Ridin’ the Dunes Thru Jan ’21

January is finally at an end. I don’t know about you but it has slogged like nothing else – well, not quite on the same level as 2020 but wow. We saw the end of a paradigm-fracturing era come to glorious end and not even the wretched assault on the democratic process by the slimy hands of ne’er-do-wells and conspiracy slugheads could falter progress. No sir, the Capitol building’s invasion might have ignited a stench still in need of shaking off, but quell the fires of a new dawn it certainly has not done. ‘Rona still runs rampant but the time of the Vaccine Nation is at hand – there is light at the end of the tunnel my friends, even if it is longer than that beloved Bell Witch record. And whilst the misogynistic miserablist Museveni has (somehow) clung to power for a sixth term and the military seize power in Myanmar (again), we can delight in the upset of hedge-fund clods as their financial predictions for Game Stop and AMC (amongst) are crumbling before their eyes. Boohoo.

Ugh. This has been a mixed month.

But there is much to celebrate musically, and here at The Motorfuzzin’ Ibex there has been nothing but jubilation! Personally, this has been my most productive four weeks and in just the span of the month just gone the site is poised to eclipse the entirety of views it received in 2020! Thank you to all who put up with my meandering passages of nonsense. But, more importantly, thank you to the bands putting out the tremendous music we have today! Below are what I consider to be the top 10 records released in this Monday of months (a term I am stealing from TV channel Dave)!

10: Wedge – Like No Tomorrow (Heavy Psych Sounds)

Wedge don’t give a shit about your attitude, they’re just here to rock ‘n’ roll – precisely the mindset needed to kick off this list! And rock ‘n’ roll they most certainly do for the German’s third outing is a nonstop cavalcade of ’70s-infused heaviness, so rich in tone and class it carries them around as spare change! Cleansed in the same fire as Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple, Like No Tomorrow smokes out a myriad of current issues in a haze of frolicking riffs, psych-laced organ motifs, and the smoothest vocal harmonies (a la ‘At the Speed of Life’ and ‘Across the Water’) this side of the century. These guys transition from the soulful to the walloping at the drop of the hat with such beguiling majesty, unleashing the stomping harbinger ‘Computer’ and uproariously free-spirited ‘Queen of the Night’ to beats testing the mettle of yer money-maker! Oozing with the coolness and confidence we all wish we could pull off, Like No Tomorrow leaves us green with envy but also, and most importantly, more alive than we have felt all decade!

09: Flood Peak – Fixed Ritual (Anima Recordings)

And then, as soon as we reach the #9 spot, all essence of life plunges downward, hacked to oblivion, and scattered by careless winds. Flood Peak suffocate us with razor wire, the deadness of their eyes the last thing we see as the gut-wrenching bleakness of Fixed Rituals wastes us by the river’s edge. Given the Oregon trio’s penchant for, ahem, flooding their crippling emptiness with tumultuous deluges, it’s a wonder the levées haven’t collapsed sooner and yet they turn to inflict their scorn on us with this EP’s excruciating dirges and haunting solemnity. For whatever reason our demise is as cathartic as their agonising release, for the thrashing waves cascading from above in ‘Feral Wraiths’ plunges us further into their murky turbulence, ripe for a harrowing double-header in ‘Way of the Sea’ and ‘Sectarian Hilt’ where our lifeless bodies wash up as fodder for the cold earth, wilting like flowers at the cusp of a frosty morn. Desolation shouldn’t feel this freeing, but Flood Peak manages this effortlessly.

08: Rostro del Sol – Rostro del Sol (LSDR Records)

From desolation to dislocation for our #8 spot, as Mexico City’s Rostro del Sol have baked us one hell of a lysergic treat with their self-titled debut, one carved straight from the surface of the freakin’ sun! Taking just one hit alone is enough to open your eyes to what lies on the other side of the door, but taking all five doses in one go? That there is a passage to a fluvial paradise where everything becomes one, a utopia where flurries of burning psychedelia, raucous jazz, and impeccable prog signatures enter your vessel from all directions and coalesce as one luminous body of warmth and light. Listening to Rostro del Sol is like an endless road trip, one which reveals more of itself the more you become exposed to its incandescence, one where the sights are unforgettable but not as much as the rush you get from the waves flowing through your entire body. You’re never gonna want this ride to end!

07: Tar Hag – Bestial (Self-Released)

As any consciousness-drifting wayfarer will tell you, not all trips are ones of perpetual ecstasy, and not every cosmic expedition will reveal all the answers you seek. Some, much like the one undertaken in our #7 pick, are howling blitzkriegs from other, more inhospitable worlds. A one way ticket to barren, frozen wastelands where planetary winds strip flesh from the bone, Tar Hag‘s sophomore outing is scarred by aeons of primordial riffing, the kind that crumbles mountains and excoriates continental crusts with effortless ease. You won’t find much life in such ravaged places, driven to extinction by the tremendous clout of ‘Cu Sith’ and the semi-blackened metallic onslaught of ‘The Mare’, but you will find otherworldly cacophonous howling from Beeg Newton, torrid thunder from an astromical rhythmic duo, and stellar coronal ejections from ‘Fathoms’s cascading carnage. Bestial might have been birthed in South Carolina, but it is an interdimensional havoc-wreaking monster destined for the universe’s outer limits!

06: Wardruna – Kvitravn (Fimbulljod Recordings)

Our world-hopping adaventure continues at #6 as Norway’s grand shamans return for another spellbinding voyage into the heathen mountains and forests of yore. On white raven wings, Kvitravn ascends beyond the trees, scouring the lands as it glides with an unheralded omnipotence. The spirits of old dance as towering shadows in the flickering flames on such earthy hyms as ‘Grá’, ‘Fylgjutal’ and ‘Ni’, chanting long into the night and drawing in all creatures great and small into a state of majestic harmony, as well as harking the female deities in epic closer ‘Andvevarljod’. A record more in tune with the energies of the natural world than its predecessors, Wardruna truly smother themselves with their native soil – rich in the ageless tales they have long passed on in song – and expose themselves to the meditative mantras their forefathers would have echoed long ago. Yes, Kvitravn is that kind of record: you can smell the earth in your hands, the woodsmoke from crackling fires, and give yourself in to the feral wilderness. As perfect for these long winter nights as they would be for starlit summer gatherings.

05: Black Sky Giant – Planet Terror (Self-Released)

Traversing from nebula to nebula in search of astral stories is no cakewalk, but the asteroid hermits in Black Sky Giant groove to the celestial frequencies beyond our reach with such splendor one could be forgiven this is the Argentinians’ fourth, or fifth record. Nope, our #5 pick is only the group’s second record, a cruisin’ romp through the cosmos sure to leave you hankerin’ for a hazy future when VWs powered by jetfuel can project you beyond the stars. With enough intergalactic fuzz to leave even genre stalwarts green with envy, Planet Terror is rife with smouldering psych oscillations blazing trails through the night sky not unlike those seen in polar skies. Mind-altering explorations via ‘Ghost Valley Truckers’ and ‘Yithian Time Travellers’ completely bliss you out as you effortlessly drift without a care in the universe, before the equally massive ‘Perputual Waves to Come’ and closing inferno ‘The Phantom Gun’ switch on the thrusters, soaring beyond the closing scene of 2001 with tremendous speeds. It’s a jaw-dropping record elevating the bar ridiculously high for space-rock hopefuls in 2021.

04: Dread Sovereign – Alchemical Warfare (Metal Blade Records)

Lo and behold our treacherous collapse down to terra firma, crashlanding to the medieval realms within the devil’s salacious clutches for our #4 offering. In Alchemical Warfare, Dread Sovereign renounce themselves further from Abrahamic enslavement, dedicating themselves to His sprawling inferno spreading throughout the hearts of man, sowing the seeds against Christian dogma with splendiferous fervour. An epic arsenal of sledgehammer riffs fresh from the blacksmith, A.A. Nemtheanga is on wicked form at the forefront of his worshipping horde as they charge through old-school dirges in ‘The Great Beast We Serve’ and ‘Devil’s Bane’ while luring hordes in with ‘Her Master’s Voice’. There’s enough clattering of iron to indulge even the oldest of stalwarts here as the band offer up their strongest record by far, salivating with evil from the offset, curdling the blood of the weak as they tremble in the His presence. There’s even a nasty-as-fuck Bathory cover here, so eat your goddamn heart out and submit!

03: Afghan Haze – Nihilistic Stoner Hymns (Self-Released)

Like hymns but don’t feel like paying lip service to man’s lousy interpretations of God and his teachings? Then you need to light up a fattie and sink into your armchair as you watch the world burn. These are Nihilistic Stoner Hymns and they ain’t for the average kush enthusiast! Afghan Haze blast out pile-driving riffs like mammoths let loose from the tundras, fissuring the earth in every direction, unleashing a most pungent aroma unto a gormless populace. This strain is harsh and unforgiving, as thick as volcanic smog, and more toxic than life in a chemical plant. Unrelenting numbers like ‘Burn the Goat’ and ‘Faceless Dog’ are no different than wrecking balls, brutalising and tenderising just so ‘Southern Bastard Church’ and ‘Succubus Fucks’ can pummel you further into submission – exhausting your will to get up and do anything. It’s a lumbering colossus of a record that did a number on the world upon its release on this year’s first day, and it’s momentum has not even begun to peak yet. By year’s end our #3 spot will have everyone under its thumb, pumping its fumes down your throat until you are comatose. Welcome to Drug Mountain my friends!

02: Splendidula – Somnus (Argonauta Records)

At the crest of moonlight as a quivering silence befalls the world, they stretch out their hand, inviting you to a somnambulant stroll through the void before an ear-piercing shriek shatters the stillness likes shards of stained glass. Belgium’s Splendidula spur fever dreams with such murderous efficacy you’d bet your penny for the ferryman you were fully awake as they walked you to the other side; by the time the merciless ‘Drocht’ hammers the maiden nail into the coffin it’d be too late. Their phantasmagorical enchantment is silken to the touch yet plunges like a knife, twisting deeper as their haunting and ethereal vigils ‘Somnus’, ‘Oculus’ and closing epic ‘When God Comes Down’ bloom in the dead of night; whispering, lamenting, and growling your way down the sullen pathway, Somnus lingers on your mind long after its unearthly first impression erupts from the beyond. It is an atmospheric tour-de-force as tempestuous as it is gloomy, restless in its ageless beauty not resting until the realisation of your fate has truly settled in. Yep, our #2 is cruel, but spellbinding nonetheless.

01. Tribulation – Where The Gloom Becomes Sound (Century Media Records)

Let it be known even before I heard When The Gloom Becomes Sound in its entirety this gothic behemoth landed itself the #1 spot on the sturdiness of the singles alone; so forbidden is the beauty of ‘Leviathan’, ‘Hour of the Wolf’ and ‘Funeral Pyre’, nary a soul roams without these odes heavy in their hearts. Tribulation, outdoing their efforts on 2018’s Down Below, have us completely at their mercy with a record so triumphant in its baroque romanticism, so seductive in its imposing presence, any form of resistance is futile. Tales spun with noir incenses hellbent on intoxication and outright posession while their wordsmith dances in the absence of God on ‘In Remembrance’, ‘Dirge of a Dying Soul’ and ‘Daughter of the Djinn’, their fifth opus proves once and for all Johannes Andersson and company are unmatched in their craft. Upon their velveteen balcony they sit, perched, poised, ready to swoop in and bewitch without a moment’s notice, evoking the horrors beyond the veil of darkness much like the literary kings of the genre. When each not is a billow of towering smoke, you know you have something unforgettable in your hands, and this record has this in spades!

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