Deathwhite Premiere “Further From Salvation”; Grave Image out Jan. 31 on Season of Mist

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on November 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

deathwhite

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but winter is coming. As I sit and write this in the middle of the pre-dawn night, it’s single-digits cold in what’s been hyperbolized as an Arctic deathfreeze or some such. The moon is full through the trees outside my window and the wind sounds biting and harsh even from the delusional comfort of indoors. It is going to be a long, dark several months ahead, and the melancholia of Deathwhite would seem to be ready for it. Following up their debut, For a Black Tomorrow (review here) — independently issued in 2017 and picked up early last year by Season of Mist — the anonymous Pittsburgh-based outfit will offer the bleak emotionalism of their second long-player, Grave Image, on Jan. 31, 2020.

“Further from Salvation” is the first audio to come from Grave Image, and despite the grimness of its atmosphere, I’m thrilled to host the premiere of it. With recording done in Pittsburgh and Florida and mastering in Sweden, it represents a range deathwhite grave imageof histories from the unheralded Midwestern death-doom pioneering of Novembers Doom to the Sunshine State’s sonic extremity — something that comes through in the drumming here as well — and of course the European legacy of depressive melodic heaviness, as expressed through bands like KatatoniaParadise LostAnathema and My Dying Bride. This sense of drama can be felt in “Further from Salvation” in the whispered vocals of the verse and the morose theme being conveyed, the loss of one’s name, the pursuit of knowledge under penalty of death, and as they did on their debut, Deathwhite bring it forth on “Further from Salvation” with conviction and aesthetic loyalty that is as genuine in its identity as in its homage.

I’ve yet to hear the entirety of Grave Image, but the band speaks to an added sense of severity in their presentation, and I think that is apparent in this track, which is one of a total 10 on the album, the stark and frigid artwork for which could hardly be more suited to the swaying and sad melodycraft and the sense of longing being conveyed.

Rather than prattle on, I’ll turn you over to the song itself and let the copious PR wire background do the rest of the talking while I listen through again and wait for the sun to come up, which it will sooner or later despite the current encompassing darkness.

Grave Image preorders are here: https://smarturl.it/DeathwhiteGraveImage

Enjoy the track:

Deathwhite, “Further from Salvation” official track premiere

Deathwhite on “Further from Salvation”:

“‘Further from Salvation’ was the first song we wrote for ‘Grave Image.’ It gave us the confidence and direction to move forward in a similar direction for the rest of the album, whereby we decided to place more emphasis on heaviness and melody. ‘Further from Salvation’ is also unique for its drum break in the middle portion of the song, something we are imminently proud of. The song itself is reflective of the regular back-and-forth of the human psyche, where inner peace and turmoil is sometimes a mirage of one’s own doing. There is, of course, no parallel to peace of mind, as difficult as it is to achieve.”

The fallible nature of mankind is reflected through its actions and words. Once an absolute, truth is now fluid, twisted and contorted to suit the often-short-sighted needs of those who now suffer the indignation of willful ignorance. Paired with the stench of hypocrisy and unrelenting depletion of the earth’s resources, and the state of the world could not appear graver. It is under this grey cloud that enigmatic dark metal collective DEATHWHITE created their second full-length studio album, Grave Image.

Grave Image was recorded during April and May 2019 at Cerebral Audio Productions with producer/engineer Shane Mayer; vocal tracking took place at Erik Rutan’s (Hate Eternal, Morbid Angel) Mana Recording under the supervision of engineer Art Paiz. The album was mastered by the incomparable Dan Swanö (Bloodbath, Edge of Sanity, Nightingale) at Unisound, and, as with the band’s previous two efforts, the artwork and design were handled by Jérôme Comentale, whose visuals are crucial to DEATHWHITE’s overall aesthetic.

Written over the span of 18 months, Grave Image is a largely heavier and more orchestrated body of work than its 2018 For a Black Tomorrow predecessor. The album is driven by clean, emotive vocals, an increasingly rare commodity in a metal scene so committed to harsher styles of singing. This embrace and execution of such vocals are one of the defining traits of the ten songs found therein, which also offer a wall of guitars flanked by a constant stream of melodies, the direct result of the band adding a second guitarist in 2018.

Since its 2012 formation, DEATHWHITE has remained committed to playing dark metal while remaining anonymous. The band is the utter representation of “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” adage — its members are from disparate backgrounds and are once again spread out across the United States. However, DEATHWHITE remains a vehicle for its members to create new music and convey their unflinching sense of despair as the human race continues its rapid descent to the bottom.

“We consider ourselves to be quite privileged to have DEATHWHITE in our lives,” concludes the band. “With that in mind, Grave Image represents the months of hard work that went into its creation. It is our hope it will resonate long after we’ve outlived our usefulness. If nothing else, we hope it will find a home with those who share a similar frame of mind as us.”

‘Grave Image’ Track List:
1. Funeral Ground (05:05)
2. In Eclipse (04:46)
3. Further from Salvation (04:56)
4. Grave Image (04:50)
5. Among Us (04:11)
6. Words of Dead Men (03:56)
7. No Horizon (05:29)
8. Plague of Virtue (04:14)
9. A Servant (04:43)
10. Return to Silence (06:38)
Total Length: 48:48

Line-up: The band does not provide line-up information.

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Deathwhite website

Season of Mist website

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Canyon of the Skull Stream New Album Sins of the Past in Full

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on November 12th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

canyon of the skull

Founded in Austin and now located in Chicago, Canyon of the Skull release their third album, Sins of the Past, on Nov. 20. It’s only been two years since founding guitarist Erik Ogershok — who then also handled bass duty — stood astride the band’s second full-length, the 37-minute single-tracker The Desert Winter, and yet clearly much has changed. For one, what had for a time been a duo with Ogershok and drummer Adrian Voorhies is now a trio with a full rhythm section in bassist Todd Haug and drummer Mike Miczek (also The Atlas Moth, etc.), and the latest work is produced and mixed by Sanford Parker with mastering by Collin Jordan, so yes, very much embracing the Windy City and its various resources. The changes go beyond that, however, as Sins of the Past brings forth two massive instrumentalist riff-slabs, lumbering and metallic in their root in kind, with “The Ghost Dance” hitting 25 minutes long as “The Sun Dance” on its own nearly matches the entirety of The Desert Winter at 34:12. The simple math has it at 59 minutes of plodding, sans-vocal sprawl, atmospheric but not overly ethereal or psychedelic while still managing to bring together elements out of post-metal, sludge, doom and traditional heavy metal.

Most impressively, Sins of the Past — which takes its thematic from Native American issues and stories from the Southwest — does not simply shift between styles. Throughout “The Ghost Dance” and “The Sun Dance” alike, it isn’t a case of “a doom part” and “a Canyon of the Skull Sins of the Pastmetal part,” or some such. Rather, OgershokHaug and Miczek bring these various sides together into one cohesive sound that is fluid in tipping its balance from one genre to another. This would almost have to be truer of “The Sun Dance,” which is even more extended than the leadoff track, but the ethos is the same across both, and it comes to fruition in thoughtful but not overthought progressions of patient, guitar-led rollout and sections of alternately tense and open-feeling movement. It’s not exploratory in the sense of jamming and seeing what happens — there’s a definite plan being followed here — but there’s still something about Sins of the Past that seems to draw the listener deeper into this complexity. It’s a heady release, to be sure, and a challenge in the sense of asking its audience to keep up with changes across 25- and 34-minute pieces that offer no vocals, much substance and purposefully little by way of an instrumental hook, but that only means there is more to dig into, and even in its later reaches, “The Sun Dance” in particular is immersive while holding to the relatively straightforward, grounded tones of its predecessor and the general spirit of the release overall, which doesn’t stray too far from the central, earthy atmosphere that “The Ghost Dance” incites early on — an immediacy underlying all the sprawl and end-to-end distance of the material.

It probably goes without saying (and yet, here I am, saying it) that a record comprised of two so drawn-out instrumental movements and makes so little play toward general accessibility probably isn’t going to be for everybody, but for more adventurous metallurgists and those craving depth and breadth alike, there’s plenty in Sins of the Past to inspire deep-dive listening, tracking each movement of the guitar, bass and drums as you go. I won’t say a negative word about that approach — it certainly has its advantages — but when it comes to Canyon of the Skull, it seems no less important to consider the overarching ambience that comes through the material even as the material itself isn’t all that ambient. That is, if one thinks of the record as a single work, then what’s the mood of that work? What is the work as a whole saying? In some ways, I wish Ogershok was more open in discussing the specific themes he’s working with in his songwriting — sometimes instrumentalists are surprisingly verbose on such matters, but apparently less so in this case — but his approach of “letting the listener decide” has arguable merits of its own as well. I’ll take it either way, I guess.

The more crucial matter would seem to be the urgency of the music itself, so maybe it’s best to let that do the not-talking. Ogershok does offer some comment on the record’s making below, following the player on which one can find the entirety of Sins of the Past streaming ahead of its Nov. 20 release.

I hope you enjoy:

Erik Ogershok on Sins of the Past:

“I try to do different things with each record and this one is no exception. This record is visceral and immediate, like the self-titled, while being highly conceptual and dynamic like The Desert Winter. ‘The Ghost Dance’ is probably the best thing that I have written to date. ‘The Sun Dance’ is unlike anything that I have ever written before. It incorporates my basic philosophies of composition but applies them differently, one that I jokingly call prog-doom.

The main aesthetic and themes that Canyon of the Skull was founded on remain unchanged. This band has always been focused on telling the stories of Indigenous Americans and their environments, specifically those of the American Southwest. I am still surprised at how many people have never met an Indigenous American, but we are not extinct, and this band exists to tell our stories both past, present, and future. This record is a bit more broad with the subject matter since it involves the rituals of tribes far from the land of my people. Also, this record is more influenced by recent events that have an impact beyond Native communities. I don’t like to talk specifically about the deeper meaning of any of my compositions as I want people to discover their meaning in our music. These two pieces have very specific meanings to both me and the wider world and googling the titles is my recommendation for people that want to delve deeper for the literal meanings.”

Recorded at Decade Music Studios March 2019
Recorded and Mixed by Sanford Parker
Produced by Sanford Parker and Canyon of the Skull
Mastered by Collin Jordan at Boiler Room Mastering
Artwork Layout and design by Erik Bredthauer

Canyon of the Skull is:
Erik Ogershok- Guitars
Todd Haug- Bass Guitar
Mike Miczek- Drums

Canyon of the Skull on Bandcamp

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Midas Stream Still Hungry EP; Touring This Week in Northeast

Posted in audiObelisk on November 11th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

midas

As they stand on the precipice of their second tape EP release of 2019, and having just played their first gig in March of this year, Detroit classic metal four-piece Midas extend that waste-no-time ethic to their songwriting. Their first offering was March’s Solid Gold Heavy Metal (review here) that found the four-piece with members of Wild Savages and Bison Machine coming together around a shared appreciation for Priest, Maiden and all things NWOBHM and proto-heavy rock raucousness. The follow-up 16-minute four-tracker, Still Hungry, follows a similar course — it’s only been a few months, after all — but seems to be even tighter in its presentation and even more than its predecessor both the triumph and the celebration thereof, the double-guitar four-piece bringing the party and the reason to celebrate in the first place. It’s a fun combination in a way that doesn’t actually take itself as seriously yet as Iron Maiden always seemed to. One hopes they never get to that point, frankly.

The guitars of Casey O’Ryan (lead) and Joe Kupiec (rhythm, also vocals) lead the charge as one would expect, and the sense of gallop on second track “Usurper” tells you nearly everything you need to know about where they’re coming from. Following the winding grandeur of opener “Sands of Time,” the charge midas still hungry tapeof “Usurper” is both the longest cut on the tape at 4:59 and a standout in terms of its pace. Choral vocals echo in the second half over drum thud from Breck Crandell as they make their way back toward the chorus, and whether it’s Anthony Franchina holding together the low-end beneath the head-spinning fretwork from his six-string compatriots or the turn to a more angular, heavy rocking jabs on “Street Knights,” Midas continue to wear their love of heavy metal glories on their sleeve. They call to mind the electrifying early days of Chicago’s Bible of the Devil in terms of their style and energy, and thereby seem to be picking up the torch of a Midwestern metallicism that, well, is the kind of thing that might produce a festival like Alehorn of Power or Legions of Metal, the latter of which Midas will play in Spring 2020.

They close Still Hungry with “White Wolf” and actually dare to hit the brakes momentarily in the process, but soon it’s back to choice dueling leads complemented by some particularly tasty basslines, and they cap with a driving forward riff and a few pow-pow-pow hits before dropping off cold at the finish. Boom, cue applause. You know, for a band in their first year to have such a sense of what they want to do, it basically tells you that they got together with an idea in mind. Midas isn’t a group that just happened to start playing in a room together and produced this grade of dual-axe antics. But even with a firm aesthetic goal, it’s hard to predict where they might go and what they might bring to their sound over the course of a whole album. Interludes, solos, arrangements, and so on. They’ve demonstrated twice now that they know what they’re doing in terms of songcraft, but that’s not the same as fleshing out their personality across a debut full-length. Before they get there, they’re reportedly in talks to bring Still Hungry and Solid Gold Heavy Metal to a compiled CD and LP for next Spring — presumably sometime around Legions of Metal, but who knows — and then I’d guess it’ll be sometime after that they settle down to work on their first proper long-player.

Whenever that shows up, it’ll be one to look forward to, as Still Hungry proves they are most certainly famished, what on earth might it take to sate a sound such as this?

Full Still Hungry EP stream is below, followed by tour dates. Thanks for reading:

And enjoy:

midas still hungry tourMIDAS has followed up ‘Solid Gold Heavy Metal’ with the heavier and more sinister ‘Still Hungry’. Still straddling that line that split the 70s and 80s, they bring bigger and more complex sounds to the feast with their latest release. Tape pre-order will be live on Nov. 11th. Tape release date is Nov. 20 through Hardcore Psychedelia in Detroit. Catch them on tour on the East Coast this November, and at Legions of Metal this spring in Chicago alongside speed metal legends, Exciter.

Still Hungry Tour
Nov. 15th – New York – Sunnyvale*
Nov. 16th – Philadelphia – The Tusk*
Nov. 17th – Baltimore – The Depot*
Nov. 19th – Providence – Dusk
Nov. 27th – Ann Arbor MI – Lo Fi
Nov. 29th – Dayton OH – Blind Bob’s

MIDAS is:
Casey O’Ryan – Lead Guitar
Joe Kupiec – Vox, Rhythm Guitar
Anthony Franchina – Bass
Breck Crandell – Drums

Midas on Bandcamp

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio Playlist: Episode 24

Posted in Radio on November 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk show banner

It’s been forever since there was an episode of The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio, but I’m glad to say that there was never any chance of it not continuing eventually. At least not one that I was told about — ha. Gimme had a bunch of specials booked, and well, if it’s me or the dude from Enslaved, or really anybody, I can’t really put up much of a fight that I should be given preference. I’m the dude who plays heavy rock on a metal station, and I’ve got a pretty good timeslot to do it. Yeah, I’m gonna get picked off in favor of special episodes. No worries. I kind of needed a break anyway.

So maybe think of this as the start of Season 2 of The Obelisk Show. I know that all the The Next Generation-era Star Trek shows operated with 24-episode seasons, but I don’t think anyone will begrudge me one fewer. Enterprise might’ve had a 23-episode season somewhere in there. I’d have to check. Either way, Season 2 picks up pretty much where Season 1 left off: a butt-load of new music and me nerding out about Colour Haze.

I talk a bit about the Høstsabbat fest in Norway that I went to last month, give the Brume record a plug and am a total geek for Al Cisneros’ bass tone on that new Om live release, so yes, pretty much the show is getting caught up with what’s been going on around here while it was off the air. A bit of shaking off the rust, but the playlist rules and I tried not to screw it all up too badly on mic. I haven’t heard the finished product yet, so we’ll see if it was a success. In any case, I hope you dig it.

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio airs at 1PM Eastern today.

Listen at: http://www.gimmeradio.com

Here’s the full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 11.08.19

 

All Them Witches 1×1 1×1* 0:05:51
Ufomammut Satan XX* 0:03:12
Colour Haze Tempel Tempel 0:08:30
BREAK
Brume Scurry Rabbits* 0:10:58
Kadavar Children of the Night For the Dead Travel Fast* 0:05:59
The Lone Madman Häxan Let the Night Come* 0:07:29
Ogre King of the Wood Thrice as Strong* 0:05:41
Orodruin Letter of Life’s Regret Ruins of Eternity* 0:05:14
BREAK
Monolord Larvae No Comfort* 0:09:38
Bask Rid of You III* 0:04:40
Grin Helix Translucent Blades* 0:05:23
Om State of Non-Return BBC Radio 1* 0:08:22
Deaf Radio Dance Like a Reptile Modern Panic* 0:04:19
Devil to Pay 37 Trillion Forever, Never or Whenever* 0:03:10
BREAK
Clouds Taste Satanic Second Sight Second Sight 0:20:21
Total runtime: 1:48:47

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio airs every other Friday at 1PM Eastern, with replays every Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next show is Nov. 22. Thanks for listening if you do.

Gimme Radio website

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Kamchatka Premiere “Rainbow Ridge” from Hoodoo Lightning; Album out Nov. 29

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on November 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

kamchatka

Swedish trio Kamchatka release Hoodoo Lightning on Nov. 29, and they’ll celebrate by hitting the road in Europe alongside Clutch and Graveyard on a tour that will run some 19 gigs as the three-piece herald the arrival of their seventh long-player. Pick a lineage for heavy rock and roll and it’s easy enough to find the manner in which the duel-vocal Stockholm/Varberg outfit do it justice, whether it’s the towering, channel-panning leads of guitarist Thomas Juneor Andersson on the hook-laden “Rainbow Ridge” (premiering below) or the trades back and forth as Andersson and bassist/keyboardist Per Wiberg — he of Spiritual Beggars, Opeth, the even-bluesier Kamchatka-kinda-offshoot King Hobo, and so many others — run a call and response through the classic metal-tinged “Fool” (think Dio-era Sabbath early on). There’s no escaping the ’70s rock influence, and neither does one feel inclined to try throughout the nonetheless cleanly produced 40-minute 10-tracker, but among the histories by which Hoodoo Lightning‘s material does right is that of Sweden’s particular rock legacy itself. Of course, Kamchatka have been around since the turn of the century — their self-titled debut came out in 2005, but they formed earlier — and as noted this is their seventh record. So, even considering that the four years it’s been since they issued their sixth, 2015’s Long Road Made of Gold (review here) — they also had the Stone Cold Shaky Bones 7″ (discussed here) in 2018 — it doesn’t necessarily feel like a surprise that Andersson, Wiberg and drummer Tobias Strandvik know what they’re doing. Their style modernizes classic sounds and brings melodic consciousness and exciting arrangements together with a firm sense of structure and an energetic delivery. Their material is high quality and their presentation of that material is high energy. There’s nothing one could reasonably ask Hoodoo Lightning to be that it isn’t.

And man, is it Swedish. Not German. Not Norwegian. Certainly not Danish. Definitely Swedish. Think about Spice-era Spiritual Beggars or the early work of acts like Mustasch and The Quill and more modern Siena Root. Not nearly as retro as Kamchatka Hoodoo LightningGraveyard, or as definitively fuzzed as Dozer or Lowrider, but that mindset of heavy rock and roll that works so fluidly under the philosophy of straightforward craft and fullness of sound to find a place where Soundgarden circa ’93 and Sabbath circa ’73 exist at the same time. One hears a nod to “Hole in the Sky” as “Blues Science Pt. 1: Thunder Rise” launches Hoodoo Lightning, and the subsequent title-track sets up the bluesy underpinnings that will find bluesy complement on closer “A Drifter’s Tale.” That title-track, also billed as “Blues Science Pt. 2,” begins a string of memorable stompers that continues as “Fool” tells a classic temptation-of-boy-leads-to-his-downfall tale and “Rainbow Ridge” touts the power of love to stand up to the “hard times ahead.” Good to know Kamchatka have been keeping an eye on the rise of right-wing populism in Europe — keep those borders open, folks. Meanwhile, amid starts and stops and a chugging verse, “Supersonic Universe” recounts leaving behind one’s family/existence to tour, that moment of saying goodbye and heading off to do a thing one feels called to even if others don’t fully understand why. The parade of hooks continues there and through the more brash “Monster” and “Let it Roll” — both of which feel created if not specifically to be played on stage, then certainly like they should be as soon as possible (I guess that’d be Nov. 29, so fair enough), before “Stay in the Wind” brings Andersson and Wiberg together on vocals over a more subdued vibe, pulling back on some of the thrust of the two songs prior, though the penultimate “El Hombre Dorado” revives the electric charge with some extra swing from Strandvik and thereby leads smoothly into “A Drifter’s Tale” with its final showcase of traditionalist, blues-crunched heavy rock.

There’s flourish of keys and percussion and some layering in the vocals, but Kamchatka aren’t a band who need a lot of fancy tricks to get their point across, and among Hoodoo Lightning‘s many positive attributes is the fact that while the sound is crisp and modern, it’s not overly so to the point of losing the natural dynamic of the group beneath. Bottom line is, it is a rock album and should be treated accordingly: by rocking it.

Couldn’t be more thrilled to host the premiere of “Rainbow Ridge” below for your streaming pleasure. Hope you like having it stuck in your head, because you’re going to.

Tour dates and more PR wire background on Hoodoo Lightning follow.

Please enjoy:

Hoodoo Lightning, the 7th full length album by long running Swedish three-piece Kamchatka is due for release Nov 29 2019. 10 brand spanking new slabs of relentless blues infused riffage, soulful hooks and wild playing. Mixed and mastered by Black Lounge Studios head honcho Jonas Kjellgren in Sweden.

One step back but two steps forward might be an appropriate way of describing Hoodoo Lightning as all the signature ingredients we’ve come to know are there. The guitar wizardry and heartfelt vocals from Thomas Juneor Andersson as well as the rock solid swinging rhythm section of Tobias Strandvik & Per Wiberg are present as always and guides the listener through all the rock and roll twists and turns imaginable.

But, sonically it’s a grittier Kamchatka we hear this time and it’s evident that there’s a new level of energy shining through Hoodoo Lightning, a more confident take-no-prisoners kind of attitude and closer to the uncompromising experience of seeing the band live. Also introducing the shared lead vocals from Thomas & Per on many of the tracks gives the power trio format an extra punch and a wider dynamic range as well. Combined with the classy as ever songwriting and vigorous performances it’s the sound of a band who knows what they want and what they’re good at!

Produced by Kamchatka & Jonas Kjellgren
Mixed & mastered by Jonas Kjellgren at Black Lounge Studios
Recorded by Tobias Strandvik at Kamchatka Shelter

Hoodoo Lightning strikes!

Kamchatka supporting Clutch/Graveyard December 2019
*only Kamchatka
29.11 SE Borlänge, House Of Blues*
30.11 SE Varberg, Oscars*
02.12 DE Wiesbaden, Schlachthof
03.12 DE Oberhausen, Turbinenhalle
05.12 DE Bremen, Aladin
06.12 DE Nürnberg, Löwensaal
07.12 FR Strasbourg, La Laitere
08.12 FR Lyon, Le Transbordeur
10.12 ES Barcelona, Sala Apolo
11.12 ES Madrid, Sala But
12.12 ES Ourense, Café Cultural Auriense*
13.12 ES Madrid, Sala But Extra show on sale now!
14.12 ES Bilbao, Santana
15.12 FR Bordeaux, Le Rocher de Palmer
17.12 UK Southampton, O2 Guildhall
18.12 UK London, Roundhouse
19.12 UK Leeds, O2 Academy
20.12 UK Nottingham, Rock City
22.12 NL Arnhem, Luxor Live*

Kamchatka is:
Thomas Juneor Andersson – Vocals, Guitars & percussion
Tobias Strandvik – Drums & Percussion
Per Wiberg – Vocals, Bass & Keys

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Kamchatka website

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Review & Track Premiere: Brume, Rabbits

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on November 6th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

brume rabbits

[Click play above to stream ‘Scurry’ by Brume. Rabbits is out Nov. 22 on Magnetic Eye Records.]

There are few if any moments in the lifespan of a band more exciting than when the potential they’ve shown early on comes to its moment of realization, and that is precisely where Rabbits finds San Francisco three-piece Brume. The five-track/43-minute label debut for Magnetic Eye Records follows their earlier-2019 split with Witch Ripper (review here) and answers the call put out by their 2017 full-length debut, Rooster (review here), as well as the 2015 12″ EP, Donkey (discussed here). It reaches toward new levels of atmospheric accomplishment, taking lessons from SubRosa on the quiet unfolding of opener “Despondence,” Uzala on the piano-and-string-laden centerpiece “Blue Jay,” mid-period Kylesa in the duet vocals of the penultimate “Lament” and Neurosis‘ landmark “Stones From the Sky” in the ending of closer “Autocrat’s Fool” without ever losing its sense of self. The three-piece of vocalist/bassist Susie McMullan, guitarist/vocalist Jamie McCathie and drummer Jordan Perkins-Lewis recorded with Billy Anderson (Acid KingSleepNeurosis, so many others), and their mission seems to have been to capture a sound somewhere between consciousness and a dream-state, to find that place that is aware enough to understand that it is not awake but still doesn’t completely wake up. I’m tempted to call it lucid dreaming, if only for how in control Brume seem to be of their approach within this ambient sprawl, but that shouldn’t be taken as saying that what they’re doing comes across as some kind of sham, because it doesn’t. Rather, whatever familiar aspects one might stumble upon in the nuance of Rabbits or in a given riff, the primary impression the trio make is individualized and clearly only growing more so.

Of course, this is an ideal, but as one listens to McMullan‘s commanding voice in the YOBby melodic triumph of the chorus to second cut “Scurry” with McCathie in a backing role only to come to prominence himself in a quieter post-solo midsection, Rabbits makes a clear argument for the difference between internalizing an influence and acting off it and simply aping the work of others. They do the former, if I haven’t made that plain, following a linear path across two pairs of longer tracks split by the shorter “Blue Jay,” that only grows more hypnotic as it progresses from one section to the other. This too is a classic notion, that a full-length should unfurl itself like a journey and become more immersive as it takes its outward course from song to song, but saying that does little to convey the work that “Despondence” and “Scurry” — and I suppose “Blue Jay” as well — do in setting up the complementary trance-induction that comes with “Lament” and “Autocrat’s Fool.” And it’s not a radical change in running time, either. The first two cuts are a little over eight minutes apiece and the final two are just under 11 and 10, respectively. It’s not like they’re going from three-minute songs to 20-minute songs. But there’s a definite shift that takes place from one movement to the other nonetheless. It may just be a question of the patience and tempo of delivery, but it makes the overarching progression of Rabbits all the more engaging.

brume

That setup begins with the sparse guitar that opens “Despondence,” a soothing melancholy drift greeted by ethereal echoes as a bed for McMullan‘s voice, and it’s not until after three minutes in that the heavier push kicks in with drums, bass and a burst of volume that then plays through a series of back-and-forths, resolving itself in a weighted melodic wash as the vocals move to the front of the mix heading into the chorus at the song’s midpoint. This progression is fluid in itself and in the whole-LP groove it sets forth, and the effect that quiet beginning has is ongoing, both as a showcase of Brume‘s dynamic sound and as a direct lead-in for the rolling “Scurry,” which gets underway with more immediacy but still keeps some sense of the ambience of its predecessor as it does so, its hook more prevalent and a highlight of the album and the band’s career to-date. Specifically it seems to take influence from YOB‘s “Marrow,” but the sweep of McMullan‘s singing and McCathie‘s guitar is more than enough to pull that off in style and substance alike, and the emotion behind it feels nothing if not sincere. With McCathie‘s backing vocals positioned deeper in the mix, there’s all the more a sense of breadth to what’s still a prevalent forward push thanks to Perkins-Lewis‘ drumming, building through the verses only to open wider during the two choruses before guitar, bass and drums drop out to what would seem to be piano/keyboard with McCathie‘s voice in standalone fashion for a moment before the soaring lead takes hold en route to a more direct McMullan/McCathie duet that is a suitable payoff and then some.

With “Blue Jay” as the key moment of transition, there’s the threat that its own substance might be lost in the proceedings, especially as it’s shorter at just 5:46, but the arrangement takes care of that handily. It is, instead, another high point for Brume and, one hopes, something they continue to build on as they go forward from here — one could easily say the same of Rabbits as a whole. “Lament,” by contrast as the longest track, echoes the beginning of “Despondence” but is less stark in its own turns of volume and instead holds its swaying motion for seven of its 11 minutes before its full heft takes shape, again around a well-wielded vocal duet. If this is the direction Brume intend to follow, it is only to the fortune of anyone who might do likewise and will only see their personality as a band come further forward. The closing statement of “Autocrat’s Fool” plays severity off ambience off harmonies on the way to what seems to be a quiet finish until the aforementioned “Stones From the Sky” moment — all the more interesting since I wouldn’t necessarily call Brume post-metal, which is where one usually finds such things — kicks in to cap off, indeed cutting itself short mid-measure at the end. It’s a moment that underscores the message of the album as an entire work in that it sees Brume recast a familiar element or stylistic aspect toward their own purposes. Make no mistake, whatever Brume have done or will do, this is a special moment for this band. It sets up some lofty expectations for their next outing, to be sure, but most importantly, it establishes them as more than up to the challenge of creative evolution and expression.

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Very Paranoia Premiere “Out of Touch” from Debut 7″

Posted in audiObelisk on November 6th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Very Paranoia

San Francisco classic hard punkers Very Paranoia officially released their debut seven-inch single Make Me / Out of Touch earlier this week through Who Can You Trust? Records, but the small-plate will make its first appearance on the merch table this weekend at a gig at the Ivy Room in Albany, CA. I didn’t even know there was an Albany, CA. It’s north of Berkeley, and Very Paranoia will share the stage there with Public Enema and Clean Room. Tickets are $8, so yeah, you can probably hack it if you’re in the area.

The concept behind the single, which follows a four-song demo posted last November ahead of the band’s first live show this past January. A four-piece comprising dudes from Lecherous Gaze, Annihilation Time and Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound, their demo wasn’t much lower-fi than the new two-songer, but the point is to get the point across either way and they do that plainly enough, tapping into the California early punk tradition. “Make Me” reminds of Keith Morris singing about his nervous breakdown to the point that one only hopes Very Paranoia eventually put out a collection of material from their “first four years.” They may or may not get there — they could always just put out a 19-minute album and be just fine instead — but in “Make Me” and “Out of Touch” alike, they ride a direct line to their roots. Frankly, given what those roots are, they wouldn’t be able to get there any other way.

“Out of Touch” isn’t streaming anywhere else, so you can check it out here exclusively if you can spare a whopping two-friggin’-minutes out of your otherwise busy day. I think you can.

More live dates, pedigree confirmation, the video they did for “Make Me” and links and other whatnot follow, courtesy of Who Can You Trust? Records, whose trustworthiness continues to prove consistent.

Enjoy:

Taken from the VERY PARANOIA – “Make Me / Out Of Touch” 7-inch | WHO-41

Edition of 200 copies on black vinyl.

Very Paranoia is a crude San Francisco unit operated by four veterans of the Psychic Wars. Founded by members of Lecherous Gaze, Annihilation Time, Hot Lunch, and Assemble Head, the band spews raw mechanical violence alternately described as “aggro-hooch metal,” “amphetamine pub rock,” and “scuzz-crud boogie.” Classifications aside, Very Paranoia’s sound is shaped by the cult-artists and underground characters found in multiple sub-genres throughout the twisted history of rock ‘n’ roll.

Very Paranoia live:
Nov 08 Ivy Room Albany, CA
Nov 23 Che’s Lounge Tucson, AZ
Nov 24 The Lunchbox Phoenix, AZ
Dec 14 Bender’s San Francisco, CA

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Review & Track Premiere: Iguana, Translational Symmetry

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on November 5th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Iguana Translational Symmetry

[Click play above to hear ‘Below the Hinterlands’ from Iguana’s Translational Symmetry. Album is out Nov. 15 on Tonzonen Records.]

A record that starts off coasting through outer space and ends up wondering amid fuzz and post-rock melo-wash why we just can’t get along, Iguana‘s Translational Symmetry is a progressive genrebender marked by high order songcraft and unrepentantly gorgeous psychedelia. The Chemnitz four-piece’s first offering for Tonzonen and third LP overall behind 2012’s Get the City Love You (review here) and 2015’s Cult of Helios (review here), it comprises nine tracks and runs 44 minutes, seeming in the process to pull influence from a host of styles, from the drifting opening semi-title-track “Time Translation Symmetry” to classic prog and space rock on “Below the Hinterlands” to the desert-tone-meets-hippie-folk-vocals of “Vessel Meerkatze” and the garage-plus-keyboard rocking shove of “Hear the Kid Out” later on.

The name of the game — and it is a game — is dynamic, and Iguana have developed it in earnest over a history that goes back at least a decade before they actually released their first album. Comprised now as they have been at least since 2012 of guitarist/vocalist/synthesist Alexander Lörinczy, guitarist/synthesist Thomas May, bassist Alexander May and drummer Robert Meier, they’ve developed a chemistry that allows them to reach further than they ever have, and though each of their long-players to this point in their tenure has offered something different, whether it was the pure desert worship of the first or the farther-afield, jammy heavy psych warmth of the second, and Translational Symmetry would seem to extend this ethic to the songs themselves.

Tracks are united through a general progressive mindset, and Lörinczy‘s layered vocals play a crucial role in uniting the material while also feeding the various atmospheres the band is working within, but the album shifts in mood and vibe on a nearly per-song basis, hitting on a central riff in “Leaving Crete” that feels like a gift given to the band by Spirit Caravan while using it to their own, broad purposes. This speaks to perhaps the greatest asset of the band’s songwriting at this stage: even when one might recognize an element or an influence in their work, Iguana take it and reshape it to suit the needs of their own work.

The difference is that between playing to style and playing with it, and Iguana are definitely doing the latter on Translational Symmetry. “Leaving Crete” resolves itself in a final hook and fare-thee-well bit of wah before “The Fish Code” takes hold with a jabbier, winding rhythm gracefully executed by the drums and bass with the guitars floating over and the synth seeming to be the current running beneath to hold it all together. Atmosphere is important to the proceedings, but not necessarily central, since the bulk of the material still has a structure underlying; even the eight-plus-minute “Rites of Passages” that opens side B in instrumentalist fashion seems to have an underlying plot, shifting between an initial thrust to dreamier Floydism in a mellower midsection before the energy level creeps back up amid a sleek groove and crash-cymbal wash, ultimately returning to the galloping motion that started off and building on it for a rousing lead that makes a fitting transition into “Hear the Kid Out,” which immediately follows.

iguana

Whether fast or slow, active or dreamy, loud or quiet, Iguana maintain both atmosphere and structure in a balance that’s fluid enough to allow them to enact some sense of a second-half-of-record branch-out, while still having already “branched” in that sense pretty far on the first half of the album. To say their sound has never been so malleable is kind of underselling it, but that’s true just the same. The truth is that Translational Symmetry is a more ambitious work than they’ve issued to-date, and it does not set a goal for itself that it leaves unmet. Those goals are an accomplishment unto itself, but essentially this is the sound of Iguana finding their identity through overcoming their influences and establishing themselves as themselves — their style as their own, to do with as they will. Plus songwriting. So yes, mark it a win.

If one looks at side A as a collection of shorter pieces, still with plenty of sonic diversity between them, from “Time Translation Symmetry” and “Below the Hinterlands” to “Vessel Meerkatze” and side B as made up of “Rites of Passages,” “Hear the Kid Out” and the closing duo of “Repeating Odd Dream” and “Spinning Top” — fascinating that the record would close with two tracks the titles of which both start with gerunds; “Leaving Crete,” earlier, is the only other — then with “Hear the Kid Out” as a relative-back-to-ground moment after “Rites of Passages,” or at least back-to-verses-and-choruses, then the album’s final movement seems to be all the more a cohesive and purposeful delve.

“Repeating Odd Dream” brings air-push fuzz and a complex rhythm, while the melodic focus of “Spinning Top” and its hook give it a spirit that draws on shoegaze but isn’t trying to pretend to sound like it doesn’t care. The synth might actually be a part of that impression, as it fills out the proceedings alongside an easy-nodding groove en route to an effects-laced finish, but really it’s everything. And that’s true of the record as a whole. Songs have their standout moments, rest assured, and those come from a flourish here, an arrangement detail there, a melody, a chorus, a verse line, a perfectly-timed tonal shift or snare pop, whatever it might be, but nothing is so prevalent as to take away from the impression of Translational Symmetry as an entirety. It is best heard as a whole album (said the guy streaming a single) in front-to-back fashion, but it stands up to the scrutiny of a deeper, track-to-track listen as well, with each song smoothly executing dynamic shifts of tempo and vibe that feed into the overarching statement.

It’s hard to pinpoint Iguana‘s trajectory, since Translational Symmetry — which seems to be  titled after what they’ve found in terms of bringing their ideas to life — takes the narrative one might’ve constructed for them after their first two records and throws it in the trash, but clearly the lesson of their third offering is that they’re able to do what they want in terms of the actual material and still make it theirs. From that starting point — from this point — they can go wherever they want.

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