Quarterly Review: Khemmis, Mutant Flesh, War Cloud, Void of Sleep, Pretty Lightning, Rosy Finch, Ghost Spawn, Agrabatti, Dead Sacraments, Smokemaster

Posted in Reviews on March 24th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Alarm went off this morning at 3:45. Got up, flicked on the coffee pot, turned the heat on in the house, hit the bathroom and was back in bed in four minutes with an alarm set for 4:15. Didn’t really get back to sleep, but the half-hour of being still was a kind of pre-waking meditation that I appreciated just the same. Was dozing when the alarm went off the second time, but it’s day two of the Quarterly Review, so no time to doze. No time for anything, as is the nature of these blocks of writeups. They tend to be all-consuming while they’re going on. Could be worse. Let’s roll.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Khemmis, Doomed Heavy Metal

khemmis doomed heavy metal

Denver four-piece Khemmis have made themselves one of the most distinctive acts in metal, to say nothing of doom. With strong vocal harmonies out front backed by similarly-minded guitars, the band bring a sense of poise to doom that’s rare in the modern sphere, somewhat European in influence, but less outwardly adherent to the genre tenets of melancholy. They refuse to be Paradise Lost, in other words, and are all the more themselves for that. Their Doomed Heavy Metal EP (on 20 Buck Spin and Nuclear Blast) is a stopgap after 2018’s Desolation (review here) full-length, but at 38 minutes and six songs, it’s substantial nonetheless, headlined by the Dio cover “Rainbow in the Dark” — capably done with just a flair of Slough Feg — with a take on Lloyd Chandler‘s “A Conversation with Death” and “Empty Throne,” both rare-enough studio cuts, for backing, as well as three live cuts that cover their three-to-date albums. The growls on “Three Gates” are fun, but I’ll still take the Dio cover as the highlight. For a cobbled-together release, it feels at least like a bit of thoughtful fan-service, and really, a band could do worse than to serve their fans thoughtfully.

Khemmis on Thee Facebooks

20 Buck Spin store

Nuclear Blast Records store

 

Mutant Flesh, Evil Eye

mutant flesh evil eye

There are shades of doom metal’s origins underlying Mutant Flesh‘s first release, the eight-song/33-minute Evil Eye, but the Philly troupe are too gleeful in their weirdness ultimately to be paying full homage to the likes of Witchfinder General, and especially in a faster song like second cut “Meteoric” and the subsequent lead-guitar-flipout-and-vocal-soar title-track, they tap into the defiantly doomed vibe of earliest Saint Vitus. That’s true of the crawling “Euthanasia” as well, which crashes and nods as it approaches the six-minute mark as the longest inclusion here, but even the penultimate “Blight” brings that twisted-BlackFlag-noise-slowed-down spirit that lets you know there’s consciousness behind the chaos, and that while Mutant Flesh might seem to be all-the-way-gone, they’re really just getting started. Maybe their sound will even out over time, maybe it won’t, but for what it’s worth, they do ragged doom well from the opening “Leviathan (Lord of the Labyrinth)” onward, and feel right at home in the unhinged.

Mutant Flesh on Thee Facebooks

Mutant Flesh on Bandcamp

 

War Cloud, Earhammer Sessions

war cloud earhammer sessions

Having just shredded their way across Europe, War Cloud took their set into the Earhammer Studio with Greg Wilkinson at the helm in an attempt to capture the band in top form on their home turf. Did it work? The results on Earhammer Sessions (Ripple Music) don’t wait around for you to decide. They’re too busy kicking ass to take names, and if the resulting 29-minute burst is even half of what they brought to the stage on that tour, those must’ve been some goddamn shows. Songs like “White Lightning” and the snare-counted-in “Speed Demon” and “Striker” feel like they’re being given their due in the max-speed-NWOBHM-but-still-too-classy-to-be-thrash presentation, and honestly, this feels like War Cloud have found their method. If they don’t tour their next album and then hit the studio after and lay it down live, or at least as live as Earhammer Sessions is — one never knows as regards overdubs and isolation booths and all that — they’re doing themselves a disservice. War Cloud play metal. So what? So this.

War Cloud on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

 

Void of Sleep, Metaphora

Void of Sleep Metaphora

Void of Sleep return after half a decade with the prog-doom stylings of their third album, Metaphora (Aural Music), which stretches dramatically through songs like “Iron Mouth” (11:00), preceded by the intro “The Famine Years” and the shorter “Unfair Judgements,” preceded by the intro “Waves of Discomfort,” and still somehow manage not to sound out of place tapping into their inner Soilwork in the growled verses/clean choruses of “Master Abuser.” They get harsh a bit as well on “Tides of the Mourning,” which uses its 10:30 to summarize the bulk of the proceedings and close out the record after “Modern Man,” but that song has more of a scope and feels looser structurally for that. Still, that shift is only one of several throughout Metaphora, which follows the Italian five-piece’s 2015 LP, New World Order (discussed here), and wherever Void of Sleep are headed at any given moment, they head there with a duly controlled presence. Clearly their last five years have not been wasted.

Void of Sleep on Thee Facebooks

Aural Music store

 

Pretty Lightning, Jangle Bowls

pretty lightning jangle bowls

As yet, Germany’s Pretty Lightning remain a well kept secret of fuzz-psych-blues nuance, digging out their own niche-in-a-niche-in-a-niche microgenre with a natural and inadvertent-feeling sense of just writing the songs they want to write. Jangle Bowls, which puts its catchy, semi-garage title-track early in the proceedings, is the duo’s second offering through Fuzz Club Records behind 2017’s The Rhythm of Ooze (review here), and seem to present a mission statement in opener “Swamp Ritual” before bringing a due sense of excursion to “Boogie at the Shrine” — damn that’s a smooth groove — and reviving the movement in “RaRaRa,” which follows. Closer “Shovel Blues” is a highlight for how it drifts into oblivion, but the underlying tightness of craft in “123 Eternity” and “Hum” is an appeal as well, so it’s a tradeoff. But it’s one I’ll be glad to make across multiple repeat visits to Jangle Bowls while wondering how long this particular secret can actually be kept.

Pretty Lightning on Thee Facebooks

Fuzz Club Records store

 

Rosy Finch, Scarlet

rosy finch scarlet

The painted-blood-red cover of Rosy Finch‘s second album, Scarlet (on Lay Bare Recordings), and horror-cinema-esque design isn’t a coincidence in terms of atmosphere, but the Spanish trio bring a more aggressive feel to the nine-track outing overall than they did to their 2016 debut, Witchboro (review here), with additional crunch in the guitar of Mireia Porto (also vocals and bass) and bassist Elena Garcia, and a forward kick drum from Lluís Mas that hammers home the impact of a cruncher like “Ruby” and even seems to ground the more melodic “Alizarina,” which follows, let alone the crushing opener/longest track (immediate points) “Oxblood” or its headspinning closing companion “Dark Cherry,” after which follows the particularly intense hidden cut “Lady Bug,” also not to be missed. Anger suits Rosy Finch, it seems, and the band bring a physicality to the songs on Scarlet that only reinforces the sonic push.

Rosy Finch on Thee Facebooks

Lay Bare Recordings store

 

Ghost Spawn, The Haunting Continuum

Ghost Spawn The Haunting Continuum

Brutal, gurgling doom-of-death pervades The Haunting Continuum from Denver one-man-unit Ghost Spawn, and while the guitar late in “Escaping the Mortal Flesh” seems momentarily to offer some hope of salvation, rest assured, it doesn’t last, and the squibbly central riff returns with its extremity to prove once more that only death is real. Multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Kevin Berstler is the lone culprit behind the project’s first full-length and second release overall (also second this year, so he would seem to work quickly), and across 43 minutes that only grow more grueling as they proceed through the centerpiece title-track and into “The Terrors that Plague Nightly” and the desolate incantations of “Exiled to the Realm of Eternal Rot,” there are some hints of cleaner grunts that have made their way through — a kind of repeated “hup” vocalization — but this too is swallowed in the miasma of cave-echo guitar, drums-from-out-of-the-abyss, and raw-as-peeled-flesh production. Can’t get behind that? Probably you and 99.9 percent of the rest of humanity. For us slugs, though, it’s just about right.

Ghost Spawn on Thee Facebooks

Ghost Spawn on Bandcamp

 

Agrabatti, Beyond the Sun

agrabatti beyond the sun

It’s kosmiche thrust and watery vibes when Agrabatti go Beyond the Sun. What’s there upon arrival? Nothing less than a boogie down with Hawkwind at the helm of a spacey spaced-out space rocking chopper that you shouldn’t even be able to hear the revving engine of in space and yet somehow you can. Also synth, pulsating riffs and psych-as-all-golly-gosh awakenings. Formed in 2009 by Chad Davis — then just out of U.S. Christmas, already at that point known for his work in Hour of 13 and a swath of other projects across multiple genres — and with songs begun to come together at that time only to be shelved ahead of recording this year, Beyond the Sun sat seemingly in some unreachable strata of anomalous subspace, for 11 years before being rediscovered from its time-loop like Kelsey Grammer in that one episode of TNG, and gorgeously spread across the quadrant in its five-cut run, with its cover of the aforementioned Hawkwind‘s “Born to Go” so much at home among its companions it feels like, baby, it’s already gone. Do you need sunglasses in the void? Shit yeah you do.

Agrabatti on Thee Facebooks

Agrabatti on Bandcamp

 

Dead Sacraments, Celestial Throne

Dead Sacraments Celestial Throne

Four sprawling doom epics comprise the 2019 debut album — and apparently debut release — from Illinois four-piece Dead Sacraments, who themselves are comprised from three former members of atmospheric sludgers Angel Eyes, who finished their run in 2011 but released the posthumous Things Have Learnt to Walk That Ought to Crawl (review here). Those are guitarist Brendan Burchell, bassist Nader Cheboub and drummer Ryan Croson, and together with apparently-self-harmonizing vocalist/guitarist Mark Mazurek, they cast a doom built on largesse in tone and scope alike, given an air of classic-metal grandiosity but filtered through a psych-doom modernity that feels aware of what the likes of Pallbearer and Khemmis have done for the genre. Nonetheless, as a first record, Celestial Throne shines its darkness brightly across its no-song-under-nine-minutes-long lumber, and affirms the righteousness of doom with a genuine sense of reach at its disposal.

Dead Sacraments on Thee Facebooks

Dead Sacraments on Bandcamp

 

Smokemaster, Smokemaster

smokemaster smokemaster

The languid and trippy spirit in opener “Solar Flares” is something of a misdirect on the part of organ-laced, Cologne-based heavy rockers Smokemaster, who go on to boogie down through songs like “Trippin’ Blues” before jamming out classic heavy blues-style on “Ear of the Universe.” I’m not saying they don’t have their psychedelic aspects, but there’s plenty of movement behind what they do as well, and the setup they give with the first two cuts is effective in throwing off the first-time listener’s expectation. A pastoral instrumental “Sunrise in the Canyon” leads off side B after, and comes backed by “Astronaut of Love” (yup, a lovestronaut) and “Astral Traveller,” which find an engaging midpoint between the ground and the great beyond, synth and keys pushing outward in the finale even as the bass and drums keep it tethered to a central groove. It’s a formula that’s worked many times over the last half-century, but it works here too, and Smokemaster‘s Smokemaster makes a right-on introduction to the German newcomers.

Smokemaster on Thee Facebooks

Tonzonen Records store

 

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Roadburn 2020 Postponed

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 23rd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

ROADBURN 2020 BANNER

I’ve included the day schedules here not to wallow, but to emphasize the tremendous amount of creativity and heart that goes into making Roadburn Festival each year. We all knew by now there was no way that as governments are increasingly warning people to shelter in place and beginning to tighten quarantine restrictions because of the global pandemic of COVID-19 that Roadburn 2020 wasn’t going to go forward as was originally planned, but I know at least I held out hope that there would be something next month. Almost anything. Really if I just flew to the Netherlands and hung around the 013 for a couple days pretending I work there like I do every year as we run the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch daily fanzine out of there and publish for the fest-goers, that would’ve been cool. Just some glimmer of that experience.

Not this year.

Everyone knows the circumstances here are bigger than the fest’s control, and while I’m super-bummed I won’t be able to obtain the glorious poster art below on a likewise glorious green Roadburn 2020 hoodie to go with the pinkish/red one I got last year, even I have to look outside myself for about 30 seconds and understand there are wider issues at play. And it looks like I’ll have plenty of time to come to that understanding while not traveling this Spring.

So it goes. Roadburn of course will be back in some way, shape or form, but today’s not the day even to think about what that might look like. For now, I want to send my sincere love and gratitude to Walter and Becky and everyone behind the scenes at the 013 venue who make Roadburn happen every year. Thank you.

Here’s the fest’s statement:

roadburn 2020 poster

Due to the recent announcements from the Dutch government that all events in the Netherlands are forbidden until June, it will be impossible for us to hold Roadburn in April as planned. We know that many of you had already guessed that this would be the case, and we appreciate your patience as we have navigated the necessary processes that come along with organising an event as complex as Roadburn.

The current situation is having an enormous impact already – on the venues we rely on, the bands that we love and the events that we have planned for. Until we come out the other side of this, it will be impossible to do a full assessment of the damage caused to the live music industry. We ask for just a little bit more patience from you whilst we continue to work to bring you the most clear, concise and useful information relating to the postponement of Roadburn 2020. We know you have a lot of questions and we will do our best to answer in the coming days.

With much love, sadness and disbelief…

-Walter, Becky & the whole Roadburn team.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1081424195382564/
https://www.facebook.com/roadburnfestival/
http://www.instagram.com/roadburnfest
http://www.roadburn.com

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Clutch Release “Willie Nelson” Weathermaker Vault Single; Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 23rd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Clearly, Clutch have found a kindred soul in video director David Brodsky. I don’t know how many clips the two parties have worked on together at this point, but the latest, for the Weathermaker Vault Series redux of if-a-single-could-have-a-cult-following-this-one-does “Willie Nelson” — which also brings the band back together with producer/engineer J. Robbins; a sort of homecoming bound to be welcomed to longtime fans and which indeed works well in the track — is perhaps the best of them. Neil Fallon shaves his beard, hell breaks loose. It’s genius.

Also, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Dan Maines in a more fitting scenario than playing bass in a wingback chair. Dude looks like he was born to be there. I’m 100 percent serious. He should bring one on stage.

My prior favorite version of “Willie Nelson” was on the 2004 High Volume compilation from High Times Magazine, but I’m digging the harmonies here pretty hard. Might have a contender.

But either way, yeah, watch the video. Right now:

clutch willie nelson

CLUTCH RELEASE BRAND NEW STUDIO RECORDING OF “WILLIE NELSON” AS PART OF THE “WEATHERMAKER VAULT SERIES”

Clutch announce the release of the new studio recording of the track “Willie Nelson.” The single is the sixth in a series of new studio recordings that comprise the Weathermaker Vault Series.

“Willie Nelson is a song we wrote close to 20 years ago,” says Neil Fallon. “It started making appearances in our sets recently, so we figured now was a good time to re-record it. This time around Shawna Potter (War On Women) added back up vocals and is in the video as well. And for what it’s worth, ‘Red Headed Stranger’ gets regular play on our tour bus.” The single was recently re-recorded and remixed by J. Robbins (Jawbox, Jawbreaker, The Sword, Against Me!), and the track comes in at 3:21. “Willie Nelson” was originally released in 2003 on Clutch’s album Slow Hole To China: Rare and Unreleased “Willie Nelson.”

Available on all digital outlets here: https://orcd.co/x0y2pbw.

Director: David Brodsky for MyGoodEye (www.facebook.com/mygoodeye)
Producer: Allison Woest
Editor: David Brodsky and Allison Woest
Cameras: David Brodsky and Allison Woest
Lighting Design: Adam Pernick
Grip: Eddie Collins
Personal Assistant to Lead Canine (Hades): Amber Hoffman

CLUTCH:
Neil Fallon – Vocals/Guitar
Tim Sult – Guitar
Dan Maines – Bass
Jean-Paul Gaster – Drums/Percussion

www.facebook.com/clutchband
www.instagram.com/clutchofficial
www.pro-rock.com
www.youtube.com/user/officialclutch

Clutch, “Willie Nelson” official video

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Quarterly Review: Total Fucking Destruction, Humulus, The River, Phantom Hound, Chang, The Dhaze, Lost Psychonaut, Liquido di Morte, Black Burned Blimp, Crimson Oak

Posted in Reviews on March 23rd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

I’ve got a fresh cup of coffee and 50 records that need to be reviewed, so it must be time for… constant distractions! Oh, no, wait, sorry. It must be time for the Quarterly Review. Yeah, there it is. I know there’s a global-pandemic-sized elephant in the room as a backdrop for the Spring 2020 Quarterly Review, but it seems to me that’s all the more reason to proceed as much as possible. Not to feign normality like people aren’t suffering physically, emotionally, and/or financially, but to give those for whom music is a comfort an opportunity to find more of that comfort and, frankly, to do the same for myself. I’ve said many times I need this more than you do, and I do.

So, you know the drill. 10 records a day, Monday to Friday through this week, 50 when we’re done. As Christopher Pike says, let’s hit it.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Total Fucking Destruction, …To Be Alive at the End of the World

Total Fucking Destruction To Be Alive at the End of the World

The long-running experimentalist grind trio Total Fucking Destruction remain a sonic presence unto themselves. Their strikingly apropos fifth LP, …To Be Alive at the End of the World, begins with the five-minute psychedelic wash of its unrepentantly pretty, somewhat mournful title-track and ends with a performance-art take on “The Star Spangled Banner” that shifts into eight or so minutes of drone and minimalist noise before reemerging in manipulated form, vocalist/drummer Richard Hoak (also the odd bit of flute and ocarina), bassist/vocalist Ryan Moll and guitarist Pingdum filling the between space with the blasts and jangles of “A Demonstration of Power,” the maddening twists of “Attack of the Supervirus 1138” and other mini-bursts of unbridled aggression like “Stone Bomb,” “Doctor Butcher” and the outright conceptual genius of “Yelling at Velcro,” which, indeed, is just 20 or so seconds of yelling ahead of the arrival of the closer. In an alternate future, Total Fucking Destruction‘s work will be added to the Library of Congress. In this future, we’re boned.

Total Fucking Destruction on Thee Facebooks

Translation Loss Records store

 

Humulus, The Deep

humulus the deep

For the six-song/51-minute The Deep, Italian three-piece Humulus somewhat depart the beer-rocking ways of 2017’s second LP, Reverently Heading into Nowhere (review here). Sure, the riff of “Gone Again” is pure Kyuss idolatry (not a complaint), and “Devil’s Peak (We Eventually Eluded Death)” brims with drunkard’s swagger, but factor in the wonderfully executed linear build that takes place across the eight-minute “Hajra,” the mellow emotionalism of the penultimate acoustic track “Lunar Queen,” and the two extended psychedelic bookends in opener “Into the Heart of the Volcano Sun” (14:48) and closer “Sanctuary III – The Deep” (14:59), and the narrative becomes decidedly more complex than just “they drink and play riffs.” These elements have been in Humulus‘ sound all along, but it’s plain to hear the band have actively worked to push themselves forward in scope, and the range suits them, the closer particularly filled with a theatricality that would seem to speak to further storytelling to come on subsequent releases. So be it. They called the album The Deep and have dived in accordingly.

Humulus on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

The River, Vessels into White Tides

The River Vessels into White Tides

An atmosphere of melancholy is quickly established on The River‘s third LP, Vessels into White Tides (on Nine Records), and for being the London four-piece’s first album 10 years, it takes place in a sense of unrushed melody, the band rolling out a morose feel born of but not directly aping the likes of My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost as the vocals of guitarist Jenny Newton (also strings, percussion) — joined in the band by guitarist Christian Leitch, bassist Stephen Morrissey and drummer Jason Ludwig — make their presence felt soon in opener “Vessels,” which unfolds gracefully with a crash and rumble fading into the beginning of the subsequent “Into White” (15:01) with the four-minute string-laced “Open” and the 9:44 shifting-into-intensity “Passing” preceding closer “Tides,” which is duly rolling in its progression and offers a sweet bit of release, if wistful, from some of the more grueling moments before it, capping not with a distorted blowout, but with layers of strings reinforcing the folkish underpinning that’s been there all along, in even the most tonally or emotionally weighted stretches.

The River on Thee Facebooks

Nine Records store

 

Phantom Hound, Mountain Pass

Phantom Hound Mountain Pass

Mountain Pass, which begins with “The Northern Face,” ends with “The Southern Face” and along the way treks through its on-theme title-track and the speedier “You Don’t Know Death,” catchy “Thunder I Am” and fairly-enough bluesy “Devil Blues,” has its foundations in oldschool metal and punk, but is a decidedly rock-based offering. It’s the debut from Oakland’s Phantom Hound, and its eight component tracks make no attempt to mask their origins or coat their material in unnecessary pretense — they are what they are; the album is what it is. The three-piece dip into acoustics on the instrumental “Grace of an Angel,” which shifts with a cymbal wash into the lead guitar at the outset of the eight-minute title-track — the stomp of which is perhaps more evocative of the mountain than the passing, but still works — but even this isn’t so far removed from the straightforward purposes of “Irons in the Fire,” which stakes its claim to dead-ahead metal and rock, barely stopping along the way to ask what else you could possibly need.

Phantom Hound on Thee Facebooks

Phantom Hound on Bandcamp

 

Chang, Superlocomotodrive

chang superlocomotodrive

Munich-based trio Chang, with clear, modern production behind them, present their debut EP release with the 29-minute Superlocomotodrive, and though it’s short, one is left wondering what else they might need to consider it an album. What’s missing? You’ve got the let’s-jam-outta-here in the six-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Mescalin,” and plenty of gruff riffing to back that up in “Old Rusty Car” and the later title-track, with a bit of Oliveri-era Queens of the Stone Age edge in the latter to boot, plus some psychedelic lead work in “Sterne,” some particularly German quirk in “Bottle Beach” and a massive buildup in tension in the finale “Bombs Whisper” that seems to arrive at its moment of payoff only to instead cut to silence and purposefully leave the listener hanging — an especially bold move for a first release. Yeah, it’s under half an hour long, but so what? The heavy rock terrain Chang are working in is familiar enough — right down to the less-than-P.C. lyrics of “Old Rusty Car” — but there’s no sense that Superlocomotodrive wants to be something it isn’t. It’s heavy rock celebrating heavy rock.

Chang on Thee Facebooks

Chang on Bandcamp

 

The Dhaze, Deaf Dumb Blind

the dhaze deaf dumb blind

Though the grunge influence in the vocals of guitarist Simone Pennucci speak to more of a hard-rocking kind of sound, the basis of The Dhaze‘s sprawl across their ambitious 53-minute Sound Effect Records debut album, Deaf Dumb Blind, is more in line with progressive metal and heavy psychedelia. Bassist Vincenzo La Tegola backs Pennucci on vocals and locks in fluid mid-tempo grooves with drummer Lorenzo Manna, and makes a highlight of the low end in “Death Walks with Me” ahead of the titular trilogy, presented in the order of “Deaf,” “Blind” and “Dumb,” which flow together as one piece thanks in no small part to the synth work added by La Tegola and Pennucci together. Obviously comfortable in longer-form stretches like “Death Walks with Me” or the earlier “Neurosis,” both of which top nine minutes, the Napoli trio bring a fervent sense of variety to their work while leaving themselves open to future growth in terms of sound and playing with the balance between elements they establish here.

The Dhaze on Thee Facebooks

Sound Effect Records store

 

Lost Psychonaut, Lost Psychonaut

Lost Psychonaut Lost Psychonaut

Hailing — because metal bands hail, to be sure — from the Pittsburgh area, newcomers Lost Psychonaut boast in their ranks two former members of sludgers Vulture in guitarist/vocalist Justin Erb and bassist
Garrett Twardesky, who, together with drummer Tristan Triggs, run through a debut LP made up of five tracks that skirt the line between groove metal and heavy rock, tapping-like-flowing-kegs influences from the likes of ’90s-era C.O.C. and others such burl-laced groovers. Tales of day-to-day struggles make a fitting enough backdrop to the riff-led proceedings, which commence with the prior-issued single “My Time” and roll-groove their way into a duo of longer cuts at the end in “Restitution Day” (8:46) and “On a Down” (7:44). Frankly, any mention of the word “Down” at all in a song that feels so outwardly “buried in smoke” can hardly be coincidental, but that nod is well earned. With a couple years behind them, they know what they’re going for in this initial batch of songs, and the clearheaded nature of their approach only gives their songwriting more of a sense of command. There’s growth to be undertaken, but nothing to say they can’t get there.

Lost Psychonaut on Thee Facebooks

Lost Psychonaut on Bandcamp

 

Liquido di Morte, IIII

liquido di morte iiii

I suppose you could, if so inclined, live up to Liquido di Morte‘s slogan, “We play music to take drugs to,” but you’d be shorting yourself on the experience of a lucid listen to their third long-player IIII. Issued in limited handmade packaging by the band, the Milan instrumentalists offer a stylistic take across the late-2019 five-tracker that stands somewhere between heavy post-rock and post-metal, but in that incorporates no shortage of thoughtful psychedelic meditations and even some kraut and space rock vibes. The primary impact is atmospheric, but there’s diversity in their approach such that the centerpiece “Tramonto Nucleare” begins cosmic, or maybe cataclysmic, and ends with an almost serene roll into the floating guitar at the outset of the subsequent “Rebus (6,5),” which is the longest inclusion at 13:40 and an encompassing, hypnotic srpawl that, whether you take drugs or not, seems destined to commune with expanded or expanding minds. The front-to-back journey ends with “The Fattening,” a cinematic run of synth after which a slaughter feels almost inevitable, even if it arrives as silence.

Liquido di Morte on Thee Facebooks

Liquido di Morte on Bandcamp

 

Black Burned Blimp, Crash Overdrive

Black Burned Blimp Crash Overdrive

Bonus points to Netherlands four-piece Black Burned Blimp for including song titles like “What Doesn’t Kill You, Makes You Weirder” and “The Good, the Bad and the Fucking Horrific” and, at the start of “Desert Wizard,” the sample from Trailer Park Boys wherein Mr. Lahey declares, “I am the liquor” on their debut LP, Crash Overdrive. Native to a heavy rock legacy that includes acts like 13eaver, 35007, Astrosoniq and Celestial Season, among many others, the band hint toward melodic complexity while remaining focused on raw energy in their songwriting, such that even the drumless, harmonized and minute-long “Flock” seems to seethe with unstated tension for “Robo Erectus,” which follows, to pay off. It does, though perhaps with less of a tempo kick than one might expect — certainly less than the careening “The Good, the Bad and the Fucking Horrific” a few tracks later — but somehow, no matter what speed they’re actually playing, Black Burned Blimp seem to make it sound fast. Vitality will do that.

Black Burned Blimp on Thee Facebooks

Black Burned Blimp on Bandcamp

 

Crimson Oak, Crimson Oak

crimson oak crimson oak

Though their arrival comes amid a German heavy rock underground that’s nothing if not well populated, Fulda-based five-piece Crimson Oak present with their self-titled debut long-player a stylistic take that’s both modern and genuine sounding, finding solid ground in well-crafted songs drawing more from ’90s-era heavy and punk in “Danger Time,” which follows the contemplative “Of My Youth,” the bulk of what surrounds expressing a similar level of self-awareness, up to and including the nine-minute side B opener “Brother of Sleep,” which sets psychedelic guitar against some of the album’s biggest riffs (and melodies). There’s middle ground to be had in cuts like “Displace” and “Sunset Embrace” still to come and “Fulda Gap” earlier, but Crimson Oak seem to touch that middle ground mostly en route to whichever end of the spectrum next piques their interest. At seven songs and 42 minutes, it’s not an insubstantial LP, but they hold their own with confidence and a poise that speaks to the fact that some of this material showed up on prior EPs. That experience with it shows but does not hold the band or songs back.

Crimson Oak on Thee Facebooks

Crimson Oak on Bandcamp

 

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Bongripper to Headline Høstsabbat 2020

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 23rd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Let’s put an asterisk there, maybe. Or at least an ellipsis followed by some kind of if-there-is-such-a-thing statement. Even the kind folks behind the Oslo-based Høstsabbat Festival, which I’ve been sort of hanging my hat on as other shows, tours and fests have been canceling as a result of COVID-19’s barely-contained spread — saying to myself, “Well at least Høstsabbat is far enough away that it might still happen — are acknowledging that they’re announcing the intention to bring Bongripper over as a headliner with a spirit of optimism. And hey, why not, right? What the fuck else is going on? Everyone knows the situation. If it happens, it’ll be great — the fucking Høstsabbat is so god damned good that, frankly, it’s worth having as something to look forward in all this — and if it doesn’t happen, well, we’ll know well in advance.

What’s the worst scenario? You buy a ticket and support people who make amazing crap happen when circumstances like global pandemics allow? You could do far worse while social distancing.

I don’t know if I even need to convince you of that, but that’s my case, anyhow. I think I made it well enough. Fucking Bongripper, dude.

I edited their post but didn’t write it:

hostsabbat 2020 bongripper

HØSTSABBAT 2020 – BONGRIPPER (US)

As we said in our last post, our everyday lives have been turned completely upside down recently.

After some discussion, we’ve decided to move ahead as planned. If nothing else, we want to try to add some sparkle to the end of the tunnel everyone seems to be in. We reckon you, as much as us, need something to look forward to, something that can make this surreal struggle a tiny, tiny bit easier to cope with. So yes, here it is:

BONGRIPPER will headline Høstsabbat 2020.

As you know, we always try to choose headliners suitable for the church acoustics. Since we started our collaboration with Kulturkirken JAKOB, this very band has been on the top of our wishlist of invitees. It is a massive joy to finally be able to announce Bongripper for our sabbathian crowd. For the first time in Norway, no less.

Bongripper is a band staking out new paths. They’re leaders of the pack, inspiring younger bands with their unearthly rumble and distinct riffs. Their instrumental, miserable Chicago doom has taken them all over the world, and they’ve been featured on every significant festival there is, building a solid and loyal fanbase throughout their seven full-length career. Finally the time has come for Høstsabbat.

The chapel stage will hold the presence of a band with sudden changes, blasting drums and a heaviness so impeccable, you’ll have a hard time standing up straight in front of it. This gig will mark a highlight in the history of Høstsabbat. Please welcome Bongripper, the headliners of this year’s heaviest event!

TICKETS
http://bit.ly/hostsabbat2020

HØSTSABBAT 2020 SPOTIFY PLAYLIST
http://bit.ly/SFhostsabbat2020

NEWSLETTER
http://bit.ly/NLhostsabbat

Artwork: Trine Grimm Tattoo / Linda K Røed

https://www.facebook.com/events/431138574088425/
https://www.facebook.com/hostsabbat/
http://hostsabbat.no/

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Friday Full-Length: Monomyth, Further

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 20th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Dutch progressive heavy psychedelic rockers Monomyth‘s second full-length, Further, was released in 2014 through Suburban Records — maybe Suburban/Burning World? — as the follow-up to the Den Haag five-piece’s 2013 self-titled debut (review here). And it was and is true to its title. Comprised of four tracks running about 45 minutes long, the album’s expanse is matched only by its sense of control. While one might be misled by looking songs 10, 12 and 17 minutes long into thinking Monomyth were simply locking in space jams and improvising their way into the trance-inducing cosmic ether, that’s not really the case. “Ark-M,” which opens the proceedings with welcoming and warm tonality and an, underlying pulse that is just tense enough to keep things moving, runs 10:11 and is thoughtful and considered in its flow and progression.

Bassist/baritone guitarist Selwyn Slop, guitarists Tjerk Stoop and Thomas Van Den Reydt, keyboardist/guitarist Peter Van Der Meer and drummer Sander Evers (formerly of 35007, also Gomer Pyle) use keys to underscore rhythmic guitar in extended and melodic lines of organ that give the tension in the strings and drums a foundation on which to rest intermittently, and though the entirety of the album is instrumental, the motion Monomyth undertake, with its periodic bouts of louder distortion and moves into fluidity and quirky adventurism — again, this is just in the first 10 minutes of the record — is every bit emblematic of the goal they clearly laid out for themselves in calling Further what they did.

The intricacy of patterns well matched by the Maarten Donders cover art out front and captured with due grace in the recording by Jordi Langelaan (who also mixed with Van Der Meer, while Wim Bult mastered), Further moves easily into its lower-end-minded second cut “Spheres” with a sureness of purpose that can only be called Floydian. There’s a drama that unfolds between the bass and guitar — a conversation there — happening at about three minutes into the total 12:28, but the band soon return to the sense of drift that got them to where they are and use it as the beginning of a subtle and almost jazzy linear build that moves ahead not with tension headed toward an overblown crescendo — though there’s a payoff, to be sure — but with the message that it’s the journey that’s most important and the act of getting there that matters more than whatever level of wash one might find upon arrival. And that payoff, it’s worth noting, is still reasonably restrained, which is telling of the band’s ethic overall — monomyth furthereven in their moment of “letting go,” they keep control of the groove enough not to let it get away from them.

It’s not just about restraint or control, of course, as Further‘s rampant melody, rhythm and exploration head them out into a space rock of their own making. The penultimate cut “Collision” is a departure in length at just 5:37 and finds the band coming to ground in a reasonably straightforward movement, the lead guitar line winding out over organ where vocals otherwise might be but not simply taking their place so much as doing things a human voice simply couldn’t do in weaving in and out of the accompanying rhythm lines. Percussion and keys and a corresponding proggy shuffle keep “Collision” tied to its surroundings enough that as the song moves into its second half and unfurls a surprising turn into ultra-winding leads and more technical stylizations, it’s still only as inconsistent as it intends to be. The finish is as raucous as Monomyth get on Further, which is fair enough, but it’s still a sustained melody of keys and guitar that ends the track on a long fade, bringing about the first synth rumblings of 17-minute closer “6equj5,” the title of which refers to the ‘Wow! signal’ captured by Ohio State University’s Big Ear radio telescope in 1977. The Big Ear project is to listen for extraterrestrial radio transmissions, and that detected wave remains the best candidate discovered.

So Monomyth, then, are working with a more cosmic palette on the finisher, and the increased scale is a fair enough representation of that, but the patience in the track too befits its space-centric title. A swirl of synth and guitar soloing has taken hold by about five and a half minutes in, though the band seem to have gotten there through only the most hypnotic of means, taken their time rather than rushed through a build. It’s a marked and willful contrast, of course, to “Collision” just before, but as “6equj5” divides into its component movements, it does so only on its own terms, bringing changes and surges of volume where it will as it moves into its second half before getting quieter and stretching out a line of organ across a more rushing current of guitar and steady drums. The grand finale? Sure, and one that consumes the better part of the last six minutes of the song. A ‘Wow! signal’ unto itself, “6equj5” culminates in as fervent a wash as Monomyth have created anywhere on Further and pushes through to an ending of residual noise suddenly cut off rather than faded out, which seems like one last directed choice intended to shock the listener into the realization that the journey has capped. And so it has.

The band have released two more full-lengths since Further in the form of 2016’s Exo and 2019’s Orbis Quadrantis, and they’ve become fixtures at continental European festivals like Desertfest Berlin and Belgium, Roadburn and so on. They’re booked for Freak Valley in June and the Burg Herzberg Festival in August — both in Germany — though of course those plans like everything else have no doubt been rendered “shrug? here’s hoping?” by the COVID-19 pandemic. Whatever happens there, it seemed important to emphasize the sense of purpose and control that Monomyth brought to the writing and construction of Further, from the making of the material itself to the fact that the tracks got longer as they went — “Collision” notwithstanding, but even that was intentional. In chaotic times, sometimes it’s just a relief to know that it’s possible to have a handle on anything, ever, and that’s what I’m taking from Further these six years after its release.

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

I got The Pecan about 20 minutes after he woke up. He usually takes a few minutes to wake up and I’ve found it’s best if you let him handle that process on his own rather than burst in and bug him right away. By the time I got upstairs, there was poop on the wall. Not that he’d actively spread it there or anything, but it was up his back out of his diaper and he’d rubbed his back on the wall. The outfit he was wearing I just threw out. He went in the tub and I gave him a bath while The Patient Mrs. took care of the bedroom. I got bit twice in the process of washing him off. He got me later too on the back of my arm when I wasn’t looking and again on my shoulder as I was putting him in the car after that, I guess just to remind me I’m a fucking asshole.

Fair enough.

We went in the car early because we had to leave the house because he was too miserable to eat and there’s nothing else to do. We drove to Newark and looked at cherry blossoms in a park at The Patient Mrs.’ suggestion. They weren’t all out and the ground was wet because apparently it rained overnight, but whatever. It was a thing to do. Two hours, a granola bar, a cheese stick and other assorted snackies later, it was at least a partial reset, and the day very, very, very much needed one.

I haven’t been sleeping all week and I’m fucking miserable. Chicken and egg, right?

We’re still going out to grocery stores and all that. Social distancing, washing hands, all that coronavirus shit is what it is. I don’t think New Jersey will have to shelter in place like San Francisco, and even if we did, I don’t think we’d be arrested for taking a walk through the neighborhood, so we’ll see. It’s hard. It fucking sucks. It could be worse I guess. Everybody is anxious. Everybody is miserable. Everybody is covered in shit. No one is sick at the moment.

Except my nephew, who has the flu. Kid’s always got the flu.

Anyway. Next week is the Quarterly Review. I have no idea how, but that’s the plan.

Today’s a new episode of the Gimme show. 5PM Eastern. Listen at http://gimmeradio.com.

Other that and my anxiety-driven desire to consume garlic en masse, that’s all I’ve got. If you wanted to bludgeon me with a shovel, as long as I didn’t know when it was coming, I don’t think I’d fight you.

Great and safe weekend. Enjoy the memes about washing your hands.

FRM.

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio Playlist: Episode 30

Posted in Radio on March 20th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk show banner

There’s some stuff here that was recently premiered — Moura, King Buffalo, the Thunderbird Divine track that went up today — but I’m also bringing in a few things from the Quarterly Review that I’ve got slated for next week. That’s stuff I haven’t had the chance to write about yet like Mindcrawler and Lemurian Folk Songs, Ritual King and Dystopian Future Movies. I know I’m biased here and I always say this — if you dig back through the old podcasts, I used to say it about those too, but I think it’s a pretty good show.

It was a little weird cutting voice tracks for it yesterday though, I’ll say that. Yeah, it’s awesome new music and that’s always great to be excited about, but it feels a little lightweight to be stoked on cool songs when there’s a pandemic on and obviously bigger issues at play. The way I look at it is music is ultimately that escape that people need and if I can maybe give someone something they haven’t heard before and might dig, then I guess that’s not nothing. It ain’t driving a truck for Meals on Wheels when it comes to lending a hand — I should be doing that shit, as should we all, all the time — but it’s what I’ve got, anyhow.

Thanks for listening if you do, and if you see this and don’t listen, then thanks just for reading.

The Obelisk Show airs 5PM Eastern today at http://gimmeradio.com

Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 03.20.20

Moura Ronda das Mafarricas Moura*
Dozer Rising Call it Conspiracy (2020 Reissue)*
Lord Fowl Fire Discipline Glorious Babylon*
Ritual King Dead Roads Ritual King*
BREAK
Thunderbird Divine The Hand of Man The Hand of Man*
Mindcrawler Dead Space Lost Orbiter*
Elder Omens Omens*
Arbouretum Let it All In Let it All In*
BREAK
Dystopian Future Movies Countenance Inviolate*
Lord Buffalo Raziel Tohu Wa Bohu*
Lemurian Folk Songs Logos Logos*
Sorcia Stars Collide Sorcia*
BREAK
King Buffalo Red Star Pt. 1 & 2 Dead Star EP*

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is April 3 (subject to change). Thanks for listening if you do.

Gimme Radio website

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Gaupa Releasing Feberdröm April 3; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 20th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

gaupa

The world may be a chaostream of virus panic and canceled shows, tours and festivals, but album releases seem at least to be proceeding on some level, and I don’t know about you, but hell, I appreciate the consistency. Take what I can get at this point. Swedish heavy rockers Gaupa issued their 2018 self-titled debut EP through Kozmik Artifactz last year and they’ll reportedly follow-up in a couple weeks with Feberdröm, their first full-length. Sadly, they seem to have an entire tour planned around the release — I didn’t see a note that they’d canceled it, but neither am I posting the dates because, well… — but one hopes they’ll either be able to do at least some of the shows or re-book it for sometime after our species has recovered from whatever the hell it ultimately needs to recover from when all of these known-unknowns and unknown-unknowns shake out.

Speaking of shaking out, Gaupa have a new song streaming now that’s got “shooting blanks” in its title, so hey, trigger warning for yours truly, amirite? That’s always a fun place to go mentally. Like, every day of my life.

Album’s out April 3, as you can apparently see on the cover art:

gaupa Feberdröm

Gaupa “Feberdröm” Out 3rd April on Kozmik Artifactz

Swedish stoner act GAUPA continue breaking new ground with their unique blend of doom, psychedelia and folk. Hot on the tail of their highly revered self-titled debut, their new full length album ‘Feberdröm’ will not disappointed fans old and new. Eight killer new songs containing forceful tempos, as well as epic soundscapes coloured with pitch-black melancholy.

Feberdröm will be released on limited edition heavyweight vinyl & CD on the 3rd of April on Kozmik Artifactz.

VINYL FACTZ
– Plated & pressed on high
performance vinyl at
Pallas/Germany
– limited & coloured vinyl
– 300gsm gatefold cover
– special vinyl mastering

TRACKS
1. Vakuum
2. Where Emperors Grow
3. Hjulet
4. Grycksbo Gånglåt
5. Mjölksyra
6. Alfahonan (Shooting Blanks)
7. Totemdjur
8. Klarvaken

Gaupa are:
Emma Näslund – Vocals
David Rosberg – Guitars
Daniel Nygren – Guitars
Erik Jerka Sävström – Bass
Jimmy Hurtig – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/gaupaband/
https://www.instagram.com/gaupaband/
https://gaupaband.bandcamp.com/
http://kozmik-artifactz.com/
https://www.facebook.com/kozmikartifactz

Gaupa, “Alfahonan (Shooting Blanks)”

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