Album Review: Scottish stoner rock band, Isak, set to release new full length, The Great Expanse

The Great Expanse will be released in late February

Isak is a stoner rock trio from Glasgow, Scotland. The group is made up of Joe McGarrity on vocals and guitar, Gregor Malcolm on bass, and Robert “Twigs” McLean drums. The band has been producing riffy space rock since 2012 and just announced their first full length album, The Great Expanse, via their Facebook page.

The Great Expanse will be a followup up to Isak EP, released in July, 2013, and EP2, which was released in January, 2018. The Great Expanse is a sonically compelling stoner rock album that will take you to the edge of space and beyond. The album tells the story of traveler journeying across the galaxy. As he embarks across the endless cosmos, he begins to wonder if he is alone or if he is being guided. More than half instrumental, but employing the sparse, melodic vocals in a focused and effective way, the album is the soundtrack to the traveler’s story. It unfolds dynamically over the course of 45 minutes and seven tracks. The record was recorded at 16 Ohm Studio in Glasgow, with Tommy Duffin of Cosmic Dead and John McBain of Monster Magnet completing the mastering.

  1. The Great Expanse 6:46
  2. Beyond the Karman Line 6:24
  3. Falling Satellite 11:39
  4. Interstellar 3:05
  5. Ablaze 6:40
  6. Out of Reach 5:50
  7. Call of the Void 4:00

The album opens with The Great Expanse, a riffy track with a driving bass and rhythm section. With thoughtful, melodic lyrics such as “set sail on infinite seas” and “explore the great beyond,” space exploration quickly becomes the theme of the album. The lyrics disappear after the first half (they return on the fifth track), and the band members let the instruments continue the story. A spacey jam finishes things out and it fades seamlessly into the second song.

The Karman Line is the altitude where Earth ends and space begins, 62 miles above the surface. The second track, Beyond the Karman Line, begins low key with a catchy clean guitar line, but then the song builds and accelerates the heaviness, as if it were the second stage of a rocket flinging us into the vastness of space. The track has a creative drum pattern and bass rhythm, topped off by a fuzzy, psychedelic guitar tone.

Falling Satellite is the longest song on the album, close to 12 minutes. It starts with thick bass tones and cymbal swells. The guitar materializes from spacey, atmospheric sounds into a cohesive pattern, and the other instruments develop with it, creating a cosmic jam that plays out over the first half of the song. The second half transforms into a heavier, driving riff with a progressive poly-rhythm that has echoes of Tool. The track continues to form and explore for the last half, featuring a singing guitar lead and progressively building and building before fading out, with the cymbals swells and thick bass tones from the beginning making a return.

Isak formed in Glasgow, Scotland in 2012

Opening with ethereal organ tones and cosmic guitar notes, Interstellar builds into a short but nice bass-heavy progression. The hypnotic pattern continues for a few minutes before fading into the next track, Ablaze, which takes us into more of a crunchier, riffier territory. This track is where the lyrics return, making their presence at the beginning and end of the track. Meanwhile, the band provides plenty of cool stoner rock change-ups, complex rhythm patterns, and plenty of cool, wandering guitar leads that weave in and out of the musical fabric.

Out of Reach starts right in with a swingy, heavy riff. The drums produce a decent shuffle pattern and some huge sounding cymbal crashes alongside a growly bass. While the opening track’s lyrics felt broad and hopeful, optimistically talking of exploring the “infinite seas” of space, the lyrics in Out of Reach come across as more desperate, searching, and claustrophobic, as if the traveler is searching for meaning, or anything, in the empty reaches of space.

At the beginning of the last track, Call of the Void, the band changes it up with harmonic, angelic vocals over a clean guitar line. It’s unsure if the harmonic lyrics represents the voice of a heavenly guide leading our traveler to some kind of salvation, or perhaps the last hallucination of a dying astronaut drifting endless into cold space, but somehow both scenarios seem hopeful, and a fitting end to an awesome stoner rock odyssey.

The album is set for release in late February, and will be available on Bandcamp, alongside their two previous EPs. Make sure to also check out the band on Facebook and Twitter. Check out The Sonic Sofa on StitcherSoundcloudthesonicsofa.blog, and Twitter. Please support the bands by buying their music and merch. If you have music, a band, or an original music review or press release that you think should be featured on the blog or podcast, contact The Purlenaut at thesonicsofashow@gmail.com. If you enjoy the content provided on this blog and want to see more, please consider donating to The Sonic Sofa on PayPal or Patreon. Go in peace and rock on, Sofanauts.

Show Dates

Feb 29 Red Crust Winter Warmer – Glasgow, UK

May 10 Red Crust Festival – Edinburgh, UK

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.

BBC Radio 1 by OM is one of the greatest live albums ever recorded

It has been seven years since Om’s last album, the critically acclaimed Advaitic Songs, was released, but the members have proven that patience is a virtue when it comes to their work. The core of the avant-garde rock group is vocalist and bassist, Al Cisneros of Sleep, and drummer, Emil Amos of Holy Sons and Grails. They are currently joined by keyboardist, Tyler Trotter of Bonnie Stillwatter. Between the triumphant return of Sleep and Emil Amos’s prolific solo output in Holy Sons, Om was relegated to short tours and occasional festivals such as Desertfest and Monolith on the Mesa, but in October, fans were surprised by the physical release of the band’s latest live album: the carefully recorded and engineered BBC Radio 1, Om’s highest quality live album to date, and the second with the current lineup.

BBC Radio 1 was released on October 9, 2019 on the Drag City record label. It was recorded in Maida Vale Studios in London in May, and the care and attention of both the band and the studio engineers is apparent on the final product. The instruments are impressively clear and the sound of the room is present on the recording. Unfortunately, the album is short, clocking in at just short of 30 minutes. It’s composed of four tracks: Gethsemane and State of Non-Return from Advaitic Songs, followed by Cremation Ghat and Cremation Ghat II from 2009’s God is Good. The classic songs have slightly changed, evolving over the years as the band has continually toured and improved their compositions and arrangements.

1. Gethsemane 11:19
2. State of Non-Return 8:22
3. Cremation Ghat 3:43
4. Cremation Ghat II 5:37

Cisneros’s bass tones on the album, carefully crafted and honed over decades, are rich and diverse, laying down a heavy bottom line for each song song. On Gethsemane, slow, meditative patterns guide us through the song with deep, clear tones. It’s followed by State of Non-Return’s fuzzy, overcharged sound; perhaps one of the heaviest bass tones ever committed to vinyl. The jazzier feel on the Cremation Ghat suite is matched by a groovy, clean tone that in part II, features some amazing Iommic sounding hooks that have been improvised since the studio release.

Emil Amos’s drumming style is like a cross between meditative stoner rock beats and flowing dub rhythms. As the songs progress, he regularly peppers in phenomenally complex fills, dancing within and around the beat, all while holding down the meter like a human metronome. His drums ring out with incredible clarity, capturing the the sound and breadth of the studio in their resonance. Carefully chosen cymbals, notably the outstanding ride bell and large china, add shimmering brilliance to the atmosphere of the album.

Trotter’s keyboard samples accurately represent the original recorded strings and ethnic instruments. All of his work tastefully fills out the album, adding texture and deepening the complexity of each track. Over it all, the esoteric lyrics are sparsely though thoughtfully placed for full impact. Blending characters, places, and concepts from multiple geographic areas and religions, Cisneros weaves a lyrical tapestry which is both meditatively therapeutic and thought-provoking.

Monolith on the Mesa, May, 2019 Photo Credit: The Purlenaut (Sorry you were cut you out, Mr. Trotter)

Om has a number of tour dates lined up for 2019. If you get out to see the band on tour, you will be treated to an album quality performance. We saw the band last May at the Taos Brewery for the Monolith on the Mesa festival, and the result was electrifying. Some highlights of the show were Cisneros percussively slapping the bass, Amos in a trance-induced drumming state, Trotter employing a mixture of keyboards and physical instruments, and the whole scene of the desert earthship stage being bathed in dynamic, kaleidoscopic oil lights.

Although it looks like Sleep may be taking a break after releasing The Sciences and extensively touring The U.S. and Europe, this may be acceptable news for fans who have been waiting for a new Om studio album, as the break could allow the members of Om to join once again and unite their powers in song. No matter what the band decides to put out, you can be sure it will be worth the wait. For now, listen to the new live album and support the band by buying the high quality digital download from Bandcamp, or the two-record vinyl release with mixed green and black wax.

Thanks for reading The Sonic Sofa. This will be the last article of 2019, but we’ll be back and stronger for 2020. Happy holidays, go in peace, and rock on, Sofanauts.

Feb 21 Austin, TX – Mohawk

Feb 22 Houston, TX – Brash Brewing

Feb 23 Dallas, TX – Gas Monkey Bar N’ Grill

Feb 24 Fayetteville, AR – George’s Majestic Lounge

Feb 26 Birmingham, AL – Saturn

Feb 27 Atlanta, GA – Terminal West

Feb 28 Asheville, NC – The Grey Eagle

Feb 29 Durham, NC – Motorco Music Hall

Mar 02 Washington, DC – Black Cat

Mar 03 Philadelphia, PA – Underground Arts

Mar 05 Cambridge, MA – The Sinclair

Mar 06 Providence, RI – Columbus Theatre

Mar 07 Hamden, CT – Space Ballroom

Mar 08 Pittsburgh, PA – Spirit Lounge

Mar 09 Cleveland, OH – Grog Shop

Mar 11 Louisville, KY – Headliners Music Hall

Mar 13 Chicago, IL – Garfield Park Conservatory

Mar 16 Minneapolis, MN – Fine Line Music Cafe

Mar 17 Des Moines, IA – Wooly’s

Mar 18 Omaha, NE – Slowdown – Main Room

Mar 19 Lawrence, KS – The Bottleneck

Mar 21 Albuquerque, NM – Sister Bar

Jun 19 Clisson, France – Rue du Champ Louet

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.

Debut album by The Lancasters is filled with 60’s style heavy-psych goodness

The Lancasters are a psychedelic rock trio from Brescia, Italy. They just released their debut, The Lancasters, on November 1st. The self-titled album was independently released and is being promoted by Fuzzy Cracklins Presents while the band looks for the right label to release their work on vinyl. The album was recorded to tape and professionally mixed and mastered, giving it a warm, vintage sound. The album is smooth and groovy, evincing the sound of bands like Led Zeppelin and the lyrical sensibilities of groups like The Beatles.

1. Howitzer 3:04
2. Sharp 683 4:09
3. Get a Good Lawyer 3:00
4. Mata Hari 6:40
5. Powder 4:59
6. Stellar 3:07
7. Reflectors 5:00
8. Northern Road 3:49
9. Sweet Cross 4:13

The nine tracks on the album cover a dynamic range of sounds and styles that flow over you like a warm, fuzzy blanket. Tracks like Mata Hari, Sharp 683, Stellar, and Reflectors rest in a pocket of psychedelic electric rock filled with catchy guitar hooks and vocal melodies. The band explores a softer acoustic side on Get a Good Lawyer and Northern Road, while Powder takes the band into the riffy realm of heavy blues with its thick bass and chunky guitars. In addition to the album, don’t miss the trippy music videos for the tracks Howitzer and Stellar.

The Lancasters is available on CD and digital download on Bandcamp. You can also stream the album on Spotify. Make sure to check out the band on Instagram, as well as YouTube. For a whole lot more great music on Bandcamp, check out Fuzzy Cracklins. As always, thanks for reading The Sonic Sofa. Go in peace and rock on, Sofanauts.

The Gig Experiment provides surfy wah pedal and heavy riffs on new EP, Shark Attack

Shark Attack was released on October 29

The Gig Experiment is a three piece rock band from São Bernardo Do Campo, Brazil. The band is made up of Matheus Longhi on guitar, Marcus Moraes on bass and Demian Meneses on drums. They produce a surfy blend of instrumental heavy-psychedelic music with stoner-rock influences. Imagine the surfy flow of bands like Satan’s Pilgrims or Snake Mountain Revival, mixed with a light dose of the heavy riffage of Black Sabbath, and you get the idea.

Their new EP, Shark Attack, was released on October 29 and follows a live album called 220V Ao Vivo which is available to listen to in full by following this link to YouTube. With just three tracks on their new EP, Shark Attack is a short but very sweet ride. The guitar, bass, and drums sound raw, stripped down, and dialed in to deliver the grooves for the entire 10 minutes of the EP. It’s available for digital download on Bandcamp.

The first two tracks, Shark Attack and Poucas Ideia, are driving, wah pedal drenched barrel rides. The bass sounds thick and does several octave drops at key moments in the songs that really add to the beefiness. The drums have depth and come through really well in the mix with crashing cymbals and a full snare sound.

The third track, Três, dramatically slows the tempo and adds a vocal melody to the intro. The fuzzy, overdriven guitar really kicks in as well, adding some muscle to the song, hence the Black Sabbath comparison. A nice melodic guitar lead takes over for the vocal melody, and an upbeat outro finishes up the song.

The Gig Experiment is a three piece rock band from São Bernardo Do Campo, Brazil

All in all, it’s a very upbeat, catchy EP with some heavy moments. Unfortunately, the EP is very short, but it is definitely worth a listen. Keep an eye out for The Gig Experiment as their future releases should be promising. Make sure to check them out on Bandcamp. Also, find the band on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. Thank for reading The Sonic Sofa. Go in peace and rock on, Sofanauts.

Listen to the heavy-psych sword and sorcery of Dimetrodon

Dimetrodon released II on October 11, 2019

Write about the band: Dimetrodon is a three piece instrumental rock band from Austin, Texas. Their music is a progressive blend of synthy heavy psych and stoner rock. The members of the band are Jim Lecheler on bass, Ian McKinney on synths and guitar, and Rene Moncivais on drums. Their debut album, II, was released on October 11, 2019.

According to a statement by the band, “The 12 instrumental tracks of Dimetrodon’s *II* loosely follow the story of a savage barbarian as he faces off against a wizard and his monster friends in the windswept deserts of Mars. Drawing from stoner, prog, proto-metal, krautrock, and other influences, *II* is a window into of the mind of a boomer dad describing the airbrushing on the cargo van he had back when he was your age.” The album has no lyrics, but the full-blooded song titles like are enough to put an interesting picture in your mind and the music itself will take you there. There are really heavy songs like Dragonslayer, Antimagic Field, and Bonestorm, but there are also plenty of of reflective, softer tracks like Ogre Horde and The Druid’s Funeral. The album is a virtual kaleidoscope of psychedelic sound textures, running the gamut from chunky stoner rock riffs to dreamy psychedelic synth tones.

1. Dragon’s Lair 1:57
2. Dragonslayer 4:14
3. Antimagic Field 6:18
4. Ogre Horde 5:03
5. The Druid’s Funeral 3:16
6. Finger of Death 4:30
7. Hobgoblin 2:37
8. Stalactites 2:32
9. ☠️Bonestorm☠️ 2:40
10. Dispel Evil and Good 2:19
11. Sunbeam 2:13
12. Grimlock 2:52

The whole album sounds like something that could have been produced in a garage in the 70’s. You can hear early doom influences from Black Sabbath and Electric Wizard as well as krautrock such as Neu! and Amon Duul II. You can also hear healthy doses of modern psych as well as synth-forward film score influence peppered into the mixture. Whether you’re you’re perusing Frank Frazetta paintings, playing Dungeons and Dragons, or just putting on music for a spacey drive in the car, Dimetrodon makes a great soundtrack. Purchase a digital download of the album today on Bandcamp for $7. Also, make sure to check out the band on Facebook and Instagram. As always, thanks for reading The Sonic Sofa. Go in peace and rock on, Sofanauts.