Fuzz Evil Post “Black Dread” Video; Tour with Dandy Brown Starts this Weekend

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 10th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

fuzz evil

Ah, the public domain. Someday the greedy, soulless, oligarchical bastards who run our lives will take away that most human of notions — that something created and put into a public sphere belongs, after a time, to that sphere more than to its creator — because royalty checks, but while we’ve still got it, it’s nice to see it being put to good use. “Black Dread” is the second DIY video from Fuzz Evil‘s 2016 Battleground Records self-titled debut (review here) to cull its footage from such sources behind a lyric clip that surfaced in Nov. for “Killing the Sun” (posted here), and it uses creative editing to give a psychedelic impression from old educational cartoons filled with gloriously outdated science about atoms, space and the threat of nuclear annihilation. My mother tells stories about being told to “duck and cover” if the bomb got dropped. I’d say it was a horrifying time to be alive, but when wasn’t?

Anyhoozle, the song “Black Dread,” the title of which refers to one of Aegon Targaryen’s dragons in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire — Balerion, if you’re wondering — may or may not have anything to do with the structure of atoms or humanity’s thanatos drive, but it was one of my favorite tracks on Fuzz Evil‘s Fuzz Evil, so I’m happy for the chance to revisit it. More laid back than the bulk of the record, which found the trio of guitarist/vocalist Wayne Rudell, bassist Joseph Rudell and drummer Marlin Tuttle (the latter since replaced by Daniel Graves) dug into the crisp execution of sans-frills fuzz rockers like “Good Medicine” and “My Fuzz,” it was both the longest track at nearly seven minutes and the finale of that sub-half-hour outing, leaving the audience with a dreamier impression and perhaps a sign of sonic expansion and progression to come from the Arizona-based three-piece, whose desert vibes were writ large one way or another over each groove and the laid back, unpretentious atmosphere of the record as a whole.

Fuzz Evil, it just so happens, head out this coming weekend on a run to support the self-titled, going alongside Hermano‘s Dandy Brown and his band for shows in the Southern Californian desert and in Phoenix and their hometown of Sierra Vista, AZ. You can find those dates included under the video for “Black Dread” below, which it’s my pleasure to host for your streaming enjoyment.

So please, enjoy:

Fuzz Evil, “Black Dread” official video

Music by: Fuzz Evil
Edited by: Joseph Rudell of Fuzz evil

Music written, recorded, and owned by Fuzz Evil
All Footage from The archive.org and in the public domain.

Footage from:
–“Principles of Electricity” – Published 1945 – Usage Public Domain
–“Duck and Cover” by Archer Productions, Inc. – Published 1951 – Usage Public Domain
— “Drug Addiction” by Encyclopaedia Britannica Films, Inc. – Published 1951 – Usage Public Domain
— “A is for Atom” by Sutherland (John) Productions – Published 1953 – Usage Public Domain

Fuzz Evil live w/ Dandy Brown:
Saturday – 4/15 – San Diego, CA – Tower Bar
Monday – 4/17 – Riverside, CA
Tuesday – 4/18 – Joshua Tree, CA – The Beatnik Lounge
Wednesday – 4/19 – Palm Desert, CA – The Red Barn
Thursday – 4/20 – Pheonix, AZ – Yucca Tap Room
Friday – 4/21 – Sierra Vista, AZ – The Horned Toad

Fuzz Evil on Thee Facebooks

Fuzz Evil on YouTube

Fuzz Evil on Bandcamp

LP order page at Battleground Records

Battleground Records on Thee Facebooks

Battleground Records on Bandcamp

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Quarterly Review: Grails, Expo Seventy, Coltsblood, Rhino, Cruthu, Spacetrucker, Black Habit, Stone Angels, The Black Willows, Lamagaia

Posted in Reviews on March 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-Charles-Meryon-Labside-Notre-Dame-1854

Arrival. Welcome to the final day of The Obelisk’s Spring 2017 Quarterly Review. After today, I clean off my desktop and start over with a mind toward the next round, which in my head I’ve already scheduled for late June. You know, at the end of the next quarter. I do try to make these things make sense on some level. Anyway, before we get to the last 10 albums, let me please reiterate my thanks to you for reading and say once again that I hope you’ve found something this week that really speaks to you, as I know I have and continue to today. We finish the Quarterly Review out strong to be sure, so even if you’re thinking you’re done and you’ve had enough, you might be surprised by the time you’re through the below.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Grails, Chalice Hymnal

grails chalice hymnal

Even if one counts the 2013 collection culled from GrailsBlack Tar Prophecies ongoing series of short releases that showed up via Temporary Residence, it’s been a long while since their last proper outing. Deep Politics (review here) was issued in 2011, but it seems the intervening time and members’ participation in other projects – among them Om and Holy Sons in the case of Emil Amos – disappear for Grails on Chalice Hymnal, which speaks directly to its predecessor in sequel pieces like “Deeper Politics,” “Deep Snow II” and “Thorns II,” taking the prog-via-TangerineDream cinematics of Deep Politics to vibrant and continually experimental places on the surprisingly vocalized “Empty Chamber,” the soundscaping “Rebecca” and the imaginative, evocative jazz homage “After the Funeral,” the album’s 10-minute closer. Hearing the John Carpenter keyboard line underpinning “Pelham,” I’m not sure I’d call Chalice Hymnal limitless in its aesthetic – Grails have definitive intentions here, as they always have – but they continue to reside in a space of their own making, and one that has yet to stop expanding its reach.

Grails on Thee Facebooks

Grails at Temporary Residence Ltd.

 

Expo Seventy, America Here and Now Sessions

expo seventy america here and now sessions

Yes. Yes. This. With extended two tracks – “First Movement” (22:17) and “Second Movement” (27:04) – unfolding one massive longform immersion that drones pastoral, delves into hypnotic bliss and fills the soul in that way that only raw exploration can, the America Here and Now Sessions from Kansas City (by way of the moon) outfit Expo Seventy is an utter joy to experience. Purposeful and patient in its execution, graceful in the instrumental chemistry – even with a second drummer sitting in amid the core trio led by guitarist Justin Wright – the album well fits the deep matte tones and nostalgic feel of its accompanying artwork, and is fluid in its movement from drone to push especially on “Second Movement,” which sandwiches a resonant cacophony around soundscapes that spread as far as the mind of the listener is willing to let them. Whether you want to sit and parse the execution over every its every subtle motion and waveform or put it on and go into full-brain-shutdown, America Here and Now Sessions delivers. Flat out. It delivers.

Expo Seventy on Thee Facebooks

Essence Music website

 

Coltsblood, Ascending into Shimmering Darkness

coltsblood ascending into shimmering darkness

After surviving the acquisition of Candlelight Records by Spinefarm, UK doom extremists Coltsblood return with their second album, Ascending into Shimmering Darkness, and follow-up 2014’s Into the Unfathomable Abyss (review here) with 54 minutes of concrete-thick atmospheric bleakness spread across five tracks. The headfuckery isn’t quite as unremitting as it was on the debut – a blend of airy and thick guitar in the intro of the opening title-cut (also the longest inclusion; immediate points) reminds of Pallbearer – but the three-piece thrive in this more-cohesive-overall context, and their lumbering miseries remain dark and triumphant in kind. A closing duo of “Ever Decreasing Circles” and “The Final Winter” also both top 12 and 13 minutes, respectively, but the shorter second track “Mortal Wound” brings blackened tendencies to the fore and centerpiece “The Legend of Abhartach” effectively leads the way from one side to the other. Still, the most complete victory here for bassist/vocalist John McNulty, guitarist Jemma McNulty and drummer Jay Plested might be “The Final Winter,” which melds its grueling, excruciatingly slow crash to overarching keyboard drama and becomes a work of cinematic depth as well as skull-crushing wretchedness. Such ambient growth fascinates and shows marked progression from their first offering, and even if the primary impression remains one from which no light escapes, don’t be fooled: Coltsblood are growing and are all the more dangerous for that.

Coltsblood on Thee Facebooks

Candlelight Records website

 

Rhino, The Law of Purity

rhino the law of purity

Once they get past the aptly-titled minute-long “Intro,” Rhino keep their foot heavy on the gas for the vast majority of The Law of Purity, their Argonauta Records debut album. The 10 included tracks veer into and out of pure desert rock loyalism – “Eat My Dust” comes across as particularly post-Kyuss, perhaps melded with some of the burl of C.O.C.’s “Shake Like You” – and the throttle of “Nuclear Space,” “Nine Months,” “A. & B. Brown” and “Cock of Dog” later on come to define the impression of straightforward push that puts the riffs forward even more than earlier inclusions like the post-“Intro” title-track or the more mid-paced “Bursting Out,” which hints at psychedelia without really ever fully diving into it. Capping with the roll of “I See the Monsters,” The Law of Purity reminds at times of earlier Astrosoniq – particularly in the vocals – but finds the Sicilian five-piece crafting solid heavy rock tunes that seem more concerned with having a couple beers and a good time than changing the world or remaking the genre. Nothing wrong with that.

Rhino on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records website

 

Cruthu, The Angle of Eternity

cruthu the angle of eternity

As it happens, I wrote the bio and release announcement for Cruthu’s debut album, The Angle of Eternity (posted here), and I count guitarist “Postman Dan” McCormick as a personal friend, so if you’re looking for impartiality as regards the self-released six-tracker, look elsewhere. If you’re looking for primo trad doom and classic metal vibes, the Michigan-based four-piece offer touches of progressive flourish amid the shuffle of opener “Bog of Kildare,” a grueling post-“Crystal Ball” nod in “From the Sea” and a bit of ‘70s proto-metallurgy in the closing title-track, which finds vocalist Ryan Evans at his most commanding while McCormick, bassist Erik Hemingsen (Scott Lehman appears as well) and drummer Matt Fry hold together the fluid and patient groove of weighted downer metal. The sense of Cruthu as an outfit schooled in the style is palpable through the creep of “Lady in the Lake” and the post-Trouble chug of “Séance,” but they’re beginning to cast their own identity from their influences – even the penultimate interlude “Separated from the Herd” is part of it – and the dividends of that process are immediate in these tracks.

Cruthu on Thee Facebooks

Cruthu on Bandcamp

 

Spacetrucker, Launch Sequence

spacetrucker launch sequence

From the Kozik-style artwork of their cover to the blown-out vocals on opener “New Pubes” of guitarist Matt Owen, St. Louis three-piece Spacetrucker – how was there not already a band with this name? – make no bones about their intentions on their late-2016, 26-minute Launch Sequence seven-track EP. Owen, bassist Patrick Mulvaney and drummer Del Toro push into a realm of noise-infused stoner grunge loyal to the ‘90s execution of “Supa Scoopa and Mighty Scoop” in the stops of the instrumental “Giza” even as they thicken and dirty up their tonality beyond what Kyuss laid forth. The cowbell-inclusive “Science of Us” rests easily on Mulvaney’s tone and nods toward burl without going over the top, and cuts like “Old Flower,” the penultimate roller “Trenchfoot” and the closing post-Nirvana punker blast of “Ain’t Gonna be Me” reimagine a past in which the language of heavy rock was there to explain where grunge was coming from all along. Not looking to reinvent stylistic parameters in their image at this point, Spacetrucker is nonetheless the kind of band one might’ve run into at SXSW a decade and a half ago and been made a fan for life. As it stands, the charm is not at all lost.

Spacetrucker on Thee Facebooks

Spacetrucker on Bandcamp

 

Black Habit, Black Habit

black habit self titled

Clocking in at half an hour, the self-titled debut release from viola-infused Arizona two-piece Black Habit could probably qualify as an EP or an LP. I’m inclined to consider it the latter considering the depths vocalist/guitarist/bassist Trey Edwin and violist/drummer Emily Jean plunge in the five included tracks, starting with the longest of the bunch (immediate points) in the slow-moving “Escape into Infinity” before shifting the tempo upward for “Suffer and Succumb” and digging into deep-toned sludge marked out by consistently harsh vocals. I wouldn’t be surprised if Black Habit became more melodic or at least moved into cleaner shots over time, as the doomly centerpiece “South Beach” and more fuzz-rocking “Travel Across the Ocean” seem to want to head in that direction, but it’s hard to argue with the echoing rasp that accompanies the rumble and hairy tones of finale “Lust in the Dust,” as Black Habit’s Black Habit rounds out with an especially righteous nod. An intriguing, disaffected, and raw but potential-loaded opening salvo from a two-piece discovering where their sound might take them.

Black Habit on Thee Facebooks

Black Habit on Bandcamp

 

Stone Angels, Patterns in the Ashes

stone angels patterns in the ashes

Massive. Patterns in the Ashes is a malevolent, tectonic three-song EP following up on New Zealand trio Stone Angels’ 2011 debut, Within the Witch, as well as a few shorter live/demo offerings between, and it’s an absolute beast. Launching with the seven-minute instrumental “White Light, White Noise II” – indeed the sequel to a cut from the first album – it conjures a vicious nod and bleeds one song into the next to let “Signed in Blood” further unfold the grim atmospherics underscoring and enriching all that tonal heft. Sludge is the core style, but the Christchurch three-piece’s broader intentions come through with due volume on the grueling “Signed in Blood” and when “For the Glory of None” kicks in after its sample intro, the blasts and growls that it brings push the release to new levels of extremity entirely. As a bonus, the digital edition includes all three tracks put together as one longer, 21-minute piece, so the consuming flow between them can be experienced without any interruption, as it was seemingly meant to be.

Stone Angels on Thee Facebooks

Stone Angels on Bandcamp

 

Black Willows, Samsara

the black willows samsara

If Switzerland-based resonance rockers Black Willows had only released the final two tracks, “Jewel in the Lotus” and “Morning Star,” of their late-2016 second full-length, Samsara, one would still have to call it a complete album – and not just because those songs run 15 and 25 minutes long, respectively. Throughout those extended pieces and the four shorter cuts that appear before them, a palpable meditative sensibility emerges, and Black Willows follow-up the promise of 2013’s Haze (review here) by casting an even more immersive, deeper-toned vibe in the post-Om nod of “Sin” (8:08) and the more percussive complement, “Rise” (9:28), keeping a ritualized feel prevailing but not defining. From the lead-in title-track and the spacious psych trip-out of “Mountain” that gives way to the aforementioned extended closing duo, Black Willows find their key purpose in encompassing tonality and languid grooving. Nothing is overdone, nothing loses its patience, and when they get to the linear trajectory of “Morning Star,” the sense is they’re pushing as far out as far out will go. It’s a joy to follow them on that path.

Black Willows on Thee Facebooks

Black Willows on Bandcamp

 

Lamagaia, Lamagaia

lamagaia lamagaia

Anytime you’re at all ready to quit your job and explore the recesses of your mind via the ingestion of psychedelics, rituals and meditation, Sweden’s Lamagaia would seem to stand prepared to accompany. The Gothenburg four-piece offer two extended tracks of encouragement in that direction on their self-titled 12” (released through Cardinal Fuzz and Sunrise Ocean Bender), and both “Aurora” and “Paronama Vju” carry a heady spirit of kosmiche improvisation and classically progressive willfulness. They go, go, go. Far, far, far. Vocals echo out obscure but definitely there in post-The Heads fashion, but there’s Hawkwindian thrust in the fuzzed bass and drums driving the rhythm behind the howling guitar in “Aurora,” and that only sets up the peaceful stretch that the drones and expansive spaciousness of “Paronama Vju” finds across its 18:55 as all the more of an arrival. Immersive, hypnotic, all that stuff that means gloriously psychedelic, Lamagaia’s Lamagaia offers instrumental chemistry and range for anyone willing to follow along its resonant and ultra-flowing path. Count me in. I never liked working anyway.

Lamagaia website

Cardinal Fuzz webstore

 

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Godhunter Post Codex Narco Trailer and Release Details

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 29th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

godhunter and friends

Earlier this month, when Arizona sludge-with-a-purpose outfit Godhunter announced their new release, Codex Narco, would be out in May through Baby Tooth and Battleground Records, the guest-laden offering was positioned as an EP. As I look at the seven tracks below — granted they could all be a minute long; one doesn’t want to predict or pre-judge — and take a peak at the newly-posted trailer, it’s looking more and more like a full-length album every minute. I don’t necessarily know that Godhunter give a shit about such concerns — they’ve got bigger fish to fry, aesthetically and politically — but these are the things I get hung up on, basically so I know which list something belongs on for December. Godhunter, almost invariably, will wind up on one or the other.

The PR wire brings art, the aforementioned tracklisting and the also-aforementioned trailer. Busy busy busy. Dig it:

godhunter codex narco

GODHUNTER Releases Art, Trailer, And More For Codex Narco Record Featuring Members Of CHRCH, Demon Lung, Mountaineer, Thorne, Methra, And More

GODHUNTER has issued the artwork, track listing, and a brief trailer for the band’s impending Codex Narco record, which features contributions from members of CHRCH, Demon Lung, Mountaineer, Thorne, Methra, and others.

In line with GODHUNTER’s commitment to speaking out about social issues, the proceeds of Codex Narco’s sales will be donated to Planned Parenthood, the statement reflected in the pink color scheme of the artwork by Bailey Illustration and layout by Cool Ghoul Ltd. (Ethan McCarthy of Primitive Man). Codex Narco was mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege, and features a cover of Tegan & Sara’s “Walking With A Ghost,” for which a video is being created to support suicide prevention.

Codex Narco will see digital release through Battleground Records and cassette release through Baby Tooth Records on May 19th; preorders and further audio samples will be issued in the weeks ahead.

Codex Narco Track Listing:
1. A Dread Of Some Strange Impending Doom
2. Like Glass Under Black Fingernails
3. Our Blood Is Poison
4. Cocaine Witches & Lysergic Dreams
5. Unarmed Combat
6. Walking With A Ghost
7. Distant Fading Screams Of A Dying World

In September of 2015, after finishing a successful US tour with Destroyer Of Light, several members of GODHUNTER amicably split with the band, simply moving on with more family commitments and unable to commit to regular touring. Within weeks of the lineup shift, the rest of the band began writing new material together through internet conversations and individual recording sessions, as remaining guitarist/vocalist David Rodgers, drummer Andy Kratzenberg, and keyboardist Matthew Davis, currently reside on opposite ends of the country, spread across Washington, Arizona, and Georgia. Shortly into the creation process, it was realized that the band was deviating from their usual lyrical content on our deteriorating world and current events, and for the first time were instead focusing towards their own realms of inner darkness. Everyone in the band has experienced some dramatic personal trauma in recent years, a factor which is intensely reflected in the writing of Codex Narco, where dependency, depression, and loss are the driving factors, resulting in the most personal and deeply introspective material the band has ever made.

After fleshing out the main skeleton of the new material, the remaining members of GODHUNTER secured additional elements from several of the band’s closer personal and musical friends. Several of the contributors recorded a large amount of Codex Narco at Homewrecker Studios in Tucson, with the additional material recorded by each musician at their hometown studio of choice. The record features guest vocals from Eva Rose (CHRCH) and Josh Thorne (Thorne), bass from Adam Sage (Demon Lung), guitars from Clayton Bartholomew (Mountaineer, ex-Secrets Of The Sky), and vocal, bass, and guitar contributions from Nick Genitals (Methra).

http://www.facebook.com/godhuntersludge
https://battlegroundrecords.bandcamp.com
http://www.battlegroundrnr.com
https://twitter.com/BattlegroundRNR
http://instagram.com/battleground_records
https://babytoothtucson.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/babytoothtucson

Godhunter, Codex Narco trailer

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Goya, Harvester of Bongloads: And Riffs for All

Posted in Reviews on March 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

goya-harvester-of-bongloads-closeup

“*-Please note: Cover art is cropped above. Full cover is NSFW and can be viewed by clicking here.-*”

Kudos to whichever member of Phoenix, Arizona, trio Goya came up with the idea of calling their third album Harvester of Bongloads — a title that not only speaks to the megastoned nature of the band’s output but contains a reference to classic metal as filtered through anti-everything fuckall, which is pretty much the core of what guitarist/vocalist Jeff Owens, bassist Sonny DeCarlo and drummer Nick Lose have on offer throughout the four-track/40-minute outing.

It’s a record that revels in its own misanthropy as its core and defining principle — beyond even the inclusion of the 11-minute “Misanthropy on High” on side B — and it boils down to its very essence the appeal of Goya‘s work to-date across their albums, 2015’s Obelisk (review here) and 2013’s 777 debut, as well as the slew of shorter releases that have surrounded them, from last year’s Forever Dead, Forever Stoned demo reissue and Doomed Planet (discussed here) and The Enemy (review here) EPs and the Nirvana tribute single, Drain You b/w D-7 (review here), back through 2014’s Satan’s Fire EP (review here), etc.; the three-piece proving vibrant and prolific in terms of output despite having adopted a “drop out of life” ethic to a nigh-on-dogmatic degree. Still, with Harvester of Bongloads, loathing and consuming low end rule the day, and Owens‘ post-Jus Oborn vocal delivery tops the maddening wizard-doom roll with a thick-smoke haze that could hardly be more of a fit for a song like 20-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Omen,” which breaks into three component parts subtitled “I. Strange Geometry,” “II. Fade Away” and “III. Life Disintegrates.”

This, mind you, is the opener. Goya lead with this. On Harvester of Bongloads. One has to imagine it would be a challenge for the three-piece to preach more to the converted than they are here, from the wink-and-nod dogwhistle name of the record to the absolute desire to overwhelm a listener who is 100 percent looking to be overwhelmed in exactly this way — the kind of individual who might go, “Yes, please drown me in riffs.” Goya are happy to give it a shot on Harvester of Bongloads, and “Omen” is a key manifestation of that. Its slow-motion plod is marked out first on drums and some far off manipulated noise, starting “I. Strange Geometry” quietly with its bassline and an eerie tension. I’m not entirely sure where the divides between the parts of “Omen” occur, and part of the reason for that is because the changes are so fluid, but that subdued opening builds subtly over the first four-plus minutes and gives way circa 4:30 to a full-tilt lumbering, Owens entering for the first verse after a swell of cymbal.

For something that’s already been on for five minutes, the impact is immediate. He, DeCarlo and Lose ride that groove for until shortly before eight minutes in, when the drums and bass drop out and the guitar introduces the next riff in classic stoner metal fashion. Is that the start of “II. Fade Away?” The lyrical telling of politicians destroying dreams and other such decay, so I’d believe it, but the actual line “fade away” is still to come, arriving as it does past the halfway point as the band have drifted from a long solo section at almost exactly the 12-minute mark into quiet psychedelia, the guitar in chill mode as the warmth of bass comes forward. It’s hypnotic, but doesn’t last. At 14:30, they launch into resumed tonal crush that carries them into “III. Life Disintegrates,” the rumbling, mournful conclusion of “Omen,” which ends with more fervent hits and a worthy crash for what’s come before it, shifting into the two-minute riff-roller “Germination.” An epilogue for the opening track? Maybe. It’s a quick play between groove and guitar solo, instrumental and ends in feedback, like a snippet of a longer jam, but it also feeds directly into “Misanthropy on High,” so it could be just as much an intro to side B as well.

To-date, Goya have not put out a release — album, EP, single, whatever — that did not in some way build on what’s come before it. Their sound, heavily drawn from Black Sabbath, SleepElectric WizardWindhand, etc., has steadily become more their own, and Harvester of Bongloads is a next step in that process. The attitude behind “Misanthropy on High” — which if it’s not on a t-shirt yet probably should be; one has to believe it will surface as a motto for Goya at some point — is part of that, but it’s just as much the manner in which the three-piece seem to be fighting their own songs. It’s almost like “Misanthropy on High” has a will of its own as its 11-plus minutes play out, and as Goya are performing it, they’re also working to control it, like at any second the whole thing could devolve into sheer noise-drenched chaos, fall completely apart under its own weight. That they are ultimately in command of that process is a factor in making their work develop as it has over the course of their albums, and as they’ve grown into it, they’ve become immediately identifiable by sound despite whatever familiar elements might persist. “Misanthropy on High” is a near-perfect execution of that and a callout to the disaffected to join them in the toward-oblivion nod the creation of which one imagines is Goya‘s very purpose for being.

Just as “Germination” fed directly into it, it leads to the six-minute closer “Disease,” which marks a relative uptick in tempo — closer to mid-paced, on some general scale — and finishes Harvester of Bongloads in a manner both acidic and kingly, Owens tossing out a few lines early before receding and coming back after the halfway point to make sure the emphasis on global decay and death is properly conveyed before they’re done. Rest assured, it is. A bit of shred follows in the last minute and a sudden cut to feedback and two last crashes end the album. The statement has been made, the point taken, the riffs meted out with duly punishing sensibility behind them, and as if to underscore the sincerity and lack of pretense at their core, Goya finish cold where one might’ve expected a long, stonerly fade.

One could go on waxing critical about how subtle touches like that further distinguish their work from a crowded underground sphere, but I’m not sure there’s a point. Fact is, Goya have become something of a litmus test for those who’d take them on — either you get it and can dig it, or you don’t and you can’t. They don’t seem to care much either way, and perhaps that’s for the better. A group so outwardly, loudly dedicated to flipping off existence in general shouldn’t at the same time be necessarily playing at accessibility, even to a niche audience, but don’t take that to mean they aren’t likewise pushing themselves to progress in their mammoth, consuming approach. While they may be disgusted with the world around them, Harvester of Bongloads is clearly a labor of love.

Goya, Harvester of Bongloads (2017)

Goya on Thee Facebooks

Goya on Instagram

Goya on Bandcamp

Opoponax Records BigCartel store

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The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Five out March 24

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 10th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

The beat rolls on, the bands play on, and Ripple Music‘s The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Five lands on March 24, bringing new tracks with it from Desert Suns and Chiefs. This latest installment of the ongoing and deeply admirable series of split LPs marks the first of 2017, arriving just a few months after Chapter Four (review here) brought together the colorful pairing of Red Mesa and Blue Snaggletooth. One has to wonder at this point what will happen when Ripple gets to Chapter 10 — we’re halfway there — and whether the label will issue a box set of all of these together in celebration of the scope of the project. Even if they made 20 or something and charged $150-$200 for them, it seems like a worthy endeavor, particularly as all the art ties together and whatnot.

My two cents, anyhow.

The PR wire has background and audio for The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Five. I’ve got a pretty good track record at this point of reviewing these, and I’ll hope to maintain that with this one as well, so please keep an eye out. Till then:

second-coming-of-heavy-chapter-v-desert-suns-chiefs

The return of Ripple Music’s The Second Coming Of Heavy; Chapter V | Split album from Desert Suns and Chiefs

The Second Coming Of Heavy; Chapter V is released on vinyl on 24th March 2017

Already recognised as one of the world’s leading purveyors of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Stoner, Doom and Heavy Psych, Ripple Music upped the ante in 2015 with the arrival of one of the year’s most ambitious projects, The Second Coming Of Heavy Series.

Serving as an ongoing showcase for some of the best and heaviest bands emerging from the underground, each installment shines a light on those worthy of your attention. Consisting of one, 12” slab of multicoloured vinyl with full colour sleeves and inserts, the series is designed to be saved and treasured, like a fine anthology of books. So much so when the albums are filed next to each other, the complete collection of aligned spines form a mind-blowing image direct from the underground.

DESERT SUNS – In that space where psychedelia, blues-rock and doom coalesce, it’s there you’ll likely find Desert Suns. Formed in late 2013, from the outset the Californian quartet demonstrated a versatility rarely seen amongst their contemporaries. In no time at all they wrote, recorded and released their debut single ‘Burning Temples’ and by that same summer had already started to unload an arsenal of new sounds. Released in 2014, their self-titled debut reassured fans that they were far from one hit wonders. Containing haunting lyrics of alienation with compelling hooks, Desert Suns peddle an addictive and atmospheric energy of heavy rock familiar to fans of early ’70s proto-metal acts such as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Blue Cheer.

CHIEFS – Having originally begun life as a two-piece back in January of 2012 in Phoenix, AZ, after years of releasing demos, touring and playing around Phoenix Valley the duo made the decision to relocate to San Diego, CA. Shortly after, they released a four-song demo entitled Buffalo Roam, and did numerous short West Coast tours to support it. Eventually the group became a three-piece with the permanent addition of bassist Jeff Podeszwik, who filled out the low-end of the band and transformed their sound. Hot off the heels of releasing a split 7″ with Fuzz Evil through Battleground Records, Chiefs released their debut full-length album Tomorrow’s Over and are now the latest addition to Ripple Music’s much coveted SCoH’s “Hall of Fame”.

The Second Coming Of Heavy; Chapter V will get an official vinyl release on 24th March 2017 and is limited to 300 copies in three alternative versions (100 of each) – The Resurrection Edition, The Risen OBI and The Ascension Edition.

http://www.desertsunsmusic.com/
https://www.facebook.com/desertsunssd/
https://www.instagram.com/desertsunsband/
https://desertsuns.bandcamp.com/

http://www.wearechiefs.com/
https://www.facebook.com/wearechiefs
https://wearechiefs.bandcamp.com/
https://www.instagram.com/wearechiefs/
https://twitter.com/chiefsphx

http://www.ripple-music.com/
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ripple-Music/369610860064
https://twitter.com/RippleMusic
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/

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Godhunter Announce New EP Codex Narco Due in May

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

Tucson sludgers Godhunter taking on a more directly political lyrical bent makes sense, as the band has always been keen to offer some latent social commentary both on the local level of their home in Arizona and in the wider sphere of worldly goings on. Not to mention these are deeply politicized times blah blah blah, but yeah, that makes sense as a turn the band would make. Interestingly, they’ve called in a few friends to help them make their point. Their new EP, Codex Narco, is set to release this May on Battleground Records and Baby Tooth Records and with guest spots from CHRCH‘s Eva Rose — well that’s going to be fucking unbelievably heavy — as well as members of Methra, Demon Lung and others, although Godhunter have undergone some lineup changes over the last couple years, they still clearly know how to put a party together. Interested to hear how this one turns out.

No art or audio yet, but the PR wire has release details:

godhunter

GODHUNTER To Release Codex Narco In May; Record Features Contributors From CHRCH, Demon Lung, Mountaineer, Thorne, Methra, And More

GODHUNTER has completed a new EP titled Codex Narco, featuring a cast of fellow musicians hailing from the likes of CHRCH, Demon Lung, Mountaineer, Thorne, Methra, and others. The EP will see release in May, with the proceeds from each format going to several important charities.

In September of 2015, after finishing a successful US tour with Destroyer Of Light, several members of GODHUNTER amicably split with the band, simply moving on with more family commitments and unable to commit to regular touring. Within weeks of the lineup shift, the rest of the band began writing new material together through internet conversations and individual recording sessions, as remaining guitarist/vocalist David Rodgers, drummer Andy Kratzenberg, and keyboardist Matthew Davis, currently reside on opposite ends of the country, spread across Washington, Arizona, and Georgia.

Shortly into the creation process, it was realized that the band was deviating from their usual lyrical content on our deteriorating world and current events, and for the first time were instead focusing towards their own realms of inner darkness. Everyone in the band has experienced some dramatic personal trauma in recent years, a factor which is intensely reflected in the writing of Codex Narco, where dependency, depression, and loss are the driving factors, resulting in the most personal and deeply introspective material the band has ever made.

After fleshing out the main skeleton of the new material, the remaining members of GODHUNTER secured additional elements from several of the band’s closer personal and musical friends. Several of the contributors recorded a large amount of Codex Narco at Homewrecker Studios in Tucson, with the additional material recorded by each musician at their hometown studio of choice. The record features guest vocals from Eva Rose (CHRCH) and Josh Thorne (Thorne), bass from Adam Sage (Demon Lung), guitars from Clayton Bartholomew (Mountaineer, ex-Secrets Of The Sky), and vocal, bass, and guitar contributions from Nick Genitals (Methra).

Codex Narco was mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege, and features artwork by Bailey Illustration and layout by Cool Ghoul Ltd. (Ethan McCarthy of Primitive Man). The record will see release through Battleground Records in conjunction with Baby Tooth Records who will release a cassette version, on May 19th; all profits will be donated to Planned Parenthood.

GODHUNTER’s commitment to speaking out about social issues has not changed though, and as such, the proceeds from this album will be donated to Planned Parenthood, as reflected in the pink color scheme. Mitch Wells from Thou is also making us a video for the Tegan & Sara cover song “Walking With A Ghost.” This video is being made to support suicide prevention. Even though the album is very personal, the resulting effort is all about giving back to organizations the band members care deeply about.

http://www.facebook.com/godhuntersludge
https://battlegroundrecords.bandcamp.com
http://www.battlegroundrnr.com
https://twitter.com/BattlegroundRNR
http://instagram.com/battleground_records
https://babytoothtucson.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/babytoothtucson

Godhunter vs. Destroyer of Light, Endsville (2015)

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The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Short Releases of 2016

Posted in Features on December 30th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk top 20 short releases

Please note: This post is not culled in any way from the Year-End Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2016 to that, please do.

Yeah, I know I said as much when the Top 20 Debut Albums of 2016 went up, but I take it back: this is the hardest list to put together. And to be honest, there’s a part of me that’s hesitant even to post it because I know as soon as I do someone’s going to be like, “No way you dick your entire existence is shit because you forgot Release X,” and very likely they’ll be right. Up to the very moment this post is going live, I’ve been making changes, and I expect I’ll continue to do so for a while after it’s out there.

So what’s a “short release?” That’s another issue. Pretty much anything that’s not an album. Singles, digital or physical, as well as EPs, splits, demos, and so on. The category becomes nebulous, but my general rule is if it’s not a full-length, it qualifies as a short release. Sounds simple until you get into things like, “Here’s a track I threw up on Bandcamp,” and “This only came out as a bonus included as a separate LP with the deluxe edition of our album.” I’m telling you, I’ve had a difficult time.

Maybe that’s just me trying to protect myself from impending wrath. This year’s Top 30 albums list provoked some vehement — and, if I may, prickishly-worded — responses, so I might be a bit gunshy here, but on the other hand, I think these outings are worth highlighting, so we’re going forward anyway. If you have something to add, please use the comments below, but remember we’re all friends here and there’s a human being on the other end reading what’s posted. Thanks in advance for that.

And since this is the last list of The Obelisk’s Best-of-2016 coverage, I’ll say thanks for reading as well. More to come in the New Year, of course.

Here we go:

scissorfight chaos county

The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Short Releases of 2016

1. Scissorfight, Chaos County EP
2. Earthless / Harsh Toke, Split
3. Mars Red Sky, Providence EP
4. Mos Generator, The Firmament
5. Soldati, Soldati
6. Monolord, Lord of Suffering / Die in Haze EP
7. Wren, Host EP
8. Goya, The Enemy EP
9. The Sweet Heat, Demo
10. River Cult, Demo
11. Stinkeye, Llantera Demos
12. Megaritual, Eclipse EP
13. Ragged Barracudas / Pushy, Split
14. Mindkult, Witchs’ Oath EP
15. Iron Jawed Guru, Mata Hari EP
16. Brume, Donkey
17. Bison Machine / Wild Savages / SLO, Sweet Leaves Vol. 1 Split
18. BoneHawk / Kingnomad, The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter Three Split
19. Wicked Gypsy, EP
20. Love Gang, Love Gang EP

Honorable Mention

An expansive category as ever. In addition to what’s above, the following stood out and no doubt more will be added over the course of the next few days. If you feel something is missing, please let me know.

Presented alphabetically:

Cambrian Explosion, The Moon EP
Candlemass, Death Thy Lover EP
Cultist, Cultist EP
Danava, At Midnight You Die 7″
Dos Malés, Dos Malés EP
Druglord, Deepest Regrets EP
Fu Manchu, Slow Ride 7″
Geezer, A Flagrant Disregard for Happiness 12″
Gorilla vs. Grifter, Split
Holy Smoke, Holy Smoke! It’s a Demo!
Karma to Burn, Mountain Czar
LSD and the Search for God, Heaven is a Place EP
Pallbearer, Fear and Fury
Reign of Zaius, Planet Of…
Sea of Bones / Ramlord, Split
Shallows, The Moon Rises
The Skull, EP
Snowy Dunes, “Atlantis Part I” digital single
Sun Voyager / The Mad Doctors, Split
Valborg, Werwolf 7″

Notes

Was it just the raw joy of having Scissorfight back? No, but that was for sure part of it. It was also the brazenness with which the New Hampshire outfit let go of their past, particularly frontman Christopher “Ironlung” Shurtleff, and moved forward unwilling to compromise what they wanted to do that made their Chaos County so respectable in my eyes. Having always flourished in the form, they delivered an EP of classic Scissorfight tunes and issued a stiff middle finger to anyone who would dare call them otherwise. They couldn’t have been more themselves no matter who was in the band.

At the same time, it was a hard choice between that and the Earthless / Harsh Toke split for the top spot. I mean, seriously. It’s Earthless — who at this point are the godfathers of West Coast jamadelica — and Harsh Toke, who are among the style’s most engaging upstart purveyors, each stretching out over a huge and encompassing single track. I couldn’t stop listening to that one if I wanted to, and as the year went on, I found I never wanted to.

I was glad when Mars Red Sky included the title-track of the Providence EP as a bonus cut on their subsequent album, Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul), both because it tied the two releases together even further and because it gave me another opportunity to hear it every time I listened to the record. Their short releases have always shown significant character apart from their full-lengths, and this was no exception. I still tear up when I hear “Sapphire Vessel.”

To bounce around a bit: Had to get Mos Generator on the list for the progressive expansion of the live-recorded The Firmament. Stickman was right to put that out on vinyl. Both Monolord and Goya provided quick outings of huge riffs to sate their respective and growing followings, while Megaritual’s Eclipse basked in drone serenity and the debut release from Sergio Ch.’s Soldati provided hard-driving heavy rock with the particular nuance for which the former Los Natas frontman is known. It’s the highest among a slew of first/early outings — see also The Sweet Heat, Wren (Host was their second EP), River Cult’s demo, Stinkeye, Mindkult, Iron Jawed Guru, Brume, Wicked Gypsy and Love Gang.

Ultimately, there were fewer splits on the list this year than last year, but I’ll credit that to happenstance more than any emergent bias against the form or lack of quality in terms of what actually came out. The BoneHawk and Kingnomad release, the Ragged Barracudas and Pushy split, and that heavy rocking onslaught from Bison Machine and company were all certainly welcome by me, and I’ll mention Gorilla vs. Grifter there too again, just because it was awesome.

One more time, thank you for reading, and if you have something to add, please do so in the comments below. Your civility in that regard is appreciated.

This is the last of my lists for 2016, but the Readers Poll results are out Jan. 1 and the New Year hits next week and that brings a whole new round of looking-forward coverage, so stay tuned.

As always, there’s much more to come.

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Quarterly Review: Bus, Them Bulls, Stinkeye, Buzzard Canyon, Motherbrain, Elder Druid, The Crazy Left Experience, The Watchers, Of the Horizon, Raj

Posted in Reviews on December 28th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk winter quarterly review

Today is the day the Quarterly Review passes the halfway point. This will be 21-30 of the total 60 for the six days, so there’s still a ways to go — you might say 50 percent — but it’s a milestone nonetheless. Once again it’s another roundup of cool stuff, kind of all over the place a little more than the last two days were, but as we go further along with these things, it’s good to mix it up after a while. There’s only so many times you can throw the word “lysergic” around and talk about jamming. That said, you’re getting some of that today as well from Portugal, so when it pops up, don’t be surprised. Much to do, so no need to delay.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Bus, The Unknown Secretary

bus-the-unknown-secretary

Athenian double-guitar four-piece Bus execute a stylistically cohesive, crisp debut with The Unknown Secretary (on Twin Earth Records), presenting classic heavy rock elements without going full-retro in their sound itself and marking songs like “Masteroid” as immediately distinct through the harmonized vocals of guitarist Bill City, joined in the band by guitarist Johnnie Chez, bassist Chob D’oh and drummer Aris. Together they run through a clean two sides that play back and forth between proto-metallic and doom shading – “Don’t Fear Your Demon” touches on slower Pentagram – while sounding perhaps most comfortable in rockers like “Withered Thorn” or the earlier stomper “New Black Volume,” which puts its two guitars to excellent use ahead of and between unabashedly poppy (not sure a full Ghost comparison is warranted) verse, and craft a highlight in the 7:38 arena-ready thrust of “Rockerbus” prior to the surprisingly nodding finale of “Jimi.” A strikingly efficient and clear-headed first full-length that would seem to hold much promise of things to come from yet another player in Greece’s emergent heavy scene.

Bus on Thee Facebooks

Twin Earth Records on Bandcamp

 

Them Bulls, Them Bulls

them-bulls-them-bulls.jpg

With the start-stop riff of opener “As Fangs in Stone,” a mastering job by Mathias Schneeberger and the breadth of pop melodicism in cuts that one, the swinging “Made of Ghosts,” and the more percussive “Through the Sun,” Italian four-piece Them Bulls make a pretty strong beeline for early-Queens of the Stone Age-style heavy desert rock. Their self-titled Small Stone debut isn’t without individualized flourish, but the 10-track/41-minute offering makes it clear from the start what its intentions are and then sets about living up to them, whether on the careening Songs for the Deaf-ery of “Pot Gun” or the penultimate “We Must Live Up” itself. Vocal interplay from guitarists Daniele Pollio and Franscesco Pasi – joined by the rhythm section of bassist Paolo Baldini and drummer Giampaolo Farnedi – provides an opportunity for future growth, but it’s worth noting that for a band to take on such a specific stylization, their songwriting needs to be in check, and Them Bulls’ is.

Them Bulls on Thee Facebooks

Them Bulls at Small Stone Records

 

Stinkeye, Llantera Demos

stinkeye-llantera-demos

What seems to be Stinkeye’s debut recording, Llantera Demos, arrives as a free download of four tracks and 16 minutes rife with thickened boogie and dense mecha-stoner fuzz, reminding of Dead Meadow immediately in the echoing vocals and rhythmic bounce of “Orange Man” but moving into some shuffle on the subsequent “Fink Ployd” and “Llantera,” the latter a well-earned showcase of bass tone. While out on the coast, ‘70s vibes reign supreme, the Phoenix, Arizona, trio are on a different tip, looser in their swing and apparently more prone to drift. For what it’s worth, they call it “hash rock,” and fair enough as “Pink Clam,” which closes Llantera Demos, rides more of a grunge-laden nod to an immersive but still relatively quick five-minute finish, building after three minutes in to a satisfying final instrumental push. Loaded with potential in tone, execution, vibe and dynamic between the three-piece, Llantera Demos immediately marks Stinkeye out as a band to watch and is just begging for the right person to come along and press it to tape.

Stinkeye on Thee Facebooks

Stinkeye on Bandcamp

 

Buzzard Canyon, Hellfire and Whiskey

buzzard-canyon-hellfire-and-whiskey.jpg

Want to grab attention with your debut long-player? Calling a song “Louder than God” might be a good way to go. That track, at seven minutes, is the longest on Connecticut five-piece Buzzard Canyon’s Hellfire and Whiskey (on Salt of the Earth), and following a quiet initial stretch, it launches into Down-style Southern chug, the dual vocals of Amber Leigh and guitarist Aaron Lewis (the latter also of When the Deadbolt Breaks) veering into and out of more metallic impulses to build on the initial momentum established on the earlier “Highway Run” and “SomaBitch.” The two-minute “For the End” basks in some nightmarish vision of rockabilly, while “Red Beards Massacre” and “Wyoming” dig into more straightforward stylistic patterning, but if Buzzard Canyon want to get a little weird either here or going forward, that’s clearly not about to hurt them. Closer “Not My Cross” hints at some darker visions to come in how it moves into and out of a droning interlude, adding yet more intrigue to their deceptively multifaceted foundation.

Buzzard Canyon on Thee Facebooks

Salt of the Earth Records website

 

Motherbrain, Voodoo Nasty

motherbrain voodoo nasty

Though “Atomic Rodeo” dips into some Queens of the Stone Age-style groove, Motherbrain’s third album, Voodoo Nasty (on Setalight Records), comes across as more defined by its nasty than its voodoo as the Berlin four-piece demonstrate a penchant for incorporating harsher sludge tendencies, especially in vocal shouts peppered in amid the otherwise not-unfriendly proceedings. That gives the nine-song/48-minute offering a meaner edge but does little ultimately to take away from the groove on offer in the opening title-track or “Ghoul of Kolkata,” and though it retains its raw spirit, Voodoo Nasty digs into some more complex fare later in longer cuts like “Baptism of Fire” and “Half Past Human,” having found a place in centerpiece “Dismantling God” where blown-out noise aggression and semi-psychedelic swirl can coexist, if not peacefully then at least for a while until Motherbrain decide it’s time to give Kyuss-style desert rock another kick in its ass, as on “Sons of Kong,” which, yes, does proclaim a lineage.

Motherbrain on Thee Facebooks

Setalight Records website

 

Elder Druid, Magicka

elder druid magicka

Sludge-rolling five-piece Elder Druid riff forth with their debut studio offering, the five-song/33-minute Magicka EP, which one might be tempted to tag as a demo were it not for a few prior live-tracked short releases that appear to have served that purpose, the latest of which, The Attic Sessions (discussed here), came out in Jan. 2016. The experience of putting that together as well as their prior singles clearly benefited the Northern Irish outfit on Magicka, and while they retain a shouty spirit on opener “Rogue Mystic,” middle cut “The Warlock” offers nod that reminds of The Kings of Frog Island’s “Welcome to the Void,” and that’s about all I ever need. Ever. Served up with bloated tones and geared toward establishing a blend of gruff vocals and consuming fuzz, Elder Druid’s first studio recording has a solid footing in what it wants to accomplish sound-wise and plainly showcases that, and while they have some growing to do and patience to learn in their songcraft, nothing I hear on Magicka argues against their getting there in time.

Elder Druid on Thee Facebooks

Elder Druid on Bandcamp

 

The Crazy Left Experience, Bill’s 108th Space Odyssey

the-crazy-left-experience-bills-108th-space-odyssey

The Crazy Left Experience – the moniker seeming to refer to the side of the brain at work in their processes – present Bill’s 108th Space Odyssey almost as an album within an album. The framework from the at-least-party-improvised Portuguese cosmic jammers on the seven-track/56-minute outing centers around William Millarc, who in 1955 was documented while taking part in LSD experiments. Samples of Millarc are peppered into opener “Subject Bill,” the later “Funky Meteor Drop” and the closing duo “Bill Sided Flashback” and “God of the Outer Rings,” but between the opener and the latter trio of cuts comes “Unarius,” a three-part excursion listed as “Part V” through “Part VII” that presumably is the representation of when our friend Bill has left his body behind. So be it. One can hardly call that departure incongruous either sonically or in terms of The Crazy Left Experience’s chosen theme – though there are some unrelated samples spliced into “Unarius – Part VII (Space Brothers)” that are somewhat jarring – and the entire flow of the record is so hypnotic that the band can basically go wherever they want, which of course they do.

The Crazy Left Experience on Thee Facebooks

The Crazy Left Experience on Bandcamp

 

The Watchers, Sabbath Highway

the watchers sabbath highway

Were it not for the context of knowing that vocalist Tim Narducci and bassist Cornbread hail from SpiralArms and White Witch Canyon, drummer Carter Kennedy from Orchid and guitarist Jeremy Von Eppic from Black Gates, the Sabbath Highway debut EP (on Ripple Music) from California’s The Watchers would be almost impossibly coherent for a first outing. Classic in form but modern in its presentation, the five-tracker – four plus the church-organ interlude “Requiem” between the opening title-cut (video here) and “Call the Priest” – makes the most of Narducci’s ‘70s-style vocal push, reminding of one-time Ripple troupe Stone Axe in his oldschool feel, but as “Today” (premiered here) makes plain, The Watchers are much more focused on learning from the past than repeating it. The straightforward songwriting and all-we’re-here-to-do-is-kick-ass sentiment behind Sabbath Highway might well prove formative compared to what The Watchers do next – presumably that’s a full-length, but one never knows; they sound ready to get down to business  – but it makes its ambitions plain in its hooks and swiftly delivers on its promises.

The Watchers on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

 

Of the Horizon, Of the Horizon

of the horizon self-titled

I can’t speak to the present status of California’s Of the Horizon, since last I heard bassist Kayt Vigil was in Italy working with Sonic Wolves, but their self-titled five-track debut full-length arrives via Kozmik Artifactz no less switched on for the half-decade that has passed since it was recorded. Guitarist Mike Hanne howls out throaty incantations to suit the post-Sleep riffing of opener “3 Feet” and drummer Shig pushes the roll of “Caravan” forward into its final crashing slowdown effectively as Vigil ensures the subsequent centerpiece “Unknown” is duly thick beneath its spacious, jammy strum. The two longest slabs hit at the end in “Gladhander” (8:55) and the righteously lumbering “Hall of the Drunken King” (10:31) and feel somewhat like an album unto themselves, but when/if Of the Horizon make a return, they’ve established a working modus on this first full-length that should well satisfy the nod-converted and that demonstrates the timelessness of well-executed tonal onslaught.

Of the Horizon on Thee Facebooks

Of the Horizon at Kozmik Artifactz

 

Raj, Raj

raj self titled

Though it’s fair enough in terms of runtime, it almost seems like Milano sludge-rollers Raj (also written stylized in all-caps: RAJ) do the six tracks of their 20-minute self-titled debut EP a disservice by cramming them onto a single LP side. Not that one gets lost or the band fails to make an impression – far from it – but just that sounds so geared toward largesse and spaciousness beg for more room to flesh out. That, perhaps, is the interesting duality in Raj’s Raj, since even the massive plod of closer “Iron Matrix” lumbers through its course in a relatively short 4:45, never mind the speedier “Magic Wand” (2:47) or drone interlude “Black Mumbai” (1:51) – gone in a flash. The release moves through these, the earlier “Omegagame” and “Eurasia” and the penultimate “Kaluza” with marked fluidity and efficiency, giving Raj a mini-album feel, and with the atmosphere in “Black Mumbai” and in the surrounding material, their rumble sets up a dynamic that seems primed for further exploration.

Raj on Thee Facebooks

Raj on Bandcamp

 

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