Archon, Ouroboros Collapsing: Void Crushes Magnificent

Posted in Reviews on February 14th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

On the inside of the gatefold digi-sleeve that houses Ouroboros Collapsing, the second full-length from NYC-based doom outfit Archon, is inscribed the lines, “Psychic death brings us to our dismay/Inevitable to end this way/Void/Crushes/Magnificent.” These lyrics are the only ones Archon reveals from the album (released on The Path Less Traveled), and I’m comfortable saying they’re fairly emblematic of the band’s irrevocably bleak musical perspective. The five-piece’s doom – doubly vocalized thanks to Rachel Brown and Chris Dialogue – is dark and extreme, touching on death-doom sonically with some of Dialogue’s growls and Brown’s screams and cleaner singing, but not altogether separate either from a post-Electric Wizard stoneralia, given to periods of swirl as in the solo section of “Desert Throne,” the shortest track on Ouroboros Collapsing at a paltry nine minutes. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve known Archon guitarist/bassist and founder Andrew Jude for the better part of a decade, have contributed to projects in which he’s also been involved and have watched as he’s solidified Archon’s lineup over the last several years (please note that if I didn’t feel comfortable reviewing it, I wouldn’t), the somewhat nebulous incarnation of the band that brought forth the debut LP, The Ruins at Dusk (review here) having now solidified around him, Brown, Dialogue, guitarist Nikhil Kamineni and drummer Rajah Marcelo. It’s worth noting that the last three – and so 60 percent of Archon’s current lineup – can also be found in the band Alkahest, whose post-sludge bears only a passing resemblance in its extremity to the overarching tragic mood Archon present here. All but Kamineni appeared on the last album as well, among others, and while Ouroboros Collapsing having been recorded at multiple studios across Brooklyn may have led to some shifts in sound from one song to the next, each of the 47-minute outing’s four cuts is long enough to set up its own context, beginning with the 15:03 opener “Worthless” setting the tone of viscous chugging guitar and agonizing echoing spaces. It’s the longest track at just over 15 minutes (immediate points), and begins with low humming ambience from which the bass and guitar gradually emerge amid swirling echoes and a classic ‘90s death-doom drum thud from Marcelo, whose adaptability here proves an asset to the band overall. Past the 2:30 mark, the lumbering sway of the central riff and Brown’s multi-layered melodic vocal kick in, sounding something like Grayceon at their darkest and most massive, albeit rougher in the production and sans cello.

Archon have never been shy about riding a part out, and “Worthless” shows that while the personnel may have shifted, the band’s core affinity for repetition remains the same. When Brown switches to sub-blackened screams, she’s gradually joined by Dialogue, who contributes growls behind and eventually in competition with the verse riffs. With both vocalists going at once, the screams are bound to be a focal point of the song, and there’s a stretch as “Worthless” approaches its halfway point where it feels as though the part is being extended to make room for the lyrics, but an ensuing shift toward more open, atmospheric riffing – Dialogue’s far-back rasp backed by synth from Brown – provides some measure of relative relief from the (purposeful) monotony. The plod continues with Marcelo picking up the drums amid Kamineni’s more active movement toward its end, and though it’s not so much a build as a clear shift, the effect is largely the same. Synths build in prevalence in the doomed cacophony, Jude throws in a few choice bass fills, and a deconstruction plays out there, leaving an amp buzz to fade as the last remaining element before the guitar of “Desert Throne” answers the opener with more immediate riffing. Dialogue has the opening volley in terms of vocals over faster riffing, but it’s Brown’s delivery in the ensuing slower part and swirling bridge that proves more memorable, though the track doesn’t really make its presence felt until the second half, when it opens to what – were it not topped by wrenching growls and screams – might be a ‘90s-style NY gothic synth ambience. The guitar soon gives a solo over the formidable groove, but the mood is set for drama nonetheless. Where “Worthless” launched with a drone, “Desert Throne” caps with about 90 seconds of noise and crashing as the song falls apart back into the malevolent rumble from which the first half of the album emerged. Whatever  the particular recording circumstances were for each of these tracks, I don’t know (Jude, Kamineni and Danny Screams are credited with recording, while Jude mixed and David Johnson mastered), but from listening, third track “God’s Eye” (9:45) seems the most cohesive presentation of the various aspects of Archon’s musical personality, taking the push of “Desert Throne”  and oppression of “Worthless” and forming them into a substantive and individualized whole. Kamineni’s post-rock tonality seems more present and the insistent initial rhythm captures the listener’s attention so that the blackened progression that follows with Dialogue at the fore of the push is only more like to sweep one into its storm.

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Archon to Release Ouroboros Collapsing on Feb. 19 via The Path Less Traveled

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 21st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

NYC-based doom outfit Archon opened a new chapter when it basically merged with the concurrent and still ongoing post-sludge outfit Alkahest, bringing in drummer Rajah Marcello, guitarist Nikhil Kamineni and screamer Chris Dialogue alongside founding bassist Andrew Jude and mostly-melodic vocalist Rachel Brown. The change is even more palpable on their forthcoming album, Ouroboros Collapsing, which follows 2010’s pre-lineup-change release, The Ruins at Dusk (review here). What remains consistent, however, is a black hole’s portion of darkness resounding through their extended, trenchant plod.

The Path Less Traveled Records has signed on to issue the new album on Feb. 19 and sends the following word down the PR wire:

ARCHON – Ouroboros Collapsing OUT 2/19/13

Archon is a New York City based metal band whose sound blends the heaviest of psych, stoner, doom and sludge. Created in 2008 by Andrew Jude, Archon has persisted through several lineup changes. In 2010, the band self-produced its first full length record, The Ruins at Dusk. A collaboration of seven people, The Ruins at Dusk fused the epic atmospherics and dynamics of Electric Wizard and Neurosis while maintaining a melodic sensibility reminiscent of doom godfathers St. Vitus and Black Sabbath.

Since late 2010, the band has been comprised of Andrew Jude (guitar, bass), Nikhil Kamineni (bass, guitar), Rajah Marcelo (drums), Rachel Brown (vocals, synth) and Chris Dialogue (vocals, noise). In 2011 Archon toured the Northeast, and over the years has shared the stage with doom heavyweights Unearthly Trance, Coffinworm, Wolvserpent, Negative Reaction, Apostle of Solitude, Cough, Hull, Batillus, Sea of Bones, Graven and Earthride.

With the upcoming release of Ouroboros Collapsing, Archon travels further down the path of devastation, disillusion and despair by exploring the depths of self as a microcosm for all existence. The crushing riffs are still heavy as fuck, but are interlaced with more contemplative ambience. With dueling vocals ranging from death growls to clean singing, and everything in between, the sense of universal collapse will engulf you.

Tracks:
1. Worthless
2. Desert Throne
3. God’s Eye
4. Masks

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Live Review: Earthride, When the Deadbolt Breaks and Archon in Brooklyn, 10.07.11

Posted in Reviews on October 10th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

It was going to take a bastard of a bill to make me crawl out from the rock I’ve been hiding under and go see a show at the Acheron in Brooklyn, but Friday night, that’s just what I got. The show began two nights in a row of Earthride, and boasted hometown ultra-doomers Archon and the similarly-minded ambient evil deeds of Connecticut‘s When the Deadbolt Breaks in the support slots. After sitting in traffic for approximately four hours to get from Central Jersey to the gig, I was in just the right mindset for Archon‘s screaming dirges.

I had four dollars to my name and spent them promptly on a can of High Life. Archon were already loaded in and ready to roll. The room — longer than it is wide, black-painted cinderblock or brick with drywall and cement floor, small stage and high ceiling — wasn’t full, but the turnout was decent given the probably five or six other shows happening down the block in Williamsburg. The dreadlocked/male contingent of Archon‘s vocalizing duo, Chris Dialogue, bassist Nikhil Kamineni and drummer Rajah Marcelo are all also members of Alkahest (album review here), so with vocalist Rachel Brown and guitarist Andrew Jude the only parties unaccounted for in that band, it was kind of like the two acts had merged on stage. Heavy as hell, either way.

Jude, who as I understand it writes most of the material, always seems to have one foot planted in Dopesmoker no matter the project he’s involved in — and that’s not a critique, since anyone who’s heard Archon‘s death/doom plod will tell you he’s doing more than merely aping the influence. Dialogue set up down in front of the stage on which the other four members of the band played and did the kind of thrashing around I’ve come to expect from his performances, his low growls and high screams sounding no less vicious for the physical exertion. His vocals and Brown‘s — mostly melodic, but with some screams in there as well — played off each other well, and though the bass seemed to be lost in the room through much of the night, there was sufficient low end to stand up to the multi-pronged assault.

That was true as well for When the Deadbolt Breaks. Like Archon, they’re a band I consider friends more than a group I’d be able to really review with total impartiality (which, as a concept, is a farce anyway), but I was glad to see them anyhow and hear Aaron Lewis‘ violent levels of volume. He and bassist Roman Garbacick shared screaming duties and, together with new drummer Rich Kalinowski, crafted a sound as foreboding as the band’s name. Kalinowski‘s china cymbal kept getting stuck up next to Lewis‘ Sunn rig, but he worked with it and it was far and away the best drumming When the Deadbolt Breaks has ever had. Lewis has been through a few rhythm sections and singers over the years, but with Garbacick and Kalinowski (sounds a little like a law firm), he has two presences in the band to complement his own.

One of my favorite aspects of Deadbolt‘s sound has always been the creepy parts. Lewis has always been patient in steering the band through these sections of malevolent ambience, and though the Acheron wasn’t ideal for Garbacick‘s heavy bass or Kalinowski‘s china, the black walls and forced-in sound did work with the psychologically disturbing elements of their approach. Of course, they contrast those stretches with hurtful sludge, so you have to take it with the context surrounding as well. At this point, I’ve seen and done shows with them so many times over the years I’d be hard-pressed to pick a favorite, but this might be the most together lineup When the Deadbolt Breaks have put together yet. Here’s hoping it sticks.

And it’s funny to think of it, but in a way, Earthride were the odd men out on their own bill. Archon and When the Deadbolt Breaks — whom Earthride vocalist Dave Sherman referred to as “Acheron” (the name of the venue) and “When the Deadbolt Strikes,” respectively — had enough similarities of approach between them to be cohesive, but throw in Earthride‘s more stonerly-directed riffing, laid back doom groove and always-charming (no sarcasm; see previous sentence) stage antics, and it was a whole different kind of heavy. Bassist Josh Hart and drummer Eric Little were even more in the pocket than at SHoD, and guitarist Kyle Van Steinberg, also of War Injun, busted into a few freakishly good solos. I’m not 100 percent, but I think they might also all have been stoned.

They opened with “Fighting the Devils Inside of You” from 2005’s Vampire Circus and moved into a few cuts from last year’s Something Wicked album, starting with the righteously grooving title-track and “Hacksaw Eyeball,” which Sherman noted was about the band’s hometown in Frederick, Maryland, and which underscored the point of how much Southern Lord missed the boat on not putting out that record. “Hacksaw Eyeball” might have been Sherman‘s best performance, taking the blown-out screams and cleaner choruses of the album version and bringing them to life, but I wouldn’t discount the riff-riding the frontman broke out for “Earthride,” arms stretched out in front of him, steering an invisible stoner rock chopper down I-95 to some freedom most of us will never see.

When they were finished, the crowd demanded another song, and with some discussion, they acquiesced. The place never really packed out, but it was clear that those who showed up knew why they were there. I left soon enough after they were done and headed back through Manhattan to pick up The Patient Mrs., who’d spent the evening among the ranks “occupying” Wall Street — and if you ever want a convenient metaphor for what our relationship is like, that’s it.

Like I alluded to earlier, it was the first of two nights in a row I’d be seeing Earthride. The second was at Asbury Lanes in the surprisingly built-up Asbury Park, NJ, where they were on the bill for (former) Solace guitarist Tommy Southard‘s wedding reception. I’d write about that too, but it seems tacky somehow to review someone’s nuptial celebrations, however much Shiner Bock I may have imbibed. Suffice it to say a good time was had by all (again), and Earthride delivered the doom as increasingly they seem to be the only ones able to do.

Many more pics after the jump.

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Archon Amongst the Ruins

Posted in Reviews on December 14th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

With a rotating cast of characters surrounding the constants of bassist Andrew Jude and drummer Dan Kurfirst (the latter also of Scribes of Fire and since departed), New York City doomers Archon make their debut in the form of the riff-laden, varied and self-released The Ruins at Dusk. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve known Jude for years now and have happily followed his work through bands like Agnosis, After Dark, Queen Elephantine and Tides Within, though I’ll say of the sundry projects in which he’s been involved either creatively or just as a player, Archon resides probably the closest to my own personal taste. Its doom is vocally abrasive (we’ll get to it in a second) and undeniably dark in atmosphere, but still conscious of groove and there are some riffs on The Ruins at Dusk that come right out of the school of Sleep’s Dopesmoker – I’m looking at you, “The Fate of Gods (Parts I & II).” As Archon show on the opener, “Helena (Ruins at Dusk),” they’re also not afraid of a little jamming.

Among the figures joining Kurfirst and Jude — who also contributes guitar to the middle two of The Ruins at Dusk’s total four tracks and vocals to the first – are guitarist/vocalist Ryan Lynch (ex-12 Eyes), guitarist Brett Zweiman (Clutter, Man’s Gin, etc.), guitarist Shane LaPorte (Wormsmeat), vocalist Chris Dialogue (Alkahest) and vocalist Rachel Brown, who adds melodic lines to “Nature is Satan’s Church” without being swallowed in the surrounding screams. With this level of personnel involved, Archon is a veritable hub of the NYC doom and stoner underground; an intriguing idea for a project if that was the intent. The band now also features other members of Alkahest and, on their coinciding split with Old One on Oppressive Sound System Releases (OSSR), a mostly different lineup. So either what we have with Archon is a project from Jude in which friends can come in, contribute, and leave as they will, or a band desperately in need of a solid lineup. Judging by the flow the bassist is able to maintain on The Ruins at Dusk despite the ranging personnel involved – and as he mixed, mastered and wrote all the music, the credit is his if it’s anyone’s – I’d say it’s the former.

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Archon Unveil Debut Album; Release Show Tonight

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 3rd, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

Well, this is much better news than the last bit of applicable Whathaveyou that came down the line. New York ultra-doomers Archon will be playing their CD release show tonight in NYC with Broughton’s Rules, Fashion Week, and STATS. Pretty killer lineup, and as someone who’s seen Archon in a couple different incarnations over the last couple years, I’m excited to hear what they pull off on the album.

Bassist Andrew Jude Riotto checked in with this note:

Archon is proud to announce the release of our first full-length record, The Ruins at Dusk.

After two-plus years of hard work, the album is complete & we couldn’t be happier with the results. CDs are available for $10 postage paid in the continental US. Also, CDs will be available at any of our shows. For those who prefer a digital product, it can be downloaded at archondoom.com.

We will be celebrating the release this Friday, Dec. 3, at the Charleston in Brooklyn, alongside Broughton’s Rules, STATS, and Fashion Week. The show kicks off at 8pm. This will be our last live action for the calendar year.

More information on the show and record: myspace.com/archondoom

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