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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Evil Acidhead, Gypsy Sun Revival, Albinö Rhino, Monarch, and Vision Éternel

Posted in Radio on February 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk radio

My going motto for this site, which basically I repeat to myself like a mantra, is to do as much as I can when I can. Obviously that fluctuates, and I think that’s a good thing on many levels, but I’ve had more time recently to pay due attention to the goings on with The Obelisk Radio and I’m thankful for that. This is the second round of adds for this month, and in addition to the offerings highlighted below, another 30-plus releases have gone up to the server as of today, including some choice bootlegs from the likes of Lowrider, Brant Bjork, Vista Chino, Greenleaf, Acid King, Neurosis and Kyuss. I encourage you to check out the full list of adds here. It kicks a formidable amount of ass.

The Obelisk Radio adds for Feb. 20, 2017:

Evil Acidhead, In the Name of all that is Unholy

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This 2015 reissue on Agitated Records of Evil Acidhead‘s In the Name of all that is Unholy becomes particularly relevant since 2017 marks 30 years since its original release. Offered as a cassette in 1987 by guitarist John McBain (Monster MagnetWellwater Conspiracy), it tops an hour and 17 minutes and crosses the first of its two LPs before it’s even finished with its four-part opener, and only then digs into the 23-minute “I Control the Moon.” A challenging listen front to back even three decades later, it holds to an experimentalist core of guitar effects, swirl, loops — which are near-maddening on side B’s “Part III: Possession” — and malevolent, droning abrasion. What’s stunning about it is if you said this was something McBain recorded a few months ago, there would be no choice but to call it forward-thinking. Imagine a record that 30 years later still offers a legitimate sense of being ahead of the day. Not that it never happens, but it’s certainly rare, and In the Name of all that is Unholy seems to willfully sidestep what we think of as reality in favor of its apparently timeless hellscapes. It’s far, far away from pleasant, but it sure as hell is impressive.

Evil Acidhead on Thee Facebooks

Agitated Records website

 

Gypsy Sun Revival, Gypsy Sun Revival

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Fort Worth trio Gypsy Sun Revival make their debut with this 2016 self-titled full-length and earn immediate notoriety for their blend of heavy psychedelic and straightforward rocker impulses as well as the fact that the vinyl version of the album sees release through ultra-respected purveyor Nasoni Records. One might recall the last time the Berlin-based label picked up a Texan band, it was Wo Fat, so it’s no minor endorsement of Gypsy Sun Revival‘s potential, and the three-piece of vocalist/bassist/organist Lee Ryan, guitarist/thereminist Will Weise and drummer Ben Harwood live up to it across the 46-minute seven-tracker, songs like “Cosmic Plains” finding a middle ground between sleek ’70s groove and modern thickness, setting up longer post-Zeppelin jams to come like “Idle Tides,” which, though fluid, rely less on effects wash to get their improvisational point across than the raw dynamic between the band itself. As a debut, Gypsy Sun Revival impresses for that, but even more for the level of immersion it enacts the further along it goes, so that when they get to languid instrumental closer “Radiance,” the band’s approach seems to be in full bloom when in fact they may only be beginning their forward creative journey.

Gypsy Sun Revival on Thee Facebooks

Nasoni Records website

 

Albinö Rhino, Upholder Live at Ääniwalli, Helsinki 17.12.2016

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I’m pretty sure all those umlauts are going to crash the radio stream every single time this gets played, but a 41-minute digital live version — offered as a name-your-price download, no less — of Albinö Rhino‘s heavy psych epic “Upholder” recorded this past December in their native Helsinki is too good to pass up. The Finnish trio issued the studio edition of the three-so-far-part piece late in 2016 under the simple title Upholder (review here), and Upholder Live at Ääniwalli, Helsinki 17.12.2016 comprises a 41-minute single-track rendering of the first two parts brought together with onstage energy and a fitting showcase of the song’s longform jamming path. Led by Kimmo Tyni‘s guitar work — no less recalling early Natas via Sungrazer and Sleep here than in the studio recording — and gruff vocals, the live incarnation also benefits from the deep patience in Ville Harju‘s bass and Viljami Väre‘s drumming, as heard under Tyni‘s moog solo circa 14 minutes in. It’s soon for a revisit of Upholder itself, but as well as getting additional mileage out of the piece, Albinö Rhino bring a different flavor to the live execution of it to this digital-only outing, and if it catches more ears as a 41-minute single song as opposed to being broken up over two sides, there’s no way that’s going to hurt them. Either way you get it, its soul, heft and molten vibe resonate.

Albinö Rhino on Thee Facebooks

Albinö Rhino on Bandcamp

 

Monarch, Two Isles

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Not to be understated is the sense of poise that pervades Two Isles, the debut full-length from Encinitas, California, psychedelic progressives Monarch. Delivered via Causa Sui‘s imprint El Paraiso Records — the gorgeous art treatment is consistent with their hallmark style — and produced by Brian Ellis (AstraPsicomagia, etc.), it locks into classically winding turns or melodic flourish with equal ease on side A pieces like the opening title-track and “Assent,” proffering scope but not necessarily pretense. Call it prog in the new West Coast tradition if you must, “Dancers of the Sun” and the more insistent staccato of “Sedna’s Fervor” are dead on either way, and the five-piece of guitarist/vocalist Dominic Denholm, guitarists Nate Burns and Thomas Dibenedetto (see also Joy and Sacri Monti), bassist Matt Weiss and drummer Andrew Ware save their finest showcase for the just-under-10-minute finale “Shady Maiden,” summarizing their liquefied proceedings in more than able fashion, reaching ahead of themselves as the style warrants, and once more proving what might be hypnotic were it not such an active, exciting listen.

Monarch on Thee Facebooks

Monarch at El Paraiso Records

 

Vision Éternel, Echoes from Forgotten Hearts

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Echoes from Forgotten Hearts is the latest EP from Montréal-based solo artist Alexandre Julien, who operates under the banner of Vision Éternel, and it comprises seven brief individual tracks numbered in French as “Pièce No. Un,” “Pièce No. Deux,” etc., of wistful guitar lines and serene dronescapes. The balance that a “Pièce No. Deux” is able to strike by sounding so broad and wide open and yet only being 1:47 is striking, and it makes the release flow together all the more as a work on a single emotional thematic, and while it all only winds up being 14 minutes in total, Julien is able to bring that thematic to life in that time with depth and grace, so that when the relative sprawl of the 3:45 closer “Pièce No. Sept,” takes hold, one only wishes it would go on further. Note this is one of several Vision Éternel offerings joining the playlist this week, and Julien has a boxed set in progress collecting a number of his outings to be released sometime later this year, including, I believe, this one, which originally came out in 2015. Hopefully it’s not long before he follows it with new material.

Vision Éternel on Thee Facebooks

Vision Éternel on Bandcamp

 

Thank you as always for reading and listening.

To see everything that joined the playlist today, please visit The Obelisk Radio.

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Woodsplitter, Shroud Eater & Dead Hand, Moaning Cities, Wartime and Megaritual

Posted in Radio on February 6th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk radio by cavum

A round of adds to The Obelisk Radio once a month doesn’t seem like too much to ask, right? Well, it probably will be as the rest of the year plays out amid my meandering attention span, onslaught of reviews, etc., but for now, I’m at least two-for-two on 2017, and that should count for something. I won’t speculate as to what.

Pretty varied batch this time around, with some familiar names stepping outside what might be perceived as their comfort zone and others digging into various traditions in rock, blues, psych, sludge and doom. Much as I try to keep the stream running at all times — one has server blips; it happens — I also try to mix things up at least in a context that makes sense from one song to the next, though every now and again as I listen I hear something that completely blindsides me. That can be fun too.

As always, I hope you find something in here you dig.

The Obelisk Radio adds, Feb. 6, 2017:

Woodsplitter, Inflamed

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For those who know guitarist Ben McLeod for the bluesy, psychedelic flow he brings to the languid jamming of All Them Witches, no doubt the Inflamed debut from his Woodsplitter solo/side-project is going to be a marked surprise. That would seem to be at least in part the intent. Working in a fire-fueled vein of instrumental progressive metal, “Liturgy” introduces a sense of extremity yet unheard from McLeod. Backed only by his own programmed drums, self-recorded, -mixed and -released, it’s a 39-minute mostly-onslaught that calls to mind a sans-vocal Genghis Tron at times while perhaps nodding at Steve Vai technicality via Devin Townsend‘s more metallized approach. McLeod locks in a plodding groove on “Fatty’s Waltz,” but even this is a bold step stylistically, and subsequent “Pile” and two-part title-track — the second piece of which secures Inflamed‘s ultimate triumph — only continue the push into experimentation. Ultimately, McLeod lands sure-footed in this exploration, showcasing roots that many who’ll take on Woodsplitter probably didn’t know he had — including some post-rock layering at the tail end of closer “The Weather Outside is Frightful” — and setting up a future progression almost entirely distinct from that of his main outfit. Won’t be for everybody, but hits with an equal measure of purpose and force.

Woodsplitter on Bandcamp

All Them Witches on Thee Facebooks

 

Shroud Eater & Dead Hand, Split

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As to what unites Georgian five-piece Dead Hand and Floridian trio Shroud Eater on this late-2016 Southern Druid Records split 7″, it won’t take long to figure out. Both bands are heavy as hell. With “Guaiacol” from the former going head-to-head with the latter’s “Destroy the Monolith” it becomes a contest of churn vs. roll, Dead Hand taking an atmospheric approach that feels in comparison more derived from post-metal than Shroud Eater‘s nonetheless spacious sludgy pummeling. Either way you go, you’re getting crushed by a six-minute track that seems only to revel in the cruelty of its lumbering, Dead Hand‘s chug arriving over a torrent of double-kickdrum before opening to a more forward thrust on “Guaiacol” and locking into a nod that persists even in the relatively minimalist midsection before, the lumbering, growling extremity resumes. As a title like “Destroy the Monolith” might hint, Shroud Eater aren’t exactly taking it easy either. With a multi-vocalist arrangement and vastness of groove, they represent their core sound well as a precursor to the awaited arrival of their second album hopefully sometime in 2017. It’s a quick release — in and out in 12 minutes — but both acts are bound to make an impression on the listener as each shows off their own brand of brutality.

Shroud Eater on Bandcamp

Dead Hand on Bandcamp

Southern Druid Records webstore

 

Moaning Cities, D. Klein

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Issued through EXAG Records, the oddly-but-somehow-appropriately-stylized D. Klein is the second full-length from Belgium’s Moaning Cities, who seem as much at home in referencing The Velvet Underground and The Stooges on “Solitary Hawk” as drifting out All Them Witches-esque on the earlier “Sex Sells.” At 10 tracks/39 minutes, the Brussels-based outfit don’t express any particular need to settle into one sound-niche or another, but they keep a languid flow of psychedelic heavy blues in songs like “Insomnia” and the poetically-stomping “Vertigo Rising” that makes the okay-it’s-freakout-time arrival of the penultimate “Drag” all the more satisfying, even if their clear element of control is well maintained throughout. Flourish like the electronic beats in opener “Expected” and the soundscaping guitar in the finale “Daggers” add further depth to a release that already offers plenty, but Moaning Cities retain a classy, nigh-on-chic atmosphere without losing the tonal substance needed beneath to hold up such a strong aesthetic presentation. Whether they’re digging into ’90s alt vibes on “Born Again” — Violent Femmes goes West? — or tossing some sitar to go along with the spoken word of “Yell-Oh-Bahn,” Moaning Cities thrive on never quite letting their listeners know what’s coming next, and that nuance suits D. Klein well.

Moaning Cities on Bandcamp

EXAG Records webstore

 

Wartime, Wartime Vol. 1

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Between its five-minute, horror-sample-topped intro “Breaking Wheel” and its corresponding five-minute, horror-sample-topped outro “Magical Law,” Wartime‘s Wartime Vol. 1 delves so deep into classic doom via NWOBHM cultishness that I’m amazed Shadow Kingdom Records has yet to pick it up for a release. The Colombian trio’s 2016 debut, it’s as effective in the moodiness of its acoustic centerpiece “A Whisper” as in the brash Sabbathism of the eponymous “Wartime,” and an overarching rawness in the tracks only feeds the vision of doomed purity within them. Pressed in a limited number of CDs that, like their prior 2015 demo tape, are already long gone, it’s a fist-pump-worthy execution of doom for doomers that asks little by way of indulgences and delivers much in riff, metal-of-yore ambience and the songcraft of drummer/vocalist Alejandro, guitarist D-Pig and bassist Scum, who hold onto a punkish thrust for “Another Reality” before the Vitus-style plod of “Wicked Son.” Children of doom indeed. At 32 minutes, it’s on the shorter end of a full-length album, but it unquestionably sets the groundwork for an LP-style flow, and as Wartime‘s debut, impresses double with the realization of its conceptual bleakness. Special thanks to Juan Lopez for the recommendation on this one. I’m glad I got to check it out and will look forward to what Wartime do next.

Wartime on Bandcamp

Wartime merch page

 

Megaritual, Temple

megaritual-temple

I’ve been doing my dernedest to keep up with Australian one-man outfit Megaritual since getting hip to the White Dwarf aptly-named LP compilation, Mantra Music (review here), late last year. The product of multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Dale Paul WalkerMegaritual followed that release with the 25-minute single-song Eclipse EP (review here), and it’s to that offering that the 18-minute single-tracker Temple seems to have direct lineage, though actually the recording dates back further, to 2013/2014, and finds Walker joined by drummer Govinda Das in a duo incarnation of the band. Not entirely to find “Temple” is a little older, since Megaritual seem to be finding the patience later shown throughout the Mantra Music EPs that comprised the vinyl and then Eclipse afterward here, but you absolutely will not find me complaining about the edge of tonal buzz that complements the massive riff of this track, nor the improvised-sounding spaces around it being explored early on, nor the noise/drone that plays out over the course of the second half. If this is Walker giving a look at the project’s origins, he would seem to have come into Megaritual with an expressive concept in mind, and while it’s clear he’s put himself to the task of refining it, Temple demonstrates it was immersive even in its most formative moments.

Megaritual on Bandcamp

To see everything that joined The Obelisk Radio playlist today, click here.

Thanks for reading and listening.

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Lord Mountain, The Giraffes, Saint Vitus, Långfinger, Soggy

Posted in Radio on January 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk radio cavum

It’s been a long time. Long enough that I’m not even going to link back to the last time I did a round of Radio Adds. Life happens, and with the Quarterly Review, I guess my focus went elsewhere. Well, I just did a Quarterly Review, and that actually kind of inspired this, since I found there was yet more records that wanted covering even after that over-full round of 60 that closed out 2016 and opened 2017. So here we are.

There are, in fact, more than 50 albums being added to The Obelisk Radio playlist today. I can’t promise I’ll do Radio Adds weekly like I once did, or monthly, or again in 2017, or ever, but the opportunity presented itself and it seemed only right to take advantage. This stuff all came out last year, so it’s all readily available, and audio samples are included, because, you know, music and such.

Let’s dig in:

Lord Mountain, Lord Mountain

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Of all the styles under the vast umbrella of “heavy,” traditional doom is among the hardest to execute – especially, I’d think, for new bands. You need a balance of atmosphere and lack of pretense, a classic vibe, riffs, and groove. On the surface, you’re playing to the past, but if you put out something that just sounds like Sabbath and bring nothing of yourself to it, you’re sunk. Santa Rosa, California’s Lord Mountain – vocalist/guitarist Jesse Swanson, guitarist Sean Serrano, bassist Dave Reed and drummer Pat Moore – would seem to have it figured out on their self-titled debut EP. Released by King Volume Records on limited tape, it brings forth four tracks in 21 minutes that are no less comfortable playing to the downer riffing of Candlemass – opener “Fenrir” – than to the epic chanting of Viking-era Bathory – “Under the Mountain” – and that find distinction for themselves in nodding to one side or the other as they make their way across the bass-y Sabbathism of “Dying World” and into the concluding solo-topped gallop of “Tomb of the Eagle” (more Dio-era there, but effectively translated tonally). As an initial offering, its presence is more stately than raw, and part of that is aesthetic, so I still think Lord Mountain will have growth to undertake, but their EP shows marked potential and brings a fresh personality to doom’s rigid traditionalism, and there’s nothing more one could reasonably ask of it. A CD would probably be too much to ask, but it’s hard to believe no one’s snagged it for a 10” release yet.

Lord Mountain on Thee Facebooks

Lord Mountain on Bandcamp

King Volume Records on Bandcamp

 

The Giraffes, Usury

the giraffes usury

Behold the winding, self-directed narrative of underrated, underutilized and underappreciated New York heavy rockers The Giraffes, who issued Usury via Silver Sleeve Records in Jan. 2016, on the cusp of their 20th anniversary and with it welcomed back frontman Aaron Lazar (also a one-time contributor to The Book of Knots, speaking of underrated) to the fold alongside guitarist Damien Paris, drummer Andrew Totolos and bassist Josh Taggart. Comprised of just six songs with a 28-minute runtime, it nonetheless holds to a full-album sentiment, with songs like the tense “Washing Machine” working in a vein not dissimilar to their righteous 2008 offering, Prime Motivator (review here), while the preceding “Facebook Rant” and “Product Placement Song” bask in a social commentary that one can only hope the ensuing decades make dated and the subsequent “White Jacket” has a melancholy danceability that one might’ve related around the time of The Giraffes’ 2005 self-titled debut related to System of a Down, but now just sounds like an enrichment of their approach overall. Usury gets off to a slow start (not a complaint, given the groove) with “Blood Will Run,” which seems to shake off its dust initially before commencing its real push and chug circa the halfway point, but by the time they get down to eight-minute finale “How it Happened to Me,” the sudden conclusion of the jam leaves one to wonder where they went and when they’ll be back, which presumably is the whole idea. Behold a band who did it before it was cool, should’ve been huge, and still kept going. The story is more complicated than that, but there are few tales more admirable.

The Giraffes on Thee Facebooks

The Giraffes website

 

Saint Vitus, Live Vol. 2

saint-vitus-live-vol-2

The first Saint Vitus live album – Live – surfaced in 1990 via Hellhound Records and captured the band in Germany in 1989. Its 2005 reissue on Southern Lord played a large role in introducing the pivotal doomers to a new generation of fans. Live Vol. 2 follows some 26 years later via Season of Mist and likewise documents a crucial era in the four-piece’s existence, having been recorded in 2013 in Luxembourg following the release of their 2012 album, Lillie: F-65 (review here), with the lineup of vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich, guitarist Dave Chandler, bassist Mark Adams and drummer Henry Vasquez. It’s a 59-minute set, all told – one suspects some of Chandler’s stage rants between songs were shortened or removed – and among the most striking impressions it makes is how seamlessly Lillie: F-65 cuts “Let Them Fall,” “The Bleeding Ground” and “The Waste of Time” fit in alongside classics like the speedy “War is Our Destiny” and “Look Behind You” or the more grueling “Patra (Petra)” and galloping “White Stallions.” Of course, the anthemic “Born too Late” closes out, with Chandler’s wash of feedback and all-low-end tone at the start the ultimate hallmark of what Saint Vitus have always been – a middle finger to square culture unlike any other. This era of the band may be over, with original vocalist Scott Reagers stepping back into the frontman role, but as one continues to hope for another studio album, Live Vol. 2 proves more than a stopgap and takes an active role in adding to the band’s legendary catalog.

Saint Vitus on Thee Facebooks

Season of Mist website

 

Långfinger, Crossyears

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After two successful full-lengths in 2010’s Skygrounds and 2012’s Slow Rivers, next-gen Swedish heavy rockers Långfinger join forces with Small Stone Records for their 10-song/46-minute third album, the crisply-executed Crossyears. Like their countrymen labelmates in Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus, the Gothenburg three-piece bring modern edge and production to what a few years ago might’ve been purely retro ‘70s boogie rock, as tracks like “Fox Confessor,” “Say Jupiter,” the more languid “Atlas” and “Caesar’s Blues” bask in a showcase of tight, natural performance with a clean production style that still highlights same, bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Victor Crusner, guitarist/backing vocalist Kalle Lilja and drummer/backing vocalist Jesper Pihl proving the maturity of their songwriting while still delivering the push of “Silver Blaze” and closer “Window in the Sky” with a sense of energy behind them. Their approach so solidified, Långfinger don’t seem to leave much to chance in their sound, but Crossyears engages heavy rock tradition effectively while bridging a gap of decades across its run, and that, frankly, seems like enough for any one record to take on.

Långfinger on Thee Facebooks

Small Stone Records on Bandcamp

 

Soggy, Soggy

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Soggy’s self-titled LP, released in this edition by Outer Battery Records (see also Arctic, Earthless Meets Heavy Blanket), is a reissue of a 2008 collection of tracks from a span of years that find the blown-out French punkers paying direct homage to The Stooges with a cover of the seminal “I Wanna be Your Dog,” immediately drawing a line to what seems to have been the band’s most prominent influence. Some 35-plus years after they were initially put to tape, Soggy’s tracks continue to feel dangerous and raw in their frenetic proto-punkery, and that would seem to be exactly what the Soggy LP is looking to convey, digging into the vast trove of lost artifacts in heavy and punk rock and finding a treasure ripe for hindsight appreciation. As much as it just makes me want to put on the self-titled Stooges record or Fun House, I can’t argue with the success of Soggy’s Soggy or not admire its mission, even if some of its blows land harder than others.

Soggy on Bandcamp

Outer Battery Records on Thee Facebooks

 

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Sun Blood Stories, Skraeckoedlan, Mount Desert, Zaum & Shooting Guns and Merchant

Posted in Radio on November 2nd, 2015 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk radio

You already know, but it’s November as of yesterday. Last time I did a round of adds to The Obelisk Radio was June 5. Granted we’ve had two Quarterly Reviews since then, so not everything has fallen through the cracks in terms of being written up, but even some of that stuff has built up a backlog waiting to be added to the playlist.

Accordingly, there are over 130 records joining The Obelisk Radio today. You can see the full-list here.

That is a massive number for one shot, and some of it is new and some older stuff fills in gaps, mostly in the Black Sabbath catalog. but either way, after five months, it seems like a fair amount to come back with. I’m not sure I’ll be able to schedule a round of Radio Adds every week from here on out — I couldn’t before, if you’ll recall — but as ever, I’ll do my best. As you might expect, five months later, there are some really great records to talk about. We’ll start with the newest one.

The Obelisk Radio Adds for Nov. 2, 2015:

Sun Blood Stories, Samhain Variations

sun blood stories samhain variations

A special Halloween release, the complete title of the latest from Sun Blood Stories is Samhain Variations: In Flight Raid Wake up I Don’t Know, and sure enough at the beginning of “Samhain Variation 1” (15:30), lap steel guitarist/vocalist Amber Pollard gives a cabin announcement welcoming listeners aboard “Trip Airlines Flight 666 bound to your brain” as she and guitarist Ben Kirby set out an immediately experimental-sounding foundation of plucked notes, feedback, drones and other noises. What follows from there — mind you that’s about the first 10 seconds — across “Samhain Variation I” and it loop-drum-infused counterpart “Samhain Variation II” (26:50) is a twisted barrage of alternately hypnotic and assaulting sounds, feeling like an exponential expansion of some of the ambient back end of summer-2015’s Twilight Midnight Morning (review here) full-length, with which I remain enamored. The difference is that where those were smaller pieces that, at times, seemed to touch back down to solid footing reminding of the album’s more straightforward beginning movement, Samhain Variations is an ethereal wash that trades back and forth between melodic and amelodic, touching on the memorable “West the Sun” at the launch of “Samhain Variation II,” but ultimately shaping itself into an unrecognizable form. The second part is harsher than the first and substantially longer, but both reinforce the open creative process the band showed a couple months back on Live at the Banana Stand (posted here), and of course, on the album that preceded it. They remain a band to which more people need to get hip, and Samhain Variations is a flight worth taking. Sun Blood Stories on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Zaum & Shooting Guns, Himalaya to Mesopotamia

zaum & shooting guns humalaya to mesopotamia

Moncton ritualizers Zaum will reportedly have a new full-length out in 2016 to follow their impressive 2014 debut, Oracles (review here). In the interim, they’ve partnered with freakout-prone Saskatoon heavy psych rockers Shooting Guns for a split titled Himilaya to Mesopotamia that is out on vinyl this week. With one track from Zaum, the extended “The Serpentshrine” (19:07), and three from Shooting Guns all over six minutes, it’s well substantial enough for a 12″ and gives its audience plenty to dig into from each act, the two-piece Zaum gracefully and gradually unfolding Eastern inflections and immersive drones on “The Serpentshrine” across a hilltop-shaped, parabolic build that swells to greater impact in the middle and recedes to chants and drones at the end from the psychedelic doom march that emerges. Their work remains fluid and progressive, and “The Serpentshrine” fits well alongside Shooting Guns‘ “Super Himalaya,” “Dirty Needle” and instrumental closer “Ultimate Nullifier,” which between them establish an album-style flow that goes from far to farther out, melding space rock, noise, and psych fuckall into the potent nod of “Dirty Needle,” casting a wide cosmic berth of echoing guitar and thrusting rhythm. Shooting Guns tip hat to “War Pigs” in “Ultimate Nullifier,” but by then the vibe is so lysergic that it’s really just one more ingredient in the cauldron. Might get under general-public radars, but a gem of substantial pulsation. Zaum on Thee Facebooks, Shooting Guns on Thee Facebooks, Zaum on Bandcamp, Shooting Guns on Bandcamp.

Skraeckoedlan, Sagor

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The awaited follow-up from Swedish stonerplodders Skraeckoedlan on Razzia RecordsSagor answers the big riffing of the band’s 2011 debut, Äppelträdet (review here), with a more progressive realization of some similar ideas, the tones still post-Truckfighters, the largesse still post-Mastodon, but the band impressively carving out their own dynamic within their not-quite-metal-but-still-viciously-weighted approach, songs like the post-intro “Gigantos” (7:27) and “El Monstro” pummeling out melodically conscious heft (the latter with guest vocals) while pieces like “Awen” (1:08), the structurally forward “Flod” (2:46) and even the longest cut here, “Squidman” (8:09) managing not to lose track of a consistent atmosphere amid all the unbridled feel. At 53 minutes, Sagor is not a minor undertaking, but somehow, for an album about giant monsters and built on top of likewise proportioned riffs and grooves, it makes a kind of conceptual sense, and I won’t fight against the sway of “Epos” (5:47) or the poise that “Odjuret” (6:39) seems to showcase in the vocals, switching between full-sounding shouts in the chorus and a Greenleaf-style verse, duly fuzzed and engagingly heavy. Originally titled Gigantos and recorded at various different studios, Sagor seems to have been an adventure in the making, but however daunting the process may have been, Skraeckoedlan have come out of it with a sophomore outing that answers the potential of their debut and finds them refining a sound that one hopes only continues to become more their own from here. Skraeckoedlan on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp, Razzia Records.

Mount Desert, Mount Desert

mount desert mount desert

Based now in San Francisco with roots in Maine, two-piece newcomers Mount Desert impress on their debut two-song demo with the spaciousness they bring to their tracks. What feels like a 7″ in the making, the pair of “Blue Madonna” (4:45) and “Fear the Heart” (6:36) showcase stylistic cohesion on the part of guitarist/vocalist Scott and drummer Jordan, an overarching reverb seeming to take hold on the first song and continue into the second. These are initial explorations — demos by any other name — but Mount Desert tap into psychedelia with a corresponding earthiness that reminds of the first Sigiriya record in its blend, and feels neither nostalgic nor like it’s trying overly hard to position itself within the West Coast heavy psych sphere’s jammy infatuations. It will not feel out of place genre-wise to first time listeners who take it on, but neither are Mount Desert completely familiar. “Blue Madonna” and “Fear the Heart” work quick and efficient, but retain atmospheric resonance as well, and while their real tests are ahead of them, the molten beginnings of “Blue Madonna” and the crunching finish of “Fear the Heart” give an encouraging sense of range, and while exciting for how Mount Desert might build on them, that excitement comes from what the duo have already accomplished here. Mount Desert on Thee Facebooks, Mount Desert on Soundcloud.

Merchant, Seismic

merchant seismic

Together for just about a year at the time of its release in May, Aussie sludge-plus four-piece Merchant make their presence felt with “Seismic” (9:36), an initial single released as a name-your-price download that seems geared toward announcing their arrival on the fertile ground of Melbourne’s heavy scene. They’re not without their psychedelic flourish, but vocalist Mirgy offers throaty growling — here reminding of New Zealand’s Beastwars, there delving even further into gutturalisms — to top the rolling undulations of guitarist Ben, gotta-hear-this-tone bassist Wilson and drummer Nick and that ensures Merchant never stray too far from the muck toward the cosmos. Ben takes a fuzzy solo in the back half, but Merchant bring their first sally to a crashing finish, lumbering out a few final hits before the amp noise squeezes the last air out of the room. Melbourne heavy is about as multi-faceted as a scene gets — see also Portland, Oregon — but Merchant show also that it’s still growing and that there are those within the city limits looking to push the boundaries of extremity beyond their breaking point. For being just under 10 minutes, “Seismic” tells us an awful lot about Merchant and their intentions over the longer term, and it seems like a warning listeners will want to heed. Merchant on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Thanks for reading. I hope you find something you dig, and if you want to see the full list of the 130-plus records added to the server today, check out The Obelisk Radio Playlist and Updates page.

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Paradise Lost, T.G. Olson, Abrams, We are Oceans and Skunk

Posted in Radio on June 5th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk radio

Yeah, it’s only been a week since the last round of radio adds went up, and yeah, it usually takes me way longer than that to get a batch together — more for my own inability to organize than the lack of stuff coming in — but this time I managed it and in the interim there were 16 releases that happened along that it seemed only fair to toss into the fray. And so here we are. The bunch is suitably eclectic, as I think the highlight selections below showcase, but if you want to go down the list for yourself, hit up the Obelisk Radio Playlist and Updates page and have at it. Of the 37 list-based posts you’ll likely read on the internet today, this… should be one of them, I guess? Sorry, I’ve always sucked at promotions. I hope you find something you dig either here or there.

The Obelisk Radio adds for June 5, 2015:

Paradise Lost, The Plague Within

paradise lost the plague within

Their 14th album overall, The Plague Within is iconic UK doomers Paradise Lost‘s fourth for Century Media and third since the stylistic renaissance that seemed to begin in 2009 with Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us (review here) got rolling. 2012’s Tragic Idol was a respectable follow-up working in a similar vein, and The Plague Within is likewise, veering into thrashier tempo for “Flesh from Bone” but generally reveling in an emotionally wrought vision of melancholia bridging the gap between the pioneering death-doom of their early days and the goth theatrics that followed. The turn they made six years ago was not an accident, and they have very clearly been working from a pattern since — many interesting things can happen to a band 14 albums in, but few will be accidents — but that doesn’t necessarily make a record like The Plague Within ineffective. Rather, cuts like “Terminal” and the plodding “Beneath Broken Earth” foster a bleak and encompassing sense of mood, and with strings, guest vocals and piano added to the arrangement, “An Eternity of Lies” still manages to keep its sense of focus held firm, the band’s well-honed experience serving them well. They have a loyal legion of fans who’ll follow them wherever they head, but even if The Plague Within is Paradise Lost playing to their latter-day strengths, I’m not inclined to argue against that. There’s a reason they are who they are. Paradise Lost on Thee Facebooks, Century Media.

T.G. Olson, The Wandering Protagonist

t.g. olson the wandering protagonist

A collection of at-least-semi-improvised recordings by Across Tundras guitarist/vocalist Tanner Olson, operating under his solo moniker of T.G., The Wandering Protagonist is the follow-up to 2014’s The Rough Embrace (review here), and is perhaps less plotted out but with no diminishing of its folkish spirit. Olson plays electric, acoustic and slide guitar, organ, flute, harmonica (the latter is a focal point early in closer “Down in the Valley Below”), percussion drones and piano, and enters into easy instrumental conversation with himself, though there are some vocals as well on opener “Great Rock Falls.” For Across Tundras fans, the highlight might be nine-minute “Small Triumph,” with its heavier progression, but focusing on that without paying attention to the swelling drone, harmonica and acoustic guitar interplay of “For the Torn” before it is missing the point. The Wandering Protagonist is true to its title in that Olson does wind up in a variety of places — sonically, that is; the songs were recorded at his Ramble Hill Farm, outside Nashville in Tennessee — and a song like “Slow Susanna,” at 1:12, carries through like the experiment it is (a take on “Oh Susanna”), but these tracks also brim with open creativity and bring a rare sense of adventure to Americana so often boxed in by tradition. Few are better suited to push the limits of the form. Across Tundras on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Abrams, Lust. Love. Loss.

abrams lust love loss

Denver trio Abrams make their full-length debut with the triply-punctuated Lust. Love. Loss., a self-released 10-track collection with an obvious focus on flow, complexity of songwriting, crisp execution, tight performances and an overarching sense of heft that is more than ably wielded. Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Zach Amster, bassist/vocalist Taylor Iversen and drummer Mike Amster (also Blaak Heat Shujaa), the three-piece seem to take their cues from the post-Baroness school of progressive heavy rock, bringing the occasional flourish of post-rock as in the airy tones of “Sunshine” or post-hardcore in “Mr. Pink Always Wins” but keeping the “post-” pretty consistent amid a nonetheless thrusting rhythmic charge. Amster and Iversen combine forces readily on vocals, to charming effect on “Sweaty and Self Conscious,” and a later turn like the slower, sludgier push of “Useless” arrives at just the right moment before the title-track and closer “The Light” mount the album’s final argument in its own favor, the latter offsetting odd-timed chugging with intermittent builds and payoffs leading toward a last movement not overdone, but classy in a manner befitting the cuts before it. The fuzz of “Sea Salt Lines” hints toward Truckfighters and the semi-bombast of “Far from Home” calls to mind Sandrider, but Abrams appear most interested in developing their own sound from these elements rather than aping the sounds of others, and I hear nothing in their debut to tell me they can’t get there. Abrams on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

We are Oceans, Woodsmoke

We Are Oceans - Woodsmoke - cover

Following up on their 2012 self-titled debut (review here), Massachusetts instrumenalists We are Oceans return with their second four-track full-length, Woodsmoke, which starts our directly referencing Earth in “Stonewall,” the opener and longest track here at 13:44 (immediate points), but soon enough move toward a more individualized and fleshed-out heavy post-rock, airy guitar not replacing verses nor trying to, but adding texture and a dreamy vibe to progressions that feel steady and patient in like measure, no change either rushed or needless, but fitting with what the song needs, whether it’s the immersive shifts of “Stonewall” or the down-to-silence break in the second half of “Dead Winds,” which builds back up to one of Woodsmoke‘s most satisfying payoffs. While “Stonewall,” “Dead Winds” and 12:12 closer “Solstice” are all north of the 10-minute mark, third cut “Pressed Flowers” (4:10) assures that the four-piece have more to them than one kind of development, a serene, peaceful line playing out not quite at a drone’s repetitiveness, but with a subtle evolution of the central theme, from which “Solstice” picks up started by the guitar but ultimately propelled in its early going by the drums, a fluid jazz taking hold as We are Oceans move to the inevitable crescendo that caps Woodsmoke in its last moments. Their debut was an encouraging start, but it’s in these songs that We are Oceans really showcase the aesthetic potential at the heart of their project. May they continue to grow. We are Oceans on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Skunk, Heavy Rock from Elder Times

skunk heavy rock from elder times

I guess the “elder times” that Oakland, California, five-piece Skunk — vocalist John McKelvy, guitarists Dmitri Mavra and Erik Pearson, bassist Matt Knoth and drummer Jordan Ruyle — are talking about on their 2015 Heavy Rock from Elder Times debut demo is some combination of the ’90s and the ’70s, since as opener “Forest Nymph” telegraphs, they seem intent on answering the question of what might happen if Fu Manchu and AC/DC ever joined forces. It’s a noble mission, to be sure, and their fuzz and classic swagger is sold well over the course of the demo’s six tracks, which are as unabashedly stoner in their riffs as they are in titles like “Black Hash,” “Devil Weed” and “Wizard Bong.” Heavy Rock from Elder Times being their first collection of songs, I don’t feel like I’m giving away state secrets by saying there’s room for them to grow, but cuts are catchy in their turns and hooks, and the command that McKelvy shows alone in riding these riffs bodes well for where they might go next — their approach is cohesive even in its self-recorded, initial form. That’s never a bad place to start from, and if they have growing to do, at least they’ve given those who might check them out something worth their time in this welcome opening salvo. Skunk on Thee Facebooks, on Twitter, on Bandcamp

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Tried to get a decent amount of variety, at least within the sphere of heavy, and hopefully managed to do that, with some doom, rolling country experimentalist, neo-prog, post-rock and all out riffing. Again, on the chance nothing here tickled your fancy — because rest assured, the aim here is to tickle fancies — I think that might be the creepiest thing I’ve ever typed — be sure to hit up the Obelisk Radio Playlist and Updates page, to see not only the other 11 records that were added to the server today, but, you know, everything else from the last two-plus years. There’s bound to be something in there you dig.

Thanks for reading and listening.

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: All Them Witches, Black Mare & Lycia, Bell Witch, Lasers from Atlantis and Contra

Posted in Radio on May 29th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk radio

I didn’t want to look, but in the end curiosity won out. April 17 was the date of the last batch of radio adds, so yes, it’s been more than a month. Not for lack of stuff coming either, just the want of time. As such, and not knowing when I might get the opportunity to do something like this again, I’ve got 31 records added to the playlist this afternoon — you can see them all at the Playlist and Updates Page — and as you can tell both by the below and by that list, it’s a mix of bigger and up and coming names, a couple older records, and a few singles and other things maybe not as widely available. If you find something you dig, then killer. If not, there’s always next month. Ha.

The Obelisk Radio adds for May 29, 2015:

All Them Witches, A Sweet Release

all them witches a sweet release

It is getting increasingly difficult to chart the discography of Nashville’s All Them Witches, between self-released live outings, hosted bootlegs, represses, physical vs. digital releases and one-offs like A Sweet Release or their last EP, 2014’s Effervescent (review here), but something tells me they like it that way. A Sweet Release was issued as something of a surprise on April 20, and collects mostly live jams that, though they listed it as an EP, actually runs longer than either of their two full-lengths, Lightning at the Door (review here) or their debut, Our Mother Electricity (review here). At 58 minutes, the five-track outing mostly invites the listener to get immersed. That is, it’s less about songs and more about jams, and that’s true from the two-movement-split-by-manipulated-stage-banter exploration of “It Moved We Moved/Almost There/A Spider’s Gift,” the opener and longest cut included at 24 minutes (immediate points), to the quiet guitar noodling of two-minute closer “Sweet Bear.” In between, extended pieces like “Howdy Hoodee Slank” and “Interstate Bleach Party” (both over 11 minutes) find the four-piece of bassist/vocalist Michael Parks, Jr., guitarist Ben McLeod, Fender Rhodes-ist Allan van Cleave and drummer Rob Staebler comfortable and well in their element, their onstage chemistry having developed them into one of the most promising acts in American heavy rock — yes, I mean that — while “El Paso Sleep on It” proves a singular highlight with its laid back unfolding, the interplay of guitar and bass begging further development into what might on a regular release be called a song. A holdover to their third full-length? Maybe, but that doesn’t stop A Sweet Release from living up to its name, and for the already converted, new All Them Witches of any sort is unlikely to rouse complaint, the band having established in their early going that anything can and might happen both in terms of what they put out and what sonics they set in motion on their releases. All Them Witches on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Black Mare & Lycia, Low Crimes/Silver Leaf Split

black mare lycia split

L.A.-based vocalist Sera Timms, known for her work in Black Math Horseman and Ides of Gemini and who also has a full-length due this year for the Gary Arce collaboration Zun, is the sole driving force behind Black Mare, and the otherworldly transit of “Low Crimes” makes a worthy answer to her 2013 full-length under the moniker, Field of the Host (review here), even if it is just one song. For this new Magic Bullet Records split, she works with bandmates from Ides of Gemini and MGR and partners with Lycia on the B-side, long-running Arizona outfit Lycia offer a sampling of their darkened atmospherics on “Silver Leaf,” holding to an edge of gothic drama in their spoken word vocals but setting it to a straightforward, near-minimal rhythm for a feel distinctly American. By its very nature, it’s a quick release, over in about 11 minutes, but both acts offer ethereal moodiness that seems to effect the listener even after play as ceased, the waves of electric guitar and tom rolls in “Low Crimes,” not to mention Timms‘ own far-back vocals, and the interplay of voices and subtle backing chimes and other elements of “Silver Leaf” complementing each other in a way that seems to enhance the enjoyment of both. Black Mare on Thee Facebooks, Lycia on Thee Facebooks, Magic Bullet Records on Bandcamp.

Bell Witch, Four Phantoms

bell witch four phantoms

For a release as outwardly heavy as Bell Witch‘s Four Phantoms (on Profound Lore) is, the follow-up to 2012’s Longing (review here) has surprised all the more because its primary impression isn’t of aural, but of emotional weight. The four-track, 66-minute offering plays two 22-minute cuts off two 10-minute cuts, and there are themes running between them alternating between “Suffocation” and “Judgement,” but for all the harsh death-doom crawl that a song like opener “Suffocation, a Burial: I – Awoken (Breathing Teeth)” has, and for all its growling lurch, the woeful riffing and mourning leads from bassist Dylan Desmond (also Samothrace) set a resonant, melancholic course that the album continues to develop throughout, hitting a particularly striking moment when it brings in Erik Moggridge (also known as Aerial Ruin) with Desmond and drummer/vocalist Adrian Guerra (Sod Hauler) for a guest vocal spot on third track “Suffocation, a Drowning: II – Somniloquy (The Distance of Forever)” that’s as gorgeous as its chanting is dark. Minimalist stretches in “Judgement, in Fire: I – Garden (Of Blooming Ash)” only add to the spaciousness of Four Phantoms‘ overall feel, and closer “Judgement, in Air: II – Felled (In Howling Wind)” seems not to deconstruct so much as to will itself into an oblivion of a plod, bass aping a guitar lead over wide-gap crashes in true dirge fashion. It’s a no-doubter to feature on many year-end lists, but however loud the hype gets, the genuine expressiveness Bell Witch bring to a sound usually thought of either as cold or overly theatrical puts them in a class of modern doom alongside their labelmates in Pallbearer and LossBell Witch on Thee Facebooks, Profound Lore on Bandcamp.

Lasers from Atlantis, Lasers from Atlantis

lasers from atlantis lasers from atlantis

Running a line somewhere between extendo-heavy-psych jamming and more concrete heavy rock and doom impulses, London foggers Lasers from Atlantis seem more than content to play one off the other on this Extreme Ultimate issue of their self-titled, originally recorded in 2010. Classic prog and kraut-ish space idolatry rules the day on “Reverb City,” down to the Hawkwindy thrust out of the atmosphere, but by the time they get down to “Protectress,” track five of the total six, they’ve completely given over to low-end rumble, feedback viciousness and a still-swinging-but-much-much-darker groove. That might make the middle two cuts, “Illuminated Trail” and “Hopi Lori,” the most interesting of the bunch, and it’s especially on the latter where the two sides seem to meet, but it’s in “Hopi Lori” even more that the transition seems to take place and the band — Volkan Kiziltug and Aubrey Jackson Blake on synth, Theo Alexander on guitar/vocals and Pat Oddi on drums — make the turn toward consuming darkness that continues to ooze forth in “Protectress” and closer “Slaves,” which though it’s somewhat faster than the cut before it, is pure, high-order psychedelic doom. A band so willing to let go of their progressive edge when it suits them is a rare thing, which makes it a bummer that Lasers from Atlantis seem to have called it quits, but if it’s a posthumous release, their self-titled at least shows they were up to something interesting in their time together. Lasers from Atlantis on Thee Facebooks, Extreme Ultimate on Bandcamp.

Contra, Son of Beast

contra son of beast

Son of Beast is the debut offering from Cleveland trio Contra, and its four tracks could just as easily constitute a demo or an EP, whatever you want to call it, but with the lineup of guitarist Chris Chiera (ex-Sofa King Killer), bassist Adam Horwatt and drummer Aaron Brittain (Fistula), they come across as having a solid idea of what they’re looking for sound-wise, and their first outing is a solid one. Production is clean but not overly so on the three shorter pieces, and the seven-minute closer “Humanoid Therapy” follows-up on the mid-paced stonerism of “Snake Goat” by alternating from slower push to a more rushing pace. Instrumental for the duration, one can hear the places a vocalist might go on “Bottom Feeder” or “100 Hand Slap,” but Contra — who apparently owned both regular NES and Super Nintendo — don’t overstay their welcome either, proving cohesive in their fuzz, schooled in their groove and ready to start their development as a band, wherever it might take them. Contra on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

I’m going to try very, very hard not to let it go so long before the next round of adds. When I fail at that, you can feel free to call me out on it. In the meantime, to see all 31 releases that joined the playlist this afternoon, hit up The Obelisk Radio Playlist and Updates Page. It’s a good time.

Thanks for reading and listening.

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Stars that Move, Wren & Irk, Sunset in the 12th House, Sonic Mass, Sativa Root

Posted in Radio on April 17th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk radio

Been a couple weeks, right? Yeah, it has. Between the Quarterly Review — you’ll notice some of those records joining the playlist here as well — and traveling, I haven’t really had the chance to do a proper round of radio adds, which is why if you hit up the Obelisk Radio Playlist and Updates Page you might notice a full 25 records went up today. I’ve been thinking about going in and thinning some stuff out, there’s some sludge in there I feel like could probably go, but on the other hand — and I’m sad to say this is actually how I feel about it — it’s an archive with a good bit of musical history to it, developed over the last decade to be something really special. I’m not sure I have the right to do anything more to than just continue to let it build and evolve. If you take the time to look at the playlists, they’ve hit a point where they’re unbelievably good. It’s frankly better than I ever could have imagined, so maybe I’d just be fixing what isn’t broken. There. I talked myself out of it. On with the show.

The Obelisk Radio adds for April 17, 2015:

Stars that Move, Demo Songs

stars that move demo songs

A debut release of coherent aesthetic that brims with promise, melodic sweetness and classic fuzz boogie filtered through hazy garage modernism, Stars that Move‘s Demo Songs brings together drummer Frank Sikes and guitarist Richard Bennett of Starchild with vocalist Elisa Maria, and the presence and swing they capture on these songs is not to be discounted because it’s a demo. Opener “I Hold a Gaze” seems to ooze out with slower Uncle Acid buzz, but Maria‘s vocals change the vibe entirely, and through the irrefutably heavy nod of “The Blue Prince” and the ethereal shuffle of “She that Rules the King,” she maintains a hold on the material that is transfixing. Anyone who heard Starchild could easily tell you about that Georgian outfit’s worn-on-sleeve penchant for Sabbath, and Stars that Move isn’t without its own aspect of worship, but it comes out most of all in the “Laguna Sunrise”-style acoustic “No Evil Star,” which introduces the closer “Burning in Flames” (also the longest song at 3:48), which has an open-spaced acoustic roll of its own, topped by a soulful croon from Maria met by foreboding electric guitar ringing out to set up the central line after the verse: “We are the world, burning in flames.” It is beautiful despite or maybe even in part because of its melancholy, and it brings Demo Songs to a finish more Zeppelin than Sabbath, but still definitely in that league. I doubt there will be many demos to come in 2015 to stand up to it, and as an announcement of Stars that Move‘s arrival, it’s definitely one worthy of notice. They set themselves up with a core of quality songwriting here that could easily be expanded in experimental arrangements of psychedelic guitar layering, effects, synth, percussion, to create a lush tableau for Maria‘s voice to work with, and I hope they do just that. Either way, their core is set. Stars that Move on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Wren and Irk, Irk | Wren Split

wren and irk irk wren split

I’m not sure who actually comes first on this split between London post-sludgers Wren, whose 2014 self-titled debut EP (review here) impressed considerably, and Leeds trio Irk. In the title, Irk | Wren, it’s Irk, and both bands have it that way on their respective Bandcamp as well. The tracklisting in the files I was given puts Wren first. Either way, each act offers a different take on noise-laced punishment. For Irk, bass leads the way on three blistering, punkish cuts of noise interspersed with a sample-laden interlude called “Life Pervert” that shifts them into the wails, rumbles and jabs of “Cibo per Gattini.” Their opener, “You Sound Like My Ex-Wife,” is their longest inclusion at 5:33, and runs a razorblade gamut across punk, sludge and noise, but the quicker “A Dead Elephant,” which follows, brings forward more of the rawness at heart in the sans-guitar trio’s sound. Wren‘s three inclusions find the four-down-from-five-piece working with vocalist Alex Wealands of Throats, whose voice is more in line with a post-metal sound than the blackened stylings of the prior EP. That has an effect on the atmosphere, but Wren remain coherent, the three-minute “Arise” building a wall of airy-guitar-topped distortion and leading directly into “Before the Great Silence,” the chug of which reminds of what life was like before Isis stopped being angry, rolling out a satisfying emotional catharsis as it drives toward a second-half slowdown and hits into “An Approach,” which starts out raging and dips in its midsection to set up a final crescendo of furious guitar undulations and call and response shouts. It is very, very heavy, and should please anyone who caught wind of Wren‘s last outing or is looking to be introduced. Wren on Thee Facebooks, Wren on Bandcamp, Irk on Thee Facebooks, Irk on Bandcamp.

Sunset in the 12th House, Mozaic

sunset in the 12th house mozaic

Somewhere between an alter-ego and a side-project and somewhere between post-rock and progressive metal, Sunset in the 12th House make their debut with Mozaic on Prophecy Productions. Three out of the four of the Romanian outfit’s members — guitarist/vocalist Edmond “Hupogrammos” Karban, guitarist Cristian “Sol Faur” Popescu, and drummer Sergio Ponti — double in folk-ish black metallers Dordeduh, and are former members of Negur? Bunget as well. Here, with bassist Mihai Moldoveanu, they explore six tracks of varied, mostly instrumental styles, beginning with the 14-minute “Arctic Cascades,” an immersive, well-textured summary of their sound that moves fluidly between prog-metal chug, synth grandiosity and percussive impact. Airier guitars pervade movements of “Desert’s Eschaton” and “Rejuvenation,” but with its songs arranged longest to shortest (immediate points) and with the pervasive sense of focus Sunset in the 12th House display throughout, saving vocals for the last two cuts only, Mozaic is too clear-headed to really call psychedelic. While it has an element of swirl, “Paraphernalia of Sublimation” is unmistakably progressive with its Eastern flair and forward motion, but to quibble about genre is missing the point. Whether it’s the heavier push of the midsection to “Ethereal Consonance” or the tightly-executed weaving of guitar on “Seven Insignia,” soon met by growling vocals, Sunset in the 12th House hit on a sound that’s decidedly their own and markedly well balanced between what in less capable hands would seem like opposing stylistic elements. Sunset in the 12th House on Thee Facebooks, Prophecy Productions.

Sativa Root, Dark Days

sativa root dark days

After debuting last year with a self-titled/untitled EP, Austrian trio Sativa Root update with Dark Days, a two-songer seemingly intended to give those who heard the first release a look at what the Salzburg unit have been up to since. So what have they been up to? Riffing. Sounded primed and ready for a 7″ release, five-minute cuts “Dark Days” and “La Bestia” both unfold tonally weighted rollout, the former seeming to nod vaguely at Electric Wizard‘s wisping lead-over-nodding-rhythm methodology and the latter taking some of High on Fire‘s gallop and thickening the atmosphere. Guitarist Stonerhead, drummer Isaak and bassist Fant know what they’re doing with each of these influences, but the reason Dark Days ultimately satisfies is that not the entire sonic crux of the tracks can be accounted for in this way. Between that element of individuality brought to the table and the changeup in atmosphere from one song to the second, Sativa Root‘s update is well met. It hasn’t been so long since their first EP came out — just past the one-year mark, actually — but they’ve obviously been spending their time wisely since.

Sativa Root on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Sonic Mass, All Creatures Strange: Live at the Black Heart

sonic mass all creatures strange live at the black heart

Recorded live at Camden Town’s famed The Black Heart in April 2014, All Creatures Strange: Live at the Black Heart is a soundboard capture of the release party for London four-piece Sonic Mass‘ late-2013 debut EP, All Creatures Strange. As one will, they played the whole thing front-to-back at the show, and it’s a performance rife with heavy rock soul, two guitars having it out in effective balance over the cymbal wash of “The Order” or the later psychedelic shifts of “Pentagon Chameleon – To the Devil, a Daughter.” The smoothness of their approach might be best showcased in “Rise of the Royal Reptile,” but longer cuts like “Widow Stone” have more room to breathe and feel stronger for it. Ending off with the ritualized chants and percussion of “All Creatures Strange (Played Once),” which is listed as “(Dead)” where all the other tracks are “(Live),” it’s a subtly adventurous release that might take a couple listens to really absorb for anyone who didn’t hear the original All Creatures Strange — which is also still available — but that proves worth the effort in the end. No doubt it was something to hear them tear into “Science of Sleep” that night. Sonic Mass on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Not enough for you? Head over to The Obelisk Radio Playlist and Updates page and check out the other 20 records that were added this afternoon. There’s bound to be something for everybody.

Thanks for reading and listening.
 

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: XII Boar, Deadpeach, Suzukiton, Torpor and Monsternaut

Posted in Radio on March 20th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk radio

Once again it’s been a couple weeks since I was last able to do a round of radio adds. But I have a good excuse! I was… uh… reviewing stuff? Well, that’s what I was doing, anyway. Anyhow, I’m way backed up on stuff to join the server, so for at least the next couple weeks it seems reasonable to expect regular adds while I get caught up. By then I’m sure I’ll be behind again, because somehow that’s how it works. Anyway, point is that as usual, a lot more was added to the server this afternoon than appears here, so make sure you check the Playlist and Updates page for the full list. Most of it is pretty new as well, so you might stumble on something you didn’t know was out. Could happen. Alright, let’s do this.

The Obelisk Radio adds for March 20, 2015:

XII Boar, Pitworthy

xii boar pitworthy

Before “Sharpshooter,” the opening track of their debut full-length, Pitworthy, actually starts, Hampshire, UK, trio XII Boar are introduced by a ring announcer in full arena-echo style. Somebody is about to get their ass kicked. That mentality tells you a lot about where the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Tommy Hardrocks, bassist/vocalist Adam “Baddog” Thomas and drummer David Wilbraham are coming from on the 10-track outing, rife with heavy, Southern-style boogie presented with weighted burl whether it’s a slower groove like “Crushing the P” or a thrasher like “Chicken Hawk.” Side A caps with the title-track, a seven-minute Southern metal highlight, but the real party is at the end of the record’s second half, when the 11-minute “Quint” takes hold in a raucous fury of rhythmic thrust, seafaring tales and off-the-wall soloing. It is a riotous debut after a few promising EPs, and if nothing else, XII Boar make it clear that if anyone’s going to get their ass kicked, it won’t be the band. Their dudely growls and whisky this-or-that might be too much for some, but there’s no denying these guys sound like they’re having a blast, and that energy proves infectious throughout their first album. XII Boar on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Deadpeach, Old Fuzz Generation

deadpeach old fuzz generation

Underrated Italian fuzz rockers Deadpeach initially released the debut EP, Old Fuzz Generation, in 2004 on what was apparently severely limited vinyl. Then a three-song 7″, Old Fuzz Generation now sees a digital reissue as a four-track release with the three-minute “Spain ’87” added on to the end. All told, it’s still under 10 minutes long with all four cuts taken together, but while brief, there’s enough fuzzy rush to hearken back to a time when European heavy rock was less concerned with either psychedelic freeform jamming or sounding like it’s 1972, and that the thickened-out, sped-up punk of “Americano” (1:50) needed no frills to get its point across, tapping influences from NebulaFu Manchu and Kyuss even while quoting Bob Marley in the lyrics and expressing what was a pervasive anti-American sentiment throughout Europe following the US invasion of Iraq. Good times. Not really, but good fuzz, and twice as interesting when one considers how European heavy was on the verge of a multi-faceted explosion 11 years ago and Deadpeach were tapping into a similar classic heavy ethic as the likes of Demon Cleaner, earlier Dozer and their countrymen in OJM. A quick but satisfying stoner burst. Deadpeach on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Suzukiton, Suzukiton II

suzukiton suzukiton ii

Making their home in the fertile heavy ground of Richmond, Virginia, the instrumental four-piece Suzukiton made their debut a decade ago on Crucial Blast with Service Repair Handbook, a collection of distinctly Southern but still varied rockers that found a cult following at the time. Kind of a surprise to find that 10 years later, the four-piece of guitarists Todd Naumann and David Boyd (Twisted Tower Dire), bassist William Rose and drummer Bryan Cox (ex-Axehandle and Alabama Thunderpussy) would return with the self-released Suzukiton II, but the intervening time has done little to dull their potency, shredding leads cutting through tight rhythms in tones bordering between heavy rock and metal, a chugger like “Death of a Mule” no more out of place than a prog-metal stomper like “Ronin.” Closer “Todd II” would seem a direct sequel to “Todd Song” from the first album, but its eight-minute course feels more than duly expanded from the prior release. Thoughtful in its progressions and well-plotted within its individual pieces, Suzukiton II is nothing if not a welcome return, and if it’s the band’s position to blindside new listeners, that suits the material well. Suzukiton on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Torpor, From Nothing Comes Everything

torpor from nothing comes everything

Immediate points to UK atmospheric sludgers Torpor (also stylized in all-caps) for opening their Head of Crom and Black Bow Records debut LP, From Nothing Comes Everything, with “From this Time,” the longest song on the album. Follow-up points for the actual weight of the damn thing. Dense, post-metallic claustrophobia is undercut by trades between spoken or otherwise clearheaded shouts and vicious screams, the foursome of standalone vocalist Nats Spada, guitarist/vocalist Jon Taylor, bassist Lauren Mason and drummer Simon Mason successfully avoiding stylistic cliche throughout the six-track release while executing lethal builds and thunder-toned push. “Surrender to the Light” is as effective for its melody as its chug, the obscure interlude “The Wake” rumbles and growls ferociously, and “As Waves Crash” demonstrates a powerful blend of post-hardcore and doom, from which “Abandon” departs only momentarily, delving into a minimalist midsection before rounding out with a maddening payoff. Nine-minute closer “Everything We Left Behind” might as well be made of skull fragments and burst eardrums, its heft giving way gradually to deconstructed ambience and a finale of abrasive noise. Torpor‘s first is brutal, fierce and terrifying most of all for how solidified and assured the band sounds in their aesthetic — how at home they are in the churning chaos they’ve made. Torpor on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp, at Head of Crom, Black Bow Records.

Monsternaut, Monsternaut

monsternut monsternaut

If the art wasn’t clue enough, Monsternaut‘s Monsternaut EP is a stoner rock record. Its motor revs in opener “Dog Town” and doesn’t let up until it hits the slowdown in closer “Black Horizon,” which wraps the Kerava, Finland, trio’s 18-minute debut outing with a fitting show of swing, choice basslines and nod-worthy fuckall. There’s plenty about the five tracks that will prove familiar to listeners who may have seen a record with an El Camino (admittedly, a gorgeous one) on the cover before, but there’s a next-generation freshness in Monsternaut‘s barebones, unabashed heavy rock approach, and cuts like “Back for More” and “Mountain Doom” prove deceptively catchy while also tapping tonal satisfaction in the guitar, bass and drums — Jani Kuusela‘s snare and kick landing no less heavy than Tuomas Heiskanen‘s riffs or Perttu Härkönen‘s low end — and the thud of “Caravan” and the straightforward, unpretentious vibe of all the tracks suits a presentation of genre that offers an edge of individuality while immediately doing more than just aping the band’s stylistic forebear(d)s. In heft, mood and songwriting, it’s a more than solid showcase of a progression underway. Monsternaut on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

As previously noted, this is just a fraction of the stuff that joined the server today — one-third, if you want to be more specific about that fraction. To check out everything else or to see what’s been played today and for probably way further back than you’re interested in knowing, check out the Obelisk Radio Playlist and Updates page. Hope you find something good from it.

Thanks for reading and listening.

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