Wedge to Release Killing Tongue in February; Preorders Available Nov. 3

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 30th, 2017 by JJ Koczan


On first impression, the second album from Berlin vintage-style heavy rockers Wedge feels immediately more their own. The trio debuted in 2014 on Heavy Psych Sounds with a self-titled long-player, and as of Friday, preorders will be open for Killing Tongue, their nine-song follow-up, to be released via the same label on Feb. 9.

There hasn’t been any audio made public from it yet, which kind of makes sense considering we’re still three months out from it landing, and I’m not saying I’ve got it on right now or anything, but the turns sound a bit sharper, the songwriting feels more efficient, and the most-definitely-post-Kadavar vibe that pervaded the self-titled seems to have abated somewhat. All the better for the young band to come into their own with a blues-psych track like “Fire Eyes,” with its pairing of rhythmic chain crunch and airy guitar and vocals.

One to look forward to for 2018 for sure and one I’m looking forward to getting to know better for sure.

Info follows from the PR wire, and Wedge also have some shows this coming month for which I hoisted the dates from social media:

wedge killing tongue

WEDGE sign to Heavy Psych Sounds ; new album coming February 2018!


Heavy Psych Sounds Records is proud to announce the return of German vintage rock’n’rollers WEDGE! The Berlin-based trio decided to renew their deal with the Italian label for the release of their sophomore full-length, due out February 2018.

The trio released their first studio album on Heavy Psych Sounds in September 2014, which quickly sold out. Following the buzz of WEDGE’s debut, the group now unveils their eagerly awaited follow-up “Killing Tongue” …and it truly kills! Although also deeply rooted in the rock’n’roll of the late 60s & early 70s, this album clearly is a strong progression from its precursor, presenting a multicolored spectrum of sounds and more diverse songwriting. Power trio-untypical arrangements and instruments like electric sitar, clavinet and harpsichord among others are accompanying especially some of the new psychedelia soaked tunes. But of course you can expect plenty of good old fuzz guitar and Hammond organ driven material as well.

Killing Tongue was recorded & mixed at LowSwing Studios in Berlin by Guy Sternberg and mastered by Brian Lucey at Magic Garden Mastering in California/USA.

WEDGE is a 60s-sounding, psychedelic and heavy rockin’ Berlin trio founded by guitarist/singer Kiryk Drewinski (ex-Liquid Visions/The Magnificent Brotherhood), drummer Holger “The Holg” Grosser and bassist/organist Dave Götz, and named themselves after the first stone tool of human history. Their sound is accordingly archaic, extremely effective, made from “solid rock” and, when used correctly, it causes fire… especially on stage!

Kiryk Drewinski- Vocals / Guitars / Harmonica
Holger ‘The Holg’ Grosser – Drums / Percussion
David Götz – Bass / Organ / Electric Piano / Mellotron

WEDGE shows in November:
02.11. (de) Munich, backstage *
03.11. (en) Milan, space space *
04.11. (CH) Chur, Palazzo Beat Club *
16.11. (de) Fulda, culture cellar *
17.11. (de) Leipzig, moritzbastei *
18.11. (de) Regensburg cultural centre old malthouse at gogo low fest vol. II ***
19.11. (de) Berlin, Cassiopeia **
* W / Wucan
** W / Wucan & Eat Ghosts
*** W / Siena Root, Swan Valley Heights & Welcome Inside The Brain

Wedge, “’61 SG” official video

Tags: , , , , ,

BREAKING: R.I.P. Jon Rossi of Pilgrim

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 27th, 2017 by JJ Koczan


Confirmation has yet to surface at this time from either the band or their label, Metal Blade Records, but reports have begun to surface and tributes have begun pouring in marking the passing of guitarist/vocalist Jon Rossi of Providence, Rhode Island-based doom metallers Pilgrim. If true, Rossi’s death on Oct. 26 would follow just a day after his band joined The Obsessed and Cobalt Dusk in their hometown. He was 26 years old.

I’ll repeat that: 26 years old.

Pilgrim’s second and latest full-length, II: Void Worship (review here), was released in 2014 as the follow-up to their massively successful 2012 debut, Misery Wizard (discussed here),pilgrim-at-shod-xii-Photo-by-JJ-Koczan and pushed them to a new level of notoriety. A long tour with the reunited Spirit Caravan followed and reportedly nearly undid the trio on a financial level, but there was still hope that Rossi, who went by the stage name “The Wizard,” bassist Eric Dittrich and drummer Brad Richardson, would reconvene for a third album at some point, if one wasn’t already in the works. As there hasn’t been word from the band on Rossi’s passing, obviously any plans on their part are up in the air.

It goes without saying that the death of someone whose work had such an impact on doom, especially of one so young, is a significant loss, and on behalf of myself and this site, I’d like to send personal condolences to Rossi’s family, friends, bandmates and fans. I still remember seeing Pilgrim take the stage in New London, Connecticut, at Stoner Hands of Doom XII (review here), and though they were about half the age of everyone else playing, they absolutely owned the room.

Clearly a special band, and all the more exciting for the potential they continued to exude and the doomed spirit that was embodied in their songcraft. Rossi was a huge part of that presence, on stage and in the studio. He will be missed.

Once again, no word officially on his passing or the cause of death. As news comes in, this post will be updated with the latest.

Pilgrim, “The Paladin” official video

Tags: , , , , ,

Friday Full-Length: Sleep, Dopesmoker

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 27th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Sleep, Dopesmoker (2003)

In the annals of post-Sabbath riffing, Sleep‘s Dopesmoker reigns supreme. “Dopesmoker,” the single, 63-minute track that comprises the album, is the stuff of legend, and rightly so. Recorded circa 1996 by the trio of bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros, guitarist Matt Pike and drummer Chris Hakius, and backed by the formidable, inimitable production of Billy AndersonDopesmoker is a story that’s been told time and again at this point, perhaps most completely in the 2008 documentary Such Hawks, Such Hounds, and so I’m not sure how much it really needs to be recounted here, but suffice it to say that the narrative behind the record’s creation has become nearly as central to the listening experience as the clarion riffing and the weedian pilgrimage that takes place in the lyrics of the extended verses, revolving around the Bay Area three-piece having issued the now-landmark Sleep’s Holy Mountain (reissue review here) in 1992 and subsequently jumped from Earache Records to London/Sire Records, spent their recording budget on reefer and turned in a 52-minute version of what became “Dopesmoker” to the label, only to be met with the kind of horror that only a major label can express to, say, an underground band who just turned in a 52-minute single-track album of unmatched stonerly excess. No doubt there were some priceless looks on a variety of the involved faces.

Then titled “Jerusalem,” that version of the extended piece did ultimately emerge — released first by the band as a self-bootleg with a cover by Arik Roper and then as Jerusalem by Rise Above Records in the UK and The Music Cartel in the US — in 1998, but with the song broken up over six shorter segments, the effect was nowhere near the same as when Dopesmoker saw its first issue — the track itself and a live version of “Sonic Titan” included — via Tee Pee in 2003. Sleep were long done by then, of course. Pike had moved on to High on Fire and Cisneros and Hakius were on the cusp of unveiling their new meditative duo Om, but one could easily argue that the arrival of Dopesmoker nonetheless played a significant role in igniting the heavy rock boom of the post-internet age. Finally with an avenue for the word of mouth regarding their righteousness that had long been spreading, Sleep were able to connect with an audience without even actually being a band anymore, and with Sleep’s Holy Mountain and the prior 1991 debut, Volume I behind them, their back catalog seemed like relics of a lost age of stoner authenticity — a source of influence worldwide already that has only continued to spread in the years since, bolstered in part by the emergence and ongoing relevance of Om and High on Fire, as well as the 2009 reunion of Sleep proper that has resulted in copious headlining and touring appearances as well as the release of the 2014 single The Clarity (review here), amid a contract dispute with Earache and near-constant rumors of a new full-length in progress on one level or another.

As for the song itself, “Dopesmoker” — which I’ve chosen to put here without the accompanying “Sonic Titan” — remains overwhelming in its scope. Its tonal thickness presents a morass from which Cisneros‘ guttural vocals rumble upward like some ancient call to arms, and when it comes to speaking to the converted, there are few lines short of “What is this that stands before me?” that have ever resonated as thoroughly as “Drop out of life, bong in hand.” Arriving after a solid eight minutes of hypnotic establishment of “Dopesmoker”‘s central riff, it is nearly impossible to measure the impact that single line has had on underground heavy rock. From there, “Dopesmoker” unfolds the tale of a journey rife with transcendentalist THC-ism, the setting a Zion that turns weed into an object of nigh-on-dogmatic ritualism, all the while Pike‘s riffing leads the way along a march punctuated by Hakius that’s no less epic than the lyrical thread. By the time they’re halfway through, their smoke-filled haze has become a churning universe unto itself, and then the guitar solo kicks in. About seven minutes later. Though often imitated at this point, the scale at which “Dopesmoker” works remains largely its own, and like any such monument, even those who’ve come along since to sound bigger or write something longer or whatever it might be invariably exist in its shadow. Its gospel ends with the stoned deliverance of the caravan and a return to the opening lines, but the riffing goes on for a few more minutes thereafter — as it should, pretty much into perpetuity. On repeat. Forever.

Southern Lord reissued Dopesmoker with new art by Arik Roper in 2012 and has gone on to do multiple pressings since in various vinyl and CD editions, so it is readily available for those who’ve yet to chase it down, but as one of the most essential heavy rock releases of all-time, I suspect a good amount of that is geared toward collector impulse rather than filling a gap, at least at this point. Either way, Dopesmoker has been and still represents a watershed moment of riffly creation. There will never be another one that hits in exactly the same way, from Sleep or anyone else, and even if that stems in part from the story of what went into its becoming, the result of that process — everything that went into its being — speaks to the core of one of the heaviest releases of all time. It resounds.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

What else could’ve possibly been heavy enough to close out the week that saw my son brought into the world?

Born at 8:09AM on Oct. 25, 2017, The Pecan came into this world after a plodding 41 hours of labor on the part of The Patient Mrs., whose water broke on Monday afternoon and who delivered the baby via C-section after grueling her way through on Wednesday morning. It was brutal, I don’t mind telling you. I write this post from the chair of the hospital room, my son cradled sleeping in my arms (every time I type with my left hand, his head moves a bit, but he doesn’t seem disturbed by it, which bodes well). We might get to get out of here this evening — Monday to Friday in the hospital has been long and The Patient Mrs. and I are both ready to go, I think — but otherwise it’ll be tomorrow, and then begins a round of family visits that I expect will continue through at least the next couple weeks. Already our mothers and sisters were hanging out in various waiting rooms for extended periods of time, attending his delayed arrival.

So, as for fatherhood: so far so good, I guess. Obviously nothing we’ve yet faced even holds a candle to anything to come pretty much as soon as we get out of here, but we’ve managed to keep him alive for two days, and I’m willing to take that as a win in the immediate. Last night was rougher than the first night, but after a couple hours of cluster-feeding, he slept for a solid four hours and so we did as well and I think that did us all a world of good. The Patient Mrs. is napping now with a pillow over her head. I went home for a bit yesterday and made myself some good coffee to bring back in my thermos, have been sipping that this morning, so we’re holding up. We’ve had talks about being in “survival mode” basically between now and next April — from here to Roadburn, is how we put it — and that seems like a reasonable timeline. We’ll see how it goes. We’re on an adventure.

You may have noticed the last two days were light on posts. Two per day still seems pretty good to me for a dude whose wife just had their first baby, so if you’re gonna complain about that, please don’t. There’s a lot of news to catch up on though, so I’m going to dedicate early next week to that and hopefully get into some early, soon-to-change pattern establishment for morning writing, etc. Here’s what’s in my notes for the week:

Mon.: News catchup, Lizardmen video premiere.
Tue.: SubRosa Subdued review; Operators video.
Wed.: Black Moon Circle review, whatever comes.
Thu.: Electric Wizard review, whatever comes.
Fri.: Fireball Ministry review, whatever comes.

That’s me catching up on reviews a bit as well, and it’s light on premieres on purpose to let me have some flex as I need to, so yeah, bottom line is it’s subject to change as always. Also more than always.

So there you have it. The Pecan has arrived. We’re in the midst of feeling things out, which I expect we will be for, you know, the next 20-odd years. Maybe more.

I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Please check out the forum and the radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

Tags: , , , , ,

Cities of Mars, Temporal Rifts: Opening Doors of Dark Matter

Posted in Reviews on October 27th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

cities of mars temporal rifts

The year? 3251 BC. Martian civilization is in peril. There is a civil war taking place on the Red Planet and an evil scientist has just unveiled an army of mechanical spiders that may indeed turn the tide.

Such is the setting for at least part of Cities of Mars‘ debut album, Temporal Rifts. The Gothenburg-based trio’s first full-length arrives as their first release for Argonauta Records after two initial outings in the 2016 Suicide Records EP, Celestial Mistress (review here), and 2015’s self-released Cyclopean Ritual/The Third Eye (review here) single, both of which took place in the same canon being built by the sci-fi-driven heavy riffers. Their frame for narrative delivery has since that first single has been the discovery of this ancient Martian culture by a KGB agent named Nadia, somehow linked to the Celestial Mistress herself, and it seems that each new Cities of Mars track adds something distinct to the overarching tale or the setting in general.

Cities of Mars have been engaging in world-building all along, it seems, and Temporal Rifts is their deepest dive in that regard to-date, with five tracks and 35 minutes of what also happens to be the most complex material they’ve yet unfurled, moving fluidly from more straightforward and hook-driven fare in the opening salvo of “Doors of Dark Matter Pt. 1: Barriers” and “Envoy of Murder” (premiered here) to the post-Mastodonic progressive metal of “Children of the Red Sea” and from there even further into atmospheric depths. It seems time and storyline aren’t the only things Cities of Mars are exploring. After having felt their way through a nodding round of short releases, they’ve also clearly set themselves on a creative journey of sound as well.

All the better to avoid one of the most prevalent dangers when it comes to conceptual or narrative material, and that is the sacrifice of song to the story. Recorded by Esben Willems of Monolord at his Berserk Audio studio, Temporal Rifts doesn’t veer into spoken word interludes or feature dramatic character dialogue as some plot-fueled records do, but there’s still a strong sense of the material being tied together across an arc, and this is skillfully brought to bear while also allowing individual pieces to shine on their own. A hard balance to strike, but particularly by setting “Doors of Dark Matter Pt. 1: Barriers” and “Envoy of Murder” loose at the outset,  guitarist/vocalist Christoffer Norén, bassist/vocalist Danne Palm and drummer/vocalist Johan Küchler set a tone specifically geared toward the delivery of heavy hooks more akin to their early material.

cities of mars

This is rawer in style than what Temporal Rifts will begin to present once it moves into the centerpiece “Gula, a Bitter Embrace,” and into the eight-minute pairing of “Children of the Red Sea” and exclamatory closer “Caverns Alive!,” but the effect remains prevalent, allowing the later tracks to have a fuller context in answering the earlier ones through their own memorable parts as they also push well beyond in terms of ambience. In beginning that process, “Gula, a Bitter Embrace” is very much the centerpiece of Temporal Rifts and a key moment of methodoligical transition. At just under seven minutes long, it begins at a nod that reminds immediately of Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats through its initial riff, but soon unfolds a denser verse and an instrumental bridge topped with an airy lead from Norén. The march resumes for the next verse and carries Cities of Mars past the midsection, into a back third marked by a more melodic vocal arrangement and winding guitar progression. It turns out to be set to a linear build but caps with a significant payoff, but the patience in the band’s delivery thereof is a marked shift in approach alone, never mind the melody preceding or the winding lines of guitar at the foundation there.

It is as suitable a lead-in for the spacious beginning to “Children of the Red Sea” as one might ask, and though the penultimate track, which is the longest on Temporal Rifts at 8:27, shifts into sharper-edged riffing soon enough and makes its way into more intense chug-and-churn as it moves through its midsection, what follows starting at about 5:07 is a stretch of minimal, quiet guitar and cymbal washing, sparse sampling and other noises. They’re back to louder fare soon enough, pushing “Children of the Red Sea” to its apex, but the effect remains, and moaning vocals that started out the song return over the ending riff cycles, which give way to sampled wave sounds at the end, met by a doppler timed to the drums at the outset of “Caverns Alive!”

The closer also takes a linear course along a progressive and mindful execution, and like “Children of the Red Sea” with its vocals on either end, the doppler returns at the end of the finale, along with insistent percussion, capping Temporal Rifts with a symmetrical sensibility even beyond what Cities of Mars have already conjured through the LP’s structure. Although they’ve already shown significant growth from one outing to the next, it’s important to keep in mind that Temporal Rifts is still their debut outing, and that as much as they’ve begun to elucidate this engaging story of Nadia, Martian robot spiders and ancient mysteries, so too have they only really just begun their own story as well, and that it’s entirely likely the proggy aspects that show themselves here particularly in the final two cuts are the beginning chapters of an entirely different mythos.

Cities of Mars, Temporal Rifts (2017)

Cities of Mars on Thee Facebooks

Cities of Mars on Bandcamp

Cities of Mars on Instagram

Cities of Mars website

Argonauta Records on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records website

Tags: , , , , ,

Jupiterian Premiere “Us and Them”; Terraforming out Nov. 15

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 26th, 2017 by JJ Koczan


Brazilian sludge extremists Jupiterian will issue their second album, Terraforming, Nov. 15 via Transcending Obscurity Records. The be-hooded São Paulo four-piece debuted in 2015 with Aphotic (review here) on Caligari Records, and the six-track/39-minute follow-up works with a likewise sense of bleak extremity, derived in part from black metal, traditional depressive doom and an overarching sense of murk. Atmosphere is central to the approach on pieces like “Unearthly Glow” and the creepily spacious but short title-track, on which Maurice de Jong of Gnaw Their Tongues, who also mixed, makes a vocal guest appearance, but as engrossingly dark as they are, even cuts like opener “Matriarch” and the penultimate chug-and-blaster “Us and Them” have a rich depth and ambient mentality behind them.

That balance of sheer aural cruelty and breadth becomes the crux of Terraforming, and whether it’s the nods to tribalism/ritualism that emerge suitably enough at the outset of “Matriarch” and “Forefathers” or the more immediate nod of closer “Sol,” which insteadJupiterian terraforming caps with a spread of atmospheric guitar, Jupiterian never seem to be too distant from playing between one side and the other. This not only enriches the overarching stylistic character of the tracks, but it makes the more “extreme” parts come across with even more impact regardless of tempo, since they so clearly emerge from a place of progressive thoughtfulness of craft and arrangement, rather than a band simply putting forth something geared toward brutality for its own sake. Nothing against that approach necessarily when it works, but Jupiterian have a more complex goal with Terraforming as they did with Aphotic, and the meld present in their sound is what allows them to accomplish it as completely as they do.

In addition to the first album, Terraforming was preceded by a number of short releases, one of them a 2017 EP titled URN that featured only two tracks — a cover of Black Sabbath (“Behind the Wall of Sleep”) and a cover of early Anathema (“Mine is Yours to Drown In [Ours Is the New Tribe]”), and in a way, that divide between the two would seem to give some decent clue of the influences Jupiterian are contorting to their own purposes with Terraforming, but the clear emphasis should be on just how much work the initials-only lineup of guitarist/vocalist/synthesist/percussionist V, guitarist A, bassist R and drummer G have put into individualizing these varied impulses and making them their own. Be it the roaring of “Unearthly Glow” or the final build and release within “Us and Them,” the album offers moment after moment of payoff for that effort.

Today I have the pleasure of hosting the official premiere of “Us and Them” ahead of the album’s Nov. 15 release. You can find it on the player below, followed by more info from the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

Jupiterian, “Us and Them” official track premiere

From Brazil, underground masked entity JUPITERIAN reemerge with their unique brand of atmospheric sludge/doom metal. Haunting both musically and aesthetically, JUPITERIAN delve into subtler, more visceral sounds while retaining their crushing style. Like the dichotomy in their country, their music too encompasses the stark contrast between the intense and atmospheric bits, sometimes transmuting into a dark ambient form aided by Maurice de Jong of GNAW THEIR TONGUES. ‘Terraforming’ is the much awaited full length that will see the light of day on multiple formats through Indian label Transcending Obscurity Records late this year. The die has been cast.

Band lineup –
G – Drums
R – Bass
V – Voices, Guitars, Percussions, Synths
A – Guitars

Recorded at Duna Studios
Mixed by Maurice de Jong (GNAW THEIR TONGUES)
Mastered by Stephen Lockhart (SVARTIDAUDI, TCHORNOBOG, ZHRINE)

Jupiterian on Thee Facebooks

Jupiterian on Bandcamp

Transcending Obscurity Records on Thee Facebooks

Transcending Obscurity Records on Bandcamp

Transcending Obscurity Records website

Tags: , , , , ,

Monolord, Rust: Shimmer in Dirt

Posted in Reviews on October 26th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

monolord rust

Over the course of the last four years, Gothenburg trio Monolord have worked efficiently on a mission to establish themselves among the heaviest of riff-driven bands the world over. Rust is their third album for RidingEasy Records behind the 2016 Lord of Suffering / Die in Haze EP (review here) and 2015’s Vænir (review here) and 2013’s debut Empress Rising full-lengths, and in some crucial ways it continues the thread. For example? It’s incredibly heavy. Should be said outright. Self-produced with drummer Esben Willems at the helm of Berserk Audio, it finds guitarist/vocalist Thomas V. Jäger, bassist Mika Häkki and Willems unfolding a molten cascade of riffy largesse worthy of the reputation they’ve earned from their studio output and corresponding significant time on tour. At the same time, however, it’s easier to read a narrative of progression within Monolord‘s sound even as the title-track lumbers into some of the record’s most weighted doom — the Swedish trio have grown melodically bolder, and Jäger‘s vocals, while still coated in effects, are more confident in their delivery than they were even two years ago.

As a unit, they were already on a progressive path coming from Empress Rising into Vænir, but the shift feels even more marked on Rust, particularly as it caps with its two longest inclusions, “Forgotten Lands” (12:45) and “At Niceae” (15:36), which seem to bring Monolord successively into new depths and new heights of places they’ve never explored before. While it’s not necessarily a shock that a band who’ve spent as much time on the road as Monolord have and who have two prior LPs under their collective belt would be coming into their own in terms of songwriting, the corresponding uptick of scope they present across Rust‘s 54 minutes isn’t to be understated, and as much heft as they offer, it’s the space they cover with it that impresses even more.

Naturally, when one hears the rumble that begins “Dear Lucifer” or the roll of “Where Death Meets the Sea,” the temptation is to think of Rust as a continuation of Monolord‘s seismic plod, but the truth is that by the first verse of “Where Death Meets the Sea,” which opens, they’re telling a more complex sonic story of where they are as a group. It would be an oversight to discount the vocal performance of Jäger in conveying this — almost immediately (there’s an intro to “Where Death Meets the Sea,” but we’re talking soon after that) he steps into a prominent frontman role in a way that simply wasn’t done on the last record or Empress Rising before it, and by setting that vibe early, he’s better able to maintain it even as the three-piece trudges later into the deep recesses of “Forgotten Lands” and “At Niceae.” But it’s not just his voice.

The guitar opens up to a subdued, almost airy tone during the verse, and while Häkki‘s bass adds plenty of oomph to the low end in the hook — yup, it’s a hook — as the five-plus-minute track unfolds, Monolord demonstrate an intention to do more than simply overwhelm with tonal weight. Though slower, “Dear Lucifer” ultimately does likewise, with the vocals out front of a progression that, while still about as post-Electric Wizard as the band get on Rust, is even more their own. Organ starts the title-track and provides a backdrop for the first minute, but recedes once the guitar, bass and drums kick in, bringing forth a densely-fuzzed march around a straightforward verse/chorus interchange that builds on what “Where Death Meets the Sea” accomplished with less back and forth interplay of volume, and a chugging second half bridge that, much to its credit, doesn’t veer into being overdone either before or after its last run through the hook en route to the ending guitar solo that brings about the instrumental “Wormland.”


I’m not sure where the sides/platters split for Rust, but it’s fair either way to say that “Wormland” feels as much like an introduction leading the way into “Forgotten Lands” and “At Niceae” as it does a capstone for the three shorter cuts before it. The groove comes easily and is maintained likewise across the six-minute instrumental piece, and a hypnotic effect from the early repetition is given further breadth through the arrival of violin just after the four-minute mark. like the verse of “Where Death Meets the Sea” or the heavy psych vibing that the last two tracks will touch on, this is yet another moment on Rust where the breadth comes into direct focus, though admittedly, in the case of “Forgotten Lands,” the overarching impression is much more geared toward weight than reach. Still, even as they seem to plummet downward into this low-end mire, they complement with higher-register vocals from Jäger to give a more rounded feel. And as thoroughly doomed as Rust is, that turns out to be the story of the album.

“Forgotten Lands” and “At Niceae” invariably define much of it, in a way the extended “Died a Million Times” and “Vænir” did at the end of Vænir, but as those two were split by the two-minute “The Cosmic Silence,” the way Monolord thrust their listeners into this world feels more brazen, and even more so as “Forgotten Lands” dips into its post-midpoint tripout, anchored by the bass as the weedy guitar goes wandering around dreamy layered vocals. They come back around to crush again and cap just before the 12-minute mark, which leaves silence as a transition into “At Niceae,” which strums YOB-like at the outset but soon enough moves into its own thundering roll, finding a defining fuzzy moment right around eight minutes in as a setup for instrumental hypnosis that gives way at 13 minutes to pure Floydian acoustics.

Vocals return and so does a line of electric guitar that marks the fadeout, but by then the pivotal shift in impression has been made and Monolord have sent the last confirmation of the growth they’ve undertaken as a band, no less striking than the tonal onslaught with which they first made their mark on an international audience. Their narrative may in part always remain centered around that consuming sonic largesse, but if Rust proves anything about Monolord, it’s that they’re still just beginning to reveal their full potential.

Monolord, Rust (2017)

Monolord on Thee Facebooks

Monolord on Twitter

Monolord on Instagram

Monolord on Bandcamp

RidingEasy Records on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records on Twitter

RidingEasy Records on Bandcamp

RidingEasy Records website

Tags: , , , , ,

Review & Full Album Premiere: Mirror Queen, Verdigris

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 25th, 2017 by JJ Koczan


[Click play above to stream Mirror Queen’s Verdigris in its entirety. Album is out this Friday, Oct. 27, via Tee Pee Records.]

The two years since Mirror Queen issued their 2015 outing, Scaffolds of the Sky (review here), the New York-based classic heavy rockers have traded out guitarist Phi Moon for former The Golden Grass bassist Morgan McDaniel, been back to Europe to tour and continued to proffer an underrated blend of early ’70s progressive rock and six-string-driven NWOBHM-isms. Led as ever by founding guitarist/vocalist Kenny Sehgal, who traces the band’s roots back to his prior outfit Kreisor, the four-piece offer with their third long-player, Verdigris, a more patient and lush take on their titular cut while also bringing quality hooks to bear on tracks like opener “Poignard” and its bouncing side B counterpart, “Starliner” (premiered here), which was previously issued as a limited 7″ single earlier this year.

Comprised of six total songs for a crisp 41-minute LP and issued through Tee Pee RecordsVerdigris finds a natural fluidity building from the early metallic gallop of “Poignard” as the eight-minute pairing of “Flying Eyes” and “Sorrow’s End/Dark Kiss of the Sun” take hold, with SehgalMcDaniel, and the rhythm section of bassist James Corallo and drummer Jeremy O’Brien shining through in balancing their influences almost on a per-part basis while the vocals drive a more confident feel overall through the flowing “Flying Eyes” and add a sense of command to the side A finale that helps carry across the molten and malleable stylistic vibe. Make no mistake, there is a metallic edge to Mirror Queen‘s aesthetic, but it arrives presented in a context of heavy rock groove, so that even as “Poignard” starts Verdigris off with its most fervent charge or “Sorrow’s End/Dark Kiss of the Sun” meets the lush “Flying Eyes” with a moodier, lower-toned take, the affect on the listener is more like those moments where Deep Purple lock into a forward groove than when Iron Maiden do likewise, however much it more it may actually be inspired by the latter than the former.

Indeed, it’s worth emphasizing that that measure is something with which Mirror Queen toy throughout Verdigris. The Thin Lizzy-style turns that start “Starliner” at the outset of side B hit into organic-feeling fuzz and brim with a core vitality that adds force to their punch. As much as the guitars shine throughout — and Swans guitarist Norman Westberg contributes here in that regard as well — and as much as Sehgal‘s vocals establish a presence particularly once “Flying Eyes” kicks into gear, it is of course O’Brien and Corallo who provide the crucial foundation on which the songs rest. Even with two guitars, Mirror Queen set up their dynamic like that of a classic power trio, with the six-stringers free to roam around and between the basslines and drum progressions, which are held together with unquestionable solidity.

mirror queen photo john fell

This can be heard especially in the lush companionship that “Verdigris” offers to “Flying Eyes” before it, but it’s no less true of the less outwardly psychedelic material as well, whether that’s “Poignard” and “Starliner” or “Sorrow’s End/Dark Kiss of the Sun” and the closer “Curse the Night” mirroring each other in their thrust, the latter also hearkening back to “Poignard”‘s sense of forward motion at the outset — O’Brien even sneaks in a little double-kick; blink and you’ll miss it — and ending the album with one final dual-guitar solo and memorable hook, shades of MaidenDio and Priest finding their way into what, again and still, is ostensibly heavy rock and roll in its tone and delivery. It might be worth noting that “Curse the Night” is also the shortest song since the sub-four-minute “Poignard,” but it, “Starliner” and “Verdigris” all over around the seven-minute mark, whereas the side A launch is 3:51 and its two companions each top eight minutes, making for a more stark contrast between them.

That might have a hand in driving the overarching flow that emerges as the record plays out, but the divide between sides A and B is a significant marker for how that process happens. For those listening to a linear form — CD or digital — Verdigris still works smoothly, and that’s a credit to Mirror Queen overall, but no question their intent was toward vinyl structure. Fitting enough given their classic vibe overall, and if the successful manifestation thereof in the songcraft is what makes the A/B split so prevalent, then it only proves all the more how well composed the album actually is.

And it is. Mirror Queen lose none of their energy or memorability as “Starliner” takes hold, and “Verdigris” and “Curse the Night” continue to unfold a broader stylistic range without letting go either of the foundation in craft or the underlying quality of performance, which, while Verdigris is less focused on a “live” sound than some, what with its layered vocal arrangements and studio-born clarity of recording, nonetheless shines through in a manner befitting the band’s maturity, both going back to Sehgal and O’Brien‘s days in Kreisor and to Mirror Queen‘s own work across what’s now a trio of underrated LPs. They have been and remain a better band than people know, but for those who’ve discovered their output, the sonic niche they occupy has proven time and again to be rich ground for exploration.

Mirror Queen on Thee Facebooks

Tee Pee Records on Thee Facebooks

Tee Pee Records on Twitter

Tee Pee Records on Instagram

Tee Pee Records on Bandcamp

Tee Pee Records website

Tags: , , , , ,

Vessel of Light Premiere “Dead Flesh and Bones” Lyric Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 25th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

vessel of light

Vessel of Light release their self-titled debut EP via Argonauta Records on Nov. 3. The six-song/21-minute offering is the first fruit borne of the collaboration between Ancient VVisdom frontman Nathan Opposition and Hades guitarist Dan Lorenzo, and as Lorenzo tells the tale below, it all started out innocently enough. A basic correspondence between two players respecting each other’s work has yielded tracks of deeply mood-fueled heavy doom rock, and finding songs like “Where My Garden Grows” and “Dead Flesh and Bones” working around murderous themes or the depressive fare offered throughout “Living Dead to the World” and the decidedly metallic “Descend into Death,” there’s a balance being struck across the songs that draws influence from the pasts of Lorenzo and Opposition alike.

Whether that comes through in the bluesy underpinning to the central riff of vessel of light vessel of light“Descend into Death” or the rolling doom that unfurls itself throughout “Meant to Be,” the consistent element tying the material together is the overarching grimness of spirit and the violent tendencies played out so vividly in the lyrics. Even the eponymous closing track, with its druggy focus and chorus, “LSD has got a hold of me,” and so on, has more than a small measure of threat behind its promise to “make your nightmares come true.” And certainly as that song proclaims in manipulated screams that the speaker is a vessel of light, one gets the sense that it’s way more a vessel of the post-Manson sense than one who might actually offer a level of peace. Unless, you know, you think of being murdered as peaceful.

Lyrics are a focus throughout Vessel of Light‘s Vessel of Light, so it seems only fitting that the duo should unveil the track “Dead Flesh and Bones” with a mind directed specifically toward them. The words may be about burying someone in the garden, but it’s also worth noting that the song is catchy as hell, and amid the red-tinted imagery and striking nature of brutalism, that aspect is not at all lost.

You can see the video below, followed by more info on the EP, courtesy of the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

Vessel of Light, “Dead Flesh and Bones” lyric video

Dan Lorenzo (Hades, Non-Fiction, The Cursed) teamed up with Nathan Opposition (Ancient VVisdom) to form a musical project called Vessel Of Light. The duo entered Brainchild Studios in Cleveland to record their debut during Summer 2017. Lorenzo has issued the following update:

“I decided to write about the band in NJ’s Steppin’ Out magazine and I mailed Nathan Opposition (Ancient VVisdom’s singer) a magazine and I think an old Hades CD. We started communicating by email and then on the phone. I had no intentions of asking him to write with me because my musical career is long over. I’m considerably older than him and I honestly wasn’t playing guitar much, but when Nathan asked me if I wanted to write together I couldn’t say no.”

Nathan Opposition says, “Lorenzo and I became friends due to my inability to not be susceptible to flattery. Turns out he’s a really cool guy who writes awesome riffs too. Randomly one day I ask him about the band we are starting in joking fashion. I guess it was the right timing and the right person because we immediately agreed we should actually start a project. Before I knew it he was sending me CDs of riffs and I had lyrics flowing like a faucet.”

Vessel of Light on Thee Facebooks

Vessel of Light on Instagram

Argonauta Records website

Argonauta Records on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records on Twitter

Tags: , , , , , ,