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Mini-Review: Ides of Gemini – ‘Constantinople’

Ides of Gemini

[Neurot Recordings]

The way the two Sera Timms-fronted bands are set up, it’s hard not to compare the dormant (currently writing) Black Math Horseman and this new release from cerebral trio Ides of Gemini. Each share her soothsayer’s vocals that are tempered and resonant and they are most importantly, instantly, recognisably unique.

The similarities don‘t stop there; stripped down compositions with little embellishment, cymbal adverse heavily rhythmic percussion and a plough-like pacing, letting the music dig in thoroughly. Yet where Black Math Horseman are the doomsayers and deerslayers with their more prominent Om-isms and Tool riffs, Ides of Gemini are more perilous, there’s a leaner edge to their stargazing in comparison to the former’s earthenware.

They retain the weight-baring percussive strengths, this time provided by Kelly Johnston, but they don’t vent as regularly, the pacing is still a walk. It is when J. Bennet’s jangling riffs sear with a more blackened tone Constantinople steps up in to a rare gallop that they sound at their most ominous and threatening. ‘Reaping Golden’ heaves a great magnitude of heavy and Sera Timms’ gloomy divinations complement handsomely. It is without doubt that Timms is the centrepiece of this trio. Her bass works well in tandem with the sparse percussion forming a strong rhythm section of which everything relies, BMH and IoG are more rhythm than anything else. Her vocals are achingly beautiful and makes Constantinople stand out as a contender for a few year end lists. The end of the world never sounded so exquisite.

They only have their first EP up on Bandcamp, but it’s a good taster of what makes this record so good.


Live: Sungrazer @ Desertfest London, 7th April 2012

Sungrazer are a band I have been overwhelmingly charmed by over the past year. Their 2011 record Mirador grooved and psyched out in all the right places and actually landed top spot on my list of last year. Their 2010 self-titled EP with it’s gorgeous artwork turned a few heads while Mirador excelled them to the point of LP-buying status. For someone like myself, that’s quite a heady status.

So when on my travels up to London for the inaugural Desertfest Sungrazer were high on my priorities for seeing. But that took a bit of juggling. I remember when I first heard about Desertfest, and like a lot of people really, I felt as if someone had gone about tailoring their festival to suit my taste. The line up was incredible: Black Pyramid, Greenleaf, Truckfighters, Roadsaw, Stubb, Samsara Blues Experiment, Rotor, Sons of Alpha Centauri, Asteroid, Trippy Wicked, Dopefight. Those were the bands I saw, along with Sungrazer, yet I can’t bear even thinking about who I missed. To check out the full line up head HERE

It is easy to say that after a few years of going to Bloodstock, an outdoor festival with a focus on good death metal, and then experiencing Desertfest, that Desertfest is probably the best festival experience I’ve had so far. The venues were a good size and there wasn’t ever a squash. The people were so nice and friendly and ready to help. I even miss one of the bar men from the Purple Turtle venue. The sound was great, never a problem. And finally all the bands were just really, really cool. I loved recognising band members in the crowd supporting their fellow music-makers, I loved their attitudes on stage, always so welcoming and pleased to be there. As disparate the metal scene is, I feel the stoner rock scene is so much more of a community. It’s weird thinking how the some of the bands were part of the crowd and how part of the crowd was in some of the bands.

Anyway, I was lucky enough to drag my girlfriend to the front of the stage before Sungrazer got on and made sure to grab a good place for a few photos. I have to say Sungrazer killed it live, they debuted a new song ‘Dopo’ which was very cool and riffy and they were cool enough to give me the set list which I have tucked away in my LP of Mirador.

After the jump you can see a few photos of Sungrazer’s set. If you can ever see them live. Do it. They’re fucking great. (more…)

OM: Announce New Album, Reveal Record Artwork And Release Date AND New European Tour

It has been three WHOLE years since Om have released a record, the subdued God Is Good record dropped way back in 2009, and there were worries about their even more subdued activities. As in, inactivity. Now, thank goodness, we have a whole slew of news heading our way.

Above you can view a video concerning the new record, it will be titled ‘Advaitic Songs’, the word ‘advaitic’ being quite apparently a difficult word to define and express. In layman’s terms it deals with the identity of Self, which is pretty typical Al Cisneros lyrical subject matter. (more…)

Conan w/. Serpent Venom @ The Croft, Bristol 25th March 2012

Conan are one the UK’s leading sonic destroyers in all things heavy. Their tone is something which is so thick you could inhabit it. There are probably a network of caves and tunnels in their tone, it’s that big and earthy. So on record it’s heavy, live, it’s an entirely different experience. It heaves like the tide, dragging the audience in and then rushing out scattering arms and legs into the sand.

To read our recent review of Conan’s newest gargantuan full length Monnos, head HERE, it is truly brilliant.

I was lucky enough to see Conan on Sunday, with the great Serpent Venom in support and while I was there I took a few photos of which you can after the jump. Enjoy!

Review: Conan – Monnos

We recently got stuck in traffic on a road on our way home from somewhere. By the side of the road a man was burning wood debris, he had started the fire and then threw the majority of the wood onto it. We could see a tower of smoke around the corner but it was that sweet wood smoke smell that came to us first. We trundled slowly further in the traffic and eventually stopped right by the man and his fire. This near the smoke engulfed our car. The earthy haze stripped our throats bare and ash erupted from our mouths. It was nauseating and suffocating and it was this immurement in smoke that is akin to the tone featured on Conan’s latest release Monnos. That tone is thick, man.

Where previous releases like 2010’s terrifying Horseback Battle Hammer and their 2011 split with Slomantics were more explorations of that cavernous tone, Monnos represents a slight shift in focus, from tonal excavations to songwriting construction. These boys learnt how to write. What’s more they’ve learnt how to refine and distil their craft and they’re all the more punishing for it.

In comparison to Horseback Battle Hammer (HBH) Conan have kicked on into a relatively speedy trot on Monnos, tracks like opener ‘Hawk As (more…)

Review: Misty Morning – ‘Saint Shroom’

Having only heard the name before seeing the record artwork and hearing the record, it was far from the truth when I hoped that Misty Morning were a band that did sludge covers of Bob Marley songs. In all fairness I still believe that does sound like a fantastic idea, but it appears wrong upon listening to Misty Morning’s 12” Saint Shroom that was released in 2011. In fact, Misty Morning bring forth a very different set of drugs, whose taste I also do rather like.

The artwork combined with my first listen made me think of those odd growths or deformations in food you hear of on the news. When religious fanatics see Jesus or the Mother Mary in toast or in an apple or such. Instead, with Saint Shroom Misty Morning presents us with a monstrous mushroom with a snarling face that’s twisted into a crooked smile. Almost malicious. The left eye is bigger than the right and it sees in to the future while the right sees the past. It is this snarling, laughing mushroom that coalesces the past and the future that rightly defines Misty Morning’s sound.