Redundancies abound with Mammoth Mammoth, whose latest album encourages you to Mount the Mountain (Napalm Records). Unsurprisingly, the band so nice they named it twice walks the walk, talks the talk, and kicks ass in a way that recalls fellow Australian countrymen AC/DC and the stonerrific fuzztone riffs that Speedealer already ripped off from Motörhead.
Recycling is good for the environment, especially when the second-hand smoke is as intoxicating as the album’s title track, the bass chugging “Hole in the Head,” and “Kickin’ My Dog,” the best Nashville Pussy song they never stole. Taken as a whole Mount the Mountain will make you want to drink shots and smoke weed.
If the hairy bikers of Mammoth Mammoth are the yang of stoner metal, then Ides of Gemini are doom metal’s yin. More than just the title of the band’s third release, Women (Rise Above Records) is all about the feminine side, with every song being about female characters. Sera Timms’ strong vocals are what most immediately impact you. That voice can be vulnerable and powerful at the same time, with the same sense of style as a young Siouxsie Sioux. This lends a Middle Eastern, post-punk gothic feel to the proceedings, however, guitarist J. Bennett steers the band in a very doomy metallic direction that fits in perfectly with new label Rise Above.
Timms quit bass duties to concentrate on vocals and this changed the band in two significant ways. The entire rhythm section—Adam Murray on bass and drummer Scott Batiste— is new, and they play a lot more straightforward and with the emphasis on making things heavier and more compact. And it freed up Timms to concentrate on singing. The result is a masterpiece that aggressively propels the ethereal.
Labelmates Galley Beggar may have taken influence from, if not Ides of Gemini in particular, bands that have the same sound. Throughout three albums the British band has been ensconced in the retro psychedelic acid-folk scene owing to the likes of Pentangle. However, on Heathen Hymns (Rise Above Records), the sextet embrace more distortion than ever before, more closely resembling the occult-rock subgenre than Fairport Convention.
The group does this within a framework founded on a hazy collage of instruments such as mandolin and violin, and Celia Drummond of UK acid folk legends Trees guests on “Let No Man Steal Your Thyme.” Elsewhere, the droning pop of opening track “Salome,” the blues thump of “Moon and Tide,” and especially “Four Birds,” which verges on medieval trip-hop, show a band unafraid to evolve, smart enough to have it not sound forced, and talented enough to make it all work.