Nephila – Nephila

Nephila Album Cover Art

Nephila – Nephila
The Sign Records
Release Date: 04/06/2021
Running Time: 35:45
Review by Wallace Magri
9.5/10

To keep going on my mission to get in touch with other Rock/Metal styles, just to have a break from my Industrial Metal compulsion, this time I selected a band by its musical style. I wanted some hazy smoke flowing around the room, some old-fashioned Psychedelic Stoner Rock, with a Hard Rock touch, just to keep things a little dazed and confused.

Once again, I was lucky enough to choose a cool album from the bag – the debut self-titled release from Nephila, a Swedish based neo hippie troupe consisting of seven masked musicians, with visual expressions to merge mysticism, folklore, and storytelling into a theatrical journey. They take us to the 60’s and 70’s counterculture movement, that philosophers call The May ‘68 ‘Revolutions’, to protest for peace, love, freedom of art expression and…irradiating good vibes and psychedelic experiences everywhere.

So, let us ‘escape’ to Nephila’s own side-world full of green valleys, mushrooms, waterfalls and beautiful sonorities, that relates to mother nature through female folk singing, to turn everything even more light and joyful. Looking at the band’s photos, they look like Middle Earth RPG game characters, steampunk & cosplay fashioned. Cool.

Another thing that caught my attention on Nephila is the dual vocal on the songs, and, good Lord, what beautiful work they perform on the album. It felt to me like one of the girls has a more soulful blues technique, while the other has that folk operatic reach (yeah, I don’t know who is who). The duet they sing on ‘Belladonna’ is just awesome.

‘Guidance to Agony’ has a mainly blues rock conduction, but suddenly the music gets into typical Prog Rock breaks and complexifications in the mixture, and even a bridge in the middle, when a hazy Moog organ taking us on Space Rock musical trips! Very pleasant, indeed. The heaviest song on the album is ‘Clavata’, that reminded me of the Occult Rock bands of the 70’s, that I used to call proto-metal bands, such as Lucifer’s Friend and all the amazing bands of the great Rock and Roll and Hard Rock 70’s era.

‘Mushrooms Creatures’ is total experimental Timothy Leary Prog Rock style; you can actually hear the elemental creatures through the guitar onomatopoeias and it is also the guitar solo that brings a Classic Rock pinch to the fine psychedelic Rock sounds. Hey, I wasn’t born to live during the 60’s and neither were Nephila’s band members, but I do know that some of the purple haze and mushrooms of that time are still around. These fungi grow everywhere, you just have to pick them and eat them, and then, well…just try them and you tell me how the story goes…😊

Highly recommended for those who are into listening to consciousness expansion music, with a lot of Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Iron Butterfly, Hawkwind and 70’s Prog Rock’s experimentations. Take it easy on the pink hazy smoke and dry mushrooms made of rainbows, and just let the music fly you away to outer space.

‘Belladonna’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. White Bones
02. Who Are You?
03. Mushroom Creatures
04. Belladonna
05. Guidance to Agony
06. Clavata
07. Alla Galaxer Centrum

LINE-UP:
Stina Olsson – Vocals
Josephine Asker – Vocals
Johan Lööf – Drums
David Press – Bass
Jacob Hellenrud – Guitar
Anton Athley – Guitar
Johan Larsson – Organ

LINKS:

Nephila Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Wallace Magri and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

The Hawkins – Live In The Woods EP

Live In The Woods Cover Art

The Hawkins – Live In The Woods EP
The Sign Records
Release Date: 29/01/2021
Running Time: 26:57
Review by Steven Hooke
8/10

The Hawkins are a Swedish four-piece rock band that have mastered an apparently difficult art of looking at past influences – most notably Queen – and learning from and adapting their style, instead of half-arsedly copy and pasting into a dreck, rip-off AOR band. Their sophomore album “Silence Is A Bomb” came out in September 2020 and was a super fun, hard rock album that took those core principles of early Queen such as crunchy, toe-tapping rock with sprinklings of glam and merged that with modern alt rock, garage rock and blues.

The album is littered with house party rock anthems thanks to a crisp guitar tone, and vocal hooks from frontman Johannes Carlsson, with songs like ‘Roomer’, ‘Cut Moon Bleeds’ and ‘Libertine’ being the stand-out performers. The band’s itchy feet and a willingness to do literally anything at the moment to replace live music (a feeling I feel is shared amongst all music fans across the globe) led them to a two-part, live recording experience, split between performances in the Swedish forests and inside Brasstacks Brewing, who brewed the band’s liquid refreshment: the Olsson Lager, in what might be the single most Swedish sentence I’ve ever written.

The seven-track live EP begins with the in-the-wilderness part which sounds remarkable given the environment, and is a collection of all of the best songs from the album. The opener ‘Hilow’ is a perfect road trip song, heart-warming in its delivery as it details the ups and down of a relationship; think The Hives covering Foo Fighters. It’s a steady start to the “show” that breaks into the swaggering ‘Stranger In The Next Room’ that sound studio-tight which might be the best testament of a band given modern audio trickery and tomfoolery.

They then change the game almost entirely, turning ‘Black Gold’ into a bluesy garage punk bop, having previously been an up-tempo folk-rock ditty on the album. It remains a foot-stomping, enjoyable track, providing you can get past the repeated line of “…I’m wishing for Cancer to come…” which hits about as hard as finding out what ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ by Foster the People is really about. The band then finish their woodland sessions with undeniable rager and one of their strongest tracks, ‘Libertine’.

We then join The Hawkins in their brewery sessions which somehow does feel more “live”, probably due to the acoustics of being surrounded by actual walls. ‘Roomer’ acts as the first proper song on “Silence Is A Bomb” and is sure enough a decent, energy-builder to really get the album going. In this live setting though, it becomes apparent that it is going to be such a great song for crowd interaction, not just from its easy-going feeling or Johannes’ unwaveringly good vocal hooks, bolstered even further by backing vocals of Martin, Mikael and Albin, but the post-solo break of rhythmic clapping that will sound like a barrage of firecrackers when put in front of people. It’s a similar story with ‘Cut Moon Bleeds’, in the studio, it sounds like such an important song for the band throughout their career, but in this pseudo-live scenario, it sounds like the song that will be a staple of theirs that people clamour for 10, 20, 30 years down the line.

We round off back at the forest sessions, where the band retreated to a nearby barn for ‘Fisherman Blues’. Just as expected, it absolutely slams in a live setting, with the accompanying female vocals adding extra gravitas as the song explodes following the most appropriate of lines: “…wait until the hook comes back up; ripping you apart…”. A herculean chorus with another fantastic vocal performance that will send shivers down your spine as you neck a Scandinavian IPA and fist-pump your hand through the ceiling.

The Hawkins are an effortlessly enjoyable band making the most out of a crummy situation. What this live EP has proven (along with a whole bunch of videos from the sessions if you’re really conspiracy theorist about them) is that not only are they just organically great-sounding musicians, with barely a difference between their studio and live sound, but they’ve shown the level of live chops they possess that will send crowds nuclear with excitement. They were already trying to tour the UK before COVID struck so as soon as BoJo pulls his finger out, shall we try for round two lads? Snälla?

TRACKLISTING:
01. Hilow (Live In The Woods)
02. Stranger In The Next Room (Live In The Woods)
03. Black Gold (Live In The Woods)
04. Libertine (Live In The Woods)
05. Roomer (Live At Brasstacks Brewing)
06. Cut Moon Bleeds (Live At Brasstacks Brewing)
07. Fisherman Blues (Live In A Barn)

LINE-UP:
Johannes Carlsson – Lead Vocals, Guitars
Mikael Thunborg – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Martin Larsson – Bass, Backing Vocals
Albin Grill – Drums, Backing Vocals

LINKS:

The Hawkins Live Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Steven Hooke and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Volcanova – Radical Waves

Volcanova – Radical Waves
The Sign Records
Release Date: 21/08/2020
Running Time: 44:55
Review by Steven Hooke
8/10

Ahh, stoner rock. The music of choice for horticulturists worldwide, the genre exploded out of the Palm Springs region of California back in the 90’s, adding haze and psychedelia on top of grooving blues, hard rock and even punk. It was the laid-back, chilled alternative to its neighbour to the North in Seattle’s grunge scene and championed by the likes of Kyuss, Fu Manchu, Sleep and East Coast brothers Monster Magnet. The genre has been explored and improved upon in the 20+ years since its initial breakthrough and now the latest band to step up to the mantle is three-piece Volcanova, hailing from the sunnier climes of *checks notes* Reykjavík in Iceland. Hmm.

Indeed the ashened fjords of Iceland have conjured up a trio who deliver a galvanising concoction of fuzzy, blues-heavy riffs, a jam rock atmosphere from the school of Clutch, and vocal melodies that borrow just has much from the likes of Corrosion of Conformity and Graveyard as they do with Queen and Chris Cornell. The album opens with the suitably titled ‘Welcome’, an instrumental track that shows off the slowed down, doomier side of Volcanova, before moving on to the more up-tempo, head-banging rhythm of ‘Where’s The Time?’. It is this version of the band’s sound that best describes the album, guitars plucked from latter-day Mastodon rousing away riffs that could get any room to come alive, backed by more cowbell than the entirety of Dusty Rhodes’ WWF/E career.

Further into the album, and it feels like this is where the true extent of Queens of the Stone Age-isms come into play, combining stoner fuzziness and guitar work with catchy alt rock songwriting, with ‘I’m Off’ and ‘Sushi Sam’ feeling like B-sides to 2002’s “Songs For The Deaf”. For a peak into where it could fit in with modern day contemporaries, tracks like ‘Mountain’ and the closer ‘Lights’ operate in a mid-tempo riff-storm that optimises every second of a song with brilliant transitional riffs or drum rolls, much in the same way as UK occultists Puppy.

For those truly about the groove, the tempo slows right down for ‘Stoneman’ and ‘M.O.O.D.’ but both hit just that little bit different. ‘Stoneman’ is the psychedelic doom number that makes your head bop, the drinks feel that much cooler, and the day just ease by, whereas ‘M.O.O.D.’ is more about psyching you up to bare-knuckle fist fight a tree and win.

Undoubtedly a highlight of “Radical Waves” is the three-part harmonies the lads employ. As Samúel boulders on a vibe not too dissimilar from Mike Dean-fronted CoC, Þorsteinn Árnason and Dagur Atlason back him in styles that befits each song perfectly, whether it’s a classic gang vocal backing for the existential dread of ‘Where’s The Time?’ or the conversely party vibes of ‘I’m Off’, or the previously-mentioned Queen-inspired melodies on ‘Super Duper Van’, the gravitas the vocals create at times is incredible.

The album is rounded off with a top-of-the-line production job. So easy is it to get these stoner rock albums, with all the best riffs and vocal hooks you can think of, and have them ruined by overindulging in the *aesthetic*, reducing an album to a hazy, my-first-Encore-amp blur. This is not the case for Volcanova though, as there is a perfect working harmony between the musicians and the producer that allows the riffs to slap, the bass to roll, and the cowbell to cowbell, whilst still retaining the feel of the desert heat, the background noise of a rattlesnake, and the local herbological harvest. Or whatever the Icelandic equivalent to all those things are.

“Radical Waves” then goes down as a brilliant start for the young band. Definitely in the argument for best debut rock album of 2020, may the years treat Volcanova well and allow them to knock out belters like this for years to come.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Welcome
02. Where’s the Time?
03. Super Duper Van
04. I’m Off
05. Stoneman
06. Sushi Sam
07. Mountain
08. M.O.O.D.
09. Got Game
10. Lights

LINE-UP:
Samúel Ásgeirsson – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Þorsteinn Árnason – Bass, Vocals
Dagur Atlason – Drums, Vocals.

LINKS:
www.facebook.com/volcanova/
www.instagram.com/volcanovaofficial/
www.volcanova.bandcamp.com/
www.open.spotify.com/artist/5PxsSQ4uYOq6svb417ravK

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Steven Hooke and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Lucifer Star Machine – The Devil’s Breath

Lucifer Star Machine – The Devil’s Breath
The Sign Records
Release Date: 03/04/2020
Running Time: 42:42
Review by Dark Juan
Rating 8/10

It is evening at Dark Juan Terrace, Mrs. Dark Juan is making facemasks upstairs in her eyrie and I have the pleasure of the company of Number Two Furry Son Sir Igor Egbert Bryan Clown-Shoe Cleavage-Hoover while I write this. When I say pleasure, I use the term loosely as he is variously shouting at me for my beer or trying to steal my crisp butty, the thieving little hellhound bastard. I have trained him well. He has been exiled from the eyrie because he is such an unutterable tiny terror. He honestly bullies a dog four times his weight. He has now left the room and I am instead blessed with the anal artistry of Number Three Furry Son Hodgson Biological-Weapon. He has just dropped a fartbomb of such stupendous filth that even he has left the room in disgust. Do you see what I have to endure in order to bring you such factual and splendid record reviews, dear children of the dark? I will attempt to stave off oxygen starvation and the possibility of being poisoned in order to bring you the benefit of my wisdom regarding Lucifer Star Machine’s latest opus “The Devil’s Breath”…

I don’t mind telling you, Novichok has nothing on that dog’s arse. I had to leave the room for a good ten minutes. Not a problem because I needed to get another beer.

Lucifer Star Machine are a German punk n roll band formed initially (and somewhat confusingly) in London, however they now reside in Hamburg and now have an all German line-up. With stage names. Dark Juan likes stage names. But theirs aren’t as good as his. He thinks…

Yeah, enough of the nonsense. What do Lucifer Star Machine sound like? The blurb the PR company very kindly sent says, “The Devil’s Breath is a high-energy mixture of classic rock, punk, a touch of metal, and a hint of 1950’s Rock’n’Roll…”

They are nearly right – there’s little to no metal on display here. It’s rock and roll and punk fused. And it’s pretty damned good. Imagine The Offspring and “Earth A.D.” era Misfits meeting Nekromantix and having a bloody good piss up together and then forming a band and you have a rough idea of what this bunch of German miscreants sound like. You’re fortunate – I have decided to forgo the usual nauseating sadomasochistic sexual metaphor I normally employ. It’s been a trying day. Frankly any album that starts with the words “Catholic Church sex abuse scandal” has already earned a million goodwill points considering my virulently anti-church stance (no matter how much fun it is deflowering virgin Christian girls upon the sacred altar in front of a packed house of increasingly shocked parishioners while the priest weeps quietly in the corner and I shout “Hail Satan!” at the moment of completion. Thus, another goth girl is created and the Church loses another sheep from the flock…) and sets the tone for a record that, although done before by the likes of the Hellacopters et al, has a certain charm all its own.

Opening cut ‘The Void’ crashes into the lugholes like a six foot, and ridiculously friendly pink mohicaned punk who’s pissed up at half ten in the morning and has staggered by accident into your venue of choice. This is good time music. Music you drink to and dance and do stupid things to. The kind of music that inspires Jackass style madness off your garden chair involving you, Smudgy the cat, the paddling pool and five very drunk friends. And a trip to hospital. And every song is like that. Speedy, fun, entertaining and well produced and accessible. Some punk can be samey and difficult to listen to and LSM are not like that. It does make it hard to pick standout songs from the record because it is an album that rewards you listening to it as a complete body of work rather than a song here and there. Lucifer Star Machine are the soundtrack to your stupidest ideas and they are to be commended for that. Every song is pretty much three chord punk madness, but played with a sense of fun and enjoyment you seldom hear on a record until you get to the last track which is the title track. Where Lucifer Star Machine delve perilously close to Green Day style chart bothering with acoustic guitar but thankfully with a suitably satanic lyrical content to save it from my righteous fury. That was a close one, meine herren!

Dark Juan officially recommends Lucifer Star Machine to your attention. If you like something less heavy occasionally then you’ll probably love it. If you’re a snotty purist, go fuck yourself. With a JCB or something. Make it count.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (Das Patentierte Dunkle Juan Blutspritzer Bewertungssystem) awards Lucifer Star Machine 8/10 for a jolly hockey sticks, fun record that will be best enjoyed fucking hammered on a beach with ladies all around you. Of course, Dark Juan would do this while in the black desert in Iceland with Nordic hotties everywhere. Just saying…

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Void
02. Dwell In Misery
03. Cruel Hearts
04. Baby, When You Cry
05. The Night Is Young
06. Eat Dust
07. A Touch Of Death
08. El Camino Real
09. Pretender
10. Evil Blood
11. Midnight Crawler
12. Your Love Remains
13. Devil’s Breath

LINE-UP:
Tor Abyss – Throat
Mickey Necro – Guitars
Marshall Speed – Guitars
Benny Zin – Bass
Jay Impact – Drums

LINKS:
www.luciferstarmachine.com/
www.facebook.com/luciferstarmachine/
www.instagram.com/lucifer_star_machine/
www.spotify.com/artist/0OadEGpCQGopnStMsULCig
www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ0btWSJQ5kJE3RMn8yDyYA

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of ‘Dark Juan’ and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.