The Obelisk is Five Years Old Today

Posted in The Numbers on January 31st, 2014 by JJ Koczan

I don’t think when this site was launched five years ago today I had any idea of what was going to happen with it. The Obelisk started basically because I was newly out of work and didn’t know what to do with myself in the wake of that. I wanted to write. Since the start, I’ve never really known what’s next, and that has continued to be the case over the last half-decade. As milestones have come up, things like adding the forum, adding the radio stream, etc., it’s really only been after the fact that I’ve been able to sort of step back and realize that any sort of shift has taken place. This is one of those times.

You know what’s coming, and though I say it with some regularity, I never quite feel like it’s enough. The internet is built on anonymity. If I’m lucky enough that your eyes are seeing this somewhere around the world, whether it’s Jersey or New Zealand, there’s a decent chance we’ll never meet. If we do, that’s awesome — please  say hi and I’m sorry in advance for being an awkward weirdo — but I know how it is to read a site like this one and have the author be an abstract, shapeless beyond the text presented, not really a consideration. I’m not saying everyone who looks at this page needs to know who I am or anything like that, just that I hope that if you’ve ever read this site before or if this is your first time here, you know that there’s a human being on the other end who is incredibly grateful to you for doing so.

The Obelisk has become a huge part of my life and a huge part of my every day, and five years on, it’s not only an outlet for writing, but a big piece of how I think about my own identity. I never anticipated that, but I’m not sorry it’s happened. I’m proud of this site, what it has managed to accomplish in its time, and I’m thrilled to be able to continue to develop it. I’m amazed at the passionate community that’s developed on the forum, and I think for the five bucks a month I spend to host it, the radio stream is worth the cash for my enjoyment alone, never mind anyone else’s. Thank you. Thank you so much. For checking in every now and again, for reading however often you might, for posting on the forum, listening to the radio, correcting my spelling on somebody’s name or offering suggestions for bands to check out, or to check out your band. For clicking Like or retweeting. All of it. Huge thanks to The Patient Mrs. for her years of rolled-eye indulgence, and to Slevin for his near-constant help in every technical aspect of running the site, from installing WordPress to designing the forum to finding the host for the radio to helping me size the header properly. There are days where The Obelisk is the reason I roll out of bed — over the last five years, more than a few — and I know that would not be the case without the kind of support I have received on every level. Once again, thank you.

I look forward to continuing to say thanks for as long as this lasts, however long it might be, wherever it might go from here, and wherever we might be headed. I’ll probably never be able to convey just how much your support and your involvement is appreciated, but please, please know that it is.

All the best,
JJ Koczan

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk

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audiObelisk: The Socks Premiere “Gypsy Lady” from Self-Titled Debut

Posted in audiObelisk on January 31st, 2014 by JJ Koczan

I guess if we’re talking about side B of French retro rockers The Socks‘ self-titled debut LP, then that would make “Gypsy Lady” a deep cut. The foursome from Lyon are getting ready to release their eponymous long-player on Small Stone on March 18, and where the prior-leaked “Some Kind of Sorcery” from the record showcased a vintage-minded boogie almost singularly indebted to Graveyard — at least for the part of it that wasn’t indebted (as we all are) to Sabbath — “Gypsy Lady” shows that’s not the only tool that The Socks have at their disposal, using organ to pepper a kind of stutter groove that’s as much Alice Cooper Band as it is modern heavy psychedelia.

Vocalist/guitarist Julien Méret solos fluidly over fellow six-stringer/backing vocalist Nicolas Baud‘s keyboard work as drummer Jessy Ensenat sets the march and bassist Vincent Melay runs around and through the riffs in heavy ’70s tradition. If “Gypsy Lady” has anything in common with “Some Kind of Sorcery” — other than being the same band on the same album, duh — it’s a righteous slowdown, this one arriving after two minutes into the track’s total five, marked out by insistent wah in the guitar and a classically doomed stomp in the rhythm section, giving way to a screaming lead and tense build back up to the original shuffle.

Add to this a potent hook and I’m not sure what else one could reasonably ask of The Socks that they’re not delivering. Elsewhere, their self-titled delves further into psychedelic influences, further broadening their creative spectrum, rounding out with the six-and-a-half-minute “The Last Dragon,” which sadly is not a cover of the theme from the 1985 Berry Gordy-produced film of the same name, but for now, “Gypsy Lady” should give enough of a sense ofThe Socks’ take on analog vibes and the organic way in which they present a nascent but already widening sonic perspective.

Please find “Gypsy Lady” on the player below, and enjoy:

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

The SocksThe Socks is due out March 18 on CD and LP through Small Stone Records. The band are also set to play the Stone Rising festival in Lyon this April and are booking other dates for the Spring. More info at the following links.

The Socks on Thee Facebooks

The Socks website

The Socks at Small Stone’s Bandcamp

Small Stone Records

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Stoneburner Unveil Details of Life Drawing Neurot Recordings Debut

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 30th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

In just a few short months, Portland-based four-piece Stoneburner will mark their first release on Neurot Recordings with their sophomore full-length, Life Drawing. Really, for any heavy band, to have the endorsement of Neurosis behind seems about as close to “living the dream” as you’re gonna get, though if the newly-revealed artwork for Life Drawing is anything to go by, Stoneburner are keeping a pretty similar mindset to that which came across on their 2012 Seventh Rule debut, Sickness Will Pass (discussed here), which was plenty nasty and heavy to spare. Good for them, both in terms of living the dream and not fixing what clearly isn’t broken.

Harken to the PR wire, for it brings you knowledge, and only knowledge can kill Zardoz:

STONEBURNER: Portland Sludge Slingers Reveal Album Details

Portland sludge slingers and recent Neurot family additions, STONEBURNER, are readying to unleash their forthcoming new full-length, Life Drawing. The follow-up to their 2012 debut, Sickness Will Pass, features nine rumbling odes of bottom-heavy hostility and emotional decay. Recorded, mixed and produced by Fester at Haywire Studios, mastered by Adam Gonsalves at Telegraph Mastering — both in Portland — and swathed in the visually abrasive cover art of J.J. Shirey, Life Drawing promises to hurl STONEBURNER’s habitually chest-caving sludge mantras to entirely new realms of earth-deteriorating heaviness.

Comments the band in a collective statement: “Lyrically we’ve always focused on personal matters, and one theme that particularly seems to keep coming up on this record is the struggle to be a decent person in a world that keeps doing its best to cause you not to be. J.J. Shirey, who paints our album covers, is part of the STONEBURNER brotherhood and we have absolute faith in him. We have him sit in on rehearsals, read our lyrics, and then we send him off to come up with whatever he thinks best suits the material. We feel that this piece absolutely captures the mood of trying to grow and heal, but constantly finding yourself falling back into the darkness caused by emotional and physical addictions. The world isn’t always a happy, beautiful place, and neither is our music. Thanks to J.J. you’re going to sense that before you even hear the album.”

Life Drawing Track Listing:
1. Some Can
2. Caged Bird
3. Drift
4. An Apology To A Friend In Need
5. Pale New Eyes
6. Giver Of Birth
7. Done
8. You Are The Worst
9. The Phoenix

STONEBURNER features a persuasive musical ancestry that winds through Buried At Sea, Buried Blood, Heathen Shrine and others. Named after a subterranean weapon from the novel Dune, STONEBURNER deliver a wholly organic orchestration of captivating, crustified doom metal, their torrid hymns bathed in internal agony, anguish and despair. To define STONEBURNER, one need only look to the list of bands with whom they’ve shared the stage: Yob, Sleep, Eyehategod, Neurosis, Buzzov-en, Weedeater, Saint Vitus, Watain, Tragedy, Noothgrush, Graves At Sea, Lord Dying, Drop Dead, Whitehorse, Wind Hand, Bastard Noise…

Life Drawing will be unleashed via Neurot Recordings later this Spring. Stay tuned for further info.

Stoneburner, Live on Jan. 24, 2014

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Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus Anounce European Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 30th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

You might not know it yet, but you’re going to want to pay attention to the cumbersome name Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus. The Swedish four-piece are celebrating their 10-year anniversary as a band in 2014, and following a late-2013 reissue of their sophomore outing, Bloom (originally on Transubstans), they’ll make a proper debut on Small Stone this spring with Spirit Knife. I missed the boat on Bloom when it came out — not to mention their Elefanta full-length debut — but it’s something of a gem, and Spirit Knife pushes psych atmospheres and confident, commanding heavy rock further.

It’s not about how many beers you can drink so much as how far you can make the sound go. Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus can push out bluesy fuzz or, like on “Sworn Collision,” delve into wistful indie spaciousness, but they always do so with an imaginative ear toward classic pop rock and psychedelia, and they seem a safe bet to turn heads into converts here in the US as well once the new album arrives. One to watch, to put it more efficiently.

They’ll tour Europe to herald Spirit Knife‘s arrival. Dates and bio info on the band follow, courtesy of the PR wire:

Imagine, if you will, Jeff Buckley jamming with Can, and you’ll have a fair gist of the fantastic voyage that awaits the armies of the Spirit Knife: an album that finds Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus rekindling their time-traveling communion with vintage psychedelia and Krautrock, while expanding on the sonic palette revealed by the ensemble’s past full-lengths, Elefanta and Bloom.

Once again, but more powerfully than ever before, JIRM, deliver imposing passages of torrential guitars that rattle and roll, shimmy and soar with oceanic reverb and sweaty rock and roll, partnering with thrumming keys and mesmerizing Motorik drums to incite cyclical hypnosis for protracted song-suites, ever teetering between tight instrumental control and loose vibes to achieve optimal tantric tension and release through music.

All this from a group founded in 2004, in the town of Eskilstuna, Sweden, before relocating to Stockholm three years later, where and whence vocalist/guitarist Karl Apelmo, guitarist Micke Pettersson, bassist Viktor Källgren and drummer Henke Persson have since produced the aforementioned two albums and, now, the impending Spirit Knife.

“Spirit Knife Tour April 2014”

1 abril – COLOGNE (MTC Club)
2 abril – PARIS (Giburs Café)
3 abril – BARCELONA (Rocksound)
4 abril – MADRID (Siroco)
5 abril – SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA (Club Moon)
6 abril – LEÓN (Gran Café)
8 abril – BERLIN (Cortina Bob)

Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus, “Wind Seized” from Spirit Knife (2014)

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Duuude, Tapes! Space Mushroom Fuzz, Back from the Past

Posted in Duuude, Tapes! on January 30th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Exploratory heavy rockers Space Mushroom Fuzz may have decided to call their second tape boxed set Back from the Past, but it’s actually comprised of some of their most recent material. The prolific Boston space/jam/heavy rockers led by Adam Abrams (also Blue Aside) self-released four full-lengths last year between April and December, and all four — Man in the Shadow (April), A Possible Paradox (August), Stealing Some Time (November) and Burning the Almanac (December) — are gathered here, pressed DIY in an edition of only 20 copies (I got number 4, as I hope everyone does who winds up with one) and sold on the cheap for $8 through Space Mushroom Fuzz‘s Bandcamp. At two bucks an album, it seems fair to call Back from the Past a bargain even before one actually cracks it open and listens to the music, which upon play shows development over the course of the year and the band from the jammy sensibilities of their older material to a kind of garage space rock, Abrams a steady presence on guitar and vocals, as well as periodically working on drums and bass despite being joined in those roles by Clay Neely (Black Pyramid) and John Belcastro on drums, Scott Levine on bass for Burning the Almanac, and for a couple songs, Steve Melanson on saxophone.

More than anything, the mission of Space Mushroom Fuzz seems to be to weird out and have a good time. I can dig that. A studio project, that they’d have a slew of releases isn’t necessarily much of a surprise, and that there’s a glut of material doesn’t seem to take away from any kind of completeness in the songs — that is, sometimes when I band is geared toward putting out a lot of stuff, things can get rushed so they can move onto the next project. Abrams as the driving force of Space Mushroom Fuzz allows songs to develop to a natural point across these four albums, so that the layers of effects in “Gallopie” and “Wreckage” from Stealing Some Time are as much a part of the atmosphere as the root riffs and verses (at least verses in the case of the latter, since “Gallopie” is instrumental). In addition, I don’t know if it’s just because there’s so much of it all right next to each other, but it’s easy enough to read a sonic clarity coming into focus from one side of the tape to the next. The albums are positioned such that side one of tape one is the oldest album, Man in the Shadow — still less than a year old — and it runs through so that side two of tape two is the newest, Burning the Almanac. Finding a narrative arc there isn’t hard, and by the time Burning the Almanac comes around and Levine has joined his bass with Abrams‘ guitar and Belcastro‘s drums, Space Mushroom Fuzz sound that much more like the full band they’ve become.

That seems to be something the band acknowledge themselves on Burning the Almanac opener “The Cosmic Evolution,” though if I’m to be completely honest, I’ll say it’s an evaluation I made after hearing the digital version of that record, because when I flipped the tape over to listen to side two for the first time, my player promptly made a feast of it. Technical difficulties on my part notwithstanding, Space Mushroom Fuzz continue to be somewhat elusive as an act, working around a center of space rock that’s off-center and feeling its way through an ongoing progression even as it results in more and more recorded output, but in cases like Back from the Past, it’s interesting to have them step aside from time to time and take a look at what they’ve done. Their prior tape set, Seeing Double (review here), worked similarly if not as expansively, and the compilation format suits the project. As a lead player and the figure devising these songs and directing their progression, Abrams presents a gleefully strange take on psychedelia, weaving into and through convention en route to something decidedly and purposefully different. One might expect Space Mushroom Fuzz to lead with their newest work and move backwards from there, but listening to it front-to-back, their being counterintuitive seems to be part of the fun.

Space Mushroom Fuzz, Back from the Past (Dec. 2013)

Space Mushroom Fuzz on Thee Facebooks

Space Mushroom Fuzz on Bandcamp

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Been Obscene to Release Unplugged 2LP in April

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 30th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

It was a genuine bummer late last year when Austrian heavy psych four-piece Been Obscene announced that the acoustic show they were playing Dec. 30 in their native Salzburg would also be their last as a band. I don’t know what happened to bring their dissolution, but it happened even as word was coming out of their recording a third album and follow-up to 2011’s Night o’ Mine (review here), which was released on Elektrohasch. I guess sometimes that’s just how it goes.

The good news is that the Dec. 30 show was apparently recorded, audio and video, and as a result, Been Obscene will release Unplugged by the end of April. The double-LP is set to contain songs from what would’ve been that third full-length, so I suppose it’s as close as we’ll get to hearing where they might’ve gone sonically had their next outing come to fruition.

Bittersweet news off the PR wire:

Made out of 180g finest colored vinyl, limited to 300 pieces and shipped in a gatefold cover, this double LP was recorded live at the Danspaleis circus tent in Salzburg, December 30th, 2013.

It contains old, recent and unreleased songs, representing Been Obscene’s journey in the last couple of years, arranged and played live and unplugged only for this special occasion.

As a bonus every LP contains a download code of about 40 minutes full hd video of the night’s performance as well as a code for digital download.

To make it even more special you are also able to get your LP signed personally and/or add a surprise shirt with the size of your choice.

Check out the first video of this special show HERE

The album is planned to be out by the end of April 2014 but you can pre-order it already! Quantity is limited so make sure you order right now…

DLP, 180g, VIDEO, MP3 | € 35.-
DLP, 180g, VIDEO, MP3, SURPRISE SHIRT | € 45.-

All prices plus shipping, tax included, only available through the official Been Obscene store.


Been Obscene, “Impressions” Live in Salzburg, Dec. 30, 2013

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The Wounded Kings, Consolamentum: In the Time of the Fifth Moon

Posted in Reviews on January 30th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Consolamentum is the fourth full-length from increasingly progressive UK-based doomers The Wounded Kings and also their debut on Candlelight Records. It’s also their most consistent album-to-album lineup in the band since 2010’s The Shadow over Atlantis (review here) followed 2008’s Embrace of the Narrow House debut with just the founding duo of guitarist/keyboardist Steve Mills and bassist/vocalist George Birch, who was out following The Wounded Kings‘ 2010 split with Cough, An Introduction to the Black Arts (review here), as Mills constructed a more complete lineup of the band that would be able to play live. The third album, 2011’s In the Chapel of the Black Hand (review here), arrived with a markedly quick turnaround considering that apart from Mills it was entirely new players involved — vocalist Sharie Neyland, drummer Myke Heath, bassist Jim Willumsen and guitarist Alex Kearney — and particularly with Neyland‘s haunting vocal resonance, tapped into dark elements of cult metal to coincide with three extended pieces the doom of which was complete and encompassing. On Consolamentum, all parties but Willumsen return, and though it’s somewhat ironic that with largely the same group they’d also have their longest break between records to date (three years), with Al Eliadis on bass and Chris Fielding producing, The Wounded Kings have created an album that feels like their most band-oriented work yet, recorded live and brimming with atmospheric density.

Like In the Chapel of the Black Hand, Consolamentum finds The Wounded Kings working with and around an extended trinity of songs. Opener “Gnosis” is the longest of the bunch (immediate points) at 13:20, and its complemented by the centerpiece title-track at 9:08 and the penultimate “The Silence” at 12:14. All three work at the hypnotic crawl one might expect from The Wounded Kings‘ past work — though “Gnosis” picks up toward the end and each seems to offer a payoff of its own — but there’s development evident not just in how well the five-piece work together over the course of Consolamentum‘s 47 minutes, but also in where they go. Each of the longer works is complemented by a shorter one, and as “Elige Magistrum” starts with a pickslide that such a perfect port of that from the beginning of Black Sabbath‘s “Into the Void” that I wondered at first if it might be a sample (it isn’t), it becomes clear that not only are The Wounded Kings reveling in the bleak, deep-running murk of their own tones and the ritual elements that Mills brings to tracks like “Lost Bride” with long-held Hammond notes, they’re also having fun doing it. Completely instrumental, “Elige Magistrum” (1:29) is essentially the band jamming on a riff. It just so happens that when The Wounded Kings do it, it sounds like the end of the world. The subdued “Space Conqueror” (2:23) follows “Consolamentum” and while the actual sound of it is minimalist and arguably the most brooding stretch on the record, it’s also called “Space Conqueror,” so, you know, it’s not without a sense of levity.

Read more »

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Desertfest Berlin 2014 Adds Hull, The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic and Powder for Pigeons

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 29th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Here’s a quick impression of me the last time I saw Hull. Ready? Okay, here goes: “Duh Hull are fucking fantastic and I’m an idiot for not listening to them like every day. Duh.”

I was right, actually, because even now as I put on their 2011 to-date magnum opus, Beyond the Lightless Sky (review here), I’m reminded immediately of just how righteous the Brooklyn four-piece can get. I haven’t seen much word of new material for a follow-up, though they played some live if that counts (I think it does), and they reissued their debut EP, Viking Funeral, last year, so they’re definitely still active. Really interested to hear what they turn out for a new album though, since both their albums at this point have had such a conceptual framework. Like mom says though, good food takes time.

Hull will join the lineups for Desertfest in London and Berlin (they’re also playing Roadburn), and I’ve also included recent announcements below for Ed Mundell‘s The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic and German rockers Powder for Pigeons, who’ll play Berlin.


We are thrilled to announce today that Sludge rock conjurors HULL will play at DESERTFEST BERLIN 2014!

Hailing from the streets of Brooklyn, HULL materializes as a massive entity storming stages and immersing their audiences in a blanket of grandiose down-tuned compositions. A shifting fault line of decibel heavy harmony, this collective force converges in a collision of thrash, doom, classic rock, and formal orchestral works. Submerged in cosmic soundscapes, HULL challenges the mind with flowing, off-time fugues and powerful, dynamic movements.

Hard at work since the release of their seminal EP “Viking Funeral” in 2006, HULL unleashed in 2009 a new creation “Sole Lord” that offered a promising extension of the ambitiously psychedelic doom legacies of Neurosis and Isis. Two years after, the band’s sprawling latest saga “Beyond the Lightless Sky” emerged, and was a colossal and cohesive statement full of misdirection and surprises.

Moment of atmospheric drift, mathematical twist, and belligerent march tied together into the suggestion that this was a band to watch. Fortunately for all of us, HULL has planned to embarked on a European mission with Elder this spring, and we are proud to get them at DESERTFEST BERLIN 2014 (with maybe new songs, if we believe what we could read on their facebook page!)

Some of you expected them, and here they are : THE ULTRA ELECTRIC MEGA GALACTIC! We are proud to welcome Ed Mundell (ex Monster Magnet, The Atomic Bitchwax) at DESERTFEST BERLIN 2014!!

When he left Monster Magnet in 2010, Ed Mundell began to explore a range of psychedelic jams. Gradually, this jammy impulse led to the formation of THE ULTRA ELECTRIC MEGA GALACTIC (from now on refered to as TUEMG), and toward the end of the last decade, the band composed of Ed Mundell, bassist Collyn McCoy (Trash Titans, Otep) and drummer Rick Ferrante (Sasquatch), began playing out here and there on the American West Coast.

TUEMG play an instrumental psychedelic, heavy spaced out power rock and it’s bloody fantastic! Hard Rocking, 70’s inspired, the band bring a new fresh take on the power trio set-up and they know how to make their instruments talk. As soon as you start listening TUEMG, the atmospheric mix of terrific and imaginative bass runs, cosmic guitar sounds and fanstastic drumming takes you for a trip into the furthest reaches of the seventies flavoured psychedelic universe the trio inhabits.

Early 2013 brought their S/T debut, and if you dig space travelling, these 9 songs are a must that you European people will be abe to enjoy in live for the first-time ever at DESERTFEST BERLIN 2014!

We are pleased to announce today the German-based Australian-born rockers POWDER FOR PIGEONS!!

POWDER FOR PIGEONS are an exceptional rock duo that was founded in 2012 by Rhys Jones (vocals/guitar) and Meike Hindemith (drums) in the hot and dusty Outback of Western Australia. Inspired by the rugged surroundings, they have crafted a gigantic sound that fills the frequency spectrum with punchy, warm, fuzzy guitar riffery and thumpin drums to be heard for miles around.

After releasing their debut album “Hell outta here” in March 2013 which they recorded live in the arid Australian desert, the Power Duo has toured extensively throughout Europe with stops in Germany, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, UK, Switzerland, Austria.

Stationed in Germany for months now, with a swag full of dirty new material, the band released last week their new amazing and thriving Rock and Roll effort making quite clear that they “live and breathe” the music for/on every rocking note! We are very happy to have them bringing their brand of sweaty fuzz/grunge to DESERTFEST BERLIN 2014!

Hull, Beyond the Lightless Sky (2011)

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