Album Review

Rivulets – I Remember Everything (JellyFant Schallplatten, 2014)

rivulets - i remember everything album cover
RivuletsInto The Night (JellyFant Schallplatten)

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I fucking love this record. Everything about it. Rivulets, aka Nathan Amundson (backed here by a very capable bunch), has been steadily releasing incredible records that somehow still fly under the radar, even if they’re on high profile labels like Important (We’re Fucked from 2011 was just outstanding). I think this might be the one to break Rivulets out of the glass ceiling, though, even though it’s on a German label (but available stateside on the cheap), because it would be a goddamn travesty if anything this good came & went largely unnoticed.

This isn’t normally my thing, the singer-songwriter Americana country-ish thing a la Will Oldham, Bill Callahan, or Jason Molina (who gets his own tribute here with “Ride On, Molina”), but this is slower, sadder, weirder, and injects some psych & folk into the mix, but even then, on paper, I’d be like ok cool but I’m not going out of my way to hear it or anything. For some reason, though, I see strong similarities to drone king Kyle Bobby Dunn, two pained romantics making slow-sad-core, one going the drone route, the other down Americana lane, so regardless of your taste in music, this is 100% worth seeking out.

I Remember Everything starts out with “Reinforced / Delicate” whose lyrics are “And it’s reinforced, and it’s delicate. I’m not delicate. Are you ready now?” (which are the only lyrics in the whole song), so it sounds like you stumbled into the middle of a jam session, I mean who starts a record with “…and?” And the the songs are structurally straightforward, no tricks or whistles, they’re minimal, repetitive, & hypnotic, sometimes the song is essentially a repeated chorus (see “Reinforced / Delicate”), sometimes (not always) short and like a brilliant one-off idea with only a vague beginning and end, the full band equivalent of notes on a napkin, and all of this works so goddamn well. Where Rivulets truly shines, though, is mood & sound. This is some sad fuckin stuff, not like Giles Corey levels of depression, but definitely bummed out (lyrics like “My favorite drug is sleep”) and a little bit pissed (“Isn’t it time you found your own place to ruin?”), it’s dark but not too dark, and the sound is really what gets me, it sounds like Amundson is at the bottom of a canyon with his rich voice and rusty guitar echoing down the cliff sides, sounding simultaneously huge and intimate, and it deeply resonates with me, not so much metaphorically (although that too), but physically, like the chords, tones, and drones are tuned to the frequency of my body, everything in this just feels and sounds so right to me, I just can’t get enough of it, the resonance is too strong, and it all adds up to a perfect fucking record.

Album Review

Blood Bright Star – The Silver Head (King Of The Monsters / Ascetic House, 2014)

Blood Bright Star - the silver head album cover
Blood Bright StarPale Sphere Apparition (King Of The Monsters / Ascetic House)

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My first introduction to Reuben Sawyer’s music as Blood Bright Star was on the excellent split 7″ with High Aura’d on Anti-Matter, after that I couldn’t wait for a new full length and this thing fucking delivers, a mystifying blend of motorik psych and mellow doom, this is refreshingly original shit that’s absolutely fucking brilliant, with deep grooves conjuring dusty demons, wobbly buzzing guitars and even wobblier vocals, this is the sound of a desolate seance, a shaman who’s out of his mind in the middle of nowhere, jamming hard on the occult vibes and going to shadowy places I’ve never heard of, never escalating into anything transcendent or overwhelming but rather a slow burning fog that feels like it’s warping your brain with every passing moment, this is magick of the highest order, and The Silver Head being his second full length, Blood Bright Star is only getting started, I can’t fucking wait to see this project develop.

Album Review

Donato Epiro – Fiume Nero (Black Moss, 2014)

donato epiro - fiume nero album cover
Donato EpiroNaja Nigricollis (Black Moss)

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Donato’s been around for a while, letting loose on numerous labels limited tapes and CD-Rs of bizarre worldly sounds, generally (unfortunately) not making too big of a splash. Then along comes Black Moss, the label responsible for that Umberto picture disc to accompany your suicide and the insaaaaane Slowmantra tape, and they’re like “Dude! The world’s gotta wake up! Lets press this shit to wax and spread the love.” So they did. This is Epiro’s vinyl debut and it compiles tracks from two of his previous releases, Sounding The Sun & Supercontinent, both on the late great Stunned. Now I don’t normally post about reissue/compilation stuff here but this gets a pass because 1: I already mentioned this dude is way under-appreciated, 2: it was really easy to lose track of the onslaught of Stunned releases at the time, let alone going through the back-catalog now that they’re kaput, and most obviously 3: Fiume Nero fuckin kills. This is some dark jungle shit, vibin hard on sweaty rhythms, heat wave fuzz lines droning in the distance, ethno-industrial jams that feel like fever dream hallucinations, washed out black noise and beastly flutter, this is what you hear after solo trekking through the rainforest for weeks on end and you’re at the edge of your life, stumbling upon a tribe performing manic dance rituals, this record appropriates everything and comes out sounding fresh as fuck, Donato nails it. Only 300 copies and don’t let the reissue thing dissuade you. Fiume Nero is essential.

Album Review

Horseback – Piedmont Apocrypha (Three Lobed, 2014)

horseback - piedmont apocrphya album cover
HorsebackPiedmont Apocrypha (Three Lobed)
No streaming track because Horseback is big enough now to get an exclusive full album stream before the record is released. Awesome for Horseback, less awesome for you at the moment, but way awesome for you when the full stream goes up in a few weeks.
 

Oh my fucking god this is where it’s at you guys. It’s like everything Jenks Miller has done as Horseback and otherwise (solo, Mount Moriah, etc) up until this point was specifically just to culminate in the glorious Piedmont Apocrypha. The minimal drone, the blackened psych, the ominous country folk, all of it stirred together in a cocktail of perfect occultish meditations and the harmony among the styles is unbelievable. While quite distinct from his last record (Half Blood), taking the black down a few notches and with way more clean vocals, the darkness and theme of endless change are still in full effect and bleeding through the entire record, starting with the opening line “I was born to lose, I won’t have this form forever” and winding through to the end of the burning 17 minute finale “Chanting Out The Low Shadow,” which itself is like Half Blood boiled down to a single flawless track. This record is both bold and nonchalant, it has no fuckin problem letting a couple tones hang in the air indefinitely, watching them waver & fade, or laying down a free form calming jangle fest, or tossing some field recordings in with wobbly psych guitars & droning organs, and then getting rowdy as fuck with reverb, feedback, and propulsive ritualistic fire summoning magick. Apocrypha comes from another realm, lead by shaman prophets and where a deep understanding of reality comes only through tantric psych & dancing-induced hypnoses. This is the motherfucking jam. Can’t tell you how fucking psyched I am about this record. It’s masterfully cohesive while capturing the range of styles Miller works in. If you remember how crazy I was/am about Half Blood, and then I say this is every bit as good as Half Blood, you’ll know I’m not shitting you and that this is everything you could want in another Horseback record.

Album Review

Insect Ark – Long Arms (Geweih Ritual Documents, 2013)

insect ark - long arms album cover
Insect ArkLift Off (Geweih Ritual Documents)

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So I’m a little late on the pickup with this one, but only a little, and if this is the first you’re hearing of Insect Ark, fear not! you’re not alone, it was flying below the radar for a bit. This is the solo efforts of Dana Schechter (of Bee And Flower, The Angels Of Light) and from what I can tell, Long Arms is her first release that’s not a 7″, although it’s only a 10″ EP so there’s still no proper full length yet. But goddamn this 10″ already has me craving more. Long Arms is made from just a lapsteel, bass, synth, and a sampler, it’s a dark doom drone that’s heavy on the psych, sprawling moon howling jams that that’ll raise the dead, a shuffling jangle perfectly at home in the Wild West running under eerie stretched guitar & humming feedback, this is snarling, desolate, and fuckin evil, with menacing badassery written all over it. Listening to this while walking anywhere gives you instant swagger. And the packaging on this is super sexy, hand numbered, screen printed, fold up envelope style cardboard, and limited to 500, you really can’t go wrong with this.

Album Review

Twilight Of The Century – Hibernation (Tape Drift, 2013)

twilight of the century - hibernation album cover
Twilight Of The CenturyHibernation II (Tape Drift)

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A sort of northeastern supergroup if you will, comprised of Eric Hardiman (runs Tape Drift, records as Rambutan, in Century Plants, Burnt Hills, etc), Ray Hare (records as Fossils From The Sun, also in Century Plants, Burnt Hills, etc), Linda Aubry Bullock (solo strange sound creator, and A/V/multi/media experimenter extraordinaire as Orangecookie), and Mike Bullock (solo electroacoustic excellence, works with Linda together in music/video/performance as Rise Set Twilight, in video as Twin Stars, and the record label Shadowselves). I try not to do too much bio stuff in reviews but all these rad folks fuckin deserve it. Music wise, Hibernation is as weird as you’d expect from a lot like this, a sprawling post psych hallucination that gets the smeared heat haze treatment, stumbling in the scorched desert under the stars and being comforted by your inner demons, an echo mumbling something vague & disorienting as spacey droning electronics & muffled guitars twist together into a ghostly tranquility, swaying between beautiful dreams and fevered nightmares. Putting these 4 together is almost begging for disappointment, but they deliver the best fuckin debut you could ask for. A mere $7 is all it’ll take to get these fucked jams in your hands.

Album Review

In The Meantime Part 1: Good Dreams

Just because I stopped writing for a bit doesn’t mean I stopped listening. Actually felt like I did way more listening than usual, or maybe it was just more quality listening without the review cloud storming up in my brain. Either way, here’s a quick rundown of some chill records I’ve been jamming these past few months. Part 2 will be the louder noisier scarier stuff.
 
 
danny paul grody - between two worlds album cover
Danny Paul GrodyBetween Two Worlds (Three Lobed)
Omfg this is one of my favorites from this year, Grody (of the forever missed Tarentel) goes way beyond the experimental guitar soli stuff and turns solo guitarscapes into a lush & serene ocean spanning this life and every other, delicate drone, subtle piano, & obscured vocals breathing bliss into every moment of this record. For a guitar record, it goes places you never dreamed of.
 
 
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Alessandro CortiniForse Volume 1 (Important)
This has been getting tonnnns of spins over here. Cortini is from Nine Inch Nails and How To Destroy Angels, which automatically (shamefully) made me not care about this. But for some reason I listened to a sound sample and was instantly sold. This is some incredible minimal/maximal single-Buchla-synth drone stuff that’s got the occasional rhythm and is fucking out of this world awesome. Sadly you missed your chance with the 2xLP, it’s sold out. Luckily, Volumes 2 & 3 are forthcoming before the year’s end. This is gonna be a trilogy to write home about let me tell you.
 
 
Hell On Earth Bathetic copy
EarnHell On Earth (Bathetic)
Why this guy isn’t at the top of the drone chain yet I don’t know. But lets hope Hell On Earth puts him there. I can hardly imagine a more beautifully dark record than this, channeling soft woozy bliss into a black mourning shroud, this is the ghostly stuff you see out of the corner of your eye on a sun-drenched foggy morning, supremely perfect, definitely one of the best drone records you’ll come across this year.
 
 
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Henry PlotnickFields (Holy Mountain)
It’s hard to not call every embarrassingly talented kid that hasn’t even hit high school a genius, but here we have 11 year old Plotnick’s debut 2xLP of melodic loops in the vain of the early minimal masters and goddamn this guy is fuckin going places. Regardless of his age, Fields is a fucking triumph of transcendental zoning. Fingers crossed he keeps recording.
 
 
the archivist - the wooden laser album cover
The ArchivistThe Wooden Laser (self released)
I was maybe a bit biased from the get-go due to this guy’s name but objectively speaking this record is the fucking best. The Wooden Laser is a barely there minimalism, crank this fucker up and you can still hear you pet’s heartbeat 3 rooms over. An ambiance formed around dusty tapes and whispered electronics, you can give 100% of your ears to this and it’ll show you all the crevices in the fabric of reality.
 
 
sarah davachi - the untuning of the sky album cover
Sarah DavachiThe Untuning Of The Sky (Full Spectrum)
A debut of this caliber shouldn’t be going as unnoticed as it is, Davachi has cuddled up next to a variety of electronics (ARP, Buchla, Serge, Mellotron) and coaxed tender long-form minimal drone dreams out of them, deeply saturated in warmth & finessed to a level of tonal perfection I don’t think many people ever achieve.
 
 
d burke mahoney - loran-c album cover
D. Burke MahoneyLORAN-C (self released)
An homage to the 1350 foot transmitter LORAN-C in Greeland that collapsed in 1964, this is a beautiful drone record that’s overwhelmingly minimal, the kind of sounds you hear emerge from a silent room that has various quiet machines powered up, the sound of a room breathing, exceptional, precise, & absolutely perfect. Also, it’s free.
 
 
lustmord - the word as power album cover
LustmordThe Word As Power (Blackest Ever Black)
I was never too into Lustmord but when I heard this was a drone record based on various guest artists’ vocals (Jarboe! Soriah!), I had to check it out. Blew my expectations right out of the water. I love some quality black magic ritual drone like Phurpa and Zurvan and this fits right in, expansive & evocative detailed drones resonating through empty caverns, so fucking excellent.
 
 
marisa anderson - mercury album cover
Marisa AndersonMercury (Mississippi)
How I’ve yet to hear of Anderson before this record is a baffling travesty. She picks & strums her way on electric, acoustic, and lap-steel guitars playing 100% awesome experimental Americana, twanging & echoing under wide open skies and doing an assortment of styles, bluesy drags, lazy folk, dusty Appalachian ragas, and tying it all together with an old fashioned tenderness. Love this so much.
 
 
Big Blood - Radio Valkyrie 1905-1917 album cover
Big BloodRadio Valkyrie 1905-1917 (Feeding Tube)
Insanely fantastic record from this Maine psych folk duo, only their second full length and somehow they’ve already honed a hazy dark sound that puts everything else to shame. Songs fit for midnight forest rituals and ghost stories by the fire, a seriously warped ethereal vibe that’s unshakeable after the first track’s vapors seep into your pores.
 
 
molly drake album cover
Molly DrakeMolly Drake (Squirrel Thing)
Unearthed recordings from the 50s by Nick Drake’s mom!! This woman has an undeniably charming & enchanting voice, singing sweet somber tunes & floating effortlessly on her piano, this is a record that’ll transport you to the drawing room you never got to hang in.
 
 
agarttha - a water which does not wet hands album cover
AgartthaA Water Which Does Not Wet Hands (King Of The Monsters)
Agarttha is one Francesca Marongiu (of Architeuthis Rex) conjuring a doomy folk, or folksy doom, or some manner of subdued occult magik that pours out of your speakers like a fog, offering elements of psych & pop that are as inexplicable as they are welcome. One weird fuckin record, covers you in a thick layer of moss that you’ll never wash off.
 
 
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Julianna BarwickNepenthe (Dead Oceans)
Been enthralled with Barwick ever since I saw her open for Eluvium years ago and her new record takes her layered vocal bliss to uncharted heights, sometimes venturing into pop territory, but pure fucking heaven through & through. Hands down one of the most beautiful records and completely deserving of all the praise that’s been heaped upon it lately.
 
 

Album Review

Rambutan – Inverted Summer (Fabrica, 2013)

Rambutan - Inverted Summer album Cover
RambutanTopology (Fabrica)

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The very first vinyl from the always excellent Rambutan (aka Eric Hardiman) who’s put out a string of killer releases (my favorite being The Temple Of Echo), and this one’s a fucking doozy, armed with mostly his guitar & synths/electronics, Hardiman bakes up some tripped out cough syrup fever dreams on Inverted Summer, a whole slew of humid suffocating drones that send you straight for the nearest black hole, sexy tantric shit going down in a sweaty Catskills lodge, angry industrial Tesla coil walls of darkness, your third eye blinded with squiggle vision, boiling dubbed out psych coating your brain in a dripping thick layer of goop, a welcome dose of breezy bliss for the introverts that drowns all desire to feel the sun, Hardiman made a true fucking winner here, and only 300 of these badboys were pressed, so hop to it.

Album Review

Millipede – The Lower World (self released, 2013)

millipede - the lower world album cover
MillipedeDungeon Dweller (self released)

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Tennessee’s Joseph Davenport is back with a new Millipede record, this first since 2011′s Realms (although he did have a new piece on my free comp You’re All The Fucking Best) and it’s a fucking winner. This dude belts out the noisiest harsh bliss I’ve ever heard, sounding like he’s tossed a hundred guitars into a raging bonfire, caked in scorched & burnt feedback, with gauzy melodies climbing out from a pit of red hot embers, some blown out mixture of shoegaze, psych, drone folk, & space rock, taking all of those sounds and leaving them out to crust up in the desert sun, the core still peaking through the shell, and in fact the “lead” guitar is more noticeable than ever in The Lower World, nuzzling up to your ear drums while the caustic distortion bores through your skull, this is a masochistic record of pain & pleasure, the beauty buried deep in grit and wholly worth excavating, one of Millipede’s best, and exciting as hell because this the second part of a trilogy (Realms being the first), so we know there’s more destructive brilliance on the horizon.

Album Review

Taps – Taps 2 (Individual Lines, 2013)

taps 2 album cover
Taps – Side Two (Individual Lines)

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Two bad Boston vets making some weird noise that’s all kinds of cool. Brendan Murray does some electronic wandering and Chris Strunk bangs out krauty jazzy foreign beats on his drum kit. Not really sure where the fuck this would get shelved in a record shop, they’ve got some sprawling minimal psych that gets into a killer fuckin groove, hushed ambience where they’re bathed in tape hiss, a semi-IDM that could be played at only the specialest of dance parties, and sonic synth explorations propelled with drum fuel. It’s kinda funky, kinda techno, kinda punk, but totally sparse and just rad as hell, unlike anything else coming outta Boston right now. Dudes know how to keep it fresh. Tapes & digital available from the increasingly awesome local label Individual Lines.

Album Review

Night Worship – Night Worship Volume II: Asterism (Vestige, 2012)


Night Worship – Mantaka (Vestige)

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Night Worship is an awesomely monstrous doom drone project with a revolving cast anchored by Ryan P. Jobes. Three tracks on Asterism (the last clocking in at 30 minutes and taking up the whole B side), Jobes is joined by Andrew Weathers (more guitar droning), Scott Siler (subtle percussion), and Carolyn Waiter (ethereal woodwinds), together they make the unholiest fucking drone that dives deep into reverb worship and sonic meditations, blackened distortion crumbling out of amps, chaotic incantations on the brink of conjuring the purest of evils, honoring both sides of the volume spectrum, breaking souls with blistering intertwined feedback and whispering the secrets of shamans through silent prayers, obvious Sunn O))) comparisons but never quite as monolithic, instead going for a more crusted pagan sound, but just as black, just as demonic, and fucking brilliant. Amazing work, breathing fresh doom into the world via an hour long tape on the new label Vestige Recordings, who you should clearly keep an eye on.

Haiku Review

Lisa/Liza – Ancient Edge (self released, 2012)


Lisa/LizaBlack Out (self released)

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Download Ancient Edge
/purely intimate/
/shining voice obscured by clouds/
/melted harmony/

Album Review

Sarin Smoke – Vent (MIE, 2012)


Sarin Smoke – Atmen Ein (MIE)

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Not like yall haven’t heard about this yet but I’m just doing my due diligence so it reaches as far & wide as possible. This is a fucking hellbeast of a record. Tom Carter & Pete Swanson teamed up for some 6 string feedback & tortured electronics that sound like they’re being spawned from the core of the goddamn sun. Swanson’s new technoise aesthetic is found all over this, just sans beats, and Carter’s guitar is either jamming the best Americana sprawl or throwing on a Swanson suit and making the strings completely indistinguishable from the electronics. Superb drones salvaged from the Dust Bowl and left out to bake in Death Valley, crusted over in a layer of caustic bliss, scorched alarm calls & nauseous jet engine hum, star worshipping reverb & meditative resonance, the enjoyment factor on Vent is through the fucking roof. So insanely good. Definitely don’t want to miss this.

Side note: Tom Carter has some crazy medical bills from when he got pneumonia while touring overseas earlier this year. A fund was set up to help ease the financial pain, The Robert Thomas Carter Irrevocable Trust, which you can just flat out donate to, but you can also just buy this record. All proceeds from Vent will go to the Trust, so buy a few copies to give out as birthday gifts or something.

Album Review

Glacial – On Jones Beach (Three Lobed, 2012)


GlacialOn Jones Beach (excerpt) (Three Lobed)

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Special stuff right here. On Jones Beach is the debut release of Glacial, the power trio made up of Lee Ranaldo, David Watson, and Tony Buck. A singular 48 minute journey into worlds unknown, occupying a headspace you didn’t know existed. The first movement is a spectacular brooding drone, minimal feedback & electronics that slowly caffeinates itself into a gritty dirtbag of swirling ambience that’s ominous and climactic. It seamlessly brings in some percussion and before you know it, you’re in a full on psych jam with a heavy groove and a bagpipes solo. But then you figure out the climax of the drone was only epic on its own terms, not in relation to the whole thing. On Jones Beach gets so crazy, post-punk atonal guitar shredding, screeching feedback, bagpipe drone noodling, electronic nastiness, and a drum beat bleeding perfection to tie it all together, grounding it in some fake-reality where this whack shit makes sense and it’s 100% acceptable to have a noise/drone record that rocks this fucking hard. Seriously though, these goddamn bagpipes are the most unexpected thing and get me maybe a bit too excited. I love those fucking reeds and they just give this record an extra dose of awesome. I can’t believe it took so long for the three of these guys to put out a record because this is such stunning work, it’s like they’ve been rolling together for decades and have already amassed a masterful discography. Big ups to Three Lobed for giving this the swanky vinyl treatment and making sure the one heavenly piece didn’t get butchered when split for two sides. Plus, you get an uncut digital version with the LP, as well as three shorter live tracks that make this thing a fucking steal.

Album Review

Sun Splitter – III (BloodLust!, 2012)


Sun SplitterEye Of Jupiter (BloodLust!)

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How these Chicago dudes aren’t as well known as Locrian is beyond me. Sun Splitter have just as must genre blending as Locrian, just a different blend. They’ve got this incredible black industrial psych doom thing with some dark ambient noise/drone and even a little HANL style gloomgaze tossed in. I think III is their first vinyl (limited to 500, white, sexy, etc) and it’s monolithic & pure fucking evil. Seriously, this is just monstrous in every way. The riffs are skull crushing, a wall of reverb and distortion sounding like napalm melting your core, drum machines hitting harder than any human could, explosive blasts that level cities, with an abusive assault of rapid-fire fury for the second half of “The Serpent’s Golden Death” where the individual hits coalesce into a waterfall of insanity, static vocals that roar their way to the surface, guitars that chug & rattle, at home only in Hell’s scorched valley, crusted under the black sun. These guys get in a groove and don’t let up until they’ve reached total devastation, the drum machine locked in a loop, sealing their fate as endless riff demons. If you need some fucking heavy in your life, this is where you should be looking. This is the fucking best and most original metal. And with killer artwork by band member Anthony A. Dunn, you would be doing yourself a major disservice by passing this up.