Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight Sign to APF Records for Movin’ on Singles

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 24th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Warms the heart, this one does. Specifically, The Black Heart, most likely, which is where I’d imagine Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight would end up doing the release show for what will be their first outing through APF Records. Earlier this year, the kinda-reunited-but-we-never-really-broke-up-but-everybody’s-been-really-busy-with-life-and-stuff-and-you-know-how-it-is-and-also-Pete‘s-in-ElephantTree-and-Chris-has-like-50-projects-and-Dicky-can’t-really-tour heavy rockers began issuing digitally a series of singles recorded a decade ago as a way of honoring the 10th anniversary of the sessions for their 2009 debut full-length, Movin’ On (review here). Speaking as someone who still thinks of that record fondly, it was a fun way to relive it without doing the standard reissue thing and getting something previously unheard from the band, if not something actually new.

Well, because every now and then the universe bends its will to my druthers, APF Records has picked up the series for what will be aptly-titled Movin’ On Singles as a compilation and released on Oct. 30, which also just happens to be the same day Movin’ On came out those 10 years ago. Like I said, warms the heart.

Trippy Wicked have a couple shows lined up, including — now that I look — The Black Heart in Camden Town on Oct. 25, and Sophie Fest in Manchester on Nov. 23. They also just played this past weekend at Ripple Music‘s London Ripplefest along with Stubb, War Cloud and a host of other cool bands.

Here’s APF‘s announcement of the signing:

trippy wicked and the cosmic children of the knight

APF Records – Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight

I can’t even begin to tell you how thrilled I am to confirm that Trippy Wicked have signed to APF Records.

Their first APF release will be a limited edition digipak CD of their “Moving On Singles” on 30th October – which is the 10th anniversary of the release of the Moving On album. More info coming soon.

Chris, Pete, Dicky – a warm welcome to the APF family.

https://www.facebook.com/trippywicked
https://www.instagram.com/trippywicked
https://trippywicked.bandcamp.com/
https://www.trippywicked.band/
https://www.facebook.com/apfrecords
https://www.instagram.com/apfrecords/
https://apfrecords.bigcartel.com/
https://apfrecords.bandcamp.com/
http://www.apfrecords.co.uk/

Trippy Wicked, “Things Go Up”

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A Horse Called War Announce New EP Good for Glue (And Nothing Else) out Nov. 22

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 5th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Though I can’t see their moniker and not hear the words in my head in the oh-so-imitable yarl of Zakk Wydle, the post-Iron Monkey filth proffered by UK four-piece A Horse Called War actually has little to do with pride, glory or any other kind of self-actualization. It’s been 12 years since they put out their Stumble at Every Hurdle EP, but at least as of 2007 the dudes were nasty as hell and proffered a scathing take on raw sludge that was more interested in peeling flesh than shining on. They’ve been a band, they’ve not been a band, they’ve been a band again minus a guitarist, and on Nov. 22, APF Records — arguably Britain’s finest purveyor of sludgy aural pummeling — will issue their new EP, Good for Glue (And Nothing Else). Time would not seem to have dulled their perspective in the slightest. Hey guys, how about a little bit of kind self-talk?

Doesn’t seem likely.

Back on the horse? You’re welcome to the gods of terrible puns.

Here’s the info:

a horse called war

UK sludge band A HORSE CALLED WAR sign to APF Records

Good For Glue (and nothing else) EP out November 22nd 2019

First new music to be released in 12 years.

“It’s a nasty little fucker. 5 tracks of unrelenting, groove-laden sludge bile and bludgeon. It’s gonna melt the skin off your face.” – APF Records

A Horse Called War was originally formed in November 2005 by five mates from the small, grimy English town in the heart of East Anglia known as Thetford.

Many shows were played up and down the country, including two appearances at London’s legendary Underworld and the band soon gained a strong reputation for powerful and energetic live performances.

In 2010 A Horse Called war unfortunately split, due to the strain of ever increasing work and family commitments. During that time, the band self-released the demo “We Ain’t Proud Of This” followed by the EP “Stumble At Every Hurdle” on Calculon Records (who released various 7”s from bands such as Sourvein, Church of Misery, Lazarus Blackstar and Charger).

Five years on from the split and 10 years from its original conception, A Horse Called War was reborn! The band immediately hit the road delivering chaotic and action packed live performances to old and new fans alike, proving that the band hadn’t lost any of their spark in the years away.

After a couple of successful years tearing up the live circuit, playing some brilliant shows, including some at memorable all-dayers such as Riff Fest and Doomlines, the same old problems that had plagued so much of the bands past were beginning to resurface. Things had to slow down for the band, at one point it looked like they might never release any new material. During this time, Ryan (guitars) decided to leave the band due to personal reasons. Losing Ryan was a great loss but the remaining four agreed to carry on without him, not seeking a replacement.

Finally, four years after getting back together and after some turbulent times, light began to appear through the cracks and things looked positive for the horse once again. A new EP was written and recorded (by guitarist Dave). The band managed to strike a deal with the mighty APF Records (BongCauldron, Desert Storm, Mastiff) for a November 22nd release date. The horse couldn’t be happier with its new home at APF Records and to be amongst the great family of APF bands.

The band currently booking live shows to promote the release of the new EP and writing for an new album is already underway, with studio time booked for early next year. 2020 is the year of the horse!

A Horse Called War are:
Dave – Guitar
Shane – Vocals
Cooper – Drums
Haydn – Bass

https://www.facebook.com/ahorsecalledwaru9k/
https://www.instagram.com/ahorsecalledwar
https://ahorsecalledwar.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/apfrecords
https://www.instagram.com/apfrecords/
https://apfrecords.bigcartel.com/
https://apfrecords.bandcamp.com/
http://www.apfrecords.co.uk/

A Horse Called War, Stumble at Every Hurdle (2007)

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The Grand Mal Premiere “Burning Truth” from Self-Titled Debut out Oct. 18

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on August 5th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the grand mal

It is one of the oldest stories in rock and roll: players from two bands get together; new band is made. So it is that Dave-O and Rob Glenn of Mother Corona and Elliot and Ryan Cole of Desert Storm have joined forces under the banner of APF Records as The Grand Mal. Their self-titled debut is a 52-minute 10-tracker that the Oxford-based unit will release on Oct. 18 ahead of appearances at Manchester’s Sophie Lancaster Festival and APF‘s own all-dayer, which I hear is quite the party. All the better, as one could say the same of the record itself, with the band dipping into grassroots heavy rock groove and brash delivery, not shy about grit in cuts like “No Man’s Land” or the swinging fuzzo-stomper “Liquid Death,” but at the same time shooting for more than party rock vibes. On vocals, Dave-O is a metal-rooted John Garcia, while the band behind him makes an aesthetic of their rawness, with the later slower roll in “Eschaton” coming across extra thick ahead of the driving rocker “Black Spiral” and more out-there closer “Significant.”

Yeah, it’s a first record, but The Grand Mal aren’t exactly taking tentative baby-steps here so much as honing classic rocking sneer with a modern weight behind it. It’s a combo that brooks little argument, and fun as it is, as the album plays through, it only seems to build on the early rocking start of “Explode,” “No Man’s Land” and “Burning Truth,” the last of which you can stream as a track premiere at the bottom of this post, because the proof, ultimately, is in the riffing.

Preorders are up from APF. Have at it:

the grand mal the grand mal

APF Records is thrilled to announce the signing of Oxford-based heavy hitters The Grand Mal, and with it the release of their self-titled debut album this October.

Featuring twin brothers Ryan and Elliot Cole from rising stoner metal behemoths Desert Storm, the decision to back this promising new project was a “no-brainer” according to Andrew Field; peddler of some of the UK’s finest rock/metal underground albums in recent memory on his Manchester-based label.

“I’ve been Desert Storm’s biggest fan since I discovered their music six years ago, which is why I signed them in 2017,” he explains. “Elliot and Ryan approached me about releasing The Grand Mal’s debut and I jumped on it. It’s a joy to continue my relationship with them and I’m excited that APF Records is putting out this stunning release.”

Complimenting the Cole brothers in The Grand Mal are Mother Corona vocalist Dave-O and bassist Rob Glenn. Their first single – ‘Burning Truth’ – is both indebted and in line with the colossal riffs and big grooves of the quartet’s collective influences. Inspired by bands such as Black Sabbath, Kyuss, Soundgarden and Royal Blood, as Butthole Surfers’ JD Pinkus put it best. “The Grand Mal is like Queens of the Stone Age mixed with 80’s Ozzy.”

The Grand Mal’s self-titled debut album is released on Friday, 18th October through APF Records and can be pre-ordered here https://apfrecords.bigcartel.com/.

LIVE:
6/9/19 – The Facebar – Reading, UK
28/9/19 – O2 Academy2 (w. Evil Scarecrow) – Oxford, UK
26/10/19 – The Underground (w. Desert Storm) – Bradford, UK
22/11/19 – The Port Mahon (w. Gnome) – Oxford, UK
23/11/19 – Rebellion (Sophie Lancaster Festival) – Manchester, UK
2/02/20 – The Bread Shed (APF All-Dayer) – Manchester, UK

TRACK LISTING:
1. Explode
2. No Man’s Land
3. Burning Truth
4. Synapse Transmission
5. Liquid & Dust
6. Glitch
7. Pig In The Python
8. Eschaton
9. Black Spiral
10. Significant

THE GRAND MAL: Dave-O (Vocals), Ryan Cole (Guitar), Elliot Cole (Drums), Rob Glenn (Bass)

https://www.facebook.com/thegrandmal/
https://thegrandmal.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/apfrecords/
http://apfrecords.bigcartel.com/

The Grand Mal, “Burning Truth” official premiere

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Gandalf the Green Release New Single A Billion Faces

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 29th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

gandalf the green

Gandalf the Green sound like somebody hit their riffs over the head with the ugly-stick. Filthy, doomed stoner-sludge is stock and trade for the UK at this point — it’s why they’ll be fine after crashing out of the EU — but the lumber the Huddersfield three-piece bring to the end of their new 13-minute single “A Billion Faces” is a feedback-drenched nightmare just the same, and by that I mean it’s damn good fun. They’ve got live dates coming up, including at Riffolution Festival tomorrow night, and that’s all well and good, but the single is out now through APF Records and you can get it on Bandcamp if you so please or Spotify or whatever outlet it is you choose to peruse. The song, naturally, is about parallel existences of the self in alternate universes. Duh.

Dig it:

gandalf the green a billion faces

APF Records Presents GANDALF THE GREEN – “A Billion Faces”

RELEASE DATE: 28th March 2019

Taking influence from bands like Conan, Sleep and Yob, GANDALF THE GREEN’s aim is to make slow music that is as heavy as they can possibly make it – dropping into spacey ambience and then back to crushing riffs again. The trio wanted to take a less dark and evil approach to Stoner/Doom Metal in favour of something a bit more colourful, weird and psychedelic. Music which uplifts rather than bring the mood down. Lyrical themes include Lord of the Rings, time, consciousness, and not being very sober. Someone once put it eloquently as ‘The brutality of Mordor with the serenity of the Shire.’

Gandalf The Green started in guitarist / vocalist Andy Flint’s bedroom in 2015 when the guys were all just 16 years old. “We’d previously been in a deathcore band together and knew we all liked slow and heavy music, so got together and started rehearsing with ghetto equipment in Andy’s bedroom in Huddersfield (UK). The band name came from a friend who’d just bought a Gandalf-style pipe and we found the pun hilarious for a Stoner Doom band, so we used it”.

Gandalf The Green released their debut EP ‘King of the Ashes’ in September 2016 as a 4-piece band with two guitarists, though soon after they split with their drummer and put Jack Walker behind the kit as a trio. After that things began moving properly. Since then, the three lads have been gigging more, collecting more equipment, and worsening their tinnitus by turning everything up even louder.

Gandalf The Green recently signed with APF Records, with their first release as a partnership being 13-minute stoner / doom epic “A Billion Faces”. Andy Flint’s notes on the track:

“It was the first track I wrote after we tuned down to drop F and bought a bunch of new effects, so I was really playing with all the new toys and trying to make something with a big dynamic change from the gentle intro to when it kicks in. We’ve been performing it live for a while, so the song’s evolved over time to include the sexy wah solo and, because Jack and Danny (Wrigley, bass) love noise music, we added the noise/screaming section in the outro. The original demo was only 9 minutes compared to the final 13!

We were approached by a friend of a friend who needed a band to record for his University coursework, it seemed mutually beneficial, and we’d get to record in the gorgeous Phipps Hall and borrow a bunch of Huddersfield University’s Matamp equipment for free to use with ours, so we took him up on it. We live recorded the track in December 2018 and mixed and mastered the track ourselves, so got away with recording this track for nothing. It sounded lovely in the room, but we really didn’t expect the final product to sound quite as good as it did.

Lyrically, the track is about parallel universes and how, if they exist, every different possible version of you exists somewhere in a big infinite tree of possible “yous”, experiencing the best and worst things all at once. I was wondering where I’d be if I’d taken a different turn in life and moved to a different city, and I realised that there’d be a version of me in a parallel universe where I did move there, wondering right now where he’d be if he took the turns I did. We’re both thinking about each other amongst a billion different versions of ourselves, but unable to know who the other is and what their life is like.”

“A Billion Faces” is out on APF Records on 28th March across all digital platforms, with the video for the track premiering on YouTube and Facebook. The band have a solid itinerary of gigs and tours for the rest of 2019, including appearances at Riffolution Festival on 30th March (supporting BelzebonG) and High Priestess and Cities of Mars in May.

Gandalf the Green is:
Andrew Flint – Vocals/Guitar
Jack Walker – Vocals/Drums
Danny Wrigley – Bass

https://www.facebook.com/gandalfgreenband/
https://gandalfthegreen.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/apfrecords
https://twitter.com/apf_records
https://www.instagram.com/apfrecords/
https://apfrecords.bigcartel.com/
https://apfrecords.bandcamp.com/
http://www.apfrecords.co.uk/

Gandalf the Green, “A Billion Faces” official video

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APF Records Announces Showcase Lineup with 13 Bands

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 7th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

apf records amp logo

UK sludgedealer APF Records has announced the lineup for its second label showcase in Manchester, and well, it’s got almost everybody. It’s 13 of the 16 active bands on the roster, piled onto a single bill. Do you have any idea how hard that must be to make happen? The coordination involved? Imagine trying to plan lunch with a specific friend. You have to find a day, a time, a place that works. Now imagine doing what with upwards of 50 friends. It’s not just planning a party and saying “be here at this time.” There’s so much involved in making it happen, it’s a pretty clear indication of a mission at play. Kudos to APF for making it happen at all, let alone once.

The label has a busy 2019 planned to follow what was a busy 2018, and that’s fair enough. I myself have been enjoying the new Mastiff record, which will be out soon, and I’m dying to hear something new from the timely Tronald, though there’s been no confirmation of one in the works. Still, I’ve got my fingers crossed, and it seems like there’s plenty to come in the meantime as APF continues to provide the UK’s fervent and varied sludge scene the home it deserves.

Showcase announcement and links follow from the PR wire::

APF Records Showcase 2019

APF RECORDS SHOWCASE ALL-DAYER

Manchester, UK – 2nd February 2019

13 APF Records bands play a special one-off gig

APF Records is hosting a special one-off gig at The Bread Shed in Manchester UK on 2nd February, featuring all 13 of its current active signed bands playing across two stages.

Founded by Andrew Field in March 2017 APF Records has released albums, EPs and singles by Under, Diesel King, Blind Haze, Mastiff, The Wizards Of Delight, Tronald, The Hyena Kill, RedEye Revival, Ba’al, BongCauldron, Nomad, Desert Storm, Battalions and Barbarian Hermit during its first 18 months.

The label already has releases lined up for 2019 by Widows, Pist and Possessor as well as further releases from the bands mentioned above.

Due to the logistical challenges of getting so many APF bands in one place at once this is likely to be the last time so many of the APF Records roster will play in one place on one day. Thus advance tickets have been moving fast and the event (at the 400-capacity Bread Shed venue) is predicted to be a sell-out.

Doors open at 2pm with the first band performing at 2.30pm. The event will finish 9 hours later when BongCauldron headline the main stage.

Appearing at the APF Records Showcase:

Battalions
Barbarian Hermit
BongCauldron
Diesel King
Mastiff
Nomad
Pist
RedEye Revival
The Hyena Kill
Trevor’s Head
Tronald
Under
Widows

APF Records and Stonebaked Promotions presents: The APF Records Showcase All-Dayer
Venue: The Bread Shed, Manchester UK
Date: 2nd February 2018
Doors Open: 2pm
Tickets: £12.50 adv / £20 otd

Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/162465091142797/
Ticket link: https://www.wegottickets.com/event/430503

https://www.facebook.com/apfrecords
https://twitter.com/apf_records
https://www.instagram.com/apfrecords/
https://apfrecords.bigcartel.com/
https://apfrecords.bandcamp.com/
http://www.apfrecords.co.uk/

BongCauldron, Tyke (2018)

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Quarterly Review: BongCauldron, Black Helium, Earthbong, Sir Collapse, Alms, Haaze, The Sledge, Red Lama, Full Tone Generator, Mountain Dust

Posted in Reviews on December 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

Not to get off topic here, but it’s December, and god damn, I hate the fucking holidays. Christmas, even if you believe in the religious significance of the day, is pure garbage. I like giving presents well enough, don’t particularly enjoy receiving them, but even if you put aside the whole “oh it’s so commercial ‘now'” thing, like there was a time anyone now living ever saw when it wasn’t, it isn’t fun. The meal sucks. It’s dark. It’s cold. The songs are fucking endless and terrible — yes, all of them — and the whole experience is just a bummer the whole way through. If there was actually a war on it, I wish they’d drop the bomb and incinerate the entire thing.

Take Thanksgiving, make it start in November and end in December. A month-long festival for the season. You can even give gifts at the end, if you want. It could be like Ramadan, or, probably more likely and much on the opposite end of the spectrum, Oktoberfest.

There. Problem solved. Have a great day, everyone. Let’s do some reviews.

Quarterly Review #71-80:

BongCauldron, Tyke

BongCauldron Tyke

Biscuit, Corky and Jay of BongCauldron return less than 12 months out from their Binge LP (review here) with Tyke (on APF), three more cuts of weed-eating, dirt-worshiping, weed-worshiping, dirt-eating sludge, fueled as ever by fuckall and booze and banger riffs — and yes, I mean “banger” as in “bangers and mash.” There’s a lead that shows up in closer “Jezus Throat Horns” and some vocal melody that follows behind the throaty barks, but for the bulk of the three-tracker, it’s down to the business of conveying dense-toned disaffection and rolling nod. “Pisshead on the Moon” opens with a sample about alcohol killing you and works from its lumber into a bit of a shuffle for its midsection before hitting a wall in the last minute or so in order to make room for the punker blast of “Back up Bog Roll,” which tears ass and is gone as soon as it’s there, dropping some gang vocals on the way, because really, when you think about it, screw everything. Right? “Jezus Throat Horns” might be offering a bit of creative progression in closing out, but the heart of BongCauldron remains stained of finger and stank of breath — just the way it should be.

BongCauldron on Thee Facebooks

APF Records webstore

 

Black Helium, Primitive Fuck

black helium primitive fuck

Oh yes. Most definitely. From the Sabbath swing behind the chugging “Love the Drugs” and the march of “Wicked Witch” through the what-would-happen-if-Danzig-was-interesting “Summer Spells” and fuzzed-out post-punk shouts of “Videodrone” en route to the nine-minute “Curtains at the Mausoleum,” London four-piece Black Helium make heavy psychedelic songcraft into something as malleable as it should be on their Riot Season debut, Primitive Fuck, holding to underlying structures when it suits them and touching on drone bliss without ever really completely letting go. Opener “Drowsy Shores” is hypnotic. The aforementioned “Curtains at the Mausoleum” is hypnotic. Even the chug-meets-effects-blowout closing title-track is hypnotic, but on the handclap-laced “Do You Wanna Come Out Tonight?” or “Videodrone,” or even “Summer Spells,” there are hooks for the listener to latch onto, life-rafts floating in the swirling tonal abyss. The truth? There isn’t a primitive thing about it. They’re not so much lizard-brained as astral-planed, and if you want a summation of their sound, look no further than their name. It’ll make even more sense when you listen. Which you should do.

Black Helium on Thee Facebooks

Riot Season Records website

 

Earthbong, Demo 2018

earthbong demo 2018

The immediate association in terms of riff is going to be Sleep. “Drop Dead,” the 10-minute first of two songs on Earthbong‘s debut Demo 2018, rolls out with pure Dopesmoker-ism and follows the model of gradual unfolding of its weedian sludge riffery. No complaints. The Kiel, Germany, trio are obviously just getting their start, and since it’s a demo and not the “debut EP” that so many otherwise demos try to position themselves as, I’ll take it. And to boot, “Drop Dead” ultimately departs its Sleepy environs for altogether more abrasive fare, with Bongzilla-style screams and an increasingly aggressive shove, the drums crashing like the cymbals did something wrong, and feedback capping into the start of “Wanderer,” which is shorter at seven minutes and opens its assault earlier, the vocals no less distorted than the guitar or bass. There’s some space in a solo in the second half, but Earthbong again twist into harsh, crusty doom before letting feedback carry them out to the demo’s finish. Growing to do, but already their violence seethes.

Earthbong on Thee Facebooks

Earthbong on Bandcamp

 

Sir Collapse, Walk to the Moon

sir collapse walk to the moon

Grunge, noise rock and Queens of the Stone Age-style melody-making collide on Walk to the Moon, the debut full-length from German four-piece Sir Collapse, sometimes on disparate cuts, like the noisy intro given to the album by “Lower Principles,” and sometimes within the same song, as in the later “Like Me.” A jangly swing in “Mono Mantra” and the Nirvana-esque hook there soon gives way to the desert-hued thrust of “One Man Show” and the early ’90s fuzz of “Happy Planet Celebration,” while “The Great Escape” leads the way into some measure of evening out the approach in “Like Me,” “Too Late,” “Hey Ben” and “The Family,” unless that’s just the band acclimating the listener to their style. Fair enough either way. Sir Collapse round out with a return to the uptempo push shown earlier, giving their first LP an impressive sense of symmetry and whole-work presentation as layers of vocals intertwine with melody alternately lush and raw, sounding very much like a band who know the parameters in which they want to work going forward. So be it.

Sir Collapse on Thee Facebooks

Sir Collapse on Bandcamp

 

Alms, Act One

alms act one

Organ-soaked Baltimorean garage doomers Alms enter the conversation of 2018’s best debut albums with Act One on Shadow Kingdom, a collection rife with choice riffing, dynamic vocals and a nuanced blend of heft and drama. That a song like “The Toll” could be both as traditional sounding as it is and still modern enough to be called forward-thinking is nothing short of a triumph, and in the stomping “The Offering,” Alms cast forth a signature chorus that stands out from the tracks surrounding without departing the atmosphere so prevalent in their work. “Dead Water” at the outset and “For Shame” build a momentum through side A that the five-piece of keyboardist/vocalist Jess Kamen guitarists Bob Sweeney (also vocals) and Derrick Hans, bassist Andrew Harris and drummer Derrick Hans expand in the second half of the record, winding up in the early gruel of “Hollowed” only to resolve the album with speedier swing and as sure a hand as they’ve guided it all along. At six songs and 33 minutes, Act One unmistakably leaves the audience wanting more, and indeed, the plot may just be starting to unfold.

Alms on Thee Facebooks

Shadow Kingdom Records on Bandcamp

 

Haaze, Swamp Mama

Haaze Swamp Mama

It is a sharp, biting 27-minute run, but Swamp Mama isn’t just thrown together haphazardly. Alberta-based sludge metallers Haaze build a song like “35 Indians” to a head over the course of a deceptively efficient 4:44, following opening track “Beast of the Bog” with a developed sense of craft underlying the outward negativity of their sound. I’ll give the band bonus points for finishing side A with a song called “Stereotypically Doomed,” but more for the crash cymbal that seems to devour the mix. There’s a trashy undercurrent to the subsequent title-track, and as it finishes its pummel, it relinquishes ground to the acoustic interlude, “The Mechanic,” which I’m just going to assume is named for the Charles Bronson movie. That of course sets up the most extreme cut included in closer “AL,” which layers fierce growls and screams atop a rhythm clearly designed for maximum assault factor. A little more metal than sludge, it nonetheless remains tonally consistent with what comes before it, giving Swamp Mama a vicious ending and a feel that’s all the more lethal for it.

Haaze on Thee Facebooks

Haaze on Bandcamp

 

The Sledge, On the Verge of Nothing

the sledge on the verge of nothing

Copenhagen four-piece The Sledge boasts the three former members of heavy rockers Hjortene in guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Palle, drummer/vocalist Kim and bassist Claus, so while they’ve revamped their identity and gone on to add vocalist Magnus Risby — who appears here on “179 Liars” and “Yet Untitled” — perhaps its somewhat disingenuous to consider their first album under the new moniker, On the Verge of Nothing, a debut. Issued through Kozmik Artifactz, the record collects eight tracks produced by Anders Hansen (who also worked with Hjortene) and mixed by Matt Bayles, and in listening to the cuts with Risby in the lead spot, the vibe taps into a thicker take on late-era Dozer with no less righteous melodicism. That, however, is just a fraction of the total story of On the Verge of Nothing, which taps earlier desert idolatry on “Death Drome Doline” and brings in none other than Lorenzo Woodrose himself for guest spots elsewhere. People in and out of the lineup through different tracks should make the LP disjointed, but as ever, it’s the songwriting that holds it together, and one can’t discount the core band’s experience playing together as a part of that either. Debut or not, it’s an impressive offering.

The Sledge on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Red Lama, Dogma

red lama dogma

One tends to think of serenity and peaceful drift when it comes to Danish heavy psych rockers Red Lama, but as the seven-piece band quickly turn around follow-up to their 2018 sophomore LP, Motions (discussed here), cuts like opener “Time” and “RLP” unfold with a particular sense of urgency, the former seeming to showcase an acknowledgement of sociopolitical circumstances in Europe and beyond in a way that seems to readjust their focus. That’s a tidy narrative, but if it’s a case of priorities being rebalanced, it’s striking nonetheless. To coincide, “RLP” has a heavier roll in its second half, and while second cut “State of the Art” and closer “Tearing up the Snow” both make their way past the five-minute mark with post-rocking pastoralia and dreamy melodies, there remains a feeling of a tighter focus in the tracks that could portend a new stage of the band’s development or could simply be a circumstance of what’s included here. The next album will tell the tale.

Red Lama on Thee Facebooks

Red Lama on Bandcamp

 

Full Tone Generator, Valley of the Universe

full tone generator valley of the universe

Fronted by Andy Fernando of Don Fernando, Full Tone Generator‘s debut long-player, Valley of the Universe, nonetheless bears the unmistakable hallmark of the Californian desert — in no small part because that’s where it was recorded. Fernando and guitarist/bassist/backing vocalist Brad Young traveled to that famed landscape to record with Bubba DuPree and Brant Bjork at Zainaland Studios, only to have the latter end up playing drums and contributing backing vocals as well to the eight-tracker. Not a bad deal, frankly. The key reference sound-wise throughout Valley of the Universe is Kyuss, particularly because of Bjork‘s involvement and Fernando‘s vocal style, but the slow-rolling “I Only Love You When I’m Loaded,” 59-second blaster “No Future” and the ending jam duo of “Preacher Man” and “Never to Return” make the ground their own, the latter with some surprise screams before it bounces its way into oblivion as though nothing ever happened. They’ve got the vibe down pat, but Full Tone Generator do more as well than simply retread desert rock’s founding principles.

Full Tone Generator on Thee Facebooks

Hurricane Music on Bandcamp

 

Mountain Dust, Seven Storms

mountain dust seven storms

Keys give Montreal four-piece Mountain Dust a tie to classic heavy blues and they use that element well to cast their identity in the spirit of a post-retro modern feel, details like the backing vocals of “White Bluffs” and the waltzing rhythm held by the snare on “Witness Marks” doing much to add complexity to the persona of the band. “You Could” goes over the top in its boozy regrets, but the dramas of “Old Chills” are full in sound and satisfyingly wistful, while closer “Stop Screaming” offers a bit of twang and slide guitar to go along with its sense of threat and consuming seven-minute finish. Tight songwriting and clean production do a lot to give Seven Storms a professional presentation, but ultimately it’s the band itself that shines through in terms of performance and as Mountain Dust follow-up their well-received 2016 debut, Nine Years, they sound confident in their approach and ready to flesh out in multiple directions while maintaining a central character to their sound that will be familiar to the converted enough to be a work of genre while setting the stage to become all the more their own as well.

Mountain Dust on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

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Quarterly Review: Thou, Liquid Visions, Benthic Realm, Ape Machine, Under, Evil Triplet, Vestjysk Ørken, Dawn of Winter, Pale Heart, Slowbro

Posted in Reviews on December 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

We meet again! The second week of this amply-proportioned Quarterly Review begins today as we move ever closer toward the inevitable 100-album finish line on Friday. There is an incredible amount of music to get through this week, so I don’t want to delay for too long, but as we look out across the vast stretch of distortion to come, I need to say thank you for reading, and I hope that you’ve been able to find something that’s kicking your ass a little bit in all the right ways so far. If not, well, there are 50 more records on the way for you to give it another shot.

Here goes.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Thou, Magus

thou magus

How can something be so raw and forward thinking at the same time? Baton Rouge’s Thou might be the band of their generation who’ve added the most to sludge in terms of pushing the style in new directions and shaping genre to their purposes. Magus (on Sacred Bones), their fourth or fifth full-length depending on whom you ask, is an overwhelming 75-minute 2LP of inward and outward destructive force, as heavy in its ambience as in its weight and throat-ripping sonic extremity, and yet somehow is restrained. To listen to the march of “Transcending Dualities,” there’s such a sense of seething happening beneath the surface of that chugging, marching riff, and after its creeping introduction, “In the Kingdom of Meaning” seems intent on beating its own rhythm, as in, with fists, and even a stop-by from frequent guest vocalist Emily McWilliams does little to detract from that impression. Along with Magus, which rightly finishes with the lurching threat of “Supremacy,” Thou have released three EPs and a split this year, so their pace runs in something of a contrast to their tempos, but whether you can keep up or not, Thou continue to press forward in crafting pivotal, essential brutalizations.

Thou website

Sacred Bones Records website

 

Liquid Visions, Hypnotized

Liquid Visions Hypnotized

Sulatron Records‘ pressing of Liquid Visions‘ 2002 debut, Hypnotized, is, of course, a reissue, but also the first time the album has been on vinyl, and it’s not long into opener “State of Mind” or the grunge-gone-classic-psych “Waste” before they earn the platter. Members of the band would go on to participate in acts like Zone Six, Wedge, Electric Moon and Johnson Noise, so it’s easy enough to understand how the band ties into the family tree of underground heavy psych in Berlin, but listening to the glorious mellow-unfolding-into-noise-wash-freakout of 15-minute closer “Paralyzed,” the appeal is less about academics than what the five-piece of vocalists/guitarists H.P. Ringholz (also e-sitar) and Kiryk Drewinski (also organ), bassist Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt (also Fender Rhodes and Mellotron), drummer Chris Schwartzkinsky and thereminist Katja Wolff were able to conjure in terms of being both ahead of their time and behind it. As the album moves from its opening shorter tracks to the longer and more expansive later material, it shows its original CD-era linearity, but if an LP reissue is what it takes to get Hypnotized out there again, so be it. I doubt many who hear it will complain.

Liquid Visions on Thee Facebooks

Sulatron Records webstore

 

Benthic Realm, We Will Not Bow

Benthic Realm We Will Not Bow

The second short release from Benthic Realm behind a 2017 self-titled EP (review here) finds the Massachusetts-based trio of guitarist/vocalist Krista van Guilder (ex-Second Grave, ex-Warhorse), bassist Maureen Murphy (ex-Second Grave) and drummer Dan Blomquist (also Conclave) working toward a refined approach bridging the divide between doom and darker, harder hitting metal. They do this with marked fluidity, van Guilder shifting smoothly between melodic clean singing and harsher screams as Murphy and Blomquist demonstrate like-minded ease in turns of pace and aggression. The penultimate semi-title-track “I Will Not Bow” is an instrumental, but “Save us All,” “Thousand Day Rain” and closer “Untethered” — the latter with some Slayer ping ride and ensuing double-kick gallop — demonstrate the riff-based songwriting that carries Benthic Realm through their stylistic swath and ultimately ties their ideas together. If they think they might be ready for a debut full-length, they certainly sound that way.

Benthic Realm on Thee Facebooks

Benthic Realm website

 

Ape Machine, Darker Seas

ape machine darker seas

Maybe Ape Machine need to make a video with cats playing their instruments or something, but five albums deep, the Portland outfit seem to be viciously underrated. Releasing Darker Seas on Ripple, they take on a more progressive approach with songs like “Piper’s Rats” donning harmonized vocals and more complex interplay with guitar. It’s a more atmospheric take overall — consider the acoustic/electric beginning of “Watch What You Say” and it’s semi-nod to seafaring Mastodon, the likewise-unplugged and self-awarely medieval “Nocturne in D Flat (The Jester)” and the rocking presentation of what’s otherwise fist-pumping NWOBHM on “Bend Your Knee” — but Ape Machine have always been a band with songwriting at their center, and even as they move into the best performances of their career, hitting a point of quality that even producer Steve Hanford (Poison Idea) decided to join them after the recording as their new drummer, there’s no dip in the quality of their work. I don’t know what it might take to get them the attention they deserve — though a cat video would no doubt help — but if Darker Seas underscores anything, it’s that they deserve it.

Ape Machine on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Under, Stop Being Naive

under stop being naive

Stockport, UK, three-piece Under bring a progressive edge to their pummel with their second album, Stop Being Naive (on APF), beginning with the deceptively thoughtful arrangement of crushing opener and longest track (immediate points) “Malcontent,” which unfurls a barrage of riffs and varied vocals contributed by guitarist Simon Mayo, bassist Matt Franklin and drummer/keyboardist Andy Preece. Later cuts like “Soup” and “Grave Diggers” tap into amorphous layers of extremity, and “Happy” punks out with such tones as to remind of the filth that became grindcore in the UK nearly 40 years ago, but while “Big Joke” rolls out with a sneer and closer “Circadian Driftwood” has a more angular foundation, there’s an overarching personality that comes through Under‘s material that feels misanthropic and critical in a way perhaps best summarized by the record’s title. Stop Being Naive is sound enough advice, and it comes presented with a fervent argument in its own favor.

Under on Thee Facebooks

APF Records webstore

 

Evil Triplet, Have a Nice Trip

evil triplet have a nice trip

Trimming the runtime of their 2017 debut, Otherworld (review here) nearly in half, Austin weirdo rockers Evil Triplet present the six-song/38-minute single LP Have a Nice Trip on Super Secret with classic garage buzz tone on “A Day Like Any Other,” a cosmic impulse meeting indie sneer on opener “Space Kitten” and a suitably righteous stretch-out on “Aren’t You Experienced?” — which is just side A of the thing. The pulsating “Open Heart” might be the highlight for its Hawkwindian drive and momentary drift, but “Pyramid Eye”‘s blown-out freakery isn’t to be devalued, and the eight-minute capper “Apparition” is dead on from the start of its slower march through the end of its hook-topped jam, reminding of the purpose behind all the sprawl and on-their-own-wavelength vibes. A tighter presentation suits Evil Triplet and lets their songs shine through while still highlighting the breadth of their style and its unabashed adventurousness. May they continue to grow strange and terrify any and all squares they might encounter.

Evil Triplet on Thee Facebooks

Super Secret Records website

 

Vestjysk Ørken, Cosmic Desert Fuzz

Vestjysk orken Cosmic Desert Fuzz

To a certain extent, what you see is what you get on Vestjysk Ørken‘s debut EP, Cosmic Desert Fuzz. At very least, the Danish trio’s three-tracker first outing is aptly-named, and guitarist/vocalist Bo Sejer, bassist Søren Middelkoop Nielsen and drummer Thomas Bonde Sørensen indeed tap into space, sand and tone on the release, but each song also has a definite theme derived from cinema. To wit, “Dune” (11:41) samples Dune, “…Of the Dead” (9:13) taps into the landmark George Romero horror franchise, and “Solaris” (14:15) draws from the 1972 film of the same name. The spaciousness and hypnotic reach of the latter has an appeal all its own in its extended and subtle build, but all three songs not only pay homage to these movies but seem to work at capturing some aspect of their atmosphere. Vestjysk Ørken aren’t quite rewriting soundtracks, but they’re definitely in conversation with the works cited, and with an entire universe of cinema to explore, there are accordingly no limits as to where they might go. Something tells me it won’t be long before we find out how deep their obsession runs.

Vestjysk Ørken on Instagram

Vestjysk Ørken on Bandcamp

 

Dawn of Winter, Pray for Doom

Dawn of Winter Pray for Doom

I have no interest in playing arbiter to what’s “true” in doom metal or anything else, and neither am I qualified to do so. Instead, I’ll just note that Germany’s Dawn of Winter, who trace their roots back nearly 30 years and have released full-lengths on a one-per-decade basis in 1998, 2008 and now 2018 with Pray for Doom, have their house well in order when it comes to conveying the classic tenets of the genre. Issued through I Hate, the eight-track/51-minute offering finds drummer Dennis Schediwy punctuating huge nodder grooves led by Jörg M. Knittel‘s riffs, while bassist Joachim Schmalzried adds low end accentuation and frontman Gerrit P. Mutz furthers the spirit of traditionalism on vocals. Songs like “The Thirteenth of November” and the stomping “The Sweet Taste of Ruin” are timeless for being born too late, and in the spirit of Europe’s finest trad doom, Dawn of Winter evoke familiar aspects without directly worshiping Black Sabbath or any of their other aesthetic forebears. Pray for Doom is doom, because doom, by doomers, for doomers. The converted will be accordingly thrilled to hear them preach.

Dawn of Winter on Thee Facebooks

I Hate Records website

 

Pale Heart, Jungeland

pale heart jungleland

Semi-retroist Southern heavy blues boogie, some tight flourish of psychedelia, and the occasional foray into broader territory, Stuttgart three-piece Pale Heart‘s StoneFree debut long-player, Junegleland is striking in its professionalism and, where some bands might sacrifice audio fidelity at the altar of touching on a heavy ’70s aesthetic, guitarist/vocalist Marc Bauer, key-specialist Nico Bauer and drummer Sebastian Neumeier (since replaced by Marvin Schaber) present their work in crisp fashion, letting the construction of the songs instead define the classicism of their influence. Low end is filled out by Moog where bass might otherwise be, and in combination with Hammond and Fender Rhodes and other synth, there’s nothing as regard missing frequencies coming from Jungleland, the nine songs of which vary in their character but are universally directed toward honing a modern take on classic heavy, informed as it is by Southern rock, hard blues and the tonal warmth of yore. A 50-minute debut is no minor ask of one’s audience in an age of fickle Bandcamp attentions, but cuts like the 12-minute “Transcendence” have a patience and character that’s entrancing without trickery of effects.

Pale Heart on Thee Facebooks

StoneFree Records website

 

Slowbro, Nothings

Slowbro Nothings

UK instrumentalist three-piece Slowbro‘s full-length debut, Nothings, brings forth eight tracks and 51 minutes of heavy-ended sludge rock notable for the band’s use of dueling eight-string guitars instead of the standard guitar/bass setup. How on earth does something like that happen? I don’t know. Maybe Sam Poole turned to James Phythian one day and was like, “Hey, I got two eight-string guitars. So, band?” and then a band happened. Zeke Martin — and kudos to him on not being intimidated by all those strings — rounds out on drums and together the trio embark on cuts like “Sexlexia” (a very sexy learning disability, indeed) and “Broslower,” which indeed chugs out at a considerably glacial pace, and “Fire, Fire & Fire,” which moves from noise rock to stonerly swing with the kind of aplomb that can only be conjured by those who don’t give a shit about style barriers. It’s got its ups and downs, but as Nothings — the title-track of which quickly cuts to silence and stays there until a final crash — rounds out with “Pisscat” and the eight-strings go ever so slightly post-rock, it’s hard not to appreciate the willful display of fuckall as it happens. It’s a peculiar kind of charm that makes it both charming and peculiar.

Slowbro on Thee Facebooks

Creature Lab Records website

 

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Mastiff to Release Plague Feb. 1; “Hellcircle” Streaming Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 23rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

mastiff

Some bands, they write about plagues and you kind of think they’re phoning it in. With Mastiff, all you can really do is shrug and go, ‘yeah, that fits.’ The Hull destroyers-of-amps issued the problematically heavy Bork (review here), last year through APF Records, and word from the PR wire is they’ll follow it up with Plague this coming February. They’re streaming the song “Hellcircle” right now and sure enough it’s a sound filthy enough to make me want to get out my plague beak, so right on. It’s like they unlocked a new achievement in being pissed off. Way to go, guys. You’ve perfectly captured my holiday spirit.

Because really, when you think about it, fuck everything. You know?

Okay.

You should take a couple minutes and get yourself ripped open and turned inside out by the song at the bottom of this post.

Cheers:

mastiff plague

Sludgecore Leviathans MASTIFF Announce New Album; Release New Track

Plague to be released via APF Records 1 February 2019

Track ‘Hellcircle’ is out NOW

Like a black mould that just won’t clean away, Kingston Upon Hull’s premier misery spreaders MASTIFF have returned from their darkened sewer, bringing with them a viral monstrosity that threatens to infect and destroy music as we know it.

Releasing 1st February 2019, Plague is the band’s first full-length album on APF Records, and represents the misanthropic quintet at their most aggressive and unrelenting. Born of their disgust at humanity’s false nature, and the way in which our deceit and lies spread through social media, Plague is the culmination of a lifetime of frustration, hatred and sorrow, filtered through the most brutal and pummelling material MASTIFF have ever concocted.

Plague was wrought from misery itself in the blistering summer of 2018 at Studio 94 in Hull and recorded entirely live in one room with no tracking involved, with track ‘Black Death’ done entirely in one take. It was recorded, mixed and mastered by Mikey Scott.

The self-styled “miserable band from a miserable town” play a combination of sludge, grindcore and aggressive hardcore and have forged their reputation in a live setting, playing every dive and sh*thole in the country. New album Plague is their most formidable to date, spewing out berserk levels of unadorned aggression and intensity. Across eight tracks of mutable anger, raw power and bitter resignation, MASTIFF manage to capture the sound of a country in its death throes with lyrical content dealing with everything from sorrow and pain to human failure and frustration. From the opening blast of ‘Hellcircle’ to the apocalyptic finality of ‘Black Death’, the album is a work of nail-biting extremity, and finds the band veering wildly from Nails-esque grind into the depths of harrowing doom. The end result, a band that sounds like it’s trying to rip itself apart through music.

Plague follows on from the band’s 2016 debut release Wrank and 2017’s EP Bork. In addition to their critically acclaimed releases, MASTIFF have become revered for their rabidly heavy live shows, gigging extensively with an array of artists such as Agnostic Front, Crowbar, Iron Monkey, Conan and Biohazard plus appearing at renowned festivals such as Bloodstock, Deserfest London, Riff-Fest, Techfest and Dreadfest.

Plague will be released via APF Records, 1st February 2019. Ltd edition vinyl pre-orders are now available via APF Records here. CD and digital pre-orders will be available soon.

Plague Tracklisting:
1: Hellcircle
2: Bubonic
3: Brainbleed
4: Quarantine
5: Vermin
6: Torture
7: Weep
8: Black Death

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https://mastiffhchc.bandcamp.com/
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Mastiff, “Hellcircle”

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