Kind Premiere “German for Lucy”; Announce Release of Debut LP Rocket Science

Posted in audiObelisk on August 27th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

kind (Photo by Nicole Tammaro)

I’m going to do my absolute very best to keep this brief, because there’s much more to say about Kind and their upcoming Ripple Music debut, Rocket Science, but there’s also a lot of time in which to say it. It’s out on December, and in addition to being the first track premiere from the new band, the first studio-recorded, non-demo audio to be made public, it’s also the first announcement of the album itself. So there’s time, is what I’m saying, and as much as I’d like to dive into the record headfirst, preorders aren’t even up yet.

Still, if one might have be reminded to cool one’s jets, it’s well justified. I recall hearing late in 2013 that guitarist Darryl Shepard (Milligram, Black Pyramid, etc.) was jamming kind rocket sciencewith Elder drummer Matt Couto, and that wound up as the root of Kind. Tom Corino from Rozamov plays bass, and Craig Riggs of Roadsaw rounds out on vocals, and many of the songs on Rocket Science — dig that Alexander von Wieding cover art — are born out of those same jams. They’ve come a long way, having been developed over a series of local shows fit between the four-piece’s otherwise busy schedules (review here, here and here), but listening to “German for Lucy,” that raw vitality holds up.

If you know the members’ other groups, that still doesn’t really prepare you for what Kind bring to the table. “German for Lucy” opens the record, and immediately the listener is immersed in a heavy psychedelic vibe. Riggs‘ vocals are as much a part of the atmosphere as Shepard‘s effects-drenched guitar, pushed deep in the mix and set for maximum spaciousness. This really is just the beginning of what there is to say about this one, but if you want to get stoked, the stream works even better than my nerding out.

More to come. For now, stream and announcement follow. Enjoy:

KIND; A new doom project from Black Pyramid, Elder, Roadsaw and Rozamov

Formed in 2013 by Matt Couto (Elder), Darryl Shepard (Black Pyramid, The Scimitar) and Tom Corino (Rozamov) – after the trio spent time jamming together in-between day-to-day commitments – the doom supergroup KIND quickly cemented their formation with the addition of Roadsaw vocalist Craig Riggs.

Out of the mind-bending riffs and extended jam sessions, whole songs began to take shape through winter 2014 rehearsals down in Couto’s freezing cold basement, where the newly formed quartet began laying down ideas for their soon to be released debut, Rocket Science, which officially lands this December on Ripple Music.

Shows were soon booked to share the tunes with the curious. Further riffs materialized, new songs banged into shape, and yet more shows booked, so keen were the band to test their mettle and mixture of heavy metal, psych, Krautrock and straight-up classic rock and roll. With four songs recorded at Mad Oak Studios serving as the band’s demo, in the spring of 2015, KIND entered New Alliance Studios with engineer Alec Rodriguez to record their first full-length, Rocket Science.

Kind on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music

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Carousel, 2113: Strange Revelations

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on August 26th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

carousel-2113

[NOTE: Press play above to hear the full stream of Carousel’s 2113. Thanks to the band, label and PR for letting me host the premiere.]

Don’t let its minimalist cover fool you, Carousel‘s 2113 is brimming with life. The Pittsburgh four-piece’s second offering through Tee Pee Records after a raucous debut two years ago with Jeweler’s Daughter (reviewed and streamed here), the nine-song/46-minute collection also marks the arrival of guitarist Matt Goldsborough, who doubles in labelmates The Skull. His addition to the lineup with returning guitarist/vocalist Dave Wheeler, bassist Jim Wilson and drummer Jake Leger, is even more noteworthy because, while Goldsborough is is perhaps best known for his stint replacing Victor Griffin a couple years back in PentagramLeger also doubles as the drummer for reunited heavy rockers Bang, so more than most who work in the style, Carousel can claim direct lineage to the classic form from which they take inspiration.

Accordingly, 2113 makes for some of the most seamless ’70s modernization I’ve heard since Stone Axe, songs like “Man Like Me” and the talkbox-infused “Photograph” digging deep into a ’70s-sytle aesthetic and rhythm without necessarily needing the vintage production trappings that others sometimes take on. As was the case with Jeweler’s DaughterCarousel work smoothly as a two-guitar foursome, this time around Wheeler and Goldsborough finding harmonies right from the start with opener “Trouble” that reinforce the timelessness that Thin Lizzy once so readily tapped. It’s a party vibe early, but the bulk of 2113 isn’t so easily caged into one mindset or another, much to the benefit of the album as a whole.

Wheeler‘s frontman presence is a major force throughout, but ultimately it’s his and Goldsborough‘s guitars both that lead the charge, while Wilson and Leger lock in alternately swinging and driving grooves to push songs like “Photograph” forward at an efficient but not at all rushed-sounding clip through its several included solos. The shift in approach between that cut and the subsequent “Buried Alive in Your Arms” — which almost beats the listener over the head with its hook and thus proves among the more immediately memorable inclusions — signals a sense of structural variety that continues throughout the record, but wherever they wind up, Carousel keep 2113 sounding consistent and largely effortless, swagger perhaps the album’s most unifying theme.

carousel

Fitting enough, Wilson gives a highlight bass performance on “Jim’s Song,” and the shortest track (at 2:54) winds up smartly placed to hold onto the momentum the band have thus-far built leading into the centerpiece of the tracklisting, “Highway Strut,” which is about as close as Carousel come to a mission statement on the record. Elsewhere, on “Buried Alive in Your Arms” or the later “Man Like Me,” or on the bonus track Joe Walsh cover “Turn to Stone,” one finds tales of loves lost and found, but “Highway Strut” feels like it’s in the middle for a reason. Also likely the opener of the vinyl side B, it’s a classic road song in the Grand Funk tradition of the sort that Dixie Witch once did so well, and while by the time it comes around, Leger has already broken out the cowbell once on “Photograph,” it couldn’t be more appropriate than it is highlighting the titular strut of the centerpiece.

“Strange Revelation” is about as close as Carousel get to psychedelia, with some added spaciousness in the guitar, but the prevailing vibe remains more boozy than druggy. Starting quiet, it trades back and forth for the first couple minutes until locking itself in around the halfway point through its seven-minute run, building to a satisfying apex that prefaces the title-track soon enough to follow “Man Like Me,” which like “Jim’s Song” on side A, is smartly located where it is. In this case, its straightforward thrust, dual leads and catchy chorus not only stand on their own, but act as a buffer between “Strange Revelation” and “2113.” If you want to go one farther, one can hear a touch of Joe Walsh in the guitar progression as well, tying the original song to the finale cover, but most importantly, “Man Like Me” is strong enough to sound like more than just an interlude between 2113‘s two longest tracks, the latter of which checks in at 7:42 well spent between AC/DC chug and some more of that highway strut they noted earlier.

As ever, Wheeler and Goldsborough affirm the forward position of the guitars, a layer of acoustics adding a sentimental touch to the second half of the track, which is entirely instrumental and topped with interwoven solos prior to a long fadeout. I don’t know whether “Turn to Stone” is included on the vinyl edition of the album — I’d assume not, but one wouldn’t want to feign certainty — but they fit the cut by the former Eagles/James Gang frontman smoothly into the overarching flow either way, even if after the fade of “2113,” there’s not much left that really needs to be said. It’s a quick listen, with or without “Turn to Stone” at the end of it, and Carousel‘s second makes a more than suitable answer to their debut, finding them as players working in more nuanced ideas without losing the natural spirit so essential to what they do.

Carousel on Thee Facebooks

2113 at Tee Pee Records

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audiObelisk Transmission 051

Posted in Podcasts on August 25th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Click Here to Download

 

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

The last one was so late, it seemed only fair to get back on track and do this one early. Not that you’re sitting and waiting with baited breath for the next podcast, I know — not deluding myself to think otherwise — but it keeps me sane to stick to some imaginary/arbitrary feeling of timeliness that changes more often than not, so I’ll just say up front that I appreciate your indulgence. Wow. Sometimes these imaginary conversations get pretty heavy.

Speaking of heavy — and speaking of masterful segues! — the new podcast has plenty of it. The second hour actually gets pretty pummeling, what with the Ahab track and all, so I made sure a little extra psychedelic stuff got in at the front. Dig that Red Mountains track. Their album’s coming out on Nasoni, which should be all the endorsement you need. I’m also very much into the Pyramidal space jam, and if you get to hear it, that Brian Ellis & Brian Grainger record (El Paraiso is putting it out) is a gem. Think a more psychedelic Six Organs of Admittance, all instrumental.

Some killer samplings to be had here, so I won’t delay further. Hope you enjoy:

First Hour:
0:00:00 Tony Reed, “Still Born Beauty (Necromandus ’73)” from The Lost Chronicles of Heavy Rock Vol. 1
0:04:02 All Them Witches, “Dirt Preachers” from Dying Surfer Meets His Maker
0:07:43 Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, “Waiting for Blood” from The Night Creeper
0:12:33 Red Mountains, “Sleepy Desert Blues” from Down with the Sun
0:19:58 T.G. Olson, “Heavy on Your Head” from The Boom and Bust
0:23:18 Pyramidal, “Motormind” from Jams from the Sun Split with Domo
0:33:30 Brian Ellis & Brian Grainger, “Treesmoke” from At Dusk
0:37:53 Vinnum Sabbathi, “Hex II: Foundation Pioneers” from Fuzzonaut Split with Bar de Monjas
0:45:18 Spelljammer, “The Pathfinder” from Ancient of Days
0:53:41 Derelics, “Ride the Fuckin’ Snake to Valhalla” from Introducing

Second Hour:
1:02:03 Ahab, “The Weedmen” from The Boats of the Glen Carrig
1:16:56 Lost Orb, “Low Ebb’s Lament” from Low Ebb’s Lament
1:34:10 Hotel Wrecking City Traders, “Droned and Disowned” from Split with Hey Colossus

Total running time: 2:00:41

 

Thank you for listening.

Download audiObelisk Transmission 051

 

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The Mountain Movers Premiere “I Watch the Sea” from New Album Death Magic

Posted in audiObelisk on August 25th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

the mountain movers

This past weekend, New Haven, Connecticut, pastoralists The Mountain Movers played the release show for their second album, Death Magic. Out this Friday, Aug. 28, through Safety Meeting Records, it’s their fifth long-player and first since 2010’s Apple Mountain, recorded by former drummer John Miller (Titles) and boasting a natural and subtly driving sound. Shoegazing and indie airiness pervade, and there’s a weighted undertone in Ross Menze‘s drums and the bass of Rick Omonte (ex-Crooked Hook) that meshes smoothly with guitarists Dan Greene (also vocals and artwork) and Kryssi Battalene (lead) to present an organic, at times understated psychedelia. Less space, more earth, but trippy all the same.

Opener “Short Life” does very little to hide its ’90s stylization, but by the time The Mountain Movers make their way to “Floating Holiday” two tracks later, the context has already widened considerably. It continues to do so throughout Death Magic, which builds tension and releases it in periodic bouts of fuzz and post-rocking dreaminess. “Dead the mountain movers death magicTomorrow” turns its title into a morose hook and seems to presage the immersive, slow-rolling swing of “Stray Cat in the Street,” which seems to be over before its really started at 2:20. Tempo and runtime seem to be playthings as much as the instruments on Death Magic, but the album lacks nothing for flow, pushing through the more jagged riffing of “I’ve Been Moved” and its near-seven-minute psychedelic thrust into the more peaceful but still discordant plod of closer “A Bird Flew in My Shed” in a manner suited to the vibe-intensive experience throughout.

At the center of Death Magic, one finds the seemingly companion “Nightsong of the Sea” and “I Watch the Sea.” The former lulls the listener to into a sort of semi-consciousness with its blissed-out lo-fi, but when it comes around, “I Watch the Sea” is immediately more abrasive, incorporating feedback Sonic Youth-style for purposeful abrasion even before it moves into its section of full-on jamming. Its six and a half minutes are among the rougher-edged on the album as a whole, but The Mountain Movers prove more than able to contain the fire they light, turning around in the last 30 seconds of the track in order to shift back to the chorus, like it ain’t no thing.

But it is, and you can find out for yourself by listening to the track on the player below, courtesy of Safety Meeting, which again, has the album out this Friday, Aug. 28. More info on the record follows the stream.

Enjoy:

Although five years have passed since Apple Mountain, the Mountain Movers’ last full length album, the band has been working steadily, releasing a half dozen 7” EP’s and cassettes. Over the last couple years their line-up has stabilized, one of incredible chemistry, and with every live performance the band’s interpretations of Dan Greene’s song writing have become increasingly direct, focused, and tonally powerful. The result is the highly anticipated new full-length album, Death Magic.

Many bands described as “lo-fi” only begin that way, and as the artist improves, so does the level of fidelity. But the Mountain Movers have upended the usual trajectory. After their ambitious and incredibly realized album Let’s Open Up The Chest (2008), a hi-fidelity studio production, subsequent releases were grounds for experimentation and home recording, resulting in a sound that some might call lo-fi. For the Mountain Movers, this experimentation was a quest for an elusive tone, a far-off texture, and anyone who has seen their live shows over the last few years has witnessed the Mountain Movers distill their formula into something organic, pure, and unmasked. To make this album, the band set up in the modest basement studio of former member John Miller, whose production is live, transparent, and captures the feeling of what may be Greene’s best song writing to date. Death Magic is not another over-produced, ultra-digital pile of overdubs and effects. Rather, these ten tracks document an inspired, unified performance—fuzzed out, pounding, and hypnotic.

The Mountain Movers Tumblr

The Mountain Movers on Thee Facebooks

Preorder at Safety Meeting Records

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Shiggajon, Sela: To Build a River

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on August 20th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

shiggajon sela

[NOTE: Press play above to hear the stream of Shiggajon’s Sela. Thanks to El Paraiso for letting me host the premiere.]

Danish collective Shiggajon issue a disclaimer as regards their sound, and it goes like this: “Shiggajon is not freejazz.” Fair enough. The truth of what they “are,” at least on their newest offering, Sela — also their first to be issued through Causa Sui‘s label, El Paraiso Records — is both more complicated and less off-putting. Jazz is part of it, freedom is part of it, but there’s also psychedelic exploration, jamming, experimental rock, ambient texturing and a deep-rooted improvisational sensibility that, in large part, defines the two included tracks, “Mæander” and “Sela,” each of which boasts sprawl enough to consume a vinyl side. Another part of what Shiggajon “are,” however, is amorphous.

Based around the duo of saxophonist Nikolai Brix Vartenberg and Mikkel Reher-Langberg, who on Sela handles drums, percussion and clarinet, the band has a revolving-door contributorship as well as a massively prolific level of output, including studio and live records, one-off CD-Rs and so on. Being hard to define is part of the trip. For “Mæander” (18:14) and “Sela” (18:29), they’re joined by violinist and double-bassist Emil Rothenborg, drummer Martin Aagaard Jensen, drummer, percussionist ang guitarist Mikkel Elzer and vocalist and silver flutist Sarah Lorraine Hepburn, who also donates electronics and tingshaws, the latter of which sets a major tone of pastoralism in the developmental stages of “Mæander,” along with Rothenborg‘s violin and various jingling bells.

Far back percussion — congas, maybe — gives a somewhat ritualized feel, and Hepburn‘s sans-lyrics vocal textures come presaged by an uptick in those bells, so there’s a plan at work on “Mæander,” though far more satisfying is the process of letting Shiggajon, whoever, wherever, whenever, whatever they are, construct the flow of the track and be carried along its multifaceted currents. Natural vibing is pervasive and proceeds gloriously, without interruption, to spread out over side A’s 18-minute course, cymbals keeping rhythm not in straightforward rock progressions but in timed ceremonial march.

shiggajon

 

As the strings and the percussion continue to build intensity to and through the 12-minute mark, one is reminded of some of Swans‘ mounting-chaos experimentalism, but Shiggajon are ultimately on a much more peaceful trip, and rather than come to a head and explode with aggression, “Mæander” finds a distinctly meditative feel in its repetitions, elements moving in and out around a central angularity that has an underlying melody but isn’t shy about defying it either. When Hepburn returns in the second half of the track, it’s clear just how ceremonial “Mæander” has become and how much of a march has emerged. Seemingly perpetual, it ends on a long fade, the bells cutting through on the way out, only to have the title-track fade in quietly around turns of violin, more bells and a subtly grounding drum beat. More experimental-sounding on its face — that is, with a less prominent initial foundation — “Sela” itself is also a more linear build, flowing smoothly toward an apex and then making its way out again peacefully.

More than its predecessor, “Sela” comes together as a wash of tone and cymbals. There’s a drone-style feel to some of its early going, but it’s more active than it at first seems, and like “Mæander,” it’s best experienced as a sort of passive participant, which is to say, if you’re going to go with it, go with it. By the time they’re 10 minutes in and the guitars begin to hint at post-rock echoes amid a peaceful din that’s just as real as it is oxymoronic, you’re either going to be lost or completely on board for wherever Shiggajon go next. That destination? A somewhat more rhythmically insistent apex — the flute comes into play — that’s gorgeously layered into a consuming, almost overwhelming push.

I couldn’t point to an exact second where they hit it, but the crescendo is over shortly past the 15-minute mark — the cymbals drop out — and from there, Shiggajon set about deconstructing “Sela”‘s various elements, the flute staying so long, then withering into the background drone, then rising again. It’s an ending that fits with the odd but always flowing spiritualism preceding, but one gets the feeling coming out the other side that Shiggajon probably didn’t stop to look back at the ending, by which I mean a band like this — as much as they are a band — is almost always looking forward at what’s next rather than what they’ve done before, constantly striving toward the next step in their ongoing progression. While Sela unquestionably captures a moment in their existence worth seeking out, for Shiggajon, it’s likely to be one more chapter in a longer story rather than any kind of stopping point. As one can hear on both sides of the platter, there’s no shortage of movement within.

Shiggajon’s website

Sela at El Paraiso Records

El Paraiso on Thee Facebooks

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Roadburn 2015: Streaming Sets from The Heads, Botanist, Bardspec, Eyehategod, Kandodo, Darkher, White Hills, Zoltan and Brimstone

Posted in audiObelisk on August 18th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

The Heads at Roadburn 2015 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The Heads were so goddamn good at Roadburn. As any edition will, Roadburn 2015 had some truly spectacular performances, both that I saw and that I heard about later and regretted not seeing, but one I consider myself very, very fortunate to have caught was that of The Heads on the Main Stage at the 013. Pure, raw and complete psychedelic mastery, it was probably in the top three heavy psych sets I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a few in my time. Bands sound molten on studio recordings all the time, but for them to bring that vibe to the stage was, well, it was The Heads, and they absolutely killed it.

But as I say, Roadburn 2015 had more than several spectacular gigs. Anytime Eyehategod go anywhere, they leave an impact, and I also managed to see that Kandodo set, which had Robert Hampson of Loop sitting in on guitar — speaking of molten psychedelics — as well as White Hills and Bardspec, the latter which was just Ivar Bjørnson and Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal of Enslaved experimenting with different chords and manipulations on a laptop. Very cool vibe there too.

The latest batch of Roadburn 2015 audio streams has all those, plus BotanistBrimstoneDarkher and Zoltan, which makes it quite a batch indeed. Enjoy:

(Ivar Bjørnson’s) Bardspec – Live at Roadburn 2015

Botanist – Live at Roadburn 2015

Brimstone- Live at Roadburn 2015

Darkher – Live at Roadburn 2015

Eyehategod – Live at Roadburn 2015

The Heads – Live at Roadburn 2015 (Main Stage)

Kandodo ft. Robert Hampson – Live at Roadburn 2015

White Hills – Live at Roadburn 2015

Zoltan – Live at Roadburn 2015

Special thanks to Walter as always for letting me host the streams. To read all of this year’s Roadburn coverage, click here. For the first, second and third batches of streams, click here and then click here and then click here and then click here.

Roadburn’s website

Marcel Van De Vondervoort on Thee Facebooks

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Faces of Bayon, Ash and Dust Have No Dominion: So Mote it Be

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on August 12th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

faces of bayon ash and dust have no dominion

[Please note: Album art above is not final. Use the player to stream Faces of Bayon’s Ash and Dust Have No Dominion in full. Thanks to the band for allowing me to host it.]

Even Faces of Bayon themselves would likely admit it’s been a while since those outside the somewhat grim, post-industrial confines of Worcester, Massachusetts, heard from them. The trio, who released their debut album in 2011’s Heart of the Fire (review here), have continued to play steady local shows, mostly at Ralph’s Rock Diner, and they’ve ventured out periodically, but on a pretty subdued scale. In 2014, guitarist/vocalist Matt Smith (ex-Warhorse) and bassist Ron Miles (ex-Twelfth of Never) were joined by drummer Mike Lenihan, though their second album, Ash and Dust Have No Dominion, features drummer Michael Brown. Accordingly, it seems a fair guess Ash and Dust Have No Dominion — which was recorded by Black Pyramid drummer Clay Neely and mastered by Second Grave guitarist Christopher Drzal and in its final form will boast cover art by much-respected MA-based photograther Hillarie Jason — was set in motion some time ago, though just how long, I couldn’t say.

Certainly its five tracks/66 minutes sound ancient enough, but that’s more an aesthetic choice than actual age, as Faces of Bayon remind quickly of what was their initial appeal the first time out: Namely, the seamless blend they conjure between deathly extremity and stoner riffing. Stonerdeath is a pretty rare style, and even rarer if one wants to count acts who do it well, and it doesn’t quite encapsulate what Faces of Bayon bring to their longform material. You need the word “doom” in there to account for how “Concilium” (13:19) owes as much to early My Dying Bride as to Black Sabbath, or the swaps that occur throughout as Smith trades between his rasping, Paradise Lost-esque growl and nigh-on-goth, cleaner melodic singing. Stoner death-doom? Yeah, maybe. That’s not a bad place to start from.

It’s worth emphasizing the Sabbath influence, as the band does from the roll of “Concilium,” but that’s in line with Heart of the Fire as well. Second cut “Quantum Life” (12:29) is slower, lower and more grueling, the snare sound cutting through less than on the opener and the feel overall considerably darker, an initial lumber giving way to feedback after four minutes in to transition to minimalist spaciousness from which wah-guitar emerges to set the foundation that will carry through the hypnotic, mostly-instrumental remainder of the song, Smith re-emerging from the morass late to toss a final verse into the pit the band has constructed. Miles begins centerpiece “Blasphemies of the Forgotten World” (17:13) amid backing atmospherics, joined soon by quiet guitar and drums and some deep mixed singing, a psychedelic vibe pervasive despite the underlying threat of death (metal). They keep the thread going for nearly five minutes, through a verse, before kicking into fuller tonality — Miles‘ tone deep under what sounds like at least two tracks of guitar, but worth training the ear toward anyway — and the slogging pace is set.

faces of bayon

Obviously with Ash and Dust Have No Dominion being over an hour long, Faces of Bayon aren’t thinking of a vinyl structure, but “Blasphemies of the Forgotten World” does have a kind of mirror feel with album finale “So Mote it Be” in its airy lead flourish and coinciding blend of killer ride-it-out groove. Once again, Sabbath is a key factor in the riff, but Smith‘s vocals ensure that the band’s lean is less traditional and more nuanced, and it’s as the march of “Blasphemies of the Forgotten World” plays out that one realizes just how precise the niche the trio have carved out really is. They’re not death metal, or death-doom, or stoner doom entirely, but they find their way to touch on all three and more, all the while sounding like no one so much as themselves. Ash and Dust Have No Dominion becomes a significant achievement in light of its sense of identity, but SmithMiles and Brown take precious little time to rest on their laurels, instead digging deeper into the swampy mire of “Blasphemies of the Forgotten World”‘s purposefully repetitive rhythm and steady nod.

Enhancing the atmosphere, “Blasphemies of the Forgotten World” finishes about a minute before the track actually ends, feedback giving way to noise, far-back drumming and cymbal wash before “With You Comes the Cold” (4:21) gets underway. The only song on Ash and Dust Have No Dominion under 12 minutes long, it’s more of an interlude and a table-setter for “So Mote it Be” (19:11), but Smith adds some subdued lines to it anyway (some backwards whispers as well), and the vibe is almost like a more straightforward take on some of Om‘s ritualism — another line that Faces of Bayon make it sound easy to cross. When it comes on, the first 40 seconds of “So Mote it Be” are ultra-compressed, but the full tones are there, lurking, waiting. They kick in all at once and immediately one can already hear in one’s head the deathly cadence with which Smith will ultimately deliver the title line of the song — “So mote. It. Beeeeee.” in all-out death growl — though that’s still more than 10 minutes away. Given its length and the odd efficiency with which Faces of Bayon make use of that extended runtime, it’s hard not to think of “So Mote it Be” as the highlight of the album, but if anything it’s one more example of the strength of approach they’ve shown all along.

One doubts most bands could hold together songs like “So Mote it Be” or “Quantum Life,” let alone give them such a subtle sense of movement beneath an outward righteousness of monotony. The tracks would simply fall apart. But not only do Faces of Bayon stand tall at the end of “So Mote it Be” — that vocal cadence indeed carrying the track’s final movement — but they stand tall over a mess of feedback that leads them into using every single second of the closer’s 19 minutes. Ash and Dust Have No Dominion will likely be too extreme for some, too stoned for others, but it’s Faces of Bayon‘s ability to work in multiple contexts that makes the album such a success. It’s slow. It’s chugging, It’s a pummeling, brutal listen, but it’s got as much depth to it as one could want to find, and a long four years after their debut, Faces of Bayon‘s sophomore outing reaffirms how special a band they are. Easy enough to wonder what they’d be able to accomplish if they hit the road as a touring act, but for now they remain one of East Coast doom’s best kept secrets.

Faces of Bayon on Thee Facebooks

Faces of Bayon on Bandcamp

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Ancient Altar Premiere “Void” from Dead Earth

Posted in audiObelisk on August 6th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

ancient altar

Los Angeles sludgers Ancient Altar will release their sophomore full-length, Dead Earth, on Sept. 1. The 300-pressed vinyl comes courtesy of Black Voodoo Records, and there’s reportedly a tape to follow through Midnite Collective, which also released the band’s 2014 self-titled debut, the response to which was fervent enough to earn the four-piece a slot on the May 2015 Psycho California festival. Dead Earth makes no secret of its grim purposes across its four tracks and 41 minutes, but much to its success, the band manages to conjure a vision of atmospheric sludge that’s neither redundant in its methods nor specifically derived from the post-Neurosis school of undulation. Make no mistake, at some point along the way, someone in Ancient Altar probably heard Through Silver in Blood — whether that’s bassist/vocalist Scott Carlson, guitarist/vocalist Barry Kavener, guitarist Jesse Boldt or drummer Etay Levy, I wouldn’t speculate — but it’s by no means a defining influence, and Dead Earth seems much more geared toward innovation than emulation, or at very least the creation of an individualized identity from a variety of stylistic elements.

ancient altar dead earthWhat the hell does that mean? In terms of the front to back listening experience, it means Ancient Altar are particularly adept at tipping their aesthetic to one side or another. Obviously the split between vinyl sides is a factor, but listening to Dead Earth digitally, its four cuts right in a row, the album moves almost seamlessly from one piece to the next, two longer cuts, opener “Leader, Liar” (12:38) and closer “Void” (12:48), sandwiching the shorter “Albion” (8:34) and “Dead Earth” (6:55), as all work in various levels of thoughtful abrasion toward a full-album flow, somewhere between aggro and a pervasive resignation that feeds into the titular theme — it’s too late to think about saving anything except ourselves. The bulk of the record is screamed, and “Albion” and “Dead Earth” especially dip into black metal atmospheres, but even in those moments, Ancient Altar refuse to be so easily categorized, and by the time they’re through the immersive beginnings of “Leader, Liar,” and they’ve trudged through “Albion” and the nadir of “Dead Earth,” they open up, not to a resounding hopelessness as the title “Void” might hint, but to a feeling of potential from within that despair. Amid clean vocals and a heightened melodic sensibility, the “Void” may be empty, but it’s also the only hope.

All of this ties in with the stated theme of the record, which is loosely that the planet is beyond saving and if our species is to survive, we’ll have to enter that void and find hope elsewhere. Of course, Ancient Altar do a better and more descriptive job on conveying it, so perhaps it’s better to leave it to them. Ahead of the album’s Sept. 1 arrival, I have the pleasure today of hosting the premiere of “Void,” which in addition to being the longest inclusion on the outing is also the richest in terms of the emotional and thematic drive on display.

You’ll find it on the player below, followed by tour dates for a run that begins tonight and more album info. I hope you enjoy:

Ancient Altar hails from the land of the unrelenting sun, crippling drought, and excess known as Los Angeles, born of arcane philosophy and a stripped-down approach to bristling, daunting, towering doom. Formed in late 2013, the band features bassist Scott Carlson and guitar player Barry Kavener splitting vocal duties, along with second guitarist Jesse Boldt and drummer Etay Levy.

Dead Earth is the band’s sophomore effort, coming just a year after their 2014 eponymous debut, which was met with overwhelmingly positive reviews, and just a few months after a devastatingly stunning set at Psycho California in May. Dead Earth is a loose concept album based on war, corrupt leaders, and religion destroying planet Earth as we speak—which is happening, and only getting worse. The album depicts the only way for humanity to survive: leaving this dead earth and starting over somewhere else. The record dips and dives between themes of the utter despair of the human race’s impending doom—and a sense of hope as we triumphantly make our terrifying yet absolutely necessary escape toward a fresh start and a new future.

Track Listing:
1. Leader, Liar
2. Albion
3. Dead Earth
4. Void

Ancient Altar Tour Dates:
8/6 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Metro Bar
8/7 – Colorado Springs, CO @ Flux Capacitor
8/8 – Santa Fe, NM @ The Cave
8/9 Tempe, AZ @ 51 West

Ancient Altar on Bandcamp

Ancient Altar on Thee Facebooks

Ancient Altar tour event page

Black Voodoo Records

Midnite Collective

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