Album Review – Kabbalah / The Omen (2021)

Succumb to the dark side to the sound of the Occult Rock with a subtle Spanish folk and western vibe by this talented coven, looming in the dark, esoteric realms of witchcraft.

Hailing from Pamplona, Spain, Occult Rock all-female trio Kabbalah was formed on the ashes of local outfit Las Culebras, looming in the dark, esoteric realms of witchcraft and closed door arts while starting a prolific cycle of music by self-releasing three EP’s, those being Kabbalah, Primitive Stone and Revelations, between 2013 and 2016, progressing to their 2017 debut album Spectral Ascent. Now in 2021 it’s time for Alba DDU (vocals, guitar), Marga Malaria (vocals, bass) and Carmen Espejo (vocals, drums) to come back to life with their sophomore full-length opus entitled The Omen, where their 70’s rock influences are sprinkled with a subtle Spanish folk and western vibe while keeping the heaviness intact. In The Omen, Kabbalah cultivate their distinctive cross of influences moving between heavy riffs, harmonized vocals and killer songwriting, with its cover art, referencing the Kutná Hora ossuary located in the Czech Republic, welcoming listeners to the ill-fated cosmos portrayed in the album.

Those Spanish rockers begin their feast of Doom Metal and Heavy Rock with Stigmatized, heavily inspired by the sound of the Dio-era Black Sabbath, with Marga shaking the foundations of the earth with her sick bass while the song’s mesmerizing vocals are beautifully spiced up by the damned beats by Carmen. And Alba brings forward the power of the riff in Ceibas, being in absolute sync with Marga’s dirty bass jabs in a lecture in Occult Rock with tons of elements from 70’s Psychedelic Rock and 80’s Hard Rock; followed by Night Comes Near, offering us all more of their delicate but piercing sounds with Carmen kicking some serious as with her rhythmic beats, dictating the rhythm and offering Alba and Marga all they need to shine with their axes. Then ritualistic words are stunningly declaimed by the trio (“Seven witches, around the fire, singing and preaching, on a night of thunder. / In the ceremony pyre, where lies the undying, the soul rises, and leaves the body.”) in The Ritual, while the music remains obscure, dense and captivating from start to finish, with the awesome Black Sabbath-like beats by Carmen being the icing on the cake.

Dark clouds are above us all in the Stygian Occult Rock extravaganza titled Lamentations, led by the minimalist but sharp riffage by Alba while Carmen fires some tribalistic beats nonstop, not to mention the fantastic job done by all three girls with their hypnotizing, witch-like vocalizations. Sounding like a song extracted form a Quentin Tarantino movie, Labyrinth is spiced up by the sensational low-tuned bass jabs by Marga, being therefore once again tailored for all admirers of the obscure and eerie sounds blasted by bands like Candlemass, Witchfinder and Pentagram; whereas despite its 70’s-inspired lyrics (“Here I am, I’ve landed in a desert, a place to be, nothing as beautiful as this is. / Orange shades, that looked so familiar, from the first time, I saw the sand.”), Duna is not as powerful as the rest of the album, sounding too polished and light at times. And last but not least, back to a more menacing and somber sonority, the trio offers our avid ears the thunderous Liturgy, where Alba is on fire with her raw riffs accompanied by the sluggish drums by Carmen, all boosted as usual by their enthralling vocal lines.

It’s time to succumb to the dark and delicious rock music crafted by those Spanish witches in The Omen, and in order to do so simply go to Spotify to stream the album in full, and of course if Occult Rock is your cup of tea you can purchase such detailed and enfolding album from several locations including the band’s own BandCamp page, Ripple Music’s BandCamp page, webstore or Big Cartel, the Rebel Waves Records’ BandCamp page, the Stoner Witch Records’ webstore or Amazon. Not only that, don’t forget to follow Kabbalah on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, for news, tour dates and more of their occult creations, allowing this extremely talented coven hailing from Spain to drag you into their doomed lair for all eternity.

Best moments of the album: Ceibas, The Ritual and Labyrinth.

Worst moments of the album: Duna.

Released in 2021 Ripple Music/Rebel Waves Records/Stoner Witch Records

Track listing
1. Stigmatized 3:56
2. Ceibas 3:16
3. Night Comes Near 3:51
4. The Ritual 3:19
5. Lamentations 3:24
6. Labyrinth 3:47
7. Duna 3:19
8. Liturgy 4:14

Band members
Alba DDU – vocals, guitar
Marga Malaria – vocals, bass
Carmen Espejo – vocals, drums

Album Review – Crystal Spiders / Molt (2020)

Bang your heads to the debut album by this amazing American duo of doom, dripping with fuzzed out riffs, thundering drums and dynamic, smoky vocals.

It didn’t take long for Raleigh, North Carolina’s own Hard Rock/Doom Metal unity Crystal Spiders to draw attention to their crushing fusion of heavy and groovy styles after their inception in 2018. Comprised of Brenna Leath (of Lightning Born) on vocals and bass and drummer Tradd Yancey, with the support of session guitarist Mike Deloatch and guest guitarist Mike Dean (of Corrosion of Conformity), who also produced the album, the band returns in full force in 2020 with their debut album Molt, following up on their highly acclaimed 2019 demo. Mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege Mastering Studio and featuring a stylish artwork by American tattoo artist Tyler Pennington, Molt showcases their deep devotion to riff-worship, dripping with fuzzed out riffs, thundering drums and dynamic, smoky vocals and, therefore, being highly recommended to fuzz-addicted legions from all four corner of the earth.

The low-tuned, creepy bass by Brenna kicks off the Stoner Rock and Metal feast titled Trapped, with Tradd smashing his drums powerfully while the song’s  obscure lyrics are darkly declaimed by Brenna (“There’s no one out here, just wild dogs and dust / Fill up the empty space with unholy sound and deathly grace / There’s something slithering away on a greasy belly / We’re trapped here in this place, drying up like old blood”), whereas the title-track Molt is a faster and more dynamic Rock N’ Roll party led by Tradd’s classic beats while Mike and Brenna slash their stringed weapons in great fashion, being perfect for banging your head nonstop while the band kicks ass on stage at a rock pub anywhere in the world. After such breathtaking tune we have Tigerlilly, one of the three songs from their 2019 demo, getting back to an old school, Black Sabbat-inspired Doom Metal mode, with Tradd being once again unstoppable on drums, providing Brenna all she needs to shine with her piercing vocals and dirty bass jabs. And eerie, minimalist sounds permeate the air in the grim Chronic Sick, where the sluggish beats by Tradd together with the acid riffage by Mike generate a neck-breaking ambience, with Brenna once again mesmerizing us all with her potent voice.

It’s time to speed things up once again and ride with Crystal Spiders on a highway to hell in C.U.N. Hell, where it’s impressive how devilish and sexy Brenna’s voice can sound at the same time, while Tradd dictates the pace with his wicked beats, followed by Gutter, another lecture in Stoner Rock and Doom Metal by the duo, with Brenna being on fire with both her high-pitched screams and metallic, fuzzy bass, taking us all on a journey back to the glory of the 70’s. Then let’s embark on another thunder-driven Rock N’ Roll journey together with Crystal Spiders in The Call, where Brenna, Tradd and Mike are on absolute sync, consequently making our blood boil in the name of the riff, not to mention the song’s addictive guitar solos. In the tribalistic, hypnotic tune entitled Headhunters the talented Brenna steals the spotlight with her witch-like vocal lines, setting the tone for Fog, featuring the aforementioned Mike Dean and his visceral riffs, a bestial, dark and delicious way to end such powerful album of doom. It’s slow and atmospheric from start to finish, with Brenna, Mike and Tradd building a damned wall of sounds with their respective sonic weapons, dragging us all into their foggy and somber lair before all is said and done.

If you want to experience Molt in its entirety you can enjoy the full album on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course in order to show Brenna and Tradd your honest support and admiration you should definitely purchase the album from their own BandCamp page, as well as from Ripple Music’s BandCamp page or Big Cartel (in digipak CD or deluxe vinyl format), or simply click HERE to have access to all locations where you can buy or stream the excellent Molt. Hence, don’t forget to follow Crystal Spiders on Facebook and on Instagram, keeping the fires of underground doom burning bright for many years to come. The name of the album itself is already very suggestive and points to an amazing future for Crystal Spiders, as if the duo has just shed their old feathers, making their way to a new growth stage in their career, and based on the high quality of the music found in Molt it looks like not even the sky is the limit for their doomed wings.

Best moments of the album: Molt and C.U.N. Hell and The Call.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Ripple Music

Track listing
1. Trapped 5:09
2. Molt 3:37
3. Tigerlilly 5:38
4. Chronic Sick 6:49
5. C.U.N. Hell 4:09
6. Gutter 3:58
7. The Call 5:47
8. Headhunters 2:26
9. Fog 6:14

Band members
Brenna Leath – vocals, bass
Tradd Yancey – drums, vocals

Guest musician
Mike Deloatch – guitars (session)
Mike Dean – guitars on “Fog”

Album Review – High Priestess / Casting The Circle (2020)

Seasoning their psych-doom cauldron with tribal percussion and prog rock arrangements, this American trinity is ready to cast a spell on us with their excellent new album.

Convoking crushing riffs drenched with lush harmonies and hypnotic eastern themes, Los Angeles-based Doom Metal trinity High Priestess was formed in 2016 by bassist and vocalist Mariana Fiel when she recruited Katie Gilchrest on guitar and vocals and Megan Mullins on drums, crafting a sound that echoes both past and future incarnations of doom and psychedelia since then. After the release of their highly-acclaimed self-titled debut album in 2018, it’s time for High Priestess to captivate our senses once again with their sophomore opus Casting The Circle, featuring a dark and sexy artwork by Jill Colbert at Manfish Inc. and seasoning their psych-doom cauldron with keyboards, tribal percussion, signature harmonies and grandiose prog rock arrangements. “After playing these songs live for many months, we are pleased to have captured them in their definitive recorded versions for the whole world. We honor gods and goddesses, ancestors and spirits from the past, present and future and sing songs of misfortune,” commented Katie Gilchrest herself about the band’s amazing new album.

A tribal, dark mass is about to start in the deep and embracing Casting the Circle, led by Megan’s ritualistic beats while Katie and Mariana begin blasting their enthralling vocal lines in a true psychedelic and doomed manner. Put differently, it’s absolutely impossible not to get hypnotized by their music, which is also the case in the fabulous Erebus, where the trio leans towards the most obscure side of iconic acts like Black Sabbath and Candlemass, but with a delicious feminine touch added to the overall result. It’s almost ten minutes of enfolding passages, crisp riffs and the sluggish beats by Megan, all spiced up by Katie’s astounding, piercing guitar solos, whereas The Hourglass is a Psychedelic and Progressive Rock extravaganza blending the trademark sound from the 70’s with the band’s more contemporary doom, with Katie’s stunning riffs being complemented by the low-tuned bass by Mariana and the classic drums by Megan, not to mention the song’s fiery vocal lines.

Then it’s time to surrender to the most Stygian side of life in Invocation, offering our avid ears over 17 minutes of ethereal and somber passages led by Katie’s primeval, mesmerizing riffs while Mariana and Megan dictate the rhythm with their thunderous but delicate instruments, summoning the prince of darkness with their scorching Doom Metal. Flowing like an arrow on fire through the night and getting heavier and more imposing halfway through it, the song remains tribal and dense until its demolishing grand finale, with Katie heightening our senses with her cryptic organ keys. And lastly we have Ave Satanas, an ethereal and obscure outro by the trio where their somber vocalizations will drag you into their sinister lair in the name of Satan (which in the case of High Priestess is a beyond awesome opportunity for any metalhead, of course).

The circle of what the band itself likes to call “Heavy-Psych Doom” has been cast by Katie, Mariana and Megan in their newborn opus, and in order to join those three undeniably talented women in their quest for such unique style of heavy music simply follow them on Facebook and on Instagram, and grab your copy of Casting The Circle from Ripple Music’s BandCamp page or webstore (US and Europe), as well as from Amazon. The high priestesses of heavy and lustful Doom Metal are among us to stay, and as they conjure each and every one of us to become part of their devilish kingdom, there’s only one question left, and it’s indeed a very simple one. Who are we to say no to such distinguished and dexterous triumvirate of doom?

Best moments of the album: Erebus and The Hourglass.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Ripple Music

Track listing
1. Casting the Circle 5:10
2. Erebus 9:37
3. The Hourglass 6:46
4. Invocation 17:22
5. Ave Satanas 3:26

Band members
Katie Gilchrest – vocals, guitars, organ
Mariana Fiel – bass, vocals
Megan Mullins – drums, percussion