belus - apophenia

Belus: Apophenia (2017)

The first thing I noticed were the drums: this rolling, almost jazz-like feel to the way Jacques Johnson would use the snare, accenting offbeats and sliding rolls like he was soloing against the tremolo fury of “Chasm,” the opening track on Apophenia, the debut full length from USBM by way of NYC band Belus. By respecting the more traditional aspects of black metal without being beholden to its staid tenets the trio create an immediate, accessible album that’s never content to sit back and ride a blast beat; not when it can roil and churn its way through various riffs and changes.

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groundhogs - thank christ for the bomb

Groundhogs: Thank Christ For The Bomb (1970)

I had no idea who the Groundhogs were when I first heard about them. It came, like so many of the albums I eventually fell for, from a list. Specifically from Decibel Magazine’s Stoner Rock special all the way back in 2007.Their Top 20 Stoner Rock Albums of All Time list was okay, if a bit,well…underwhelming. But tucked away was also an article by Scott Seward dubbed The Filthy 50, where he lists out as it states in the article “50 forgotten late 60s/early 70s thud-rock masterpieces.” And number one of that list was Thank Christ For the Bomb. When I started collecting vinyl it became the #1 must-have on my wishlist, and the good news (besides the fact you can read his article for free here) is that the album holds up superbly as a killer early hard rock record. It’s filthy, it’s thunderous, and those guitars are just sublime.

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boris - reincarnation rose

Boris: Reincarnation Rose (2021)

Boris is a band that evolves with you. I remember first discovering them when Pink was released back in 2005, and you could argue this was the start of their more “accessible phase” so maybe it was good timing, coming in at a point where the band was injecting their unique style into molds with recognizable shapes. I kept listening as they moved forward, but their previous, more drone and noise inspired works always felt distant and unconnected for me. As I grew older and experienced more music, their sonic signature continued to align closer to mine, until the point arrived where I find myself more often than not turning to the band’s entire catalog based on my mood and my emotion/mental needs. So enter Reincarnation Rose, which on the surface is a single being used to push Wata’s collaboration with Earthquaker Devices on a new fuzz pedal modeled after her tone, but on a deeper, more personal level for me marries what I originally loved in the band, and what I grew to love the more I listened, and the more I opened up to music.

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scorpions - virgin killer

Scorpions: Virgin Killer (1976)

Coming back to the Scorpions after the fun of discovering their weird psychedelic side with Fly to the Rainbow I skipped ahead a bit to see what fourth album Virgin Killer had in store. By this time they had already started to hone their songwriting into the tighter, more streamlined commercial approach that would rocket them to stardom in a few short years. Having started their path with with third album In Trance (sadly one I don’t own…yet) I was eager to check out if Roth’s guitar was still as frenetic and alight as my first exposure. So let’s dive into Round 2 of Chris reacts to a virgin listen of Virgin Killer and see what hits, what misses, and where I’m left standing with the Scorpions’ 70s output.

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scorpions - fly to the rainbow

Scorpions: Fly to the Rainbow (1974)

Back from a week of vacation where weirdly enough I spent most of my time listening to a lot of metal. Usually it’s a ton of funk and more sunny music to complement the beach weather, but there you go. Anyway, right before I left picked up Fly to the Rainbow, the second album from Scorpions: I’m familiar with what I would call the “classic” period from Lovedrive to Love at First Sting, but beyond some excursions into the late 70s my early knowledge is severely limited. I know the real early stuff is supposed to be significantly different, so as an experiment I’m going to review this real-time as I listen to it for the first time. I guess it’s a reaction post – is that a thing? I don’t know. Let’s dive in.

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savoy brown - looking in

Savoy Brown: Looking In (1970)

Like so many metal albums of my youth, it started with the album cover. I would see Looking In, the sixth album from England blues rock band Savoy Brown constantly on my trips to the local record shops, and would marvel at that delicious comic book artwork. But each and every time I’d turn way, convinced it was just another run of the mill 70s rock and roll record that could be ignored. But as I started digging more into some of the obscure gems of the 70s I decided to stop ignoring that cover and give it a shot.

Man, I love being wrong.

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