Friday Full-Length: Minsk, Out of a Center Which is Neither Dead Nor Alive

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 17th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

With its 15th anniversary impending later this year, Minsk‘s debut album, Out of a Center Which is Neither Dead Nor Alive, still sounds like the end of the fucking world. Issued through At a Loss Recordings, the full-length built directly on a prior 2004 demo that made the band’s signing mandatory — had to happen — with two of the tracks from that independent offering re-recorded and positioned as part of the monstrous opening salvo of the LP proper. Those songs are “Waging War on the Forevers” (10:40) and “Narcotics and Dissecting Knives” (10:57), and together with the universe-consuming 14 minutes of “Holy Flower of the North Star,” they assured Out of a Center Which is Neither Dead Nor Alive‘s place in the then-burgeoning pantheon of post-metal’s most glorious moments.

As the mid-aughts found Neurosis and Isis exploring some of their most ambient material and bands like Mouth of the ArchitectRwakeBurst, Amenra and Rosetta started to establish the aesthetic tenets of the style, Minsk were almost singularly chaotic. Like no one before them, the Chicago-based outfit were able to harness the tempestuous rhythms of Neurosis‘ Through Silver in Blood and bring that kind of intensity to their own approach, pairing it with standout riffs and vocal lines as well as effective linear builds like that with subtly leads into “Holy Flower of the North Star” before letting go of the listener’s hand and tossing them over the edge into the churning fray. Though the record’s impact was not immediate, with the quiet opening sample at the start of “Waging War on the Forevers” before the thrust kicks in at 1:29, once Minsk unveiled their full tonal weight, there was no way to stop the ensuing crush, and who the hell would want to anyway?

Though the fact that he’d helmed Pelican‘s Australasia certainly didn’t hurt his cause, and also the fact that Buried at Sea‘s Migration remains one of the heaviest records ever released, period, Out of a Center Which is Neither Dead Nor Alive seemed to serve particular notice of Sanford Parker‘s accomplishment as a producer. His ability to harness low frequency resonance is writ large throughout the 65 minutes of Minsk‘s debut, and of course that he wound up playing bass in the band, taking over for Drew McDowell in the lineup alongside vocalist/percussionist/keyboardist Tim Mead, guitarist/vocalist Chris Bennett, guitarist Dustin Addis and drummer Tony Wyioming (aka Anthony Couri), was a bonus that only added to their sonic impact. The use of percussion and keys whether in stretches of maximum churn or atmospheric reach, was also a distinguishing factor for Minsk, and made their sound all the more inventive and distinct from their peers amid what was at the time a stylistic boom, and as much of their impression would Minsk Out of a Center Which Is Neither Dead nor Alivebe made across those first three tracks — the original At a Loss vinyl edition reordered the songs to fit neatly as a 2LP — the subsequent “Three Hours” (11:11), “Bloodletting and Forgetting” (8:26) and “Wisp of Tow” (9:28) pushed ever deeper into hypnotic sway and contrasting pummel.

“Three Hours” still feels especially raging once it builds the proper momentum, with intertwining lines of vocals reaching up from out of the grueling ether with a kind of desperation that seems as emotionally raw as the proceedings around it are sonically complex. By the time the track crosses its halfway point, with its swirling effects leading gradually to a chugging that is all the more vicious for the undercurrent of keys and the glorious opening that follows, Minsk are both nearly impossible to follow and impossible to turn away from. The sheer aural demand of Out of a Center Which is Neither Dead Nor Alive remains staggering. Not only is it the kind of record in which, almost 15 years later, one can still hear new aspects of the band’s approach — it’s the kind of record whose urgency time has done nothing to dull. Which is all the more impressive when one considers how much of it is given to quiet parts.

“Bloodletting and Forgetting,” which follows “Waging War on the Forevers” on the vinyl side A, is the penultimate cut on the CD, and positioned well behind “Three Hours” as something of a comedown with its extended quiet start working as the launch of a linear build that, sure enough, hits a raging crescendo, but still gives over to closer “Wisp of Tow” with a psychedelic fluidity that the guest saxophone spot from Bruce Lamont, then of Yakuza, only drives into the broader reaches of the “far out.” Of course, they finish with a payoff that borders on Out of a Center Which is Neither Dead Nor Alive‘s most extreme moments before returning to lucidity for a few final lines before cutting out, but by then the feeling of consumption is long since established, and Minsk‘s refusal to bask in their own accomplishment — leaving as they do largely without ceremony — highlights the prior intensity. Though it was the earlier demo that set the foundation on which the album would flourish, they left no question as to their forward-thinking intent or their strength of purpose.

I recall it wasn’t long before Relapse Records came knocking. The venerable Philly imprint snagged Minsk and issued 2007’s The Ritual Fires of Abandonment and 2009’s With Echoes in the Movement of Stone (review here), as well as a split with Unearthly Trance concurrent to the latter, before Minsk took part in Neurot Recordings‘ Hawkwind Triad (review here) with U.S. Christmas and Harvestman in 2010. Half a decade passed before they returned with The Crash and the Draw (review here), a fourth LP once again on Relapse, and a split with like-minded Swiss outfit Zatokrev, titled Bigod (review here), followed in 2018 to mark the occasion of a tour and the 15th anniversaries of both bands.

Their first demo, 2003’s Burning, was reissued on tape in 2018 by Three Moons Records — it seems to be sold out, which I know because I just went to the label’s webstore to try to buy it — and they’ve had a beer collaboration and periodic local shows since. What their plans might be going forward, I don’t know, but even if it’s another three years before they release another album, The Crash and the Draw certainly proved worth that wait, and whatever they do, they’ve never given a reason for their audience to anticipate anything but creative and structural progression. When and if there is a “next record,” I’d expect no less of it than to live up to that high standard.

Still, Out of a Center Which is Neither Dead Nor Alive was and is a landmark for them and for post-metal as a whole, and as always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

I left the house this week. That was good. Took half a xanax to get me out the door, but we got there. And the show was good. And the people were good. I had fun and when I felt like a weirdo, I just took my little red laptop and started writing in the corner. Problem solved and it got the review done quicker. Can’t do that at every gig, but when I can it’s kind of nice to get the immediate impressions down rather than letting them filter through a night’s — or half a night’s, as it were — sleep.

I’m talking about this show, if you’re wondering. Sorry, should’ve made that clear.

So hey, Gimme Radio has come through the round of specials they were doing I guess to finish out 2019 and they’re bringing back The Obelisk Show to its every-other-week scheduling. I’m stoked. It was kind of a bummer just to do it once a month, but I like the alternating weeks. Next show is Jan. 31 at 1pm Eastern. I hope you can tune in: http://gimmeradio.com.

That was good news to get this week. I got kind of hosed on two of the “premieres” over the last few days, so makes up for a bit.

We’re coming up on the start of The Patient Mrs.’ next semester, which I know will be an adjustment to schedule that, where The Pecan and I are concerned, takes about three weeks to really get in a groove with. He’s also starting daycare part-time, four-hours, for two days a week, before the end of the month, so that’s a further tweaking of routine. It’ll be good to get him some time with other kids though. He needs it. Spends too much time with my cynical ass.

He’s up now, running around the living room as I type. And his approaching me to read Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus — which I’ll pause to do — is probably my cue to wrap it up.

Next week there’s a premiere on Monday that I don’t think I can talk about yet, plus announcements on Tuesday that I know I can’t and a premiere of Grimoire Records’ next release. Wednesday I’m going to try to review the new Ripple split — new series, might as well at least start to try to keep up with it. Thursday’s open at the moment but something will come along or I’ll do another review, then Friday is a Lowrider track premiere and review, which, yeah, I wrote the liner notes for the Postwax version of Refractions, but fuck it, Lowrider’s first album in 20 years, you’d have to hit me with a bus to stop me from writing about it. I’ll do a full disclosure note before the review starts and then proceed with the hyperbolic praise accordingly.

Should be fun.

Today’s off to Connecticut, then back this afternoon. Tomorrow I have a press release to write for another announcement that’s also happening sometime early in the week, and then before I know it I’m neck deep in the week. That and cheesy taco dip are my big plans for the next couple days. Maybe a few minutes of reading during nap if such a thing can be finagled.

May yours be great and safe as ever. Have fun and be kind.

FRM: Forum, Radio, Merch at MiBK.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk merch

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Nerveshatter Release “Homecomings” Single; West Coast Dates this Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 17th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Three and a half minutes! Perfect for radio! Seriously, imagine that for a minute. I mean, just because I’m thinking about it, I’m going to hop on Nerveshatter‘s Bandcamp page and grab their new single and play it on the next edition of The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio, but I mean signal FM broadcast radio. Imagine if actual, tune in, live DJs were playing this kind of thing. Imagine a whole commercial station based around something so weighted and purposefully abrasive. Imagine it thriving.

If you believe in the theory of infinite universes, where every action that’s ever been undertaken by a person, place or thing creates a new reality, that universe must exist somewhere. So does a universe wherein I express that idea more coherently. I wonder what those universes are like.

Nerveshatter head to Arizona and California later this month for a round of shows with Drainage, so the new single is timely, and they’ll be supporting Spotlights at Elsewhere in Brooklyn on Feb. 11. I haven’t been to Elsewhere yet, but it’s getting a lot of shows, so I kind of expect sooner or later I’ll make my way. Something new. Terrifying.

There’s also a universe where I don’t have anxiety issues.

See how fun that is?

Song is streaming below. Enjoy:

nerveshatter homecomings

NERVESHATTER – NEW SINGLE! Out NOW

We give you: “HOMECOMINGS”

Hear it, download it, and share it at Bandcamp NOW. Coming to all platforms soon. Recorded and mixed by Nerveshatter and Neil Cote in Somerville, NJ sometime in 2019. Mastered by Alan Douches at West West Side Music.

lyrics
Took a long road out of hell, man. Bled and sweat all sorrow out of me. Peace is just a passer-by, seems like only out of spite… Godhole, bottomless. Leopard spots, last forever. Changes are suffering. Time might heal, will not sever. Done it before, will again. Circle, pattern, what you will… Wishful thinking that is riddance, we can only trust the pain. I need not, yet go back. Needlepoint. Masochist.

http://nerveshattermusic.bandcamp.com/track/homecomings

To go along with this release we will be taking to the road. The first set will take place on our maiden voyage to the West Coast as a band:

01-30-2020 – Phoenix, AZ
01-31-2020 – Long Beach, CA
02-01-2020 – Chico, CA
02-02-2020 – Oakland, CA
All shows with: Drainage

Followed by:
02-11-2020 – Brooklyn, NY at Zone One at Elsewhere with: Spotlights and Semaphore

Nerveshatter is:
Richard Bukowski – guitars
Tim Haney – drums
Jonathan Cohn – bass
Jan Solo – vocals

https://www.facebook.com/nerveshattermusic
https://www.instagram.com/nerveshattermusic/
https://nerveshattermusic.bandcamp.com/

Nerveshatter, “Homecomings”

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Høstsabbat 2020: Besvärjelsen Join Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 17th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

As it would, the addition of Swedish outfit Besvärjelsen brings a new breadth of atmosphere to the lineup for Høstsabbat 2020, with the added bonus that it’ll be the band’s first time in Oslo. Their 2019 EP, Frost (review erereview here, saw their particular emotionalist ambience take on a woodsy spirit, and though I was pleased to be able to write the liner notes for the limited Postwax release thereof, the release still offers surprising depth when I put it on to listen, as I might, say, when writing about the band being added to Høstsabbat and going to Norway to play it. Go figure.

This festival, by the way, is going to sell out. You should go. I hope to go again as well, but whether I do or not, I can only recommend it on a life-experience level. The setting, the atmosphere, the sound and the visuals are all stellar and worth the trip from wherever you might be making it. Just a side note. Word to the wise, as it were.

I didn’t write the announcement below, but I did tweak the copy before it went out, so at least there’s that. Still, I cut and pasted it from the festival’s social media — as opposed to from my .txt file — so here it is in PR wire blue:

hostsabbat 2020 besvarjelsen

Høstsabbat 2020 – BESVÄRJELSEN (SE)

Let’s head back to Sweden.

Besvärjelsen is a relatively fresh band, but their debut LP, 2018’s ‘Vallmo’ — released through no less than the reliable source that is Suicide Records — launched the quintet into the Swedish and European stoner rock scene with full force. They were highly acclaimed for their Swedish lyrics and inspiration from folk music — as well as for featuring ex-Dozer members Erik Bäckwall (drums) and Johan Rockner (bass) — but to be honest, the album flew a bit under our radar at Høstsabbat. Not for long.

Their 2019 ‘Frost’ EP, out on Blues Funeral Recordings, hit like a tornado with undeniable groove and constant forward push. The sound and riffs came on tight and clever, reflecting on the darkness of nature of the endless woods in their home area of Dalarna.

This ethereal spirit and the coinciding haunting melodies of Lea Amling Alazam’s vocals put Besvärjelsen in a league of their own. Their sound crafted with finesse to the point that it’s hard to put their records aside. They just get stuck on repeat.

Are Besvärjelsen the next big thing from our neighbouring Swedes?

Høstsabbat is proud to present this stellar band for first time in Oslo.

TICKETS
http://bit.ly/hostsabbat2020

HØSTSABBAT 2020 SPOTIFY PLAYLIST
http://bit.ly/SFhostsabbat2020

NEWSLETTER
http://bit.ly/NLhostsabbat

Artwork: Trine Grimm Tattoo / Linda K Røed

https://www.facebook.com/events/431138574088425/
https://www.facebook.com/hostsabbat/
http://hostsabbat.no/

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Hippie Death Cult Premiere “Treehugger” Video; 111 Repress Preorders Available Today

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 17th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

hippie death cult

The riff that opens Hippie Death Cult‘s 111 (review here) sounds so much like Alice in Chains‘ “Junkhead” to my ears that I keep half-expecting Layne Staley to start in with the “yeah-yeah”s over the lumbering guitar of Eddie Brnabic. He doesn’t, of course, but the key word there is “keep” — as in, I keep listening. To that song, to the album in general, and to the rampant praise that’s flooded over 111 before and since its release on vinyl through Cursed Tongue Records.

Usually that kind of thing is an immediate turnoff for me, and indeed, all the “holy shit!” around the work of Brnabic (who also recorded, mixed and mastered the album initially; Tony Reed did vinyl mastering, as he will), vocalist/keyboardist Ben Jackson (also of the undervalued Sioux), bassist Laura Phillips and drummer Ryan Moore (who was also in Nether Regions) had me hesitant to really dig into the record. And I’m not saying my opinion means anything one way or the other, because it doesn’t, but the fact is there is a draw to 111 that not only holds attention in the immediate, but keeps the listener coming back, in part to figure out what that draw is.

Near as I can estimate, it’s the balance of Brnabic‘s tone, which is very much Hippie-Death-Cult-111at the forefront of the band’s sound and sets their range in terms of depth of mix, driving both their heaviest moments and the acoustic centerpiece interlude “Mrtyu,” etc., and Jackson‘s soulful, at times gruff, vocals. The singer brings a bluesy sensibility that, in a song like the penultimate “Treehugger,” for which you can see a video premiering below — if you didn’t already see it premiering on YouTube at midnight Pacific last night; always love getting the exclusive, thanks y’all — almost touches on country, as though Hippie Death Cult were filtering a Texas heavy rock mindset through Portland’s attention to detail when it comes to tones and riffy tradition. With subtle lyrics touching on issues of faith and politics in opener “Sanctimonious” and elsewhere, there’s all the more depth to explore for the audience.

You’ll note the rhythm section has gone yet-unmentioned. That’s because their work is an utter given. Phillips, who also did some of the camera work in the video, alongside Brnabic and Alice Kollinzas, and Moore nail down and fill out the grooves of 111 with an understated fluidity that is never overly showy but is also never anything less than it needs to be. The balance, in other words, is just right, and in the respective eight- and nine-minute side A and B finales, “Unborn” and “Black Snake,” the full band works to enhance each other’s contributions so that it’s not just about the guitar or the vocals or the bass, drums or keys. It’s all of it, together. Considering 111 is a first album as the title would seem to indicate, this accomplishment isn’t to be understated.

Preorders are up as of today for the Cursed Tongue repress of 111, and you’ll find that info under the video for “Treehugger” below, courtesy of the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

Hippie Death Cult, “Treehugger” official video premiere

CURSED TONGUE RECORDS IS DELIGHTED TO ANNOUNCE: PRE-ORDER AND OFFICIAL RELEASE DATE FOR THE REPRESS OF GRUNGY STONER DOOM ALBUM ‘111’ BY HIPPIE DEATH CULT

REPRESS RELEASE FEBRUARY 14TH 2020

PRE-ORDER STARTS JANUARY 17TH 6PM CET* ON:
http://cursedtonguerecords.bigcartel.com/

Stream/Buy: https://hippiedeathcult.bandcamp.com

hippie death cult 111 vinylDue to continued high demand for the vinyl release of HIPPIE DEATH CULT’s debut album ‘111’ that has sold out completely from the label and all distros, we are thrilled to announce the REPRESS of this belter of an album!

HIPPIE DEATH CULT have been hitting it hard since laset summer both live on the stage and in the online spheres, where they have amazed many heavy heads across the globe as well as received an impressive amount of high ranking scores on a wide array of Best Of 2019 charts. Now a new year has begun and more new endavours lie at the feet of the death cult hippies in 2020.

The REPRESS of “111” on dark ‘Treehugger Green’ vinyl will see the light of day on February 14 2020 via Cursed Tongue Records with pre-orders starting later today!

This premium vinyl release boasts high quality 180 grams vinyl plated and pressed in Germany, housed in 6mm spine full colour gatefold cover with smoking hot artwork by the singer Ben Jackson in collaboration with guitarist Eddie Brnabic. This CTR Exclusive REPRESS is ltd. to just 300 copies and comes with a super rad A3 sized poster by Shane Horror Design (ltd. 100 copies) and digital download coupon for the full album plus two kickass stickers.

So if you missed out on the 1st pressing or simply want to add this sick REPRESS edition to your vinyl collection, now is time to start your engines!

Video produced, Shot & Edited By : Eddie Brnabic
Additional footage shot by Laura Phillips & Alice Kollinzas

Hippie Death Cult live:
Feb 07 Hawthorne Theatre Portland, OR
Mar 19 McFiler’s Chehalis, WA
Mar 20 Substation Seattle, WA
Mar 21 High Water Mark Lounge Portland, OR
Mar 22 Sessions Music Hall Eugene, OR
Apr 15 The Big Dipper Spokane, WA
Apr 16 Badlander Missoula, MT
Apr 17 Royal Canadian Legion Branch 1 Calgary, AB
Apr 17 Rocky Mountain Riff Fest Kalispell, MT

Hippie Death Cult are:
Eddie Brnabic : Guitar
Laura Phillips : Bass
Ryan Moore : Drums
Ben Jackson : Vocals/Keys

Hippie Death Cult, 111 (2019)

Hippie Death Cult on Bandcamp

Hippie Death Cult on Instagram

Hippie Death Cult on Thee Facebooks

Hippie Death Cult website

Cursed Tongue Records webstore

Cursed Tongue Records on Thee Facebooks

Cursed Tongue Records on Instagram

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Huanastone Sign to Argonauta Records; Third Stone From the Sun Due in Spring; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 17th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Yeah, that’ll do nicely, thanks. Checking out the new track from Sweden’s Huanastone, it’s little mystery why a label like Argonauta Records would want to pick them up, with their modern, open feeling tones reminiscent of some of Lowrider‘s original purposes, but set to more psychedelic reaching, an edge of post-rock coming through in the patience and jammier aspects enough to make “Bad Blood” suitably fluid. It’s the only thing I’ve heard from the upcoming Third Stone From the Sun album that Huanastone will issue through Argonauta this Spring, but it bodes well. I know Swedish heavy bands aren’t exactly a rarity these days — Huanastone hometown of Malmö makes me think immediately of Deville, with whom they’re playing this weekend as it happens — but pound for pound I don’t know if there’s another single nation on earth that delivers so much quality heavy rock and roll per capita. Germany? Argentina? I’d have to look at respective proportions of population vs. kickassery. I’ll get back to you once I’ve properly analyzed census data.

Point is the track is cool, so before you play the cynical, “Oh hey another band from Sweden bet they sound like Graveyard,” thing — they don’t, at all — take a couple minutes and listen to the track. You might dig it.

I hope you do, anyhow. That’s kind of the point.

From the PR wire:

huanastone

Swedish Stoner Rockers HUANASTONE Sign With Argonauta Records And Reveal First Album Details + Brand New Song!

Malmö, Sweden, based stoner and fuzz rock unit, HUANASTONE, has announced their worldwide signing with Argonauta Records – joining the label’s eclectic artist roster for an album release in the Spring of 2020!

Each of HUANASTONE’s records tells a new story and opens up new opportunities for exploration, while the band is creating an authentic, heartfelt and ominous sound backed up by steady riffs, big fuzz and heavy grooves. Following their critically acclaimed debut EP and first full-length album, HUANASTONE emphasize the importance of live studio recordings, and so it goes for their upcoming, sophomore album titled Third Stone from the Sun.

Says the band: “After years of hard work, Huanastone finally achieved something not many bands gets to experience. We’ve landed a record-deal! We are excited to inform you that we will be working with the one and only, Argonauta Records. Housing some mad bands like Suma, Wasted Theory and Kal-El, we know that we’re in good hands.

Before the full release of the album, we will release 2 singles that will be on all your usual streaming platforms.”

Recorded at Studio Möllan in their hometown of Malmö, today HUANASTONE are already sharing with us a first album appetizer to the heavy stoner juggernaut Bad Blood, listen to the track right HERE!

With many more details and tunes from their upcoming Spring release to follow in the weeks ahead, HUANASTONE will be playing a show in support of DEVILLE on January 18th at Kulturbolaget in their hometown Malmö, a heavy touring schedule with many more dates will be revealed soon.

HUANASTONE is:
Filip Larsson – Bass
Tobias Gonzalez – Vocals/Guitar
Carl Lambertus Olofsson – Guitar
Victor Hansson – Drums

www.facebook.com/Huanastone
https://www.instagram.com/huanastone/
www.huanastone.bandcamp.com
www.argonautarecords.com
www.facebook.com/argonautarecords

Huanastone, “Bad Blood”

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Brant Bjork Announces European Tour; Re-Signs to Heavy Psych Sounds for New Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 16th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

brant bjork

I’m going to go ahead, put two and two together, and guess that the proper announcement of Brant Bjork‘s next album is coming Jan. 21. That’s a mere five days from now. Next Tuesday. It’s not the only spot I have saved for news that day, but rest assured, I’ve got one saved for it.

Supporting my supposition? Well, when Brant Bjork was announced as having re-signed to Heavy Psych Sounds for his next record, they said there was a big announcement coming on Jan. 21. And as you can see below, the European tour is already being announced ahead of time. It’s with MaidaVale, so bonus. He toured pretty extensively last year, including in the US, but doesn’t do that nearly as often as he hits Europe, so I wouldn’t necessarily think that’d be a big part of what’s coming, though there’s always “select dates” and so on.

It’s a basic matter of what’s left being the full announcement of the album. So that’s what I’m thinking is coming, and you know what else? With the European tour starting April 23, I wouldn’t be surprised if said album showed up somewhere around there too. Crazy, right? Yeah, it is, and it’s a maybe/maybe-not given Heavy Psych Sounds‘ busy schedule, but you never know. Some things take priority. I’d think a new Brant Bjork would qualify for sure.

Sound of Liberation put out word of the tour thusly:

brant bjork europe 2020

BRANT BJORK TO RETURN TO EUROPE

We’re stoked to announce that the king of the desert himself, the master of laid back weedy jams and smooth riffing, the one and only Brant Bjork will return to Europe in April 2020!

And he will not come alone but in great company by one of the most prominent acts in the new generation of psych music: Swedish four piece MaidaVale will join the party from the first day on! ??

This will be one hell of a party, friends. We’re super excited and so should you! But for the moment let’s all keep our cool and check out the tourdates below:

Sound of Liberation & Metal Hammer proudly present:
BRANT BJORK + special guest MAIDAVALE

23.04.20 Aschaffenburg, Colos-Saal Aschaffenburg(DE)
24.04.20 Munich, Feierwerk (DE)
25.04.20 Wien, ARENA WIEN (AT)
26.04.20 Graz, p.p.c. (AT)
27.04.20 Budapest, Akvárium Klub Official (HU)
28.04.20 Linz, Stwst Stadtwerkstatt (AT)
29.04.20 Stuttgart, Universum (DE)
30.04.20 Brussels, Magasin 4 (BE)
01.05.20 London, Desertfest London (UK)
02.05.20 Nijmegen, Sonic Whip (NL)
03.05.20 Berlin, DesertFest Berlin (DE)
04.05.20 Hamburg, Knust Hamburg (DE)
05.05.20 Dortmund, Musiktheater Piano (DE)
06.05.20 Paris, Petit Bain (FR)
07.05.20 Toulouse, Le Rex de Toulouse (FR)
08.05.20 Vitoria, Hell Dorado :: El Club Sónico :: (SP)
09.05.20 Madrid, Kristonfest (SP)

PS: We’ve heard some rumors… you should keep your ears and eyes open for a big announcement, happening on January 21st…

https://www.facebook.com/BrantBjorkOfficial
https://www.instagram.com/brant_bjork
http://www.brantbjork.com
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS
http://www.heavypsychsounds.com
https://heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com

Brant Bjork, Live at Freak Valley 2019

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Live Review: Ode to Doom w/ Dutchguts, Sigils, The Druids & Eternal Black in NYC, 01.15.20

Posted in Reviews on January 16th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Eternal Black (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Traffic was Defcon Go-Fuck-Yourself on the way to New York, but I had anticipated such things and still made it in plenty of time for a bit of hanging out ahead of the start of the first Ode to Doom of 2020 at Arlene’s Grocery in Manhattan. This site has been involved in presenting these shows for over three years now, but I’ve been to exactly two of them — a source of shame, but one of so many it just kind of blends in with the rest — and that’s counting this one. Still, it’s a familial vibe — which is one more reason to salute the work put in over the aforementioned years by Claudia Crespo — and that kind of thing is hard to beat, even if you have to sit for a while on the way there. I streamed PBS Newshour on my phone in the car. We do what we have to do to get by.

Anxiety earlier in the day had been brutal, but I was glad to have left the house even before the gig started and that only of course became more the case once Dutchguts went on, playing ahead of a four-band bill that was front-to-back righteous, with SigilsThe Druids and Eternal Black rounding out as they celebrated drummer and best-dude-ever Joe Wood‘s birthday. Was there singing? Yes. There was.

First band was on a little after 7:30PM, and the night went thusly:

Dutchguts

Dutchguts (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Oh, I do enjoy a bit of them Dutchguts. Not the least because they’re from my home area in the northern end of my beloved Garden State, but because they’re so dead-on in sludge fuckall. They take the stage, almost say hi, and rip into killer, volatile and pummeling sludge riffs one after another, with an abandon befitting a band who are on the road 15o days a year and I’ve seen them play empty rooms, filling rooms like this one was or even their own space at The Meatlocker in Montclair, and the result is consistently awesome. At any moment, the whole thing might fall apart, and if it does, fuck it. It hasn’t yet, at least not that I’ve seen, but hell, one more reason to keep showing up. Seems like they’re about due for an LP — or at least a 27-minute half-punk-songs collection of feedback and riffs they press to a 12″ and call an LP — but hell if I know if they have anything in the works or not. They are, in the meantime, convincingly stoned and convincingly disaffected in equal measure, and that’s not easy to pull off amid such rampant cynicism. Punk rock. Punk rock. Plus destruction.

Sigils

Sigils (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Good band. As it was my first time seeing New York’s own Sigils live, and as I very much enjoyed their 2019 debut, You Built the Altar You Lit the Leaves (review here), they were probably the band I was most looking forward to catching at the show. No disappointment. As one might expect, they were somewhat rawer on stage than on record — because duh; also they were people — but as a part of that, some of what just came across on the LP as tonal and effects wash came through a little bit clearer in the double-guitar dynamic. Add to that vocals with, as the request was made, as much reverb as possible and then more reverb, and the ambience factor was still high, but that didn’t necessarily take away from the impact either. They’re a kind-of-newer-ish band, and the album bore that out as well in its sound and style, but on stage they were able to bring the material across not just convincingly, but with a sense of purpose underscoring the emotionalism of the tracks in question. New York has a decent amount of Heavy at this point — not as much as a decade ago, but still —  but not a lot of it touches on psychedelic crush in the manner of Sigils, and one hopes they continue to stand out in that regard as they progress, which, given their sound live and recorded, they will actively work to do. Or, to put it another way: Good band. They played a short set, but I’ll take it.

The Druids

The Druids (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Last seen at Maryland Doom Fest 2019 (review here), the D.C.-area riffers brought a bit of the Chesapeake to Ode to Doom‘s otherwise NYC Metro focus, and I don’t just mean they blew a guitar head, though that also happened. And early in the set, too. Kind of rough. They continued on, however, with bass and drums rolling on in extra-sludgy fashion as a Sunn amp came out to replace the Marshall that would seem to have bit it. The lone guitar — there were two at MDDF — kicked back in just in time for a solo, so that was kind of a fun way to arrive, and The Druids were off and lumbering from there. Some of the psychedelic aspects of their sound seemed to have dissipated in comparison to what I remember of them from last summer, but their earlier-2019 debut, Totem (review here), was pulling in any number of directions, so where they end up is still anyone’s best guess. My own would be useless, I’m sure. Still, heavy edge and a band in development. The absence of Gary Isom on drums was notable, but Ben “Vang Ghazi” Blanton (ex-VOG, ex-Foehammer, Ambition Burning) has a pedigree of his own and certainly had no trouble holding down the weightiest of their grooves, significant as they were. Despite the technical troubles, I came out of their set more intrigued, not less, to find out where they’re going with their sound.

Eternal Black

Eternal Black (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I don’t think I have a run for Manhattan city council in my bones, but if I did, I can hardly imagine a better platform than renaming one of these streets after Eternal Black‘s Joe Wood. Or better yet, all of Long Island. Joe Wood Island. Property values would skyrocket. On the day of his birth, Wood anchored the weighted and pro-shop-delivered doom crunch of Ken Wohlrob‘s guitar and Hal Miller‘s bass, emphasizing the point that was made so effectively on their second album, Slow Burn Suicide (review here), self-released last year. I have been wondering ever since I first heard those songs just how direct their intent to bring in noise and NY hardcore vibes has been, and as Wohlrob has been doubling in End of Hope, the answer would seem to be pretty damn intentional. and Eternal Black showed it too in the two new songs they played, “A Million Ways to Die” and “River Runs Eternally Red” — not to be confused with the Life of Agony song/album — though the latter was a riffer all the way. They are nonetheless a doom band, and they groove accordingly. Watching them, it works though because it’s a mesh rather than a competition of influences in their sound, and the nod-with-aggro-edge is more New York than any deli you could ever hope to name, and they closed with a roughed-up take on “Stained Eyes on a Setting Sun” from their first album, 2017’s Bleed the Days (review here), as if to prove it. As a human being, I hope Joe Wood had a great birthday. I know Eternal Black certainly made my night, fitting well in the hometown heroes role as they were.

The ride back to my ancestral compound was simple enough. Some flashing lights, some hit the brakes. No deer in the road, so mark it a Jersey win, and it wasn’t long before my eyes were sagging and my brain was coming out through my runny nose. Fair enough. I could go on a rant about the integrity of an event like this, the obvious passion driving it and the community it’s built, or even the need for a Manhattan underground to exist now more than ever, but hell’s bells, just show up to the next Ode and see for yourself. No one believes anything they read on the internet anyway, and the shows will be their own best argument. Good bands, good friends, good times. Nights like these you remember.

Thanks for reading.

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Hexvessel Announce Kindred LP out April 17 on Svart Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 16th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Hexvessel (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Hexvessel releasing albums through Svart Records seems to me one of those correct-in-the-sense-of-things-being-right-with-the-universe scenarios. Aside from the fact that band and label are both based in Finland — neat, but not really relevant — it’s the progressive aspects of both that make their realignment seem so spot on. Hexvessel issued last year’s All Tree (review here) through Century Media and thereby marked a return to their core folk-minded approach after departing for the more stylistically experimental When We are Death (review here) in 2016. I would expect Kindred to keep them on their set path somewhat, but of course they’ve never failed to move forward from one record to the next, and the PR wire’s teasing of proggy flashes certainly sounds right on.

Svart will also reissue the first two Hexvessel LPs, which, as it happens, it originally put out. I bet that makes getting the rights easier.

Here’s news:

hexvessel kindred

Finland’s Hexvessel return to Svart Records with new album Kindred, set for release on the 17th of April 2020!

Cover artwork by renowned artists Thomas Hooper and Richey Beckett unveiled.

Back-catalogue to be reissued!

Psychedelic forest folk-rockers Hexvessel will release their new nature-mystic opus, Kindred, via Svart Records on the 17th of April 2020. Taking a darker and more esoteric path, Kindred sees Hexvessel re-forge their eclectic melting cauldron or “vessel” of sound into a potent “hex” of spell-binding songcraft.

Blues-laden psych-rock and progressive structures harken back to King Crimson, giving way to dark earthen balladry reminiscent of early Nick Cave and the doom-laden atmospheres of Dead Can Dance. The band returned to their original studio in Tampere, Finland, where they recorded their cult classic No Holier Temple, which fused Hexvessel’s folk roots with an occult undercurrent, with the new album mastered by John Davis (Gorillaz / Led Zeppelin / Lana Del Rey) in the UK.

Through Kindred’s 10 song rites of passage, Hexvessel cover Coil’s “Fire Of The Mind” live from a mental institution and delve into the Druidic sacrificial swamps with songs like “Bog Bodies”, which conjures the deep Lynchian night with muted trumpet and foggy rhodes piano. Adorned by cover artwork by artists Thomas Hooper (who has worked for Neurosis, Converge and Doomriders) and Richey Beckett (who has created work for Metallica, Foo Fighters, Robert Plant), Kindred is an album which calls you on a journey, both intimate and richly enlightening.

Hexvessel was formed by English/Irish singer/songwriter Mat McNerney in 2009 after he moved to Finland. Also know for his work with Beastmilk (now known as Grave Pleasures), The Deathtrip, Carpenter Brut, Me & That Man and his earlier work with Norwegian Black Metal bands Code & Dødheimsgard, McNerney is a both highly eclectic and critically acclaimed musical artist.

The first single from Kindred will be released on the 24th of January 2020.

In celebration of Hexvessel’s re-signing with the label, Svart Records will also reissue Hexvessel’s first two albums. Their much sought after debut Dawnbearer and the cult follow-up No Holier Temple will be repressed during autumn 2020.

Hexvessel’s upcoming live dates are as follows:
With Twin Temple (USA)

01.02.2020 – Hamburg (DE) – Bahnhof St Pauli
02.02.2020 – Gothenburg (SE) – Tradgarn
04.02.2020 – Tampere (FI) – Olympia
05.02.2020 – Helsinki (FI) – Tavastia
07.02.2020 – Stockholm (SE) – Nalen Klubb
08.02.2020 – Frederica (DK) – Det Bruunske Pakus *
09.02.2020 – Copenhagen (DK) – Beta *
10.02.2020 – Berlin (DE) – Bi Nuu
11.02.2020 – München (DE) – Backstage
12.02.2020 – Vienna (AT) – Arena *
13.02.2020 – Winterthur (CH) – Gaswerk
14.02.2020 – Cologne (DE) – MTC
15.02.2020 – Paris (FR) – Point Ephemere
16.02.2020 – Wacken (DE) – Wacken Winter Nights *
17.02.2020 – Nijmegen (NL) – Merleyn *
18.02.2020 – Rotterdam (NL) – V11 *
21.05.2020 – Ascension Festival Iceland*
11.07.2020 – Fire In The Mountains, Wyoming, USA*
(*without Twin Temple)

https://www.facebook.com/hexvessel
http://instagram.com/hexvesselband
https://hexvessel.bandcamp.com/
https://www.hexvessel.com/
www.svartrecords.com
www.facebook.com/svartrecords

Hexvessel, “Changeling” official video

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