Quarterly Review: Novembers Doom, Abrams, The Grand Astoria, Hosoi Bros, Codeia, Ealdor Bealu, Stone Lotus, Green Yeti, Seer, Bretus

Posted in Reviews on July 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-summer-2017

So, after kvetching and hemming and hawing and all that other stuff that basically means ‘fretting and trying to shuffle a schedule around’ for the last several days, I think I’ve now found a way to add a sixth day to this Quarterly Review. Looking at all the records that still need to be covered even after doing 50, I don’t really see any other way to go. I could try to do more The Obelisk Radio adds to fit things in, but I don’t want to over-tax that new server, so yeah, I’m waiting at the moment to hear back on whether or not I can move a premiere from Monday to Tuesday to make room. Fingers crossed. I’ve already got the albums picked out that would be covered and should know by tomorrow if it’s going to happen.

Plenty to do in the meantime, so let’s get to it.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Novembers Doom, Hamartia

novembers-doom-hamartia

Look. Let’s be honest here. More than 20 years and 10 records in, one knows at least on a superficial level what to expect from Chicago’s Novembers Doom. Since their first album arrived in 1995, they’ve played to one side or the other between the spectrum of death-doom, and their work legitimately broke ground in the style for a US band and in general. After a push over their last couple albums including 2014’s Bled White (review here) into more deathly fare, Hamartia (on The End Records) brings 10 tracks and 58 minutes of the melancholy dramas – special hello to the piano/acoustic-led title-track – and gut-wrenching, crushingly emotive miseries – special hello to “Waves in the Red Cloth” and “Ghost” – that have defined them. One doesn’t expect a radical departure from them at this point and they don’t deliver one even as they turn to another side of their overarching aesthetic, but whether it’s the still-propulsive death gallop of “Apostasy” or the lush nine-minute finale “Borderline,” Novembers Doom reinforce their position as absolute masters of the style and give their longtime fans another collection of vital woes in which to revel.

Novembers Doom on Thee Facebooks

The End Records website

 

Abrams, Morning

abrams morning

Not a hair out of place in the execution of Morning, the Sailor Records second long-player from Denver three-piece Abrams (interview here). That has its ups and downs, naturally, but is suited to the band’s take on modern progressive heavy rock à la newer Mastodon and Baroness, and with production from Andy Patterson (of SubRosa) and Dave Otero (Khemmis, Cephalic Carnage, etc.), the crisp feel is both purposeful and well earned. Their 2015 debut, Lust. Love. Loss. (review here), dealt with a similar emotional landscape, but bassist/vocalist Taylor Iversen, guitarist/vocalist Zachary Amster and drummer Geoffrey Cotton are tighter and more aggressive here on songs like opener “Worlds Away” (video posted here), “At the End,” “Rivers,” “Can’t Sleep” and “Burned” (video posted here), and “Mourning,” “In this Mask” and closer “Morning” balance in terms of tempo and overall atmosphere, making Morning more than just a collection of master-blasters and giving it a full album’s flow and depth. Like I said, not a hair out of place. Structure, performance, delivery, theme. Abrams have it all precisely where they want it.

Abrams on Thee Facebooks

Abrams on Bandcamp

 

The Grand Astoria, The Fuzz of Destiny

the-grand-astoria-the-fuzz-of-destiny

Dubbed an EP but running 29 minutes and boasting eight tracks, The Grand Astoria’s The Fuzz of Destiny is something of a conceptual release, with the St. Petersburg, Russia-based outfit paying homage to the effect itself. Each song uses a different kind of fuzz pedal, and as the ever-nuanced, progressive outfit make their way through the blown-out pastoralism of opener “Sunflower Queen” and into the nod of “Pocket Guru,” the organ-inclusive bursting fury of “Glass Walls” and the slower and more consuming title-track itself, which directly precedes closer “Eight Years Anniversary Riff” – yup, it’s a riff alright – they’re able to evoke a surprising amount of variety in terms of mood. That’s a credit to The Grand Astoria as songwriters perhaps even more than the differences in tone from song to song here – they’ve certainly shown over their tenure a will to embrace a diverse approach – but in giving tribute to fuzz, The Fuzz of Destiny successfully conveys some of the range a single idea can be used to conjure.

The Grand Astoria on Thee Facebooks

The Grand Astoria on Bandcamp

 

Hosoi Bros., Abuse Your Allusion III

hosoi-bros-abuse-your-allusion-iii

Oh, they’re up to it again, those Hosoi Bros. Their 2016 full-length, Abuse Your Allusion III, from its Guns ‘n’ Roses title reference through the Motörhead riffing of “Saint Tightus” through the stoner punk of “Topless Gnome” and the chugging scorch of the penultimate “Bitches are Nigh” offer primo charm and high-order shenanigans amid the most professional-sounding release of their career. Across a quick 10 tracks and 36 minutes, Hosoi Bros. readily place themselves across the metal/punk divide, and while there’s plenty of nonsense to be had from opener “Mortician” onward through “Lights Out” (video premiere here) and the later swagger of “Unholy Hand Grenade,” the band have never sounded more cohesive in their approach than they do on Abuse Your Allusion III, and the clean production only seems to highlight the songwriting at work underneath all the zany happenings across the record’s span, thereby doing them and the band alike a service as they make a convincing argument to their audience: Have fun. Live a little. It won’t hurt that much.

Hosoi Bros on Thee Facebooks

Hosoi Bros. on Bandcamp

 

Codeia, “Don’t be Afraid,” She Whispered and Disappeared

codeia-dont-be-afraid-she-whispered-and-disappeared

There’s actually very little that gets “Lost in Translation” in the thusly-titled 22-minute opener and longest cut (immediate points) of German post-metallers Codeia’s cumbersomely-named Backbite Records debut album, “Don’t be Afraid,” She Whispered and Disappeared. With heavy post-rock textures and an overarching sense of cerebral progressivism to its wash underscored by swells of low-end distortion, the three-piece of guitarist/backing vocalist Markus L., bassist/vocalist Denis S. and drummer Timo L. bring to bear patience out of the peak-era Isis or Cult of Luna sphere, sudden volume shifts, pervasive ambience, flourish of extremity and all. Nine-minute centerpiece “Shaping Stone” has its flash of aggression early before shifting into hypnotic and repetitive groove and subsequent blastbeaten furies, and 16-minute closer “Facing Extinction” caps the three-song/48-minute offering with nodding Russian Circles-style chug topped with growls that mask the layer of melodic drone filling out the mix beneath. They’re on familiar stylistic ground, but the breadth, depth and complexity Codeia bring to their extended structures are immersive all the same.

Codeia on Thee Facebooks

Backbite Records website

Mountain Range Creative Factory website

 

Ealdor Bealu, Dark Water at the Foot of the Mountain

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“Water Cycle,” the 13-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) of Ealdor Bealu’s debut full-length, Dark Water at the Foot of the Mountain, introduces a meditative feel and a breadth of sound that helps to define everything that follows. The ostensible side B leadoff of the self-release, “This too Shall Endure” (11:04), offers no less depth of atmosphere, and the graceful psychedelic expanses of the penultimate “Behind the Veil” continue to add to the overall scope with interplay of tempo variety and acoustic and electric guitar, but even earlier, shorter cuts like the wistful indie rocker “Deep Dark Below” and the linear-building “Behold the Sunrise” have an underlying progressivism that ties them to the longer form material, and likewise the particularly exploratory feeling “Ebb and Flow,” which though it’s the shortest cut at just over five minutes resonates as a standout jam ahead of “Behind the Veil” and subtly proggy seven-minute closer “Time Traveler.” The Boise-based four-piece of guitarist/vocalist/spearhead Carson Russell, guitarist Travis Abbott (also The Western Mystics), bassist/vocalist Rylie Collingwood and drummer/percussionist/saxophonist Alex Wargo bring the 56-minute offering to bear with marked patience and impress in the complexity of their arrangements and the identifiable human core that lies beneath them.

Ealdor Bealu on Thee Facebooks

Ealdor Bealu on Bandcamp

 

Stone Lotus, Comastone

I can take spicier foods than I ever could before.

One might consider the title of “Mountain of Filth,” the second cut on Stone Lotus’ debut album, Comastone, a mission statement for the Southwestern Australian trio’s vicious ‘n’ viscous brand of rolling, tonal-molasses sludge. Yeah, the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Dave Baker, bassist Samuel Noire and drummer Reece Fleming bring ambience to the interlude “Aum,” the slower loud/quiet shifts in “Anthropocene” and the subsequent “Umbra” that leads into the creepy launch of the title-track – in fact, quiet starts are something of a theme throughout Comastone; even the thudding toms that begin opener “Swamp Coven” pale in comparison to the volume swell of massive distortion that follows closely behind – but it’s the rhythmic lumber and the harsh vocals from Baker that define their course through the darker recesses of sludged-out misanthropy. No complaints there, especially on a first long-player, but Stone Lotus are right to keep in mind the flourish of atmosphere their material offers, and one hopes that develops parallel to all the crushing weight of their mountainous approach.

Stone Lotus on Thee Facebooks

Stone Lotus on Bandcamp

 

Green Yeti, Desert Show

I'm not sure if that's an effect of dropping carbs or how it would be, but it's strange.

Even before it announces its heft, Green Yeti’s Desert Show casts forth its spaciousness. The second offering from the Athens-based trio in as many years dogwhistles heavy riffing intent even unto its David Paul Seymour album cover, but the five track rollout from guitarist/vocalist Michael Andresakis, bassist/producer Danis Avramidis and drummer Giannis Koutroumpis, as it shifts from the opening salvo of “Black Planets (Part 1)” and “Black Planets (Part 2)” into the Spanish-language centerpiece “Rojo” (direct homage perhaps to Los Natas? if so, effectively done) and into the broader-ranging “Bad Sleep (Part 1)” and 15-minute closer “Bad Sleep (Part 2)” builds just as much on its atmosphere as on its newer-school stoner rock groove and fuzz riffing. It is a 41-minute span that, without question, speaks to the heavy rock converted and plays to genre, but even taken next to the band’s 2016 debut, The Yeti has Landed, Desert Show demonstrates clear growth in writing and style, and stands as further proof of the emergence of Greece as a major contributor to the sphere of Europe’s heavy underground. Something special is happening in and outside of Athens. Green Yeti arrive at the perfect time to be a part of it.

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Green Yeti on Bandcamp

 

Seer, Victims

seer victims

Let’s just assume that Seer won’t be asked to play at Dorney Park anytime soon. The Allentown, Pennsylvania, three-piece dig into largesse-minded instrumental riffing someplace between doom and sludge and do so on raw, formative fashion on the two-song Victims EP, which features the tracks “Victims… Aren’t We All?” and “Swollen Pit,” which is a redux from their 2015 debut short release, Vaped Remains. Some touch of Electric Wizard-style wah in Rybo’s guitar stands out in the second half of the opener, and the closer effectively moves from its initial crawl into post-Sleep stonerized idolatry, but the point of Victims isn’t nearly as much about scope as it is about Rybo, bassist Kelsi and drummer Yvonne setting forth on a stomping path of groove and riff worship, rumbling sans pretense loud enough to crack the I-78 corridor and offering the clever equalizer recommendation to put the bass, treble and mids all at six. Think about it for a second. Not too long though.

Seer on Thee Facebooks

Seer on Bandcamp

 

Bretus, From the Twilight Zone

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Doom! Horror! Riffs! Though it starts out with quiet acoustics and unfolds in echoing weirdness, Bretus’ new album, …From the Twilight Zone, more or less shouts these things from the proverbial cathedral rafters throughout its seven tracks. The Catanzaro, Italy, foursome weren’t shy about bringing an air of screamy sludge to their 2015 sophomore outing, The Shadow over Innsmouth (discussed here), but …From the Twilight Zone shifts more toward a Reverend Bizarre trad doom loyalism that suits the Endless Winter release remarkably well. Those acoustics pop up again in expanded-breadth centerpiece/highlight “Danza Macabra” and closer “Lizard Woman,” and thereby provide something of a narrative thread to the offering as a whole, but on the level of doom-for-doomers, there’s very little about the aesthetic that Bretus leave wanting throughout, whether it’s the faster-chug into drifting fluidity of “The Murder” or the nodding stomp of “In the Vault” (demo posted here) and crypto-NWOBHM flourish of “Old Dark House” (video posted here). Not trying to remake doom in their own image, but conjuring an eerie and engaging take in conversation with the masters of the form.

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Endless Winter Records

 

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Six Dumb Questions with Abrams

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on June 16th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

abrams (photo chanelle leslie)

Denver progressive heavy rockers Abrams released their second album, Morning, exactly one week ago via Sailor Records, and immediately set about hitting the road to support it on a three-week West Coast tour. The remaining dates are below, and like what the trio have done with the videos for “Worlds Away” (posted here) and “Burned” (posted here), and even more than their 2015 debut, Lust. Love. Loss. (review here), the new collection seeks to capture the energy that Abrams bring to the stage. Recorded by Andy Patterson (SubRosa, Iota, etc.) and Dave Otero (Cephalic Carnage, Khemmis, etc.), Morning brims with sonic clarity, and balanced with a blistering performance from the three-piece, it not only emphasizes the development they’ve undertaken since getting together, but the varied approach to songwriting that’s been honed as a part of that.

One can readily hear progression in the vocals and the arrangements between bassist Taylor Iversen and guitarist Zachary Amster, who over the propulsive drumming of Geoffrey Cotton bring even more momentum as they trade back and forth in the lead role between tracks like “Rivers” and “Can’t Sleep,” shifting back and forth amid cleaner choruses and echoing shouts. Abrams credit this largely to working with Otero on vocal recording, and it’s an element they share with early-ish Mastodon that comes through more at some points than others, side B’s “Die in Love” taking this core influence and adding an edge of noise rock amid the winding riffery. Along with the clearheaded, crisp punch of the Patterson-tracked instrumentation, this is one more example of the underlying sense of purpose that drives every move Abrams make on Morning.

There isn’t a part that doesn’t serve the greater whole, or a change that doesn’t feed into making a given song better, and while I wouldn’t say they completely avoid indulgences — no one does in this style — Morning works fluidly to justify every turn it presents, and Abrams emerge from the atmospheric closing title-track having reached a new level in craft and delivery.

They’ve been on the road since June 9. Here are the remaining tour dates:

Abrams on tour:
Jun 16 – San Jose, CA @ The Caravan
Jun 17 – Santa Cruz, CA @ Caffe Pergolesi
Jun 18 – Sacramento, CA @ Starlite Lounge
Jun 19 – Reno, NV @ Shea’s Tavern
Jun 20 – Medford, OR @ Johnny B’s Tavern
Jun 21 – Eugene, OR @ Old Nick’s Pub
Jun 22 – Portland, OR @ The Kenton Club
Jun 23 – Seattle, WA @ Lo-Fi Performance Gallery
Jun 24 – Boise, ID @ The Shredder
Jun 25 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Club X
Jun 26 – Cheyenne, WY @ Ernie November
Jun 27 – Rapid City, SD @ West Dakota Improv
Jun 28 – Minneapolis, MN @ Triple Rock Social Club
Jun 29 – Chicago, IL @ Reggies
Jun 30 – Des Moines, IA @ The Fremont
Jul 1 – Denver, CO @ The Hi Dive

Iversen took time out to explain the band’s motives and writing methods. Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:

abrams morning

Six Dumb Questions with Abrams

What lessons were you able to take from the first album? Tell me about incorporating them into these songs. What did you want to build on from the debut and what did you want to do differently?

Well, we wrote about 50 percent of Lust. Love. Loss. in three weeks’ time after a substantial but amicable personnel change, essentially on the eve of our 2014 West Coast tour. So with Morning, we really wanted to take our time with it. In a way, we’ve been writing Morning, since July of 2015, when the first songs began to take shape. We all entered into the writing process with the desire to create a more dynamic album.

We wanted to be less furious and driving from start to finish, and kind of take people on an emotional journey, though that sounds cliché as fuck. Still, you will notice many more “quieter” passages on Morning, and there is a much wider range to our vocal approach. Vocals were one of the things we wanted to improve upon most. We’re actually, you know, singing.

Talk about the writing process for Morning. How do songs like “18 Weeks” and “Can’t Sleep” come about?

When we wrote the songs, the actual instrumentation, I don’t think we consciously had any idea what we would be singing about. Everything kind of developed naturally in that way. Zach brings in most of the riffs, but we all then work together to make these ideas adhere into an Abrams song. Vocally, Zach and I just shouted nothings for a while. Slowly these nothings coalesced into words and passages that we found dealt with a lot of the same things.

For instance: I went through something like two breakups during the writing of this record, Zach had just gone through a difficult and prolonged breakup of his own, and to top it all off, Geoff‘s mother had just died. We were in a really odd place mentally. Songs like “Can’t Sleep” and “At the End” highlight a lot of that. All of these interpersonal relationships and the pain they caused are lyrically peppered throughout the album. “18 Weeks” is about an experience I had being dragged along by somebody I thought I loved, only to find out 18 weeks later they did not share these feelings. That’s also why, “I can’t sleep in this silence.” What’s beautiful though is I think each of us have our own interpretation of what each song represents. We really needed each other when we wrote this record. We needed these songs. So we made them.

You’ve mentioned duality as a theme for the album, and that “Morning” and “Mourning” are meant to complement each other because of the titles. Expand on that. What are you saying about duality, and what drove you to explore the idea in the first place?

I guess I’m lucky in that I still wake up every morning with a lot of hope for how things are going to go. “I’m going to kick today’s ass.” More often than not though, I lay my head down at the end of the day only to find that it very rightly kicked MY ass. What could have been if I’d just tried harder? Done better? Both songs, “Morning” and “Mourning,” feature that back and forth within them. I forget who mentioned the idea to whom first, but we were very pleased to find that we had all come to the same thematic idea on our own.

So there’s all that emotional turmoil of losing somebody you once shared love with, it’s all over the album. But there’s also these snippets of joy. Life can only be beautiful because it’s so often very painful. So you’ll find in “Rivers” or “Morning” there’s this serenity, this peace, this bright, hopeful liveliness. Yeah there’s a lot of shit about breakups and going insane too, but then for instance, I met somebody right before hopping into the studio and we’re still together. She’s all over the album lyrically too. That’s what it’s all about, you know: Hope vs. Despair. A little bit of good. A little bit of bad.

How does Samantha Muljat’s cover art play into the theme for you?

We presented the idea to Samantha and she just ran with it in a big way. She went searching the woods one morning and found this lonely cabin, not abandoned, but far, far away from anything else. The lonely road leading up past the cabin evokes the thought of a journey. But to where? How far until we get there? The morning light playing through the mist sets such a beautiful scene, but there’s darkness there too. It’s a cold, lonely image, but there’s also warmth and peace throughout.

To me, on the back, the bread represents life, while the fallen leaves scattered around represents death. There is darkness surrounding everything, but at the center of it all there’s the candles casting light throughout.

Tell me about your time recording with Andy Patterson. How long were you in the studio, what was the atmosphere like, and since this was your second time working with him, did you feel more comfortable being more familiar with the process? You also worked with Dave Otero. Who recorded what and how did it all come together?

Recording with Andy for us was like fuckin’ summer camp! We were in the studio with Andy for about a week, and just like last time Andy and his wife Cindi opened their home to us. We’re such good buddies with them, it’s hard not to enjoy every single moment. It’s a full day of rigorous and focused recording in his studio, but we’re so in tune with each other it went slick as butter. As soon as we’re out, we go back to their place and just crush beers, take rips from the bong, make homemade pizzas and watch garbage television. Grey’s Anatomy was last time, and this time it was just dirty-ass reality shows. We all kind of teared up when we were getting ready to leave. It really felt like the last day of summer camp.

Andy recorded all of the instruments, and we laid down some scratch vocal ideas with him as well. We sent that to Dave, and we all ruminated on that from September to October when we entered the studio with him to track the finalized vocals. If Andy was summer camp, Dave was boot camp. The first day he gave us a lowdown just like,”no booze, no smoke, drink lots of water and tea, above all else get a good night sleep.” From there it was a literal nine-to-five job for seven days where our only responsibility was to sing, and sing, and sing. At the end of the day, we’d go home and go right to sleep; absolutely drained and exhausted. But, if anybody can get a good vocal performance out of you, it’s Dave Otero.

He’ll push you harder than you’ve ever been pushed, and he’ll throw in plenty of his own ideas, which are always amazing. That’s precisely why we went to him. We also had Dave do the final mixes and mastering, which he knocked out of the park. That guy is a monster of his craft.

It was great to get two really professional, really talented audio juggernauts like Andy and Dave to lend their ears to what we were trying to do.

I’ve heard Summer tour dates are in the works. Any other plans or closing words you want to mention?

Yeah! We’ll be doing two tours this summer. Three weeks on the West Coast, and two-ish weeks on the East. June and August respectively. In July we have hopes to get demos for our third album, for which we already have a lot of songs. We’re hoping to tour on Morning as much as possible, so there’s been tentative plans to hit the southern half of the country this winter. We’ll see what happens. Maybe we’ll finally find a booking agent, and they’ll put us the fuck to work.

Abrams, Morning (2017)

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Abrams on Bandcamp

Sailor Records website

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Abrams Post “Worlds Away” Video; Album out this Week

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 5th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

abrams

Leading up to the release this Friday of their second album, Morning — also their debut on Sailor Records — Colorado progressive heavy trio Abrams have thus far issued two videos. The first was for “Burned” (posted here), and then there’s the one you’ll find below for “Worlds Away.” Two. One never knows, but I doubt they’ll sneak in a third before the end of this week, and the reason I bring it up is because both video releases have arrived with impeccable timing.

In the case of “Burned,” it was the announcement that the band will hit the road on an extensive West Coast tour starting on — wouldn’t you know it? — the album’s release date. With “Worlds Away,” the occasion is of course the record itself coming out. This matters because it’s emblematic of the way Abrams work overall throughout the 10 included tracks. They are deeply purposeful. Their songwriting functions the same way in how it is measured, thought-out, and crisply executed. Captured on the recording so as to maximize its overall impact, yes, but geared in its intent toward building a momentum that, by no coincidence I’m sure, begins with “Worlds Away” itself.

That’s right. What’s effectively the last step Abrams take before unveiling the album as a whole is posting a video that introduces listeners to how it starts off. Even this would seem to be the result of the precise manner in which they operate, which one can hear too in the balance of turns and drive in “Worlds Away.” Aside from looking like it was filmed on a really nice sunny day — maybe in the morning? — the clip finds the band outside in the open air performing the track in a spacious environment. You might recall that for “Burned,” they were indoors. Once more, one doubts that’s happenstance.

Enjoy “Worlds Away” below. Morning is out on Friday, and the tour starts the same night. Dates and more info follow:

Abrams, “Worlds Away” video

With new album Morning set to be released June 9th, and with a US tour kicking off that same night, Denver trio Abrams drop the brand new music video for its song “Worlds Away,” off Morning.

Look for Abrams on tour all summer. Zach Amster says, “As always, we are excited to head back to the West Coast! Come out and show us a good time. East Coast, see you in August.”

Jun. 9 — Santa Fe, NM @ The Underground
Jun. 10 — Bisbee, AZ @ The Quarry
Jun. 11 — San Diego, CA @ Tower Bar
Jun. 12 — Long Beach, CA @ Blacklight District Lounge
Jun. 13 — Los Angeles, CA @ Five Star Bar
Jun. 14 — Ventura, CA @ The Garage
Jun. 15 — San Francisco, CA @ Hemlock Tavern
Jun. 16 — San Jose, CA @ The Caravan
Jun. 17 — Santa Cruz, CA @ Caffe Pergolesi
Jun. 18 — Sacramento, CA @ Starlite Lounge
Jun. 19 — Reno, NV @ Shea’s Tavern
Jun. 20 — Medford, OR @ Johnny B’s Tavern
Jun. 21 — Eugene, OR @ Old Nick’s Pub
Jun. 22 — Portland, OR @ The Kenton Club
Jun. 23 — Missoula, MT @ Monk’s Bar
Jun. 24 — Billings, MT @ The Railyard
Jun. 25 — Salt Lake City, UT @ Club X
Jun. 26 — Cheyenne, WY @ Ernie November
Jun. 27 — Rapid City, SD @ West Dakota Improv
Jun. 28 — Minneapolis, MN @ Triple Rock Social Club
Jun. 29 — Chicago, IL @ Reggies
Jun. 30 — Des Moines, IA @ The Fremont
Jul. 1 — Denver, CO @ The Hi Dive

Lineup:
Taylor Iversen – bass, vocals
Zachary Amster – guitar, vocals
Geoffrey Cotton – drums

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Abrams on Bandcamp

Sailor Records website

Sailor Records on Bandcamp

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Abrams Post Video for “Burned”; West Coast Tour Announced

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 5th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

abrams

We’re nearly a month out from the issue date for Abrams‘ second album and Sailor Records debut, Morning, and the Denver-based trio have newly unveiled a video to herald its arrival. I’m not entirely sure where the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Zach Amster, bassist/vocalist Taylor Iversen and drummer Geoffrey Cotton are driving as they trade back and forth between what looks like a rehearsal space and in-the-van-type shenanigans — maybe to the rehearsal space itself, or the recording studio, or somewhere else in that gorgeous high-desert landscape with the Rocky Mountains behind them — but they look like they’re having a good time, and the song is catchy as all hell, so neither am I inclined to argue.

“Burned” is the name of the track, and it’s the second bit of audio to be released from Morning behind the not-quite-title-track “Mourning” that came with the album announcement. Both cuts acquit the band’s crisp take on progressive and modern heavy well, and if you’re looking to get some representation of the kind of flow Morning has on offer, check out this video first and then go right into the “Mourning,” because it just so happens the appear in that order in the tracklisting. That’s a 10-minute sample of a 43-minute record. Nothing to sneeze at. The video for “Burned” also has the advantage of a dreamy, kinda-sounds-like-SuperMarioWorld guitar-led midsection — at least I’m pretty sure that’s what I’m hearing there; it’s definitely something that was on SNES — and some direct vocal interplay from Iversen and Amster, so all the better to get a sense for where Abrams are coming from this time around.

You can check out the clip for “Burned” via the embed below, followed by more info on Morning from the PR wire and some newly announced tour dates that just came through. Because timing is everything.

Please enjoy:

Abrams, “Burned” official video

Denver, Colorado trio Abrams has revealed the music video for its song “Burned.”

The song appears on Abrams’ sophomore album Morning, to be released June 9th on Sailor Records.

Yearning, driving, and bursting with hooks, the ten songs on Morning summon a soulful version of heavy rock akin to Mastodon, Baroness, and Mark Lanegan. Tracks like “Burned” and the recently-premiered “Mourning” (featuring guest vocals by Phil Pendergast of hometown Denver pals Khemmis) are earth-shakers that veer from bittersweetness to defiance to rage.

Morning was recorded by Andy Patterson (SubRosa, Cult Leader) and Dave Otero (Cobalt, Cattle Decapitation), and was mixed and mastered by Otero.

The cover art and layout are by Samantha Muljat (Earth, Goatsnake).

Look for Abrams on tour all summer. Zach Amster says, “As always, we are excited to head back to the West Coast! Come out and show us a good time. East Coast, see you in August.”

Jun 9 – Santa Fe, NM @ The Underground
Jun 10 – Bisbee, AZ @ The Quarry
Jun 11 – San Diego, CA @ Tower Bar
Jun 12 – Long Beach, CA @ Blacklight District Lounge
Jun 13 – Los Angeles, CA @ Five Star Bar
Jun 14 – Joshua Tree, CA @ Beatnik Lounge
Jun 15 – San Francisco, CA @ Hemlock Tavern
Jun 16 – San Jose, CA @ The Caravan
Jun 17 – Santa Cruz, CA @ Caffe Pergolesi
Jun 18 – Sacramento, CA @ Starlite Lounge
Jun 19 – Reno, NV @ Shea’s Tavern
Jun 20 – Medford, OR @ Johnny B’s Tavern
Jun 21 – Eugene, OR @ Old Nick’s Pub
Jun 22 – Portland, OR @ The Kenton Club
Jun 23 – Seattle, WA @ Lo-Fi Performance Gallery
Jun 24 – Boise, ID @ The Shredder
Jun 25 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Club X
Jun 26 – Cheyenne, WY @ Ernie November
Jun 27 – Rapid City, SD @ West Dakota Improv
Jun 28 – Minneapolis, MN @ Triple Rock Social Club
Jun 29 – Chicago, IL @ Reggies
Jun 30 – Des Moines, IA @ The Fremont
Jul 1 – Denver, CO @ The Hi Dive

Lineup:
Taylor Iversen – bass, vocals
Zachary Amster – guitar, vocals
Geoffrey Cotton – drums

Abrams on Thee Facebooks

Abrams on Bandcamp

Sailor Records website

Sailor Records on Bandcamp

Sailor Records on Thee Facebooks

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Abrams Release Morning June 9

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

abrams (photo chanelle leslie)

I can’t really say it’s much of a surprise that Denver, Colorado, three-piece Abrams went back into the studio with Andy Patterson at the helm. Patterson, who also tracked their 2015 debut full-length, Lust. Love. Loss. (review here), and has worked with the likes of SubRosa, Iota, Gaza, Black Sleep of Kali, etc., in one or multiple capacities, produces the forthcoming Morning in league with Dave Otero (whom I’ll forever associate with the stellar presence he brought to Cephalic Carnage), and one can hear in the title-track streaming below that production isn’t a minor factor in the trio’s ultra-clear, crisp and progressive delivery.

Getting a sound like that of Abrams to sound as clean as it does and still be heavy is no easy feat, but “Morning” — which also boasts a guest vocal spot from Khemmis‘ Phil Pendergast — bodes well for the rest of the record to come. One looks forward to digging in.

Cover art by Samantha Muljat, album info and audio follow, all courtesy of the PR wire:

abrams morning

ABRAMS: Khemmis frontman guests on track off Denver trio’s sophomore album “Morning”

Denver, Colorado trio Abrams announces new full-length album Morning, to be released June 9th on Sailor Records.

The sophomore album by Abrams, Morning perfects the sound put forth on the 2015 debut, Lust. Love. Loss. Yearning, driving, and hook-laden, the ten songs on Morning summon a soulful version of heavy rock that dwells in the same mountain range as later Mastodon, Baroness, and Mark Lanegan.

Tracks like “Worlds Away,” “18 Weeks,” “Rivers,” “Burned,” and “Morning” (featuring guest vocals by Phil Pendergast of hometown Denver pals Khemmis) are earth-shakers that veer from bittersweetness to defiance to rage. Guitarist Zachary Amster’s simple leads shine majestically over bassist Taylor Iversen’s fuzz and crunch, and drummer Geoffrey Cotton’s tom-heavy propulsion. Amster and Iversen both sing – world-weary yet full of fire. Iversen describes the lyrical themes:

“The concept we put forth with this album is one of duality. Morning and mourning. The songs represent to us a realization that all good things come with eventual bad things. There’s that morning where the sun is bright and the birds are chirping and everything seems possible. At the end of the day, it wasn’t what you hoped it would be. Every day you wake up and hope, and every night you go to sleep and mourn.”

Morning was recorded by Andy Patterson (SubRosa, Cult Leader) and Dave Otero (Cobalt, Cattle Decapitation), and was mixed and mastered by Otero.

The cover art and layout are by Samantha Muljat (Earth, Goatsnake).

Look for Abrams on tour all summer.

Tracklist:
1) Worlds Away
2) At the End
3) 18 Weeks
4) Rivers
5) Can’t Sleep
6) Burned
7) Mourning
8) Die in Love
9) In this Mask
10) Morning

Lineup:
Taylor Iversen – bass, vocals
Zachary Amster – guitar, vocals
Geoffrey Cotton – drums

https://www.facebook.com/abramsrock
https://abramsrock.bandcamp.com/releases
https://www.sailorrecords.com/
https://sailor-records.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sailor-Records/359148970778780

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Abrams Announce West Coast Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 22nd, 2015 by JJ Koczan

abrams

It seemed reasonable to expect Denver, Colorado, trio Abrams would hit up the West Coast at some point after making their way east earlier this year. Next month they’ll begin and end with hometown shows at The Hi-Dive and play copious Californian and other dates in support of their 2015 debut full-length, Lust. Love. Loss. (review here), steeped in neo-prog heft and crisp rhythmic push.

They start out Oct. 16 and go till Nov. 1, as the PR wire informs:

abrams tour dates

West Coast Tour starts less than a month from today. We’re looking forward to seeing our old friends and family, as well as make some new ones out on the road. We’re coming for you, soon!

Abrams West Coast Tour Fall 2015:
10.16 Denver CO The Hi-Dive
10.17 Vernal UT Tattoo Shop
10.18 Billings MT Aesthetic Angry Tattoo
10.20 Seattle WA The LoFi
10.21 Portland OR The Kenton Club
10.22 Eugene OR The Wandering Goat
10.23 Sacramento CA Cafe Colonial
10.24 Oakland CA The Golden Bull
10.25 San Jose CA Back Bar SoFa
10.26 Fresno CA Dynamite Vinyl
10.27 Los Angeles CA 5 Star Bar
10.28 Long Beach CA Black Light District
10.29 Spring Valley CA The Bancroft
10.30 Tempe AZ 51 West
10.31 Santa Fe NM The Cave
11.01 Denver CO The Hi-Dive

The synergy of melody, groove, and bullet-train force displayed on Lust. Love. Loss. sets Abrams in line with heavy transcenders like Mastodon and Pelican. Drummer Michael Amster pushes forward with crisp, ghost-noted beats that nod to Dailor at his best; twin brother Zach Amster scrapes shimmering melodies and massive crunch out of his axe; Taylor Iversen’s basslines roll along like boulders down mountainsides.

When asked about their influences, the guys name-check heroes of post-hardcore like Fugazi and At the Drive-In. Indeed, Abrams’ sound could be perceived as a turbo-boosted, sludged-up incarnation of those bands’ spirits – driving and impassioned, traversing the spectrum of feeling, from mournful to triumphant.

https://www.facebook.com/abramsrock
https://abramsrock.bandcamp.com/releases

Abrams, Lust. Love. Loss. (2015)

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Paradise Lost, T.G. Olson, Abrams, We are Oceans and Skunk

Posted in Radio on June 5th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk radio

Yeah, it’s only been a week since the last round of radio adds went up, and yeah, it usually takes me way longer than that to get a batch together — more for my own inability to organize than the lack of stuff coming in — but this time I managed it and in the interim there were 16 releases that happened along that it seemed only fair to toss into the fray. And so here we are. The bunch is suitably eclectic, as I think the highlight selections below showcase, but if you want to go down the list for yourself, hit up the Obelisk Radio Playlist and Updates page and have at it. Of the 37 list-based posts you’ll likely read on the internet today, this… should be one of them, I guess? Sorry, I’ve always sucked at promotions. I hope you find something you dig either here or there.

The Obelisk Radio adds for June 5, 2015:

Paradise Lost, The Plague Within

paradise lost the plague within

Their 14th album overall, The Plague Within is iconic UK doomers Paradise Lost‘s fourth for Century Media and third since the stylistic renaissance that seemed to begin in 2009 with Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us (review here) got rolling. 2012’s Tragic Idol was a respectable follow-up working in a similar vein, and The Plague Within is likewise, veering into thrashier tempo for “Flesh from Bone” but generally reveling in an emotionally wrought vision of melancholia bridging the gap between the pioneering death-doom of their early days and the goth theatrics that followed. The turn they made six years ago was not an accident, and they have very clearly been working from a pattern since — many interesting things can happen to a band 14 albums in, but few will be accidents — but that doesn’t necessarily make a record like The Plague Within ineffective. Rather, cuts like “Terminal” and the plodding “Beneath Broken Earth” foster a bleak and encompassing sense of mood, and with strings, guest vocals and piano added to the arrangement, “An Eternity of Lies” still manages to keep its sense of focus held firm, the band’s well-honed experience serving them well. They have a loyal legion of fans who’ll follow them wherever they head, but even if The Plague Within is Paradise Lost playing to their latter-day strengths, I’m not inclined to argue against that. There’s a reason they are who they are. Paradise Lost on Thee Facebooks, Century Media.

T.G. Olson, The Wandering Protagonist

t.g. olson the wandering protagonist

A collection of at-least-semi-improvised recordings by Across Tundras guitarist/vocalist Tanner Olson, operating under his solo moniker of T.G., The Wandering Protagonist is the follow-up to 2014’s The Rough Embrace (review here), and is perhaps less plotted out but with no diminishing of its folkish spirit. Olson plays electric, acoustic and slide guitar, organ, flute, harmonica (the latter is a focal point early in closer “Down in the Valley Below”), percussion drones and piano, and enters into easy instrumental conversation with himself, though there are some vocals as well on opener “Great Rock Falls.” For Across Tundras fans, the highlight might be nine-minute “Small Triumph,” with its heavier progression, but focusing on that without paying attention to the swelling drone, harmonica and acoustic guitar interplay of “For the Torn” before it is missing the point. The Wandering Protagonist is true to its title in that Olson does wind up in a variety of places — sonically, that is; the songs were recorded at his Ramble Hill Farm, outside Nashville in Tennessee — and a song like “Slow Susanna,” at 1:12, carries through like the experiment it is (a take on “Oh Susanna”), but these tracks also brim with open creativity and bring a rare sense of adventure to Americana so often boxed in by tradition. Few are better suited to push the limits of the form. Across Tundras on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Abrams, Lust. Love. Loss.

abrams lust love loss

Denver trio Abrams make their full-length debut with the triply-punctuated Lust. Love. Loss., a self-released 10-track collection with an obvious focus on flow, complexity of songwriting, crisp execution, tight performances and an overarching sense of heft that is more than ably wielded. Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Zach Amster, bassist/vocalist Taylor Iversen and drummer Mike Amster (also Blaak Heat Shujaa), the three-piece seem to take their cues from the post-Baroness school of progressive heavy rock, bringing the occasional flourish of post-rock as in the airy tones of “Sunshine” or post-hardcore in “Mr. Pink Always Wins” but keeping the “post-” pretty consistent amid a nonetheless thrusting rhythmic charge. Amster and Iversen combine forces readily on vocals, to charming effect on “Sweaty and Self Conscious,” and a later turn like the slower, sludgier push of “Useless” arrives at just the right moment before the title-track and closer “The Light” mount the album’s final argument in its own favor, the latter offsetting odd-timed chugging with intermittent builds and payoffs leading toward a last movement not overdone, but classy in a manner befitting the cuts before it. The fuzz of “Sea Salt Lines” hints toward Truckfighters and the semi-bombast of “Far from Home” calls to mind Sandrider, but Abrams appear most interested in developing their own sound from these elements rather than aping the sounds of others, and I hear nothing in their debut to tell me they can’t get there. Abrams on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

We are Oceans, Woodsmoke

We Are Oceans - Woodsmoke - cover

Following up on their 2012 self-titled debut (review here), Massachusetts instrumenalists We are Oceans return with their second four-track full-length, Woodsmoke, which starts our directly referencing Earth in “Stonewall,” the opener and longest track here at 13:44 (immediate points), but soon enough move toward a more individualized and fleshed-out heavy post-rock, airy guitar not replacing verses nor trying to, but adding texture and a dreamy vibe to progressions that feel steady and patient in like measure, no change either rushed or needless, but fitting with what the song needs, whether it’s the immersive shifts of “Stonewall” or the down-to-silence break in the second half of “Dead Winds,” which builds back up to one of Woodsmoke‘s most satisfying payoffs. While “Stonewall,” “Dead Winds” and 12:12 closer “Solstice” are all north of the 10-minute mark, third cut “Pressed Flowers” (4:10) assures that the four-piece have more to them than one kind of development, a serene, peaceful line playing out not quite at a drone’s repetitiveness, but with a subtle evolution of the central theme, from which “Solstice” picks up started by the guitar but ultimately propelled in its early going by the drums, a fluid jazz taking hold as We are Oceans move to the inevitable crescendo that caps Woodsmoke in its last moments. Their debut was an encouraging start, but it’s in these songs that We are Oceans really showcase the aesthetic potential at the heart of their project. May they continue to grow. We are Oceans on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Skunk, Heavy Rock from Elder Times

skunk heavy rock from elder times

I guess the “elder times” that Oakland, California, five-piece Skunk — vocalist John McKelvy, guitarists Dmitri Mavra and Erik Pearson, bassist Matt Knoth and drummer Jordan Ruyle — are talking about on their 2015 Heavy Rock from Elder Times debut demo is some combination of the ’90s and the ’70s, since as opener “Forest Nymph” telegraphs, they seem intent on answering the question of what might happen if Fu Manchu and AC/DC ever joined forces. It’s a noble mission, to be sure, and their fuzz and classic swagger is sold well over the course of the demo’s six tracks, which are as unabashedly stoner in their riffs as they are in titles like “Black Hash,” “Devil Weed” and “Wizard Bong.” Heavy Rock from Elder Times being their first collection of songs, I don’t feel like I’m giving away state secrets by saying there’s room for them to grow, but cuts are catchy in their turns and hooks, and the command that McKelvy shows alone in riding these riffs bodes well for where they might go next — their approach is cohesive even in its self-recorded, initial form. That’s never a bad place to start from, and if they have growing to do, at least they’ve given those who might check them out something worth their time in this welcome opening salvo. Skunk on Thee Facebooks, on Twitter, on Bandcamp

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Tried to get a decent amount of variety, at least within the sphere of heavy, and hopefully managed to do that, with some doom, rolling country experimentalist, neo-prog, post-rock and all out riffing. Again, on the chance nothing here tickled your fancy — because rest assured, the aim here is to tickle fancies — I think that might be the creepiest thing I’ve ever typed — be sure to hit up the Obelisk Radio Playlist and Updates page, to see not only the other 11 records that were added to the server today, but, you know, everything else from the last two-plus years. There’s bound to be something in there you dig.

Thanks for reading and listening.

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