ROADBURN 2017 Day Three: And Yet it Moves

Posted in Features, Reviews on April 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

roadburn-day-3-banner-Photo-by-JJ-Koczan

04.22.17 — 22.23 — Sat. night — Hotel room

I don’t mind telling you I was a total wreck this morning. There we were, finishing up the third issue of Weirdo Canyon Dispatch (get the PDF here), and holy macaroni, I just couldn’t hack it. I’d gone to sleep at a semi-reasonable time, circa 2AM — which is pretty good, considering — but woke up at around three and was up past 4:30. Just up. Weirdo Canyon Dispatch Saturday issue.Brutally, brutally awake. I could’ve cried.

Instead, I put my head down on the desk in the 013 office while we waited for the test-print of today’s ‘zine and was granted a generous reprieve from the folding process that followed. I folded three copies of today’s WCD: my own. After that, I made the most of my special dispensation and high-tailed it back to the hotel to sleep for another two and a half hours, at the end of which time I pounded water, a protein bar and ibuprofen and it was enough to temporarily trick my body into believing it was human. This weekend has been pure madness, and there’s one day yet to go.

By the time I got back to the 013, I knew I’d missed my chance to hit the photo pit for day-openers The Bug vs. Dylan Carlson of Earth, the somewhat cumbersomely-named collaboration between, well, The Bug and Dylan Carlson, but I still had plenty of opportunity to be assaulted by their combined volume of drone and beats, soundscapes thick enough to swim through and handed out with enough force to vibrate the plugs in my ears and the teeth in my skull. Really. I think I lost a filling. They were very, very loud.

Two experimentalists like that working together, even as a one-off, carried an air of being something special to start the day, and so it was. The Bug‘s rig, flanked on either side by bass cabinets with two more laid down in front in such a manner as to make Carlson half-stack look positively minimalist in comparison, shook the upstairs The Bug vs. Dylan Carlson (Photo by JJ Koczan)balcony where I set up shop for the duration, and the clear impression that came through was that although they used different means of expression — Carlson with his guitar, The Bug with his laptop and mixing board — their work together was way less of a “vs.”-type situation than the name led one to believe. They were very definitely on the same side, but while they played, spotlights slowly hovered over Main Stage crowd, feeding the air of suspicion and paranoia in such a way that was eerily appropriate for what they were doing.

Speaking of collaborations, over at the PatronaatRazors in the Night — AKA John Dyer Baizley of Baroness and Scott Kelly of Neurosis playing oldschool punk and hardcore covers — were just getting started. I stayed put in the big room, however, because I knew I didn’t want to miss a second of Oranssi Pazuzu. The Finnish progressive/psychedelic black metallers have been an increasingly steady presence at Roadburn over the last five years, and after their own slots at the church, they managed to pack out the Main Stage to an admirable degree. People stood outside the open doors for not the last time today in order to catch a glimpse of their malevolent, ultra-deep swirl.

As immersive as it was dark, I couldn’t argue. Oranssi Pazuzu, who released their fourth album, Värähtelijä (review here), in 2016, may have conjured the finest blackened psychedelia I’ve ever seen. It was so much of both, so chaotic and yet purposeful, that to Oranssi Pazuzu (Photo by JJ Koczan)consider it anything less than the work of masters would be completely underselling it. When I was done taking photos, I went out into the hallway to walk around to the other side of the room and I couldn’t believe it was still daytime. And more over, the sun had come out! Something so cosmically abysmal just seemed like it should be swallowing any and all light around it, but so it goes. Stately and ferocious, they cast their waves of of bleakness over a sea of nodding heads, and after years of missing them here, I was finally glad to have been clued in, even if I seemed to be the last one in the entire Main Stage space to have caught on. Which I probably was, because that’s the kind of hip I am. Which is to say, not at all.

Maybe it was partially a case of going easy on myself, but I once again didn’t budge from the Main Stage following the conclusion of Oranssi Pazuzu. Today was minimal back and forth, actually, which suited me just fine after two busy days of Roadburn 2017 bouncing from this venue to that one. I’d hit the Green Room twice before my evening was over, but was at the 013 the whole day, which after all the Extase and Het Patronaat yesterday almost made me feel insecure and restless — “Don’t you have somewhere you need to be, sir? Oh yeah, here,” and so on. Sometimes this festival plays tricks on your mind.

My reasoning in staying put was more than justified, though, with Warning coming on to play 2006’s Watching from a Distance in its entirety. I knew some of what to expect from a Patrick Walker performance after seeing him front 40 Watt Sun here in 2012, but of course Warning brought a presence all their own in addition to his melancholic emotionalism. They struck a hard balance between sonic weight and sheer heft-of-sadness, and yet as morose as they were, and as understated as their aura was on stage, they were never anything but engaging. Rare band, rare album, rare set. Warning (Photo by JJ Koczan)This Roadburn has had its share of special moments, and Warning fit that bill as well. There was something empowering about them, or at least validating, and as deep into their own headspace as they went, they never seemed to get lost there.

It’s not often you see a band play a full album and then want to go and put on that album directly afterward, but Warning doing Watching from a Distance had that effect. I can’t claim to know the record inside and out, but I felt fortunate to have had the chance to see the band bring it to life, which much to their credit, they did without losing the heart-wrenching resonance of the studio versions of the material.

Next door in the Green Room, the focus would soon be about an entirely different kind of crushing execution, as Belfast dual-guitar three-piece Slomatics made ready to take the stage. I got there about 20 minutes before they went on and was still too late to get a spot right up front. Should’ve figured. I’d heard people talking about how stoked they were to see them, and after being lucky enough to see them in Norway last September at Høstsabbat (review here), I also knew they weren’t to be missed. My timing being what it was, I still got there to see Jon Davis from Conan soundcheck the guest vocals he’d provide for closer “March of the 1,000 Volt Ghost,” and it was good to know that was coming.

Davis also released Slomatics‘ fucking excellent 2016 album, Future Echo Returns (review here), on Slomatics (Photo by JJ Koczan)his Black Bow Records imprint, so all the better to have him there alongside guitarists Chris Couzens and David Majury as well as drummer/vocalist Marty Harvey, who even before Davis showed up stomped out the most pummeling tones I’ve heard over the course of the last three days. “Electric Breath,” “Return to Kraken,” “And Yet it Moves,” “Supernothing” — this is the stuff of lumbering, rolling, molten doom supremacy, and as they’re five records deep into a tenure that one hopes continues into perpetuity, Slomatics know how to wield these weapons to glorious effect. I felt like I was going to pass out and ran downstairs to hammer down a quick dinner — chicken in some kind of tomato-based sauce with green and red peppers, jalapenos and cheese over lettuce; two plates in about five minutes — and was back in the Green Room in time to catch Davis‘ guest spot from the side of the stage and jump up to take a picture of the band when they were done playing. I never do that kind of thing, but Slomatics were nothing if not an occasion worth savoring.

Shit would only get more doomed from there. Like I said yesterday, everyone here makes their own Roadburn, and I knew how I wanted my night to go. I wanted it to go doom. That meant hanging out in the Green Room more for Ahab, which I was more than happy to do. The nautically-themed German funeral doomers were not a band I ever really expected to be able to see, and knowing how packed it got for Slomatics, I assumed much the same would ensue. I was right. Ahab probably Ahab (Photo by JJ Koczan)could’ve filled the Patronaat if the press of the crowd behind me half an hour before they even went on was anything to go by, but as it was they beat the Green Room into submission with their guttural, ultra-slow lurch and churning devastation.

It was by no means the same kind of grind that Memoriam were doling out on the Main Stage, but watching Ahab play was like witnessing the giant, five-foot-thick gears of some industrial revolution shipyard turning the assembled audience into powder. The very means of production brought to bear on all of our caved-in skulls. Yes, they were hyperbole-level heavy. Unremittingly so, and to a claustrophobic degree. I don’t know if it was during “Old Thunder” or “To Mourn Job,” but there was a point at which I had to remind myself that I’d actively wanted to be so brutally overwhelmed and so overwhelmed by brutality. Did that make the effect any less punishing? Not in the slightest, but thanks for asking.

There was only one place left to go to continue my downer trajectory: back to the Main Stage for My Dying Bride. Having the UK doom legends play 1993’s Turn Loose the Swans in full made an awful lot of sense after special sets in 2016 from Paradise Lost and in 2015 from Anathema and Fields of the Nephilim — I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Katatonia in 2018; never seen them and they’d seem to be next in line, despite not being British — and the drama unfolded early as frontman Aaron Stainthorpe hit the stage with violinist/keyboardist Shaun Macgowan for “Sear Me MCMXCIII.” Soon enough, founding guitarists Andrew Craighan and Calvin Robertshaw, bassist Lena Abé and drummer Shaun Taylor-Steels would join, and the full fray would be unleashed. Chances are I don’t need to tell you how influential My Dying Bride have been on the trajectory of the last two decades of doom, but suffice it to say I’m not sure I could’ve found a darker way to round out myMy Dying Bride (Photo by JJ Koczan) Roadburn 2017 Saturday night than to watch them deliver that level of scathe with that level of professionalism.

And no, I’m not just saying that because Stainthorpe wore a tie. With animation by Costin Chioreanu behind them, My Dying Bride were the consummate headliners. Mysticum were still to follow on the Main Stage with a production I’d caught in soundcheck earlier in the day that was probably the most elaborate I’ve ever seen in the 013 venue, but for me, My Dying Bride marked a culmination of what I wanted the evening to be, and so I knew my night was done. There’s always more to see at Roadburn. Always something you don’t get to. Always someone who, years down the road, you wonder, “What the hell was I doing that I missed that?” but sometimes when you’re in Tilburg, you’ve crafted your experience in such a way that makes sense at the time, and that was me tonight. Would’ve been hard pressed to find anything to top My Dying Bride anyway.

One day left in Roadburn 2017, which is something I know to be true because I only have two protein bars remaining — one for before the show, one for after. Tomorrow’s another early start to fold Weirdo Canyon Dispatch issues, so I’ll leave it there once again and say thank you for reading and if you’re so inclined, you can check out more pics after the jump.

Which is right frickin’ here:

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Roadburn 2017: Magma, Chelsea Wolfe, SubRosa, Slomatics, Wretch, Ahab, Mysticum, Crippled Black Phoenix, Deafheaven and More Added to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 18th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Roadburn 2017 banner

Great googly-moogly, Roadburn. If Roadburn 2017 didn’t already have your attention when it announced Coven as part of its first revelations for next year’s lineup — and it should have, make no mistake — then this should do the trick. The list is, frankly, overwhelming, and it speaks both to how immense the scale of Roadburn has become and how much the event continues to strive to push the boundaries of what it does. The first acts for the day curated by BaronessJohn Dyer Baizley? Magma and Chelsea Wolfe. SubRosa playing two sets, one of which is comprised of this year’s magnificent For this We Fought the Battle of Ages (review here) in full, the other a stripped-down, at least semi-acoustic version of the band. Leif Edling of Candlemass debuting his new project The Doomsday Kingdom. Slomatics, Dylan Carlson of Earth, Wretch, Inter Arma, Crippled Black Phoenix (hope they’re on the Main Stage; fingers crossed), Woe, Ahab, so many more it’s astounding.

If Roadburn 2017 was like, “Okay, that’s it. We’re done.,” could you really argue with what’s been put together already? The terrifying thing is they’re still just getting started.

Fresh off the PR wire:

roadburn-new-adds-poster

New names added to Roadburn Festival 2017 ahead of ticket onsale

• MYSTICUM to bring their incredible stage show to Roadburn 2017
• CHELSEA WOLFE and MAGMA are the first names confirmed for John Dyer Baizley’s curation
• THE BUG VS DYLAN CARLSON OF EARTH confirmed for a special Roadburn show
• DEAFHEAVEN finally make their Roadburn debut at the 2017 edition
• SUBROSA to play two exclusive sets
• …and more.

ROADBURN FESTIVAL is pleased to add new names to the bill for Roadburn 2017. The 22nd edition of Roadburn Festival will take place April 20-23, 2017 at the 013 Venue, Tilburg, The Netherlands.

MYSTICUM have been confirmed to play the main stage at Roadburn 2017, bringing their distinctive brand of black metal to Tilburg. Back in 1996, MYSTICUM wrote the rulebook, for what industrial black metal should be with their debut album, In The Streams of Inferno – and then swiftly torched it. Renowned for their incredible stage show, MYSTICUM have some clear intentions for Roadburn 2017: “We shall invade your minds and tear your souls apart.”

MYSTICUM will play the 013 venue on Saturday, April 22.

John Dyer Baizley has confirmed the first two names for his curated event: CHELSEA WOLFE and MAGMA.

Describing himself as “a loyal devotee of her songwriting, performance and recorded output”, John echoed many Roadburn attendees in calling for the return of CHELSEA WOLFE to the Roadburn stage. Having performed at the festival in 2012, and again this year as part of Converge’s Blood Moon Set, we’re thrilled to have CHELSEA WOLFE back in Tilburg.

Unequivocally one of the most talked about moments in the history of Roadburn was MAGMA’s overwhelming performance at the 2014 festival. These seminal progressive rock pioneers went down a storm, and to this day, we still hear so many attendees talking about MAGMA’s set, and craving their return for Roadburn.

Both acts will perform on Friday, April 21 at the 013 venue, as part of John Dyer Baizley’s curation.

Although they come from disparate sonic universes, THE BUG (electronic music wizard Kevin Martin) and DYLAN CARLSON (mastermind of the massively influential EARTH, who have graced Roadburn with their presence in 2009 and 2011) are nevertheless two of the more revered names in experimental music as a whole. Their paths crossed in 2014, when they surprisingly teamed up on a Record Store Day exclusive release. Americana meets industrial, minimalism meets pulsating dance beats, metal meets electronics… who knows what can happen when THE BUG meets DYLAN CARLSON OF EARTH? One thing is for sure, the walls will shake.

THE BUG VS DYLAN CARLSON OF EARTH will perform at the 013 venue on Saturday, April 22.

DEAFHEAVEN’s appearance at Roadburn has been a long time coming. As divisive as they are inclusive, DEAFHEAVEN have thrown the field wide open with regards to what it means to be a metal band. They have managed to bring extreme metal fans to the same room as shoegaze and post-rock/metal fans; their music doesn’t simply tick all those genre boxes, it plays join the dots with them – just as we like to do at Roadburn Festival.

DEAFHEAVEN will play at the 013 venue on Thursday, April 20.

SUBROSA’s For This We Fought The Battle Of Ages has been out less than two months, but at Roadburn HQ it not only hovers near the top of our album of the year lists, it is marked as a future classic. We are delighted to have the Salt Lake City five-piece perform the album in full at Roadburn 2017. Not only that, they will perform SubRosa – Subdued; a not-quite-acoustic set with all the passion at a fraction of the volume of a regular SUBROSA set.

SUBROSA will perform For This We Fought The Battle of Ages at the 013 venue on Thursday, April 20, and Subrosa – Subdued on Friday, April 21.

• CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX will fuse progressive rock, post-rock and righteous, guitar-driven heaviness. Prior to their Roadburn appearance, Crippled Black Phoenix will play Doornroosje, Nijmegen (NL) on December 10.
• DÄLEK will bring a different kind of heaviness to the Roadburn stage, and comment “Some people might wonder why a hip-hop act was added to the bill… we intend to show them why.”
• AHAB will play The Call of the Wretched Sea in full
• ZHRINE bring a slice of Icelandic darkness to Roadburn
• AUÐN join their Icelandic brothers, delivering windswept, atmospheric black metal
• ALUK TODOLO will perform latest album Voix in full
• ZU bring their frenzied experimentation to Roadburn 2017 again
• INTER ARMA will make a triumphant return to Roadburn, and no doubt deliver yet another stunning performance
• Leif Edling’s THE DOOMSDAY KINGDOM will make their live debut at Roadburn 2017
• Karl Simon brings his post-Gates of Slumber band WRETCH to Roadburn for their European debut
• Thick tones, soaring melodies, and bone-crunching rhythms will be the order of the day for SLOMATICS
• WOE bring their passionate and potent American black metal to Tilburg
• ULTHA will be making a bid for the heaviest set of the day when they perform
• EMPTINESS will blend black metal and power electronics

Tickets for Roadburn 2017 will go on sale from Thursday, 20 October 2016. They will be available to purchase in person from the 013 venue, Tilburg, The Netherlands from 6.30pm local time – and ticket buyers are invited to the pre-sale party at the venue featuring Ortega and Gomer Pyle. Tickets will go on general sale at 9pm (NL and mainland Europe)/ 8pm (UK)/ 3pm (East Coast USA)/ 12 noon (West Coast USA). Tickets can be purchased from this link.

For more information on the pre-sale party, click HERE.

http://www.roadburn.com/
https://www.facebook.com/roadburnfestival
https://twitter.com/roadburnfest

SubRosa, For this We Fought the Battle of Ages (2016)

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Desertfest Belgium 2016: YOB, Elder, Ahab, Cough, Hangman’s Chair, Tau and Castle Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 17th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

desertfest belgium 2016 header

It’s a considerable update from the camp of Desertfest Belgium 2016, so I won’t delay too much before letting you have at it — if anyone reads this stuff anyway — but before you jump in, take special note that the following seven bands have been added to the festival as a “build-up” to its first headliner announcement. That means that while YOBPentagramTorcheElderMy Sleeping Karma, Castle, etc., will play Desertfest Belgium 2016, none of them are actually among the three-day festival’s headlining acts. Very curious to see what that first headliner announcement will bring, but in the meantime, anywhere that brings in YOB and Elder on the same weekend is the place to be that weekend.

Dig it:

desertfest belgium 2016 poster

The build-up towards our first headliner announcement continues with a batch of no less than SEVEN new names for the 2016 Desertfest Antwerp line-up… We’re pretty certain that the Oregon Doom Institution YOB requires no further introduction, and the formidable trio of melodic doom rockers ELDER, German Nautik Doom outsiders AHAB and sludge nihilists COUGH are sure to delight any Desertfester worth their salt. Rounding off we have Hangman’s Chair from Paris and Castle for more doom/sludge badass-ness, and the shamanic grooves of Tau throws in a fresh if deeply psychedelic vibe.

We hope you like what we have on offer here, and just remember: this is still all just the beginning of much more goodness to come!

YOB – The ethereal mists of Eugene, Oregon no doubt provide the perfect catalyst for founding member and vocalist Mike Scheidt to call up the signature of surging doom that has brought YOB to their current position as one of the most respected and revered bands in all of heavy metal. Their latest outing ‘Clearing The Path To Ascend’ (2014) was hailed as the crowning achievement for a band whose journey now nears 2 decades of creating cathartic music that demands the full attention of mind, body, and soul.

Elder – Elder melds the familiar sounds of Sleep‘s colossal riffage with an ever-evolving vision of soaring melodies and sonic soundscapes. The songs on their 3rd album ‘Lore’ cross the heavy rock and doom genre boundaries into krautrock and prog territory. Powered equally by riffs and atmosphere, Elder’s penchant for progressive songwriting and melody shines more brightly than ever, but they still hold true to their original methodology: all heavy, no filler.

Ahab – With their outsider brand of Nautik Doom, AHAB have effectively thrown out all preconceived notions of what doom metal is supposed to be. As much as they can crush the listener into submission with epic arrangements, they can just easily revert to clean breaks and contemplative whispers. Drawing inspiration from books and painting as well as music, AHAB create something that gets into your mind through all levels of reception.

Cough – Cough brings together the most savage aspects of extreme music, from crushing doom metal and grimy sludge to early black metal. We’re anxiously awaiting the June release of ‘Still They Pray’, which must be one of the most anticipated metal albums of 2016 in a production by Electric Wizard’s Jus Oborn. Rest assured that it will fulfill their long-term ambition to remain the heaviest sludge band in existence.

Hangman’s Chair – Somewhere between the dirge of grunge and the grind of doom, you will find the Paris combo Hangman’s Chair. Their world is a place of darkness and cold, but you’ll inevitably be pulled in by its eerie atmosphere. Across 4 full length albums and 3 split albums they’ve toured from Hellfest to Iceland, Russia, Benelux, Germany and Switzerland with the likes of Eyehategod, High On Fire, Crowbar, and The Devil’s Blood.

Tau – The collective project by Shaun Mulrooney (Dead Skeletons) and the Venezuelan multi instrumentalist Gerald Pasqualin was inspired by Shaun’s shamanic experiences in the magical desert of Real De Catorce. This resulted in the deeply psychedelic mind-trip EP ‘Wirikuta’ (recorded with Christoph “Tiger” Bartlett from Kadavar), providing some true Desert music that will shake your senses and spirit.

Castle – Doom-tinged metal outfit Castle will release their 4th album in July 2016. Since their inception in 2009, they have steadily climbed the metal ranks with a succession of critically acclaimed releases. Their live reputation is equally solid, having played hundreds of shows worldwide alongside The Sword, Conan, Intronaut and Pentagram and festivals like Roadburn and the London and Berlin Desertfests.

https://www.facebook.com/desertfestbelgium/
https://twitter.com/desertfestBE
https://www.facebook.com/events/488174281372335/
http://www.desertfest.be/tickets

YOB, “Marrow” live in NYC, Nov. 2015

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audiObelisk Transmission 055

Posted in Podcasts on December 14th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

Click Here to Download

 

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

Before we get to all the tracks and this and that, I have to say, this double-size year-end podcast was an absolute pleasure to put together. Fun. Actual fun. I don’t know if it was the preponderance of excellent songs to work from that came out in 2015 or what, but I had a really good time making my way through the near-four-hour run, and I hope you feel that way too as you listen.

It should go without mentioning, but I’ll give the disclaimer anyway that this is in no way, shape or form a complete rundown of everything awesome produced this year. My own Top 10 has bands on it who aren’t represented here, so if you don’t see something you think belongs in the mix below — looking at you, Baroness fans — please keep in mind that it’s not my intent to offer anything more than a partial summary. Otherwise, I’d have to make it a year long.

Thanks for listening if you get the chance to do so, and if there’s something here you haven’t yet checked out, I hope you dig it. The flow is pretty easy front to back, but we get into some more extreme stuff in the third hour for a bit before going grand with Elder and the “Digestive Raga” from Øresund Space Collective, which seemed an appropriate way to end off giving everyone a chance to process what’s just been heard. Please enjoy.

Track details follow:

First Hour:
0:00:00 Acid King, “Red River” from Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere
0:08:24 Clutch, “Firebirds” from Psychic Warfare
0:11:23 Bloodcow, “Crystals and Lasers” from Crystals and Lasers
0:14:28 Stoned Jesus, “Rituals of the Sun” from The Harvest
0:21:25 Ufomammut, “Plouton” from Ecate
0:24:33 Geezer, “So Tired” from The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter One Split w/ Borracho
0:32:36 Wizard Eye, “Thunderbird Divine” from Wizard Eye
0:37:40 Mondo Drag, “Crystal Visions Open Eye” from Mondo Drag
0:42:08 Fogg, “Seasons” from High Testament
0:48:26 Goatsnake, “Grandpa Jones” from Black Age Blues
0:53:02 Snail, “Thou Art That” from Feral

Second Hour:
1:03:17 Sergio Ch., “Las Piedras” from 1974
1:06:40 All Them Witches, “Blood and Sand – Milk and Endless Waters” from Dying Surfer Meets His Maker
1:13:54 Death Hawks, “Ripe Fruits” from Sun Future Moon
1:18:45 Colour Haze, “Call” from To the Highest Gods We Know
1:26:46 Kadavar, “Last Living Dinosaur” from Berlin
1:30:50 Spidergawd, “Fixing to Die Blues” from Spidergawd II
1:35:02 The Machine, “Dry End” from Offblast!
1:38:01 The Midnight Ghost Train, “Straight to the North” from Cold was the Ground
1:42:00 Kind, “Pastrami Blaster” from Rocket Science
1:48:29 Valley, “Dream Shooter, Golden!” from Sunburst
1:54:22 Graveyard, “From a Hole in the Wall” from Innocence and Decadence
1:58:09 Demon Head, “Book of Changes” from Ride the Wilderness

Third Hour:
2:02:50 Egypt, “Endless Flight” from Endless Flight
2:12:29 Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, “Empires of Dust” from Brothers of the Sonic Cloth
2:20:09 With the Dead, “I am Your Virus” from With the Dead
2:25:45 Ahab, “Red Foam (The Great Storm)” from The Boats of the Glen Carrig
2:32:08 Kings Destroy, “Mr. O” from Kings Destroy
2:36:37 Sun and Sail Club, “Dresden Firebird Freakout” from The Great White Dope
2:38:33 Sunder, “Wings of the Sun” from Sunder
2:42:41 Weedpecker, “Into the Woods” from Weedpecker II
2:50:50 Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, “Pusher Man” from The Night Creeper
2:56:26 Eggnogg, “Slugworth” from Sludgy Erna Bastard split w/ Borracho

Fourth Hour:
3:02:48 Golden Void, “Astral Plane” from Berkana
3:09:34 Elder, “Lore” from Lore
3:25:24 Øresund Space Collective, “Digestive Raga” from Different Creatures

Total running time: 3:55:26

 

Thank you for listening.

Download audiObelisk Transmission 055

 

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

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

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

No need to delay. Let’s dive in:

Ordered alphabetically by artist

Ruby the Hatchet, Valley of the Snake

ruby the hatchet valley of the snake

Cover by Adam Burke. Artist website here.

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

Elder, Lore

elder lore

Cover by Adrian Dexter. Artist website here.

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

Kings Destroy, Kings Destroy

kings destroy self titled

Cover by Josh Graham. Artist website here.

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

Snail, Feral

snail feral
Cover by Seldon Hunt. Artist website here.

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

Valkyrie, Shadows

valkyrie shadows

Cover by Jeremy Hush. Artist website here.

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

Ahab, The Boats of the Glen Carrig

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

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

Acid King, Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere

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

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

Serial Hawk, Searching for Light

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

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

Various Artists, Electric Ladyland [Redux]

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

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

Kind, Rocket Science

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

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

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

And thanks for reading.

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audiObelisk Transmission 051

Posted in Podcasts on August 25th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

Click Here to Download

 

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

The last one was so late, it seemed only fair to get back on track and do this one early. Not that you’re sitting and waiting with baited breath for the next podcast, I know — not deluding myself to think otherwise — but it keeps me sane to stick to some imaginary/arbitrary feeling of timeliness that changes more often than not, so I’ll just say up front that I appreciate your indulgence. Wow. Sometimes these imaginary conversations get pretty heavy.

Speaking of heavy — and speaking of masterful segues! — the new podcast has plenty of it. The second hour actually gets pretty pummeling, what with the Ahab track and all, so I made sure a little extra psychedelic stuff got in at the front. Dig that Red Mountains track. Their album’s coming out on Nasoni, which should be all the endorsement you need. I’m also very much into the Pyramidal space jam, and if you get to hear it, that Brian Ellis & Brian Grainger record (El Paraiso is putting it out) is a gem. Think a more psychedelic Six Organs of Admittance, all instrumental.

Some killer samplings to be had here, so I won’t delay further. Hope you enjoy:

First Hour:
0:00:00 Tony Reed, “Still Born Beauty (Necromandus ’73)” from The Lost Chronicles of Heavy Rock Vol. 1
0:04:02 All Them Witches, “Dirt Preachers” from Dying Surfer Meets His Maker
0:07:43 Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, “Waiting for Blood” from The Night Creeper
0:12:33 Red Mountains, “Sleepy Desert Blues” from Down with the Sun
0:19:58 T.G. Olson, “Heavy on Your Head” from The Boom and Bust
0:23:18 Pyramidal, “Motormind” from Jams from the Sun Split with Domo
0:33:30 Brian Ellis & Brian Grainger, “Treesmoke” from At Dusk
0:37:53 Vinnum Sabbathi, “Hex II: Foundation Pioneers” from Fuzzonaut Split with Bar de Monjas
0:45:18 Spelljammer, “The Pathfinder” from Ancient of Days
0:53:41 Derelics, “Ride the Fuckin’ Snake to Valhalla” from Introducing

Second Hour:
1:02:03 Ahab, “The Weedmen” from The Boats of the Glen Carrig
1:16:56 Lost Orb, “Low Ebb’s Lament” from Low Ebb’s Lament
1:34:10 Hotel Wrecking City Traders, “Droned and Disowned” from Split with Hey Colossus

Total running time: 2:00:41

 

Thank you for listening.

Download audiObelisk Transmission 051

 

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Ahab to Release The Boats of the Glen Carrig in August

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 1st, 2015 by JJ Koczan

ahab

German sea-themed funeral doomers Ahab released what many considered to be their defining work in 2012’s The Giant, their third album and the follow-up to 2009’s likewise impressive The Divinity of Oceans (review here). As such, expectations and anticipation are both high for their fourth long-player, which it has been revealed will be titled The Boats of the Glen Carrig, named for the 1907 novel by British writer William Hope Hodgson. The band will look to meet those expectations when the outing is released in August on Napalm, and those who’d like to get in on preorders will be able to do so beginning June 18.

The PR wire brings the details and whatnots from offshore. Take special note of the Sebastian Jerke cover art, which is particularly righteous:

ahab the boats of the glen carrig

AHAB Unveil First Details Of Upcoming Album!

They are hitting the sea again!

Nautical Doomsters AHAB cast their net across the oceans and capture their fans with their impressive soundscape! The German quartet has now unveiled the first details of their upcoming album The Boats Of The Glen Carrig.

The sensational artist Sebastian Jerke, who was also responsible for the latest album artwork from the likes of Zodiac, The Answer and My Sleeping Karma, created the cover artwork.

The Boats Of The Glen Carrig Track Listing:
1. The Isle
2. The Thing That Made Search
3. Like Read Foam (The Storm)
4. The Weedmen
5. To Mourn Job
6. The Light in the Weed (Mary Madison) (Bonus Track)

The Boats Of The Glen Carrig will be released on August 28 on Napalm Records & is available as LTD 6 Page Digipak & Bonus Track, 2LP Gatefold edition, strictly limited Wooden Box Edition and Ultra Deluxe Canvas Edition. Pre-orders will start on June 18th!

Don’t miss the chance to see these guys live:

03.06.15 DE – Geiselwind / Out & Loud Festival
19.06.15 FR – Clisson / Hellfest
04.07.15 UK – High Wycombe / The Boston Music Rooms
25.07.15 DE – Langendorf / Ragnarock Festival
12.12.15 NL – Eindhoven / Eindhoven Metal Meeting

For More Info Visit:
www.ahab-doom.de
www.facebook.com/AhabDoom
www.napalmrecords.com
www.facebook.com/napalmrecords

Ahab, The Giant (2012)

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Ahab Go Back into the Deep

Posted in Reviews on July 22nd, 2009 by JJ Koczan

Pretty sure they didn't paint this.It was by only the slightest beard hair that I avoided hearing the nautically-bent Ahab when they made their debut with 2006’s Call of the Wretched Sea. It wasn’t that I had something against the German funeral doom four-piece, just that I knew once I exposed myself to the record (hello!), I’d have to buy it. And we couldn’t have that, right? It stayed on my Amazon wish list for a while as I waited for the price to drop, but it never did, so I took it off and that seemed to be that on Ahab.

Set sail, ye land lubbers.Until I heard The Divinity of Oceans, Ahab‘s new, second album through Napalm Records. Now I’m in the hole for two of the band’s releases and wondering why I bothered to resist in the first place. The band hone their watery craft across seven lengthy tracks — the shortest is “O Father Sea” at 7:07 — of snail’s pace riffing and deathly growls. Sporadic melodic vocals pop up in various moans and croons throughout, as on closer “Nickerson’s Theme,” and the guitars late into “Tombstone Carousal” are almost hopeful sounding, but the compass is pointing to oppressive doom lethargy, and Ahab are clearly skilled navigators.

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