Sergio Ch. Premieres Video for “Tomatito”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

sergio ch

Surrounded by amps in a studio with cameras set up around him switching from fixed position to fixed position, the new video for Sergio Chotsourian‘s what would seem to be an as-it-was-recorded version of the Los Natas song “Tomatito” demonstrates once again that that band’s former frontman always seems to have something in the works. Some new project, some new release either of his own projects or through his South American Sludge Records imprint, some new solo album, or in this case, apparently a couple minutes to spare and the simple will to make a new video happen. Directed by Pablo Fernandez, it’s not unlike the clip posted last year for “El Laud” from his second solo full-length, Aurora (review here), in terms of what’s actually happening — i.e., he’s playing the song directly to the viewer — but to get a rare updated take on an older Los Natas track, you’re certainly not about to hear me complain.

“Tomatito” originally opened the much-missed, Argentina-based heavy rockers exploratory set Toba Trance II, issued in 2004 via Nasoni Records. Its foundation was acoustic then as well, and it gave a humble start to the companion-piece to Toba Trance I — the two offerings would eventually be compiled together on CD — and set a contemplative mood ahead of the jammy explorations that followed as the trio made their way through extended pieces like “Traicion en el Arrocero” and “Humo de Marihuana.” Working under his long-established nom-de-guerre of Sergio Ch., Chotsourian here brings a new intimacy to the piece while also making it more expansive via vocal delay and an amplified acoustic sound that lends weight to the strum at its root. The melody, wistful as ever, comes through clearer in the newer version as well, and where previously “Tomatito” was almost too easy to pass over for the spaciousness of what followed on Toba Trance II, here it becomes a work of almost anthemic folk, sounding as fresh in its delivery as it does timeless in its structure.

I’ve had the pleasure of hosting numerous premieres for Chotsourian over the last couple years for videos, audio tracks and whatnot. This is not happenstance. I consider myself a huge fan of his work and I’m happy to continually post about it in its various manifestations. One never quite knows what might be coming next from Sergio Ch., but whatever he delivers, he delivers.

Please enjoy “Tomatito” below:

Sergio Ch., “Tomatito” official video

VIDEO OFICIAL DEL DISCO DE LOS NATAS – “TOBA TRANCE”
PRODUCIDO POR SERGIO CH.
VIDEO DIRIGIDO Y REALIZADO POR PABLO FERNANDEZ

EKTRO RECORDS
NASONI RECORDS
OUI OUI RECORDS
SOUTH AMERICAN SLUDGE RECORDS

South American Sludge Records on Thee Facebooks

South American Sludge website

South American Sludge Records on Bandcamp

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Mephistofeles Sign to Cursed Tongue Records; I’m Heroin LP Due in 2018

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 24th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

mephistofeles

Hope you’ve been doing your noddercizing, because Argentinian three-piece Mephistofeles don’t stop once they get going, and otherwise you might pull something in your neck. The trio have signed to Cursed Tongue Records following a booming response to their second long-player, I’m Heroin — or, if you’d prefer it more spacious: ( ( ( I ‘ M H E R O I N ) ) ) — and have been confirmed for a 2018 vinyl release through the label. If you’re asking yourself, “Gee, wasn’t it just like last week that Cursed Tongue announced they’d signed somebody?” Yeah, it was. That’s how you know a label is up and coming.

What I’m most enjoying about this bevvy of pickups from the imprint thus far, however, is a diversity of sound. To wit, Mephistofeles are post-Electric Wizard scumriffers of the highest order, dropping out, nodding off, reveling in grainy porn and a generally addled haze. Hey, it’s an aesthetic. Deeply problematic on a number of levels, but an aesthetic nonetheless. Plus, Tony Reed did the mastering! That’s always a win.

As is Cursed Tongue‘s wont, they’ve got a full announcement with background and so forth to get listeners introduced, and if you haven’t heard it yet, you can stream the seven-tracker in its entirety at the bottom of this post. I’m digging the stomp in “Trash Lord,” personally, but you’ll no doubt find your own path through the mire.

Fog on:

mephistofeles i'm heroin

MEPHISTOFELES SIGNS TO CURSED TONGUE RECORDS TO UNLEASH THE “CTR-666”

( ( ( I ‘ M H E R O I N ) ) ) SEES A WORLD WIDE RELEASE ON VINYL IN SPRING 2018

This time we at Cursed Tongue Records have gotten our hands stained by the vilest filth this side of the Andes. It is with the utmost thrill we can announce the inclusion of Mephistofeles to the CTR family. We are very happy to welcome this black sheep of doom and its hate-infused debauchery extravaganza. Cursed Tongue Records look forward to drop a thick slab of wax right in the face of a festering vinyl collecting horde of sonic-drug-hungering stoner heads.

Based in Paraná, Entre Ríos, Argentina since mid-2015 Mephistofeles compels a three piece power group that worships an early seventies prototype of doom metal with tints of psychedelia. Mephistofeles’ music goes hand in hand with graphics that tend to be trashy, including elements from sexual abuse, nazi exploitation and dreary dark scenarios.

The band fulfilled its faith when releasing the debut album called “Whore” (2016), which prompted a ton of public attention during this past year, achieving a little well known place in the international underground stoner music scene. Moving away from the cleaner production on Whore, they have managed to unveil the true sleazy sound on “( ( ( I ‘ M H E R O I N ) ) )”, the kind of dirty and sloppy sound that this record needed to attain. In other words, the band arrive at what they like to call “The true sound of hate”. A sound that most bands nowadays have forgotten how to achieve.

“( ( ( I ‘ M H E R O I N ) ) )” was straight out recorded in just one session during Argentinian summer of 2017 and mixed during the entirety of the following winter. The record does not go that much further from the “Whore” equation, but definitely has an evolution in the sound and brew of the songs. On the new record the compositions have a wider dynamic that take the listener from: heavy acid repetitive riffing nightmares into another different stage of electricness with songs as “The Rogue” and ‘Addicted To Satan’. “( ( ( I ‘ M H E R O I N ) ) )” sees the band branch out and experiment even further with the song compositions, extending the jams to give them time to properly unfold resulting in the ultimative mind-fuck. The album closes with ‘Into The Night’; a truly psyche-eroding extemporary spaced-out excursion to the brain’s deepest abyss and as the song progresses it slowly starts to dissapear between the trees of the darkest forests that Transylvania has to offer. There’s no no hope of surviving this Hendrixian heroin spree!

“( ( ( I ‘ M H E R O I N ) ) )” has already garnered some significant notion by some of the scene’s heavy weight icons and rightfully so as their sophomore album expands Mephistofeles’ expression on several levels; the production is sleazier, the instrumentation and play is markedly enhanced, the lyrics and graphic content more bleak, the hate is untamed. There’s no doubt that Mephistofeles didn’t come here to win your heart, they are here to corrupt your mind and drain your soul. For what’s left after all when it’s over…

The band responds to the commotion by stating:

“We are really happy to be experimenting this kind of stuff right now with our music. We are kids in our early 20’s, we can’t ask for anything more. We believe that there’s just death afterwards in our future.”

The new album will see ligt of day on limited heavy weight vinyl via Cursed Tongue Records in the spring of 2018 sporting a wide array of truly x-rated graphical content pushing the borders of what’s widely accepted. Tongue in cheek – literally.

CTR-666, Mephistofeles – “( ( ( I ‘ M H E R O I N ) ) )”, official release date: 2018

Mephistofeles is:
Ismael Dimenza on bass,
Gabriel Ravera on guitar and vocals,
Iván Sachar on drums

Julián Millen on general mixing
Enrique Lopez as mixing assistant
Aitor Aramberry as mixing assistant & digital mastering
Mastering for optimal vinyl playback by Tony Reed
Artwork, layout & design by Wizard Of Meth

http://mephistofeles.bandcamp.com/
http://www.facebook.com/mephistofelesdrone/
http://instagram.com/fuckoffhippieposers

https://www.facebook.com/CursedTongueRecords/
https://www.instagram.com/cursedtongue
http://cursedtonguerecords.bigcartel.com/

Mephistoeles, I’m Heroin (2017)

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Hijo de la Tormenta Announce El Manto de la Especie Vinyl out Dec. 20

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

hijo de la tormenta (Photo Pelado Jerez)

Who doesn’t like a last-minute release before the holidays? Sure, Argentinian heavy psych naturalists Hijo de la Tormenta could probably wait until sometime early in 2018 to give the official vinyl version of their 2016 outing, El Manto de la Especie (review here), its public unveiling via Necio Records, but screw that. Everyone’s broke after the holidays anyhow. You might as well take advantage while the money’s already being spent. Plus there’s always way more coming out in January than December, because of everyone who decided to wait till the New Year.

And in most cases, if we’re being serious, that’s probably the way to go, but El Manto de la Especie came out last February, so while awesome that it’s getting a vinyl run of 300 copies and all that, it’s hardly the first time it’s being released. Still an occasion worth marking, and all the more if you’re into preorders, which are available now from the band’s Bandcamp page, linked below.

Also note the good news that they’re touring and will be recording their third long-player sometime in 2018. One to keep an ear open for, to be sure:

hijo de la tormenta el manto de la especie

Hijo de la Tormenta – El Manto de la Especie – Vinyl

Hijo de la Tormenta announces the release date for the vinyl edition of their latest album, El Manto de la Especie (2016). Fruit of the collaboration between the band’s independent work and Peruvian label Necio Records, the 180 gr vinyl edition will be available starting on December 20th. International shipments can be arranged via the band’s Facebook, Bandcamp or E-mail: hijodelatormenta.rock@gmail.com.

Hijo de la Tormenta will finish their year with a release party at their hometown of Córdoba in Argentina, and will then tour Chile in January of 2018. The band will then proceed to hit the studios for their forthcoming third album sometime during the next year.

El Manto de la Especie tracklisting:
1. Rock para huir de una ciudad 04:57
2. 53 cosechas 03:40
3. El Abuelo 06:06
4. Manifiesto al Sol 08:36
5. Un mañana aún más glorioso nos espera 12:31
6. Recibimiento 02:04

Hijo de la Tormenta is:
Juan Cruz Ledesma: Guitarra y voces
Santiago Ludueña: Batería
Guido Di Carlo: Bajo
Fabricio Morás: Teclas

https://www.facebook.com/hijodelatormenta/
https://hijodelatormenta.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/neciorecords/
https://neciorecords.bandcamp.com/

Hijo de la Tormenta, El Manto de la Especie (2016)

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Sergio Ch., Araujo & Romeo Post 37-Minute Single “El Hombre con la Cámara”

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 3rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

El Hombre con la Cámara is the debut single from the new three-piece of Sergio Ch. Araujo & Romeo, and in some ways, the story behind it is pretty familiar. Sergio Ch. is, of course, Buenos Aires-based artist Sergio Chotsourian, the prolific founder and former frontman of Los Natas, who through his work in that band as well as Ararat and more recently Soldati, his own Sergio Ch. solo output and numerous other offshoot projects, in addition to his contributions to the continental underground through fostering bands on his South American Sludge imprint, has become something of a godfather of underground heavy in Argentina and the surrounding nations.

In Sergio Ch., Araujo & RomeoChotsourian is joined by drummer Jorge Araujo and synthesist/keyboardist Ernesto Romeo and together they embark on an ambitious beginning with “El Hombre con la Cámara.” It’s a single, in that it’s only one song, but it’s basically also a debut full-length comprised of naturalist, at least in-part-improvised-sounding soundscapery. Mostly instrumental, it courses and ebbs and flows through raw psychedelics and pushes into more driving fare momentarily only to recede again. Vocals come and go and come again, and the overarching effect on the listener is hypnotic without relying on a wash of effects or even an overdose of Romeo‘s synth. Make no mistake, that’s a factor, but it’s not at all overdone or out of balance with the guitar or drums.

What’s the future for Sergio Ch., Araujo & Romeo? Not a clue, and not worth your time to speculate. Could be a one-off, could be a whole new band about to take shape, and it’s no less likely that “El Hombre con la Cámara,” which in its final moments seems to reference Chotsourian‘s past work, will show up again in some different form in the future as well. You just never really know until you get there. Which — and stop me if I’ve said this before (actually, I know I’ve said this before, and don’t stop me) — is precisely why it’s fun.

Track is streaming under the info below. Enjoy:

sergio-ch-araujo-romeo-el-hombre-con-la-camara

SERGIO CH., ARAUJO & ROMEO – EL HOMBRE CON LA CAMARA

[S.A.S. 080]

Recorded and mixed by Sergio Ch. at Death Studios
Mastered by Patricio Claypole at Estudio el Attic
Artwork by Sergio Ch.
Produced by Sergio Ch.

SERGIO CH. – guitar & vocals
JORGE ARAUJO – drums
ERNESTO ROMEO – keyboard & synth

South American Sludge Records.

http://www.sergioch.com/
http://www.southamericansludge.com/
https://sasrecords.bandcamp.com/album/el-hombre-con-la-camara
https://www.facebook.com/SASRECORDSARGENTINA

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Sergio Ch. Premieres “El Herrero” Video

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

sergio ch

By my count, this is the third video Sergio Chotsourian has produced from his 2016 sophomore solo release, Aurora (review here). Released through his own South American Sludge Records under his Sergio Ch. moniker, it was an offering marked by its two consuming, extended and experimentalist title-pieces — “Aurora” (18:54) and “Aurora II” (15:16) — and despite any perceived budget and attention span constraints together, indeed one of the clips the Buenos Aires-based former Los Natas and current Soldati frontman was for “Aurora” (posted here), if a shortened version, while the other was for the more folkish “El Laúd” (posted here). Over the course of the last year, Chotsourian has also offered visuals for “La Historia de Hanuman” (posted here) from his 2015 solo debut, 1974 (review here) and for a raw, demo-style take on new song “El Latigo y las Riendas” (posted here), as well as for Soldati‘s “El Electricidad del Arbol Caido” (premiered here).

Clearly the lesson of all this as Chotsourian embarks on the clip for “El Herrero,” which follows “Aurora” on the album and is distinguished through its light-touch percussion and interplay of pulled notes and strumming guitar, is that showing is as much a part of his approach as telling. So be it. The title “El Herrero” translates to “the blacksmith,” and accordingly, the video brings a wealth of atmospherically-shot metallurgical works — infrastructure, gears, the things that make life go. One doesn’t have to look far to find the metaphor underlying, but given the folky context of the song, neither could one accuse the clip of overstating its case. Like “El Herrero” itself, it makes its point in fluid, human fashion, and moves on. There isn’t ultimately much more that would need to be said than it says.

Soldati have a new 7″ in the works (announced here) that I’m hoping to review sooner or later, or at least before the end of 2017, but the last few years have found Chotsourian increasingly restless on a creative level and exploring multiple avenues/outlets for that restlessness, from collaborative one-off sessions to his still-developing solo output, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s got a few more tricks up his sleeve for the next couple months as well.

Until whatever might follow, you can check out “El Herrero” and the full stream of Aurora below, and I hope you enjoy:

Sergio Ch., “El Herrero” official video

VIDEO OFICIAL DEL DISCO DE SERGIO CH. – “AURORA”
PRODUCIDO POR SERGIO CH.
VIDEO REALIZADO POR JUAN CRUZ TOMMASI Y LUCAS MARTINEZ

PIRAMIDE RECORDS
SOUTH AMERICAN SLUDGE RECORDS

Sergio Ch., Aurora (2016)

South American Sludge Records on Thee Facebooks

South American Sludge website

South American Sludge Records on Bandcamp

Pirámide Records on Bandcamp

Pirámide Records on Thee Facebooks

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Quarterly Review: Enslaved, Hour of 13, Operators, MaidaVale, Audion, Bone Man, Riff Fist, Helén, Savanah, Puta Volcano

Posted in Reviews on July 12th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-summer-2017

I don’t know about you, but I could do this all day. Listening to records, writing reviews, getting things done that I’ve been trying to get done in some cases for actual months of my life — suffice it to say I’m way into this process. Wednesday is always a special day for the Quarterly Review because we pass the halfway point, and as much as I wish this edition went to 60 or even 70 releases, because rest assured even with 50 total there’s way more I could be covering if I had space/time, the good news is there’s still much more awesomeness to come. Today gets into some different vibes once again, so let’s get started.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Enslaved, Roadburn Live

enslaved-roadburn-live

In their storied and groundbreaking career, Norwegian progressive black metallers Enslaved have never put out a live record, and it kind of makes sense as to why. The nuance of what they’ve come to do in their studio material doesn’t really lend itself to the rawness of a live album. Accordingly, Roadburn Live (on ByNorse and Burning World Records) feels almost as much of an homage to the event itself as to the performance. Captured in 2015 as Enslaved guitarist Ivar Bjørnson co-curated and the band headlined playing a special set of their more prog-focused songs – here more recent material like “In Times,” “Building with Fire,” “Daylight” from 2015’s In Times (review here) and “Death in the Eyes of Dawn” from 2012’s RIITIIR (review here) shines along with “Convoys to Nothingness” from 2001’s Monumension, “As Fire Swept Clean the Earth” from 2003’s Below the Lights and the requisite “Isa” from the 2004 landmark of the same name, and a special highlight comes at the finale when they cover Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” and bring guitarist Menno Gootjes of Dutch proggers Focus out for a guest spot. Roadburn Live might be a step away from the band’s usual modus, but Enslaved have made their career on pushing themselves beyond their comfort zone, so why stop now?

Enslaved on Thee Facebooks

Burning World Records website

ByNorse Music website

 

Hour of 13, Salt the Dead: The Rare and Unreleased

hour of 13 salt the dead

An overdue compilation from a band making an overdue return, Hour of 13’s Salt the Earth: The Rare and Unreleased reunites the doomers led by multi-instrumentalist Chad Davis with Shadow Kingdom Records and brings together early demos from 2007 – on which the collaboration between Davis and vocalist Phil Swanson was arguably at its most vibrant as they headed into their self-titled debut full-length later that year – with other previously unissued cuts like three songs with Davis on vocals including the Jason McCash tribute piece “Upon Black Wings We Die” (premiered here) and the original rehearsal demos that introduced Beaten Back to Pure singer Ben Hogg as Swanson’s replacement in the band in 2011 (premiered here). If you want a direct feel for the breadth of the band, look no further than the three versions of “Call to Satan” that appear on Salt the Earth. Widely varied between them in sound and overall feel, they underscore the tumult that has existed since the outset at the core of Hour of 13 even as they provide hope that the band previously laid to rest can revitalize enough to put out a fourth studio offering.

Hour of 13 on Thee Facebooks

Shadow Kingdom Records website

 

Operators, Revelers

operators revelers

Nearly four years in the making, Revelers is the third full-length from Berlin’s Operators behind 2013’s Contact High (review here) and 2012’s Operators (review here), and it starts off by smashing Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats swing headfirst into Goatsnake riffing on “Leveled Reveler,” the first of its six component tracks. Their arrangements, as ever, are marked by the featured position of organ along with guitar, bass and drums, and whether it’s a more extended jam like that opener, “Messina” or the closing “Rolling Hitch” – which boasts a guest vocal/guitar spot from Wight’s René Hofmann, who also recorded and mixed (Tony Reed of Mos Generator mastered) – or the shorter momentum-building winding course through “Pusher,” “Walkin’ on Air” (I’m not sure what’s happening at the end there, but I’m not about to spoil it) and the winning-at-song-titles “Fuzz Muncher,” Operators function with a maturity of approach that seems to have been earned during the longer stretch between releases. To wit, all the turns and pivots even out in the last movement of “Rolling Hitch” and Revelers caps with a classic heavy rock groove that’s neither in a hurry nor staid – Operators finding crucial balance amidst all their revelry, and much to their credit.

Operators on Thee Facebooks

Fuzzmatazz Records on Bandcamp

 

MaidaVale, Tales of the Wicked West

maidavale tales of the wicked west

Blues Pills. There. I said it. Now that the blues-rocking elephant in the room has been acknowledged, perhaps we can get on with Swedish four-piece MaidaVale’s debut full-length, Tales of the Wicked West (on The Sign Records). Yes, the Fårösund-based band owe a bit of their soulfulness to the aforementioned, but the nine-track/44-minute long-player thrives most of all as Linn Johannesson, Sofia Ström, Matilda Roth and Johanna Hansson purposefully meander into psychedelic flashes, as in opener “(If You Want the Smoke) Be the Fire,” the midsection of “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” the penultimate Zep-vibing/Bukowski-referencing “Find What You Love and Let it Kill You” and the 11-minute post-“Maggot Brain” closer “Heaven and Earth.” It’s in these moments and the manner in which they blend with the driving rock of “Dirty War,” the bluesy swagger of “Restless Wanderer” and the deft turns of “Colour Blind” early on that MaidaVale’s individualism is beginning to take shape, and if that’s the story that Tales of the Wicked West is telling, then it’s one well worth following through subsequent chapters.

MaidaVale on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Audion, La Historia de Abraham

audion-la-histora-de-abraham

Audion’s debut, La Historia de Abraham, is immediately noteworthy in no small part because it brings the rhythm section of Los Natas back together for the first time since that band’s breakup following 2009’s excellent Nuevo Orden de la Libertad (review here). Drummer Walter Broide and bassist Gonzalo Villagra join forces in the new outfit with guitarist Dizzy Espeche, and all three contribute vocals throughout at least in backup capacity, adding variety to go with the instrumental breadth that runs from the serene end of “Llegaron Sordos” right into the rush of “La Maquina del Tiempo” and well beyond later as the interlude “Para Rosita” introduces an earthy acoustidelic feel and “El Carancho” explores ‘70s anthemic rock before the fuzz- and horn-laden finisher “Queruzalem” closes out with a surprising progressive wash. Cuts like opener “Clarence,” the title-track and “Colmillo Blanco” can call to mind Villagra and Broide’s previous work, but Audion make a fresh impression on La Historia de Abraham in the variety throughout, and as they make their way through “Lesbotrans” and “Diablo vs. Dios” and into the second half of the album, it becomes increasingly clear how distinct this first offering actually is.

Audion on Thee Facebooks

Audion on Bandcamp

 

Bone Man, III

bone man iii

To go along with the propulsive rhythm of “False Ambition” and the wash in the payoff of the earlier “These Days are Gone,” there’s a sense of gothic drama to vocalist Marian’s delivery that adds further atmosphere to Bone Man’s III (on Pink Tank Records), and in kind with the cohesive foundation of Arne’s bass, Ötzi’s drumming and his own scorch-prone guitar, that gives cuts like “Cold Echo” and the alternately brooding and explosive centerpiece – layered acoustic and electric guitar filling out the sound further – even more stylistic depth. That moodiness comes perhaps most into focus on the more subdued “Incognito,” but it’s there from the boogie-laced opener “Pollyanna” onward, and in the jagged push of “Years of Sorrow” and the more spacious finale “Amnesia” (still a tightly structured four minutes in length), it lends III a persona stretching beyond what one might think of as the standard genre fare and gives the Kiel, Germany, outfit a presence decidedly their own. It’s their third record, so maybe that’s not a surprise for a band who made their first offering eight years ago, but it serves as a major source of resonance in the material nonetheless.

Bone Man on Thee Facebooks

Pink Tank Records website

 

Riff Fist, King Tide

riff fist king iii

Going back to 2013, Melbourne, Australia, trio Riff Fist have basically summed up their approach in the eight letters of their name: a tight-knit approach to guitar-led heavy rock, as straightforward as a fist in your face. King Tide is their debut album after three EPs named for the Clint Eastwood Dollars trilogy of westerns – 2015’s The Good, the Loud and the Riff, 2014’s For a Few Riffs More and 2013’s Fistful of Riffs (review here) – and it significantly expands their breadth. Opening with its longest track (immediate points) in the 11-minute title cut (video premiered here), King Tide covers new, more patient and encompassing ground from bassist/vocalist Cozza, guitarist Casey and drummer Joel than anything they’ve touched on before, and while the subsequent “D.T.U.B.,” fuzz-laden “Fist Bier (Noch Eins)” and even the first half of eight-minute centerpiece “Chugg” bring that all-ahead sensibility back into focus, King Tide remains effectively and engagingly informed by its leadoff impression through its total 33-minute run, which is rounded out as “Beer and a Cigarette” melds the more spacious and atmospheric take with a still-swinging post-Clutch groove. There’s more work to do in tying the various sides together, but King Tide is a rousing introduction to the process through which the band can make that happen.

Riff Fist on Thee Facebooks

Riff Fist on Bandcamp

 

Helén, Helén

helen helen

Hexvessel multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Kimmo Helén makes a willfully peculiar and experimentalist self-titled debut with the solo-project Helén via Svart Records, setting a course through melodic indie wash in “Uusi Olento” even as “Jumalan Hullu” threatens in its bounce and the later “Lystia” moves into yet-darker expanses. Keys, electric and acoustic guitar, sax, and of course Helén’s own Finnish-language vocals, there’s very little that feels like it might be outside his comfort zone in terms of craft, and Helén, the album, is just as effective in the plus-cello-acoustic-minimalism of the penultimate “Lopussa” as in the earlier atmospheric breadth of “Puolen Metrin Syvyydessä.” Closing out with the alternately melancholy and dreamy “Kaikki Isä,” the record brings out a full-band feel despite Helén having handled the vast majority of the instrumentation on his own and impresses in that as well as in its range of moods and overarching sense of purpose. May it be a first exploration in a series of many.

Helén on Thee Facebooks

Helén at Svart Records webstore

 

Savanah, The Healer

savanah the healer

I won’t take away from a wah-drenched rocker like “The Healer,” which still jams out plenty before digging into doomier lumbering, but where Austrian trio Savanah’s Stone Free Records debut album, The Healer, really gets its point across is in the fluidity of its longer-form material, whether that’s post-“Intro” opener “Mind,” the ebbing and flowing heavy psych instrumental “Pillars of Creation” or the over-10-minutes-apiece closing pair of the doom rocking “Black Widow” and “Panoramic View of Stormy Weather,” which effectively draws together the multiple aesthetic faces the three-piece demonstrate throughout the record preceding, culling rock, psych and doom into a single riff-driven entity and, most importantly, making it theirs. Guitar leads the way with big, natural fuzz, but the rhythm section is crucial here, and as Benny, Felix and Jakob follow-up their 2015 EP, Deep Shades, they seem to establish a path along which they can flourish and hopefully continue to capture the listener’s attention as they do here.

Savanah on Thee Facebooks

StoneFree Records website

 

Puta Volcano, Harmony of Spheres

puta volcano harmony of spheres

The kind of release where by the end of the first song you want to own everything the band has ever put out. Don’t let Athens’ Puta Volcano get lost in the wash of bands coming out of Greece these days, because there are many, but if you miss out on the blend of desert-style tones and graceful melodies of “Bird,” it’s to your general detriment. I’m serious. In craft and performance, Puta Volcano’s third album, Harmony of Spheres, takes on unpretentious progressivism in songwriting and blends it with a post-Slo Burn/Hermano sense of freedom from genre. Witness the funky “Zeroth Law” or the later, more subtle post-grunge linearity of “Moebius,” the odd chanting repetitions in closer “Infinity” or the nigh-on-maddening hook of “Jovian Winds.” Really, do it. With the lineup of vocalist Luna Stoner, guitarist Alex Pi, bassist Bookies and drummer Steven Stefanidis, Puta Volcano are onto something special in aesthetic and delivery, and if Harmony of Spheres might be your first experience with the band as it’s mine, it’s one that will no doubt warrant multiple revisits. Consider it sleeper fodder for your year-end list – I know I will.

Puta Volcano on Thee Facebooks

Puta Volcano on Bandcamp

 

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Quarterly Review: Loss, BardSpec, Sinner Sinners, Cavra, Black Tremor & Sea Witch, Supersonic Blues, Masterhand, Green Lung, Benthic Realm, Lâmina

Posted in Reviews on July 11th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-summer-2017

Day two of the Quarterly Review and all is chugging along. I was on the road for part of the day yesterday and will be again today, so there’s some chaos underlying what I’m sure on the surface seems like an outwardly smooth process — ha. — but yeah, things are moving forward. Today is a good mix of stuff, which makes getting through it somewhat easier on my end, as opposed to trying to find 50 different ways to say “riffy,” so I hope you take the time to sample some audio as you make your way through, to get a feel for where these bands are coming from. A couple highlights of the week in here, as always. We go.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Loss, Horizonless

loss horizonless

Horizonless (on Profound Lore) marks a welcome if excruciating return from Nashville death-doomers Loss, who debuted six years ago with 2011’s Despond (review here) and who, much to their credit, waste no time in making up for their absence with 64 soul-crushing minutes across nine slabs of hyperbole-ready atmospheric misery. The longer, rumble-caked, slow-motion lumbering of “The Joy of all Who Sorrow,” “All Grows on Tears,” “Naught,” the title-track and closer “When Death is All” (which boasts guests spots from Leviathan’s Wrest, Dark Castle’s Stevie Floyd and producer Billy Anderson) are companioned by shorter ambient works like the creepy horror soundtrack “I.O.” and the hum of “Moved Beyond Murder,” but the deeper it goes, the more Horizonless lives up to its name in creating a sense of unremitting, skyline-engulfing darkness. That doesn’t mean it’s without an emotional center. As Loss demonstrate throughout, there’s nothing that escapes their consumptive scope, and as they shift through the organ-laced “The End Steps Forth,” “Horizonless,” “Banishment” and the long-fading wash of the finale, the album seems as much about eating its own heart as yours. A process both gorgeous and brutal.

Loss on Thee Facebooks

Profound Lore Records website

 

BardSpec, Hydrogen

bardspec hydrogen

It’s only fair to call Hydrogen an experimentalist work, but don’t necessarily take that to mean that Enslaved guitarist Ivar Bjørnson doesn’t have an overarching vision for what his BardSpec project is. With contributions along the way from Today is the Day’s Steve Austin and former Trinacria compatriot Iver Sandøy (also Manngard), Bjørnson crafts extended pieces of ambient guitar and electronica-infused beats on works like “Fire Tongue” and the thumping “Salt,” resulting in two kinds of interwoven progressive otherworldlinesses not so much battling it out as exploring the spaces around each other. Hydrogen veers toward the hypnotic even through the more manic-churning bonus track “Teeth,” but from the psych-dance transience of “Bone” (video posted here) to the unfolding wash of “Gamma,” BardSpec is engaged in creating its own aesthetic that’s not only apart from what Bjørnson is most known for in Enslaved, but apart even from its influences in modern atmospherics and classic, electronics-infused prog.

BardSpec on Thee Facebooks

ByNorse Music website

 

Sinner Sinners, Optimism Disorder

There’s a current of rawer punk running beneath Sinner Sinners’ songwriting – or on the surface of it if you happen to be listening to “California” or “Outsider” or “Hate Yourself” or “Preachers,” etc. – but especially when the L.A. outfit draw back on the push a bit, their Last Hurrah Records and Cadavra Records full-length Optimism Disorder bears the hallmarks of Rancho de la Luna, the studio where it was recorded. To wit, the core duo of Steve and Sam Thill lead the way through the Queens of the Stone Age-style drive of opener “Last Drop” (video posted here), “Desperation Saved Me (Out of Desperation)” and though finale “Celexa Blues” is more aggressive, its tones and overall hue, particularly in the context of the bounce of “Together We Stand” and “Too Much to Dream” earlier, still have that desert-heavy aspect working for them. It’s a line that Sinner Sinners don’t so much straddle as crash through and stomp all over, but I’m not sure Optimism Disorder would work any other way.

Sinner Sinners on Thee Facebooks

Sinner Sinners on Bandcamp

Last Hurrah Records website

 

Cavra, Cavra

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The five-song/52-minute self-titled debut from Argentina trio Cavra was first offered digitally name-your-price-style late in 2016 and picked up subsequently by South American Sludge. There’s little reason to wonder why. Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Cristian Kocak, bassist/vocalist Fernando Caminal and drummer Matias Gallipoli, the Buenos Aires three-piece place themselves squarely in the sphere of their home country’s rich heritage in heavy rock and psychedelic fluidity, with earthy tones, a resounding spaciousness in longer cuts like the all-15-minutes-plus “2010,” “Montaña” and “Torquemada.” My mind went immediately to early and mid-period Los Natas as a reference point for how the vocals cut through the density of “Montaña,” but even as Cavra show punkier and more straightforward thrust on the shorter “Dos Soles” (4:10) and “Librianna” (2:45) – the latter also carrying a marked grunge feel – they seem to keep one foot in lysergism. Perhaps less settled than it wants to be in its quiet parts, Cavra’s Cavra nonetheless reaches out with a tonal warmth and organic approach that mark a welcome arrival.

Cavra on Thee Facebooks

South American Sludge Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Black Tremor & Sea Witch, Split

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One has to wonder if whichever of the involved parties – be it the two acts or either of the labels, Sunmask Records or Hypnotic Dirge – had in mind a land-and-sea kind of pairing in putting together Saskatoon’s Black Tremor or Nova Scotia’s Sea Witch for this split release, because that’s basically where they wound up. Black Tremor, who issued their debut EP in 2016’s Impending (review here), answer the post-Earth vibes with more bass/drums/cello instrumental exploration on the two-part “Hexus,” while the massive tonality of duo Sea Witch answers back – though not literally; they’re also instrumental – with three cuts, “Green Tide,” “As the Crow Flies Part One” and “As the Crow Flies Part Two.” The two outfits have plenty in common atmospherically, but where Black Tremor seem to seek open spaces in their sound, Sea Witch prefer lung-crushing heft, and, well, there isn’t really a wrong answer to that question. Two distinct intentions complementing each other in fluidity and a mood that goes from grim and contemplative to deathly and bleak.

Black Tremor on Thee Facebooks

Sea Witch on Thee Facebooks

Hypnotic Dirge Records webstore

Sunmask Records webstore

 

Supersonic Blues, Supersonic Blues Theme b/w Curses on My Soul

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It takes Den Haag trio Supersonic Blues no more than eight minutes to bust out one of 2017’s best short releases in their Who Can You Trust? Records debut single, Supersonic Blues Theme b/w Curses on My Soul. Yes, I mean it. The young three-piece of guitarist Timothy, bassist Gianni and drummer Lennart absolutely nail a classic boogie-rock vibe on the two-tracker, and from the gotta-hear low end that starts “Curses on My Soul,” the unabashed hook of “Supersonic Blues Theme” and the blown-out garage vocals that top both, the two-tracker demonstrates clearly not only that there’s still life to be had in heavy ‘70s loyalism when brought to bear with the right kind of energy, but that Supersonic Blues are on it like fuzz on tone. Killer feel all the way and shows an exceeding amount of potential for a full-length that one can only hope won’t follow too far behind. Bonus points for recording with Guy Tavares at Motorwolf. Hopefully they do the same when it comes time for the LP.

Supersonic Blues on Thee Facebooks

Who Can You Trust? Records webstore

 

Masterhand, Mind Drifter

masterhand-mind-drifter

A neo-psych trio from Oklahoma City, Masterhand seem like the kind of group who might at a moment’s notice pack their gear and go join the legions of freaks tripping out on the West Coast. Can’t imagine they wouldn’t find welcome among that I-see-colors-everywhere underground set – at least if their debut long-player, Mind Drifter, is anything to go by. Fuzz like Fuzz, acid like Uncle, and a quick, raw energy that underlies and propels the proceedings through quick tracks like “Fear Monger” and “Lucifer’s Dream” – tense bass and drums behind more languid wah and surf guitar before a return to full-on fuzz – yeah, they make a solid grab for upstart imprint King Volume Records, which has gotten behind Mind Drifter for a cassette issue. There’s some growing to do, but the psych-garage feel of “Chocolate Cake” is right on, “Heavy Feels” is a party, and when they want, they make even quick cuts like “Paranoia Destroyer” feel expansive. That, along with the rest of the release, bodes remarkably well.

Masterhand on Thee Facebooks

King Volume Records webstore

 

Green Lung, Green Man Rising

green-lung-green-man-rising

Groove-rolling four-piece Green Lung boast former members of Oak and Tomb King, among others, and Green Man Rising, their first digital single, is the means by which they make their entry into London’s crowded underground sphere. Aside from the apparent nod to Type O Negative in the title – and the plenty of more-than-apparent nod in guitarist Scott Masson’s riffing – “Green Man Rising” and “Freak on a Peak” bask in post-Church of Misery blown-out cymbals from drummer Matt Wiseman, corresponding tones, while also engaging a sense of space via rich low end from bassist Andrew Cave and the echoing vocals of Tom Killingbeck. There’s an aesthetic identity taking shape in part around nature worship, and a burgeoning melodicism that one imagines will do likewise more over time, but they’ve got stonerly hooks in the spirit of Acrimony working in their favor and in a million years that’s never going to be a bad place to start. Cool vibe; makes it easy to look forward to more from them.

Green Lung on Thee Facebooks

Green Lung on Bandcamp

 

Benthic Realm, Benthic Realm

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In 2016, Massachusetts-based doom metallers Second Grave issued one of the best debut albums of the year in their long-awaited Blacken the Sky (review here)… and then, quite literally days later, unexpectedly called it quits. It was like a cruel joke, teasing their potential and then cutting it short of full realization. The self-titled debut EP from Benthic Realm, which features Second Grave guitarist/vocalist Krista van Guilder (also ex-Warhorse) and bassist Maureen Murphy alongside drummer Brian Banfield (The Scimitar), would seem to continue the mission of that prior outfit if perhaps in an even more metallic direction, drawing back on some of Second Grave’s lumber in favor of a mid-paced thrust while holding firm to the melodic sensibility that worked so well across Blacken the Sky’s span. For those familiar with Second Grave, Benthic Realm is faster, not as dark, and perhaps somewhat less given to outward sonic extremity, but it’s worth remembering that “Awakening,” “Don’t Fall in Line” and “Where Serpents Dwell” are just an introduction and that van Guilder and Murphy might go on a completely different direction over the longer term after going back to square one as they do here.

Benthic Realm website

Benthic Realm on Bandcamp

 

Lâmina, Lilith

lamina-lilith

Smack dab in the middle of Lilith, the debut album from Lisbon-based doom/heavy rockers Lâmina, sits the 20-minute aberration “Maze.” It’s a curious track in a curious place on the record, surrounded by the chugging “Evil Rising” and bass-led rocker bounce of “Psychodevil,” but though it’s almost a full-length unto itself (at least an EP), Lâmina make the most of its extended and largely linear course, building on the tonal weight already shown in the earlier “Cold Blood” and “Big Black Angel” and setting up the tension of “Education for Death” and the nine-minute semi-title-track finale “In the Warmth of Lilith,” which feels a world away from the modern stonerism of “Psychodevil” in its slower and thoroughly doomed rollout. There’s a subtle play of scope happening across Lilith, drawn together by post-grunge tonal clarity and vocal melodies, and Lâmina establish themselves as potentially able to pursue any number of paths going forward from here. If they can correspondingly develop the penchant for songwriting they already show in these cuts as well, all the better.

Lâmina on Thee Facebooks

Lâmina on Bandcamp

 

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Soldati Announce New Single “El Nudo en la Soga” Coming Soon

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

sergio ch soldati in studio

Soldati check in from the studio to inform that they’ve been working on a new single to be titled El Nudo en la Soga that’s set to be released as a seven-incher via South American Sludge Records hopefully by the end of this year. Based in Buenos Aires, the trio is led by guitarist/vocalist Sergio Chotsourian, who of course is the head of South American Sludge and known for his work over the years in outfits like Los Natas, Ararat and more recently his own Sergio Ch. solo-project, which released its second album, Aurora (review here), late last year.

With Soldati, Chotsourian steps back into more of a rock frontman role, as the three-piece showed on their self-titled debut EP (discussed here), also issued in 2016. That four-track outing varied its approach almost on a per-song basis, but in so doing set up an aesthetic scope that one expects will continue to expand with El Nudo en la Soga when it arrives. Comprised of its title-track and a redux of Chotsourian‘s solo piece “El Latigo y las Riendas,” the new offering was recorded and mixed analog at El Attic Studio and helmed by Patricio Claypole.

Below you’ll find a couple pics of from the studio and confirmation of the above. More to come, including audio, as we get closer to the release, but if you missed it, you can check out Soldati‘s recent video for prior-EP-opener “La Electricidad del Arbol Caido” (originally premiered here) at the bottom of this post.

Dig it:

SOLDATI – New 7″ Coming Soon

Songs are “El Nudo en la Soga” and electric version of my piano intimate “El Latigo y las Riendas.” Recorded and mixed all analog tape 2 inch for a future single release on 7 inch vinyl thru South American Sludge Records.

Studio name is El Attic and the tracks were produced by Patricio Claypole, former Los Natas crew.

Soldati represents an intense and solid ride; a concept of heavy rock taken to the extreme, with strong lyrics, dark and visceral sound; continuing anew what Natas has bequeathed. A new journey and a new experience for lovers of Argentine stoner.

SOLDATI LINEUP:
Sergio Ch. – guitar/vocals
Lukas Hospital – bass
Ranz – drums

https://www.facebook.com/SOLDATIDOOMNACIONAL
https://sasrecords.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/SASRECORDSARGENTINA

Soldati, “La Electricidad del Arbol Caido” official video

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