The Obelisk Presents: Lo-Pan, Steak & Elephant Tree UK/European Tour Dates

Posted in The Obelisk Presents on May 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

There are still a couple dates TBA, but it feels like a win nonetheless announcing the two weeks-plus that Lo-Pan will spend on the road in the UK and parts of Europe this Fall. It’s October, which coincides with their previously-announced festival appearance at Up in Smoke and will also see them at Keep it Low 2019 and the Setalight and Into the Void festivals. There’s another fest on that Oct. 19 date that’s still unannounced, and while I don’t know what’s planned for it — I’ll emphasize that while there’s an Obelisk logo on the poster, I have zero inside information — I wouldn’t be surprised to find the run stopping through there either.

Either way, Lo-Pan of course head abroad in support of their 2019 album, Subtle (review here), which is yet another powerhouse offering from the four-piece despite lineup changes since their last offering, and Elephant Tree, who’ll open the run, are set to release their second album hopefully in time to coincide with the tour (that’d be just dandy as far as I’m concerned, though if they wanted to send it to me earlier, I’d take that too, hint hint). I’m not sure if Steak have a record in the works — their last one came out in 2017, so it’s certainly possible — but as I’ve noted a couple times already since, they killed at Desertfest New York recently.

Here are the thus-far confirmed dates for the tour. Gonna be a good one, and I’m insanely proud to have this site involved in presenting it:

lo-pan steak elephant tree tour

30.09.19 TBA
01.10.19 Bristol | The Old England (UK)**

02.10.19 Swansea | The Bunkhouse (UK)**
04.10.19 Paris | Gibus (FR)
05.10.19 Pratteln | Up In Smoke Festival (CH)
06.10.19 Salzburg | Rockhouse (AT)
08.10.19 Linz | Stadtwerkstatt (AT)
09.10.19 Freiburg | Slow Club (DE)
10.10.19 Leipzig | Werk2 (DE)
11.10.19 Berlin | Setalight Festival (DE)
12.10.19 Munich | Keep it Low Festival (DE)
14.10.19 Wiesbaden | Schlachthof (DE)
15.10.19 Cologne | Helios 37 (DE)
16.10.19 Hamburg | Hafenklang (DE)
17.10.19 Bremen | Zollkantine (DE)
18.10.19 Leuwaarden | Into the Void Festival (NL)**
19.10.19 TBA | TBA
** Lo-Pan only

LO-PAN is:
Jeff Martin – vocals
Skot Thompson – bass
Jesse Bartz – drums
Chris Thompson – guitar

http://www.lopandemic.com
http://www.facebook.com/lopandemic
http://www.aqualamb.org
http://www.aqualamb.bandcamp.com
http://www.facebook.com/aqualambrecords
https://www.facebook.com/Soundofliberation/

Lo-Pan, “Ten Days” official video

Steak, No God to Save (2017)

Elephant Tree, Elephant Tree (2016)

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Lo-Pan, Subtle: Everything Burns

Posted in Reviews on May 9th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

lo-pan subtle

It’s kind of hard to believe, but it’s been nearly five years since Lo-Pan last released an album. The Columbus, Ohio, heavy rockers issued Colossus (review here) through Small Stone in Fall 2014, and subsequently dove headfirst into a succession of years of touring and tumult. About a month after Colossus, they announced guitarist Adrian Zambrano (Brujas del Sol) taking over for Brian Fristoe; touring followed in the familiar ground of the US and on the then-uncovered territory of Europe throughout 2015. Talk began of a new record and the band hit the studio even as more touring ensued in 2016, and then Zambrano left and Chris Thompson joined, making his debut appearance in 2017 at The Blackout Cookout 7 in Kent, Ohio. The material that Lo-Pan recorded with Zambrano, meanwhile, was released in early 2017 as the In Tensions EP (review here) and would be that year’s best short release.

Again, Lo-Pan went on tour, the four-piece of Thompson, vocalist Jeff Martin, bassist Scott Thompson and drummer Jesse Bartz running hard in 2017 only to step back last year and write and record what would become Subtle with their new lineup. Like In Tensions, the band’s fifth full-length releases through Aqualamb Records, and it arrives as they once again make ready to hit the road hard and tour at home and abroad before the end of 2019. Their commitment to what they do is admirable. In the midst of chaos and clashing personalities, Lo-Pan emerge to put forth 11 tracks/47 minutes of cohesive and few-frills songcraft. The songs, rooted in riffs and compositions by Thompson and/or Thompson (who are not related), feel as though they’ve had everything extraneous chipped away, leaving the essential components of expression.

That’s not to say Subtle is raw — far from it. With production by James Brown (GhostNine Inch Nails) in New York, the band have arguably never sounded so melodically accomplished. That’s mostly evident in Martin‘s stellar and soulful vocal performance, but it’s there in the guitar and bass as well, and even Bartz‘s crash seems to have a tunefulness about it. At the same time, structurally, songs like the opener “Ten Days,” “Ascension Day” and the later and suitably rolling “A Thousand Miles” channel powerful verses and strong hooks to a sense of urgency that Colossus brought to the fore but that’s smoothed out here in its tone and less outwardly aggressive in its overall affect. Of course, “Bring Me a War” still has its edge of confrontationalism, and likewise the early highlight “Savage Heart” and closer “The Law and the Swarm,” but the guitar tone is warmer, and that makes a difference.

The balance between these various sides and impulses, as well as the dynamic range in the massive crash of “Everything Burns” and the quieter midsection build of the penultimate “Butcher’s Bill” — I’ve always been a sucker for those moments when Lo-Pan hit the brakes on tempo — helps the band add a feeling of scope to Subtle, and as a bid for one of the best albums of 2019, it’s a blend of songwriting and performance that stands them out among would-be peers in heavy rock and roll. Though it’s anything but, Subtle is the output of a band who have mastered their approach and who still see fit to push themselves to new ground. Whether it’s the relentless shove of songs like “Sage” or the chug-into-happytime-chorus centerpiece “Old News” or even the more brooding “Khan!,” Lo-Pan stand triumphant in this material, and though it sounds hard-won, that only seems to make the victory sweeter.

lo-pan

It’s easy enough to read Subtle as a touring album in cuts like “Ten Days,” “Ascension Day,” “A Thousand Miles,” “Butcher’s Bill” “Sage” and “Bring Me a War,” on one level or another, as well as the cover art that seems to draw the eye to the desert sunset like moving down a highway laced with rows of shark teeth, but if Lo-Pan are chronicling the last few years of changes in the band and in their own lives at least in some degree within this material, then fair enough. Whether or not that’s the case, I don’t know (the finished vinyl and art-book editions include a lyric sheet), but if it is, then even in the slower “Butcher’s Bill,” they don’t sound anymore bogged down than is intended by the song itself. The album is not a minor undertaking at 47 minutes, but it’s not meant to be a minor undertaking. Even with its general lack of indulgence — as a guitarist, Thompson doesn’t take particularly sprawling solos, and Martin keeps layering to a relative minimum, saving harmonies for “The Law and the Swarm” and double-tracking for emphasis elsewhere — Subtle wants nothing for substance.

I’ll readily cop to being a fan of the band live and on record. Does it matter? I don’t know. I doubt it. As I understand it, the thing about Lo-Pan in how they function as a band is that they’re all very different people. I can’t speak to how often they hang out on weekends when they’re not touring, but in terms of the group itself, they’re able to channel that friction or that personality-clash into something special. Lo-Pan have been and remain one of America’s best heavy rock bands for the last decade-plus. Their second album, Sasquanaut (review here) — first released in 2009, then picked up by Small Stone in 2010 — and their third album, 2011’s Salvador (review here), were formative but pivotal works that helped establish the methods that Colossus and In Tensions and Subtle have refined and built on. They write and perform with soul that bleeds through every riff, bassline, drum hit and soaring vocal, and despite the ups and downs the last few years have wrought for them, Subtle stands tall and clean, having conquered a mountain of bullshit.

So yes, one of 2019’s best heavy rock albums. Fine. What seems more important is that Subtle finds Lo-Pan having come through so much without being derailed from what they do — “Ten days inside/Won’t break my stride,” Martin intones on the opener — and their central process remains vital even after being so tested leading up to this record. This is a band worth appreciating while they’re there to appreciate and the immediacy of these songs begs a likewise fervent response. Get into it.

Lo-Pan, “Ten Days” official video

Lo-Pan on Thee Facebooks

Lo-Pan on Bandcamp

Aqualamb Records on Bandcamp

Aqualamb on Thee Facebooks

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Lo-Pan Post “Ten Days” Video; Touring with C.O.C. & Crowbar

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 25th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

lo-pan

It’s been too damn long since the last time I saw Lo-Pan, but that’s something I’ll rectify at least twice as they head out in support of their new album, Subtle, due through Aqulamb on May 17. They’ll be at Maryland Doom Fest in June and then touring with Corrosion of Conformity and Crowbar in July/August. See you at Starland Ballroom, gents. Speaking of “been a long time…”

Anyhoozle, I’ve got Subtle slated for review on May 9 currently. Might move it depending on what comes along, but that’s where we’re at now, and so I’ll hold off getting too deep into the record, but the clip for opening track “Ten Days” tells a good portion of the Lo-Pan story. They have gone, and they go. Rain, sleet and snow. Their tour history is exhausting even to consider, let alone what’s ahead of them in heralding Subtle, but they are a live band to be sure. I won’t take away from their studio work at all, because golly their records kick ass up to and including the new one, but if you’ve ever caught them at a show, you know what I mean. They have a force to their delivery that is among the most potent I’ve caught in at least the last decade.

In addition to the shows below, they’ve also been announced for Up in Smoke and Keep it Low in Europe this October, so I expect more tour dates will be forthcoming, as those fests in Switzerland and Germany, respectively, run on consecutive weekends. I wouldn’t rule them out for Desertfest Belgium, which is Oct. 18-20 this year, either, but nothing has been announced. We’ll see. Either way they’ll be back over there in the Fall, and I don’t imagine the stint this summer with C.O.C. will be their only round of US touring either. Still the West Coast to hit, maybe in Winter or next Spring, depending on their timing. You never really know.

Until the announcement comes down the PR wire. Then you know.

But “Ten Days,” in addition to having a fervent thud and a brainmelter of a hook, captures a lot of the on-the-beat live energy Lo-Pan bring to Subtle. I’m a fan of the band and I won’t pretend otherwise either here or in the review to come, but even with what little objectivity I can muster, I’ll say that it’s righteous and they know it.

Clap your hands.

And enjoy:

Lo-Pan, “Ten Days” official video

The first single from respected hard rock band Lo-Pan’s new album “Subtle”, due May 17th via Aqualamb. Pre-order the new full-length LP now at http://aqualamb.bandcamp.com

“‘Ten Days” is a song about my ability to thrive just about anywhere with little or no preparation,” vocalist Jeff Martin says. “I have always felt that if you can survive 10 days of any uncomfortable situation, you can adapt, and adjust, and persevere. This song is a sort of reminder for me to follow through on my own bluster in that way. I talk a lot of shit. And sometimes I need to force myself to walk it like I talk it.”

This May, Lo-Pan will perform live as one of the featured acts at the 2019 Stoned and Dusted Festival, set for May 25-26 in the Southern California Mojave Desert. At the special gathering, Lo-Pan will share the stage with Black Mountain, Brant Bjork, King Buffalo, Yawning Man, Melvins and more. For full details, visit this location.

In additional news, Lo-Pan has announced a summer North American tour with Corrosion of Conformity and Crowbar. Set to launch on July 26 in Poughkeepsie, NY, the month long tour will criss-cross the country, running through August 25 in Providence, RI.

Lo-Pan tour dates:

May 26 Joshua Tree, CA Stoned and Dusted Festival
June 21 Frederick, MD Maryland Doom Fest

Lo-Pan w/ Corrosion of Conformity & Crowbar:
July 26 Poughkeepsie, NY The Chance
July 27 Syracuse, NY Westcott Theater
July 29 Kitchener, ON Dallas Nightclub
July 31 Louisville, KY Mercury Ballroom
August 1 Grand Rapids, MI Elevation
August 2 Milwaukee, WI The Rave II
August 5 Indianapolis, IN Deluxe at Old National Centre
August 6 Sauget, IL Pop’s
August 7 Omaha, NE Slowdown
August 10 Boulder, CO Fox Theatre
August 11 Grand Junction, CO Mesa Theater
August 13 Boise, ID Knitting Factory Concert House
August 14 Salt Lake City, UT The Complex
August 16 Tucson, AZ Encore
August 17 Albuquerque, NM Sunshine Theater
August 19 Austin, TX Come and Take It Live
August 21 Jacksonville , FL 1904 Music Hall
August 22 Jacksonville, NC The Tarheel
August 23 Virginia Beach, VA Elevation 27
August 24 Sayreville, NJ Starland Ballroom
August 25 Providence, RI Fete Music Hall

LO-PAN is:
Jeff Martin – vocals
Skot Thompson – bass
Jesse Bartz – drums
Chris Thompson – guitar

Lo-Pan website

Lo-Pan on Thee Facebooks

Aqualamb Records website

Aqualamb Records on Bandcamp

Aqualamb Records on Thee Facebooks

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Lo-Pan Announce New Album Subtle out May 17

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Something tells me there will be very little subtle about it. I’ve heard odds and ends, heres and theres from Lo-Pan‘s impending fourth record. Just enough to tell you “it gonna be good” in however many words it takes me to type that out. The Columbus, Ohio, natives are due. It’s been five years since their third long-player, Colossus (review here), and though they released the In Tensions EP (review here) as a stopgap in 2017 — also their first outing for Aqualamb, which is releasing the new album as well — the forthcoming Subtle brings another level of intrigue entirely for being their first offering with Chris Thompson on guitar. And yeah, I think it’s gonna be pretty good.

It’s not every band I’d put together a news post for after I’ve already closed out the week. Most types, they wait until Monday. Lo-Pan aren’t most types.

From the PR wire:

lo-pan subtle

Lo-Pan to Release New LP, ‘Subtle’, May 17

Alt-Metal Bigs Blend Billowy Heaviness and Consummate Catchiness on Ambitious New Album

Respected hard rock band Lo-Pan will release its new LP, ‘Subtle’, on May 17 via Aqualamb Records. The Ohio group, known for its dichotomic sound which merges sturm und drang heaviness with relentlessly catchy, AOR laden melody, recorded the new album at both NYC’s Reservoir and The Union studios with Grammy Award winning producer James Brown (Foo Fighters, Ghost, NIN). Lo-Pan’s fourth record, ‘Subtle’ was mastered by famed engineer Ted Jensen (Alice in Chains, Guns ‘N’ Roses, Mastodon) and is the highly anticipated follow-up to the unit’s 2017 release, ‘In Tensions.’

It’s hardly a secret that some of the most potent hard rock ever rocked comes from the American midwest; places like Detroit and Cleveland, after all, have proven to serve as perfect inspiration for first-rate heavy music. Formed in 2005 and forged from the fire of more than 1,000 white hot live performances alongside peers such as High on Fire, Torche, KENmode and more, Lo-Pan’s “secret” is its unfuckwithable ability to create immersive rock music born of dynamic dazzle, progressive pummel and emotional energy. Silky, yet punishing.

With their fourth full-length, bassist Skot Thompson, drummer Jesse Bartz, guitarist Chris Thompson and singer Jeff Martin have pushed Lo-Pan’s already high ceiling straight through its proverbial roof. ‘Subtle’ opening track “10 Days” begins with the unmistakable static of a guitar being plugged in; an entryway to a beautifully gnarly riff that heralds an album built on heavy walls of sound and feeling, underpinned by the familiar collision of Bartz’s heavy hitting and Thompson’s sleek basslines, all in service to Martin’s transcendent vocal performances.

And as regards those vocal performances, the next cut, “Savage Heart” contains one of Martin’s most exceptional. The LP continues its flow with “Ascension Day,” a title that can’t help but recall post-rock progenitors Talk Talk at their most opaquely experimental, but Lo-Pan’s song of the same name is in an altogether different zone, moving forward on the strength of an unyielding groove while Martin’s frictionless vocal floats above it all. Things take a turn for the doomier on “Everything Burns,” a long slow-burner that relentlessly advances at a pace that makes every note hit HARD.

“This band has always been four corners coming together,” said Martin. “Nobody in this band comes from the same background, we often disagree on a lot of fundamental things, but it’s undeniable when we get together and it coalesces into the product of the four personalities. It hits me in my heart, and whenever I sing these songs I relive what I’m writing about. These are our most overtly and unapologetically hostile lyrics to date. I have always written what I think and feel.”

“Chris’ songwriting is more of an organic process while mine’s very robotic,” offers Skot Thompson. “And those two wiring processes tend to blend themselves together. There’s been a handful of songs on [Subtle] in particular where those two processes have melded into something beautiful. A lot of these songs are me, Chris, and Jesse putting things together, with Jeff layering things on top to make it more of a solid form.”

Track listing:
1.) 10 Days
2.) Savage Heart
3.) Ascension Day
4.) Sage
5.) Everything Burns
6.) Old News
7.) Bring Me A War
8.) A Thousand Miles
9.) Khan
10.) Butcher’s Bill
11.) The Law & The Swarm

Pre-order ‘Subtle’ at this location. The album will be released on LP with a sleeve designed by Eric Palmerlee, and as always for Aqualamb releases, as a 100 page art book/digital download package.

LO-PAN is:
Jeff Martin – vocals
Skot Thompson – bass
Jesse Bartz – drums
Chris Thompson – guitar

http://www.lopandemic.com
http://www.facebook.com/lopandemic
http://www.aqualamb.org
http://www.aqualamb.bandcamp.com
http://www.facebook.com/aqualambrecords

Lo-Pan, Subtle album teaser

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HAAN to Release By the Grace of Blood and Guts in August; Tour Dates Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 31st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

haan

Oh, New York noise rock. You are timeless. You are crunchy. And you are mad, pretty much about being from New York. Don’t get me wrong, I get it. The rent’s too damn high and what used to be your favorite Chinese takeout place is now an artisanal meatball shop for cats. Such is the way of things, all carefully planned out to serve our capitalist rentier class overlords, so what’re you gonna do but plug in the instruments that you paid hard cash money for and make a lot of noise. Noise rock is like New York’s recourse to itself.

So maybe that’s where HAAN are getting the aggro vibes from. I’d say it’s in the water, but it’s in everything. Their album, By the Grace of Blood and Guts, will be out on Aqualamb Records in August in the label’s traditional format of the 100-page artbook, and the band will play the release show for it at the Saint Vitus Bar on Aug. 17 as the first night of a tour that goes to Aug. 25 in Detroit.

The PR wire puts it like this:

haan by the grace of blood and guts

One great peril in hard rock genre-hopping is that an inept band can simply end up diluting all of its sources of inspiration which, let’s be honest, is what happens more often than not. To synthesize something genuinely exciting, adept musicians need to obliterate the lines between genres rather than merely straddling them.

New York City’s HAAN understands this perfectly.

Initially founded as the quintet No Way in 2012, the group’s core trio of guitarist Jordan Melkin, bassist Dave Maffei, and drummer Chris Enriquez (now Andrew Gottlieb) explored a noisy post-punk inspired by the guitar daredevilry of Drive Like Jehu before embracing the crushing riffage of their bludgeon-rock forebears like Unsane and Deadguy. Dirgy psychedelia found its way into the mix as well, and there are even traces of southern-fried swamp rock grooves in their sound —and all of this is buttressed by a spine forged from the heaviest of metal.

Adding singer Chuck Berrett and adopting the name HAAN from a complex Korean term signifying collective feelings of isolation, injustice, melancholy, and insurmountable oppression, they announced their existence to the world in 2014 with the brutal and amazing cassette E.P. “Sing Praises.” In a mere four tracks, the band issued a remarkably clear statement of purpose-it’s a piledriver of an E.P.; dark, dirty, punishing, but richly complex, sharp-sounding, and utterly riveting. The cassette sold out quickly, but Finland’s notorious purveyors of noisy rock, the Kaos Kontrol label, released a vinyl edition that remains in print.

HAAN’s new album, “By the Grace of Blood and Guts,” ” is due in August on Aqualambrecords, a label that’s distinguished itself by releasing albums accompanied by 100-page art books, but BTGOBAG will also be released on gorgeous limited edition clear black smoke vinyl. Fans of “Sing Praises” will rejoice to hear that the full-length delivers the same kicks —Maffei and drummer Enriquez deftly manage the twin tasks of battery and fluidity while Melkin punctuates savage riffing with noisy passages that recall the mind-bending guitar needling of Daughters. Berrett channels a range of effective vocal stylings from that recall everything from the brawny expressiveness of Iron Maiden’s Paul Di’Anno all the way to the rhythmic incantations of Clutch’s Neil Fallon, and his way with a turn of phrase is undeniable as he conjures HAAN’s fight songs for the apocalypse.

“By the Grace of Blood and Guts” was engineered at Spaceman Sound in Brooklyn by Tom Tierney & Alex Mead-Fox (A Place to Bury Strangers, Kid Millions), and mastered by Chicago’s Carl Saff (Fu Manchu, Child Bite, Unsane). The INTENSE illustrations for the vinyl sleeve and art book were executed by vocalist Berrett.

TRACK LISTING

1. Thy Tongues 3:56
2. Hyena Moan 3:05
3. It Smells Like Gas 2:01
4. Zero Day 7:03
5. The Woke 4:42
6. Hangdog 4:07
7. Diminuendo 3:02
8. Funeral Song 5:52

HAAN:
Chuck Berrett – Vocals
Dave Maffei – Bass
Jordan Melkin – Guitar
Andrew Gottleib – Drums

HAAN will be touring with Finnish noise rockers Throat this August.

SUMMER TOUR DATES With Throat (Finland)
8/17 – Brooklyn, NY (record release) – Saint Vitus with Netherlands and Couch Slut
8/18 – Philadelphia, PA – The Barbary with Faking and Body Spray
8/19 – Baltimore, MD – Ottobar with Birth (Defects) + TBA
8/20 – Cleveland, OH – Happy Dog at Euclid Tavern + TBA
8/21 – Madison, WI – Art Inn with Coordinated Suicides + TBA
8/22 – Minneapolis, MN – Hexagon Bar with Tongue Party and Buildings
8/23 – Chicago, IL – The Burlington with War Brides and Salvation
8/24 – Milwaukee, WI – Cactus Club – Triple Eye Festival 3 with Them Teeth, Knaaves and Dead is Dead
8/25 – Detroit, MI – Cellarman’s Brewery with Them Teeth and Those Hounds

https://www.facebook.com/haannyc/
https://haan-nyc.bandcamp.com/
http://www.aqualamb.org/
http://twitter.com/aqualamborg

HAAN, “Hyena Moan” official video

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The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Short Releases of 2017

Posted in Features on December 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk top 20 short releases

Please note: This post is not culled in any way from the Year-End Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2017 to that, please do.

This is the hardest list to put together, no question. Don’t get me wrong, I put way too much thought into all of them, but this one is damn near impossible to keep up with. Every digital single, every demo, every EP, every 7″, 10″ one-sided 12″, whatever it is. There’s just too much. I’m not going to claim to have heard everything. Hell, that’s what the comments are for. Let me know what I missed. Invariably, something.

So while the headers might look similar, assuming I can ever remember which fonts I use from one to the next, this list has a much different personality than, say, the one that went up earlier this week with the top 20 debuts of 2017. Not that I heard everyone’s first record either, but we’re talking relative ratios here. The bottom line is please just understand I’ve done my best to hear as much as possible. I’m only one person, and there are only so many hours in the day. Eventually your brain turns into riffy mush.

With that caveat out of the way, I’m happy to present the following roundup of some of what I thought were 2017’s best short releases. That’s EPs, singles, demos, splits — pretty much anything that wasn’t a full-length album, and maybe one or two things that were right on the border of being one. As between genres, the lines are blurry these days. That’s part of what makes it fun.

Okay, enough dawdling. Here we go:

lo-pan-in-tensions

The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Short Releases of 2017

1. Lo-Pan, In Tensions
2. Godhunter, Codex Narco
3. Year of the Cobra, Burn Your Dead
4. Shroud Eater, Three Curses
5. Stubb, Burning Moon
6. Canyon, Canyon
7. Solace, Bird of Ill Omen
8. Kings Destroy, None More
9. Tarpit Boogie, Couldn’t Handle… The Heavy Jam
10. Supersonic Blues, Supersonic Blues Theme
11. Come to Grief, The Worst of Times EP
12. Rope Trick, Red Tape
13. Eternal Black, Live at WFMU
14. IAH, IAH
15. Bong Wish, Bong Wish EP
16. Rattlesnake, Outlaw Boogie Demo
17. Hollow Leg, Murder
18. Mars Red Sky, Myramyd
19. Avon, Six Wheeled Action Man Tank 7″
20. Wretch, Bastards Born

Honorable Mention

Across Tundras, Blood for the Sun / Hearts for the Rain
The Discussion, Tour EP
Fungus Hill, Creatures
Switchblade Jesus & Fuzz Evil, The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Seven
The Grand Astoria, The Fuzz of Destiny
Test Meat, Demo
Blood Mist, Blood Mist
Sweat Lodge, Tokens for Hell
Dautha, Den Foerste
Scuzzy Yeti, Scuzzy Yeti
Howling Giant, Black Hole Space Wizard Part 2
Decasia, The Lord is Gone
Bible of the Devil/Leeches of Lore, Split 7″

I can’t imagine I won’t add a name or two or five to this section over the next few days as I think of other things and people remind me of stuff and so on, so keep an eye out, but the point is there’s way more than just what made the top 20. That Across Tundras single would probably be on the list proper just on principle, but I heard it like a week ago and it doesn’t seem fair. Speaking of unfair, The Discussion, Howling Giant, The Grand Astoria and the Bible of the Devil/Leeches of Lore split all deserve numbered placement easily. I might have to make this a top 30 in 2018, just to assuage my own guilt at not being able to include everything I want to include. For now though, yeah, this is just the tip of the doomberg.

Notes

To be totally honest with you, that Lo-Pan EP came out Jan. 13 and pretty much had the year wrapped up in my head from that point on. It was going to be hard for anything to top In Tensions, and the Godhunter swansong EP came close for the sense of stylistic adventurousness it wrought alone, and ditto that for Year of the Cobra’s bold aesthetic expansions on Burn Your Dead and Shroud Eater’s droning Three Cvrses, but every time I heard Jeff Martin singing “Pathfinder,” I knew it was Lo-Pan’s year and all doubt left my mind. Of course, for the Ohio four-piece, In Tensions is something of a one-off with the departure already of guitarist Adrian Zambrano, but I still have high hopes for their next record. It would be hard not to.

The top five is rounded out by Stubb’s extended jam/single “Burning Moon,” which was a spacey delight and new ground for them to cover. The self-titled debut EP from Philly psych rockers Canyon, which they’ve already followed up, is next. I haven’t had the chance to hear the new one yet, but Canyon hit a sweet spot of psychedelia and heavy garage that made me look forward to how they might develop, so I’ll get there sooner or later. Solace’s return was nothing to balk at with their cassingle “Bird of Ill Omen” and the Sabbath cover with which they paired it, and though Kings Destroy weirded out suitably on the 14-minute single-song EP None More, I hear even greater departures are in store with their impending fourth LP, currently in progress.

A couple former bandmates of mine feature in Tarpit Boogie in guitarist George Pierro and bassist John Eager, and both are top dudes to be sure, but even if we didn’t have that history, it would be hard to ignore the tonal statement they made on their Couldn’t Handle… The Heavy Jam EP. If you didn’t hear it, go chase it down on Bandcamp. Speaking of statements, Supersonic Blues’ Supersonic Blues Theme 7″ was a hell of an opening salvo of classic boogie that I considered to be one of the most potential-laden offerings of the year. Really. Such warmth to their sound, but still brimming with energy in the most encouraging of ways. Another one that has to be heard to be believed.

The dudes are hardly newcomers, but Grief offshoot Come to Grief sounded pretty fresh — and raw — on their The Worst of Times EP, and the Massachusetts extremists check in right ahead of fellow New Englangers Rope Trick, who are an offshoot themselves of drone experimentalists Queen Elephantine. Red Tape was a demo in the demo tradition, and pretty formative sounding, but seemed to give them plenty of ground on which to develop their aesthetic going forward, and I wouldn’t ask more of it than that.

Eternal Black gave a much-appreciated preview of their Bleed the Days debut long-player with Live at WFMU and earned bonus points for recording it at my favorite radio station, while Argentine trio IAH probably went under a lot of people’s radar with their self-titled EP but sent a fervent reminder that that country’s heavy scene is as vibrant as ever. Boston-based psych/indie folk outfit Bong Wish were just the right combination of strange, melodic and acid-washed to keep me coming back to their self-titled EP on Beyond Beyond is Beyond, and as Adam Kriney of The Golden Grass debuted his new project Rattlesnake with the Outlaw Boogie demo, the consistency of his songcraft continued to deliver a classic feel. Another one to watch out for going into the New Year.

I wasn’t sure if it was fair to include Hollow Leg’s Murder or not since it wound up getting paired with a special release of their latest album, but figured screw it, dudes do good work and no one’s likely to yell about their inclusion here. If you want to quibble, shoot me a comment and quibble away. Mars Red Sky only released Myramyd on vinyl — no CD, no digital — and I never got one, but heard a private stream at one point and dug that enough to include them here anyway. They remain perennial favorites.

Avon, who have a new record out early in 2018 on Heavy Psych Sounds, delivered one of the year’s catchiest tracks with the “Six Wheeled Action Man Tank” single. I feel like I’ve had that song stuck in my head for the last two months, mostly because I have. And Wretch may or may not be defunct at this point — I saw word that drummer Chris Gordon was leaving the band but post that seems to have disappeared now, so the situation may be in flux — but their three-songer Bastards Born EP was a welcome arrival either way. They round out the top 20 because, well, doom. Would be awesome to get another LP out of them, but we’ll see I guess.

One hopes that nothing too egregious was left off, but one again, if there’s something you feel like should be here that isn’t, please consider the invitation to leave a comment open and let me know about it. Hell, you know what? Give me your favorites either way, whether you agree with this list or not. It’s list season, do it up. I know there’s the Year-End Poll going, and you should definitely contribute to that if you haven’t, but what was your favorite EP of the year? The top five? Top 10? I’m genuinely curious. Let’s talk about it.

Whether you have a pick or not (and I hope you do), thanks as always for reading. May the assault of short releases continue unabated in 2018 and beyond.

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Rozamov and Husbandry Announce October Weekender Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 18th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Boston’s Rozamov just got back from a tour that included a stop at Crucialfest and New York’s Husbandry have a brand new video for the track ‘Grab Twist Pull’ and will head out with Moon Tooth in November, so both bands have plenty going on as they move toward rounding out 2017 both supporting and looking to move forward from their debut releases on Battleground/Dullest Records and Aqualamb, respectively. All the better to team up for a quick weekender next month for shows in their native territories of New York and Massachusetts, and to add intrigue, the final of the three dates for the weekender run, to be held at The Middle East — one assumes upstairs, but you can never be sure — that’s going to be recorded by GodCity Studio‘s mobile unit.

Does that mean Kurt Ballou (Converge) is going to helm live outings for both bands? Can’t imagine they’d bring him out and not put out the results. Something to watch for maybe as we head into 2018.

Show info came down the PR wire:

Rozamov & Husbandry – Northeast dates

Rozamov and Husbandry have announced a short string of Northeast dates this October, culminating in a show to be recorded by Godcity Studio at The Middle East in Cambridge, MA.

10/20 – Brooklyn, NY @ The Well
10/21 – Florence, MA @ The 13th Floor Lounge
10/22 – Boston, MA @ The Middle East

Says Husbandry guitarist Jordan Usatch:

“There’s never an absence of ‘heavy’ young bands these days, but I’ve always felt that it’s few and far between of bands that do ‘heavy’ but also ‘interesting’ – so of course, ever since meeting the guys in Rozamov we’ve felt a kinship with them between odd-timed riffs and our mutual big-ass pedalboards. When approached to do a mini-tour in the New England area, using it to hire Godcity mobile recording services for a future live split-record project, we had to say yes. The tour starts at The Well in Brooklyn and culminates 10/22/17 at the Middle East Upstairs, where both bands will record our live sets, featuring new (and previously unreleased) music from both bands. The Middle East show will be rounded out by two other Boston bands- Kal Marks as well as Nomad Stones.”

Rozamov released their debut LP “This Mortal Road” this past March and have completed two tours since including stops at Austin Terror Fest and Crucialfest. The band digitally released a live recording from their March tour titled “Adaptations” earlier this summer and are have been hard at work on new material.

Husbandry recently released a video for their song “Grab Twist Pull” off of their debut LP “Fera” which was released last year. They also recently announced a US tour with fellow New York weirdos Moon Tooth for this November.

https://www.facebook.com/Rozamov
http://battlegroundrnr.com/
http://www.facebook.com/battlegroundrecords
http://battlegroundrecords.bigcartel.com
https://dullestrecords.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/DullestRecords

https://www.facebook.com/husbandrynyc
http://www.twitter.com/husbandrynyc
http://instagram.com/husbandrynyc
https://husbandryny.bandcamp.com/
https://aqualamb.bandcamp.com/
http://www.aqualamb.org/

Husbandry, “Grab Twist Pull” official video

Rozamov, “Serpent Cult” official video

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The Obelisk Presents: Godmaker, Rozamov, Hush & Husbandry at The Well, Brooklyn, NYC, March 8

Posted in The Obelisk Presents on February 27th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-presents-godmaker-rozamov-hush-husbandry-the-well

Fancy a little mid-week slaughter? Sure, we all do. All the more reason I’m proud to have The Obelisk present GodmakerRozamovHUSH. and Husbandry on March 8 at The Well in Brooklyn for an evening that will boast both kinds of music — crushing and pummeling.

Okay, you’ve seen the names. Before we get into it, just go ahead and get your tickets here.

Headlining are Brooklyn’s own Godmaker, who are now more than two years past the Aqualamb release of their self-titled debut (review here) and who in the time since have added guitarist/vocalist Carmine Laietta to their lineup. Somehow I doubt bringing the former Hull axe-slinger on board has dulled their scathing, blister-raising noise rock approach. They have new music in the works that as of a couple weeks ago was in the mixing stage, so it seems likely we’ll be hearing from them again sooner than later. Not a complaint.

As for Rozamov, this gig at The Well follows the March 3 hometown release show in Boston for their long-awaited debut album, This Mortal Road (review later this week), on Battleground and Dullest Records, and marks the beginning of a tour (info here) that spans both coasts and includes time at SXSW to play the Austin Terror Fest. The three-piece have put in significant road time already as a band, but with the record coming out, there are going to be a lot of people turned onto their post-sludge roll and doomed atmospherics.

I was fortunate enough back in 2015 to see all-caps, punctuation-inclusive NY doomers HUSH. open for Conan (review here) in Brooklyn, and if they could stand up to that kind of massiveness on stage — which they did, and admirably — they can conquer just about anything. Their 2016 EP, Nihil Unbound, was recently issued on vinyl through Fuzz RecordsDullest (making them partial labelmates to Rozamov) and Silent Pendulum, and is gone, though they might have a few copies on-hand for the merch table. Won’t know if you don’t show up.

And rounding out the bill are Husbandry. Also native to Brooklyn, the four-piece released their debut album, Fera, on Aqualamb — making them labelmates to Godmaker; I love a lineup with comrades and symmetry — and though they label themselves as post-hardcore and certainly that tells part of the tale, it hardly accounts fully for the charge of a song like “Grab Twist Pull” or the alt-minded infectiousness of “Hymn to Tourach.” Still, gotta call it something I guess. Expect a riotous kickoff to a show that only gets meaner as it goes on.

Rozamov bassist Tom Corino had this to say about the night: “The lineup for this show is heavy, diverse and incestuous. The crushing and bleak Hush are joining us for the first couple dates of this tour and will are Dullest Records lablemates with Godmaker and ourselves. We’ve played with Godmaker a bunch of times, and they’ve become our brothers in ‘loud.’ The ‘oddball’ of the group is Husbandry, a mathy-post hardcore band that will melt your mind and tantalize your senses. See you soon Brooklyn!”

It’s going to be a stellar, ridiculously heavy night, and I’m honored to join Tone Deaf Touring in presenting it.

Here’s the raw data:

Godmaker, Rozamov, Hush and Husbandry at The Well

Wednesday, March 8

The Well
272 Meserole St, Brooklyn, New York 11206

Loudest, heaviest show of the spring, in Brooklyn.
Quote us on that.

7pm doors, 8pm music – 21+
$10 adv//$12 at the door.

Tickets at Ticketweb

Event page on Thee Facebooks

Godmaker on Bandcamp

Godmaker on Thee Facebooks

Rozamov on Thee Facebooks

HUSH. on Thee Facebooks

Husbandry on Thee Facebooks

The Well website

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