Psilocibina Announce European Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 27th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

psilocibina

Brazilian instrumentalists Psilocibina issued their self-titled debut album (review here) last year through Abraxas in South America and Electric Magic in Europe. Neither is a minor affiliation to have, frankly, and the European tour they’ll undertake beginning next month to support the album is likewise not-minor. The three-piece hit the road in Germany and finish off in Germany — as European tours will these days — but in between, they’ll be there for the entire month of October and then some on a significant run that includes drives across the continent, festival stops, and the full Euro-tour experience all packed into a matter of weeks. Simply put, this is the kind of tour that changes a band. This isn’t just hitting the grindstone — it’s making music your entire life for more than a month. I can’t imagine they’re not excited.

I won’t get to see any of these shows, but what I look forward to is what Psilocibina will learn about themselves as a unit on this run and how it might play into their songcraft on their next release, because it almost invariably will. How could it not, unless they already have a record written? You can hear in the stream of their self-titled, they were already deft of boogie and fleet of rhythm — that bass — but just imagine where they’ll be after this tour. Shit. Never mind their excitement. I’m excited for them. This is how great bands are made.

Dates were posted on social media thusly:

psilocibina poster

PSILOCIBINA – Euro Tour 2069

Taking off for our first European tour next month. We can’t wait to perform live for you!

Thank you Jonas Gonçalves from Ya Ya Yeah for the invitation and our labels Abraxas and Electric Magic for all the support always.

See you soon!!

SEP 27 – STONED MOUNTAIN – PASSAU, DE
SEP 28 – MUSHROOM GARDEN FESTIVAL CHEMNITZ, DE
SEP 29 – TIEF – BERLIN, DE
SEP 30 – BOSS BAR – PODERBRADY, CZ
OCT 2 – PILSEN BUSKING FEST – PILSEN, CZ
OCT 3 – PILSEN BUSKING FEST – PILSEN, CZ
OCT 4 – ŽiŽKOVŠiŠKA – PRAGUE, CZ
OCT 5 – HEXENHAUS – ULM, DE
OCT 7 – LE CIRCUS – CAPBRETON, FR
OCT 8 – VOID – BORDEAUX, FR
OCT 9 – ROCK BEER THE NEW – SANTANDER, ES
OCT 10 – AVENIDA – AVEIRO, PT
OCT 11 – CARPE DIEM – SANTO DIEGO, PT
OCT 12 – SABOTAGE CLUB – LISBOA, PT
OCT 13 – BARRACUDA – PORTO, PT
OCT 16 – GOLYA – BUDAPEST, HU
OCT 17 – GRAND CAFÉ – SZEGED, HU
OCT 18 – ROCK PE PAINE FESTIVAL – CLUJ-NAPOCA, RO
OCT 19 – MIXTAPE 5 – SOFIA, BU
OCT 23 – SECRET SHOW – VERONA, IT
OCT 24 – RED DOG – REZZATO, IT
OCT 25 – ALBATROS CAFÉ – PISA, IT
OCT 26 – CIRCOLO GAGARIN – BUSTO ARSIZIO, IT
OCT 29 – LE BUNKER – BRUSSELS, BE
OCT 31 – ART CAFÉ KALAMBUR – WRACKLOW, PL
NOV 1 – KUNSTBAUERKINO – GROBHENNERSDORF, DE
NOV 2 – COSMIC DAWN – JENA, DE
NOV 3 – SCHLACHTHOF – WEISBADEN, DE

Psilocibina is:
Alex Sheeny – guitar / synth
Lucas Loureiro – drums / percursion
Rodrigo Toscano – bass

https://www.facebook.com/psilocibinamusic/
https://psilocibina.bandcamp.com/releases
https://www.abraxas.fm/
http://www.abraxas.shop/
https://www.facebook.com/electricmagicrecords/
http://www.electricmagicrecords.com/

Psilocibina, Psilocibina (2018)

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Belzebong, Light the Dankness: Eternal Stench

Posted in Reviews on November 27th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Belzebong_light_the_dankness_cover

Nobel laureate Bob Dylan once told us that everybody must get stoned. Poland’s Belzebong would seem to proceed from the assumption that they already have. The instrumentalist four-piece of guitarists Alky Dude and Cheesy Dude, bassist Sheepy Dude and drummer Hexy Dude present four lumbering tracks of stoner sludge on their third album, Light the Dankness — released by the band as well as Emetic Records and Abraxas Records — and if one is a sucker for weedian themes and puns, the record’s titles are sure to please, from the name of the thing itself through component cuts “The Bong of Eternal Stench,” “Pot Fiend” (okay, not so much wordplay there), “Doperganger” and “Roached Earth.” Riffs lead the plodding charge through a 35-minute, two-sided LP that could hardly be more smoked out if it covered itself in hash oil and self-immolated.

It is a crust of tone and vibe that one can trace back to bands like Bongzilla and Dopethrone, but the fact of the matter is Belzebong have been at this for a decade now and over the course of their 2009 demo (discussed here), 2011’s Sonic Scapes and Weedy Groves (discussed here), 2015’s Greenferno and this album, they’ve made the style their own and brought a sense of character to the familiar addled-ism of the overarching aesthetic. Light the Dankness, which is vocalized only with periodic samples, is nonetheless able to convey its sensibilities not only through its titles, but through the bare riffs and grooves themselves.

That is, even without knowing the name of the band, record, or any of the songs, one would hear “Doperganger” and realize the Dudes who made it were bombed out of their collective gourd. And they may or may not have been at the time of recording — they may or may not be right now; infinite universes of infinite possibilities, folks — but the point is they want to sound that way and they do, so by the time the ur-lurch of “Roached Earth” takes hold, all rumble and searing fuzz leads and crash cymbal-washout, their victory in meeting that goal is complete.

Belzebong are not strangers to this way of life, and they don’t come off like it. Over the course of their decade together, they’ve toured steadily with SheepyAlky and Cheesy as founding members and Hexy coming aboard in 2014, and that has helped fuel the reputation that at this point precedes their work, but regardless, Light the Dankness has no trouble making an impression on its own. The album begins with a homemade sample introducing “The Bong of Eternal Stench” as a disgusted woman’s voice pleads, “Oh god, what is it?” only to be answered by the creature itself, “It’s the bong of eternal stench!” And so it is. The mood and tone for the record is quickly set in the opening track, which is also the shortest of the four at 6:07, and while Belzebong‘s material has always seemed to leave room for verses — as though they wanted the listener to bring their own supply — the crashing, lumbering, downward riff seems to speak out the song’s title as it thuds away into the murky cannabinoid abyss.

belzebong

Searing leads crop up and dissipate like the smoke they are, and the underlying rhythm makes the most of the band’s penchant for repetition without redundancy, seeming to change not necessarily predictably but just when a part has worn itself into the consciousness fully. The bass tone is must-hear and well present in the Skyhammer Studios mix, and “The Bong of Eternal Stench” gives over to “Pot Fiend” with a sample announcing the change, but otherwise is immersive enough that one might get lost in the vibe after just the first six minutes. That’s obviously the idea, and it’s worth keeping in mind just how conscious these decisions are for a band who otherwise so successfully sound like fuckall incarnate. The placement of the samples. The shifts from one part to the next. The push to and through solo parts. All of these things come together to form the resin-caked nod that is Light the Dankness, and as on-message as Belzebong are, they never lose sight of actual song construction as they go.

And man, they go.

“Pot Fiend” rounds out side A with nine and a half minutes of filthy swing, pitting slow-motion shuffle and massive riffing against each other and seeing who wins en route to its final crash and fading feedback, and another sample begins “Doperganger” on side B. The second half of Light the Dankness is longer than the first, with “Doperganger” at 7:50 and “Roached Earth” at 12 minutes flat, but the method is largely the same: Riff unto oblivion. “Doperganger” picks up the tempo somewhat from “Pot Fiend” in a kind of winding central progression born of a dirtied-up Sleep influence, but they tool around with it effectively throughout and seem to explore the reaches where the song might go, a solo arriving after five minutes in just as the song seems to start tearing itself apart. A longer sample emerges as they pull it back together and trash their way into a stretch of silence preceding “Roached Earth.”

The sample at the start of the closer comes from 1957’s Curse of the Demon, if you’re wondering how steadily obscure Belzebong‘s horror-aficionado status runs, and following its narrator warning of supernatural creatures and demons and whathaveyou, the track unfolds into a particularly bleak, almost mournful gruel, a solo as it approaches its midsection weaving in and out of the mix on long-held notes that border on melodic but seem overwhelmed as much by the surrounding mountainous riffage as by the depressiveness drove their creation. Resolution, such as it is, comes in the crashing final section as “Roached Earth” rings out its final distorted gurgle, feedback once again serving as the last remaining element to go.

I would not speculate on what tales of terror may yet be forthcoming from Belzebong as they push ever deeper into the plunge that is their hydroponic-grown methodology, but their craft has only grown more virulent with time and for all of Light the Dankness‘ weedery, the album is actually a pretty efficient execution. It’s clear Belzebong‘s decade hasn’t been misspent in developing their style, and while they may be playing to the tenets of crusty stoner sludge, it’s easy enough to argue they’re adding to them as well.

Belzebong, Light the Dankness (2018)

Belzebong on Thee Facebooks

Belzebong on Instagram

Belzebong on Bandcamp

Emetic Records website

Abraxas Records website

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Review & Full Album Premiere: Psilocibina, Psilocibina

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on July 31st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

psilocibina psilocibina

[Click play above to stream Psilocibina’s self-titled debut in its entirety. Album is out in August on Abraxas Records and Electric Magic Records.]

Scorching leads, a popping snare and the kind of bass that’s funky enough to make you go all bobble-head — the self-titled debut album from Brazilian three-piece Psilocibina has it all if by “all” you mean a truckload of classic psych-tinged heavy rock boogie. And of course you do, because duh.

The instrumentalist power trio of guitarist Alex Sheeny, bassist Rodrigo Toscano and drummer Lucas Loureiro gave an initial showing in the early hours of 2018 with an initial single LSD / Acid Jam, and with backing from Abraxas Records and Electric Magic Records, they’ve made a quick turnaround on an initial long-play offering of seven tracks in a crisp, manageable 36 minutes, covering classic 12″ length and asking nothing more of their audience than some companionship as they shuffle their way out of the atmosphere. From the already-going movement that begins opener and longest track (immediate points) “2069” through the outer reaches of past-asteroid belt side B in “Trópicos” and the reappearing “LSD,” which rounds out, Psilocibina hold true to right-on momentum and a sense of direction that’s heavy ’70s in brand but comes streamed through a filter of frenetic modern interpretation à la Radio Moscow. That ultra-boogie. It’s there in the seven-minutes of “2069,” and that sense of danger flows from the opener through everything that follows. It may be Psilocibina‘s debut, but the band make it clear quickly they know what they’re doing.

Tempo shifts abound and are fluid and guitar leads take the place of vocals not necessarily in “singing” out the lines of verses, but in leading the forward charge of jams that sound vibrant and energetic to their very core. From the start, Toscano‘s bass is a must-hear for anyone prone to grooving on heavy bottom end, and Loureiro is adaptable to the turns happening to the point of being no less molten than Sheeny‘s guitar. I don’t know when the album was actually recorded, but it sounds like it was a hot day in Rio, and as “2069” struts to its finish, the guitar dropping out and the bass and drums continuing to hold the progression for another measure or two until they too let it go, “Galho” picks up with a noise-laden wash that hits high and low as the drums thud out behind. At 6:07, it’s the second longest song on Psilocibina (double points? why not?) and it steps easily into a sleek groove after its introduction — still vital but not rushed. Sheeny starts into a solo and then rejoins Toscano and Loureiro on a classically progressive descent before noodling his way outward again. He’s dug in his heels by the time they’re passing the halfway point, and a change just before the four-minute mark brings not only more highlight basslines but a quicker tempo, a guitar solo that’s nigh on surf rock in its intricacy, and builds in its electricity as it plays out the rest of the song.

PSILOCIBINA

It would be almost too easy to tag Psilocibina as a guitar band and move on. And surely, Sheeny has a propensity for tearing into a lead — he’s a spontaneous player and I’ve known a few on stage who seem to step into the half-stack itself as though it’s the portal to another dimension — but that’s only part of the dynamic the band is working with, and such a designation undercuts the contributions of Loureiro and Toscano both, which are considerable throughout and on the side A closer “Supernova 3333” in particular, in which the bass and steady snare act as an anchor for the guitar to let it wander in the sky above for a while as if to say, “No sweat, we got this. You go have fun.” In in that getting-of-this, the rhythm section utterly shines. This is a showing of chemistry no less classic than the aesthetic it’s being used to harness, but of course the one feeds into the other when it comes to the style and substance of what Psilocibina is, and through the finish of “Supernova 3333,” with its bouncing course and deceptively tight ending, the vibe is set. By the time they get there, it’s easy to trust the band. They’ve done nothing to that point but deliver.

That routine continues throughout the longer side B portion of their self-titled, which also opens with its longest track (triple points?) in the 6:02 “Na Selva Densa,” a fervent gallop riding outward in the bass while blues licks lay over top and the drums punctuate with what seems to be an extra layer of percussion added for good measure. If this is to be the personality Psilocibina set about developing as they move forward, that’s only a win for those who’d take them on, as the performance aspect of “Na Selva Densa” is so crucial. The drums and percussion take the fore late in the track and solo toward a finish that that the eponymous “Psilocibina” enters from silence with its pastoral guitar intro. The first two minutes or so build on that progression, sweetly melodic and classic in structure, but soon enough the bassline comes forward to drive the turn to speedier fare. It’s back to the boogie from there, and they jam it till the wheels fall off, which is fair enough. With “Trópicos” following just behind — the shortest inclusion at just over two minutes and an absolute brain-winder — there’s just about no other way to go.

“Trópicos” digs back to the momentum of the opener, but delivers it in an even tighter way. It feeds into “LSD” as though stopping for a measure and picking back up on the beat, and Psilocibina give one last manic go at softshoe-worthy heavy, crashing and ringing out with amp noise behind to once more underscore the live feel that’s been so much of a presence throughout the album. That is essential to the success of Psilocibina and its component tracks, as the rawness of their presentation — raw, not under-produced or under-recorded — only seems to bolster the energy with which the material so readily shines. They are brash, they are forward, and they sound utterly on fire on what one has to keep reminding oneself is their first record. Can’t help but look forward to more after such a promising first round.

Psilocibina on Thee Faccebooks

Psilocibina on Bandcamp

Abraxas Records website

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Quarterly Review: Carlton Melton, Horseskull, Dreadnought, Forsaken, Moon Rats, Son of the Morning, Jesus the Snake, Bert, Galactic Gulag, Band of Spice

Posted in Reviews on January 8th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Lodewijk de Vadder (1605-1655) - 17th Century Etching, Landscape with Two Farms

Today begins the Quarterly Review. You know the deal by now. 50 records written up between today and this Friday, 10 per day. As always, it’s a huge swath of stuff, and by the end of it I’m usually ready to collapse in a heap, but I’ve yet to regret it afterwards, so we press on. I hope you find something you dig in all this. I say that every time, but it’s still true.

Speaking of digging, how about that new logo up there? Thanks goes out to the Lord of the Logos himself, Christophe Szpajdel, who took on the project. This is the second one he’s done for the site, and aside from being in a completely different style from the last — I like covering a good amount of ground, even in logos — I think it fits pretty well with a variety of aesthetics. Could be doom, could be heavy rock, psych, stoner garage, whatever. Anyway, I’m into it. Hope you are too.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Carlton Melton, Mind Minerals

carlton melton mind minerals

It might be decades before the dimension we live in has caught up to the plane from which Northern California’s Carlton Melton emanate their resonant transmissions of space-psych, but somehow time doesn’t seem to matter anyway when actually listening. To wit, Mind Minerals, the trio’s first LP since 2015’s Out to Sea, is an 11-track/76-minute whopper – unmanageable by any standard – but once it’s on, all you want to do is roll with it and by the time post-aptly-named intro “Untimely” has begat “Electrified Sky” has begat the droning “The Lighthouse” has begat the fuzzy swirl of “Eternal Return” has begat the 10-minute rumble-and-synth soundtracking of “Snow Moon,” etc., there’s neither escape nor the desire for it. Does it need to be a 2LP? Nope, but nothing needs to be anything, man. In the subdued boogie of “Basket Full of Trumpets,” the is-it-backwards slow freakout of “Sea Legs,” the experimental guitar ambience of “Way Back When,” headphone-ready minimalism of “Climbing the Ladder,” the shaker’s tension that sustains the otherwise wispy “Atmospheric River,” and the final fuzzy resurgence of “Psychoticedelicosis,” Carlton Melton thoroughly reaffirm their residency in the far, far out. Not that anyone was questioning their paperwork or anything.

Carlton Melton on Thee Facebooks

Agitated Records website

 

Horseskull, Chemical Winter Blues

horseskull chemical winter blues

With fluid shifts between Ripple-style straightforward heavy rock, rolling Sabbathian lumber and even some harsher sludge elements, the seven-minute “Black Dawn, Bright Day” sets a varied tone for Chemical Winter Blues, the second LP from North Carolina’s Horseskull. I’m not sure I’d declare any one side or the other the winner in the fight between them by the time the death ‘n’ roll of “Luckless Bastards” gives way to closer “Lost all I Had, then Lost Again” – itself a 17-minute noise-nodder triumph of, well, loss – but the trip through “Hypocrites and Pigs” and 10-minute centerpiece “The Black Flame of Cain” is unpredictable and fun to make in kind. Guitarist/vocalist Anthony Staton reminds a bit of Slough Feg’s Mike Scalzi in his cleaner delivery, which only adds to the album’s declarative feel, and the overarching groove surrounding from guitarist Michael Avery, bassist Robert Hewlett and drummer Steve Smith only reinforces the developing individualism.

Horseskull on Thee Facebooks

Horseskull on Bandcamp

 

Dreadnought, A Wake in Sacred Waves

dreadnought-a-wake-in-sacred-waves

There is very little beyond the reach of Denver four-piece Dreadnought. Their third album, A Wake in Sacred Waves (Sailor Records), blends open, psychedelic jazz, progressive black metal, folk and more into a sometimes-thrashing/sometimes-sprawling meld that recalls the promise of Grayceon and the poise of Opeth while at the same time casting its own impression in melody, arrangement, variety and scope. Opening with the 17-minute longest cut (immediate points) “Vacant Sea,” it brilliantly ties its elements together to present a story arc following in elemental theme from Dreadnought’s first two offerings in centering around the rise and fall of a water-born apex predator, the narrative of which plays out across its four intense, extended and resoundingly complex inclusions, which alternate between beautiful and terrifying in a way that leaves the line utterly blurred and irrelevant. Why this band isn’t on Profound Lore or Neurot, I have no idea, but either way, A Wake in Sacred Waves is a conceptual and manifest triumph not to be missed.

Dreadnought on Thee Facebooks

Sailor Records website

 

Forsaken, Pentateuch

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A spirit of classic doom metal abounds on Forsaken’s fifth long-player, Pentateuch (Mighty Music), which is the long-running Malta-based outfit’s first offering since 2009’s After the Fall, but though righteous fist-pumpers like “Primal Wound” and “Decalogue” carry an epic and unflinchingly progressive underpinning in their layered vocal melodies, a harsh snare sound and awkwardly punching bass stifle complete immersion. It’s less an issue in a cut like “Saboath (The Law Giver),” which has a full swing surrounding, but it makes post-intro opener “Serpent Bride” sound like a demo (unless it’s my digital promo?) in a way that sets an unfortunate tone in contrasting the obvious class and high-level execution of Pentateuch as a whole. It should be noted that even a rough production can’t hold “The Dove and the Raven” back from making its Candlemassian intent clear, but a record of such overall high standard should feel as crisp as possible, and particularly for being so many years in arriving, Forsaken’s latest seems to want more in that regard, despite the quality of the material that comprises it.

Forsaken on Thee Facebooks

Mighty Music website

 

Moon Rats, Highway Lord

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I’ve already counted Highway Lord among my favorite debuts of 2017, but consider it’s worth taking a moment to underline the point of the heavy psych and stoner-fuzz wash that Moon Rats so vigilantly emit on cuts like the opening salvo of “Become the Smoke,” “The Dark Takes Hold” and “Heroic Dose,” balancing languid vibe and sonic heft atop gorgeously natural songcraft. Among the short-feeling 29 minutes and seven inclusions, with the title-track at the center shifting into “Overdose,” the deeply atmospheric “The Hunter” the and melodically spacious “Motor Sword” at the finish, there isn’t a weak spot to be found, and whether it’s the added dynamic of a key arrangement in the closer or the landmark feel of the hook to “Heroic Dose,” the Milwaukee five-piece tap into the there’s-no-rush-we’ll-all-get-there sonic sentiment that once made Quest for Fire so entrancing, while engaging subtle flourish of presentation that promises creative development to come. Bring it on. Please. The sooner the better.

Moon Rats on Thee Facebooks

Gloss Records website

 

Son of the Morning, Son of the Morning EP

son-of-the-morning-son-of-the-morning-ep

Newcomer four-piece Son of the Morning, with the crisply-realized three tracks of their self-titled debut EP, would seem right away to be trying to stake their claim on a piece of the Midwest’s doom legacy. Coiling between heavy rock swing and classic doom tonality, each cut, from “Left Hand Path,” which rounds out after its welcoming hook with a sample of what sounds like somebody hanging in the breeze, through the post-Uncle Acid riffing of “Release,” and the more ethereal, organ-laced psych of “House of Our Enemy,” offers its own take in a clearheaded and efficient five minutes, getting in, leaving its mark and getting out to make room for the next piece in this initial sampling. Potential abounds from vocalist/organist Lady Helena, bassist Lee Allen, guitarist Levi Mendes and drummer H.W. Applewhite, and the core question is how they might tie these elements together across a first full-length. It should be noted they sound more than ready to embark on that project and provide an answer.

Son of the Morning on Thee Facebooks

Son of the Morning on Bandcamp

 

Jesus the Snake, Jesus the Snake EP

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A 31-minute debut EP clearly meant to be heard in its entirety, Jesus the Snake’s self-titled treads some familiar ground in progressive heavy psychedelic instrumentalism throughout its four tracks – “Floyds I,” “Floyds II,” “Karma” and “Moment” – but with an inherent sense of mood and reach not unlike earliest My Sleeping Karma, its tonal warmth and emergent weight of groove find welcome all the same. Particularly for being the Portuguese outfit’s first public unveiling, the interplay of Joka Alves’ keys and Jorge Lopes’ guitar is immediately fluid, and as the bass of Rui Silva provides foundation to let drummer João Costa explore jazzy snare textures and stylistic nuance. It’s a beginning, and it sounds like a beginning, but Jesus the Snake also offers a richness and patience that many bands simply don’t have their first time out, and for that and the classic stoner fuzz of “Moment” alone, it’s easily worth the time and effort of thorough investigation.

Jesus the Snake on Thee Facebooks

Jesus the Snake on Bandcamp

 

BerT, The Lost Toes

bert-the-lost-toes

Officially defunct for some time now, Michigan’s BerT compile tracks from throughout their prolific and bizarre run in The Lost Toes (Madlantis Records), proffering a timeline of their post-Melvins avant weirdness that starts with their very first song, “Stuff,” and makes its way through various demos, lost tracks, noise experiments, etc., to the 11-minute drone-out “Return” at the finish line. The digital version on Bandcamp offers an origin story with each track – the 90-second noise rock blast “Human Bone Xylophone” was cut from 2012’s Return to the Electric Church for time concerns, and the subsequent “Commercial Break” (which, yes, is a commercial break) was a class project – but whether you engage the narrative or not, the enduring vibe remains strange and charming in its garage-fuckall, could-and-just-might-go-anywhere-at-any-moment kind of way. BerT were always good fun, and The Lost Toes serves as reminder of the personality they had together that was so very much their own.

BerT on Thee Facebooks

The Lost Toes at Madlantis Records website

 

Galactic Gulag, To the Stars by Hard Ways

galactic gulag to the stars by hard ways

Brazilian instrumental troupe Galactic Gulag traffic in cosmic heft across the five pieces that comprise their first full-length, To the Stars by Hard Ways, but there’s ultimately little about the album that seems to be the hard way. If anything, it’s easy: Easy to groove on, easy to let it unfold over you in a spacious psychedelic drift, easy to nod along as the bassline of “Escape from Planet Gulag” picks up from 12-minute opener “Home.” Easy even to get lost in the sax-laden swirl-bounce off-kilterism of “The Hollow Moon.” So yeah, guitarists Breno Xavier and Pablo Dias, bassist Gabriel Dunke and drummer César Silva might be overselling a sense of difficulty, but as “Space Time Singularity” rolls into the shreddy-style fuzz of 15-minute closer “Eta Orionis,” there are clearly more important issues at hand. Like space. And riffs. And tone. And everything else that’s working so well for the Natal-based foursome on this jam-laden debut.

Galactic Gulag on Thee Facebooks

Galactic Gulag on Bandcamp

 

Band of Spice, Shadows Remain

band of spice shadows remain

Former Spiritual Beggars and The Mushroom River Band vocalist Christian “Spice” Sjöstrand has been fronting the namesake act Band of Spice – formerly Spice and the RJ Band — for over a decade now, and Shadows Remain (Scarlet Records) follows 2015’s Economic Dancers (review here) as their fifth overall full-length. After the suitably-drunk-sounding vocals-only intro “Only One Drink,” the album rides the line between classically metallic tones and heavy rock riffing, a cut like “Don’t Bring Me Flowers” having little time in its 2:46 for brooking nonsense of any sort while later pieces like “Apartment 8” and “The Savior and the Clown” find time for more brooding and sentimental fare, and the penultimate “Take Me Home” and closer “Apartment 8 (Part II)” offer acoustic-strummed departure, so while the 51-minute runtime gives the 13-tracker something of a CD-era throwback feel and the songwriting the resolute in its straightforwardness, neither is Shadows Remain completely single-minded in its approach. A touch of grunge-funk in “Sheaf” goes a long way as well in lightening the mood, making the whole presentation all the more pro-shop, as it should be.

Band of Spice on Thee Facebooks

Scarlet Records on Bandcamp

 

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Review & Full Album Stream: Necro, Adiante

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on December 19th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

[Click play above to stream Necro’s Adiante in full. Album is out Dec. 19 as the first release from Abraxas Records.]

Almost immediately, Adiante feels like a moment of arrival. It’s the third full-length from Maceio, Brazil-based trio Necro behind 2012’s The Queen of Death and a woefully unavailable 2011 self-titled released until their original moniker of Necronomicon, as well as their first offering through the new imprint Abraxas Records, but in addition to this, it’s the three-piece’s first record entirely in Portuguese, and it would seem to solidify the approach to classic heavy rock and boogie that the prior two outings and their 2015 split with Witching Altar (review here) hinted toward.

The lineup of guitarists/vocalists/bassists Lillian Lessa and Pedro Ivo Salvador (the latter also organ) and drummer Thiago Alef come across throughout the seven-track/37-minute outing as mature and the recording, mixing and mastering job by Gabriel Zander effectively captures a live-feeling chemistry between them that only feeds into both the energy within songs like the organ-laced “Espelhos e Sombras” and the earlier slide-meets-cowbell rocking title-track themselves and the momentum they’re able to build between them. At the same time Necro don’t make a move that’s out of place either in instrumentation or in Lessa and Salvador‘s vocal arrangements — Diogo Oliveira also guests in righteous form on “Azul Profundo” and “Entropia” — neither do they come across at any point as overblown. It’s a difficult balance to strike, but likewise, their take on familiar boogie rock tenets is presented with an entirely clearheaded take, and the results should catch the ears of even those jaded with ’70s worship or who think there’s nowhere left to go with a shuffling groove but in the same circles over and again.

Necro manage to move these elements forward, and in so doing, pay off the rather considerable potential of their first two records with their third. What seems geared toward a vinyl split with three tracks on side A and four on side B kicks off with the six-minute “Orbes,” starting at a vibrant gallop of guitar that’s in motion before the song seems even to know it. The tone is full, the push comes with considerable force behind it, and the impression left by the hook is memorable even if one doesn’t happen to speak Portuguese. They shift from this propulsive proto-metal in the second half of “Orbes” to a drumless section of spacious guitar, echoing vocals and ringing organ, but soon enough swirl the opener toward its apex and finish with a flash of humor in progressive noodling before jumping headfirst into the boogie of “Adiante” itself. Already noted, the slide guitar and cowbell arrive quickly, the latter backing Lessa‘s verse, guitars stopping and starting to allow for an even more fervent groove.

An undercurrent of acoustic guitar adds a Southern (as in US) twang that Necro seem content to ride out, but they never veer far from the central motion of the title cut. This serves them well as they provide yet another look on “Azul Profundo.” A highlight of Adiante for its insistent classic prog rhythm, it moves from an initial shuffle into thicker, more driven chugging behind layered vocals — organ once again playing a major role alongside Salvador‘s shred-prone lead guitar — before culminating with a surprise return from the cowbell and a section of scat singing. One assumes that Oliveira‘s guest spot, but either way the guitar follows it point for point as the drums and bass lock in time and the keys add Deep Purple-ish depth. From there, the drums drop out as “Azul Profundo” transitions into a flowing wash of melody gradually, patiently, smoothly moving back toward its starting point; arriving at which is among Adiante‘s greatest triumphs.

Centerpiece “Viajor” recalls some of Necro‘s earlier work in its pointed ’70s verse but opens to another fervent hook which Lessa delivers with poise recalling Farida Lemouchi from The Devil’s Blood — not a comparison to be made lightly — and balances shuffle and swirl well as it goes. It and “Entropia” lead the way into side B. Both are shorter at about 4:20, and straightforward in their proggy organics compared to some of the turns made by “Azul Profundo,” but they build noteworthy momentum one into the next and continue the flow from the first half of Adiante while also seeming to find common ground between what the opening three songs were able to accomplish individually. In other words, Necro don’t wait until the next album to bring the various sides of their sound together. That locked-in feel persists into “Espelhos e Sombras,” which slows down somewhat from the preceding “Entropia” and holds back the organ to bring the guitar forward initially but finds its real impression in a midsection break peppered with slide guitar and post-King Crimson noodling that shifts almost impossibly into a layered-on guitar solo, galloping drums, and a last build that’s as odd as it is effective.

By the time they get there, Necro have made it fairly complicated to guess where they might go on five-minute closer “Deusas Suicidas,” but they cap Adiante with a suitable bookend of a riff, proto-metallic in shape but still working on a different-enough wavelength to be distinct from “Orbes” — more biker rock, less pre-thrash force. From about two minutes in, they seem set in the final movement, but there are yet twists and turns to be made, and it’s not until the third minute that the organ arrives and the real summary of the record begins as they push toward the last crescendo. They end instrumentally, and even hearken back to the playfulness that capped “Orbes” when they’re done, as if to underscore the point of the symmetry at work across Adiante. Fun, but that point is well taken anyhow, and Necro‘s cross-genre prog-boogie realizations on individual tracks are even more satisfying when the album is taken as a whole. After two strong offerings in Necronomicon and The Queen of Death, the trio take a brazen step forward with Adiante, sounding refreshed in their approach and more like themselves than ever before.

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Abraxas Events Announces Abraxas Records Label Venture; Necro, Saturndust, Fuzzly and More Signed

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 12th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

In what can only be called a natural extension of the impulse to spread quality music, Abraxas Events announces a new label venture in the form of Abraxas Records. For the last three years, brothers Felipe Toscano and Rodrigo Toscano have worked under the Abraxas banner to bring outside acts to Brazil and wider South America, and from Mars Red Sky to Stoned Jesus to Kadavar the recently-announced March 2017 run for Samsara Blues Experiment (info here), they’ve been wildly successful. My understanding is that Radio Moscow‘s first South American tour has already become something of a legend.

When Mars Red Sky couldn’t get into the US in 2014 and wound up recording their second album, Stranded in Arcadia (review here), in Rio at Estudio Superfuzz with Gabriel Zander, that was coordinated through Zander‘s partnership with Abraxas. In fact, the company has handled logistics for multiple Superfuzz recordings, and as Abraxas Records comes together, they seem to be keeping that relationship as a central feature of what they have to offer.

The key switch? Where Abraxas Events is known for bringing bands in, Abraxas Records seems more immediately geared toward spreading South American and particularly Brazilian acts to the world at large (it’s worth noting that anyone the company books from elsewhere is usually paired with choice locals as well, so not like they weren’t promoting South American acts before). And they’re not exactly starting off light. First release is from boogie rockers Necro, who today unveil the album art for their third full-length, Adiante, which will be out through Abraxas Records on Dec. 20.

That’s hardly the end of the story. The label has also picked up SaturndustFuzzlySon of a Witch, Anjo Gabriel, Monster Coyote, and The Muddy Brothers. Seven bands on day one. Hard not to be impressed by the ambition, and given the quality of work Abraxas has done up to now, I look forward to this next phase and wish good luck to the Toscano brothers. Like my nation’s vice president once said, “This is a big fuckin’ deal.”

As it should be, there’s a lot of audio linked below, but you’ll also find the details of the label’s formation and background, as well as two new tracks from Necro, whose album will be streaming here one week from today in full.

Dig it:

Abraxas Label Announcement – Necro New Album Release – Artwork Revealed

After 3 years booking tours in South America for international bands like Radio Moscow, Mars Red Sky, Kadavar and Stoned Jesus, just to name a few, and also actively promoting the Brazilian heavy rock scene, Abraxas officially announce a new record label branch.

“Although we have already recorded and released a lot of albums of Brazilian bands in the past years, we have never considered ourselves a proper label, more like a booking agency and event planning company (what is in fact what we do the most), but now it’s time to formalize this other aspect as well.” explains Felipe Toscano, founder of Abraxas with his brother Rodrigo.

The label’s first release will be Necro’s third studio album named “Adiante”. Now singing in Portuguese, the band had a substantial creativity boost, as it is much easier to create complex and interesting lyric structures in their mother language, not to mention the rhythm parts that have gotten even better due to such smart change.

As it couldn’t be different, Necro’s forthcoming album was recorded and produced by Gabriel Zander at Superfuzz in November 2015. The amazing cover was designed by Brazilian artist Cristiano Suarez (https://www.facebook.com/CristianoSuarezArt) and the first two singles are available at their bandcamp page: “Deuses Suicidas” – https://necronomicon.bandcamp.com/album/deuses-suicidas-single and “Viajor” – https://necronomicon.bandcamp.com/album/viajor-single.

São Paulo band Saturndust will be another solid name in the label’s roster. Their first album (https://saturndust.bandcamp.com/ – LP released by Helmet Lady Records) was recorded by the Abraxas brothers and Gabriel Zander at Superfuzz studio in Rio de Janeiro back in September 2014, and the hazy doom trio had just finished recordings of their second work, release due March 2017.

“All bands in the label are long time friends and have supported and worked with us several times since the beginning of Abraxas. Actually, some of them have already been produced/recorded at Superfuzz in our partnership with Zander, like Saturndust and Son of a Witch (https://sonofawitch666.bandcamp.com/ – LP released by Kozmic Artifactz) and I think all of them have opened for a foreign headliner at least once in the tours and gigs we have organized”, Felipe highlights.

The label will comprise Brazilian pioneers of stoner-rock Fuzzly (https://fuzzly.bandcamp.com/) and psychedelic titans Anjo Gabriel (https://anjogabriel.bandcamp.com/album/o-culto-secreto-do-anjo-gabriel) as well as many of the ascending bands of the country’s rich and constantly growing heavy rock scene, like The Muddy Brothers (https://themuddybrothers.bandcamp.com/releases), and Monster Coyote (https://monstercoyote.bandcamp.com/), among others.

From Psychedelic Prog to Sludge Metal, Abraxas aim to erect a milestone in Brazilian rock scene, and as from December 19 all of those bands will be strategically delivered by ONErpm. For physical needs, Abraxas plans the launch of the e-commerce with CDs, LPs, t-shirts and many more stuff by April 2017.

https://www.facebook.com/abraxasevents/
https://twitter.com/abraxasfm
http://abraxas.fm/

Necro, “Deuses Suicidas”

Necro, “Viajor”

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