Tank86 Announce Breakup; Final Shows Set for December

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 29th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Well, that’s a wrap for Netherlands instrumentalists Tank86. The Tilburg-based four-piece have decided to call it a day after two full-lengths, the latest of which, Obey (discussed here), was released in 2015 on Rising Magma Records and Lighttown Fidelity Records. That offering followed 2011’s Rise (review here) and found the four-piece of guitarists Joost Kruiswijk and Harold Aling, bassist Jochum van Weert and drummer Rogier Berben exploring textures of trumpet and trombone amidst the suitably dominant riffing of “Conquistador” and making a track like “Piledriver” live up to its name.

Their 2012 split with Belgians SardoniS helped spread the word of what they were up to, but Tank86 were ultimately a well-kept secret of the Netherlands heavy underground, likely too aggro for some heavy rock heads, but still more grooving than someone of the punch-you-in-the-face-metal sphere would be looking for. It’s hard sometimes for bands between two worlds to make an impression. If not fitting in was easy, everyone would do it.

All the best to the guys in Tank86 in their future musical and/or other creative endeavors, whatever they might entail. They’ve got some last shows coming up at the end of the year and you can see those dates in with their announcement below, as posted on the social medias:


Heavy friends,

We bring you the sad news that TANK86 is coming to an end.

After cultivating our own particular brand of instrumental heaviness over the past 13 years, we have now run out of diesel and have to put our mighty machine to a halt. We have always taken this band very seriously and to us TANK86 only has 2 modes: full charge ahead or full stop. With slowly dwindling morale we decided to pull the lever.

Needless to say we want to shout a huge huge TANK YOU to all who have supported and cheered on our path of instrumental destruction over the years. We’ve had an awesome ride!

TANK86 is not about to die silently of course. We will be doing a bunch of farewell shows in December and we very much invite you to come and have your face melted by instrumental riffage one last time and drink beers and share war stories afterwards:

December 8th: Faster & Louder XV, MC Heracles, Retie (BE)
December 9th: Plupub, Nijmegen (NL)
December 15th: LittleDevil Bar, Tilburg (NL)
December 16th: RARE GUITAR, Munster (DE)

And since we have boatloads of merchandise left and because we are greedy dudes who would like to milk every last penny out of this enterprise before we retire to our own private islands in the Pacific: We have made everything in our webshop cheap, so this is a great time to grab yourselves some TANK86 merch: http://store.tank86.com/

Cheers & stay heavy!


Tank86, “Vault” official video

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Firebreather Announce Tour Dates with Zaum; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 29th, 2017 by JJ Koczan


Gothenburg-based three-piece Firebreather are gearing up to gallop off with hearts and minds — also presumably a soul or two — when they issue their self-titled debut EP via Suicide Records on Oct. 13. That same night, the band will head out on tour as support for Canadian ritualists Zaum, which makes sense when you keep in mind that the lineup for Firebreather boasts guitarist/vocalist Mattias Nööjd, who used to be in now-defunct bashers Galvano, with whom Zaum also toured. Maybe more than once, if I recall correctly.

In any case, it’s called continuity, so yeah, Firebreather and Zaum hitting the road together makes sense in part because of it. The other part is just because it makes sense, if you’re wondering.

Firebreather are streaming the new track “Fire Foretold” now, which leads off their EP. You can hear it at the bottom of this post.

The PR wire has more:

firebreather zaum tour poster

FIREBREATHER: EU tour dates with Canadian legends Zaum announced

FIREBREATHER EP is released on 13th October 2017 on Suicide Records

There’s no escaping the fact that Sweden is an incomparable breeding ground for some of the heaviest and most crushing metal bands in the world right now. Amon Amarth, Grand Magus, Candlemass, Vokonis, Monolord… all have crossed the water and duly conquered in recent years. In fact, even those yet to arrive can more often than not be found waiting in the wings, battle horn in hand heralding trepidation, Scandinavian-promise and riffs the size of long ships.

One such band waiting to scorch the earth upon which they land is Gothenburg trio FIREBREATHER who will release their self-titled debut album on Suicide Records this coming October. Relatively new to the fold having formed in the spring of 2016 from the ashes of underground doom heavyweights Galvano, FIREBREATHER is a devastatingly weighty statement of intent. Taking in four tracks that swallow time behind tooth shattering riffs from guitarist/vocalist Mattias Nööjd and crunching rhythms via bassist Kyle Pitcher and Tommy Hanning (newly replaced by drummer Fredrik Käll), FIREBREATHER are a jaw-breaking triptych of sludge and doom rock.

Mastered by Brad Boatright (Sleep, Corrosion of Conformity, Beastmilk, Obituary) at his Audioseige Studio in Portland, OR and featuring artwork by legendary underground artist Adam Burke, FIREBREATHER are out to make 2017 their own.

FIREBREATHER hit the road this October with Canadian legends Zaum for a number of dates across Europe.

10/13 Kiel DE Alte Meirei
10/14 Hamburg** DE Astra Stube
10/15 Freiburg DE The White Rabbit
10/16 Torino IT Haram’s Graveyard
10/18 St. Feliu de Codines ES Inciviczone
10/19 Zaragoza ES Arrebato
10/20 Madrid ES TBC
10/21 Cascais PT Stairway Club
10/22 Galicia ES TBC
10/25 Zagreb HR Vintage Industrial
10/26 Brno C Bakjazyl
10/27 Szeged HU Grand Cafe
10/28 Carpi IT Ekinda
10/29 Bistrica ob Sotli SI Klub Metulj
10/30 Timisoara RO Club Daos
10/31 Plzen CZ TBC
11/03 Gothenburg SE Truckstop Alaska

Mattias Nööjd – Guitar, Vocals
Fredrik Käll – Drums
Kyle Pitcher – Bass


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Quarterly Review: Nibiru, The Ditch and the Delta, Cyanna Mercury, Surya Kris Peters, Golden Bats, Blind Hen, The Black Wizards, Low Flying Hawks, Brother Sister Hex, Cold Insight

Posted in Reviews on September 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk quarterly review

Ready for round three of the Fall 2017 Quarterly Review? I hope so, because it’s a doozy. Things get pretty weird and pretty rockin’ in this batch, and at the risk of being completely honest, I much prefer it that way. It’s a varied group — maybe the most diverse in terms of sound throughout the entire week, though there’s stiff competition still to come — and as we hit the 30th review, that brings us to the halfway point of the Quarterly Review itself, which if all keeps proceeding according to plan will wrap up on Monday with a grand total of 60 done. Let’s hope no pianos fall on my head between now and then, literally or figuratively. Onward.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Nibiru, Qaal Babalon

nibiru qaal babalon

The fourth full-length from Italian sludge ritualists Nibiru, Qaal Babalon (on Argonauta) is an encompassing, 57-minute grind comprised of four extended tracks, the longest of which is opener (immediate points) “Oroch” at 19:07 – a song whose depths run dark and cruel and which, even when the tempo pushes upward from its initial slow crawl, still feels massively slow. Still, the spirit behind “Oroch” as well as the following and much faster “Faboan” (10:51), the buzzsaw noise cutting avant insanity of “Bahal Gah” (16:40) and full-drone rite of “Oxex” (11:05) is less directly about the punishment itself than about the exploration enacted thereby. That is, Nibiru aren’t just heavy for heaviness’ own sake and they’re not just assaulting their listenership without reason. Though I won’t take away from its raw sonic impact, Qaal Babalon’s greatest asset is its atmospheric impression and the experimentalism it brings to bear, which moves Nibiru into a terrifying place sound-wise that they seem to have all to themselves.

Nibiru on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records website


The Ditch and the Delta, Hives in Decline


Hailing from the unlikely heavy hotbed of Salt Lake City, Utah – though where better for a counterculture to emerge? – sludge rocking trio The Ditch and the Delta made their debut earlier in 2017 with the seven-song Hives in Decline via Battleground Records before being picked up by Prosthetic for this reissue. Comprised of bassist/vocalist Kory Quist (see also: Making Fuck), guitarist/vocalist Elliot Secrist and drummer Charles Bogus, the three-piece pummel handily throughout early cuts like opener and longest track (immediate points) “Hives in Decline” “Fuck on Asphalt” and the nodding “Sleeping Dogs,” but with the instrumental interlude “Dry Land,” they tap into post-Across Tundras heavy Americana and in that brief two-minute stretch deeply affect the mood of the release overall. They’re back to angular noise rock turns soon enough on “Till Body Quits” and the Remission-era-Mastodon-style “Mud” before alternating between lurching crush and airier prog/post-rock on closer “Dread Spectacle,” but by then the secret’s out of their underlying complexity, and rather than offset the sense of drive in the prior cuts, one finds them only enhanced by the later unfolding. Intense, and very much in the process of sorting through these impulses, but loaded with potential.

The Ditch and the Delta on Thee Facebooks

The Ditch and the Delta at Prosthetic Records


Cyanna Mercury, Archetypes


From Greek dialogue in “Hermes” to the Nick Cave-style piano balladry of “Apollo” to the organ-and-handclaps Mediterranean pop underscoring “Lilith”’s boogie and the spoken verses and explosive hook of “Snake” ahead of moody closer “There will be a Time,” Cyanna Mercury’s debut long-player, Archetypes, seems to leave no sonic stone unturned. The Athens-based five-piece hone a thoroughly progressive approach across the 10-track/40-minute (plus a CD bonus track) outing, touching on heavy psych in opener “Horse Dark as Night” and injecting a darker theatricality into centerpiece “Ode to the Absent Father” and the later “Nothing We Can Do,” but refusing to relegate themselves ultimately to one sound or another. Elements of folk, heavy rock, psychedelia, classic prog, pop and more besides show themselves across what’s a legitimate head-trip of a record, and though it’s hard to get a grip on where Cyanna Mercury are ultimately headed with this sonic brew already so potent and already so much their own, they seem to be completely in control of how it all plays out in arrangement and songwriting, and they work quickly to earn the listener’s trust via a resonant overarching flow that renders Archetypes truly immersive. Will fly under most radar, but a stunningly creative debut.

Cyanna Mercury on Thee Facebooks

Cyanna Mercury on Bandcamp


Surya Kris Peters, 2nd Chances


Numerically-titled three-song EP 2nd Chances is – since we’re going by the numbers – the third release of 2017 from Surya Kris Peters, behind the synth-driven Dream Exit EP digitally-issued this past summer and January’s Holy Holy Holy (review here) full-length. With it, Samsara Blues Experiment frontman Christian Peters further expands the contextual breadth of his solo work, revisiting songs from his prior outfit Terraplane in the Mellotron-infused melancholy of “Smalltown Blues” and the quick, folkish rambling instrumental “Dark Euphoria” while also covering Jefferson Airplane’s “Come up the Years” between. All told, it’s only 10 minutes long, but Peters brings a particularly progressive psychedelic folk vibe to the tracks, and from the shimmering guitar lead that takes hold in “Come up the Years” and the intimate feel of “Smalltown Blues” despite an arrangement of keys, vocals, multiple layers of guitar and effects, an emotional and sonic resonance is still very much achieved. One never wants to guess what Peters will do next, but if he had a full-length of this kind of thing out at some point, you wouldn’t be likely to find me complaining.

Surya Kris Peters on Soundcloud

Electric Magic Records on Bandcamp


Golden Bats, Residual Dread


An underlying mournfulness pervades Golden BatsResidual Dread, or maybe that’s just the Brisbane-based solo-project of multi-instrumentalist/vocalist/engineer Geordie Stafford living up to the title chosen for the album on “Nothing.” Elsewhere, Residual Dread takes on guitar-as-keyboard plotted soloing in 11-minute closer “The Crows Build a Fire” and find a place between black metal and doomly roll, and add piano to tapped Godflesh-style programming on opener “Trouble in the Sewers” and bring organ to the relative bounce of “Eye Juices” as far-back echoing shouts provide the vocal presence. Setting elements against each other would seem to be a core aspect of Stafford’s intent, and the feel on Residual Dread is more about the smashing them together and seeing what happens than trying to gently meld one idea from two or three. That lends a raw, experimentalist sensibility to the lumber of “Outer Body” and “Into the Silver Valley” that serves them well, like a Large Hadron Collider driven by riffs and thickness of tone.

Golden Bats on Thee Facebooks

Haemorrhage Records webstore


Blind Hen, Life


In its first two minutes, Blind Hen’s “As a Monster” moves from electronica-style Euro dance rock to heavy-riffed progressive metal. Then it turns back. This is just the start of the Finnish four-piece’s four-track/21-minute Life EP, and “Titanic” follows stylistic suit with an even more intense thrust early before moving into psychedelia in its second half with an underlying tension in its beat to contrast the melodic wash overtop. The chugging “The Maze” is more guitar-led and straightforward, but even there, Blind Hen find room for nuance in their vocal arrangement, also bringing in acoustics amid the multiple layers of singing, and with a sample at the outset, closer “Catch” moves once again toward the danceability of the earlier fare, if in a via-Mr.Bungle rhythmic restlessness rather than the fusion beatmaking. Weird, weird, weird. What draws Life together is the fact that Blind Hen cross this aesthetic swath with stuck-in-your-head choruses as a constant, essentially giving the audience something to grasp onto while they go wherever they want in terms of sound. It is appreciated to say the least, and shows the band to be all the more attuned to their craft, even when they seem at their most unhinged.

Blind Hen on Thee Facebooks

Blind Hen on Bandcamp


The Black Wizards, What the Fuzz!


If you’ve got 68 minutes, Portuguese four-piece The Black Wizards are ready to have a heavy blues shindig on their second 2LP full-length, What the Fuzz!, and I do believe we’re all invited. The nine-song outing emphasizes the vocals of guitarist Joana Brito, who emerges on post-intro opener “Freaks and Geeks” with a prominent kind of trilling in her voice of the sort Parker Griggs brings to Radio Moscow that holds for the duration as a steady presence. Joined by guitarist Paulo Ferreira, bassist/acoustic guitarist B and drummer/backing vocalist Helena Peixoto, Brito leads the way through the fuzzy rollout of the nine-minute “The Story of an Hopeless Drummer” (sic), stepping back to let the guitar/bass have a righteously nodding moment late in the track, but holds firm in a forward position on the short, twanging “Just Not Today” as well as the early going of the prior subdued-blues-smoker highlight “Floating Blues.” “Build Your Home,” “I Don’t Wanna Die” and the particularly-classic-sounding “Fire” revive the classic heavy rock spirit of “Freaks and Geeks,” and 16-minute finale “Everything is Good Until Trouble Comes” uses its extra runtime for a satisfying and patient execution with an expanded arrangement including choral vocals, organ and additional guitar effects. You might be boogied out by the time they’re done, but as The Black Wizards crash through their big finish, they sound like their party’s just getting started.

The Black Wizards on Thee Facebooks

The Black Wizards on Bandcamp


Low Flying Hawks, Genkaku


One might expect that with all the Melvins affiliation going on in the second Magnetic Eye Records full-length from L.A. duo Low Flying Hawks, Genkaku would sound, you know, more like the Melvins, but despite working with bassist Trevor Dunn, drummer Dale Crover and producer Toshi Kasai, and despite bringing in Buzz Osbourne for guest vocal spots on eight-minute opener/longest track (immediate points) “Smile” and side B leadoff “Space Wizard,” initials-only multi-instrumentalists EHA and AAL follow their 2016 debut, Kofuku (review here), with a sound even more their own, balancing between thick riffy rollout and post-rock atmospherics. Of course, they weird out a bit on “Smile” and the lumberingly spacious “Uncool” and “Virgin Witch,” but whether it’s the later mournfulness of “Hallucination” or “Twilight” toying with noisy fuckall while seeming to mock heavy rocker burl ahead of the melodic payoff in closer “Sinister Waves,” there’s more EHA and AAL in Low Flying Hawks than the prominent pedigree of their collaborators might lead you to believe. All the better for what becomes a richly satisfying 43-minute listen rife with depth, patience, and yes, personality.

Low Flying Hawks on Thee Facebooks

Magnetic Eye Records on Bandcamp


Brother Sister Hex, End Times


Coherent songwriting rests at the core of what Denver’s Brother Sister Hex bring to their five-song third EP, End Times, which darkens up Queens of the Stone Age-circa-Songs for the Deaf vibing on its title-track (also a bit of Kyuss’ “El Rodeo” in there for good measure) before delving into more ambient fare on the centerpiece “Confessions.” Vocalist/guitarist Colfax Mingo demonstrates SubRosa-style vocal command there, but the context is more rock-based, uptempo and straightforward as she, guitarist Patrick Huddleson, bassist Drew Hicks and guest-drummer Jordan Palmer (Plastic Daggers) meld traditionalist structures with atmospheric moodiness. Opener “Hey” offers a suitable greeting through hook and groove, and the shuffle of “Sweet and Sleazy” and the rumbling fuzz (Hicks makes it a highlight) of closer “News Feed” wraps with another grunge-style QOTSA melody efficiently drawn, shouting the question “what have we done?” as it thuds into its second half. Uh, you’ve made a professional-sounding, excellently-constructed EP that shows you’re more than ready to embark on a debut full-length, permanent drummer or no. So yeah, get on that.

Brother Sister Hex on Thee Facebooks

Brother Sister Hex on Bandcamp


Cold Insight, Further Nowhere


As progressive as it is brutal, Further Nowhere is ostensibly the debut release from Paris’ Cold Insight. The material seems to date back at least to 2013, if not earlier than that, when band-spearhead Sébastien Pierre (also of Enshine, Fractal Gates, and others) first issued what’s now tagged as a “pre-production album” version, but it’s hardly as though the lush, growling, melodeathly doom sounds dated. With sonic likenesses throughout to bands like Amorphis, Dark Tranquility and Paradise Lost, Cold Insight – on which Pierre, who also did the artwork, is joined by drummer Christian Netzell while Jari Lindholm adds lead guitar – hit on a very particular, very European style, and not an unfamiliar one as displayed in the righteously driving “Distance,” but the find-the-beauty-in-darkness spirit behind “Close Your Eyes” and songs like “Even Dies a Sun” and the more uptempo later piece “I Will Rise” help ensure that the formidable 12-song/66-minute run of Further Nowhere never gets too bogged down in its melancholy. It may have been a while in the making, and one hopes a follow-up won’t take as long to arrive, but the precise execution Pierre hones in these songs and the depths to which he can bring a willing audience are a fitting payoff for the years of work that went into their construction.

Cold Insight on Thee Facebooks

Cold Insight on Bandcamp


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-(16)- Announce European Tour Dates with Grime

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Long-running Los Angeles sludge aggressives -(16)- were previously announced for Desertfest Belgium 2017 as they continue to support their piledriver of a 2016 outing, Lifespan of a Moth (review here), so it’s not necessarily a huge surprise to find them embarking on a full round of European tour dates, but hey, nice to have it confirmed all the same. The run will start on Oct. 7 — which is in like a week and a half in case you, like me, completely somehow missed the passing of September — and in addition to Desertfest, it’ll find the four-piece making stops at Krakatoa Fest in Italy, as well as playing dates in Switzerland, Hungary, Poland and elsewhere with support from extremist sludge acolytes Grime.

Apparently someone along the way decided not to type out a list of tour dates, instead featuring them in the tour trailer below. I was kind of tempted to make a list out myself, just on principle — because I like words and whatnot — but it seems like a pretty purposeful choice to have made, so yeah, I guess if you want to know where -(16)- are headed, check out the trailer at the bottom of this post.

The PR wire still has some info about the tour though, so here’s that:


-(16)- Announce Headline European Tour Dates

Veteran California sludge trailblazers -(16)- have announced headlining European tour dates for this upcoming October. Direct support will be provided by Italy’s Grime. The tour commences on October 7 in Bologna, Italy and ends October 21 in Milano, Italy spanning across ten countries in two weeks. The tour includes an appearance at Desert Fest in Antwerp, Belgium. -(16)- have also been confirmed for Maryland Deathfest 2018 on May 24 in Baltimore, MD.

-(16)-‘s Lifespan Of A Moth is the band’s heaviest, darkest, and most complex material to date! Self-produced by the band and recorded with Jeff Forrest (Cattle Decapitation, The Locust) at Doubletime Recording Studio in San Diego, CA, Lifespan Of A Moth sees the band sounding uglier, rawer and more visceral than ever. Down-tuned feedback-driven riffs and bludgeoning rhythms violently clash with vocalist Cris Jerue’s distorted, tortured howls across eight tracks of -(16)-‘s signature blend of hardcore punk, thrash and sludge. Lifespan Of A Moth is the sound of a band that has spent 25 years wallowing in addiction and anguish, and will leave you feeling crushed and confronted by the negativity of existence.

-(16)- is:
Cris Jerue (vocals)
Bobby Ferry (guitar, vocals)
Barney Firks (bass)
Dion Thurman (drums)


16 European tour trailer

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Agusa Premiere “Bortom Hemom” from New Self-Titled LP

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan


Swedish progressive rockers Agusa will release their third self-titled album on Oct. 27 via The Laser’s Edge. What might informally be called Tre or Agusa Tre follows two years behind the preceding Agusa Två (review here) and brings five new tracks highlighting the pastoralism that the Malmö-based five-piece bring to their work. Without being overly lush or coated in effects, or losing themselves in indulgent attitudes, Agusa‘s instrumental compositions bask in a folkish traditionalism that nonetheless is all the more a standout for its complexity. Arrangements of guitar from Mikael Ödesjö, play out in consideration of the organ work of Jonas Barge (since replaced by Jeppe Juul) and Jenny Puertas‘ flute, while the inventive basslines of Tobias Petterson and drums/percussion — there’s plenty of both — from Tim Wallander course alongside with resonant nuance and groove. At least when the rhythm section isn’t actually driving the charge, that is. Much of the time on cuts like centerpiece “Den Fortrollade Skogen” (“the fortified forest”) and “Sagor Fran Saaris,” that’s exactly how it plays out.

Either way they go at any given moment, it only makes Agusa Tre — again, an informal title at least so far as I know; I’m just using it so no one thinks I’m talking about a different self-titled — all the more dynamic. Even as they head toward a cosmos on “Sagor från Saaris” (“stories from Saari”) that seems so distant from the ground they started on with opener “Landet Längesen” (“country lands,” appropriately enough), the rolling hillsides of which shine green and bright under a huge, yellow and full northern sun. The build in that leadoff and longest inclusion (immediate points for that) resonates no less than the song’s vocal-less hook, the whole band uniting around a gently flowing roll — the river, if we want to keep to the image already set — and moving gracefully into “Sorgenfri,” which takes its name from a neighborhood in Malmö.

Why does that matter? It matters because with Ödesjö‘s strumming guitar line and the bouncing flute from PuertasAgusa evoke a sense of place without the need agusa agusa trefor their audience to ever have actually been there. Barge‘s organ moves into a forward role in the second half of the five-minute cut, topping a subtle shuffle that finds Wallander washing out his cymbals even as he drives a straight-ahead charge that somehow still manages to swing. The turns are so tight that it’s almost a shame when “Sorgenfri” is over, or at least it would be if “Den Fortrollade Skogen” didn’t allow for a solid two minutes of digestion before embarking on its own eight-minute unfurling, a classically triumphant melody in the flute and keys matching step with the bass, drums and clean-toned guitar once more to reground the audience. As noted, “Sagor från Saaris” is more psychedelic, but also more subdued in all but Wallander‘s hi-hat and the prominence of the low end, which as the flute and guitar jazz-out kosmiche-style has a chance to shine before the final movement begins and brings a worthy apex, still holding out some noise on a long fade into closer “Bertom Hemom” (“beyond homeward”), the gorgeousness of which underscores the humility at heart in Agusa‘s approach on the whole.

To wit, it moves, it careens, it grooves — it has a complex and striking presentation of the elements at play, as shown when the electric guitar lead layer works its way in circa the three-minute mark amid the prior acoustic foundation and how aligned it becomes with Barge on organ and the overarching rhythm. This is the stuff of spinning heads — of repeat on repeat on repeat listens — and yet Agusa make it come through with such a naturalist warmth that one feels like they’re back in that open field again, like it’s the folk music of some unknown people who never existed or did and were otherwise too hippie-awesome to want to stick around on this square-despite-its-roundness planet and got back in their mothership in search of cooler terrain. After what one could argue is the crescendo of “Bertom Herom,” the flute and drums take hold and offer a stripped-down take on the rhythm as the foundation for the guitar and bass and organ to rejoin the fold, tying the song back to its start before the final measures crash out and somebody — one of them, I don’t know who it is — lets out a well-earned exhale. “Woof.” As if anything else needed to be said.

Agusa Tre‘s specific kind of immersion and hypnosis may or may not be for everybody, but for those willing to take it with an open mind on its own level, it’s quite simply going to be a release that offers satisfaction long after 2017 is over. I’m thrilled today to be able to host the premiere of “Bertom Hemom” ahead of the album coming out. You’ll find it on the player below, followed by a quick quote from Ödesjö about its making and more from the PR wire.

I sincerely hope you enjoy:

Mikael Ödesjö on “Bortom Hemom”:

“Bortom Hemom” translates roughly as “Beyond Homeward” and consists of two sections joined together by a bridge. The first part is in 7/4 and the second in 3/4. Perhaps our most “progressive” effort this far. Enjoy!

Agusa was recorded and mixed by Viktor Rinneby and mastered by Grammy-winning engineer Bob Katz, and completed with art by Danilo Stankovic and design by Peter Wallgren.

Laser’s Edge will release Agusa on digital, CD, and LP on October 27th. Find CD and LP preorders at Amazon HERE and digital preorders at Bandcamp HERE. This will be celebrated with release shows in Sweden and Denmark, after which the band will head east to play their first gigs on Russian soil.

Agusa on Bandcamp

Agusa on Thee Facebooks

The Laser’s Edge website

The Laser’s Edge on Thee Facebooks

The Laser’s Edge on Twitter

The Laser’s Edge on Bandcamp

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Nebula Announce Reissue Trilogy of Early Works for 2018 Release

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

The flurry of news from the camp of Nebula continues today with word that Heavy Psych Sounds has decided to do the entire universe a favor and reissue three of their crucial early works: 1998’s Let it Burn, 1999’s To the Center (discussed here) and 2002’s Dos EPs, which includes the material originally released on 1999’s Sun Creature and the Nebula/Lowrider split (discussed here). In other words, Nebula at their most unfuckwithable. The reissues are being done to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the band, and will be staggered as they come out in Jan., Feb. and March 2018, with presales for all three going live on Oct. 13.

You don’t need me to tell you how necessary these records are, though if you really want to talk about it, I’d be happy to — they’re a lot of fun to talk about — but since I wrote the press release that appears below, I’m kind of going to one way or the other anyhow.

Here’s how it all shakes out:

nebula reissues heavy psych sounds

Nebula to Reissue Let it Burn, To the Center & Dos EPs on Heavy Psych Sounds

Heavy Psych Sounds is proud to announce it will work with Californian fuzz/psych legends Nebula to reissue three of the band’s most landmark offerings. Originally released in 1998, 1999 and 2002, respectively, Let it BurnTo the Center and Dos EPs comprise an essential trilogy for worshipers of riffs and heavy desert rock, and will be made available early in 2018 as special editions to mark the 20th anniversary of the band.

When guitarist/vocalist Eddie Glass joined forces with bassist Mark Abshire and drummer Ruben Romano — both previously of Fu Manchu — they found magic together and no one before and no other band since has been able to capture that sound in the same way, though plenty have tried. With Let it Burn, they established a place for themselves between druggy psych and forward-driving fuzz rock, and as they moved through the subsequent Sun Creature EP, their split with Sweden’s Lowrider and the To the Center full-length the next year, they only grew, progressed and refined this approach into something all the more their own.

The two short releases were later compiled as Dos EPs, and the flow contained there is no less pivotal than either Let it Burn or To the Center. Working exclusively in cooperation with the original members of Nebula, Heavy Psych Sounds will release Let it BurnTo the Center and Dos EPs in January, February and March, 2018 in vinyl, limited vinyl, CD and digital editions, each containing bonus material, extra songs and more.

Says Gabriele Fiori of Heavy Psych Sounds on working with Nebula: “It is an honor to have Eddie, Mark and Ruben come together to stand behind these three issues. These records are classics and have had a huge influence on me and an entire generation of artists and I can’t wait to get them back out there for people to dig into all over again!”

Preorders begin Oct. 13, 2017. Distribution will be through Heavy Psych Sounds, Forced Exposure (US), Cargo Records (DE, UK), Clearspot (Benelux), Goodfellas (World), iTunes, Spotify, etc.

Nebula have announced 2018 live dates with the lineup of Eddie Glass, bassist Tom Davies and drummer Mike Amster (Blaak Heat, Abrams), including stops at Desertfest London and Berlin with more to follow.


Nebula, Dos EPs (2002)

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Quarterly Review: Spotlights, War Cloud, Rubble Road, Monte Luna, High Reeper, Frozen Planet….1969, Zaius, Process of Guilt, Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk, Owlcrusher

Posted in Reviews on September 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk quarterly review

Day two of the Quarterly Review and feeling groovy so far. Managed to survive yesterday thanks in no small part to good music and good coffee, and looking at what’s coming up in today’s batch, I don’t expect the situation will be much different — though the styles will. I try to keep in mind as I put these weeks together to change up what’s in each round, so it’s not just all psych records, or all doom, or heavy rock or whatever else. This way I’m not burning myself out on anything particular and I hopefully don’t wind up saying the same things about albums that maybe only share vague genre aspects in common — riffs, etc. — in the same way. Essentially trying to trick my brain into being creative. Sometimes it even works. Let’s see how it fares today.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Spotlights, Seismic

spotlights seismic

After touring hard with the likes of Melvins, Deftones and Refused, heavy post-rockers Spotlights mark their first release on Ipecac Recordings with their second album, Seismic, which finds the core duo of Mario and Sarah Quintero working with producer Aaron Harris (Isis) to follow-up 2016’s Tidals with 65 minutes/11 tracks of weighted atmospherics and far-spanning melodic textures as shown on emotive heft-bringers like “Ghost of a Glowing Forest.” Heavygaze, I suppose, is the genre tag that’s emerged, but with the opening title-track, the chugging “Learn to Breathe” and the later percussive turns of “A Southern Death,” there’s as much focus on crush as on ambience, though as Seismic makes its way through the pair of eight-minute tracks “Hollow Bones” (wonder if they know the 30 Rock reference they’re making) and “Hang us All” before the minimal subdued drones and melodic effects swirls of closer “The Hope of a Storm,” Spotlights succeed in finding a middle ground that offers plenty of both. In its moments of intensity and its range, Seismic builds cohesion from ether and immediately benefits from the purposeful growth the Quinteros have clearly undertaken over the past year by hitting the road with the dedication they have.

Spotlights on Thee Facebooks

Ipecac Recordings website


War Cloud, War Cloud

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Bay Area rockers War Cloud don’t get too fancy on their self-titled debut, which they make via Ripple Music as the follow-up to their 2016 single Vulture City (discussed here), but as they prove quickly in the dual-guitar Thin Lizzyisms of opener “Give’r” and the later post-Motörhead/Peter Pan Speedrock careening of “Speed Demon,” neither do they necessarily need to. Comprised of guitarists Alex Wein (also vocals) and Tony Campos, bassist Sean Nishi and drummer Joaquin Ridgell, War Cloud offer 31 minutes of brisk, unpretentious asskickery, riffs trading channels at the outset of “Hurricane” as it makes ready to settle into its proto-thrashing rocker groove, and the mood of the release as a whole engaging as much through its reimagining 20-year-old Metallica as a heavy rock band there as on the more grandly riff-led “Divide and Conquer.” Structures are straightforward, and not one of the eight tracks tops five minutes, but they’re more than enough for War Cloud find their place between metal form and heavy rock tone, and cuts like “Chopper Wired” and brazenly charged closer “Vulture City” nail the core message of the band’s arrival.

War Cloud on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website


Rubble Road, The Clowns Have Spoken


Rubble Road ain’t hurtin’ nobody. The Orlando-based double-guitar four-piece take two prior singles and put them together with four new tracks as their 29-minute/six-song debut EP, The Clowns Have Spoken, and thereby bring forth straightforward heavy rock that seems to be finding its personality in tone but nonetheless has a strong structural foundation underlying that holds up the material and “The Judge” tosses in a bit of metallic gallop to go with the forward-directed heavy rock proffered on the prior “Galactic Fugitives” and “Gospel (Get it Together).” I won’t say much for the politics of “Truck Stop Hooker,” which caps with the line, “Your mother gives great helmet, baby,” but “Wizard Staff” and “Do it Yourself” broaden the dynamic of the release overall. They’ve got some growing to do, but again, there’s an efficiency in their songwriting that comes through these songs, and as an initial showcase/demo, The Clowns Have Spoken shows Rubble Road with the potential to continue to grow.

Rubble Road on Thee Facebooks

Rubble Road on Bandcamp


Monte Luna, Monte Luna

monte luna monte lona

You might check out the self-titled debut from Austin, Texas, duo Monte Luna. You might even pick up the digipak or tape version. You might listen to extended tracks like “Nameless City” (12:53) and “6,000 Year March” (17:42) and be like, “Yeah, cool riffs dudes.” You might even then chase down the The Hound EP that guitarist/vocalist/bassist James Clarke and drummer/synthesist Phil Hook put out last year. At some point though, you’re going to put Monte Luna’s Monte Luna on your shelf and leave it there. Fair enough. However – and I’m not going to say when; could be sooner, could be later — then you’re going to find yourself remembering its massive, 71-minute sprawl of riffs, its doomed-out grooves, shouts, screams, growls and the way its builds become so utterly immersive, and you’re going to put Monte Luna on again. And that’s the moment when it will really hit you. It might take some time, and part of that is no doubt that there’s simply a lot of record to wade through, but whether it’s the rumbling start of “Nightmare Frontier” (14:26), the cacophonous stomp of “Inverted Mountain” (12:04) or the righteous crash of “The End of Beginning” (9:42), Monte Luna will have earned that deeper look, and if you allow them to make that deeper impression with their self-titled, they almost certainly will.

Monte Luna on Thee Facebooks

Monte Luna on Bandcamp


High Reeper, High Reeper

high reeper high reeper

Newcomer five-piece High Reeper telegraph Sabbathian heavy rocker intent with their self-released, self-titled debut album. The Delaware-based lineup of Zach Thomas, Napz Mosley, Andrew Price, Pat Daly and Shane Trimble make no bones about their roots in opener “Die Slow,” and as the stoner-swinging “High Reeper,” the doom-swaggering “Reeper Deadly Reeper” and the yo-check-out-this-bassline nodder “Weed and Speed” play out in the record’s midsection, it seems increasingly likely that, sooner or later, some imprint or other will pick up High Reeper for a wider release. As the band demonstrates through the stomping “Soul Taker” and the seeming mission statement “Black Leather (Chose Us)” ahead of closer “Friend of Death,” which breaks its six minutes in half between Judas Priest thrust and an instrumental finish that calls to mind “Heaven and Hell,” they’ve got a keen ear for updating classic elements, and though formative, their first outing is cleverly memorable and an immediately resonant display of songcraft. Now we know High Reeper can engage these stylistic components — the test will be how they develop them into something individualized going forward.

High Reeper on Thee Facebooks

High Reeper on YouTube


Frozen Planet….1969, From the Centre of a Parallel Universe


From the Centre of a Parallel Universe is the second long-player of 2017 from Sydney/Canberra’s Frozen Planet….1969. It arrives on CD through Pepper Shaker and LP via Headspin with five tracks/43 minutes of improv-style psych jams following suit from the prior Electric Smokehouse (review here) and helps to bring the band’s funk-infused, spacious dynamic all the more into focus. Also out of focus. Like, blurry vision-style. They range far and wide and keep the proceedings delightfully weird in the three extended pieces “Celestial Gambler,” “Through Hell’s Kaleidoscope, Parts I & II” and “Ancient Wings Taking Flight” – all north of 11 minutes – and with “Signals (Channelling…)” and “The Lady and the Archer” leading the way into each LP side, Frozen Planet….1969 take the time to assure they’re bringing their listeners along with them on their potent journey into the cosmically far out. The must-hear bass tone in “Ancient Wings Taking Flight” is but one of many reasons to dig in, but whatever it takes, From the Centre of a Parallel Universe’s invitation to get lost is not one to be missed.

Frozen Planet….1969 on Thee Facebooks

Pepper Shaker Records on Bandcamp


Zaius, Of Adoration

zaius of adoration

Chicago’s history with instrumentalist post-metal goes back as far as the notion of the subgenre itself with acts like Pelican and Russian Circles providing aesthetic-defining landmarks over the last 15-plus years even as a group like Bongripper embraces darker, more lumbering fare. The four-piece Zaius, who make their full-length debut with Of Adoration on Prosthetic Records after two self-released EPs in 2013 and 2011, position themselves more toward the shimmering airiness of the former rather than the latter’s raw lumber, but there’s heft to be found in the expanses of “Sheepdog” and “Seirenes” all the same, and the second half of “Echelon” and closer “Colin” tighten up some of the ethereality of pieces like opener “Phaneron” and the driftingly progressive “Reformer” or the penultimate, patient rollout of “Anicca” to hone a sense of balance that feels as emotionally driven as it is cerebral in its construction. Hard for a band like Zaius to stand themselves out at this point given the swath of acts working in a similar style in and out of the Windy City, but in its textural approach and held-steady flow, Of Adoration satisfies.

Zaius on Thee Facebooks

Prosthetic Records webstore


Process of Guilt, Black Earth


Portuguese post-doomers Process of Guilt hit the 15-year mark with the release of their fourth album, Black Earth (on Division/Bleak Recordings), and with a mix by Brooklyn noise-rock specialist Andrew Schneider, a mastering job by Collin Jordan in Chicago and striking cover art by growler/guitarist Hugo Santos with images by Pedro Almeida, the sense of atmosphere is thick and the mood is aggressive throughout. Santos, along with guitarist Nuno David, bassist Custódio Rato and drummer Gonçalo Correia chug and flow through a linear 42 minutes and five tracks on the suitably darkened offering, touching on progressive nuance but not letting cerebral underpinnings take away from the onslaught feel of “Feral Ground” or the tension mounted early in the 11-minute penultimate title-track, which uses feedback as a weapon throughout no less capably than the subsequent closer “Hoax” affects immediately with its nodding tonal wash. Taken as a whole, Black Earth finds Process of Guilt exploring depths of their sound as much as with it, and the directions they go feel as much inward as out.

Process of Guilt on Thee Facebooks

Division Records website

Bleak Recordings website


Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk, Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk


The challenge for an outfit like Stockholm’s Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk, whose self-titled debut arrives via respected purveyor Kozmik Artifactz, lies separating themselves from the shadow of fellow Swedes Blues Pills, whose semi-psych heavy-blues-rocking first album has cast a wide influence that can be heard here as well as in any number of other bands currently kicking around the Euro underground proffering as balance of soul and heavy rock as songs like “It Ain’t Love (But Close Enough)” and “Like Water” do here. Where Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk most succeed in doing this is in the harmonies of “Black Magic Man,” which brings to mind classic acid folk while holding to a heavy blues vibe, but there are other moments throughout when individuality flourishes as well. The attitude is laid on a bit thick in “Them Dames,” but the hooks of “Sister Sorrow,” “She Knows,” “The Devil’s Got a Hold on You” and “Stay” and the burgeoning sense of arrangements complementing Abdulghani’s vocals do well in helping cast an identity one hopes will continue to develop.

Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website


Owlcrusher, Owlcrusher

owlcrusher owlcrusher

Conceived by guitarist/vocalist Andrew Spiers, bassist/vocalist Steve Hobson and drummer Damien McKeown, Banbridge trio Owlcrusher conjure three extended, slicing slabs of black-singed sludge extremity on their self-titled Seeing Red Records debut, and it’s enough to make one wonder just what the fuck is going on in Northern Ireland to inspire such outright bleakness. Beginning with the 16-minute “Feeble Preacher” (also the longest inclusion here; immediate points), Owlcrusher’s Owlcrusher lumbers excruciatingly forth with screams and growls cutting through a tonality geared for max-volume consumption, though it remains to be seen who is consuming whom as “Feeble Preacher” gives way to the likewise scorched eponymous “Owlcrusher” (11:30) and 15-minute closer “Spoiler,” the last of which brings the only real moment of letup on the album after about nine minutes in, and even that takes the form of an interlude of Khanate-style minimalist ambience before the rolling megacrush resumes and plods to a somehow-even-heavier finish. Clearly a band pushing themselves toward the superlative, Owlcrusher get there much faster than their crawling tones would have you believe. Madness.

Owlcrusher on Thee Facebooks

Seeing Red Records on Bandcamp


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Fungus Hill Post Animated Video for “Ludenben”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 26th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Swedish heavy psych rockers Fungus Hill released their Ludenben single this past Spring as the follow-up to January’s Creatures EP (review here), and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the animated video for the track has been in the works since that time. I’ll admit that were it not for the English subtitles given to the lyrics, I’d have basically no idea what the story being told is about beyond what the band says about it, but it tells the tale of a goat farmer who has four goats named after colors that get stolen by a troll. Because of course that’s what happens. Trolls friggin’ love goats. Everybody knows this.

So anyway, the farmer, whose name is Petter, is all bummed out about his goats being taken — and well he should be; they look like some pretty badass goats in the video, if not exactly the petting-zoo type — and his cat winds up going and scaring the troll so he falls off a cliff and Petter gets his goats back. Does it rule? Oh yes, it mightily rules. The animation is excellent, and Fungus Hill tell the story with soul and a perfectly folkish edge that finds them well earning the furs in which they appear throughout. Dead-on vibe and execution of what as a concept and realization could’ve easily fallen flat in less capable hands.

In fact, and this isn’t a comparison I’m going to make lightly, but if you miss some of the sweet fuzz of the defunct-once-again Örebro natives Asteroid, you especially might want to dig into “Ludenben,” because in amidst the dual vocals and expansively psychedelic rollout, there’s some of that depth and warmth to be found. I’ve posted about Fungus Hill a couple times now over the past few months, but let me say outright in case the point hasn’t gotten across that I think they’re onto something special in their sound and chemistry and I’m looking forward to seeing and hearing how that develops going into their next release and, hopefully, beyond that as well.

Until then, you’ll find the video for “Ludenben” below and I hope agree that if was in fact a while in the making, it’s definitely been worth the wait.


Fungus Hill, “Ludenben” official video

The music video is officially released!!!

Turn of the lights, plug in your speakers and check out our new animated tale about goats, magic and trolls. Inspired by the book “Petter och hans fyra getter” written by Einar Norelius.

Special thanks to Jörgen Rabben who painted and illustrated the animated pictures… You did an amazing job!! Also thank you to Lars Samuel Olsson who helped out filming.

Produced by JAQ Studios.
Director, animator & editor: Gustav Orvefors
Painter and illustrator: Jörgen Rabben
Camera operator: Samuel Olsson
Mix and master: Nils Mörtzel

Fungus Hill on Thee Facebooks

Fungus Hill on Bandcamp

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