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The Obelisk Presents: 12 of 2016’s Best Album Covers

Posted in Features, Visual Evidence on December 12th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

This list could easily go to 20. Or 30. Or 50. The democratization of media and the flourishing of aesthetic thanks to wide-open digital interaction across national and cultural borders has meant that bands in Texas can get artwork from Spain easily — something we’ve come to take for granted in this age of messages flying through space in indeterminate instants. There’s a lot of art out there. A lot of it is very, very good. Not all, but a lot.

In the particular realm of heavy rock and doom, I’ve spent a lot of time this year being discouraged at the continued and apparently flourishing objectification of women. Cartoon tits. Get out of here with that shit. You’ll notice none of the covers on this list go that route. It’s boring, it’s easy and it’s sexist. If you want to establish your masculine dominance, go pull your dick out at the mall and see how that does for you. Putting other people down to make yourself feel bigger is for kindergarten. As human beings, we should be past it.

Nonetheless — and I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t also note the lack of women on this list — there is a ton of interesting and forward-moving work being done around the world and I think that’s worth taking a couple minutes to celebrate even just a fraction of it. Hopefully you agree, and if you have some favorite art you’d like to add to the list, please hit up the comments.

Ordered alphabetically by artist

Sourvein, Aquatic Occult

sourvein aquatic occult

Cover by Jordan Barlow. Artist website.

Sourvein‘s Aquatic Occult (review here) was a dense, multi-faceted work, and one imagines that for Jordan Barlow of New Orleans’ Abracadabra Tattoo, part of the challenge was in either finding or creating a design that coincided with that without coming across as confused or off-theme. This bevvy of undersea elements gives us a central figure in a frustrated Neptune with a shark-teeth crown, a human presence in the two diver helmets (is anyone in there?) and highlights the dangers of the ocean with its hammerheads and threatening-looking seahorse, as well as what seems to be a whirlpool and another swirl in opposite top corners. All told, the deep blue and green tones complement the morass of Sourvein‘s sound, raw and natural as it is, and provide moody intrigue to coincide with the wide variety of songwriting on display. Like the album, it is defined in no small part by its haze.

Holy Grove, Holy Grove

holy grove holy grove

Cover by Adam Burke. Artist website.

Portland-based Adam Burke is something of a repeat offender when it comes to badass artwork. He regularly posts works in progress on social media and the lushness of his technique astounds me nearly every time out. Holy Grove‘s self-titled debut (review here) was far from the only piece of his a band used this year, but what stood it out most was the balance between nighttime — as seen in the stars and the darkness of the sky and trees — and the aurora borealis that offered such a rich, otherworldly feel. Beautiful, immediately recognizable as Burke‘s, and it pays subtle homage to his and the band’s Cascadian home region with the shapes of the tall evergreens in the foreground, speaking all the more to the beauty of the Pacific Northwest and the classic soul fused into the record itself.

Duel, Fears of the Dead

duel fears of the dead

Cover by Pol Abran Cantador. Artist website.

How could one not look at the cover of Duel‘s debut album, Fears of the Dead (review here), and not immediately think of the Misfits? And yet, Barcelona-based Pol Abran Cantador, operating under the banner of Branca Studio, brings a freshness to the striking, landmark skull design. The face is off-center, the eyes looking outward. While there’s little doubt as to the visual reference being made, it’s just that — a reference, not an emulation. Treading that balance would be admirable enough for inclusion here, but impact of the piece becomes greater with the distressed look and the deep blood red surrounding, giving dimension as a backdrop, reinforcing the perspective of the figure, and providing Duel with a horror-cinema vibe that begs the question of just what those eyes are staring at.

Brutus, Wandering Blind

brutus wandering blind

Cover by Maarten Donders. Artist website.

Sometimes something just stays with you. On the surface, Dutch artist Maarten Donders brings forward a pretty simple idea for Norwegian boogie rockers Brutus‘ third album, Wandering Blind (review here). Images from ’60s-style psychedelic pulp horror come to mind — the bat, the spiderwebs, the blank stare on the face, the flowing hair through the open mouth of the skull, the monster eyeballs, the purposefully hand-drawn logo — but at the same time, the execution of these things is so intricate. Look at the bags under those eyes, the black holes where the teeth of that skull should be, the weird bubbles by the eyeballs, and the comic-style lettering of the album title itself, which switches back and forth between capitalized and lowercase letters. Look at the shadowed impression of a vinyl record that encircles the design but lets the chin of the skull and the band’s logo protrude. It’s so immediate but so deceptive, hiding its devils in its details.

Seedy Jeezus with Isaiah Mitchell, Tranquonauts

tranquonauts seedy jeezus isaiah mitchell
Cover by Mr. Frumpy. Artist website.

While it’s true that for this collaboration between Earthless guitarist Isaiah Mitchell and Melbourne heavy psych rockers Seedy Jeezus, the front cover only tells half the story of the full Tranquonauts (review here) gatefold, even 50 percent is enough to justify inclusion here. Put together by Mr. Frumpy Frumpedia, aka Seedy Jeezus guitarist Lex Waterreus, it was one of several artworks this year to feature smaller figures against a grand backdrop — Geezer‘s self-titled and Sunnata‘s Zorya, featured below, come to mind immediately, as well as the last Fu Manchu — but it was the openness of the space itself that Waterreus captured, both on the ground and in the sky, and the atmosphere that brought to the instrumental, jammed-put proceedings on the LP’s two sides, that made it work so well. The humanoid figures — maybe the total four-piece of the lineup? — are so utterly overwhelmed by their surroundings, and yet they seem more than ready to make their journey through them, finding life along what seems to be a barren path.

Greenleaf, Rise Above the Meadow

greenleaf rise above the meadow

Cover by Sebastian Jerke. Artist website.

Sebastian Jerke has kind of become Napalm Records‘ go-to artist over the last couple years, as his past and upcoming work for the likes of My Sleeping Karma, monkey3, Ahab, The Answer and others can attest, but the strangeness of the natural world, the three-dimensional protrusion of the trees, the layered depths, and the commanding presence of the bear, owl, snake and winged insects standing above it all made his work for Greenleaf‘s Rise Above the Meadow (review here) my favorite album cover of the year. It’s very much in his painterly, somewhat classical style, but the way the light seems to come from the band’s logo and behind the planet, the use of shadow and shading on the trees, and the monstrously blank eyes of the bear and owl give it a depth and narrative that remains nothing short of breathtaking. Clearly a labor of love.

Beastwars, The Death of all Things

beastwars the death of all things

Cover by Nick Keller. Artist website.

My only question was whether it was the cover for The Death of all Things (review here) I’d include or Keller‘s piece that was used for Child‘s new album, Blueside (review here), but with the context of this very likely being the final offering from New Zealand sludgecrushers Beastwars, the answer was plain. Either way, Keller‘s sense of scale and scope remains immense and he continues to bring a feel of the epic to his work here as he did to his two prior covers for Beastwars, on 2013’s Blood Becomes Fire (review here) and the band’s 2011 self-titled debut (review here), resulting in a more than suitable pairing of visual representation and impact of sound. Rarely does one find an artist and a band so much on the same page.

Goatess, II: Purgatory Under New Management

goatess ii purgatory under new management

Cover by Göran Nilsson. Artist website.

Charm goes a long way in my book, always, and Göran Nilsson‘s cover for the second outing by Swedish doomers GoatessII: Purgatory Under New Management (review here), has it in bulk supply. The underlying mischief of depicting the four-piece as medieval-esque saints painted on wood like something out of the Middle Ages — their faces grim with a seriousness of purpose not at all letting on to the tongue-in-cheek nature of the record’s title — with halos behind their heads and scripture in tow, well, it’s got a humor that most doom wouldn’t dare go near for fear of losing the edge of its miseries. For Goatess, however, it works perfectly in conveying an essential piece of where the band is coming from, in that their output in the first place seems to be as much about getting together and celebrating the act of writing songs as a unit as it is worshiping the traditions of the style.

Droids Attack, Sci-Fi or Die

droids

Cover by Eli Quinn. Artist website.

While a jpeg of the cover alone doesn’t quite do justice to the full presentation of Eli Quinn‘s artwork for Droids Attacks‘ Sci-Fi or Die (review here), which went so far as to print the title of the record in gold ink on the CD case, feature even more detailed work inside and even go so far as to create an entirely separate artwork scheme for a bonus track hidden on a mini-CD under the back tray under the disc for the album (detailed here), I still find the image of the launching South American-style pyramid as a full diamond taking off — especially with the lights beaming out the bottom — among the most striking of 2016. Reminiscent of Arik Roper‘s detailed style, Quinn‘s cover added depth and purpose to the band’s never-tighter songcraft while also speaking to the love of science-fiction storytelling that drove them to use the title in the first place. Hard not to win with ancient aliens.

Sunnata, Zorya

sunnata zorya

Cover by Jeffrey Smith. Artist website.

Derived it would seem at least in part from a piece called “Erosion of Self,” or at very least of a kin to it, like a lot of Smith‘s work, his art for Zorya (review here) by Polish heavy rockers Sunnata treats light with a religious reverence. Like a Kubrick shot, the sun is dead-center of the painting itself, framed and encircled by gaseous-looking clouds, and as the dawn seems to break over this landscape (or is it sunset?), it becomes difficult to tell where the robed monks end and the rocky protrusions begin. Our eyes are drawn immediately toward the light, and it’s the light that ultimately defines the story here, the way the beams of light shoot outward and turn the desert floor white so that it almost reminds of a body of water as much as a place where nothing seems to grow. Stark but consuming.

High Fighter, Scars and Crosses

high fighter scars and crosses

Cover by Dominic Sohor. Artist website.

This one was so dark, so malevolent, with such a violent bend in its prominent central figure, that it seemed to encapsulate the underlying threat that always seemed to loom over High Fighter‘s Svart Records debut album, Scars and Crosses (review here). Because the faceless blue skin and hanging, stringy hair are so reminiscent of Japanese horror films, and because the heart  in the right hand stands out so much in its silvery tone and because the pattern on the dress/cowl is so intricate, you almost don’t notice at first that it’s blood shooting out of that figure’s left wrist filled with upside-down and rightside-up crosses or that it seems to be veins in the top left corner acting as puppet strings, propping up the entire play. But it definitely is, and that only furthers the horrific, nightmarish imagery surrounding, where even the shaded background seems to want to lure you in with no hope of escape.

Bridesmaid, International House of Mancakes

bridesmaid international house of mancakes

Cover by W. Ralph Walters. Artist website.

Come on. So you mean to tell me you went ahead an reinvented KISS‘ cover for Destroyer with Ohio heavy rockers Bridesmaid dressed as the Village People? Be still my beating heart. The art for International House of Mancakes (review here) offers subversive humor without judgment, winking at the homoeroticism that has always been and likely will always be a part of rock and roll, and ultimately mocks the ridiculousness of the denial of that same homoeroticism. From the hands raised in triumph on either side (an element pulled right from the original KISS cover) to the stacks of pancakes the instrumental outfit is standing on, it functioned as artwork to say so much about the band and was perhaps all the more effective in conveying its message and their message since there were no lyrics to pull in other directions. It’s all right there in your face; bright and brilliant.

Because I can’t seem to get out of one of these lists without a series of honorable mentions, I’ll say too that 2016 offerings from Borracho, SubRosa, Inter Arma, Mars Red Sky, Vokonis, Elephant Tree, EYE, Slomatics, Gozu and Black Moon Circle managed to strike on one level or another.

Thanks for reading. Like I said at the outset, this is barely a fraction of the amazing art that came down the line this year. If you’ve got something to add, please hit up the comments.

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THE OBELISK ALL-DAYER: Official Poster & Runtimes Revealed

Posted in The Obelisk Presents, Visual Evidence on June 30th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk all-dayer poster skillit

Buy Tickets Here

Gaze upon its countenance and realize just how fucking awesome this show is going to be.

Aug. 20 at Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn marks the first-ever The Obelisk All-Dayer, a one-of-a-kind celebration of things heavy, noisy, psychedelic, progressive, and weird. In addition to being the first New York appearances for French heavy psych mavens Mars Red Sky, Amsterdam-based motor-rockers Death Alley, West Coast riff-rollers Snail and bizarro Texas punks Funeral Horse, The Obelisk All-Dayer will feature food on-hand, full and recorded sets, limited-edition posters and other merch, and an afterparty with DJ Adzo (aka Adam Kriney of Brooklyn’s The Golden Grass) and Walter Roadburn (the man behind the internationally renowned Roadburn festival).

Today the official poster, which will be available at the Vitus Bar in a limited and one-time run of 50, has been revealed. Art is by Los Angeles-based designer Sean “Skillit” McEleny, who has worked with numerous acts across both coasts as well as the header for this site and perfectly captures the strange awe and wonder that the show is certain to elicit front-to-back.

Following the revelation earlier this month of the complete lineup, the set runtimes are now also available:

the obelisk all-dayer logo skillit-700

Mars Red Sky* 10:10-11:40
Death Alley* 8:50-9:50
Snail* 7:30-8:30
Kings Destroy 6:30-7:10
EYE 5:30-6:10
Funeral Horse* 4:30-5:10
King Buffalo 3:30-4:10
Heavy Temple 2:30-3:10
(Afterparty with DJ Adzo & Walter Roadburn* 12-2AM)
* Debut appearance in NYC

Set times are firm. The Obelisk All-Dayer is proud to be giving these bands enough time to flesh out their performances, as opposed to rushing one into the next in a festival. The intent is that the day will be a laid-back party more than a festival, from the start of Heavy Temple‘s cult-worthy riffing through the psych-blues bliss of King Buffalo, the possibly-cape-inclusive doings of Funeral HorseEYE‘s lush progressive rock, locals Kings Destroy‘s aggro noise push and the one-two-three punch of SnailDeath Alley and Mars Red Sky, none of whom has ever played New York before.

Get your tickets immediately.

The Obelisk All-Dayer tickets

The Obelisk All-Dayer event page

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The Obelisk Presents: 10 of 2015’s Best Album Covers

Posted in Features, Visual Evidence on December 4th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

I didn’t get to do this list last year — at least not that I can find — but especially as vinyl continues to grow as the dominant media for underground and/or heavy genres, it seems more and more necessary to highlight quality cover art as a focal point. This is, of course, not an exhaustive list. There were way more than 10 badass album covers, and I’m hoping you’ll add your favorites to the comments on this post, but these were some of the ones and some of the artists who most caught my eye. A few of the names are familiar — one artist also appeared on the 2013 list — and the work of some was new to me, but all made striking impressions one way or another in a range of styles, and I hope you’ll agree.

No need to delay. Let’s dive in:

Ordered alphabetically by artist

Ruby the Hatchet, Valley of the Snake

ruby the hatchet valley of the snake

Cover by Adam Burke. Artist website here.

Formerly (or at least sort-of-formerly) of Fellwoods and currently also playing in Pushy, Adam Burke‘s style has become essential to the aesthetics of doom and heavy rock. His work for bands like Ice Dragon, Mystery Ship, Pastor, Mos Generator and a slew of others — including me — never fails to impress with its deep colors, natural tones and, in many cases, a sense of underlying threat. So it is with Ruby the Hatchet‘s Tee Pee Records label debut, Valley of the Snake (review here). Burke presents the title literally as a winding serpent in the sky becomes a river leading to a waterfall, the colors of a sun either rising or setting giving a glimpse of the otherworldly while the earth below is presented in darker browns and the jagged rocks in the foreground. There were a few candidates for Burke this year, but this one continues to stun.

Elder, Lore

elder lore

Cover by Adrian Dexter. Artist website here.

A record that, for many, defines 2015 in a major way, Elder‘s Lore (review here) is not the first collaboration between the Massachusetts trio and artist Adrian Dexter, but the results this time around are particularly satisfying. And since we’re talking about vinyl, the creativity in the gatefold design and the other pieces Dexter contributed to the album proves no less impressive than the progressive turn Elder took in their songwriting — a fitting match in scope and execution. Released by Armageddon Shop and Stickman RecordsLore has pushed Elder into a different echelon entirely, and this will not be the final year-end-type list on which it appears around here, but Dexter‘s work, detail, subtlety and use of color for the cover simply had to be seen to be believed.

Kings Destroy, Kings Destroy

kings destroy self titled

Cover by Josh Graham. Artist website here.

Though he’s perhaps best known for his work doing live visuals over a stretch of years for Neurosis, Brooklyn-based Josh Graham‘s list of cover art accomplishments also include Soundgarden, KENmode, Vattnet Viskar and his own projects, A Storm of Light, Battle of Mice and Red Sparowes. With the cover for the self-titled third album from fellow New Yorkers Kings Destroy (review here), he seemed to encapsulate everything the War Crime Recordings release was driving toward with its urban crunch, aggression, and the feeling that all of this is a part of something larger and barely understood. Is it a bowl? Part of some ritual offering? Is it a drain? The expertly manipulated photography takes landmarks from the city and turns them into something as beautiful as it is malevolent, and Kings Destroy lived up to that standard on the album itself.

Snail, Feral

snail feral
Cover by Seldon Hunt. Artist website here.

Every bit worthy of the frame it has. Going back to pieces for Neurosis, Isis, Made out of Babies and more, Seldon Hunt‘s work is always widely varied, covering a range of styles and media. His piece for Feral (review here), a pivotal fourth album by West Coast heavy psych rockers Snail (released by Small Stone), seems to play off the single-word title in portraying a threatening vision of nature. At the bottom, we see human skulls as giant snails, weird glowing dogs and a deer with yellow eyes and snakes entwined in its antlers survey the landscape of huge mushrooms and sparse grass. Behind, two tangled trees add to the sense of foreboding, and a sky that runs from black to red speaks to a night that doesn’t look like it’s about to end anytime soon. Is this Hunt‘s vision of nature’s revenge? Either way, it’s engrossing in its three-dimensionality.

Valkyrie, Shadows

valkyrie shadows

Cover by Jeremy Hush. Artist website here.

Valkyrie‘s third full-length, first for Relapse Records and first in seven years, Shadows (review here), was a classic guitar rock fan’s dream come true. Brothers Jake and Pete Adams led the band through cascading solos, memorable songs and unpretentious vibes. The cover art by Jeremy Hush stood out to me particularly for the violence of its depiction. We see smaller blackbirds using spears or arrows to attack a hawk, and three on one is hardly a fair fight, even with a bird of prey, as a skull looks on from nearby grass. What I don’t know, ultimately, is whose side we’re on — ravens are hardly a traditional harbinger of good fortune — but somehow not knowing that only makes the piece more evocative, and from the detail and use of empty space in its parchment-style background to the struggle it portrays, Hush‘s work certainly grabbed attention.

Ahab, The Boats of the Glen Carrig

ahab the boats of the glen carrig
Cover by Sebastian Jerke. Artist website here.

A Germany-based painter who’s done art for Desertfest Berlin, Colour Haze, as well as the Freak Valley and Keep it Low festivals, Sebastian Jerke contributed several artworks to Napalm Records this year. He’ll continue that thread in 2016 with Greenleaf likely among others, but in 2015, his pieces for My Sleeping Karma and Ahab especially stood out, and the latter most of all. The funeral doomers don’t to anything on a scale less than grand, and Jerke‘s cover for The Boats of the Glen Carrig (review here) offered scope to match. Its sea monsters have breathtaking color and detail, and are familiar and alien at the same time, the central figure’s human-esque hand drawing a crowd either awed or looking to feast. This was one you could stare at over and over again and still always find something new.

Acid King, Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere

acid king middle of nowhere center of everywhere
Cover by Tim Lehi. Artist website here.

I actually saw when Acid King unveiled the cover for their first album in a decade, Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere (review here), that there were some people giving them shit for the artwork out front. Don’t get me wrong, everyone’s entitled to their opinion, and if you ever wanted to find a bunch of conflicting ones look no further than the internet, but excuse me — it’s a wizard (Hell, that might be Gandalf), riding a tiger, in outer space. If there’s any part of that that isn’t frickin’ awesome, I’m not sure what it might be. What directive tattoo artist Tim Lehi was given going into the project, which would eventually surface on Svart Records, I don’t know, but it’s hard for me to listen to the far-no-farther out riffs of “Center of Everywhere” and not at very least want to be that wizard. Riding that tiger. In outer space. I’ll defend this one all day if necessary.

Serial Hawk, Searching for Light

serial hawk searching for light
Cover by Samantha Muljat and Sara Winkle. Artist websites here and here.

If I had gotten to do this list in 2014, Samantha Muljat could have easily appeared on it for her manipulated landscape that adorned Earth‘s Primitive and Deadly. For Serial Hawk‘s debut album, Searching for Light (review here), she’s partnered with Sara Winkle, whose work ranges from commercial design and album covers to animation and more. What the two offer in their work for Serial Hawk is a blend of the real and the unreal. We don’t see the face of the photographed subject, but she leads our eye toward the white circle, which, on a horizon could be the sun, but here seems to have descended to the field, landed there toward some unknown purpose. The tall grasses seem to fade into a wash of lighter green, but note the angle of the arm on the right side and the legs toward the center is nearly identical and seems to be working opposite the windblown direction of the field surrounding. Like the piece as a whole, it’s as much natural as unnatural.

Various Artists, Electric Ladyland [Redux]

various artists electric ladyland redux
Cover by David Paul Seymour. Artist website here.

My notes for this list contain no fewer than three separate entries for Minneapolis artist David Paul Seymour. There’s one for ChiefsTomorrow’s Over (review here), and one for Wo Fat‘s Live Juju (review here), but when it came time to pick just one, nothing stood out like Magnetic Eye RecordsElectric Ladyland [Redux] (review here). The full-gatefold spread is my favorite album cover of the year — and a good deal of this year’s covers were by Seymour, who has become nigh on ubiquitous in heavy and psychedelic rock — and for Jimi Hendrix, who’s been portrayed so many times it would be impossible to count, to show up in an original way in an original setting, it showed creativity on a scale fitting to the logistics of the compilation itself, which pulled together groups from around the world in due homage to Hendrix‘s 70th birthday. Its colors, its shading, its strange mercurial pool and waterfall — it’s just perfect for what it was intended to do.

Kind, Rocket Science

kind rocket science
Cover by Alexander von Wieding. Artist website here.

He’s split his time these last several years with his one-man band incarnation Larman Clamor, but Hamburg’s Alexander von Wieding continues to find time for copious design work for the likes of Brant BjorkKarma to BurnEnos and more. This year, in addition to a logo for a forthcoming The Obelisk t-shirt, he also did a cover for a split between Larman Clamor and Blackwolfgoat, whose Darryl Shepard also plays guitar in Kind, so to have him also illustrate that project’s Ripple debut, Rocket Science (review here), only seems fair. I’ll make no pretense of being anything other than a fan of von Wieding‘s work, and he’s in his element with Rocket Science, line drawing a spacescape with a crashed ship manned by what appears to be a frustrated chicken and rabbit (“Rabbit Astronaut” is one of the song titles). A lizard looks on and sticks a forked tongue out at the scene, and as mountains and planets loom behind, von Wieding reinforces a charm in his work that has drawn bands and labels his way for the better part of the last decade.

Like I said at the outset, there were far too many covers for me to call this list comprehensive — right off the top of my head: SunderGroanMos Generator/StubbMonolord (that solo figure walking into the lake continues to haunt), BaronessHigh on FireGraveyardMonster MagnetThe MachineEggnogg/BorrachoEcstatic Vision, Uncle Acid, on and on — but these were just some that particularly resonated with me. If you feel like something was criminally ignored — maybe I missed it — please let me know in the comments.

And thanks for reading.

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Artwork Premiere: Snail, Feral Cover by Seldon Hunt

Posted in Visual Evidence on March 26th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

snail

Feral is the upcoming fourth album and Small Stone debut from West Coast (CA/WA) outfit Snail. Their first record as the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Mark Johnson, bassist/engineer Matt Lynch and drummer Marty Dodson since their 1993 self-titled debut (reissue review here), Feral is set to issue this summer and features cover art by Brooklyn-based artist Seldon Hunt, known for his work with NeurosisIsisPelicanMade out of BabiesKings Destroy and on and on. Always varied in his approach, from photography to line-drawings to exquisite fractals to whatever the hell you might call the cover of the recent Blind Idiot God album, Hunt has consistently been able to adjust his own style to suit the project at hand, and Snail‘s Feral is no exception.

There is a snail on it, somehow subtly despite it being right up front on the left side of the picture. Gorgeously colorful with natural reds, browns and greens, two knotted trees frame what in other hands might’ve been a simple nature scene. Two snakes wrap around a deer’s antlers, and there’s some kind of scared-looking 10-legged creature hiding partially behind one of the four large mushrooms in the foreground. But the real story is in the deer’s eyes, dead and yellow. They have a threatening look to them which seems to find its answer in the partially-buried human skulls at the bottom and the new-growth grass coming up around them. All of a sudden, it’s more revolution than nature scene, as though human civilization has given way to a new natural order.

In its colorful psychedelic vibe and quiet foreboding, Hunt‘s piece fits the Snail record well, and I’m happy to be able to premiere the cover art. Click the image below to enlarge it if you’d like a closer look. Some comment from the band follows:

snail feral seldon hunt

Says Matt Lynch:

It was actually [The Obelisk’s] doing that we hooked up with him. I saw the art he did for Blind Idiot God because of your feature and we were still kinda exploring our options after many failed attempts by me to get something we could all agree on.

And I saw that art and thought “this guy gets it” you know, he had the feel of the record in him. The first idea he sent us was spot on. It was just a scribble sketch but we knew by the description that this was our guy.

Snail on Thee Facebooks

Seldon Hunt’s website

Small Stone Records

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Eye of the Stoned Goat 5 Official Poster Unveiled; Lineup Finalized

Posted in Visual Evidence on February 19th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

Tickets go on sale March 6 for Eye of the Stoned Goat 5, set to take place June 12-13 at Amityville Music Hall, on Long Island. The Golden Grass and Mos Generator will headline, and the lineup has been finalized to include acts from the East Coast, the West Coast and in between — Lord FowlWounded Giant and Brimstone Coven, if you need an example of each — in what’s without a doubt the most expansive Stoned Goat festival yet.

The poster for this year’s Stoned Goat is by Joe Mruk, and you can see the final version below (click to make it even larger) followed by the official lineup announcement from the fest:

eye of the stoned goat 5 poster

‘Eye of the Stoned Goat 5’ announces official lineup for summer festival!

Snake Charmer Booking is pleased to announce the final artist lineup for the annual celebration of stoner-psychedelic rock and doom-heavy metal known as The Eye of the Stoned Goat Festival—now in its 5th year. The two-day fest, featuring some of the most exciting talent of the Mid-Atlantic, East and West Coast, will take place June 12th and 13th 2015 at the Amityville Music Hall in Long Island, New York.

Headlining the Friday night opener on June 12th are Brooklyn, New York trio The Golden Grass (Svart Records), whose catchy progressive psychedelic self-titled debut received numerous accolades as the “Best of 2014.” Another band that has received copious amounts of praise from rock blogs and music rags alike are none other than Long Island’s long-running rock outfit John Wilkes Booth, whose album ‘Useless Lucy’ was mentioned in many journalists “Best of 2014” lists. Also joining the bill from Long Island territory, those wildly eclectic heavy rockers Moon Tooth, who Metal Injection recently named one of “10 Awesome Underground Bands You Need in Your Life!”

Naturally, it wouldn’t be a ‘Stoned Goat’ show without giving attendees a healthy dose of band from the excellent Small Stone Records label. This year’s elite selection includes three bands that are simply a treat to bring to the stage: Boston’s master craftsmen and 2014 Desertfest alums, Gozu; local New York natives It’s Not Night: It’s Space; and returning ‘Stoned Goat’ retro rockers Lord Fowl, currently working on the follow-up to their 2012 riff encyclopedia, Moon Queen.

More contenders for total rock domination include Ripple Music stalwarts White Dynomite, composed of former members of such fine acts as Roadsaw, Lamont, and Wrecking Crew, to name a few. Also on the Ripple Music roster, from Frederick, Maryland: Weed is Weed, featuring Dave Sherman and Gary Isom of Pentagram, Earthride and Spirit Caravan fame. Additionally, hailing from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, fans will experience the infectious “sludge n’ space rock” vibe of Supervoid, who will be heading into the studio in February to record their follow-up to 2013’s Filaments.

For the first time, Seattle Washington’s own rising stars Wounded Giant will be bringing their blistering, monstrous, signature sound to this year’s festival. Also spearheading the volume-dealing campaign from STB Records is Connecticut’s Curse The Son, who’s latest offering Psychache (2014) was widely heralded as “the best of its kind in 2014” by The Sludgelord and other critics. Another band traveling a good distance to bring their doomy, occult craft to the east coast is Metal Blade Records’ newest acquisition, Brimstone Coven, who are currently working on their much anticipated next album for the label. Speaking of travelling a long distances, the festival will witness the U.S. debut of Toronto, Canada’s demonic stoner-blues rockers Ol’ Time Moonshine. Alongside this already hefty bill, ESG5 has decided to treat festival goers to the atmospheric retro-doom stylings of Totem Cat Records’ own Doctor Smoke.

One band that has been tenaciously trekking through the rock scene for over a decade now is Philadelphia’s working class groove dealers, Kingsnake. The four boys of Kingsnake have had the honor of performing alongside such acts as Clutch, The Sword, Scorpion Child, The Skull, and Vista Chino, to name a few. Also on board for the 5th installment of the festival, Long Island locals Borgo Pass—a popular act that has developed quite an impressive loyal following.

Last, but not least, officially closing out this year’s Eye of the Stoned Goat festival is none other than Port Orchard, Washington’s stoner rock torch-bearer’s Mos Generator. This marks the band’s first ever performance in New York. Mos Generator have released 5 studio albums, a retrospective album, numerous splits, and a live album, attracting such labels as Roadburn, Small Stone, Ripple, Nasoni, and Lay Bare. For charismatic singer/guitarist Tony Reed and crew, touring has been just as important to the profile of the band as making records. Over the years, Mos Generator has shared the stage with many great heavy rock bands, and in March of 2013 joined a 26-date European tour with Saint Vitus, earning a whole new fan base to their fuzzy, energetic sound. On stage, Mos Generator embodies the word “chemistry,” revolving their sound around swagger and groove, while improvising just enough to keep the songs feeling fresh from night to night—often with delightful results.

Tickets for ‘Eye of the Stoned Goat 5’ will officially go on sale on March 6th 2015. The Event will be 21+ with I.D. Tickets will be $15 per night, or $25 for a weekend pass. For more information on the Eye of the Stoned Goat festival, visit www.TheEyeoftheStonedGoat.com

http://www.TheEyeoftheStonedGoat.com
https://www.facebook.com/TheEyeOfTheStonedGoat
https://www.facebook.com/events/853840991328849/
https://twitter.com/stonedgoatfest

The Golden Grass, A Curious Case/The Pilgrim (2014)

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Dates and Location Announced for Eye of the Stoned Goat 5

Posted in Visual Evidence on January 7th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

It’s about as preliminary as preliminary announcements get, but think of it as a save-the-date card in the mail for a wedding of riffs that you’ll probably actually want to go to. The fifth edition of the Eye of the Stoned Goat festival will take place on June 12 and 13, in Amityville, Long Island. How long do you think it’ll be before someone makes an Amityville Horror reference? It’s probably already happened.

The poster with the dates and a killer, manic design by Pittsburgh-based artist Joe Mruk just came out today, and while lineup info is minimal at this point nearly to the degree of “there isn’t any,” fest organizer and Wasted Theory drummer Brendan Burns has let slip a few tidbits about thus-far confirmations from certain labels, including Metal BladeSmall StoneRipple Music and Totem Cat. After last year’s installment in the way-closer-to-me locale of Worcester, Massachusetts (review here), it should be interesting to see how the mobile festival, which was held in Brooklyn in 2013 (review here) and Delaware before that (review here), expands its reach this time around. Long Island in June? Sounds humid, but count me in. One can only hope for a return appearance from L.I. four-piece John Wilkes Booth.

Interesting to note if you’re making travel plans, Eye of the Stoned Goat 5 will be happening exactly two weeks before the previously announced Maryland Doom Fest in Frederick, MD. Looks like the East Coast will be the place to be this summer, which, if I can be perfectly honest with you, is a welcome change. Hey, at least gas is cheap.

Here’s the poster and quickie announcement from the fest:

eye of the stoned goat 5

Proud to announce…
Eye of the Stoned Goat 5!!!
Amityville, Long Island, NY.
June 12-13th 2015.
*Bands and lineup will be announced soon….

The Eye of the Stoned Goat on Thee Facebooks

Joe Mruk on Thee Facebooks

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Freak Valley Festival 2014 Photo Gallery by Falk-Hagen Bernshausen

Posted in Visual Evidence on June 18th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Because I very, very rarely do this kind of thing involving someone else’s work, let me specifically point out I DID NOT TAKE THESE PICTURES. I was not fortunate enough to be at this fest, and even if I had been at Freak Valley in Netphen, Germany, May 29-31, I’m not this good. All the photos in this gallery were by Falk-Hagen Bernshausen, who serves as the festival’s in-house photographer. I don’t even know how many images he sent me, but I’ve gone through and picked out a few from what you can see above was a packed schedule, starting with the headliners and then working by day from there.

If you’re the type who usually does the clicky-makey-biggy thing with the pictures around here, you might notice it doesn’t work on this post. Truth be told, it took me a very long time to get all the photos here to load, and with so many pics, it crashed the site more than once in the making. Resizing the images was the only way I could get it all to fit. I apologize for any inconvenience making it work may have caused.

Still, it’s only through the generosity of Mr. Bernshausen that I’m able to do this, and I thank him profusely for sharing his work. Please note there were more bands he shot than appear, and please also visit his website here, and check out the Freak Valley page as well.

THURSDAY, MAY 29

Radio Moscow

Papir

Bloody Hammers

Read more »

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Karma to Burn Reveal Artwork & Tracklisting for Arch Stanton

Posted in Visual Evidence on May 27th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

In looking at his work over the course of their collaboration, you can tell that German artist Alexander von Wieding is a fan of Karma to Burn. Not just because he does such excellent work for them — see his prior covers to their V and Appalachian Incantation full-lengths and splits with Sons of Alpha Centauri, ÖfÖ Am, etc. — but to the creativity he brings to their established goat mascot and the level to which he captures what the instrumental West Virginian outfit is all about. The latest partnership between Karma to Burn and von Wieding is the three-piece’s forthcoming album, Arch Stanton, set to release in August.

The album takes its title from the name on the grave in the Sergio Leone classic, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, where a fortune of gold is buried, and almost certainly, if riffs were treasure then Karma to Burn would be millionaires. Von Wieding‘s cover departs from the spaghetti west in favor of the American Civil War, which occurred before the events imagined in the film, and we see Karma to Burn‘s mascot — who’s well on his way to an Eddie-esque number of interpretations — storming a battle line of Union and Confederate soldiers, the flags of both sides represented. All around is chaos and fire and death, rendered with a frightening and otherworldly glow, and both armies recoil in bloody horror as the cigar-smoking beast devastates with a whip for each side.

Karma to Burn‘s Arch Stanton is out this August through Deepdive Records and FABA Records. More to come about it, I’m sure, but until then, check out the tracklisting, take a listen to the prior single “Fifty Three,” which will appear on the record, and click the image below for a closer look:

Tracklist:

1 Fifty Seven
2 Fifty Six
3 Fifty Three
4 Fifty Four
5 Fifty Five
6 Twenty Three
7 Fifty Eight
8 Fifty Nine

Label is: deepdive records & FABA records

Release 15.8.2014

Karma to Burn, “Fifty Three”

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