Review & Track Premiere: Yagow, Yagow

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 8th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

yagow yagow

[Click play above to stream ‘Snake Charmer’ from the self-titled Yagow LP, out June 16 on Crazysane Records and available to preorder here.]

An overarching feel of lysergic serenity would seem to be the means to its own end on Yagow‘s self-titled debut, which is to say that the six-song first outing from the Saarbrücken, Germany, three-piece sets for its primary goal the very wash it uses to meet that goal. It is an exploration of vibe and mood, space-gazing through its 42-minute stretch propelled by unknown fuels. Recorded by the band — guitarist/vocalist/noisemaker Jan Werner, bassist Axel Rothhaar and drummer/percussionist Marc Schönwald with Kai Peifer (who also mixed, along with Werner and Berni Götz, who also mastered) on bass for side B’s “Non-Contractual” — and issued through Crazysane Records, Yagow‘s tuned-in headspaces should feel familiar to those who’ve worshiped at the altars of The Heads or Loop but they seem interested in casting their own melodic identity as well in these tracks.

One can hear this in the organ-style sounds of opener and longest track (immediate points) “Horsehead Nebula” or the sitar of the subsequent “Snake Charmer,” buried in the mix though it is, and the result is an outing of headphone-worthy depth that comes across as honest in its intentions and likewise assured in how to meet the goals it has set. Songs play out one into the next with a patient fluidity and perhaps a budding sense of nuance, and it seems that the only thing Yagow don’t leave room for in the album’s span is pretense. This is head music for a head audience. It’s not trying to say anything it doesn’t want to say and it’s not trying to be anything it isn’t. Listeners can either sign up for the journey or miss out on the trip that ensues.

For what it’s worth, the band makes a pretty compelling argument toward the former. While remaining up-front in their purposes and playing by the rules of vinyl modernity by splitting Yagow neatly in half, three cuts to a side, they nonetheless execute a classic psychedelic vibe — not necessarily playing to influences from the ’60s or ’70s, but certainly aware of those roots. Each song in the record’s first half — “Horsehead Nebula,” “Snake Charmer” and “Moss and Mint” — has something to stand it out from its compatriots, whether it’s the aforementioned melody and sitar of the opener and its follow-up or the return of that particularly blissful tone that either could be keys or could be guitar effects on “Moss and Mint,” coming on more languid the second time around and allowing the three-piece to convey an overarching flow as well as distinguish the individual from its surroundings. “Oh yeah, that’s the song where that happens,” and so on.

Whether this is done consciously or not on the part of the band — one doesn’t want to assume either way, and this material almost certainly has its beginnings in jams either improvised or led by one member or another — is secondary compared to the effect it has on the overall listening experience, which, when taken front to back, proves duly consuming and switched-on in its overall affect. As Werner‘s vocals drawl out amid the wash of “Moss and Mint” after the more winding space-charged fuzz of “Snake Charmer,” there’s some subtlety to be found for those who’d pay repeat visits to Yagow‘s psychedelic palace, but even if the album splits in half, it’s more about the entirety of the thing than any one song, or even part. And that’s not to its detriment in the slightest.

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Rather, as side B starts with the more blown-out low end tonality of “Time to Get Rid of It,” that subtlety only turns out to make the offering richer on the whole. Atop a steady rhythm, vocals echo out and another distorted wash is conjured, and truth be told, Yagow have by this time set their methods forward for their audience. There’s little they do across the second half of their debut to deviate, but they do successfully build on what they’ve already accomplished sound-wise, which seems more important than it would be for them to present some radical shift. “Time to Get Rid of It” drifts into and through a section of vocals over chimes before Schönwald‘s drums resume their push into the song’s final third, and the eight-minute “Non-Contractual” makes its first impression with drums as well building to a trade of tension and release across its span that reminds a bit of a less folkish Quest for Fire, and toys with momentum in a manner that it seems a lot of the prior material avoided in favor of worshiping more ethereal atmospheres.

Perhaps in part because it’s longer — one might consider it a companion piece for the opener, as it also tops eight minutes — and perhaps in part because of the droning resonance that lays underneath a goodly portion of its stretch, “Non-Contractual” feels more expansive, especially in its back-half jam, with an element of vibrancy that serves it well leading into closer “Nude on the Moon Dance,” which echoes and reinforces the ringing tones of “Horsehead Nebula” and “Moss and Mint” as well as the thrusters-engaged forward rhythm of the latter portion of “Snake Charmer,” all while feeling a little less hinged in a way that speaks to the real potential of the band to let loose a little and break some of the rules they’ve set for themselves here.

It’s worth remembering, and important to remember, that while they’ve been around for a few years (their social media presence starts at 2013, if that’s any measure) this self-titled is their first collective outing, and ultimately it’s to their credit that one hears a song like “Time to Get Rid of It” and waits for Yagow to expand on what they presented in the album’s first half — because it means they’ve done their job in establishing their core sound. And so they have. The work before them now as they move from one liquefied slab onto the inevitable next should be in furthering the lightly progressive undertones delivered here. Maybe that’s in building on the arrangement flourish of “Snake Charmer” or in being willing to dive deeper into the off-the-cuff feel of “Non-Contractual” and “Nude on the Moon Dance” — I don’t know. It will be their songwriting that makes that decision in the end, but what matters for the time being is the foundation they’ve given themselves on which to build, which feels flexible enough to accommodate any range of directions they might want to take.

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Samsara Blues Experiment, One with the Universe: Returning to the Path

Posted in Reviews on May 4th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

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With the release of their ambitiously-titled fourth album, One with the Universe, Berlin-based heavy psych rockers Samsara Blues Experiment provide the keystone of a resurgence that began late last year with a return to playing shows. Their last outing was 2013’s Waiting for the Flood (review here), and it was the most vivid realization to-date of their blend of progressive rock and psychedelic jamming, while continuing the momentum they’d built throughout their prior outings, 2011’s Revelation and Mystery (review here) and 2009’s Long Distance Trip (review here) debut, and with that behind them, it was easy to expect them to roll forward as they had for the half-decade since their demo (review here) surfaced in 2008. They didn’t.

By 2015, what had been a four-piece parted ways with bassist Richard Behrens (now of Heat), and after an increasing profile of tours and festival appearances, shows pretty much stopped as guitarist/vocalist Christian Peters embarked on a succession of solo outings exploring textures of synth and classic krautrock influences. In hindsight, the break makes some sense, particularly given the work Peters did in the interim, and really it hasn’t been egregiously long since the last Samsara Blues Experiment came out — four years isn’t eight, mathematically speaking — but as a fan of the band’s work, it’s hard to note the arrival of One with the Universe via Peters‘ own Electric Magic Records imprint with anything other than a sense of relief. Even before one digs into the five-track/43-minute outing rife with winding instrumental explorations, Eastern-minded inflections of theme and arrangement, and an overarching sense of celebration resonant from driving opener “Vipassana” (premiered here) through the swinging, pushing-outward finale of “Eastern Sun and Western Moon,” it’s awfully good to have Samsara Blues Experiment active again.

That’s about the least impartial statement one could make about the record beyond “duh, I like it,” so maybe take this review with the appropriate grain of salt, but the truth is that from their beginnings in the post-Colour Haze sphere of warm-toned heavy psych, Samsara Blues Experiment — now Peters, drummer Thomas Vedder and bassist Hans Eiselt — have become one of Europe’s leading underground presences in terms of the individualism they bring to their approach. One can hear it as rolling waves lead the way into “Vipassana,” a track that takes its name from the Buddhist concept of insight into reality’s true nature, Vedder‘s drums providing the transition into a progression marked by what ends up as an instrumental theme throughout: the use of keys and synth alongside the guitar, bass and drums.

With a recording job by ex-member Behrens and a wide-sounding mix that allows for shifts in volume and tone in “Vipassana” as much as for flourish of sitar on the centerpiece “Glorious Daze” and the bouncing ’70s organ work on the 15-minute penultimate title-track, Samsara Blues Experiment sound free to explore these spaces and well beyond, such that the earlier “Sad Guru Returns” — instrumental save for some samples at the beginning and end — and the trade between the push and crash of its hook and the sense of jammy-but-purposeful meandering in “Vipassana” set an immersive vibe more interactive than it is hypnotic.

That is to say, as “Glorious Daze” comes on to chill out the end of side A — not that it doesn’t build to its own crescendo around the aforementioned sitar and keys, because it most definitely does — One with the Universe sounds less about trying to draw listeners into an unconscious state than encouraging them to actively engage with what they’re hearing. Maybe “get up and dance” would be a too-strong interpretation, but at very least, Samsara Blues Experiment are asking those hearing these songs to remain present in the moment with them, whether that’s expressed through the thrust of “Vipassana,” the drift into swirl of “Sad Guru Returns” or the move from serenity to serenity in “Glorious Daze.”

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Of course, one can still get plenty lost in One with the Universe if so desired, and that’s especially true of the title-track. Starting out with a somewhat foreboding keyboard movement from Peters and bassline from Eiselt, the extended stretch is immediate in signaling its own patience and adjusting the expectation of the listener accordingly. Thus far, Samsara Blues Experiment have been fairly energetic in their delivery and they’ll be again as they move through this and “Eastern Sun and Western Moon” still to come, but the opening minutes of “One with the Universe” itself are given over to a languid unfolding that eases through the first half so subtly and fluidly that by the time vocals show up amid all the synth swirl, double-timed hi-hat, spacious guitar strum that turns to starts and stops, they’re more than nine minutes deep and one has all but stopped anticipating their arrival.

From that point on, the trio hit into a boogie-fied section that feels written for the stage and is the most prevalent example of the album’s celebratory mood — the lines, “Hey hey, want to be with you every day/Hey hey, think of all the promises we made,” defining the good-times atmosphere Samsara Blues Experiment are inhabiting in the back half of the song. Peters moves to layer keys and guitar (and vocals) as a verse takes hold, and a joyous, righteous jam ensues that’s as much fun to hear as it is an expression of the organic power trio construction between him, Vedder and Eiselt, vocals locking in note for note on a quick guitar lead before the song moves into its next verse playing off the “Hey hey, want to be with you every day/Hey hey, think of all the groovy times we’ve had,” lyrical foundation with added percussion behind.

They’re in full swing at this point, and at 14 minutes flat, they align to push “One with the Universe” to its conclusion, Vedder‘s crash becoming a wash in the process. That would seem to leave “Eastern Sun and Western Moon” as something of an epilogue, but in its lyrical theme and seven-minute linear build, it proves essential in tying One with the Universe together from start to finish, finding a place for itself between the thrust of “Vipassana” and the patience of the title-cut, bringing back the interplay of organ and guitar, and offering listeners a last chance to travel along with the band as they make their way toward a late-arriving peak in the song’s second half and close out the record with a bit of residual hum — sound waves rather than the ocean waves that started out the opener, but still undulating.

In addition to signaling their return after this four-year stretch, One with the Universe also marks a decade since Samsara Blues Experiment first got together in 2007. If one looks at the scope of what they’ve been able to accomplish over their tenure, the context in which this new collection arises is even broader and all the more worthy of appreciation. It’s been a significant creative journey up to this point, and whatever their future might hold in terms of releases, touring, etc., their fourth full-length confirms that no matter what might change for them or how their aesthetic might shift in the process of their continued becoming, their commitment to growth is unwavering and a crucial, defining aspect of who they are as a unit. Yet one more reason to be glad to have them back.

Samsara Blues Experiment, One with the Universe (2017)

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Review & Full EP Stream: Decasia, The Lord is Gone

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 4th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

decasia the lord is gone

[Click play above to stream Decasia’s The Lord is Gone EP in its entirety. It’s out tomorrow, May 5, on More Fuzz Records.]

Parisian heavy psych rockers Decasia make their first offering through countryman imprint More Fuzz Records with The Lord is Gone. Preceded by a pair of digital singles over the last year-plus, it’s also their second short release behind a 2015 self-titled (review here), though honestly, the thing is 33 minutes long and if you wanted to make the case for it as a three-song full-length, I don’t think I’d be inclined to argue. That was much the case with their last outing as well, though, and it stems as much from the flow the trio of guitarist/vocalist Maxime Richard, bassist Fabien Proust and drummer Geoffrey Riberry conjure across the two-sided salvo of extended pieces “Eden” (9:45), “Sun Kingdom” (9:25) and “The Ancient” (14:22), as about the runtime itself. Recorded analog, their material is pointedly organic in its construction and delivery, yet comes across as more than a simple collection of jams. No question that’s what’s at root — one can hear it from the opening roll and rumble of “Eden” as the guitar feedbacks its own introduction alongside — but Decasia are building songs from that foundation, not simply leaving parts to hit their listener in raw form succession, one after the next as whim dictates.

That’s not to take anything away from the sphere of European heavy psych jammers out there — there are many, and they do good work — just to say that Decasia are on a different trip, taking cues from coherent heavy psychedelic songcraft that holds true to a languid vibe as it makes its way into and through the verses of “Eden,” toying with drift and crunch in like measure, playing loud and quiet stretches off each other and letting the low end and the drums hold together instrumental passages that let the guitar wander into and out of leads or riff out as best fits where they are in the track. By the time RichardProust and Riberry are about five minutes in — there’s a break in “Eden” where Proust‘s gloriously fuzzed tone takes full hold; it’s not to be missed — the mood is set for much of what the release as a whole will move toward: a sound thick with presence but still bright in its overall feel, more validating than down, and with enough built-in motion that when Decasia decide it’s time to move into more shimmering territory momentarily or to start a build like that which leads into the apex of “Eden” before the track ends with a quiet final verse and last-second measure of push, they’re able to make these turns gracefully, without bringing the entirety of The Lord is Gone down on their own heads.

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With a fading-in march of tom roll from Riberry, “Sun Kingdom” briefly teases a more intense thrust before nestling into another open, echoing verse. There is a more jagged feel as the track progresses, thanks to starts and stops in the riff, and the drums hold to some of their initial tension, but even when Decasia seem like they’re about to let “Sun Kingdom” completely boil over — first at around the 2:30 mark — they instead maintain their control and direct the song into a driven section of push-riffing that leads to a spacious psychedelic solo from Richard, brief but effective in adding to the atmosphere before the vocals resume. Then it’s time to get heavy. A stop and quick vocal line brings about a section of dense crash and thud, Proust‘s bass no less essential in thickening these proceedings than it was “Eden,” and when they make their return to the hook of “Sun Kingdom,” the attitude of the execution has changed, so that the contrast between the earthbound and the ethereal in the song — and make no mistake, those are the two sides playing out — is starker than on the opener, the track overall seeming less patient as it moves through its sixth minute, just waiting to take off again, which of course it does into a doomier roll at about 6:40, leading to another air-toned lead, a stop and then a surprising shift in tempo just past 7:45 that brings a faster ending section about that will consume the remaining runtime in a burst of energy that, as it turns out, is what all that back and forth was moving toward all along.

Because they sort of blindside the listener with that end part in “Sun Kingdom,” it’s a little more difficult to predict where Decasia might ultimately go with closer “The Ancient,” and that’s clearly the intent. As they weave their way through, the band effectively reinforce the atmosphere of the first two tracks through a consistency of approach and tone, but more over, they expand the scope as well, pushing the boundaries they’ve thus far established on both ends — the heavy and the psych. “The Ancient” is arguably the most of both. It doesn’t move as fast at its most forward as did the capstone movement of “Sun Kingdom,” but it hits a similar energy level circa four minutes in. Then it uses that as a launch-point to move into an ultra-liquefied psychedelic jam — broad minimalism the likes of which simply can’t be found anywhere else on The Lord is Gone; more patient than “Eden” and marked out by cymbal washes and echoing tom stomp from Riberry. They bring in an acoustic strum behind Richard‘s vocals and eventually make their way back toward electrified fare, returning to full-fuzz-push at 11:10 or so as “The Ancient” hits its crescendo and shifts back into its dream-toned, thoughtful last verse to end out on a sweet line of standalone guitar. All of that movement only stands to emphasize the fluidity Decasia accomplish throughout The Lord is Gone, which befitting the watery theme of their artwork does seem to be their greatest sonic asset — but I wouldn’t count out the progression of their songcraft either. The bottom line is that if they’re pitching these three tracks as an EP, one can only wonder what level of immersion awaits when they finally get around to a debut long-player.

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Review & Track Premiere: Blackout, The Horse

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 3rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

blackout the horse

[Click play above to stream ‘Let ’em Ride’ from Blackout’s The Horse. Album is out May 26 via RidingEasy Records.]

It’s only been two years since Brooklynite three-piece Blackout made their debut on RidingEasy Records with their self-titled full-length (review here), but clearly the riff-rolling tonebearers have been through some changes in that stretch. Their third album, The Horse, arrives via the same label — their first outing was 2013’s independently-released We are Here (review here) — and basks in much of the same irreverent attitude showcased by its predecessors, but also marks the arrival of new drummer Adam Taylor (ex-Ghost Punch), who joins founding guitarist/vocalist Christian Gordy and bassist Justin Sherrell in replacement of Taryn Waldman, who left the band shortly before the writing started up again.

Whether that might or might not have fed into a more aggressive overall take on the part of Blackout for the eight-song/38-minute LP, which was recorded last September in Brooklyn at Spaceman Sound over a period of four days, I don’t know, but the narrative (blessings and peace be upon it) positions The Horse alongside harder-edged New York fare like Cro Mags and Judge, in mindset of snarl if not actual aural impression. That’s probably fair. Even when the Northeast tries to be chill, it can seem impatient about it, and through the raw riffing of “Let ’em Ride” and the chuggy lumber of “Mean Pads,” Blackout do seem to hone in on a particular grit to go along with their thrust, but with Gordy‘s vocals buried as ever and echoing up from under his guitar and Sherrell‘s bass, and a stomper like “Rat Spirit” to provide a nodding cornerstone at the album’s halfway point, mostly Blackout just sound like Blackout. Whether you’ve heard them before or not, that’s nothing to complain about.

What it means is that in a sea of newer-school heavy riffing — the roster of RidingEasy alone finds post-Sleep comparison points in Austin’s The Well — Blackout are managing to concoct a sound across the span of The Horse that stands them out. They’re becoming a more identifiable and individualized band. If being “more New York” is a part of what’s making that happen, then it’s only serving them well. The album’s opener, “Graves,” begins with a stretch of nasty feedback before Taylor‘s drums kick it into the first of many righteous grooves to come, opening up for the verse but held together by toms and rumble for the duration and given further sense of space through Gordy‘s caveman howling. Cro-magnon, indeed.

This straightforward attack has been a big part of Blackout‘s appeal for the better part of the last half-decade, but as “Graves” gives way to “Let ’em Ride” with its play between downer thud and shove, there is growth in songcraft to be heard even from where the three-piece was on Blackout, and a new dynamic with Taylor on drums is unquestionably part of that. “Let ’em Ride” seems about to drift into a wash of chaotic noise just before its final minute, but rights itself around its central riff and crashes to a cohesive, willfully sloppy end to make way for the 2:25 “Roach Bites,” a faster and more all-go of a song which, if anything is tying The Horse to NYC’s small-room-circle-pit past, is what’s doing it.

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Somewhat telling that they immediately counter with “Rat Spirit” — roaches and rats; hey, we are in New York! — which is arguably the biggest-sounding plod the record has to offer, but in playing the contrast directly amid a consistency of tone and overall approach, Blackout do nothing that interrupts the flow or well-established momentum of the record and instead only broaden their stylistic reach, once again sounding more like themselves in the process even as they expand on what that means.

If that sounds like the best case scenario for a band coming to fruition on their third album, it kind of is, but The Horse is too barebones in its approach to sound like some grand arrival, and that’s clearly the point. As it moves into side B, “Amnesia” kicks in with a riff that foreshadows the eight-minute closing title-track to come and embarks on another mid-paced headbang of the sort one found in stretches of “Let ’em Ride” — aggro, sure, but not at the cost of groove and somewhere between “Roach Bites” and “Mean Pads,” another sub-three-minute pile drive that seems to interrupt its own count-in in its rush to get to the meat of its riff. No time to waste. “Mean Pads” winds up being an excellent example of Blackout‘s particular blend of spaciousness and crunch on The Horse, the vocals being so far back and the guitar, bass and drums at the fore, but at 2:36 it’s there and gone and the six-minute “Holy Wood” has taken hold such that on first listen one might miss its appeal. Subsequent visits it is.

A tense chug defines the early going of “Holy Wood,” coming to a maddening cacophony before the two-minute mark only to ease back into a nodding verse and trade between the two sides for the duration, ending in a crash and feedback to highlight the tossoff sensibility so much of The Horse seeks to convey, even if it undercuts this impression through its own thought-out construction. That duality comes into play in the finale as well, which at eight minutes seems to cut itself in half between a clunked initial progression not so dissimilar from the rest of the outing preceding and the big slowdown that occurs just before its midpoint that leads at last to the wash of noise, lead-guitar fuckall and cavernousness that The Horse has been threatening all along. Blackout ride this payoff until about seven minutes in and spend the final stages of the closer essentially disintegrating into amp noise, the drums and bass dropping out to leave a fading feedback as the last element to go much as it was the first element to arrive. Important to know where your foundation lies.

And Blackout clearly do. As they come into their own and continue despite their personnel shift to release a full-length (suitably enough) on the odd-year, they in no way lose sight of their post-Melvins/Sleep beginnings in density of distortion and a seemingly sans-frills delivery that nonetheless shows growth from one offering to the next. That actually is the best of both worlds when it comes to a group hitting their stride, and so it seems that might just be what Blackout are doing as they establish this new lineup in these tracks. It may be 2019 before we really understand the context of The Horse‘s stripped-down approach, but the songwriting and execution GordySherrell and Taylor bring to bear here feels like a landmark for them all the same.

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Sun Blood Stories, It Runs Around the Room with Us: Ghosts and Smoke

Posted in Reviews on May 1st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

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If Sun Blood StoriesIt Runs Around the Room with Us doesn’t demand a headphone listen, that’s only because it’s too classy, too subtle and too busy doing its own work to go around making demands in the first place. It is the third full-length from the Boise, Idaho-based Sun Blood Stories, following behind 2015’s Twilight Midnight Morning (review here) and their 2013 debut, The Electric Years, and its weighted high-desert shoegaze moodiness works in part to codify the experimentalism that has thus far been at root in the band’s sound. Emphasis on “in part,” because Sun Blood Stories still offer plenty of fare throughout these nine tracks/46 minutes, but where Twilight Midnight Morning nearly split itself in half between drone-outs and more traditional song structures, It Runs Around the Room with Us — a title that would seem to speak to the energy of its own creation — effectively bridges the gap between those two sides.

This lets the three-piece of Ben Kirby (vocals, guitar, synth, percussion), Amber Pollard (vocals, guitar, theremin, percussion) and Jon Fust (drums, keys, percussion, noise) gracefully unfold songs like opener “End of the Day” — on which the first singing heard comes courtesy of a guest appearance from Aubrey Pollard, presumably Amber‘s daughter — with ultra-immersive atmospherics before moving into the bluesier and more solidified “Step Softly Ghost” and “The Great Destroyer,” the spaciousness in the howling guitar of which does nothing to undercut the memorable nature of its hook. Whether they’re creating a wash of pastoral melancholy in the later ramble of the eight-minute “Time Like Smoke” or underscoring the minimalist outward impression of “Eclipse Theme” with layers of guitar, theremin and keyboard swirl, leading to the weirdo start of “Come Like Rain” with fading loops of guest whistler Brent Joel saying “K. Cool. Now I know,” across the whole span of It Runs Around the Room with UsSun Blood Stories offer some of the richest, most textured American psychedelia one is likely to encounter in 2017. In its progression from where they were two years ago, organic flow between tracks and in the raw performances of KirbyPollard and Fust, it is nothing less than breathtaking.

And while the aforementioned opening salvo of the dreamily wistful “End of the Day,” the building languid shuffle-into-nod of “Step Softly Ghost” and the rolling heavy psych of “The Great Destroyer” isn’t to be discounted in how pivotal it is to setting the tone for It Runs Around the Room with Us as a whole, it’s also only one stage of the album’s breadth, which continues to widen as it moves into “Eclipse Theme,” “Come Like Rain” and “Time Like Smoke.” Pollard and Kirby intertwine vocals on “Eclipse Theme” over cymbal washes, while “Come Like Rain” and “Time Like Smoke,” the two longest inclusions at seven and eight minutes, respectively, act as a kind of conjoined centerpiece, the former no less righteous and pristine in its initial key-led drift than it is later in Pollard‘s “Come back/(Baby) Come back,” lyrical pleas as the build pays off, while the latter brings more of the ambient experimentalist side of the band into focus amid obscure chants, guitar soundscaping and an emergent grounded instrumental progression surrounded various drones, executed patiently and to hypnotic and fluid effect.

Sun Blood Stories, in this middle third of It Runs Around the Room with Us, dig further into what one might consider the core of the album, and push it about as far out as it will go between “Come Like Rain” and “Time Like Smoke” — even the two titles seem intended as complementary — but it’s worth noting that as they move through this vast landscape of their own construction, they never completely let go of the listener’s hand. That is, they never stop guiding the way through the fog. Even in “Time Like Smoke,” which is plenty foggy, Kirby‘s guitar provides something for the band’s audience to grasp onto as they seem to float along the track’s course, slowly unfolding but otherwise easy to get lost within. This speaks to the development of Sun Blood Stories as songwriters, but even more, it highlights the special balance they bring to It Runs Around the Room with Us and the lucidity at work beneath all of their ethereal crafting. When they seem to ooze outward in all directions, that’s still a direction.

sun blood stories

Soon enough, the last two minutes of the album will undo all of the serenity that KirbyPollard and Fust have honed all this time, as the caustic closer “Burn” sets itself toward willful, screamed abrasion from Pollard, discordant crashing instrumentation behind and a vicious extremity meant to surprise as much as it does in a statement as political as it is musical. Before they get there, however, “Echoer Approach” and “Nothing Sacred Will Hold” ease the way out of the middle third of the tracklist and back toward the balance of pieces like “Step Softly Ghost,” an atmosphere playing between solid and liquid states of matter. Led by dual layers of guitar, one drifting, one sliding, “Echoer Approach” is held together by the fluidity in Fust‘s drums, which offer jazzy snare play without veering into anything overly showy or self-indulgent. It’s an easy transition from there into “Nothing Sacred Will Hold,” a late-arriving highlight with Pollard at the fore vocally in airy soulfulness over a winding figure of guitar and keys, Fust building his way back in at around a minute and a half into the proceedings to mark the start of the heavier build which will noise itself out before settling on a weighted riff in its last minute and riding it to the finish at 5:00 flat and the immediate, threatening start of “Burn.”

That Sun Blood Stories would, after creating such a sense of warmth throughout It Runs Around the Room with Us, unleash something so violent at the end of the album is not an accident. It’s a forceful contrast, and the fact that “Burn” itself is nigh-on-unlistenable is the very reason for its being. Written reportedly as a reaction to the proliferation of the Confederate flag as a ‘historical symbol’ of anything more than white supremacy, the social charge echoes “Misery is Nebulous” from the previous album, but “Burn” is so clear in its one-word delivery and so unmistakable in its motive that it almost becomes the necessary culmination of everything before it. They’ve created and cultivated this ground across In Runs Around the Room with Us, brought the listener into this space with them, and at the finish, the only thing left to do is torch the place. So be it.

An apparently digital-only bonus track, “The Enemy,” attempts to undo some of the edge of “Burn,” with in-studio laughter, group-sung folkishness and a jovial air around the repeated lines, “We are the enemy/We are the enemy/Oh shit,” which gradually become, “Ben‘s a sea anenome,” and so on, but the damage is largely done and even the return of Sun Blood Stories‘ experimentalist droning doesn’t undercut the paranoia of the realization at play. Perhaps the sociopolitical context of “Burn” simply bleeds into “The Enemy,” but there’s something foreboding about the six-minute epilogue even though they’re clearly having fun with it that nonetheless darkens the outwardly shimmering atmosphere. Someone gets on mic to say, “If Ben were given an enema, he could be buried in a matchbox,” Pollard seems to provide half an answer, and the album ends.

The journey Sun Blood Stories undertake with It Runs Around the Room with Us — which seems so much more vast than a single room, so much broader than one might expect from a group working as a trio — does not cease to brim with creativity. In the sonic details of “End of the Day,” “Come Like Rain,” and even “Burn,” one finds a rare depth of approach and a level of engagement with and from the material in question that is boldly progressive without being overly cerebral and never loses its melodic crux until it makes a sacrifice of it at the finale. By the time it gets to that point, though, the impression honed across the previous eight tracks remains resonant, and among the scorched remains they leave behind, one thankfully does not find their own accomplishment.

Sun Blood Stories, It Runs Around the Room with Us (2017)

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Review & Full Album Stream: Mythic Sunship, Land Between Rivers

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

mythic sunship land between rivers

[Click play above to stream Mythic Sunship’s Land Between Rivers in its entirety. Album is out today on El Paraiso Records.]

It hasn’t quite been a year since Copenhagen four-piece Mythic Sunship made their debut on El Paraiso Records with the three-song full-length Ouroboros, but that album receives a quick follow-up in the next three-cut installment from the heavy psych rockers. Titled Land Between Rivers, it both expands and contracts the ideas and notions the instrumentalists put forth last time out, adding time to jams here, trimming it there — the whole offering is shorter by about 10 minutes, if you’re counting — but showing a burgeoning conceptual grasp of immersing their listeners in tonal depth and overarching sonic sprawl.

The band — Emil Thorenfeldt, F. E. Denning, Kasper Stougaard Andersen, Rasmus Cleve Christensen — reportedly recorded “Nishapur” (15:31), “High Tide” (13:16) and “Silt” (6:19) in a kind of remote cabin in central Denmark, and with a mix by Jonas Munk of Causa Sui, the group who also helm El Paraiso and artwork to fit the imprint’s long-running aesthetic vision, it presents a cohesive take in sound, atmosphere and flow while asking little of its audience in terms of self-indulgence. An exploratory vibe feels genuine — that is, when Mythic Sunship dig into a jam like that on “Nishapur,” the really dig into it — and with a complementary thickness of low end to act as a grounding force, guitars roam freely in airy post-rock howls and sunburnt krautrock progressivism. They’re not reinventing the wheel as regards heavy psychedelic transcendence, but Mythic Sunship are clearly doing the work of developing a sonic persona through these jams, and the bouts of cacophony that emerge in the meantime like that nine minutes into the opener or at the swirling apex of “High Tide” excite with the dynamic taking shape.

They earn immediate points for launching this spacecraft with “Nishapur,” the longest track clearly intended to comprise the whole of the vinyl’s side A, and of course stretched out enough to be successful in that. Resonance is the first notion proposed on Land Between Rivers, with two guitars intertwining, one unfurling patient strum and the other a humming drone of sweet-toned feedback that shifts into sweetened noodling by the time the first minute has passed. Mindset: accomplished. One thing Mythic Sunship do really well is put the listener at ease and carry them along the record’s course. A graceful flow helps that — it’s not like they’re playing math rock or something so purposefully jagged-sounding — but even so, “Nishapur” presents as a particularly hypnotic effort, with the drums subtly entering at around 2:30 on soft tom hits beneath the guitars and bass.

mythic sunship (Photo-by-Trine-Pihl-Stanley)

They’re building, of course, and low end brings a bit of foreboding to the atmosphere, but they’re past the five-minute mark before things quiet down enough to let the listener know just how far the band has brought them. “Nishapur” enters its next movement over that steady current of drums and nods into a languid groove past its halfway point, shifting ultra-fluidly into a wash of noise that stretches about as far out as Mythic Sunship go on the record — a move that makes positioning the extended track as the leadoff seem even more bold. In a telling show of purpose, they bring the madness down gradually, one measure at a time, and in the last couple minutes seem to find a middle ground that could just as easily push toward another apex instead of crashing out as it does. Maybe the tape was running out? Whatever their reason, it wouldn’t be fair to say “Nishapur” feels cut short, but no question that had they decided to keep pursuing whatever it is they’re after in the song, the momentum is there.

Instead, they let that momentum shift into “High Tide” at the start of side B. Clearly intended to be complemented by the subsequent closer “Silt,” “High Tide” earns its watery title with a due sense of drift, a serenity resulting in the early motion of the guitar that calls to mind some of what Yawning Sons were able to affect on their Ceremony to the Sunset outing before the drums kick in to add more of a push and progadelic atmosphere amid the increasingly winding central progression. West Coast-style heavy psych boogie? Not quite, but not far off. Ultimately, Mythic Sunship‘s tones are fuller and less concerned with vintage ’70s-isms, and as “High Tide” moves through its first half, it opens from this build into a post-rock flow that meets with more proggy chug, spaces out even further moving past the halfway point and finding itself in a more patient linearity the second time around. That is, the shimmering guitar, forward drum push and lower-end rumble don’t strike quite as manic in the back end of the song as in the front, and as “High Tide” oozes toward its second apex, it does so more in a manner keeping with the prior “Nishapur” than in its own first half. Not going to complain either way.

After hitting its peak, “High Tide” recedes and “Silt” is what remains, some feedback leading into a full-breadth wash and thrust of fuzz and immersive tonal reach, as though the band wanted to prove as they rounded out the album that they didn’t need to cross the 10-minute mark to entrance their listenership if they didn’t want to do so. Point taken. Because they’re instrumental and because they create so much space in their sound, there’s room for growth in Mythic Sunship‘s methods in terms of playing more toward an experimentalism of arrangement — keys, percussion, strings, etc. — or even just varying tones in their material, but that’s not to say Land Between Rivers is missing anything, because simply, it isn’t. In its atmosphere and in the poise of its execution, it basks in the organic chemistry between Thorenfeldt, Denning, Andersen and Christensen, and that proves to be more than enough to transport them and their audience through these engaging and consuming jams. May they continue to develop on this path, and if they want to get a little weird along the way, that’s fine too.

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Review & Track Premiere: Summoner, Beyond the Realm of Light

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 27th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Summoner-Beyond-the-Realm-of-Light

[Click play above to stream ‘Into Oblivion’ from Summoner’s Beyond the Realm of Light. Album is out May 12 on Magnetic Eye Records.]

As they approach a decade of making music together, Boston four-piece Summoner bring forth the album which all that time seems to have been building toward. One can quibble on the “decade” figure depending on when they got going under their original moniker, Riff Cannon, but what’s undeniable is the mindful songcraft and crisp delivery across the two sides of Beyond the Realm of Light, released on Magnetic Eye Records as their third full-length. The basic elements at play aren’t all that different from what Summoner offered on 2013’s Atlantian (discussed here) or even their 2012 debut, Phoenix, but from the patience they bring to the post-rock textures early in “Skies of the Unknown” to the crushing roll in the apex of their near-eight-minute title-track, there’s a mature sensibility underlying this material that steers itself away from self-indulgence.

Instead, what bassist/vocalist Chris Johnson, guitarists A.J. Peters and Joe Richner and drummer Scott Smith conjure is a dynamic and efficient six-song/32-minute run that never stagnates and never overwhelms the listener with its technicality — though, as ever, Summoner tear it up; check the solo in “Into Oblivion” to confirm — at the cost of the impact either of a given track or the record as a whole. They pull together a brisk full-album flow that’s not overthought or hyper-cerebral, and while some will hear the initial vocal melody of opener “New Sun” and the subsequent “The Huntress” and compare them to Elder for their locality and proggy bent, Summoner emerge from Beyond the Realm of Light as their own entity driven by their own motivations toward their own ends.

That in itself is significant, as is the fact that Beyond the Realm of Light arrives four years after Atlantian, which itself came only one year after their debut. Summoner have played shows all the while, and no doubt a good portion of “real life” happens in a four-year stretch as well, but as “New Sun” and “The Huntress” unfold the okay-are-we-all-here-good-let’s-do-this-thing beginning of the album, the band displays a growth in their songwriting that simply can’t be faked. At four and five minutes, respectively, the opening duo are a pivotal introduction — not to mention a third of the tracklist, which is only six songs, remember — to where Summoner are at this stage in their tenure, and though they’re energetic and given to a thrust that’s long been present in their sound, the band themselves don’t actually sound hurried or like they’re in anything but total control of their direction.

In the sphere of modern progressive heavy rock, post-Baronesstodon, that’s important, but more so is the balance with which Summoner execute their prog influence, and the rocking start of “New Sun” and “The Huntress” leading into the longer, grander title-track is essential in establishing that. It affects the whole album following, so that when they do begin to unroll “Beyond the Realm of Light” itself, with its measured drum march, far-back echoing clean-sung verse and stomping largesse, the effect is that the palette is gracefully expanded rather than haphazardly thrown together. Summoner push further, and further still as “Beyond the Realm of Light” digs into a quick atmospheric midsection before resuming its roll toward a piano-topped apex and subsequent ambient epilogue, but because they’ve shown such mastery of their songwriting up to this point, there’s no question about the listener being able to follow them on the drifting fadeout that ends the record’s first half.

summoner

If there’s a narrative at work in Beyond the Realm of Light, one finds it growing richer on side B along with the band’s sound, a resolution perhaps in the melodic hook of “The Emptiness,” the multifaceted push of “Skies of the Unknown” and aforementioned bring-it-all-full-circle closer “Into Oblivion” that complements and builds on what the band accomplished with “New Sun,” “The Huntress,” and the title-track. One doesn’t want to speculate on their methodology in piecing the record together, but part of the front-to-back flow that proves so resonant across this still-brief span is a perceptible deepening of the exploration side A began.

To wit, “The Emptiness” is short at just over four minutes, but offers one of Beyond the Realm of Light‘s most engaging moments in its chorus, and the longer “Skies of the Unknown” seems to answer the title-track’s purposes with the winding course of its own, led as ever by the guitars through purposeful shifts in tempo and texture through its 6:42 that draw together the nuance thus far displayed and at about 4:30 in align them toward the solo crescendo of the album as a whole, which pulls back to the NWOBHM-style gallop and hook to finish ahead of the introductory crash of “Into Oblivion,” continuing the momentum with fist-raising righteousness. A last forward shove in “Into Oblivion” makes a fitting way to tie Beyond the Realm of Light together, but even this is just a part of the overarching and more complex trajectory Summoner have set for themselves.

Accordingly, when they hit into the last solo and around again through one last verse and chorus before a somewhat sudden, thudding stop, the sense of determination isn’t lost. It’s not that Summoner couldn’t say more or couldn’t keep going — Atlantian was 43 minutes, Phoenix 49 — but that they’ve come to know what best serves the purposes of the outing’s entirety, and the length of Beyond the Realm of Light becomes another aspect emblematic of that; less immediate than the progress they’ve made in songwriting or honing a flow between a given song’s parts and between the songs themselves, certainly, but important nonetheless. On the whole, Beyond the Realm of Light finds Summoner a more grounded, more engaging band than they’ve ever been, but among the most encouraging signals it sends is that even as they enter this new stage of their time together, they show no signs of slowing their creative development, and it is ultimately that will toward growth that defines them.

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ROADBURN 2017 Day Four: God Particle

Posted in Features, Reviews on April 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

roadburn 2017 banner (Photo by JJ Koczan)

04.23.17 — 22.26 — Sunday night — Hotel room

The last day of putting together the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch started with a panic when the office coffee machine was busted. At first I didn’t believe it and plugged the thing in to see if the sign that had been taped onto the front was bullshit, but indeed, it was not. Could’ve cried. Instead, went downstairs to the backstage area where they serve the meals and got coffee there. Survived.

Thus, the final issue of the 2017 Weirdo Canyon Dispatch came into being. Download the PDF version here.

What used to be known as the Afterburner, the traditional easing between a given Roadburn and the transition back to real life, is now basically just another day of the fest proper. They’ve dropped the name, and fairly enough so. Running across four stages this year, it’s hardly a means of becoming less immersed in the Roadburn experience at this point. If anything, it’s Roadscorch. The absolute last blast from the furnace that is this festival. My brain has turned into Roadchar.

I had no fewer bands I wanted to see today than yesterday or the day before, and a few others that I wouldn’t have minded catching had I been able to do so, so yeah, it was definitely Roadburn. It started early and went late and was packed for the duration. I did one more bounce between venues as I had earlier in the weekend — none at Cul de Sac for me today, but two at Het Patronaat — and was back and forth a few times between the Main Stage and the Green Room at the 013 proper, running past the merch area as well for good measure. Can’t be too careful. Wouldn’t want something to get by unnoticed.

It was a 15.00 start in the big room with Temple of BBV. I knew from seeing Gnod the other night (review here) that the culmination of their residency in a collaboration with Radar Men from the Moon was one I didn’t want to miss, so while it was early, I figured a head-first dive into willful prog oddity was well in order. I won’t like to you — it was a lot for three in the afternoon. Or three in the morning, for that matter. It was a lot, period. 10 people on Temple of BBV (Photo by JJ Koczan)stage, including two drummers, a near-constant throb and pulsations pushing outward into psycho-psychedelic reaches of the bizarre.

They were aggressively strange. On a strangeness crusade. They wore their strangeness like a badge of strangeness honor and as the room filled up slowly, people seeing to be hungover perhaps from the sensory assault Mysticum had provided the night before as much as from actual inebriation of whatever sort, the crowd had no choice but to be subsumed by what Temple of BBV were doing on that stage. Hair of the cosmic dog that gave you demonic space-rabies. Was it weird? Why, yes. Yes, it was.

I couldn’t help but try to remember when last I actually saw Pallbearer as their set got underway, also on the Main Stage. Turns out it was 2013 (review here). I’d also caught them at Roadburn that year (review here), as part of what was then the Afterburner in the Green Room. While I didn’t think it’d been that long at the time, the reason I thought of it was because of how much the Arkansas doomers seem to have stepped up their game in the intervening years. Their third album, Heartless (review here), is newly issued and fresh in mind, but live that material became heavier than it is on record and their presence in delivery was unmistakable. Since the last time I saw them, Pallbearer have become a headlining band.

No question they belonged on the Main Stage at Roadburn 2017. They not only held down that Pallbearer (Photo by JJ Koczan)spot well, but were in full command of their material and their sound, and with shared vocals across the front of the stage, they offered a richness to their doom that only underscored just how much they’ve made the genre work to their interests rather than working to the interests of genre. Heartless cuts like “I Saw the End,” “Thorns” and “Dancing in Madness” were high points in emphasizing their progression, but the churning heft of the whole set was dead on, whether it was those or “Fear and Fury,” “Worlds Apart,” or “The Ghost I Used to Be.” Remarking from the stage that playing Roadburn felt like coming home since it was where they’d done their first European show, they were welcomed as returning heroes and clearly rose to the occasion.

I know they’re like the hottest shit in the world and everyone knows it and Heartless is going to be everyone’s album of the year and blah blah blah so I’m giving away state secrets or anything, but Pallbearer fucking killed at Roadburn. I’ve seen them before and I was still genuinely surprised at how good they were.

Just for fun, I poked my head into the Green Room to catch a minute of Author and Punisher. A boy and his robots. The space was packed out so I didn’t linger, and instead sauntered back over to the big room again to watch Pallbearer finish and await the arrival of Les Discrets, who are also supporting a new album, Prédateurs, released just this week on Prophecy Productions. The moody vibes that the Parisian outfit proffered would make a lot of sense leading into Ulver, songs like “Virée Nocturne” having an element of the dark and urbane to them, progressive even beyond what one might’ve come to expect from their past work in post-black metal and Alcest-style melodicism. Guitarist/vocalist Fursy Teyssier, who also had a showcase of his visual art upstairs in the 013, had a quieter presence than when he led Les Discrets (Photo by JJ Koczan)the band when they played Roadburn 2013 at Het Patronaat (review here), but it worked for what they were doing.

In hindsight, it probably would’ve made narrative sense to stay put in the big room and await the arrival of the aforementioned Ulver. I didn’t do that. First, I went and grabbed dinner — chicken salad over lettuce and arugula with bacon and a bit of chicken/peppers in curry sauce; some bean sprouts in there, no corn, no onions, no celery; two plates, second void of curry and bacon — and was fortunate enough to sit in the company of Norwegian artist and Weirdo Canyon Dispatch contributor Kim Holm, and then I made my way back up to the Green Room to catch at least some of Valborg. I knew that I wanted to watch somebody from the Green Room balcony, and the underrated German martial metallers seemed like the perfect occasion.

And so they pretty much were. I watched as the space below filled up and when the German trio — whose new record, Endstrand, is also out on Prophecy this month (it came out April 7) — took stage, it was pretty clear the crowd knew them well. “Werwulf” from the 2016 single of the same name (review here) was like a riff-led wrecking ball that highlighted how perfectly paced Valborg‘s material is and the genre lines their songwriting so fluidly crosses between death metal, progressive synth textures Valborg (Photo by JJ Koczan)and goth atmospherics. They demonstrated clearly they can roll a groove with the best of them but seem to have little interest in heavy rock or anything quite so not-extreme, but wherever it was ultimately coming from, their sound was on its own wavelength and its complete lack of compromise notched a mark in the skull of everyone who was there to hear it, myself included.

I didn’t get to stay for Valborg‘s whole set because I knew Ulver were soon to go on the Main Stage. I worked my way off the balcony much to the delight of the person who’d been standing behind me while I leaned over the rail to take a couple pictures of the band and down around the back way to the Main Stage room — still kind of strange to me how the 013 works since it was remodeled last year; there’s a hallway with bathrooms there now that I think used to lead to the Bat Cave/Stage01, but jeez, don’t quote me on that. I’d have to look at the blueprints to be sure, and that would probably take hours because I’d have to find a YouTube video on how to read blueprints first. Sucks being useless sometimes. Most of the time, actually.

Anyway, I did manage to get myself one room over in time for the start of Ulver, and when the Norwegian more-post-everything-than-everything outfit got underway, I was really, really glad I’d already heard the new album which was the focus of their set: The Assassination of Julius Caesar (review here). Otherwise all that dark post-New Wave moodiness and nighttime ambienceUlver (Photo by JJ Koczan) might’ve thrown me for a loop. It’s usually safe to assume two things about Roadburn attendees. One, they’re open-minded. Two, they’re pretty well informed. Still, of all the men and women assembled at the 013 to watch Ulver play, I have to imagine there was at least one person who had no idea what they were in for, and so when the band broke out the laser light show and the electronica beats and the Depeche Mode gone prog sexytime vibes they were completely taken aback by all of it. Now that I think about it, it might’ve been fun to be surprised like that.

But when it comes to Ulver, part of the appeal is the band’s willingness to dismantle their own formula, or more precisely, to not have a formula in the first place, so it’s safe to assume that whether this hypothetical Roadburner knew or not what they were getting with the songs featured from The Assassination of Julius Caesar, they were still able to get on board. Still, one day someone’s going to trick Ulver into playing 2007’s Shadows of the Sun front to back — or at least doing live variations based thereupon — and that’s going to be incredible. One for Roadburn 2022, maybe?

I didn’t stay for all of Ulver either. Not for lack of patience or anything, but I could feel my Roadburn 2017 crunch winding down and knew I had to try to pack as much in as I could. That meant getting my ass to Het Patronaat to see The Doomsday Kingdom. Every year I’m lucky enough to be at Roadburn I let myself buy one piece of vinyl. This year it was the special edition 12″ The Doomsday Kingdom were selling at the merch stand. Why? Because Leif Edling, god damn it. The founding Candlemass The Doomsday Kingdom (Photo by JJ Koczan)bassist and crucial architect of what we know to be true and traditional doom metal — yes, I mean that — was making a live debut with this new four-piece at the church, and I knew I didn’t want to regret later not getting that record when I had the chance. It’ll probably get damaged in my luggage on the trip home. Still worth it.

Their set was likewise. Songs like “Never Machine” and “The Silence” offered classic doom very much of the style one might expect from Edling‘s long-established craft and methodology, but hell, I’ve got no problem with that whatsoever. It hasn’t been that long since Candlemass put out their 2016 EP, Death Thy Lover (review here), and they’re still doing shows as well, but before he took over lead vocals from mesh-shirt-clad frontman Niklas Stålvind — who’d been righteously belting out the material up to that point — for the set finale “God Particle,” Edling called The Doomsday Machine his “therapy band.” I wasn’t sure what he meant, but I sure was glad I stayed to watch their full set, because they were awesome. A couple first-show-type hiccups, but nothing major by any stretch, and after “God Particle,” they even came back out in made an encore of the metallic-galloping “Hand of Hell,” with Stålvind back on vocals, guitarist Marcus Jidell tearing into solo after solo and drummer Andreas Johansson fueling the big rock finish before coming out from behind the kit to take a bow with the band. If that was therapy, sign me up.

From Sweden to Boston. Come to Grief were on next at the church, and if I’d tried, I don’t think I’d have been able to come up with a more appropriate ending to my Roadburn 2017 than to watch the native Beantowner offshoot of Grief play a set of ultra-misanthropic extreme sludge. Tones of home. You Come to Grief (Photo by JJ Koczan)have no idea how hard it was not to shout out “Go Sox!” in a Boston accent before they played. You cannot possibly know. Fortunately, before I could muster the gumption to do same, guitarist Terry Savastano began to unleash maddening floor-shaking undulations of feedback. He, fellow guitarist/vocalist Jonathan Hébert, bassist Justin Christian and drummer Chuck Conlon would soon loose a set that spanned all the way back to the title-track from Grief‘s 1992 debut EP, Depression — which Savastano noted was the first song that band ever wrote — all the way forward to Come to Grief‘s new four-tracker compact disc, The Worst of Times.

“No Savior” and “JunkLove” from the latter (and later) release were featured, but at their core, wherever they were drawing material from, Come to Grief were a mainline shot of visceral abrasiveness. Intense, pummeling and straight from the gut, they crashed each riff with maximum intensity and left no mystery about the sincerity of their intent to kill. It was impressive the way one thinks of primitive humanoids bashing in each other’s heads as a sign of evolution at work. Like I said, the perfect finale to my Roadburn 2017 — one last raw scrub to get the unwanted pieces of myself gone before I get on that plane and go home tomorrow morning.

Did I just say tomorrow morning? Yuppers. It’s 01.40. Shuttle comes to take me to the airport in about five hours, as it happens. When I left Het Patronaat, in addition to looping through the merch area to pick up the aforementioned Come to Grief CD, I made one last run through the 013 hoping to find Walter and say goodnight and thanks, but no such luck. Tired, beaten, missing my wife and with my earplugs still in, I trod past the assembled throngs in Weirdo Canyon and back to the hotel, where packing still awaits and pictures want sorting.

So yeah, I’m going to go get on that.

I’ll have another post up at some point tomorrow, but in the meantime, thank you so much for reading and please find the rest of those pics after the jump here:

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