groove. Moonstone keeps their arrangements fairly simple and straighforward, but the crushing weight of their riffs and rhythm, as well as several key change-ups, keeps things fresh even on the longer tracks.

1. The Oncoming 1:33
2. Mushroom King 5:21
3. Pale Void 10:20
4. Ash and Stone 9:05
5. SulphurEye 8:34

The album opens up with The Oncoming, a brief but atmospheric intro that uses some amazing bass tones and some seriously heavy power chords to tease the onslaught of riffage to come. Flowing seemlessly into Mushroom King with a fitting audio sample about viral mushroom spores, the track opens with a swingy riff over a shuffling drum pattern. The band takes the riff to absolute overdrive and adds some brief, eerie vocals at the end, before changing things up with an “Into the Void” like transition that will finish off your ear drums with sufficient power.

Pale Void opens with a slow and heavy riff and some complex drum work. The bass and drums create what is almost like a super-slowed down, reggae-like dub beat. When the vocals kick in, they are chant-like and occasionally employ some simple and tasty harmonies. The song features several heavy buildups, as well as a nice bass lead that transitions the song to a heavy ending.

Ash and Stone opens with another sludgy doom riff. Featuring some awesomely low power chords, the track is a total headbanger. The vocals are eerie and haunting, ringing out clear melodies over the heavy, fuzzy riffs. A cool switchup at the end kicks the song into high gear. On the album closer, Sulphereye, it starts with a muscular guitar tone and one of the darkest sounding riffs on the album. Aided by an equally dark film audio clip and some scary vocals, the track makes for a heavy, sludgy end to a heavy, sludgy album.

The album is available on CD and digital download on Bandcamp. Also check out the group on Facebook. Thank you for reading The Sonic Sofa. Stay tuned for the January podcast and for now, check out one of the past episodes for more great music. Go in peace and rock on, Sofanauts.

1970s style heavy metal on killer debut album by Scarecrow

Scarecrow’s debut album was released on September 13th

A band’s physical location often will influence their sound. One example is how Black Sabbath channeled the energy of the dark and smoky streets of industrial Birmingham, England into some of the slowest and heaviest music of all time. In a similar way, Russian band, Scarecrow, channels the feeling of their home city of Perm. What is this place like? To paraphrase the words of the band, “Perm stands among dank swamps and impenetrable forests, at the foot of the oldest mountains in the world. This is a hopeless place: the region is full of prisons and prison camps. There is a huge number of mentally ill people. The climate is harsh. Winter lasts from October to May and it is a dark, cold time. In the warm months, it rains constantly.” All of these elements and feelings translate to a sense of doom and foreboding latent within the fabric of the band’s compositions.

The trio produces classic-sounding heavy metal, like a cross between Zeppelin and Sabbath, with high flying vocals, crunchy guitar riffs, and a powerful rhythm section. Their debut self-titled album was released on September 13, 2019. The album follows the band’s previous release, an EP called Nosferatu. The bass, drums, guitars, and vocals were all recorded in analog format and digitally mixed by Samuel Turbitt at Ritual Sounds in the UK. The band also added several elements that profoundly affect the feel of the album. Harmonica on several tracks reinforces the bluesy feel of early Sabbath and Zeppelin. Other instruments used include the flute as well as the tamburin, shaker and darbukas which the band obtained from travels to South Africa, adding even more complex textures to their music. There’s also a dark, occult quality to the album, reinforced by the addition of orchestrated sections, which the band was able to add from recordings in the high-quality digital libraries of AIR Studios in London. The intriguing artwork for the album, like the point of view of a scarecrow, was created by Igor Odintsov.

1. Scarecrow Overture 4:38
2. The Journey 5:00
3. The Final Problem 5:21
4. When The Powers Of Evil Are Exalted 3:36
5. Worm of Anger 2:47
6. Autumn Wood 3:06
7. Madman 5:15
8. Scarecrow 6:22

The album has a dark feel, which is strongly influenced by the lyrics. The high-flying vocals come across like a mixture between Geddy Lee and Ozzy Osbourne, summoning feelings of foggy, haunted moors, terrifying scenes of depravity, and maniacs losing grasp of their reality. Occasionally however, the heavy gloom is interrupted by moments of soft repose, like brief rays of sunlight shining through clouds on a stormy day.

The guitars are diverse, laying down bluesy, crunchy riffs, blazing guitar leads, and occasional clean, jazzy tones. Underneath, the rhythm section grooves like a juggernaut. The drums constantly push the songs with driving beats, flawlessly executed drum fills, tasteful double kick patterns, and tribal sounding sections. The bass also sounds consistently great, with warm, rich tones and a swinging feel that adds to the heavy blues vibe. In post-production, the band was able to effectively add high-quality orchestrations and sound clips, creating an even darker listening atmosphere.

If you’re a fan of proto-metal and doom, make sure to check out Scarecrow. Their album is available for digital download on Bandcamp, and the band is working on a physical CD release, which will include digipack and lyrics, projected for release on Bandcamp this month. You can also follow the band on Facebook, as well as Instagram and VK. The band also has Thanks for reading The Sonic Sofa. Go in peace and rock on, Sofanauts.

Admission, the new album by Torche

Admission was released on July 12th, by Relapse Records

Torche is a four-piece heavy metal band from from Miami, Florida. Their music is characterized by heavy riffs and catchy, harmonic vocals. The band formed in 2004 and have released five full lengths and four EPs. Original members include Steve Brooks on guitar and vocals, Jonathan Nuñez who switched from bass to guitar duties in 2016, and Rick Smith on drums. The group was also joined in 2016 by bass player, Eric Hernandez, who made his first recording with the band on the new album, Admission.

“an absolute juggernaut”

Released by Relapse Records (known for producing such bands as Baroness and High on Fire) on July 12, Admission is the fifth album by Torche, following Restarter in Feb, 2015. The band released several singles during the weeks counting down to the new release, as well as new media content such as a music video for Admission, and a videologue look inside the studio. The album can be bought on standard black vinyl, CD, cassette, or digital download on their Bandcamp page. Also, check out the band’s website for even more merch, tour info, and information about the band.

Torche formed in 2004

The entire album is an absolute juggernaut. The songs tend to be shorter than other bands in the genre, but the abbreviated quality makes the album more listenable, and perhaps will leave the listener wanting more, or at the very least, repeat listens. The bass and guitar tones are magnificent, tuned low and overdriven. Melodic vocals harmonize over the hypnotic riffs, and the drums hold the entire album down, with pounding, creative beats. Heavy, distorted riffs fluidly meld with catchy, “pop” sensibilities in the way that only Torche has done for the past 15 years.

From Here opens the album, pounding eardrums with its relentless force and high energy. Other fast-paced headbangers on the album include What Was, with almost subsonic bass notes and creative drumming, and Extremes of Consciousness, which plods forward with driving guitars, and complementing fuzzy bass.

Among some of the poppier songs on the album are Slide, Times Missing, Admission and Changes Come. Slide has intensly catchy riffs and vocal harmonies, yet still finds the opportunity to explore some progressive off-time sections later in the song. Times Missing slows things down with a simpler chord progression and incredible vocal harmonies over the droning guitars and slick musical turnarounds. A poppy beat on Admission propels the song forward, and the lyrics are more contemplative and self-reflecting. Changes Come, the album’s closer, wraps the album up with an incredibly uplifting tone amidst phasing guitars.

“almost impossibly slow and heavy”

Some of the slowest, heaviest moments on the album are toward the end of the album, with the back to back songs On the Wire, and Infierno. On the Wire combines doom-like riffs, with stark, high-pitched guitar harmonies. Infierno is an almost impossibly slow and heavy track, which will test your subwoofers to the limit.

Other notable tracks on the album are Submission and Reminder. Submission has amazingly melodic vocals, with crashing cymbals and trance like repetition of the riff, reaching a fever pitch at the end. Beatles-esque vocal harmonies, paired with swinging, heavy riffs, abound on Reminder.

Torche has once again proven that they can release music which is both incredibly heavy as well as incredibly listenable, while staying consistent with the sound of the band’s previous albums. Admission is an intense musical journey, and listeners will find more beauty in the details with each listen. Make sure to listen to the album all the way through to fully appreciate the arrangement and balanced quality of the LP as a whole.

Tour dates

Sept. 16 The Olympic Venue – Boise, ID

Sept. 17 Diabolical Records – Salt Lake City, UT

Sept. 18 Larimer Lounge – Denver, CO

Sept. 20 Zanzabar – Louisville, KY

Sept. 21 Heavy Mountain Fest – Asheville, NC

Sept. 22 The Wilbury – Tallahassee, FL

Sept. 23 The Atlantic – Gainesville, FL

Nov. 1 FEST – Gainesville, FL

Nov. 9 Levitation 2019 – Austin, TX

“Weightless Waters,” the third EP by Finnish band, King of None

Weightless Waters, the third EP by Helsinki’s King of None

King of None is a hard-rock band from Helsinki, Finland. They produce riffy hard rock, with plenty of stoner and prog-rock elements. From the remnants of previous projects, the band was formed by vocalist Miiro Kärki, guitarist Aleksi Kärkkäinen, drummer Patrick Enckell, bassist Juho Aarnio, and guitarist Juha Pääkkö. The group has produced three EPs: the self-titled King of None in 2015, 2016’s Trouble by the Score, and most recently, 2019’s Weightless Waters.

Weightless Waters, released on April 28, 2019, is composed of six heavy songs. It’s a high energy ride that is arguably their most polished, mature EP to date. The songs range from four and a half to seven minutes. Each song is crisp and tight and it’s a headbanging, hard rock ride from start to finish.. The artwork was produced by musician and artist, Petri Lampela. The album is available for sale on Bandcamp and is also available for streaming on Spotify and YouTube.

Throughout the album, the vocals are melodic with aggressive, occasionally growly touches. Always on pitch, they pair well with the groovy, crunchy compositions. Thematically, the lyrics cover a number of topics. Starbirling and Desolator contain sci-fi elements as well as some hints at self-examination and perhaps absurdism. Worlds Collide and the opener, Words of Mine, seem to be more introspective, with the latter even tipping the hat to Carly Simon’s You’re so Vain. Frog Palace and Yellow Snake King contain fantasy-like lyrics, more typical to stoner rock.

Picture credit: Amirasaad Photography

Musically, the entire album is very tight. The guitars are heavy and over driven. There are some great wah pedal riffs, like on Yellow Snake King, as well as some creative double guitar leads, notably in Worlds Collide. Heavy walls of guitars will blow you away, like the fantastically slow and heavy intro to Desolator, but they prove in the same song that they are able to explore softer, more subtle moments, with psychedelic tinges.

The drums and bass are always locked together, like a tight, rhythmic force. The bass sounds heavy and chunky, and can be heard really well on the opening of Yellow Snake King. The drums are relentless, shuffling along with a constant barrage of fluid beats and drum fills, including lots of double kick-pedal work. There’s some nice use of a china cymbal and some intricate drum work on Frog Palace, as well as some really shuffly grooves throughout the album.

King of None have proven once again that they can produce some awesomely fast paced, intricate hard rock. Weightless Waters is an EP that will reward repeat listens, and should be in your music rotation. Support the group by purchasing the EP on Bandcamp today and check out their track, Desolator, below.

King Gizzard stays thrashy with “Self Immolate” music video

With the release of the Planet B music video on April 8th, the Fishing for Fishies full length on April 27th, and the brand new song, Self Immolate, King Gizzard is seriously back on top of their game. The music video for Self Immolate was posted on May 28th and definitely continues the thrashy trend the band set with Planet B. The video was directed by John Angus Stewart and stars Katherine Grinlaw as Zagan, the insane murderer you’ll remember seeing in the Planet B video. In case you didn’t get enough burning body action from the Game of Thrones wrapup, there are a lot of burning bodies in this too. It looks like the band used a lot of special effects as well as fire-proof stunt suits to achieve the result of, basically roasting.

King Gizzard has shown that they’ve never been afraid to produce a broad range of music. It’s looking more and more like we could get a thrash album in the tradition of early Megadeth, Metallica, or Slayer, but the band is also notorious for dropping releases abruptly and surprising fans, so it’s hard to tell what exactly is going to happen, which is half the fun. Enjoy the new song: Self Immolate.

Tour Dates

June 27 Forum Melbourne – Melbourne, VIC

June 27 Forum Melbourne – Melbourne, VIC

June 28 Forum Melbourne – Melbourne, VIC

July 03 The Tivoli – Brisbane, QLD

July 04 The Tivoli – Brisbane, QLD

July 05 Roundhouse, UNSW – Sydney, NSW

July 06 Roundhouse, UNSW – Sydney, NSW

July 12 Thebarton Theatre – Adelaide, SA

July 13 Astor Theatre – Perth, WA

July 14 Astor Theatre – Perth, WA

July 26 Naeba Ski Resort – Niigata, Japan

Aug 13 Greek Theatre – Los Angeles, CA

Aug 14 Svn West – San Francisco, CA

Aug 15 Svn West – San Francisco, CA

Aug 16 Roseland Theater – Portland, OR

Aug 17 Harbour Event Centre – Vancouver, BC

Aug 18 Paramount Theatre – Seattle, WA

Aug 20 The Depot – Salt Lake City, UT

Aug 21 Mission Ballroom – Denver, CO

Aug 23 Riverside Theatre – Milwaukee, WI

Aug 24 Aragon Ballroom – Chicago, IL

Aug 25 Rebel Toronto – Toronto, ON

Aug 26 L’Olympia de Montréal – Montreal, QC

Aug 27 College Street Music Hall – New Haven, CT

Aug 28 SummerStage, Central Park – New York, NY

Aug 30 Franklin Music Hall – Philadelphia, PA

Aug 31 9:30 Club – Washington, DC

Sep 01 New Belgium Brewing Company – Asheville, NC

Sep 02 Tabernacle presented by Cricket Wireless – Atlanta, GA

Sep 03 Joy Theater – New Orleans, LA

Sep 04 Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater – Austin, TX

Sep 06 The Bomb Factory – Dallas, TX

Sep 30 Rock City – Nottingham, UK

Oct 01 Barrowland Ballroom – Glasgow, UK

Oct 02 O2 Academy Leeds – Leeds, UK

Oct 03 O2 Victoria Warehouse Manchester – Manchester, UK

Oct 05 Alexandra Palace – London, UK

Oct 06 TivoliVredenburg – Utrecht, Netherlands

Oct 07 TivoliVredenburg – Utrecht, Netherlands

Oct 08 Ancienne Belgique (AB) – Brussels, Belgium

Oct 11 Carlswerk Victoria – Cologne, Germany

Oct 12 Columbiahalle – Berlin, Germany

Oct 13 Rockhal Club – Esch Sur Alzette, Luxembourg

Oct 14 L’OLYMPIA – Paris, France

Oct 15 Alcatraz – Milan, Italy

Oct 16 X-TRA – Zürich, Switzerland

Oct 18 La Riviera – Madrid, Spain

Oct 19 Razzmatazz – Barcelona, Spain

Planet B, the heavy single and video by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard

Australian band, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, are anything but an ordinary psychedelic rock group. Operating their own label has allowed them to creatively control everything about their music, and their model, which included releasing five albums last year, is anything but mainstream. Their work has developed over the years and though they started as a lo-fi surf rock band, their catalog has grown to include jazz, folk, progressive rock, soundtrack-like concept albums, and healthy doses of stoner rock and metal. With 13 full-length albums since 2010, not to mention EPs and singles, KGATLW have proven to be prolific and hard-working. In addition, their performances are high energy and very tight. Their music can be found on bandcamp.

Fishing for Fishies is the band’s forthcoming album, due on April 26th. Judging by the diverse string of singles that have been released to promote the album, it seems to be more in the vein of a sampler album like Gumboot Soup, rather than a consistent concept album such as Microtonal Flying Banana, or most of their other work. One mystery however, is the new single and music video, Planet B. Planet B doesn’t appear on the tracklist for Fishies, so some speculate that it might be an unrelated release or part of another album. What we do know however, is that the song is awesome.

Released along with a music video on April 9, Planet B is very different from the other material being promoted. With a noticeably heavier and thrashier spin, Planet B seems to be more of a throwback to bands like Metallica and Megadeth. It echoes the style that the band generated for the song The Great Chain of Being and bandleader Stu Mackenzie channels singers like Al Cisneros and James Hetfield with his commanding vocals.

KGATLW have long put out material that seeks to draw attention to climate change. The lyrics of Planet B very much follow in that tradition, with lyrics such as, “There is no Planet B.” The vocals also explore concepts of space travel and colonization.

The band’s videos are typically psychedelic and creative. Planet B keeps that creativity but takes things in a darker, more violent direction, involving the band as orange cloaked psych inmates, as well as a violent, conspiratorial plot to silence the band members. Check out the song and music video below, along with the band’s tour dates.

June 27 Forum Melbourne – Melbourne, VIC

June 27 Forum Melbourne – Melbourne, VIC

June 28 Forum Melbourne – Melbourne, VIC

July 03 The Tivoli – Brisbane, QLD

July 04 The Tivoli – Brisbane, QLD

July 05 Roundhouse, UNSW – Sydney, NSW

July 06 Roundhouse, UNSW – Sydney, NSW

July 12 Thebarton Theatre – Adelaide, SA

July 13 Astor Theatre – Perth, WA

July 14 Astor Theatre – Perth, WA

July 26 Naeba Ski Resort – Niigata, Japan

Aug 13 Greek Theatre – Los Angeles, CA

Aug 14 Svn West – San Francisco, CA

Aug 15 Svn West – San Francisco, CA

Aug 16 Roseland Theater – Portland, OR

Aug 17 Harbour Event Centre – Vancouver, BC

Aug 18 Paramount Theatre – Seattle, WA

Aug 20 The Depot – Salt Lake City, UT

Aug 21 Mission Ballroom – Denver, CO

Aug 23 Riverside Theatre – Milwaukee, WI

Aug 24 Aragon Ballroom – Chicago, IL

Aug 25 Rebel Toronto – Toronto, ON

Aug 26 L’Olympia de Montréal – Montreal, QC

Aug 27 College Street Music Hall – New Haven, CT

Aug 28 SummerStage, Central Park – New York, NY

Aug 30 Franklin Music Hall – Philadelphia, PA

Aug 31 9:30 Club – Washington, DC

Sep 01 New Belgium Brewing Company – Asheville, NC

Sep 02 Tabernacle presented by Cricket Wireless – Atlanta, GA

Sep 03 Joy Theater – New Orleans, LA

Sep 04 Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater – Austin, TX

Sep 06 The Bomb Factory – Dallas, TX

Sep 30 Rock City – Nottingham, UK

Oct 01 Barrowland Ballroom – Glasgow, UK

Oct 02 O2 Academy Leeds – Leeds, UK

Oct 03 O2 Victoria Warehouse Manchester – Manchester, UK

Oct 05 Alexandra Palace – London, UK

Oct 06 TivoliVredenburg – Utrecht, Netherlands

Oct 07 TivoliVredenburg – Utrecht, Netherlands

Oct 08 Ancienne Belgique (AB) – Brussels, Belgium

Oct 11 Carlswerk Victoria – Cologne, Germany

Oct 12 Columbiahalle – Berlin, Germany

Oct 13 Rockhal Club – Esch Sur Alzette, Luxembourg

Oct 14 L’OLYMPIA – Paris, France

Oct 15 Alcatraz – Milan, Italy

Oct 16 X-TRA – Zürich, Switzerland

Oct 18 La Riviera – Madrid, Spain

Oct 19 Razzmatazz – Barcelona, Spain

A Billion Faces, the heavy new single by English metal band, Gandalf the Green

Gandalf the Green is a three-piece psychedelic doom band from Huddersfield, England. The band produces heavy, fuzzy, riff-centric music, with strong psychedelic vibes.

Their new single, A Billion Faces, was released on March 28. It was recorded in Dec, 2018 in Phipps Hall at the University of Huddersfield and is a follow up to their September 16 release, King of the Ashes. It’s a long song, clocking in at 13 and a half minutes.

The composition contains three sections, separated by brief pauses. The guitar and bass are fuzzy and tuned low and the drums sound huge. Flint’s voice has a yell-like quality: aggressive without sacrificing melody, much like vocals on Elder’s self-titled album or Sleep’s Dopesmoker.

The first section opens with a dark and deep bass melody which is soon complemented by surprising clean guitar tones and drums. Soon, the song builds into a heavy, chugging headbanger.

After the first part fades and the second sections opens, the band explores the riff with a groovier feel featuring plenty of delay, wah pedal, and overdrive. The beautiful harmonic plucks on the guitar set the tone for the song. Flint’s vocals return briefly for a chorus reprise before things venture off into more exploratory jamming.

The third section of the song is completely instrumental and very heavy. It again explores the same heavy riff from the beginning, but this time in a more urgent, intense fashion, like a stomping, doom march. The song slows down until it sonically unravels into a wall of screams and feedback, bringing the song to a dramatic end.

The song can be purchased on Bandcamp. Also, check out the song and concert dates below.

Tour dates

April 21 Red Halo Live Sound – Manchester, England

May 5 Brewery Tap – City of Bradford, England

May 18 The Fenton – Leeds, England