It's not a secret that this whole retro movement in the worlds of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal has been an absolutely God sent for my musical palette. For so many years now, probably 20 or more, the ONLY band I've had to hold onto when I wanted new music from a band who's influences were steeped into the days of the late '60s/early '70s "war anthem" hard rock sound has been The Black Crowes. Every disc from them has been welcomed because it always accurately captured that spirit from a time that's long gone in music. Lately though, there's been a great many bands that have emerged and just have made my own personal listening experience better than it's been in years. SpiralArms and Scorpion Child were, without question, my favorites last year. Here at the halfway point of 2014, the runaway winner is Blues Pills. This soulful rock record is the very best thing to come across this desk this year, as it's as close to flawless as a disc can be.
One of the hardest things I'm tasked to do when reviewing bands is to look past the individual history of the members when a new project pops up. Many times, you really can't help but to think about a guy's past work in another band. That's especially true when the guy is the singer. MuckRaker is one of those bands for me. Vocalist Will Price's previous band, Boiler, was not only one of those underground bands that I caught and love to this day, but comes with a sentimental amount of favoritism from me as well as they were the first national band I ever booked to play a show. So I do have a connection, which I will say is one of the main reasons I would have ever even listened to MuckRaker. But, if I'm going to keep my integrity as a writer, I have to look past that and judge this project on it's own merits and not against Price's past.
II: VOID WORSHIP
In the epic world of doom metal, there are a lot of pretenders. There are only a few that are truly authentic though. Pilgrim is one of the most authentic I think I've ever heard. Their grinding, slow moving sludge is such from which legends put on this Earth to slay anyone or anything in it's path. Made up of The Wizard on vocals, guitars and bass and Krolg (Slayer Of Men) on drums, PILGRIM have created an behemoth of a release that's almost too heavy to listen to in a single sitting. From start to finish, the tempo of VOID WORSHIP rarely changes. It's slow, methodical and constant. If you took a regular song, hooked an anchor to each band member, and had them drag it around as they played it, this is what it would sound like near the end. Take that as a good thing, because the material fits this tempo. Tracks like "Void Worship" and "The Paladin" are intense listening experiences which simply grind out awesomeness from start to finish.
Fist Fight In The Parking Lot
YEAR OF THE OX
Wow, here's one that's unexpected. With a name that sounds like one of these bad emocore bands of the modern day, Fist Fight In The Parking Lot is a deep, heavy and damn near perfect doom metal band that breaks the mold by adding a female vocalist to the front of their thick, heavy sludge. There's a lot to say here, but the main word that keeps coming to mind is, simply, "wow"! As we march our way into 2014, it's clear that Fist Fight In The Parking Lot are the first new band to land on my radar for the upcoming year. YEAR OF THE OX just flat out rocks!
There are great recordings, and then there are releases that just get better each and every time you listen to them. SpiralArms new release FREEDOM is one of those releases. I loved it the first time I heard it, and it's done nothing but get stronger with each and every listen for me. Maybe it's the mood I'm in these days, or maybe it's just that great music is coming out fast and furiously, but it seems like for the past two months, each release has been better than the last. In the last 3 months alone, I've proclaimed "album of the year" twice before...Vista Chino's PEACE and Scorpion Child's self-titled debut. Now, I'm proclaiming it once again. Full of diversity and influences from all the right bands in the history of rock and metal, FREEDOM stands as the lone perfect listening experience of 2013 for me. This one is a stunner.