Towards the back of the Vault, just past Reese’s cell, there’s a small staircase that leads to a hidden subterranean chamber where we keep the real underground shit. These are the obscure releases and rare finds that will get you points with the cool kids.
Welcome to Beneath the Vault, a column in which we take a brief look at the many review requests we get from bands that aren’t always fortunate enough to afford a promotional campaign or the backing of a big record label. Whether you like your music like you like your coffee or prefer listening to groovy tunes with headphones and some smoke, we’ve got you covered with these underground treasures. If you’re a band and would like a review or a spot in this column, click here to put in a request.
Genre: Blackened Doom/Sludge
Released January 15th, 2018
Sludgy blackness from Southern Indiana and it’s not Thorr-Axe? That’s right; it’s Gnaw Bone, a trio from Bloomington, Indiana that formed in 2015 but until recently had flown under our radar. On their second EP Scorched Earth, they’ve delivered a primitive slice of the black with shrieking vocals, ghastly howls, crusty riffs, and pounding blast beats. All four tracks are devastatingly bleak, but with all three members taking turns at vocal duties, it never gets too bogged down in the murk. With another EP reportedly on the horizon, we’ll be following this band closely. Also, can someone get these guys a gig in Indy?! Shroud of Vulture + Thorr-Axe + Gnaw Bone at Black Circle seems like it would be one hell of a show!
Genre: Doom Blues
Released August 26th, 2017
This one made me nostalgic for the flannel shirt days of the early 90s. Montreal’s Pink Cocoon brings heaps of fuzzy goodness with classic grunge pop songwriting. Their six song EP contains some seriously addictive bluesy riffs plus choruses that deliver oodles of ear worms that would have gotten them signed instantly to a major label a few decades ago. The guitar tone has some meat to it that gives the songs a certain heaviness, while some of the solos have a Hendrix like quality that adds touches of psych to their music. If you ever wondered what would have happened if Kurt Cobain listened to more Black Sabbath, then this one is for you. Also, these guys are seriously talented musicians, and I bet they’re enormously entertaining live. Indianapolis date guys?
The Red Queen
Genre: Desert Doom Rock
Released November 17th, 2017
If you’ve tried to listen to desert rock before and thought it wasn’t heavy enough, then Transylvania Stud is right up your alley. Labeled as desert doom rock, the Nashville one-man act from mastermind Andrew Godfrey is teeming with down-tuned stoner riffs, desert rock choruses, and lyrics about vampires with a tight rhythm section to hold the grooves firmly in place. The EP only has three songs, making it a brief but satisfying listen, but we’ll hopefully see a full-length follow-up soon.
Genre: Psych Doom
Released April 1st, 2018
Québec’s Godhead Lizard bring the heavy on their debut EP. I wasn’t surprised to read that the psychedelic doom group originally started as an instrumental act. The music is dynamic enough to stand on its own with shifting tones that aid in building and releasing tension, making it engaging on its own. The added layer of Vince’s deep vocals gives the songs an even heavier feel and adds to the already thick psychedelic and dark atmosphere. This one is highly recommended if you like your doom dark and a bit on the trippy side.
Honey, I Raised the Dead
Genre: Death Thrash
Released April 20th, 2018
One of the most entertaining albums I’ve heard all year, and one I’ll have to get Vault contributor Nathan Erdel turned onto ASAP. Horror themed death/thrash that doesn’t take itself seriously at all. Each track is hilariously sick and twisted, with lyrics about toking brain matter and a mountain made of human skulls. And the album has a short 30 minute run-time, so the shtick doesn’t wear out its welcome. If you’re a thrash fan who also enjoys the occasional campy horror flick, I can’t recommend this highly enough.
Released March 16th, 2018
Another band name with a “ghost” in the title, but the two releases couldn’t be any further apart in every aspect. Ghost Bones is a post-punk band from Arkansas who recently released their debut full-length Lipshifter. The music is unpredictable and experimental with guitars that sporadically leap from low to high ranges backed by a rhythm section that has a loose swing feel to it that creates an almost lounge like atmosphere. Deadpan but energetic vocals delivered by Ashley Hill add a hypnotic flair to the music and complement the music’s erratic nature. All-in-all, it’s a really original collection of compositions from a band that we’ll be following closely from now on.
Bestial Manifestations of Malevolence and Death
Genre: Death/Thrash Metal
Released April 5th, 2018
Here’s another fun death/thrash release inspired by horror films, or more specifically Japanese monster moves. Seattle based Oxygen Destroyer, named after the weapon used to kill Godzilla in the original 1954 movie, released their new album Bestial Manifestations of Malevolence and Death last month. Their music is a mix of thrash and old school death metal with monstrous, irradiated riffs that depict the destruction caused by these enormous creatures. Put on your favorite Kaiju movie, mute the TV, and crank this up. You won’t be disappointed!