Promethean Misery Post “In Winter, We are Lost” Video; New Album out Sept. 22

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 4th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

promethean misery

If you’re wondering what the hell I’m doing posting a morose, string-laden doom track about wintertime when it’s high summer, take a moment to consider that Promethean Misery — the one-woman project of multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Samantha Kempster — hails from Australia, and while it’s certainly a miserable humid swelter here on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, a heat-wave causing old people to drop like the proverbial flies except that the flies aren’t at all dropping, they’re pretty much taking over the universe because ecosystems everywhere have gone haywire and that’s just how life is now, it’s winter in the great Down Under. Opposite side of the planet and all that. So if you’re the type to quibble as regards the seasonal appropriateness of your vibe, remember that in all cases context is everything.

Now then, Promethean Misery, which was founded by Kempster — whom I imagine calling “The Kempster” if we worked in an office setting; “Kempsterama” à la Rob Schneider on ’90s-era Saturday Night Live, and I’d be doing it in a friendly way though I assume Ms. Kempster actually wouldn’t be amused and I’d be reported to human resources sooner or later and duly admonished — ahead of a debut EP release in 2016, though her pedigree goes further back to joining the gothic death-doom outfit Lycanthia on cello for 2006’s Within the Walls EP and co-founding Myraeth in 2009. The key element that seems to tie her work together regardless of what outfit it’s with or the actual arrangements in play. The aforementioned 2016 EP, Before My Eyes, was largely piano-based, where the forthcoming Tied up in Strings LP from whence “In Winter, We are Lost” comes replaces guitar with violin, but either way, the brooding vibe proves worthy of Kempster‘s moniker for the project — you remember the story of Prometheus, right? “thanks for the fire, sorry about your entrails” — and the patience with which she brings her material to bear comes through masterfully in the 12-minute track.

The new album, out Sept. 22, will hit via PRC Music on a pretty quick turnaround less than a year from its sometimes-deathly predecessor, late-2017’s Ghosts, but if Kempster is working quickly to develop Promethean Misery, one can already hear the fruits of that labor in the progression from Ghosts tracks like “Hateful Red” and “Spirit’s Requiem” to the graceful unfolding of “In Winter, We are Lost” as heard in the new video below.

The quick announcement of the album’s release date follows. Please enjoy:

Promethean Misery, “In Winter, We are Lost” official video

We are very happy to offer you the brand new video / first single from the upcoming new album from Australia’s Doom Metal solo artist Samantha Kempster released under the PROMETHEAN MISERY moniker.

Pure doom melancholia… There are NO guitars on this new album… You’ll find a massive wall of distorted violins, drums, piano and wonderful vocal arrangements.

“Tied up in strings”, Your soundtrack for the Fall of 2018, will be unleashed on 09.22.2018.

This album will be available on CD and Digital, distributed worldwide by MVD / Planetworks.

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Entierro Premiere “Cyclonic Winds” Lyric Video; Self-Titled LP Due in September

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 2nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

entierro

A little heavy metal now and then never killed anybody, unless we’re talking about a pipe falling on your head or something. Fortunately, we’re not, and instead we’re talking about thrash-inspired Connecticut four-piece Entierro, who will issue their self-titled debut full-length this coming September. They’ve given a first look and listen to the long-player’s wares in a new lyric video for “Cyclonic Winds,” and its darkened, thrashy gallop feels indicative of the band’s style overall. That’s not to say the album won’t have anything else going on, just that when it does, it’ll probably still bear the razor-sharp tones and tight delivery that “Cyclonic Winds” foretells. I’ve had the pleasure of hearing two other tracks from the record in the more straightforward rocker “Dybbuk” and the slower, forward-building momentum bringer “Turn out the Lights,” and while both of those have something distinct from “Cyclonic Winds” to offer, both also hold true to the metallic tonality and aggressive execution of this lead single.

As for “Cyclonic Winds,” it tells a tale of an apocalyptic weather event ravaging a shoreline, and somehow in my head I can’t seem to divorce that from the fact that the band hails mostly from New Haven, which sure enough is on the shoreline of Connecticut. Whether they were thinking specifically of the destruction of their hometown owing to climate change or not, they present the hook of “Cyclonic Winds” in more general terms, with clean and shouted vocals and a mounting sense of urgency that leads them into a slowdown in the song’s second half and a redux of the chorus to suit the new tempo. No less catchy, it bridges a gap between “Cyclonic Winds” and the earlier going of “Turn out the Lights,” and no doubt ties in with other material on Entierro‘s Entierro as well.

And by the way, if you’re saying to yourself, “but dude, didn’t you already review a self-titled Entierro tape in 2014?,” first of all, that’s eerily specific of you to remember, and second, yes, I did. It was an EP. This one is a full-length. Different beast. Also, in addition to being the band’s first album, it’s also the lineup debut with guitarist Victor Arduini (also of Arduini/Balich and Fates Warning) alongside Christopher Beaudette, Dave Parmelee and Christopher Begnal, whose progressive style fits well with the heads-down grooves proffered by the others.

A sampling is provided in “Cyclonic Winds,” which you can stream and view on the player below, with more info from the PR wire beneath that. Please enjoy:

Entierro, “Cyclonic Winds” lyric video

Entierro adds former Fates Warning guitarist to line-up

Releases lyric video for Cyclonic Winds.

New album to be released September 2018

Connecticut Heavy Metal titans Entierro are proud to finally announce the addition of Victor Arduini (Fates Warning, Arduini/Balich, Freedom’s Reign) to its ranks. Arduini will be joining Christopher Beaudette (Jasta, Kingdom of Sorrow, Nightbitch), Christopher Begnal and Dave Parmelee (One Master, Nightbitch) to round out the group. While the newly cemented unit has been performing sporadically around Connecticut, the quartet have spent most of their time over the last year together hard at work on their first full length record to be released in September of 2018. The release illustrates a new chapter in the evolution of the band who, while pushing further into new sonic territory, still maintain a sound steeped in traditional heavy metal.

When asked what led to his joining up with the band in early 2017 Arduini stated “They were the one band from my area I was really digging. Their sound was true old school metal that just had some really cool heavy riffs and songwriting. Chris is a great frontman and after going to see them play a few shows I learned one of their guitarists was leaving and I was asked if I’d be interested in joining them. The timing was perfect. After finishing the Arduini/Balich album I pretty much needed a break from all that writing/producing I did and this allows me to just be a part of a band again without it all falling on my shoulders. With the great writing skills of the others I can focus on putting my style over what they come up with and occasionally add a riff or two when needed. It helped keep me actively playing and I’ve just been having a blast playing these songs with such awesome musicians.

The band has been working steadily over the last year at Dexter’s Lab Studios in Milford, CT with Nick Bellmore once again at the helm. The first single, “Cyclonic Winds,” shows some of the many facets of Entierro from the pummeling opening riff to the slow and low groove that closes the number. The lyric video was created by video production company YOD Multimedia.

Their first single Cyclonic Winds and album pre-order is currently available at entierro.bandcamp.com.

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Friday Full-Length: Electric Moon, Inferno

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 29th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Pardon me if you’ve heard this one before, but the discography of German psychedelojammers Electric Moon isn’t exactly the most transparent of undertakings. In addition to their studio full-lengths, they have self-pressed CD-Rs and a slew and then some of live albums to dig into, and more on the regular. Last year they issued the Stardust Rituals LP through longtime imprint Sulatron Records, founded and run by guitarist/synthesist Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt, and it was a welcome return after some six years of live outings, 2016’s Live 2015 – Zeiss Planetarium Bochum (review here), 2015’s Theory of Mind (review here), 2014’s Mind Explosion (review here), 2013’s Live 2012 1 & 2 (review here), and so on. With a sound so based on improvisation, sonic wandering and exploring the chemistry between the players involved — Schmidt, bassist/sometimes-vocalist/graphic artist “Komet Lulu” Neudeck and several drummers; Marcus Schnitzler played on the latest record but seems to have since been replaced by returning founder Pablo Carneval — just about any show properly recorded can turn into a live release. Because live releases are kind of the point. There wouldn’t be a band if they couldn’t do it on stage.

And since on stage is where Electric Moon are inherently most in their element, a studio outing from them is something of an event. They first released Inferno in 2011 on a CD-R and then followed up with an official Sulatron pressing in 2012. It has been through several editions since then on CD and vinyl, and got a proper reissue in 2015. It is comprised of just two tracks:

1. Mental Record (14:24)
2. Inferno (51:54)

Obviously between them, the latter cut is going to get the vast majority of the focus. It’s a one-song album, essentially, with a bonus track put first. And I won’t take away from what SulaLulu and then-drummer Alex do on “Mental Record,” but the unmitigated swirl of “Inferno” is simply in a league of its own when it comes to tapping into the heart of heavy psychedelia. Electric Moon aren’t the only band in the underground to take an improv-rooted approach to heavy psychedelia, but theirs is one of particular, enduring and evolving character. They have their methods, to be sure, with Schmidt‘s synth running alongside the guitar or the cyclical turns of drums in “Inferno” past the 10-minute mark, but the key seems to be always working to find something new in the sound or the style of play. An experimental tweak here, a little extra howl in the guitar there. And every now and again, vocals. As with few others, Electric Moon seem wholly comfortable in allowing their material to become what it needs to be, the band acting more as vessels for what flows from all of them together rather than individual players following their own agendas. They’re in there, to be sure, but channeling something through themselves in a way that most bands simply don’t or can’t do. It’s not about ego or about virtuosity, but about the spirit and the worship of creativity itself, about capturing the heart of the moment when that new idea happens. About putting that to tape and pressing it up to share with a dedicated fanbase that’s only grown more dedicated over time.

Electric Moon are not a trifling band. They’re not just plugging in their instruments, arranging a bunch of cymbals and making noise. They follow a course that takes them to the inner workings of psychedelia. The long, jammed-out pieces that many others would carve into songs, split into verses and choruses, etc., Electric Moon serves up raw in what always seems to be their original form. Some of the songs on Stardust Rituals had a discernible structure, but that’s more the exception than the rule. Builds come and go, loud parts, quiet parts, guitar scorch and funky rhythms as on “Mental Record,” driven space-rock triumph as in the middle of “Inferno,” but Electric Moon seem to try never to be in the same place twice, and so very often they’ll end up someplace completely separate from where they started, and this is where the chemistry particularly between Sula and Lulu saves them, since there doesn’t seem to be a place where one leads that the other can’t or won’t follow. Or if there is, it certainly doesn’t make it onto the record.

And it may well be that Electric Moon sit down and plan out when their changes will arrive, when part G goes into part H on “Inferno” — somewhere around 35 minutes in, maybe? — but that wouldn’t make their project any less impressive in its scope. What they do brims with such a sense of the real that its spacious sound is still often resoundingly human, as it ends up being while “Inferno” makes its way through is slower back half, fuzzy lead guitar taking hold at around 43 minutes and serving as the bed for the apex wash that gives way at 50 minutes on the dot to the languid meandering that caps the last couple minutes. Inferno is an especially vital example of the spark that exists in what they do, but that spark is just about everywhere in their — again — somewhat opaque catalog. And while it may sometimes be difficult to keep straight which release came before which other release, what was when and which is a reissue — let alone which reissue — the basic fact is that wherever one chooses to dive in, that lunar pool runs singularly deep.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

I woke up Monday at 5:30AM to start working on the review of the last day of Maryland Doom Fest 2018. I’d gone to bed I guess around 1AM? I don’t even know. Anyway, that would turn out to be the latest I slept this week. After driving about six hours from Maryland to Connecticut, The Patient Mrs. and I have been staying here all week with The Pecan and her sister’s two kids, who are lovely, and their dog, as well as our dog and her mother’s dog. It hasn’t been a little, and I’ve kept my alarm set for 3:30AM all week so I could wake up and do Obelisk stuff before the baby gets up, which lately he’s been doing at five or so. Today it was closer to six, but he was also up at 4:45AM for a feed/diaper-change session. I’d call it brutal, but whatever.

Accordingly, you might’ve noticed it’s been four-post days most of this week except for today, which was five. So much going on all week is why, but it’s also the fact that since I was at the fest all weekend I didn’t get the chance to get my usual day-ahead jump on the week. Generally, what’s written over the weekend gets posted on Monday, what’s written on Monday posted Tuesday, Tuesday on Wednesday, and so on. Barring stuff like Brant Bjork announcing a new record that I feel like needs to get up as soon as it comes in — I’m waiting for Uncle Acid to announce their new album’s release date any minute now, any day, any week — I don’t usually have a problem working that way. It’s nice to have reviews done ahead of time. This week I couldn’t do that, so it’s been a little more manic.

And speaking of manic, this all coincided with me putting a kybosh on taking my meds as of late last week. I was cruising for a few days, did pretty well at Doom Fest — at least for me — but then I had like three days in a row of welling up in tears for no reason and, well, I guess we’re just not quite there yet. Back on the pills. To quote a government official: “womp womp.” Was worth a shot, anyhow. I cut out the anti-anxiety meds and that seems to have gone alright, so I’ll take my wins where I can get them.

Next week is busy. This weekend is busy. Life is busy. Here’s what’s in the notes, all subject to change as ever:

Mon.: Yawning Man review/stream; Dunbarrow track premiere; Entierro announcement.
Tue.: Brant Bjork review/premiere; Boss Keloid video.
Wed.: Seedy Jeezus review.
Thu.: Planet of Doom: First Contact EP review.
Fri.: Open at the moment, maybe Bong Six Dumb Questions.

That’s it. I’m punching out and going to spend as much of the rest of the day watching baseball as possible. Or maybe I’ll just watch that fucking Heilung video for the 80th time. Because it’s summer, and hot out, and whatever, I’m tired and want to be on the couch. Tomorrow, more writing. Monday, more posting. Maybe if I’m lucky some more sleeping. Probably not the last of those.

Oh and I need to empty the dishwasher. Fuck.

Alright. Have a great and safe weekend. If you’re celebrating the Fourth of July next week in the US — first of all, fucking why?, but second, be safe and not stupid about it. Have a great time if you’re the type to let yourself do so, and if not, back on your pills you go. Ha.

Thanks again for reading. Forum and Radio.

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Stoned Jesus Premiere “Hands Resist Him” Video; European Tour Impending

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 29th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

STONED JESUS

 

Stoned Jesus will release their fourth album, Pilgrims, on Sept. 7 as their first offering through Napalm Records. That in itself makes it a pretty pivotal moment for the Ukrainian heavy rock forerunners, but the big question going into the record is exactly where it will find the band following 2015’s The Harvest (review here) since they more or less spent the last year digging back to celebrate the fifth anniversary of YouTube’s favorite heavy rock record, their sophomore LP, 2012’s Seven Thunders Roar (review here). They toured playing that record in full, and with such a sharp sonic divide between its warm and stonerly tones and the sharper edges of The Harvest, I’ve been genuinely curious to find out exactly what kind of pilgrimage Stoned Jesus are going on with the new collection.

We get a first hint in the trio’s new video for the song “Hands Resist Him.” Amid the most resonant melodies I’ve yet heard from Stoned Jesus, they do indeed dig into a depth of tone that the last album seemed to eschew, but there’s a turn around the 4:30 mark to speedier riffing that finds guitarist/vocalist Igor Sidorenko, bassist Serhij Sljussar and drummer Dmytro Zinchenko pushing into an almost punkish rhythm, so it’s not as if the aesthetic growth brought to bear in The Harvest has been ignored or cast off. It’s there too. The question that remains is how much “Hands Resist Him” speaks for the rest of Pilgrims, and knowing Stoned Jesus‘ sneakily progressive bent as it’s emerged in their sound over time, I’d guess that there’s probably more to the new record than they’re letting on. They’re not the types to give away all the answers outright. They want their listeners to do some digging.

And no doubt there will be plenty to dig when the album arrives, since Stoned Jesus have always been songwriters first and foremost even as their style has proved so malleable over the course of the eight years since they made their debut with 2010’s First Communion. Following a hometown release show on Sept. 7 in Kiev, the band will be heading out on a Sound of Liberation-presented tour alongside Texas troublemakers Mothership and UK tone rollers Elephant Tree that runs for just over three weeks across a swath of Europe. Like Pilgrims itself, it’s an important tour since it will be Stoned Jesus in the headlining spot with support from two also-killer bands, and another pivotal step-up moment for them as they continue to live up to the potential they’ve shown in their work all along.

I’m thrilled today to host the premiere of the “Hands Resist Him” video, which surely stretched Napalm‘s budget as regards the fog machine. You’ll find the clip below, followed by a quick quote from Sidorenko and the tour dates, courtesy of the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

Stoned Jesus, “Hands Resist Him” official video premiere

Igor Sidorenko on “Hands Resist Him”:

I guess this track is a perfect example of the changes I’m going through as a songwriter and Stoned Jesus is going through as a band. It’s dark, heavy and intense, but it’s a great song first and foremost.

On September 7th STONED JESUS will deliver their next solid slab of progressive stoner rock on Napalm Records: Pilgrims.

With their fourth album the Ukrainian trio offers much more than an average desert session: Pilgrims is a rather multi-faceted affair mixing groove with noise rock elements, lots of proggy infusions and maybe even a sick bass line reminiscent of good old Deftones (“Thessalia”). Giants such as Mastodon and Melvins come to mind since STONED JESUS can’t be pigeonholed.

stoned jesus mothership elephant tree tourStoned Jesus tour dates:
14.07.18 SP – Viveiro / Resurrection Fest
27.07.18 DE – Neuensee / Rock im Wald
02.08.18 GR – Almiros / Los Almiros
19.08.18 FR – Saint-Nolff / Motocultor
02.09.18 GR – Thessaloniki / Street Mode

Stoned Jesus w/ Mothership & Elephant Tree
07.09.18 UA – Kyiv / Bingo Club (Stoned Jesus only)
13.09.18 DE – Wiesbaden / Schlachthof
14.09.18 DE – Stuttgart / JH Hallschlag
15.09.18 CH – Pratteln / Z 7
17.09.18 DE – Munich / Feierwerk
18.09.18 AT – Graz / PPC
19.09.18 AT – Vienna / Arena
20.09.18 DE – Leipzig / Werk 2
21.09.18 DE – Berlin / Bi Nuu
22.09.18 NL – Nijmegen / Doornroosje
23.09.18 NL – Amsterdam / Melkweg
24.09.18 DE – Köln / Helios 37
25.09.18 DE – Bielefeld / Forum
26.09.18 BE – Brussels / Magasin 4
27.09.18 FR – Paris / Petit Bain
28.09.18 UK – London /The Garage
29.09.18 UK – Sheffield / Doom vs Stoner Festival
12.10.18 UA – Lviv / FESTrepublic
19.10.18 UA – Kharkiv / ART AREA DK
20.10.18 UA – Dnipro / Makhno Pub

Line-up:
Ihor Sydorenko – Vocals & Guitars
Serhij Sljussar – Bass
Dmytro Zinchenko – Drums

Stoned Jesus on Twitter

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Napalm Records website

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Conclave Post “War Stalks the Land” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 28th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

conclave

The quote at the beginning of the new video by Massachusetts death-doomers Conclave is credited to Confederate General Robert E. Lee, and it’s hard to read it with anything other than irony given the fact that the United States has spent the last 17 years embroiled in its longest ongoing conflict which, and it’s sad that this is still a debate, was confused, misdirected and reactionary from the start. Lee, of course, was speaking about the American Civil War between the northern and southern parts of the country, and the story goes that Conclave — the current lineup of bassist/vocalist Jerry Orne, guitarists Jeremy Kibort and Chris Giguere and drummer Dan Blomquist — were passing through Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on their way to play last year’s Maryland Doom Fest and the song came out of that experience born of then-guitarist Terry Savastano‘s fascination with the years-long conflict. They recorded the track with Savastano still in the band — he’s presently killing it in Come to Grief — and shared the video on the occasion of this year’s edition of that same festival this past weekend. The track also appears on Death Kiss Vol. 2, a compilation from Death Kiss Radio on respected Boston-based freeform station WEMF.

Its relevance goes well beyond Doom Fest though, and the ripples of that Civil War which ended 153 years ago are still being felt in the cultural struggle in the US today. The regional markers aren’t as clear as they once were — that is, it’s not just the north being the north and the south being the south — but in many ways, America has never stopped fighting that battle for and against progress. Imagined futures and imagined pasts collide daily as ideas of becoming “great again” and moving toward a “brighter tomorrow” both perpetrate equally vague notions of a largely make-believe ideal. Media stokes that, but isn’t a driving force no matter what anyone says otherwise — sorry, but the American press doesn’t have the budget for conspiracies — and with their minds taffy-pulled to distraction by petty scandals and non-issues, people don’t see the other hand reaching into the fabric of their democracy and ripping it to shreds with gold-painted fingernails while a nasally voice reiterates that this is what “winning” feels like. It’s a shitty time to be an American, and there’s a long way to go before we hit bottom.

I don’t know Conclave‘s politics, and they’re secondary at best to the song itself, which doesn’t so much celebrate war as convey the horror of it through its sludgy extremity and downtrodden riffing. The band have a couple choice live dates coming up over the next few months, including playing Churchburn‘s record release show at Dusk in Providence (nice.) and joining forces with Come to Grief Sept. 15 at the worth-the-drive Ralph’s Rock Diner in Worcester, MA.

Those dates and more info follow the clip, which you can see on the player below.

Please enjoy:

Conclave, “War Stalks the Land” official video

1 year ago we visited Gettysburg on our way to The maryland DOOM Fest where finality came to us for our song War Stalks The Land. It is only fitting that we share this visual aid with you today as The Maryland Doom Fest 2018 is crushing in grand fashion.

“It is well that war is so terrible, lest we should grow too fond of it.”

Recorded at Amps vs. Ohms by Glenn Smith and mastered at New Alliance East by Nick Z for the Death Kiss Volume 2 compilation.

JUL 14 Dusk Providence, RI Armageddon Shop Presents: Churchburn Record Release Show
AUG 31 Great Scott Allston MA w/ Dopethrone, Crud, Leather Lung
SEP 8 Altones Jewett City CT w/ Toke and Crossing Rubicon
SEP 15 Ralph’s Rock Diner Worcester MA w/ Come to Grief, Chained, Bogha

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Wheel in the Sky Premiere “Burn Babylon Burn” Video; Beyond the Pale out Aug. 31

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 25th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

wheel in the sky photo Martina Lindgren

Sweden’s Wheel in the Sky hone their sound from a time when rock and pop not only weren’t mutually exclusive, but went hand in hand, and yet there’s something sinister to their underpinnings. If the notion sounds familiar, it’s because you’re thinking of their hook-minded countrymen in Ghost, but Wheel in the Sky arrive entirely unpretentious, and with their second album, Beyond the Pale out Aug. 31 on The Sign Records, they embark on a spread of influences that updates the classics and finds a middle-ground between the past and the present. Mood and meter alike vary throughout the release, but if there’s a common theme throughout, it’s that the four-piece have taken the style of classic heavy rock they presented on their 2015 debut, Heading for the Night (review here), and from the John Lennon-style psych melodies of “Far Side of Your Mind” to the careening goth rock of “Only Dead Girl in the City,” and into the quiet intro that precedes the arena-ready hook of “Burn Babylon Burn,” used their original sound as a foundation for a growth only measurable in exponents.

Comprised of Einar Petersson, David Berlin, Daniel Uggla and Carl Norman, the band know when to motor — as on the title-track — and when to space out, as on drifting penultimate cut “Afterglow” that leads the way into the eight-minute finale of “The Weight of the Night,” which brings the psychedelic aspects and the classic heavy rock drive together to a head of a wash before the bouncing piano line — someone in Wheel in the Sky is a Beatles fan; every band should have (at least) one — caps the nine-song/44-minute offering on a contemplative note. They’re dynamic and willing to screw around with different styles, but there isn’t a moment of Beyond the Pale that falls outside the purview of the band. That is, they know what they’re doing and how to manifest the ideas they’re hearing in their head. At least that’s how it sounds to me. You’d have to be in their head to know for sure, I guess. Either way.

And while they have much to offer in terms of variety and bridging the gaps between these various ideas, it’s the level of craft that most shines through across Beyond the Pale and the clear heart and depth that Wheel in the Sky put into what they do, loud or quiet or somewhere in between. Because of that, I’m happy today to host the premiere of their new video for “Burn Babylon Burn” ahead of the album’s arrival. You’ll find it below, followed by more info from the PR wire.

Wheel in the Sky‘s Beyond the Pale is set to release Aug. 31 through The Sign Records.

Please enjoy:

Wheel in the Sky, “Burn Babylon Burn” official video premiere

“Burn Babylon Burn” is taken from Wheel In The Sky´s second album “Beyond The Pale” set for release on The Sign Records.

‘Beyond The Pale’ by Sweden’s WheeI In The Sky is a concept album about darkness and death. The album contains an overflow of melody and a dark gothic energy, while tracks such as ‘Burn Babylon Burn’ and ‘The Only Dead Girl in the City’ also contain catchy pop hooks. The band is obsessed with mystical and religious imagery, obscure politics and harbor a morbid fascination for immolations and blood sacrifices, while trying hard to incorporate it all into a tasteful setting.

The album will be released on August 31 via The Sign Records.

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Review & Video Premiere: Black Elephant, Cosmic Blues

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Reviews on June 22nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

black elephant cosmic blues

[Click play above to stream the video premiere for ‘Walking Dead’ by Black Elephant. Their album, Cosmic Blues, is out July 20 on Small Stone Records.]

Though they stay pretty much within the sphere of heavy rock throughout, the actual sound of Italian four-piece Black Elephant is much more nuanced in its refusal to simply do or be one thing. Within the first three tracks of Cosmic Blues, their second album and debut on the ultra-respected purveyor Small Stone Records, the band bounce around between hard-hitting riffs, psychedelic spaciousness, noisy crunch and meandering jams. Only then do they break into the three-minute riff-winding boogie and straight-ahead drive of “Walking Dead.” And yet, as the opening semi-title-track “Cosmic Soul,” the not-at-all-a-cover “Helter Skelter” and the 1:44 instrumental “Chase Me” play out, there’s nothing particularly jarring in the transitions wrought by guitarist/vocalist Caravelli Alessio, guitarist Giacosa Massimiliano, bassist De Stefanis Marcello, and drummer Brunzu Simone.

Particularly with Alessio belting out the vocals as he does on the swinging “Baby Eroina” later, or in the more subdued verses of “Cosmic Soul,” for that matter, there are elements of classic Swedish heavy rock at play in terms of style — that foundation in classic heavy rock melded with a post-’90s grunge groove — but Cosmic Blues is quick to establish its own identity in the sonic meld and thorough in its expansion thereof. The outing totals a relatively quick seven tracks/34 minutes, but that’s more than enough time for Black Elephant to convey their variety of influence, and it’s worth noting that while they seem to make a point of changing up their take throughout, doing so never seems to come at the expense of an individual song itself. From “Cosmic Soul” onward, they go pretty far out, and yet by maintaining a firm commitment to underlying structure, their feet never seem to leave the ground.

A striking balance, and it speaks to the eight years Black Elephant have been a band that they should be able to roll out the languid solo-topped nod early in “Baby Eroina” and move into and through the boogieing midsection of the 7:31 track — that’s the longest on the record, with “Helter Skelter” pretty close at 7:04 — and back to the central riff with such smoothness. Sure, Cosmic Blues has its jarring moments. Following the penultimate also-semi-title-track “Cosmic Blues for Solitary Moose,” the opening push of closer “Inno” hits like a slap to the face, but that’s what it’s meant to do, and this too becomes part of Black Elephant‘s overarching purpose. There’s a strong commitment to vibe throughout, and to be sure, the record has a front-to-back flow that holds firm throughout, but as many wandering solos as there are — they include a particularly resonant one in “Inno,” as one might expect for the finale — the band seem to have an eye on the overarching impression they leave behind them.

black elephant

It’s a positive one, gaining from the different faces Black Elephant show throughout and the efforts they make toward consistency in line with that. Hard not to consider the two longer tracks as highlights. With the extra room in “Helter Skelter” and “Baby Eroina,” Black Elephant flesh out stylistically. In the earlier cut, that means knocking out a noise rock riff early and taking it into a heavier groove before shifting via wah-drenched lead work into its jammed-out midsection, gradually getting more and more minimalist as it goes, only to build excitingly back to the chorus and end with some added crunch. “Baby Eroina” — funny how I keep wanting to put an ‘h’ in front of the second word — is looser in its march overall, but saves its trippiest guitar work for its ending, instead putting out thick distortion and funky vibes in its early moments before launching into its mostly-instrumental second half.

Those are by no means the only highlights of Cosmic Blues — I’ll take nothing away from the effectiveness of “Walking Dead”‘s momentum-maximization at the album’s center or the effectiveness of the brief “Chase Me” before it in capitalizing on a will toward sonic adventure — but they’re striking as focal points just the same, and like “Inno,” they do well to summarize the most important aspect of Black Elephant‘s methodology, which is that rather than jump from one sound to the next, they bring this diversity of ideas into their own approach. The difference is ultimately one of coalescence. Black Elephant are able to shift into and out of parts of songs without losing either their forward momentum or, in the case of some of the jammier moments, themselves in the process. This is what makes the album flow instead of having it be disjointed the whole way through. The intent is writ large throughout Cosmic Blues, but in kind with the album’s variety is that strong sense of identity that feels crafted with such care, and that’s what makes the collection work so well and ties the songs together, longer or shorter.

While Black Elephant don’t necessarily go anywhere that heavy and/or psychedelic rock hasn’t gone before, they do an excellent job of finding their niche in the genre and do even better in tipping the balance in their aesthetic to one side or the other. Some will dig it for its variety. Some will dig it for its familiarity. And some will just dig it because riffs. There’s nothing wrong with any of that, and the varied appeal speaks to Black Elephant knowing their audience — as with many bands in the genre, they play with a fan’s love for it — and knowing how to communicate their ideas through sound. Eight years will no doubt help that effort, but Cosmic Blues stands on its own outside of the time it took the band to realize it, and instead, calls back to its influences and inspirations and invites them, and everyone else, to check out how it all came together in the end. It would be hard to argue against doing so, and I find I’m not inclined to try.

Black Elephant, “Cosmic Soul”

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Black Elephant on Bandcamp

Small Stone Records website

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Shadow Witch Post “Disciples of the Crow” Video; Vinyl out Now

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 21st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

shadow witch

Shadow Witch are one of those bands who are just about totally out there on their own wavelength, and as a result either get lumped into places they don’t belong — called metal, for example, which they’re not — or underrated entirely for the work they’re doing. Sure, metal is a part of what they do, but so is heavy rock, so is goth rock, so is doom, so is punk, grunge, and so on. The band’s second album, Disciples of the Crow (review here), was released at the end of last year by Salt of the Earth Records, and is available now on vinyl either directly through the band or via Kozmik Artifactz in Europe. The timing couldn’t be better, since the platter just so happens to coincide with a new video for the title-track and the band’s appearance this coming weekend at Maryland Doom Fest 2018. Amazing how these things work out sometimes.

And like much of the record that shares its name, “Disciples of the Crow” isn’t overblown tonally or in terms of aggression. It finds a place for itself in between varying stylistic elements, sharing aspects here and there with elements of the styles noted above, but creating one whole sound from them rather than simply jumping from one part to the next, one genre to the next. What that means when it comes to the album is a more cohesive listening experience, since the material ties together in terms of vibe and actual production alike, and keeps a steady foundation of songwriting beneath from the melodic opener “Love Could Be Like This” to the hook in the finale of “Dead Heroes.” As far as representing the record, the title-track does it well — duh — and showcases the aesthetic nuance at play in what Shadow Witch do as well as the lack of pretense with which they do it. For all their melding, Shadow Witch could still rightly be called straightforward.

They have more dates following Maryland Doom Fest, and you’ll find those, as well as the link to pick up Disciples of the Crow on LP, after the video below, all of which comes courtesy of the social medias.

Please enjoy:

Shadow Witch, “Disciples of the Crow” official video

Limited Edition 180gram Cloudy Orange Vinyl. Now available through Kozmik Artifactz in Europe, and stateside at the Shadow Witch bandcamp site: https://shadowwitch.bandcamp.com/album/disciples-of-the-crow

Shadow Witch live:
JUN 22 The Maryland Doom Fest 2018 Frederick MD
JUN 22 Bar XIII Wilmington DE w/ Beelzefuzz, Witch Hazel, Season of Mourning
JUN 24 Pourhouse of Norfolk • La Fin Du Monde Norfolk, VA w/ Doomstress, Witchkiss, VRSA, That Which Sleeps
JUL 7 The Anchor Kingston NY w/ Wasted Theory, Sun Voyager
AUG 3 The Anchor Kingston NY w/ Brimstone Coven, Cat Skulls
SEP 7 13th Floor Music Lounge Florence MA w/ Toke, Curse the Son, Geezer

SHADOW WITCH is
David Pannullo ~ bass
Doug “dougy beans” Thompson ~ drums
Earl Walker Lundy ~ vocals, mellotron, samples
Jeremy H. Hall ~ guitars

Shadow Witch on Thee Facebooks

Shadow Witch on Instagram

Shadow Witch on Bandcamp

Shadow Witch at Salt of the Earth Records

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