Friday, 26 August 2016

Introducing - Into Orbit

After listening to the talents of Cloud, I've had a thirst for more atmospheric, heavy instrumental music.

Some stuff I've found sounded worse than that time you heard your folks shagging. Some of it has been pretty good but not quite exploring the heights I'd hoped for.

Into Orbit contacted me saying I could download their stuff, for free, from Bandcamp, so I thought I'd give it a listen. What do I have to lose other than time? (My precious, precious time)

What I can undoubtedly say is they hit the spot for me with their brand of epic, atmospheric sound scapes. Bringing together ambience and heavyness as though they should have always been married. This music takes you places.

Into Orbit are but two men, Paul Stewart on guitar and Ian Moir on drums. Their hometown is Wellington in New Zealand. Moir said "We've played in a few different bands together over the past 10 years, mostly metal stuff. This band came about when we decided to have a casual jam with just the two of us about three years ago. Paul had just bought himself a loop pedal, he was playing around with that and I was jamming along on the drums. It all felt pretty organic and songs just started kinda flowing out of the jams. We realised that, with Paul's loop pedal and plethora of other effects we could create a full band sound with just the two of us. We decided to stick to that because we were finding the creative process so smooth with the two of us and didn't want to jeopardise it by adding someone else"

Bringing together ambience and heavyness as though they should always have been married. This music takes you places


Their music it is at times light, serene, full of resonance, warm and comforting, and in the same track it can become heavy, aggresive, dark and at time mechanical, deranged.

Within the compositions, there are well thought out layers of sound that keep you alert and involved in the music. Stewart uses effects to create broad soundscapes and Moir's drum work is at times inspired and always well performed. Their ability to compose thoughtful and interesting music completes the package.

They are not members of a particular scene in New Zealand, but this suits them. Drummer, Moir told me "New Zealand is a small place. There are some great bands, and there are scenes, but I'm not sure where we fit into it, and to be honest we don't want to be part of a scene, we just want to play with great and interesting, different bands. Some of our favorite local bands to play with over the past year have been really stylistically diverse, experimental, alt-rock, post-rock, punk, doom, funk, country-drone, extreme metal. Our fans seem to be really diverse, they don't come from one place musically".

And you can see why they are appreciated by a wide ranging audience. They identify themselves as experimental rock, which is quite fitting but theres a lot of rock ground covered, with metal, prog, ambient and drone all thrown in. So often you read bands associating themselves with an abundance of genres and when you listen you're scratching your head digging around for the metal element they said they had. For Into Orbit, the multitude of references is completely relevant.

"New Zealand is a small place...and there are scenes, but I'm not sure where we fit into it, and to be honest we don't want to be part of a scene, we just want to play with great and interesting, different bands".


There was a great soundtrack released in 1984, written by Mark Knopfler, for a film called Cal. It was ever present in my household growing up thanks to the eclectic taste of my step father. Listening to Into Orbit envokes happy memories of listening to Cal in my youth. Whilst stylistically completely different, Into Orbit's compositions hold the same ability to paint a picture and portray an atmosphere through sound.  Their music, especially the excellent album, Caverns, is like a soundtrack to an epic, unwritten film.

If you let it, it can make the imagination run wild. When listening I envisage floating over stunning rural scenes, and then epic battles full of passion and bloodlust. (can someone recommend a psychiatrist?)

There's songs that inspire thoughts of adventures and danger, one being the excellent Gilgamesh their newest track described bt the band as an "enigma" spawned from a jamming session.

When listening I envisage floating over stunning rural scenes, and then epic battles full of passion and bloodlust.

They take you on a journey while listening, but non of this is by design. Moir says, "The music tends to happen in the moment, before any thematic ideas come into it, I guess at that point it's about following an undefined 'feeling' of where the song is going. The themes come into it when a song is finished and we take a step back from it and think about song titles and artwork to fit the vibe, which explore those kinds of themes".


I couldn't begin to envisage how Into Orbit came across live before learning about Stewart's loop pedal, Moir explains; " Paul's loop pedal is basically our 'third member'. Paul lays down the layers of guitar loops live on stage, and I do my best to stay in time with it! You might notice on our releases, that multiple guitar parts don't (come) in at once, but one layer at a time. I guess it's a limitation in being a loop pedal duo, but it's also helped define our style".

Whilst Moir describes the limitations of the loop pedal, as a listener you may feel it adds to the build up of the compositions, creating a progressive feel. The fact it is recorded in this manner must also add an authenticity to live performances that are played and built up in the same way.

New Albun

Into Orbit are working on a new album, hopefully to be released this year. When I asked about it's progress I was told, "6 months ago I would have said it was about 6 months away from completion, but we're constantly changing our minds about parts, and about which songs to include on the album. . . Our writing/arranging process involves a lot of experimentation, sometimes it takes a while to hit on something we're 100% happy with, and it's pretty hard to predict when we'll get to that point."

It's refreshing to know that putting out the right material, that which best reflects the band's development and direction is paramount over purely getting something out.

Whilst we eagerly await this release why don't you head to Bandcamp and download their back catalogue. Sit in a dark room, put on your headphones and enjoy a bit of impressive creativity and above all, amazing music.

Follow them: Facebook/Twitter

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Idlewar - Impulse

I feel like a lucky man today. A new pre-release to review, and it's IDLEWAR, a band I've been following for some time now, and it's really, really good.

As you will know if you read my previous article, I was a fan of the E.P Dig In and thus a fan of the band. Dig In is a great release, with strong songs but it also sign posted what Idlewar could achieve moving forward.

So its very satisfying when you hear Impulse, and it shows a clear development in song writing whilst keeping the raw qualities that drew me to them in the first place.

What they retain is the strong vocal performances, emphasis on rockin' riffs and groove. What they add is even more accomplished songwriting, a slightly heavier feel in parts, (that's always gonna go down well with me), and the overall delivery has more thump, due to the strength and impact of the tracks, a great production and some mastering by Brian Lucey, who has worked with the likes of the Arctic Monkeys and Ghost.


In this LP, Idlewar give you bluesy, groove laden heavy rock from start to finish. The opener, Stone In My Heel typifies this. A stomping opening riff, accentuated by a rolling drum beat heavy on crash cymbals really gets the party started in style. The track is a straight out rocker from start to finish, driven by heavy groove.

And there's so many stone cold rockers on the album to talk about. Innocent is quick and straight to the point with one of the best solos on the album. Burn is full of rock intent and has a great melody in the vocal. Criminal, the first single, can be listened to below. It is brilliant and it speaks for itself.

Whilst it's a heavy rock tour de force, there are tracks with other soundscapes on display.

Soul a heavy and mechanical track uses Zeppelin-esque chords in the verse which introduces and interesting element. The bridge is a moment of pure brilliance leading into a strong solo. All That I Got made me reminisce about Live, circa The Distance Here, as it's strong on vocal performance and musically atmospheric. Damage is pacey, with a swingy, not swinger, sound, it's one to get up and move to.

Glory is glorious (see what I did there, sometimes I astound myself). It has my favourite vocal on the album, it has a fantastically heavy feel and almost a Rage Against The Machine vibe, minus the political rantings of course.

Apathy, a rather ironic name given the drive in the track, carries on where Glory leaves off, propelled by a driving riff and rythm section. The bridge and solo throws in a nice surprise in terms of guitar tone which adds a great layer of interest in the track.

On Our Knees closes out the album in great style. It keeps your head nodding from start to finish and takes you back to the balls out Rock 'n' Roll style Idlewar do so well.


A couple of reviews I read of Dig In said Idlewar aren't reinventing the wheel. This critique of bands is a tired old cliche and example of lazy journalism. Fart down a microphone and call it FlatuCore and they might be happy.

Idlewar have never tried to claim they're here to re-invent hard rock and why should they? They produce well written, rocking tunes that are infectious and enjoyable. Impulse does however, provide some delightful twists and turns and unexpected moments adding to the enjoy-ability of the album.

Impulse is a great platform from which Idlewar can launch themselves to the next level. They've already gained the support of Planet Rock radio and are finishing off their UK tour by playing Plant Rock's sold out festival. They have been described as "immense" by classic rock magazine. It's time to believe the hype. Impulse will be here 30th September and it's going to blow your balls off!

Idlewar are James Blake on vocals and bass, Rick Graham on guitar and Pete Pagonis on drums.

Pledge to buy the album and support Idlewar here.

   Follow Idlewar: Twitter/Facebook

UK tour with Stone Broken, get your tickets here.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

The Goatbox Rebels - Let Us Bleed Integrity

I don't know what a Goatbox is or why a Goatbox may be rebellious. I can imagine a goat in a box might be quite the rebel having been kept in a box rather than in a field or on a hill. However, ultimately this is unimportant as I am writing about a band, not a goat's quality of life. So here are a new band I've been lucky enough get some music from...

When listening to the EP "Let Us Bleed Integrity" I thought the best way I can describe this sound is dirty, bluesy hard rock with a punk like delivery at times. The general sound is heavy enough but also tuneful and catchy enough to be accessible to fans of multiple genres. 

They are made up of  Ivan Westley on Vocals and Guitars, Nate Anton on Drums and Colin James Gibson on Bass. Whilst originally from Montreal they are based in Toronto, which is good for me as I can now have a positive association with the place rather than the memory of visiting the CN tower as a child and my Dad forcing me to walk across the glass floor whilst I was shitting myself and blubbering. 

Let Us Bleed Integrity

Let Us Bleed Integrity is book ended with two tracks that are brilliant for different reasons. The opener Black Tooth Grin, is a balls out party track. Pantera fans may find themselves harking back to the Vulgar Videos with the songs subject, as I did. It's fast paced with a catchy riff, some fantastic, almost psychotic, drum fills and the bass parts have plenty to add to the rhythm of the track. 

The last track, Icarus, offers more stylistically than anything else on the E.P. Seamlessly and fluidly it travels from a proggy intro into the catchy dirty rock riffs they seem to do so well, capturing some metal influenced breakdowns along the way, with a great and not overdone solo to boot. 

So whats the filling in this sandwich of fuzzy rock brilliance? 

No Love Lost is an all out assault, fast paced and aggressive. It carries more of a punk/hardcore vibe than the rest of the tracks but manages to stay firmly in the heavy blues rock scope. Punchy and to the point with a chorus made for group participation, it's a track that should go down well with a live audience.

Opium Dozer, like No Love Lost, is another brilliant kick in the teeth of raw rock and attack. It has a sublime Doomy outro which is a direction I'd like to hear these guys expand on as they clearly have an ear for it, but I'm bound to say that, being a Doom head.

What I like about the E.P other than the music is the mix and production. It manages to keep a raw live, but at the same time you can clearly hear every instruments input. It's so good to here the nuances of the bass playing for instance, which is played brilliantly throughout. Whilst being raw and dirty in delivery, all the musical input sounds great from all three performers.

Overall this is a great release with 4 very strong offerings, two of which slightly edge it for me into the realm of excellence.

You can it here through Bandcamp, who as my readers know, I feel is a great place to purchase music and support artists. If you like what you've read/heard give it a spin and also follow them on Facebook or Twitter. Cor more info about them and their live shows check out their website.


Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Idlewar - Listen up, Nod Head, DIG IN

Who are Idlewar?

Idlewar are a 3 piece band from Orange County (California not the super tanned Essex).

If your only experience of Orange County is a gritty teenage drama with a broody lead who can't act then here's some musical history for you.

Orange County has brought us Tim Buckley, RX Bandits, Avenged Sevenfold, The Offspring and many others.... and No Doubt. O.k so it's not perfect, but the sin of allowing No Doubt to exist can be forgiven. The musical output from O.C has been good and Idlewar are no exception.

They are made up of vocalist and bassist James Blake, Guitarist Rick Graham and Drummer Pete Pagonis and play riff driven ass kickin' heavy rock. 2/3 of them have beards, so they're more Rock than you.... deal with it.

They're likened to AC/DC, Clutch, Queens of the Stone Age and Foo Fighters on their website and these are fair comparisons to make. Thankfully, unlike Foo Fighters, their e.p has more than 1 rehashed song on it. (Oooh I'm so controversial)

Since releasing they're e.p Dig In they've visibly gained traction in the U.K having had air time on Planet Rock radio and have recently announced a UK tour towards the end of the year, to go along with the release of their first LP, "Impulse" which is due to be released at the end of September.

If you like what you read and hear below, head over to Pledge Music to pre order your album and support these guys.

The E.P - Dig In

I'm going to give a brief overview of the tracks with the videos where possible. Where they are not I hope I say just enough to entice you to listen.

The E.P opens with Chunk of me, a strong track with a driving chugging riff throughout, short, sweet and effective.

This then leads into the excellent Out of my Head. Musically, it follows the lyrical theme and has a great solo. Idlewar have just released a video of this track which you can watch here.

Eleventeen is an absolutely storming track. This was Planet Rock's playing choice and you can see why, it has the right song length and head nodding qualities required for radio.

Feel the pain is my personal favourite. It's a slow sludgy track with a vocal performance reminiscent of Robert Plant. The guitar parts for me, are really well thought out and overall it's class throughout.

The final track, Stronger, reminds me in parts of Tool, which can never be a bad thing, but the chugging riff and then lead guitar part is very effective.

Why are Idlewar so good?

As an initial E.P it makes me excited to think how Idlewar will develop song writing wise, as these songs already display great strength. The new album is almost certainly going to be a certified ball crusher! If you do pledge, then you'll get an exclusive download of new single Criminal.

As someone who has generally eclectic tastes I have still found myself navigating towards the more hardcore heavy side of music over the last few years. Idlewar have brought me back to my roots. It's no coincidence that having listened to this E.P, I've also dusted off my Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, Skynyrd and Alice in Chains albums, all bands I've never lost an love for, but that have been missing from my C.D player recently.

Idlewar bring together so many great genres. There are classic rock quality vocal performances. The guitarist brings together sludge, groove, grunge, straight rock styles brilliantly to create driving attention grabbing riffs and interesting solos. The rhythm section throughout are not just their to play paint by numbers rock as so many bands do nowadays, it's tight, skillful and interesting.

I can't wait to see them in the U.K and hear the new album, in the mean time click here Pledge Your Support

Follow them on Twitter/Facebook

Monday, 1 August 2016

Cloud - Bringers of Atmospheric Stoney Doom

I can not begin to tell you how happy I am to finally own this EP. Ever since happening across the track Grim Reefer months ago I've been sporadically trying to find a social media and sales outlet for this band.

It's not their fault, it's my own technological stupidity. After realising I could expand the info under the YouTube info and a bunch of links to everything I've ever wanted was there all along. Lesson learnt, I'd be embarrassed about it if I cared enough about technology.

So anyway, Cloud...

Who Are They?

They are Jeff "Trash" Hartwell on guitars, Josh Dower in Bass and Scott Rebarchek on crash symbol smashing duties. They are from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


Instrumental. Epic. Atmospheric. Stoner Doom Metal. And that is all that is required to be said.

Cloud EP

Today in art corner we have an album cover by Mark Paich, and lets face it, it fucking rocks.

The opening track, Cosmic Carousel, starts with a guitar intro that posseses all the eery resonance of a church organ and grand acoustics of being recorded in a religious building. We're then introduced to the fuzzy, angry riff that eventually paves the way for the heavy blues tone that takes control and drives the song. The leads, using a cleaner, more classic warm tone add a nice additional layer to the track. The track travels from atmospheric to balls out rock and back again, hitting truely epic status halfway through with almost tribal tom work and reverb laden guitar tone.

Unpolished is like a little bridge between the two main tracks on the EP. Again, full of atmosphere, all played over the sound of running water and rain. Its a swampy, not heavy but dark and moody, peice.

Then you get to hear the magnum opus of the EP. Grim Reefer. Everything is on point in this track. Incredible drum work, driving bass both overlayed by heavy but crisp guitar work.  All the instruments do their part in creating epic soundscapes in this track. This is 7min 34 second of my life that felt like 1 minute, such is the power and draw of the music. You simply must hear this track.

I'm every bit as impressed with this EP as I hoped I would be, having finally found it.
If you can buy it ($6) buy it here, it's a must have in Doomers collection. You can also have a listen below, it's a little bit of genius;

These guys who have another recording on the way so give them a follow and see whats next.

Follow them: Facebook/Twitter