Under Post “Traitor’s Gate” Video; Stop Being Naive Due Oct. 30

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 15th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

under

So long as everyone’s on board with the proceedings proceeding, I’m all for everybody getting down in the manner of their preference. Under bring a bit of harsh kink to their new video for the track ‘Traitor’s Gate’ from their impending second album, Stop Being Naive, which is out Oct. 30 through UK purveyor APF Records, and indeed, it’s the kind of release that should come with a safe word. Listening to the album, I almost have to chuckle at the PR wire’s designation of the band as fuzz rockers. It should come with an asterisk: *Fuzz rock plus about 15 tons of noisy sludge fuckall. It is big, big, big, and mean, mean mean, and preorders are up now.

You can of course see the grainy, video-cassette-looking clip at the bottom of this post, if you don’t mind some flashing lights and chains around ankles, wrists, etc., and the occasional gimp mask. Small price to pay for the low-end assault that ensues.

Here’s info and whatnot:

under stop being naive

Fuzz Rockers Under Release New Video

Trio Unveil Clip For “Traitors Gate”

Fuzz rock trio Under have released the brand-new video for the track “Traitors Gate”! The clip shows the band performing while stripped half nude while chained and gagged. Shot in a grainy, weathered VHS style it fits perfectly with the trio’s lo-fi, bass heavy sound.

When asked on the theme behind the video, the band stated: “Lyrically “Traitors Gate” is a rant about cutting someone off for being a piece of shit. We wanted to create a video that was suitably demented, unsettling and reflected our DIY ethos. We’ll leave it to your imagination why we had chains and masks so readily to hand”.

Their new album, Stop Being Naïve, is set for release via APF Records on October 30th.

Under are a trio from Stockport, Greater Manchester. Formed in 2016. Though rooted in the blueprints of Sludge and Doom Metal, their sound is harder to pin down with elements of Prog, Noise and Avant Garde creeping in. Under play with jagged, slow, off kilter riffs that tease the listener into a false sense of security with dark and abstract lyricism evoking a trippy and sinister unease. The trio cite the likes of Swans, Mr. Bungle, The Melvins and Radiohead as prime influences.

Tracklisting:
1. Malcontents
2. The Climb
3. Traitor’s Gate
4. Big Joke
5. P. Irving
6. Grave Diggers
7. Happy
8. An Inch Of Sun
9. Circadian Driftwood

Under is:
Andy Preece – drums, vocals, keys
Matt Franklin – bass, vocals
Simon Mayo – guitar, vocals

https://www.facebook.com/understockport
https://understockport.bandcamp.com/
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https://apfrecords.bigcartel.com/

Under, “Traitor’s Gate” official video

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Battalions Set Nov. 30 Release for Forever Marching Backwards; Title-Track Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 30th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

battalions

Scathing. UK sludgesters Battalions don’t waste any time getting down to screamy business on the title-track of their upcoming third full-length, Forever Marching Backwards, for which they’ve got a new video now. Appropriately enough, the clip features a decent amount of walking, but it’s all forward. It leads a protagonist-type dude to hook up with a druid and holding hands en route to what turns out to be a basement where the band is playing. And they’re way mad. And then the song ends and the druid takes off the druid-robe and in a shocking twist it’s a lady? I’m not sure what the significance of the druid being a lady is, but I guess the point is the song being very, very pissed off, and fair enough. APF Records has the album out Nov. 30, which makes it the perfect stocking stuffer for the ultra-furious sludger in your secret Santa office pool.

Info and the video came down the PR wire:

battalions forever marching backwards

Sludge Titans BATTALIONS Announce New Album; Drop New Video/Single

Forever Marching Backwards to be released via APF Records 30th November

Video and Single ‘Forever Marching Backwards’ is out NOW

BATTALIONS, belligerent champions of the UK DIY underground scene, revered by fans worldwide, lauded by the press and hairier than a bucket of black bears have announced their third album Forever Marching Backwards will be released via APF Records on November 30th 2018.

The band have also released their first video and single ‘Forever Marching Backwards’ from the album, check it out here.

Stream and purchase ‘Forever Marching Backwards’ (single) HERE or via Spotify.

Recorded and mixed by Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studios in the UK, the resulting album is a danger-fuelled 30 minutes of Battalions own brand of bleak, swaggering, riff-infused groove metal-meets-harsh-punk sound. To quote the band, this is ‘pure Humber sludge’.

Comments vocalist Phil Wilkinson: “If you’ve followed Battalions for the last few albums you can expect tighter production, bigger riffs, more of a focus on structure and song writing along with the usual self-depreciating humour peppered throughout. The album itself is based around lead single ‘Forever Marching Backwards’ from which the album takes its name, essentially an allegory about how society seems to be hardwired to follow blindly without the majority questioning motives. The blind leading the blind.”

Pre-orders are now available via APF Records here.

Forever Marching Backwards Tracklisting
1: Forever Marching Backwards
2: Cities of Ruin
3: Goat Feeder
4: Vaseline (G)Love
5: Tyskie Vampire
6: Infinite Void
7: Brick Hole
8: Devil’s Footsteps

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

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Battalions, “Forever Marching Backwards” official video

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Quarterly Review: Glanville, Destroyer of Light, The Re-Stoned, Ruff Majik, Soldat Hans, High Priestess, Weed Demon, Desert Storm, Ancient Altar, Black Box Warning

Posted in Reviews on July 17th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-CALIFORNIA-LANDSCAPE-Julian-Rix-1851-1903

So Day 1’s done and it’s time to move on to Day 2. Feeling stressed and totally overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff still to be done? Why yes, I am. Thanks for asking. In the past, I used to handle the Quarterly Review well ahead of time. It’s always a lot to get through, but the week before, I’d be setting up back ends, chasing down links and Bandcamp players, starting reviews, etc., so that when it came time, all I had to do was the writing and plug it all into a post and I was set.

There was some prep-work done this past weekend, but especially this time, with my old laptop having been stolen in May, it’s all been way more jazz-improv. I was still adding releases as of last Friday, and writing beforehand? Shit. With the baby having just figured out how to climb? Not bloody likely. Accordingly, here we are, with much to do.

It’ll get done. I haven’t flubbed a Quarterly Review yet, and if I took an extra day to get there, I’m under no delusion that anyone else would care. So there you go. Let’s hit it for Day 2:

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Glanville, First Blood

glanville first blood

First Blood is the aptly-titled five-song debut EP from Glanville, a newcomer dual-guitar outfit with established players Philip Michel (The Earwix) on lead and Christopher West (Named by the Sun, ex-Stubb, etc.) on rhythm, Wight’s Peter-Philipp Schierhorn on bass and René Hofmann on vocals, and Thomas Hoffman (ex-Bushfire) on drums. Based in Germany and the UK, the group present 23 minutes of material on their first outing, drawing from the guitar-led likes of Thin Lizzy and Judas Priest to capture early metal and present it with a heavy rocking soulfulness and modern production. The most raucous of the cuts might be centerpiece “Durga the Great,” but neither “God is Dead” nor “Dancing on Fire” before nor “Demons” and “Time to Go” after want for action, and especially the latter builds to a furious head to close out the release. Hofmann as a standalone singer wants for nothing in range or approach, and the band behind him obviously build on their collective experience to dig into a stylistic nuance rarely executed with such confidence. They’ve found a place willfully between and are working to make it theirs. Can’t ask for more than that.

Glanville on Thee Facebooks

Glanville on Bandcamp

 

Destroyer of Light, Hopeless

destroyer of light hopeless

Having just recently signed to Argonauta Records for a new album in 2019, Austin doomers Destroyer of Light follow their 2017 long-player, Chamber of Horrors (review here), with a further auditory assault in the lumbering Hopeless. Psychedelic and yet still somehow traditional doom lingers in the brain after “Nyx” and “Drowned” have finished – the latter with an Alan Watts sample discussing alcoholism – and the band moves into demos for Chamber of Horrors cuts “Into the Smoke,” “Lux Crusher” and “Buried Alive.” Between the two previously unreleased songs and those three demos, Hopeless pushes to 39 minutes, but it’s probably still fair to call it an EP because of the makeup. Either way, from the miserable plod of “Nyx,” in which each chug in the riff cycle seems to count another woe, to the rolling nod early and surprising melody late in “Drowned,” Hopeless is anything but. Anticipation was already pretty high for Destroyer of Light’s next record after the last one, but all Hopeless does is show further depth of approach and more cleverly-wielded atmospheric murk. And the more it sounds like there’s no escape, the more Destroyer of Light seem to be in their element.

Destroyer of Light on Thee Facebooks

Destroyer of Light on Bandcamp

 

The Re-Stoned, Stories of the Astral Lizard

the re-stonEd stories of the astral lizard

The inevitable question is “Why a lizard?” and if you make it four minutes into 11-minute opener “Fractal Panorama” and don’t have your answer, go back ad start over. Moscow heavy psych instrumentalists The Re-Stoned intend the reptile as a spirit guide for their new outing Stories of the Astral Lizard (on Oak Island Records), which follows quickly behind their late-2017 offering, Chronoclasm (review here), and given the ultra-patient desert vibes in the opener, the acoustic-laced folk-prog of “Mental Print for Free,” the languid meander of “A Companion from the Outside,” the swirling sprawl of the 16-minute “Two Astral Projections” and the final cowpoke drift of “The Heather Carnival,” one might indeed just find a lizard sunning its belly amid all the atmospheric evocations and hallucinatory vibes. I’ll take “Two Astral Projections” as the highlight, but mostly because the extra length allows the band to really dig in, but really the whole album feeds together gorgeously and is a new level of achievement when it comes to atmosphere for The Re-Stoned, who were already underappreciated and find themselves only more so now.

The Re-Stoned on Thee Facebooks

Oak Island Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Ruff Majik, Seasons

Ruff Majik Seasons

Right on fuzz, right on groove, right on vibe – there isn’t much else one might say about Ruff Majik’s Seasons (on Rock Freaks Records and Forbidden Place Records) beyond “right on.” Heavy rock with twists of psychedelia, the Pretoria, South Africa, three-piece of Johni Holliday, Jimi Glass and Benni Manchino make their home on the lines of various subgenres, but wherever they go, the proceedings remain decisively heavy. To wit, a cut like “Breathing Ghosts” or the later “Birds Stole My Eyes” might dig into shuffle boogie or extreme-metal-derived thrust, but there’s a chemistry between the members and a resonant looseness that ties the material together, and as the last 14 of the total 66 minutes are dedicated to “Asleep in the Leaves,” there’s plenty of progressive weirdness in which to bask, one song moving through the next such that neither “Hanami Sakura (And the Ritual Suicide” nor the semi-doom-plodding “The Deep Blue” nor the funky twists of “Tar Black Blood” come across as predictable. Seasons might take a few listens to sink in, but it’s easily worth that effort.

Ruff Majik on Thee Facebooks

Ruff Majik at Rock Freaks Records webstore

Forbidden Place Records on Bandcamp

 

Soldat Hans, Es Taut

SOLDAT HANS ES TAUT-750

Hyperbole-worthy post-ism from Switzerland’s Soldat Hans makes their sophomore outing, Es Taut – on Wolves and Vibrancy Records as a 2LP – a forward thinking highlight. As rich in atmosphere as Crippled Black Phoenix and as lethal as Converge or Neurosis or anyone else you might dare to put next to them, the six-piece made their debut with 2014’s Dress Rehearsal (review here) and served notice of their cross-genre ambitiousness. Es Taut finds them four years later outclassing themselves and most of the rest of the planet across three extended tracks – “Story of the Flood” (26:15), “Schoner Zerbirst, Part I” (8:03) and “Schoner Zerbirst, Part II” (18:56) – that sprawl out with a confidence, poise and abrasion that is nothing short of masterful. Es Taut may be a case of a band outdoing their forebears, but whatever their legacy becomes and however many people take notice, Soldat Hans singlehandedly breathe life into the form of post-metal and prove utterly vital in so doing, not only making it their own, but pushing forward into something new in ambience and heft. This is what a band sounds like while making themselves indispensable.

Soldat Hans on Thee Facebooks

Wolves and Vibrancy Records website

 

High Priestess, High Priestess

high priestess high priestess

Calling to order a nod that’s immersive from the opening strains of leadoff/longest-track “Firefly” (still immediate points), Los Angeles trio High Priestess build out the psych-doom ritualizing of their 2017 demo (review here) to make their self-titled full-length debut through Ripple Music. The difference between the demo and the album in terms of what’s included comes down to artwork and the track “Take the Blame,” which adds its bell-of-the-ride swing between the atmosphere and melodic focus of “Banshee” and the spacious roller “Mother Forgive Me.” Potential is writ large throughout from guitarist/vocalist Katie Gilchrest, bassist/vocalist Mariana Fiel and drummer Megan Mullins, as it was on their demo, and even the harsh growls/screams on “Despise” seem to have found their place within the proceedings. As they wrap with the guitar-led jam of “Earth Dive,” High Priestess put the finishing touch on what’s hands-down one of 2018’s best debut albums and offer a reminder that as much potential as there is in their sound for future development, the accomplishments here are considerable unto themselves.

High Priestess on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

 

Weed Demon, Astrological Passages

weed demon astrological passages

Four tracks of gurgling riffy plunder pervade Astrological Passages, the 41-minute – longer if you get the digital version or the tape/CD, which includes the 7:24 “Dominion of Oblivion” – debut album from Columbus, Ohio’s Weed Demon. Delivered on vinyl through Electric Valley Records, the nodder/plodder carves out a cave for itself within a mountain of tonally thick stoner metal riffing, infusing a sense of sludge with shouted and growled vocals from guitarists Andy and Brian and bassist Jordan – only drummer Chris doesn’t get a mic – and an overarching sense of bludgeoning that’s Sleep-derived if not Sleep-adjacent in terms of its actual sound. Nasty? Why, yes it is, but as “Sigil of the Black Moon” heads toward the midpoint of its 10-minute run, the repetitive groove assault makes the band’s intention plain: worship weed, worship riff. They get faster on “Primordial Genocide” and even sneak a bit of speed in amidst the crawl before the banjo takes hold in the second half of 12-minute closer “Jettisoned” – more Americana sludge please; thank you – but they never lose sight of their mission, and it’s the uniting factor that makes their debut hit like the brick to the head that it is.

Weed Demon on Thee Facebooks

Electric Valley Records website

 

Desert Storm, Sentinels

desert storm sentinels

With Sentinels, Oxford, UK, five-piece Desert Storm pass a decade since making their self-titled debut in 2008. They followed that with 2010’s Forked Tongues (review here), 2013’s Horizontal Life and 2014’s Omniscient (review here), and though they had a single out in 2014 on H42 Records as a split with Suns of Thunder (review here) in 2016, Sentinels is their first outing on APF Records and their first long-player in four years. Burl has always been an important factor in what they do, and the High on Fire-meets-Orange Goblin slamming of “The Brawl” backs that up, but Desert Storm have left much of the hyper-dudeliness behind in favor of a more complex approach, and while Sentinels isn’t a minor undertaking at 10 songs and 51 minutes, longer cuts like “Kingdom of Horns” and “Convulsion” demonstrate the maturity they’ve brought to bear, even as the one-two punch of “Drifter”  and “The Extrovert” offer swinging-fist hooks and beard-worthy chug that assures any and all testosterone quotas are met.

Desert Storm on Thee Facebooks

APF Records on Bandcamp

 

Ancient Altar, Cosmic Purge/Foie Gras

ancient altar cosmic purge foie gras

Based in Los Angeles, Ancient AltarScott Carlson (bass/vocals), Barry Kavener (guitar/vocals), Jesse Boldt (guitar) and Etay Levy (drums) – were last heard from on 2015’s dug-in atmosludger Dead Earth (review here), and they return lo these several years later with the two-tracker Cosmic Purge/Foie Gras, pushing into more extreme crush-of-riff with an abandon that’s anything but reckless. On the contrary, there’s some clear development in the 10-minute “Cosmic Purge” and 13-minute “Foie Gras,” rolling out oppressive grooves with blended screams/shouts and cleaner vocals. As with the last album, a drive toward individuality is central here, and Ancient Altar get there in tone while bringing forth a sense of scope to a sound so regularly thought of as closed off or off-putting in general. In its early going, “Foie Gras” hypnotizes with echoing melody and spaciousness only to resolve itself in a deeply weighted dirge march, furthering the pummel of “Cosmic Purge” itself. I don’t know if the EP – on vinyl through Black Voodoo Records, CD on Transcendental Void Records – will lead toward another album or not, but the sense of progression in Ancient Altar’s style is right there waiting to be heard, so here’s hoping.

Ancient Altar on Thee Facebooks

Black Voodoo Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Black Box Warning, Attendre la Mort

black box warning attendre la mort

Listen to it on headphones and the kickdrum on Black Box Warning’s Attendre la Mort is downright painful. Next-level blown-out aggro pulsations. Brutal in a physical sense. The rest of the band doesn’t follow far behind in that regard. Riffs are viscous and violent in noise rock tradition, but denser in their tone despite some underlying punkishness, and the vocals are likewise distorted and abrasive. The five-song/23-minute EP’s title translates to “Waiting for Death,” and each of the tracks is a dose: Opener “5 mg” is followed by “4 mg,” “1 mg,” “2 mg” and “3 mg.” Unsurprisingly, pills are a theme, particularly on “4 mg,” and the sense of violent threat is clear in “2 mg” and 3 mg,” which boast lines like, “Watch them all scream/Watch your enemy bleeded,” and “You are the pig/I am the butcher,” respectively. Between the lyrical and the general aural cruelty, the dis-ease is consuming and unmitigated, sludge becoming a slow-motion grindcore, and that’s clearly the point. Not stabbing, but gouging.

Black Box Warning on Thee Facebooks

Black Box Warning on Bandcamp

 

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Review & Full Album Premiere: Nomad, Feral

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 29th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

nomad feral

[Click play above to stream Nomad’s Feral in full. Album is out May 31 on APF Records.]

Britain has become a sludge factory. Seems like every time one turns around, there’s another disgruntled collective shouting, screaming, riffing and crashing out their frustrations in an onslaught of raw, downtuned chug. Manchester’s Nomad, who release their debut album Feral through APF Records — which has boldly taken it upon itself to corral an increasing amount of the national scene — have been around since 2013 and precede their first record with a 2014 EP, The House is Dead, and a 2015 split with Wort. A straightforward guitar, bass, drums, vocals four-piece, their focus on the seven-track/42-minute Feral seems to be on honing as pure a pummel as possible, and they do so via a decidedly New Orleans-tinged sludge, with vocalist Drian Nash reminding of Kirk Windstein in his shoutier moments, and the riffs of Lewis Atkinson calling to mind the earliest days of sludge metal as it veered from the unhinged slowed-down hardcore punk of Eyehategod and became the more cohesive, songwriting-centered output of Crowbar.

The rhythm section of bassist John Carberry and drummer Hayley McIntyre are, naturally, responsible for the foundation on which this aural homage takes place, and do well anchoring and rolling songs like “Swarm,” which take the ferocity of eight-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Curse of the Sun” and the subsequent title-track and push it in a bluesier, lead-topped direction. Though both their moniker and the album’s title evoke a sense of something wild, Nomad themselves are never out of control, and as they blend punk, metal, hardcore and doom on 2:53 centerpiece “The War is Never Over” — chugging mosh-part and all — they present their most intense moment with no less poise than anything preceding or following.

That’s not to say Nomad are staid by any measure, only that they know what they’re doing from the opening hum and fading up toms of “Curse of the Sun” through the long fadeout of the finishing riff to closer “Shallow Fate,” which even brings back — briefly — that same hum that opened the album. And they know which side of the genre they want to play to. Is ‘classic sludge metal’ a thing yet? If not, Feral makes an argument that maybe it should be. Of course, it has its varying sides and modes of expression — “Culture of Ruin” opens with a lightly strummed acoustic guitar to set the mood before moving into its full tonality, etc. — but the root of what they’re doing, and specifically in Atkinson‘s guitar tone, is that early/mid-’90s sludge metal, which is given an even angrier sensibility by Nash‘s vocals moving smoothly between gruff shouts and harsher screams.

nomad

There are moments — the riff that emerges in “Culture of Ruin” just past the halfway point, or the huge wash of crash about six minutes into “Curse of the Sun” before the staccato chugging takes hold — where Nomad give a sense of how they might progress from their debut and what they might bring to their sound over the longer term, but as a statement of who they are, Feral is less wild than it is cohesive in its presentation — which, of course, only works to its advantage. To wit, as the tracklisting plays out, the band moves between longer and shorter songs, alternating one then the other to effectively keep the listener off balance and to highlight the subtle diversity in their presentation and the fluidity with which they execute the structures of their songs. The end effect is to give Feral some of the madness its title brings to mind, even though it’s clear that NashAtkinsonCarberry and McIntyre are actively, consciously steering the material as they go.

In some cases, that might lessen the impact. It doesn’t here, because ultimately it’s a part of the aesthetic. Some early sludgers might have been out of control, but Crowbar never were, and as they’re a chief influence, it’s only fair that Nomad shouldn’t be either. The chugging slam of “The War is Never Over,” the bassline underscoring the title-track, the groove and build of “Shallow Fate” — all of these things arrive with a sense of purpose that makes the overarching listening experience of the album feel focused and all the more intense for the mindfulness at work behind it. These songs didn’t just happen; they were built. As a uniting factor, that purposeful delivery has as much to do with making the album work as the consistency of tone or mood, and in thinking ahead to what Nomad might do over the longer term, it’s among the most encouraging aspects of Feral, which may not ultimately be running wild and completely out of its mind, but certainly gnashes its teeth all the same in a manner that can only help them distinguish themselves from the UK’s crowded sludge underground.

Nomad on Thee Facebooks

Nomad on Twitter

APF Records on Thee Facebooks

APF Records webstore

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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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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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