Al “Yeti” Bones of Gypsy Chief Goliath Streams Track from Upcoming Solo Record

Posted in audiObelisk on April 16th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

It’s a busy few months ahead for Canadian guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Al “The Yeti” Bones. His main outfit, Gypsy Chief Goliath, are doing shows throughout the beginning and course of the summer in their homebase of Windsor as well as Montreal and London, Ontario. In addition to this, Bones has a debut solo release in the works dubbed Audio-Biography from which the first audio is available now.

For anyone who may know Bones‘ work through Gypsy Chief Goliath, The Mighty NimbusThe Georgian Skull or even his past outfit, Mister Bones, the new song “Heavy is the Name of My Soul” will carry with it a familiar sense of burl. That comes through all the more on the solo offering thanks in part to a guest vocal appearance by Gideon Smith of Gideon Smith and the Dixie Damned. What most distinguishes the new cut, however, is a clear classic rock feel in the guitar. You’d have a pretty easy time making the argument that some of Bones‘ other bands have covered that ground before, but where Gypsy Chief Goliath is thicker in its tone, The Mighty Nimbus was always more aggressive, and Mister Bones more purely stoner-rocking, “Heavy is the Name of My Soul” has stretches where it runs a Thin Lizzy influence through a grinder of clenched teeth, and that coupled with the hook on which Bones is backed by Smith and vice versa, the song as a way of working into your head while keeping to a classic structure, shirking off indulgence, and not overstaying its welcome.

Not sure when Audio-Biography will see release between Bones‘ work in Gypsy Chief Goliath, and when it does surface, also not sure how representative “Heavy is the Name of My Soul” is of the record in full, but it’s catchy, well-written and — fittingly — heavy, so you won’t hear me complain. With the caveat of more to come on Audio-Biography, please enjoy “Heavy is the Name of My Soul” on the player below:

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The Skull Premiere New Single “Sometime Yesterday Mourning” b/w “The Last Judgment”

Posted in audiObelisk on April 8th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Today, Chicago’s The Skull release their debut single on Tee Pee Records. Sometime Yesterday Mourning b/w The Last Judgment arrives preceded by much anticipation as the first studio output from the Trouble offshoot, fronted by the inimitable Eric Wagner and featuring Trouble alumni Ron Holzner (bass), Jeff “Oly” Olson (drums) and Chuck Robinson (guitar) in the five-piece lineup with Lothar Keller of Sacred Dawn. Its two songs were produced by Billy Anderson (Sleep, the Melvins, Acid King, so many others), and for classic Trouble fans, the inclusion of “The Last Judgment” is a bonus — the song minus an ‘e’ from when it appeared as “The Last Judgement” on Trouble‘s own recorded debut on the 1983 Metal Massacre IV compilation.

Right away then, The Skull seem to be geared toward a classic sound, and “Sometime Yesterday Mourning,” the first taste of their new, original material, feeds into that framework. Keller‘s guitar — I’m fairly certain Robinson wasn’t in the band yet when these were recorded — meters out a steady chug of a central riff to start, and he’s soon joined by Holzner‘s bass and Olson on drums, setting up a well-paced groove for Wagner‘s entry. When the vocals hit, they do so in crooning fashion, Wagner keeping to the lower end of his famous range for the verse while layering in higher-register parts for the chorus; a formidable hook worthy of the band’s pedigree. It’s an earthy sound but given ambient vitality later in its progression by the lead guitar and Wagner‘s suitably mournful echoing deeper in the mix, proving as an initial showcase that there’s more to The Skull‘s approach than riffs and familiar faces.

Trouble‘s “The Last Judgement” was also featured on their 1983 demo and has shown up on a few compilations since, and The Skull give it a respectful update. Following a descending pattern of tom hits from Olson, we’re greeted by rhythm and lead guitar interplay before moving into the rush of the song itself, crisp with Anderson‘s recording, and Wagner in a vocal duel with himself. He’s not quite looking to wail in the same way as 31 years ago, but he changes up his approach dynamically almost on a per-line basis and ultimately makes both faster and slower parts more engaging, the guitar taking over in the second half for a solo that furthers The Skull‘s allegiance to traditional metal, mounting a build all the way to the sudden ending, the vocals almost (but not) cut off for the last line, “It’ll be alright,” just as they were in the original version.

The real kicker about Sometime Yesterday Mourning b/w The Last Judgment is how well the two songs work next to each other despite the decades between when they were written. I doubt The Skull intended to give a lesson about the timelessness of doom on their first single so much as give a taste of what their debut full-length might have to offer sound-wise, but you won’t find me complaining with their having accomplished both.

Please find the two tracks below for your streaming pleasure, and enjoy:

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The Skull‘s Sometime Yesterday Morning b/w The Last Judgment is available now through Tee Pee Records digitally and as a limited CD pressing. More info at the links.

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The Obelisk Radio Add of the Week: Merlin, Execution Single

Posted in Radio on April 3rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

It’s hard to decide what’s more striking about Execution, the new two-song single from Kansas City five-piece Merlin — the full, crisp production of the tracks themselves, or just how different the band comes across in them as compared to their late-2013 self-titled debut. Since that album’s release last August, Merlin have added rhythm guitarist Ben Cornett to the lineup with lead guitarist/backing vocalist Carter Lewis, vocalist Jordan Knorr, bassist Evan Warren and drummer Caleb Wyels, but it’s hard to believe one six-stringer can bring about so much change in the band’s approach, and that rather, the shift from meandering shoegaze psych rock to heavier crunch and twang-ready stomp in “Execution” can only have been the result of some conscious decision. “Execution,” which comes paired with a cover of Pentagram‘s “Forever My Queen,” meters out an initial roughneck stomp that has twang à la the intro of Clutch‘s “The Regulator” and moves into Melvins-style vocals and (sure enough) Pentagram-style doom and roll. Whatever else it might be, it’s a long, long way from shoegaze.

When Execution first came to my attention, I hadn’t yet heard the self-titled, and so pegged Merlin as looking to fit with bruiser American-style heavy rock, but in the context of the prior album, the “Forever My Queen” cover makes even more sense. The version that opens Pentagram‘s First Daze Here is 2:24, but Merlin‘s take is over six minutes, and since the song itself it kept largely intact the extra time comes from an extended jam on the back end. I hadn’t picked up on it because of the production value of the single — which, again, is crisp and accessible and professional — but what they’re doing there is an extension of the open vibe they brought to tracks like the lazily unfolding “Achimedes” from Merlin, just repurposed to suit their shift in sound. Where “Execution” only seems to build into something more raucous even in its second-half bridge, “Forever My Queen” opts to space out a little more. It makes more sense after one hears Merlin jam all over their self-titled, and where it might at first seem like they’re trying to milk the Pentagram track for everything they can get out of it, further investigation reveals that in fact, jamming has been an essential part of their work to date.

How this might continue to manifest on Merlin‘s upcoming second full-length, Christ Killer (due out April 18), I don’t know, but “Execution” seems to hint that perhaps the band is trying to find a middle ground between boozy heavy groove and trippy psych jams. It’s a noble pursuit, and it shows Merlin have the potential to distinguish themselves in more than just one niche going forward.

Hear “Execution” and “Forever My Queen” now as part of the 24/7 stream of The Obelisk Radio and grab a name-your-price download from the player below, conjured from Merlin‘s Bandcamp.

Merlin, Execution Single (2014)

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The Scimitar Premiere “World Unreal” from Debut Album Doomsayer

Posted in audiObelisk on April 3rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Doomsayer is a fitting title for the forthcoming debut from Boston trio The Scimitar. The band build on the methodologies of Black Pyramid, the trio from which they splintered off last year with bassist Dave Gein and guitarist/vocalist Darryl Shepard picking up drummer Brian Banfield in the process, but craft their own identity as well in the blend of catchy songs and plodding, thudding doom. As a riffer and lead player, Shepard – also of Blackwolfgoat, Milligram, Hackman and too many others to count — sounds right at home on Doomsayer, though it might be the heaviest aesthetic in which he’s yet resided. Black Pyramid‘s 2013 outing, Adversarial (review here), which had Shepard and Gein in the lineup with drummer Clay Neely, is probably the closest comparison point, and Doomsayer is altogether a heavier album. Less bound by the expectations of stepping into someone else’s frontman spot, Shepard flourishes on cuts like “The Taker” and “World Unreal,” and the pummel the trio elicit only lets up on the acoustic interlude “Attrition.”

So it’s heavy in heavy’s element. Fair enough. As the first audio to surface from Doomsayer in its finished mix, “World Unreal” sets up a lot of what works really well about the album, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. In the High on Fire-style thrash of “Babylon,” they heavy-rock-grooving centerpiece take on Motörhead‘s “Metropolis” and the thunder-weighted payoff of closer “Crucifer,” The Scimitar distinguish themselves from Black Pyramid and showcase a songwriting process that’s started from a position of considerable accomplishment and only likely to come further into its own. With lyrics criticizing a conspiracy-minded view of the world — the lines “You’re seeing patterns that don’t exist/You think that everyone’s an enemy” stand out — a steady, rolling groove and metallic undertone in the chorus, “World Unreal” makes a striking introduction to the outlook and heft of Doomsayer, and while the version of the song that I have the pleasure of premiering isn’t mastered, it should still be plenty loud enough to get its point across.

Please enjoy:


Doomsayer was recorded by Glenn Smith at Amps vs. Ohms Studios and mixed by Benny Grotto at Mad Oak. The Scimitar will release Doomsayer in the coming months through Hydro-Phonic Records. Shows are rare, but the trio will take part in the Eye of the Stoned Goat 4 festival, May 3 and 4 at Ralph’s Rock Diner in Worcester, Massachusetts. More info at the links.

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Hotel Wrecking City Traders Stream New Album Ikiryo in Full

Posted in audiObelisk on April 2nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I’ve made attempts in the past to describe the scope that Melbourne, Australia, instrumental duo Hotel Wrecking City Traders cover, but to be perfectly honest with you, I think I’ve fallen a little flat in doing so to date. When I first got a copy of their 2008 Black Yolk full-length debut, it seemed to me that the brotherly two-piece of guitarist Toby Matthews and drummer Ben Matthews were embroiled in a kind of post-punker noise rock. Their edges were sharp, the material angular, almost mathy. The subsequent 2010 Somer/Wantok 7″ single (review here) preceded a 2011 collaborative 12″ with Gary Arce of Yawning Man (review here), and both the pairing itself and the output showed shifting influences, the Wreckers taking on a more progressive, groove-based mindset, smoothing out. In 2012, they again partnered with Arce, this time taking part in a three-way split between his WaterWays project and UK instrumental proggers Sons of Alpha Centauri (review here) that once again expanded the Hotel Wrecking City Traders palette. Now, more than half a decade since their last long-player, the Matthewses return with Ikiryo on their own Bro Fidelity Records and seek to confound those who’d try to simplify their approach by sticking it in one category or another.

Ben and Toby — who also issued the solo album Sounds of Jura in 2013 under the moniker Toby Wrecker — offered a look at some of their present breadth late in 2013 with the one-song, largely-improvised 46-minute live video “Ode to Chunn” (discussed here). It was probably the best extended-form single of last year that never actually got a release, and Ikiryo continues to trace the development of Hotel Wrecking City Traders as a unit of multiple sonic affiliations. Over its vinyl-ready five-track, 36-minute sprawl, Ikiryo touches on Pelican pastoralia (see “Riley”), doomly minimalism (the midsection of opener “Breath”), post-desert joybringing (“Dance the Hempen Jig”), extended builds (the closing title-track), and on “Tetryl,” they seem to fuse the patient atmospherics of who they are now with the crunching riffs they offered in their beginnings while also experimenting either with vocals or something that sounds enough like them to serve that purpose. Likewise, there also seems to be some conversation happening way, way down in the mix of “Breath,” unless that’s just my brain receiving alien transmissions again. It’s vague. Could go either way. The point is, Hotel Wrecking City Traders are pushing themselves, experimenting, refusing to settle into any comfort zone, and for arriving six years after their first album, Ikiryo shows they haven’t wasted their time.

There’s at least six years’ worth of growth evident between the initial rush of “Breath” and the moodier, contemplative launch of “Ikiryo” — though the title cut rounds out with a viciously heavy payoff of its own — and along the way, they hit numerous peaks and valleys, striding out in the centerpiece “Dance the Hempen Jig” for a fuzz highlight memorable enough to be an anchor for anyone who finds themselves rudderless in stretches of linearity without traditional verses or choruses to ground them, Toby‘s guitar metering out airy lead lines over Ben‘s smoothed-out drum pattern. Even here they’re not without purpose or dynamic, and as much as they come to rest in a given part anywhere on Ikiryo, their use of repetition never goes from hypnotic to redundant.

Even now I find that none of this is really doing justice to Hotel Wrecking City Traders‘ heavy and increasingly expansive take. Fortunately, the duo have granted me permission to host a full stream of the album, so that instead of spinning my adjectival wheels to look for alternate uses of “deeply creative,” I can simply direct your attention to the player below and you can hear it for yourself. Score one for the nifty future in which we reside.

Ikiryo is out on CD April 16 as Hotel Wrecking City Traders begin a European tour (info an dates below). Enjoy:

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Hotel Wrecking City Traders’ (HWCT) first full length LP since 2008’s ‘Black Yolk’. After a series of successful collaborations & splits with Desert Rock forefathers Gary Arce, Mario Lalli (Yawning Man/Fatso Jetson) and a steady bout of touring Australia and Japan, the urge to record as a duo again was something that was important. So was emphasizing the song and the melody and crafting the riff. ‘Ikiryo’ is a more harnessed beast and comprises 5 songs that were written over the course of a 3 month period at the end of 2013. They were recorded in a mere 2 days, in January, 2014. This time working with engineer Jason Fuller at his Goatsound Studios in Melbourne. Jason’s background is well known as being in the heavier more metal realm (Brutal Truth, Blood Duster). The band were sought out by Jason and invited to record, ironically entering the studio with some of the most melodic and concise songs of their existence. The result is a vivid sonic journey over the course of 40 minutes that sees HWCT’s new approach spread across 5 measured sonic explorations. Improvisational aspects are still present but so is a confident and measured velocity. This is evident in the album’s title, suggesting a spirit leaving the body and moving around freely. The album is heavy, mind altering and noisy and still undeniably HWCT.

Ikiryo European Tour April/May 2014
Fri April 18th The Anvil, Bournemouth
Sat April 19th The Hole in the Wall, Colchester
Thu April 24th Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff
Fri April 25th Church of St Thomas the Martyr, Bristol w/The Body, Arabrot, Hey Colossus
Sat April 26th The Desertfest, London
Tue 29th April RockSound, Barcelona
Wed 30th April IncivicZone, Sant Feliu de Codines
Thu 1st May Lion Cafe, Benicarlo
Fri 2nd May La Residencia, Valencia
Sat 3rd May Métrica, Málaga
Sun 4th May Mondongo Bar, Puerto Santa María — Cádiz
Mon 5th May Cruce de Caminos, La Zubia — Granada
Tue 6th May Wurlitzer Ballroom, Madrid
Wed 7th May El Reino, Cabezón de La Sal
Thu 8th May Sentinel Rock Club, Erandio + MEIDO
Fri 9th May Mogambo, Donostia + ERROMA + MEIDO
Sat 10th May AVV Arrebato, Zaragoza

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Causa Sui, Live at Freak Valley: Sacred Blood in the Garden (PLUS Full Album Stream)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on March 31st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Generally speaking, one of the problems with a live album is that save for rare exceptions, unless you happened to be at the show where it was recorded, it’s that much harder to make a connection to the experience of actually seeing the band on stage. I wasn’t so fortunate to be in Netphen, Germany, when Danish heavy psych masters Causa Sui played at Freak Valley 2013, but listening to the El Paraiso Records 2CD/2LP document of their set — fittingly titled Live at Freak Valley and available for preorder now ahead of an April 7 ship date — the audio easily gives a sense of the warmth and vibrancy of the four-piece’s performance. The material is culled from their 2005 self-titled debut (the inimitable “El Paraiso”) all the way to and through 2013′s hyperbole-worthy Euporie Tide, touching on the expansive jams taken from their Summer Sessions and Pewt’r Sessions along the way for a steady flow that, as the lineup of guitarist Jonas Munk, bassist Jess Kahr, drummer Jakob Skøtt and keyboardist Rasmus Rasmussen progress through their own catalog in swells of volume and stretches of subdued exploration, never subsides throughout the two-disc entirety of the release. Live at Freak Valley is Causa Sui‘s first official live album, and it’s not difficult to tell from listening why they’d want it made public. Especially in the longer-form cuts like “Red Valley” (10:19), the “Lonesome Traveller” medley that also includes pieces of “Santa Sangre” and “Garden of Forking Paths” (14:07), “El Paraiso” (12:36), “Euporie” (12:02) and “Homage” (9:56), Causa Sui are as engaging on their live incarnation as they are in their studio output.

Part of that has to be because Causa Sui‘s albums are closely tied to live performance. That sense was certainly true on Euporie Tide, where the mood was spontaneous, like the band could take their laid back grooving and tonal warmth anywhere they wanted to do go, places alternately lush and expansive or driving in their heavy riffs. Live at Freak Valley doesn’t allow for quite the same level of production value as a studio album, but it’s not far off, either. Munk handled the mixing and mastering himself, so the band’s touch is on every level of the release, and that’s clearly made a difference in the atmosphere of the audio. Each disc — or each platter, if you get the vinyl version — holds just under 45 minutes of runtime, so Live at Freak Valley comes across not as a live album sloppily assembled, lazily mixed and tossed out to capitalize on a willing fanbase, but as something that not only recounts Causa Sui‘s work in the past but actually adds something new to their oeuvre as well because of how well the spirit behind their material is carried through these songs and how plain to hear is the chemistry between the band members. Both the first disc (red) and second disc (blue) position Causa Sui not just as a group hitting their stride on stage, but pushing themselves past where they’ve been before to new places that are captured here. As “The Juice” and “Boozehound” from Euporie Tide flesh out into “Lonesome Traveller”-plus, the band elicit a hypnotized response that shows their command of their form and presentation and is only interrupted when the disc ends and it’s time to put on the other one. If anything interrupts the flow on Live at Freak Valley, it’s the constrictions of media.

That’s inevitable, however, and the tradeoff — aside from the positive, atmosphere-enhancing presence of physical media as a whole in comparison to the digital alternative — is that each half of Live at Freak Valley can be read as having a personality of its own, the first plenty immersive but more varied, with more songs included, the pieces worked into “Lonesome Traveller,” the jazzy jumps in “Mireille” and the thoroughly nailed build of “Red Valley” from Summer Sessions Vol. 3 marking the transition point to the second half’s come-get-lost-in-here sprawl. Those four songs alone — “El Paraiso,” “Euporie,” “Homage” and closer “Soledad” — make for what I have no doubt will prove one of 2014′s most satisfying in heavy psychedelia, but to have them coupled immediately with the preceding five tracks and to think of the entirety being presented whole, as one free-flowing set performed live, well, it’s one of the best live albums I’ve heard in a very long time and makes a solid argument for the live album as being able to capture the essence of a band on stage while also giving those who weren’t there a closer look at what they might have missed. Listening back to Munk‘s guitar and Rasmussen‘s keys lead the way over the steady progression of Kahr and Skøtt toward that song’s payoff, it’s clear that Causa Sui‘s creativity extends to how they conduct themselves live. It’s also clear that I need to see these guys play as soon as humanly possible, because whether it’s the initial wall of fuzz that “The Juice” builds or the serenity that bleeds through “Soledad,” Live at Freak Valley showcases some of the finest heavy psych that Europe has to offer. It’s a release the success of which exceeds even the considerable ambition that birthed it. Recommended.

PLEASE NOTE: I’ve been given permission to host the premiere of the full stream of Live at Freak Valley with this review. Please find it on the YouTube player below and enjoy!

Causa Sui, Live at Freak Valley (2014)

El Paraiso Records’ website

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King Dead Premiere “Length of Rope” from Debut CD

Posted in audiObelisk on March 28th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

At 33 minutes, the self-titled and self-released debut from Pennsylvania instrumentalists King Dead sits right between an EP and a full-length outing. The trio’s sound is similarly nebulous, hovering between psychedelic post-rock, heavier amplified push and Morricone-via-Earth soundscaping, and as their first five songs showcase, they come equipped with a formidable scope. Shades of Pelican show up in the payoff to the cumbersomely-titled “As One Plows and Breaks up the Earth, so Our Bones Have Been Scattered at the Mouth of the Grave,” and when closer “God Makes a Lot of Fucking Promises” launches from its Dustbowl swirl into lumbering crashes and more vicious churn, Neurosis‘ “Times of Grace” seems a ready comparison-point, but King Dead – the Stroudsburg-based trio of four-string bassist Kevin Vanderhoof, six-string bassist Will McGrath and drummer Steve Truglio (the latter of whom, in the interest of full disclosure, I’ve known and worked with for years) — do well to incorporate these into a still-forming cohesion, boldly captured live on this self-titled.

They recorded in Stroudsburg’s Living Room on Jan. 25, so the material is pretty fresh, and whether it’s the Hex: Or Printing in the Infernal Method-style sustained nod of opener “Ghosts along the Riverbank” or the loose-string jangle of centerpiece “Length of Rope,” their contemplation comes metered out in weighted bottom-end and patient timekeeping. The middle cut strikes as the smoothest in its transitions and the fullness of its course, a build taking place over the 6:42 run while parts are intertwined, refrained and deconstructed. It happens subtly, but when the high end drops out before the four-minute mark and McGrath and Truglio carry the atmosphere on their own, the return is clearly the beginning of an apex that, save perhaps for that of the more jagged closer, is the most satisfying to be had on King Dead‘s King Dead. And while the follow it with the shortest and most uptempo song on the release, “Drowning in Dust,” even there they continue an impressive grip on the ambience, some whistling arriving late to introduce a gallop straight out of the Spaghetti West.

Tracks also work smoothly one into the next, but to give a general idea of where King Dead are at their first time out and where they might subsequently progress, “Length of Rope” finds them in an engaging balance of driving push and tidal sway. King Dead will be available on CD starting April 19. Please find “Length of Rope” on the player below, and enjoy:

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King Dead have been conspicuoulsy haunting the Stroudsburg PA area lately. Bass players Will McGrath and Kevin Vanderhoof, recruited New Jersey Transplant Steve Truglio on drums last summer, and have begun to wander around the NEPA/NJ area. Their debut record on the cusp of release, was recorded LIVE in their practice and performance home venue at The Living Room in Stroudsburg by Dave Reiser of ROCK HARD STUDIOS. They definitely have their own sound.

Call it sludge, doom, or what we like to say is spaghetti western doom sludge, it sure doesn’t sound like yer typical heavy 3 piece band these days. With virtually no vocals, aside from one song(not on the record) and a whistle solo in another, its all about dynamics and the building tempos. Creepy, dreary, sleepy and melodic riffs layered over deep bottom and pounding drums. A good soundtrack for any lethal injection event.

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The Graviators Stream New Album Motherload in its Entirety

Posted in audiObelisk on March 24th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

One thing’s for sure: When boozy Swedish doom rockers The Graviators decided to call their new album Motherload, they weren’t kidding. The 2LP — their third overall and second for Napalm Records — checks in at a massive 76 minutes, and is an undertaking front to back of bluesy classic heavy rocking and pure, traditional-style doom. They’ve got one foot in the grave and one in the arena, in other words, and across Motherload, they put on a show of considerable proportion, beginning right from the start of “Leif’s Last Breath/Dance of the Valkyrie” to showcase a varied but fluid and engaging approach from the four-piece of vocalist Niklas Sjöberg, lead and rhythm guitarist Martin Fairbanks, bassist Johan Holm and drummer Henrik Bergman.

As a frontman, Sjöberg is a steady presence in the mix, but as the opening cut shows, he’s not an overbearing singer and knows when the song is best served by stepping back to let Fairbanks top a building Sabbathian groove with a worthy solo. The shortest of Motherload‘s nine cuts is “Bed of Bitches” at 5:31, so everyone gets plenty of room throughout to ply their trade, whether it’s on the hook-laden “Narrow Minded Bastards” (video premiere here) — Holm‘s bassline alone makes the song a necessity — or the longest form works, “Lost Lord” (11:09) and “Druid’s Ritual” (13:50), each of which serves as the finale for its half of the album and offers a spirited jam to mark the occasion, Fairbanks leading the way on guitar, but both Holm and Bergman exploring as well a jazzy and deep-running rhythm section dynamic that’s obviously developed over the course of The Graviators‘ years since making their self-titled full-length debut in 2009.

Those songs provide a neat summary of the scope, but whether it’s that bass ‘n’ drum swing and spacey guitar, huge riffing, wailing doom defiance, bottle-tipping rush or plodding, feedback-heavy doom, Motherload delivers what Motherload promises, whether it’s the traditional metal of “Tigress of Sibiria,” the eerie spaciousness of “Drowned in Leaves” (note the “Die Young” reference from Sjöberg in the second half), or the floor-shaking siren-topped nod of “Eagles Rising.” The Graviators tie it all together through a clear affinity for big riffs, big tones all things wicked and/or doomed, and even though one could hardly accuse them of brevity, Motherload is never more over-the-top than it wants to be and The Graviators never meander so far that they lose sight of serving the track at hand.

It’s my pleasure today to host a full stream of Motherload for those who’d go wandering through its blue skies and murky depths. The album hits beginning this week (it’s out April 8 in North America), and The Graviators start a European tour to support it on April 21, playing the Berlin Desertfest and Copenhagen’s Heavy Days in Doomtown along the way. More details about the release and tour dates can be found under the player below.

Please enjoy:

After the release of their fantastic and critically acclaimed full length “Evil Deeds” and the split 7″ with their label mates MONKEY3, THE GRAVIATORS return with their latest studio effort “Motherload”. The brilliant vintage analog sound combines the Hard Rock of the Seventies with a good dose of Doom Metal and Stoner Rock. For the very first time, THE GRAVIATORS pay homage to their cultural heritage. The result is the song “Leifs Last Breath / Dance of the Valkyrie”. It is an epic track that could have been written by Quorthon (BATHORY) himself. The songs give off an occult vibe that mainly results from the enthralling vocals. A special bonus is the re-recording of “Druid´s Ritual”, a classic from the band’s back catalogue. The song clocks in at almost 14min and is a testament to the band’s brilliance. “Motherload” is an impressive Doom Stoner Metal album filled with highlights and will elevate THE GRAVIATORS from being an insider’s tip to the top of the scene.

Release Dates:
ESP/SWE/NOR: 02.04.2014
G/A/S, FIN & Benelux: 28.03.2014
EUROPE: 31.03.2014
USA/CAN: 08.04.2014

THE GRAVIATORS on Tour
21.04.14 SE – Stockholm / tba
22.04.14 SE – Lund / Hemgarden
23.04.14 DE – Berlin / Jägerklause
24.04.14 DE – Wiesbaden / Kulturpalast
25.04.14 NL – Groningen / Vera
26.04.14 DE – Berlin / Desertfest
27.04.14 DE – Köln / Underground
28.04.14 DE – Dresden / Ost Pol
29.04.14 DE – München / Feierwerk
30.04.14 DE – Dresden / Ost-Pol
02.05.14 DE – Jena / Black Night
04.05.14 DK – Copenhagen / Heavy Days Doom Town

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Dread Sovereign Stream All Hell’s Martyrs Debut Album in Full

Posted in audiObelisk on March 19th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I was fortunate enough to be standing in front of the stage at Het Patronaat at last year’s Roadburn festival when the Irish trio Dread Sovereign made their inaugural live appearance, and subsequently, the first time I put on their debut full-length, All Hell’s Martyrs, the chorus of “Thirteen Clergy” immediately brought back the memory of the murk-laden, atmospherically dense doom the three-piece craft. All Hell’s Martyrs is due for release this Friday, March 21, on Germany’s Ván Records, on both CD and gatefold 2LP with preorders available, and while one might recognize drummer Simon “Sol Dubh” O’Laoghaire and bassist/vocalist Alan “Nemtheanga” Averill from their ongoing tenure in Primordial, Dread Sovereign prove quickly to be an entirely different beast in terms of style and approach.

The guitar work of Bones is an immediate distinguishing factor. While Averill sets a foundation of malevolently churning low end on the 10-minute “Cthulhu Opiate Haze,” Bones‘ guitar is equally amenable to topping it with extended droning feedback, chugging riffs or solos alternately mournful or, as is the case later into the penultimate “Cathars to Their Doom,” rife with classic rocking flair. Averill‘s vocals — inimitable and a key element in Primordial‘s many sonic triumphs — begins “Thirteen Clergy” with a shifted, more trad-doom affect, though it seems to wear off as All Hell’s Martyrs continues to progress, and by the time they’ve made their way through the interlude “The Devil’s Venom” and into “Pray to the Devil in Man” (also the title cut of their 2013 debut EP), he’s melded this take with layered semi-spoken chanting, melodic wails and familiarly righteous proclamations, keeping deeper growls and high-register screaming in his pocket for when the song seems to call for them.

At 67 minutes, All Hell’s Martyrs is a considerable undertaking, and while I haven’t seen how the vinyl edition breaks down into sides, in a linear format its trudging intent is made clear, and the songs seem to echo up from the Lovecraftian horror cave in which they were no doubt put to tape. “Pray to the Devil in Man” gives way to the longer second half of the tracklist, which only gets more consuming as the relatively uptempo “Scourging Iron” gives way to the ambience of the interlude “The Great Beast” en route to the closing trio of “We Wield the Spear of Longinus” (11:35), “Cathars to Their Doom” (8:55) and “All Hell’s Martyrs, Transmissions from the Devil Star” (13:19). Unto themselves, these three tracks carry a full-length’s worth of doomly terrors, but taken in context with the rest of All Hell’s Martyrs preceding, they not only make sure you’re lost within Dread Sovereign‘s plod and wretched sensibilities, but also that you don’t come back the same as you went in. Bones shows more fleetness in his soloing in the faster second half of “We Wield the Spear of Longinus,” but if there’s any hope presented, it’s devoured with everything else by Dread Sovereign‘s noisy, Satanic wash.

For fans of Averill‘s contributions to post-black metal in Primordial – that’s to say nothing of O’Laoghaire‘s own; his drumming is the steady ground on which these tracks are built — the grueling chaos of Dread Sovereign is bound to present a different side, but knowledge of the one by no means precludes enjoyment of the other. These are different bands, and whatever else it might be, All Hell’s Martyrs is a debut from a trio establishing itself in a territory of aesthetic, whatever sense of accomplishment they may bring via past experience. While “Cathars to Their Doom” echoes the numerology of “Thirteen Clergy” in its rocking second half and “All Hell’s Martyrs, Transmissions from the Devil Star” marches into the album’s synth-topped finish, it’s worth appreciating All Hell’s Martyrs as a beginning as much as a culmination.

To my knowledge, the album has been featured in a couple full-length streams this week. I’m happy to be in the company and to have the chance to feature it here for you to check out.

Please enjoy:

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Dread Sovereign‘s All Hell’s Martyrs is out March 21 on Ván Records. For more info, check the links.

All Hell’s Martyrs preorder from Ván Records

Dread Sovereign on Thee Facebooks

Dread Sovereign on Bandcamp

 

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From Beyond Premiere “The Fall to Earth” from Scion A/V Split with ASG

Posted in audiObelisk on March 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Once, a very, very long time ago — okay, it was last December — thoroughly-synthed doom rockers From Beyond traveled from their native Houston to a much different land, Los Angeles. There, they met head to head in riffy combat with North Carolina’s ASG. Alright, so maybe it was less “riffy combat” and more of a Scion Rock Show, but either way, it happened. The date was Dec. 4, the show was free with an RSVP, and to continue their Rock Show series of releases that’s already resulted in the pairings of Fu Manchu/Moab and The Dirty Streets/Indian Handcrafts, Scion A/V is set to issue a split between ASG and From Beyond, and I’m happy to be able to present the latter’s “The Fall to Earth” as a streaming debut to mark the occasion.

That gig, held at the Satellite, was From Beyond‘s first in L.A. and their first as a four-piece. When they put out their 2012 The Color out of Space EP (track stream here), they were a trio, but it was the lineup of Robert McCarthy (guitar/vocals/synth), David Grooman (guitar), Dick Beeman (drums/vocals) and Stephen Finley (bass, Moog Taurus) that landed in Silver Lake, and their Moogery and theatrical atmospherics obviously made an impression. “The Fall to Earth” makes the most of both of these, but that doesn’t take away from the crunching largesse of the rolling riff itself once it gets going. Shades of Electric Wizard give way to spaced-out vocal harmonies, creating a strong hook and a rare balance of emotional resonance, lyrical narrative and doomly engagement.

Structurally, “The Fall to Earth” is pretty simple, setting an ambient bed with its intro before launching into verse/chorus tradeoffs and finally marching out on its fuzzy central figure, but From Beyond remain cohesive in the atmosphere and make the track more than just a meandering freakout while also keeping a decidedly open feel. The Color out of Space was an impressive release from a band who knew where they wanted to be in terms of aesthetic, but we may have only seen the beginnings of From Beyond.

Please find “The Fall to Earth” on the player below, courtesy of Scion A/V, and please enjoy:

The ASG track is set to release March 25. Scion A/V announced yesterday that this year’s Scion Rock Fest will take place in Pomona, CA, on May 17. More info at the links.

Scion A/V Releases

From Beyond on Thee Facebooks

@ScionAV

ASG on Thee Facebooks

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HORNSS Premiere “Heir to the Pickle Throne” from Debut Album No Blood No Sympathy

Posted in audiObelisk on March 12th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

As advertised, there’s little mercy to be found in the approach of San Francisco trio HORNSS. The stoner-thrashing three-piece will make their debut on EasyRider Records May 13 with No Blood No Sympathy, a full-length that takes great and efficient pleasure in crossing the line between heavy rock and metal over the course of its nine-songs/28-minutes, cuts like “Troubled Rose” metering rolling groove with gnarled-distortion even as the later “Debreeding” portrays the crossover punk roots of early thrash with a modern twist of fuzz and satisfying runs of bass. Guitarist/vocalist Mike Moracha and bassist/vocalist Nick Nava hail from the desert punker outfit Solarfeast, whose Brant Bjork-produced debut, Gossamer (discussed here), proved ahead of its time in its blend of heavier punk and hairier tones, and joined here by drummer Bil Bowman, they charge through a crust-laden half-hour of power, somehow making a fluid course from the jam-room stonerisms of “War Gods of the Deep” to the metallic push of “Debreeding.”

I can only imagine there’s some in-band joke that comes with the title “Heir to the Pickle Throne,” but the track all the same to neatly rounded up some of HORNSS‘ stylistic breadth, which finds unity both through the production and the consistently dark overtones. A midpoint stop and slowdown shows off some of their nodding groove, and the hesher-thrashing central riff gets treated to Sleep’s Holy Mountain-style vocal compression, giving a true sense of stoner idolatry to the metal surrounding. It’s not everything HORNSS have to offer on No Blood No Sympathy, but it’s a decent start, and presents a foreshadowing shift from the straight-ahead High on Fire via much dirtier Red Fang aggression of “The Red Death” that will come to further fruition on side B cuts like “Ejaculation of Serpents” and “Haunter of the Dark.” So while I might have no idea what a pickle throne is or what one might inherit upon their coronation thereof, it seemed like the one to pick anyway. Hopefully you agree.

Check out “Heir to the Pickle Throne” below and stay tuned for a pre-order link. No Blood No Sympathy is out May 13.

San Franciscan trio HORNSS to Release Debut Album via EasyRider Records

No Blood No Sympathy to be released on 13th May 2014

Unlike some who are content to adopt that desert sound, San Franciscan trio HORNSS were born into it. Moulded by it from the very beginning in the case of members Mike Moracha and Nick Nava, who originally got their start in the Palm Springs band Solarfeast alongside ex-Kyuss/Evolution’s End member Chris Cockrell.

Formed in 2012 with a line-up completed by drummer Bil Bowman (formerly of Zodiac Killers, blackQueen and Scrog) HORNSS has taken to the stage in support of Fatso Jetson, Naam, Windhand, YOB and The Freeks and are every inch the band you’d hope they would be given the ancestry, influence and arid air that forged their formation.

Thanks to the LA based label EasyRider Records, this May the trio will have a debut album to call their own. If you were sold on the strutting doom groove of their demo The Red Death then No Blood No Sympathy is going to blow your mind and then some. Drawing on influences such as Hawkwind, St. Vitus and The Ramones HORNSS deliver devastating doom, death punk fury (both Mike and Nick were also founding members of San Fran punk band The Jack Saints), stoned out meanderings and crushing desert progressions that will strike a chord no matter where your allegiances lie.

Their debut album No Blood No Sympathy will be released via EasyRider Records on 13th May.

HORNSS:
Mike Moracha – Guitar, Vocals
Nick Nava – Bass, Vocals
Bil Bowman – Drums

HORNSS on Bandcamp

HORNSS on Thee Facebooks

Instagram – @hornssband

EasyRider Records

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audiObelisk: Volume IV Stream Ripple Music Debut Long in the Tooth in Full

Posted in audiObelisk on March 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

It was just about a year ago that Atlanta trio Volume IV — who I think it’s safe to say have the best band moniker to come along since Masters of Reality — self-released their self-titled debut EP, compiling four tracks in what save for its cohesiveness might’ve been considered a demo. March 2014 finds them having worked quickly on their first full-length outing, Long in the Tooth, which is out next week on Ripple Music, available now to preorder and based around 10 songs boasting similar heavy rock burl and dudely push, influences from Clutch, C.O.C., early Down and Alabama Thunderpussy showing up in various points filtered through songwriting of consistent quality and marked heft. If you’ve never had a riff stuck in your head for days on end, there’s probably a good deal about what Volume IV have to offer that will be either over (or under) your head, but among the whiskey ‘n’ Sabbath set, a cut like the ’70s motor-shuffling “Wager” is bound to feel just like home.

You might note a twin guitar lead in that one — because when you’re going to do Thin Lizzy, you do it right, goddammit — but Volume IV are indeed a three-piece, made up of guitarist/vocalist Joe Carpenter (ex-Nihilist, and not the Nihilist who became Entombed, but a different Nihilist), bassist Blake Parris and drummer Troy King. They deal volume with gusto enough to crash lesser media players on swaggering jams like “Blackwater” and opener “Looking Low for a High,” but in partially acoustic pieces like “Cabal” and “Save Your Prayers” — which together sandwich the formidable hook of “Awake the Dreamer” — Volume IV show there’s more to their approach than beardo ballsiness, organ on the country-fried “Save Your Servant” adding to the lost-soul overtones in Carpenter‘s delivery. “Save Your Servant” (5:05) and the hey-remember-the-self-titled-Clutch-record easy-rolling groove of “Blackwater” (6:21) are the two longest in Long in the Tooth, but otherwise share little in common, making a conveniently assembled example of the album’s sonic diversity within its bruiser sphere.

That is to say that while the bulk of Volume IV‘s stylistic take could easily ring familiar to heads who’ve been around Southern heavy for a minute, the band has more in mind than copping riffs from Deliverance, though with a lyrical Pulp Fiction reference in tow, “Kong” seems ready with precisely that brand of righteousness. In order to get a feel for the full LP, there’s nothing quite like a complete listen, so ahead of the official March 11 release, I’m happy to be able to host a front-to-back stream of Long in the Tooth for your listening pleasure. Find it on the player below, followed by some info on the limited edition vinyl version, which is awfully pretty:

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Less than 100 of these beauts were pressed! Multi-colored vinyl includes 11 x 17 poster, download card and Long In The Tooth CD!!!

With equal parts elegant beauty and steamrolling aggression, Atlanta’s Volume IV serve up a piece of ear candy for the ages with Long In The Tooth. This first release with Ripple Music is a concise thirty-six minute thrill ride of swampy metal heroics, featuring heavy grooves, classic stoner riffs, and an overall impending sense of doom. Led by singer/guitarist Joe Carpenter (Nihilist) and filled out by bassist Blake Parris and drummer Troy King, Volume IV is set to stun the music world with one of the most anticipated releases of the year!

Volume IV on Thee Facebooks

Volume IV’s website

Ripple Music

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The Obelisk Radio Add of the Week: Orange Sunshine, Live at Freak Valley 2013

Posted in Radio on March 5th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Years from now, when some unfortunate soul is putting together a comprehensive history of European heavy psychedelia, Dutch power trio Orange Sunshine will be one of a select few acts complicating the narrative. Similar to the manner in which their chief point of influence, Blue Cheer (who were also named after a kind of acid), forces those who’d look beyond the simplistic “Black Sabbath invented heavy metal” to broaden their horizons, so too does Orange Sunshine show that not all Euro-retro grooving began with Norrsken in Sweden or On Trial in Denmark. Orange Sunshine got their start kicking around Den Haag circa 1999, and released their debut, Homo Erectus, in 2001, following it up with Love = Acid, Space = Hell two years later, both albums released through Motorwolf Records with reissue through Leaf Hound. The three-piece of drummer/vocalist Guy Tavares, guitarist Arthur van Berkel and bassist Mehdi Rouchiche issued their third outing, Bullseye of Being, via the same labels in 2006/2007, but have produced little studio material since — just a couple singles.

In late 2013, Who Can You Trust? pressed a tape of their 2007 set from Roadburn (they also played in 2010), and just last month, Lay Bare Recordings followed suit with a vinyl of Orange Sunshine recorded at last year’s Freak Valley festival in Germany. The aptly-titled Live at Freak Valley 2013 is presented, even digitally, on two sides, and captures Orange Sunshine‘s ’60s loyalist heavy garage psych groove with a marked flow and thorough looseness. Each side tops a little over 20 minutes but meets a fuzz quota for probably twice that, Tavares‘ vocals cutting through in soulful, bluesy madman shouts. Rouchiche carries a lot of the weight on bass, holding together jams that seem to send van Berkel on solo explorations, but as a whole, the three-piece wind up as tight as one might hope for a dynamic act who’ve been at it for roughly a decade and a half, despite the swing in the songs themselves. Side A includes the opening jam that was their warmup before their time actually started, takes on All Saved Freak Band‘s “All Across the Nation,” and The 31 Flavors‘ “Distortions of Darkness,” and side B boasts Lincoln Street Exit‘s “Straight Shootin’ Man,” Sam and Dave‘s “I Thank You” (co-written by Isaac Hayes)  “Rock Me Baby” — which Blue Cheer also did — and the Rolling Stones‘ “Gimme Shelter.” The latter closes out in jammed fashion, and each is given Orange Sunshine‘s own stamp and stomp along the way, fitting smoothly with the original “Did You Tell the Woman?,” which to-date hasn’t been included on an Orange Sunshine LP.

The vinyl version of the album is just about gone (Lay Bare sold their yellow-platter version, the band has some regular copies left), but Orange Sunshine have made it available digitally through their Bandcamp, and while it’s not a new studio offering and the fact that it’s at least almost entirely covers doesn’t make me think a new one is on the way anytime soon, it still sounds like a psychedelic garage freakout and I wouldn’t ask more of it than that. Check out Live at Freak Valley 2013 now as part of the 24/7 stream on The Obelisk Radio or sample its two sides on the player below and see what you’ve been missing by not tuning in and dropping out:

Orange Sunshine, Live at Freak Valley 2013 (2014)

Orange Sunshine on Thee Facebooks

Live at Freak Valley vinyl from Orange Sunshine

Lay Bare Recordings

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audiObelisk: Prizehog Stream Re-Unvent the Whool in its Entirety

Posted in audiObelisk on March 3rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Having relocated from San Francisco to Portland, Oregon, psychedelic sludge trio Prizehog will release their third album, Re-Unvent the Whool, tomorrow on Eolian Empire. The bass-less trio — you’ll note no lack of low end in the record — run a spectrum of effects-laden churning, mashing together bright ambient echoes and deep, dank tonality. I wouldn’t be the first person to compare them to the Melvins, but that doesn’t really do complete justice to the psychedelic side of their sound, which shows up quickly on Re-Unvent the Whool in the eight-and-a-half-minute opener “Parradiggum” (also the longest track included; immediate points) and carries through to the Monkees-referential noise experimentation that finishes in “Direction to the Valley.” Presumably that’s the Valley of the Dolls they’re talking about.

Between the start and finish, Prizehog – that’s Rion, Veronica and Zakk — delve into downtempo explorations of clouded sonic murk, immersive and sometimes distressing. A moment of peace arrives with the twanging bounce of the penultimate “Gnumskull, the Ruler,” but prior too, Prizehog put you deep in it and aren’t exactly keen to show a way out as “Whoady,” “Shed” and “Awsme Bube” push further and further into a dark ethereality, all dream echoes and where-the-hell-am-I as “Irrevelant” grounds side B somewhat with a still-weirdo take on the metal of stone. The crux of Re-Unvent the Whool – the album’s ambitions somewhat clouded by the wordplay, but underlying nonetheless — is in its open feel, and Prizehog seem to delight in the strangeness of their own concoctions. Can’t blame them. The melody that emerges from “Shed”‘s midsection builds on some of the best impulses Zoroaster and Kylesa have touched on, but is ultimately no more adherent to those bands than it is to a preconceived notion of what “heavy” should sound like, and “Parradiggum” succeeds early in throwing off the listener with blastbeats and overlaid vocal drone. It’s bizarre but surprisingly easy listening.

Eolian Empire has Re-Unvent the Whool pressed in an edition of 500 copies on black 180g vinyl with a black sleeve, 24″ x 24″ poster of the Chris Jehly cover art. A download code is of course included, but for anyone who’d like to get a day-early sample of the full breadth of the beast itself, I’m fortunate enough to be able to have a front to back stream. Find it on the player below, and please enjoy:

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Prizehog are currently booking a full US tour for Spring 2014 in support of Re-Unvent the Whool, which is released March 4 on Eolian Empire. More info at the links:

Prizehog on Thee Facebooks

Re-Unventing the Whool at Eolian Empire

Eolian Empire

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audiObelisk: Satyress Premiere “Soma” from Debut Album Dark Fortunes

Posted in audiObelisk on February 24th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Among the six tracks on Portland, Oregon, foursome Satyress‘ impending self-released debut 12″, Dark Fortunes, “Soma” is something of a standout. Less doomed in pace than cuts like opener “Possession” and the darkly metallic title-track, it’s the shortest cut at just under four minutes, but makes up with its hook whatever it might lack in relative span in relation to the other songs, only one of which (“Spread Thin”) is under five minutes long. Propelled by the driving riffs of guitarist Billy Niletooth and the alternately brooding and soaring vocals of Jamie LaRose, “Soma” is a high point in closing out side A of the vinyl, which is set for release on April 9.

What the band do best across the length of the half-hour full-length is balance doom and heavy rock smoothly playing each off the other, so that “Soma” has a bit of presence to go with its catchy riff and swirling climax. Shades of fellow Portlanders Witch Mountain show up a bit on the preceding “Esta Noche,” but Satyress are by and large more raucous and less directly blues-doomed, the guitars showing interest in traditional metal while bassist Alex Fast and drummer York Francken further showcase an efficiency in songwriting in the ease of their transitions, from verse to chorus, slow to fast, and while there’s a pervasive sense of build, nothing on Dark Fortunes feels out of place or miscued. “Soma” will no doubt ring familiar to those with some familiarity with Portland’s fertile heavy scene, but the song is a blast all the same, and as a sampling of Satyress‘ first outing, it accurately conveys the beginning of what seems like an already well under way creative evolution.

Get a taste of “Soma” on the player below, and please enjoy:

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Satyress will release Dark Fortunes on April 9 on 12″ vinyl, and will play the semi-finals of the Portland Metal Winter Olympics on March 20 at White Owl Social Club. More info at the links:

Satyess on Thee Facebooks

Satyress on Bandcamp

 

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