The Obelisk Radio Adds: Ides of Gemini, Michael Rudolph Cummings, Witch Charmer, Kikagaku Moyo, Spindrift

Posted in Radio on August 15th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

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It’s a pretty wide stylistic swath with this week’s adds to The Obelisk Radio, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. If you check out the playlists for the last couple days, you’ll see a considerable variety of track picked out — also a lot of Clutch – and that only bolsters the appeal of the stream as far as I’m concerned. Straight-up riffs all the time is cool, I guess, but sometimes a left turn out of nowhere can make your whole day seem richer. Maybe that’s what I’m going for with this week’s picks. Either way, it’s a lot of quality, so your tuning in is appreciated.

The Obelisk Radio Adds for Aug. 15, 2014:

Ides of Gemini, Old World/New Wave

ides of gemini old world new wave

The Sera Timms-fronted three-piece return with Old World/New Wave, their second album on Neurot Recordings with a suitable foll0w-up collection of otherworldly melodies and ethereal instrumental explorations, setting a balance between doomly undulation and minimalist ambience. Also handling bass, Timms (ex-Black Math Horseman) is of course in command of her form vocally, and guitarist J. Bennett and drummer/backing vocalist Kelly Johnston play more than a complementary role, the trio functioning even tighter than on their 2012 debut, Constantinople, hitting on psychedelic mastery with “White Hart” and rolling out a classic riffly chug on the later “Fememorde.” Mood and ambience are never far from being the central focus, but Ides of Gemini let loose a bit on “The Chalice and the Blade,” with Bennett‘s guitar taking forward position in the mix with an echoing lead tone that seems to be in direct conversation with Timms‘ vocals. It’s a dialog worth hearing, and one that makes Old World/New Wave a markedly rich, immersive listening experience, the spaces the three-piece create in their songs seeming inevitably destined for headphone-on isolation, and in that context, flourishing. Ides of Gemini on Thee Facebooks, Neurot Recordings.

Michael Rudolph Cummings, “Long Haul”

A single following the earlier-2014 solo release, Get Low, from Pennsylvania-based Backwoods Payback guitarist/vocalist Michael Rudolph Cummings, the new song “Long Haul” finds Cummings partnered with his Backwoods bandmate Jessica Baker (bass), as well as guitarists Dan Metzker and Pat Shannon and drummer/vocalist Mike Bardzik under the adopted moniker mRc and the Souvenirs. The feel of the track is accordingly full-band, casting off most of the punk influence and heavy tonality that distinguishes Backwoods Payback‘s riff-led take in favor of warmer, classic rock vibing. Cummings‘ voice is suited to the change, and especially following Get Low, “Long Haul” feels like an exploration in progress — new ground being felt out — and I’d argue it’s successful in its push toward creating something distinct from Cummings‘ other solo work and the Backwoods itself. He’s reportedly got an EP coming with The Souvenirs, and as a first taste of what that might sound like, “Long Haul” holds promise of good things to come. Michael Rudolph Cummings on Bandcamp, Backwoods Payback on Twitter.

Kikagaku Moyo, Mammatus Clouds

Improvisational five-piece Kikagaku Moyo are obviously comfortable working in longer forms. The Tokyo outfit’s second offering, Mammatus Clouds, was initially released as limited tape through Sky Lantern Records and has been picked up by Cardinal Fuzz for a deluxe 2LP. No real question why — its three tracks, “Pond” (27:50), “Never Know” (16:50) and “There is No Other Place” (3:19), enact a lush wash of hypnotic, sitar-laced psychedelia. “Pond” is especially satisfying in its exploration, drones and melodies playing out over a consistent rhythmic bed, driving further and further out into ambient breaks and louder payoffs until dropping out to spacious waves of noise, but I won’t discount the appeal of realizing that Kikagaku Moyo are playing off The Beatles‘ “Tomorrow Never Knows” in their own “Never Know” either, taking a recognizable sitar line and burying it deep within their own impulses, truly making an individualized work of it. Likewise, the closer “There is No Other Place” comes as a surprise, an effects-drenched psych rocker quick in its pulse and building to Mammatus Clouds‘ noisy conclusion. The sound here is richer than the average heavy jam, and the effectiveness of the ambience is not to be understated. I haven’t heard the vinyl or the tape, but I have a hard time imagining a format on which this music isn’t absolutely beautiful. Kikagaku Moyo on Thee Facebooks, Cardinal Fuzz webstore, Sky Lantern Records on Bandcamp.

Witch Charmer, The Great Depression

Multi-vocalist UK bruiser doomers Witch Charmer debut on Argonauta Records with The Great Depression, the follow-up first full-length to their 2013 Euphoric Curse EP. Mixed and mastered as that release was by Mos Generator‘s Tony ReedThe Great Depression works well to establish a varied if not necessarily stylistically diverse sound, frontwoman Kate McKeown, guitarists Len Lennox and Adam Clarke and drummer Dave McQuillan all contributing vocals — the band is completed by bassist Richard Maher — over dense and accordingly depressive riffing. I’m not sure which of them does the Kirk Windstein-style growls, but they’re pretty dead on, as “A Watching of Wolves” will attest, and the tradeoffs both keep the record moving and keep a sense of spontaneity to coincide with the rolling riffs and longer arrangements, leading to the extended closer “Stare into the Sun,” which hides a sample-topped acoustic outro. Not sure why they’d feel the need to bury those impulses, but their first outing may be setting the stage for an unfolding creative progression, and cohesive as it is, I’m not going to knock it for solid riffs front to back and a doomed-out feel. Witch Charmer on Thee Facebooks, Argonauta Records.

Spindrift, Exotic Detonation EP

Underrated cowboy psych outfit Spindrift — now featuring guitarist Thomas Bellier of Blaak Heat Shujaa — apparently had some material leftover from last year’s Spindrift: Ghost of the West, and three new songs surface as the Exotic Detonation EP via Tee Pee Records, bringing The Twilight Zone to mind immediately on the opening title-track before launching into the snare-march Morricone-isms in which they so readily trade. That Spindrift would wind up doing soundtrack work — to their own movie, no less — isn’t surprising, since their style is so cinematic, but I guess “Exotic Detonation,” the desert-jammy “Ghosts Go West” and the minimalist finale “High Plains Spindrifter” didn’t fit on the initial release. Issuing them on a complementary EP makes sense, and from the standpoint of the radio stream, it’s three more Spindrift songs that weren’t there before, so fair enough. They continue to reside in a very particular niche that’s very much theirs, and for fans of those who might happen into them live, Exotic Detonation will seem right at home among their other Western thrills. Spindrift on Thee Facebooks, Tee Pee Records.

I could tell you how long this took me to put together, but frankly it’s embarrassing. Still, this is but a portion of the albums added to The Obelisk Radio this afternoon. To see the full list (it includes Pallbearer), check out The Obelisk Radio Updates and Playlist page.

Thanks as always for reading and listening.

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Naam, T.G. Olson, The Glorious Rebellion, Unconscious Collective and Toke

Posted in Radio on August 8th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I don’t know if you’ve had the chance to check out the daily playlist feature that Slevin recently added to the Obelisk Radio updates page, but god damn, it’s frickin’ awesome. I get so stoked out on the stuff that’s played. Even when I don’t hear it — because I listen often but not 24 hours a day — it’s cool just to go through the day and see what’s played. Sometimes it’s like, “Oh yeah, I haven’t heard that in a long time!” and I’ll put a record on, and sometimes it’s a reminder of how badass a band was who aren’t doing much anymore. Earlier this afternoon I heard Swarm of the Lotus for the first time in a couple years and my head damn near exploded. Really wish that band had done a third album.

Anyhoo, if you get to check it out, I think it’s been a great addition to what The Obelisk Radio is, and of course huge thanks as always to Slevin for putting in the time and effort on this site’s behalf. It wouldn’t be here without him, so if you’re in North Jersey and you see him at the bar, please say thanks. A killer batch of stuff joined the playlist today, so let’s get to it.

The Obelisk Radio Adds for Aug. 8, 2014:

Naam, Live in Berlin

As Brooklyn heavy psych forerunners Naam get ready to head out on another European tour in September (dates here), they present Live in Berlin, a free-download three-track EP recorded earlier this year (or late last year) at White Trash Fast Food. It’s a brief glimpse at what they can do on stage, but gorgeously assembled all the same, with the wash of fuzzy guitar and organ/synth crafting one the East Coast’s most potent space rock sounds on the near-11-minute “Starchild,” the semi-title-track from 2012′s The Ballad of the Starchild EP (track stream here) and the two cuts from 2013′s Vow (review here) that follow, “On the Hour” and “Beyond.” Their style refined with years of road work and their performances no less dynamic on stage than in the studio, Live in Berlin is a no-brainer to grab while the grabbing’s good, particularly at the asking price, and Naam continue to deliver quality, vital psychedelia the influence others are only beginning to feel. Even in the shorter “On the Hour,” with its quicker rush and catchy vocal interplay, there’s room enough to prove immersive, which only shows how on fire this band is at the moment. Vow was their best work to date, Live in Berlin, if short, is a fair complement and a suitable holdover to whatever they might have coming next. Naam on Thee Facebooks, Live in Berlin on Bandcamp.

T.G. Olson, The Rough Embrace

Though the forms he’s working with for his solo material are familiar — Americana, folk and rambling acoustic country blues – Tanner Olson is so unrelentingly forward-moving as a songwriter that his output almost can’t help but be original. As the frontman for Across Tundras, he adds sonic weight to the equation, but performing under the moniker T.G. Olson, he captures a more intimate spirit. Nonetheless, The Rough Embrace, his latest outing, has plenty of lush moments, and even the wide open spaces of “Providence Gone Again” seem to be full of melody and subtly rich arrangements, a layer of slide guitar doing a lot of work in fleshing out the central guitar line. As Olson performed, recorded, mixed and released the album himself – Across Tundras bandmate Mikey Allred mastered; vinyl is reportedly forthcoming on their Electric Relics Records imprint — it’s fair to give him credit for these embellishments as well, and The Rough Embrace ultimately lives up much more to the latter part of its title than the former. Like everything else he puts out on the Across Tundras BandcampOlson has made The Rough Embrace available as a name-your-price download, making it that much easier to get lost in the album’s wistful jangle and melancholy croon. Across Tundras on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Unconscious Collective, Pleistocene Moon

Noise rock and jazz have made strange enough bedfellows over the years, usually resulting in spastic, somewhat indulgent progressive stew, rawly presented. On their sophomore outing, the Tofu Carnage Records 2LP Pleistocene Moon, Dallas trio Unconscious Collective don’t so much try to impress with how many time signatures they can work into any given three-minute stretch as they do stretch out over long-form works — turning on a dime and plenty jagged, to be sure — but that put as much focus on atmosphere as on their bursts and fits. Pleistocene Moon is a whopping 78 minutes long, and in it the oft-costumed three-piece cast a wide stylistic net, but there’s also a natural sensibility in the room that comes through via spacious-sounding drums, and a live feel that permeates pieces like “Tribe Apini,” which feels if not made up on the spot then certainly performed that way, and the later “Methane Rising,” which brings in horns for an avant freakout of grand proportion that transitions into minimal droning in a fluid roll that continues onto side D with “The Transformation of Matter,” whose propulsive grooving and overarching foreboding feel reminds of a sans-vocal Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, which, if you have any idea who that is, should be enough of an endorsement to pique your interest. Unconscious Collective on Thee Facebooks, Tofu Carnage Records.

The Glorious Rebellion, I 7″

Taking elements from ’90s noise rock — most particularly Helmet‘s dissonant riffing — and merging with the burl of modern American heavy rock, Orlando, Florida’s The Glorious Rebellion debut with a two-song single on Magnetic Eye Records featuring the tracks “My Resume is a Suicide Note” and “Thanks to AA, I’m the DD.” Both songs offer lumbering riffs of considerable weight, and the latter proves even more aggro than the former, starting off with a spitting recitation of a verse over the bassline while the guitar and drums wait to kick in with the initial chorus. Glorious though the rebellion may be, it’s even more pissed off. The band keep to straightforward structures, prove capable of writing solid hooks and have a professional production, though there seems to be some play at a commercial appeal on the single, and I’m not sure how well that will serve them in these radio-less days of genre specialization. Still, it’s a significant push they showcase in about seven minutes’ time, and they’ve obviously got a handle on what they want to do as a band. For their first outing, there’s a lot that can be read into just two cuts. The Glorious Rebellion on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Toke, High Friends in Low Places

Toke hail from Wilmington, North Carolina, and specialize in riffy bruiser sludge, heavy on swing and heavy on riffs, topped with vicious screams in the vein of Bongzilla or, more closely, earlier Sourvein. This is the kind of band that gets compared to Eyehategod all the time, though there’s actually not that much in common. Their two-track outing, High Friends in Low Places, is their second demo following another earlier this year, and both “Into the Light” and “Great Awakening” tap straightforward riff-led pummel and throat-searing, weedian aggression. It isn’t exactly unique, but sometimes nothing will do but a good kick in the ass, and Toke seem glad to provide. With clean but not polished production and enough nod for a release twice as long, High Friends in Low Places meets the standard it sets for itself, and if Toke grow into an outfit more individualized or keep their approach strict to the tenets of Southern sludge, they seem to have gotten that part of the equation down early. Toke on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

You know how this goes by now. Of course this isn’t everything that joined the playlist this week, and unlike last time, I even managed to update the list before I put the post together saying I had updated the list. Progress! To see all of today’s adds, check out the playlist and updates page.

Thank you for reading and listening.

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Sleep, Red Fang, Deamon’s Child, The Jackpine Snag, Cruthu

Posted in Radio on July 31st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I guess this is the part where I complain about lack of time, blah blah blah. Last week was a mess, it’s true, as were the last couple days, but what it comes down to is I do what I can when I can. That’s been my policy all along. A couple of these discs – CruthuDeamon’s Child — are my own rips as well from discs that were sent in, and as ever, there’s more that went up than just what is listed here. So one way or another, activity abounds. I need to find out how close I am to filling the three terabytes of the hard drive used for the server, but until then, the additions will continue unabated. It’s good to keep busy.

The Obelisk Radio adds for July 31, 2014:

Sleep, “The Clarity”

To call the first new Sleep track since Dopesmoker an “event” would be underselling it. “The Clarity” arrives via the Adult Swim Singles Series not only as the Iommian legends’ first outing since that landmark release, but also their debut recording with drummer Jason Roeder and their first studio work since guitarist Matt Pike and bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros went on to destroy/expand minds in High on Fire and Om, respectively, for the last decade-plus. A near-10-minute stonerly sprawl finds Sleep‘s central methodology intact. Grown up some from what it was 20 years ago, expectedly, but loyal to what they were without trying to recapture a magic that’s gone with that time. Cisneros has taken some flack for not roughing up his vocals à la Sleep’s Holy Mountain, but from where I sit, his cadence and cleaner style only makes “The Clarity” more honest, and if lyrics like “Iommic life complete” and “The dealer is my refuge” are easier to understand, you won’t find me complaining. They jam out most of the song’s second half, and ultimately “The Clarity” collapses in a sudden cut, leaving you to wonder if it ever happened at all — until of course you go back to the start for another glorious hit. If this portends more to come, I’m even more excited about the prospect of new Sleep than I was before the single arrived. Sleep on Thee Facebooks, Adult Swim Singles.

Deamon’s Child, Deamon’s Child

Even before you get to the dolphin sample in “Delfine,” and the garage thrashiness of the subsequent “Alles Bio, Immer Bio,” German trio Deamon’s Child give some hints that there’s more to what they do than the standard heavy noise rock. Comprised of guitarist Sven “Missu” Missulis (aka John Reebo of Reebosound, also ex-Psychedelic Avengers), bassist/vocalist Ana Maija Muhi (who also contributed to Reebosound‘s 2010 outing, This is Reebosound) and drummer Tim Mohr (also WhiteBuzz), Deamon’s Child debuted last year with an engaging demo and follow it with a self-titled debut of increased complexity and a sound that’s varied without the pretense, culling together punk, grunge, heavy rock and noise to create songs that feel like they could turn in any direction at once. The production plays up the frayed edges, and Muhi‘s layered vocals on a chugger like “Lutscher!” sound all the more Melvins-esque. Deamon’s Child is loaded with surprises, but doesn’t feel any more haphazard than it’s meant to, and while it may take a couple listens to catch up to it, the songs are consistent in their invitation for repeat visits. Deamon’s Child on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Red Fang, TeamRock.com Presents an Absolute Music Bunker Session with Red Fang

A free Red Fang acoustic EP — who’s going to argue with that? Not me, though the cumbersome and corporate-style title leaves something to be desired. Nonetheless, once you get through all the namebrandery, what you come out with are acoustic renditions from Red Fang of “Failure” from late 2013′s Whales and Leeches and “Malverde” and “Human Herd” from the preceding 2011 outing, Murder the Mountains (review here). Hearing guitarist Bryan Giles soften up his usually-rough vocal approach on “Malverde” is interesting, given how much of the album version of that track is about the impact of the thing, but “Failure” becomes a brooding plea rather than the threat it is at full thrust, and “Human Herd” a kind of meditation that makes for the highlight of the whole release. One tries not to read too much into what was clearly a one-off thing, but it would be cool to hear what an acoustic album track from Red Fang might sound like. Their songwriting clearly translates, and between Giles and bassist/vocalist Aaron Beam – let’s not forget guitarist David Sullivan or drummer John Sherman – they prove here they can pull it off sounding confident and comfortable. Kind of an unexpected turn from the chicanery-fueled rock we’re used to from Red Fang, but they’re as easy to dig as ever on (deep breath) TeamRock.com Presents an Absolute Music Bunker Session with Red FangRed Fang on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

The Jackpine Snag, The Fire Tower EP

Tonally, Michigan’s The Jackpine Snag seem rooted in punk, but a strong undercurrent of the weirdo runs throughout the songs on their new EP, The Fire Tower, and whether it’s the shouting on “With Wings” or “The Missaukee Strut” or the motoring noise of closer “Gonna Wreck My Life,” the trio present an individualized approach to bruiser expression. The Fire Tower is their longest outing yet at seven songs following a four-track 2013 debut 7″, but they have no trouble changing up their take enough to hold interest, while also keeping the tracks themselves relatively lean and concise. Maybe what the EP does best is balance that efficiency with a loose, tossoff-punker vibe, but The Jackpine Snag – guitarist/vocalist Joe Hart, bassist Jason Roedel and drummer Todd Karinen – show a keen awareness of how far out they want to go and how oddball they want to get in their ragged, grungy craftsmanship. No doubt that will serve them well should they decide next to tackle a debut full-length. The Jackpine Snag on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Cruthu, Creation Demo

The debut release from Lansing, Michigan’s Cruthu, the Creation Demo culls together an initial three tracks that sound somewhat raw but hold significant stylistic promise, blending a heavy ’70s psych-blues mentality with drearier rock tendencies and analog worship. Frontwoman Teri Brown provides a soulful lift to “S.O.S.,” as guitarist Dan McCormick leads bassist Scott Lehman and drummer Matt Fry through a subtly doomed murk, but pushes into rawer, strained-throat vocalizing on “Walk with Me” that immediately stands the Creation Demo apart from much of what claims to have been recorded live in terms of sheer honesty. And to Cruthu‘s further credit, I don’t think the tracks were recorded live. Particularly in “Separated from the Herd” and “Walk with Me,” which closes, Cruthu find some room for instrumental exploration along with Brown‘s vocals, and the path they’re on suits them well as the demo plays out. I’d be interested to hear them branch out further instrumentally, get weird with some percussion or strings or psychedelics, but there’s time for such things, and they’re off to an evocative start. Cruthu on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Like I said, there’s a lot more that went up this week than is listed here. Check out The Obelisk Radio playlist/updates page for the complete list.

Thanks for reading and listening.

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Bongripper, We’re all Gonna Die, Sufferghost, Liquido di Morte, Planet of Zeus

Posted in Radio on July 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Click here to listen.

You may or may not have noticed, but on the updates page for The Obelisk Radio, you can now see the playlist for the entire day. Mad and thoroughly appreciated genius that he is, Slevin set it up so that even when a song doesn’t have an ID3 tag — as some of the older included mp3s obviously don’t — the filename itself appears, so you can still find out what was played. It goes back to July 10 now, because that’s when it was launched, but my understanding is it will just keep adding days, so there will be a full archive from here on out of what was played. I’ve been nerding out on it all week.

And primarily what it’s underscored for me is just how much good shit there is on that playlist. It’s unreal. Please feel free to peruse. Here’s some more stuff that just went up.

The Obelisk Radio Adds for July 18, 2014:

Bongripper, Miserable


Chicago four-piece Bongripper once more crawl out of the muck with another collection of lurching, extended instrumental tracks, proliferating malevolent riff worship and lumbering, head-slung hopelessness. Like Pelican‘s evil twin, they offer a couple catch-your-breath moments throughout “Endless” (somewhat ironically the shortest track at 17:49), “Descent” (18:52) and the insurmountably mammoth “Into Ruin” (28:25), but the bulk of their sixth album is dedicated to destructive crash and vicious low-toned riffing, and even when they drone out in the last six minutes of “Descent,” the mood remains dark and crushing. All the more fitting as a lead-in for “Into Ruin,” which has its own breaks for good measure but makes its impression more in the tectonic weight of its impact. Everything heavy. All heavy. Nothing not heavy. Bongripper have been at it for nearly a decade now, and they’ve only gotten meaner. Miserable gets bonus points for the Mike Miller cover art. One would be hard pressed to think of something more appropriate. Bongripper on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

We’re all Gonna Die, These are the Old Ways


When Boston heavy rockers We’re all Gonna Die — the lineup of guitarist/vocalist Jim Healey (also Black Thai), bassist Jesse Sherman (also Never Got Caught) and drummer Scott Healey (also Gut) — announced their return a short while ago for three summer shows, they sent word of a new single “Pleurisy.” That single, included on These are the Old Ways, has been expanded to include a collection of previously unreleased cuts from the band’s history, resulting in the 24-minute These are the Old Ways. Lineups and recording vibes vary — the EP caps with two instrumentals that show off some solid riffs but are clearly incomplete demos — but “Pleurisy” itself and “I’m Free” showcase the driving, forward rhythms and Healey‘s towering vocals following the riff, and “The Day I Walked Away,” while rougher sounding, offers the most memorable hook of the release. Round it out with a cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd‘s “That Smell” and the aforementioned instrumentals “Small” and “Awash,” and These are the Old Ways adds intrigue to the new single and reminds of the variety that We’re all Gonna Die were always able to bring to their gritty, aggressive approach. We’re all Gonna Die on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Sufferghost, Thaw


In historical hindsight, it’s tempting to think of Connecticut’s Sufferghost as a prelude to guitarist/vocalist Ron Vanacore and bassist Richard “Cheech” Weeden‘s work in Curse the Sun, but the truth is, it’s an entirely different band. Vanacore, still on vocals, plays drums on Sufferghost‘s recently-unearthed 2007 outing, Thaw, and the guitars are handled by Anthony Buhagiar, whose burst aortic aneurysm would effectively end the band in 2009, leading to the founding of Curse the Son. There are some consistencies of method between the two — riffs lead the way, albeit less tonally developed than Vanacore would be by the time Curse the Son put out 2012′s Psychache (review here), which has just been released on vinyl through STB Records — but Sufferghost had a musical personality of its own as well, and while “Leave the Church” offered stonerly roll, and “Neuralgia” engages righteous, mostly instrumental Sabbathizing, “Summer Insane” and the slower “Land of the None/Evilled” have some shades of burlier Black Label Society-style metal, and that’s terrain Vanacore and Weeden (who’ve been in bands together since the mid ’80s) have avoided in their subsequent act. Thaw makes you wonder what might’ve been had Sufferghost continued to develop, and gives listeners an opportunity to explore the roots from which Curse the Son sprouted. Sufferghost on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Planet of Zeus, Vigilante


Vigilante is the third LP from dudely Athens-based riffers Planet of Zeus, and while Clutch remains a primary influence, songs like “Burn this City Down,” “Tornado” and closer “The Beast Within” find the four-piece come into their own sound more than did 2011′s sophomore outing, Macho Libre. Still, moments will ring familiar, if roughened up, and the bluesy roll and organ of “No Tomorrow,” the gospel preaching of the title-track and the start-stop funk of “Second Coming” would seem to continue the pattern. They do it better than most who try, and for the touches of individuality, the impact of the production, and for the ease with which they move into instrumental psychedelia on “The Beast Within,” Vigilante (released on Ihaveadrum Records) makes a catchy endeavor for the already converted. Some of the harder-edged vocals from guitarist Babis might surprise, but it’s easy enough to get oriented throughout, and if Planet of Zeus have a more aggressive take on an established style, that only furthers their ability to stand out within it. Planet of Zeus on Thee Facebooks, Vigilante on Bandcamp.

Liquido di Morte, Liquido di Morte


Made up of three recorded-live psychedelic jams that spread smoothly over the total runtime of 37 minutes, Northern Italy outfit Liquido di Morte‘s self-titled debut is marked out by some post-rock sensibilities in the guitar and the lead/rhythm dynamic that periodically merges into bigger, more lumbering grooves throughout. The double-guitar four-piece use samples or guest speakers for vocals and the feel across the tracks is pretty vast, but there’s also clearly a consciousness at work on opener “Ozric Pentacles,” and as the riffy largesse mounts backed by chaos swirls and loops, it’s hard not to be reminded of some of Ufomammut‘s earliest goings, though that’s just one element at work. “In Death of Space/Of Death in Space” pushes further with the plotted feel, a tension and intensity trading off as movements weave in and out and open and close, culminating in a noisy wash that only highlights how much Liquido di Morte have known all along where they were heading, and the 18-minute finale “144″ builds from an effects-laden early few minutes into their most hypnotic and consuming roll yet, spoken word guest vocals emerging late to pipe a last-minute sense of reality into what had clearly, by then, departed from it. A more than impressively cohesive first offering — all the more because it was recorded live — from a band whose potential is writ large in their material. Liquido di Morte on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

As ever, this isn’t even close to everything that joined The Obelisk Radio playlist this week. For the full list and to check out today’s playlist, visit the updates page.

Thanks for reading and listening.
 

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: All Them Witches, Rainbows are Free, Idre, Nyarlathotep, Panopticon

Posted in Radio on July 11th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Click here to listen.

There doesn’t seem to ever be a break with this stuff. 16 records joined The Obelisk Radio playlist today, and that’s still got me behind on checking out more to add. I don’t know what the state of that hard drive is, but I might not be far off from needing to add a second one. It’s become an archive for me.

Diligent and admirable bastard that he is, Slevin is working on an automatically refreshing script that will allow listeners to see what was played over the last 24 hours, which will be a big help if a file is missing its ID3 tags — that being how the player identifies the songs — as I know things sometimes are. I get asked regularly what was played at a specific time, so hopefully this will be able to answer that question.

So things are in the works, but of course there’s a ton of music to talk about in the meantime, and that’s the fun part anyway.

The Obelisk Radio Adds for July 11, 2014:

All Them Witches, Effervescent EP

There are at least two distinct jams at work in the 25-minute single track that makes up Effervescent, the 2014 EP from Nashville psych-blues rockers All Them Witches. The Fender Rhodes of Allan Van Cleave and airy guitar of Ben McLeod feature heavily in both, as bassist Michael Parks, Jr., and drummer Robby Staebler (interview here) provide a foundation on which to space out, and the two pieces find a bridge in hypnotic, psychedelic stretching and backwards noise beginning at around 13 minutes in before building back up. All throughout, the vibe is central, there is movement, and the four-piece demonstrate that the chemistry they showed burgeoning on last year’s brilliant Lightning at the Door (discussed here) was no fluke, but the beginning of a grand and creative exploration that finds its next installment here. It may be a stopgap — formerly their primary means of release, they’ve recently pulled their full-lengths down from Bandcamp; one expects big, got-signed-type news from them at any moment — but Effervescent is fluid and rich, and as deep as you want to go in listening to it, it’s willing to take you there and further. All Them Witches on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Nyarlathotep, The Shadow over Innsmouth

Some six years after releasing their initial The End is Always Near demo, New Jersey black metal outfit (whom, in the interest of full disclosure, I know personally) Nyarlathotep follow-up with the Lovecraftian full-length, The Shadow over Innsmouth. Based around the  short story of the same name, the album breaks down into five extended tracks plus an intro of rage-fueled atmospherics. Using programmed drums to their advantage on “Old Zadok Allen” — the only proper song here under 10 minutes — they add an industrial feel with a keyboard-led midsection backed by vague, ambient screams. The density in the material is striking, but even at their most unbridled — as on the blasting, solo-topped early moments in the title-track – Nyarlathotep hold their commitment to setting a mood firm, and the blown-out, distorted soundscape they create across the release is grim and otherworldly enough to be worthy of its subject matter. It is a complex, biting execution that won’t be for everyone, but that seethes in its quiet parts and gnashes its pointed teeth with monstrous force. Nyarlathotep on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Idre, Idre


Oklahoma City trio Idre specialize in ambient fluidity and deeply-weighted tonal crush. Their self-released, self-titled debut long-player is comprised of two extended cuts — “Factorie” (26:41) and “Witch Trial” (13:17) — that each impress with their patience, their impact and their ability to contrast the generally claustrophobic feel of post-metal with an open-spaced, salt-of-the-earth pulse. Within its first 10 minutes, “Factorie” has moved from undulating waves of riffing to vast, strumming, Across Tundras-esque roll, and never does it seem to be meandering without purpose in the noisy stages to come. It builds and collapses, and when they seem the most gone, the clean, twanging vocals return to finish out, leading to the parabolically constructed “Witch Trial,” which marries Earth-style drone and galloping drums effectively to create a decidedly Western feel while still building toward, and eventually moving through a sonically pummeling apex. Once again, vocals are sparse, but perfectly placed almost as if to remind the listener of how small a human being can be in so wide a space as the Midwest. Like that landlocked region, Idre‘s Idre is expansive and lets you see for miles. Idre on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Rainbows are Free, Waves ahead of the Ocean

Led by the substantial pipes of vocalist B. Fain Kistler, Norman, Oklahoma, four-piece Rainbows are Free seem keen on finding the place where classic doom and heavy rock meet, and on their second full-length, Waves ahead of the Ocean (released by Guestroom Records), they just about get there. Kistler is a singer worthy of comparison to Grand MagusJB Christoffersson, but Rainbows are Free are less grandiose overall, early songs like “The Botanist,” the title-track and the cumbersomely-titled opener “Speed God and the Rise of the Motherfuckers from a Place beyond Hell” nestling into heavy, engaging grooves marked out by the choice riffing of Richie Tarver, the bass work of Chad Hogue and drums of Bobby Onspaugh. Unpretentious and professional in their presentation, they doom up an otherwise Clutch-style boogie in “Cadillac” before going full-on trad metal in “Snake Bitten by Love,” and ably making their way through a Dio Sabbath push on “Burn and Die,” which works well despite feeling a long way from the upbeat rockin’ of earlier highlight “Sonic Demon” and leads smoothly into closer “Comet,” the six-and-a-half-minute spacier thrust of which seems to be seems to be where Rainbows are Free most choose to harken to the psychedelia one might expect from their moniker. They most drive toward the epic in their finale, and the payoff there is churning and insistent in a way that more than justifies the song’s position on the 37-minute record, but even then have a keen eye for structure and holding the attention of their audience. An impeccably put together album from a band more than ready to turn heads. Rainbows are Free on Thee Facebooks, Guestroom Records on Bandcamp.

Panopticon, Roads to the North


Despite the bluegrass influence and liberal inclusion of banjo amidst its blackened onslaught, Panopticon‘s Roads to the North (released on Bindrune) is perhaps most American of all for its pulling together seemingly disparate elements in defiance of European traditionalism. Billed as and creating the standard for American folk metal, it nonetheless is in conversation with European black metal — a conversation that in my head looks something like it’s being chased à la Benny Hill for its heresies — while purposefully working against its tenets. Roads to the North is the fifth full-length from the one-man project of Kentucky’s Austin Lunn, and made in collaboration with Krallice‘s Colin Marston (among others), it elicits a sprawl through both its metallic extremity and its devotion to the aesthetic it pioneers. It makes for a heady 74-minute listen, but Panopticon are cohesive throughout — five records deep, they should be — and one doesn’t embark on an album like Roads to the North lightly or without wanting full immersion into an evocative and blistering landscape. That’s just what you get. Panopticon on Thee Facebooks, Bindrune Recordings.

For the full list of albums added to The Obelisk Radio this week and to see the latest updates, click here.

Thanks for reading and listening.

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Blues Pills, Moab, Monobrow, Prisma Circus, Major Kong, Mope

Posted in Radio on July 3rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Click here to listen.

Lots to get to on this holiday week, but I didn’t want to let the Radio Adds slide any longer than I already have. As ever, there’s a lot of good stuff joining the ranks, and hopefully if you listen, you find something you dig. That’s what it’s all about. Also about giving me a never-ending playlist to listen to while I vacuum, apparently. But still, definitely both.

You’ll note six adds instead of five this time around. Every now and then there’s just too much going on to play by your own limits.

The Obelisk Radio Adds for July 3, 2014:

Blues Pills, Blues Pills


The awaited self-titled debut from Blues Pills arrives via Nuclear Blast in August and finds the four-piece with the blazing rhythm section of bassist Zack Anderson and drummer Cory Berry culled from the former ranks of Radio Moscow, French guitarist Dorian Sorriaux and Swedish frontwoman Elin Larsson almost frighteningly cohesive and cognizant of their blues rock lineage. Larsson does a solid Tina Turner on opener “High Class Woman” — as much as anybody can — and Sorriaux quickly proves himself a wunderkind in classic shuffle. Blues Pills offer all the heavy ’70s influence one could ask with less of the retro aesthetic, giving their first record a refreshing charge, though closer “Little Sun” has plenty of Graveyard-style melancholy for those looking to hear it. A relatively subdued midsection in “Black Smoke,” “River” and “No Hope Left for Me” adds emotional depth, but when Blues Pills decide to tear it up, as on “Devil Man,” they’re more than able to do so. A dynamic first full-length from an obviously powerful four-piece. On Thee Facebooks, Nuclear Blast.

Major Kong, Doom for the Black Sun


A two-years-later limited vinyl issue of Polish instrumental stoner doomers Major Kong‘s Doom for the Black Sun debut long-player courtesy of Transubstans Records should be a welcome advent for those who worship riffs, as the trio clearly do. The tracklist is shifted some from the original release and the artwork has changed, but Major Kong are true to the Kyuss reference of their album’s title in their commitment to heavy nod ‘n’ roll. Fuzz abounds and the grooves are smooth as “Witches on My Land” opens up into “The Swamp Altar,” each song getting progressively longer until bassist Domel, guitarist Misiek and drummer Bolek arrive at the 11-minute finale of “Primordial Gas Clouds,” a huge jam peppered by airy psychedelic soloing that doesn’t so much build to a grand finish as it does melt the album down into a molten stew of reverb and fermented buzz. Major Kong released a subsequent single, “Sequoia” early in 2013 and a follow-up full-length in Jan. 2014′s Doom Machine, so there’s plenty of ground to cover for further investigation. On Bandcamp, on Thee Facebooks, Transubstans Records.

Moab, Scion A/V Presents Billow


There are a lot of bands who balance riffs and melody, but few sound as natural or as fluid as Moab in doing so. The L.A.-based three-piece follow their 2011 Kemado Records debut, Ab Ovo (discussed here) with Billow, a self-produced nine-track collection presented by Scion A/V that furthers the noise-rock crunch of their guitars while also branching into languid heavy psychedelic washes (“Said it Would”), tribal-style percussive insistence (“I Concede”) and generally bigger, wider-sounding sonic spaces. Guitarist/vocalist Andrew Giacumakis holds mostly to a subdued delivery no matter the madness unfolding behind him — witness the stomp with bassist Joe Fuentes and drummer Erik Herzog on “No Soul” — and in addition to proffering some infectious hooks along the way, the approach also gives Billow a sense of purpose beyond heaviness for its own sake, Moab‘s element of restraint putting their material in league with Radiohead as much as the Melvins, while offering something that should appeal to fans of either, both or neither. Here even more than on the first record, they’ve crafted their own sound, and they’re giving it away for free. On Thee Facebooks, download Billow.

Monobrow, Big Sky, Black Horse


Big Sky, Black Horse is the third self-released vinyl from large-riffing Ottowa trio Monobrow following 2012′s Bennington Triangle Blues and their 2010 self-titled debut (review here), and immediately the instrumentalists set about knowing their business when it comes to putting the riffs front and center and backing up with strong, forward-pushing rhythmic drive. Parts of Big Sky, Black Horse feel derived from Karma to Burn‘s all-straightforward-all-the-time mentality, but by and large, Monobrow have a more upbeat approach, and even on a mid-paced groove like “These Mountains Don’t Want us Here,” the 8:27 second track of the total eight, they use their longer runtimes to showcase fluidity in pacing and genre-minded stylistic depth. It’s an easy record to dig, and I dig it, whether it’s the bass-led thud of “Old Man Mouthbreather” or the go-anywhere 11-minute apex the album receives in its title-track, which starts big, ends big and is big in the middle. Beware the quiet parts in that song and a cut like “Ancient Arctic Wanderer,” as stretches of silence only seem to presage the next round of riffy pummeling. Monobrow seem comfortable working in either modus, and their third offering is a primo boon to fellow riff-heads. On Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Mope, Mope

Put into the right hands and through the right effects pedals, a saxophone can be a formidable tool in the psychedelic woodshed. Slow-rolling Italian foursome Mope clearly realize this on their three-track self-titled full-length debut CD, which comes in a digipak with gorgeous Snailking-esque black and white art from guitarist Jessica Rassi. They’re not long into opener “Old Grey Street” (7:32) before Sara Twinn distinguishes herself in adding a smoky melody atop the doomly vibes unfolding from Rassi, bassist Stefano Parodi and drummer Fabio Cuomo, and the dreamy-but-still-very-very-heavy mood Mope establish in the first track holds firm on the subsequent “Doomed to Feed the Ground” (12:58) and “La Caduta” (9:58) as well, the instrumental band sticking to a balance between psychedelic and stoner-doom impulses. Hypnosis ensues. The centerpiece is perhaps the most immersive of the three inclusions on the Taxi Driver Records outing, with its surprise piano at the beginning and sparse, minimalist ending, but across the board, Mope hone an engaging depth of presentation by which it’s a pleasure to be subsumed. Ending slow and jazzy on “La Caduta,” Mope‘s Mope is one to close your eyes and just go with. On Thee Facebooks, at Taxi Driver’s Bandcamp.

Prisma Circus, Reminiscences

I don’t know how many times I’ve said it over the years, but, oh, what a difference a great drummer can make. Spanish classic heavy rock power trio Prisma Circus separate themselves on their World in Sound debut full-length, Reminiscences, from the scores of post-Graveyard retro worshipers thanks in no small part to the unmitigated swing in drummer Alex Carmona Blanco‘s playing. Couple that with the fiery leads of guitarist Oscar Garcia Albizu and warm, steady fills and bluesy exultations of bassist Joaquín Escudero Arce and Prisma Circus bang out thick-cut chops on their eight-track outing, starting with longest cut “The Mirror” (immediate points) and tapping into some Radio Moscow-style psych-blues volatility along the way. “Born in a Red House” slows the proceedings some, but Blanco kicks out a drum solo on the subsequent “Napalm” that lives up to the title, and the lighter back-half acoustics of “Cain” and the power trio thrust of “Onyx Star” ensure that Reminiscences stays satisfying to the bitter end, capping off with the smooth roll-out of “Joseph Merrick (The Elephant Man),” which turns tempos fast enough to require multiple listens just to keep up. They may not be innovating the style at this point, but Prisma Circus are tight enough to stand out anyway. On Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp, World in Sound.

Righteous though these grooves are, this is less than half of everything that joined The Obelisk Radio playlist this week. See the updates page for the complete list.

Thanks for reading and listening.
 

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Earthless Meets Heavy Blanket, Fever Dog, Thine, Dwellers and Electric Lucifer

Posted in Radio on June 17th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

These are a little later than I’d prefer, but if I ran everything on time around here as much as I wanted to, it would probably take me 24 hours a day. Sometimes you have to go to the post office, or to The Patient Mrs.‘ workplace to scam free printer paper. I’m just saying things come up that can alter the course of your planned afternoon. One can either be flexible or go insane.

So, better (perpetually) late than never, and I hope you’ll agree with me that this stuff was worth waiting for.

Adds for June 17, 2014:

Earthless Meets Heavy Blanket, In a Dutch Haze

Behold the megajam: The jam that launched a thousand jams, and insert further hyperbole here, because this one earns it. At Roadburn 2012, the illustrious lineup of J. Mascis (Witch, Dinosaur Jr.) and his Heavy Blanket bandmate Graham Clise (also Witch and Lecherous Gaze) joined forces with Earthless‘ rhythm section, bassist Mike Egington and drummer Mario Rubalcalba for a one-time-only, off-the-cuff instrumental jam that has since become the stuff of legend. Yes, a legend two years later. Now dubbed “Paradise in a Purple Sky,” that hour-long one-track excursion into pure heavy psychedelic bliss is available as Earthless Meets Heavy Blanket‘s In a Dutch Haze, and the vibe is less that of a live album than a historical document. Call it lightning in a bottle, call it any other cliche you might want, but chances are In a Dutch Haze is going to be the best live release you hear this year, and if the echoing intertwining guitar solos and unhindered thudding groove — immaculately captured by Marcel van de Vondervoort — aren’t enough to stir your soul and drive you to creation, then I’ve got nothing for you. This is heavy psych at its most vibrant and righteous. Burning World Records, Outer Battery Records.

Thine, The Dead City Blueprint


The Dead City Blueprint (out on Peaceville Records) is actually the third full-length from UK-based Thine, but it’s also their first since 2002, so the feel winds up somewhat like a debut anyway. What happened in the interim? Well, drummer Dan Mullins from the two-guitar five-piece has doubled in My Dying Bride since 2006, so that could at least partially explain the delay. Whatever else may have caused the stoppage, Thine make up for the years with 10 deep explorations of dark, melancholic rock. “Out of Your Mind and into a Void” is almost singularly indebted to Damnation-era Opeth, and opener “Brave Young Assassin” finds Thine somewhere between a less keyboarded Katatonia and a more active version of Anathema at their moodiest, but “The Precipice” provides an early peak to The Dead City Blueprint with a surprise reinterpretation of NWOBHM guitar intricacy and wonderfully arranged vocals from Alan Gaunt, whose performance takes the piece to someplace entirely the band’s own. Winding, airy lead lines in “The Rift” will be a dogwhistle to those in the know, but the piano-inclusive apex of “Scars from Limbo” and ambient finale “Adrift through the Arcane Isles of Recovery” speak to an individuality in development, and if Thine get a follow-up out sometime before 2026, I wouldn’t be surprised to find them grown further into their style. Thine on Thee Facebooks, Peaceville Records.

Dwellers, Live at Bar Deluxe 29-04-2014


As the title hints, Live at Bar Deluxe 29-04-2014 is a new live release from Salt Lake City heavy rockers Dwellers, recorded in their hometown at the end of April. That puts it prior to the street date for their second album, Pagan Fruit (review here), but two cuts from that — “Rare Eagle” and “Totem Crawler” — make appearances anyway alongside highlights drawn from the first Dwellers offering, 2012′s Good Morning Harakiri (review here). Both those records were on Small Stone, but this 34-minute set is a self-release free download, essentially a band-endorsed bootleg to be spread around. The audio quality is definitely in the “audience recording” vein, but clear enough to let the spaciousness of “Old Honey” sink in as it flows out of “Ode to Inversion Layer,” and as this is as close as I’ve yet come to seeing Dwellers – the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Joey Toscano, bassist Dave Jones and drummer Zach Hatsis – live, I’m more than inclined to take it. Hearing Toscano nail the chorus to “Totem Crawler” as well as he does here only emphasizes how much I need to catch a gig sooner rather than later. Maybe it’s a fan piece, but screw it, I’m a fan. Dwellers on Thee Facebooks, Dwellers on Bandcamp.

Fever Dog, “Iroquois”


Just a quick look from these jammy Palm Desert youngsters at what their forthcoming sophomore full-length, Second Wind, will hold, but “Iroquois” bodes well, and in its two-minute span one can hear space rock ideals beginning to make themselves felt amidst a still tonally weighted push, the band’s confidence emerging as their sound continues to expand. Comprised of guitarist/vocalist/thereminist Danny Graham, bassist/noisemaker Nathan Wood and drummer Joshua Adams (also synth), Fever Dog show they have a clear dedication to being more than a heavy rock band, and as brief as “Iroquois” is, the immediateness with which it enacts a vibe puts Second Wind on my list of most anticipated albums for the second half of this year. Lot of potential for the desert’s next generation. Fever Dog on Thee Facebooks, Fever Dog on Bandcamp.

Electric Lucifer, Coming to the Mountain


Not to be confused with Cincinnati’s Electric Citizen, Cleveland-based triple-guitar stoner rollers Electric Lucifer get down to some post-Electric Wizard idolatry on their Dec. 2013 Coming to the Mountain three-track EP. The nod is central and effective, and with three guitars at work, riffing is obviously half the point, though the leads mesh naturally with well-held grooves on “Electric Lucifer,” which leads off, and the subsequent “Phantoms from the Outer Rim” and “Red Wizard,” the last of which finds Electric Lucifer at their most blown-out, proffering stoner rock for stoner rockers with a clear passion for the tenets of the genre. There isn’t much fancy about it, but with a reemerging interest in straightforward Sabbath worship and a subsequent full-length released shortly after from Electric Lucifer, easy to think the five-piece would hit a nerve for heads already converted and looking to nod out. Electric Lucifer on Thee Facebooks, Electric Lucifer on Bandcamp.

Also added this week were releases by John Garcia and Swedish stoner punkers Lightsabres. For the full list of updates and more, check out The Obelisk Radio updates page.

Thanks as always for reading and listening.

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Wolves in the Throne Room’s Celestite, Milligram, A Sad Bada, Phant, Damo Suzuki Meets Øresund Space Collective

Posted in Radio on June 6th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Running a pretty wide gamut this week, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. This week is a pretty good example of one where there’s way more added than just what’s listed here, so make sure you check the updates page to see the full list of everything that went on the server. Next thing I knew, I turned around and there was a ton of awesome stuff waiting to go up. Tough times.

It’s been a few weeks doing the adds this way and I’m digging it so far, so I’m going to keep it up, at least until I think of something else or it gets to be a pain or whatever. Thanks for reading and checking out the radio stream.

Adds for June 6, 2014:

Wolves in the Throne Room, Celestite

The much-awaited follow-up to 2011′s Celestial Lineage finds Washington US black metal forerunners Wolves in the Throne Room not quite ready to let go of that album yet. Celestite is intended as a complement to its predecessor, and as the first release on the band’s own Artemesia Records imprint, it comes as a particularly bold move for a band clearly looking to shirk expectation. Its five included tracks are cinematic, ambient set-pieces — instrumental works that, when played at the same time as Celestial Lineage, enhance the atmospheres of those already dense songs. Of course, cuts like the 11-minute opener “Turning Ever Towards the Sun” and the centerpiece “Bridge of Leaves” have value on their own as well, but there’s little denying that the apex of Celestial Lineage in “Prayer of Transformation” is pushed further by Celestite closer “Sleeping Golden Storm” and vice versa. Anyone expecting forest screams or raging blastbeats is in for a surprise, but those who approach with an open mind will be rewarded, which has always been the case with Wolves in the Throne Room‘s work. On Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Milligram, Live on Pipeline (WMBR)


A band with a reach that has lasted much longer than their actual six-year run, Milligram retain a presence in heavy rock consciousness despite having really only gotten together to open for Kyuss Lives! in 2011 since calling it quits in 2002, prior to Small Stone‘s issue of their This is Class War full-length. Accordingly, the version of “Not Okay” included on this collection of live recordings from the radio station WMBR sounds like a blueprint for some of the soulful heavy vibes Lo-Pan would conjure in their early going. Also included are covers of the Misfits (“We are 138″) and Black Flag (“Jealous Again”), so in addition to hearing Milligram – which in 2000 when Live on Pipeline was recorded was comprised of vocalist Jonah Jenkins (see also Raw Radar War), guitarist Darryl Shepard (see also Hackman, Black Pyramid, Blackwolfgoat, The Scimitar, etc.), bassist Bob Maloney and drummer Zephan Courtney — tear into some of their own material, there’s also a look at their punkier roots. Shepard has begun a series of digital releases of his bands with this, so look out for more. All are available for name-your-price download through his Bandcamp. On Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Damo Suzuki Møder Øresund Space Collective, Damo Suzuki Møder Øresund Space Collective

Captured live and largely improvised on Valentine’s Day 2013, the 3LP Damo Suzuki Møder Øresund Space Collective indeed proves a match meant to be. The Danish/Swedish space jammers and the krautrock legend — Damo Suzuki has released decades’ worth of solo output and collaborations, but is still best known for his contributions to Can — offer no single piece under 14 minutes long, so I guess as jams go, these worked out. The six inclusions are immediately exploratory, and while at just over two hours, the meeting of these expanded-mind entities can feel a bit like traveling through a wormhole where you snap back to consciousness on the other side and wonder how you got there, each piece also takes on a life and movement of its own, propelled by ceaselessly creative guitar work, engaging rhythmic nod and, naturally, a near-constant swirl of effects. Suzuki‘s voice echoes through “Dit Glimtende Øje” as though beamed in from another galaxy, and his first contact with Øresund Space Collective results in vibrant, cosmic jams that push through the psychedelosphere. On Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

A Sad Bada, White Rivers and Coldest Chains


Chilean four-piece A Sad Bada specialize in post-sludge that is lurching and atmospheric in kind. White Rivers and Coldest Chains is their first full-length, with it they offer five extended tracks of crushing density and grueling nod. They skirt the post-metal line — guitarists Gastón Cariola and Fernando Figueroa, who founded the band in 2008, keep a steady supply of airy echoes on hand throughout — but as a cut like the 11-minute “Hide and Grieve” shows, they’re never quite looking to get away from the sludgy churn of their slower-than-thou progressions, bassist Roberto Toledo and drummer Alejandro Ossandon expertly holding together the songs as Figueroa offers vicious, throaty growls over top. White Rivers and Coldest Chains (out on Australis Records) is intended as a slog, and it is one, but the soundscape that A Sad Bada enact over the course of the album has more appeal than just its tonal weight or extremity. There’s a darkness at its heart that comes from more than just the music itself, and that bleeds from the speakers with every oozing riff. On Thee Facebooks, Australis Records.

Phant, The Octophant Pt. II


Newcomer Swedish trio Phant return with their second self-released, digital-only EP in less than a year’s time, bringing their eight-armed elephant mascot deeper into a heavy-riff melee over two more extended tracks and an outro with The Octophant Pt. II. Like their predecessors on The Octophant Pt. I (review here), “Nativitas/Hakaisha” (13:53) and “Magna Cael” (9:31) blend cosmic doom and heavy rock tendencies, finding a cohesive balance of aggression and groove along the way, subtly adding effects amid echoing vocal interplay from bassist Jesper Sundström and guitarist Anton Berglind while drummer Elias Sundberg taps into reaches no less spacious via a constant-seeming wash of cymbals. Found sounds, samples and other sundry weirdness caps The Octophant Pt. II in “Outro Pt. II,” with tales of UFOs and government coverups. How long Phant might continue this series of EPs, I don’t know — they can at least get a trilogy out of it if they want; I’d take another 26 minutes of this no problem — but the heft the three-piece bring to bear across “Nativitas/Hakaisha” and “Magna Cael” also shows they’re more than ready to tackle their debut full-length, should they decide to go that route next. On Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Other adds to The Obelisk Radio this week include Novembers Doom, the four-way split between Naam, White Hills, Black Rainbows and The Flying Eyes, as well as Recitation, Sunwolf, Godflesh, Dylan Carlson of Earth‘s solo-project, Drcarlsonalbion. For the full list, check the updates page.

Thanks for reading and listening.

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Iron Man (x2), Electric Citizen, Disenchanter, Junior Bruce and Anuseye

Posted in Radio on May 30th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Click here to listen.

This week brings even more radio adds than I expected. I had kind of a hard time whittling it down to figure what I wanted to write about, to be honest with you, but we got there in the end, and I’m thrilled to have another batch of additions to the playlist for this week. Doing this seems to have quickly become a Friday ritual for me, and frankly, I can think of worse ways to spend the afternoon than listening to and writing about a bunch of records. Like just about everything else, for example.

Adds for May 30, 2014:

Iron Man, The Passage & Generation Void

Two brand new vinyl reissues from Shadow Kingdom Records. Digital promos are particularly useless in the case of badass LPs, and I’m pretty sure both of these albums by Maryland doom stalwarts Iron Man, 1994′s sophomore outing, The Passage, and it’s 1999 follow-up, Generation Void, are already on the Radio playlist, but screw it, it’s Iron Man. If the chances of hearing an Iron Man song go up with each file added, then it’s worth tossing both of these records on the server. Generation Void is a full-on lost classic of doom, and if you don’t already own it, I’d imagine the vinyl of The Passage justifies picking it up based on the artwork alone. Either way, you’re never gonna lose when it comes to these guys, and Shadow Kingdom‘s loyalty in following up its CD reissues with LP versions is commendable. On Thee Facebooks, Shadow Kingdom website.

Electric Citizen, Sateen

Led by guitarist Ross Dolan and vocalist Laura Dolan, this Cincinnati four-piece traffic in high-order retro-minded Sabbathisms that keep in mind just how much boogie went along with all that darkness. To wit, the shuffle at the heart of the organ-laced “The Trap” and “Burning in Hell” or the push in the earlier “Magnetic Man.” Sateen, the band’s debut on RidingEasy Records, features riffs and leads heavily, and Laura‘s croon never strays from the forefront in delivering a barrage of hooks through the ’70s-worship production, but as with Sabbath themselves, the foundation of what Electric Citizen accomplish in these memorable, immediately familiar tracks is built on a foundation of rhythmic excellence in the bass and drums, here provided by Nick Vogelpohl and Nate Wagner, respectively. That organ ain’t half-bad either. The album arrives with no shortage of hype, but it’s a shockingly cohesive debut in style and performance, and the songwriting more than earns its way. On Thee Facebooks, RidingEasy Records.

Disenchanter, On through Portals

The Sept. 2013 Back to Earth demo from Portland, Oregon, doom-blues metallers Disenchanter has been sitting on my desk for an embarrassingly long time. That release is added to the playlist as well, but on the early-2014 follow-up, On through Portals, the trio of guitarist/vocalist Sabine Stangenberg, bassist Joey DeMartini and drummer Jay Erbe stretch out the form somewhat. Both arrive as EP-style releases, but On through Portals tops half-an-hour and executes a darkened psychedelic flow over its three extended tracks — “Journey to Abydos/Moon Maid” (12:15), “Invoke” (7:38), and “Into Darkness” (11:20) — so it could just as easily pass for a short album. Either way, the partial shift in aesthetic suits Disenchanter well, and what seems to have been in-process on their first demo comes closer to fruition here. Songs are patient and lumbering, but never boring, and Stangenberg‘s vocals layer effectively at the front of the mix to give the impression of a consummate frontwoman in the making. I won’t declare their development finished, but On through Portals is a big and interesting step for Disenchanter to take. On Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Junior Bruce, The Nomad


Just two tracks on this latest release from Southern heavy rockers Junior Bruce. The Nomad is the second of two (to date) digital releases following Junior Bruce‘s 2012 debut full-length, The Headless King, and intended as a complement to last year’s The Burden. Fair enough. Taken as such or on their own, The Nomad‘s two cuts, “The Promised Sleep” and “Nomad,” offer unpretentious heavy rolling groove from the Floridian five-piece fronted by Scott Angelacos and featuring bassist Tom Crowther, both also of Hollow Leg and formerly Bloodlet and Hope and Suicide. Molasses riffs from guitarists Nate Jones and Bryan Raymond and steady crash from drummer Jeff McAlear further distinguish “Nomad” in the Southern tradition, and the single/EP is twice as intriguing in the context of Hollow Leg‘s most recent recording, “God Eater” (discussed here), which moved in a more rocking direction as well. It seems to work for both bands. On Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Anuseye, Essay on a Drunken Cloud


Cuts like “J R” and “Wrong Blues” take ’90s crunch and heavy rock vibes to heart, but where Italy’s Anuseye really distinguish themselves on their Vincebus Eruptum Recordings debut — other than with their somewhat unfortunate moniker — is in the weirdo jamminess of “Push Magic Button” or the psychedelic exploration of “Earthquake.” Essay on a Drunken Cloud boasts a few riffs and effects-laced stretches like that in “Cursed Pills” that might call to mind guitarist Luca Stero and vocalist/guitarist Claudio C.‘s and prior work together in That’s all Folks, but Anuseye has a personality of their own here, with bassist Michele V. and drummer Antonello C. keeping step with the strange vibes every step of the way. The balance shifts effectively between psych rock and noisy post-punk, but songs like “Demon Pulse” and the penultimate “S.S. Abyss” find an engaging and unexpected middle ground on which to make an impression. And then they do. For those days when you feel like you’re heard everything a riff can do, Essay on a Drunken Cloud might just convince you there’s still territory to be discovered. On Thee Facebooks, at Vincebus Eruptum.

For the complete list of this week’s adds, click here.

Thanks for reading and listening.

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Buzz Osborne, Corrosion of Conformity, Blackout, Pale Horseman, Dwell

Posted in Radio on May 23rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Click here to listen.

A couple big names making their way onto the playlist this week, with Melvins guitarist/vocalist Buzz Osborne‘s first solo album and the new record, IX, from the Animosity-era lineup of C.O.C.. Some other cool stuff as well from Blackout, Dwell and Pale Horseman, so if you get to check any of it out, it’s worth digging further than what you might already recognize. But that’s almost always the case. Here we go.

Adds for May 23, 2014:

Buzz Osborne, This Machine Kills Artists

If you were to sit down and draw up a blueprint for what an acoustic solo record from Melvins frontman Buzz Osborne might sound like, This Machine Kills Artists would probably be it. Especially if your blueprint just had the words, “Like the Melvins, but acoustic,” on it. For someone who’s long since been the master of his sonic domain to step out in any fashion from the formula is interesting — and Buzzo makes a habit of doing so, usually in the company of Dale Crover — but on his own, the 17-track collection he’s produced is mostly predictable if also largely inoffensive. Songs like “Everything’s Easy for You,” “Laid Back Walking” and “The Blithering Idiot” are easy enough to imagine as Melvins tunes, and I had to check twice to make sure “The Ripping Driving” wasn’t one, but nothing overstays its welcome, and if Osborne is beginning a creative exploration branching off from his main outfit, it doesn’t seem fair to begrudge him starting from the root. The constant critical suckoff of anything Melvins-related notwithstanding, This Machine Kills Artists could be the start of an intriguing progression of Buzzo as a solo artist, or it could be a whim dabbled in and left to rust. Melvins fans will be on its junk either way, so I doubt it matters. On Thee Facebooks, Ipecac Recordings.

Corrosion of Conformity, IX


There was a news story the other day floating around the interwebs where Pepper Keenan said the name Corrosion of Conformity or something and people started getting all gooey about the possibility of a reunion. Uh huh. In the meantime, the actual band C.O.C. have put together a second full-length of unmitigated kickassery sans-Keenan following their 2012 self-titled (review here) and subsequent Scion A/V-sponsored Megalodon EP, and while I get the loyalty to one lineup or another for any band, to discount the quality of what Mike Dean, Woody Weatherman and Reed Mullin are doing right now — right this second — is just fucking stupid. IX, released by Candlelight, is more cohesive, more grooved out than was the self-titled, but songs like “Denmark Vasey” and “Tarquinius Superbus” still retain their crossover hardcore edge. Elsewhere, “The Hanged Man,” “The Nectar” (which gets a reprise as the album’s leadout), and opener “Brand New Sleep” touch off high order Sabbathian sludge rock and make fools of those pining for records that dropped 20 years ago. This band is vital, this record a triumph. On thee Facebooks, Candlelight Records.

Blackout, Converse EP


So apparently Converse have access to a studio in BBQ aficionados Blackout‘s native Brooklyn, which makes sense in this brave new world of corporate patronage of underground heavy, and they invited the three-piece down to record a couple cuts last week. Yup, last week. And the EP’s out now. Welcome to the future. Three tracks capture Blackout in raw, pretty live form, more fuckall tossoff than was their 2013 We are Here debut (review here), but doubtless that owes to the circumstances. Tones are huge all the same. They begin with the insistent push of an eponymous song, a heavy roller that’s short at 3:34 compared to the farther-ranging “Tannered,” which follows in likewise thickened Melvinsian form, some screams and growls thrown in for good measure lead to a plodding slowdown at the end, and for a sendoff, Blackout offer a take on Fleetwood Mac‘s “The Chain” that’s probably less ironic than it seems on the surface. Kind of a stopgap release, but it’s a free download and heavy as hell, so you’ll get no complaints out of me when it comes to Blackout‘s bacon-wrapped riffage. On Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Pale Horseman, Mourn the Black Lotus

Mourn the Black Lotus, the second long-player from Chicago bruiser rockers Pale Horseman comes topped with a Godfleshy Justin K. Broadrick remix of the song “Fork in the Road” from their 2013 self-titled debut. Not exactly representative of the burl in earlier cuts like “Running for the Caves” or “Conquistador,” both of which have riffs that seem retooled from ’90s-style hardcore, but a neato ending anyway, and it does provide some different context for the echoes on the throaty vocals throughout. Pale Horseman aren’t light on groove or really anything else, and the bulk of Mourn the Black Lotus is given to pummeling weight, though it’s not without atmospheric moments as well in lead sections. A clicky kick-drum aside, the album has a clean, crisp, metallized sound, but the groove in “Grudgulence” belies some crustier heritage. This is consistent with their first outing, which was also put to tape with Bongripper guitarist Dennis Pleckham at Comatose Studios, though there’s some progression in their aggro-sludge push. On Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Dwell, Far Dark Helm


Slow, as dark as its cover would indicate and straddling the line between post-metal angularity and doomed atmospherics, Far Dark Helm from Oakland, CA, trio Dwell — likely not named for the interior design magazine — periodically shift from the nod of “To Scry on Lamentations” into blastbeaten extremity. It doesn’t last too long, and if you’re previously hypnotized by that track’s repetitions, you might miss it, but it’s there and the changes add depth to the band’s approach. Far Dark Helm is comprised of four tracks, all between nine and 10 minutes long, and the remaining three make up installments of a title-track that don’t necessarily bleed into each other directly, but flow well nonetheless. Samples strewn about a rough production give Dwell‘s second full-length a sludgy edge, but the three-piece seem most in there element when exploring a grueling churn like that which rounds out the second “Far Dark Helm” leading to the sharp turns of the third. Including the opener seems to draw away from the theme of the record, but the ambience is consistent. On Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Also added this week were records by Harsh Toke, The Cult of Dom Keller and Begravningsentreprenörerna. For the complete list of updates, click here.

 

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Fatso Jetson, Demon Head, Naga, Seattle Noise, Wren

Posted in Radio on May 16th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Click here to listen.

I said at the end of last week I was planning to change how I organized the adds for The Obelisk Radio, and here we are. Gonna try this for a few weeks and see how it works out. Might vary number of adds depending on what comes in and how, but this should be a good start and there’s some cool stuff here, so please dig in.

Adds for May 16, 2014:

Fatso Jetson, Live at Maximum Festival

This Go Down Records vinyl recorded last year at Italy’s Maximum Festival is the second Fatso Jetson live release behind a 2007 Cobraside outing simply called Fatso Jetson Live, but as lethal as the seminal desert rockers are on stage, it’s a wonder they haven’t done more live recordings. “Bored Stiff” is a highlight here, and you’ll find it on side A — even digitally the set is split into two sides — but the Mario Lalli-led unit with Larry Lalli on bass, Tony Tornay (now also playing with Brant Bjork) on drums and Dino von Lalli on guitar, kill it to such a degree that I was all the more into adding multiple songs grouped together. Their grooves are surf-rock turned punk frenetic and their vibe is dirt-rock blues raging on a wavelength that by the time you’ve caught up to it, they’re two songs ahead, and Live at Maximum Festival proves what anyone who’s seen Fatso Jetson already knows: They simply cannot be stopped. They get into some bizarro psych-jazz in the second half and it’s all the more glorious, and make sure you listen for Mario shouting out Gabriele from Black Rainbows. Good times. On Thee Facebooks, at Go Down Records.

Demon Head, Demon Head b/w Winterland

I immediately dug the Demon Head Demo 2014 tape upon hearing it last month, so a quick follow-up single is welcome by me. The two songs “Demon Head” and “Winterland” follow suit stylistically on the Copenhagen five-piece’s initial studio effort, cleaning up the sound so that their eponymous riffer comes through with clearer Witchcraft allegiance in its classically fuzzed-out guitars. Watch out for the ultra-Sabbathian lead work in “Winterland” as well as this still relatively nascent outfit answer the potential of their demo and keep their momentum moving forward. Theirs is an excellent balance of clarity and organic sound that never quite tips over into retro-mindedness. Call it “neo-drunkard,” but it’s worth hearing. On Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Various Artists, Seattle Noise Vol. 1

Worth noting that the above isn’t the cover for the Seattle Noise Vol. 1 compilation — that’s here — but the list of bands from the back cover is pretty convenient and it emphasizes the primacy of all these tracks being previously unreleased. For those who know them, the prospect of a yet-unheard Sandrider cut will probably be enough of a draw for the Good to Die Records/AVR Music collaboration, also presented by Seattle’s Cha Cha Lounge, but the comp, the full title of which is This T-Shirt is a Record: Seattle Noise Vol. 1, finds like-minded ballbusting from Tacos!, the punkish Trash Fire, Constant Lovers‘ jagged “A Lullaby” and the blown-out finale of Theories‘ “Petrifaction.” Any number of kicks in the ass to be had, much homework for those willing to use it as a tool to dig deeper into a scene with a distinct and ferocious sound. Good to Die Records, AVR Music.

Naga, Hen

Out on vinyl through Lay Bare Recordings and CD via Shove Records, Fallo Dischi and La Fine, the full-length debut from Italian post-metallers Naga, dubbed Hen (actually there’s an accent over the ‘e’ that I can’t get to show up, thanks Obama), starts off with the 13-minute plunder of “Naas,” quickly establishing a wide sonic range for the Napoli trio. Thick sludge meets blackened vocal impulses throughout the disc, but Naga keep a pervasive atmospheric sensibility as well, with samples in the pummeling “Hierophania,” psych-effects swirl in “Eris” and a YOB-style roll emerging in the penultimate “The Path.” Nothing to complain about. They dodge the loud/quiet tradeoffs bullet for the most part, which is all the more impressive considering how extended the five-tracks of Hen are. No better way to spend the time than bludgeoning. On Thee Facebooks, Lay Bare Recordings.

Wren, Wren

A self-releasing London-based five-piece, Wren issued their self-titled debut EP in February. The four-tracker sparks an engaging interaction between patient, Pelican-style post-heavy rock instrumentalism and deep-in-the-mix psychedelic black metal-style vocals. It’s legitimately a combination I haven’t heard before done in this ay, and for as well as Wren do both on “Nørreport” and for the spacious ambience of “Habeas Corpus,” they show a progressive mentality right away their first time out. As a sample of what they can do, Wren bodes exceedingly well, and the flow they create from seemingly disparate elements hints at a richly individualized approach in the forming. One to watch for sure, and all the more encouraging for how comfortable Wren seem tipping the balance to either side. On Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

For all the latest adds, check out the complete list on The Obelisk Radio update page.

Thanks for reading and listening.

 

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The Obelisk Radio Add of the Week: Reclvse, Reclvse Demo

Posted in Radio on May 9th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

With a persistent murk and pervasively foggy sensibility, Welsh four-piece Reclvse make their debut with their self-titled three-song demo. The doubly-bassed Swansea doomers craft an aesthetic of sonic obscurity throughout “Temptress!,” “Of Many Names” and “Bewitch the Sky,” broiling themselves in molten garage demos of old while offering glimpses of ideas more complex, be it the nascent battle-metal melody in the chorus of the opener or the acoustic finale that closes out. Their name (which they often use stylized in all-caps, though that’s somewhat less reclusive) speaks to a cult mentality, but there’s little of that mindset in their actual songs, which are stripped to the bone stylistically and rounded off with medieval cruelty, turning otherwise simplistic trad doom grooves into something more cavernous and malevolent.

“Temptress!” resides deep in the mix, and Reclvse stay there for the duration, varying some in tempo while keeping an otherwise consistent sound no more telling than the single initials by which they identify themselves — J. (guitar/vocals), P. and B. (bass) and C. (drums) — but which should be relatable enough to experienced ears. The opener is the most rolling of the three tracks, though “Of Many Names” follows suit somewhat while keeping a less finished feel and spacing out in its midsection, while “Bewitch the Sky,” which stretches past the seven-minute mark as the longest cut here, moves at a crawl for most of its duration. Reclvse‘s middle piece, though shorter, varies some from the doomly atmospheres of “Temptress!” or “Bewitch the Sky.” “Of Many Names” was previously released in December 2013 as the band’s first recorded audio, and while the entire release this time around has some of that rehearsal-room air to it, the songs are cohesive and ably executed. Hard to know how they might hold up under a more elaborate production, but that’s not a concern for the time being.

As it stands, the raw feel only adds to the ambience — a phenomenon more commonly associated with black metal — and Reclvse‘s Reclvse ends up a cassette-ready demo that announces the band’s arrival well while giving a sense of where they might be headed creatively as they plunge deeper into ancient metals and altered-consciousness doom. You can hear the tracks now as part of The Obelisk Radio‘s 24/7 stream, and grab yourself a name-your-price download courtesy of the Bandcamp player below.

Reclvse, Reclvse Demo (2014)

Reclvse on Thee Facebooks

Reclvse on Bandcamp

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The Obelisk Radio Add of the Week: Neptune’s Inferno, Abyss

Posted in Radio on April 30th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

If you like your sludge with more than a touch of the inhumane, Long Island resident Vincent Napolitano has got six songs and a name-your-price download with your name on them. Napolitano is the sole member of and driving force behind Neptune’s Inferno, whose debut long-player, Abyss, is out now through Death Valley Records. The album is a collection of thick, bludgeoning, misanthropic riffs, played slow and set to thunderous-sounding drum programming as a bed for Napolitano‘s layers of throat-ripping growls and screams. If nothing else, the 43-minute outing has the right title, since by the time the ultra-lumbering “Chiropteris” storms into its second half, you long since feel like you’ve been pulled down a well.

The largesse of sound is a big part of the album’s success. With a recording produced by Bleach Eater guitarist/vocalist Don Millard and engineered by Joe Cincotta at Full Force Studio, Napolitano pushes beyond one-man-project resonance and well into a full-band appeal. There are moments where the cymbal sounds are clearly programmed — the “hi-hat” in “Night Fever” and the “ride” in “Sonic Invasion” come to mind — but it’s not like Abyss is otherwise going for such a natural, accessible feel. Extremity is the purpose, and if there are flourishes of industrial at work in some of the material, that doesn’t necessarily detract from the album’s overall affect. “Vision Spell” sets a steady march and offers few frills around its riffing, screaming, lumbering approach, but the song’s victory is in the lack of restraint in its vomitous crawl. One does not get hit in the head with hammer and marvel at the nuance.

An 11:38 capstone arrives in “Frost Trails under the Blackened Sun,” feeding back into one last gleefully-repugnant plod. It finishes with the onset of gritty machine-noise drone, but it’s the march that makes the song a standout more than anything, a break around six and a half minutes in bridging the gap basically between the two songs it otherwise might’ve been. Whether it’s bands like Grime, or Wizard’s Beard or Morbid Wizard, Fistula or any of their depraved ilk, the world is not short on extreme sludge, and Napolitano has his work cut out for him in finding a niche for the massive tones he emits on Abyss, but especially for a first album, the clarity of intent served up here feels like forewarning of cruelties yet to come.

Hear Abyss now as part of the 24/7 stream of The Obelisk Radio, and get a sampling of the album via the player below, snagged from the Neptune’s Inferno Bandcamp:

Neptune’s Inferno, Abyss (2014)

Neptune’s Inferno on Thee Facebooks

Death Valley Records on Thee Facebooks

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The Obelisk Radio Add of the Week: Merlin, Execution Single

Posted in Radio on April 3rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

It’s hard to decide what’s more striking about Execution, the new two-song single from Kansas City five-piece Merlin — the full, crisp production of the tracks themselves, or just how different the band comes across in them as compared to their late-2013 self-titled debut. Since that album’s release last August, Merlin have added rhythm guitarist Ben Cornett to the lineup with lead guitarist/backing vocalist Carter Lewis, vocalist Jordan Knorr, bassist Evan Warren and drummer Caleb Wyels, but it’s hard to believe one six-stringer can bring about so much change in the band’s approach, and that rather, the shift from meandering shoegaze psych rock to heavier crunch and twang-ready stomp in “Execution” can only have been the result of some conscious decision. “Execution,” which comes paired with a cover of Pentagram‘s “Forever My Queen,” meters out an initial roughneck stomp that has twang à la the intro of Clutch‘s “The Regulator” and moves into Melvins-style vocals and (sure enough) Pentagram-style doom and roll. Whatever else it might be, it’s a long, long way from shoegaze.

When Execution first came to my attention, I hadn’t yet heard the self-titled, and so pegged Merlin as looking to fit with bruiser American-style heavy rock, but in the context of the prior album, the “Forever My Queen” cover makes even more sense. The version that opens Pentagram‘s First Daze Here is 2:24, but Merlin‘s take is over six minutes, and since the song itself it kept largely intact the extra time comes from an extended jam on the back end. I hadn’t picked up on it because of the production value of the single — which, again, is crisp and accessible and professional — but what they’re doing there is an extension of the open vibe they brought to tracks like the lazily unfolding “Achimedes” from Merlin, just repurposed to suit their shift in sound. Where “Execution” only seems to build into something more raucous even in its second-half bridge, “Forever My Queen” opts to space out a little more. It makes more sense after one hears Merlin jam all over their self-titled, and where it might at first seem like they’re trying to milk the Pentagram track for everything they can get out of it, further investigation reveals that in fact, jamming has been an essential part of their work to date.

How this might continue to manifest on Merlin‘s upcoming second full-length, Christ Killer (due out April 18), I don’t know, but “Execution” seems to hint that perhaps the band is trying to find a middle ground between boozy heavy groove and trippy psych jams. It’s a noble pursuit, and it shows Merlin have the potential to distinguish themselves in more than just one niche going forward.

Hear “Execution” and “Forever My Queen” now as part of the 24/7 stream of The Obelisk Radio and grab a name-your-price download from the player below, conjured from Merlin‘s Bandcamp.

Merlin, Execution Single (2014)

Merlin on Thee Facebooks

Merlin on Bandcamp

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The Obelisk Radio Add of the Week: Orange Sunshine, Live at Freak Valley 2013

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

Years from now, when some unfortunate soul is putting together a comprehensive history of European heavy psychedelia, Dutch power trio Orange Sunshine will be one of a select few acts complicating the narrative. Similar to the manner in which their chief point of influence, Blue Cheer (who were also named after a kind of acid), forces those who’d look beyond the simplistic “Black Sabbath invented heavy metal” to broaden their horizons, so too does Orange Sunshine show that not all Euro-retro grooving began with Norrsken in Sweden or On Trial in Denmark. Orange Sunshine got their start kicking around Den Haag circa 1999, and released their debut, Homo Erectus, in 2001, following it up with Love = Acid, Space = Hell two years later, both albums released through Motorwolf Records with reissue through Leaf Hound. The three-piece of drummer/vocalist Guy Tavares, guitarist Arthur van Berkel and bassist Mehdi Rouchiche issued their third outing, Bullseye of Being, via the same labels in 2006/2007, but have produced little studio material since — just a couple singles.

In late 2013, Who Can You Trust? pressed a tape of their 2007 set from Roadburn (they also played in 2010), and just last month, Lay Bare Recordings followed suit with a vinyl of Orange Sunshine recorded at last year’s Freak Valley festival in Germany. The aptly-titled Live at Freak Valley 2013 is presented, even digitally, on two sides, and captures Orange Sunshine‘s ’60s loyalist heavy garage psych groove with a marked flow and thorough looseness. Each side tops a little over 20 minutes but meets a fuzz quota for probably twice that, Tavares‘ vocals cutting through in soulful, bluesy madman shouts. Rouchiche carries a lot of the weight on bass, holding together jams that seem to send van Berkel on solo explorations, but as a whole, the three-piece wind up as tight as one might hope for a dynamic act who’ve been at it for roughly a decade and a half, despite the swing in the songs themselves. Side A includes the opening jam that was their warmup before their time actually started, takes on All Saved Freak Band‘s “All Across the Nation,” and The 31 Flavors‘ “Distortions of Darkness,” and side B boasts Lincoln Street Exit‘s “Straight Shootin’ Man,” Sam and Dave‘s “I Thank You” (co-written by Isaac Hayes)  “Rock Me Baby” — which Blue Cheer also did — and the Rolling Stones‘ “Gimme Shelter.” The latter closes out in jammed fashion, and each is given Orange Sunshine‘s own stamp and stomp along the way, fitting smoothly with the original “Did You Tell the Woman?,” which to-date hasn’t been included on an Orange Sunshine LP.

The vinyl version of the album is just about gone (Lay Bare sold their yellow-platter version, the band has some regular copies left), but Orange Sunshine have made it available digitally through their Bandcamp, and while it’s not a new studio offering and the fact that it’s at least almost entirely covers doesn’t make me think a new one is on the way anytime soon, it still sounds like a psychedelic garage freakout and I wouldn’t ask more of it than that. Check out Live at Freak Valley 2013 now as part of the 24/7 stream on The Obelisk Radio or sample its two sides on the player below and see what you’ve been missing by not tuning in and dropping out:

Orange Sunshine, Live at Freak Valley 2013 (2014)

Orange Sunshine on Thee Facebooks

Live at Freak Valley vinyl from Orange Sunshine

Lay Bare Recordings

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