Twenty From the Tomb 5/27/19: Omnikinesis through phytochemistry.

TEN TWENTY FROM THE TOMB is a weekly feature in the form of a themed list devoted to grouping together albums of similar interest that I missed throughout the year 2019. These albums were overlooked for review for any number of reasons with the most common reason being constraints of time. I have a policy of covering 99% of everything I receive in some form, be it mini-review or full-feature, so don’t hesitate to send anything and everything my way.


Here I present a twenty album sampler of some stoner (rock, doom, metal) albums from early-to-mid 2019. Consider it a good rub of the best blues-rocking stoner jams so far this year. Most of these albums made it here to Ten From the Tomb because I couldn’t manage the time for a long-form review or because I really didn’t have more than a paragraph or two worth of insight beyond banal description. If you’re not into the selection this week, relax! This’ll be back every 7 days with 10 more albums from different styles, genres, themes, etc.

Hey! Don’t dive in thinking this will all be shit just because I am not doing full reviews for these releases! I always have some quality control in mind and look for expressive, meaningful, or just damn heavy releases that hold value without gimmickry or bland plagiarism. This week I pretty much went through Next weeks picks will come directly from a poll that PATREON patrons can vote in every two weeks. Thank you! I am eternally grateful for the support of readers and appreciate the friendly and positive interactions I’ve had with all thus far. Think my opinions are trash and that I suck? Want to totally tell me off, bro? Click away and let’s all live more sensible lives full of meaningful interactions. I’m too old and bored with people to care.


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Artist The Riven
Title [Type/Year] The Riven [Full-length/2019]
Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Stockholm, Sweden based heavy rockers The Riven bring a distinctly mid-70’s bluesy flavor to their energetic debut full-length. If you’d kept track of all of the Rodger Bain productions after Black Sabbath kicked up dust you’ll know exactly why I’d quickly point any fan of Budgie‘s 1971 debut right onto The Riven. Their style is a bit more uptempo and rooted in stuff like Horizont or Rival Sons on some level but there is that old British heavy rock vibe kinda holding everything together. The bass tone is a bit muddy and clashes with the slightly compressed (to my ears) bass drum sound so ‘The Riven’ read a bit more 90’s stoner/blues rock on the faster paced tracks but either way this’ll be worth a hit if you’re in need of some punchy, slick heavy blues rock n’ roll.


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Artist The Grind Fever
Title [Type/Year] Cave Transmissions [EP/2019]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

The Grind Fever are a Portuguese stoner metal band from the Santa Maria da Feira area who bring a host of sub-genre influences into their own wicked pot of sludgy, dark and powerfully melodic stoner metal. When I fired this up the first time I’d almost felt like this was a trad-leaning doom metal record but they move towards the stoner/alt metal spectrum as the EP progresses. “Hope You Choke” has these wild, twisting riffs that have just a hint of Pale Divine-esque style to them but most of the album gives the impression that they’re still finding their place within the more sullen (later) Trouble style of stoner metal. I’m curious to see what they’ll do with a full-length in terms of variation.


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Artist 600000 Mountains
Title [Type/Year] Mister Sartorius [EP/2019]
 Rating [2.75/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Catania, Italy based instrumental stoner metal trio might be a hard sell if you’re not keen on the whole ‘no vocals’ thing but most of ‘Mister Sartorius’ 17+ minute length is spend developing lightly progressive stoner metal jogs that never overstay their welcome beyond ‘the point’ of each composition. Of the three songs only “Horse Suplex” really stands out and well, without vocals there isn’t enough to really warrant repeat spins just yet. It feels, as most instrumental recordings do, like a demo track for a record without the vocals added yet and because there is that feeling that something is missing I couldn’t connect with the majority of the material on a repeatable basis.


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Artist Dr. Awkward & the Screws
Title [Type/Year] Gettin’ Out of Style [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [2.75/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Love the graphic design on this debut full-length from Athens, Greece heavy blues rockers Dr. Awkward & the Screws. The instrumental is slickly produced, a stripped down affair with a catchy 70’s rock swagger and some decent bluesy variations but man, the vocals just did not work out at all while ‘Gettin’ Out of Style’ was gettin’ it on. The vocals have so little range they kinda come off a bit like a growl that expresses uh… A bit constipated. It was a bummer because I was so connected with every other part of this album.


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Artist Grass
Title [Type/Year] Fresh Grass [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Though they released ‘Fresh Grass’ digitally back in October of 2018 New York heavy stoner rock/doom quartet Grass offer up the vinyl here in the first half of 2019. These guys play a dirty, bluesy sort of slug-paced stoner jam that recalls the best of those early Tee Pee Records stoner days, back with some ‘Louder Than Love’ creeping around out back. This is the kinda stuff you put in the middle of your playlist, it keeps the party going with a mid-paced groove and doesn’t rock the boat. Maybe not the kind of band I want to see to blow off steam, but maybe if I’m eating a hamburger at a brew-pub. Vocalist can carry a tune and the guitar tone has a satisfying heavy stank on it.


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Artist Gypsy Chief Goliath
Title [Type/Year] Masters of Space and Time [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Kozmik Artifactz are one of several psych/stoner/heavy labels that I can pretty much grab anything that looks like a trip and enjoy it so, ‘Masters of Space and Time’ are unsurprisingly high class freakery front to back. Gypsy Chief Goliath‘s vocalist has this gruff vocalist who can dip into like, early Danzig territory when things swing down to a mid-pace and then back up to a doom-rocked 70’s Lizzy-meets-Hawkwind style of blues-driven heavy rock. I don’t think it all works a hundred percent of the time but ‘Masters of Space and Time’ feels confident, like a band doing their own thing and doing it well. The only thing that needs a little work is the Clutch-isms kinda start to come out of the woodworks as the album progresses (esp. “Into the Sun”) and I felt like it got a bit o’ the bad funk for a few minutes there.


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Artist Lord Vapour
Title [Type/Year] Semuta [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

A lot of the stuff we’ve looked at so far knows their niche and doesn’t know any better but Lord Vapour are interesting because they’re sharp enough to mix it up and come with a generally versatile sound that can bump between heavy blues rock, desert rock, doom metal, and create worthy linkages between each specialty. ‘Semuta’ is the second full-length from the trio that finds ’em heavier than ever but putting even more time into creating variation between songs and not completely relying upon blues structures for every progression. I particularly loved the juxtaposition of “Through The Doors Of Kukundu” and “Semuta Music” in the middle of the record, they’re both a bit long for what they are but they build as a sort of ‘jammed’ peak on the album. I dunno if it all really goes anywhere but they do a great job just rocking the songs out, tons of wah pedal included.


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Artist Asthma Castle
Title [Type/Year] Mount Crushmore [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Maryland stoner/sludge metal quintet Asthma Castle picked their gig back up ten years after their first EP and here we are with what is one of the slickest, fattest-assed production jobs on a stoner metal album all year. We’re also treated to the drumming of Adam Jarvis (Misery Index, Pig Destroyer, Scour) in a totally different element and the whole thing is terrifically intense but never goes full sludge-tard… Well, it kinda does but the really brutal parts of this album kinda smack of early Mastodon as much as they do those crunchier early Baroness records. There is a southern rock swagger in there somehow too which helps ‘Mount Crushmore’ from sounding too clinical or meat-headed as they blast out their deranged heavy blues. So many bands fumble through this kind of stuff with a dead shoulder and no sense for dynamics or rhythmic interest, it really is a treat to hit this record up. ‘Mount Crushmore’ is a damned treat and something I’d kinda wish I had made time for sooner. Definitely check this out if you’re a fan of Soilent Green and Bloodhorse.


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Artist Thunderclap
Title [Type/Year] Inebriocean [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Finally, a damned serious and ‘deep’ album. This Floridian doom/sludge/stoner metal project might look like a jacked up non-serious flop based on their (seemingly jocular) album title, ‘Inebriocean’, and the somewhat busy cover design but their debut full-length ends up being a really genuine and cathartic listening experience. Patience is really a requirement here. They’re just not gonna slap you in the face with anything despite their pretty striking band name but, Thunderclap do eventually pick up and rock a few tracks in. ‘Inebriocean’ is an album of liquid anxiety as it is processed away, a fear of getting lost in addiction or the wrong path and never finding the strength to fight the negative current that’d damn a mans short life on Earth. It might sound cliche or exploitative in some sense but this is the sort of music that almost appears attuned towards the introverted, thoughtful stoner folk who seek musical nuance and intimacy without any self-conscious airs about them. Could be projection though, eh.


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Artist Elepharmers
Title [Type/Year] Lords of Galaxia [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Cagliari, Italy stoner rock/heavy psych band Elepharmers features musicians who you’ve likely heard on records by Black Capricorn, Letame, and various extreme metal projects most folks have probably never heard of. ‘Lords of Galaxia’ has this occult heavy psych feeling a la classic post-’95 Cathedral. These guys have a sort of Electric Moon chill but they’re not above going full doom once in a while and this makes ‘Lords of Galaxia’ a very repeatable record thanks to that mixture of 70’s camp and 90’s heaviness that never resorts to desert rock, instead opting for some really effective space rock influences along the way. In this sense Elepharmers are similar to Gypsy Chief Goliath but just a bit more capable of tonal variety and ‘hooky’ songwriting. Have definitely enjoyed everything Electric Valley have put out so far.


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Artist Blind Scryer
Title [Type/Year] Blind Scryer [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Louisville, Kentucky stoner rock quintet Blind Scryer spent their formative years really hunkering down and finding their groove together in preparation for their debut full-length ‘Blind Scryer’. Their vocalist is a bit flat when they’re in a more bluesy mode but when things pick up towards the doom/heavy psych side of things his wailing feels a bit more appropriate. Those doomier tracks offer some real trippy magic (see: “Mask”, “Song 4”) but these guys pull off a pretty solid groove otherwise. Definitely something more for the heavy blues rock crowd more than anything else.


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Artist Giant Dwarf
Title [Type/Year] Giant Dwarf [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Perth, Australia based rumblin’ psych rock doctors Giant Dwarf are lit and roaring through the sky on this ultra-modern take on desert rockin’ mainstream melodic ideas. The wildly talented Australian psych scene has a long history of getting this type of weird and though it looks to be such an average album at a glance this debut is a real barn-stormer. Giant Dwarf are bold, loud, well… Almost too much Queens of the Stone Age for their own good at times. “Disco Void” is the first and most obvious example of this, but they’re not downright plagiarists just have a hint of that gloomy blues fuzz rocked bump on hand at all times. Great harmonization, swinging beats, and a nice thickly fuzzed guitar tone should get fans of old Fu Manchu and new Uncle Acid worked up pretty quickly. Easily one of my most listened to records of the last month or so. Hooked on this one after two spins.


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Artist Geezer
Title [Type/Year] Spiral Fires [EP/2019]
 Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

With a debut full-length back in 2013 entitled ‘Electrically Recorded Handmade Heavy Blues’ you get a sense of the simplicity and sincerity of Kingston, New York stoner rock band Geezer aim for with each of their releases. This is the darkest and most space-ambient infused I’ve heard Geezer get as this ‘Spiral Fires’ EP comes with a deeper chill and a heavier sound than their last few. Again the label for the vinyl version is Kozmik Artifaktz so I know to expect quality to start but I only really connected with “Darkworld” this time around. The two part title track didn’t do much to blow me out the water otherwise.


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Artist Beaten By Hippies
Title [Type/Year] Beaten By Hippies [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Garage rock influenced stoner psych rock band Beaten By Hippies hail from Belgium and they make a pretty good case for their yowling treatment of a pretty typical stoner rock/heavy psych sound. Lots of ascending choruses and 90’s alternative metal riffs keep things energetic but never come in so hot that they blow me away personally. A solid rock groove, a vocalist who can carry a butt-shakin’ bluesy tune, and plenty of bridge-riding finales make for a decent rock record.


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Artist Dune Sea
Title [Type/Year] Dune Sea [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] PREVIEW on SoundCloud!

Trondheim, Norway’s Dune Sea are a massive oil spill of cosmic psychedelic stoner rock with a heavy splattering of 90’s space rock colorizing their bursts of melodic and often intense action. I can’t help but think of Spacemen 3 listening to this and I know that is a little bit off the mark, but they’re a bit more punchy and desert rockin’ than comparable bands (Earthless, Colour Haze) though they’re not as heavy balls as Wo Fat or Elder. There are a few crucial missteps here such as the spoken word part of the killer “Morphine” but all of those rougher moments add up to a genuine listen that doesn’t feel overly polished (stiff) as a lot of modern Norwegian psych can tend to be.


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Artist The Well
Title [Type/Year] Death and Consolation [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

The Well are a fantastic stoner doom metal band from Austin, Texas that’ve evolved towards a dark heavy psych style in the span of three full-lengths. This third one still has some of that desert rock buzz meets proto-metal clang they’re known for but their songwriting veers towards somewhat melodic bands like Alms. I spent a couple of months listening to ‘Death and Consolation’ and really liked it, even went to see them live last month and was really impressed with their sound. So, why didn’t I review it? Ultimately the evolution of the band doesn’t have much of a ‘story’ or particularly profound theme to run with and I’m ok with that. It is a solid heavy rock album that doesn’t try to be bigger than it is.


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Artist High Priest
Title [Type/Year] Sanctum [EP/2019]
 Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Seeing heavy mentions of Trouble and Alice in Chains in the build up towards Chicago doom metal band High Priest‘s EP might’ve set the expectations dangerously high. Even still ‘Sanctum’ finds the band whipping up a heavy stoner doom metal sound with the clear strength of the sound coming from the vocal arrangements. “Paradigm” definitely has that early 90’s psych/stoner rock throttle to it and ends up exemplifying most of the stronger aspects of the project’s songwriting without losing their already subtle doom metal side.


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Artist Wardehns
Title [Type/Year] Now Cometh the Foul [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Wisconsin sludge-pumped doom metal band Wardehns play a very contained and aggressive form of heavy music on ‘Now Cometh the Foul’ that’ll immediately appeal to fans of Lair of the Minotaur, High on Fire, and maybe early Mastodon if you don’t mind a bit of a stretch. I’m a huge fan of ‘Blessed Black Wings’ from High on Fire and I think there are enough hints of that style here that it’ll be an exciting listen. Wardehns don’t stop there in terms of style, they’re also pretty proficient as a gruff and messy crust punk unit as well. If you’re into Motör-punk and High on Fire this’ll strike the right chord right away.


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Artist Sons of Morpheus
Title [Type/Year] The Wooden House Sessions [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Basel, Switzerland psychedelic blues rock band Sons of Morpheus are dark and distantly stoned exactly to my liking on this ‘The Wooden House Session’. Recorded well, in a secluded wooden house, the band dig into funky heavy rock rhythms that sound ‘live in studio’ raw and devoid of any real frills beyond some spirited guitar sounds and. They’ve really stretched outside their comfort zone on this one, reaching for horns and effects while buzzing out catchy yet slightly sour rock tunes. It all seems a bit simple and stripped down at first but there are many layers to dig up if you’re really into it. I loved the guitar tone throughout and it’d end up being the main reason I came back for repeat listens beyond the first.


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Artist Valley of the Sun
Title [Type/Year] Old Gods [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [4.25/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Melting across the desert sand like the first rays of the sun creeping minute-by-minute the ‘Old Gods’ cannot help but be stirred to fist-shaking worship of this grand-standing Cincinnati, Ohio heavy rock band Valley of the Sun. They are essentially a better version of what we all wanted The Sword to sound like before they began to expand into a weirdly unfocused direction. Likely fed 90’s hard rock and underground stoner classics along the way ‘Old Gods’ finds the band causing electric fires with their smart and professional take on mainstream stoner rock that’ll juice your grunge circuits as much as the leftover uptempo desert rock self most cling to. A touch darker, a wallop more psychedelic and adeptly varied beyond predictable grooves this’ll be one of the best rock records I’ve heard in the first half of 2019 by far. It isn’t a colossal step up from the already solid ‘Volume Rock’ (2016) but it is enough to catch the ears of folks who love this kind of modern psych rock that isn’t afraid to get a bit radio rock along the way.


Did I miss your favorite 2019 album? Send me an e-mail and tell me about it. It is always worthwhile to speak up for the lesser known stuff. Please remember you can contribute to my Patreon @ only $1 USD per month ($12 a year) to help keep me in front of the computer writing about metal. Thanks.

 

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