Friday Full-Length: Toner Low, Toner Low

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 29th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Toner Low, Toner Low (2005)

This month marks a decade since Netherlands-based ultrastoner trio Toner Low released their self-titled debut on Freebird Records. It followed a number of shorter offerings and demos and had been issued by the band’s own Roadkill Rekordz. It’s since been reissued a few times, its striking orange cover changed in this way or that, but whichever pressing it happens to be at any given moment, the album’s mammoth riffing, sludgy vibe and, yes, tone continues to stagger even a full 10 years after the fact, if not moreso for the context of the shape of heavy since. Toner Low got their start in 1998, roughly concurrent to the beginnings of Ufomammut in Italy, and as YOB were making their way toward their initial demo. By the time Toner Low‘s Toner Low actually materialized, its six-track/46-minute chug and push amp wall might not have been the first time a blend of cosmic psychedelia and crushing fuzz heft were paired with each other, but there’s no denying that Toner Low brought something of their own to the style that no one else did, a more direct inheritance from the riff worship of Sleep than most who would try could claim even now.

Plus, from the machine sounds within the trench-cut depths of “Devilbot” on through the stonedrone supremacy of “Sunn Of,” Toner Low maintains an experimental flair that sets the band apart not only from those who might be their multinational contemporaries, but from underground heavy in general. The “Dopesmoker”-style opening of “Grass” still nods better than most current practitioners, and the multi-stage righteousness of 14-minute closer “Nymrod” is an album unto itself — the hypnosis of “Sunn Of” before it setting up its explosion with hypnotic noisemaking — finishing out Toner Low‘s first long-player with eternal swing and a guitar and bass so dense that you could stand on them. The core is instrumental exploration, sound worship, but when there are vocals, they’re so blown out as to become part of the space rock affect, blurring the line between voice and instrument — something “Devilbot” does particularly well — except for the post-“Interlude” spoken word of “Murphy,” which recounts some obscure limbs-a-flying horror that may or may not have happened in orbit. All the while, Toner Low retain a sense of sonic will, a purpose that’s there even if you can’t be sure what it is, and that makes the record a mystery on some level to this day.

Of course, Toner Low are still going. They released their second album, II (discussed here), in 2008 and their third, III (review here), arrived in 2013 and has a vinyl reissue due next month through the band’s webstore. Their sound has progressed but remained unifyingly stoned out according to the tenets that the self-titled makes plain. They’re not really due for a follow-up yet, but if one was on the way, I wouldn’t fight it.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

I’ve been feeling big riffs this week, so there you go. Hard to go further in terms of largesse-of-riff.

I said a lot in the anniversary post, so I’ll keep this short and sweet, but thanks again for reading if you got to check in at all this week. There was a lot — and next week has a lot too — but I still feel like we got back to some semblance of normalcy after the anticipated-albums list went up on Monday. I had to get that one out. Next year, I think I’ll try to organize it differently though. Seemed like it was too much. Felt that way writing it, but I think even for people navigating through. Eh, you learn from it, change it around next year. Still pretty pleased with the response it got.

Did I mention next week is really busy? Good. Monday, look out for an Albino Rhinö track premiere that’s a 20-minute long jam. Still only half the song, of course, but it should be plenty. Tuesday, a track from Salt Lake City’s Making Fuck, who have ties to SubRosa and Dwellers. Wednesday, a video premiere from Devil to Pay. Thursday, a review and full stream for Mountain Tamer. And Friday, come hell or high water, I’m going to review Hexvessel. It should be well enough for the week.

Should do a new podcast at some point too. Might have to kiss up January and pick back up in February with the next one. Been a crazy, fast month. In the meantime though, I have a Borderland Fuzz Fiesta mixtape coming together next week that will feature tracks from the fest at the end of February which I’ll be covering in Arizona. Looking forward to that one for sure.

That’s going to have to do it for me. I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Please check out the forum and the radio stream, which I’m happy to say is back up and running at its full capacity after being on the backup for most of last week.

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Sons of Huns Make Beer, Single Titled Kiss the Goat

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 29th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

sons of huns

I’ve been waiting for Portland, Oregon, trio Sons of Huns to announce a European tour. Veterans of Hoverfest in their well-populated hometown, they were confirmed back in November as taking part in Freak Valley 2016 in Germany, and while I suppose it’s possible they’re just flying over for that one show and then returning home, they’ve shown no aversion to hitting the road in the past, so a couple weeks doesn’t seem like an unrealistic expectation. There’s still a while to go between now and late May, when the fest takes place, so it’s by no means too late for that announcement to come through, though I haven’t seen it yet.

What I have seen as regards the heavy rocking three-piece, whose sophomore outing, While Sleeping Stay Awake (review here), was issued last year on RidingEasy Records, is a brand new single called Kiss the Goat produced to celebrate the release of a black dopplebock beer collaboration between the band and Portland-based Gigantic Brewing. The quick-turning boogie of the two tracks, “Powerless to the Succubus” and “Fantasy/Reality,” will be familiar to anyone who heard the last record, but for about 10 minutes of investment on a name-your-price download or a $5 vinyl, one could hardly accuse Sons of Huns of asking too much of their audience.

The songs are streaming below. Cover and release info follow:

sons of huns kiss the goat

Sons of Huns – Kiss the Goat 7″ Record/Vinyl

Limited Edition 7″ to celebrate the release of Kiss the Goat, a SOH/Gigantic Brewery collaboration!

Exclusive collaboration with Gigantic Brewing’s “Kiss the Goat” black dopplebock beer. Recorded September 22nd of 2015 with Pat Kearns at Perma Press Studios in Portland, OR. Art by Jon MacNair.

1. Powerless to the Succubus 05:27
2. Fantasy/Reality 04:44

Throughout their reign in the Pacific Northwest music scene, Sons of Huns have become widely known for their ability to turn every live show into a sci-fi, psychedelic-rock party and livening the spirit of every crowd with their jokes and unforgiving volume.

Pete Hughes: guitar/vox
Ryan Northrop: drums
Aaron Powell: bass/vox

Sons of Huns, Kiss the Goat (2016)

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Elephant Tree, Elephant Tree: The Weight of Now

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on January 29th, 2016 by JJ Koczan


[Please note: Click play above to hear the premiere of “Dawn” from Elephant Tree’s self-titled debut. Album is out April 22 on Magnetic Eye Records.]

London four-piece Elephant Tree got off to an encouraging start in 2014 with their first EP, Theia (review here). Also their first outing for Magnetic Eye Records, it successfully blended psychedelia and sludge, here exploring the sitar provided by Riley MacIntyre that added space and classically mystical presence to the guitar of Jack Townley, Peter Holland‘s bass and Sam Hart‘s drums, there showing a screamier, harsher side that in many contexts would be far enough from the other side to be out of place. Their self-titled LP, also on Magnetic Eye, abandons the screaming and replaces it with a resonant heavy psychedelic roll boasting rich arrangements both of tone and vocals, contributed by Townley, Holland and MacIntyre, establishing a niche within a model of thickened, dense fuzz cut through by melodic and harmonized singing.

I dug the EP, but the album leaves no question at all that the shift in approach — however permanent it may or may not be — was the right move for this material. Running 38 minutes and comprised of seven tracks and the preparing-for-immersion intro “Spore,” Elephant Tree‘s Elephant Tree offers molten heaviness, memorable songwriting and a sense of overarching cohesion that I have no doubt will make it one of this still-new year’s most satisfying debut full-lengths. That sounds like hyperbole, but the songs live up to that level of promise from the initial snare hit and fuzz-roll of “Wither” to the piano that finishes closer “Surma.” Really, there isn’t a weak moment front to back.

Most of the titles are single words, and that gives a sense of simplicity to what’s a more complex progression than it initially lets on, a sense of humility to go with familiar shades throughout, “Wither” reminding of Quest for Fire‘s “Confusion’s Home” in its central riff, or “Aphotic Blues” bringing to mind Mars Red Sky‘s signature blend of melodic fragility and elephantine tone. But the album is Elephant Tree‘s own, ultimately, and that proves to be among its great strengths. Its songwriting is no less distinctive than its vocal flourishes, “Wither” enacting quick hypnosis in its first half and breaking to a long march and airy guitar squibblies in its second as if to maximize the element of space in the world that “Spore” seems to be entering at the start.

There’s a hook in there, make no mistake, and it’s the first of several landmarks in that regard, the nodding “Dawn” picking up the psychedelic cue and running with it via a scorcher solo placed as if to remind the band took part in Magnetic Eye‘s Hendrix tribute (review here) last year as the central groove continues to unfold underneath, each verse ending with a far-back shout that sticks through not with aggression, but a message of positivity. Quickly enough they’re on to the acoustic-centered “Circles,” which brings perhaps the album’s catchiest chorus, “As I fly I can name all the places/And time is a ghost/The sky just the same as the ocean/A space between me and my home,” delivered with emotional presence to match its sonic resonance and poetic imagery. Unplugged layers and overlaid tones, as well as the echoing voices, further the atmosphere of the prior tracks while greatly broadening Elephant Tree‘s reach, adding further depth to the whole even as it stands out to leave a singular impression.

elephant tree

Speaking of, “Circles” gives way to “Aphotic Blues,” and the latter is without a doubt the highlight of Elephant Tree. Not the longest track — that’s closer “Surma” at 7:20 — but with not only a maddeningly catchy chorus, but a purposeful, gorgeous use of call and response harmonies, a choice riff and as righteous a groove as the band have on offer throughout that leads to a droned-out break and a crashing apex and finish that I can only wish was another four minutes long. Hard for anything not to seem like a comedown after that ending, but “Echoes” meets its task head on with bluesy, laid back and swinging low end at the start and a megachorus of its own, not to mention the watery psychedelics of its midsection and the urgency of its capstone lyrics, ending quiet to shift into the relatively straightforward take of “Fracture,” which pushes the vocals back behind the guitar and blows them out a bit in the early going, giving a rawer vibe at first that remains melodic and only gets more so as the song progresses.

A big slowdown near the end is given due setup, Hart‘s cymbal roll making a lot from a relatively simple, slow crash in terms of maximizing nod, and when it comes on “Surya” finds Hart‘s drums and Holland‘s bass in the lead before the guitars kick in at the first verse. The closer is given the weighty task of summarizing Elephant Tree‘s preceding songs while also finding room for something new, and it succeeds in that, but as with the best of go-ahead-and-get-lost-in-it songcraft, it lives up to its intent without being too showy about it. Another solid riff, another catchy hook, another memorable harmony, another twisted lead, but positioned differently and set to engage with one last show of the fluidity that led the way into the album and leads the way out with the aforementioned piano stretch.

As with any promising debut, Elephant Tree‘s Elephant Tree showcases vast potential for future growth, where they might go sound-wise and the strong foundation of songwriting they might use to get there, but that shouldn’t distract from the immediate satisfaction this self-titled offers. While it’s exciting to imagine future contributions and what direction the band will head, their work stuns even at what might prove to be its outset.

Elephant Tree preorder at Magnetic Eye

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Elephant Tree on Twitter

Magnetic Eye Records store

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The Obelisk is Seven Years Old Today

Posted in The Numbers on January 29th, 2016 by JJ Koczan


Seven years. Seven years! That’s longer than any job I’ve ever had. When it came around on the calendar, I almost didn’t believe it, like there was no way 2009 could’ve been so long ago.

This one has been on my mind a while, I won’t lie. Seven years is not a short amount of time, and I’ve had to kind of sit with it, chew on it, think about what The Obelisk has come to mean to me and what I’ve gotten and continue to get out of doing this. Seven years ago, when I put up the first post, I had no idea what this thing would become, or how long it would go. I still don’t.

But a couple years ago, it really started to sink in to me that this is probably as far as I go in terms of any kind of meaningful contribution. For better or worse. I’m 34 years old. If I was going to wind up working for some big-time rock mag (or hell, a big-time rock site), it would’ve happened. If I was going to be in a band that made a lasting impact through touring or album releases, it would’ve happened. I’ll never own that bar I’ve spent so much time and effort daydreaming about. Not that I necessarily want to do anything else — except own that bar, which I definitely want to do — but what I’ve got is this site. It’s not perfect — it’s needed a redesign for at least the last two years, the radio breaks, and I’ve still got HeavyPink singles to get rid of — and I think for a lot of people who come here it’s just an obnoxiously wordy place to find the name of a band and then click off to their Facebook or Bandcamp page or whatever, but it’s all I have. I’m proud of what I’ve done here, it’s just bittersweet to see these things in the light of seven actual years of my life. If The Obelisk has been of some use to you, I’m exceedingly grateful. I’m going to keep it going for as long as I can.

I have a few ideas I want to kick around and a few things I want to say to mark this occasion. If you have any feedback on any of it, I’d love to hear it in the comments:

The Obelisk All-Dayer

I can’t tell you what a thrill it was to confirm Mars Red Sky as the first band for the first-ever The Obelisk All-Dayer, to be held Aug. 20, 2016, at Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn. I’ll probably announce another band in the next two or three weeks, but really, I want to stress that this isn’t a fest the way they normally go. I want it to be a party where everyone’s invited, everyone enjoys themselves, nobody gets harassed, nobody gets on anybody’s shit, everything’s chill. No drama, or at least as little drama as humanly possible. I want it to be a good time. If it’s a good time, I’ll be happy with it. If you haven’t bought one and/or want to support this site in any way, tickets are available here. The Facebook event page is here.

The Obelisk Presents

Next month I travel to Arizona for the Borderland Fuzz Fiesta. Way stoked on that. I’m helping present Heavy Metal Parking Lot 3 at SXSW. You may have noticed The Obelisk logos on posters for Maryland Doom Fest. I’ll be there as well hopefully come June, and of course April is Roadburn and not that I’m presenting it, but I have that warm going-home feeling knowing I’ll be back there. You might recall last month I presented a Kind show at the Vitus Bar. I’d like to start doing more of that kind of thing — and not just in New York. I mean around the world. I’ve hesitated in the past to associate The Obelisk with individual gigs, but if you’ve got a show and I think it’s cool, I’m all about it. I’d like to install a widget in the sidebar for upcoming gigs presented by the site, and I’d love to have that be as worldwide as humanly possible. How awesome would it be to have The Obelisk present a gig at Truckstop Alaska in Sweden? Or The Black Heart in London? Or some West Coast basement? I might not be able to be there, but I could post about the show in advance and at least give it a plug that way. Seems like it could be a really cool thing, and a kind of writing I haven’t done much of to-date.

Book Release

Speaking of writing, I’m happy to announce I have a book coming out. It’s called Electroprofen and the cover is by Adam Burke. Here it is, with the back on the left and the front on the right:

Electroprofen I-1400

It’s being pressed up through War Crime Recordings (with much thanks to Steve Murphy) and is a collection of short stories. Not music-related writing, fiction, but hopefully an otherworldly enough vibe one way or another that you get what I’m going for. The layout is being done now, hopefully it will be ready to go in Spring. So probably Summer. I’ll keep you posted either way. Preorders soon.


And speaking of preorders, thank you once again to everyone who put one in for a t-shirt or a hoodie from that sale in December. The last of the orders went out this past weekend and I’ve so far only heard from one person who probably should have his stuff who doesn’t, so yeah, that seems like a decent turnout. Merch wasn’t something I particularly wanted to do — frankly, if it’s not going to make me enough money to live on (and it’s not), I don’t see the point — but it turned out fine and I’ll probably do it again in another year or two. Not before. I’ve been hit up a couple times by people who missed the sale. Sorry. It wasn’t intended to be a permanent thing.


I’ve been pretty happy over the last year with how the scope of how a review happens around here has broadened. Between the four Quarterly Reviews, track premieres, album streams and so on, I’ve enjoyed the challenge of not doing the same thing the same way all the time. I’d like to have more time for interviews. I’m doing the best I can in that regard, but it’s an area I hope to pick up and expand on in 2016. Haven’t yet — actually I got blown off last Friday for one, and sorry, but my new policy is I don’t call back. If you want me, I’m not exactly inaccessible between this site and social media. Time is short, which brings us to…


Since last May, I’ve worked a full-time job in addition to doing this site. It hasn’t always been easy, particularly at the beginning and particularly for longer features — all the lists in December just about killed me — to find a balance between prioritizing the work I do for money and this site, which at this point I don’t think I could stop doing even if I wanted to. Which I don’t. But where I’ve felt the impact most is in my ability to go to shows. Not just that I have to get up in the morning to go to work, but I commute well over two hours driving every day and after that, I’ve got about zero energy left for going out, especially since any show, just about anywhere, requires another hour on the road. Most nights, I’m dragging ass up to bed, let alone rocking out at the club. I’d like to get to more shows, but please know that whether I do or I don’t, I’m doing as much as I can do with the life situation I’m currently in. I think it’s probably the same for a lot of people, and until someone wants to come along and give me $40k a year to run this site — not holding my breath — it’s the way it has to be. Thank you for your understanding.


And thank you most of all for your continued support. I know there are people who’ve just found out about The Obelisk or who have come and gone. That’s fine. Nothing lasts forever. But at this point there are people who’ve stuck around for years and it absolutely amazes me that someone would do that. I’m humbled to think about it, and I appreciate it deeply. Thank you so much. This hasn’t been an easy year on any number of levels, and there are days where it’s this site carrying me through, so please know that I mean it when I say thanks.

I think I’ll leave it there for now. There’s a lot still to do today, and I wouldn’t want to be accused of lingering too long. Thank you again for supporting this site. Here’s to seven years and the next one already underway.

All the best,
JJ Koczan / H.P. Taskmaster


Black Shape of Nexus Announce Carrier Album Details

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 29th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

black shape of nexus (Photo by Bernhard Hoell)

German atmospheric sludgers Black Shape of Nexus release their new album, Carrier, on March 18 via Exile on Mainstream. They’ve been out and about for shows this week and reportedly have more to come, but the album brings particular interest in following up 2012’s Negative Black (streamed here), which brought their sound to its bluntest point to-date, allowing for maximum impact regardless of volume in any given stretch. Though it was quite heavy.

I’d expect no less of the new one, and the newly-unveiled “Facepunch Transport Layer” seems to bear that out. I’ve been waiting to hear this one for a while now, and from what the band says about it, it wasn’t easy in the making, but I continue to look forward to the bleak crunch to come.

The PR wire had this to say about it:

black shape of nexus carrier

BLACK SHAPE OF NEXUS: German Sludge Unit Announces March Release Info For Carrier LP

Mannheim, Germany’s most damaging sludge/doom metal troupe returns with album number four, their most putrid yet. Carrier transfers the contagion classified as BLACK SHAPE OF NEXUS into the population with more than fifty minutes of purely sadistic aural punishment through six massive tracks, including a Hellhammer cover. This aggressive pollutant has been magnified in its attack by the hand of mastering engineer Rashad Becker at Dubplates & Mastering in Berlin, rendering it incredibly deadly. Thrill-seekers who prefer the more slow-motion apocalyptic attacks of Grief, Grime, Corrupted, Ufomammut, Graves At Sea, Burning Witch, labelmates Obelyskkh and the like should undoubtedly prioritize Carrier.

Carrier will see its traumatizing release through Exile On Mainstream on March 18th, 2016. Details for all formats of the record and preorders have been issued; the CD and massive 2xLP available stateside via Earsplit Distro HERE, and internationally, Exile On Mainstream has the CD HERE, the vinyl HERE, and the digital at iTunes HERE.

Upon the completion of Carrier late in 2015, BLACK SHAPE OF NEXUS vocalist Malte Seidel issued, “Carrier is the result of a band being in a constant state of deterioration. Doing a record is a very unpleasant and harmful process for us. Creating Negative Black already was a nightmare, but with Carrier the understanding of the term nightmare needs to be expanded. This is not being said to play the ‘tension and dissent create great art’ card. This album is not art. This album is not musicianship. This album is simply the album that we were able to do under the current circumstances while sometimes asking ourselves if a split-up would not be the better option.”

Carrier Track Listing:
1. I Can’t Play It
2. Lift Yourself
3. Sand Mountain
4. Facepunch Transport Layer
5. Sachsenheim
6. Triumph Of Death

BLACK SHAPE OF NEXUS is playing three shows this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, January 28th through 30th, in Berlin, Hamburg and Dresden, respectively. These live actions will see the band flanked by labelmates Treedeon. Stand by for additional shows to be announced in the weeks ahead.

1/28/2016 Cassiopeia – Berlin, DE w/ Treedeon
1/29/2016 Hafenklang – Hamburg, DE w/ Treedeon
1/30/2016 Beatpol – Dresden, DE w/ Treedeon

Black Shape of Nexus, “Facepunch Transport Layer”

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Deathkings Premiere “The Storm” from All that is Beautiful

Posted in audiObelisk on January 28th, 2016 by JJ Koczan


Los Angeles downer metal four-piece Deathkings release their second album, All that is Beautiful, March 18 via Midnite Collective.

I guess after their 2015 split with Rozamov (review here) it isn’t necessarily a shocker to find All that is Beautiful working in extremes. Even the title is an absolute — one that, in conversation with the overarching atmosphere of the record itself, seems to refer directly to notions of beauty in darkness — and as Deathkings lumber through the included four tracks/64 minutes offers no shortage of harsh stretches. What was a surprise was just how much of that sense of extremity is born of mood and emotionality. Recorded in 2014, which is the same year the band’s debut, Destroyer, was released, All that is Beautiful is as much a work of ambience as it is of sheer aural weight — if not most so — and most of its depressive aspect comes from the resignation of its subdued, downtrodden meditations.

That’s not to say everything’s hunky-dory when 18-minute opener “Sol Invictus” explodes into its growl-topped slow-motion plod from its quieter introduction, just that the integration of the former, particularly at the very start of the record, sets a tone for something more complex than a full album of just the latter would provide on its own. As Deathkings‘ extended tracks continue, whether it’s “Sol Invictus,” “The Storm,” “The Road to Awe” or “Dakhma,” the band leans to one side or another of their sound, and the effect is a multifaceted listen that remains cohesive in its atmosphere and overall mood. It is heavy, conceptually and sonically, and its sky-darkening roll will defy most common conceptions of beauty, but of course, that’s the idea to start with. Building tension in its quiet moments and paying it off either in massive volume or faster, thrashing movements, “Sol Invictus” offers breadth enough to justify its extended runtime, but even this is just a part of the larger work, feeding deathkings-all-that-is-beautifuldirectly into “The Storm” as though the two were one even grander piece.

“The Storm” and “The Road to Awe” are the two shortest cuts of the four at 13:24 and 12:25, respectively, but they retain the dual-tiered brutality of “Sol Invictus,” guitarists Daryl Hernandez and Mark Lüntzel fluidly shifting between weighted and lighter tones, as Nicolas Rocha provides depth to the mix with his bass and the layers of his vocals, which shift between growls, shouts and cleaner moments, reminding in the early, airier verses in “The Storm” of Rwake while shifting in the song’s final stretch to an interplay of shouts and chants, both seemingly buried beneath the guitars and bass and the hi-hat/snare march of drummer Sean Spindler. After its first couple minutes, “The Road to Awe” lurches to life somewhat awkwardly behind its guitar, but retains a Neurosis-style interplay between Hernandez and Lüntzel as it moves forward, Spindler enacting a chorus before a harsher section and a few quiet measures lead to a build seemingly cut short as the 19-minute “Dakhma” takes hold to finish out.

By then, it’s not really a case of Deathkings needing to expand on what they do, or even reinforce what’s come before — their point has gotten across — so much as to bring the sonic themes presented throughout to their natural conclusion. “Dakhma” does this via particularly tumultuous tradeoffs in volume, quiet feeding into loud into quiet into loud in more of a direct back and forth than All that is Beautiful has proffered before. After a driving, blackened apex past the 13-minute mark, they click off an even out somewhat shortly before 15:30, providing their own epilogue and letting the record end somewhere in a middle-ground that they seem to have been working so hard to find all along. Maybe that catharsis, and the catharsis of the entire outing preceding, is the beauty Deathkings are conveying, but neither will I take away from how skillfully the band balances ambient, contemplative evocations and sheer sonic heft. From the two, All that is Beautiful derives a consistency of purpose that makes it feel all the more like a work of passion.

Today I’m thrilled to host the premiere of “The Storm” ahead of the album’s release. Find it below, followed by some more info, and please enjoy:

In the wake of their debut album, Destroyer, as well as the recent vinyl 7? split with ROZAMOV through Midnite Collective, DEATHKINGS descended upon listeners with their bleak, yet enlightening look at the world around them. This state of unrest was developed and channeled into aural and material form with the help of Derek Donley (Bereft, deathkings tour posterGravitron, National Sunday Law, You Big Ox, Pigeonwing, Intronaut) at his Ox Cave Studios in Los Angeles. With Donley at the helm, the band steers the listener through the blending of drowning, desperate rage blended with tranquil undertones.

All That Is Beautiful was finished in early 2014 at Donley’s Ox Cave Studios. Uniting with the Midnite Collective for the third time, both entities have grouped to carefully craft a visually stunning package, deserving of the music contained therein. The band will unleash aural and visual ruin via digital. CD. cassette tape and vinyl (later in the year) releases starting this Spring Harvest, 2016.

Deathkings on tour:
March 30 Que Sera, Long Beach, CA
April 1 The Merrow, San Diego, CA
April 2 Starlite Lounge, Sacramento, CA
April 3 High Water Mark, Portland, OR
April 4 Blacklodge, Seattle, WA
April 5 The Golden Bull, Oakland, CA
April 6 Complex, Glendale, CA

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Midnite Collective

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Spiritual Beggars Post Sunrise to Sundown Art; Add Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 28th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

The cover art for Spiritual Beggars‘ upcoming ninth album is by Costin Chioreanu, a Romanian artist of increasing repute who in addition to having done art for Roadburn fests and various others — including his own band — in the black metal realm has put a good deal of effort into raising funds and awareness in the wake of the nightclub fire in his home country last year. Chioreanu‘s piece for Sunrise to Sundown is among the more colorful of his works, at least that I’ve seen, but still demonstrates his penchant for muted tones rather than the brightness one might associate with a theme so classic as that he employs here, even if that lizard in profile in the foreground also recalls Spiritual Beggars‘ 1998 third album, Mantra III.

Makes me wonder if the audio too of Sunrise to Sundown won’t employ a more classic sound than we’ve heard from Spiritual Beggars on their last few records, which while clearly taking ’70s cues in structure, have been thoroughly modernized affairs. Guess we’ll find out in March when it comes out on InsideOut Music.

If you want a closer look at that cover, click the image below. More info and some new tour dates follow from the PR wire:

spiritual beggars sunrise to sundown

SPIRITUAL BEGGARS – Unveil “Sunrise To Sundown” Artwork, Tracklist and more Tour Dates!

Swedish vintage style hard rock pioneers SPIRITUAL BEGGARS return with their 9th studio album entitled ‘Sunrise To Sundown’, which will be released on March 18th, 2016 in Europe as well as March 25th, 2016 in North America via InsideOutMusic.

The album’s fantastic cover artwork (which can be now seen above!) has been created by Costin Chioreanu / Twilight13Media (At The Gates, Grave, Arcturus, etc.) and here is the album’s tracklisting:

SPIRITUAL BEGGARS – “Sunrise To Sundown”
1. Sunrise To Sundown
2. Diamond Under Pressure
3. What Doesn’t Kill You
4. Hard Road
5. Still Hunter
6. No Man’s Land
7. I Turn To Stone
8. Dark Light Child
9. Lonely Freedom
10. You’ve Been Fooled
11. Southern Star

The album’s limited edition version will be released as 2CD Mediabook with a bonus disc including 7 tracks (2 covers versions and 5 live songs) and an expanded booklet. The LP format will be on 180gr. vinyl and come in gatefold packaging with a double-sided poster as well as the full standard album on CD as bonus. More details about the album formats and pre-order links will be announced soon…

Supporting the release of ‘Sunrise To Sundown’, SPIRITUAL BEGGARS will also be hitting the road on the following club-dates as well as festivals (* New shows since last update!):

27.03.2016 Schijndel (The Netherlands) – Paaspop *
28.03.2016 Köln (Germany) – Club Bahnhof Ehrenfeld
29.03.2016 Aschaffenburg (Germany) – Colos-Saal
31.03.2016 Leipzig (Germany) – Hellraiser
01.04.2016 Hamburg (Germany) – Logo
02.04.2016 Essen (Germany) – Turock
04.04.2016 Pratteln (Switzerland) – Z7
06.04.2016 Kortrijk (Belgium) – De Kreun
07.04.2016 Rouen (France) – Le 106
08.04.2016 Brest (France) – Sale Odissey / Plougarock Festival Warm Up *
09.04.2016 Nantes (France) Le Ferrailleur *
10.04.2016 Paris (France) – Backstage By The Mill
12.04.2016 Munich (Germany) – Strom
14.04.2016 Karlsruhe (Germany) – Substage
28.04.2016 Berlin (Germany) – Desert Fest
08.07.2016 Oulu (Finland) – Jalometalli Festival
09.07.2016 Ballenstedt (Germany) – Rock Harz Festival
More dates to be announced soon…

Spiritual Beggars, “Wise as a Serpent” official video

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Talmud Beach Announce Chief for March 18 Release on Svart

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 28th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

talmud beach

My reasons for posting about Talmud Beach‘s upcoming Svart debut are about as pure as motives get for this kind of thing: I checked it out and dug it. That’s about as far as it’s gone as yet. As I write this, I’m three songs into Chief, which is set to release on March 18, and very, very much into the vibe of its laid back, airy, naturalist blues. The PR wire talks about “quiet intensity” below and I can see where it’s coming from, but whether it’s the proggy background vocals in “Mountain Man” or the birdsong behind the start of “Forest,” there’s clearly more going on here than one genre might try to wall in. Looking forward to getting to know this one better, and I mean that.

The Helsinki-based band released their self-titled debut in 2013, but if you’d like to get introduced to Chief, they have a video for album-opener “Ain’t so Young” that you can check out below. I hope you’ll be as pleasantly surprised upon doing so as I was:

talmud beach chief

TALMUD BEACH set release date for SVART debut

Talmud Beach is a blues trio from the heartlands of Finland, releasing their second album, Chief, on March 18th via Svart Records. The new album carries with it the same praised spirit evoked on the debut: it puts a blues on your face, without pushing, pulling, or shouting. The boogie is still floating with the weight of a snowflake, but the colors and shades are more varied than on the vivid green debut. “Chinaman Blues” swamps; “Forest” is redolent and dark; “Mountain Man” is left in the white haze of the mountain top, and in the end, a chief’s hat awaits you in all the colors of the rainbow.

Talmud Beach is wandering the trails marked by artists like Robert and Blind Willie Johnson, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Canned Heat, ZZ Top, J.J. Cale, and 22-Pistepirkko. During their five years of existence, apart from their eponymous first album, Talmud Beach has released a live album with Daniel Johnston and a motorik single, “Summertime Mother.” The biggest hit from the debut album, “Hobo Don’t Mind a Little Rain,” could be heard not only on the radio, surfing the waves for some time, but also as the theme for a hit comedy series, Napamiehet, on Finnish national television.

A Finnish proverb “calm is the loon’s field” is the motto of Chief. The loon is an aquatic bird also seen on the cover of the new album. Today, music is often played at loud volume, and it has intensively produced and massive sound. For Talmud Beach, the quest for intensity has always gone beyond the volume knob – a quiet, sensitive approach is more effective. With an open listener, the limpid surface will start to reveal the hidden depths: passing youth, a sweaty, shirtless “Kekkonen” (the former Finnish president), or endless flow of snow – all lie below.

For the opening title “Ain’t So Young,” Tuomo Tuovinen directed a music video that won the grand prize at the Oulu Music Video Festival in 2015, and which can be viewed in its entirety HERE. Cover and tracklisting are as follows:

Tracklisting for Talmud Beach’s Chief
1. Ain’t So Young
2. Pharmacy Blues
3. Mountain Man
4. Forest
5. Kekkonen
6. Snow Snow Snow
7. Chinaman Blues
8. Born With the Blues
9. Chief

Talmud Beach, “Ain’t so Young” official video

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