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.

The Sonic Sofa Podcast: Torche, Lewis and the Strange Magics, and Howling Giant

Podcast Transcript: I’m The Purlenaut and you’ve landed on the Sonic Sofa, your home for stoner rock reviews and podcasts. Check out thesonicsofa.blog to read lots of articles and hear some awesome music. This month, we’ll be scientifically analyzing some extraterrestrial music specimens by Torche, Lewis and the Strange Magics, and Howling Giant. We’re in for a heavy ride, so buckle up, become one with The Sofa, and prepare for liftoff.

Admission, released by Torche on July 12th

First up is Torche. Torche is a four-piece heavy metal band from from Miami, Florida. Their music has got heavy riffs and harmonic vocals. The band formed in 2004 and have released five full lengths and four EPs. Released by Relapse Records on July 12, Admission is their fifth album and it’s an absolute juggernaut. Here’s a track called Times Missing.

Melvin’s Holiday, released by Lewis and the Strange Magics on September 6th

That was Torche with the song, Times Missing, off of their new album, Admission. Next up, on The Sonic Sofa, is Lewis and the Strange Magics. They’re a heavy-psych band from Barcelona, Spain. The band produces groovy, stylish, psychedelic music, with strong funk and jam undercurrents. The band just released their third full length, Melvin’s Holiday.  It was released on September 6, 2019. It’s a concept album made up of nine, 1960’s and 70’s inspired, tracks that tell the story of Melvin, a rich man who divorces his wife and takes off on holiday in the Mediterranean, where he seeks happiness but finds only loneliness. Here’s a track from that album called Sad in Paradise.

The Space Between Worlds, released by Howling Giant on September 27th

And that was Sad in Paradise, from the new album Melvin’s Holiday, by Lewis and the Strange Magics. Up next, on The Sonic Sofa, is Howling Giant. After three solid EP’s, the Nashville, TN band has released their debut album, adding to their consistently heavy and creative catalogue of sci-fi influenced stoner-rock. Released on September 27th, The Space Between Worlds continues the band’s tradition of producing tight, heavy music with melodic vocals that tell an epic science fiction narrative. According to a statement by the band, the new album “is a concept album that follows the story of a huntress who travels the infinite metaphysical worlds brought into being by the dreams of humankind. In these realms, she encounters a dream eater which threatens to unravel the fabric of reality by devouring dreamers and destroying the dimensional gateways.” So there we go. Here’s a track from that album called Comet Rider.

And that was Howling Giant with the song, Comet Rider, from their new album, The Space Between Worlds. Thanks for listening to the Sonic Sofa podcast. Check out the Sonic Sofa on mixcloud.com/purlenaut and thesonicsofa.blog. Please support the bands by buying their music and merch. If you have music or an artist that you think should be featured on the blog or podcast, contact The Purlenaut at thesonicsofashow@gmail.com. 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

Yung Druid release riffy, 70’s influenced debut album

Yung Druid is a London-based heavy doom, psych quartet with low-tuned, riffy guitars and high-pitched melodic vocals. The group’s music is straightforward and solid, without being too complex. The group creates riffy, sludgy, classic metal, in the vein of Black Sabbath, but with some of the psychedelic sensibilities of softer bands like Dead Meadow and Sleepy Sun.

Ever since the single, Take Me to Your Dealer, dropped back in September of 2018, the groovy lead drew me in and I started keeping an eye out for the full album. Released on Bandcamp in April, Yung Druid’s self titled album is no disappointment: It’s full of high flying vocals, killer guitar leads, and walls of reverb and distortion. The drums sound great in the mix, with heavy cymbals that are really allowed to ring out and sing. The guitars and bass are down-tuned and heavy, and the vocals never struggle to hit the high notes.

The album officially releases on June 1, 2019 through Totem Cat Records. A limited run of 300 vinyl records is available for purchase on Bandcamp. Hopefully the band reissues more units for the June release as supplies are already limited (32 remain at the time of writing this).

Take Me to Your Dealer (5:56) is the album’s riffy opener. It’s a groovy, psych-doom song with X-Files inspired lyrics and a trippy last half that feels like you’re being taken away on an alien abduction trip.

Sleepy Eyes (6:47) is filled with commanding riffs and has some cool change-ups. Two vocal tracks create nice harmonies throughout the song. Heavy distortion on the guitars and lots of reverb on the vocals give this song some great psychedelic qualities.

Underneath the Aching Sky (4:35) is a shorter headbanger with some seriously catchy guitar and vocal hooks. The vocals carry some echoes of Ozzy and Geddy Lee, and the guitar riffs are dark and Sabbath-esque. Pay attention for the awesome sounding china cymbal.

Lung (4:47) takes a break from the heaviness is much softer. The vocals are a little more laid back and the song has some great guitar solo work.

After a hard hitting intro, Went into a Wooden Room (6:24) features a standout bass line guides the way into a psychedelic audioscape. The track grooves along and takes its time unfurling itself.

Morning Come (4:26) finishes the album strong. The closing song featuring strong guitar riffs, a solid rhythm section, and beautiful vocal melodies.

If you’re into 70’s influenced retro rock with tons of riffs, high flying vocals, and plenty of stoner lyrics, look no further than Yung Druid. Check out the music video which is just as trippy and spaced out as the music. The video also has tin-foil hat wearing aliens, so go for it!