Sweet Chariot Premiere “Miles Away” from Lean into the Breeze

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

sweet chariot (photo by Charlie Karr)

Oakland, California, doesn’t quite have the tech-industry gloss of its across-the-Bay kin city of San Francisco, but even that wouldn’t account for rambling sunset serenity of Sweet Chariot‘s second record, Lean into the Breeze. The album, which is due out April 15 through Who Can You Trust? Records and available to preorder now, comes across with a vibe extracted from the smoother end of the heavy ’70s as shades of Southern rock are held over from the band’s 2014 self-released, self-titled debut in cuts like “Wicked Night” and the later, well-harmonized “Over and Over,” the affect bringing to my East Coast ears an echo of a decidedly more Californian, less regretful, The Brought Low, similarly unafraid to touch on twang when so inclined, as on “Let it Start” or “My Front Pages,” but less strictly heavy rock even in the decidedly guitar-led “Miles Away” or “Can’t You See the Wind.” Vocals are shared between guitarists Eric Shea (also Hot Lunch) and Chris Guthridge (Ride the Blinds) while the rhythm section of bassist Doran Shelley (Nik Turner’s Hawkwind) and drummer Chris Labreche (Planes of Satori) provide the fluidity of groove to match the shifts of mood along the way, from “Billy Bliss” working on its night moves to the melancholic closing pair of “Night Light” and “Nothing Seems to Matter,” which touches on some of that wistful Southern nostalgia without going the full-Skynyrd. Something there seems to cry out for a grand piano, but the vocal arrangement is right on and Guthridge‘s winding lead lines certainly get the point across.

Analog production, sometimes used as an excuse for crappy sound, becomes part of the character throughout Lean into the Breeze. The breeze, by the way, is warm. sweet chariot lean into the breezeAnd so are the melodies. There’s a switch in who’s singing lead between “Wicked Night” and “My Front Pages,” which follow opener “Best I Had” — notice the use of past tense; immediate call to something bygone and remembered fondly — that expands the scope of the album as a whole and brings a via-’90s-college-rock vibe to the established classic pattern, but the songs are and remain central as the 10-track/36-minute long-player stretches out into the start-stop swag of “Miles Away” and the genuinely sweet melodies of “Billy Bliss” and “Let it Start,” the move from side A to side B flowing easily like, well, the warm breeze, I guess. Organ shows up and finds welcome on “Can’t You See the Wind,” and “Over and Over” pushes into a more complex arrangement of vocals to preface the closer still to come, but before they get there, Sweet Chariot dip into the three-minute “Night Light,” ahead of “Nothing Seems to Matter,” pulling back on the (relatively) grander feel of the tracks surrounding for a stretch of minimalist sentimentality no less effectively conveyed than anything in either “Over and Over” or the closer still to come. They end with the line “Nothing seems to matter anymore,” which taken in kind with “Best I Had” gives a decent impression of the point of view from which at least a good portion of Lean into the Breeze is working.

Sentiment suits Sweet Chariot, however, and with Shea and Guthridge sharing vocals, the band are that much more able to bring forward a classic but not necessarily backward or reactionary feel. Ahead of the release, I’m happy to be able to host “Miles Away” as a track premiere, and you’ll find it on the player below, followed by the vinyl info from the label.

Please enjoy:

Taken from the SWEET CHARIOT – Lean Into The Breeze LP | WHO-38

Release Date: April 15th
(** Pre-orders shipping two weeks earlier **)

Pre-orders at: https://whocanyoutrustrec.bigcartel.com/product/sweet-chariot-lean-into-the-breeze-lp

Edition of 500 copies on black vinyl.
(The first 100 copies include a free Sweet Chariot logo sticker!)

Sweet Chariot comprises singer/guitarist Eric Shea (Hot Lunch, Mover) and Planes Of Satori drummer Chris Labreche – both from the bygone band Parchman Farm. They also landed bass player Doran Shelley, a former member of The Cramps and Nik Turner’s Hawkwind. Ride The Blinds’ frontman Chris Guthridge completes the band with shared singing duties and top-shelf lead guitar playing.

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Review & Track Premiere: Obsidian Sea, Strangers

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on March 11th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

obsidian sea strangers

[Click play above to stream the title-track of Strangers by Obsidian Sea. Album is out March 22 on Ripple Music.]

Classic doomers Obsidian Sea mark a decade of existence and make their debut on Ripple Music with their third full-length, Strangers. The three-piece were last heard from with 2015’s Dreams, Illusions, Obsessions (discussed here), and with their new album, they present a tidy six songs and 40 minutes of material that ranges from the ultra-Sabbathian double-layered lead work in opener “The Birth of Fear” to the more complex proto-metallic crunch in nine-minute side A finale “A Shore Without a Sea,” to the subtly progressive execution on that song’s side B counterpart, “The Play.” Their intentions pointed squarely at the doom of olde, the focus from the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Anton Avramov, bassist Delyan Karaivanov and drummer Bozhidar Parvanov is more about traditionalism than range, but there is a spaciousness to the proceedings nonetheless, and for as basic as the elements at play might seem in their sound — guitar, bass, drums, riffs, solos, vocals, etc. — they never fail to set an atmosphere throughout Strangers that breathes new life into the aesthetic with which their working and becomes crucial to the stamp they leave on it with this material.

Strangers isn’t overly showy in terms of trying to convey some threat, and it’s not outwardly morose as plenty of doom can be, and neither is it totally defeated, but even in the brash riff of “The Birth of Fear,” there’s a sense of struggle that comes through, and as that first and crucial hook is set as an opening statement of Obsidian Sea‘s intention for what will follow, they hold to that mindset. It’s not theatrical, and it’s not melodramatic, but as “Every Heart Hides a Killer” taps Pagan Altar via earliest Witchcraft, there’s an unsettling vibe that comes across, and the band seem to revel in it in Avramov‘s next layered solo and the lumber that ensues from there, but it’s telling that they end that second cut in a subdued fashion, as it speaks to the underlying patience in their songwriting.

The kind of doom they’re playing shouldn’t be in a hurry, and Obsidian Sea aren’t. They don’t lurch exactly, but neither do they sound rushed. “The Birth of Fear” and “Every Heart Hides a Killer” both move at a smooth pace, the opener just a bit faster, and seem more concerned with establishing the course of the record than catching the listener off guard with any sudden or stark changes. To wit, the build into a nodding chug and solo part in “Every Heart Hides a Killer” is well telegraphed ahead of time, and the chorus earlier in “The Birth of Fear” is clearly placed at the outset to grab attention. At the same time, there’s something very carefully done about Strangers that comes through beneath the surface of the album. It is very purposefully divided into two sides, each of which caps with a nine-minute track — “A Shore Without a Sea” and “The Play,” respectively — and to listen to Avramov and Karaivanov‘s tones and even the raw gut of Parvanov‘s drumming, it’s clear that Obsidian Sea aren’t conjuring their sound by happenstance.

Obsidian Sea

As one might expect for a third LP, the band have an idea of their sound and how to realize it in the studio. No doubt some of it came together on the fly as is inevitable in a recording process, but the composition and delivery of these songs are thoughtful and able to engage with nuance despite being outwardly traditional. It’s in this manner that Obsidian Sea carve out their niche within the genre and work to make their sound their own in a way they haven’t before. This, obviously, is the ideal for a band in their position, and maturity suits them all the more since they have the substance of craft to support their own stylistic manifestation. As “A Shore Without a Sea” gracefully unfolds along its plotted trajectory, the band’s control over that direction is complete, and they are able sound-wise to find that place in between in such a way as to shape genre to suit the needs of their material. Again, the ideal.

“Strangers” and “The Demolished Man” function not unlike “The Birth of Fear” and “Every Heart Hides a Killer” on side A, but the title-track fleshes out the vocals with a second layer, and “The Demolished Man” most gruelingly communicates the downtrodden spirit of the album through a slower pace and a sense of arriving at its referenced vanquishing, departing from vocals just past the halfway mark and continuing along an instrumental path for the remainder of its six minutes. Both sides of the record work shortest to longest, so there’s no shortage of symmetry to be read throughout, but as it’s slower and more outwardly depressive, “The Demolished Man” makes a fitting penultimate cut, since it seems to push downward as far as Obsidian Sea are willing to go while still allowing for “The Play” to summarize the entire proceedings. Is that organ I hear at the start?

Either way, the closer fleshes out Strangers‘ sound effectively, bringing together tempo shifts like that around the 4:30 mark and stretches of softer melancholy and more tempestuous riffing all to serve the purpose of defining Strangers as a whole. In so doing, it denotes a release of marked artisanship, making use of the tenets of classic doom without sacrificing its own persona at their altar, and creating songs that find a place for themselves amid the expressive history of the genre that is as much personal as it is reaching out for connection. Their variability in songwriting is drawn together via a thread of tone and melody woven across the material, and they use this as the backdrop for bringing a doom to bear that is at once homage to what’s come before and a sign of what the future might bring. It can be a difficult outing to pin down at first, but the manner in which its spirit plays out across its run is well worth the effort of repeat listens.

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Review & Full Album Stream: Cowboys & Aliens, Horses of Rebellion

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

cowboys aliens horses of rebellion

[Click play above to stream Cowboys & Aliens’ Horses of Rebellion in its entirety. Album is out March 15 on Polderrecords.]

It’s been more than 20 years since Cowboys & Aliens got their start in 1997 with the long-out-of-print League of Fools, and as with anything, some stuff has changed and some hasn’t. The Bruges-based four-piece still put groove front and center of their approach, and one can still hear traces of Kyuss and earlier Astrosoniq in their approach, but as they release Horses of Rebellion through Polderrecords, the band’s melodic foundation remains strong, but they deliver their material with something of a sharper edge. To listen to songs like “Take a Good Look Around” or even the initial push of “Soaking,” the sound is still right in line with that initial wave of European late ’90s heavy rock, and Henk Vanhee‘s post-John Garcia vocal style speak to that timeframe as well, but the tones of guitarist John Pollentier are as hard as they are heavy, and with the fervent push of Peter Gaelens on drums and Tom Neirynck‘s bass, the album retains a metallic feel to coincide with its foundations in the riffy ways.

It runs a clean 11 songs/43 minutes all told, and makes a centerpiece of its catchiest hook in the title-track, but whether it’s a bruiser like “Morning Again” or the slower early going in “Sheep Bloody Sheep,” Cowboys & Aliens bring an efficiency to their delivery that speaks to their maturity as a band. It’s been a minute, though. While their landmark and widest-known release has always been 2000’s A Trip to Stonehenge Colony (on Buzzville), their last full-length was 2005’s Language of Superstars. In the intervening 14 years, the band broke up and (obviously) got back together, releasing two EPs earlier this decade in 2011’s Sandpaper Blues Knockout and 2013’s Surrounded by Enemies. Both of those releases continued to tap into fuzzier tonality and more of a rocking feel, not quite laid back, but not quite as on top of the beat as a cut like “Refuse” finds them here.

So why the change? Hell if I know. These are troubled times, and perhaps it’s some reflection of that, though songs like “Two Time a Man,” “Hollow,” and the closing duo of “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” and “Splendid Isolation” seem to speak to a more personal perspective than some broader social comment. Even “Refuse,” in the track itself, is preceded by an “I.” Fair enough. One way or the other, it seems safe to assume that the shift in approach — and it’s a shift more than a leap; something notable, but not drastic; they’re not suddenly djenting by any means — is purposeful given the band’s established tenure and the fact that Horses of Rebellion is their fifth long-player. It is very much a collection of songs rather than something composed as a full-length concept or thematic piece, but it flows well throughout its aggressive take, and is malleable in terms of tempo and general mood even though it stays on point as “Soaking” and “Still in the Shade” careen outward in a brisk seven-and-a-half-minute opening salvo that sets the vibe for the rest of what follows.

cowboys and aliens

“Two Time a Man” gives Neirynck‘s bass a well-earned showcase, and presents a more open verse, pulling back the throttle somewhat from the initial launch, but they hold firm to a hook and still have room at the end for a quick crescendo guitar solo ahead of “Sheep Bloody Sheep,” which is a foreshadow of the melodic highlight to come in the title-track and the longest inclusion at just over five minutes, still hitting hard, but doing it slower. Gaelens starts “Take a Good Look Around” and the first two minutes of the song build through a resonant chorus kept on point by a steady kick drum while Pollentier seems to bend the riff around the central groove, never losing it but walking the edge as he goes. When it comes at the start of side B, the subsequent title-track has more of a classic take and a hook made for sticking to the brain complemented by a start-stop verse riff and a swagger that much of Horses of Rebellion avoids. They rightly lean into that chorus even toward the end of the song, but it’s telling that when it’s over, the turn to “Morning Again” is immediate.

That is, there’s a beat of a pause, but that’s it. Only a beat. And even on a record full of relatively smooth transitions, that one stands out as capturing a live feel on the part of the band. Being as crisply produced as they are here, I don’t know how much Horses of Rebellion represents their onstage character — I’ve also never seen them, so that doesn’t help either — but that changeover certainly comes across as show-ready, and it works to keep the energy of the title-track going into “Morning Again,” which has a bounder of a riff at its core and works to keep the momentum going into “Hollow” and “Refuse,” which respectively pull back and push forward in terms of thrust, the latter being the most intense moment on the record since the opening and maybe overall as well. They follow with the solid groove and layered harmonies of “Walk a Mile in My Shoes,” mellowing out a bit in its second half but still keeping the proceedings to a tight four-minutes.

And they close out with “Splendid Isolation,” which — and I mean this in the best, laughingest way possible — is kind of a jerk move. At 2:20, the finale is naught but tense guitar strum and vocal lines. It’s building, you see. At any second, the listener is waiting for the song to absolutely explode, but it never does. Cowboys & Aliens are simply toying with their audience, putting what might otherwise have been first or at the beginning of a live set at the end of the record instead. The message, of course, comes through clearly enough: They’re just getting started. And for a band 22 years on from their debut, that’s no minor message to deliver as effectively as they do, but perhaps the intensity in some parts of Horses of Rebellion is mirroring an urgency behind the album’s creation in the first place, and if that’s so, one seriously doubts it will be another decade and a half before they’re heard from again. As much as their roots remain in the heavy rock of their initial era, their will to move forward is writ large in these songs.

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio Recap: Episode 11

Posted in Radio on March 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

gimme radio logo

Oh, it was a cold and snowy Sunday night, but the rawk was hawt, and so on. Okay, so maybe I’m not much for the introductions, but I dug this episode. I want to screw with what I’ve kind of made the “format” of this show, and starting out with Kings Destroy, Clamfight and Forming the Void in honor of the show I saw on Saturday at the Saint Vitus Bar was fun. So it’s a little more than just be being like, “Duh, I like this record so here’s this song by this band,” though of course that pretty much applies here as well. I don’t know. Just something a little different. Branch out a bit. Try not to set rules for myself.

Speaking of a lack of rules, this one gets a little weird. Look out for Return to Worm Mountain and Hhoogg in the second hour, and then Volcano leading into longer tracks from Sons of Morpheus and Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree. That last song from the latter is 17 minutes long, and hell yeah I was going to include it. So good. That record is an unexpected turn from them, but absolutely awesome, so if you know it, all the better, and if not, maybe you’ll dig. Dig dig dig.

New tunes besides from Hexvessel, Snowy Dunes, High Reeper, Yatra and the sadly-defunct Cloud Catcher, and a classic riff-roll from Spirit Caravan round out what I thought was a pretty killer mixtape, so yeah, if you checked it out last night or get to listen to it tomorrow morning, thank you.

Here’s the full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 03.03.19

Kings Destroy Fantasma Nera Fantasma Nera*
Clamfight Echoes in Stone III
Forming the Void On We Sail Rift
BREAK
Yatra Smoke is Rising Death Ritual*
Hexvessel Wilderness Spirit All Tree*
Snowy Dunes Let’s Save Dreams Let’s Save Dreams*
High Reeper Bring the Dead Higher Reeper*
Cloud Catcher Beneath the Steel The Whip*
BREAK
Spirit Caravan Cosmic Artifact Jug Fulla Sun
Hhoogg Journey to the Dying Place Earthling, Go Home!*
Return to Worm Mountain Song for the Pig Children Return to Worm Mountain*
Smokey Mirror Sword and Scepter Split w/ Love Gang*
Volcano No Evil Know Demon The Island*
BREAK
Sons of Morpheus Slave (Never Ending Version) The Wooden House Session*
Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree Cinitus Grandmother*

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio airs every other Sunday night at 7PM Eastern, with replays the following Tuesday at 9AM. Next show is March 17. Thanks for listening if you do.

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Mount Atlas Premiere “The Unknown” from Mistress EP

Posted in audiObelisk on March 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

mount atlas

German Hammond-soaked heavy rockers Mount Atlas will release their Mistress EP on May 10 through H42 Records. The four-songer runs a crisp 15 minutes, and while the keys provided by Christoph Ramke bring an inevitable classic flair to the proceedings, neither the production nor the style of the band is outwardly retro in the “vintage” sense of analog worship. Rather, the opening title-track and subsequent “Pace,” “Evil Side” and “The Unknown” are presented with pro-shop clarity and fullness, and the guitars of Jonas Willenbrink (also vocals) and Lars Rempe, the bass of Florian Eckey, Hendrik Kurre‘s drums and the aforementioned organ come through with an energy fitting for a band getting their start — having come together in 2016 — but still plainly moving ahead of their 2017 debut, Titan, in terms of reach and structure, “Pace” tapping into NWOBHM style classic metallurgy as “Evil Side” tap more of a swing, the latter being the only song over four minutes long and accounting for that differential with a still-relatively-quick midsection break.

The point, I guess, is it’s straight-ahead classic-derived-but-not-classic-imitating heavy rock and roll, but that alonemount atlas mistress does little to note the emphasis Mount Atlas put on clarity of performance and on songwriting. “Evil Side”‘s hook is catchy and delivered with an ’80s arena-metal spirit, and “The Unknown” would seem to follow-suit in its general base of influence. Classic rock meets classic metal meets modern riffing — Mistress has no trouble drawing strength from multiple sides, and Mount Atlas seem to be perfectly comfortable in going over the top sound-wise. Titan was a little bit rougher around its edges, but the ensuing cohesiveness of these songs is another unmistakable sign of the band’s growth. They may or may not still be maturing as a group, but even if that’s the case, a foundation of craft only ever serves well, and it does throughout this EP too. Mount Atlas are well comfortable interweaving guitar and organ on “Mistress” itself, and with that, they set the tone for a mini-showcase of their wares; a bit of a sampler for those who either did or didn’t catch the first offering when it came out to let all concerned parties know where they might be heading. A choice EP, in other words.

And a bit of unpretentious little-of-this-little-of-that-and-a-lot-of-melody heavy rock never hurts, so I’m happy today to host the premiere of “The Unknown” from the EP. You’ll find it below, followed by more from the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

Mount Atlas’s bubbling sound of the Hammond organ, their rough guitar riffs as well as the floating melodies will bring you back to the 70s and 80s. At the same time, they manage to maintain their individual sonority. They alternate between spherical sounds and heavy doom riffs, which sound as if played whilst wearing equally heavy leather jackets.

Their first record “Titan” has been leaving its marks on the international rock and metal scenes since April 2017. The new EP “Mistress” will be released on Vinyl, CD and digitally May 10, 2019.

Mount Atlas is:
Jonas Willenbrink (Vocals / Guitar)
Christoph Ramke (Organ / Synth)
Hendrik Kurre (Drums)
Florian Eckey (Bass)
Lars Rempe (Guitar)

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Almost Honest Premiere “Stonecutter”; Seiches and Sirens out March 22

Posted in audiObelisk on February 28th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

almost honest

New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, trio Almost Honest release their sophomore full-length, Seiches and Sirens, through Electric Talon Records on March 22. There’s riffs and shenanigans a-plenty on the 10-track/45-minute album, and from the sharp-edged opening gallop and chug of “Fools Gold Flesh,” they toast elements of heavy rock, progressive metal, and the odd bit of thrash for a blend they call “groovy sexy Viking funk doom rock.” The cumbersome genre designation could be taken for what it is, but it’s also emblematic of the tongue-in-cheek vibe that a lot of Seiches and Sirens — which was produced by Gary Conahan at Dynamo Audio in Lancaster — carries across in songs like “Interstellar Executive” or “Dancing Shaman and the Psychedelic Cactus,” or “Call of the Mothman.” And the self-awareness extends as well to their imprint, Electric Talon Records, as some of their fuzz could easily be traced to a Valley of the Sun influence. These are all catchy, mostly uptempo heavy rockers reminding a bit of some of what Howling Giant or Bloodcow bring to bear in terms of nerd-meets-riffs sensibility in storytelling. Helping distinguish Almost Honest — even their choice of Megadeth songs to name themselves after kind of forces one to ask if they’re serious — from that set are the triad vocals of guitarist Shayne Reed, bassist Seth Jackson and drummer Quinten Spangler, who fluidly split off during verses and effectively make use of trades like that in “Fools Gold Flesh” or “Stonecutter,” where the melodic singing gives way to almost Scissorfight-style narration.

I’m honestly not sure where the “Viking” part comes in, but as ReedJackson and Spangler careen and crash through songs like “Whale Bones” and the penultimate “Wiwadvhv” — for which I’d love to see a lyric sheet — Seiches and Sirens derivesalmost honest seiches and sirens an all-the-more varied identity from its shifts in vocals, and much like New Cumberland itself is situated west of Philadelphia and still a good distance east of Pittsburgh, so too do Almost Honest‘s brand of heavy draw aspects of punk and metal and rock into its fray. “Jenny Greenteeth” is the longest inclusion on the album at 6:43, and it gives over to militaristic snare near the halfway point only to embark on a particularly engaging and plus-sized bounce riff in an instrumental section that in turn ends up back in the chorus with keyboard accompaniment. One could call that a show of craft and structure, but by the time they’re that deep into the tracklisting, Almost Honest have long since demonstrated their mettle in that regard, and whether it’s the early Giraffes-style swagger of “Keystone” or the sheer WTF-ery of “Dancing Shaman and the Psychedelic Cactus,” their gleeful weirdness never comes at the expense of songwriting. You’ll pardon me if I avoid the “some of these songs are goofy as hell but the band is serious” cliché, but in the balance between the two sides, it’s character put to use in making songs and not the other way around.

“Stonecutter,” which you can hear premiering below, emphasizes that well. Bursting to life from an opening gong hit, the track makes good use of its vocal variety, with a melody following the guitar in the chorus and lines spoken both by the title character and the spirit itself he’s speaking to, while holding itself together instrumentally and building momentum toward a faster payoff later. It’s immediately catchy, and so represents Seiches and Sirens well in that regard, and also shows off the personality very much at play throughout the entire record. Good fun.

Almost Honest will be touring weekender-style throughout the Spring after the arrival of Seiches and Sirens on March 22. You’ll find those dates, as well as some comment from the band about “Stonecutter,” beneath the player that follows.

Please enjoy:

Almost Honest on “Stonecutter”:

“The song was inspired by a Japanese folktale about a stonecutter who was tired of living an average life. What is different in our version however is that it features a funky doom-ridden twist on the tale. I love the groovy jams, angry spirits, and a chorus that you can sing along to as you work. They don’t call us a groovy sexy Viking funk doom rock band for nothing.” — Quinten Spangler

“I enjoy the fact that we have all been assigned different characters or roles during the song. Quinten is the mountain spirit, Seth is the narrator, and I am the stonecutter. Doing this makes the song feel alive and it gives it more story. I also like to refer to it as Almost Honest the musical. Hit us up Broadway.” — Shayne Reed

Seiches and Sirens by Almost Honest is officially released on 22nd March 2019 through Electric Talon Records.

Pre-order the album here – https://almosthonestpa.bandcamp.com

Almost Honest live:
Mar 22 JB Lovedraft’s Harrisburg, PA
Mar 23 The Pinch Washington, DC
Mar 30 Black Forge Coffee Pittsburgh, PA
Mar 31 123 Pleasant Street Morgantown, WV
Apr 13 Gold Sounds Bar Brooklyn, NY
Apr 26 Cherry Street Station Wallingford, CT
Apr 27 13th Floor Music Lounge Florence, MA
May 17 Westside Bowl Youngstown, OH
May 18 Rosen Krown Rochester, NY

Almost Honest are:
Shayne Reed – Guitar/Vocals
Seth Jackson – Bass/Vocals
Quinten Spangler – Percussion/Vocals

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Orbiter Premiere “To the Crows” from Resist, Submit, Repeat

Posted in audiObelisk on February 27th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

orbiter (Photo by Olya Lavrik)

Oslo-based heavy rockers Orbiter are set to make their full-length debut on March 1 — two days from now — with Resist, Submit, Repeat on Negative Vibe Records. The offering runs a brisk 28 minutes, and for most of its seven tracks, the operative word there is “runs.” The album’s promo materials, part of which you can see below, tag Clutch and Motörhead as key influences, and listening to the sprinting verse of opener “To the Crows” give way to a more weighted groove in the chorus, I can hardly disagree, but there’s a metallic underpinning of chug in the bridge of “To the Crows” before the gallop resumes that not only foreshadows what will cap the record and serve as its crescendo in the mammoth stomp of the instrumental “Voyage,” but hints toward some of the aggression heard in punkish centerpiece “Dave” or in the brisk 2:44 rush of “Fratican Shitty,” which would seem to be about more than a downer tourist experience. It’s only hard to say for sure because by the time you’ve caught up to the hook, the track is already en route to beating you over the head with the next verse.

Even the vocal patterning there, though, could be argued as derived from Clutch, but that comes more forward in mid-paced swing-rockers like “Six Line” as guitarist Kim Rune Johansen complements the riffing with a gruff, dudely shout that stays on rhythm and ultimately helps set the brash mood of Resist, Submit, Repeat on the whole. In the only two songs that top five minutes long, “Misery Season” and “Mt. Fuzzo,” there’s a little more room to flesh parts out, but that dynamic serves Orbiter well — particularly as “Mt. Fuzzo” directly precedes “Fratican Shitty” — and the overall burl factor is well met by Ivan Reigstad‘s bass and Pål G Sivertzen‘s drumming, which provide the bounce that makes cuts like “Six Line” and “Misery Season” the highlights that they are, as well as being a bit of a drawback from the all-go spirit of the faster material. It’s not an unfamiliar blend on the whole, but Orbiter bend it effectively to suit their purposes, and the chug they dig into periodically throughout becomes a kind of secret weapon waiting to be fully unleashed in the finale.

The stated theme of the album is the process of coping with — or at least losing to — one’s demons, and whether that’s substance abuse, mental illness, etc., it’s fair enough ground for them to trod. Still, listening to the fueled shuffle of “Dave,” I wouldn’t call Resist, Submit, Repeat a downer in the slightest. Its brazen take hints at future melodicism in their sound and it’s less than a half-hour of absolutely pretense-free, high-energy riff-led heavy rock. There’s plenty to get down with if you’re up for it, and really, the bass alone on the closer is right there in gotta-hear status. I’m a sucker for rumble anyway, but that’s the good stuff.

Before that, however, there’s there punch in the face of “To the Crows,” which you can hear premiering on the player below, followed by the aforementioned PR wire info.

Have at it, and please enjoy:

Negative Vibe Records has announced the March 1st album release of Resist, Submit, Repeat. This is the debut full-length from Norwegian muck-rock merchants, Orbiter. Composed of Kim Rune Johansen (guitar/vocals), Ivan Reigstad (bass) and Pål G Sivertzen (drums) this trio splits the difference between the stoner grooves of bands like Clutch and the amphetamine riff fury of Motorhead.

In the three years between their debut EP Crooked and the new full-length the band has become a super-tight live fixture on the Oslo music scene. Practicing and refining some of the new tunes through years of rehearsal and performances. Johansen said of the difference between releases “there’s a filthy rawness to much of the music which we draw in from the nature around us, however the energy is much more refined on this release, the riffs are bigger and the production is huge!”

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Negative Vibe Records website

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Mountain Tamer Premiere New Single “Death in the Woods”

Posted in audiObelisk on February 26th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

MOUNTAIN TAMER

Los Angeles trio Mountain Tamer continue to elude easy classification with their new single. As they did on last year’s sophomore full-length, Godfortune // Dark Matters (review here), and the prior 2016 self-titled debut (review here), they offer psychotropic signals to the converted in waves of guitar effects casting out over a wide soundscape, but there’s something darker about “Death in the Woods” — certainly the title carries a sense of threat as well — lurking beneath the surface’s more shimmering aspects. Its low end is grim, its vocals just a bit throatier, so that as the song moves further into its crash-laden freakout, the screams that come aren’t entirely unexpected.

Mountain Tamer accomplish this in efficient time, as “Death in the Woods” is only about three and a half minutes long. They’ve tested waters in such mountain tamer death in the woodsa manner before, of course, whether it was their 2015 Mtn Tmr demo (review here) that preceded the first album or 2017’s Living in Vain (review here) that preceded the second. And we won’t know just how much of a foreshadow “Death in the Woods” is casting until their next release — it’ll reportedly be an EP — arrives, but the troubling undercurrent in Mountain Tamer continues to give them an edge that so much of West Coast psych simply doesn’t have. It’s not for the bro-down, skate-so-you-can-work-on-your-social-media-brand set. It’s up to something entirely more sinister.

It’s kind of a curious case with Mountain Tamer. Every time I stop listening to the band, especially the last album, I think to myself, “Nah, you’ve got it wrong,” and I go back trying to hear it with different ears, like maybe the party vibe is there and I’m just not getting it — would not be the first time I wasn’t invited to the party, by any means — but no. Even putting aside the name of it, if you listen to “Death in the Woods,” what you’re hearing is Mountain Tamer — Andru Hall on guitar/vocals, Dave Teget on bass and Casey Garcia on drums — take elements from the modern West Coast heavy psych movement and twist them toward their own ends. And those ends indeed seem to be twisted. As Hall intones in the verse, “It’s okay to be afraid.” So be it.

Mountain Tamer hit the road next month alongside Salem’s Bend, heading to SXSW and elsewhere. You’ll find those dates under the player below, as well as some quick comment from the band.

Please enjoy:

Mountain Tamer on “Death in the Woods”:

‘Death In The Woods’ is about surviving on primal instincts, and how in the end we are all wild animals. The song helps showcase the heavy groovy psychedelic sound Mountain Tamer has been honing in for years as well as gives a taste of an upcoming EP that is in the works.

Mountain Tamer Tour Dates:
3/7 – Las Vegas, NV – Vamp’d
3/8 – Ogden, UT – Brewski’s
3/9 – Denver, CO – Bar Bar
3/10 – Wichita, KS – The Elbow Room
3/11 – Oklahoma, OK – Blue Note Lounge
3/12 – Fort Worth, TX – Lola’s
3/13 – Houston, TX – Rudyard’s
3/14 – Austin, TX – Spiderhouse (SXSW Stoner Jam)
3/15 – San Antonio, TX – The Mix
3/16 – San Angelo, TX – Deadhorse
3/17 – El Paso, TX – Frank’s Rockin’ Cigar Bar

Mountain Tamer is:
Andru Hall – Guitar/Vocals
Casey Garcia – Drums
Dave Teget – Bass

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Mountain Tamer on Instagram

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Magnetic Eye Records website

Nasoni Records website

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