The Obelisk Radio Adds: Yama, Bellhound Choir, Atala, Astralnaut & Weed Priest, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard
I’ve been listening to a lot of The Obelisk Radio this week, so it seemed only fair to do a round of adds to the server. Might just be what came up in the selection process, but it’s seemed pretty off the wall of late. Yeah, there’s plenty of heavy riffs and whatever else, but a lot of sludge and noise stuff too. I like that because hopefully it appeals to a wider variety of listeners, though part of me thinks I should cut out everything that isn’t Goatsnake, Kyuss, Electric Wizard and two or three of the stoner-flavor-of-the-month types and just let it roll with that. One tries to quiet the cynical impulse. You know how it is.
In all seriousness though, at some point I’m going to have to trim down what’s on there. It’s only a three terabyte drive and I have neither the know-how nor the cash to expand it further, so yeah. But that’s not this week. This week, 11 new records joined the playlist — see them all at the Obelisk Radio Playlist and Updates page — and that includes those that follow here.
The Obelisk Radio adds for Feb. 25, 2015:
While definitely rooted tonally in heavy rock, there’s an underlying current of metal flowing through Yama‘s debut long-player, Ananta. The four-piece, who hail from the home of Roadburn in Tilburg, the Netherlands, offer plenty of driving riffs and nodding grooves on songs like the opening title-track and the slower centerpiece “Migraine City,” nonetheless take a sharper approach than some to the style. It comes through in the vocals, which get pretty gruff by the end of the aforementioned “Migraine City,” but also over ascending notes of classic metallic soar late in “Ruach Elohim” — a song that, it’s worth noting, also starts out with harmonica — and push the John Garcia impulse to more guttural range on “Hollow” and “Swordsman of the Crossroads I.” The latter also kicks into some blastbeats, to further the metallic edge. Still, Yama — the four-piece of Alex Schenkels, Peter Taverne, Joep Schmitz and Sjoerd Albers — wield the blend well throughout and keep a solid balance. “Swordsman of the Crossroads I” and the subsequent “II” are the arguable pinnacle here, but the acoustic-led closer “Vy” seems to hint that Yama haven’t quite yet shown all their cards. Yama on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Bellhound Choir, Stray Screech Beast
As per the immortal words of Monty Python: “And now for something completely different.” Bellhound Choir is a solo-project from guitarist/vocalist Christian Hede Madsen, also of Copenhagen-based rockers Pet the Preacher, but there’s little in common between one and the other, and Bellhound Choir‘s debut release, Stray Screech Beast, finds Madsen exploring folk and particularly country stylizations, a sense of brooding pervasive throughout the album’s eight tracks. It’s a dark vibe that pervades “Stuck (Old Song)” and the electrified, spacious blues bombast of “Bless Me,” and as a later, relatively minimal cut like “Black Spot” shows, Madsen isn’t afraid of delving into guy-and-guitar singer-songwriterism. His voice and playing is strong enough to carry the material, though one wonders how he got that Southern twang, and Stray Screech Beast doesn’t overplay its hand at 27 minutes. There may be fire and brimstone beneath, but Madsen isn’t quite there yet in bringing it out for righteous proclamations, though I wouldn’t be surprised to find him taking on a preacherman quality on subsequent outings, as well as pushing into more complex arrangements as the experiment continues. Some rocker heads might be put off by the country vibe, but I suspect plenty will feel right at home amid the moody atmosphere and plucked guitar of “God’s Home.” Bellhound Choir on Thee Facebooks, on Soundcloud.
Desert-dwelling trio Atala recorded their self-titled/self-released debut with Scott Reeder (Kyuss, The Obsessed, Fireball Ministry, etc.), and its eight songs break easily into two halves — the end of each signaled by a cut north of the 10-minute mark — of raucous, occasionally surprisingly aggressive heavy rock. Opener “Broken Glass” positions Atala somewhere near Fatso Jetson sonically, but less punk in their roots, guitarist/vocalist Kyle Stratton and bassist John Chavarria having previously played together in metallers Rise of the Willing while drummer Jeff Tedtaotao is a former member of punkers Forever Came Calling. Stratton‘s vocals veer into sludge-metal screams from cleaner territory and seem comfortable in the back-and-forth, and that, blended with the fullness of sound, and pop in Tedtaotao‘s snare — a hallmark of Reeder‘s production; see also Blaak Heat Shujaa — makes the meandering jam in “Labyrinth of Mind” seem all the more like a standout moment of varied impulses working to find their balance. By the time they get down to the chugging “Virgo Moon” and the ebbs and flows of closer “Sun Worship,” Atala seem to have it worked out for the most part, and while there’s still growth to be undertaken, the chemistry between the three players comes across as plain as the sands they call home. Atala’s website, on Thee Facebooks.
Astralnaut & Weed Priest, Split
Irish outfits Astralnaut and Weed Priest team up for a split single, and while it’s just one song from each, there’s plenty of substance between them. Thick, gooey substance, if their tones are anything to go by. Both Astralnaut‘s “Parasitic” (9:20) and Weed Priest‘s “Graveyard Planet” (7:42) are big, lumbering riffers marked out with a sludgy feel, but there are subtle differences between them as well, the former being more forward vocally and meaner in-tone and the latter more fuzzed-out and obscure in a kind of Sons of Otis-via-Electric Wizard fashion. No real mystery why they’d pair up, though, with geography and a penchant for riffy bludgeoning shared, and their split should make a fitting introduction for anyone who might be running into either band for the first time, or maybe caught wind of Weed Priest‘s lumbering 2013 self-titled debut (review here) or any of Astralnaut‘s prior short releases. First timer or not, “Parasitic” and “Graveyard Planet” tap into amp rumble and slow-motion nod that should please any riff-worshiping head looking for a sample of the bands’ wares, Astralnaut spacing out a bit in the second half of their selection as though to smooth the path into Weed Priest‘s heady, darkened roll. For the converted, a reminder of why and how they got that way. Astralnaut on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp. Weed Priest on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, Nachthexen
I’ll give the UK stoner surge one thing: It wins on band names. I don’t think per capita there’s any country in the world with more stoned-as-fuck monikers than Britain. To wit, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard. The Wrexham unit make a churning debut on Tape Worship Records with the half-hour-long “Nachthexen,” a single-song EP that moves smoothly between droned-out space exploration, crush-prone doom riffs and stoner metal gallop. The latter comes to the fore just past the midsection of this mammoth, weedian, wizardly bit of bastardism — one wonders how they got their name in the first place — but by then, “Nachthexen” has already careened through cosmic doom psych-osis early on, like roughed-up YOB with droney underpinnings, and teased a thrash influence in their Slayer-style interplay of chugging guitar and ride cymbal. Of course, the most satisfying build is the last one, which builds over the song’s final seven minutes from ambient noise and sparse guitar strum to suitably huge and suitably doomed payoff. This is the kind of shit that if you played it for actual human beings, they’d look at you and wonder just what the fuck species you belong to, and that’s clearly the idea. For their psychedelic elements, I can’t help but wonder if a more colorful artwork approach isn’t called for next time out, but beyond that, there’s little about Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard‘s take that brooks any argument whatsoever, instead drowning it out in deep low end and otherworldly, malevolent vibes. Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp, Tape Worship Records.
Like I said, this is less than half of what was added to the server today. Recently-covered records from Mansion, Stoned Jesus, Blut, Skunk Hawk and others also went up, hopefully adding to the diversity of sound and overall strength of the playlist. For the full line on everything that went up, check the Playlist and Updates page. If you wind up checking out any of this stuff and take the time to dig in, I hope you enjoy.
Thanks as always for reading and listening.Tags: Ananta, Astralnaut, Astralnaut & Weed Priest, Atala, Atala Self-titled, Bellhound Choir, Bellhound Choir Strange Screech Beast, Ireland, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard Nachthexen, Nachthexen, Strange Screech Beast, Tape Worship Records, The Netherlands, Tilburg, UK, Weed Priest, Yama, Yama Ananta