Akris, Your Mantis: Burning, Rowing

Posted in Reviews on November 29th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

akris-your-mantis

It feels like longer than three years since bass-driven Virginia sludge outfit Akris offered up their self-titled debut (review here), but part of that may be due to the rather significant changes the band has undergone in that stretch. Founded as a two-piece in the wake of bassist/vocalist Helena Goldberg‘s prior outfit, AquilaAkris‘ second full-length, Your Mantis (on DGRecords), marks an entirely new beginning for the group, which in 2015 announced that joining Goldberg would be guitarist/vocalist Paul Cogle (NagatoBlack Blizzard) and drummer Tim Otis (Admiral Browning), establishing them as a trio for the first time. That’s no minor shift, adding guitar and second vocals for the first time, let alone a drummer with the fervor and intense personality and play that Otis brings, and the six-track/38-minute Your Mantis meets the change head-on with ambition, beginning a storyline reportedly intended to carry across a multi-album arc into the next Akris release, whatever form that may take when they get there.

This lineup made its opening statement with last year’s Fall EP (review here), so for those who heard that or the first record, perhaps Your Mantis won’t be so much a superficial sidestep from its predecessor — it’s still very much Goldberg at the core of group, and their blend of aggressive noise rock and weighted sludge tonality is consistent — but one can hear progression both in terms of the concepts with which Akris are working, and in the still-engagingly-raw sound they bring to bear, the track “Brown” offering a direct comparison point as it’s shared between both albums.

Worth noting that the version of “Brown” on Your Mantis is over a minute shorter than the one on Akris. The long-player itself follows suit. Recorded and mixed at Oubliette Studios with a mastering job by Noel Mueller of Grimoire Records and topped with Sean “Skillit” McEleny cover art, Your Mantis is over 20 minutes shorter than the preceding self-titled, and when it comes to a sound that plays back and forth between hypnotic melodicism and intense punkish fervor in the manner theirs does, building quickly into bursts of aggro thrust with a measure’s notice as Goldberg swaps out clean-singing for vicious screams, that brevity lends efficiency. Add to that a song like the well-placed “Burn with Me,” third of the six cuts, which finds Goldberg and Cogle working in duet-style vocals on a linear movement that’s clear and crisp in its execution, and Akris bring a sense of accomplishment and realization to Your Mantis that, while it may only be part of the story in terms of lyrical narrative, has plenty to say about how far they’ve come in the last three years.

akris

Since her days in Aquila, brashness has always been a feature of Goldberg‘s work, and that’s no different as opener “Profit” shifts from its early swaying and thudding into searing sludge and noise, setting up one of the essential trades the album will continue to make if not telling the full story in terms of atmosphere, which begins to flesh out with the fuzzier, more patient and winding “Sturgeon.” Melodically sung for the duration, it nonetheless hits into a slow-rolling finish before its five minutes are up, but even more, it provides a transition point between the scorch of “Profit” and “Burn with Me,” which brings Cogle forward vocally for the first time. It’s a quieter pulse at first, kept somewhat tense through percussion à la “Planet Caravan,” but that doesn’t last, and just past the halfway point heavier guitar kicks in and drives the song into its apex, leaving enough room on the other side to finish quiet and bring a sense of symmetry to what one presumes would be the end of side A.

Though it’s shorter as already noted, “Brown” feels more spacious in its early meanderings, but still locks into a blasting drive in its second half. That move between where-am-I-who-am-I and oh-yeah-I’m-here-to-rip-your-throat-out is in some ways the key to making Your Mantis work as it does, but Akris aren’t afraid to screw with the formula either, as the biting “Row” demonstrates with a near-blackened blend of rumble and screams at its start, giving way to the single angriest push of the record, an insistent noisy post-grunge chug still consistent atmospherically with echo on Goldberg‘s vocals, which relent as the three-piece move into the brief chorus only to trade back again as the next verse takes hold. It’s not chaos exactly — there’s a plan at work on a structural level — but it sure sounds like it. “Row,” as the penultimate cut before the 10-minute finale “Visitor,” is the most brutal piece on Your Mantis, and Otis, who so frequently shines as a drummer in moments of fury, makes a highlight of the frustrated crashes that accompany its late payoff, but it is ultimately the closer tasked to sum up the record as a whole.

Not as easy a job as it might initially seem. Across its first five tracks, Your Mantis has careened, lurched, thrust, wandered, pivoted and turned, remaining cohesive and even flowing front to back in a manner born of some of the same impulses as the debut but grown outward from them on nearly every level of theme and performance — and with a new lineup. “Visitor” is wise to take its time in covering all this ground, and whether or not it was written with the intent of closing, it does the job well, representing the dynamic in sound and style that Akris have come to proffer on what might itself feel like a first outing were it not so clearly benefiting from the experience of having made the self-titled before it. Clear-headed? Certainly as far as its purposes go. Your Mantis may well be the beginning of something of larger scope for Akris, but they still hold onto that basic rawness beneath, and their approach is all the richer for it.

Akris, Your Mantis (2016)

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Akris on Bandcamp

DGRecords webstore

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Maryland Doom Fest 2017: Set Times Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 14th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

So I guess we’re pretty much ready to roll on Maryland Doom Fest 2017, right? We’ve had the lineup announced, we’ve got the schedule now. Might be another couple weeks getting t-shirts together — and hoodies; should’ve gotten a hoodie this year, which admittedly is something that occurs to one way less at the end of June than in mid-November — but then I’d say we’re about good to go. No need to wait until next summer on it. Let’s do this thing.

Maybe that’s just me being excited at the prospect of that Friday night lineup, which seems particularly strong front to back — not to take away from any of the other days, but you know I dig me some Lo-Pan — but either way, if Maryland Doom Fest‘s now-three-year tenure has been marked by anything it’s a lack of bullshit. A fervent get-down-to-business-and-kick-as-doing-it mentality. It’s perhaps the most “Maryland doom” aspect to the whole event. Maryland Doom Fest 2017 is clearly no different. Here we are more than half a year from the event kicking off and I know what time I need to be there on Thursday to watch Spillage start the pre-party. This is information I’m glad to have.

If your calendar isn’t marked yet, you might want to get on that:

maryland-doom-fest-2017-poster

The Maryland Doom Fest 2017

June 23, 2017 – June 25, 2017

Cafe 611
611 N Market St, Frederick, Maryland 21701

ROSTER SLOT TIMES

**PRE FEST PARTY THURS JUNE 22
• Valkyrie 1150 – 1250
• Beastmaker 1055 – 1140
• Pilgrim 1000 – 1045
• Borracho 915 – 950
• Weed Is Weed 830 – 905
• Sweet Heat 745 – 820
• Spillage 700 -735

FRIDAY JUNE 23
• Captain Beyond 1240 – 150
• Lo-Pan 1140 – 1230
• Apostle of Solitude 1050 – 1130
• Earthride 1000 – 1040
• Beelzefuzz 910 – 950
• Wretch 820 – 900
• Demon Eye 735 –810
• Brimstone Coven 650 – 725
• Black Manta 605 – 640
• Sierra 515 – 555

SATURDAY JUNE 24
• The Skull 1245 – 150
• Bang! 1140 – 1235
• Wo Fat 1050 – 1130
• The Well 1000 – 1040
• The Watchers 910 – 950
• Hollow Leg 825 – 900
• Iron Man 740 – 815
• Dark Music Theory 655 – 730
• War Injun 610 – 645
• Thonian Horde 525 – 600
• Witches of God 440 – 515
• Black Tar Prophet 355 – 430
• Conclave 305 – 345

SUNDAY JUNE 25
• Headliner 1140 – 1245
• The Atomic Bitchwax 1045 -1130
• Serpents of Secrecy 955 – 1035
• Lightning Born 905 – 945
• Lifetime Shitlist 815 – 855
• Akris 730 – 805
• Burn Thee Insects 645 – 720
• Faith In Jane 600 – 635
• Cavern 515 – 550
• Old Blood 430 – 505
• Horehound 345 – 420

TICKET SALES START JAN 1st !!

https://www.facebook.com/The-maryland-DOOM-Fest-815331421863100/
https://www.facebook.com/events/1794418777500202/
http://www.themarylanddoomfest.com/

Earthride, Live at Jason McCash Benefit, 2014

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Akris Premiere “Brown” Video; Your Mantis Due Sept. 23

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 5th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

akris

As I understand it, the new Akris video is the beginning point for a storyline that will continue into their next clip and maybe even their next release, but from the artfully shot slow-motion closeups, the ’90s-style walking toward the camera while the camera backs up at pace — see also Mantar‘s recent “Cross the Cross” video (posted here) — and the focus on performance throughout, there’s plenty in “Brown” to represent what the Virginian trio are all about. They’ll issue the band’s second full-length, Your Mantis (with fabulous Skillit artwork), Sept. 23 on DGRecords, marking the long-play debut of Akris‘ current lineup of bassist/vocalist/founder Helena Goldberg, guitarist/vocalist Paul Cogle (also Black Blizzard) and drummer Tim Otis (also Admiral Browning) after the release of last year’s Fall EP (review here).

akris your mantisAnd for a standalone representation of what this version of Akris — they started as a duo and released their self-titled debut (review here) in 2013 — are all about, there’s little more one could ask of “Brown” than what the song delivers. Goldberg is front and center and her vocals melodic in a post-grunge tradition, always with a kind of riot grrl undercurrent, but the additional fuzz that Cogle‘s guitar brings to the mix lets her explore more fleshed out basslines, and of course Otis is a master of on-the-beat drumming, his tight style perfectly suited to Akris‘ noise rock tendencies, which come out more later in the track as Goldberg moves into and out of more vicious screams and leads the three-piece through d-beat rush that’s a surprise after the initial groove they lock in, but not at all out of place.

DGRecords has Your Mantis available for preorder now (linked below). The release show is set for Sept. 23 at Guido’s Speakeasy in Frederick, Maryland, and under the “Brown” video, you’ll find some comment from Goldberg about how the song and video tie together and where they might be headed from here.

Please enjoy:

Akris, “Brown” official video

Helena Goldberg on “Brown”:

This video for “Brown” is a preface to our next album and video (projected release 2017/2018). This multiple album-spanning storyline is based on a dream that I had in 2011, in which three brown-robed travelers journey in a timeless and seemingly empty world, united by a common purpose that will not be revealed until the end of our next album and video. Seen through the “eyes” of an unknown entity, the video offers an intimate glimpse into the projected origins of this group of travelers (the three members of Akris). The viewer finds the travelers coming to an old warehouse, discovering their robes and instruments, then packing them up and beginning our journey that will be continued next with the Sleeping Village album.

The Akris sophomore full-length, “Your Mantis” will be the first album released by DGRecords with the new lineup (Paul Cogle on guitar, Tim Otis on drums). The album has songs that listeners may recognize from past albums (“Brown,” “Profit,” “Row of Lights”), as well as brand new tracks such as “Visitor,” “Burn with Me,” and “Sturgeon.” The visual imagery and storyline that you will see in the video for “Brown” seems to have been as much a part of the song as the words and music, and constantly in my mind over the years. I can’t say enough good things about Three Goats Moving Pictures. Their commitment and passion was completely inspiring, and it has been extremely moving to me that they were so dedicated to creating visually these images I’ve had in my head for so long. They were incredibly professional (worked nonstop for about 10-12 hours the day of the shoot, one guy literally just grabbing a handful of bread and peanut butter at one point and continuing working, that was his “break”!). It’s also been amazing how supportive DGRecords has been in helping us to create this video. Your Mantis drops September 23rd, and we will be touring out to the Southwest Terror Fest in October in support of the release!

Akris on tour:
Fri 09/23 Frederick MD – Guidos- CD release show
Fri 10/14 Asheville NC – Odditorium
Sat 10/15 Nashville TN – Springwater
Sun 10/16 Little Rock – TBA
Mon 10/17 Austin, TX – The Lost Well – w/ Order of the Owl and Destroyer of Light
Wed 10/19 Rogue bar Scottsdale AZ w/ order of the owl
Thurs 10/20 Tucson AZ – Southwest Terror Fest- Gary’s place
Sat 10/22 TBA
Mon 10/24 TBA
Tues 10/25 Hattiesburg – The Tavern
Wed 10/26 Birmingham – the Fireside

Akris on Thee Facebooks

Akris release show event page

Akris on Bandcamp

Your Mantis preorder from DGRecords

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Quarterly Review: Jess and the Ancient Ones, Iguana, Seamount, Gentlemans Pistols, Wired Mind, Automaton, Sideburn, Year of the Cobra, Drive by Wire, Akris

Posted in Reviews on January 4th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk quarterly review winter

And so it begins again. It had been my original intention to launch this latest Quarterly Review last week, but as that would’ve had me basically walking out on the holidays with my family, it seemed somehow prickish to be like, “Uh, sorry dudes, riffs call” and split, particularly when there are hours of driving involved. Still, though it’s already running late by the arbitrary calendar in my mind, I’m glad to be able to tackle a batch of releases that both looks back on the last part of 2015 and to the New Year we’ve just entered. As ever, there is a lot, a lot, a lot of ground to cover, so I won’t delay except to remind of what the Quarterly Review actually is:

Between now and this Friday, I will post 10 reviews a day in a single batch grouped like this one. The order is pretty much random, though something higher profile is usually first. It is my intention that each post covers a range of styles, and hopefully within that, you’re able to find something that speaks to you. Many of these releases were sent to me as physical product, and before I start, I want to extend thanks to those groups for undertaking the time and expense of giving me the full representation of their work to hopefully better do mine.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Jess and the Ancient Ones, Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes

jess and the ancient ones the second psychedelic coming

Finnish six-piece Jess and the Ancient Ones pay homage to psych cultistry on their sophomore full-length, Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes (on Svart), and while one might argue with the band marking this out as the “second coming” of psych – I’d say the third, generationally-speaking – the paean to late-‘60s sonic spaciousness in “In Levitating Secret Dreams” is unmistakable, the songwriting of guitarist Thomas Corpse conjuring fervent swirl behind the soulful Grace Slick-isms of vocalist Jess. At 65 minutes, it’s a classic double-LP, but Second Psychedelic Coming seems most engaged in its longer pieces, the eight-minute “Crossroad Lightning,” which pulls back from the urgency of earlier cuts “”The Flying Man” or the opening “Samhain,” and the 22-minute closer “Goodbye to Virgin Grounds Forever,” which has an arrangement to match its scope that unfolds no less gracefully. Some of the more frenetic parts seem to be arguing with themselves, but the overarching vibe remains satisfyingly tripped out and that closer is their to-date masterpiece.

Jess and the Ancient Ones on Thee Facebooks

Jess and the Ancient Ones at Svart Records

Iguana, Cult of Helios

iguana cult of helios

No big surprise that a record called Cult of Helios would seem to so unabashedly bask in sunshine. The four-track/32-minute sophomore full-length from German heavy psych four-piece Iguana has its driving moments, some in opener “Josiah” but more in the subsequent melodic thriller “Albedo,” but the prevailing sensibility is toward tonal warmth and steady groove. The band – vocalist/guitarist Alexander Lörinczy, guitarist Thomas May, bassist Alexander May and drummer Robert Meier – debuted in 2012 with Get the City Love You (review here), but Cult of Helios is a more cohesive, individualized release, whether it’s the hook of “Albedo,” the Beatles-gone-fuzz of “A Deadlock Situation” or the lush, flowing 15-minute jam of the closing title-track. Iguana’s propensity for blending underlying structure with a wide-open, welcoming atmosphere is writ large over Cult of Helios, and the album shines in a manner befitting its inspiration. A sleeper that begs waking.

Iguana on Thee Facebooks

Iguana website

Seamount, V: Nitro Jesus

seamount v nitro jesus

Most long-distance projects fizzle out after a record or two. With a lineup split between Bavaria and Connecticut, doom rockers Seamount have managed to sustain a remote collaboration, the German band of bassist Markus Ströhlein, guitarist Tim Schmidt and drummer Jens Hofmann working with New England-based vocalist Phil Swanson (ex-Earthlord, ex-Hour of 13, Vestal Claret, etc.). The excellently-titled Nitro Jesus (on The Church Within) is their fifth full-length since 2007, and boasts a refined blend of doom, NWOBHM and dark thematics common to Swanson’s lyrics. Tonally crisp but immersive, slow crawlers like “Can’t Escape the Pain” are offset by the ‘80s metal swing of “Beautiful Sadness,” and each side caps with a longer track, whether that’s the seven-minute “Scars of the Emotional Stuntman,” the most singularly sweeping movement here, or the closer “No One Knows,” which has a moodier feel, the guitar recalling Don Henley accompanied by piano as the finale hits its apex. For those who like their metal of tried and true spirit and individual presentation, Nitro Jesus delivers in more than just its name.

Seamount on Thee Facebooks

The Church Within Records

Gentlemans Pistols, Hustler’s Row

gentlemans pistols hustler's row

Every now and then you hear a record that reminds you what you love about rock and roll in the first place. It doesn’t need to be the most complicated thing in the world, or the most expressive, or the heaviest or the most whatever of anything else, but like Gentlemans Pistols’ third LP, Hustler’s Row (on Nuclear Blast), if it locks in a special chemistry between its players, that’s more than enough to carry it through. That the UK four-piece are ace songwriters and bolstered by the lead guitar chops of Bill Steer (Firebird, Carcass) for the Thin Lizzy dual-solos – vocalist/guitarist James Atkinson on the other end – helps plenty as well, but with the tight, classic-style grooves brought to across Hustler’s Row by bassist Robert Threapleton and drummer Stuart Dobbins, Gentlemans Pistols give essential heavy rock a non-retro modern interpretation that might leave one wondering why so many people try to ape a ‘70s production to start with.

Gentlemans Pistols on Thee Facebooks

Gentlemans Pistols at Nuclear Blast

Wired Mind, Mindstate: Dreamscape

wired mind mindstate dreamscape

Each side of Wired Mind’s Mindstate: Dreamscape LP (on HeviSike Records) gracefully unfolds a lushly-toned, warm, engaging heavy psychedelic sprawl. The chief influence for the Hannover two-piece of guitarist/vocalist Mikey and drummer Chris is their countrymen godfathers Colour Haze, but the duo make their presence felt early on “Road,” the opener and longest-track at 11:01, which balances serene and spaced exploration with post-Kyuss “Thumb” shuffle, all the more enticing for having been recorded live, conjuring Echoplex spaciousness around the repeated line, “All we gotta do is love.” Both sides work on the same structure of a longer track feeding into a shorter one, “Road”’s considerable amassed thickness giving way to the winding groove of “Jennifer’s Dream of a Switchblade” while the Duna Jam-ready vibes permeating from “Wired Dream” finding a moving complement in closer “Woman,” which effectively captures desert rock rhythmic propulsion. As their debut, Mindstate: Dreamscape feels conceptually and stylistically cohesive, and sets Wired Mind up with a sonic breadth on which to continue to build.

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Wired Mind at HeviSike Records

Automaton, Echoes of Mount Ida

automaton echoes of mount ida

Greek heavy rollers Automaton revisit their 2013 debut full-length, Echoes of Mount Ida, for a limited vinyl release. The four-track offering initially surfaced coated in burl and massive riffing, but a remix adds psychedelic edge to the lumbering fervor of “Fear,” on which the Athenian five-piece are joined by Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of Øresund Space Collective for added synth and swirl. He delivers, and the opener also adds guest vocals from Nancy Simeonidou, but the remix keeps things consistent as Automaton transition into the chugging “Beast of War,” a complex near-djent rhythm (which will find complement in the end of “Echoes of Mount Ida” itself) smoothly met by drummer Lykourgos to finish side A of the LP while the locked-in nod of “Breathe in Stone” bleeds into the closing title-track as Automaton offer riffy largesse set in a spacious backdrop like mountains in the distance. Interesting to see if the semi-reboot of their debut is indicative of some overall shift in direction, but at least on the vinyl offering, it makes their sound that much broader.

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Sound Effect Records

Sideburn, Evil or Divine

sideburn evil or divine

Between Martin Karlsson’s keys (also bass) and vocalist Dimitri Keiski’s propensity to soar, the mood turns epic pretty quick on Sideburn’s fifth album, Evil or Divine (on Metalville Records). The Swedish foursome’s latest shares more than just its titular reference in common with Dio — who, in addition to the lyric from “The Last in Line” had a live record with the same title – but keep a foot in doom territory throughout, drummer Fredrik Haake playing with metallic precision and an edge of swing as Morgan Zocek pulls out leads over “Sea of Sins.” The later “The Day the Sun Died” is particularly post-Ozzy Iommic, but Evil or Divine benefits from the kick in the ass that the penultimate “Evil Ways” seems only too happy to provide before “Presence” finishes on a hopeful note. Definitely more fist-pump than nod, Evil or Divine cries out to legions of the brave who want a thicker groove than modern metal is willing to provide without giving up the occasional cause to headbang.

Sideburn on Thee Facebooks

Metalville Records

Year of the Cobra, The Black Sun

year of the cobra the black sun

Seattle-based bass/drum duo Year of the Cobra had two labels pick up their debut EP, The Black Sun, between Devil’s Child Records and DHU Records, and they’ve signed to STB Records for the follow-up, so it seems safe to say their three-track outing has gotten a solid response. The songs make a compelling argument for why. With vocals that recall Soph Day from Alunah on opener “White Wizard” before delving into faster, more punkish fare on “The Black Sun” itself, Year of the Cobra serve immediate notice of a breadth in their sound, and the seven-minute wah-bass finale “Wasteland” enacts a low-end swirl that pushes even further out while keeping hold of itself via steady, tense drumming. That finisher is a particular high point, with bassist/vocalist Amy Tung Barrysmith self-harmonizing in layers over the steady build and drummer Johanes Barrysmith making sure the considerable tone keeps moving forward. Easy to hear why they’ve found such support in such a short time.

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Dark Hedonistic Union Records

Devil’s Child Records

STB Records

Drive by Wire, The Whole Shebang

drive by wire the whole shebang

The third long-player from Dutch four-maybe-five-piece Drive by Wire, The Whole Shebang gets more complex as it goes. Its first couple tracks, “Kerosine Dreams” [sic], “Woodlands,” “The Whole Shebang” and “Five Ft. High” are deeply indebted to desert rock circa Songs for the Deaf, tonally and even in some of Simone Holsbeek’s sing/talk call and responses on “Woodlands.” From there, “Rituals,” “In This Moment” and the moody “River Run” and “Promised the Night” push into more individual ground, and even though they tie it back together in the album’s third and final movement with “Rotor Motor,” “All Around” and “Voodoo You Do,” the context has changed, and by the time guitarist Alwin Wubben swells lead lines behind the verse of the closer, the fuzz of “Kerosine Dreams” is a distant memory. Completed by bassist Marcel Zerb and drummer Jerome Miedendorp de Bie, Drive by Wire wind up on a considerable journey, and while the title at first seems off-the-cuff, it works out to be a whole shebang indeed.

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Drive by Wire webstore

Akris, Fall EP

akris fall ep

Relaunched as a trio in the first half of 2015, Virginia trio Akris made a studio return with the four-song/32-minute Fall EP, which probably should’ve been called a full-length and probably should’ve been pressed to vinyl (paging Tony Reed to master and STB Records to release…), but the digital-only offering finds Akris and particularly founding bassist/vocalist Helena Goldberg anything but apprehensive as she, guitarist/vocalist Paul Cogle (Nagato, Black Blizzard) and drummer Tim Otis (Admiral Browning) follow-up the band’s raucous sans-guitar 2013 self-titled full-length debut (review here), balancing plodding grooves, melody and abrasion deftly atop rumble and riffs in “Forgiven” as Goldberg swaps between screams and grunge-styled croons. The subsequent “People in the Sky” is less patient, and caps its nine-minute run with a barrage of noise rock synth that continues at the start of closer “Alley Doorway” but ultimately recedes (momentarily) to let that song establish its own course of loud/quiet tradeoffs and resonant exploration. Unless Akris are planning a series of seasonal short releases, I see no reason why Fall EP shouldn’t be characterized as a second long-player and heralded for the bold expansion of the band’s approach it represents.

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Akris on Bandcamp

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Six Dumb Questions with Akris

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on May 7th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

akris (Photo by Tiffany Kaetzel)

I’m not gonna lie, it’s been a while since the last time I did a Six Dumb Questions interview. Right around the time Virginia’s Akris released their 2013 self-titled debut (review here), actually, and in fact these questions were sent out back then. Akris at the time were the duo of bassist/vocalist Helena Goldberg and drummer Sam Lohman, but that was soon enough to change.

Last weekend, Akris made a return as the three-piece of Goldberg (who’s also ex-Lord and Aquila and performs solo), guitarist/vocalist Paul Cogle (also Nagato and Black Blizzard) and drummer Tim Otis (also Admiral Browning), bringing together known entities from the MD/VA underground in an unknown form. Their performance at Sludgement Day this past weekend marked a new beginning for the band, and they’ll follow it up with other regional shows before heading out to the West Coast for a run of shows alongside the much-loved Snail in July and August.

With new material in the works, plans to record with Chris Kozlowski at Polar Bear Lair this summer and a later release through Domestic Genocide Records — who seem to have opted for the more acronym-styled DGR — who also put out the first album, Goldberg takes on the following Six Dumb Questions:

Six Dumb Questions: Akris

1. Tell me about writing the self-titled. I know some of those songs were around for a while, but how did everything come together for the album?

One of the most important things about this album is the dedication to Mark Williams and all my friends in Hickory, NC. Mark ran shows out of his house, The Killing Floor, and I have been playing shows there and at other venues in Hickory since my first tour in 2007. Unfortunately, Mark and several other friends of mine that I made over the years in hickory passed away. Because of the unending support, hospitality, and kindness I have experienced in this town, I care very deeply about my friends there and will always be drawn to come back.

The album was recorded between the Fall and Spring of 2012-‘13… We actually decided on having the songs be in chronological order, with the oldest songs being first (“Fighter Pilot,” the first track, was actually written back in 2007) and the most current songs at that point towards the end. “Suffocate” was written specifically for Mark, who passed away in the Spring of 2012. At the time of recording, the last track, “Part of Me,” was the most recently written track, having just been completed in the Fall of 2012. Actually, the current set is comprised in a very similar way to the album. There are a couple older songs written back in 2007/2008, a couple songs from the album, and a few brand new songs.

2. How was it for you recording with Chris Kozlowski? How long were you in the studio and how did the recording process work?

We absolutely loved recording with Chris! We had an amazing time at the polar bear lair; I think the entire process was over the span of a few months. Chris and I hit it off from the first time he did sound for Akris at a Krug’s show years ago in Frederick (I think it might have been a SHoD), and I’m happy to call him a very good friend. When I think of the recording process of this album I remember lots of laughs and various hijinks.

3. You’ve obviously put time into creating your bass tone, and it’s such a huge part of the songs. What gear did you use on the album, and was/is there something in particular you were trying to get out of it sound-wise?

I am a big supporter of Sunn equipment. My rig for the past few years is pretty much all Sunn and Earth, with bass and guitar rigs running simultaneously. We wanted to emulate the live sound as closely as possible, so we used two Sunn Model T’s, one through a 2×15, the other through an 8×10. One was more of a clear booming bass tone, the other was more distorted at a mid to treble range. When combined, the sound was very close to my live show rig.

4. How did bringing Ron “Fez” McGinnis from Admiral Browning in on vocals for “Vomit Within” come about? Tell me about writing that song musically and lyrically.

I usually don’t think about my lyrics too much; I almost feel like I just hear the sounds of the words first and just let them come out. It’s always interesting to actually go back and think about what I wrote! A lot of my lyrics involve death and spirituality, and the beginning of that song definitely references that (“There’s a shadow next to me/Sits beside me while I bleed,” etc.). Later in the song I think I was letting out a lot of anger and frustration in particular with dealing with death (“My brother, you fuck, I loved you too much,” for example). As far as Fez‘s vocal contribution, I trusted his musicianship enough to just let him do whatever he was inspired to do. He had the idea for the spoken word part at the beginning of the song and wrote the part while listening to the track in the studio. I am very excited to have him be a part of it!

5. What happened with Sam and how did you bring Tim and Paul into the band? How has working with them changed Akris? Will it affect your ability to tour?

I absolutely loved playing with Sam between the Spring of 2011 to about the Spring of 2014. Unfortunately, circumstances in his personal life made it impossible for him to continue. Tim Otis is one of my best friends, and I have been a big fan of his drumming since I moved down to the Northern Virginia area in 2008. When it became evident that Sam would not be able to continue playing drums for Akris this past January, Tim officially joined the band. Soon after, the decision was made to have Paul Cogle join on guitar. This was obviously a huge decision because I have been playing in a two-piece band for almost 10 years. However, I have been a fan of Paul‘s music and guitar playing for years, ever since I first heard Nagato. Paul is also a very good mutual friend of Tim’s and mine, and it has been an absolutely amazing, positive experience preparing our new set over these past few months. I am truly honored to call both Paul and Tim bandmates and friends. The three of us have worked out tour plans for the rest of the year, which include three shows in May local to the D.C./VA/MD area, a New Jersey Meatlocker show June 12, a West Coast tour in August with my longtime friends Snail (on Small Stone Records), and a Southern tour in September.

6. Any plans or closing words you want to mention?

We will be recording new material at the Polar Bear Lair again in July to be released on DG Records next year. I cannot express with words the love and gratitude I have for our label. There have been many ups and downs over the past couple years and they have truly stuck with me through thick and thin. To have the support of people who believe so strongly in me is an incredible blessing that I am thankful for every day. My current bandmates and label have helped me to find courage in my darkest times through love and strength, and to continue to push the envelope and the limits of our sound.

Akris, Akris (2013)

Akris on Thee Facebooks

Akris at DGRecords

DGR on Bandcamp

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Akris Return; Playing Sludgement Day this Weekend and West Coast in August

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 29th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

akris

I’ve got an interview with Akris bassist/vocalist Helena Goldberg set to go up next week, so if you want, think of this announcement of their return as a precursor to that. Now a trio, the Virginian outfit will play this weekend at Sludgement Day alongside a killer lineup that includes Righteous BloomHeavy TempleWizard EyeFoehammer and Lord (of which Goldberg is an alum), among others, and head out west this August to join forces with Snail for a round of dates in Sacramento, CA, Portland and Seattle.

Those shows will come after Akris return to the studio in July to record their second full-length, following up their 2013 self-titled debut (review here), which was released on Domestic Genocide Records. Dig into the info and dates below, torn along the perforation from the PR wire:

sludgement day poster

AKRIS: Psychedelic Sludge Faction Reawakens With Two New Members; Band To Rumble Sludgement Day This Weekend + New Material In The Works

Virginia-based psychedelic sludge faction, AKRIS, led by the low-end conjurings of bassist/vocalist Helena Goldberg, will return to the stage this weekend with two new recruits — drummer Tim Otis (Admiral Browning) and guitarist/vocalist Paul Cogle (Nagato, Slagstorm, Black Blizzard) — marking the first time ever AKRIS performs as a trio.

Comments Goldberg, “”Tim Otis is one of my best friends, and I’ve been a big fan of his drumming in Admiral Browning since I moved down to the northern Virginia area in 2008. When it became evident that Sam Lohman would not be able to continue playing drums for AKRIS this past January, Tim officially joined the band. Soon after, the decision was made to have our mutual friend Paul Cogle join on guitar. This was a huge decision because I have been playing in a two piece band for almost ten years. However, I have been a fan of Paul’s music and guitar playing for years, and have always heard and felt that we had very similar approaches to playing and songwriting. It has been an absolutely amazing, positive experience preparing our new set over these past few months. I am truly honored to call both Paul and Tim bandmates and friends.”

Otis and Cogle will make their live debuts this weekend as part of the Sludgement Day gala in Hagerstown, Maryland alongside Black Chasm, Fog Hound, Wizard Eye, Athame and more with additional performances throughout the Spring and Summer months confirmed and more being conspired.

AKRIS:
5/02/2015 Sludgement Day – Hagerstown, MD
5/29/2015 Guidos – Frederick, MD
5/30/2015 Fat Tuesday’s – Fairfax, VA
6/12/2015 Meatlocker – Montclair, NJ

w/Snail:
8/04/2015 The Starlite – Sacramento, CA
8/06/2015 Ash St. Pub – Portland, OR
8/09/2015 Highline – Seattle, WA

AKRIS will return to the Polar Bear Lair with Kozlowski this July to record their sophomore full- length. In the meantime, Akris is still available for purchase via DGRecords HERE.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Akris/170082017913
http://www.domesticgenociderecords.com
http://www.facebook.com/domgenrecords

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audiObelisk: Akris Self-Titled Debut Now Streaming in Full

Posted in audiObelisk on September 20th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

For a band that rests so comfortably on the brown note, there’s surprisingly little bullshit to what Akris do. On their self-titled Domestic Genocide Records debut, the Virginia bass/drum two-piece proffer sludge that ranges from unrepentantly abrasive punk-derived aggression (hello, “Unidentified”) to languid stoner nod topped with harmonized vocals (hello, “Riverbed”). At the fore is bassist/vocalist Helena Goldberg, whose varied approach and blanket of low-end tonal gorgeousness drives the band along with drummer Sam Lohman, and whether she’s cleanly hitting notes in the slow-churning “Suffocate” or screaming in layers on the raging push that emerges within the earlier “Profit,” her leading role is never really relinquished. It would be easy for Akris to fall in a trap of samey-sounding tracks of the course of the album’s hour-long runtime, but though it’s Goldberg and Lohman for the duration — Ron “Fezz” McGinnis of Admiral Browning/Pale Divine also guests on the 12-minute “Vomit Within” — the record wants neither for sonic nor structural variety.

There’s a tension, however, that remains consistent throughout the songs, and whether they’re raging or subdued or somewhere between the two, Akris — who recorded Akris with the venerable Chris Kozlowski at his Polar Bear Lair Studio — always seem to maintain a gut-tightening vibe that coincides with the emotionality on display in Goldberg‘s lyrics. Working around the lines “Fighter pilot/Why’d you do it?” opening cut “Fighter Pilot” holds a sense of melody even as the bass pushes air like it’s trying to collapse a lung, vague notions of ’90s-style riot grrrl defiance coming through in the vocals. Since they’re essentially a rhythm section, that Goldberg and Lohman would execute quick time-changes isn’t necessarily a surprise, but shifts in pace like that of “Row of Lights” go a long way especially when the arrangements are so elemental. Likewise, where “Unidentified” bludgeons at a straight-ahead blister and offers no relief, the turning mood present in “Riverbed” and longer pieces like “Brown” (7:19) and “Vomit Within” — or even closer “Part of Me,”  which taps out after seven minutes to leave room for an engagingly melodic hidden track — speak of a dynamic at work that’s all the more difficult to realize with so little wriggle room in the arrangements.

Multiple tours over the last couple years (they played SHoD in 2012) have tightened this material, some of which was also included on Akris‘ 2011 live demo, and though Lohman has left the band since the self-titled was finished and been replaced by Cheyka Bessid, harkening back to Goldberg‘s days scouring the NYC underground in her previous duo, Aquila, the album still gives an excellent display of the band’s craft and their aesthetic, which says nearly as much in its rawness as it does in its lyrics. If you listen to it for nothing other than the bass tone, you’re going to get what you came for.

Ahead of the release next Tuesday, I have the pleasure of hosting a full-stream of AkrisAkris. Please find it on the player below and enjoy:

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

Akris is set for release Sept. 24, 2013, on Domestic Genocide. Pre-orders can be placed now.

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Domestic Genocide Records

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Akris Sign to Domestic Genocide Records; New Album Coming Soon

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 18th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

I don’t even know how many tours Virginian duo Akris have under their collective belt at this point, but they’ve spent the last couple years kicking out considerable roadtime, and their rumble ‘n’ crash has never failed to impress. Last I caught them was early at SHoD last year, and they more or less wrecked the place before anyone else had the chance to play. Right on.

So kudos to the low end destroyers and to the grind-friendly Domestic Genocide Records for teaming up on the release of Akris‘ self-titled debut, recorded by the esteemed Chris Kozlowski (Blue Cheer, Earthride, Pentagram, Admiral Browning, on and on) and set for issue sometime in the coming months. Badassery from any angle one might want to see it:

AKRIS: Psychedelic Sludge Duo Joins Domestic Genocide Records

Virginia-based psychedelic sludge sorcerers AKRIS recently joined forces with Domestic Genocide Records for the release of their forthcoming full-length debut. Recorded by Chris Kozlowski at Polar Bear Lair Studios in Middleton, Maryland, the offering is slated to drop later this Summer.

Comments vocalist/ bassist Helena Goldberg of the signing: “It’s incredibly gratifying to sign to a label that not only recognizes how hard we work for our music, but also supports our relentless pursuit of our passion. We are very excited to be working with domestic genocide for the release of our debut full length album and we plan on touring the United States over the course of this June and July.”

The story of AKRIS begins in the middle, on a fateful June night in 2011 when Goldberg met drummer Sam Lohman at a house show in Alexandria, Virginia. Goldberg had begun AKRIS three years prior, continuing the path she had blazed with her first band Aquila. An accomplished and classically trained pianist, Goldberg began playing bass while studying piano and composition at the Manhattan School of Music, graduating in 2008. Her Uncle and mentor, world renowned master musician and accomplished recording artist Charles Burnham, gave Goldberg her first bass and taught her improvisational skills. A deep knowledge of musical theory and composition mixed with a deep, near- gut wrenching adoration for heavy music is where AKRIS derives its sound.

Powered by Earth and Sunn amps, Goldberg’s bass sound can only be matched by the sheer concentration of her vocals making for an avalanche of sonic severity. Drummer Sam Lohman began playing clubs since 1980 and has since performed with various bands including Sheer Terror, Dust Devils, Nimrod, Sikhara, Steve Mackay and the Radon Ensemble, Acid Mothers Temple, Sonic Suicide Squad, Matta Gawa with guitarist Ed Ricart and his solo noise project, 36. Two musicians from the same town but different worlds. Doomed to fail. Don’t even try. The first jam set the new course and a new AKRIS was forged.

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