Ancestors, Suspended in Reflections: Feels Like Being Gone

Posted in Reviews on August 3rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Ancestors Suspended in Reflections

Ancestors have never worked to expectation. The Los Angeles unit were last heard from with 2012’s In Dreams and Time (review here), which I absolutely consider one of the best albums of this decade, and that arrived following 2011’s Invisible White EP (review here), 2009’s Of Sound Mind (review here) and 2008’s demo-turned-debut-album, Neptune with Fire (discussed here). Through each release, the band have pushed themselves further along a progressive and individualized path, and while their first outing seemed to be a clarion of post-Sleep riffing, calling across its epic tracks to the converted, “Come here and nod out,” they’ve never really been that kind of band and show little interest in it now. Their new album, Suspended in Reflections, finds them signed to Pelagic Records, run by Robin Staps of The Ocean, and even that endorsement signals how much they’ve grown beyond where they started out a decade ago.

That’s not to say Ancestors can’t still roll out a heavy groove when it suits them — it’s pretty much the first thing they do on Suspended in Reflections, while also providing a landmark hook in opener “Gone” that bleeds into second track “Through a Window” as well — just that their doing so is one weapon in a crowded arsenal of melody, space, ambience, heft and craft. About half an hour shorter than its predecessor, the album comprises six tracks for a 36-minute LP with three cuts each on two sides, each of those ending with its longest song, “Lying in the Grass” (7:37) on side A and “The Warm Glow” (8:31) on side B. Anyone who heard In Dreams and Time closer “First Light” (discussed here) can tell you Ancestors have a thing for a big finale, and guitarist/vocalist Justin Maranga, bassist Jason Watkins and drummer Daniel Pouliot continue that thread here, though even those two tracks — and it is both, make no mistake — have to be considered stripped down in relation last time out. Ancestors‘ sound is lush and immersive and patient and gorgeous and any number of other things, but it’s not raw, and that applies here too, but in their structure and execution, the tracks on Suspended in Reflections feel more about expression than ambition.

Of course, the paring down of grandiosity is no simple thing in any context and an ambition unto itself, but it makes Ancestors‘ communication more efficient here. “Gone” starts out with a melancholy verse with layers of backing vocals, organ and patient guitar notes over a weighted groove en route to its chorus, which sets a defining impression in its discussion of death: “And it feels like being gone/And it feels like moving on/And it feels like nothing’s wrong anymore.” Again, those lines will reappear in “Through a Window,” which follows, giving a sense of overarching composition to the proceedings — Ancestors writing a full album as opposed to a collection of songs or parts — and with the organ playing such a prominent role throughout, the material ties together even further. A sweeping guitar chord transitions “Gone” into “Through a Window” and the first half of the track builds back up to that reappearance, so crucial as it is. Much of the second half of the track is given to softer contemplation, Maranga‘s guitar and the organ setting a melodic foundation in accordance with the easy flow in the drums and bass, an instrumental stretch it’s easy to lose oneself within that caps with cymbal washes and a fading guitar that leaves a bed of silence to start the quiet beginning of “Lying in the Grass.”

ancestors

What seems to be a vocoder bolsters the ethereal atmosphere so pervasive thus far, and clearer vocals emerge as the build in the first half moves into its next stage, the slowness coming to a full tone and crash that underscores the beauty of what the band is creating while staying on theme in terms of the interplay of guitar and organ, dropping back to a subdued state in the second half à la “Through a Window” just before in order to build up again instrumentally as it passes the six-minute mark, again pulling back to finish quiet with soft vocals and a final crash that leaves the organ tone on a fade to let the sudden start — unless you’re listening on an actual LP, in which case, it’s only sudden after you’ve gotten up to flip the record — of side B opener “Into the Fall” make its entrance. Already, Ancestors have typified Suspended in Reflections with a depth of mix that seems to be even more than the sum of its instruments and set a range for themselves that’s nothing short of encompassing. The second half of the album reaffirms this and builds on it with a linearity of its own, furthering the full-album impression of side A while remaining distinct from it.

That’s not to say there’s some great leap in sound away from what the first three tracks are doing, just that as “Into the Fall” takes a heavy post-rock epic and trims it down to an efficient five minutes, the vibe seems to shift. The introduction of strings to the mix could have something to do with that, but the wash of distortion that takes hold at the 3:20 mark remains in line with what Suspended in Reflections has thus far brought to bear, and its way of capping with residual guitar resonance on a fade directly into the piano notes, guitar ambience and synth swells of “Release” speaks directly at how “Gone” gave way to “Through a Window” earlier. The synth comes to a head and cuts out, leaving dream-jazz piano to hold sway and set the mood for the second half of the four-minute instrumental, which carries some of the foreboding that one found in Invisible White while also setting up the turn into “The Warm Glow,” which begins its soar after a quiet first minute and surges forward on a slow-moving wave of low distortion cut through by shouted vocals in a post-metallic tradition.

It’s not an assault by any means, but it is arguably the most outwardly heavy payoff on Suspended in Reflections and obviously placed accordingly as the finale. True to form, it caps not with a grand overstatement, but with a quiet exploration, the band feeling their way to the album’s finish in naturalist form. Those moments, far from extras or tack-ons, are essential to the impression of Suspended in Reflections in its entirety, no less so than its heavier moments, as they help to cast the full breadth of the material and to situate Ancestors in each stretch and in each place within their considerable range. They are, in effect, the product of that range, the result of it and a contributing factor to it. One might think of Suspended in Reflections as digging to the roots of what In Dreams and Time was. It accomplishes many of the same aesthetic feats in just about half the time, and it retains a memorable songwriting element that ties it not only to the LP immediately before, but to the band’s work all along. Some of this material may have had its origins years ago, but it is unmistakably another step forward in Ancestors ongoing creative progression.

Ancestors, “Gone” official video

Ancestors, Suspended in Reflections (2018)

Ancestors on Thee Facebooks

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Ancestors on Twitter

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Desertfest Belgium 2018 Adds Dead Meadow, Ancestors, Wiegedood, Messa, and Heads.

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 24th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

desertfest belgium 2018 banner

So, uh, there’s a band called Heads. playing Desertfest Belgium 2018. They’re from Germany and not at all to be confused with The Heads from the UK. I guess the punctuation makes some different there, but isn’t it a little like calling your band Beatles. and expecting not to get sued? Question of scale there, I know, but you get my point. Heads. are a different band from The Heads. Okay.

I’m kind of surprised that Dead Meadow, in joining the lineup for Desertfest Belgium 2018, aren’t among the headliner, who are still TBA. I’ve got some names I wouldn’t necessarily be surprised to see signed on to play, but no question the lineup is ridiculously strong in the interim, what with Dead Meadow, Heads., Ancestors, Wiegedood and Messa all newly confirmed. I guess we’ll just have to wait on those headliner announcements.

From the PR wire:

desertfest belgium 2018 dead meadow

DEAD MEADOW PLAYS DF ANTWERP ’18

WIEGEDOOD, ANCESTORS and more

Well, we promised a worthy replacement for John Garcia, and we think this one will delight all you fans of delicious stoner grooves.

With 20 years and 7 records on the counter, Dead Meadow can truly be considered venerable veterans of the scene. With their most recent album ‘The Nothing They Need’, the DC band has made a glorious return 5 years after the previous outing. By now the ingredients might be familiar – heavy proto-metal riffing and long psych workouts – but once again the band proves noone cooks up a stew quite like they do. A rock solid addition to this year’s line-up, we think you’ll agree!

We already have one Belgian heavyweight on the program, so how about another? Wiegedood got its infamy coming up with a disturbing band name that translates to “crib death” in Dutch. But soon we learned that this was no mere gimmick: their peculiar version of black metal is effectively as unsettling and grim as the name suggests.

If the album teasers are anything to go by, the next album by Ancestors is gonna be something truly special. A culmination of everything the band stands for, from the atmospheric post-rock passages to the chugging riffs. Six years is a long wait for a new album in these times, but it seems like this will truly be worth the wait.

Another singular voice at the festival comes from Messa, who merge seemingly disparate genres like doom metal and dark jazz into one sonic stew they describe as ‘Scarlet Doom’. And finally, the German HEADS. adds shades of shoegaze and post-rock in their noiserock, with equally unique results.

There you have it, a selection of new names that truly add a sense of adventure and experiment to the line-up. You know we still have some headliners in store for you, so stay tuned!

http://www.desertfest.be/tickets
https://www.facebook.com/desertfestbelgium/
https://www.facebook.com/events/364607267372737/
https://twitter.com/DesertfestBE

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Up in Smoke 2018 Adds Electric Wizard, Ancestors, Dopethrone, Messa, Child, Humulus and Giant Sleep to its Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 28th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Very cool that Electric Wizard are headlining Up in Smoke 2018. Very cool. Not saying it isn’t. And right on that DopethroneMessa, ChildHumulus — have to wonder if they’ll bring their own beer — and Giant Sleep are playing too. Awesome. The name I want to focus on here, however, is Ancestors. The returned/reactivated Los Angeles unit will have their new album out on Pelagic Records by the time they head to Europe to play Up in Smoke presumably as part of a larger round of touring, and I’m pretty sure I’ve said this already, but watch out for that fucking record. Really. It’s a stunner.

2018 has already seen a fair share of righteous outings — I’d list them here, but you know, stolen laptop — and a couple real landmarks are still to come, but don’t let the new Ancestors get by you just because it’s been a while since they put anything out. I’ll have more to say about it, I’m sure, because it’s the kind of record about which one doesn’t easily shut up, but yeah. Take it as an(other) early heads up.

Here’s Up in Smoke‘s announcement:

up in smoke 2018 poster

UP IN SMOKE 2018 – ELECTRIC WIZARD & 6 MORE ACTS CONFIRMED!

GET YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A WEEKEND PASS!

Up In Smoke Indoor Fest 2018 has just announced a bunch of new bands, including their second headliner: The almighty ELECTRIC WIZARD, bringing their new album “Wizard Bloody Wizard” to make Pratteln tremble once again! Also confirmed:

DOPETHRONE (CAN) – The riff comes in many forms. Sometimes it’s clean and elegant… sometimes it’s filthy, grimy and about as elegant as a sledgehammer to the sternum. “Dopethrone are the kind of humans that eat the blues for lunch and wash it all down with a giant jug of crust punch! This is one of those bands that will have the crusty punks head banging right next to the stoners, both united under the bad sign of doom.” (CVLT NATION) The Canadian trio released their new album “Transcanadian Anger” few days ago!

ANCESTORS (USA) – Ancestors formed in 2006 and instead of “choosing between prog rock or heavy rock,” merged the styles to create music rife with atmosphere, tension and raw human emotion. They create mighty, modern music that dovetails innovative arrangement, crushing primordial riff interplay and melodic instrumental passages with textural atmospherics. They will release their long-awaited new album this summer via Pelagic Records.

MESSA (IT) – Messa play evoking doom metal with a dark jazz twist. Deliciously haunting female vocals, rhodes piano and 70’s fuzz guitars combine to conjure a sound that is all of their own. With influences as diverse as Windhand, Bohren Und Der Club Of Gore, The Devil’s Blood, Jex Thoth, Angelo Badalamenti, Bellwitch, John Coltrane and Aluk Todolo, the band has moved from the droning occult doom of their first LP “Belfry” to a new, darker and more atmospheric approach clearly showcased in their new record “Feast for Water”, released in March!

CHILD (AUS) – Hailing from the urban wilds of Melbourne, Australia, Child combine the heavy emotion of the blues with the tone and raw power of hard rock to create a visceral musical experience that reaches right into the chest of listeners. Since the release of their runaway self-titled debut in 2014, Child have continued to develop their unique brand of heavy blues through constant writing and extensive touring. The band released their latest EP “I” a few months ago!

HUMULUS (IT) – Humulus is a Psych-Stoner power trio from Brescia/Bergamo (Italy), formed in 2009. Their first self titled album was released by Go Down Records in December 2012. The ten tracks of this first work fully reflect the stoner attitude of the band and their aggressive sound that is best expressed during their live shows. Their latest LP “Reverently Heading Into Nowhere”, more psychedelic and heavier than ever, came out in the Spring of 2017.

GIANT SLEEP (GER/CH) – Giant Sleep are five guys from Germany and Switzerland, worshipping the power of the riff. The sound of the quintet penetrates the worlds of the subconscious and incomprehensible with no regard for genres nor boundaries. Modern post- and prog-rock elements meet the classic sound of the 70s; an original mixture of lively and creative music. On their second album “Move A Mountain” Giant Sleep takes you on a journey through rock history and beyond.

Taking place October 5th & 6th 2018 at Z7 in Pratteln, Switzerland, highclass acts such as JOHN GARCIA & THE BAND OF GOLD, ACID KING or SASQUATCH have already been confirmed with many more to come. Tickets for Up In Smoke are available HERE!

SHARE & WIN: To get another chance to win a weekend pass for Up In Smoke 2018, please visit the Facebook page for more info!

www.upinsmoke.de
https://www.facebook.com/UpInSmokeIndoorFestivalInZ7/
https://www.sol-tickets.com/produkte
https://soundofliberation.com

Ancestors, “Gone”

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Ancestors Sign to Pelagic Records; Stream Track from New Album Due this Summer

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

You should take the five-plus minutes to listen to the new Ancestors track. Seriously. It’s beautiful. It hasn’t been all that long since we last spoke about the Los Angeles progressive heavy rockers around here, reminiscing and waxing rhapsodic about their 2008 debut, Neptune with Fire (discussed here), but even in that post, I had half my mind on the prospect of what a new full-length from them might hold. My reason for that is my enduring affection for 2012’s In Dreams and Time (review here), which I consider one of the best albums released this decade.

And yes, I mean that. Not just spouting hyperbole. You’d be hard pressed to find a better amalgam of thoughtful, sonically-rich and emotionally resonant heavy anywhere. If you want to put it in context, it’s on a pedestal next to YOB‘s Clearing the Path to Ascend.

I mean that too. Pelagic Records seems like a good home for them, but frankly their next album could come directly shipped from the moon and I’d be happy as long as I got to hear it.

The PR wire ignites the imagination with the promise of things to come:

ancestors

ANCESTORS Joins The Pelagic Records Roster; New Track Streaming

Pelagic Records is pleased to welcome Los Angeles’ ANCESTORS to their eclectic roster for the release of their forthcoming new full-length.

ANCESTORS manifests mighty, modern music that dovetails innovative arrangement, crushing primordial riff interplay, and melodic instrumental passages with textural atmospherics. The band was forged in 2006. A deal with Tee Pee Records resulted in four critically acclaimed, expansive albums, which incorporated the heaviness of doom metal with the vast dynamics of post-rock, the structural elements of progressive rock, and the fluidity of psychedelic rock.

In the five years that have passed since the band’s last album, In Dreams And Time, they’ve continued to hone their craft in anticipation of their return to stage and wax.

“We’re honored to be joining the Pelagic Records family,” says guitarist/vocalist Justin Maranga. “We’re excited to start the next chapter of ANCESTORS and we believe that Pelagic is the perfect label to partner with on this adventure.”

ANCESTORS’ as-yet-untitled new full-length will see release this Summer. Stay tuned for details.

http://www.facebook.com/ancestorsband
http://www.pelagic-records.com/
http://www.facebook.com/pelagicrecords

Ancestors, “Gone”

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Friday Full-Length: Ancestors, Neptune with Fire

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 24th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Ancestors, Neptune with Fire (2008)

The timing of Ancestors‘ debut album, Neptune with Fire, is important to remember. This is by no means a complete context, but in particular, three factors stand out to my mind about its release in 2008: First, it was right before Thee Facebooks really started to take over the planet when it came to being the primary outlet for bands to communicate with their fanbase. MySpace at that point had kind of crapped the bed, but the shift hadn’t yet fully been made in terms of groups finding ways to promote themselves through Facebook, so it was kind of a grey area and a transitional period. The notion of a group talking directly to their fans via Twitter or Instagram, or effectively bringing their whole audience on tour via mobile updates, etc., was radically new and not at all nearly as widespread as it would become.

Second, Sleep hadn’t reunited yet, but there was basically an entire generation of new listeners waiting for them to do so, or waiting for someone to pick up that mantle and become that band, leading the charge for a weedian vision of stoner metal that, as we know, continues to be relevant nearly a decade later perhaps even more than it was at the time and certainly more than it was during Sleep‘s original run in the 1990s.

Third, Neptune with Fire was released by Tee Pee Records in August 2008. In the US, the presidential campaign that would elect Barack Obama was just really heating up, and about two months after this two-song full-length’s arrival, the prior seven years of needless war would catch up with and effectively bottom out the American economy, costing countless individuals (myself included) their jobs, bankrupting investments, semi-collapsing the housing market, and so on. To a degree that would resonate for years, shit hit the fan.

Despite all of this, I remember the response to Neptune with Fire being absolutely massive. Part of it, I think, relates to the second factor above — that there had just been this generational shift in the general heavy rock fanbase, and particularly as internet word of mouth was becoming more widespread about the existence of all this music to start with, listeners were looking for someone to spearhead a movement of new stoner rock. Along comes Ancestors out of Los Angeles with this massive two-song/38-minute debut album (actually it was their demo that got picked up and issued as a full-length), topped with Arik Roper art and a vibe that not only captured huge and lumbering riffs in its extended component cuts, “Neptune with Fire” (16:47) and “Orcus’ Avarice” (21:38), but added to that a sense of spaciousness and atmosphere, as each of those songs boasted a sprawling break in its midsection, side A with a lengthy foray into psychedelic trancemaking and side B with a more progressive roll topped with ambient and operatic vocalizations. Neptune with Fire captured the core righteousness of the heavy rock and roll of the decade prior — clearly those lessons had been learned — but carried forward into something new of which its audience could take ownership. They could make the sound theirs, just as the band was doing.

Thing of it is, though — Ancestors never really wanted to be that band. With their second record, 2009’s Of Sound Mind (review here), they’d distance themselves almost immediately from the lumbering riffcraft of Neptune with Fire and especially the title-track thereof. One can hear shades in “Orcus’ Avarice” of the post-rock vibes they’d elicit on the subsequent Invisible White EP (review here) in 2011 and the progressive soundsculpting they’d do on 2012’s aesthetic triumph In Dreams and Time (review here), but though it was just the beginning of the departure, their sophomore outing nonetheless sent a clear signal that Ancestors were going to be a different kind of outfit than people might be expecting.

Guitarist/vocalist Justin Maranga spoke directly about this in an interview here back in 2012:

I think people thought we were gonna be a stoner rock band. And I think it put us in that hole where we constantly still get referred to as a stoner rock band, and I don’t think we’re that at all. Are we music for stoners? Yeah, but so’s jazz, and I can say without a doubt that we all listen to 50 times more jazz than we do stoner rock. None of us really listen to stoner rock.

I mean, I like Sleep, I like Kyuss, and a good stoner rock band comes out once in a while, but to me, it’s a genre full of retread. That’s not exciting to me. I don’t know where I would put us, genre-wise, but we definitely got lumped into the stoner rock genre, and I won’t say that we’ve gone out of our way to spite it ever since, but there doesn’t really seem to be a way out… I feel like you can’t escape from where you started.

And Neptune’s a cool record, it’s just not really us anymore. I like the song “Neptune with Fire” a lot. “Orcus Avarice” we’re never going to play again – it’s just not us. But it’s not a bad record, it’s just I feel like we’ve grown up a little bit.

Ancestors would not be the first or the last band to exist in the shadow of their first offering and the expectations it set up on the part of their listeners, but this is also where the other two factors come in. Very soon after Neptune with Fire‘s release, the entire world seemed to slam into a wall. All of a sudden, money to go out drinking at shows was nil, and the impetus to do so became less drastic anyway with the proliferation of online/mobile engagement with artists. Fact of the matter is Ancestors that whatever else they had going for them in terms of songwriting and the will toward sonic growth — and that’s plenty, to be sure — Ancestors were never much for self-promotion. Did they ever tour the Eastern Seaboard? I’m not sure they did. I’d finally see them at Roadburn 2012 (review here), and I continue to feel fortunate for having done so, but they were never one of those bands who seemed to have an Instagram post up about it every time one of the dudes cut a fart. You know the kind of bands I’m talking about. Ancestors were always more keen to let the music do the talking for them, and mind you that’s not necessarily a negative.

Rumors have been abound of a fourth Ancestors long-player over the last couple years, and back in August, the band posted a new track called “Gone” that they said would open the album, to be released in 2018. Stranger things have certainly happened. In the meantime, they started their own label, Dune Altar (discussed here), and have used it not only to reissue Neptune with Fire on tape, but to act as an outlet for members’ other projects as well, so they’ve been keeping busy one way or the other. As a fan of their work and someone who thought In Dreams and Time was not only their greatest accomplishment but one of the best records of this decade — yup, I mean it; it’s on the list — obviously the concept of a follow-up is one I’d find duly intriguing. We’ll see how it goes, I guess.

Until then, and as always, I hope you enjoy Neptune with Fire for what it is and for the depth, richness and heft it brings to bear. Thank you for reading.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving here in the US — a holiday with a troubled historical foundation that’s manifest basically as an excuse to get together with loved ones and enjoy a ridiculously proportioned meal. If you’ve been reading these posts, you know I’ve been having some food issues of late. I made myself a protein shake and The Patient Mrs. made me some low-carb scones for dessert and that was my Thanksgiving dinner. After a breakfast of protein powder in coffee, I skipped lunch — which would’ve been the same thing anyway — on account of traveling to Connecticut, where we were to dine with her family at their house and with my family, up from New Jersey. And yeah, no turkey or anything else for me. I sat at the table for basically as long as I could do so with my shake and then kind of had to vacate.

The day ended with The Patient Mrs. asking me if I wanted to talk to a therapist, so perhaps not my best showing. I told her yes, incidentally. I’ve been through one therapy cycle in my life and didn’t get much from it, but I’ve been on antidepressants for about the last six months now, maybe longer, and I kind of feel like I owe it a little bit to The Pecan to at least take as many steps as I can take toward not being a miserable bastard and infecting him with my negative point of view. Or at least do something to mitigate it. A step my own father never took. Call it generational progress.

Better yet: don’t.

So let’s talk about next week. I was supposed to do an album stream on Monday, but the band put the record up on Bandcamp in its entirety, so there goes that. I don’t know yet how that’ll shake out, if they’ll take it down and we’ll just pretend they didn’t already share it on Facebook, etc., or if I’ll review something else, but whatever. Plenty of fish in the sea as regards stuff needing review. The point, as ever, is that the notes are subject to change. Here they are:

Mon.: Les Lekin review/stream OR Uncle Acid Vol. 1 review; Monarch ticket giveaway.
Tue.: Eggnogg Six Dumb Questions & track premiere; Sun Voyager video premiere.
Wed.: Slow review; The Atomic Bitchwax video.
Thu.: Eternal Elysium reissue review; Cyanna Mercury video.
Fri.: Stahv track premiere; Merlin video premiere.

Busy busy, but that’s how I like it, apparently.

Was up at four this morning with The Pecan, who needed changing. The Patient Mrs. handling the feeding, I’ve been doing the bulk of the diapers still the last couple weeks. That’s fine. She gets more time with him at this point but I imagine that equation will change once he’s on a bottle and she goes back to work and so on. These things are fluid anyway, though I’ll admit I’m jealous of the quality time they spend. A shitty diaper ain’t no thing, though. I’ve gotten pretty good at catching the Rocketass output and for the most part the fountain around front is contained too, so yeah. The boy likes waiting until the diaper comes off to really go to town. We all have our preferences.

For what it’s worth, he did better at Thanksgiving than I did, so I take that as an encouraging sign.

I hope you have a great and safe weekend. If you’re the kind of go out and do post-Thanksgiving holiday shopping, be kind to retail employees. I worked retail for years at a toy store and it’s hard, especially right now, and a little basic courtesy can really go long in helping someone get through their day. Just something to keep in mind. Whatever you’re up to though, enjoy it as much as you can.

And as always, thanks again for reading. Please check out the forum and the radio stream.

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Völur Announce Ancestors LP out June 2; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

volur

Toronto-based rune-doomers Völur are gearing up to release their second album, Ancestors, June 2 on Prophecy Productions. To herald its coming, the band has unveiled the 10-minute second track “Breaker of Skulls,” which as you can see below is one of the four included cuts, all of which features a “Breaker” of some kind or other.

Symmetry of presentation would seem to be something of a running theme for the band, which features Blood Ceremony‘s Lucas Gadke, as “Breaker of Skulls” and “Breaker of Oaths” — which also tops 10 minutes — are bookended by “Breaker of Silence” and “Breaker of Famine,” both of which are even longer at over 15 minutes. I haven’t had the chance to dig into the full record yet, but I’m guessing from what I’m hearing in “Breaker of Skulls” below that it’s doomed as hell, and yeah, I’ll take that.

Art, info and audio follow here, all courtesy of the PR wire:

volur ancestors

VÖLUR to Release New LP, ‘Ancestors’, June 2; Band Debuts New Song “Breaker of Skulls”

Toronto-based experimental doom trio VÖLUR will release its sophomore album, Ancestors, on June 2 via Prophecy Productions. Produced by the band and mixed by Charles Spearin (Broken Social Scene), Ancestors is the follow-up to VÖLUR’s celebrated debut, Disir.

“‘Breaker of Skulls’ is a dark, sludgy slab of doom inspired by the ancient Icelandic warrior poet Egil Skallagrímsson, a man who fought terrible battles across the North Sea,” comments the band. “He was at once barbarous and poetic. A man who would commit a brutal act of violence and then recite a beautiful poem immediately after. The song was inspired by his epic poem, ‘The Loss of My Sons’. It moves from a combative, gnarly sludge riff to a bittersweet and almost beautiful conclusion, all the while filled with yearning chromatic movement. The piece finds the band at its most aggressive, and almost its most experiment with disjointed improvised passages paired against bleak heavy doom.”

Just as the band’s debut, Disir, dealt with themes surrounding female figures from mythology, Ancestors focuses on the heroine’s male counterparts and is the second part of a planned four album series spotlighting various elements of the old Germanic spiritual world. VÖLUR’s songs are long, quasi-narrative pieces that feature Laura C. Bates’ violin assuming the role traditionally executed by a guitar, allowing the bass playing of Lucas Gadke (also of Blood Ceremony) to take on unique responsibilities in both lead and melodic roles while drummer Jimmy Payment (Do Make Say Think) feeds the band’s bombastic, crushing oomph. Doom music (not necessarily metal) is about slow contemplation and the transfixing power of heaviness and VÖLUR’s weighty riffs, layers of feedback, dynamic, angular melodies and moments of beauty give heed to the band’s promise to always seek newer modes of musical expression and discovery.

Moving between high-tension heaviness and beautiful pastoral moods, VÖLUR aims to reflect the world of primordial nature inspired by ancient myths and chilling poems of death and heroism. Ancestors shares the stories and sagas of great men from the past that have been shrouded by the obscurity of time while simultaneously spotlighting one of North America’s most ambitious and striving young acts.

Track listing:
1.) Breaker of Silence
2.) Breaker of Skulls
3.) Breaker of Oaths
4.) Breaker of Famine

https://www.facebook.com/VolurDoom/
https://twitter.com/VolurDoom
https://www.instagram.com/volurdoom/
http://us.prophecy.de/artists/voelur/
https://www.facebook.com/prophecyproductions/

Völur, “Breaker of Skulls”

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Ancestors Reissue Neptune with Fire on New Label Dune Altar

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 10th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

ancestors (Photo by Darrel D'Itri)

I don’t know how many tapes are left, but Los Angeles progressive heavy rockers Ancestors have reissued their riffy 2008 debut, Neptune with Fire, via their newly unveiled imprint Dune Altar, and if you haven’t heard that record (it was also their demo), it basically presaged all the Sleep-style stoner epicness that has become so de rigueur the last couple years by at least half a decade. Comprised of two extended tracks and originally issued through Tee Pee Records, it legitimately brought something new to ‘heavy’ that had been, at that point, lacking.

Dune Altar will reportedly serve as a releasing base for Ancestors‘ past work, as well as solo offerings and other projects. The band’s last album, 2012’s In Dreams and Time (review here), had a scope that few records I’ve heard since came close to matching, and from what I hear there’s new stuff in the works as well that will hopefully be out (or at least in my inbox) sooner rather than later. Across all their offerings to-date, Ancestors have never lost their drive to keep growing and adding something new to the mix. In Dreams and Time wound up a long ways away from where Neptune with Fire started out, but it’s been the force of the creativity behind it that has ultimately united everything Ancestors have done up to now.

If you’re wondering, I went for the bundle with the tape, the t-shirt and the split 7″ with Graveyard. Couldn’t resist. Also didn’t want to:

ancestors-neptune-with-fire

ANCESTORS – NEPTUNE WITH FIRE CASSETTE

Cassette reissue release with bonus track

Limited to 150

‘Neptune With Fire’ was the 2008 debut release from Los Angeles-based band Ancestors.

‘Neptune With Fire’ is a concept album that tells of the metaphorical trials of Orcus and Neptune, respectively, and their cosmic, psychological journey through war, celebration, remorse and revelation. The character of Neptune was written as an immortal personification of the mortal man, and for the band, his plight was conceived of as a way of realizing their own epistemological struggles.

Since the release of this now out-of-print album, Ancestors has continued to create new and innovative music. But it all starts here.

https://www.facebook.com/ancestorsband/
http://ancestorsmusic.com/
https://www.facebook.com/dunealtar/
http://dunealtar.bigcartel.com/products

Ancestors, Neptune with Fire (2008)

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The Debate Rages: What are the Best Songs of the Last Five Years?

Posted in The Debate Rages on July 10th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

what are the best songs from the last five years

Mostly around here I concentrate on albums. Best albums of the year. Best albums of the decade. Still, kind of on a whim this morning I was thinking about the shape of heavy of the last half-decade — or rather, the shapes of it.

Different scenes moving in various directions, the emergence of the Pacific Northwest as a hotbed, the growth of West Coast psych and how in-conversation that seems to be both with California’s skater past and the current European market, itself branched out between heavy psych and ’70s traditionalism, which has also begun to take root throughout the US while, at the same time, a new generation has come up to embrace full-on stoner riffing and/or desert rock ideals.

While I have my album lists going back six years to refer to, this time around, I was wondering specifically about individual songs from the same era. What are the best songs from the last five years?

It’s not always the best album that has the best single piece of work on it, so it seemed worth asking the question separately.

Me, I go in for epics: YOB‘s “Marrow” (2014), Ancestors‘ “First Light” (2012), Colour Haze‘s “Grace” (2012), Hypnos 69‘s “The Great Work” (2011), Witch Mountain‘s “Can’t Settle” (2014), Elder‘s “Lore” (2015) definitely is worth having in the conversation, Solace‘s “From Below” (2010), Grayceon‘s “We Can” (2011), and so on.

But then you have Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats‘ “I’ll Cut You Down,” which has had a massive influence since it came out in 2011. And what about a cut like Clutch‘s “D.C. Sound Attack,” or Goatsnake‘s “Grandpa Jones,” or Graveyard‘s “Ain’t Fit to Live Here,” or Mars Red Sky‘s “Strong Reflection?” Does a track have to be long to make an impact? What if there’s a perfectly-executed two-minute verse/chorus trade? Shouldn’t that also be considered?

I guess that’s the question.

We haven’t done one of these in a while, so I’m hoping you’ll take the time to add your answers and picks for the best songs of the last five years 2010-2015 in the comments to this post. I know we’re not through 2015 yet, but we’re just trying to have some fun anyway.

Thanks to all who take the time to leave a note in the comments below.

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