Album reviews: KingBathmat + Plug

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October 30, 2013 by Dan Swinhoe

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KingBathmat- Overcoming The Monster

Hastings-based progsters KingBathmat clearly like to keep themselves busy. They’ve almost got as many albums out as years they’ve been a band. And they’re back with another release.

Overcoming The Monster is the band’s 7th album second release in the last twelves months, following on from the solid Truth Button. Like its predecessor, there’s a strong concept running throughout; according to the press release, it ‘deals with the theme of psychological obstacles (monsters of the mind)’, ‘clandestine forms of control’ and the need to ‘rise above the Illusory obstacles that are placed in our path’, which all follow on closely from the themes of Truth Button.

Much like their previous efforts, the seven tracks on offer average out about eight minutes each, and across its 50 minutes you’re treated to a varied palate of heavy rock, soaring keys, heavy riffing that bring together Pink Floyd, Foo Fighters and elements of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. Opener ‘Sentinel’ swings from heavy riffing to piano-led melody via harmonious vocals and synth lead turns. ‘Parasomnia’ swings from poppy vocal harmony to driving synth & heavy guitar combo whilst remaining painfully catchy throughout. 

Founder, Guitarist and vocalist John Bassett is the focal point of the band, leading them and you through the conceptual journey, dictating the mood of the songs with his vocals and the dexterous guitar work; from Grunge to Psychedelica and Space rock. David Georgiou (keyboards), Lee Sulsh (bass), and Bernie Smirnoff (drums) provide the backup, and aren’t afraid to throw round a synth solo, theramin ambience or impromptu drum fill.

In Overcoming the Monster, KingBathmat have created another solid prog album; varied, interesting and thoughtful. Current fans will be more than happy with the music on offer and new prog aficionados will find plenty to like and keep them entertained.

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BACK ON THE SKULL

Plug – Back On The Skull

Plug are a Southern US five piece punk/sludge group who have just self-released their debut album two years in the making, Back On The Skull. Featuring 11 songs of aggressive but hefty lo-fi fuzz, it ticks all the right boxes for a surprisingly satisfying debut.

The San Antonio, Texas-band are made up of Tyler Lutz on vocals, Scott Corbin & Zach Brin on guitar, Reed Deangelis on bass (Chris Ulsh on the album) and Raul Vela IV on drums, are former members of Lie And Wait, FEED, On My Side, as well as other bands. Back On The Skull itself is 40 minutes of punk-laden stoner album that straddles hardcore, sludge, as well as a big of psychedelic and metal.

They cite the likes of The Melvins, Motorhead, The Wipers, Discharge, and others as key influences, and throughout you can hear it. Opener ‘Babysmile’ has a distinct Orange Goblin feel, distorted guitars buzz over barked vocals, where ‘Meanwhile’ is a short lo-fi punk hammerblow.  Covers of Dicharge’s ‘State Violence, State Control’ and Fang’s ‘The Money Will Roll Right In’ feature on the album, and both are given a dose of distorted energy.

There’s very little let up on here; tracks flow from one to the other and there’ s very little breathing space, swinging from all out aggression to more lacidasical stoner and back again in the space of a few minutes. The title track and Rainbow to hell are lumbering stoner anthems while ‘Cadence’ pays tribute to Kyuss, and ‘Mexican Death Hammer’ is a furious rolling assault. The Sleep-inspired ‘Sphere 3’ rounds the album off with a 9 minute doom montage that swamps the listener with hazy waves of feedback.

There’s plenty of groove and heavy moments, but enough balance in the more laid back moments not to become fatigued. And although not an instant classic, in Back On The Skull  Plug have created a pile driver of a debut album. It’s heavy,  trippy, aggressive yet hazy. Well worth your time, especially since it’s free. Head over to Bandcamp and download it.

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