Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Desert Doom - featuring Rise of the Willing, A'rk, and Nasrudin

Nineteen songs from 29 Palms. Three debuts; megaton metal music. Three punishing bands are causing tremors and creating craters in the California sand.

Desert rock pioneer Scott Reeder (Obsessed, Kyuss, etc.) produced 2 of these albums I'm about to tell you about, and is mastering the other. I read an interview recently in which Reeder said he had a few ongoing projects with a couple bands. One he called the heaviest he'd ever worked with. The heaviest? Oh shit. That immediately grabbed my attention and I just had to find out more information. I did some obsessive research, and thanks to fellow music-lovers I was able to contact both bands and ask them to send me promotional copies of their upcoming releases. Learning about the third was a bonus.

So here you go...enjoy...and be sure to play the videos that I've included. You just might want to do that now, in fact. It's probably going to be some of the heaviest music you will ever hear about from me. Put on some headphones, stream it to your new tv or stereo, but turn up the volume and listen to the sample tunes for yourself - if you can handle it.


Rise of the Willing - Dark Desert Tales. Produced by Scott Reeder. Release date: January 1, 2012.

Here's a no-nonsense, powerhouse trio who play a passionate, volatile mixture of desert metal, sludge, doom and hardcore. These guys have only been together for about a year and they're already proving to local heavy music fans that they're a force to be reckoned with. They're pretty pissed-off at the government for the direction this country is taking, and they're ready to tell the world about it. They're my kinda kick-ass band.

"We play heavy! Rise of the Willing are about unity, brotherhood and the rise of the working-class. We believe our government lies to us and we use our music as a tool to take a stand against corporate greed. We are Americans for revolution," guitarist/vocalist Kyle Stratton says.

Dark Desert Tales is metal music with a purpose, seven tracks spanning 50 minutes.

On the first song, "State of Zen", the band takes on the subject of post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition affecting many American soldiers returning home from war. Unfortunately, this soldier misses the blood too much and ends up becoming a serial killer. A thundering fuzzy riff gives way to clear vocals that surprise me nicely, while the chorus features heartfelt hardcore vocals and sludgy guitars. And you gotta hear the drum solos at the end.

"Disobey" is the last track and I think it's Rise of the Willing's anthem. A hardcore call for revolution, it could be my favorite on Dark Desert Tales and Stratton told me that it's his, too. "Its pretty much a call to all Americans to look around and stand up against the evil men who are holding us down." Stand up.

Reeder plays some acoustic guitar at the end of "Gates of Hell", and keyboards during the break-down on that jam, Stratton told me. "Him working with us really brought the whole package together. He's inspiring as hell, always positive and down to help."

I'm just listening to a rough version, but I still think this is one massive debut, without a doubt. After the first of the year, find out how to get your own copy of Dark Desert Tales from the band's website:  http://www.riseofthewilling.com/.



A'rk - From Sunbeams to Gamma Rays (Beginnings). Produced by Scott Reeder. Vinyl only. Release date: February 2012 (TBA).

"From the high of the desert arise the low of the notes. Sound waves are the apothecary that rustles the brave from their sleep. To choose your poison, and be released from standby. Slow be the riff…."

A'rk will sandblast your ass with desert doom and this powerful, epic debut is gonna carve a new canyon in the southwest. This is the band that Reeder called the heaviest he'd ever worked with (http://thesodashop.wordpress.com/2011/07/14/an-interview-with-scott-reeder/), and they're definitely the heaviest from the high desert that I've ever heard. I can't fully express how much I wanna have this record on vinyl.

You ever seen that old Memorex commercial where that guy is sitting in his chair, listening to the high-fidelity audio, and shit starts moving all around him? "Is it live...or is it.." That's the way I felt when I first played "Flight of the Intruder" on my home stereo. I'd already heard it on the computer so I knew I loved it already, but picture frames started falling over and I could feel the vibrations from where I was sitting. My dog got scared and ran into the other room and hid. Fuck, it's heavy, and that's putting it mildly.

"I just love playing heavy music," guitarist, vocalist John Chavarria told me. After spending yet another 45 minutes listening the seven tracks on Sunbeams to Gamma Rays (Beginnings), I sure can tell that he pours everything he has into it. The riffs are ominous as hell, and his beastly drawn-out vocals are astounding, and totally add another dimension of heaviness.

The last bass-laden track, "Noose (Translation)" features Reeder on 'space effects', Chavarria said.

Check out the A'rk website (http://www.slowbetheriff.com), where you can watch for more news about this record. As I'm writing this, Chavarria's telling me that there will be a 7" record out before the full-length so keep your eyes and ears open. New demos are coming along, too, he said. (Insert happy face here.) "We should have some demos done soon...I'm slowly goin' insane locked in here so the lyrics should be coming."



Nasrudin - The Eternal Recurrence
. Mastered by Scott Reeder. Release date: February 2012 (TBA).

This mysterious doom metal, ambient/drone group is composed of three massive celestial bodies, the Sun, Moon and Earth. Puny humans, Nasrudin destroy.

"Trapped in a purgatory of uncertainty, the members of Nasrudin had been banished to the wastelands of the Mojave Desert. With memories of war and imprisonment, Nasrudin had no choice but to create the heaviest, yet melodic music possible. Although an aura of desperation and hopelessness surrounded them, there was a beautiful irony in such a hostile environment. Sounds like: tectonic plates colliding and the after effects of said collision."

I know...great bio...and it describes them perfectly. Of all three debuts, I think this one has some of my favorite guitar melodies and techniques, along with a lot of amazing solos. Still, it doesn't lack any of the ferociousness that the other two have. Vocals are minimal on a few of the songs, and if you know my tastes, then you know I'm perfectly fine with that.

Guitarist Benjamin Reis (Moon) puts it best. "The simplistic, yet exactingly precise arrangements in Nasrudin's music, along with the lyrics and particular guitar tone, paint a picture of something gritty and rough-around-the-edges. If you really listen, the instruments are played with raw emotion. Basically, it is progressive simplicity. Well, blah blah...It's just killer old-school Swedish death-metal/doom-influenced music. Enjoy this soundtrack to our meaningless existence."

The opening title track on the mastered version will be composed of three movements, which are the first three songs that I have, Reis told me.

On "The Absurd Orgy", Nasrudin expose you to the elements. There's plenty of killer doom riffage here and a couple minutes in I hear some hints of vocals that sound like they're coming from a demon who's in a choke-hold. "The Slumber" is a five-minute instrumental that has almost relaxing guitars and is a little psychedelic, too. It's unlike anything else I'd previously heard from the band. The third movement is the up-tempo, down-tuned, "Ode to the Despiser's of the Body", which has some incredible solo work.

Get scorched by heat from the Sun, feel the magnetic force of the Moon and get crushed by the Earth. Watch and 'like' Nasrudin's Facebook page for more about The Eternal Recurrence.


I can say without hesitation that I love just about any music that Scott Reeder creates or influences, or even gets close to, for that matter. I've easily included these three heavy and original bands from 29 Palms, who are obviously honored to have worked with him. Be careful, though, 'cause you just might become Obsessed with their music, like I have.

You can thank me later.


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