Lunar Woods – Dead End
There’s this one story about the Melvins touring before grunge had become a mainstream commodity and before each small city in America featured at least one sludge metal band. In spite of a relative lack of commercial success on regular terms, each time that the Melvins would return to a place that they had played, they would find other bands that had sprung up.
These bands were formed by musicians that had witnessed the bizarre magic of the sonically punishing trio play live. Indeed, music travels farther and is, often, much more easily understood than any diplomat. The fact that Seattle’s miserable weather could be distilled into rock music which, in turn, would inspire bands across the world, is telling of rock music’s power.
Lunar Woods is a band from Russia, and they sound as if they’ve been working in secret on sharing a stage with Alice in Chains. They play slow, trudging rock with riffs as blunt as a crowbar and vocals that find just the right spaces in which to attack and take control of the song. Dead End is a mighty convincing testament to the endearing power of post-Sabbath riffs and melodies.
Mudbrain – Hells on Fire
It will take a long time for the dust to settle. When it does, Alice In Chains, surprisingly as it may still sound, may just be the most influential of all the bands to appear during the so-called grunge boom. From the operatic, dark vocal style of Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell, to the detuned guitar, the 60s-like folkish harmonies, to the gruesome tales of misery, AIC foreshadowed the modern rock age like no other group.
It was the blessing and the curse of a little power-trio called Nirvana that the groups from, roughly, the same city sold more records but had their achievements receiving less praise than they otherwise would have. Soundgarden’s sensational Badmotorfinger was released just sightly before the commercial breakthrough. Pearl Jam’s Ten sold remarkably well but is not as remembered as Nevermind. And Alice in Chains achieved great commercial and critical success before being derailed by personal issues.
Mudbrain’s Hells on Fire attempts to pick up where the Layne Staley fronted version of AiC left off. There are numerous imitators of this sound and aesthetic, but few that can actually pull off the intricate playing and, especially, the singing. Mudbrain does a fantastic job sonically, as well as conceptually as they channel darkness from the very edges of their minds and collective imaginations for this one.