Fuzz Evil and Switchblade Jesus Team up for The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Seven

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

This news came in and I realized that somewhere in there I missed a chapter of Ripple Music‘s ongoing The Second Coming of Heavy series of splits. I’ve done my best to cover all of them — been late on almost every one, but still, I’ve gotten there eventually — but when I saw word that Chapter Seven was set to feature Fuzz Evil and Switchblade Jesus my joy at the prospect of some quality rock and roll was tempered by the question nagging at the back of my mind: Hey wait a second, what happened to Chapter Six?

I don’t have the promo for it in my email, which is kind of a bummer, but I’ll assume I did at one point or another or that it got lost in the transition between laptops from the one I called Ol’ Dusty to the one I use now, Big Red. In any case, if I can, I might try to sneak that Kayleth and Favequaid shared offering in at some point while also doing my best to cover Switchblade Jesus and Fuzz Evil, whose installment is set to arrive on Dec. 8, of course on Ripple.

The PR wire has it like this:

the second coming of heavy chapter 7

Switchblade Jesus / Fuzz Evil “Chapter 7: The Second Coming of Heavy” out on December 8 via Ripple Music

Ripple Music sets December 8th, 2017 as official release date for Switchblade Jesus / Fuzz Evil “Chapter 7: The Second Coming of Heavy” split!

Formed in 2014, Fuzz Evil is a chug-heavy 3 Piece that tames the fuzziest guitar and bass tones on the planet and wields them to blast a monolithic speaker-ripping fuzzapocaplyse for your ears and soul. Raw and dirty in “Stooges-like” fashion with soaring soulful vocals. Fuzz Evil released their first single, “Glitterbones” on a 7” split with the California trio Chiefs on Battleground records in 2014. In 2016 they followed up the single with a full self-titled debut release on Battleground records. In the past few year they have gone through a few line-up changes.. The current line-up is Orgo Martinez on drums, Wayne Rudell on guitar and vocals, and his brother Joey Rudell on bass and vocals.

From the depths of Texas, Switchblade Jesus returns with a heaviness and deep grooves that succeed their previous recordings. Mixing southwestern boogie, desert-worn blues, retro-metal assault and fierce rocking into a sound that screams Texas–at times sanguine and starkly beautiful, at others full of damn sexy groove and assaulting violence can only describe the music of Texan power rocking, fuzzed out stoner blues trio, Switchblade Jesus.

Consisting of Eric Calvert (Vox/Guitar) Jon Elizondo (Drums) and new comer Chris Black (bass) to the fold to create a new chapter in Switchblade Jesus, more Doom and Gloom but no lack of the groove that the Texan’s brought in the beginning.

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Kayleth & Favequaid, The Second Coming of Heavy Chapter Six (2017)

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Godhunter Announce Breakup

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

In no small way, the end of Godhunter is made even more of a bummer by the recent release of what will apparently serve as their swansong EP. That offering, the seven-track Codex Narco (review here), came out earlier this year via Battleground Records and Baby Tooth Records and marked a distinct broadening of aesthetic on the part of the band, who were once based in Tucson, Arizona, but who according to founding guitarist David Rodgers (interview here) had relocated as far as Washington and Georgia.

Likely that geographical challenge played a role in bringing about the band’s end, but either way, what Codex Narco represented in sound was a manifestation and further realization of the experimental impulse that Godhunter had previously shown on releases like their 2015 Endsville split with Destroyer of Light (discussed here) or their 2014 Gh/0st:S split (review here), distinct from the aggressive approach fostered through their 2014 full-length, City of Dust (review here), or their 2011 debut EP, Wolves (review here), but not entirely separate in its sense of atmosphere. Marked out by the inclusion of guest appearances by Nick Genitals of MethraCHRCH vocalist Eva Rose and Josh Thorne of Thorne, among others, it found the core three-piece of Rodgers, guitarist/keyboardist Matthew Davis and drummer Andy Kratzenberg bringing to life a sound that was as much ambient as it was scathing, and though the mood was persistently grim throughout the release — even the poppy cover of Tegan and Sara‘s “Walking with a Ghost” (video posted here) had a darker edge — it was hard not to be hopeful about what the band’s future might bring, distant though they might be in locale.

Codex Narco was already on my list of 2017’s best short releases, but it becomes especially poignant as the final offering from Godhunter (if in fact it turns out to be that; never say never in rock and roll). The band wasn’t going to make any kind of announcement, but I chased down Rodgers and basically bothered him into doing so. Sorry about that, but as a group whose creative potential it seemed was only beginning to really be explored, it seemed to me that the very least they deserved a proper sendoff. I’ll miss having the chance to hear how Godhunter might’ve followed up Codex Narco, but Rodgers has a new, extreme black metal outfit going called Taarna in Portland, OR — they recently shared the stage with righteous death metallers Vitriol — and their first demos are available now to stream. So there’s future productivity to look forward to, one way or the other.

Here’s what Rodgers had to say about the end of Godhunter:

godhunter codex narco lineup

David Rodgers on the end of Godhunter:

‘Ichi-go Ichi-e’ is a Japanese idiom that describes the idea that when people meet together for something, even if they see each other regularly, that meeting is unique and can never be replicated. It’s often translated as “for this time only” or “one chance in a lifetime.”

Since day one, back in 2009, this is something that Godhunter has always embraced both consciously and subconsciously. We have always tried to keep each musical release unique from the previous release, each piece of album art or each t-shirt design unique from that which came before.

In keeping with this idea, we have decided that this unique meeting of friends, this once in a lifetime experience, is over now. Over the past eight years we’ve given our most sincere effort to bring the world something unique, and now that we have said all that we had to say, our time as a band is over.

Thank you to everyone that shared this beautiful experience with us. You remain in our hearts forever.

http://www.facebook.com/godhuntersludge
https://battlegroundrecords.bandcamp.com
http://www.battlegroundrnr.com
https://twitter.com/BattlegroundRNR
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Godhunter, Codex Narco (2017)

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Twingiant Premiere “Kaishakunin”; Blood Feud out on Friday

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 10th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

twingiant photo nick wilson

Twingiant issue their new album, Blood Feud, this coming Friday, Oct. 13. It is the band’s third outing since getting together in 2010 and their debut for Argonauta Records, following behind the spirited riff-and-tumble of 2014’s Devil Down, 2013’s Sin Nombre EP (review here), and their self-released 2012 debut, Mass Driver, as well as an earlier-2017 split with Into the Storm that featured the tracks “Poison Control Party Line” and “Formerly Known As…,” both of which are also represented on the record proper. Through all these releases, the consistent thread from the Phoenix, Arizona-based outfit has been one of burl-driven dudecraft, and Blood Feud follows across its eight tracks, beginning a fervent opening salvo with the crisp four-minute get-off-your-ass shove of “Throttled” and pushing into the aforementioned “Poison Control Party Line” with quick-built momentum that holds firm as backing screams join bassist Jarrod LeBlanc‘s largely unipolar but effective growls on “Ride the Gun” and the subsequent “Re-Fossilized” presents a marked change in structure.

Today I have the pleasure of hosting Blood Feud‘s closing track, “Kaishakunin” as a premiere ahead of the release, and as guitarist/backing vocalist Nikos Mixas — joined in the band by LeBlanc on vocals/bass, fellow guitarist/backing vocalist Tony Gallegos and drummer Jeff Ramon — hints in the quote included after the song stream below, one might be tempted to cast Twingiant as a doom band. The truth of that is somewhat more complicated. MixasGallegos and LeBlanc definitely have heft to their tonality and that’s a likely source of much of their “file under” woes (if they’re woes), but as part of their delivery across Blood Feud — even in a song like “Re-Fossilized,” which holds back its verses compared to the three songs before it and side B leadoff “Shadow of South Mountain” after — there’s an aggressive core and an intensity of purpose that could only come from a root influence in heavy metal.

As “Shadow of South Mountain” plays out its runs of guitar and fierce growls, twingiant blood feudone can’t help but be reminded of The Mighty Nimbus or or a less distinctly Southern take on Beaten Back to Pure or Alabama Thunderpussy at their meanest. Twingiant have heavy rock elements working in their favor as regards tone, but just as their Floridian labelmates in Hollow Leg put their emphasis on the ‘metal’ in ‘sludge metal,’ so too do Twingiant bring that pissed-off mood to the chug and swing of “Formerly Known As,” which, like “Re-Fossilized,” finds them in a more instrumental modus, even going so far as to indulge a bit of swirl in the guitar solo past the halfway point before giving ground to the 6:25 longest and penultimate cut, “Last Man Standing,” which starts airy and quiet before moving into clean-sung early verse lines and hitting its full impact around two and a half minutes in before receding again. That back and forth plays out once more and stays louder the second time, coming to an apex that feeds directly into “Kaishakunin,” which unfolds atop feedback with faded in drums, vague whispers, rumbling low end and an overarching sense of violence to come.

Fitting enough. The title of the song is derived from the individual who, in the ritual suicide of seppuku, stands behind the person who has just gutted themselves and acts quickly to behead them — also presumably what’s being given devilish representation on the cover art. So be it. The song “Kaishakunin” unfolds with the most crawling pace of anything on Blood Feud, which gives its growls an especially massive feel, but picks up somewhat after its halfway mark and makes its way into an instrumental finish topped first by a drifting lead and then by another, more earthbound solo to make the trail through the crescendo. It’s not overdone by any stretch — indeed, given some of the bull-in-china-shop drive preceding, it might be understated — but it gets the job done, and the feeling that things aren’t quite done after the 41-minute record has concluded I take as a sign of the band leaving their audience wanting more. Hard to argue.

After seven years and three long-players spent honing their craft, Twingiant cast a genuine sense of arrival and give a duly sure-headed performance throughout Blood Feud; both mature in the sense of knowing who they are as a band and still vital in their execution.

Speaking of executions, you can hear the premiere of “Kaishakunin” on the player below, followed by more info from the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

Twingiant, “Kaishakunin” track premiere

Nikos Mixas on “Kaishakunin”:

“We’re so excited to be on the verge of releasing our 3rd full-length album via Argonauta Records. We’ve put a lot of work and thought into the material, the production in addition to the artwork concept and we couldn’t be happier with the results! Sometimes Twingiant gets labeled as being a doom band, and we’ve never gone out of our way to create a doom song until now with ‘Kaishakunin.'”

Critically acclaimed loud and heavy metal band TWINGIANT are pleased to announce that they will release their new album Blood Feud via Argonauta Records on October 13th 2017.

Pre-order Blood Feud digitally here: https://twingiant.bandcamp.com/album/blood-feud

Twingiant is:
Jarrod LeBlanc – Bass/Vocals
Nikos Mixas – Lead/Rhythm Guitar/Backup Vocals
Tony Gallegos – Lead/Rhythm Guitar/Backup Vocals
Jeff Ramon – Drums

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Twingiant website

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Argonauta Records website

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Quarterly Review: Nibiru, The Ditch and the Delta, Cyanna Mercury, Surya Kris Peters, Golden Bats, Blind Hen, The Black Wizards, Low Flying Hawks, Brother Sister Hex, Cold Insight

Posted in Reviews on September 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk quarterly review

Ready for round three of the Fall 2017 Quarterly Review? I hope so, because it’s a doozy. Things get pretty weird and pretty rockin’ in this batch, and at the risk of being completely honest, I much prefer it that way. It’s a varied group — maybe the most diverse in terms of sound throughout the entire week, though there’s stiff competition still to come — and as we hit the 30th review, that brings us to the halfway point of the Quarterly Review itself, which if all keeps proceeding according to plan will wrap up on Monday with a grand total of 60 done. Let’s hope no pianos fall on my head between now and then, literally or figuratively. Onward.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Nibiru, Qaal Babalon

nibiru qaal babalon

The fourth full-length from Italian sludge ritualists Nibiru, Qaal Babalon (on Argonauta) is an encompassing, 57-minute grind comprised of four extended tracks, the longest of which is opener (immediate points) “Oroch” at 19:07 – a song whose depths run dark and cruel and which, even when the tempo pushes upward from its initial slow crawl, still feels massively slow. Still, the spirit behind “Oroch” as well as the following and much faster “Faboan” (10:51), the buzzsaw noise cutting avant insanity of “Bahal Gah” (16:40) and full-drone rite of “Oxex” (11:05) is less directly about the punishment itself than about the exploration enacted thereby. That is, Nibiru aren’t just heavy for heaviness’ own sake and they’re not just assaulting their listenership without reason. Though I won’t take away from its raw sonic impact, Qaal Babalon’s greatest asset is its atmospheric impression and the experimentalism it brings to bear, which moves Nibiru into a terrifying place sound-wise that they seem to have all to themselves.

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Argonauta Records website

 

The Ditch and the Delta, Hives in Decline

the-ditch-and-the-delta-hives-in-decline

Hailing from the unlikely heavy hotbed of Salt Lake City, Utah – though where better for a counterculture to emerge? – sludge rocking trio The Ditch and the Delta made their debut earlier in 2017 with the seven-song Hives in Decline via Battleground Records before being picked up by Prosthetic for this reissue. Comprised of bassist/vocalist Kory Quist (see also: Making Fuck), guitarist/vocalist Elliot Secrist and drummer Charles Bogus, the three-piece pummel handily throughout early cuts like opener and longest track (immediate points) “Hives in Decline” “Fuck on Asphalt” and the nodding “Sleeping Dogs,” but with the instrumental interlude “Dry Land,” they tap into post-Across Tundras heavy Americana and in that brief two-minute stretch deeply affect the mood of the release overall. They’re back to angular noise rock turns soon enough on “Till Body Quits” and the Remission-era-Mastodon-style “Mud” before alternating between lurching crush and airier prog/post-rock on closer “Dread Spectacle,” but by then the secret’s out of their underlying complexity, and rather than offset the sense of drive in the prior cuts, one finds them only enhanced by the later unfolding. Intense, and very much in the process of sorting through these impulses, but loaded with potential.

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The Ditch and the Delta at Prosthetic Records

 

Cyanna Mercury, Archetypes

Cyanna-Mercury-Archetypes

From Greek dialogue in “Hermes” to the Nick Cave-style piano balladry of “Apollo” to the organ-and-handclaps Mediterranean pop underscoring “Lilith”’s boogie and the spoken verses and explosive hook of “Snake” ahead of moody closer “There will be a Time,” Cyanna Mercury’s debut long-player, Archetypes, seems to leave no sonic stone unturned. The Athens-based five-piece hone a thoroughly progressive approach across the 10-track/40-minute (plus a CD bonus track) outing, touching on heavy psych in opener “Horse Dark as Night” and injecting a darker theatricality into centerpiece “Ode to the Absent Father” and the later “Nothing We Can Do,” but refusing to relegate themselves ultimately to one sound or another. Elements of folk, heavy rock, psychedelia, classic prog, pop and more besides show themselves across what’s a legitimate head-trip of a record, and though it’s hard to get a grip on where Cyanna Mercury are ultimately headed with this sonic brew already so potent and already so much their own, they seem to be completely in control of how it all plays out in arrangement and songwriting, and they work quickly to earn the listener’s trust via a resonant overarching flow that renders Archetypes truly immersive. Will fly under most radar, but a stunningly creative debut.

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Cyanna Mercury on Bandcamp

 

Surya Kris Peters, 2nd Chances

surya-kris-peters-second-chances

Numerically-titled three-song EP 2nd Chances is – since we’re going by the numbers – the third release of 2017 from Surya Kris Peters, behind the synth-driven Dream Exit EP digitally-issued this past summer and January’s Holy Holy Holy (review here) full-length. With it, Samsara Blues Experiment frontman Christian Peters further expands the contextual breadth of his solo work, revisiting songs from his prior outfit Terraplane in the Mellotron-infused melancholy of “Smalltown Blues” and the quick, folkish rambling instrumental “Dark Euphoria” while also covering Jefferson Airplane’s “Come up the Years” between. All told, it’s only 10 minutes long, but Peters brings a particularly progressive psychedelic folk vibe to the tracks, and from the shimmering guitar lead that takes hold in “Come up the Years” and the intimate feel of “Smalltown Blues” despite an arrangement of keys, vocals, multiple layers of guitar and effects, an emotional and sonic resonance is still very much achieved. One never wants to guess what Peters will do next, but if he had a full-length of this kind of thing out at some point, you wouldn’t be likely to find me complaining.

Surya Kris Peters on Soundcloud

Electric Magic Records on Bandcamp

 

Golden Bats, Residual Dread

golden-bats-residual-dread

An underlying mournfulness pervades Golden BatsResidual Dread, or maybe that’s just the Brisbane-based solo-project of multi-instrumentalist/vocalist/engineer Geordie Stafford living up to the title chosen for the album on “Nothing.” Elsewhere, Residual Dread takes on guitar-as-keyboard plotted soloing in 11-minute closer “The Crows Build a Fire” and find a place between black metal and doomly roll, and add piano to tapped Godflesh-style programming on opener “Trouble in the Sewers” and bring organ to the relative bounce of “Eye Juices” as far-back echoing shouts provide the vocal presence. Setting elements against each other would seem to be a core aspect of Stafford’s intent, and the feel on Residual Dread is more about the smashing them together and seeing what happens than trying to gently meld one idea from two or three. That lends a raw, experimentalist sensibility to the lumber of “Outer Body” and “Into the Silver Valley” that serves them well, like a Large Hadron Collider driven by riffs and thickness of tone.

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Haemorrhage Records webstore

 

Blind Hen, Life

blind-hen-life

In its first two minutes, Blind Hen’s “As a Monster” moves from electronica-style Euro dance rock to heavy-riffed progressive metal. Then it turns back. This is just the start of the Finnish four-piece’s four-track/21-minute Life EP, and “Titanic” follows stylistic suit with an even more intense thrust early before moving into psychedelia in its second half with an underlying tension in its beat to contrast the melodic wash overtop. The chugging “The Maze” is more guitar-led and straightforward, but even there, Blind Hen find room for nuance in their vocal arrangement, also bringing in acoustics amid the multiple layers of singing, and with a sample at the outset, closer “Catch” moves once again toward the danceability of the earlier fare, if in a via-Mr.Bungle rhythmic restlessness rather than the fusion beatmaking. Weird, weird, weird. What draws Life together is the fact that Blind Hen cross this aesthetic swath with stuck-in-your-head choruses as a constant, essentially giving the audience something to grasp onto while they go wherever they want in terms of sound. It is appreciated to say the least, and shows the band to be all the more attuned to their craft, even when they seem at their most unhinged.

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Blind Hen on Bandcamp

 

The Black Wizards, What the Fuzz!

the-black-wizards-what-the-fuzz

If you’ve got 68 minutes, Portuguese four-piece The Black Wizards are ready to have a heavy blues shindig on their second 2LP full-length, What the Fuzz!, and I do believe we’re all invited. The nine-song outing emphasizes the vocals of guitarist Joana Brito, who emerges on post-intro opener “Freaks and Geeks” with a prominent kind of trilling in her voice of the sort Parker Griggs brings to Radio Moscow that holds for the duration as a steady presence. Joined by guitarist Paulo Ferreira, bassist/acoustic guitarist B and drummer/backing vocalist Helena Peixoto, Brito leads the way through the fuzzy rollout of the nine-minute “The Story of an Hopeless Drummer” (sic), stepping back to let the guitar/bass have a righteously nodding moment late in the track, but holds firm in a forward position on the short, twanging “Just Not Today” as well as the early going of the prior subdued-blues-smoker highlight “Floating Blues.” “Build Your Home,” “I Don’t Wanna Die” and the particularly-classic-sounding “Fire” revive the classic heavy rock spirit of “Freaks and Geeks,” and 16-minute finale “Everything is Good Until Trouble Comes” uses its extra runtime for a satisfying and patient execution with an expanded arrangement including choral vocals, organ and additional guitar effects. You might be boogied out by the time they’re done, but as The Black Wizards crash through their big finish, they sound like their party’s just getting started.

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The Black Wizards on Bandcamp

 

Low Flying Hawks, Genkaku

low-flying-hawks-genkaku

One might expect that with all the Melvins affiliation going on in the second Magnetic Eye Records full-length from L.A. duo Low Flying Hawks, Genkaku would sound, you know, more like the Melvins, but despite working with bassist Trevor Dunn, drummer Dale Crover and producer Toshi Kasai, and despite bringing in Buzz Osbourne for guest vocal spots on eight-minute opener/longest track (immediate points) “Smile” and side B leadoff “Space Wizard,” initials-only multi-instrumentalists EHA and AAL follow their 2016 debut, Kofuku (review here), with a sound even more their own, balancing between thick riffy rollout and post-rock atmospherics. Of course, they weird out a bit on “Smile” and the lumberingly spacious “Uncool” and “Virgin Witch,” but whether it’s the later mournfulness of “Hallucination” or “Twilight” toying with noisy fuckall while seeming to mock heavy rocker burl ahead of the melodic payoff in closer “Sinister Waves,” there’s more EHA and AAL in Low Flying Hawks than the prominent pedigree of their collaborators might lead you to believe. All the better for what becomes a richly satisfying 43-minute listen rife with depth, patience, and yes, personality.

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Magnetic Eye Records on Bandcamp

 

Brother Sister Hex, End Times

brother-sister-hex-end-times

Coherent songwriting rests at the core of what Denver’s Brother Sister Hex bring to their five-song third EP, End Times, which darkens up Queens of the Stone Age-circa-Songs for the Deaf vibing on its title-track (also a bit of Kyuss’ “El Rodeo” in there for good measure) before delving into more ambient fare on the centerpiece “Confessions.” Vocalist/guitarist Colfax Mingo demonstrates SubRosa-style vocal command there, but the context is more rock-based, uptempo and straightforward as she, guitarist Patrick Huddleson, bassist Drew Hicks and guest-drummer Jordan Palmer (Plastic Daggers) meld traditionalist structures with atmospheric moodiness. Opener “Hey” offers a suitable greeting through hook and groove, and the shuffle of “Sweet and Sleazy” and the rumbling fuzz (Hicks makes it a highlight) of closer “News Feed” wraps with another grunge-style QOTSA melody efficiently drawn, shouting the question “what have we done?” as it thuds into its second half. Uh, you’ve made a professional-sounding, excellently-constructed EP that shows you’re more than ready to embark on a debut full-length, permanent drummer or no. So yeah, get on that.

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Brother Sister Hex on Bandcamp

 

Cold Insight, Further Nowhere

cold-insight-further-nowhere

As progressive as it is brutal, Further Nowhere is ostensibly the debut release from Paris’ Cold Insight. The material seems to date back at least to 2013, if not earlier than that, when band-spearhead Sébastien Pierre (also of Enshine, Fractal Gates, and others) first issued what’s now tagged as a “pre-production album” version, but it’s hardly as though the lush, growling, melodeathly doom sounds dated. With sonic likenesses throughout to bands like Amorphis, Dark Tranquility and Paradise Lost, Cold Insight – on which Pierre, who also did the artwork, is joined by drummer Christian Netzell while Jari Lindholm adds lead guitar – hit on a very particular, very European style, and not an unfamiliar one as displayed in the righteously driving “Distance,” but the find-the-beauty-in-darkness spirit behind “Close Your Eyes” and songs like “Even Dies a Sun” and the more uptempo later piece “I Will Rise” help ensure that the formidable 12-song/66-minute run of Further Nowhere never gets too bogged down in its melancholy. It may have been a while in the making, and one hopes a follow-up won’t take as long to arrive, but the precise execution Pierre hones in these songs and the depths to which he can bring a willing audience are a fitting payoff for the years of work that went into their construction.

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Stinkeye, Llantera: Down the Gutter and into Space

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

stinkeye llantera

If Stinkeye have anything in common with the current West Coast heavy psych boom, it’s the possibility that at any moment — any moment at all — it just might be time to boogie. But at the same time, true to their geography, the Phoenix, Arizona, trio are a little more inland in their sound, a little more suburban-skatepark-disaffection and garage-rehearsals than they might be were they otherwise basking in the coastal sunshine of San Diego. Issued by Milwaukee Junction Records and Blade RecordsLlantera is the debut full-length from the young three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Andrew Hosley, bassist Harris Smull and drummer Anthony DeMuro, and though it takes some tonal and tempo cues from the unabashed I-got-this-legally new-school stonerism of Fuzz across its span, whether it’s the Dead Meadow march of post-intro opener “Orange Man,” the Sungrazer-style vocal harmonies of the subsequent “Pink Clam,” the weirdo-born bounce of “No Spoon” or the grunged-out, semi-punk fuckall thrust of closer “Feed,” Stinkeye careen from one influence to another with fluidity more deceptive than the forwardness of their hairy tones and cymbal washes might at first convey.

Including the digital bonus/maybe-hidden track “Fink Ployd,” Llantera checks in at a thoroughly manageable 37 minutes — ready and seemingly waiting for whoever might want to pick it up for a vinyl release to do so — and is the follow-up to the band’s first outing, last year’s Llantera Demos (review here), a four-track demonstration released in October that also featured “Orange Man,” “Pink Clam,” “Llantera” and “Fink Ployd.” If that seems like a quick turnaround between a first demo and a first long-player, it is, and Llantera has its rough edges to be sure, but that ultimately becomes a part of the album’s appeal, as shown in the harsher bite of “Feed” or the manner in which “Bringer of Grief” shifts from its instrumentally jamming first half to the languidly bouncing verses of its second. Youth is very much on Stinkeye‘s side. The energy of their delivery and the sense of exploration at root in the construction of their material both benefit from the freshness of the experience on the part of the band. They’re new to their potential listenership? Well, they’re new to themselves too.

Accordingly, in addition to actually being partially comprised of the same tracks, Llantera carries forward the overarching rawness of the Llantera Demos. Produced and engineered by Dylan Thomas, “Pink Clam,” “No Spoon” and the rest of the cuts bask in a natural vibe and a variable mix that sees Hosley‘s vocals brought to the fore in volume on “Orange Man” and “Pink Clam” and the latter portion of “Bringer of Grief,” highlighting a burgeoning melodic approach that one can only hope the guitarist and the band as a whole will develop as they move forward, and pushed back into echoing trippery to allow the added percussion in “No Spoon” to flourish amid the fuzzy and desert-hued guitar leads while Smull‘s bass — with a ’90s-style funk at its core — provides the grounding force necessary to tie it all together before DeMuro‘s drums lead the way into the slowdown at the end that explodes and the tongue-in-cheek keyboard wash rounds out as the transition into “Feed.”

The smoothness of that transition, as well as that earlier between the 28-second intro “The Calm” — which functions in direct defiance of its title with an immediately abrasive push of guitar noise — and the ultra-welcoming initial roll of “Orange Man,” isn’t to be understated, but this too feels like an element in progress on the part of Stinkeye, something they’ll build on from here for their next release. Still, as righteously paced as their material is throughout Llantera, and as much as they shift from one vibe to the next — the title-track becoming a party of gang shouts and the record’s most shuffling rhythm, much thickened by Smull‘s low end and clearly having a great time getting alternative-universe surf-rock in Hosley‘s guitar over DeMuro‘s steady, handclap-worthy snare before “Bringer of Grief” more fully introduces the edgier single-word shouts foreshadowed in “Pink Clam” that will jab throughout “No Spoon” to follow — the front-to-back impression is hardly lacking flow either way. Repeat listens to the entirety, which are well earned, only make this linearity more resonant.

Add to that little hints of bizarro nuance like a possible lyrical mention of Barbara Bush in “Pink Clam” and the structural departure in “Bringer of Grief,” and Llantera becomes a decisively engaging piece of crafted fuzzy, heavy rock, infused with the sneer of garage and some noisier impulses for good measure. That, as the debut full-length from a relatively new band, it says as much as it does about their potential makes it all the more welcome, but there’s value in the breadth Stinkeye present in the here and now as well, and as much as one looks forward to hearing how they might bridge the sonic/stylistic gaps between “Llantera” and “Feed” as their methods evolve over time, the fact that they can put both of those songs together in relatively close proximity on a short-ish album isn’t to be ignored. And while one suspects that pieces like “Feed” and”Bringer of Grief” and “No Spoon” were already in the works, the quick turnaround between the demo and the long-player bodes well for future productivity too.

Llantera might be a sleeper in terms of the response it gets, but it puts Stinkeye in league with next-generation upstarts like FoggBison Machine, Salem’s BendCloud Catcher and perhaps even Slow Season (among others) in fostering a new breed of American heavy that learns from the past even as it places itself at the cutting edge of what’s to come. Of course, what Stinkeye become as they pass through the next few years is up to them — they could call it quits tomorrow and completely pull the plug on the potential shown here; it’s certainly happened before — but Llantera fills one with hope for what they might be able to contribute to this pastiche and kicks more than enough ass besides to be counted as one of the best debuts of 2017. May they continue to work quickly, may they continue to boogie at will, and may they continue to get weirder as they go.

Stinkeye, “No Spoon” official video

Stinkeye on Thee Facebooks

Stinkeye on Bandcamp

Llantera at iTunes

Stinkeye on Soundcloud

Stinkeye website

Stinkeye on Instagram

Blade Records webstore

Milwaukee Junction Records website

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Spirit Adrift Set Oct. 6 Release for Curse of Conception; Title-Track Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 11th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Spirit-Adrift-photo-Alvino-Salcedo

Due out Oct. 6, Curse of Conception is even more of a quick turnaround behind Spirit Adrift‘s 2016 debut, Chained to Oblivion (review here), when one considers that in the interim the Arizona-based doom outfit has swapped labels and put together a full touring lineup of personnel. That plus new album? Not bad for a year’s time. Founding guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Nate Garrett is joined in Spirit Adrift now by guitarist Jeff Owens and drummer Marcus Bryant, both also of Goya, and Gatecreeper‘s Chase Mason on bass, making for a formidable lineup indeed. Oh yeah, and the new record? Engineered by Sanford Parker. Clearly Garrett isn’t fucking around on any level.

A stream of the title-track, which you can hear under the artwork and copious PR wire information below, confirms this thesis as well as preorder availability:

spirit-adrift-curse-of-conception

SPIRIT ADRIFT: Psychedelic Desert Doom Act To Release Curse Of Conception LP Via 20 Buck Spin; Title Track And Preorders Issued

20 Buck Spin welcomes Arizona’s psychedelic desert doom unit, SPIRIT ADRIFT – featuring members of Gatecreeper, Goya, and others – signing the act for the October release of their second LP, Curse Of Conception.

Curse Of Conception was engineered and mixed by Sanford Parker (Yob, Pelican, Eyehategod) and features artwork by Joe Petagno (Motörhead, Magic Circle, Autopsy). In conjunction with the public announcement of the album details, the album’s title track has also been issued early.

Curse Of Conception will see release through 20 Buck Spin worldwide on CD, LP, and digital formats on October 6th; find physical preorder options HERE, Bandcamp preorders HERE, and iTunes HERE.

While Spirit Adrift made many take notice with their debut album “Chained To Oblivion”, it is on “Curse Of Conception” their stellar second album, and first with new label 20 Buck Spin, that the band has taken a giant leap forward in songwriting prowess, production and confidence. From the Metallica / Priest like opening moments of ‘Earthbound’ to the epic closing of “Onward, Inward”, Spirit Adrift are aiming sky high with burning focus and peak vigor.

The aforementioned ‘Earthbound’ is a standard bearer for album-opening songcraft, leading into the colossal title track, a grungy and twisting radio-ready crawler. ‘To Fly On Broken Wings’ & ‘Graveside Invocation’ continue to show that any of the eight tracks on ‘Curse Of Conception’ could stand as featured singles. Throughout the duration brick heavy riff assembly, somber southern atmospherics and grand melodies entwine flawlessly into perfect metallic majesty, exemplified succinctly and totally in the instrumental ‘Wakien’ for example.

With a host of fantastic albums released by their contemporaries lately, Spirit Adrift has taken their craft to an ascendent new level on ‘Curse Of Conception’ earning their rightful place among the top tier of modern metal bands clawing their way above and beyond the underground scene. Now more than at any time metal has become the lifeblood of rock music and Spirit Adrift offer ‘Curse Of Conception’ as an embodiment of that perseverant vitality.

With widespread touring in support of Curse Of Conception impending, SPIRIT ADRIFT has already booked two release shows for the LP. The first takes place on their home turf in Tempe, Arizona on October 7th alongside Atriarch, Take Over And Destroy, and Divine Hammer. The second release show invades Denver, Colorado a week later, playing October 14th with now-labelmates Khemmis as well as Abrams. Stand by for additional live updates.

SPIRIT ADRIFT Curse Of Conception release shows:
10/07/2017 Yucca Tap Room – Tempe, AZ w/ Atriarch, Take Over And Destroy, Divine Hammer
10/14/2017 The Hi-Dive – Denver, CO w/ Khemmis, Abrams

Curse Of Conception Track Listing:
1. Earthbound
2. Curse Of Conception
3. To Fly On Broken Wings
4. Starless Age (Enshrined)
5. Graveside Invocation
6. Spectral Savior
7. Wakien
8. Onward, Inward

SPIRIT ADRIFT:
Nate Garrett – Vocals, Guitar
Jeff Owens – Guitar
Chase Mason – Bass
Marcus Bryant – Drums

https://spiritadrift.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/SpiritAdrift
http://spiritadrift.bigcartel.com
http://www.20buckspin.com
http://www.facebook.com/20buckspin
http://www.twitter.com/20buckspinlabel

Spirit Adrift, “Curse of Conception”

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Boris, Sólstafir, Desert Suns & Chiefs, Elara, Fungus Hill

Posted in Radio on July 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk radio cavum

Some bigger releases going up to the playlist for The Obelisk Radio this time around, and that’s just fine by me. It’s five albums listed here, but there are a few others included as well that you can see listed on the updates page and it’s good stuff all the way around. It was all actually supposed to go up last week, but you know, life is chaos and all that. I hope as always that you manage to find something you enjoy, and if you haven’t heard some of this stuff as yet — I suspect you have, because you know what’s up and I’m perpetually behind on these things; more than just a week, on average — then all the better. Let’s dig in together.

The Obelisk Radio adds for July 31, 2017:

Boris, Dear

boris dear

If you were Boris and you were looking to celebrate a quarter-century of innovating heavy rock, noise, drone, J-pop, and genreless forays into bizarre sonic delights, how would you do it? If you said, “I’d release 69 heavy-as-hell minutes of rumbling tectonics and progressive scope making for one of the best albums of the year,” you’d seem to be on the money. The Japanese trio’s umpteenth full-length, Dear (on Sargent House in the US/EU and Daymare in Japan), begins with the appropriately-titled “D.O.W.N. – Domination of Waiting Noise,” setting forth a consuming six-minute onslaught of feedback and lumbering pummel before the SunnO)))-rivaling drone of “Deadsong” takes hold, shifting at its midpoint to a spaciousness all Boris‘ own. Then they chug out galloping riff triplets on “Absolutego” like it ain’t no thing. That’s Boris: the band who named themselves after a Melvins song and then utterly outdid their namesake on every creative level and have continued to do so throughout one of underground music’s most landmark tenures. Dear offers simultaneous melodic breadth and droning depth on its centerpiece duo of “Kagero” and “Biotope” after counteracting minimalist march with explosive crash on “Beyond,” but they’re still just getting started. The seven-minute “The Power” leads off the second of the two LPs and seems to stem upward from the same roots as YOB at their harshest, brutally feedbacking into the dronegaze of the shorter “Memento Mori” before the 12-minute “Dystopia – Vanishing Point” and the nine-minute title-track comprise a side D that’s nothing less than a triumphant lesson in how to meet your audience head-on right before you swallow them whole, setting its stage with keys and tribalist drums quickly before hypnotizing through five minutes of quiet stretch and bursting gloriously to life ahead of one last contrast of empty spaces and crushing tonality on “Dear” that gives way at last to the noise and feedback that’s always been so essential to their process. If Dear is a letter to Boris‘ fans, as they have said, it is also a willful embrace of the wide-open sensibilities that have made the last 25 years of their craft so uniquely their own. They can go anywhere stylistically and remain Boris precisely because they refuse to settle on a single idea that defines them.

Boris on Thee Facebooks

Boris at Sargent House’s website

 

Sólstafir, Berdreyminn

solstafir berdreyminn

Having now passed the 20-year mark since their founding in 1995, Iceland’s Sólstafir continue to reshape melancholy in their own image on their sixth album and third for Season of Mist, Berdreyminn. The Reykjavik-based four-piece keep the significant achievements of 2014’s Ótta (review here) close to the chest throughout the eight-track/57-minute offering, but songs like “Ísafold” have an upbeat push behind their emotional resonance, and even on a brooding piano piece like “Hvít Sæng,” the overarching sense of motion and the dynamic is maintained. The penultimate “Ambátt” — first of two eight-minute cuts in a finale duo — might be Berdreyminn‘s richest progressive achievement, with its lush opening vocal harmonies giving way to a patiently-delivered clinic on texture, build and payoff that borders on the orchestral. Of course, strings and horns to appear on the album, adding to already complex arrangements, but Sólstafir never lose their corresponding human center, and as “Bláfjall” closes with an intensity of thrust hinted at by the cymbal-crash wash of opener “Silfur-Refur” and the post-blackened push of “Nárós” but ultimately on its own level, they underline the realization and poise that is simply all their own. Berdreyminn is the sound of a band doing important work, and with it, Sólstafir only prove themselves more crucial on an aesthetic level, yet it might be their ability to somehow still feel in-progress that most defines what makes them so special. More than two decades on, they still come across like a group exploring their sound and finding new ways to develop their songwriting — which they are and which they do here. That in itself is an accomplishment worthy of every accolade they reap, and Berdreyminn lives up to that standard front to back across its engaging, encompassing span.

Sólstafir on Thee Facebooks

Sólstafir at Season of Mist’s website

 

Desert Suns & Chiefs, The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter 5

second-coming-of-heavy-chapter-5-desert-suns-chiefs

Ripple Music has made its The Second Coming of Heavy series of split LPs an essential showcase of the variety in underground rock. The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter 5 brings together San Diego heavy psych/blues rockers Desert Suns, who also reissued their debut long-player through Ripple in 2016 and followed it with the single “The Haunting” (review here) in conjunction with Ripple and HeviSike Records, and Phoenix, Arizona’s Chiefs, whose 2015 debut, Tomorrow’s Over (review here), arrived on vinyl via Battleground Records and whose five tracks included on side B here cast them among the best Ripple Music bands in the Southwest not currently signed to Ripple Music for their next album. More than some prior installments, The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter 5 finds its two featured purveyors complementing each other’s work excellently, as Desert Suns offer three seven-plus minute tracks running from the harmonica-inclusive “Night Train” and the rolling, long-fading “Solitude” with the push of “Heavy” in between and Chiefs — though their individual runtimes are shorter — holding straightforward heavy/desert rock methods at their core in unpretentious fashion across “The Rhino,” the standout “Baron to Chancellor,” “Low Tide,” “Caroline” and “My Last Stand,” nodding initially at ’90s noise rock à la Helmet in “The Rhino” but in the end keeping to their sandy, well-structured mission. As ever, The Second Coming of Heavy asks nothing more of its audience than a basic exploration of the groups included, and certainly both Desert Suns and Chiefs earn that. Whether one takes it on in the context of the prior chapters or as a standalone split release, it delivers a collection of cuts from two outfits with a shared core of quality songcraft and the underlying message that sometimes the straight-line route is the way to go. Right on, once again.

Desert Suns on Thee Facebooks

Chiefs on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Elara, Deli Bal

elara deli bal

Both sides of Elara‘s PsyKa Records-released debut full-length, Deli Bal, are comprised of one shorter track on either side of eight minutes and one longer one, 12 and 17 minutes, respectively. Between that and the cover art, it should come as no surprise that heavy psychedelic drift is central to what the Stuttgart, Germany, trio of bassist/vocalist Daniel Wieland, guitarist/noisemaker Felix Schmidt and drummer Martin Wieland — who also stylize their name as the bracketed [Elara Sunstreak Band] — get up to in their first offering, but there’s an underlying progressive melodic sensibility as well, and Schmidt‘s guitar seems to have picked up a few lessons from My Sleeping Karma‘s minor-key solo mysticism, so one can hear a sound beginning to take shape early as the leadoff title-track gives way to “Amida,” which swaps back and forth between organ-laden krautrock meandering and fuller-fuzz thrust, and as “Quarantania” reinforces that classic vibe with a warm bass tone from Daniel. Whether you’re listening to the platter itself and switching sides or digitally or on CD, Deli Bal is clearly intended to be consumed as a whole work, and one can hear the vocal melody of “Harmonia” tying back to that in the opener as another example of the underlying structure with which it plays out, despite the broad feel of the songs themselves and the expanses they both intend and actually do cover. The LP has just the four tracks, but the digital version comes with the 9:42 bonus cut “Trimenon,” which builds around a core post-rocking guitar line to come to a fervent apex before receding again to let the listener go gently from Deli Bal‘s total 56-minute runtime; no minor undertaking, but effectively executed and a pleasure in its wandering mind and spirit.

Elara on Thee Facebooks

PsyKA Records on Bandcamp

 

Fungus Hill, Creatures

fungus hill creatures

This early-2017 psychedelic curio from Umeå, Sweden’s Fungus Hill begins by asking “Are You Dead?” The just-under-nine-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) of the groovy outfit’s four-song, self-released, 28-minute debut Creatures EP doesn’t sound overly concerned with whether the answer is yes or no so much as enacting a serene flow by posing the question over a laid back bluesy vibe. Arrangement? Fluid. With dual vocals from guitarist Gustav Orvefors and percussionist Jenny Isaksson — the five-piece is completed by guitarist Erik Sköld, drummer Nils Mörtzell and bassist Tom Westerlund — Fungus Hill are able to bring variety as they turn to post-Ghost straightforward ’70s chorus-leaning in the first half of “Beware of Evil in the Sky,” prior to a midsection trip outward on subdued shimmy and deceptively complex melodicism. The flute (or keyboard flute sounds) of the jazzy “Evolution” brings Isaksson to the floor with a smoky, even-bluesier feel, and the guitar answers back with fuzzy lead flourish that only enhances the soul on display, while a seven-and-a-half-minute closing title-track delves deepest of all into thicker riffing, a “Na na na na” hook taking hold quickly just in case you weren’t sure it was going to be a highlight. It is. More tonally dense than most retro boogie — and less retro, for that matter — Fungus Hill‘s Creatures nonetheless has its traditionalist elements, but across its individual pieces each one points to a different side of the band’s personality, and from the Alan Watts sample at the beginning of “Are You Dead?” to when we meet the troll later in “Creatures,” each side of that personality utterly shines.

Fungus Hill on Thee Facebooks

Fungus Hill on Bandcamp

 

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Stinkeye Post “No Spoon” Video; Debut Album out Now

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 26th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

stinkeye

Phoenix, Arizona, bringers-of-fuzzy-shenanigans Stinkeye released their debut full-length, Llantera, last month, just prior to hitting the road on a tour along the Pacific Coast to support it. They’ve been selling CDs at shows, tapes can be preordered ahead of an Aug. 5 issue through Blade Records and one can purchase the album via iTunes — it’s not currently on their Bandcamp — but if it’s mainly at shows for now or the three-piece is working out something else for a vinyl release, then fair enough. I dug the hell out of their 2016 four-tracker, Llantera Demos (review here), and Llantera proper is a more than worthy follow-up — not just because it happens to work in all four of those songs, either.

I think you can both hear and see my reasoning in the video below for “No Spoon,” directed by Andrew Hosley. A young band comprised of Hosley on guitar/vocals, Harris Smull on bass and Anthony DeMuro on drums, Stinkeye effectively bring together elements of grunge, fuzz rock and heavy psych, and with a laid back garage-style roll, their vibe is languid and tripped out. The clip follows suit with a weirdo edge that feels like it was born in the ’90s much as the band themselves probably were. Maybe. In either case, whatever’s up with Llantera, officially it’s been put out once and I wouldn’t be surprised if it got nabbed somewhere along the line for vinyl issue by this or that label, since the trio groove so fluidly across its span and even in the sphere of West Coast heavy psych, what they’re doing stands out as being less ’70s derived and more about depth than the shuffle. It’s an easy one to dig.

And of course, I hope you do precisely that as regards the “No Spoon” clip, which you’ll find immediately following here:

Stinkeye, “No Spoon” official video

“time slips away, down the gutter, and into space”

Artist: Stinkeye
Song: No Spoon
Album: LLANTERA
Label: Milwaukee Junction Records

Song Produced and Engineered by Dylan Thomas.

Video produced and edited by Andrew Hosley / Filmed by Bailey Price and Morgan Richmeier.

Stinkeye on Thee Facebooks

Stinkeye on Bandcamp

Llantera at iTunes

Stinkeye on Soundcloud

Stinkeye website

Stinkeye on Instagram

Blade Records webstore

Milwaukee Junction Records website

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