Review & Full Album Premiere: Trevor’s Head, Soma Holiday

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 30th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

trevors head Soma Holiday

[Click play above to stream Soma Holiday by Trevor’s Head in its entirety. Album is out today, April 30, on APF Records.]

Breathing and lush synth begins Soma Holiday by UK trio Trevor’s Head, and from the dug-in post-Kyuss thrust-into-richer-psychedelic-hypnosis of “Sleepstate” through the secret track about fucking chickens — way to take Alabama down a peg, guys — the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Roger Atkins, bassist/vocalist Aaron Strachan and drummer/vocalist/keyboardist/flutist Matt Ainsworth (all also contribute percussion) — I wouldn’t exactly call the record progressive front to back, but it has those tendencies and is definitely varied and thoughtful in its way, in addition to being most definitely the product of children of the 1990s.

Discernible influences tell the tale from the aforementioned Kyuss, to Orange Goblin on “I Can’t Believe it’s Not Better,” Tool and System of a Down on “Bomb,” and more mellow grunge in the verses of centerpiece “Clerical Error” that meet with quirky starts and stops maybe derived from Queens of the Stone Age or maybe just the result of meshing all the rest with a bit of the UK’s modern heavy boom. Swapping out vocalists adds to the sonic diversity as Trevor’s Head, for whom Soma Holiday marks their third album and debut on APF Records, but even punker cuts like “Billion $ Fart” and the 38-second “Writer’s Block” bear the hallmarks of a ’90s stylization, especially when paired next to the inventive basslines and proggy melody of “Ghost” in the case of the former or the riff-forward motion of the aforementioned “Clerical Error” in the case of the latter.

Ultimately though, if Soma Holiday is progressive at all amid the occasional fart joke and “Verbal Hygiene,” which seems to take a stance on political correctness one way or the other, it’s progressive in a metallic sense. Recorded at Foel Studios by Mike Bew, Gazz Rogers and Tom Wild (the latter of whom also mixed and mastered), the guitar tone of Atkins has more crunch than fuzz, which leaves room for Strachan‘s low end to shine throughout — as behind the guitar solo on “Verbal Hygiene,” just for one example — and as “Harvest Ritual” moves from Primus-style storytelling its quick intro into more straight-ahead desert sprinting, the thickness of the riffing remains a tie to both the punkish cuts and broader-reaching atmospheric pieces like “Ghost” just before and the acoustic, percussion-laced “Departed” later on, though admittedly that track is a standout either way in its surroundings near the end of the record, with “Boomeranxiety,” “Bomb” and closer “Welcome (The Unburdening)” behind it offering some of Soma Holiday‘s proggiest stretches, though again, those are more than a little undercut by that secret track.

trevor's head

“Boomeranxiety” asks the very British question, “Chips or crisps?” amid a suitably frenetic riff and drum progression and willfully weird vocal approach before turning into bass-led semi-ska bounce and finishing out with a return to its central riff, and “Bomb” references Slayer in the lyrics while building a memorable hook before a scream-laced bridge that turns to the post-Helmet start-stopping “Welcome (The Unburdening),” which ties together much of the album almost in spite of itself — that is, I don’t think it was written or placed in order to do so specifically, but there’s something about closing the album with “Welcome” and starting it with “Sleepstate” that seems to be purposefully backwards in a way Trevor’s Head might very much enjoy on a conceptual level.

A word of warning to those who’d take it on: Soma Holiday most definitely has its tongue-in-cheek moments, and some of those might lead one to think that even its more serious side is facetious on some level. I’m not sure in the end if it is or if the whole thing is one big joke to the band, but either way, that concern should be secondary to the actual scope Trevor’s Head bring to the album’s 53-minute span. There are jarring moments among all the changes, but these don’t feel like accidents either, and it seems more like AinsworthAtkins and Strachan want the listener to meet them on their own level rather than have the band make overtures to accessibility in order to engage as many people as possible.

That lack of compromise ends up being a strength, and as Soma Holiday is Trevor’s Head‘s second album as a three-piece behind 2016’s Tricolossus, it’s easy to hear in the growth from one record to the next that they’re in the process of becoming the band they want to be and have set about refining and expanding the parameters of their sound to make it happen. Not everyone’s going to get it. Not everyone’s going to want to get it. But for a select few, Soma Holiday is going to feel oddly like home in its attitude and style, and in accomplishing that, it would seem to meet precisely the band’s goals in its making.

Trevor’s Head on Thee Facebooks

Trevor’s Head on Twitter

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APF Records webstore

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Quarterly Review: The Atlas Moth, Across Tundras, The Wizards of Delight, Against the Grain, Our Solar System, Dommengang, Boss Keloid, Holy Smoke, Sabel, Blackwater Prophet

Posted in Reviews on April 4th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Quarterly-Review-Spring-2018

This is a crucial moment in any Quarterly Review. Today we hit the halfway point one way or the other. I still haven’t decided if this will be a 50- or 60-album edition; kind of playing it by ear, but either way, today’s a landmark in my mind in terms of how far to go vs. how far we’ve come. Uphill vs. downhill to some extent, but I don’t want to give the impression that I’m either half-assing it from here on out or that I don’t enjoy the challenge of reviewing 10 records in a day, one after the next, for (at least) five days in a row. I’ve always been a glutton for a bit of self-flagellation. Ha.

Alright, let’s dive in.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

The Atlas Moth, Coma Noir

the atlas moth coma noir

If one still wants to consider Chicago’s The Atlas Moth post-metal after hearing Coma Noir, at least do them the courtesy of emphasizing the “metal” part of that equation. For their debut on Prosthetic Records and fourth full-length overall, the five-piece worked with producer Sanford Parker to solidify a progressive metal sound that, whether in the harsh and weighted impact of the opening title-track or the later interplay between guitarists Stavros Giannopoulos and David Kush on screams and cleaner vocals in “Furious Gold,” seems to take cues from groups like a less manic Strapping Young Lad and a less watered-down Mastodon more than Isis or Neurosis. With prominent synth from Andrew Ragin (also guitar), and the solid roll from the rhythm section of bassist Alex Klein and drummer Mike Miczek, the band brings revitalized edge to “The Streets of Bombay,” and even on the slower, more atmospheric closer “Chloroform,” they’ve never sounded more lethal. It suits them.

The Atlas Moth on Thee Facebooks

Prosthetic Records webstore

 

Across Tundras, Tumbleweeds III

across tundras tumbleweeds iii

A collection of odds and ends from Across Tundras, the 10-track/52-minute Tumbleweeds III may or may not sate anyone hoping for a follow-up to 2013’s Electric Relics (review here), but it provides some curio fodder along the way to be sure, from raw opener “Final Breath over Venom Falls” to the acoustic-percussion jam “Bullet in the Butt” to the fuller roll of “Cold Ride” and later demos for “Spinning Through the Cosmic Dust,” “Hijo del Desierto,” “Stone Crazy Horse” and “The Stacked Plain,” which later became “Seasick Serenade” on Electric Relics, it’s at very least something for fans to dig into and a fascinating listen, as Across Tundras’ rambling sound is almost eerily suited to a home-recording vibe, as the “Stone Crazy Horse” demo, featuring vocalist Shannon Allie-Murphy along with frontman Tanner Olson, sounds all the more folksome as a result of its lack of production polish. Closing with Bob Dylan’s “The Ballad of Hollis Brown,” then, could hardly be more appropriate. Still waiting for a proper long-player to surface, but happy at this point to take what comes.

Across Tundras on Thee Facebooks

Across Tundras on Bandcamp

 

The Wizards of Delight, The Wizards of Delight

the wizards of delight the wizards of delight

Like a chicanery-laced dusty vinyl with a naked lady on the cover, The Wizards of Delight emerge from the London underground to solidly declare “We’ve got the rock ‘n’ rollz.” And yes, they spell it with a ‘z.’ The presence of frontman Andreas “Mazzereth” Maslen will be familiar to anyone who ever even briefly encountered Groan – dude makes an impression, to be sure – and the four tracks he and the surrounding five-piece of guitarists/backing vocalists Dan Green’s Myth and Lenny Ray, bassist/backing vocalist Eponymous, organist/backing vocalist Henry and drummer Reece bring is both funky and classically heavy, “Gypsy” referencing Dio Sabbath in the first line while “Mountain Woman” brings a heavy ‘70s shuffle to answer the way-un-P.C. “Shogun Messiah,” which seems to be working under the thesis that because it sounds like it’s from 40 years ago, they can get away with it. I’ll give them that the track is, to an unfortunate degree, catchy. As to the rest, give me the groove of “We Got the Rock ‘n’ Rollz” any day. It’s been a while since anyone so brazenly interpreted Mk. II Deep Purple and actually pulled it off.

The Wizards of Delight on Thee Facebooks

APF Records website

 

Against the Grain, Cheated Death

against the grain cheated death

Hard-touring Detroit heavy rockers Against the Grain are known for speed, and rightly so. When they burst into high gear, as on “Sacrifice,” “No Sleep,” “Last Chance,” “Rolling Stone,” “Enough’s Not Enough,” and “Jaded and Faded” from their latest offering and Ripple Music debut, Cheated Death. The follow-up to 2015’s Road Warriors (review here) sees them no less infectious in their live energy, but it’s hard to ignore the more versatile approach that seems to be growing in their sound, from the classic rocking “Smoke” to the near-centerpiece “Devils and Angels” which ballads-out its boozy regrets before entering into an effective mid-paced build that rounds out in choice dual-soloing. Likewise, though they open at a good clip with the title-track, closer “Into the Light” finds a middle ground between thrust and groove. The truth is Against the Grain have never been just about speed, but they’ve never so directly benefited from a dynamic approach as they do on Cheated Death either.

Against the Grain on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Our Solar System, Origins

our solar system origins

Immediate kudos to Stockholm-based psychedelic progressive explorers Our Solar System – aka Vårt Solsystem – for opening their third full-length for Beyond Beyond is Beyond, the five-track/41-minute Origins, with the side-consuming 21-minute “Vulkanen.” One could hardly ask for more effective immersion in the band’s world of patiently unfurled, languid psychedelia, and with the accompaniment of “Babalon Rising,” the jazz-prog tracklist centerpiece “En Bit Av Det Tredje Klotet,” the birdsong-laced “Naturligt Samspel” and the semi-freaked-out melodic wash of “Monte Verita” on side B, a full, rich, and mind-expanding cosmos is engaged, free of restriction even as it remains thoroughly lysergic, and adherent to no structural will so much as the will to adventure into the unknown, to find out where one progression leads. As regards the long- and short-form material on Origins, it leads far, far out, and if you don’t come out the other side wanting to own everything the band has ever released, you’re decidedly in the wrong.

Our Solar System on Thee Facebooks

Beyond Beyond is Beyond website

 

Dommengang, Love Jail

dommengang love jail

Once calling Brooklyn Home, Los Angeles trio Dommengang waste no time in getting down to the business of boogie on their second album for Thrill Jockey, Love Jail. Produced by Tim Green (The Fucking Champs), the 10-track/50-minute long-player has all the room for organ/guitar mashups, righteous West Coast vibes and easy-flowing classic heavy rock one could hope for, and in the opening salvo of “Pastel City,” “Lovely Place” and “Lone Pine,” the three-piece of guitarist Dan “Sig” Wilson, bassist Brian Markham, and drummer Adam Bulgasem reaffirm mellow bluesiness as well on the title-track and dig into ‘90s-style alt bliss on the penultimate “Color out of Space.” There’s a welcoming air throughout that holds steady regardless of tempo, and in heavier moments like the second half of “I’m out Mine,” the band resonates with fuzz and noisy elements that bring just enough danger to the proceedings to keep the listener riveted. Classy, but not too classy, in other words.

Dommengang on Thee Facebooks

Thrill Jockey Records website

 

Boss Keloid, Melted on the Inch

boss keloid melted on the inch

It would seem that Wigan, UK, outfit Boss Keloid — newly signed to Holy Roar Records for the release of their third LP, Melted on the Inch – internalized a few crucial lessons from their sophomore outing, 2016’s Herb Your Enthusiasm (review here). At six tracks and 40 minutes, Melted on the Inch is about 20 minutes shorter than its predecessor. Its title isn’t a weed pun. Its cover art conveys a work of dimensionality, and most importantly, the album itself turns to be precisely that. Taking a significant step toward a more progressive sound, Boss Keloid maintain the heft of their prior outing but base it around material that, frankly, is more complex and dynamic. I won’t say that “Tarku Shavel” and “Lokannok” are without their elements of self-indulgence, but neither should they be for the five-piece to do justice to the multifaceted nature of their purpose. They still roar when they want to, but Boss Keloid strike with breadth on Melted on the Inch as well as sheer impact.

Boss Keloid on Thee Facebooks

Holy Roar Records website

 

Holy Smoke, Pipe Dream

holy smoke pipe dream

After forming in 2015, Philadelphia’s exclamatory Holy Smoke! issued their first three-track release, It’s a Demo! (review here) the next year and showed marked stylistic promise in cuts like “Rinse and Repeat” and “Blue Dreams.” Both of those tracks, as it happens, stand at the opening of the band’s latest EP, the five-song Pipe Dream, and reaffirm the potential in the group. The opener (also the longest track once again; immediate points) is a tale of workaday redundancy, the very sort of monotony that the rest of the offering seems to leave behind in favor of post-grunge heavy rock, marked by the wah-bass on finale “Asch Backwards” and the brooding sensibility of the prior “Golden Retriever,” which surges in its midsection like a lost Alice in Chains demo only to end quiet once again, a departure from the linearity of centerpiece “Missing the Mark” just before. Less psychedelic than their initial impression conveyed, they seem to have undertaken the work of crafting their own sonic niche in Philly’s increasingly crowded scene, and there’s nothing on Pipe Dream to make one think it’s not a realistic possibility they’ll get there.

Holy Smoke on Thee Facebooks

Holy Smoke on Bandcamp

 

Sabel, Re-Generation

sabel re-generation

Sabel know what they want to be and then are that thing. Their third album, Re-Generation, arrives via Oak Island Records as six tracks of to-the-converted stonerism, and from opener/longest track (immediate points) “In the Walls of Eryx,” the Swedish trio do little more than ask their listeners to smell the smoke emanating from their speaker cabinets (oddly sweet), and hone walls of fuzz that each seem to be bigger than the last. There are some elements of earliest Electric Wizard at play in “Atlantean” or the sneering “Voodoo Woman,” but belters like “Interstellar Minddweller” and “Green Priestess” stave off their sounding overly derivative, and though at the end of Re-Generation’s 42-minute run, one might feel as though they need a shower, the record itself proves well worth the dive into the muck. The band would seem to have carved their own descriptor with the title of their self-released 2015 LP, Hard Doom, and that’s as good as anything I could come up with, so let’s roll with it. They seem to.

Sabel on Thee Facebooks

Oak Island Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Blackwater Prophet, As I Watch it Freeze

blackwater prophet as i watch it freeze

Cheers to Christian Peters of Samsara Blues Experiment for putting me onto Spokane, Washington’s Blackwater Prophet, who with the seven-track As I Watch it Freeze collect various tracks recorded between 2015 and 2017. Thus something of a compilation, the 40-minute outing wants nothing for overarching flow, “In My Passing Time” leading off with a mellow psych-blues spirit that only grows more classic-feeling through “House of Stone” and the gorgeously pastoral “The Swamp.” The band have two proper full-lengths out, and if they wanted to count As I Watch it Freeze as their third, I don’t think they’d find much argument, as centerpiece “Gold in the Palm” opens like a gateway leading to the increasingly resonant “Careworn Crow,” the fuzzy swing of “Eating the Sun” and finally, the title-track itself, which answers the acoustics of “The Swamp” earlier while adding flourish of volume-swelling and swirling electric guitar and late choral vocals that only make the proceedings seem all the more complete in their engagement.

Blackwater Prophet on Thee Facebooks

Blackwater Prophet on Bandcamp

 

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The Wizards of Delight Self-Titled EP out Jan. 22

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

the wizards of delight

Yeah, was there really any way The Wizards of Delight were going to be anything other than a completely over the top heavy metal good time? If you said something along the lines of, “Well, probably not,” go ahead and give yourself a point. The new band fronted by Andreas Mazzereth from Groan begin their debut EP in a misty morning with “Gypsy” and wrap it up with a “Shogun Messiah” who does not welcome peace, and naturally that’s only scratching the surface of the shenanigans on display throughout the four-tracker, which APF Records will issue in a digipak on Jan. 22. I don’t mind telling you I want one. One listen to “We Got the Rock ‘n’ Rollz” and you might too.

To the PR wire:

the wizards of delight the wizards of delight

The Wizards of Delight – Out on Digipak Compact Disc 22nd January 2018

It’s about time we had some proper rock stars on APF Records. Following on from their appearance on the cover CD of Classic Rock Magazine in October, all hail then majestic rock warriors The Wizards of Delight.

Thrusting out a hotbed of gloriously parping and exultant riffs this mega-group features Andreas Mazzereth, the aesthetically pleasing lead vocalist of legendary party-doom outfit Groan (which also features Leigh “Riff Rock” Jones and Linz Eel and Zel Baterista of Vodun) and a band of dazzling musical sorcerers playing a mix of grand psychedelia, acid-fried funk, big fuzzy glam, and stoner groove – all from a whirlwind of capes, synths, fit guitars and resonant good vibes.

Inspired by the likes of Black Sabbath, Van Halen, Yes, The Stooges, David Coverdale, Led Zep and Sly Stone, this is but the first salvo from a burgeoning canon of cock (sic). If Deep Purple, Dio and all things 1970s ring your bell, The Wizards are ready to entertain you. Plant your tongue firmly in your cheek and enjoy the melee.

THE WIZARDS OF DELIGHT ARE:
Andreas Mazzereth – lead vocals
Lenny Ray – lead guitar, backing vocals
Don Green’s Myth – rhythm guitar, backing vocals, percussion
Eponymous – bass guitar, backing vocals
Henry (Henry) Henry – bass, backing vocals
Reece – drums

Produced by The Wizards of Delight
All songs by The Wizards of Delight, except “Gypsy” by Ratz Ass
Recorded at Joe’s Garage Studio, Bristol. Additional Recording at Aerial Studios, Carmarthen
Engineered by Joe Garcia
Mixed by Tim Lewis at Aerial Studios
Mastered by Martin Nichols at White House Recording Studios, Weston Super Mare

https://thewizardsofdelight.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/The.Wizards.Of.Delight/
https://www.facebook.com/apfrecords
https://twitter.com/apf_records
https://apfrecords.bandcamp.com/
http://www.apfrecords.co.uk

The Wizards of Delight, The Wizards of Delight (2018)

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Desert Storm Announce UK & European Touring; Sentinels Due March 1

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 29th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Hasn’t been that long since UK burldudes Desert Storm were announced as having signed to APF Records to release their next album, Sentinels, in 2018. Now in short order the Oxford troupe are back with word that not only will their fourth long-player hit on March 1, but that they’ll spend much of February and March on the road to support it, playing shows in the UK and mainland Europe throughout the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and the Ukraine.

In fact, the band has gone even further and laid out appearances they’ll make all the way into next Fall, when they’ll make a stop at the end of September at the HRH Doom vs. Stoner fest in Sheffield. I wish I knew where I was gonna be next September. Or, you know, could remember what I was supposed to do this afternoon. Was it grocery shopping? Was it writing about riffs? No? Well then, I’m at a complete loss.

The PR wire has fodder for calendar-marking:

desert storm sentinels tour

DESERT STORM ANNOUNCE “SENTINELS” EUROPEAN TOUR 2018

DESERT STORM are delighted to announce details of their European Tour in the support of “SENTINELS”, their fourth album, which will be released worldwide and on formats by APF Records on 1st March 2018.

Desert Storm have been making a name for themselves since they formed in late 2007. From the beginning the band have worked hard…with 3 albums and relentless touring of the UK & Europe with the likes of Karma To Burn, Nashville Pussy, Peter Pan Speedrock, Honky and Hang The Bastard as well as support slots to the likes of Orange Goblin, Red Fang, American Head Charge, Weedeater, Crowbar, Mondo Generator, The Atomic Bitchwax and festival appearances at Bloodstock Festival, Hammerfest, Hard Rock Hell, Giants of Rock, The Bulldog Bash, Desertfest (UK/DE) & Roadkill Festival.

SENTINELS tour dates are as follows:

February
3rd UK – Manchester – The Bread Shed (headlining the APF Records Showcase All-Dayer)
17th UK – Birmingham – 02 Academy
22nd NL – Rotterdam – Baroeg
24th NL – Eindhoven – The Jack Café
25th NL – tbc
26th BEL – Antwerp – Kids Rhythm & Blues
27th GER – Berlin – Urban Spree
28th GER – Weimar – Gerber 3

March
1st GER – Dresden – Chemiefabrik
2nd CZ – Prague – Klub Baryton
3rd PL – Warsaw – Hydrozagadka
4th SK – Bratislava – Fuga
5th SK – Kosice – Collosseum
6th UKR – Lviv – Freda 61 Klub
7th PL – Wroclaw – Black Moon
8th GER – Cologne – Limes
9th NL – Zwolle – Jacks Bar
10th BEL – Brussels – Rock Classic

July
7th UK – Bradford – Underground

August
25th UK – Bolton – Alma Inn (Riff Fest 2018)

September
29th UK – Sheffield – O2 Academy (HRH Doom Vs Stoner 2018)

Desert Storm is:
Chris White: Guitar
Ryan Cole: Guitar
Chris Benoist: Bass
Elliot Cole: Drums
Matt Ryan: Vocals

https://www.facebook.com/desertstormuk/
http://twitter.com/desertstormuk
http://www.instagram.com/desertstormuk
http://desertstorm.bandcamp.com/
http://www.desertstormband.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/

Desert Storm, “Signals from Beyond” official video

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Battalions Sign to APF Records; New Album out in 2018

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Emergent UK imprint APF Records continues to gobble up countrymen sludge outfits with the signing of Battalions to its growing roster. The Hull natives released their second long-player, Moonburn, this past summer, and will reportedly follow-up with a third sometime in 2018, touring as well alongside Pist and no doubt others in the crowded sphere of resurgent English sludge metal. Their next record will be their first as a four-piece after parting ways with guitarist Mark Wood following Moonburn, which was produced by Conan‘s Chris Fielding and which you can hear in its entirety streaming below.

In signing with APF, Battalions join the ranks of Desert Storm, the aforementioned Pist, Mastiff, BongCauldron, Diesel King, Tronald and Ba’al, among others as the imprint quickly moves into setting the standard for sludge mayhem coming out of the British Isles.

From the PR wire:

battalions

BATTALIONS SIGN TO APF RECORDS

APF RECORDS is delighted to announce that it has signed Hullensian sludge-metal titans BATTALIONS to the label. We will be issuing their third, as yet untitled, album worldwide during mid-2018.

Battalions was formed in early 2010 in the coastal city of Hull, UK. Their fanbase and support has steadily grown through incendiary live shows throughout the UK including high-profile support slots with Conan, Church Of Misery, Sworn Enemy, Ohhms, Slabdragger, Samothrace, Dopethrone and Vinnum Sabbathi. In 2017 they played on the Hobgoblin Stage at Bloodstock Open Air Festival, and headlined the Motorhead Roadcrew Stage at the 30,000-capacity Humber Street Sesh.

The band’s first two albums, 2016’s “Nothing To Lose” and this year’s Chris Fielding-produced “Moonburn” received universal critical praise. Since the writing of the latter the band has slimmed down from a quintet to a 4-piece, and since its release has continued to play live across the UK, and in the first half of 2018 will do the same – including on a full countrywide tour with label-mates Pist in April.

A warm welcome to Battalions from all at APF.

Battalions is:
Phil Wilkinson – Vocals
Peter Cross – Guitars
Matthew Dennett – Bass
Matt Walker – Drums

facebook.com/BattalionsSludge
twitter.com/BattalionsDirt
instagram.com/battalions
battalionsdirt.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/

Battalions, Moonburn (2017)

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BongCauldron Post “Devil” Video; Binge out Nov. 30

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 3rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

bongcauldron

Leeds sludge beardos BongCauldron are getting ready to release their debut long-player, Binge (review here), later this month via APF Records. The album has been years in the making — it’s been half a decade since BongCauldron issued their first, self-titled EP — and though the trio have had a swath of shorter releases out in singles, 2015’s Acid Cattle two-tracker, and so on, Binge nonetheless wastes no time in getting down to the heavy, burled-up, grab-you-by-the-scruff-of-your-neck business at hand. To wit, the second cut on the thing is “Bury Your Axe in the Crania of Lesser Men.” And yeah, it’s pretty catchy.

But of course, the Chris Fielding-produced offering of rolling riffs and seething pummel has to cross paths with “Devil” before it gets to any such triumphant battling and the opener of Binge is indeed a formidable opponent. It establishes the thickness with which BongCauldron will bludgeon for most of the duration, as well as the trades between guttural growling and shoutier booziness that pervades in call and response fashion, but most importantly, it’s the first of multiple beat-you-over-the-head lumbering progressions to be found throughout Binge, and it shifts tempo so easily that the punch has landed almost before you know it. I’m not even going to tell you when it happens. But it does. Watch out for it.

Binge may have been a while in the making, but songs like “Hopeless,” the shuffling “Toxic Boglin” and the near-nine-minute Sleep-via-Dopelord stoner-sludge chicanery of the title-cut demonstrate plainly that BongCauldron haven’t been wasting their time. They’ve been spending it getting pissed off. And if that’s what it takes to get to the kind of intensity that drives the early going of “Bigfoot Reigns” — one assumes it’s the sasquatch that has also flattened the pace in the second half of the song — then so be it. Dudes should stay mad. Clearly it works for them.

You can check out the video for “Devil” below, followed by some more info from the PR wire. Like the album itself, it’s void of pretense and seems intended only to kick as many asses as are put in front of it.

So watch where you stand, and enjoy:

BongCauldron, “Devil” official video

APF Records is pleased to reveal the video for “Devil” by UK sludge band BongCauldron. The track is taken from the band’s upcoming album Binge which will be released in November.

Pre-order the album on vinyl here: http://apfrecords.bigcartel.com/product/bongcauldron-vinyl

The band commented “Devil was written on a decline into self-destructive alcoholic despair. This song envisages depression as a force that will never leave you. A disease that no one can fully see but yourself. Everywhere you go, everywhere you look, every time you speak its standing right next to you ready to smash you in the teeth”

Recorded by Chris Fielding of Conan in his Skyhammer Studio, Binge will be available on limited edition green vinyl, black vinyl, limited edition digipak CD and digital formats.

BongCauldron is:
Corky – bass, vocals
Biscuit – guitar, vocals
Jay – drums

BongCauldron on Thee Facebooks

BongCauldron on Bandcamp

APF Records on Thee Facebooks

BongCauldron at APF Records webstore

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Desert Storm Sign to APF Records; Sentinels Due March 1

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 19th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Yeah, this one makes sense. UK imprint APF Records has worked to make itself a home-base for some of its burliest countrymen acts, fostering the extremity, sludge and otherwise unabashed dudeliness of the likes of BongCauldronTronaldUnderBa’alDiesel KingNomad and Mastiff, among others. That they’d go ahead and pick up Desert Storm and add the Oxford five-piece to that roster feels like a next logical step to me. They’ll make for good company. APF clearly knows what it’s doing in wrangling the viciousness of these acts, and as Desert Storm look to follow-up 2015’s Omniscient (review here), they’re deserving of as wide attention as they can get, particularly after touring as they have over the last year-plus with Honky and Limb in the UK and hitting the European mainland earlier in 2017.

So while it’s not necessarily the hugest of surprises conceptually, I’ll say all the more kudos to group and imprint for the logical fit, and hope for more to come from Desert Storm as we move into the New Year. The band, who also had a split 7″ with Suns of Thunder (review here) out last year on H42 Records to mark their appearance at Desertfest, will release their new album, Sentinels, in March. I’ll get my testosterone supplements ready.

APF posted the following announcement to make it official:

desert storm

We are beyond thrilled to announce that Desert Storm have signed to APF Records.

Following on from Desert Storm (2008), Forked Tongues (2010), Horizontal Life (2013) and Omniscient (2015) we will be releasing the quintet’s new album SENTINELS worldwide and on all formats on 1st March 2018.

Welcome to the family, boys.

Desert Storm is:
Chris White: Guitar
Ryan Cole: Guitar
Chris Benoist: Bass
Elliot Cole: Drums
Matt Ryan: Vocals

https://www.facebook.com/desertstormuk/
http://twitter.com/desertstormuk
http://www.instagram.com/desertstormuk
http://desertstorm.bandcamp.com/
http://www.desertstormband.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/

Desert Storm, “Signals from Beyond” official video

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Quarterly Review: Primitive Man, Black Lung & Nap, Zone Six, Spectral Haze, Cosmic Fall, Epitaph, Disastroid, Mastiff, Demons from the Dungeon Dimension, Liblikas

Posted in Reviews on October 2nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk quarterly review

The final round of the Fall 2017 Quarterly Review starts now. 60 reviews done. I think if this particular QR session proves anything it’s that come hell or high water, once it’s set, there’s no stopping this train. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but the site was down for half of last week and we’re still getting to 60 reviews from Monday to Monday. That’s not not impressive from where I sit, especially since I spent that downtime going out of my mind trying to get things up and running again while also trying to write posts that I didn’t even know if they were going to happen. But they happened — thanks again, Slevin and Behrang — and here we are. All is well and we can get back to normal hopefully for the rest of this week. Thanks for reading any of this if you did. Let’s get to it.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Primitive Man, Caustic

primitive-man-caustic

Primitive Man’s Caustic is the concept of “heavy” taken to the superlative. It is a 12-track/77-minute onslaught for which no less than absolute hyperbole will suffice. In following-up their 2013 Relapse Records debut, Scorn (review here), a series of splits and 2015’s Home is Where the Hatred Is EP (review here), the Denver trio reign in terror as they make Caustic live up to its name in the crushing tones, feedback of and slow churn of “My Will,” “Commerce” “Tepid,” and “Sugar Hole,” the consuming wave of “Victim,” the blastbeating death assault of “Sterility,” and the biting atmospherics of harsh interludes “Caustic,” “Ash” and “The Weight,” which preface the nine minutes of vague noise that close on “Absolutes,” following the grueling slaughter of “Disfigured” and the rightfully-named 12-minute “Inevitable,” which seems even slower and more weighted somehow than everything before it. On the sheer level of heft for that song alone, it’s time to start thinking about Primitive Man among the heaviest bands in the world. I’m serious. Caustic is an overwhelming masterwork of unbridled extremity, and with it, Primitive Man set a new standard both for themselves and for anyone else who’d dare to try to live up to it in their wake.

Primitive Man on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records webstore

 

Black Lung & Nap, Split

black-lung-nap-split

A heavy blues trio from Baltimore and a progressive boogie outfit from Oldenburg, Germany, might seem like an odd pairing, but by the time the 25 minutes of Black Lung and Nap’s split 12” platter (on Noisolution) are up, the release has come to make its own peculiar kind of sense. In following 2016’s See the Enemy (review here), Black Lung present two new songs in “Strange Seeds” and “Use this Stone” as well we the prior-issued Marvin Gaye cover “Inner City Blues” done in collaboration with rapper Eze Jackson, where Nap answer their debut album, Villa (review here), with the shuffle-into-psychedelia of “Djinn,” the spacious, patient rollout of the airy guitars in “Vorlaut” and the final thrust of “Teer.” Each of the two acts establishes a context for itself quickly – Black Lung brazenly defying theirs in the shift from “Use this Stone” to “Inner City Blues”; Nap expanding between “Djinn” and “Vorlaut” – and though one wouldn’t be likely to mistake one group for the other, their disparate sounds don’t at all hinder the ability of either group to make an impression during their brief time.

Nap on Thee Facebooks

Black Lung on Thee Facebooks

Noisolution webstore

 

Zone Six, Zone Six

zone-six-zone-six

Originally issued in 1998 via Early Birds Records with the lineup of bassist/synthesis/Mellotronist Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt, guitarist Hans-Peter Ringholz, drummer/keyboardist Claus Bühler and vocalist Jodi Barry, the self-titled debut from German space/krautrock explorationists Zone Six sees something of a redux via Sulatron Records to mark the 20th anniversary of the band’s founding. Eight minutes shorter than the original edition at 51 minutes, the new version whittles down the original 13-track presentation to two vinyl sides – titles: “Side A” (27:04) and “Side B” (24:39) – and drops the vocal tracks entirely to make it a completely instrumental release. That’s a not-insignificant change, of course, but let there be no doubt that it works in terms of highlighting the flow, which as it transitions between what used to be one song and another loses not one step and instead simply becomes an engrossing and multifaceted jam. This is truer perhaps to the band Zone Six have become – if you missed their 2015 full-length Love Monster (review here), it was glorious and it’s not too late to catch up – than the band they started out as, but Zone Six have found a way to make an old release new again, and new Zone Six is never anything to complain about, whatever the occasion.

Zone Six on Thee Facebooks

Sulatron Records? webstore

 

Spectral Haze, Turning Electric

spectral-haze-turning-electric

Space rock warriors Spectral Haze return after three years in the Gamma Quadrant with Turning Electric via Totem Cat Records, a six-song sophomore outing behind 2014’s I.E.V.: Transmutated Nebula Remains (review here) that quickly enters a wormhole of Hawkwindian thrust on opener “The Dawn of the Falcon” – perhaps that’s what’s represented on the glorious Adam Burke cover art – and takes a winding but directed course deeper and deeper into interstellar realms for its duration of what on earth is only six songs and 33 minutes. Each of the intended two vinyl sides boasts a longer track, be it “Cathexis/Mask of Transformation” on side A or “They Live” on side B, but whether it’s in those or shorter rocket boosters like the title-track, “Ajaghandi” or the aforementioned leadoff, the Oslo-based four-piece keep it dreamy and kosmiche even unto the doomlier roll of closer “Master Sorcerer,” a collection of final psychedelic proclamations that cuts off quickly at the end as though breaking a transmission from the heart of the galaxy itself. Heck of a destination, and getting there’s a blast, too.

Spectral Haze on Thee Facebooks

Totem Cat Records webstore

 

Cosmic Fall, Jams for Free

cosmic-fall-jams-for-free

Kind of a bummer how Jams for Free came about, but for the reassurance that Berlin heavy psych improvisationalists Cosmic Fall will keep going after what seems to have been an unceremonious split with now-ex-guitarist/vocalist Mathias, I’ll take it. With two new explorations, bassist Klaus and drummer Daniel introduce new guitarist Martin, and those worried they might lose the funk of their original incarnation should have their fears duly allayed by “A Calmer Sphere” (12:19) and “The Great Comet” (8:10), which begin a new era of Cosmic Fall after the remaining founders were forced to stop selling their prior works. If there’s anger or catharsis being channeled in Jams for Free, though, it comes through as fluidity and serene heavy psych, and with the resonant live-in-studio vibe, Cosmic Fall essentially seem to be picking up where they left off. With Martin making a distinguishing impression in the soloing of “A Calmer Sphere”’s second half particularly, the future continues to look bright for the German asteroid riders. Right on, guys. Keep jamming.

Cosmic Fall on Thee Facebooks

Cosmic Fall on Bandcamp

 

Epitaph, Claws

Epitaph-Claws

Doomers of Verona Epitaph trace their origins back some 30 years, but Claws (on High Roller Records) is just their second long-player behind 2014’s Crawling out of the Crypt. Matters not. Theirs is the doom of ages one way or the other, presented in this collection of five songs in traditional fashion with an edge of the Italian bizarrist movement (think early Death SS) and, from the “Neon Knights”-style riff of “Gossamer Claws” to the “After All (The Dead)”/”Falling off the Edge of the World”-style dramaturge of “Wicked Lady,” the nods to ‘80s and early-‘90s Black Sabbath are manifold and executed with what sounds like a genuine love for that era of the band and classic metal in general. Hard to fault Epitaph that influence, particularly as they bring it to bear in the guttural riffly chug of centerpiece “Sizigia,” tonally as much as in the form of what’s actually being played. As a mission, the homage is perhaps a bit single-minded, but as they continue to build their own legacy in these classic sounds, it’s impossible to say Epitaph’s collective heart isn’t in the right place.

Epitaph on Thee Facebooks

High Roller Records webstore

 

Disastroid, Screen

disastroid-screen

The nine songs of Disastroid’s fourth self-released LP, Screen, are drawn together by a songwriting prowess that’s better heard than described and by a heft of tone that, especially on stompers like “Dinosaur” early and “Coyote” later on, proves likewise. Is the point of this review, then, that you should listen to the album? Yuppers. At a crisp 35 minutes, Screen finds the Bay Area trio willfully nestled someplace between heavy rock riffing, noise crunch, punk and metal, and they fly this refusal to commit to one style over another no less proudly than they do the hook of “Getting in the Way” or “I Didn’t Kill Myself,” which along with the push of “Choke the Falcon” and the Melvinsian “Clinical Perfection” make up a series of short burst impressions contrasted by the longer “Screen” and “New Day” at the outset and the six-minute finale “Gunslinger,” though wherever Disastroid seem to go, they bring a current of memorable craft with them, making an otherwise purposefully bumpy ride smooth and a chaos-fueled joy to undertake.

Disastroid website

Disastroid on Bandcamp

 

Mastiff, Bork

mastiff-bork

Ultimately, bludgeon-ready UK five-piece Mastiff might owe as much to grind as they do to doom or sludge – at least if “Nil by Mouth” has anything to say about it – but more than loyalty to any subgenre or other, the Hull unit’s 25-minute Bork full-length (released on CD by APF Records) is interested in presenting an extreme vision of sonic heft. Brutal pummel infects the rolling chorus of “Everything Equals Death” and the initial chug of “Tumour” alike, and where opener “Agony” was content to blast out its cacophony in fury of tempo as much as weight, as they settle in for the mosh-ready six minutes of closer “Eternal Regret,” Mastiff seem to have dug out a position between lumbering doom and early ‘00s deathcore, a telltale breakdown capping Bork in grooving and familiar fashion. Their intensity might prove a distinguishing factor over the longer term, though, and they certainly have plenty enough of it to go around.

Mastiff on Thee Facebooks

APF Records website

 

Demons from the Dungeon Dimension, An Organic Mythology

demons-from-the-dungeon-dimension-an-organic-mythology

The righteously-monikered Demons from the Dungeon Dimension made a striking and individualized – and bizarre – impression in 2016 with the There was Ogres EP (discussed here), a follow-up to the debut full-length, As the Crow Flies, released just weeks earlier. With the new single An Organic Mythology and the five-minute, raw-recorded track of the same name, the Durban, South Africa-based project is laid to rest. A burly opening and thickened distortion lead to a pushing verse with dry vocals over top – sounding very much like a home-recorded demo outright and not trying to be anything else – and soon enough the track shifts into a spoken-word-dissertation over an instrumental build that carries it into its final minute, at which point the verse kicks back in to end. As with the prior EP, which topped 25 minutes, the vibe is willfully strange throughout “An Organic Mythology,” and if this is indeed the last we’ll hear from Demons from the Dungeon Dimension (doesn’t it just sound like something TOR Books would put out?), somehow it seems right we live in an age where the material can reside in the digital ether, waiting to be stumbled on by curious parties soon to be blindsided by what they hear.

Demons from the Dungeon Dimension on Bandcamp

Demons from the Dungeon Dimension on YouTube

 

Liblikas, Unholy Moly

liblikas-unholy-moly

From the initial semi-gothic vibes from vocalist Oliver Aunver to the progressive fuzz rock that ensues on opener “Holy Underground,” Estonian five-piece Liblikas seem to specialize in the unexpected on their second full-length, Unholy Moly. Aunver, guitarists Temo Saarna (also vocals) and Henrik Harak, bassist Joosep Käsper and drummer/backing vocalist Mihkel Rebane, oversee a brisk 45-minute run across eight tracks of genre-spanning grooves, from the chugging almost-doom of “Highest Hound” to the semi-folk experimentalist interlude “Fugue Yeah! (Diary Pt. II),” which follows “Dear Diary, Yeah!” a track that starts out with what might be a Japanese-language sample and psychedelic unfolding to more cohesive, harmony-topped prog rock bounce before the fuzz emerges and meets with forward vocals and effective interplay of acoustics in the chorus. Why yes, there is a six-minute song called “Pornolord” – funny you should ask. It appears before the oud-laced “Ol’ Slime” and nine-minute closer “Keezo,” which embraces the difficult task of summing up the weirdo intensity that’s been on display throughout Liblikas’ songwriting all along, and with wispy guitar leading to a big, noisy finish, succeeds outright in doing so.

Liblikas on Thee Facebooks

Liblikas on Bandcamp

 

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