Quarterly Review: Sandrider, Witchkiss, Satta Caveira, Apollo80, The Great Unwilling, Grusom, Träden, Orthodox, Disrule, Ozymandias

Posted in Reviews on December 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

Good morning from the kitchen table. It’s a couple minutes before 4AM as I get this post started. I’ve got my coffee, my iced tea in the same cup I’ve been using for the last three days, and I’m ready to roll through the next 10 records in this massive, frankly silly, Quarterly Review. Yesterday went well enough and I’m three days into the total 10 and I don’t feel like my head is going to explode, so I’ll just say so far so good.

As ever, there’s a lot to get through, so I won’t delay. I hope you find something here you dig. I certainly have.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Sandrider, Armada

sandrider armada

Armada is the third full-length from Seattle noiseblasters Sandrider, and at this point I’m starting to wonder what it’s going to take for this band to get their due. Produced by Matt Bayles and released through Good to Die Records, the album is an absolute monster front to back. Scathing. Beastly. And yet the songs have character. It’s the trio’s first outing since 2015’s split with Kinski (review here) and follows 2013’s Godhead (review here) and 2011’s self-titled debut (review here) in melding the band’s West Coast noise superiority with a sense of melody and depth as the trio of guitarist/vocalist Jon Weisnewski, bassist/vocalist Jesse Roberts, and omegadrummer Nat Damm course and wind their way through intense but varied material. “Banger” has been tapped for its grunge influence. Eh. Maybe in the riff, but who cares when there’s so much more going on with it? “Brambles” is out and out brutal but still has a hook, and cuts like “Industry” and the closing “Dogwater” remind of just how skilled Sandrider are at making that brutality fun. If the record was six minutes long and just had “Hollowed” on it, you’d still call it a win.

Sandrider on Thee Facebooks

Good to Die Records website

 

Witchkiss, The Austere Curtains of Our Eyes

witchkiss the austere curtains of our eyes

Goodness gracious. Cavernous echo accompanies the roars of guitarist Scott Prater that are offset by the more subdued melodies of drummer Amber Burns, but even in the most spacious reaches of 11-minute second cut “Blind Faith,” Witchkiss are fucking massive-sounding. Their debut album, The Austere Curtains of Our Eyes, presents an especially crushing take on ritualistic volume, sounding its catharsis in a song like “Spirits of the Dirt” and sounding natural as it trades between a rolling assault and the atmospheres of its quieter moments. With the departure since the recording of bassist Anthony DiBlasi, the New York-based outfit will invariably shift in dynamic somewhat coming out of this record, but with such an obvious clarity of mission, I honestly doubt their core approach will change all that much. A band doesn’t make a record like this without direct intention. They may evolve, and one hopes they do just because one always hopes for that, but this isn’t a band feeling their way through their first record. This is a band who know exactly the kind of ferocity they want to conjure, and who conjure it without regret.

Witchkiss on Thee Facebooks

Witchkiss on Bandcamp

 

Satta Caveira, MMI

Satta Caveira MMI

Argentinian instrumentalist trio Satta Caveira make a point of saying they recorded MMI, their second or third album depending on what you count, live in their home studio without edits or overdubs, click tracks or anything else. Clearly the intention then is to capture the raw spirit of the material as it’s happening. The eight songs that make up the unmanageable 62-minute listen of MMI — to be fair, 14 of those minutes are opener “Kundalini” and 23 are the sludge-into-jam-into-sludge riffer “T.H.C.” — are accordingly raw, but that in itself becomes a component of their aesthetic. Whether it’s the volume swell that seems to consume “Don Santos” in its second half, the funk of closer “Afrovoid” or the drift in “Kalifornia,” Satta Caveira manage to hone a sense of range amid all the naturalism, and with the gritty and more aggressive riffing of the title-track and the rush of the penultimate “Router,” their sound might actually work with a more elaborate production, but they’ve got a thing, it works well, and I’m not inclined to argue.

Satta Caveira on Thee Facebooks

Satta Caveira on Bandcamp

 

Apollo80, Lizard! Lizard! Lizard!

apollo 80 lizard lizard lizard

Vocalized only by spoken samples of astronauts, the thrice-exclamatory Lizard! Lizard! Lizard! is the debut EP from Perth, Australia, three-piece Apollo80, who are given mostly to exploring an outpouring of heavy molten vibes but still able to hone a bit of cacophony following the “godspeed, John Glenn” sample in second cut “FFH.” There are four songs on the 26-minute offering, and its spaciousness is brought to earth somewhat by the dirt in which the guitar and bass tones are caked, but it’s more the red dust of Mars than anything one might find kicking around a Terran desert. Unsurprisingly, the high point of the outing is the 10:46 title-track, where guitarist Luke, bassist Brano and drummer Shane push farthest into the cosmos — though that’s debatable with the interstellar drone of closer “Good Night” — but even in the impact of “Apollo” at the outset, there’s a feeling of low-oxygen in the atmosphere, and if you get lightheaded, that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be.

Apollo80 on Thee Facebooks

Apollo80 on Bandcamp

 

The Great Unwilling, EP

the great unwilling ep

The prevailing influence throughout the untitled debut EP from Minnesota’s The Great Unwilling is Queens of the Stone Age, but listening to the layer of wah intertwine with the solo on “Sanguine,” there’s more to their approach than just that, however dreamy the vocal melodies from guitarist Jesse Hoheisel might be. Hoheisel, bassist Joe Ulvi and Mark Messina present a clean four tracks and 20 minutes on their first outing, and for having been together for about 18 months, their songwriting seems to have a firm grasp on what they want to do. “If 3 was 7” rolls along at a heavy clip into an effectively drifting midsection and second half jam before returning to the initial riff, while “Current” leads off with a particularly Hommeian construction, and soon gives way to the flowing pace and apparent lyrical references of the aforementioned “Sanguine.” They finish with the dirtier tonality of “Apostasy” and cap with no more pretense than they started, bringing the short release to a close with a chorus that seems to finish with more to say. No doubt they’ll get there.

The Great Unwilling on Thee Facebooks

The Great Unwilling on Bandcamp

 

Grusom, II

grusom ii

A prominent current of organ alongside the guitars gives Grusom‘s aptly-titled second album on Kozmik Artifactz, II, a willfully classic feel, and even the lyrics of “Peace of Mind” play into that with the opening lines, “I always said I was born too late/This future is not for me,” but the presentation from the Svendborg six-piece isn’t actually all that retro-fied. Rather, the two guitars and organ work in tandem to showcase a modern take on those classic ideas, as the back and forth conversation between them in the extended jam of “Skeletons” demonstrates, and with a steady rhythmic foundation and soulful vocals overtop, Grusom‘s craft doesn’t need the superficial trappings of a ’70s influence to convey those roots in their sound. Songs like “Dead End Valley” and “Embers” have a bloozy swing as they head toward the melancholy closer “Cursed from Birth,” but even there, the proceedings are light on pretense and the atmosphere is more concerned with a natural vibe rather than pretending it’s half a century ago.

Grusom on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Träden, Träden

traden traden

Having originated as Träd Gräs och Stenar, the group now known as Träden is the product of a psychedelic legacy spanning generations. Founder Jakob Sjöholm has joined forces with Hanna Östergren of Hills, Reine Fiske of Dungen and Sigge Krantz of Archimedes Badkar to create a kind of supergroup of serenity, and their self-titled is blissful enough not only to life up to Träd Gräs och Stenar‘s cult status, but to capture one of its own. It’s gorgeous. Presumably the painting used on the cover is the cabin where it was recorded, and its eight tracks — sometimes mellow, sometimes more weighted, always hypnotic — are a naturalist blueprint that only make the world a better place. That sounds ridiculous, I know. But the truth is that for all the terrible, horrifying shit humanity does on a daily basis, to know that there are people on the planet making music like this with such a genuine spirit behind it is enough to instill a bit of hope for the species. This is what it’s all about. I couldn’t even make it through the Bandcamp stream without buying the CD. That never happens.

Träden on Thee Facebooks

Träden on Bandcamp

 

Orthodox, Krèas

orthodox kreas

Last year, Spanish experimentalists Orthodox released Supreme and turned their free-jazz meets low-doom into a 36-minute fracas of happening-right-now creativity. Krèas, a lone, 27-minute track with the core duo of bassist Marco Serrato and drummer Borja Díaz joined by saxophonist Achilleas Polychronidis, was recorded in the same session but somehow seems even more freaked-out. I mean, it’s gone. Gone to a degree that even the hepcats who claim to appreciate free-jazz on anything more than a theoretical level (that is, those who actually listen to it) will have their hair blown back. The rest of the universe? Well, they’ll probably continue on, blissfully unaware that Orthodox are out there smashing comets together like they are, but wow. Challenging the listener is one thing. Krèas is the stuff of dissertations. One only hopes Orthodox aren’t holding their breath waiting for humanity to catch up to what they’re doing, because, yeah, it’s gonna be a while.

Orthodox on Thee Facebooks

Alone Records webstore

 

Disrule, Sleep in Your Honour

Disrule Sleep in Your Honour

Danish bruisers Disrule run a brash gamut with their second album, Sleep in Your Honour (on Seeing Red). Leading off with the earworm hook of the title-track (premiered here), the album puts a charge into C.O.C.-style riffing and classic heavy rock, but shades of Clutch-y funk in “Going Wrong” and a lumbering bottom end in “Occult Razor” assure there’s no single angle from which they strike. “(Gotta Get Me Some) Control” elicits a blues-via-Sabbath vibe, but the drums seem to make sure Disrule are never really at rest, and so there’s a strong sense of momentum throughout the eight-song/29-minute EP, perhaps best emphasized by two-minute second cut “Death on My Mind,” which seems to throw elbows as it sprints past, though even shouted-chorus closer “Enter the Void” has an infectious energy about it. If you think something can’t be heavy and move, Disrule have a shove with your name on it.

Disrule on Thee Facebooks

Seeing Red Records on Bandcamp

 

Ozymandias, Cake!

ozymandias cake

First clue that all is not what it seems? The artwork. Definitely not a picture of cake on the cover of Ozymandias‘ debut album, Cake!, and accordingly, things don’t take long before they get too weird. “Jelly Beans” hits on harshest Nirvana — before it goes into blastbeats. “Mason Jar” scathes out organ-laced doom and vicious screaming, before “Hangman” gets all danceable like “All Pigs Must Die” earlier in the record. The wacky quotient is high, and the keyboards do a lot to add to that, but one can’t really call “Doom I – The Daisies” or the later “Doom II – The Lilies” anything but progressive in the Devin Townsend-shenanigans-metal sense of the word, and as wild as some stretches of Cake! are, the trio from Linz, Austria, are never out of control, and they never give a sense that what they’re doing is an accident. They’re just working on their own stylistic level, and to a degree that’s almost scary considering it’s their first record. I won’t claim to know where they might be headed, but it seems likely they have a plan.

Ozymandias on Thee Facebooks

StoneFree Records website

 

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Friday Full-Length: Yawning Man, Rock Formations

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 9th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

 

Consider the timing. Yawning Man formed in 1986 with guitarist Gary Arce, guitarist Mario Lalli, bassist Larry Lalli and drummer Alfredo Hernandez, and for a long time were something of a historical footnote in the development of Californian desert rock. Along with Across the River and the Lallis’ other concurrent band, Fatso Jetson, they were crucial to the development of the style, but Yawning Man were never able to reap the same kind of acclaim as some of the others from their region/local scene, in no small part because they never had a record out. They never signed to SST like Fatso Jetson, or hooked up with Elektra Records like their more accessible acolytes in Kyuss.

In fact, until 19 years after they first got together, the closest thing Yawning Man to a proper document of their sprawling jams was a series of demos that would later be collected into The Birth of Sol (discussed here), which was released on vinyl through Cobraside Distribution in 2009 and on double-cassette earlier this year through Solid 7 Records in an edition of 100 copies. Yes, I bought one. Just now. While writing this post. It’s called multitasking.

So think about that: Yawning Man went 19 years before they put out a record. And when they did? Rock Formations was ahead of its time.

Issuing through Alone Records, the instrumentalists would catch the ears of an elite few in the burgeoning milieu of internet message boards, but what Rock Formations communicates even 13 years after its first release in 2005 is a sense of pastoral spaciousness. In Arce‘s signature guitar tone — which, not to take away from Mario Lalli‘s bass or Hernandez‘s drumming, which are of course essential to the proceedings — Yawning Man finds its center and emanates outward from there across 10 songs and 43 minutes that aren’t inactive, but seem to resonate a stillness all the same. It remains a gorgeous record.

But it’s not aggressive. And for a heavy underground who knew Yawning Man largely through the Kyuss cover of “Catamaran” — a song Yawning Man wrote but wouldn’t actually put on an album until 2018’s The Revolt Against Tired Noises (review here) — it was an unexpected turn of aesthetic despite ultimately being true to the band’s style, which has never been outwardly angry. Even in the more forward low end of “Advanced Darkness” or the surge in the final minute of “Stoney Lonesome,” which is the longest track at 6:03, Rock Formations holds to a laid back vibe that might have punk roots, but certainly draws from other sources as well.

In 2010, during an interview to talk about that year’s follow-up to Rock Formations, the still-excellent Nomadic Pursuits (review here), I somewhat sheepishly came right out and asked Arce about the development of his guitar tone. yawning man rock formationsCouldn’t help myself. He was kind enough not to call me a dunce and gave a somewhat unexpected answer about his early inspirations:

I’m really into Bauhaus. Seriously. I grew up in the early ‘80s, listening to bands like Bauhaus and I’ve always loved the way that band has their thing, so I’ve always modeled my sound after them. I don’t know if you can hear it. The guitar player is Daniel Ash who later formed Love and Rockets. That guy’s an awesome guitar player, and he’s always had this tone that I’ve loved since I was a kid. When I finally got a guitar, I experimented around a lot with different effects and pedals, and I came near to what he does. I don’t want to sound just like him (laughs), but that’s one of my biggest influences, actually, is Bauhaus… If you listen to Yawning Man and you listen to Bauhaus, Southern Death Cult, Lords of the New Church, you’ll hear it.

Goth rock. A secondary tag for Yawning Man has always been surf because of the echo surrounding Arce‘s guitar and the general rhythmic insistence of songs like “Airport Boulevard” and “Perpetual Oyster,” both highlights of Rock Formations, but I’ve always kept that connection to Bauhaus in mind when it comes to Arce‘s work in sundry projects, and he’s right. You can hear it. It’s part of what makes Rock Formations harder to place within a style like heavy rock. And 2005 was a moment of generational shift as well. The stoner rock wave of the late ’90s and early ’00s had crested, and Yawning Man didn’t really fit with that either.

As the ensuing years and the boom of a mobilized social media landscape would expand the definition of “heavy” to encompass a range of atmospheres, Yawning Man would find their place eventually. But it took people that amount of time to catch up to them, and so in its initial release, Rock Formations was nothing if not under-appreciated. To hear it now, the Western jangle of “Split Tooth Thunder” and closer “Buffalo Chips” and the exploratory ambience of “She Scares Me” are quintessential Yawning ManNomadic Pursuits was more a right-album-right-time situation and though they’d continue having trouble getting on the road for a variety of reasons, by the time they got around to 2015’s Historical Graffiti (review here), which was recorded in South America, they were more apt to get out and tour.

Europe, as it will, has been a focal point, and to coincide with The Revolt Against Tired NoisesYawning Man headed abroad for a massive stint to promote it. One could argue the last half-decade has seen the band get some measure of the respect they’ve long deserved, but Rock Formations was still well in advance of that. Imagine if it had come out in 1995 instead. The mind boggles.

Maybe it was as early as it was late, but somehow being out of its time, standing utterly apart, suits Rock Formations. Yawning Man have never been about setting themselves to an expectation of what heavy is, and while ‘heavy’ has caught up to them in the years since, it’s always been a question of them working on their own terms. More then a decade after the fact, with Yawning Man having taken their place among the most pivotal architects of desert rock, they still are.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

So here’s how it’s gonna go. This weekend is my sister’s birthday. We’re driving down to New Jersey to see her for the occasion. Great. I like New Jersey, I like my family. It all works out. At the same time, The Patient Mrs. has some thing in Boston this morning/afternoon. We have one car.

It goes that I’ll drive with her to Boston with The Pecan in tow, then he and I will go futz around town for a bit while she does her thing — I’m planning on picking up a proper USB microphone so I don’t sound like complete ass (at least in terms of sound quality) during Gimme Radio voice breaks — then go back and pick her up. The drive to Boston can be about 90 minutes in the morning. Any time of day, it is viscerally unpleasant.

After that, we’re supposed to go drive to Connecticut for the night to split up the ride between Massachusetts and New Jersey. We’re not packed. I have no idea what time it will be by then, but I know that the baby — who’s 1 now; Mr. Bigshot Pecan climbing the furniture — will have already been in the car for at least two hours. Then it’s two more from Boston to CT, at least, depending on how long it takes to get out of town, traffic on I-95 or the Masspike, etc.

We’ll end up back here tonight, then rolling down to NJ directly tomorrow morning first thing. There’s no escaping the brutality either way. Then Monday we’re going to hightail it back north at least to Connecticut because The Patient Mrs. has work back here in MA at some point whenever. That’s at least a three-‘u’ fuuuck.

One more thing that, were I 20-25 years old, wouldn’t be a problem. Now? I can’t make it through Rhode Island without falling asleep at the wheel.

This, basically to spend one day in New Jersey. I’m not even sure it’ll be a full 24 hours. One overnight. Woof.

Next Friday, when I’m bitching about how tired I’ve been all week, please someone remind me why. Also feel free to call me fat and tell me I’m a shitty parent. I’ll hear it either way.

Then buy a t-shirt. Thanks.

Here are the notes for next week, subject to change without prior notice:

Mon.: Little Jimi review/stream; maybe that new Greenleaf video.
Tue.: Godmaker/Somnuri split review; Yatra track premiere; Juniper Grave video premiere.
Wed.: Sundecay review/track premiere.
Thu.: Goliathan review/album stream.
Fri.: Arcadian Child review/track premiere.

Wherever possible and in situations where I’m cool enough to do so as deemed by labels, PR, management and the bands themselves — sundry gatekeepers — I’ve been trying to line up reviews and premieres. Gives people a little something more to dig into than my endless fucking blathering. It’s better when there’s a song there at the top of the post. Makes it more exciting for me too.

It’s not all premieres, but I’ve got reviews booked from now through the second week of December. Nothing like thinking ahead.

Pop pop pop. — That’s my brain in my skull.

Okay.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for reading. Thanks for reading. Thanks for reading. Tattoo it on my forearm. Thanks for reading.

Great and safe weekend. Forum and radio.

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On Thorns I Lay Post Lyric Video for “Aegean Sorrow”; New Album out March 12

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 3rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

on thorns i lay

Following an absence of some 12 years, Athens-based outfit On Thorns I Lay returned in 2015 with their seventh album, Eternal Silence. Following behind 2003’s Egocentric, it marked a significant change in style — essentially a goth-death/doom revamp of what had become more of a hard rock approach over time born out of the band’s initial extremity of form in the 1990s. Think of the progressions of groups like Paradise LostAnathema and Katatonia and you’ll probably have some idea, but with On Thorns I LayEgocentric was more straightforward hard rock, even if cuts like “When I’m Gone” retained some darker edge.

Well, Eternal Silence had no shortage of ‘dark edge’ to it either, but turned the execution on its head with a theatrical blend of melodic and growled vocals. The six-piece’s new offering, Aegean Sorrow, would seem on the impression given by its title-track to be pushing further in that direction as well. I have been and I suspect will always remain a sucker for really well done death metal growls, and those of frontman Stefanos Kintzoglou are particularly choice, and it’s worth noting that the cleaner-toned voice of Eternal Silence seems at least to be sitting this track out. I haven’t heard the entirety of Aegean Sorrow, so can’t comment on whether or not that’s the case for the whole record, but the choice puts On Thorns I Lay squarely in death/doom territory and at least going by these nine minutes — which still feature a piano-led break near the middle — they seem just fine with that.

In any case, it’s some pretty wrenching stuff. Probably won’t be for everyone, but especially in the darkness of January at the outset of a New Year, it hits a downer sweet spot. Aegean Sorrow is out March 12 via Alone Records and The Vinyl Division. Check out the track below, followed by more info from the PR wire.

Enjoy:

On Thorns I Lay, “Aegean Sorrow” lyric video

Greek doom/death classic outfit On Thorns I Lay have just unveiled the first lyric video from their upcoming Aegean Sorrow, out next March 12th, 2018 on cd by Alone Records and limited vinyl version by The Vinyl Division.

“Aegean Sorrow” is the track opening the album, showing in almost nine minutes the band still have much to offer to the metal scene. The video concept was created and edited by Manthos Stergiou for Manster Design.

On Thorns I Lay is:
Stefanos Kintzoglou – VOX
Chris Dragamestianos – GUITARS
Antony – KEYBOARDS
Fotis Hondroudakis – DRUMS
Akis Pastras – GUITARS
Jim Ramses – BASS

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On Thorns I Lay on Instagram

Alone Records on Thee Facebooks

The Vinyl Division on Thee Facebooks

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Quarterly Review: 40 Watt Sun, Worm Ouroboros, The Heads, Jason Simon, Danava, Pylar, Domkraft, Picaporters, Deamon’s Child, Fungal Abyss

Posted in Reviews on December 30th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk winter quarterly review

We press on with the Quarterly Review and writeups #41-50 of the total 60 to be featured. Some considerable names in this batch, as I suppose there have been all along, but one of the functions this feature has come to serve is to allow me a space to offer some comment on bigger records that, let’s be frank, are being covered everywhere in the universe, while fleshing out coverage elsewhere of things like bands’ debuts and some other less-ubiquitous offerings. That’s become the idea anyway. Doesn’t always go like that, but it’s kind of a relief to have somewhere I can put the extra 200 reviews per year rather than miss out. We’ll wrap this one up on Monday, but just because it’s the end of the week and because it’s my general sentiment, thanks for reading.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

40 Watt Sun, Wider than the Sky

40 watt sun wider than the sky

With their second album, the awaited Wider than the Sky, London’s 40 Watt Sun continue to be defined by their depressive expressionism. The six-track/62-minute follow-up to 2011’s The Inside Room (review here) finds guitarist/vocalist Patrick Walker (ex-Warning), bassist William Spong and drummer Christian Leitch opening with the longest inclusion (immediate points) in the gorgeously mournful 16-minute unfolding of “Stages.” Sonically lush but still somehow raw and minimal in its emotionality, a slow drear sets the tone for what will follow in “Beyond You” and “Another Room,” “Pictures and “Craven Road,” which alternate on either side of the 10-minute mark until closer “Marazion” (3:57) seems to resonate a less-hopeless spirit. More than The Inside Room, Wider than the Sky realizes itself in emotional rather than tonal weight, and while one often identifies these feelings with things cold and grey, it would require a willful blindness not to recognize the humanity and warmth coming through in Walker’s delivery of this material. Wide it may be, but not at all distant.

40 Watt Sun on Thee Facebooks

40 Watt Sun website

 

Worm Ouroboros, What Graceless Dawn

worm ouroboros what graceless dawn

The duality of Worm Ouroboros’ third album for Profound Lore, What Graceless Dawn, is almost as prevalent as the irony that its title should include the word “graceless” when the 63-minute six-tracker itself is so melodically poised. It’s dark, but hopeful, spacious and compact, challenging but simply and often minimally arranged, patient and emotionally intense, and heavy even as it seems to float from one extended piece to the next on a current of intertwining, nigh-operatic vocals from bassist Lorraine Rath (ex-Amber Asylum) and guitarist Jessica Way (World Eater) while Aesop Dekker (Agalloch, Vhöl) seems just as comfortable in the quiet midsection stretch of 13-minute centerpiece “Ribbon of Shadow” as in the rumbling payoff of “Suffering Tree” just before. Running from opener “Day” to closer “Night,” What Graceless Dawn is nothing if not coherent, and while the band’s core approach has been largely consistent across their 2010 self-titled debut (review here) and 2012’s Come the Thaw, the Bay Area trio maintain a clear commitment to forward-moving artistry that stirs the consciousness.

Worm Ouroboros on Thee Facebooks

Profound Lore Records website

 

The Heads, Burning up With: Live at Roadburn 2015

the heads burning up with

I was fortunate enough to be there when UK heavy psych legends The Heads played the Main Stage set at Roadburn 2015 captured on the Burning World Records release Burning up With…, and indeed the preservation of the band’s utter liquefaction of that large room is well worth preserving across the four sides of a double-LP. The only drawback to a vinyl version of their set is that while the individual songs are presented as side-consuming medleys – “Cardinal Fuzz/KRT,” “Gnu/Legevaan Sattelite/U33,” and so on – that still requires some measure of break to flip from one to the next, whereas in the all-at-once linearity of a CD or digital listen, one finds the overwhelming lysergic proceedings intact as they were from the stage, gloriously molten and entrancingly jammed out by the longtime masters of the form. I won’t even attempt to give its spaciousness a proper assessment since just about anything The Heads do is a gift defying impartiality, especially something like this, but yeah, get on it.

The Heads on Thee Facebooks

Burning World Records website

 

Jason Simon, Familiar Haunts

jason simon familiar haunts

Back in 2010, Dead Meadow frontman Jason Simon released an eponymous solo debut on Tee Pee that found him working in a folkish sphere, and his six-years-later follow-up, Familiar Haunts (on Tekeli-Li, Cardinal Fuzz, Burger Records and Blind Blind Tiger), has some of those elements as well on the twanging, finger-plucking “Pretty Polly” and subdued strum of “Seven Sisters of Sleep,” but Simon has also assembled a four-piece band here, and from the pickup of opener “The People Dance, the People Sing,” through the fuzz experimentalism of “Now I’m Telling You” and the airy linear build of the penultimate 11-minute highlight “Wheels Will Spin,” there’s no lack of fullness in the sound. One finds a particularly engaging blend on “Hills of Mexico,” a six-minute rambler that fluidly brings together neofolk and desert ambience, though as Simon and company play sounds off each other in this material, “engaging blend” would seem to be the underlying theme of Familiar Haunts as a whole.

Jason Simon on Bandcamp

Cardinal Fuzz Records

 

Danava, At Midnight You Die

danava at midnight you die

Over a decade removed from their 2006 self-titled debut and five years past their third album, 2011’s Hemisphere of Shadows, one might easily argue that Portland, Oregon’s Danava are due for a full-length release. Sure, the band led by guitarist/vocalist Gregory Meleny have toured plenty in that time in the US and abroad, put out splits and so on, and that has consistently and organically grown their fanbase. Sating that fanbase would seem to be the motivation behind the two-song 7” At Midnight You Die (on Tee Pee), on which the titular A-side finds the four-piece making the most of their dual guitars – Meleny and Pete Hughes (Sons of Huns) shredding in proto-NWOBHM fashion – while the B-side takes on the bizarre and foreboding folk ambience of “My Spirit Runs Free,” short at three minutes, acoustic and sourced from 1979’s The Capture of Bigfoot. So yeah, it’s like that. No new record, but a ripper and some delightful weirdness on hand, and I suspect at this point many of their followers will take what they can get.

Danava on Thee Facebooks

Danava at Tee Pee Records

 

Pylar, Pyedra

pylar pyedra

Some bands are just on their own wavelength, and as much as one might be tempted to relate Sevilla’s Pylar to SunnO))) with their robes and their drones, the Spanish troupe’s four-track full-length, Pyedra (on Alone Records), sees them emitting a slew of horrors all their own. Working as a five-piece, Pylar open with “Menga” (10:57), their longest cut (immediate points) and establish a basis of amelodic, largely arrhythmic noise-jazz. There are more straightforward currents in the subsequent rumble and roll of “Megalitos” (10:33), and “Menhir” (9:37) would seem to draw both sides together before “Meteoros” (9:07) rounds out with an airy, horn-topped alternate-universe victory, but the whole of Pyedra remains informed by the way-off-kilter challenge it poses at the outset, and part of the thrill is making your way through with no idea of what’s coming next other than another extended song beginning with the letter ‘m.’ Will be too much for some, but Pylar’s bleak experimentalism assures cultish appeal worthy of those robes the band wears.

Pylar on Bandcamp

Pylar at Alone Records

 

Domkraft, The End of Electricity

domkraft the end of electricity

Proliferating a combination of speaker-punishing low-end riffs and post-rock-derived spaciousness, Swedish trio Domkraft debut on Magnetic Eye Records with the wholesale immersion of The End of Electricity and evoke heft no less substantial than their stated theme. They begin with their two longest tracks (which I guess is double points?) in “The Rift” and “Meltdown of the Orb,” and by the time they’re through them, bassist/vocalist Martin Wegeland, guitarist Martin Widholm and drummer Anders Dahlgren have already doled out a full LP’s worth of nod, which would seem to make what follows after the momentary breather of “Drones” in “Red Lead,” “All Come Hither” the shorter “Dustrider” and closer “We Will Follow” a bonus round – in which Domkraft also dominate. Because its heavy is so heavy and because Wegeland’s vocals arrive across the board as far-back, shouted echoes, it’s easy to lose sight of the ambience that goes with all that roll, but what ultimately gives The End of Electricity such character is that it creates as much of a world as it destroys.

Domkraft on Thee Facebooks

Magnetic Eye Records on Bandcamp

 

Picaporters, El Horror Oculto

picaporters el horror oculto

Back in 2013, Buenos Aires outfit Picaporters made an encouraging debut with Elefantes (review here). They’ve teased the follow-up, El Horror Oculto (on South American Sludge), over the last year-plus with several digital singles, but the album’s arrival hits with a distinct fleshing out of atmosphere, as heard on the grueling second cut “Diferentes Formas de Ostras” or the manner in which the centerpiece title-track departs from its raucous opening into a heavy-psychedelic meander, never to return, feeding off of the structure of “Humo Ancestral” directly before. An interlude “Etude 6” leads into the opening drift of “Ra,” but it’s a ruse as Picaporters offer some of the album’s most driving heavy rock in that cut’s second half, and close out with Sabbath-darkness-via-Zeppelin-noodling on “War is Over,” the trio coming together in a molten psychedelic doom that seems to draw from the various sides they’ve shown throughout without losing sight of pushing further in its summary.

Picaporters on Thee Facebooks

South American Sludge Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Deamon’s Child, Scherben Müssen Sein

deamon's child scherben mussen sein

It would be a mistake to judge Deamon’s Child’s second full-length, Scherben Müssen Sein (on Zygmatron), by any single one of its tracks, as the German trio makes plain in the dramatic shift from the crushing sludge of “Zucker” into the raw punk thrust of the subsequent “Keine Zeit.” Elsewhere, they find funky footing before punking out once again in “Schweinehund, Kimm Tanz Mit Mir!” and rumble the outing to a finish consuming in its largesse on the 10-minute “Nichts,” so yes, as they follow-up their 2014 self-titled debut (review here), Deamon’s Child hold fast to the sense of the unhinged proffered therein while uniting their material through an intensity that comes across regardless of tempo or surrounding purpose. They are on the beat, not behind it, pushing forward always. That can make Scherben Müssen Sein difficult to keep track of as it moves swiftly through the blast of “Monster” and the manipulated samples of “In Kinderschuhen” toward that finale, but the mission here is far, far away from easy listening, so all the better.

Deamon’s Child on Thee Facebooks

Deamon’s Child on Bandcamp

 

Fungal Abyss, Bardo Abgrund Temple

fungal abyss bardo abgrund temple

Adansonia Records offers a bonus-track-laden revisit of the 2011 debut release, Bardo Abgrund Temple, from Seattle shroom-jammers Fungal Abyss, whose improvisational sensibility comes through the original four extended cuts with no diminishing of their otherworldly trip-out for the half-decade that’s passed since they first surfaced. Those looking for a US counterpart to European psych-improv outfits like Electric Moon or Øresund Space Collective – i.e., me – would do well to dig into opener “Arc of the Covenant” (20:12) or closer “Fungal DeBrist” (24:07) as a lead-in for the earlier-2016 follow-up, Karma Suture (review here), as well as their companion live outings, but whatever contextual approach a listener might want to take, the instrumental stretch of Bardo Abgrund Temple is a serenely heavy and meandering path to walk, given to bouts of space-rock thrust and long passages of low-end droner nod, as heard on the 10-minute “Timewave Zero,” turned on and duly ritualized in its swirl and far-off vocalizations. A reissue well-earned of a gracefully cosmic debut.

Fungal Abyss on Thee Facebooks

Adansonia Records on Thee Facebooks

 

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Pylar to Release Pyedra Nov. 2; Preorders Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 29th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

pylar-700

Three years after making their full-length debut with Poderoso Se Alza en My (review here) and one year after the follow-up He Venydo a Reclamar My Trono, the offshoot project Pylar from members of Orthodox and Blooming Látigo mark a return with Pyedra, due out Nov. 2 on Alone Records and available now to preorder. The band has a teaser for the album posted on the TubesofYou that as you can see/hear below offers suitably bizarre and ritualized vibes. I apparently completely missed out on the second record — hey, it happens; I’m only one dude and last year was, to be generous, a shitshow — but the new one is something to look forward to and I’ve still got some time to dig in before November, so if you need me I’ll be getting on that.

Info comes courtesy of the PR wire:

pylar pyedra-700

PYLAR new album PYEDRA

After two albums and an EP highly acclaimed by critics and reviewers, PYLAR are back with their new album entitled PYEDRA, to be released November 2nd through Alone Records, featuring four tracks dedicated to the stone as a cosmic symbol of megalithic cultures. Those civilisations used big stones (megaliths) to raise their temples, tombs and paths.

PYLAR was formed in 2012 with members of Blooming Latigo and former components of Orthodox but it is still uncertain who is behind this enigmatic project inspired by prehistoric religions and the occult, hiding their faces behind masks and ceremonial clothing.

PYLAR are nourished from the echoes of big stones received in the atavistic depth of the dolmen and tell stories in arcane tongues for us to remember the one route to confront cosmic terror is transcending Death through the Holy Black Stone: Mother Goddess, the centerpiece of Earth and pilar of existence.

PYLAR evoke the power of stone through monolithic guitars and tectonic drums. The stone as a testament to the timelessness, laden with nuances and expressed in the form of strings and numinous winds increasing the intensity beyond logic and sanity. Chants speaking of menhirs, metheors and monoliths opening the gate to a time when space and death were one, symbolized by the power and strength of megaliths, where ancient gods shall dwell in eternal gravity and stillness.

PYEDRA will be released in November 2nd, Day of the Ancient Spirits, celebrated after the Feast of Samhain and the rise of the Darkened Moon, second to last of the year, for we go deep into the Dark Season, where spirits from ancient stones dwell.

The album is available for preorder on CD and vinyl format at The Stone Circle at reduced price. Vinyl version is strictly limited to 200 copies on Black vinyl and just 100 units in Yellow colour. A first teaser can be found at Youtube.

https://www.facebook.com/PPYLARR/
http://pylartheband.blogspot.com.es/
https://www.facebook.com/alonerecords.spain/
http://www.the-stone-circle.com/store/en/

Pylar, Pyedra teaser

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The Soulbreaker Company Announce New Album La Lucha

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 28th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

La Lucha is LP number five from Spanish prog-psych explorers The Soulbreaker Company, and it’s out Sept. 23 on Alone Records. They have the new song “The Kid out of this Land” streaming now from the album, and its synth-laden scope and somewhat foreboding riff are telling particularly in light of the fact that it closes the album. An easy-rolling groove emerges behind a manic guitar solo as it moves toward the halfway point of its 7:28 run, but the prevailing spirit is languid and open, and it would seem that time has loosened the band up somewhat, at least in this context. How it might work out on the rest of the record is of course still unknown.

Preorders are up now from the label, at the store link below. The PR wire had this to say about it:

the soulbreaker company la lucha

THE SOULBREAKER COMPANY “LA LUCHA” CD | LP

Fifth album by the Spanish psych rock band The Soulbreaker Company, recorded at Toy Box Studios in Bristol by Stef Hambrook, mixed at Louder Studios in California by Tim Green (Melvins, Six Organs Of Admittance, Comets On Fire…) and mastered by Noel Summerville (Napalm Death, Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats).

The band states: “it reflects all the influences that have marked our history as a band, from heavy to pop, fuzz and psycho with a heavy sound that also shines on clean tunes. Writing and recording was a calm and relaxed process so we had the time to think which tracks to include. We believe it is our most sincere and unpretentious album”.

La Lucha will be released on jewelcase CD and single Gatefold LP, limited to 300 copies on black vinyl and 200 copies on crystal clear colour.

The closing track of the album is entitled “The Kid Out Of This Land” and you can check it on YouTube.

Official release date is set for September 23rd.

https://www.facebook.com/thesoulbreakercompany/
https://www.facebook.com/alonerecords.spain/
http://www.thestonecirclestore.com/

The Soulbreaker Company, “The Kid out of this Land”

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Orthodox: New Album Axis Available to Preorder

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 26th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

orthodox

Change has been one of very few constants in the career thus far of Spanish experimental doomers Orthodox. After releasing a 7″ this summer for the track “Crown for a Mole” that also marked their debut as a two-piece while coinciding with a handful of tour dates alongside High on Fire, the Sevilla outfit have made their new long-player available to preorder through Alone Records. It will be their first full-length release since Baal (review here) came out in 2011, the band having offered up a few demos and a B-sides collection in addition to the single in the interim.

When it comes to Orthodox, one never really knows what to expect, so I won’t speculate as to whether or not “Crown for a Mole” speaks to the entirety of Axis, which will be the title of their fifth record, but the album is available to preorder now, so we’ll all find out sooner or later anyway. Info came down the PR wire thusly:

orthodox axis

ORTHODOX. New album ‘Axis’ – PRE-ORDER now!

Recently reformed as duo, with Marco Serrato (bass, vocals) and Borja Díaz (Drums), ORTHODOX are coming back with a new studio album.

The duo emerges now performing with different guests musicians on studio sessions, developing a new form of contemporary heavy metal meets extreme jazz meets doom, like no one. New tracks show more ‘straight forward’ concept on composing process. But this is just NOW, as ORTHODOX never compromises with certain sound or ‘song concept’ for so long.

So ‘Axis’ came from such different studio sessions, with a more straight and focus punch of avant-garde approach mixed through heavy metal as only Orthodox are re-doing in every new album.

‘Crown for a Mole’ is the first single, taken from the new album.

BIO:
Orthodox is a duo from Seville, Spain playing experimental doom metal inspired by religious folklore and even jazz. A music based on hypnotic repetitions of quasi-mystical
intensity and slow, torpid rhythms befitting people from a city of crushing summer heat. Musical influences from Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd or Melvins mixed with their peculiar perception of Southern Spain folklore.

https://www.facebook.com/orthodoxband/
http://orthodoxband.bandcamp.com/
www.thestonecirclestore.com

Orthodox, “Crown for a Mole”

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Orthodox to Release New 7″ in June; Tour Dates with High on Fire

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 30th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

orthodox

Always fascinating, always experimental doomers Orthodox are now a duo and will release a new single, Crown for a Mole, in June via Alone Records as a herald for their upcoming full-length, Axis, which is due out later this year. Also in June, Orthodox will take the stage alongside High on Fire for three shows on the latter’s upcoming European run, which, if you’re going to put out a new 7″ is probably a good way to make sure copies of the thing go.

The PR wire tells the tale and has the preorder link for the single, of which you can also hear the titular cut below:

orthodox crown for a mole

ORTHODOX. New album & New 7″ available on pre-order.

Recently reformed as duo, with Marco Serrato (bass, vocals) and Borja Díaz (Drums), ORTHODOX are coming back.

The duo now emerges performing with different guests musicians on studio sessions, developing a new form of contemporary heavy metal meets extreme jazz meets doom, like no one. New tracks show more ‘straight forward’ concept on composing process. But this is just NOW, as ORTHODOX never compromises with certain sound or ‘song concept’ for so long.
‘Crown for a Mole’ is the first single, taken from the new album called ‘Axis’. Band is currently busy on recording sessions. A tentative release date for ‘Axis’ is planned for late September this year.

There´s a pre-order already available for the ‘Crown for a Mole’ 2-track 7″ (one time pressing of 300 units, 200 black and 100 colour vinyl), including bundle offers for an excellent price of 14,99 eur. Very limited bundle offer up to 50 pieces. Check out our mail order store for more info and direct purchase. This single will be officially released on June 29th, and available on the upcoming spanish tour with High on Fire. Visit Alone Records site for further info.

Alone Records is now celebrating 15 years of stoner, rock, doom… and whatever you want to call it which give us full pleasure now and then. Join us!

Orthodox Tour Dates:
25/6 – Málaga
26/6 – Alicante
27/6 – Jaén (TBC)
28/6 – Bilbao w/ High on Fire
29/6 – Madrid w/ High on Fire
30/6 – BCN w/ High on Fire

https://www.facebook.com/orthodoxband
http://orthodoxband.bandcamp.com/
http://www.the-stone-circle.com/

Orthodox, “Crown for a Mole”

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