Posted in Radio on December 4th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
There are a number of bands out there using the moniker Mist, or one derived from it, but the newcomer Ljubljana five-piece probably have the market for Slovenian doom sewn up. The double-guitar/standalone-vocal traditional doom outfit began in Summer 2012, and last month their two-song debut, Demo 2013, was self-released digitally and on limited CD with artwork and logo design by drummer Mihaela Žitko, who’s joined in the band by vocalist Nina Spruk, lead guitarist Nina Grizoni?, rhythm guitarist Ema Babošek and bassist Neža Pe?an, each of whom aligns to her position to prove the universal natural of doom. Anywhere you go, there’s doom. Spruk sings in English as well, and both “Phobia” and “The Living Dead” prove as accessible in their themes as in their riffs. It’s doomer’s doom for sure, but the riffs are there and the songs lock in dark atmospheres that feel dead set on classic metal adherence.
I don’t you’d call either “Phobia” or “The Living Dead” revolutionary, but they’re well done for being the fivesome’s formative work. With backing whispers from Babošek, Spruk tops a straightforward lurch plays out like half-speed Judas Priest, giving a bleak viewpoint sonically while creating a memorable impression in Grizoni?‘s lead work and the vocal delivery. Mist sound like they’re just getting their start — and indeed they are — but this brief document of their first year finds them already knowing what they want out of their doom, and touching on nuance in how the solos are integrated, such as in the second half as a first-noodling-then-bluesy lead takes over and carries “Phobia” to a feedback drenched section to which Spruk adds some final lines before a quick Saint Vitus-style noise barrage leads the A side to its finish. “The Living Dead” is more upbeat, with a stronger hook that rounds out with the line, “You are the living dead!” calling to mind any number of doomly zombie fixations, among them Scott Reagers‘, though the production has a more modern feel than persistent Vitus comparisons might lead one to believe. I guess throwing Pentagram into the mix wouldn’t help that expressing-modernity cause either, but there’s some of that as well going on in the riffing for “The Living Dead.”
As Mist continue to get their bearings on their approach to the ways and rites of doom — maybe these tracks get pressed as a 7″? — it seems only proper to have them added to the it’s-on-all-the-friggin’-time playlist of The Obelisk Radio. You can check “Phobia” and “The Living Dead” out in that stream or take a listen via the Bandcamp player below. Either way, doom on:
Posted in Radio on November 27th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
If you ever want to know the fastest way into my heart, name a song “Black Sabbath Forever in Space” and see how long it takes for me to nerd out on it. Rest assured it’ll be some record time. That most righteous of titles closes the new live set from instrumental Danish outfit Øresund Space Collective, Live at Loppen 2013-11-19, which was captured just over a week ago at the Loppen club in Christiania, Denmark, as the band was opening for Siena Root (who have a new 7″ out; man I’d like to see that band play). There are four songs, the shortest one of them is 11 minutes long, and true to Øresund Space Collective‘s jam-based ethic, there isn’t a moment of the thing that doesn’t feel like it was made up on the spot. The lineup for the evening was Nicklas and Rune on guitar, Jiri on bass, Birk on drums, and Rasmus and sometimes-Obelisk-contributor Scott “Dr. Space” Heller on synth.
The band also have a new studio album out called Organic Earthly Flotation. They’ll be playing the 2014 Freak Valley festival on May 29-31 alongside Mos Generator, Stubb, Wo Fat, Samsara Blues Experiment and many others, and Live at Loppen 2013-11-19is one of several gigs recently uploaded for free acquisition through Archive.org (check them out here). They (rightly) encourage audience taping, and as you can hear following the second of the four cuts here, “Galaxy X74W32,” even they’re surprised sometimes where their songs end up. Dr. Space introduces the lineup and gives the crowd the skinny on their approach, and in a brief moment, Øresund Space Collective are under way again. The set is half over at that point — they opened with the rich textures of “Star Search,” which is a fitting title for what’s essentially an exploration of space rock — and it’s abundantly clear that any warming up or settling in they needed to do is long since past. Though their roster of contributors changes regularly, what remains constant in Øresund Space Collective is the absolute liquidity of their jamming.
I don’t know if the Miles mentioned in “Miles, Where are You?” is in fact Miles Davis, but I’d have to believe it if you told me it was. At a meager 11:32, it’s the shortest of the jams here, but features a highlight bassline in the early going from Jiri and some impressive jazzy guitar interplay as well. Of course, the synth is more or less a constant, filling out the open spaces with brazenly psychedelic swirling and effects, making the whole sound fuller and more immersive. Things start to unravel a bit after eight minutes in, but Jiri and Birk hold the piece together until finally the drums stop and the song ends with a laugh from Heller. Perhaps unsurprisingly, “Black Sabbath Forever in Space” is the most riff-led of the inclusions from the show. Guitars start and stay at the fore for an initial stretch as the texture swells up around, soloing and riffing gradually being absorbed, leaving just the bass and drums to remind of the initial progression. Doubtless if that was the “Black Sabbath,” then what ensues is the “Forever in Space,” but the transition between the two is raw, natural and molten. At their best, Øresund Space Collective present the organic product of a creative process, and that’s just what you get with Live at Loppen 2013-11-19.
Archive.org allows for embedding players, so you can check out the release below. All told it’s a full hour of deep psychedelic hypnosis, but even in its component pieces, Øresund Space Collective manage to put the listener in a trance, and that’s precisely why I wanted to include Live at Loppenin the playlist for The Obelisk Radio. However you dig into it, either there or on the player that follows, please enjoy and space on.
Øresund Space Collective, Live at Loppen 2013-11-19
Posted in Radio on November 20th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’ve expounded at some length before about the virtues of stoner rock charm, and with nerd-tastic references to South Park and Game of Thrones and role-playing games — they bill themselves both as “turn-based” and “four-player” — Brisbane, Australia’s quadruply-zedded Lizzard Wizzard most certainly have that working in their favor. The four-piece band self-released their 37-minute self-titled debut this week, and from the Dopesmoker-esque beginnings of “Twilight of the Terminator” to the almost unfortunately catchy lurch of “Total Handjob Future” — this is not a song you want to be singing as you walk, say, through the aisles of a grocery store on a weekday afternoon — the vibes are as lighthearted as the tones are heavy. Guitarist/vocalists Michael Clarke and Nick McKeon, bassist/vocalist Stef Roselli and drummer Luke Osborne find a nod-worthy balance of humor and crushing riffs, and while something in me seriously doubts that closer “Dogs Die in Hot Cars” was titled after the Scottish indie band of the same name, the awareness of pop culture only adds to the appeal of the album.
To wit, the gang-shout chorus of “Don’t forget your towel!” cribbing Towlie lines from South Park arrives over molasses grooving in the midsection of centerpiece “Bong Dive,” and only underscores what Lizzard Wizzard‘s Lizzard Wizzardis all about: Not taking itself too seriously but still being heavy as hell. Couple that with production that’s both huge and professionally crisp, and while they might be goofing around, Lizzard Wizzard ultimately come off as having a clear understanding of what they want to do as a band and how to do it. With “Game of Cones,” a sample of someone sparking a joint (or whatever the kids are calling it these days) and inhaling echoes over feedback before an oddly familiar riff begins and introduces what turns out to be the theme song of the HBO series based on George R. R. Martin‘s fantasy books redone as doom — a heavy genre that, if I may be so bold, has been sorely lacking in dragons for some time. The screaming verse and feedback in “Chaaaaarles” mounts a palpable tension that only starts to see release once the undulating bastard of a riff gets moving, so even though Lizzard Wizzard are obviously enjoying what they’re doing, they’re also crafting well-structured and effective material.
If that song’s making a reference to something other than a band in-joke, I don’t know what it is, but with talk of an “adamantium boner” and some accusations regarding illicit trying on of blouses, it’s pretty scathing. Meanwhile, “Twilight of the Terminator” breaks out “hail Sagan” and “Dogs Die in Hot Cars” actually winds up making a threat to those who’d abuse animals — the lines “Better be good to your pooch/Or you’ll taste my fuckin’ gooch” epitomize the mindset heard throughout — and while the emphasis is clearly on riffs across the board, the lyrics are a big part of what’s making the tracks stand out from each other and from the bevvy of fuzz-worshipers across various inhabited continents, even if the chanted “bongs, bongs, bongs” makes up three of the total five words included in “Reptile Dysfunction” (six if you count “yeah”). Sometimes that’s all you need to say.
Alright, maybe I’m a sucker for wordplay and big riffs, but I know I’m not alone. All seven tracks of Lizzard Wizzard are playing now in The Obelisk Radio‘s constant, unceasing stream, and you can hear them there and check out the album and grab a free download courtesy of the Bandcamp player below. However you go, go Sagan:
Posted in Radio on November 13th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’ve taken to giving London stoner rockers Strauss a two-syllable pronunciation for their name. As Stra-uss, the five-piece seem to revel all the more in the Kyuss influence that shows itself within the tones of their self-titled and self-released debut EP. A collection of six tracks that mostly hover around either side of five-minutes long — the exception, “Trigger,” is 6:30 — Strauss‘ Strauss is in deep with the aforementioned desert rock godfathers, the guitars of Charles and Nano owing both tone and riff construction to Blues for the Red Sun‘s blend of garage fuckall and distorted weight. Bassist Bill gets in on the action as well, particularly with his fills winding around the leads of “Trapped Outside,” but there’s also a metallic edge to what Strauss do on their first outing, and “March of One” showcases a more aggressive sway.
The vocals of Stef Sacchetto will be a point of contention for many listeners. While Charles, Nano, Bill and drummer Doc seem set in their sand-hued approach, Sacchetto comes across less sure sonically, whether it’s on “March of One” or opener “Burning Sky.” Mostly rhythmic, there are touches of melody following the riffs, but it’s a punkish take that seems to be waiting for the rest of the band to take on an anger that never comes. I’m not going to rip into somebody figuring out their stylistic niche on what’s been alternately billed as a debut EP and as a demo, but the disjointed vibe never quite evens out by the end of closer “Stop, Pause and Play,” which musically offers some of Strauss‘ most engaging material, working in a laid back exploration atop a solid drum line that moves outside some of the expected desert rock convention and winds up the stretch of the EP that shows the most promise overall, including from Sacchetto, who sounds more confident both in the earlier, quieter going and as he lets out a few screams on either side of the three-minute mark, prior to a jazzy interlude and a finale of forceful riffing.
If he’s a screamer, then I would say scream. Trend has moved away from abrasive vocals for the last five-plus years, but one, who cares?, and two, even if it’s a basis to start from in developing his own cleaner approach, it might at least help the comfort factor in the band’s early going. Either way, Straussshows the group have a steady grasp on desert tones, and as London’s got a bit of a stoner boom going these days, there exists in their method a potential to stand themselves out from the crowd. You can check out Strauss as part of the 24/7 stream on The Obelisk Radio now, or grab yourself a fancypants free download from the player below, carefully lifted from their Bandcamp page. In any case, enjoy:
Posted in Radio on November 7th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
As heavy ’70s loyal as the sound of Mountain Witch (not to be confused with Witch Mountain) is, one would almost expect the band to make their home in Sweden, but the three-piece hail from Germany and release their second LP, Cold River, on This Charming Man Records. Shades of earliest Witchcraft show up on “Ancient Light” and “School of Night” pays off with Electric Wizard levels of fuzzy lumber, and while the chugging swing of “The Covey” is easily traced to “Children of the Grave” — something I view as a definite positive — where Mountain Witch really win favor is in their tones and in the album’s overall presentation. A vinyl-ready 39 minutes, with an evenly split eight tracks, one could argue its style is retro, but really it seems like the trio of guitarist/vocalist RenéSitte, bassist Tobert Knopp and drummer/vocalist René Roggmann are focused on cave echo more than on trying to seem like they walked into the studio right after Sir Lord Baltimore left.
That serves them well across Cold River, which feels unpretentious and even lighthearted as the rolling groove of second cut “Shrubbery the Warlock” unfurls, though the mood throughout remains set to perma-doom. It’s easy to imagine that the warm distortion in Sitte‘s guitar is all the more prevalent on the vinyl version of the album, but even digitally, the record sounds natural and not at all short on charm, delving into the occasional fit of noise to offset some of the other vaguely minimal aspects of its style. “Ancient Light” starts at a crawl and seems at first like it’s going to stay that way, but while there’s more of a focus on flow and riffs and low end depth than on-a-dime changes, Mountain Witch remain conscious of putting a build into their tracks, and “Ancient Light” shifts smoothly into a payoff section of faster chugging before returning to its lurch, Roggmann keeping the momentum going over “War Pigs” holdouts in understated but appropriate fills.
Most of the moves the Hamburg outfit make throughout Cold Rivershould be familiar enough to experienced listeners that there will be little problem accessing their methods, right down to the air-pushing bass that rests under the layered guitar solo in “School of Night” and the vocals that reach up from the recesses of the mix on the closing title-track, giving a sweet, hungover sensibility to its first stretch, from which it launches into a standout riff and ends the album on a resoundingly smooth back and forth that in itself is a summation of what Mountain Witch do so well with their sophomore outing — creating an atmosphere that draws you in and carries you on the waves of its tones. Whatever aspects of its sound might be recognizable, Cold River makes use of these elements in a way that distinguishes Mountain Witch as bending their influences to their own purposes, and it’s a take on doom that warrants hearing.
You can check out Mountain Witch‘s Cold Rivernow as part of the regular playlist on The Obelisk Radio and get a sample from the Bandcamp player below. Enjoy:
Posted in Radio on October 31st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Judging an album by its cover, I expected the self-titled debut full-length from Argentinian trio Los Asteroide to explore a heavy psych subtlety à la the post-Colour Haze European sphere. Indeed, there are parts of the instrumental, self-released, nine-track outing that do precisely that — songs like “Rockamuchacha” and the peaceful “El Traición” are at least in part peacefully, serenely noodled and echoing with that particular brand of tonal warmth — but Los Asteroide‘s Los Asteroideisn’t solely indebted to the influence of European heavy psych, and some of the album’s most memorable stretches arrive when the three piece of guitarist Lucas Veccio, bassist Mariano Cerbasi and drummer Alan Mikkelsen lock into a particularly driving groove, like that which emerges in the midsection of 13-minute opener “Houston Tenemos un Problema” (following a long sample of NASA radio chatter) or the later early Queens of the Stone Age-style bounce of “B-612.”
And though it has its quieter moments, it’s more in those starts and stops and takeoff grooves that Los Asteroide establish their sound on their first record, which follows an EP released in 2012. The extended opening track is the longest included (immediate points), but “Lazer” and the wah buildup of “Noveno Mandamiento” showcase no less character on the part of the band, and while a lot of what they do will be familiar or at least accessible to heavy psych heads, has Mikkelsen announces the arrival of the next rolling push with a quick snare fill in “Noveno Mandamiento,” that familiarity doesn’t detract from the appeal. If anything, in context, it makes Los Asteroide all the more a varied act, since they’re no less fluid on the denser riffing of closer “Diez Vikingos” than the earlier, more loosely-packed “Chiva Cosmica,” which has the sizable task of bringing listeners back to reality after the enduring hypnosis of “Houston Tenemos un Problema.”
True, that hypnosis might be all the more prevalent if Los Asteroide (not to be confused with the Swedish trio Asteroid) were to settle some in their sound and dial back some of the rush of “Lazer” or the quick changes in the cowbell-inclusive “Vuelos Espaciales,” but I’m not about to criticize them for what it is that ultimately gives their debut its personality just because the record was something other than what I anticipated when I first checked it out, particularly when a cut like “El Traición” still offers plenty of sunshine in which to bask. Wherever they take their sound — or, depending on how much their approach relies on jamming, wherever their sound takes them — Los Asteroide have a burgeoning stylistic blend at work and I’m glad to have been able to add their first album to The Obelisk Radio.
You can check out Los Asteroidethere in regular rotation as part of the 24/7 stream, or get a taste on the Bandcamp player below. Either way, enjoy:
Posted in Radio on October 23rd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
My feeble mind can rarely conceive of heavy rock from Copenhagen without getting at least a flash of the 13th Floor Elevators-style chicanery of Baby Woodrose, but newcomer trio Doublestone are on a different trip. Their Levitation Records debut full-length, Wingmakers, follows three EPs and was recorded earlier this year by none other than Mos Generator guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed. While that tells me the 10-track/41-minute collection must have been put to tape in a decent hurry, since presumably Reed was on tour at the time — unless he did it after the shows were over — the album hardly sounds rushed, instead working at a comfortable pace to capitalize on heavy ’70s and heavy ’10s influences alike.
Expectedly, shades of Graveyard show up in the boogie of “In the Forest” or the shuffling and catchy “Fire Down Below,” but Doublestone have a kind of pagan lyrical thematic in that song and others like “Born under a Hollow Moon,” “The Bringer of Light,” “Witch is Burning” and closer “III III III (Götterdämmerung)” that sets them apart, and with Reed at the helm, the production on Wingmakers is warm but hardly retro. Opener “Save Our Souls” sets an immediately modern mood with talk in its first lines of drones and satellites, so however derived the rush might be, there’s some subtle contextualizing at work that finds Doublestone working to develop their own sound within the genre.
“The Endless Line” and the smooth low end of “Born under a Hollow Moon” seem to be begging for swagger from guitarist/vocalist Bo Blond, bassist Kristian Blond and drummer Michael Bruun, but the swinging roots are there and both those tracks and the rest groove well alongside the periodic inclusion of organ, which gives Wingmakersa tie to cult rock as well as to the classic heavy modus they’re in part working from. They have some growing to do, but the album sounds engaging and full, particularly as the title-track and side A closer picks up with tonally rich nod en route to a solo both classy in itself and not backed by needless rhythm tracks, keeping to a robust live feel.
Could it be the birth of cult boogie? Seems unlikely, but I wouldn’t conjecture either way. Most importantly, Doublestone give a solid first long-play showing, and set themselves up as having a deceptively individual take to work from their next time out. It would hardly be fair to ask more of Wingmakersthan that, except maybe some explanation of what the title means.
Whatever the answer to that might be, you can hear Doublestone now as part of the streaming The Obelisk Radio playlist, and get a feel for what they’ve got going on with “In the Forest” below. Wingmakersis out Nov. 6 on Levitation Records. Enjoy:
Doublestone, “In the Forest” from Wingmakers (2013)
Posted in Radio on October 17th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
They may or may not have pared down to a trio since, but it appears that for the bulk of their short tenure, Richmond, Virginia’s Sinister Haze were fronted by Brandon Malone, also of Fire Faithful. He’s not listed as being in the band now — the current lineup given is guitarist/vocalist Brandon Marcey (Cough), bassist Sam Marsh (Dry Spell) and drummer Joe Dillon (Balaclava) — but Malone‘s low, Southern metal soul delivery definitely has left a mark on Sinister Haze‘s aptly-titled 2013 Demo, whether it’s the bluesy Church of Misery-style swagger of “Changin’ Ways” or the loose Electric Wizard affiliation shown through the nine-minute “Black Shapeless Demon.” Marcey‘s own vocals are mostly screams that come forward more on the shorter “Betrayed by Time,” which closes out the three-song affair, but there are times especially on the first two tracks when it’s pretty clear there are two voices working in tandem, and presumably that’s a result of Malone and Marcey both contributing, not just different layers on the Griffin IV-recorded CD and tape, which is set for release through Unholy Anarchy Records in time for the band’s headlining gig at the first night of this year’s Autumn Screams Doom at The Ottobar in Baltimore, Oct. 25.
If it seems strange that a band just putting out their first demo of whom there seems to be no record going back any further than the start of 2013 would be playing last for the night at a fest that also features Negative Reaction, Weed is Weed, Iron Man, Wizard Eye and Serpent Throne — all of whom have been around considerably longer and are not without pedigree of their own in varying degrees — one might chalk it up to the immediately recognizable and acknowledged Saint Vitus influence in Marcey‘s guitar, delivered in kind with Dillon‘s bombastic crash. Or hell, maybe they know someone. Point is it’s a fucking quality demo, full of Southern grit without the post-Down dudely posturing, and raw and fucked-up sounding without making a lo-fi caricature of garage doom. “Black Shapeless Demon” is probably my pick of the three cuts here, but “Betrayed by Time” has a creeper catchiness to it that begs for repeat listens and even “Changin’ Ways” makes a hook out of its chorus, as oddly dismantled as it might seem. If nothing else, they make it apparent that their interest in fucking around is slim to none.
And with the prospect of what could be a different configuration that’ll either position Marcey as the frontman or bring someone else into the band to replace Malone, there’s even more intrigue for Sinister Haze as they move past their Demo, but most importantly for their first time out, these songs are heavy as hell and show Sinister Haze as being more than able to take the reins on a drunken sludge lurch. Always a welcome find, and bonus if it leads to further distorted misanthropy down the road.
You can hear Sinister Haze‘s Demonow streaming as part of the 24/seven The Obelisk Radio playlist, or check it out on the Bandcamp player below:
Posted in Radio on October 9th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
By no means do I want to imply that a straightedge post-metal band from Central Mexico is the thing you’re least likely to encounter in a given day, but Akûma are the first I’ve come across. The Morelia four-piece made their debut on Magnetic Eye Records last year with their Fearless JohnEP, and they follow it up with their sophomore full-length, For the Beloved Bones, tapping into atmospheric influences from an array of sources, pulling elements from Neurosis, Cult of Luna, Mastodon, some black metal, some post-hardcore destructiveness, and set it to inhumane tonality weighted enough to turn those beloved bones into beloved powder. That they don’t drink or do drugs, whoopie, I don’t really care. They’re heavy as fuck and that’s the part that matters.
Shades of High on Fire-style thrashing show up on “Peach” and the bonus track “MM/Mx,” but on the whole, Akûma seem to be more concerned with apocalyptic aural oppression and atmospheric densities. In the realm of post-metal, there are bands who sound like Isis and there are bands who don’t. Akûma don’t, and as a comparison point, the lonely echoing guitar on “Avalon” reminds me more of the latest Beast in the Field than anything else, setting an open-sky ambience that comes crashing down with the subsequent “Exiled Sons of Eve,” a gang-shouted paean to aggressive songcraft that finds surprising resolution in post-rock melodic soloing. Doomed more in mood than method, For the Beloved Bones puts just enough of an individualized twist on familiar elements to emerge sounding fresh, and whether it’s the acoustic centerpiece “Amongst the Vessels” or the tense build of “Tombs” into album-proper closer “Koyaanisqatsi,” Akûma‘s double-guitar blasts do well in leaving a metallic taste that comes with little sense of posturing.
Songs vary in approach and six out of the 11 on the 36-minute offering are instrumental, so as much as Akûma seem geared toward endtime tales, their priority remains the music itself. Their first album was 2010′s Invocations on theStorm, which was instrumental to an even higher ratio, so one is led to think that maybe they’re adapting themselves over time to a vocalized approach. If that’s what they’re working toward on For the Beloved Bones, the album isn’t any weaker for being a step in an ongoing progression, and if anything, it’s a sign of further heaviness to come. Cuts like the raging “Olas de Sangre” and maddening intro “According to the Currents” probably aren’t going to change your opinion one way or another on post-metal, but as Akûma continue to hammer out their sound, it’s clear they’re working from a strong base of varied influences.
Posted in Radio on October 2nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
It shouldn’t come as too much of a shock that newcomer Swedish trio Phant, who formed late in 2012, would draw some measure of influence from the more beastly reams of metal on their debut EP, The Octophant Pt. 1, but it’s what they do with the influence that makes the four-song release such a fascinating listen. Sure, yeah, they’ve got an octopus combined with an elephant in some Sci-Fi Channel-esque horror, and big riffs and thick tones pervade from guitarist Anton Berglind and bassist Jesper Sundström set to grand crash from Elias Sundberg, but with loosely post-metallic vocal tradeoffs from Berglind and Sundström (shades of Godflesh early on) that accompany heavy rock groove on “Odyssey” and the ambient, 11-minute “Cúrsa Imbhualadh” which follows, Phant show some sonic diversity on their premiere outing that finds them less adherent to genre than it at first seems. Or at very least, less adherent to one side of that genre or another.
Over the course of the four tracks on The Octophant Pt. 1, the three-piece run a gamut of aggression, and while it’s not necessarily the scope of the release that makes it so impressive — though they’re dynamic and that’s generally better than the alternative — it’s the fluidity of their shifts that impresses, particularly from a new band. Whether it’s a second layer of heavier guitar kicking in on “End of Daonnachta,” the blown-out stomp that arises as that song hits its lumbering apex, or the strange, apocalyptic and foreboding ending the samples in “Outro Pt. 1″ give as they finish the release — possibly giving some hint at what the next installment of The Octophant might hold –Phant are able to create a flow within and between their songs that, if it’s a sign of things to come in terms of their songwriting, bodes remarkably well.
Still, whatever nuance they do or don’t bring to the style as a new band, there’s little question the EP’s strengths lie in Phant‘s aural heft. Maybe it’ll seem like a contradiction, then, that “Cúrsa Imbhualadh” should be the standout moment, but frankly, with a linear build playing out over the course of 11:23, there was little doubt it was going to be. As they continue to develop a sense of patience, I wouldn’t be surprised to find more of the airy heavy psych/post-rock guitar at the fore, but especially as a first release, The Octophant Pt. 1demonstrates ambition and a hold on aesthetic, and I’m not about to ask more of it than that. I’ll be interested to hear where Pt. 2takes them.
Phant‘s The Octophant Pt. 1is now streaming as part of the playlist for The Obelisk Radio. You can hear it there or grab a free download off the Bandcamp player below.
Posted in Radio on September 25th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Propelled by languid fuckall and bolstered by a lysergic drawl to rival that of Dead Meadow, Chicago trio Viper Fever make a lo-fi debut in the form of their Super Heavy Garage EP. They’ve been a band less than a year at this point, but have worked quickly and have a couple tours already under their belt. If the songs on the Super Heavy Garage EP– “Summer Time,” “Woman” and “You’re on Fire” — are anything to go by, a barebones approach is at the heart of what they do, but with tone to satisfy and attitude-drenched swagger, the first-name-only trio of guitarist/vocalist Tim, bassist Dan and drummer/organist Mark seem to have a good idea early on of how to get the most out of their relatively minimalist style. “Garage” should be a clue in the title of the EP.
Don’t forget the “super heavy” either, though. The three-piece may yet prove to just be getting their shit together stylistically, but whether it’s the faster, lead-driven riffing of “Summer Time” or Witch-style stoner drench of “Woman,” they manage to hone songs that are memorable in themselves and which hit with a decent impact. I don’t know what they recorded on, but organ is layered in with drums in the midsection of “Summer Time,” so I’d doubt it’s completely live — Mark also plays some fills at that point that would make it more or less impossible — but it sounds close enough, and with Tim‘s voice up front in the mix and heavily reverbed, they sound practice-room natural and no sloppier than seems to be the intent.
“Woman” has probably the strongest hook in its chorus, but is even more marked out by the downshift in pace from the EP’s opener. Dan offers some standout bass work alongside Tim‘s guitar, only furthering the laid back groove, and while it’s not a huge, consuming wall of fuzz, it’s certainly enough to get the chillout across. I’d swear I can hear a tape click off at the end of it. To finish out, “You’re on Fire” comes on with bigger crash, but Tim keeps the same nasal inflection in his vocals and the song winds up with a kind of intense loiter, restless but going nowhere — a perfect execution of patient fuzz delivered with a punkish spirit behind in the tradition of The Stooges and any number of their minions. The sway in “You’re on Fire” comes to a conclusion not with a big rock finish or long fade, but with the band simply stopping, underlining their garage roots and keep-it-simple ethic.
Since the whole Super Heavy Garage EPis only about 10 minutes long, it’s probably fair to assume Viper Fever are holding more cards than they’re showing in terms of their sound, but especially if they keep touring, it’s easy to think that the aesthetic they’ve begun to construct could quickly become their own. As it is, the Super Heavy Garage EPis fodder for any limited 7″ or tapes or whathaveyou in addition to the CD the band has put out through their own Fuzz Daddy Records, and serves as a solid announcement of their arrival as their work gets underway. I’m glad to have them added to The Obelisk Radio.
You can hear Viper Fever‘s Super Heavy Garage EPnow as part of the playlist streaming live 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and snag yourself a CD or free download through the Viper Fever Bandcamp:
Posted in Radio on September 18th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Anyone can make a demo, and I think at this point most people have. Hailing from Pamiers in Southern France, the classic heavy rocking four-piece DoctoR DooM emerge from what I can only assume is some sort of secret Reed-Richards-hating lair with their first DoomO, which — you guessed it — is a demo of doom. Three songs, a bit over 17 riff-led minutes that’s solid if bolstered by its familiarity, and an unpretentious approach to what at this point has become a genuine retro-minded subgenre of heavy rock. For their part, though DoctoR DooM dabble in Graveyard-isms on the closing and fittingly-enough titled “Stuck in the Past,” but come off at very least showing the intent of forming their own sound, and ambitious as it is in its name, I wouldn’t ask much more of DoomOthan that.
Rising from silence with feedback to establish natural low-end fuzz at its beginning, opener “The Sun” starts out foreboding with a sample about dying with a sword in hand from 1999′s The 13th Warrior, but winds up much friendlier than the start portends, with a riff that gives friendly jabs reminiscent of any number of heavy ’70s pushers and the smooth vocals of guitarist JL Pasquet, joined in the four-piece by guitarist J Delattre, bassist S Boutin Blomfield and drummer M Marcq. The swagger is readily on display, and Blomfield adds keys to the second half of the song, giving some complexity before a brief progressive run emerges before the ending chorus. Keys are more constant in the longer “Relax You’re Dead” — which clocks in at 7:16 where the opener and “Stuck in the Past” each hover on either side of five minutes — albeit low in the mix, and a bluesier vibe pervades with a more memorable hook in the chorus and a series of hits and stops that gives way to ballsy dual-leads from Delattre and Pasquet. It’s not anything that’s never been done before, but it makes even more sense with the instrumental jam that caps — led into by a couple guttural “ooh”s and a channel-panning far-back scream — fading to acoustic guitar at the end after more solo/organ antics.
If “Relax You’re Dead” is DoctoR DooM at their most engaging, and I’d argue it is right up to the Eagles tonality of the unplugged section, then “Stuck in the Past” is them at their most stylistically cohesive. Pasquet pushes himself more vocally, and they hint at development of an effective mid-paced swing and match it with an even more blues-infused lead than that of the track preceding — the keys not quiet matching the energy level of the guitar but coming along for the ride anyway — leaving a positive impression for what they might do moving ahead of this batch of songs. I’m not sure how the DoomOartwork, which shows vinyl covers for Graveyard and Coven and a novelty bottle of TruBlood poured into a Duvel glass — perhaps the band’s statement of how seriously cult rock should be taken? — plays into the release overall, but the four-piece has plenty of time to figure out that kind of thing and the rest of it.
For now, their DoomOshows DoctoR DooM as having some potential to grow into their own, and I’m glad to add it to The Obelisk Radio. You can hear it now as part of the regular, streaming-all-the-damn-time playlist, and snag a free download from the Bandcamp player below:
Posted in Radio on September 12th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
On the surface, there probably isn’t much about the Swedish four-piece Dront. If I told you they were a new band from Norrköping with a debut demo out that had some vague Graveyard influence, you’d probably punch me in the stomach and say, “So’s everyone, jerk! Now find me something new!” And that’s fair enough. One way or another, I’d probably have it coming. Still, the Norrköping four-piece, who make their self-released debut with the brief OzymandiasEP — three tracks/nine minutes — avoid the trap of retro rock, instead working in influences from punk and thrash to get a garage-type sound that holds a basis in heavy rock, but is bolstered by a gritty edge that most who embark on the mission of analog worship wouldn’t touch.
Again, Ozymandiasprovides just a small, quick sample, but Dront – guitarist/vocalist Rikard, guitarist William, bassist Therese and drummer Kim — display a nascent songwriting prowess and a deceptively firm grasp on where they want to go as a band. The tones are gnarly, the ideas hardly progressive, but the groove is there as “Afraid to Die” kicks in, and formative as the song is, there’s more melody to it than many would dare include. I don’t know if Dront is the first band for these players, but the bassline after the chorus reminds some of a dirtier Dozer, and the fact that already their songs are so lean — no extras, no frills — speaks well of the genuine nature of their punk influence. They keep it raw. Ozymandias‘ title-track is the highlight of the bunch, reminding directly of the Misfits at their proto-punk best, all brash arrogance and innate shuffle. A slowdown that’s almost eaten alive by cymbal wash gives “Ozymandias” some more nuance than “Afraid to Die,” with an airy guitar lead that nods for just the briefest moment at post-rock before the rush begins anew.
That they’d return to that faster progression instead of just jamming the track to a messy finish says something of their songwriting intent, and even if it’s structured, the vibe is still pretty swinging and loose. Closing out, “Aquatic” is even messier sounding, but ultimately more precise. Vocals are loud in the chorus as they’ve been the whole time, but the rawness of the song, the bass tone and the way the guitar solo cuts through make it an intriguing listen all the same, and for being a minute longer than other of the other two — the closer is a sprawling 3:45 — it doesn’t feel any more inflated than its companion tracks. “Aquatic” ends and the demo ends with an unpretentious final crash, and though it’s clear Dront have growing to do in terms of hammering out their approach and finding the balance between crispness of songwriting and primitiveness of aesthetic, their first outing at least makes that project seem like it would be worth undertaking. I wouldn’t ask anything else of a first demo.
Hear Ozyandiasnow as part of The Obelisk Radio‘s regular rotation playlist, streaming 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or if you’d like a more direct showcase, give it a stream on the player below, snagged from the Dront Bandcamp:
Posted in Radio on September 4th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
In science, the “decline effect” refers to once-supported claims or theories being seen as less true over time. Louisville, Kentucky, sludge punkers The Decline Effect take that notion and, on their self-titled 28:48 Records debut LP, make the obvious philosophical leap with it: What was true before is not true now, and vice versa. Or at very least that that’s where we’re headed. Melt that down in a hot vat of frill-less hardcore punk and riff-led fuckall, and The Decline Effect‘s The Decline Effectgradually begins to take shape, songs like the opener “Swine,” “Drone” and “Superstructure” metering out frustrations to whatever ears will be so bold as to listen.
Along with exploring the long-since-consummated unions between rock and punk and between punk and politics, the 29 minutes of The Decline Effectfinds nuance in moments like the Iron Maiden-gone-garage opening progression of “I.N.S.” and the catchy proto-grunge of “Serpent to Slay.” Some might recognize vocalist “Dirty” Dave Johnson from his work in Louisville heavy rockers The Glasspack, though as he’s partnered here with guitarist Mark Abromavage (ex-Kinghorse), bassist Chris Abromavage and drummer Jae Brown, the resulting style across these nine songs is far less blues-based. Rawer and meaner, The Decline Effect backs up its attitude with high-efficiency thrust, the insistent sneer of “Divide and Conquer” meeting groovier contrast in the slower “Bulletproof,” which gives the bass more space to shine through the raw but not underproduced mix.
“Drone” touches on melody with vocal layering but ultimately runs it over with a motoring riff. That’s not The Decline Effect‘s trip anyway. They keep to the pummel, do it well and do it quick, and are in and out smartly in under half an hour. I don’t know if it’s an album to incite a riot, but there aren’t many who pull of grown-up punk this well without sounding either redundant or exhausted. The anger on the catchy “Sleeping Giant” feels genuine, and closer “Bodies” shows some emerging dynamic in tempo shifts that ties the record together surprisingly neatly considering how jagged parts of it can be.
28:48 has The Decline Effectout in a couple different vinyl versions, and you can hear it now in rotation on The Obelisk Radio‘s ever-expanding playlist, as well as get a taste and/or buy a download from the Bandcamp player below:
Posted in Radio on August 28th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
The story goes that Buenos Aires-based desert rockers Picaporters recorded their apparently-self-released, apparently-debut full-length, Elefantes, live over the course of two days in March 2013, and I’ll admit that I don’t know much more about them than that. Their sound is heavy, full of swing and ultimately geared toward a brilliantly effective laid back atmosphere, but as to their origins, how the trio of Juan Pablo Herrera (bass), Lucas Barrué (guitar) and Juan Pablo Vázquez (drums) got together (they seem to have lost a member or two along the way), if in fact Elefantesis their debut album, or even if it’s been or will be pressed physically, it’s as yet a mystery. All that leaves, then, is the music.
And to that, I’ll say I broke one of my own rules when it comes to Elefantes. An email came in from the band with little more than, “Hey, listen to our record here’s the Bandcamp link,” and where nine times out of 10, that note gets little more effort in a response than that which was put into the initial contact — i.e., next to none — I checked out Picaporters on a whim and was immediately consumed by the slow unfurling of 11:40 album opener “Hijo de Gaia,” which captures an in-the-studio vibe that still manages to be so relaxed that I couldn’t help but go with it. Some stuff just grabs you. Moments of burst early on do little justice to the flow the band creates, and though they’ll soon enough get up to some grunge-type riffing in the first half of “Idea RAM,” throughout “Hijo de Gaia” and “Emergiendo en Ondas,” a heavy psych groove pervades and sets a calming, engaging tone for the rest of Elefantes to come. “Idea RAM” winds up blending its early-’90s rush with effective jamming explorations, with sets up cool ’70s feel of “Lluvia de Metal,” the beginning of what seems to be a trilogy with “Sol de Metal” and “Eclipse de Metal” to follow. The bass emerges here with standout fills amid airier guitar lines and bouts of reinterpreted Sabbath-meets-Graveyard groove, vocals staying collected throughout en route to an echoing blues solo. The “de Metal” portion might be some of Elefantes‘ most effective material, but really it’s just one portion of the record’s diverse and universally switched-on course.
“Lluvia de Metal” finishes out with a touch of boogie built around quick rhythmic turns, and “Sol de Metal” picks up from silence to spend its first two minutes or so in humble desert guitar exploration before a heavier rock riff breaks down the door and pushes forth with significant thrust. A change in the vocal approach finds Picaporters tapping into echo that reminds of earliest Jesu – could be coincidence, could be on purpose — even as they hit on a relatively straightforward progression. That contrast makes the Elefantes centerpiece all the more intriguing, but as it becomes increasingly clear throughout, the real highlight moments are to be found in the instrumental interplay between the band members and the overall mood of the songs themselves — not dark, not pretentious, not trying too hard to fit with genre. The solo on “Sol de Metal” is almost too active to pair with the longer-held vocals that precede it, but it’s a minor gripe and the band soon breaks to bass and drums to reset the jam for what seems like a more fitting, improvised build before they fade back into the soft guitar line that opened the song for an unexpected show of symmetry. Though it’s less than half the length of its predecessor at 3:10, “Eclipse de Metal” ends the sequence fading up to find Picaporters in medias res on another warm instrumental excursion, the guitar wandering around lead lines while the bass and drums hold together a straightforward, classically heavy groove that seems to be in direct conversation with that of “Lluvia de Metal.” Seems only fitting.
Gradually, they fade “Eclipse de Metal” back to the silence from whence it came — another show of symmetry that gives a “slice of life” touch to the song — and shift course to the sweetly Hendrixian “Alternative Girl.” Also instrumental, it feels like the beginning process of what might’ve come out on the other end as a complete, structured song, but here winds up being an unabashedly pretty stretch that of course finds contrast to its brief two-minute pulse with the brash heavy rock return of “Amantes Instantes.” With Elefantes‘ most insistent heavy groove, the penultimate track stretches over eight minutes and meets early verse/chorus tradeoffs with a solo-led jam that, among other things, also accounts for the best basswork on the album. A sudden break after three minutes in is a surprise, but the bass leads the rebuilding process and just past minute four, they surge to life again, dynamic and with multiple layers of vocals where everything else seemed to be singularly delivered. Crashes and stops add a sense of chaos, and they break again, with soft vocals over quietly plucked guitars. This time, when they return with just about two minutes left, it’s with a slower, more low-end-driven part, pushed along, it would seem in its own miniature ebbs and flows.
How else to end such a thing but with a raging thrash breakdown in the last 30 seconds? “Amantes Instantes” is one of those songs that has more twists to it than some other bands’ whole albums, and it was clearly intended to be the culmination of Elefantes since what follows is a cover of Led Zeppelin‘s “Rock and Roll” that presents the Led Zeppelin IVsingle as a handclap-inclusive blues stomper, complete with jangly shuffle, soulful solo, drum breaks and repurposed “ooh yeah”s that groove the record out with a lighthearted sense that’s not quite a return to the unassuming start that “Hijo de Gaia” provided, but is nowhere near as severe as it would’ve been had they closed with “Amantes Instantes.” The whole album is available for free download through Picaporters‘ Bandcamp, and though they’re not exactly forthcoming on their backstory, sometimes the music does all the speaking that really needs to be done. However long they’ve been around, whether it’s two years or 10, Elefantesimpresses with its cohesiveness, natural vibe and shifts in tone.
You can hear it now as part of the regular playist for The Obelisk Radio and stream it on the player below: