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

Posted in Radio on November 2nd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk radio

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

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

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

The Obelisk Radio Adds for Nov. 2, 2015:

Sun Blood Stories, Samhain Variations

sun blood stories samhain variations

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

Zaum & Shooting Guns, Himalaya to Mesopotamia

zaum & shooting guns humalaya to mesopotamia

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

Skraeckoedlan, Sagor

skraeckoedlan sagor

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

Mount Desert, Mount Desert

mount desert mount desert

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

Merchant, Seismic

merchant seismic

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

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

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

Posted in Radio on June 5th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk radio

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

The Obelisk Radio adds for June 5, 2015:

Paradise Lost, The Plague Within

paradise lost the plague within

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

T.G. Olson, The Wandering Protagonist

t.g. olson the wandering protagonist

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

Abrams, Lust. Love. Loss.

abrams lust love loss

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

We are Oceans, Woodsmoke

We Are Oceans - Woodsmoke - cover

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

Skunk, Heavy Rock from Elder Times

skunk heavy rock from elder times

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


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

Thanks for reading and listening.

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

Posted in Radio on May 29th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk radio

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

The Obelisk Radio adds for May 29, 2015:

All Them Witches, A Sweet Release

all them witches a sweet release

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

Black Mare & Lycia, Low Crimes/Silver Leaf Split

black mare lycia split

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

Bell Witch, Four Phantoms

bell witch four phantoms

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

Lasers from Atlantis, Lasers from Atlantis

lasers from atlantis lasers from atlantis

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

Contra, Son of Beast

contra son of beast

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

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

Thanks for reading and listening.

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

Posted in Radio on April 17th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk radio

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

The Obelisk Radio adds for April 17, 2015:

Stars that Move, Demo Songs

stars that move demo songs

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

Wren and Irk, Irk | Wren Split

wren and irk irk wren split

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

Sunset in the 12th House, Mozaic

sunset in the 12th house mozaic

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

Sativa Root, Dark Days

sativa root dark days

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

Sativa Root on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

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

sonic mass all creatures strange live at the black heart

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

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

Thanks for reading and listening.

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

Posted in Radio on March 20th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk radio

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

The Obelisk Radio adds for March 20, 2015:

XII Boar, Pitworthy

xii boar pitworthy

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

Deadpeach, Old Fuzz Generation

deadpeach old fuzz generation

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

Suzukiton, Suzukiton II

suzukiton suzukiton ii

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

Torpor, From Nothing Comes Everything

torpor from nothing comes everything

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

Monsternaut, Monsternaut

monsternut monsternaut

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

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

Thanks for reading and listening.

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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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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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