Burning Gloom Set June Release for Amygdala on Argonauta Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 20th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

burning gloom

Milano four-piece Burning Gloom — formerly known as My Home on Trees — have found a new home on Argonauta Records, and it’s as part of that label’s ever-expanding roster of acts that they’ll issue their first album under their recently changed moniker, Amygdala, in June. I dug My Home on Trees, but can’t really begrudge them the name change, and if they’re looking for a fresh start, the Argonauta banner is a good one to be under. As to how it will play into their sound as Burning Gloom, it’s a wait-and-see prospect at this point, but they’re positioning themselves as having a darker vibe on Amygdala, and certainly the creepo-factor of the record’s cover art below bears that out. Seems likely they’d be able to make such a call, since obviously they’re a group with some consideration for how they present themselves.

The PR wire brought news of the allegiance with Argonauta and the details for the album:

burning gloom amygdala

BURNING GLOOM (formerly MY HOME ON TREES) SIGNS WITH ARGONAUTA RECORDS!

New band name, new sound, new album coming this Summer!

Previously known as MY HOME ON TREES, the stoner-doom band hailing from Milano, Italy, started their first moves in 2011, but it’s in 2012 when the band dives into any live activities and understood quickly which road had to be taken, playing the first shows and looking for the right sound. After the release of a first self-produced EP featuring 5 tracks in 2012, the band played tons of shows in Italy and signed with the label Heavy Psych Sounds Records in 2015, who released their first and ciritically acclaimed album, How I Reached Home.

The band continued as a four piece, and toured Europe several times and all over in the central part of the continent, sharing prestigious stages with bands alike Church of Misery, Ufomammut, Karma to Burn, Windhand, and taking part of some international Festivals such as at Up In Smoke or Red Smoke Festival in Poland. After three years working on new tracks, the band entered the studio and recorded their new album, Amygdala, between February and June 2018. 2019 will see them celebrating their comeback with a new shining identity, a new name, leaving behind the past and signing with a new label, Argonauta Records! Set for a release on June 14th 2019, BURNING GLOOM will return with their brand new album, which will definitely surprise and please both fans and critics alike.

Says the band: “Mystic trees and stoner blues didn?t represent us anymore, after the first abum we started to look for darker atmospheres and heavier sounds; we decided to not continue with two guitars, but to have just one and we felt closer to doom metal and far enough from any psychedelic rock and blues appeals we had before. A different mood, more melancholic, more and louder screaming voices. All this became the new attitude, closer to doom and sludge metal and quite distant from usual stoner rock.

We thought to look for a label more connected to that kind of metal music we like, sludge, doom, post metal and closer to the underground scene. Actually we even didn’t start to look for any, because a label looked for us first. We found the interest of Argonauta Records, asking us about new album and we started to talk about it. We met and we received a very interesting proposal. We’re very proud about the decision we have made and we found a family, considering the good connections between some of the bands of the label.

“Amygdala” is our intimistic journey focused on brain disorders themes, talking about someone seriously threatened by dangerous nightmares, scaring landscapes. Some kind of a walk on a dark road in the night, enlighted just by flames and sparks of fires on the road, where fear and screams take place. It sounds like a violent storm of low tuning and fuzzy riffs mixed with a powerful female voice arising from loudness and madness. We’re proud of what we have recorded, in more sessions, in different seasons, from winter to summer. We’re really satisfied by the final result, we hope people will enjoy it, like we do”.

The tracklist will read as follows:
THE TOWER I
THE TOWER II
EREMITE
MODERN PROMETHEUS
NIGHTMARES featuring Mona Miluski (High Fighter)
WARDEN
BEYOND THE WALL
OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE DISORDER

BURNING GLOOM is:
Laura Mancini – Vocals
Marco Bertucci – Guitar
Marcello Modica – Drums
Giovanni Mastrapasqua – Bass

www.facebook.com/burninggloom
https://myhomeontreesband.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/ArgonautaRecords/
www.argonautarecords.com

My Home on Trees, How I Reached Home (2015)

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Witchkiss Announce Spring Touring Between April and June

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 15th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

witchkiss

New York two-piece Witchkiss have Northeastern dates booked for the better part of the Spring, and little doubt the highlight is a stopoff in Jewett City, Connecticut, at the New England Stoner and Doom Festival. Then a trio, the band released their debut album, The Austere Curtains of Our Eyes (review here), last year through Argonauta Records and have been building forward momentum ever since. These shows should do nothing of course to curb that, with key dates and venues locked in for Philly, Brooklyn and Providence along with dates in the company of CastleClamfightShadow Witch and others. You know the drill. The up and coming band plays cool shows.

Familiar though that story is, the fact remains: cool shows. And that’s the best kind! I’m looking forward to seeing them at NES&D.

From the PR wire:

witchkiss spring tour

WITCHKISS ANNOUNCE EAST US TOUR

New York doom band WITCHKISS are pleased to announce that they will embark on a tour of the Eastern United States this spring.

The band commented “This Spring, as we emerge from our winter riff writing hibernation, we will be hitting the road with some new songs and a new bassist as well We will be playing some killer shows with our friends in CASTLE, BACKWOODS PAYBACK, SHADOW WITCH, CLAMFIGHT and YATRA along with a slew of other bands that were looking forward to jamming with for the first time also! Along this run we will be hitting a bunch of rad places we’ve played already, new spots in DC, NH, RI and NY and a stop at the New England Stoner & Doom Fest! We are Beyond Stoked! Hope to see you in the Spring!”

All dates will be in support of the band’s 2018 album The Austere Curtains Of Our Eyes which was released last year.

Listen to the album here: https://witchkiss.bandcamp.com/

Tour dates:
April 24 – The Anchor – Kingston, NY
April 30 – Kung Fu Necktie – Philadelphia, PA
May 1 – Atlas Brew Works – Washington, DC
May 2 – The Kingsland – Brooklyn, NY
May 3 – New England Stoner & Doom Fest – Jewett City, CT
May 4 – News Cafe – Pawtucket, RI
May 5 – The Bungalow Bar – Manchester, NH
June 6 – Ralphs Rock Diner – Worcester, MA
June 7 – Geno’s Rock Club – Portland, ME
June 8 – Dusk – Providence, RI

http://facebook.com/witchkissband
https://witchkiss.bandcamp.com/
www.argonautarecords.com
https://www.facebook.com/ArgonautaRecords/
https://twitter.com/argonautarex
https://www.instagram.com/argonautarecords/

Witchkiss, The Austere Curtains of Our Eyes (2018)

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Review & Full Album Premiere: Varego, I Prophetic

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on February 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

varego i prophetic

[Click play above to stream I Prophetic by Varego in full. It’s out Feb. 15 on Argonauta Records.]

Sure, Varego have the piano intro. Sure, they have all kinds of progressive nuance. They’ve got the six-and-a-half-minute title-track full of Voivodian sci-fi weirdo crunch. They’ve got the off-in-the-distance, spaciously-mixed vocals of bassist Davide Marcenaro. But you know, listen to the start of that title-track, or to the central riff from Alberto Pozzo and Gerolamo Lucisano of “When the Wolves,” or the intensity of Simon Lepore‘s drum changes in closer “Zodiac,” and Varego are still very much a metal band. Shades of Judas Priest can be heard throughout in Pozzo‘s and Lucisano‘s guitars, and while they’re definitely just shades — since it’s not like Varego are carbon-copying, well, anyone — that gives the clean 36-minute run of I Prophetic a foundation from which it’s working its way out. I don’t think they’d call it space metal or cosmic metal — the latter somehow would imply less psychedelia, so might fit as a tag, though “Zodiac” and others do touch on the ethereal as well — but it’s definitely in that nebulous region where “progressive” becomes a catchall standing in for saying the band are conscious of what they’re doing as songwriters.

There are eight tracks on the Argonauta-released I Prophetic, counting the aforementioned piano intro “Origin,” and while they open with the catchiest of them in “The Abstract Corpse” and thereby answer the question of what might’ve been if Primordial had been from Mars instead of Ireland with a fervent forward drive that stands tall among any of those to follow — at least before they hit the brakes — the Italian four-piece subsequently find themselves expanding parameters of structure and sound alike on the title-track and only continue to go further out from there. Regardless of genre, one might read I Prophetic as a kind of linear path. Following the brooding “Silent Giants,” which opens the second half, “When the Wolves” provides some measure of grounding, but still, it’s clear by that point that there’s really no coming back, and the closing wallop of “Duelist” and “Zodiac” bear that out.

So what is it? It can’t just be the echo on Marcenaro‘s vocals. Looking back to 2016’s Epoch (review here), their second album, it seems like I Prophetic has a tighter, sharper overall approach. Its songs are more sure of their purpose, and that underlying foundation of metal weaves itself like a thread throughout the tracklisting. One can hear that even on side A capper “Of Dust,” which moves from its initial progression toward more expansive fare while still holding to a core groove in the drums and bass. The interplay of the two guitars is definitely part of it, and the breadth of the mix is definitely part of it, but as “Of Dust” ends with a guitar solo, there’s still something so intentionally traditional-metal about the proceedings. Craft has definitely become more of a factor for Varego, though, and as the abiding buzz of the guitars work alongside the drifting bassline at the mellow-but-tense outset of “Silent Giants,” the sense of atmosphere becomes all the more prevalent.

varego

After “When the Wolves,” which at 3:03 is the shortest non-intro inclusion here, that continues into “Duelist” as well, and the more Varego depart from their sludgy beginnings, the more they seem to find themselves out there in the cosmos, frozen like in some lump of comet ice charting an irregular orbit all their own. Individualism suits them, unsurprisingly, but one doesn’t necessarily get the feeling they’re done growing. “The Abstract Corpse” howls into its barrage after its quick drum-fill introduction, and together with “I Prophetic” itself, it forms a statement of purpose that’s varied and rich, not without melody, but coated in effects — the title-track will earn them some Monolord comparisons, particularly as it moves into a bigger riff after the verse around the two-minute mark — and working on its own level. The end stemming from their means isn’t entirely clear yet, but the unsettling element of I Prophetic — its refusal to simply be one thing; metal or sludge, progressive or traditional — is part of its appeal and in the end, the basis for its success.

With Epoch, Varego made the transition from a five- to a four-piece lineup. With I Prophetic, they refine their approach to a striking degree, making it all the more their own and all the more intricate. Even “When the Wolves,” which is the most willfully straightforward thrasher included, has a level of sonic detail that begs for multiple listens and a kind of mental dissection: “What are they doing here?” The answer to that question, though, requires stepping back and taking the album in its entirety. What they’re doing is melding heavy metal to their own purposes. It’s not about homage to the past so much as building off the past, their own as well as that of others. It takes time for a band to discover who they really are in terms of sound — and, I suppose, everything else — but it feels like Varego have found themselves here, and like I Prophetic works so fluidly across its span to move outward from where it begins, one would expect the band to do no less their next time out in continuing to progress along the line they’re drawing.

A key, perhaps telling moment is shortly before three minutes into “Zodiac,” when the song hangs a left and slows down in the guitar, vocals layering over what’s clearly the final march. They ring out for a while to end it, but before that, they stake their claim on a marked distance from where they started out in “The Abstract Corpse,” and the spectrum they’ve run in that time — still an utterly manageable 36 minutes — is an accomplishment unto itself. Do I think they’re done growing? No. This kind of progressive songwriting rarely stagnates. But I Prophetic serves a crucial function as that moment of arrival for them, and of course thereby sets up the inevitable departure to follow. Varego have come into their own. What they do now is entirely up to them.

Varego on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records website

Argonauta Records on Thee Facebooks

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Dun Ringill Premiere “The Door” Video; Welcome out March 1

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 12th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

dun ringill

Just when you think you might have Dun Ringill figured out, that’s when the flute kicks in. The Gothenburg-based doom rock six-piece — three guitars! — make their debut March 1 with the suitably-enough titled Welcome, and it presents a realization of progressive doom that’s anti-genre enough to earn a Cathedral comparison. Metal, and not. Doom, and not. Prog, and not. And so on. The nine-minute opener and longest track (immediate points), “Welcome to the Fun Fair Horror Time Machine” sets a pretty broad context between its clean and growled vocals, copious riffing and title-line hook, and while they don’t quite hit that same level of weird-for-weird’s-sake again, the rest of the album remains informed by the moves that song makes. And that is not without purse. They’re not short on pedigree, and at no point does the Argonauta Records release feel like they’re trying to reach beyond their intentions. That is, that weirdness at the outset is on purpose. You’re supposed to be thrown off. That’s the idea. It’s why you put the longest track first, and here, it works.

Not that the rest of what follows dun ringill welcomeis entirely straightforward, either. Following the Mellotron-laced rocker “Black Eyed Kids,” third cut “Open Your Eyes (And See the Happiness and Truth)” once more ups the theatrics over a classic metal riff that shifts in its middle section to a stretch of acoustic strumming then bursts back to life like nothing ever happened, and “The Door” turns from rocking swing to a doomed march and back again, all the while vocalist Thomas Eriksson repeats “The door! The door! The door! The door!” like a madman. Eriksson‘s dramatic approach plays a large role in the personality of the album — he indeed is the one welcoming you to the fun fair horror time machine at the outset — but that’s not to downplay the contributions of guitarists Jens Florén, Tommy Stegemann and Patric Grammann, bassist Patrik Andersson Winberg and drummer Hans Lilja, who are able not only to provide a backdrop for the stagecraft on display even in the recording, but to build a world around it in which it can take place.

“Snow of Ashes” touches on psychedelia in its second half, while closer “The Demon Within” turns from an opening guest vocal from Matilda Winberg to a culminating Hammond organ appearance by Per Wiberg of Candlemass, Opeth, etc. It’s not quite as far out as the piano and flute on the opener, but it makes a substantial bookend just the same, and Eriksson layers harmonies to rise to the occasion in his soaring early verses. Of course a Hammond lends a classic feel inherently, but again, even as Dun Ringill set up their last march, they do so with a resonant foundation in metal, not quite the NWOBHM, but not quite not. Add that to the list above of stylistic elements touched on by Welcome even as the album refuses to commit to any single style and thereby casts its identity in that refusal.

First outing? Doesn’t seem like it’ll be their last. You can check out the premiere of the video for “The Door” below, and preorders for Welcome are up now from Argonauta.

Enjoy:

Dun Ringill, “The Door” official video premiere

Of what started as a dark and doomy project with Nordic folk influences, when some of the best musicians the Gothenburg scene has to offer came together for a jam in 2017, should become something bigger: Welcome DUN RINGILL, your next favorite new Doom Rock band featuring members of The Order Of Israfel, Doomdogs, Intoxicate, ex Grotesque and many more! Set for a release on March 1st 2019 with Argonauta Records, today DUN RINGILL have unveiled the hotly anticipated details about their first and full-length debut album titled ‘Welcome’!

Recorded with mastermind sound wizard Julien Fabré and co-produced together with the band, the album artwork has been created by Niklas Sundin (Dark Tranquility). DUN RINGILL’s debut ‘Welcome’ will also feature songs with guest musicians such as Per Wiberg of Candlemass, Kamchatka and formerly Opeth.

The ‘Welcome’ track list will read as follows:
1. Welcome To The Fun Fair Horror Time Machine (feat. Emil Rolof on Piano + Björn Johansson on Flute)
2. Black Eyed Kids (feat. Emil Rolof on Mellotron)
3. Open Your Eyes (And See The Happiness And Truth)
4. The Door
5. Snow Of Ashes
6. The Demon Within (feat. Per Wiberg on Hammond + Matilda Winberg on Intro Vocals)

Coming in CD, LP and Digital Download formats, ‘Welcome’ by DUN RINGILL is available to pre-order at: www.argonautarecords.com

DUN RINGILL live:
08.03.2019 SWE – Helsingborg / Rockbåten
04.05.2019 SWE – Gothenburg / Sticky Fingers

DUN RINGILL is:
Thomas Eriksson – Vocals
Hans Lilja – Drums
Patrik Andersson Winberg – Bass
Jens Florén – Guitar
Tommy Stegemann – Guitar
Patric Grammann – Guitar

Dun Ringill on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records website

Argonauta Records on Thee Facebooks

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Review & Full Album Premiere: Hey Zeus, X

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on January 30th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Hey Zeus X

[Click play above to stream Hey Zeus’ debut album, X, in its entirety. It’s out this week on Argonauta Records.]

Hey Zeus have been kicking around Boston’s heavy rock underground for last six years to some degree or other, following in a tradition of straightforward, catchy, well-composed heavy rock that’s no less a cultural institution for the city than local-sports worship, yelling shit at pedestrians from moving vehicles and drinking. Signed early last year to Argonauta Records, their debut full-length, X, follows a 2014 split with White Dynomite (review here), and other tracks posted as singles such as “Caveman” (premiered here) and “Richard the Elder” (posted here) in 2016. A penchant for covering Deep Purple — legit — that manifests on X as a duly head-spinning take on “Bloodsucker” also goes back to the band’s earlier days playing live, so it seems safe enough to argue that X is the realization of multiple years of putting the material together and refining it, and as the resulting nine-song/29-minute offering arrives nearly six years to the day from the band’s first show, one can hear those efforts in the tightness of composition throughout.

Songs like “Richard the Elder,” opener “These Eyes,” “Save Your” (as opposed to “saviour”) and careening speedsters like “I Don’t Want It,” “X Marks the Rocks” and closer “Queens” realize a hooky, engaging energy that vocalist Bice Nathan gleefully puts over the top, though in the company of guitarist Pete Knipfing, bassist Ken Cmar and drummer Todd Bowman, he’s hardly the only one catching that charge. And as much as a comparison to erstwhile Beantown kingpins Roadsaw feels inevitable, perhaps even more relevant is the connection Knipfing and Bowman share from their prior outfit Lamont, whose dedicated sans-frills urgency seems as well to inform some of the writing in X. It should be to the surprise of no one that Hey Zeus can get the job done — the job, by the way, is kicking ass — given the time they’ve spent honing their approach, but that hardly makes the record a less impressive debut. Quite the opposite.

And though one might look at X and find it short at 29 minutes, it’s not so much that there’s anything lacking in terms of what the band wants to convey, but just that they’ve packed it all into that time. That’s not just a question of speed. Even “Gilded,” or “Caveman,” which is the longest inclusion at 3:53, varies its tempo in order to find the right niche of groove that suits the song. They’re not forcing that feeling of electricity to what they do — it’s just there. No coincidence that the Deep Purple song they take on was from In Rock, which was arguably that band’s most lethal of outings, but there’s more to X than just rushing through a collection of songs. Nathan brings a subtle sense of arrangement to the vocals and finds melodies between the distorted lines of Knipfing‘s riffs. Cmar‘s rumbling bass proves essential early on to the drive of “I Don’t Want It,” and is unrelenting, and though Nathan adds percussion later in a break within “Save Your,” Bowman‘s drumming is intermittently furious enough to cover that ground anyway, shifting fluidly from the swinging finish of “Richard the Elder” to the classic riff rock strut of “Caveman” and the starts and stops that permeate “Queens.”

hey zeus

So what do we have? Rock album. Heavy. Rock and roll. Sharp songs. Crisp performances. Clear, full production value. Boot-meet-butt energy. Cool. What separates Hey Zeus from multitudes working from essentially the same elements, however, is the level of their craft and the way they use it throughout X. While I don’t think it’s anyone involved’s first record, it’s still the first record from the band, and their dynamic is not to be understated as a pivotal factor in their approach. The interplay between Knipfing and Cmar on guitar and bass during the former’s solos alone stands as testament to the work they’ve done in terms of developing a conversation between players, and with Bowman as the grounding force, they’re able to smoothly shift tempos and moods at a measure’s notice, making their songs less predictable even as they’re en route to an immediately familiar chorus. Throw in a healthy dose of attitude from Nathan and the chops to back it up, and not only carries forward the legacy of Boston’s heavy rock history, but seeks to find its own place and build upon it.

Or maybe they’re just looking to down some beers and have a good time, blow off steam from hating their jobs and whatever else. That’s no less valid a take. What’s important are the results they get across this collection of songs, and one of the great strengths of X is the momentum Hey Zeus amass as they wind their way through the progression of tracks. Even the Deep Purple cover, which though lacking organ is otherwise pretty loyal to the spirit of the original, feeds into the thrust of the material surrounding, picking up from the breather ending of “Caveman” and leading the way into “Queens” at the finish. It’s part of an overarching push that begins with “These Eyes” and continues through everything that follows; the classic “set the tone” spirit of the opener indicative of the proceedings on the whole, and though it’s easy enough to tag the whole thing as straight-ahead, all-go, etc., Knipfing does find room to slide some Southern edge into his guitar on “Save Your,” and the gang shouts behind Nathan on “X Marks the Rocks” is no less an important sonic detail.

What those convey, once again, is the work that’s gone into this material. While not staid at all — shit, it barely stands still long enough to be heard — X has a foundation it’s building from. As much as they might try to convince you otherwise, Hey Zeus didn’t just throw these songs together and — whoops! — come out with an air-tight collection of tracks that just happen to throw a punch in the gut as they run past. But at the same time, they do successfully balance that level of songmaking with the vitality that’s so central to making it all function. That might be the record’s great accomplishment — it feels true to a live experience without losing hold of itself as a studio outing. And it may have taken Hey Zeus more than half a decade to get to this point, but it’s hard to take X as a whole and not consider it worth the effort on their part.

Hey Zeus on Bandcamp

Hey Zeus on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records website

Argonauta Records on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records on Twitter

Argonauta Records on Instagram

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Shadow Giant Sign to Argonauta Records; New Album Later This Year

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 28th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Not trying to be telling tales or anything, but I can’t be the only one who’s noticed that Louisiana’s Shadow Giant sign to Argonauta Records pretty recently behind New York’s Shadow Witch. Now, they’re totally different bands, with Shadow Giant dug into a bluesy workingman’s heavy rock and roll and Shadow Witch offering some more ethereal vibe to go with their own thick-toned riffery, but I mean, you’ve got two Shadow bands signed in rapid succession. Seems to me you’ve got the makings there of one shadowy-as-hell tour. Or maybe the US will finally get its own Argonauta Fest. Label head Gero Lucisano has to have enough American acts at this point to make that happen. If not, I’m sure there are one or two left looking for a deal. Ha.

Kudos to Shadow Giant on the signing, either way, and in joining the good company of Argonauta‘s ever-expanding roster, both with Shadow Witch and a ton of others domestic and international. The four-piece will reportedly have a new album out this year to follow-up 2017’s Honkytonk on the Moon, which you can stream below.

From Argonauta via the PR wire:

shadow giant

Shadow Giant – NEW DEAL!

We are proud to welcome a new member to our family and high class artist roster, as psychedelic doom blues rockers SHADOW GIANT have inked a worldwide deal with us!

Formed in 2015 in the greasy kitchen of a southern Louisiana bar & grill, SHADOW GIANT is a band to be experienced. It might be accurate to categorize them as a “stoner rock” band, but that description is too flat and one-dimensional.

Their skill as a band, and the individual contribution of each member creates not only a cohesive whole but also a collective emotion that transcends the genre completely. Their energy and emotional authenticity of their work makes you hover a bit with excitement. They have all of the best qualities of the modern bands like Kyuss, Fu Manchu and Clutch, but they also seem to recall a mystical allegiance to 70’s southern bluesy rockers such as The Allman Brothers and Golden Earring while exuding the sexy swagger of glam rockers like T-Rex.

SHADOW GIANT released their critically acclaimed debut album ‘Honkytonk On The Moon’ on Graven Earth Records in 2017, and will be following up with their anticipated, sophomore album on Argonauta Records during 2019.

Shadow Giant is:
J. Harrison-Guitar/Vocals
David Carroll-Drums
Byron Daniel-Guitar/Vocals
Tim Weaver-Bass

https://www.facebook.com/shadowgiantband
https://shadowgiantband.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/ArgonautaRecords/
www.argonautarecords.com

Shadow Giant, Honkytonk on the Moon (2017)

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Review & Full Album Premiere: Hollow Leg, Civilizations

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on January 21st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

hollow leg civilizations

[Click play above to stream Hollow Leg’s Civilizations in its entirety. Album is out Jan. 25 on Argonauta Records.]

Hollow Leg‘s fourth album, Civilizations, brings the Floridian sludge-plus outfit past the 10-year mark since getting together in 2008, and as their first new release for Argonauta Records following a reissue of 2016’s Crown (review here) that combined it with the subsequent 2017 EP, Murder (review here), it brings their sound to previously-untouched levels of breadth. And the more one looks back over their four records, the clearer it becomes that’s been the case all along. Their 2010 debut, Instinct (discussed here), and its 2013 follow-up, Abysmal (review here), set a tone in raw sludge metal aggression, with a largesse of groove and the enviable roar of Scott Angelacos‘ growling vocals. But even then there was a progression happening from one to the next, and Civilizations is the furthest point yet along the line those early outings started.

It isn’t every band who can claim to still be moving forward a decade later, but Angelacos, guitarist/backing vocalist Brent Lynch, bassist Tom Crowther and drummer John Stewart (who came aboard for the last album), continue a process of becoming with Civilizations that finds them still holding to the nastiness of their roots but finding new footing as well on yet-uncovered ground in terms of arrangements, cleaner vocals, more melodic leads, and on the not-actually-an-intro “Intro,” a gong. All of this — even the gong — makes the nine-track/43-minute long-player unquestionably the most accomplished work of Hollow Leg‘s career, and listening to the Clutch-style patterning in “Akasha” and the chanting backups and floating guitar solo in the back end of the earlier “Dirt Womb,” the conscious intent to try new ways of composing and executing their material is made plain. They always have been and still are an aggressive band, in tone, rhythm and construction, but they’ve never sounded as dynamic as they do on Civilizations and even a piece like the relatively straightforward and suitably biting “Hunter and the Hunted” conveys the growth they’ve so confidently undertaken.

As to whether or not Civilizations marks how far Hollow Leg will go, it’s not a question that can be answered with any certainty until they put out something else, but there’s no doubt it’s the most realized work they’ve done, setting its terms quickly on the 7:11 opener “Litmus,” which begins with Stewart‘s drums beating a march soon joined by feedback and the foreboding central riff. Immediately the album wants to challenge its audience, and it does so by unfurling the first of its choice, rolling grooves that engages in a fashion somewhat contrary to the name they’ve given it. Angelacos‘ bellow arrives about two minutes in and is in fine form — raw of throat but able to evoke a notion of melody as he demands; a correct argument against those prejudiced to harsh vocal approaches — and as the band rolls fluidly through the midpoint of the track, the sense of patience is subtle but indicative of the build happening.

Stewart gets the cowbelling out of the way as “Litmus” works through its apex prior to echoing out on residual swirling noise, and “Dirt Womb” and “Mountains of Stone” pick up to complete a compelling opening salvo that presents much of what’s in store as the album continues, whether in the aforementioned airy solo of “Dirt Womb” — the band cite a Cave In influence, and one can hear it there — or the way in which “Mountains of Stone” moves through its verse and chorus structure en route to a hypnotic but quiet finish. That serves as a lead-in for the two-minute “Black Moon,” which pairs clean-sung lines directly with Lynch‘s open-sounding guitar, as well as percussion and an earthy psychedelia that, as just the shortest track on Civilizations, shows how much Hollow Leg have added to their reach throughout. As might be expected, it leads to the intense beginning of “Hunter and the Hunted,” but even the push there is affected by the atmosphere brought to bear in “Black Moon,” and the same holds true as side B of Civilizations takes hold.

Tracks are arranged longest-to-shortest leading into “Hunter and the Hunted,” and shortest-to-longest after, so its place is obviously no mistake, and in that way, the subsequent “Intro” may indeed be leading the way into the second half of Civilizations, but it’s still more substantial than tagging it an “intro” might convey. Rather, it seems a weighted complement to “Black Moon,” pushing the growled vocals deeper into the mix to make the guitar and bass sound all the more consuming, and while it doesn’t play through a complete verse-chorus structure, there’s still plenty going on as it shifts into “Chimera,” which likewise answers the hook of “Mountains of Stone” with one of its own, tapping into Southern metal riffing in a way Hollow Leg seem largely to hold at arm’s length, and making use of backing shouts to add flourish to the arrangement.

“Chimera” is perhaps meaner than “Mountains of Stone,” but similar in its overarching intent unto its last push, which cuts to silence quickly to let the initial feedback of “Akasha” take hold prior to unfolding a particularly satisfying nod in its early going while giving Lynch room for some exploration later on. Is it correspondingly parallel to “Dirt Womb?” Maybe. At very least it can be read that way, but it also has an ambience of its own as it comes apart at the end and closes with a brief swell of noise as a transition into the finale and longest track, “Exodus” — no less a purposeful title than was “Litmus.” At 7:54, “Exodus” is the longest song on Civilizations and showcases a longer-form of work that surfaced on Crown and here finds a balance with the more grounded structures. As Angelacos seems to be telling the story of leaving earth behind presumably after having fubar’ed it to such a degree, the swinging rhythm leads the way into a layered solo and a vague spoken part/sample that marks a final return to the chorus and an ending on guitar that answers not only that of “Litmus,” but “Akasha” as well.

And it’s not really until it’s over that one gets the sense of just how complete Civilizations is, how much it’s not just a collection of songs, but a purposeful, full-album execution. It may be the work Hollow Leg have been building toward, and it certainly sounds in the present like a culmination of their efforts, but hearing “Blue Moon” and the greater depths to their arrangements generally, there’s nothing to indicate in these tracks that the band will stagnate from here. They’ve worked on an every-three-years pace since 2010 — that is, albums in 2010, 2013, 2016 and 2019 — so we’ll probably cross into the 2020s before hearing from them again, but even as Hollow Leg recount a troubled course of humanity, they give hope for the future of their own making.

Hollow Leg on Thee Facebooks

Hollow Leg on Bandcamp

Argonauta Records website

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Burning Gloom: My Home on Trees Announce Name Change & New Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

I’m not going to go as far as to say I’ve heard any of Burning Gloom‘s forthcoming long-player, Amygdala, or that I’m listening to a song from it right now that’s kicking my ass all over this room, but I will advise anyone still reading this sentence to keep an eye out for more on the offering as it gets closer to its to-be-announced release date. Big tones, big melodies, big hooks. It’s an interesting turn from the Milan-based outfit formerly known as My Home on Trees toward a kind of psychedelic but still thoroughly doomed atmosphere. Again, not that I’m listening to it or anything, because I’m not going to say that I am.

In all seriousness though, you can hear enough of a shift in vibe as to justify a name swap, and beyond just the fact that they’re doing something different, Burning Gloom sound vital even coming of My Home on Trees‘ 2015 album, How I Reached Home (review here). Hard to believe it’s coming up on four years since that one came out. Wow.

Time flies, doom plods. Here’s word from the band on the name change:

burning gloom

We used to be called MY HOME ON TREES from 2012 to 2018, but this new year that just started brought us a new life and a new identity: Burning Gloom. We realized that “My Home on Trees” didn’t fit us properly anymore. We feel closer to a different and heavier path, mentally and also musically. A new journey, made of fires in the night, a dark road enlightened by flames and sparks.

This is what our new full-length “Amygdala” represents. It took us 3 years to be ready to come back in studio, but we made it between february and june 2018 and our new record is now ready to be released later on this year, we have signed a contract and we’ll announce it very soon. Our new logo has been made by our friend STRX. A new life has begun, see you soon on the road and stay tuned for the next news.

https://www.facebook.com/burninggloom/
https://myhomeontreesband.bandcamp.com/

My Home on Trees, How I Reached Home (2015)

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