Friday Full-Length: Electric Wizard, Electric Wizard

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Electric Wizard, Electric Wizard (1995)

Yeah, yeah, I know. Dopethrone. Come My Fanatics. Hell, Witchcult Today. I know. In the 30 years that Electric Wizard have been operating going back to guitarist/vocalist Jus Oborn founding the Dorset-based outfit as Lord of Putrefaction in 1988 before becoming Thy Grief Eternal a couple years later and ultimately Electric Wizard in 1993, the band has produced a couple genuine classics, and their 1995 self-titled debut, issued as catalog number nine by Lee Dorrian of Cathedral‘s Rise Above Records with the lineup of Oborn, bassist Tim Bagshaw and drummer Mark Greening, generally isn’t considered in the same tier. But I ask you, have human beings ever come closer to capturing the guitar tone of Master of Reality than Oborn does on “Black Butterfly?”

I don’t think I’m taking anything away from the accomplishments of Dopethrone in 2000 or Come My Fanatics… before it in 1997 by pointing out the foundation that the eight-song/47-minute self-titled laid, essentially allowing them to happen. Its arrival in 1995 doesn’t quite put it at the forefront of the mid-’90s stoner rock wave — recall Monster Magnet issued Spine of God in 1991, Sleep unveiled Sleep’s Holy Mountain and Kyuss had their Blues for the Red Sun both in 1992 — and certainly by the time they get down to the central rolling riff of “Electric Wizard,” they seem at least to have been affected somewhat by the rays of Sleep‘s new stoner sun rising, but Electric Wizard‘s Electric Wizard arrived roughly concurrent to Acrimony‘s 1994 debut, Hymns to the Stone, and particularly for a time before the internet went mainstream as a means of sharing music even via word of mouth let alone actual file transfer protocols, it represents a landmark in the development of what would become UK heavy. While it seems relatively simple in aesthetic 23 years later — it is stoned. forever. — its Sabbathian loyalties flew in the face of what was happening at the time. 1995? Sabbath were still three years off from reuniting with Ozzy. They released Forbidden that year; the last installment of the Tony Martin era, and were largely considered a relic. For a group like Electric Wizard to so brazenly take on their early work as a central point of influence, even with groups like the Melvins roaming the earth for however long already, was a decidedly bold statement.

And not only did Electric Wizard transpose this inspiration into a context of the stoner rock of the time, but by doing so, they bridged the gap between that style and classic doom in a way that even Orange Goblin — who got their start as Our Haunted Kingdom in 1994 and would release their debut, Frequencies from Planet Ten, in 1997 — wouldn’t seem interested in directly engaging. To listen to cuts like opener “Stone Magnet” or the suitably lumbering “Behemoth” is to find Electric Wizard‘s self-titled living up to the old adage of proper doom being as much ahead of its time as behind it; timeless by the simple and not-at-all-simple fact of its not fitting its own age. Whether it’s the drifting psych interlude “Mountains of Mars” or the nodder chug and swing of “Mourning Prayer” before it, the brazenness of the approach here not only is what allows the album to function, but it portends the fuckall that would become such a core factor of Electric Wizard‘s aesthetic contribution to doom over the next two-plus decades. Stoned, obsessed with horror, dropped out of life and generally not giving a shit about who knows it — one finds all these aspects at play to some degree throughout “Devil’s Bride,” “Electric Wizard,” “Black Butterfly” and “Mourning Prayer,” and especially given the scope of what Oborn and Electric Wizard would go on to produce in this album’s wake, it seems to me it deserves no less consideration than anything they’ve done in their time together, no matter who’s in the lineup for a given LP.

Of course, they have a new record out in the form of late 2017’s Wizard Bloody Wizard (review here), and I’ve got that in mind as well in thinking about the ongoing impact of this first outing and how their origins have led them to become the band they have. Thinking back across 2014’s Time to Die (review here), 2010’s Black Masses (review here), that lineage seems almost to have been reset by Witchcult Today (discussed here) in 2007 following the somewhat awkward but utterly filthy mid-period releases Let us Prey and We Live in 2002 and 2004, respectively, but even that album drew from the ethic of Electric Wizard in speaking to the groove and malevolent vibing that goes so far in making Electric Wizard‘s riffing seem just that much nastier than the legions they’ve now influenced. No question the self-titled has been overshadowed in the years since its release, but its place in the conversation and in the canon should be assured both by its own merits and by the catalog it began to unfurl, which is one of the richest and most pivotal in the doom of any era.

As always, I hope you enjoy, and thanks for reading.

Just came in a bit ago from doing a second round of snow shoveling. Turns out I’m brutally out of shape. Viciously so. Doesn’t help the fact that it’s a foot-plus of densely-packed, heavy snowfall that came down yesterday across the wintry hellscape of January Massachusetts, but yeah, I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge there were times in my life when getting rid of it would’ve been way easier. Also I’m old.

Nothing like a solid humbling in the morning to keep the ego in check. Imagine where one might be otherwise.

I’ll go back out in a few minutes and shovel more, spread salt, move the car, etc., but yeah, it was a pretty brutal bit of weather dumped on us yesterday, and today’s supposed to be bitter cold and 50mph wind gusts, which actually makes me more nervous because I have about zero faith in the infrastructure of the electrical grid in this region. Last time a mean breeze blew we were out for like four days. The baby was three days old. He’s over two months now, but when it’s -20 out, that’s also a factor one has to consider. Blah. We’ll figure it out.

Hope you’re warm, wherever you are.

Next week is the Quarterly Review. I’ve set up at this point none of the back end, so I’m a little nervous about how that’s gonna get done, but it will. I’ll be working on it this weekend, to be sure, but it’ll be fine. We’ll get there. As of right now, that’s the only thing planned for the week, so I’m not going to list notes or anything like that, but I might work in a Six Dumb Questions along the way or some video posts or stuff like that with the usual batches of news and so on. There’s a lot to come, and then the entire week after next is already booked with premieres and streams, so there’s that. Keep an eye out.

Please have a great and safe weekend. I’m back out to do more shoveling. I hope you’re enjoying 2018. I know it’s the future and all, but please don’t forget to check out the forum and the radio stream. One more time, thanks for reading.

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On Thorns I Lay Post Lyric Video for “Aegean Sorrow”; New Album out March 12

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 3rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

on thorns i lay

Following an absence of some 12 years, Athens-based outfit On Thorns I Lay returned in 2015 with their seventh album, Eternal Silence. Following behind 2003’s Egocentric, it marked a significant change in style — essentially a goth-death/doom revamp of what had become more of a hard rock approach over time born out of the band’s initial extremity of form in the 1990s. Think of the progressions of groups like Paradise LostAnathema and Katatonia and you’ll probably have some idea, but with On Thorns I LayEgocentric was more straightforward hard rock, even if cuts like “When I’m Gone” retained some darker edge.

Well, Eternal Silence had no shortage of ‘dark edge’ to it either, but turned the execution on its head with a theatrical blend of melodic and growled vocals. The six-piece’s new offering, Aegean Sorrow, would seem on the impression given by its title-track to be pushing further in that direction as well. I have been and I suspect will always remain a sucker for really well done death metal growls, and those of frontman Stefanos Kintzoglou are particularly choice, and it’s worth noting that the cleaner-toned voice of Eternal Silence seems at least to be sitting this track out. I haven’t heard the entirety of Aegean Sorrow, so can’t comment on whether or not that’s the case for the whole record, but the choice puts On Thorns I Lay squarely in death/doom territory and at least going by these nine minutes — which still feature a piano-led break near the middle — they seem just fine with that.

In any case, it’s some pretty wrenching stuff. Probably won’t be for everyone, but especially in the darkness of January at the outset of a New Year, it hits a downer sweet spot. Aegean Sorrow is out March 12 via Alone Records and The Vinyl Division. Check out the track below, followed by more info from the PR wire.

Enjoy:

On Thorns I Lay, “Aegean Sorrow” lyric video

Greek doom/death classic outfit On Thorns I Lay have just unveiled the first lyric video from their upcoming Aegean Sorrow, out next March 12th, 2018 on cd by Alone Records and limited vinyl version by The Vinyl Division.

“Aegean Sorrow” is the track opening the album, showing in almost nine minutes the band still have much to offer to the metal scene. The video concept was created and edited by Manthos Stergiou for Manster Design.

On Thorns I Lay is:
Stefanos Kintzoglou – VOX
Chris Dragamestianos – GUITARS
Antony – KEYBOARDS
Fotis Hondroudakis – DRUMS
Akis Pastras – GUITARS
Jim Ramses – BASS

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Friday Full-Length: Causa Sui, Euporie Tide

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 29th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Call it a watershed moment, or a point of arrival, or whatever you want, there can be no doubt 2013’s Euporie Tide put Causa Sui in their own echelon of progressive heavy psychedelia. And though for the multiple layers of melodic wash its 10-track/64-minute run enacted, it more than earned a headphones-on listen, the truest experience of the third proper studio full-length from the Danish instrumentalists was just the opposite: totally unencumbered, preferably outdoors, as open a space as possible. From 10-minute opener “Homage” onward, Euporie Tide was a record best heard when it had room to breathe.

Causa Sui made their self-titled debut in 2005 through ultra-respected purveyor Nasoni Records — if you see a copy of that CD around, let me know — and followed up via Elektrohasch Schallplatten with Free Ride in 2007. Those two endorsements, Nasoni and Elektrohasch — the latter imprint being run by Stefan Koglek of German heavy psych forebears Colour Haze should be considered pretty key when it comes to dogwhistling the aesthetic guidance under which Causa Sui were working at the time. Between 2008 and 2009, the band would issue the three-part Summer Sessions LP series — collected in ’09 as Summer Sessions Vol. 1-3 (review here; discussed here) by Elektrohasch — and in 2011, the first two installments of their Pewt’r Sessions collaboration with Ron “Pewt’r” Schneiderman of Massachusetts improvisers Sunburned Hand of the Man. The latter two offerings, Pewt’r Sessions 1  and Pewt’r Sessions 2, were also important as they marked the beginning of a new branch in Causa Sui‘s expression with the beginning of the “Impetus” series delivered through their own label, El Paraiso Records.

It was a productive time, but the fact that between their second and third studio long-players, Causa Sui basically spent six years jamming their collective ass off shouldn’t be lost as one makes their way through Euporie Tide, which, with its explorations working around more plotted courses in the serenity of “Echo Springs” and the funk-infused “Boozehound” alike, was nonetheless a beneficiary of all that open creativity in the years immediately prior. Now the foursome of Jakob Skøtt, Jonas Munk, Rasmus Rasmussen and Jess Kahr and working under the tutelage of Munk as producer, Causa Sui stepped beyond their influences in the krautrocking “The Juice,” the psych daydream interlude “Fichelscher Sun” and “Mireille,” the organ opening of which gave way to a fluidity of bass, meander-ready guitar and snare shuffle that seems to foretell a golden age of psychedelic jazz fusion just waiting to be realized. I’m still holding my breath for it, frankly, but however they got there, Causa Sui had clearly become masters of the form, and they bent their aesthetic to the whims of their craft accordingly and extended the richness of their sound to each and every resonant cymbal hit and fuzzy build. To listen to “Ju-Ju Blues,” which as it enters its midsection feels perilously close to coming apart at the seams, is to hear this mastery made flesh. Amid Echoplex swirl, keys and a head-spinning groove, Causa Sui not only charge forward from the apparent chaos, but make doing so all the more a payoff for the threat averted.

All of this led, like the sonic river that it was, inexorably to the closing duo of “Euporie” and “Eternal Flow.” Running at 10:55 and 9:25, respectively, the pair arrived preceded by the quick ethereal interlude “Sota el Cel,” and were an album unto themselves when it came to the level of front-to-back engagement and overarching fluidity. Causa Sui seemed to know it as well, which is likely how the two pieces wound up positioned in such a way, but regardless of that consciousness, the drifting keys and airy strummed guitar at the center of “Euporie” was an invite to get lost in the track itself just before a directed rhythmic pickup — a genuine chug — took hold that gave Euporie Tide one of its most standout instrumental hooks. The band would rightly ride that progression for a while before shifting back to more peaceful fare and eventually settling into a kind of sonic middle ground en route to the last crescendo wash that cut off suddenly into the silence at the start of “Eternal Flow,” the guitar of which entered as though nothing at all has just happened and began the movement anew. “Eternal Flow” never landed in the same kind of heaviness as “Euporie” before it, but as it passed the six-minute mark, there was a sense of an understated payoff taking place, gently, subtly, that didn’t so much shove the listener into raging waters as languidly float them downstream. That peaceful feeling gave Causa Sui their fadeout cue, and they didn’t miss it, capping the record not with some overbaked and unnecessary push, but a smooth transition for their audience back to a reality that might’ve felt just a bit warmer for the manner in which the hour before was spent.

Fortunately, Euporie Tide kicked off what’s continued to be a prolific time for Causa Sui. In 2014, they followed it with Pewt’r Sessions 3 (review here) and the Live at Freak Valley (review here) outing captured the year prior at the titular German festival. Touring as well, they answered the desert rock aspects of Euporie Tide with the jazzier and more pointedly proggy Return to Sky (review here), and in 2017, surprised with not one but two new releases, the 3LP Live in Copenhagen (review here) and the looser-feeling studio record Vibraciones Doradas (review here) that helped seal the meld of adventurousness and core riffing that, by now, is an essential hallmark of their approach and a facet of the influence they’ve had on other jammers who’ve come along in their wake. I wouldn’t speculate what 2018 might bring from them, but as they’ve grown on each release, they’ve never failed to show a different side of who they are as a band, and the character and individualism that’s brought to their work has made it an utter delight to take on, whether it happens in a wide field on a sunny day or with a set of earbuds on a train. However it happens, the important thing is it happens.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

So hey, next week is 2018, huh? The future. I probably said the same thing last year. Whatever. 2017 felt like the future too. Like a tragic future, plus baby.

Speaking of baby, I need to find some way to adjust my morning writing process because I keep falling asleep at the keyboard and it’s damn near impossible to get anything done as a result. I know. Big newsflash: Dude with two-month-old isn’t getting enough sleep. Other top stories: Sky is blue and sun expected to rise in east. Still. I slept late one day this week — I think it was Wednesday — and it was magnificent. Might try to work more of that into my life.

By the time you read this, I’ll probably either be on my way to having or will already have had a root canal today. Was originally supposed to be last week, but I postponed because I already had a doctor appointment that day and dammit, one’s enough for a day. Anyway, I’m gonna see if they’ll gas me because I’ve had trouble with novocain working in the past and I figure better to go nuclear generally. Maybe I’ll kill a couple important brain cells and not give a shit about politics anymore. That’d be a nice New Year’s thing. Start off 2018 with a clean slate and all that.

See? I keep falling asleep on the couch. God damn.

I’ve decided to do the Quarterly Review the week after next, since next week is New Year’s Day and no one will give a crap anyhow, but there’s still a lot going on. Here’s what’s in the notes thus far:

Mon.: Year-End Poll Results; King Buffalo EP review/track premiere.
Tue.: C.O.C. review.
Wed.: Maybe a review/track premiere of the new album from Manthrass? Could happen. Otherwise, maybe Weedpecker.
Thu.: Greyfell track premiere/review.
Fri.: Either that Weedpecker or maybe Mr. Plow, depending on how the mood strikes.

Also having some messed up dream-snippets on the couch. Before I was at a literary conference and Kurt Vonnegut collapsed at the podium. Just now I was watching a surgery. And just now I saw a bookstore worker push a cart down a flight of stairs. What the hell is going on in my brain?

Okay, time to put the computer down. Be safe on New Year’s. I won’t be up at midnight unless The Pecan is, but if you are, I hope you have a great and safe time. Forum and radio stream.

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Besvärjelsen Premiere “Return to No Return” Video; Vallmo out in February

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 29th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

besvarjelsen

Swedish five-piece Besvärjelsen make their full-length debut in Feb. 2018 with Vallmo on Suicide Records, and it’s an album that weaves its brooding self between heavy rock and doom as fluidly as its lyrics do between English and Swedish. The full-length follows two shorter releases in 2016’s Exil and 2015’s Villfarelser, and while both to some degree offered a look at the band’s stylistic swath — to wit, Exil had two tracks, one more upbeat and one moodier — the blend has become richer and as the first audio to be made public from the record, the new video for “Return to No Return” showcases the fullness of approach that has resulted.

Noteworthy immediately for the rhythm section of former Dozer/Greenleaf membersbesvarjelsen valmo Johan Rockner (bass) and Erik Bäckwall (drums), Besvärjelsen makes their impression no less with melody than with groove on “Return to No Return” and other album cuts like “Mara” and the folkish “Under en Svart Himmel,” vocalist Lea Amling establishing a strong presence backed by guitarists Staffan Winroth and Andreas Baier for a choral effect that, regardless of language, seems to beg for singing along when it comes to the also-plentiful hooks throughout the record. Soul abounds, and with just an undercurrent of danger in its execution, “Return to No Return” captures an important aspect of what ties together the disparate styles Besvärjelsen touch on throughout the LP. The atmosphere here is not to be overlooked.

When it comes to the video itself, I suppose it would be hard ultimately to overlook the atmosphere, since that’s so much of what’s going on. We see Amling in a murky forest, delivering lines to the camera. The rest of the band? Not so much. There are some flashing lights near the finish, so if you’re sensitive to that kind of thing, heads up, but otherwise, it’s worth letting the track sink in and make its statement, which it does clearly and in righteous form.

I’ll hope to have more to come on Vallmo before the release, but for now, please enjoy:

Besvärjelsen, “Return to No Return” official video premiere

In 2014, from the ashes of bands like Afgrund, Dozer, Lastkaj and Greenleaf, Besvärjelsen was formed. By mixing influences from progressive metal, doom, punk, folk and rock n roll the band has created a sound unlike no other band at the moment. The band released their first EP ”Villfarelser” in 2015. The follow up EP ”Exil” was released in 2016. Both EPs were well recieved in Swedish media and the band got many songs played on Swedish national radio.

The band spent 2017 writing songs and recording what was to become their first full length album. The result, ”Vallmo”, is an album that shows many different sides of the band. From heavy doom riffs to catchy lyrics and melodies and, of course, beautiful guitar solos. The songs have previously only been in Swedish, but with ”Vallmo” Besvärjelsen is debuting songs in english as well.

Besvärjelsen is
Andreas Baier – guitar and vocals
Staffan Winroth – guitar and vocals
Lea Amling – vocals
Erik Bäckwall – drums
Johan Rockner – bass

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High Reeper Post “Die Slow” Video; European Tour Dates Coming Soon

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

high reeper

As Philly’s heavy scene expands, it’s cool to see bands coming up with a variety of sounds. Alongside psych rock acts like Ruby the Hatchet and Ecstatic Vision, High Reeper cast a gritty impression born of proto-doom riffing but presented with a modern edge in its production. The band, who self-released their self-titled debut (review here) earlier this year, signed to Heavy Psych Sounds to give it a wider/official pressing, and as has been known to happen in the best of cases, High Reeper have linked up with the label’s booking arm as well and will tour Europe this Spring. Right in the thick of festival season, as it happens. Funny how these things work out sometimes.

For many, the clip below for “Die Slow” will be their first exposure to High Reeper‘s Sabbath-fueled stylings, and with the five-piece headbanging away on stage, it’s just as light on BS visually as it is in structure — a good sense of what it’s all about and a propensity for following the riff? These are not things with which to argue. As the dates are announced, I’ll be interested to see particularly who they wind up hitting the road with — whether it’s a native European act or American compatriots. The label’s roster offers plenty of sound company to keep, of course, and whether it’s the likes of Killer Boogie, who also have a new record coming, or Texas rockers Duel, who’ve been abroad a couple times already — or hell, both — it seems like there’s a cool opportunity to put a killer package together.

Speculation on my part, of course. I haven’t heard anything or anything. When I do, I’ll post the dates, of course. Till then, you can check out the “Die Slow” clip below, followed as ever by more info from the PR wire.

Enjoy:

High Reeper, “Die Slow” official video

Die Slow is the first official music video of the upcoming High Reeper’s album !!!

The self-titled album will be released via Heavy Psych Sounds on March 16th

The US based rockers will tour Europe from 26th of April to 19th of May 2018 !!!

High Reeper’s self titled debut is an unapologetic punch to the face for fans of early ‘70s proto-metal. The sound and smell of leather, weed, boozing, gambling and death permeate the record from start to finish. Nine tracks that run from uptempo straight ahead rock, to slowed down, heavy, early doom. With a rhythm section throwing down grooves that are deeper than the darkest abyss and guitars big enough to put a hole in your chest, the record’s finale hits just as hard as its opening track. Vocals that soar above the guitars with laser like precision, while delivering a direct hit to your soul. Produced, engineered and mixed by bass player Shane Trimble at TTR studios in Philadelphia and at his home studio Delwood sound in Delaware. The production is laced with old school elements while still maintaining the focus of a modern release. Recorded in the fall of 2017, High Reeper is meant to be played loud and to be played often.

AVAILABLE IN:
LIMITED ORANGE TRANSPARENT VINYL
BLACK VINYL
DIGIPAK / DIGITAL

High Reeper is:
Pat Daly
Zach Thomas
Andrew Price
Napz Mosley
Shane Trimble

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Friday Full-Length: Apostle of Solitude, Sincerest Misery

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Apostle of Solitude, Sincerest Misery (2008)

Sure enough, doom has rarely offered miseries that seem so sincere. Part of what makes Apostle of Solitude so resonant on that level, I think, is the utter lack of drama in their sound. That’s something that was true of them on their 2008 full-length debut, Sincerest Misery — which was released by underrated and now-defunct imprint Eyes Like Snow — and it’s remained true of them ever since. Somehow, coming from the Indianapolis outfit, it seems particularly American, and in the case of their first record, that’s a spirit emphasized by the everyday-rural-woes spoken sample included in “This Dustbowl Earth” in the album’s back half, but even more than that, it’s the point that Apostle of Solitude right away seemed to spurn any sort of morose posturing or poetic theatricalities. “A Slow Suicide” tells a story about substance abuse. “The Dark Tower” references Stephen King in its title. But with guitarist/vocalist Chuck Brown‘s sorrowful delivery, the emotional crux of Sincerest Misery comes across as being on a perpetual fade. It’s not about scribbling lines to Horus by moonlight — nothing against that, mind you; when it works it’s brilliant — but about the doom can infect one’s day-to-day experience of life. It doesn’t need that added drama to get its point across.

Comprised of eight core tracks plus a hidden cover of Black Sabbath‘s “Electric Funeral,” Sincerest Misery begins with a snare count-in on “The Messenger” from founding drummer Corey Webb that sets in motion the key dynamic that will play out throughout the course of the record — namely that between himself and Brown. As the guitar on “The Messenger” and the subsequent “Confess” sways between chugging and drawn out lumber, Webb demonstrates a core tactic that the band has continued to utilize on their three-to-date LPs in switching between forward propulsion and a half-time swing that seems to make everything slower despite no tempo change from Brown — joined on guitar here by Justin Avery, while Brent McLellen handled bass and backing vocal duties — drawing back and lurching ahead with a change that’s both subtle and beaning the listener in the head. Together, “The Messenger” and “Confess” make up a pivotal opening salvo that I’d argue helped establish Apostle of Solitude immediately among the stronger US-based purveyors of traditional doom metal, showcasing them quickly as more than just an offshoot of The Gates of Slumber, in which Brown had previously served as drummer, and setting the stage for the slower crawl to come on “A Slow Suicide,” the 14-minute closer “Sincerest Misery (1,000 Days)” or the penultimate “Warbird,” which at nine minutes is perhaps Sincerest Misery‘s most dynamic track in its melody and the patience of its execution, starting with a hypnotic undulation of bass and slowly doling out its riff before exploding into nodding crash en route first to a fistpump-ready midsection, then through another slowdown that builds toward a payoff in the last minute that, even on its own, outside the context of the rest of the outing around it, shows the potential that existed in this band at what was more or less their outset, the first full-length having been preceded by the 2006 Embraced by the Black EP and an eponymous demo in 2005.

The cleverness of having the guitar count-in at the start of “Last Tears,” which on the vinyl version closes out side A in answer to “The Messenger,” is one example of nuance presented throughout, and certainly the instrumental rollout of “The Dark Tower” has its classically progressive elements, but again, what makes Sincerest Misery as a whole even more affecting to the listener is the overarching rawness that seems to be emanating from it at all times. One gets the sense in listening to the the turns and howls of “Confess,” the lurching chug of “Last Tears” and the ultra-dug-in plod of “Sincerest Misery (1,000 Days)” that the damage suffered is recent, and it sounds no less so more than nine years after the initial release — it turns a decade old in Oct. 2018 — than it did when the album first came out, because like the best of doom, Apostle of Solitude‘s Sincerest Misery has retained a sonic potency by seeming not to belong to its own era so much as an ongoing pantheon of style.

Crucial as well for what it set in motion in terms of Apostle of Solitude‘s sound in how they’d take the harmonies of “Sincerest Misery (1,000 Days)” and the “Electric Funeral” cover and make them a pivotal aspect of their approach — particularly after bringing in guitarist/vocalist Steve Janiak (also of Devil to Pay) for their triumphant third full-length, 2014’s Of Woe and Wounds (review here), which followed the Profound Lore-released, got-a-bum-wrap-because-of-its-cover-art 2010 sophomore work, Last Sunrise (review here) — Sincerest Misery earns a place of distinction in that aesthetic pantheon not just by living up to its title, but through the unabashed emotionalism it presents. If you want to put it to scale, Pallbearer‘s first demo was still two years off, so it’s worth emphasizing that Apostle of Solitude were well ahead of the curve in a lot of what’s become taken for granted as modern doom.

That’s not to say Sincerest Misery is perfect. It’s not. Including the Sabbath track, it reaches an unmanageable 70-minute runtime and there are stretches where it’s clear the editorial impulse that would show itself in a tightening of songwriting by the time they got into Last Sunrise and Of Woe and Wounds was still in development. But especially as their debut, it shows the mindful approach to their craft they’d continue to progress as they moved forward and brings forth righteousness enough that, nine years after the fact, one is left thinking that it’s high time Apostle of Solitude were considered among the foremost purveyors of American doom throughout the last decade.

As one looks forward to the arrival of their fourth outing in 2018, revisiting their first offers a chance to be reminded of how much they have to offer in style and substance, and as always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

Yesterday was the solstice, the darkest day of the year. And it felt it perhaps even a little more than usual with the passing earlier this week of Rev. Jim Forrester, shot down outside his place of employment in Baltimore with no sense of motive yet uncovered and no suspect arrested last I heard. Shit is fucked. Fucked. Fucked. Fucked. Today is the memorial service down there, and next Friday in Frederick, Maryland, is the first of what one hopes will be a series of benefit shows (info here) in his honor and with proceeds going to his family.

I guess if there’s light at all to take away from that situation — which, it needs to be said again: fucked — it’s seeing the Maryland heavy underground rally together as it always does. Earlier this year when Jim had his health issues stemming from a blood clot in his liver (discussed here), the people in Maryland’s scene got together to offer their support and it’s always encouraging to see that community take care of its own. Brings out the idea that it’s the music tying everyone together, but it’s the people that really make it what it is down there, and Jim’s loss, I know I’ve already said this, is significant. He’s someone who will continue to be missed, and not just for the music he made or his riotous stage presence — but for who he was as a person.

A pretty devastating way to go into the holidays, but that’s where we’re headed. Monday is Xmas. I’ll be traveling, so probably not so much posting, but I’ll be working for the next four days as well on putting together the Top 30 of 2017, which if everything goes according to my plan will be posted next Wednesday. Everything’s tentative, with baby, and holidays, and what’s turned out to be a bevvy of doctor appointments — physical therapy for The Patient Mrs., check-up for The Pecan, dentist for me (was supposed to have a root canal yesterday that I postponed to next Friday) — but in addition to the top 30, I’d like to do a year-end podcast (those are always fun) and a song-of-the-year post as well, so keep an eye out. There’s still a lot of 2017 to squeeze in. Here are the notes:

Mon.: Nothing. Happy Xmas.
Tue.: Year-end podcast; news catchup.
Wed.: Top 30 of 2017; High Reeper video maybe.
Thu.: C.O.C. review if I can fit it in time-wise.
Fri.: Song of the Year.

Doesn’t look like much, I know, but it’s actually a pretty staggering amount of work to be done, and not a little daunting as a prospect, particularly with the wrap of the Year-End Poll and the Quarterly Review looming not far behind, and then, sometime in January, the list of 2018’s most anticipated albums to go up. I don’t even know how many I’ve got in my notes at this point. Has to be more than 100. Last year worked out to be more than 200 by the time I was done updating the thing. Woof.

But one thing at a time. I hope first and foremost that if you’re celebrating the holiday this coming Monday that you have a good one and that you’re spending it how you want to spend it. The Patient Mrs. and I (and The Pecan, naturally) will be indulging our annual Xmas Eve tradition of watching Die Hard and, hopefully, Die Hard 2, before traveling to CT to see family on the day itself, so should be good times all around. I’m looking forward to it.

Either way, have a great and safe weekend, and please check out the forum and the radio stream.

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Black Space Riders Post “Another Sort of Homecoming” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 19th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

black space riders

Perennial progressives Black Space Riders have newly made public the cover art and tracklisting of their next album, Amoretum Vol. 1, which is set to hit ground on Jan. 26. The German space metallers will reportedly use their new offering, which follows last year’s EP, Beyond Refugeeum (discussed here) and the LP on which it was based, Refugeeum (review here), as the launch of a series of releases, looking in some way to counter the negativity of the current sociocultural sphere with a sense of positivity, love and — naturally — keyboards.

“Another Sort of Homecoming” is the first audio to be made public from Amoretum Vol. 1, and it pulses with vitality for its sub-four-minute runtime, a quick arrival after Black Space Riders Amoretum Vol 1the opening track “Lovely Lovelie” gives a surprisingly gruff introduction. More so than the partially-drifting “Movements” or the post-rock-into-prog-metal closer “Fellow Peacemakers” later on, “Another Sort of Homecoming” reminds distinctly of Astrosoniq‘s penchant for blending space weirdness and heavy rock vibes, but it’s just one look of many Black Space Riders ultimately give throughout Amoretum Vol. 1 — for example, they immediately back it up with the grand chorus of “Soul Shelter (Inside of Me)” — so don’t necessarily look for the rest of the album to sound just like this.

But then, that’s never been their way. Black Space Riders have always been a challenge for themselves and for listeners who might want to put them in one category or another, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s a huge part of their appeal. They remain defiant in that regard on Amoretum Vol. 1, about which I’ll hope to have more prior to its release late next month. For now, you can see the “Another Sort of Homecoming” video below, followed by more info culled from the PR wire.

I hope you enjoy:

Black Space Riders, “Another Sort of Homecoming” official video

German Riffonauts BLACK SPACE RIDERS have revealed the artwork and track list for forthcoming LP Amoretum Vol. 1. The band has also released the official video for the first single “Another Sort of Homecoming.”

Amoretum Vol. 1 will be released on January 26. The single can be purchased and the album pre-ordered on all digital platforms, including Bandcamp, as well as at the band shop: www.blackspaceriders.com/shop

PRE-ORDER the album now: http://blackspaceriders.com/shop

Band: BLACK SPACE RIDERS
Song: Another sort of homecoming
Album: AMORETUM Vol1 (2018)
Music/Lyrics: BLACK SPACE RIDERS (Jochen Engelking )
based on scenes from “SPACE ANGEL”
produced by Cambria Productions, CA (1962-1964)

Track List:
1. Lovely Lovelie
2. Another Sort of Homecoming
3. Soul Shelter (Inside of Me)
4. Movements
5. Come and Follow
6. Friends Are Falling
7. Fire! Fire! (Death of a Giant)
8. Fellow Peacemakers

BLACK SPACE RIDERS are:
JE: Lead Vocals, Guitars, Organ, Beats
SEB: Lead vocals
C.RIP: Drums, Percussion
SLI: Guitars
SAQ: Bass Guitar
HEVO: Additional Bass Guitar

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King Witch Post Video for “Beneath the Waves”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 18th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

king witch alan swan photography

There is a strong current of metallic righteousness in Under the Mountain, the debut full-length from Edinburgh four-piece King Witch. Marked out by the powerhouse vocals of Laura Donnelly, songs like the rampaging title-track, “Possession” and “Carnal Sacrifice” are propulsive atop Lyle Brown‘s crisply popping snare, the thrashing-at-a-moment’s-notice riffs of Jamie Gilchrist and the low-end punch of Simon Anger. As “Black Dog Blues” sprints the record to its conclusion, it seems only fitting that a siren should go off in the last couple measures. A sense of emergency well earned. Go, go, go.

Still, that rush doesn’t quite take into account moves that King Witch make elsewhere on Under the Mountain — which is due out Feb. 9 via Listenable Records — such as the fluid rollout of the north-of-six-minutes progressive nodder “Solitary,” its post-title-track doomly counterpart “Approaching the End,” which stomps out its rhythm calling to mind the best of early Candlemass, or the purposefully bluesy “Ancients,” which follows. Even the more uptempo “Hunger” seems more geared toward rock than metal, so already on their first album, we hear a strong refusal from King Witch to remain one-sided. As the album plays out its 43-minute run, that ends up being one of its great strengths.

“Beneath the Waves,” the leadoff cut for which the band has a newly-unveiled Moby Dick-style video, would seem to be a hook-laden middle ground between several of these impulses, and for that it makes both a fitting opener and a solid candidate as a single. I’ll hope to have more on the album before it’s out, but you’ll find the clip for “Beneath the Waves” on the player below, followed by more info from the PR wire.

As always, I hope you enjoy:

King Witch, “Beneath the Waves” official video

This February, Listenable Records will unleash Under The Mountain, the debut full-length from Scotland-based metal/doom rockers KING WITCH. In advance of its release [comes] the band’s official video for “Beneath The Waves.”

Elaborates vocalist Laura Donnelly, “‘Beneath The Waves’ was inspired by stories such as Moby Dick and explores man’s need to destroy anything and everything beautiful, dangerous, and unfamiliar… and the retribution dealt in return. This track felt like a natural choice for the video – soaring vocals, massive drums and some huge riffs!”

KING WITCH:
Laura Donnelly – vocals
Jamie Gilchrist – guitars
Lyle Brown – drums
Simon Anger – bass

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Listenable Records website

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