Godchilla – “Hypnopolis” (2017)

Godchilla are another of those Icelandic bands we’d heard of, but for whatever reason never managed to see perform live over the years.  We corrected that oversight at Airwaves this year, catching their set at Gamla Bíó (♠) (below) and came away more than a little impressed with their brand of sludge.

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This year Godchilla dropped their second full-length album, Hypnopolis, their first on vinyl.  Or is it their second?  Because they put out a song on a split 5″ single alongside Pink Street Boys and released by Lady Boy Records, but technically that was on a plastic square.  So while yes, it is a record; no, it was not vinyl… but I’m probably just splitting hairs here, since regardless of the material it’s still played on a record player.  I just have a hard time thinking about some of these plastic discs as “records”.  Which probably means I’m old and will soon start yelling at kids to get off my lawn.

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After a brief, quiet intro Hypnopolis hits you right in the chest with a deep doom power chord, and from there it’s sheer ponderous weight with an almost religious oppressiveness.  But it’s actually the next track, “Bum a Smoke/Trash a Car”, that kicks things into gear.  We’ve still got the slow sludgy style, combined with vocals delivered with pure seriousness but still just a bit of a sense of humor.  After all, it’s a song about bumming smokes and trashing cars.  By “Dracoola” we’re back to something more akin to early Sabbath, parts of it played so slow that you almost have a hard time believing what you’re hearing.  The pace accelerates over the second half of the song, eventually breaking free of it’s self-imposed steel cage.  “Hannigan’s Mannequin” follows, and while it’s short at under three minutes Godchilla pick up the tempo a bit to create a solid metal number, one that you can rage to a bit.  They close out the A side with the even faster and shorter “Holographic Capsules,” probably the most truly doom jam on the album with mid-range speed and guttural vocals; it just feels metal.

I’d seen Godchilla described as surf previously, and that element does come to light on the B side instrumental “1064°”, a drop-in on a 20′ foot wave that threatens to swallow you whole.  Hypnopolis ends with the marathon nine-minute “Dreams of Osaka”, another almost religious-like experience, like a Colossus barring your way to freedom, physical density converted into music.

Hypnopolis is available through the Godchilla Bandcamp page HERE, and I should note it comes with a pretty sweet poster – so if you find a used copy, make sure that’s included or get the seller to knock a few bucks off the price.

(♠)  We also discovered, completely by accident, that Godchilla guitarist Hjalti Freyr Ragnarsson and bassist Birgir Sigurjón Birgisson actually make up the experimental electronic duo Panos From Komodo, a band that musically couldn’t be much more further removed from Godchilla.

The Weir – “Calmness of Resolve” (2015)

I got turned on to The Weir back in 2013 after checking out their release Yesterday’s Graves online.  In fact, I liked it so much that I had it at #3 on my personal Top 5 New Releases in 2013, and even put my money where my mouth is by buying the limited vinyl release of it that came out the following year.  Their style of sludgy doom struck a chord with me, and I’ve kept tabs on the band ever since.

Well, great news, kids.  The Weir have a new album coming out, Calmness of Resolve, slated for a cassette release by Hearing Aid Records that should drop on October 23.  I was able to get ahold of a digital review copy, and let me just tell you this – The Weir are just as heavy as ever.

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The Weir have always been about longer songs, which their slowed down, weighty style makes seem even longer.  But they out-did themselves on Calmness of Resolve, a full-length album despite just having four tracks.  The shortest is the 6:55 “Old Country,” with the remainder all coming it at over nine minutes apiece (and the title track at a whopping 14:49).  And the time is warranted, because it allows the band the opportunity to truly develop their soundscapes and charge them with a pretty deep emotional current… as well as reinforce that sensation of dread that creeps into the back of your brain and slowly builds as the songs progress, a warning that all is not as it seems, that all is not right with he world, that maybe, just maybe, we are all damned and biding our time until the inevitable end.

With songs this long there are some lengthy instrumental stretches, and the growled vocals act more like a blast of dark energy that ratchets up the intensity of the environment created by the instruments, connecting it back for short stretches to the human race.  The vocals bring an element of pain and despair, pulling the listener into he world created by the sound.  And that world is heavy. (♠)

To my ears, The Weir are at their best on Calmness of Resolve with “No Fate” and “Old Country.”  The building intro to “No Fate” explodes into insistent vocals that remain paced to the music, the slow, deliberate cadence giving them even more power.  And when the music all but drops out at the 2:50 mark and gives way almost entirely to the vocals for a good 20 seconds or so, it might be the most powerful moment on the album (…forever!… cursed!….), standing in contrast stylistically to what surrounds it.  “No Country” may be as close as The Weir come to a “standard” doom tune, but it’s the pacing changes that give this song its character, the quieter moments where the heaviness fades out for a bit… only to come back and blast you once again.  The opening five minutes of the instrumental “Calmness of Resolve” are another high point on the album, and one that shows that The Weir have a  lot of musical talent, both in playing their instruments and structuring them in a way that feels more like a quiet conversation than a no-holds-barred sonic assault (which, of course, has it’s place as well…).

If you want to check out some of their earlier material, Yesterday’s Graves is available for free streaming HERE.  I, for one, will be ordering the Calmness of Resolve cassette when it comes out next month.  So check ’em out, and maybe order a copy for yourself.

 

(♠) The album’s longest song, “Calmness of Resolve,” however, is entirely instrumental.  But the following track, “Old Country,” makes up for that by immediately opening with vocals.