Swallow the Sun Post “Lumina Aurea” Video; EP out Now

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

swallow the sun

There’s a lot to unpack here. First of all, while Finland’s Swallow the Sun have always ranged far and wide throughout their career — their last album, 2015’s Songs from the North I, II and III (review here), was a purposefully-overwhelming triple album comprised of acoustic, extreme and a-little-bit-of-both installments — their new EP, Lumina Aurea, which arrives through Century Media just ahead of the full-length, When a Shadow is Forced into the Light, is still a departure. Its vocals arrive in Latin-language spoken word plus some backing black metal-style screams and a chorus — Marco I. Benevento of The Foreshadowing provides the spoken parts — and the song itself is a 13-minute stretch of atmospheric intensity that’s different from anything the Jyväskylä outfit have done in the past. Wardruna‘s Einar Selvik guests on bukkelhorn, adding particularly Scandinavian flair, and the whole affair sounds way more Roadburn than Wacken, if you know what I mean.

It’s a fascinating turn for Swallow the Sun to make as they stand on the cusp of 20 years as a band. If I could sing and scream like Mikko Kotamäki, I’m not sure I’d ever let anyone else singswallow the sun lumina aurea on a record, ever, even background vocals, but he relinquishes the forward position to Benevento and recedes into the mix in best service to “Lumina Aurea” itself, and the ambience that unfolds is every bit as cinematic as the accompanying video shows it to be. I’ve heard the upcoming LP, and as always, it has its sense of atmosphere, but if you’re wondering why Swallow the Sun would release it on its own concurrent to the album, all you really have to do for an answer is listen to the two side-by-side. “Lumina Aurea” is distinct enough to earn its place as an EP separate from the album, and the album’s tracks flow well without 13-minutes of Viking ambience tacked onto the end of them (or the beginning!) because there’d really be no place else to put it. As much defiance of expectation as Swallow the Sun have done over their time, they’ve always kept to a consistency of mood in their releases — generally dark — and Lumina Aurea holds to that as well, but is clearly doing so on its own terms.

The EP is comprised of the full and instrumental versions of the track and is out now. When a Shadow is Forced into the Light is due Jan. 25. The video for “Lumina Aurea” was directed by Aapo Lahtela and Vesa Ranta at Kaira Films, and you can see the full credits as well as other info from the PR wire under the clip below.

Please enjoy:

Swallow the Sun, “Lumina Aurea” official video

SWALLOW THE SUN – Lumina Aurea (OFFICIAL VIDEO). Taken from the EP “Lumina Aurea”, out December 21st, 2018. Order now: https://swallowthesun.lnk.to/LuminaAureaID

Finnish melancholy death-doom metal masters Swallow The Sun have released their epic standalone 14 minute track called “Lumina Aurea”. The song features Wardruna’s Einar Selvik and The Forshadowing’s Marco I. Benevento and marks the band’s darkest and most sinister piece of music they have ever released. Watch the music video for “Lumina Aurea”, which was created by Aapo Lahtela and Vesa Ranta at Kaira Films, HERE.

“‘Lumina Aurea’ is a song I would never want to write in my life,” Juha Raivio states about the track. “It is an open, bleeding black wound from the last two and half years of my life. But I had to write it out. I could not back down from it. The way I wrote and recorded ‘Lumina Aurea’ was so rough emotionally and physically that I think I will never talk about it public. I know this road will go on forever as a part of me, but I have also made a peace with it-that I will never have peace with it. And that the life and the journey here must still go on for a while for those of us remaining. I knew that if I would go any deeper on that road with the album as I did with ‘Lumina Aurea,’ the path would not end well. So, I quickly realized that instead I will write an album that will manifest loud and clear that after all, ‘Love is always stronger than death.’ I wanted to find that angle for ‘When A Shadow Is Forced into the Light’. This album is like a weapon for myself. A burning light, a burning torch. Victorious and proud.”

Directed and produced by Aapo Lahtela & Vesa Ranta.

Swallow the Sun:
Mikko Kotamäki: vox
Matti Honkonen: bass
Juuso Raatikainen: drums
Juho Räihä: gtr
Juha Raivio: gtr/keys/jouhikko
Jaani Peuhu: keys

Music & Lyrics: Juha Raivio
Mixed by: Linus Corneliusson / Fascination Street Studios Mastered by: Tony Lindgren / Fascination Street Studios Screams and Growls recorded at Black Chandelier, Helsinki Guitars and bass recorded at SoundSpiral Audio by Juho Räihä

Latin translation by Claudia Greco

Guest Musicians:
Bukkehorn by Einar Selvik
Latin spoken parts by: Marco I. Benevento
Latin choir by: Marco I. Benevento & The Foreshadowing

“Mors fortior quam vita est, amor fortior quam mors est”

Swallow The Sun Upcoming Tour Dates:
February 7 – Helsinki, Finland – Nosturi
February 8 – Turku, Finland – Apollo
February 9 – Jyvaskyla, Finland – Lutakko*
February 14 – Tampere, Finland – Klubi*
February 15 – Oulu, Finland – Teatria*
February 16 – Kuopio, Finland – Henry’s Pub*
*w/THE MAN-EATING TREE

More dates to be announced soon!

Swallow the Sun website

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Swallow the Sun on Twitter

Century Media website

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Friday Full-Length: Saint Vitus, Die Healing

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Saint Vitus, Die Healing (1995)

The idea at the outset of Die Healing was to do just that. By 1995, Saint Vitus had been playing since they got together as Tyrant in 1978, had six albums out, and no singer. Guitarist Dave Chandler, who as ever was the core of the unit when it came to songwriting, tracked vocals for a would’ve-been seventh album (I’d love to hear those tapes), but they were ultimately scrapped in favor of a reunion with original vocalist Scott Reagers for one last album and one last tour. “Let the End Begin,” indeed. They didn’t quite make it through that tour, but Die Healing — issued by Hellhound Records — stood for years as their final album and a testament to everything Vitus were as a band.

It remains and will remain their last record with their original lineup of Chandler, Reagers, bassist Mark Adams and drummer Armando Acosta, the latter of whom passed away in 2010, and more than that, from the opening crawl of “Dark World” and righteous outsider perspective of “One Mind” through the periodic speed bursts as in “Let the End Begin” or the lurch of songs like “Return of the Zombie,” “Trail of Pestilence,” “Sloth” and “In the Asylum” ahead of the okay-we’ll-finally-play-punk “Just Another Notch,” on which Chandler does in fact take the helm on vocals, Die Healing reaffirms the notion of just how right Vitus were all along to fly in the face of trends in underground music. I don’t know if during their original run, their worship at the altar of Black Sabbath was ever “the cool thing,” but they were unwavering.

There was always a vicious current of noise to Chandler‘s soloing, and through the work of Reagers on their 1984 self-titled debut and 1985’s Hallow’s Victim, Scott “Wino” Weinrich‘s stepping into the frontman role on 1986’s Born Too Late, the 1987 Thirsty and Miserable EP, 1988’s Mournful Cries and 1990’s V, and Christian “Chritus” Linderson (Count Raven, now Lord Vicar) stepping in for 1992’s C.O.D., the band’s root in classic and grim heft prevented them from being at all in line with the metal of the day. They were doom. Unrelenting, unwavering doom. Die Healing might as well have been called ‘Die Slow,’ because if Vitus knew the band was coming to an end one way or another, they were going out the way they came in: volume up, tempo down, middle finger high.

I’m not sure if anything ever would or could replace the groundbreaking regression that was their self-titled or the mastery of the form they showed on Born Too Late, but neither should the grim saint vitus die healingatmosphere of Die Healing be discounted among the band’s myriad achievements of style and songwriting. With the theatricality in Reagers‘ vocals as heard on “In the Asylum” or even “Return of the Zombie” before it, Die Healing was in direct conversation with the first record, to the point that the latter track was a sequel to “Zombie Hunger” from the earlier release, but at 49 minutes, it was a product of the CD era too, and though Chandler had certainly handled some vocals in the past, on “When Emotion Dies” from Born Too Late, “Dragon Time” from Mournful Cries or “A Timeless Tale” from C.O.D., the fact that he effectively had the last say on the band’s last-until-the-reunion release in the addiction tale “Just Another Notch” spoke to his holding onto some piece of Vitus for himself.

That push and pull seems always to have existed in the band, and their split in 1996 stands as the dissolution of one of the greatest acts American doom has ever produced, but their volatility was a part of what made them so special in the first place. Saint Vitus were never going to be a completely stable entity. It wouldn’t have worked. Certainly they knew what they wanted sound-wise, and in the beginning they knew they wanted to be different, to play slow when others were playing fast, to be loud in a bottom-end-heavy kind of way that became signature to their style, but just because they were conscious of what they were doing doesn’t necessarily mean they were playing by a set of rules.

Consider Saint Vitus in relation to Sweden’s Candlemass. Similar start with their debuts in the mid-’80s, but Candlemass took on a cleaner Sabbathian sound, crisp and classy, whereas even on Die Healing, nearly 20 years after they first got together, Saint Vitus still sounded like the band who were going to steal your VCR while you weren’t looking. They flew in the face of rock, of pop, of metal, and of punk, and they proved just how ahead of their time they were when it was another full generation before they really even started to get their due from a broader audience.

Saint Vitus‘ reunion in 2009 with Weinrich on vocals led to 2012’s Lillie: F-65 (review here) and the 2013 reissue of their catalog through their new label, Season of Mist (plus tapes on RidingEasy), as well as a couple subsequent live records. No longer was Die Healing the last Vitus LP, and what had come full circle was reopened. With Henry Vasquez on drums, ChandlerAdams and Wino toured as triumphant heroes returning circa 2012 and 2013, but Wino‘s much-reported drug charge and subsequent five-year ban from European touring (now expiring) brought Reagers back into the lineup.

Adams, meanwhile, has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease — a GoFundMe was set up to help with his medical expenses — and Pat Bruders, who once took the place of Rex Brown in Down and was a founding member of Goatwhore, has been playing with them for the last couple years. That puts Chandler and Reagers as the remaining founders of the band currently in the lineup, but of course that volatile aspect is always there as well. Nonetheless, they’ll celebrate the band’s 40th anniversary with a European tour this coming Spring (dates here), and word has been bandied about of a new album in the works as well, though a solid release date remains to be set. One has to wonder if, when Saint Vitus‘ next record does arrive, it will feature a third installment of Reagers‘ zombie-centered lyrics. Nothing like a good sequel, and Die Healing certainly deserves the nod.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Last night was the first night I really slept this week. I’ve been waking up here and there throughout the night. Not the baby getting up or anything like that, just me. Wednesday I was up half the damn night, but last night I crashed pretty hard. I’ll still probably need a little downtime this afternoon if I can get it, and I wouldn’t necessarily call myself caught up, but every little bit counts.

I got a tattoo this week. It’s my first one. More on that later. It’s healing nicely. Not dying. Got my arm all gooped up and whatnot.

Today is my mother’s birthday and we’re still in New Jersey for the better part of this month, so my family is coming over to celebrate and get takeout and hang around, which will be good. I like being down here. There’s more space for that Pecan to run around and more shit for him to climb on, and the family time is good. Plus we’re like two minutes from the center of the universe, which is nice.

But anyway, things persist. I have an Inner Altar track premiere slated for Monday, but actually the rest of the week is pretty wide open right now, which I think is nifty. I’ll probably review John Garcia in there somewhere and maybe the new Skraeckoedlan record unless something else comes up, but I kind of like having a bit of flexibility for a change. November and December were crammed.

Episode 7 of ‘The Obelisk Show’ on Gimme Radio airs Sunday at 7PM Eastern. I’m going to stay up until 9 to listen and you should too. I also recently bought a Gimme t-shirt, which I think makes something or other official.

And I just got a new merch design from Shy Kennedy (Horehound, Blackseed Records, Descendants of Crom, etc.) that’s awesome and coming soon to the merch page for Dropout. I’m not going to post the design yet, but I’ve decided to call it “the lunar doomer” because I like slant rhymes and there’s a moon on it. It’s cool.

There’s more, probably, but I can’t think of it because golly-gosh I’m tired.

I hope you came through the holidays alright. That time of year is always a challenge for me, and my mother’s birthday is always kind of the finish line for it, so I’m right there. Made it. I’ve got writing to do this weekend, but today I’m gonna post stuff, read, chill, record voice tracks for Gimme Radio and just catch my breath a bit before everyone gets here this afternoon. I got up early to enjoy some coffee and a bit of doom, and I don’t regret it.

I hope you’re good. Really. I don’t know if I am or not. I have good days and bad. Really hard swings. But I’m glad to be around family for the time I am.

Alright.

Everyone have a great and safe weekend. Please. Forum, radio, merch at the merch table.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk shirts & hoodies

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Volcano Premiere “Naked Prey” Video; The Island Due Feb. 15

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 3rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

volcano naked prey

The first real inkling of what Volcano are all about came last year when the San Diego unit released a single track on their Bandcamp page. Already an album was said to be in the works, and soon after “10,000 Screamin’ Souls” (discussed here) showed up, the band was booked at Roadburn. It was, if I recall right, their second — maybe third? — show, in the 700-capacity Green Room, and EarthlessMario Rubalcaba sat in on percussion. Not too shabby. I was fortunate enough to be there to see it, and with Harsh Toke‘s Gabe Messer on keys and vocals as the madman bandleader and JOY guitarist Zach Oakley jamming through funked-out riffs and classic-style soloing backed by the rhythm section of bassist Billy Ellsworth (also Loom) and drummer Matt Oakley (brother to Zach), the band were immediately locked in to being free as all hell, obviously having a blast and inviting the crowd to do the same as they ran through songs like “Naked Prey,” “No Evil, Know Demon,” “10,000 Screamin’ Souls” and “The Island” melded Afrobeat grooves with the psychedelia and heavy rock that’s become such a staple of their hometown.

Given the association with JOY and Harsh Toke, and the fact that the music was awesome, it was no surprise to find out Volcano had signed to Tee Pee Records, which together with Kommune Records will handle thevolcano the island release of The Island, the band’s first album. Comprised of Messer, the Oakleys, Ellsworth, and Ake Arndt (Operation Mindblow) on percussion, the studio incarnation of Volcano would seem to be no less feral in their intent than the stage version was last April. Having since pulled down “10,000 Screamin’ Souls” as a single from their Bandcamp page, the band has made “Naked Prey” available as the first audio from The Island, and it’s my pleasure today to host the premiere of the song’s accompanying video.

The footage is kind of grainly, but it doesn’t seem like anyone is getting naked, but if running through a jungle surrounded on all sides by ocean with no clothes on is the vibe Volcano are going for, they’ve pretty much got it down. “Naked Prey” is first and foremost a party, a good time in the tradition of letting loose, breaking through stylistic barriers and exploring a range of sounds from a range of places. A bit of cultural appropriation? Oh, most definitely. The video moves in a different direction, though, tapping into a grainy tube-TV aesthetic that Zach, who directed and offers some comment under the clip below, relates directly to early ’70s German music television. Because obviously. And suitably enough, they’re thinking of “Naked Prey” as analogous to what the rest of The Island has to offer. I haven’t heard the full thing yet, but having been lucky enough to hear at least some of these songs live, I believe it.

The Island is out Feb. 15. If you have an ass, get ready to shake it.

Enjoy:

“Naked Prey” official video premiere

Zach Oakley on “Naked Prey”:

“Every song on this record was fun to write, record and produce so it was hard to pick a first single. I think we chose “Naked Prey” because it’s the first tune on the record and so why not have it act as Volcano’s first introduction to the world.

It’s the leadoff track on the record for a couple reasons. First of all, it’s a banger! The drum intro is syncopated and groovy and the rest of the band drop in all at once with a twin guitar and keys melody that foreshadow a lot of what you’ll hear during the rest of the album. We’re basically telling people that if they like the first 15 seconds of “Naked Prey”, then they’re gonna dig the rest of the album too!

Lyrically speaking it sets the tone for the record. We tell the story arch of “The Island” and it’s inhabitants over the course of the record. Each tune it’s own chapter. In this first chapter we learn about their ruthless gods and the relentless aggression of nature and it’s dark governing forces. It’s a theme that we explore throughout the record, and it starts with NAKED PREY! Let the chase begin!

The “Naked Prey” music video began as a complete joke. Just talking about filming ourselves for a video was too goofy to take seriously. But we set out with the attitude that if it turned out too silly to release then we’d simply ditch it and never tell anyone we tried! I had just filmed and edited a short film documenting a jam session that I had been a part of at a friend’s property in Campo, CA, a month or two earlier and it turned out cool. Nothing too complex or professional looking, but really neat and nostalgic and plenty psychedelic. I took that same approach to shooting and editing Volcano’s first music video.

We felt like keeping it simple since it was our first video. Very little plot line aside from Gabe speaking as an angry deity. It’s mostly shots of the members of the band playing the tune against a non-descript background. It puts the focus on us as a players. No frills. Just plenty of trippy edits and overlays and other tricks lifted straight from the editing playbook of the 60s-70s German Television show “The Beat Club.” Anyone that has seen the Birth Control, Black Sabbath or Rory Gallagher performances on that show will get a kick, or at least a giggle out of our new video! We hope everyone has as much fun watching it as we did making it!”

Volcano on Instagram

Volcano on Bandcamp

Kommune Records on Bandcamp

Tee Pee Records website

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Medicina Post “Histamina” Video; Album Preorders Start Jan. 4

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

medicina

Algeciras-based trio Medicina, which brings together drummer David Ruiz Donoso and bassist Jose “Pot” Moreno, both formerly of Viaje a 800, with Alberto Ruiz Gonzalez on guitar and vocals, will release their first album, Turboacido, through Mai Lei Bel on Feb. 22. Preorders for the 10-track/45-minute offerings start on Jan. 4, and to preview the LP’s arrival the band have put together a video for closing cut “Histamina,” which at 6:20 is also the longest inclusion on the record, blending influences from grunge, heavy rock and shoegazing post-rock with spacious flourish and the occasional bit of desert-minded riffing. Songs like “Sobredosis” and the side A finale “Pirotecnias” (premiered here) careen between garage stylizations and headier fare, the identity of the band cast as much in underground classics as in the forward-thinking progressivism underlying their superficially simplistic structures and moods alternately laid back and driving. Despite the lush feel of “Sensorial,” Turboacido does not seem to need to make its impression in a wash of effects, instead letting the consuming layers as they are eat away at the consciousness, medicina turboacidogradually escaping with brain matter and, I don’t know, maybe your eyeballs if they’re not too wrecked by the shimmer.

The dug-in grunge of “Hermanas” and the indie-vibing opener before it “Infarto Juvenil” give a distinctly ’90s-inspired presentation, but the production itself isn’t dated and there’s not so much as sense of the band trying to recapture something long-since lost as interpreting their own take on that spirit. Some of the record’s most effective moments are in its mellower stretches, “Sobredosis” or the extra-bassy “Ensamble,” which though it puts the low end in the forward position mix-wise, uses that extra space for some post-rock expansion in the lead guitar. As the finale, “Histamina” follows the push ‘n’ wash of “Soluble” with whatever space rock might be if it was exploring the ocean instead of the outer reaches of the cosmos. Or maybe it’s just some watery planet in some far off star system? Either way, it brings together the intense thrust of motorik rhythmmaking with something still definitely gravitational, and by the end, shows itself to be winding off in a direction all its own. So it may be the case with the band (here’s hoping), but the nuance of their approach shouldn’t be lost as one calls out this influence or that. Make no mistake, the highlight of Turboacido is in how Medicina take these elements and own them outright.

“Histamina” was directed by Juanjo Crespo and goes wild on some footage that may or may not be in the public domain.

Please enjoy:

Medicina, “Histamina” official video

Second preview of our first lp turboacido, which will see the light on February 22, enjoy and share the “Histamina.” Video Realizado por Juanjo Crespo.

Medicina is a trio formed at the beginning by Alberto and David, veteran musicians of the local scene in South Spain (They’ve playing together since the early 90´s in several bands like Ballet Violencia, Xudor Barato, among others).

David Ruiz was the drummer in the well known stoner rock band Viaje a 800 (from 1996 to 2008), and also in Buenamuerte Trío (From 2010 to 2013); After multiple line-up changes, Jose “Pot” (Viaje a 800, Atavismo…) finally joins the band as bass player in 2018.

Band members:
Alberto Ruiz Gonzalez (Guitar and Vocals)
David Ruiz Donoso (Drums)
Jose “Pot” Moreno (Bass)

Medicina on Bandcamp

Medicina on Instagram

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Mai Lei Bel on Bandcamp

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Friday Full-Length: Kadavar, Kadavar

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

Kadavar, Kadavar

Not many albums are recognizable from even just their snare sound. And likewise, one doesn’t often hear panned drums all stuck over in one channel. But even when it was released, Kadavar‘s Kadavar seemed to be working on its own level.

Issued in 2012 by This Charming Man and Tee Pee Records, the seven-song/41-minute outing arrived at just the right moment to capture the attention of a new generation discovering heavy rock. The Berlin three-piece was comprised at the time of guitarist/vocalist Christoph “Lupus” Lindemann, drummer Christoph “Tiger” Bartelt and bassist Mammut — the latter was soon replaced by Simon “Dragon” Bouteloup — and they were by no means the first band to play ’70s loyalist retro rock. In 2012, the self-titled debut from Sweden’s Witchcraft was already eight years old, and even if that was the breakout moment for vintage-minded heavy, it was by no means the nexus of it. Even the first Graveyard album had come out half a decade earlier — on Transubstans and Tee Pee, mind you, so even the same label in the US. But with Kadavar, they were very much of that same generational switch happening in heavy rock’s audience. The mobilization of social media became a massive factor, and where plenty of bands had done their used-fashion shopping in time for their press shots, Kadavar looked like something out of a 1973 men’s magazine, and the drama of their poses, hair, beards and wardrobe became a crucial part of their aesthetic that the reshaping digital landscape only helped them foster.

It’s never just been about one thing with Kadavar. It’s never just been the look, and it’s never just been the songs, and it’s never just been the huge amount of touring they’ve done over the years. They’re a band with hustle. One recalls that when they played the Sardinian daydream-of-a-festival Duna Jam in 2012, they filmed a video for “All Our Thoughts” on their iPhones. That opening track, which is as much a signature and a herald of their sound as any band could ever hope for, as well as being better composed than most bands could hope for, was premiered here with a giveaway in 2012, and Kadavar was my pick for debut of the year a couple months later as well, but at the time it was impossible really to know the band that Kadavar would become, what their kadavar self titledsubsequent outings would produce and the work they would do to engage and build their audience, virtual and otherwise. Listening back to cuts like “Black Sun” and “Forgotten Past,” it was the incredible warmth of their tones, the on-beat nature of their boogie and the catchiness of their hooks that were speaking for themselves.

With centerpiece “Goddess of Dawn,” Kadavar nestled themselves into a proto-metallic echelon that was home to precious few bands, and as it was Bartelt doing the recording, mixing and mastering, the willfulness of their aesthetic was all the more prevalent. “Creature of the Dawn” still resonates with the insistent hook of its second half — perhaps unsurprisingly, the album as a whole is well suited to nostalgia even just six years later — and the theremin-inclusive “Purple Sage” (with Shazzula providing the eerie sci-fi sounds) was indicative in its multi-layered soloing of some of the more psychedelic aspects that would continue to be toyed with as Kadavar issued their follow-up as a 2012 split with France’s Aqua Nebula Oscillator, all the while maintaining the grounded structures that provided so much of the foundation of Kadavar itself. They would continue to save their departures for the ends of records afterward, and it has continued to suit them well.

But of course it has. Because Kadavar have always had a keen eye for how they’re perceived, and that has extended to all facets of their approach. There are those who view that cynically, like Kadavar are sitting around at a board meeting going over the quarter’s financials saying, “No good, time for another video,” or something like that, but while there’s no question they’ve had a strong sense of purpose since Kadavar was released, they’ve also had a growth in style and progression that’s led them to places the self-titled only hinted toward. Hearing “All Our Thoughts” and “Forgotten Past” and “Purple Sage” now, there’s so much naturalism at Kadavar‘s foundation that the album still holds I think among the decade’s best not just in its sound or performance, with its live feel, organic fuzz and groove and ultra-righteous bass tone, but in its very concept. Everything Kadavar does and has done has been on purpose. Even the accidents. Part of what made their first record such a standout was how sure they were of what they were doing at the time. There was no sense that they were getting their feet wet or feeling their way into their style. Listening to Kadavar‘s Kadavar was like unboxing some tech product with the battery already charged. All you had to do was take it out and put it on and you were set.

That’s still the case. Kadavar have gone on to become one of the most essential active European heavy bands, as their 2013 sophomore outing, 2013’s Abra Kadavar (review here), led to their signing to Nuclear Blast Records to wider distribution and a new level of reach in terms of touring. A pivotal moment followed in 2015’s Berlin (review here), their third album named for the city they call home, whereupon their sound took on a more modern, produced sheen that was a shift from the first two records. One would be naive to think that’s a coincidence of their signing to the new label, but they pulled off a difficult transition in sound thanks to the same undercurrent of songcraft that carried them through the debut and its follow-up. Touring all the while, they took on a moodier, more socially aware context with 2017’s Rough Times (review here), which was followed this year by the Live in Copenhagen companion LP. They’ve become an influence particularly in Europe, and as their craft has moved forward, they’ve never really lost the sense of structure that seemed so much to drive their beginnings. Kadavar knew it was playing to classics. I’m not sure it knew it would become one itself.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

It’s 5:24AM right now. Soon it’ll be 5:25. In about a minute or so. Ha.

Alarm went off at 3:30, as it will — I’ve been giving myself an extra half-hour and working during The Pecan’s morning nap — and he was up at 4AM. Hi from the Newark Airport flightpath. We’re in Jersey from now until about Jan. 20, and normally I’d have left his ass up there to fall back asleep on his own, but we have friends staying with us upstairs in the guest room across the hall. When it hit 15 minutes of yelling and it seemed like he wasn’t going to just lay back down and conk out, I went up there armed with fresh diaper and a bottle, changed him, fed him, and put him back down. He screamed bloody murder for about three minutes after I left the room, but has been out since, so even if he gets up at this point, I bought another hour. Again, I usually would leave him because I want him to learn and be used to settling himself down, but there are extenuating circumstances. “Additional factors,” as The Patient Mrs. and I like to say, usually about him.

Next week is New Year’s? That’s stupid. Whatever. Be safe. I’ll still be asleep by nine.

We did Xmas Eve at home and watched Die Hard, as we will, and then Xmas Proper in Connecticut with The Patient Mrs.’ family, then came down here the next day. I don’t even know what day that actually was. Wednesday, says the calendar. Fine. We got here and are mostly settled in at this point. I need Chemex filters something awful, but beyond that, it’s been good. Dinner with my family on the 26th, some hanging out with my oldest nephew, who does well with the baby, friends coming in yesterday. Good times. I like it here. I miss living in this area. So it goes.

With the New Year’s holiday on Tuesday, I’ll do the traditional thing of posting the results of the Year-End Poll. If you haven’t yet added your list of 20-or-however-many favorites of 2018, you should get on that.

What else? Merch still available at Dropout Merch. For now. I’m gonna nix some of those designs soon. I don’t want too much floating out there.

And while the next ‘The Obelisk Show’ on Gimme Radio was going to be Jan. 13, now it’ll be Jan 6. I got bumped up a week, which is nice. I still need to put together most of the playlist, but I know some of it will be highlights from the Quarterly Review, so there’s plenty to choose from there, as it was 100 records and all. Plus some other stuff I haven’t covered here yet.

Let’s do notes for next week. Haven’t done that in a while. Subject to change, blah blah, here goes:

Mon.: Arc of Ascent/Zone Six split review.
Tue.: Poll results.
Wed.: Begotten review; Medicina video.
Thu.: Volcano video premiere; maybe Thunderbird Divine review.
Fri.: Molior Superum track premiere.

Busy busy busy, as usual. That’s good though. The music industry slows down during this time, basically through the end of January, but I never seem to have any lack of stuff to cover, and I’m not really interested in slowing down, so fair enough.

Just about 6AM now. Definitely not regretting giving him that bottle. The Patient Mrs. came to bed around 1:30AM, which is insane as far as current best practices are concerned. I told her that when the baby got up at five I was going to bring him down and stick her with him. I haven’t decided if I actually will do that or not. Probably not. But he should be up soon and I need to get another post live before I grab him, so I’m gonna punch out.

I hope you have a great and safe weekend, and if you’re doing the New Year’s thing, I hope you’re indoors? I don’t know. I hope you drink because it’s fun and not because you feel like you need to. That’s what I hope.

Have fun, don’t get hurt, and thank you for reading. Forum, radio, merch.

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Carpet Post “Selene” Live Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 26th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

carpet

German progressive psychedelic rockers Carpet issued their fourth album, the most excellently titled About Rooms and Elephants, in October. A single LP running six tracks and 42 minutes, it’s the Augsburg outfit’s quick-turnaround follow-up to 2017’s Secret Box (review here), and it finds them digging further into exploratory stylizations, saving room for exciting arrangement shifts and turns into space rocking and controlled psych-out jams. The first sharp pivot occurs about two minutes into opener “Selene,” and it’s by no means the last. Serene as some of their melodies and smooth as their overarching affect might be, About Rooms and Elephants is not just an album trying to melt your brain. Instead, it needs you to use it in order to keep up with what the band is doing. It is a record that requires an active listen, and which earns one from its very first moments.

“Selene,” which has a new live-recorded video that you can see below — flugelhorn and all — builds to a driving progressive wash à la peak-era Porcupine Tree before splitting off again into jazzy roll en route to a returning verse and its drift-away finish, but again, that’s just the start of the record. “Full Moon Tune” has a prog-shuffle that sacrifices neither one for the other, and “Spanish Pets” careens into an intricate rhythm of acoustic guitar, piano and drums,Carpet About Rooms and Elephants topped all the while by a vocal melody that seems to assure everything is under control. And so it is as all paths seem to align in the second half of the song toward a somewhat understated apex that fits with the quieter beginning movement. I’ve said this before talking about the band’s work, but it bears repeating just how classy they are. In their arrangements, Carpet are as tasteful as they are deep-running, and listening to the little bit of guitar thunder behind the beginning of “Bitter Lake” and the swirl of keyboard that emerges beneath the vocals and deceptively quick-moving drums, the poise with which the band executes the song is nearly as consuming as the motion itself, and the weighted bounce that emerges from there — a waltz, of course — only underscores the point.

With an extended fade for a finish, “Bitter Lake” pulls double-duty in setting up the 14-minute stretch of “June 19th,” which is not only a remarkably patient and graceful linear build, gorgeously arranged in working from silence up through spacious horns and eventual guitar, bass, drums and keys, but also a lead-in for the melodic wash of closer “Souvenir” after it, which might be an afterthought but for the fact that, unlike the preceding extended cut, “Souvenir” has vocals, so it’s the band’s final statement of About Rooms and Elephants. With a foundation of acoustic guitar and a strong current of mellotron filling out its sound, it summarizes the presence and fluidity of the album well while leaning toward the psychedelic breadth Carpet seem able to conjure at will. It is no less of an accomplishment than anything before it, and accordingly much more than the epilogue one might expect. As one should by then figure, they end in likewise polished fashion, with delicate synth winding its way out as the last element to go, only inviting a return to the soothing open of “Selene” back on side A. Flip the platter. Problem solved.

In a foggy room with a steadily panning camera and bars of light at eye-level, “Selene” offers no less flow in the live clip than on the record, and as Carpet approach a decade since their debut, 2009’s The Eye is the Heart Mirror, they conjure their most vivid images yet of pastoral warmth and thoughtful peace.

Please enjoy:

Carpet, “Selene” official live video

Carpet performing ”Selene“ from the album ”About Rooms and Elephants“ live at Zenith, Munich.

Video by Monacoframe.

Recorded at Zenith, Munich on November 6, 2018.

Jakob Mader: drums.
Martin Lehmann: trumpet, flugelhorn.
Hubert Steiner: bass.
Maximilian Stephan: guitar, vocals.
Maximilian Wörle: percussion, vocals.
Sigmund Perner: rhodes, synth.

DoP: Michael Baumberger
1st AC: Max Rödl
Grip #1: David Wilkinson
Grip #2: Richard Lee Rogge
Lighting: Antonia Zettl, Kai Metzner

Recording engineer: Maximilian Wörle
Mixing: Maximilian Wörle, Maximilian Stephan

Carpet, About Rooms and Elephants (2018)

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Friday Full-Length: 1000mods, Super Van Vacation

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

 

At the time Greek heavy rockers 1000mods released their debut album, it would’ve been difficult to understand what it was working to engage. Listen to songs like “7 Flies” or “El Rollito” and “Set You Free.” Listen to “Alice in Navy” and “Johny’s.” Then listen again. Then listen to the five crucial longer pieces: opener “Road to Burn,” “Vidage,” “Track Me,” and the closing duo of “Abell 1835” and the title-cut. Then listen again. On its surface, Super Van Vacation (review here) is a kickass rock record. But as we move inexorably nearer to the end of this decade, I can’t help but think of the impact this record has had.

Super Van Vacation was issued as 10 songs and an overwhelming 65 minutes by Kozmik Artifactz and CTS Productions, and its influences speak for themselves — a strong dose of Kyuss and Fu Manchu, a little bit of Colour Haze thrown into the start of “Track Me,” some earlier Dozer and Lowrider to go around — but more than seven years on from its release, think about the generation of heavy rock that’s come forward. This decade has seen an entirely new league of bands from around Europe and the world at large. It has been a generational shift, fostered in no small part by social media (and yes, I include Bandcamp in that), and as the genre has found a new audience, that audience has proven more receptive to acts from just about everywhere. Not that Greece doesn’t have a history of heavy rock and roll — there’s been Greek psych for as long as there’s been psych, and plenty of Greek metal and rock as well — and Greece has one of the strongest histories of folk music to be found anywhere in Europe. But in thinking specifically about heavy rock, about international desert rock, especially at the start of this decade, Greece could hardly hold a candle to, say, Sweden, or Germany, or the UK when it came to the overall vibrancy of its riff-loving underground. 1000mods seem to have represented a moment of change taking place.

What I mean to say is that Super Van Vacation worked on different terms than a lot of what was happening at the time, and by manifesting inspiration from acts abroad, it entered a conversation that was immediately international in its scope. This wouldn’t have mattered if the quality of the material was lacking, but digging into “Vidage” or “Abell 1835” or the ultra-groove of “El Rollito” — which seems to have been titled for precisely what its rhythm was doing vis a vis roll; it’s more than the little one its name might suggest — 1000mods showed that not only was this new generation happening at that moment, but that it was capable of introducing the burgeoning audience for heavy rock with a grade of craft worthy of what had come before it. Almost inevitably, then, bassist/vocalist Dani G., guitarists Giannis S.and George T., and drummer Labros G. became torchbearers of the Greek underground, which over the next few years would undergo a renaissance of its own, and they’ve lived up to that position with touring and subsequent releases. I won’t say they put Greece on the heavy rock map, because nobody’s ever “first” at anything if you dig deep enough and it would just be too convenient a narrative, but they were the right band from the right place at the right time, and that in itself is a significant accomplishment, before you even get down to hearing any of the songs.

Furthering this multinational engagement was the fact that Super Van Vacation was recorded by Billy Anderson, whose legacy as a producer is unmatched in heavy with a CV 1000mods super van vacationthat includes classic records for Sleep, Neurosis, Acid King and the Melvins, among many, many others. Given the geographical disparity — Anderson on the US West Coast, 1000mods in Chiliomodi, about an hour and a half (depending on traffic) west of Athens — the choice could only have been purposeful, and that too speaks to a conscious decision on the band’s part to broaden their reach. Super Van Vacation wasn’t just about being Chiliomodi’s own Truckfighters. It was about bringing 1000mods to the attention of an multinational heavy underground that, as it turned out, was ready and waiting to receive them. Right record, right time. The fact that they tour their asses off in the years following didn’t hurt them either, certainly. But a Greek band with an American producer and a German label pressing their debut album as a 2LP? This is not a group of minor ambition, and Super Van Vacation realized their goals of positioning them as more than just a local or national act while also showing their potential staying power on that grander stage.

Again, this wouldn’t have been possible at all if the songs weren’t there. But thinking about its double-vinyl structure now, the way it functioned so that sides A, B and C all feature a track north of eight minutes long — “Road to Burn,” “Vidage” and “Track Me,” respectively — and the way the album culminated with “Abell 1835” and “Super Van Vacation,” it’s all the more masterful a construction. I won’t take away from the tightness of the songwriting on the shorter tracks and particularly in the album’s earlier going with “7 Flies,” “El Rollito” and “Set You Free,” but with the longer tracks spaced out as they were, 1000mods were never too far from offering their listeners a real chance at immersion into what they were doing, and they had the tonal depth, the hooks and, in reserve, the spaciousness to make sure they got there. It was almost deceptively multifaceted.

Having already by then toured through Europe and the UK, 1000mods released their second long-player, Vultures (review here), in 2014 and followed that with Repeated Exposure To… (review here) in 2016, the latter through their own label, Ouga Booga and the Mighty Oug Recordings — a name that, while cumbersome, speaks to their taking what’s been done before and making it their own; the reference being to Kyuss “Supa Scoopa and Mighty Scoop” — which also oversaw a reissue of Super Van Vacation that same year. The debut was also previously reissued on vinyl through CTS in 2014, and has sold through multiple pressings. Rightfully so, frankly, as clearly it’s a record to which time has been kind and for which the context has only become richer over the course of the years since it first arrived.

1000mods toured ridiculously hard for Repeated Exposure To…, but if one takes a every-two-or-three-years pace for them and new material, they’d be due for a full-length sometime probably later in 2019. We’ll see if we get there, but either way, it’s worth considering how far they’ve come since their start in 2006 and how much they’ve contributed to the sphere of modern European heavy rock. Seems to be plenty at this point, and there’s no indication they’re stopping anytime soon.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Thanks for reading.

I was pleased with the response to the Top 30 of 2018 list that went up yesterday, which if I’m honest is probably a first. Usually I break my ass putting those things together — keeping track of records in a list all year, fretting for weeks about the order, spending days on the actual writing and the inevitably adjusting the list even after it’s published — and then the first thing I see is someone being like, “Hey you stupid bastard you didn’t include Band X.” I got one comment about a lack of Latin American releases included. Okay. And people have picked out individual things that didn’t get make it for one reason or another — some of which I’ve added to honorable mentions — but by and large the tone has been civil. That’s all I could really ask.

But that’s been nice. So thank you for that.

Next week is Xmas. I’ve been dreading it, honestly. The Patient Mrs., The Pecan and I will spend Xmas Eve here in MA, watching Die Hard and Die Hard 2 at home in our traditional Xmas Eve fashion. Then Xmas Day we head south to Connecticut for family dinner, and then the next day it’s on to New Jersey, where we’ll stay the remainder of winter break until her Spring semester starts — I guess that’s three-plus weeks until about Jan. 17 or so. I’m trying to set up getting a tattoo in that time — it’ll be my first — and beyond that, looking forward to being back there, but I feel like Xmas is the hurdle I have to jump to make it happen. Least favorite holiday? Maybe. There’s some stiff competition there.

For whatever it’s worth, I hope you make the most of yours and enjoy it as much as possible.

Because of holiday and travel, posts will be somewhat sporadic, but I’m hoping to get at least something up every day except perhaps Xmas Day itself since I anticipate being busy with Pecan whatnot and travel. I’ve got a bunch of news catchup happening Monday, and nothing slated for Tuesday, though I’m sure something will come along, but Wednesday is the next review. It’s Horehound. Next week reviews are Horehound, T.G. Olson and Øresund Space Collective. Happy Xmas to me.

But yeah, I hope the holiday anxiety isn’t too much for you as it will invariably consume the entirety of my being pretty much from now until early January.

I have some other writing to do this weekend — a bio for a vinyl release, an update to the PostWax liner notes that I turned in last weekend — so I’ll be around. If we don’t talk before, though, have a good holiday and get through it the best you can. Tell your family you love them. That’s what matters. And if you can, listen to some decent music. The rest is extraneous bullshit.

Gonna punch out for a bit as I expect The Pecan up momentarily. Quick plug that if you haven’t yet, please add your list to the Year-End Poll, and if you can’t remember what came out this year, there are more than 100 records talked about in my own list, so that might be a place to start.

Thanks again for reading and have a great and safe weekend. Forum, radio and merch.

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Zed Post “Skin + Bones” Video; Desperation Blues Reissue Due Jan. 18

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

zed

San Jose heavy rockers Zed will reissue their 2013 album, Desperation Blues, on Jan. 18 through Ripple Music. And if the band are feeling somewhat sentimental for what was their second album following 2010’s The Invitation, that’s certainly fair enough. It was the record that solidified their approach in hard-hitting, semi-aggro heavy rock and roll, as well as the one that led to their signing with Ripple Music for the follow-up, Trouble in Eden (review here), in 2016. Well worth a special place in the band’s heart, I should think.

With an eye toward marking the occasion and an apparent backlog of images to share, Zed have posted a kind of collage reminiscence video for the song “Skin + Bones” that has photos included from their last several years of shows. Of particular note was the excursion that took them to the East Coast where they played the first night of Maryland Doom Fest 2018 (review here). They have shots with the organizers of the fest, other bands, and even one of yours truly if you’re quick enough to see my dopey mug pass by en route to the next pic. I usually charge a licensing fee for my image, but since it’s Zed, I’ll let it go this time around.

I was glad to catch the four-piece at that fest, as I was to see them for the first time at Borderland Fuzz Fiesta in 2016 (review here). They’ve grown as songwriters, as I think Trouble in Eden showed, but Desperation Blues captured the root of their sound in terms of conveying their passion for straightforward, direct-line heavy rock with more than just a chip on its shoulder. I don’t know what else they might have in the works for the New Year, but if they’re running at an every-three-year pace, they’re due for a new studio release at some point.

In the meantime, a bit of nostalgia.

PR wire info follows the video below. Please enjoy:

Zed, “Skin + Bones” official video

Blasting out onto the San Francisco Bay Area rock scene in 2007, ZED quickly made a name for themselves with their crushing live shows and incessant grooves. Having played together in various projects since ’98 (including releasing an album with the band Stitch for Prosthetic/Metal Blade Records), guitar player/vocalist Peter Sattari, drummer Rich Harris and bassist Mark Aceves joined up with guitar wizard Greg Lopes to create a sound that was uniquely their own. A sound with the sole purpose to rock with no concerns for genre classifications and idle labeling.

Showcasing equal appeal to fuzz-box mercenaries, ’74 Chevy van-driving stoners and horns-thrusting metalheads, ZED truly made their mark in May 2013 with the self-release of Desperation Blues, an album which, with the help of the Californian label Ripple Music gets an official worldwide reissue on CD/LP this January.

Replete with new album artwork and bonus material (previously unheard first time around) Desperation Blues is an honest collection of blood, sweat, Desperation Blues will be officially re-released on 18th January 2019 through Ripple Music. Pre-order the album now at www.ripple-music.com.

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