Review & Full Album Stream: Zaum, Divination

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

zaum divination

[Click play above to stream Divination by Zaum in its entirety. Album is out May 10 on Listenable Records.]

Across a three-track sprawl, Canadian duo Zaum successfully manage to stay on theme while significantly expanding their sound. At its core, Divination — which is the Moncton outfit’s third full-length and first for Listenable Records — holds to much the same methodology as 2016’s Eidolon (review here) or even 2014’s debut, Oracles (review here), but the context has shifted as bassist/vocalist/etc.-ist Kyle Alexander McDonald and drummer/percussionist Christopher Lewis have begun to embrace different contours and textures in their work. As with the last two albums, there are some clues to be found in the artwork, in this case exploring the theology and mysticism of Southeast Asia as well as some of the folk influence, but Zaum‘s central purpose has not wavered and throughout the 18:27 opener and longest track (immediate points) “Relic,” they show growth not by moving away from their initial purposes, but by advancing deeper and more complex arrangements.

Like the similarly-minded Om before them, Zaum have begun to push outside the confines of a bass/drum duo, incorporating various bells and other atmospheric elements in order to convey the ambience that is so crucial to what they do now more than ever. It’s worth noting that McDonald and Lewis have furthered the visual side of their live presentation as well, bringing aboard Nawal Doucette as a presence onstage. Whether or not she contributes to the album, I don’t know — there are vocals near the beginning of “Relic” that could be hers, but I haven’t seen proper credits — but either way, “Relic,” as well as “Pantheon” (8:48) and “Procession” (13:58), which follow, bear the mark of this increased focus on atmosphere. Of course, this was not an area in which Zaum were exactly lacking prior to Divination, but it’s a question of balance in their sound, and they have grown more patient in their execution as well as more willing to explore the spaces they naturally create in their material. This has only made them a stronger band and more suited to their aesthetic purpose.

The sense of ceremony is immediate as “Relic” begins to unfold, and it remains prevalent no matter how tonally weighted Zaum get. Echoing voice, flute sounds, finger cymbals and darkly psychedelic textures put the listener precisely in the place the band wants them to be, and though the first few minutes of “Relic” are quiet, the patience they instill in the audience is another triumphant aspect of Divination on the whole. Soon enough, the drones and bass and echoing march will commence, and “Pantheon” as the centerpiece/side B leadoff hits with even more impact ahead of “Procession,” which casts a more strictly doomed pall on the way to its apex topped by righteously harmonized vocals. There are ebbs and flows along the way — plenty of flow throughout, actually — in volume and intensity, but at its most subdued or its loudest push, Divination remains informed by that original showcase of patience, and the temporal slowdown that ensues is all the more effective for it.

zaum (Photo by Pierre Morin)

But Zaum‘s dynamic isn’t just about volume tradeoffs or writing long songs. It’s the feeling of ritualization that helps to distinguish them, and “Relic” shows this as well from front to back, dipping into some spaces that feel born of more extreme metal — thinking just past the halfway point before the vocals drop out. As Zaum have moved toward discovering their own sound, they’ve worked to conjure a singly dark vibe that Divination certainly brings to its most resonant realization yet. It’s not that Zaum are suddenly playing death or black metal — far from it — but as they began by transposing the tenets of doom onto their style, their breadth in that regard would seem to have expanded as well along with the rest of their modus. As “Pantheon” sets its ambient foundation in the first minute and then begins constructing a temple build of foreshadow harmonies and drone metal leading to bleak incantations, it’s hard to tell just with what gods Zaum are communing — all of them? — but clear just the same that the intent is not of this world.

It is a grim psych of the spirit, and the “Procession” to which it leads feels very much like the march to death. The closer isn’t the longest work Zaum have ever done — both tracks on Eidolon topped 20 minutes, there’s “Relic” here and the 19-minute “The Serpentshrine” from their 2015 split with Shooting Guns (review here) — but it might be this album’s highest achievement. To hear Zaum use vocal layering as they do effects and percussion along with the bass and drums as another instrument at their disposal puts them in a different category of songwriters entirely, and it only speaks well for their search as it continues to move forward from here. “Procession” winds down before building back up to its 10th minute, eventually making its way into the aforementioned harmonies, chant-like as they are.

Amid all the nuance of arrangement, Zaum make an easy argument for themselves as a progressive band. The simple fact that they’d work so directly toward an atmospheric ideal does that alone, never mind how they actually get there. But with the ending of “Procession,” and really with Divination the whole way through, Zaum separate from the paths of their influences and find their own way. They are the monk leaving the monastery to create a new path, and the sound they find on that journey is as enriching as any dogma might provide. Again, for those who’ve experienced Zaum in the past, it’s not so much that Divination is a radical reinvention of what they do. It’s not supposed to be. Instead, what it does is to show how malleable their approach is to further growth and how much it’s able to branch out in terms of expression without sacrificing its basic level of impact to that cause. Those who’ve heard them before will still recognize them, but the shape of what’s being recognized has changed and signals in this material that change will be ongoing. So be it.

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Destroyer of Light Premiere “Burning Darkness” from Mors Aeterna out May 24

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

destroyer of light

The grim magic of lurking tradtional doom has been with Destroyer of Light all along, but the Austin, Texas, four-piece have never brought it to bear with the poise, presence or level of accomplishment they do on Mors Aeterna. Their third full-length out May 24 as their debut for Argonauta Records follows behind 2018’s Hopeless EP (review here) and 2017’s Chamber of Horrors (review here), both of which seemed to paint the band’s shifting focus in real-time. Their earlier work on 2014’s Bizarre Tales Vol. 2 EP or their 2012 self-titled debut was more in a burly heavy rock vein, but it was the Endsville split/collaboration with Godhunter (discussed here) in 2015 that really began to mark their turn to darker, more sinister, doomly fare.

Mors Aeterna — which brings forth 10 tracks in a relatively concise 44 minutes peppered with interludes throughout like the intro “Overture Putrefactio,” the keyboard-laced “The Unknown,” the piano-led “Pralaya’s Hymn” and the penultimate foreboding of “Into the Abyss” that launches directly into the megacrash of semi-title-track closer “Eternal Death” —  is unquestionably Destroyer of Light‘s crowning achievement to-date. It presents their sound as a work of directed vision while proffering memorable stretches from the emotional strains of “Dissolution” onwards, but neither casts its lot entirely with classic doom nor the post-Pallbearer modern sphere. As they’ve done throughout their career, Destroyer of Light reside in a place between, and it’s a place that sounds more theirs than it ever has before.

Intro, two songs, interlude, two songs, interlude, one song, intro, one song. Parsed out, it’s easy enough to see where the band — guitarist/vocalist Steve Colca, guitarist/synthesist Keegan Kjeldsen, bassist Nick Coffman and drummer Penny Turner — wanted to break things up to keep a given listener on their toes, but such structuring does little to convey the intricacy of Destroyer of Light‘s doom and how they blend atmospherics and nodder progressions in order to get where they do. The Candlemassian stretch of “Afterlife” or the bass-heavy chug-and-swing of “Falling Star” and the play off a spacier influence in “Loving the Void,” bringing psychedelia and doom together in such a fashion as to be beholden to neither so much as its own purpose — these moments go beyond the simple shape of the album and speak to the breadth that Destroyer of Light stake out across the album’s entirety.

destroyer of light mors aeternaThey are heavy, yes. They are dark, yes. But if you think there can’t be detail as well to that, then a cut like “Burning Darkness,” with its rumbling low end foundation beneath the vocal melody and its consuming march to a destructive finish is simply going to be lost on you, let alone how the “heavier” songs interact with the interludes so clearly meant to and so effective at increasing the scope of Mors Aeterna overall. It is a record of bleak soulfulness and sincere exploration; the product of a commitment to creative growth that has shown itself across Destroyer of Light‘s discography. It feels very much like an arrival point.

And so it should, given that it’s their third record and they’ve put in some significant time on tour leading up to it — they’ll keep that thread going in Europe starting this weekend — but even more than that, Mors Aeterna seems to be working from a full-album conception. This also ties at least partially into the interludes and focus on mood and atmosphere, and it continues right up to the violin and piano that cap “Eternal Death” in a mirror to “Overture Putrefactio” at the outset. The interludes tie together the various movements of Mors Aeterna and help bolster the depth of even the most straightforward of its songs, feeding into an overarching flow that begins as “Dissolution” takes hold with its initial roll and continues through the relatively and somewhat ironically quick fadeout of “Eternal Death.”

All throughout, Destroyer of Light bask in a doom that cast in their image and spirited not by adherence to the tropes of genre, but by reshaping them to suit the needs of the songs. Destroyer of Light are a much different band now than when they started out some seven years ago, but the style they’ve embraced is something hitting its moment of realization and that — most importantly — shows no signs of stopping here. There’s nothing throughout Mors Aeterna to make one think Destroyer of Light have landed here and this is it. Rather, the quality of the songwriting and the sureheadedness with which they approach such outwardly bleak sonic terrain gives the impression only of further plunge to be had as they move forward. Still, this is an important step for the band and a convincing argument in favor of there being life after traditional doom.

It’s my pleasure today to host the premiere of “Burning Darkness.” Please find it below, followed by some comment from the band and their European tour dates.

Enjoy:

Destroyer of Light, “Burning Darkness” official track premiere

Destroyer of Light on “Burning Darkness”:

“Burning Darkness” is about this man traveling through the underworld, trying to figure out where he is heading. It is dark, it is really hot, and then he realizes that he has transcended into hell. This was a fun song to write because it is super melodic, but then really heavy. I wanted to add a “black metal” section to signify that he is hell and it is horrible! Lots of dynamics and influences showed in this song.

We are excited for our first European tour. We’ve been working really hard to get over there and for us to finally be here feels really good. Hard to believe we are, it’ll be awesome to have the new album with us too. Y’all will get the first chance in person! Hope to see you out there!

Set for a release on May 24th with Argonauta Records, Mors Aeterna will be available as CD, LP and Digital formats at: www.argonautarecords.com

Tour Dates:
10th May, Italy, Bologna @ Freak Out*
11th May, Italy, Genua @ Lucrezia Social Bar*
12th May, France, Lyon @ Le Farmer*
13th May, France, Toulouse @ L’Usine de la Musique*
14th May, France, Strasbourg @ L’Elastic*
15th May, Germany, Dresden @ Chemiefabrik*
16th May, Germany, Berlin*
17th May, Denmark, Aalborg @ 1000 Fryd*
18th May, Sweden, Stockholm @ Copperfields*
19th May, Sweden, Boras @ Cannibal Metal*
21th May, Switzerland @ Luzern*
22th May, Italy, Milan+
23th May, Italy, Turin @ Ziggy+
24th May, Italy, Vercelli @ Officine Sonore+
25th May, Italy, Treviso @ Altroquando+
* w/ Hell Obelisco
+ w/ Great Electric Quest

Destroyer of Light is:
Steve Colca – Guitar, Vocals
Nick Coffman – Bass
Keegan Kjeldsen – Guitar, Synth
Penny Turner – Drums

Destroyer of Light, “Afterlife”

Destroyer of Light on Thee Facebooks

Destroyer of Light on Instagram

Destroyer of Light on Bandcamp

Argonauta Records website

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Argonauta Records on Instagram

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Review & Track Premiere: Uffe Lorenzen, Triprapport

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 7th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Uffe Lorenzen Triprapport

[Click play above to stream the premiere of Uffe Lorenzen’s ‘Psykonauten’ from the album Triprapport, out May 10 on Bad Afro Records.]

Is it really any surprise that Uffe Lorenzen would produce headphone-ready acid folk of the highest caliber? It probably shouldn’t be. The Baby Woodrose frontman, also known as Lorenzo Woodrose, has been proffering psychedelic garage and heavy rock with that outfit for the last 18 years, and his 2017 solo debut, Galmandsværk (review here), was a likewise-directed lysergic journey. Triprapport, recorded and mixed analog, is a more than worthy follow-up to that also-released-by-BadAfro first offering, with its eight songs written in a short period of time during a mushroom binge off in a cabin someplace in Lorenzen‘s native Denmark. The album’s title, Triprapport, might indeed be taken as a report about that trip, and of course, “trip” is the operative word. Across 36 occasionally-sitar-laced minutes Lorenzen builds layers of acoustic and electric guitar, percussion, and echoing vocals to a sensibility that is at once reminiscent of the debut and steadier in its approach.

The mellotron dream of “Angakkoq” and the subtly percussive, semi-spoken “Alting Er Eet” are both likewise assured, and even on the extra spacious “Aldrig Mere Ned,” in which Lorenzen‘s strumming seems to ring out like the Milky Way cutting the night sky in half amid a mounting wall of electrified fuzz, there’s a willfulness to the proceedings that speaks to the consciousness behind all that mind expansion. The narrative of the album’s construction — guy goes into the woods, eats mushrooms, writes songs — does precious little to convey the level of craft or detail that Lorenzen brings to his work, but perhaps it’s best left to the songs to explain themselves, as with the closing Hans Vinding (Furekåben) cover “Hallo Hallo Frøken,” taking the ’70s folk vibe and peppering it with drifting notes of effects-laced lap steel (provided by Peter Knudsen), or even the countdown-to-launch that happens about halfway into opener “Psykonauten” atop a engine ignition of low-end buzz. Lorenzen may not be a stranger to the forms in which he works, but his mastery thereof is what makes Triprapport a voyage worth undertaking.

The launch that ensues there in a scorching, multi-layered electric lead is about as appropriate a beginning point as Lorenzen could give Triprapport, and what follows is due otherworldliness both in that song and “Alting Er Eet,” which follows in linear fashion seemingly headed on a direct course toward “far out,” synth and delay guitar intertwining in dramatic fashion in the midpoint break before Lorenzen starts a call and response to his own melody and the synth swells again. The title-track is indicative of some of the more garage-feeling rhythms Triprapport has on offer. “Alting Er Eet” and “Psykonauten” both certainly have movement — the opener punctuated by tambourine, the second track by a bass drum/snare and the aforementioned shaker — but the tablas and tambourine of “Triprapport” as well as the pinging sitar notes that accompany (courtesy of Vicki Singh) add a sense of boogie that the later “Floden,” indeed with more sitar, answers later.

Uffe Lorenzen Triprapport

“Floden” is the shortest track on Triprapport at 3:17, but Lorenzen only hits the five-minute mark twice and one of those is for the finale cover. Still, “Floden”‘s relative surge of push is well-placed in side B as it follows the drift of “Angakkoq” and “Lille Fugl” with “Aldrig Mere Ned” and “Hallo Hallo Frøken” still to go. It’s a moment whereby Lorenzen directly engages the listener, especially in a linear format (CD, digital), allowing for some grounding factor following the acoustic-and-organ-and-flute (the latter contributed by Adam Dreisler) interplay of “Lille Fugl.” Both that track and “Angakkoq” before it have some percussive aspect, whether it’s the triangle of “Angakkoq” or what might be a bass drum so far back in the mix of “Lille Fugl” that it sounds like water droplets, but “Floden” is a well-placed cosmic burst of energy, that, without losing the melodic focus that proves so resonant throughout Triprapport, responds to the title-track’s classic psychedelia with more of the same as heard in its running measures between verse lines.

As the last original track, “Aldrig Er Eet” feels like a significant moment for Lorenzen as a songwriter, and it might be, with a somewhat moodier pulse, subtle backing line of synth or effects lower register and lower in the mix, as well as a march in acoustic guitar and percussion, but it’s not at all out of place with what comes before it or even what comes after, as “Hallo Hallo Frøken” is brought well into the character of the rest of Triprapport, the lap steel taking the place of the strings in the original and Lorenzen replacing the Dylan-gone-krautrock of the original with his own approach. Across the entire span of Triprapport — its manageable 36-minute run just about ideal for a traditional two-sided LP — the songs are a reminder of just how much character Lorenzen puts into his songwriting. It is, in the end, his work, and however traditional the form in which he’s working might be intended to be, there’s no doubting the progressive aspects of Triprapport even as relates to Galmandsværk.

That is perhaps something the gone-to-a-cabin storyline in which the album occurs takes as a given, but it’s worth highlighting all the same that Lorenzen is nothing short of a master when it comes to psychedelic composition. His work in Baby Woodrose speaks for itself, but can be somewhat opaque for a new listener to take on — in the age-old question of where to start, I’d say the self-titled, but there’s really no wrong answer — but even the fact that the lyrics are in Danish lends his solo material a more personal atmosphere, though I’ll readily admit to my ignorance of the language. Nonetheless, while Lorenzen may be exploring this more personal mode of songwriting, he doesn’t at all lose the writing part of that equation. The material on Triprapport is as deceptive in its efficiency as it is fluid in its front-to-back flow. Ultimately, this is what makes the album his own. Is it surprising? Probably not. But it’s gorgeous.

Uffe Lorenzen on Thee Facebooks

Baby Woodrose on Thee Facebooks

Baby Woodrose on Bandcamp

Baby Woodrose website

Bad Afro Records on Bandcamp

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Bad Afro Records website

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Switchblade Jesus Premiere Butthole Surfers Cover “Who Was in My Room Last Night?”

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

switchblade jesus (Photo by Troy Alan Garza)

If your eyes are on these words, then I’ll assume I don’t need to recount for you the legacy of pill-popping bizarro fuckall that surrounds Butthole Surfers. Though they flirted with commercial viability at one point in the ’90s — hey, didn’t we all — it was more like a rare aligning of planets than anything purposeful on the band’s part; like they and rock radio happened to be in the same dimension for five minutes. Their mission was more toward the avant noise of outsider punk and space rock, and they demonstrated to an entire generation of Lone Star denizens that it was okay to be strange, stranger and strangest. Switchblade Jesus, on the whole, aren’t so geared to weird, but they do justice to the drive of “Who Was in My Room Last Night?” which originally opened Butthole Surfers‘ 1993 major label debut, Independent Worm Saloon.

It’s an interesting and purposeful pick on the part of Switchblade Jesus, who grit up the original version of the song while keeping the central rhythm, playing up the forward push that added such a careening sense in the first place. The trio of guitarist/vocalist Eric Calvert, bassist Chris Black and drummer Jon Elizondo have shown, pretty much since Black came aboard — though I’ll allow that’s a narrative convenience; not like I was at Switchblade Jesus rehearsal to watch the shift take place — an affinity for noise rock that their prior self-titled debut (review here) didn’t have. When they featured on Ripple Music‘s The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter 7 (review here) in 2017, it was there, and “Who Was in My Room Last Night?” seems to bring it all the more forward. Wow, almost like the band is progressing or something. Go figure.

In the enduring spirit of chaos, I’m happy to host the premiere of Switchblade Jesus‘ take on “Who Was in My Room Last Night?,” and if you’re wondering when the hell the Corpus Christi three-piece might get down to business and put out another record, they talk about it a little bit here.

Please enjoy:

Switchblade Jesus, “Who Was in My Room Last Night?” official track premiere

Switchblade Jesus on “Who Was in My Room Last Night”:

“Deciding to pull away from the norm as many of our music colleagues go the Sabbath/Zep covers we wanted to honor one of the best bands out of Texas and a song we all grew up with. This was recorded and mastered by us in our studio and honestly was a big learning experience in what goes into ‘gluing’ it all together, so we hope you guys dig this as much as we do.”

Switchblade Jesus on Thee Facebooks

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Ripple Music website

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Doomstress Premiere “Burning Lotus” from Sleep Among the Dead out May 10

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 1st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

doomstress (Photo by thepassionoftherice)

Texas four-piece Doomstress make their full-length debut with Sleep Among the Dead on May 10 through DHU Records (LP) and Ripple Music (CD), and if it feels like it’s been an extra-long wait for the album’s arrival, that’s probably a result of all the touring the band has done since getting together in 2016. To the best of my recollection they haven’t gone out for two months at a time or anything like that, but there’s been a steady chipping away at various Stateside regions that’s kept momentum well on their side as they’ve issued engaging-if-frustratingly-not-an-LP releases like 2017’s The Second Rite (discussed here) and 2016’s Supernatural Kvlt Sounds (discussed here) EPs, and along with slots at fests like Descendants of Crom and Maryland Doom FestSXSW and others, they’ve done a lot of the kind of preliminary work that would go into supporting a record before even having the record to support. Sleep Among the Dead, obviously, flips that scenario, and arrives not late but right on time with seven tracks and 41 minutes of right on Lone Star doom rock that shows the band’s foundations in acts like Well of Souls and Project Armageddon in its early riffing on “Bitter Plea” or “Burning Lotus” and uses that uptempo initial thrust to launch a more varied exploration of mood and impact. As their lineup has solidified with bassist/vocalist Doomstress Alexis, guitarists Brandon Johnson and Matt Taylor, and drummer Tomasz Scull (Sparrowmilk, ex-Venomin James), the band has clearly grown more confident in their approach, as can be heard in the tempo drawback of “Dreaming Spider,” which follows the opening one-two punch and begins to introduce the breadth of the album’s full scope.

So be it. Band has worked. Band has album. Great. When it comes to what distinguishes Doomstress from the multitudes who also might fit that generalized description, one doesn’t have to look far. The guitar work on “Bitter Plea” and even more on “Burning Lotus” might take a listen or two to sink in, but ultimately serves as the heart of Sleep Among the Dead, and in kind with Alexis‘ voice — itself more assured and melodic than it’s yet been on a recording and a vital instrument doomstress sleep among the deadput to welcome use here — the guitars drive the songs forward. That’s not to take away from Scull‘s drumming or Alexis‘ bass work, obviously, but there’s a willingness to engage with heavy metal in the melodic sensibility that is purely Texan throughout, and it’s introduced early, but manifests even in the later leads of centerpiece “Your God is Blind” and the righteously grandiose hook of “Bones and Rust,” even as the title line is delivered at the end in harmonized layers that should be taken by the band as a blueprint for future intent — I don’t usually say shit like that, but it works really well and is not an idea to be left alone. This amalgam of doom, heavy rock and metal isn’t necessarily revolutionary, but it’s more than enough to give Sleep Among the Dead an identity of its own and leave the lasting impression of being what the EPs and steady touring were building toward — the album itself something of a payoff, never mind the chugging apex in the 7:53 penultimate cut “Apathetic Existence,” with a Sabbath-via-C.O.C. swing brought to bear after a doomly opening worthy of reminder that Doomstress‘ home state once produced Solitude Aeturnus.

As “Bitter Plea” and “Burning Lotus” set Sleep Among the Dead forth with uptempo thrust and a fervent rocking vibe, “Apathetic Existence” and the subsequent closing title-track bring the record down, way down, to its darker finish. There’s still plenty of guitar theatrics, and the chug in both songs ties them together effectively, but Doomstress leave little question about their intent that the record should push further into the ground as it goes, perhaps living up to its title in its realization through the listening process. That atmosphere is a further example of the real takeaway from Sleep Among the Dead as a whole, which is that Doomstress are not screwing around. Their level of craft, in terms of construction of this material and its execution, is well beyond the “first record” expectation of a band getting their feet wet or figuring out their sound. Doomstress are past that, and they took the hard way around, honing their approach on tour. That’s admirable, but the record would still need to stand up on its own, and so it’s doubly fortunate that Sleep Among the Dead does precisely that, answering the anticipation of its landing with a collection that’s dramatic without pretense, showy without indulgence and that despite the simmering performances throughout, still puts the songs first. Will Doomstress go on to outclass it? Maybe. They’ll have their work cut out for them in that regard, but that hasn’t stopped them yet. What’s more important for the time being is that Doomstress set themselves up for a big moment of arrival with their full-length debut, and Sleep Among the Dead lives up to that and then some.

My pleasure today to host the premiere of “Burning Lotus.” Please dig in on the player below.

And enjoy:

Doomstress Alexis on “Burning Lotus”:

“This was a rad one to work out in the studio, Tomasz really crushed it with that drum pattern and how it builds into the verse when the vocals kick in! It’s just a ripper of a track and top it all off with killer solos by Matt and special guest solo by Kent Stump of Wo Fat.”

Order Link: https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/sleep-among-the-dead

Order Link: https://darkhedonisticunionrecords.bigcartel.com/product/doomstress-sleep-among-the-dead

Doomstress is:
Doomstress Alexis – Bass/Vocals
Brandon Johnson – Guitar
Matt Taylor – Guitar
Tomasz Scull – Drums

Doomstress website

Doomstress on Bandcamp

Doomstress webstore

Doomstress on Thee Facebooks

Doomstress on Instagram

DHU Records webstore

DHU Records on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio Recap: Episode 15

Posted in Radio on April 30th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

gimme radio logo

It was last Friday about an hour before I had to head out for the start of Desertfest NYC that I cut the voice breaks for this episode, once again on my phone, while in transit. I did the same thing last time and it sounded like crap. I know the stakes are pretty low — that is, nobody really cares — but if you’re going to do a thing, at least try to do it well. I backed off the phone this time and hopefully that cut some of the overmodulation in my voice.

I say “hopefully” because I actually haven’t heard the show yet. I was at the fest on Sunday while it aired, so I’ll be catching the rerun at 9AM this Thursday when that’s on. This is the 15th episode of The Obelisk Show and it’s been an exceptionally busy few weeks, but it’s still fun to put together, and there were some killer tracks included this time from Worshipper, Abrahma, Molasses, Stone Machine Electric, The Well, Kandodo, Methadone Skies, and so on. Any opportunity to throw in some Øresund Space Collective makes me happy, so that was a must, and I was kind of also doing myself a favor in including Natas as the “classic track” (yay! classic track!) for the episode.

So basically, unless I crapped it up, at least the music is good. That’s what matters anyhow, or so I’m told.

Here’s the full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 04.28.19

Pelican Midnight and Mescaline Nighttime Stories*
Abrahma Lost Forever In Time for the Last Rays of Light*
Worshipper Coming Through Light in the Wire*
BREAK
Molasses Drops of Sunlight Mourning Haze*
Los Mundos Subterráneo Mar Jurásico Calor Central*
Kandodo King Vulture K3*
Omen Stones Fresh Hell Omen Stones*
The Well This is How the World Ends Death and Consolation*
BREAK
Natas Samurai Delmar
Smear Old Town A Band Called Shmear*
Methadone Skies Where Were You When We Were into the Void? Different Layers of Fear*
Stone Machine Electric Purgatory Darkness, Dimensions, Disillusion*
BREAK
Øresund Space Collective Meets Black Moon Circle Afterglow in the Sea of Sirens Freak Out in the Fjord*

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio airs every other Sunday night at 7PM Eastern, with replays the following Thursday at 9AM. Next show is April 28. Thanks for listening if you do.

Gimme Radio website

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Hippie Death Cult Sign to Cursed Tongue Records for 111 Release; Stream “Sanctimonious”

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on April 29th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

hippie death cult

Like every day, before today’s done, you’ll probably be subject to an absolute assault of new music, but seriously, stop. Take a breath. Just chill for a second. Awesome.

Now go ahead and click play at the bottom of this post to check out “Sanctimonious” by Portland, Oregon’s Hippie Death Cult, who are newly signed to Cursed Tongue Records for the release of their debut album, 111. The four-piece roll out of the PNW like a burnout Soundgarden riding a wave of mushrooms and dysfunction fueled by the riffs and deep running tone of guitarist/engineer Eddie Brnabic, then slowly begin to reveal a deeper dynamic in the acoustic “Mrtyu” and the atmospheric-heavy-meets-NWOBHM-triumphalism-so-it-must-be-doom “Pigs” ahead of the organ-laced “Treehugger” and the extra-bluesified capper “Black Snake.” It’s not out until August, which is like an unfathomable amount of time and 100 million records from now, but Cursed Tongue does preorders, and I’m thinking this is one of the best debuts I’ve heard so far in this bastard of a year, so really, take a second and give it the due attention.

It’s a record I’m immediately looking forward to knowing better.

Taste the radness:

Hippie-Death-Cult-111

HIPPIE DEATH CULT SIGNS TO CURSED TONGUE RECORDS FOR A WORLD WIDE VINYL RELEASE OF THEIR DEBUT ALBUM ‘111’ SET FOR AUGUST 23TH, 2019

Cursed Tongue Records is excited to the core announcing the signing of Hippie Death Cult (Portland, Oregon) for a vinyl release of their debut full length album entitled ‘111’ on August 23th, 2019.

Seldom comes along a band that turns our heads so severely it nearly causes cervical fracture and subsequent complete mind melt. Well, guess what Portland based Hippie Death Cult did exactly that when we first heard about this infectious, blues, stoner doom rock ensemble several moons ago. Back then they had just released their third single ‘Black Snake’ and we where taken by storm and immediately knew this band where going places. Doesn’t hurt either that Eddie and the rest of the hippies are among the nicest people around.

So in keeping this intro rather short, we give a warm welcome to Hippie Death Cult to the Cursed Tongue Records roster of amazing bands from the global heavy underground and we feel this is the perfect addition to our branch of hard working, hard rocking heavy bands! More info and details about ‘111’, digital release date, vinyl pre-order and pressing info will be revealed later down the line. For now we urge any fan of bluesy, 70’s hard rock, doom-infused stoner metal to acquaint yourself with the Hippie Death Cult as you surely will want to redeem lifelong membership after hearing their mind blowing musical creations. FFO Geezer, Egypt, Goya, Monolord, Windhand, Electric Wizard, Black Sabbath and The Heavy Eyes.

We welcome any stoner head into the cursed coven of the hippie death cult – let’s riff!

CTR-022 HIPPIE DEATH CULT – ‘111’, vinyl official release date: August 23th, 2019. (Digital release July 26th, 2019)

All songs written by Hippie Death Cult
All lyrics written by Ben Jackson

Recorded at HDC HQ in Portland, Oregon
Produced, Engineered, Mixed by Eddie Brnabic
Mastered by Tony Reed at HeavyHead Rec Co.
Cover painting by Ben Jackson
Design, Layout, photography by Eddie Brnabic
Additional layout and design by Michael Andresakis

Track listing

Side A
1. Sanctimonious
2. Breeder’s Curse
3. Unborn
4. Mrtyu

Side B
5. Pigs
6. Treehugger
7. Black Snake

Hippie Death Cult live:
May 2ND @ The Valley – Tacoma, WA
May 3RD @ Darrell’s Tavern – Seattle, WA
May 4TH @ Chinese Gardens – Longview, WA
May 5TH @ The High Water Mark – Portland, OR

Hippie Death Cult is:
Eddie Brnabic : Guitar
Laura Phillips : Bass
Ryan Moore : Drums
Ben Jackson : Vocals/Keys

https://hippiedeathcult.bandcamp.com/
https://instagram.com/hippiedeathcultband/
https://www.facebook.com/hippiedeathcultband/
https://soundcloud.com/hippie-death-cult
https://www.hippiedeathcultband.com/
http://cursedtonguerecords.bigcartel.com/
https://www.facebook.com/CursedTongueRecords
https://www.instagram.com/cursedtonguerecords

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Review & Full Album Premiere: Stone Machine Electric, Darkness Dimensions Disillusion

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 25th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Stone Machine Electric Darkness Dimensions Disillusion

[Click play above to stream Darkness Dimensions Disillusion by Stone Machine Electric in its entirety. Album is out April 26 on Sludgelord Records.]

Stone Machine Electric are the bluesy, jammy, sometimes doomed sludge jazz called for by the times in which we live. The Hurst, Texas-based duo have consistently evolved over the course of their studio LPs, EPs, live offerings, etc., and for the last nine years, they’ve been an underrated act lurking in the crowded Lone Star underground, compatriots to Wo Fat and recording at that band’s Crystal Clear Sound studio, but never really touring and so never really getting the attention their particular take deserves. Darkness Dimensions Disillusion is their third album and first to be issued through Sludgelord Records. It follows behind 2016’s Sollicitus es Veritatem (review here) and its 2017 live companion, Vivere (review here), which were at that point the farthest yet that the two-piece of William “Dub” Irvin (guitar/vocals) and Mark Kitchens (drums) had pushed themselves, exploring nuanced reaches of dark psychedelia centered around the theme of the 2016 US presidential election, which was about as appropriate a subject as one could ask for their gleefully bizarre and malleable approach.

That willingness to discuss real-world issues had never been expressed to such a degree throughout prior outings like 2015’s The Amazing Terror EP (review here), 2014’s jam-based Garage Tape (review here), their 2013 self-titled debut (review here) and their 2010 demo, Awash in Feedback (review here), but it’s a theme that Darkness Dimensions Disillusion continues in its four component tracks. Perhaps not to the degree of having a portly rat king in a red tie on the front cover — though the diamond-encased staring-eye skull drawn by Kitchens is righteous — but still, it’s there in 12:48 opener “Sum of Man” and 14-minute closer “Purgatory,” the two tracks that bookend the album, as well as the all-caps “SAND” and “Circle” (premiered here), the latter of which is unarguably the most straightforward composition they’ve ever included on a record. That in itself is emblematic of Stone Machine Electric‘s steady creative evolution. They’re never predictable unless you count the reliable certainty that they’ll try new things. So it goes here.

And you don’t have to wait until the third of the four tracks to get to that point either. The very first movement of “Sum of Man” is indicative of their progressive bent, unfolding with surprising grace over the course of its first four minutes with a minimal but spacious stretch of effects ambience that’s greeted with melodic guitar/keys on a subtle linear build that’s nonetheless interrupted by the drums bringing about the shift into the first verse. Stone Machine Electric have done plenty of jamming in their time, but this is a different way of engaging atmospherics, and it’s more purposeful than a basic sonic meandering — nothing against that either — in terms of setting the mood for what follows and putting the listener in a more open headspace, such that even as Irvin intones “The sum of man is equal to his waste,” and “The sum of man/Can be measured/By the size of the void/Left upon the land,” the languid groove, while plenty heavy in terms of tone, remains laid back in its overarching affect.

stone machine electric

Repetitions of the title-line serve as a hook unto themselves, and after a few verses, Irvin and Kitchens take off on a fluid, solo-topped jam that seems to immediately signal no return. It feels earned. “SAND” is more chorus-based, but at over eight minutes long still has plenty of room to stretch out, and it takes advantage of it with a noisy midsection that parses out to angular turns leading into its solo and a slow, doomly roll that follows with some theremin or other synth accompanying, from whence they drop out and return to the hook in an effective showcase that says Stone Machine Electric know precisely which rules they want to break and when they want to do it in terms of working in and out of various structures, which is only fitting their experimentalist take and their level of craft in general. They are not just another band.

With “Circle,” though, they do toy with the idea of dead-ahead songwriting in a way they never have. At 4:45, it’s the shortest cut on Darkness Dimensions Disillusion by nearly half, and it’s a work of verse/chorus songwriting that pulls away from some of the burl in “SAND” in favor of a more melodic vocal that suits Irvin well, and shuffling snare work from Kitchens that seems to be a direct contrast to the track before. There’s a short guitar solo in the second half, and a sudden stop as if purposefully cutting themselves off before they launch into the next jam. There’s plenty of opportunity for such things in “Purgatory,” though, with a quiet keyboard-sounding intro to mirror “Sum of Man” for the first two and a half minutes and a smoother transition into the first verse — really embracing the “jazz” in “doom jazz”; no complaints — and bringing back the throatier vocals as they shift as well to meatier riffs and an unfolding nod that sounds like a culmination even before it serves as one.

Kitchens and Irvin are quick to move into more exploratory fare, but they hardly rest there, taking one movement into the next with a marked fluidity en route to the eventual noise wash that emerges with the vocals seeming to echo up from it as they move deeper into the second half of the track, guitar siren blaring amid the distortion flood until the whole thing goes away at the 10-minute mark and they work their way back into an easier groove topped with a highlight solo and the return of the keyboard line from the beginning of the song, which will be the last element to remain after the guitar and drums head out on a long fade, leaving on a note of quiet atmospherics like that which started the album in the first place.

One can only hope Stone Machine Electric continue to follow that impulse as they inevitably move forward from here, since their more confident approach to melody and more patient execution suits them so well, especially in “Sum of Man” and “Purgatory,” but as ever, they serve an intention toward experimentation, and that leads them to new and fascinating places throughout these songs. I wouldn’t bet on what their next record will sound like, but I’m willing to go on record in saying that they’ll keep moving forward, likely in a multitude of directions. They remain better than people know, and a band whose steady growth is matched only by the consistent quality of their output.

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