It took five tries but I finally convinced my computer that it would be okay if it played this CD. I think it was just worried about the ugliness that was about to come blasting out of it. I mean that in the kindest of ways. If the thick smoke circulating in a dirty bong had a noise I’m fairly sure that it would sound something like Bongzilla. Thick, fat, and dirty. Adjectives used all too often to describe the heavy sounds of bands these days but in this case none could be more appropriate. One thing that immediately appealed to me about this CD was the fact that the vocals are very sparse and rather than leading or setting the tone, they are just kind of there hanging out with the badass guitars. This is obviously a guitar band baby. I’ve always had a thing for the hard-hitting shit and this band definitely delivers. I know I’m going to like a band when my first thought is “I wish I were seeing this shit live.” The numerous samples with marijuana references are a bit tired as is the very unoriginal recording of someone taking a really really long bong hit on track 5 but with a name like Bongzilla I suppose this is to be expected. The drums are tight and crisp and I’m fairly sure there was a bass involved in the recording but the guitars cover enough of the low-end to make a bass player unnecessary. If you like bands that leave the impression they’d rip the head off your mother for telling them to turn their shit down then you’re definitely going to like Bongzilla. If I get a chance I’ll definitely be catching their show out next time they’re around.

-- Lee Ahlbrandt

Meatjack - Days of Fire

I like this album. I also like Neurosis. So does Meatjack.
Days of Fire brings us back to a particular time in Neurosis’ discography. I was starkly reminded of Neurosis’s Enemy of the Sun album. Long groans of vocals in time with slow, punches of heavy guitars, the disturbing clean sound of a guitar under the emotional duress of spirituality in the age of technology.

The album is solid and fills a void. There is elements of the Melvins too. But hey, we gotta have trailblazers.

The songs are mostly mid-tempo. The production is very rich, full, much like the Neurosis sound. With song names like “Cold Flight”, “Face Down”, and “Blue”, the song list reads like many of post-metal’s icy responses to the metaphysical terrain they traverse. Days of Fire has two songs that really stick out. “Sea of Tranquility” is a slide guitar based riff that hints at the Gun Club’s “Ghost on the Highway”. Remaining acoustic throughout, “Sea” is different than the rest of the album’s sluggo pace.

“Crawl”, the album’s closer, is an ambient-metal diversion with an eerie slow keyboard line that conjures the sound of John Paul Jones’ keys from Zep’s “In the Evening”. This is really effective and aids in the album’s all together originality within a more dormant genre.

-Kevin Stack

ST37 - Down On Us
Emperor Jones Records

This album made a fan of me. It’s good, likeable, fresh.

From the lumpy stew of psychedelia, ST37 simmers straight up tunes that excite and lead me through an entire record listening experience. There’s a flavorful atmosphere that the whole album creates and it tastes nice. At times there’s a Brit Pop feeling, like Catherine Wheel. Other times Helios Creed-styled rock pops up in the album complete with the fuzz, wah and drive. Still other songs remind me of Negativland’s disjointing mellow vibe from the likes of their album Free.

The popular 60’s psychedelic music had to move through the mainstream and maintain simultaneously a trippy presence, a 3-minute airplay, and accessibility to the developing ears of the youth gone radical; a convergence of subjugation to the sale of records and the needs of mind expanding music. ST37 creates the lysergic element necessary for trance-inducing songs while turning the tracks over at an average of 4-minutes a pop. This works. My attention is held and the individual “spaces” made by each song are uniquely memorable.

Most importantly is the vocal work. The vocalist has a higher register voice that yearns at times, singing from a place both sad and ridiculous. This sung thread holds the album’s potpourri together like datura root paste. Throw in the swirls of noise and sonic effluvia and you have before you a contemporary expression of music in the name of opiate aural sensation.

--Kevin Stack

Hellblock 6
Nuclear Age

Here’s some meat on the bone for all you droning-doom-metal-stoner-rock hounds. Hellblock 6 is a trio from Philly: Antman (drums/vocals), Noelle (bass) and Greg (guitar). Nuclear Age hooks you in the eyeballs with fabulous “Evil Dead” CD cover art. Standard sludgey, minor, close-shifting, root-clinging riffs with ravenous mid-range death vocals howling about agony, pain, and going insane. On the slower tracks, this band sounds so much like Austin’s Mala Suerte, there must be some connection.

The production is good for the style; not over-produced, fairly raw but fuzzy, thick guitars, sparsely layered, with some simple but tasteful details in guitar effects, drum breaks, and maybe intentionally-cheesy lines of dialogue clipped from horror movies. Bela Lugosi opens the album: “There are far worse things than death awaiting man.” Then the band slunks into a standard stoner-rock riff, with lyrics “Kill yourself before it’s too late!” The next track speeds up to a more Krumbums-punk groove, and “I just wanna see you die / die die die die diiiiieeee!” – into a Ramones-ish progression, but always keeping up the stoner-doom-sludge sound. Another song sounding exactly like Mala Suerte, but this one has a cool trapped-in-a-far-off-tomb vocal effect. The rest of the album is consistent.

Solid band, solid album, excelling in the school of Keep-It-Simple-Stupid. The song structure and riffs don’t scream with originality, but a live show would surely better convey the sick energy driving this music. Can’t wait to see it.

- Beky Hayes


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