The Obelisk Radio Adds: Yama, Bellhound Choir, Atala, Astralnaut & Weed Priest, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard

Posted in Radio on February 25th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk radio

I’ve been listening to a lot of The Obelisk Radio this week, so it seemed only fair to do a round of adds to the server. Might just be what came up in the selection process, but it’s seemed pretty off the wall of late. Yeah, there’s plenty of heavy riffs and whatever else, but a lot of sludge and noise stuff too. I like that because hopefully it appeals to a wider variety of listeners, though part of me thinks I should cut out everything that isn’t Goatsnake, Kyuss, Electric Wizard and two or three of the stoner-flavor-of-the-month types and just let it roll with that. One tries to quiet the cynical impulse. You know how it is.

In all seriousness though, at some point I’m going to have to trim down what’s on there. It’s only a three terabyte drive and I have neither the know-how nor the cash to expand it further, so yeah. But that’s not this week. This week, 11 new records joined the playlist — see them all at the Obelisk Radio Playlist and Updates page — and that includes those that follow here.

The Obelisk Radio adds for Feb. 25, 2015:

Yama, Ananta

yama ananta

While definitely rooted tonally in heavy rock, there’s an underlying current of metal flowing through Yama‘s debut long-player, Ananta. The four-piece, who hail from the home of Roadburn in Tilburg, the Netherlands, offer plenty of driving riffs and nodding grooves on songs like the opening title-track and the slower centerpiece “Migraine City,” nonetheless take a sharper approach than some to the style. It comes through in the vocals, which get pretty gruff by the end of the aforementioned “Migraine City,” but also over ascending notes of classic metallic soar late in “Ruach Elohim” — a song that, it’s worth noting, also starts out with harmonica — and push the John Garcia impulse to more guttural range on “Hollow” and “Swordsman of the Crossroads I.” The latter also kicks into some blastbeats, to further the metallic edge. Still, Yama – the four-piece of Alex Schenkels, Peter Taverne, Joep Schmitz and Sjoerd Albers – wield the blend well throughout and keep a solid balance. “Swordsman of the Crossroads I” and the subsequent “II” are the arguable pinnacle here, but the acoustic-led closer “Vy” seems to hint that Yama haven’t quite yet shown all their cards. Yama on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Bellhound Choir, Stray Screech Beast

Bellhound Choir Stray Screech Beast

As per the immortal words of Monty Python: “And now for something completely different.” Bellhound Choir is a solo-project from guitarist/vocalist Christian Hede Madsen, also of Copenhagen-based rockers Pet the Preacher, but there’s little in common between one and the other, and Bellhound Choir‘s debut release, Stray Screech Beast, finds Madsen exploring folk and particularly country stylizations, a sense of brooding pervasive throughout the album’s eight tracks. It’s a dark vibe that pervades “Stuck (Old Song)” and the electrified, spacious blues bombast of “Bless Me,” and as a later, relatively minimal cut like “Black Spot” shows, Madsen isn’t afraid of delving into guy-and-guitar singer-songwriterism. His voice and playing is strong enough to carry the material, though one wonders how he got that Southern twang, and Stray Screech Beast doesn’t overplay its hand at 27 minutes. There may be fire and brimstone beneath, but Madsen isn’t quite there yet in bringing it out for righteous proclamations, though I wouldn’t be surprised to find him taking on a preacherman quality on subsequent outings, as well as pushing into more complex arrangements as the experiment continues. Some rocker heads might be put off by the country vibe, but I suspect plenty will feel right at home amid the moody atmosphere and plucked guitar of “God’s Home.” Bellhound Choir on Thee Facebooks, on Soundcloud.

Atala, Atala

atala atala

Desert-dwelling trio Atala recorded their self-titled/self-released debut with Scott Reeder (Kyuss, The Obsessed, Fireball Ministry, etc.), and its eight songs break easily into two halves — the end of each signaled by a cut north of the 10-minute mark — of raucous, occasionally surprisingly aggressive heavy rock. Opener “Broken Glass” positions Atala somewhere near Fatso Jetson sonically, but less punk in their roots, guitarist/vocalist Kyle Stratton and bassist John Chavarria having previously played together in metallers Rise of the Willing while drummer Jeff Tedtoatoa is a former member of punkers Forever Came CallingStratton‘s vocals veer into sludge-metal screams from cleaner territory and seem comfortable in the back-and-forth, and that, blended with the fullness of sound, and pop in Tedtoatoa‘s snare — a hallmark of Reeder‘s production; see also Blaak Heat Shujaa — makes the meandering jam in “Labyrinth of Mind” seem all the more like a standout moment of varied impulses working to find their balance. By the time they get down to the chugging “Virgo Moon” and the ebbs and flows of closer “Sun Worship,” Atala seem to have it worked out for the most part, and while there’s still growth to be undertaken, the chemistry between the three players comes across as plain as the sands they call home. Atala’s website, on Thee Facebooks.

Astralnaut & Weed Priest, Split

4PP DIGIPACK.indd

Irish outfits Astralnaut and Weed Priest team up for a split single, and while it’s just one song from each, there’s plenty of substance between them. Thick, gooey substance, if their tones are anything to go by. Both Astralnaut‘s “Parasitic” (9:20) and Weed Priest‘s “Graveyard Planet” (7:42) are big, lumbering riffers marked out with a sludgy feel, but there are subtle differences between them as well, the former being more forward vocally and meaner in-tone and the latter more fuzzed-out and obscure in a kind of Sons of Otis-via-Electric Wizard fashion. No real mystery why they’d pair up, though, with geography and a penchant for riffy bludgeoning shared, and their split should make a fitting introduction for anyone who might be running into either band for the first time, or maybe caught wind of Weed Priest‘s lumbering 2013 self-titled debut (review here) or any of Astralnaut‘s prior short releases. First timer or not, “Parasitic” and “Graveyard Planet” tap into amp rumble and slow-motion nod that should please any riff-worshiping head looking for a sample of the bands’ wares, Astralnaut spacing out a bit in the second half of their selection as though to smooth the path into Weed Priest‘s heady, darkened roll. For the converted, a reminder of why and how they got that way. Astralnaut on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp. Weed Priest on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, Nachthexen

Mammoth-Weed-Wizard-Bastard-Nachthexen

I’ll give the UK stoner surge one thing: It wins on band names. I don’t think per capita there’s any country in the world with more stoned-as-fuck monikers than Britain. To wit, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard. The Wrexham unit make a churning debut on Tape Worship Records with the half-hour-long “Nachthexen,” a single-song EP that moves smoothly between droned-out space exploration, crush-prone doom riffs and stoner metal gallop. The latter comes to the fore just past the midsection of this mammoth, weedian, wizardly bit of bastardism — one wonders how they got their name in the first place — but by then, “Nachthexen” has already careened through cosmic doom psych-osis early on, like roughed-up YOB with droney underpinnings, and teased a thrash influence in their Slayer-style interplay of chugging guitar and ride cymbal. Of course, the most satisfying build is the last one, which builds over the song’s final seven minutes from ambient noise and sparse guitar strum to suitably huge and suitably doomed payoff. This is the kind of shit that if you played it for actual human beings, they’d look at you and wonder just what the fuck species you belong to, and that’s clearly the idea. For their psychedelic elements, I can’t help but wonder if a more colorful artwork approach isn’t called for next time out, but beyond that, there’s little about Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard‘s take that brooks any argument whatsoever, instead drowning it out in deep low end and otherworldly, malevolent vibes. Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp, Tape Worship Records.

Like I said, this is less than half of what was added to the server today. Recently-covered records from Mansion, Stoned Jesus, Blut, Skunk Hawk and others also went up, hopefully adding to the diversity of sound and overall strength of the playlist. For the full line on everything that went up, check the Playlist and Updates page. If you wind up checking out any of this stuff and take the time to dig in, I hope you enjoy.

Thanks as always for reading and listening.

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Primitive Man, Sandrider + Kinski, Hiram-Maxim, Obrero and Elbrus

Posted in Radio on February 16th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk radio

I know it’s not the usual custom to do Radio adds on Mondays, but what the hell, it’s not exactly like there are rules one way or another, and my desktop has hit eight rows deep of folders with albums in them, so whatever day it might be, it’s time to clear out as much of it as possible. A full 22 records join The Obelisk Radio playlist today. Some of it is very strange, some of it pretty straightforward, but one way or another, I think it all makes the stream better and more diverse, and that’s what it’s all about. For the full list of everything added, check out the Playlist and Updates page.

The Obelisk Radio adds for Feb. 16, 2015:

Primitive Man, Home is Where the Hatred Is

12 Jacket (3mm Spine) [GDOB-30H3-007}

After their destructive 2013 Relapse Records debut, Scorn (review here), Primitive Man‘s reputation for brutality precedes them. The Denver trio’s new EP, Home is Where the Hatred Is, is only likely to further that reputation, its four tracks alternating between grueling, unrepentantly slow-lumbering, ungodly-toned extremity and fits of grinding megaviolence. The release is arranged longest to shortest so that opener “Loathe” (11:03) is sure to weed out the weaker constitutions en route to the ensuing crushers “Downfall” (8:43) and “Bag Man” (7:09). The closer, “A Marriage with Nothingness” (4:17) is a collage of noise and fedback threat topped with a sample of a woman either in ecstasy or agony — in context it’s kind of hard to tell — but the message is plain either way. One might think of that cut as an answer to Primitive Man‘s 2013 P//M Noise Tape, which also explored droning forms between covers of PortisheadBlack Sabbath and Crowbar. Perhaps most foreboding of all is how smoothly Primitive Man shift between the facets of their increasingly diverse sound, since it speaks to a progression in progress in terms of bringing the various elements together. A beast is one thing, but a thinking beast seems all the more ominous. They may be in the process of outgrowing their name, but a savage force remains at the heart of their bludgeoning. Primitive Man on Thee Facebooks, Relapse Records.

Sandrider and Kinski, Sandrider + Kinski Split

sandrider kinski split

With geography in common in their Seattle base of operation, Sandrider and Kinski present their Sandrider + Kinski split on Good to Die Records with three new songs from the former, including a cover of Jane’s Addiction‘s “Mountain Song,” and two from the latter, working in instrumental, textured heavy psychedelic forms that complement Sandrider‘s bombastic approach as heard on their two full-lengths to date, 2013’s Godhead (review here) and 2011’s self-titled debut (review here). Both “Beyond in Touch with My Feminine Side” (8:42) and “The Narcotic Comforts of the Status Quo” (5:17) flesh out open spaces, rich in tone and flowing movement, with the closer more of a riffy, space-rock feel while “Beyond in Touch with My Feminine Side” is more exploratory, fading out at its end is the jam sort of deconstructs below lead guitar. As for Sandrider‘s “Rain” (4:47) and “Glaive” (4:40), for anyone who’s heard the rolling punk heaviness of their albums, it should be enough to say they sound like Sandrider – upbeat and catchy and furious and kinetic — and while I’m not sure anyone ever needed to hear a Jane’s Addiction song ever again (ever.), they take what was probably the band’s best riff and re-suit it to their own purposes, which if you’re going to do it at least is the right way to go about it. Sandrider on Thee Facebooks, Kinski on Thee Facebooks, Good to Die Records.

Hiram-Maxim, Hiram-Maxim

hiram-maxim hiram-maxim

Ultimately, Hiram-Maxim‘s self-titled Aqualamb debut reads more like an experiment in the deconstruction of sound than an album in the traditional sense, and perhaps I use the word “reads” because it’s a book. As has become Aqualamb‘s modus, the four-track release comes as a 100-page artbook and a download that contains its nonetheless-vinyl-ready darkened forms, whether it’s the brooding “One” (11:47) with backing drones and open guitars or the preceding “Can’t Stop” (11:55) with its rising current of abrasive, almost grating noise that gradually consumes whatever song was there to start with. It is a dark atmosphere, and the opener, “Visceral”  (7:14), is well titled, but the pervading vibe is more exploratory than theatrical; like the listener, the Cleveland four-piece are feeling their way through these deep reaches, and when they come around to the apex of closer “Worship” (6:25), the resolution they seem to find is frantic and desolate in turn. In another universe, one might call it punk rock. Here, it is gleefully and thoroughly fucked. Hiram-Maxim on Thee Facebooks, Aqualamb.

Obrero, The Infinite Corridors of Time

Obrero The Infinite Corridors of Time

The Infinite Corridors of Time, the second long-player from Stockholm old-schoolers Obrero should — contrary to their logo — appeal to fans of Hour of 13 and Argus and others who’ve made preservation of classic metal their mission, skirting the fine line between doomly Sabbath worship and proto-NWOBHM stylized forwardness of purpose. The double-guitar five-piece show some penchant for ’70s heavy rock on cuts like “Oneironaut” (6:20) and “The Axial Age” (5:40) but by and large their purposes are more metallic, meshing AC/DC and Judas Priest impulses into the keyboard-laden “Manchester Morgue” (5:01) or “Phobos and Deimos” (5:42), which stands out for its hook and successful blend alike. At eight tracks/52 minutes, The Infinite Corridors of Time is no minor undertaking — there is no song under five minutes long — but their use of keys allows Obrero to work in various moods, and for those seeking purity in their metal, the Swedish outfit offer glimpses without being wholly derivative of what’s come before. Obrero on Thee Facebooks, To the Death Records.

Elbrus, Far Away and into Space Pt. 2

Elbrus Far Away and into Space Pt. 2

If you feel like you missed out on Far Away and into Space Pt. 1, don’t worry about it. Melbourne, Australia, four-piece Elbrus are actually starting out with Pt. 2, and it’s their debut single, an 11-minute psychedelic push of heavy blues rock, stoner rollout and organ-blessed jamming. I’m not sure it’s safe yet to call what’s happening in Melbourne right now a “heavy blues revival” as acts like Elbrus and Child delve into such sonic territory — if only because with bands like Horsehunter and Hotel Wrecking City Traders out there, the city’s take on heavy isn’t so easily categorized — but one rarely recognizes such things until beaten over the head by them. Either way, “Far Away and into Space Pt. 2″ gracefully looses a molten flow over its 11:06 stretch, vocalist/organist Ollie Bradley-Smith unafraid to cut through the natural-sounding, weighted tones of guitarist Ringo Camilleri and bassist Mafi Watson while Tom Todorovic‘s drums smooth the way between volume and tempo changes and add cymbal-crash swing to both. It’s a smooth-grooved nod, and aside from making me curious to hear the first installment of “Far Away and into Space,” it makes me wonder what Elbrus might next encounter as that journey unfolds. Elbrus on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

One more time, this is not even a quarter of what’s been added today. There’s also stuff from Black Rainbows, Felipe Arcazas, Headless Kross, Warhorse, Twingiant and others, so please make sure you hit up the Obelisk Radio Playlist and Updates page to see the full list.

Thanks as always for reading and listening.

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: HARK, Lucifer, Diesel King, Planes of Satori and Stonebride

Posted in Radio on February 6th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

I have continued to enjoy putting together these posts, and hopefully, whether you listen to The Obelisk Radio or you don’t, you get some use out of them. The fact is that it’s a pretty overwhelming amount of music being released these days — I feel like I’ve been behind all week, and for good reason — but it’s a good problem to have, and all you can really do is your best to keep up as much as you can. Accordingly, some of the stuff joining the playlist this week isn’t out yet, some is newly released and some of it has been out for a long time. Months are irrelevant. Riffs are timeless.

Let’s get to it.

The Obelisk Radio adds for Feb. 6, 2015:

HARK, Crystalline

hark-crystalline

UK heavy proggers Hark – also stylized in all-caps and with spaces between the letters — have all the noodly twists and turns one might expect in the shouty post-Mastodonic sphere of modern heavy, but what the trio do even better is use those turns toward building crescendos, so that songs like “Palendromeda,” the opener from their 2014 Season of Mist debut, Crystalline, isn’t just a mash of technical indulgence, but it actually moves somewhere too. Later cuts like “Sins on Sleeves” and “All Wretch and No Vomit” have some straightforward heavy rock to them as well – guitarist/vocalist/cover artist Jimbob Isaac used to play in Taint — but as one might expect, neither he nor bassist Nikolai Ribnikov (who seems to have since been replaced by Joe Harvatt, unless I have that backwards; things like who plays on what don’t matter in the age of digital promos) and drummer Simon Bonwick stay in one place too long. A guest appearance from Clutch‘s Neil Fallon on 10-minute closer “Clear Light of…” follows some particularly fervent tapping and presages another in Crystalline‘s series of crescendos, a long fade following topped by heady swirl that finishes out. Parts can be a bit much, but the full-on sprint that starts “Breathe and Run” and the weighty groove that follows make Hark‘s debut a solid fit for those seeking blinding fretwork that doesn’t necessarily sacrifice dynamic on the altar of technicality. HARK on Thee Facebooks, Season of Mist.

Lucifer, Anubis

lucifer-anubis

Born out of last year’s hot-shit-and-then-gone The Oath, London/Berlin four-piece Lucifer make their Rise Above debut with the Anubis/Morning Star 7″, vocalist Johanna Sadonis crooning out vaguely devilish incantations over The Wizards‘ riffs, Dino Gollnick‘s bass and Andrew Prestidge drums. The results on “Anubis” are probably the most Sabbathian bit of Sabbathery that’s come along since Orchid wandered along — the progression of “Anubis” is almost singularly indebted to “Snowblind.” “Morning Star” is likewise familiar, nestled somewhere between a theatrical take on ’80s proto-doom and ’70s cultistry and bolstered by the craft of Sadonis and former Cathedral guitarist Gary “Gaz” Jennigs. Hey, if it works, fair enough. One imagines that by the time the single arrives in April, word of Lucifer‘s coming will have spread far and wide, and if the single is meant to intrigue and pique interest ahead of a full-length to be issued later in 2015, I’ve no doubt it will do precisely that. Lucifer on Thee Facebooks, Rise Above Records.

Diesel King, Concrete Burial

diesel-king-concrete-burial

If you’ve got a quota for burl, London sludge metallers Diesel King will likely meet it with their When Planets Collide debut long-player, Concrete Burial, an album that hands out grueling, ultra-dudely chugging like a beefed-up Crowbar, vocalist Mark O’Regan offering shouting and growling extremity bordering at times on death metal. Shit is heavy, and it lives up to the violent threat of its title on songs like the catchy “Inferis” and “Horror. Disgust.,” the latter of which actually manages to make the lumbering guitar tones of Geoff Foden and Aled Marc move, propelled by the metallic drumming of Bill Jacobs while bassist Will Wichanski adds to the already pummeling low end. The 80-second “Mask of the Leper” is straight-up grind, but don’t be fooled by shifts in tempo — Diesel King‘s bread and butter is in sludged-out chug-riffing and growled chestbeating, like a testosterone supplement you take via your ears. Diesel King on Thee Facebooks, When Planets Collide.

Planes of Satori, Planes of Satori

planes-of-satori-planes-of-satori

Made for vinyl and pressed in that manner by Who Can You Trust? Records as the follow-up to last year’s Son of a Gun 7″ (review here), Planes of Satori find easy sanctuary on uneasy ground, smoothing out jagged edges and uncautious twists on their self-titled debut full-length. Bassist Justin Pinkerton doubles as the drummer in Golden Void, but though Planes of Satori share a West Coast affinity for the golden age of krautrock, cuts like “Eyes,” “Gnostic Boogie” and “The Ballad of Queen Milo” are on a much different trip, psychedelic afrobeat rhythms unfolding their insistence under the echoed out vocals of Alejandro Magana while Raze Regal tears into jazzy solos and Chris Labreche somehow manages to make it swing. The airier, more rhythmically settled “KTZ” retains a progressive feel both in the underlying tension of its bassline and in the open, creative vibe through which it careens. Call it “manic peace,” but it works well for Planes of Satori on a cut like the earlier “If You Must Know,” which reimagines ’90s indie weirdness through a lens of what-if-it-wasn’t-so-cool-not-to-give-a-crap, and “Green Summer,” which follows a building course without tipping off its hand until you’re already wrapped up in Regal‘s live-sounding leads. The closing solo guitar echo of “The Snake and the Squirrel” speaks to yet-unexplored drone dynamics and further delving into psychedelia to come. Sign me up. I have the feeling that the more bizarre Planes of Satori get, the more satisfying the trip is going to be. Their debut already shows a pervasive adventurous spirit. Planes of Satori on Thee Facebooks, Who Can You Trust? Records.

Stonebride, Heavy Envelope

stonebride-heavy-envelope

Late 2014’s Heavy Envelope is the third Stonebride record behind 2010’s Summon the Waves (review here) and their 2008 debut LP, Inner Seasons. Released by Setalight Records, it finds the Zagreb, Croatia, four-piece’s sound way solidified as compared to the psychedelic sprawl of the prior release, a ’90s-style rolling crunch riff to “Lay Low” following the distinctly Alice in Chainsian vocal melodies of “Lowest Supreme” and preceding the effectively replicated Queens of the Stone Age bounce of “Coloured Blue.” Some intervening solidification in the four years between the second and third albums might explain the shift in sound — the opposite could also be true — but drummer Steps and guitarist Tjesimir, bassist Alen and vocalist Sinisa work well within their newfound sphere, even finding room to branch out a bit on the more extended closing duo of “Sokushinbutsu” and “Venomous,” never quite hitting the same psyched-out feel of Heavy Envelope‘s predecessor, but definitely adding further individual sensibility to an engaging take on heavy rock. Stonebride seem ripe for a new beginning, and Heavy Envelope boasts precisely that kind of energy. Stonebride on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp, Setalight Records.

For the complete list of what went up today and everything else that’s been added recently and everything played going back I don’t even remember how long at this point, be sure to check out The Obelisk Radio Updates and Playlist page. Hope you find something you dig and that you think is worth hearing.

Thanks for reading and listening.

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Sumac, Garden of Worm, Carpet, Sporecaster, The Devil and the Almighty Blues

Posted in Radio on January 30th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

The Obelisk Radio server, which I’ve taken to calling the “main computer core,” was down most of last week after some kind of unknown surge in the EPS conduits, so with the data stream running on auxiliary power (yes, I’m using Star Trek science lingo; I’ll stop) it didn’t make much sense to do a round of adds. No one would hear the stuff anyway amid all the Sabbath, Kyuss, Goatsnake, Electric Wizard, etc. Sometimes I really like that backup server, but after a few days of listening, a change is welcome. I was pretty happy when we got the primary box back online.

And by “we,” I mostly mean Slevin, to whose technical expertise I am perpetually indebted. While I wouldn’t dare go much farther than doing so, I’m fortunate enough to be able to add files to the server on my own — I’m sure if you gave him five minutes he’d come up with a more efficient method — so we’ll give that a shot, and if the whole thing doesn’t come crashing down, we can consider it a win. Here goes.

The Obelisk Radio adds for Jan. 30, 2015:

Sumac, The Deal

sumac-the-deal

Sumac start out high-profile thanks to the lineup of guitarist Aaron Turner of Isis and Old Man Gloom and drummer Nick Yacyshyn of Baptists and the fact that Russian Circles bassist Brian Cook recorded the low end for their Profound Lore debut, The Deal, but I think even if they were a trio of out-of-nowhere unknown entities, this record would turn some heads. Coated in feedback, blisteringly heavy — in the tradition of older Isis but more assured in its purpose — its six tracks breathe dense tonal life into the pallid post-metal vibe, songs like “Hollow King” (12:21) and “The Deal” (13:41) sounding as complex as they do crushing, wanting nothing in impact or atmosphere. “Spectral Gold” (3:18) and “Thorn in the Lion’s Paw” (8:55) begin The Deal on an ambient note, and the sprawl-drone of “The Radiance of Being” ends it likewise with five minutes of solo guitar from Turner, but in between “Hollow King,” “Blight’s End Angel” (10:17) and “The Deal” work quickly to win over even skeptical ears. Yacyshyn‘s performance is of particular note. Where it would’ve been all too easy to fall into Isis-style patterning to complement Turner‘s riffs, he holds firm to his own personality and The Deal is that much stronger for it. It is a startling and potential-laden debut. Almost enough to make up for the needless dickery Old Man Gloom pulled last year sending a fake record to the press, assuming what I’ve heard from Sumac is actually the real thing. Sumac on Thee Facebooks, at Profound Lore.

Garden of Worm, Idle Stones

garden-of-worm-idle-stones

Tampere, Finland, trio Garden of Worm make their debut on Svart Records via Idle Stones, their second album following 2010’s Garden of Worm (review here) on Shadow Kingdom. Comprised of four songs alternating between shorter and longer before arriving at 19:49 closer “The Sleeper Including Being is More than Life,” the sophomore outing is a richer, more progressive affair, with bassist SJ Harju and guitarist EJ Taipale combining their vocals effectively at the fore of the mix on “Summer’s Isle” (10:13), which follows the rolling opener “Fleeting are the Days of Man” (5:35). With a style that ultimately owes more to Witchcraft‘s tonal understatement than Reverend Bizarre‘s genre-defining traditionalism, they nonetheless shirk the trap of retroism and make an individual showing with a feel both loose and purposeful throughout. The brighter guitar work of “Desertshore” (7:01) makes it a highlight, along with the persistent crash of drummer JM Suvanto, and the freakout that emerges in “The Sleeper Including Being is More than Life” gracefully and boldly flows across the rarely-bridged gap between doom and heavy psychedelia with a naturalness that very much makes me hope it’s not another half-decade before we hear from Garden of Worm again. Garden of Worm on Thee Facebooks, at Svart Records.

Carpet, Riot Kiss 7″

carpet riot kiss

Story goes that German progressive heavy rockers Carpet started writing for their third album, to follow-up on 2013’s Elysian Pleasures (review here), which was released by Elektrohasch, and wound up with some material that didn’t quite fit the concept they were going for. Since they dug it and didn’t want to just toss it, the Riot Kiss b/w Song of Heartship 7″ was born. Two songs, both a little over four minutes long, reaffirm the Augsburg four-piece’s commitment to forward-thinking textures, with “Riot Kiss” as the space-prog A-side and the quieter, atmospheric-but-still-clearheaded “Song of Heartship” emphasizing Carpet‘s range on side B, the cuts having more dynamic between them than many bands show in their career. I don’t know what Carpet – the lineup of Sigmund Perner, Jakob Mader, Hubert Steiner and Maximilian Stephan — are shooting for with their third record that these songs didn’t jibe with, and I guess we won’t know until that album arrives, but Riot Kiss is a stopgap of considerable substance that showcases Carpet‘s ability to present progressive ideas in ways not only palatable but deeply engaging. Carpet on Thee Facebooks, Elektrohasch Schallplatten.

Sporecaster, See Through Machine

sporecaster-see-through-medicine

An experimental drone/psych duo comprised in half by Ron Rochondo of Boston’s Ice DragonSporecaster‘s debut release, See Through Machine, is four tracks/26 minutes of exploratory drone given natural breadth through use of didgeridoo and percussion. The outing was tracked at Ron’s Wrecker Service and has a lo-fi feel despite its spaciousness, and chants out its hypnotism early, opener “Invocation or Incantation” (4:20, by astounding coincidence) wrapping itself around consciousness like some kind of psychedelic serpent, only to have the whistle-blowing “Things are Not What they See” (3:21) and tribal-ish drummed “The False Light” (5:46) push deeper into the moody ambience laid out at the beginning. Closer “You are Transparent” (12:45) makes me wonder what Sporecaster might do working in even longer forms, its drone-out having room for both a jammy drum progression and a continuation of the earlier experimental and improvisational feel. As an early showing of their intent, though, See Through Machine makes it clear that Sporecaster‘s creative process is wide open. Sporecaster on Thee Facebooks, Ron’s Wrecker Service.

The Devil and the Almighty Blues, The Devil and the Almighty Blues

the devil and the almighty blues the devil and the almighty blues

The slow-rolling “The Ghosts of Charlie Barracuda” (7:46) begins the self-titled debut from Oslo-based five-piece The Devil and the Almighty Blues, released on the upstart Blues for the Red Sun Records. That song picks up gradually in the first of several of the six-song full-length’s satisfying builds, but atmospherically sets a laid back tone that tracks like the subsequent “Distance” (4:11) and more active “Storm Coming Down” (10:17) play off of, the band proving equally comfortable in long- or short-form material, nestling into a neo-heavy semi-retro blues rock more in line with Graveyard‘s overarching moodiness than Witchcraft‘s early-days dooming. Well-balanced lead guitars and crooning vocals serve as a uniting theme, but in a classic dynamic, it’s the rhythm section that makes the swing of side B’s particularly thick “Root to Root” (9:48) and “Never Darken My Door” — the singing especially blown-out on the latter — so irresistibly grooved. Wrapping with the classy fuzz of “Tired Old Dog” (6:28), The Devil and the Almighty Blues will come from a familiar place sonically, but as their debut, The Devil and the Almighty Blues boasts a cohesion worthy of its weighty title. The Devil and the Almighty Blues on Thee Facebooks, Blues for the Red Sun Records.

Some of this stuff — Sumac, The Devil and the Almighty Blues, Carpet — was also included in the podcast that went up yesterday, so if you’d like another avenue for getting a sample, that might not be a bad way to go. However you choose to dig in, I hope that you will and hope that you find something that you feel is worth the time and effort.

As always, thanks for reading and listening.

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Black Pussy, Time Rift, The Dust Bowl, The Sorrows and Einstein-Rosen

Posted in Radio on January 16th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk radio

If I told you it was a varied bunch of stuff added to the server today, would you believe me? Seems I say the same thing every time I do one of these posts, but it applies each time, anyhow. This is the second round of adds of 2015, which means I’m two-for-two on weeks for the year. I doubt very much I’ll be able to keep that pace until we get to 2016 — which sounds like a distant and horrifying future in which cars fly and people work diligently to cure Martians of chicken pox — but it’s good for now. I’m trying to keep more of a handle on reviews than I did last year, and things like this help.

Though it’s only been a week and files haven’t had too much time to pile up — again, that’s the whole idea — there are still 11 records new to the playlist as of this afternoon, so please feel free to hit up the Updates and Playlist Page and check out the full batch for yourself. And with that link plugged, let’s get to it.

The Obelisk Radio adds for Jan. 16, 2015:

Black Pussy, Magic Mustache

MAGICMUSTACHE-cover

After an interim split with Biblical Proof of UFOs that boasted the 20-minute jam “Galaxies,” Portland, Oregon’s Black Pussy return with their second full-length, Magic Mustache, which takes the hazy heavy psych of 2012’s On Blonde and gives it focus around natural tones, brazen hooks and diligently fuzzed variety, tripping out with synth and guitar effects on cuts like “Protopipe” and the brief-but-nod-worthy “Farrah Fawcett” while going full-on Queens of the Stone Age bounce on lead-single “For the Sake of Argument,” motorik space-rock on “Happy” and upping the lysergic swirl on the seven-minute closing title-track. It’s a quality record from a band with a rich sound, engaging songwriting and a well-honed psychedelia, a molten flow on “Lion’s Breath” and “On Top of the World” and others, and while every time I listen to it I can’t help but be bummed out by their moniker — which, despite being Black Pussy is so white and so male in its appropriation; no less so now than when The Rolling Stones picked it as the original title of “Brown Sugar” — I won’t discount the vibe that’s melted all over this material. Still, the distraction takes away from an otherwise righteous listening experience, and at least in my view, hurts a killer band. I wonder if it’s worth it. Black Pussy on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Time Rift, Demo 2015

time rift demo 2015

But for the portraiture of the cover art, one might be tempted to call Demo 2015 a humble beginning for Portland trio Time Rift, whose launch represents a restart for vocalist/bassist Levi Campbell, guitarist Justin Kaye, and drummer Matt Amott, a three-piece formerly operating under the moniker Doomsower. To their credit, Time Rift is a better name, but more than just a switch, Demo 2015 presents them as an entirely new band, more rock-based, rawer in a ’70s-style presentation and less outwardly doomed. Even the seven-minute “The Cimmerian,” which dives headfirst into pre-NWOBHM early metal idolatry (and, yes, gets fairly doomed), keeps a melodic focus, and if there was a need to redirect their approach, at least Time Rift was able to do so while building on the chemistry already developing between them. The short, swing-heavy “Dusty Shelf” and layered vocal chorus of “Demon Hex” and proto-catchiness of “Starcrossed” legitimately sound like CampbellKaye and Amott have gone back to the start, and the exploration they’re embarking on seems like one well worth pursuing. One hopes they’re in a place sound-wise where they want to be, because it suits them. Time Rift on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

The Dust Bowl, Sangre Grande

the dust bowl sangre grande

Spanish heavy rockers The Dust Bowl released their second album, Sangre Grande, late last year and with it, they revel in grunge and desert rock atmospherics. Produced and mixed by guitarist César Royo (also organ, percussion, harmonica, etc.), it’s a vigilantly straightforward offering, delving into pop showmanship on “Bad Feeling,” but otherwise nestling cleanly into the post-QOTSA milieu of crunchy tones, strong hooks and melodic vocals. “Flow down this River” might be its most “the ’90s” moment, but there’s some stiff competition in that regard, while the quietly pulsing “Aqua de 1000 Cactus” brings to mind Kyuss‘ “Space Cadet” before the title-track finishes out in more raucous instrumental fashion. Touches of acoustic guitar, percussion, djembe, organ, backing vocals, and so on give their arrangements more depth than they might otherwise have, but at their core, The Dust Bowl – Royo, vocalist José Ángel Navarro, bassist Alejandro “Vilo” Viloria and drummer Manuel Navarro — are well rooted in the tenets of their genre, and they bring forth an able execution thereof. The Dust Bowl on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

The Sorrows, Gonna Find a Cave

the sorrows gonna find a cave

Some lines it’s hard to make sound cool, but I firmly believe that if The Sorrows can sell, “Wanna be your ever-lovin’ caveman,” they can do just about anything. The reactivated UK group had a couple of singles out in the ’60s, but the three-song Gonna Find a Cave 7″ is brand new, though you’d hardly know it from the sound of the ultra-catchy title-track, or “Don’t Do That” and “Doin’ Alright Tonight,” which follow. The last of them has some touches of what could be an acknowledgement that the ’70s or anything thereafter happened and is so immediately familiar that it has me wondering if it’s a cover and I just can’t place it (any help in that regard is appreciated), but otherwise vocalist Don Fardon and company revel in pure 1965, pre-psychedelic pop rock, right at that moment after the British Invasion but before all the freakout that came next. It’s a place just about nobody these days dares inhabit, and the fact that they were there the first time around only makes Gonna Find a Cave more of a curio. Rise Above Records has unearthed some fascinating releases with roots in this era (see also their Rog & Pip compendium, issued last year), and The Sorrows bring it to life with unquestionable realism on these tracks. The Sorrows at Rise Above Records, Rise Above on Soundcloud.

Einstein-Rosen, Le Pont Noir

einstein-rosen le pont noir

Acoustic intro “Prologue” sets a brooding tone for Le Pont Noir, the debut full-length from Quebecois prog metal instrumental outfit Einstein-Rosen, a solo-project from Louis-Alexandre Jacques, who doubles as guitarist in stoner metallers Grand MorneJacques plays all the instruments on Le Pont Noir, which is all the more impressive when he gets down to the shifting tempos and blastbeats in “Vénérable Vestige,” but the entirety of the album proves more dynamic than one might think for being executed by just one player, breaking into two sides as “Isthme” leads the way into the solo-topped “Neptune” at the start of the second half, the alternating thrash and plod of “Vortex” giving over to cinematic ambience as the nine-minute “Brume Quantique” closes out. Shred-prone stretches like those of “Ruinam” and “Vortex” tell the story of Jacques‘ underlying metal influence, but he seems no more likely to be kept to one single style as to one single band, and Einstein-Rosen‘s first outing only heralds development of an even broader reach. Einstein-Rosen on Bandcamp, Grand Morne on Thee Facebooks.

There you have it. Don’t forget that to see what’s been played today and what else got added, you can always check out The Obelisk Radio Playlist and Updates Page. It wants to be your friend.

Thanks for reading and listening.

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Formes, Romero, Bellringer, Wizard Eye, Lewd Flesh and Red Mess

Posted in Radio on January 9th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk radio

Usually I approach doing a batch of radio adds with some trepidation — after all, I’m basically writing five (or, in this week’s case, six) short reviews — but after doing that Last Licks series last week, this honestly feels like a breeze. Perspective is everything, and to add to yours and mine, I’ve got 18 records joining The Obelisk Radio playlist this afternoon, and it’s a widely varied bunch, both in what’s written up here and the actual makeup of the stuff.

Full-lengths, EPs, splits, a live release, a single, some doom, some black metal, some heavy rock, sludge, psych, you name it. I had the radio going for a while yesterday and heard a few really satisfying changes in style. I like that and I hope you do too, because I don’t think it’s going to change anytime soon. Full list of adds is on the Updates and Playlist Page.

The Obelisk Radio adds for Jan. 9, 2015:

Formes, Dysphoria Part 1

formes dysphoria part 1

For an album that starts “Through this Hole” and finishes in “Dead Ends,” Formes‘ Dypsphoria Part 1 is a resoundingly progressive and diverse outing that, at its core, works primarily in playing shoegaze psych and extreme metal off each other. Somewhere between Dead Meadow and Akercocke, a song like “Dead Ends” finds a way to mesh wub-chug riffing with the crooning vocals of guitarist/bassist Steve McNamara with the responding death growls of his brother, drummer/guitarist Jordan. The UK three-piece is rounded out by Rob “The Alchemist” Hemingway, whose synths feature heavily in songs like “I am Nothing” and “Tumult,” which atmospherically expand on the ideas the opener presents, thrusting these two sides into the same place and, in defiance of what are generally thought of as the physics of genre, making it work. Formes‘ most effective moments are when they ram one into the other, as on the acoustic-to-doom-pummeling “Smile Club,” which follows quietly seething brooder “I Will Make You Ill” and rounds out with an extended whistle of harsh feedback, but I won’t discount the value they clearly place on structural variety either. Together, they make Dysphoria Part 1 as satisfying as it is unpredictable, and while I don’t know when one might expect Part 2 or just how many installments of Dysphoria there might be, I look forward to when I can next encounter the fruits of Formes‘ stylistic restlessness. Formes on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Romero, Gold for the Hunt

romero gold for the hunt

Madison, Wisconsin, sludge poppers Romero made a New Year’s present out of “Gold for the Hunt” by offering the song as a free download on Jan. 1, but it’s also the first new studio material to come from the four-piece since their early 2013 full-length, Take the Potion (review here). Like that album, the single revels in a Floor/Torche influence, but seems to delight even more in its fuzzy tone and burly edge in the vocals of guitarist Jeffrey Mundt and drummer Ben Brooks. With the foundation of Patrick Hotlen‘s bass rumbling beneath, the guitar and vocals push through a tension-release chorus and into a well-layered chugging bridge that further highlights Romero‘s penchant for melodic bellowing. Guitarist/percussionist/organist Tim Consequence seems all but absent initially, but in the final movement, a sustained current of organ winds up as one of “Gold for the Hunt”‘s most distinguishing factors. Well, that and the brutal growing, anyway. Glad to hear from Romero, even in so abbreviated a manner. If you’ve never encountered them before, “Gold for the Hunt” provides a quick, efficient summary of their approach, and if you heard Take the Potion, the new song will only make you further anticipate the follow-up. Romero on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Bellringer, Bellringer EP

bellringer bellringer ep

Based in the weirdo haven of Austin, Texas, newcomer trio Bellringer – for whom this untitled/self-titled, self-released EP is the first outing — boast a familiar face (or at least a familiar cowboy hat) in guitarist/vocalist Mark Deutrom (Clown Alley, peak-era Melvins), who’s joined by bassist Corey Cottrell (ex-Megazilla) and drummer Craig Nichols (Guided by VoicesThe Breeders) on these four tracks. The sound, while adventurous stylistically and in terms of the construction of individual parts, is rooted in heavy rock, opener “Vapor Lock,” a catchy number like “Wait” and the instrumental chorus of “Von Fledermaus” reminding some that, yes, Deutrom was the bass player on Stoner Witch, but particularly in the latter an even more resonant impression comes across like Masters of Reality‘s blend of pop and heavy rock oddness. That vibe continues on the nine-minute psych-jam closer “The Burning Gift,” which brings Deutrom‘s vocals forward and works in keyboard arrangement flourish, bell sounds, string sounds and various melodic volume swells to underscore the point that, even on Bellringer‘s introduction, pretty much anything goes if it works. So be it. The world needs more experimental rock that doesn’t forget there are two sides to that equation, and Bellringer seem to come out of the gate ready to gleefully tip the scales one way or the other. Bellringer on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Wizard Eye, Riff Occult Live

wizard-eye-riff-occult-live

If, like me, you’ve been itching to get a handle on some new music from Philly’s theremin-laced, golly-these-guys-need-to-get-a-new-record-out stoner doom trio Wizard EyeRiff Occult Live should do the trick. All but two of the tracks — “On the Banks of a River” and the meshed-together “Gravebreath/Say No More” — come from the riffy three-piece’s forthcoming sophomore outing, and while it’s definitely a live record, the dense fuzz and nod-ready roll that guitarist/thereminist/vocalist Erik Caplan, on-a-first-name-bassist Dave and drummer Mike Scarpone conjure wins out anyway on cuts like “Drowning Daydream” and “Flying/Falling,” Scarpone‘s kick drum a pop in the low end while Wizard Eye ooze their way through one Sabbathian jam into the next. Opener “Eye of the Deep” sets a tone for extended solos and thick groove, and Wizard Eye do not falter from that path as the set makes its way to the 11-minute final jam, each riff arriving, kicking ass, and moving on in well-purposed succession. Riff Occult Live doesn’t entirely sate the anticipation for a new album, but it certainly doesn’t hurt either. Wizard Eye on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Lewd Flesh, Op I Røven, Dø I Smerte

LEWD FLESH - OP I RØVEN, DØ I SMERTE

Marked out immediately by the echoing, over-the-top bluesy vocals of Malene Pedersen, Copenhagen heavy rockers Lewd Flesh make their Spaghetti Casetti Records debut with the Op I Røven, Dø I Smerte 7″, bringing together the two songs “Acid Rider” and “Lewd Troves” to give a professional, crisp first impression across two sides and about 11 minutes. Guitarists Nanna Braunschweig Hansen and Casper Nilsson, bassist John Madsen and drummer Jakob provide the backdrop for Pedersen‘s rocked-out vocal thrust on “Acid Rider,” and more ’90s-style cues are taken on “Lewd Troves,” the wailing guitars offering a flourish of noise influence to coincide with the band’s straightforward production. It is their first outing, and two songs, and it’s a raucous start to make, but there’s room to grow as well in Lewd Flesh‘s hammering out their balance of grunge, noise and heavy rock impulses and figuring out where to place the vocals in the mix. To the credit of both the band and the release, Op I Røven, Dø I Smerte sounds both smoothly produced and on-stage energetic, and hopefully they can keep that spirit intact as they continue to grow. Lewd Flesh on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Red Mess, Crimson EP

red mess crimson

Familiar riffs abound on Red Mess‘ debut EP, Crimson, and the Brazilian trio give due reverence to the likes of Sabbath and Goatsnake, but it’s the rougher, semi-retro presentation that draws the listener into the atmosphere created by guitarist/vocalist Thiago Franzim, bassist Lucas Klepa and drummer Douglas Labigalini over the four tracks/22 minutes. There’s something theatrical in Franzim‘s vocals to opener “Trapped in My Mind” that also give a classic Alice Cooper Band feel to the proceedings as well, and that’s really just one element of heavy ’70s worship that continues on “Hole” and the subsequent, motor-ready “Stoneage Coopers,” but they save the best for last in 5:30 closer “Through the Trees,” which offsets Graveyard-style subdued blues noodling with heavy rock thrust, a highlight performance from Klepa alongside Labigalini‘s swinging cymbal and tom work, and an engaging build throughout. They’re feeling their way through developing their sound, and that’s exciting to hear since the three-piece already has some considerable chemistry between them. Hopefully they’re able to take lessons from Crimson – named, apparently, in homage to a classic prog influence — and move forward as they discover where they want to go and how they want their songs to take them there. Red Mess on YouTube, on Bandcamp.

Had to get that sixth one in there, and not just because it frees up another space on my desktop. The idea behind doing adds like this isn’t just to remind people there’s a radio component to this site. That’s part of it, sure, but the bigger agenda here is to hopefully give you another opportunity to check out music you might dig. That’s why the audio is right there under each review. I sincerely hope something above piques your interest and that you also share it with someone you think will enjoy.

Thanks as always for reading and listening.

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Mugstar & The Cosmic Dead, Goya, Gangrened, Attalla and TarLung

Posted in Radio on December 19th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk radio

I’ve been listening to The Obelisk Radio a lot this week, particularly while starting to put together my top albums of 2014 list, so it seemed only appropriate to get a new round of adds up to the server. As we come to the end of the year, there’s always a slowdown in terms of releases, but if I had to put a number to it, I’d call it a 10, maybe 20 percent drop at most. If it was running water and you were looking at it, you’d notice no difference. A flood is still a flood.

As such, 14 records joined the server today. Some are recently reviewed, some aren’t out yet, some have been out for a little bit. It’s a solid batch of stuff, and if you haven’t yet had enough of lists — more to come, believe me — it’s worth a look at the Playlist and Updates Page. The amount of stuff on there is staggering. It’s a wonder the radio stream manages to fit in so much Clutch at all.

Let’s get to it.

The Obelisk Radio Adds for Dec. 19, 2014:

Mugstar & The Cosmic Dead, Split LP

Mugstar & Cosmic Dead Split LP

Two sides, one song from each band, each a massive slab of a jam. Glasgow’s The Cosmic Dead and Liverpool’s Mugstar make a solid pairing, and by solid I definitely mean liquid, and by liquid I mean that’s what your brains will be by the time Mugstar‘s “Breathing Mirror” (18:42) and The Cosmic Dead‘s “Fukahyoocastulah” (25:51) are done. Instrumental in their entirety and jammed out on a subspace frequency that I only imagine they can already hear in the Delta Quadrant — and no doubt they’re wondering what the title of The Cosmic Dead‘s contribution means exactly — both cuts share an affinity for progressive heavy psych exploration, kosmiche and krautrock alike, but with a fresh take on the classic idea of we’re-gonna-get-in-a-room-and-this-is-what-happens that runs through, whether it’s in the drone midsection of “Breathing Mirror” after the jam has died down and before its resurgence, or the later reaches of “Fukayoocastulah,” which rest on the nigh-eternal bassline that’s steady enough to hold the course despite the various effects freakouts, slow swirls and experiments happening around it. About 45 minutes solid of primo heavy jamming? Sign me up. Mugstar’s website, on Bandcamp, The Cosmic Dead on Thee Faceboks, on Bandcamp.

Goya, Satan’s Fire

Goya Satan's Fire

Eleven-minute opener “Malediction and Death” makes its primary impression in its consuming tonality — a harsh but encompassing low end that emerges out of the initial cavalcade of feedback starting the song. The first three minutes of “Malediction and Death” are noise before Phoenix’s Goya kick in their riff, drums and vocals, sounding as huge on the Satan’s Fire EP as on their preceding split with Wounded Giant (review here) but perhaps even more malevolent as they continue to find their place within wizard doom, marked out by the two-at-once solo shredding of guitarist/vocalist Jeff Owens, the lurching rhythm behind him and the swing of drummer Nick Lose, whose snare punctuates “Malediction and Death” like a life-preserver tossed into the abyss. Unsurprisingly, they end noisy. “Symbols” picks up with two minutes of sparse, atmospheric drumming, and the title-track (5:58) finishes with a tale of antichristianity, dropping out of life, and watching the world fall apart. Doom? Yes. Perhaps not as patient as “Malediction and Death,” “Satan’s Fire” itself offers suitable heat, and delivered through amps that likewise sound about ready to melt, provides a memorable impression even beyond its Oborn-style hook. Goya on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Attalla, Attalla

Attalla Attalla

Somewhere between classic doom and more aggressive, hardcore punk-derived noise, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, four-piece Attalla are the kind of band who could probably release nothing but 7″ singles for the next five years and still make a go of it. As it stands, their self-titled debut offers a stirring rawness in the dual guitars that reminds there’s more ways to make an impact tonally than just with volume or fuzz. Their roots are in punk, and that’s plain enough to hear in lead guitarist Cody Stieg‘s vocals on songs like “Light” and “Lust,” but “Haze” nestles into a stoner groove late that suits Attalla well, and the later “Veil” offers charged propulsion in the drums of Aaron Kunde, whose snare sound is tinny but fitting with the sans-frills stylings of Stieg, rhythm guitarist Brian Hinckley and bassist Bryan Kunde. Some variation in tempo throughout changes things up, but a particularly triumphant moment comes with the raw Slayer-esque foreboding (think slow Slayer) that begins “Doom,” a fitting closer to Attalla‘s Attalla with its subtly complex stylistic blend and relatively barebones presentation. I’m not sure where Attalla go from here in terms of developing their sound, but the debut offers reason enough to want to find out. Attalla on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

TarLung, TarLung

TarLung TarLung

If you played me TarLung‘s TarLung debut full-length and told me the trio were from North Carolina, I’d undoubtedly believe you. In fact, they hail from Vienna, Austria, but just so happen to have the Southern sludge ideology nailed down on their first offering. Roots in Crowbar and Eyehategod and Sourvein can be heard throughout, big nod, harsh vocals, weighted plod. The guitars of Rotten and Phillipp “Five“ Seiler (the latter also vocals) brings in some of that Pepper Keenan-style Southern riffing, on “Last Breath” particularly, but the bulk of what they and drummer Marian Waibl get up to on these seven tracks is rawer and nastier, the album’s last three cuts — “Apeplanet,” “Black Forest” and “Space Caravan” — providing the best glimpse at TarLung‘s effective aesthetic interpretation. Tonally and methodologically sound, what remains for them to do is hone a more individualized approach, but particularly for a self-released first album, the crisp harshness they convey on the centerpiece “C2″ — a kind of maddening high pitch running throughout — satisfies when taken on its own level, and among the three-piece’s assets, their lack of pretense will no doubt serve them well moving forward. TarLung on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Gangrened, We are Nothing

Gangrened We are Nothing

Proffering lurching, aggressive sludge over three tracks arranged longest to shortest, Finnish trio Gangrened conjure sweeping chaos on We are Nothing, blatantly contradicting the title of the release despite whatever riff-laden nihilism might be at work philosophically. Among the most telling moments on the release — which follows a split tape from the four piece of  vocalist Ollijuhani Kujansivu, guitarist/bassist Andreas Österlund, guitarist Jon Imbernon and drummer Owe Inborr, who’ve since traded out their rhythm section — is the opening sample of “Them” in which a man in a Southern US accent rants in paranoid rage about helicopters flying over his property, indicative of some conspiracy or other. In both their influence and their execution, that fits Gangrened‘s overall portrayal well, but both the 12-minute opener “Lung Remover” and closing semi-Black Flag cover “Kontti” (translated “24 Pack” and a feedback-soaked, sludged-up play on “Six Pack”) are pissed off enough to warrant the attention they seem to be demanding in their noisy charge, snail-paced and malevolent as it is. Gangrened on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

As always, this is just a fraction of what was added to The Obelisk Radio today. If you get the chance to check any of this stuff out, I hope you dig it, and if you decide to launch the player, I hope whatever’s playing is awesome.

Thanks for reading and listening.

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Burning Saviours, Soldat Hans, Olde, Holy Grove, Persona and Dungaree

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

the obelisk radio

I try to do these every week. I’d like to, ideally, but it seems to be more like when folders and zip files clog up my desktop enough to really get on my nerves. Fair enough. A full 20 records joined the playlist today, including a couple wintry classics from Anathema that either were overlooked by me or wrongly left out, plus the new Witch Mountain album, and some other recently-reviewed and otherwise-written-about stuff. It’s actually a pretty killer list. If you’re into it, or if you want to see what else has been added lately or what was played today, check out the Playlist and Updates Page. I spend an embarrassing amount of time there. Here are a few more reasons why.

The Obelisk Radio Adds for Dec. 5, 2014:

Burning Saviours, Unholy Tales from the North

Burning Saviours Unholy Tales from the North

The unheralded heroes of Sweden’s retro heavy movement return with their first full-length since 2007. Their fifth outing overall, Burning Saviours‘ Unholy Tales from the North follows a series of four singles released between 2012 and 2013 (recently compiled by I Hate Records and released under the title Boken Om Förbannelsen) and finds the Örebro four-piece reveling in ’70s-style doom once more, albeit with a rawer and less directly ’70s-style production. That is, it’s not as directly fuzzed as their self-titled debut was nine years ago, when it was pretty much them and Witchcraft digging on classic Pentagram alone, but still presented in the same spirit, a strong opening trio of “They Will Rise Tonight,” “And the Wolves Cried Out” and “Your Love Hurts Like Fire” creating a lasting impression somewhere between early metal (think Rocka Rolla-era Priest) and the heavy rock that preceded it. Two Swedish-language tracks, “Ondskan” and “Lyktgubben,” end each side, and at 28 minutes, it’s a quick runthrough, but shows easily that Burning Saviours – since 2010 the lineup of guitarist/vocalist Mikael Monks, lead guitarist Jonas Hartikainen, bassist Fredrik Evertsson and drummer Martin Wijkström — remain vital in their approach, cuts like “Inside My Mind” and “The Sons of the North” exploring metal’s roots effectively and organically while crafting something new, if familiar, from them. Burning Saviours on Thee Facebooks, at Transubstans Records.

Soldat Hans, Dress Rehearsal

Soldat Hans Dress Rehearsal

Swiss newcomers Soldat Hans seem to be embarking on an admirably ambitious journey with their self-released debut, Dress Rehearsal, the title of which hints at their thinking of it as a demo, but for which the extended four tracks included serve to craft a sense of ambience that marks it unmistakably as a full-length. Engrossing in its atmosphere, patient in its construction and impeccably conceived, Dress Rehearsal plays out lengthy builds fluidly and takes listeners from minimalist drone and slow unfolding to massive, feedback-caked sludge, and then back again, sounding natural in the process and brilliant for both its pummel and restraint. None of the four cuts — “Meine Liebste; Sie zerbricht sich” (15:21), “Esthère (im bronzefarbenen Licht)” (13:34), “Zikueth! Zikueth!” (18:25) and “Liefdesgrot” (15:08) — really departs from a bleak, moody feel, but there are shifts throughout, as “Esthère (im bronzefarbenen Licht)” moves from the linearity of the opener to brooding post-rock and jazzy exploration before hitting its own wash of viciousness. To have a band take such control of their sound on their first outing is remarkable, and the longest and farthest ranging of the tracks, “Zikueth! Zikueth!” provides Soldat Hans their shining moment, theatrical but not overdone, melodic early and raging late, hypnotic in the middle, as classic as it is avant garde. They close out with another maddening payoff in “Liefdesgrot,” and while in the future I’d be interested to hear them take on structures as wide-ranging as what they bring sonically to Dress Rehearsal, if this is just practice, I can’t wait for the show to start. Soldat Hans on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Olde, I

SAMO_12Jacket_Standard_RJC

If you were to go by their sound alone, I don’t think there’s any way you could come out of hearing burly five-piece Olde‘s Hypaethral Records debut long-player, I, and not imagine they were from Virginia. In fact, they come from Toronto, but the aggro Southern metal they purvey on the album’s eight bruising tracks would be right at home in the heart of sludgeland, full as it is of steady rolls — Sons of Otis drummer Ryan Aubin provides trailmarking thud — the from-the-chest growling from Doug McLarty and lumbering riffs, songs like “Heart Attack” and “Changelings” in the tracklist’s midsection readily crossing the line between sludge and doom, all mudhole stomp, metallic affiliation and violent groove. There’s atmosphere at work, but it comes out through the aggression portrayed, and ultimately, has about as all the ambience of having your teeth kicked in. And yes, that counts the variation on the theme in the closing “Perimeter Walk,” the more echoing guitar, farther back vocals, and so on. With a crisp production behind it, Olde‘s debut knows precisely the kind of beatdown it wants to deliver and sets about its task with brutal efficiency. Olde on Thee Facebooks, Hypaethral Records on Bandcamp.

Holy Grove, Live at Jooniors

Holy Grove Live at Jooniors

Recorded at some point between then and now at Joonior Studios in Seattle, Washington — I’m guessing more toward “then” — the 2014 outing Live at Jooniors from Portland four-piece Holy Grove is only two songs, but even one would be enough to serve notice of their warm tonality and the bluesy vocals of Andrea Vidal, who pushes her voice to its reaches on “Holy Grove” and still manages to nail the emotional crux. Honestly, that would probably be enough to carry “Holy Grove” and the following “Nix” on its own — sold; I’m on board — but I won’t discount the fuzz in Trent Jacobs‘ guitar or bassist Gregg Emley‘s fills in “Nix,” or the seamless shift drummer Craig Bradford leads between subdued verses and the tense chorus of “Holy Grove.” As far as serving notice goes, Live at Jooniors does so and then some, and without sacrificing sound quality as so many underground live recordings do. Seems to me a 7″ release wouldn’t be out of order, but Holy Grove seem more intent on getting together their full-length debut, which if they can bring to the studio the vibe they create in just 13 minutes on stage, is going to be something to look out for indeed. Learn the name, because you’ll hear it again. Holy Grove on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Persona, Persona

Persona Persona

Buenos Aires instrumental four-piece Persona formed in 2004/2005, but their newly-released self-titled appears to be their first LP, preceded by a 2012 EP. If the better part of the intermittent decade was spent jamming, it doesn’t seem to have hurt the band, who present nine plotted but flowing tracks that keep some loose sensibility to them while following a course of classic heavy and fuzz rock. The lineup of guitarist/bassists Lucas Podestá and Santiago Adano, guitarist Gustavo Hernández and drummer Esteban Podestá touch here and there on more metal tendencies, as on “Los Perros” and the brief “Cortina,” but that’s no more out of place than the proggy exploration of “Cuna de Fantasmas,” a King Crimson-style noodling underscored by subtly engaging snare work and giving way to a heavier push. The lead guitar on “Cazador” provides a particularly engaging moment of payoff for the album’s first half, but there’s enough variety throughout that Persona‘s Persona offers a range of satisfying moments. Still room for the band to develop their style, but they obviously have the will and chemistry to do so. Persona on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Dungaree, Climb out of the River

Dungaree Climb out of the River EP

I’ll give it to Hungarian four-piece Dungaree based on their moniker alone. It’s simple, fun to say, and it evokes the rebelliousness of a bygone time. Their debut release, a three-song EP dubbed Climb out of the River, is likewise sharp-dressed, with a grunge-style production that pushes the dudely vocals of László Gergely to the fore ahead of Horváth T. Zoltán‘s guitar, Balogh Attila‘s bass and Dencs Dominik‘s drums to result in a sound that comes across to my American ears more akin to commercial hard rock than underground heavy, though in my experience the line in Europe and particularly Eastern Europe is both less distinct and less relevant. The tracks are short, straightforward, hard-hitting and catchy, with “Climb out of the River” a strong opening hook, “Dream Again” pushing into metallic guitar chugging in its breakneck chorus, and “Right Words” toying with a lounge boogie — snapping fingers and all — that assures the listener that although Dungaree have their sharp corners, they’re not about to take themselves too seriously either. Might not be for everyone, but shows a strong foundation of songwriting, and I wouldn’t ask any more of a first outing than that. Dungaree on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Six releases, and a pretty varied bunch at that. It’s still really just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what went up to the server. I always like putting stuff on there — it’s like casting a fishing lure, except maybe without killing? I don’t know. More like tossing a fish in the ocean maybe and not knowing when it will swim by the boat again. Or maybe I just (re)watched Jaws recently and have aquatics on the brain.

Either way, we’ve passed the two-year mark since the stream went online and I’m very happy with how The Obelisk Radio has turned out. Special thanks to Slevin for all the work he’s put in over that time in helping me with hosting and making it go, and thank you as always for reading and listening.

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