Jody Seabody & The Whirls Premiere “Grenade Green” from Hawksamillion

Posted in audiObelisk on August 7th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Jody Seabody and the whirls

Houston heavy thrashers Jody Seabody and the Whirls will release their third album, Hawksamillion, on Aug. 24 through Artificial Head Records. The first thing you should know is there’s no Jody Seabody. I mean, I’m sure there is somewhere, but not in this band. And I’m not sure what a Whirl is as applies to human beings, so I suppose there could be one or two among the lineup of Bryce Perkins, Dave Merriett, Clint Rater and Stuart Cooper, but there’s little on the record to indicate either way. What there is, however, is an eight-song/32-minute mostly-barrage of bruiser hardcore punk ripped through with classic thrash intensity. Remember when you couldn’t decide whether Suicidal Tendencies were punk or metal? It’s kind of like that, only way rawer in the production.

The effect that has, naturally, is to play up the punker edge along with the youngest-Metallica lights-hitting of the opening salvo in “Ultra Defiant,” the gang-shout-laden “Malignant Terror” and “Terror TV,” Jody Seabody and the whirls Hawksamillionwhich starts off with a sample and tears into a visceral riff topped with harsh shouts. That’s the course of a lot of Hawksamillion, but what that doesn’t necessarily convey is the fluidity with which Jody Seabody and the Whirls play various genre elements off each other. The frenetic energy and Slayer-inspired howl at the end of “All Gone White,” or the anti-genre turns the album makes in its second half, with the semi-ballad “Making Demons” and the tempo-shifting “Grenade Green” finding a balance between heavy rock and hard punk, working in more Slayer references in in both the riff that emerges just past the halfway point and the screams that accompany before the track turns to a slower march backed by organ and rambling guitar, shades of Texan twang arriving to make the band just a little bit harder to pin down even than the meld of “Malignant Terror” did on its own.

All the better for it, because even as the penultimate “Nightmares” kicks in and returns to ground heading into the even-more intense closer, the context has shifted such that one knows less what to expect from the band in general. And that departure in “Making Demons” and “Grenade Green” — the latter of which does well in bridging the gap between their core modus and the weirdo excursion — not only adds nuance to the proceedings overall here but brings Jody Seabody and the Whirls to a different level of execution overall while remaining consistent in the production. While so much of it hits like a blast following the Cro Mags cronk riff that launches the record in “Ultra Defiant,” the simple truth of Hawksamillion is that the truth of it isn’t so simple. And similar to, say, naming themselves after someone not in the band, they revel in the shenanigans and are all the more righteous in crossing genre lines for that.

They’re on tour starting Aug. 17 in their hometown, and you’ll find the dates for that run under the player below, on which you can hear the premiere of “Grenade Green.”

Please enjoy:

Jody Seabody and The Whirls has long been as difficult to define as its mysterious moniker — of which there is no Jody Seabody nor a group of Whirls among them. However, the Houston quartet’s forthcoming third album Hawksamillion seems an effort, at least, for the band to define itself.

Whereas the band’s 2015 sophomore album Holographic Slammer dabbled in psychedelia, garage-prog, proto-punk and neo-grunge with manic bouts of aggression, their new album is pure, refined bile and vitriol. The band had hinted at the sound to come on the last 3 tracks of their previous album, but even those hadn’t hit the extent of urgent fury evidenced throughout the 8 incendiary songs of Hawksamillion. With cover art by legendary Dead Kennedys/Alternative Tentacles collage artist Winston Smith, a sharp 180-degree turn from the work of Dutch ‘60s psychedelic artist Marijke (Cream, Apple Records, Procol Harum, The Hollies) even the album art is like a line drawn in the sand.

Just like the Bad Brains going from jazz-funk to inventing hardcore punk and onward, JS&TW have the musical chops to pull off any sound that takes their interest. Album opener “Ultra Defiant” starts off like a doom-inflected version of the aforementioned legends before jostling into a breakneck metalpunk storm with an ever-morphing riff and throat-searing vocals. “Malignant Terror” bursts out incisively decimating everyone in under 2 minutes, with the last 40 seconds dedicated to an instrumental jam. “Terror TV” shows the band’s melodic and acrobatic skills with blistering guitar work and multiple vocalists overlapping one another. Elsewhere, “Grenade Green” is the album centerpiece at nearly 7 minutes long, flitting between old fashioned punk rock and Kill ‘Em All-era thrash that may embody the fury of Hawksamillion best. Throughout, the level of intensity and anger is relentless, but not at the expense of the music.

Somewhere over the past two years, the people and society that the band members loved and trusted have betrayed them. This album is a response to that betrayal of the promise of a better life and the “good times” of rock and roll. These are ugly, bitter days, and these guys are watching, like a hawk.

Hawksamillion will be available on LP and download on August 24th, 2018 via Artificial Head Records.

JODY SEABODY & THE WHIRLS LIVE:
08/17 Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall
08/18 Norman, OK @ Red Brick Bar
08/19 Tulsa, OK @ The Soundpony
08/20 Wichita, KS @ Kirby’s
08/21 Topeka, KS @ Boobie Trap Bar
08/22 Lincoln, NE @ 1867 Bar
08/23 Lawrence, KS @ Gaslight Gardens
08/24 Columbia, MO @ Cafe Berlin
08/25 Hot Springs, AR @ Maxine’s Live
08/27 Denton, TX @ Killer’s Tacos
08/29 San Marcos, TX @ Valentino’s
08/30 Austin, TX @ Dozen Street
08/31 San Antonio, TX @ Bexar Pub
09/01 Bryan, TX @ Revolution

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Funeral Horse, Psalms for the Mourning: Blues for the Daredevils

Posted in Reviews on June 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

funeral horse psalms for the mourning

Any given song, any given part, any given measure, Funeral Horse can and will go wherever they please. Somehow, that’s what makes them work. Where so many bands would claim themselves as experimentalists and drown themselves and their audience in self-indulgence, somehow, Funeral Horse instead manage a genre-spanning balance of songwriting that nonetheless retains a sense of the truly weird. Psalms for the Mourning is the underrated Texans’ fourth album on Artificial Head Records behind 2015’s Divinity for the Wicked (review here), 2014’s Sinister Rites of the Master (review here) and 2013’s Savage Audio Demon (review here), and in addition to marking the first appearance of bassist Clint Rater alongside guitarist/vocalist Paul Bearer and drummer Chris Bassett, it’s also by far the longest stretch they’ve had between outings.

Three years is a pretty standard stretch for bands on an 18-month touring cycle, but Funeral Horse have never hit the road to such a degree (though they did come east that one time to play The Obelisk All-Dayer in Brooklyn in 2016), but the truth is I think the material on the eight-track/39-minute LP benefits from that extra time. I don’t know how many songs Funeral Horse might’ve written over the course of that time, or how many they ultimately decided to put to tape — that is, whether this is everything produced since Divinity for the Wicked or not; I’d speculate not — but to listen to tracks like the punkier opener “Better Half of Nothing,” the woeful blues that follows in “No Greater Sorrow (Than My Love)” (video premiere here), and even the uptempo keyboard-laced pop bounce that shows up in the second half of “Divinity for the Wicked” that seems to cite its own precedent in later Ozzy-era Sabbath, Psalms for the Mourning would seem to be the band’s most cohesive outing yet.

Their style, as ever, is based in no small part on toying with sundry influences between doom, punk, heavy rock, blues, country and anything else that might come their way, but in the blown out “California here I come” hook line of the penultimate “Burial of the Sun,” and in the barroom-jam-into-cacophony of the eight-minute “Emperor of all Maladies,” there’s a greater sense of maturity and purpose underlying. That’s not to say that Funeral Horse — who thrash away on “Sacrifice of a Thousand Ships” only after the bit of finger and piano in the side A-closing interlude “1965” — have been at any point lacking purpose, but even in the production of Psalms for the Mourning, their adaptability is being steered by hands not only capable as they’ve always been, but more confident and assured of the moves they’re making.

funeral horse

It’s right there in the sound of the record itself as well as in the subtle way both “Better Half of Nothing” and “Sacrifice of a Thousand Ships” give their respective halves of the album a speedy opening, or how sub-three-minute closer “Evel Knievel Blues” takes a sudden turn into watery-vocal country like some long-lost Ween cut. What has made Funeral Horse‘s work so hard to pin down over the last five years is their seeming tendency to not have a core sound, instead just to jump from one vibe to another in willfully jarring shifts over the course of their outings. Fair enough, but the truth of the matter is that is their core sound, and Psalms for the Mourning proves that most plainly in ways Divinity for the Wicked seemed to hint at. It’s not about expanding from a root so much as leaping branch to branch with a genuine feeling of revelry in doing so.

Granted, much of Psalms for the Mourning is pretty downtrodden, regardless of tempo. “Better Half of Nothing” and “No Greater Sorrow (Than My Love)” paint a pretty dark thematic picture at the outset, and “Emperor of all Maladies” touches on raw doom rock before the already-noted jam brings it to its feedbacking finish, and after “1965,” the aggro thrust of “Sacrifice of a Thousand Ships” and nodding initial blues of “Divinity for the Wicked” before its odd and resonant finish sets a foundation for the speedy, shuffling escapism of “Burial Under the Sun,” a highlight for its channel-spanning solo late and in-spite-of-itself catchiness, capping with a minimalist piano line before the twang of “Evel Knievel Blues” provides an epilogue of fuckaroundery that reminds the listener everything in life is ridiculous anyway. That ending, given a lot of the bum-out before it, fast or slow, almost has a nihilist twinge to it, but in the context of Funeral Horse‘s work overall, it somehow makes sense.

Come to think of it, that might be what’s at their core. That somehow, all of it makes sense. Even when it doesn’t, that not making sense makes sense. I’m not sure I’d have said the same thing about their debut — in fact, looking back, I didn’t — but one of the aspects of Psalms for the Mourning that shows how far Funeral Horse have come as a band despite personnel changes is the sheer unwillingness to not be itself. While there are still verses and choruses throughout, and “No Greater Sorrow (Than My Love)” might be their greatest achievement in terms of craft to-date, what most works about the album is its ability to carry across an overarching flow while staying so outwardly disjointed. It’s simply not something a newer band could pull off, let alone to the degree Funeral Horse do here, but they’ve been a beast unto themselves since their start, and as they continue to grow and push themselves forward it should be little surprise to anyone who’s heard them that they’d stay that way.

Funeral Horse, Psalms for the Mourning (2018)

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Funeral Horse Premiere Video for “No Greater Sorrow (Than My Love)”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 29th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

funeral horse

I’m hoping at some point to review it, so I won’t go that deep into Funeral Horse‘s fourth full-length, Psalms for the Mourning, except to note that it’s a considerable step forward from its predecessor, 2015’s Divinity for the Wicked (review here), which is odd if you think about it because that album’s title-track — that is, “Divinity for the Wicked” itself — actually appears on the new record. But then, “odd” is kind of what Funeral Horse does and has done all along, starting on 2013’s Savage Audio Demon (review here) and the next year’s follow-up, Sinister Rites of the Master (review here). They’ve only gotten better at it, however, and it seems that a three-year break between releases where they’d been on a one-per-year pace before has resulted in a more cohesive approach overall.

Make no mistake, they’ll still dig into grown-up-punker-style stoner riffing on songs like the rolling “Emperor of all Maladies” or the grunge-vibing opener “Better Half of Nothing,” but with “No Greater Sorrow (Than My Love)” dug into a woeful, been-done-wrong heavy blues, “Sacrifice of a Thousand Ships” bursting out with heads-down thrash immediately following the acoustic guitar funeral horse psalms for the mourninginterlude “1965” — because of course — “Burial Under the Sun” almost directly copping its central riff from Sabbath and closer “Evel Knievel Blues” warping handclap-laden countrified twang with vocal effects and a flash of fuzz near the end, Funeral Horse have never sounded freer to go where and do what they please than on Psalms for the Mourning. It’s a dangerous prospect, but sonic disconnect is clearly part of the intention, as demonstrated by the peaceful finish of “1965” leading to the manic fade-in of “Sacrifice of a Thousand Ships,” as well as by the jangling tambourine end of “No Greater Sorrow (Than My Love)” giving way to the cough at the start of “Emperor of all Maladies.” They’re making a point to upset their own flow. It’s part of the fun.

This is the part where I tell you that no single song on Psalms for the Mourning necessarily represents the whole album, and yeah, that’s pretty much true. Guitarist/vocalist Walter “Paul Bearer” Carlos, drummer Chris Bassett and newcomer bassist Clint Rater — who no doubt has received a full-on Jason Newsted-style hazing by now — are all over the place on this one, but there’s a current of urgency, of disaffection and of weighted tone running beneath so much of the material that it somehow works together anyway. Again, I don’t want to go too deep into it because, well, I want to go too deep into it later, but for those who enjoy a bit of the bizarre with their rock, Funeral Horse strike a balance between memorable songs and weirdo vibes that by my estimation has only made them underrated for the last half-decade.

You can watch the premiere of the band’s new video for “No Greater Sorrow (Than My Love)” below, followed by more info courtesy of the PR wire. Psalms for the Mourning is out June 15 via Artificial Head Records.

Dig it and enjoy:

Funeral Horse, “No Greater Sorrow (Than My Love)” official video

Made up of front man/guitarist Paul Bearer, drummer Chris Bassett and new addition, Clint Rater on bass, Funeral Horse return to the fold this June with a brand-new studio album; their third in the canon for the Houston-based record label, Artificial Head Records.

Catching up on almost three years in the wilderness since the release of their 2015’s stoned-opus, Divinity For The Wicked, Psalms For The Mourning finds the industrious Texan trio revamping the thunderous doom-pop and hard rock that secured their cult status amidst the current crop of underground US rock. As an aural monument for the maligned, Divinity… made several inroads into the media with positive reviews, but here on Psalms For The Mourning, Funeral Horse serve up a true rock ‘n’ roll sermon for the masses. It’s an album that’s positively waiting to be picked up and played by those that have chosen their whole lives to turn on, tune in and drop out in pursuit of volume.

“We took more time writing and recording this material, taking in the turmoil from touring and personal conflicts and the loss of some good friends along the way,” explains front man Paul Bearer. “We’ve kept to the roots of who we are but the band’s tours in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Mexico last year was another big factor in the amount of care and time we took with the album. Those tours exposed us to some amazing bands and people who have helped to share in what the band is today.”

Psalms For The Mourning by Funeral Horse is released worldwide on 15th June via Artificial Head Records.

Live Dates:
16/6 – RECORD RELEASE SHOW: Spruce Goose Social Flyers Club – Houston, TX
17/6 – RECORD RELEASE SHOW: Antone’s Record Shop – Austin, TX
20/6 – 524 Studios – Baton Rouge, LA
21/6 – Hops and Habanas – Jackson, MS
22/6 – Old Nicks – Birmingham, AL
23/6 – Autograph Rehearsal Studio – Murfreesboro, TN
24/6 – Hot Springs Event Centre – Hot Springs, AR
7/7 – ARTIFICIAL HEAD RECORDS SHOWCASE: The Almighty Moontower Inn – Houston, TX

Line Up:
Paul Bearer – Vocals, Guitars
Chris Bassett – Drums
Clint Rater – Bass

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Funeral Horse to Release Psalms for the Mourning June 15; New Song Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

funeral horse

If you think you know what to expect from Funeral Horse, you’re probably thinking of another band. The Houston weirdos specialize in being ever-so-slightly-and-sometimes-way-way off-kilter, and even in their new single “Burial Under the Sun” you can hear a swath of influences from desert rock to classic metal to raw punk working their way into their songwriting. It’s been a minute since they released their last record, 2015’s Divinity for the Wicked (review here), but the intervening stretch seems to have done nothing do dull their delight in toying with various styles and substances throughout their process of craft. To wit, the piano end of the track at the bottom of this post.

Psalms for the Mourning — did I forget to mention there was a new album coming? well there is — is out June 15 via Artificial Head Records. The PR wire brings details and whatnots and the preorder link:

funeral horse psalms for the mourning

FUNERAL HORSE RETURN: Texan doom punks deliver new album, Psalms For The Mourning

Psalms For The Mourning by Funeral Horse is released worldwide on 15th June via Artificial Head Records

Stream and share new song ‘Burial Under The Sun’ now!

Made up of front man/guitarist Paul Bearer, drummer Chris Bassett and new addition, Clint Rater on bass, Funeral Horse return to the fold this June with a brand-new studio album; their third in the canon for the Houston-based record label, Artificial Head Records.

Catching up on almost three years in the wilderness since the release of their 2015’s stoned-opus, Divinity For The Wicked, Psalms For The Mourning finds the industrious Texan trio revamping the thunderous doom-pop and hard rock that secured their cult status amidst the current crop of underground US rock. As an aural monument for the maligned, Divinity… made several inroads into the media with positive reviews from the likes of Terrorizer and Decibel, but here on Psalms For The Mourning, Funeral Horse serve up a true rock ‘n’ roll sermon for the masses. It’s an album that’s positively waiting to be picked up and played by those that have chosen their whole lives to turn on, tune in and drop out in pursuit of volume.

Amid a mass brawl of fresh proto-metal riffs, warped vocals, neo-folk and red eyed ’80s post-hardcore punk, under the influence of bands such as The Melvins, Led Zeppelin, Kyuss and Harvey Milk, the sonic experimentation Funeral Horse found on previous albums remains, but is now deeply woven into their songs and not separated into stand-alone pieces. This is music to gouge minds to. From the seemingly/misleadingly upbeat opener ‘Better Half of Nothing’, to the brooding and bold ‘No Greater Sorrow (Than My Love)’ and outright brutality of ‘Sacrifice of A Thousand Ships’, the band opens its doors once more to an even wider world of distortions and digressions.

“We took more time writing and recording this material, taking in the turmoil from touring and personal conflicts and the loss of some good friends along the way,” explains front man Paul Bearer. “We’ve kept to the roots of who we are but the band’s tours in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Mexico last year was another big factor in the amount of care and time we took with the album. Those tours exposed us to some amazing bands and people who have helped to share in what the band is today.”

Psalms For The Mourning by Funeral Horse is released worldwide on 15th June via Artificial Head Records.

Pre-order now at artificialheadrecords.bandcamp.com

FUNERAL HORSE:
Paul Bearer – Vocals, Guitars
Chris Bassett – Drums
Clint Rater – Bass

LIVE DATES:
16/6 – RECORD RELEASE SHOW: Spruce Goose Social Flyers Club – Houston, TX
17/6 – RECORD RELEASE SHOW: Antone’s Record Shop – Austin, TX
20/6 – 524 Studios – Baton Rouge, LA
21/6 – Hops and Habanas – Jackson, MS
22/6 – Old Nicks – Birmingham, AL
23/6 – Autograph Rehearsal Studio – Murfreesboro, TN
24/6 – Hot Springs Event Centre – Hot Springs, AR
7/7 – ARTIFICIAL HEAD RECORDS SHOWCASE: The Almighty Moontower Inn – Houston, TX

https://www.facebook.com/FuneralHorse
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https://funeralhorse.bandcamp.com/
https://funeralhorse.com/

Funeral Horse, “Burial Under the Sun”

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Quarterly Review: Harvestman, Beastmaker, Endless Boogie, Troubled Horse, Come to Grief, Holy Rivals, Mountain God, Dr. Space, Dirty Grave, Summoned by Giants

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

quarterly-review-summer-2017

Bonus round! I don’t know if you’re stoked on having a sixth Quarterly Review day, but I sure am. Basically this is me doing myself favors. In terms of what’s being covered and how I’m covering it, today might be the high point for me personally of the entire Summer 2017 Quarterly Review. Some of this stuff I’m more behind on than others, but it’s all releases that I’ve wanted desperately to write about that I haven’t been able to make happen so far and I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity to be able to do so at last. It’s a load off my mind in the best way possible, and as this is the final day of the Quarterly Review, before I dig in I’ll just say one more time thank you for reading and I hope you found something in the past week that really speaks to you, because that’s what makes it all worthwhile in the first place. One more go.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Harvestman, Music for Megaliths

harvestman-music-for-megaliths

A new Harvestman album, like a harvest itself, is an occasion. Distinct entirely from the solo output released by Neurosis guitarist/vocalist Steve Von Till under his own name, Harvestman’s guitar-led experimentalism and ritualized psychedelia don’t happen every day – the last album was 2009’s In a Dark Tongue (review here) – and with the resonance of “Oak Drone” and the layered, drummed and vocalized textures of “Levitation,” the new collection, Music for Megaliths (on Neurot, of course), lives up to the project’s high standards of the unexpected. Pulsations beneath opener and longest track (immediate points) “The Forest is Our Temple” offer some initial threat, but the electronic beat behind the howling notes of “Ring of Sentinels” and the Vangelis-esque centerpiece “Cromlech” find more soothing ground, and though “Sundown” seems to be speaking to Neurosis “Bleeding the Pigs” from 2012’s Honor Found in Decay (review here) in its atmosphere, the spoken word that tops closer “White Horse” provides a last-minute human connection before all is brought to a quick fadeout. If you told me Music for Megaliths was assembled over a period of years, I’d believe you given its breadth, but whether it was or not, Harvestman’s latest should provide a worthy feast for a long time to come.

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Neurot Recordings webstore

 

Beastmaker, Inside the Skull

beastmaker-inside-the-skull

Los Angeles three-piece Beastmaker continue their ascent with their second album for Rise Above Records, the unflinchingly cohesive Inside the Skull. Like its predecessor, 2016’s Lusus Naturae (review here), the quick-turnaround sophomore outing executes a modern garage doom aesthetic and unfuckwithably tight songwriting, this time bringing 10 new tracks that reimagine classic vibes – witness the Witchcraft “No Angel or Demon”-style riff of opener “Evil One” (video posted here) – and touch on some of the same ground pioneered by Uncle Acid without actually sounding like that UK band or sounding like anyone for that matter so much as themselves. They make darkened highlights of “Now Howls the Beast,” “Of Gods Creation,” the crashing “Psychic Visions,” closer “Sick Sick Demon” and the preceding “Night Bird,” which offers some welcome departure into drift prior to the solo in its final minute – all impeccably crisp in structure despite a dirt-caked production – but resonant, memorable hooks abound, and the trio affirm the potential their debut showed and offer a quick step forward that one can only imagine will find them turning more heads toward their growing cult following. They’re still growing, but Inside the Skull is confirmation Beastmaker on a path to becoming something really special.

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Beastmaker at Rise Above Records

 

Endless Boogie, Vibe Killer

endless-boogie-vibe-killer

One can’t help but think there’s a bit of tongue-in-cheekery at play in the inaccuracy of Endless Boogie titling their latest album Vibe Killer. The seven-track/51-minute No Quarter release follows 2013’s Long Island (review here) and is, of course, doing everything but killing the vibe, as the New York-based outfit proffer their nestled-in raw songs crafted out of and on top of improvised jams, the semi-spoken gutturalisms of guitarist Paul “Top Dollar” Major a defining element from the laid back opening title-track onward. Moody rock classicism persists through “High Drag, Hard Doin’” and the more active “Back in ’74,” but the true peak of Vibe Killer comes in the 11-minute “Jefferson Country,” which unfolds hypnotic drone experimentation that’s as willfully ungraceful as it winds up being flowing. Bottom line: dudes know what’s up. Endless Boogie’s languid roll is second to nobody and Vibe Killer is a vision of cool jazz reinvented to feel as much at home in rock clubs of the basement and of the chic see-and-be-seen variety. Very New York, in that, but not at all given to elitism. Everyone’s invited to dig, and dig they should.

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No Quarter Records webstore

 

Troubled Horse, Revolution on Repeat

troubled-horse-revolution-on-repeat

There were a few minutes there where one probably wouldn’t have been wrong to wonder if Örebro, Sweden’s Troubled Horse would have a follow-up at all to back 2012’s Step Inside (review here), but with Revolution on Repeat (out via Rise Above), the four-piece led by dynamic vocalist Martin Heppich prove among the most vital of the many heavy rock acts to emerge from their hometown, known for the likes of Witchcraft, Graveyard, Truckfighters and countless others. Heppich, lead guitarist Mikael Linder (also bass on the recording), guitarist Tom and drummer Jonas start with the boogie-fied opening salvo “Hurricane” (video premiere here) and “The Filthy Ones,” and run madcap through the memorable hooks of “Which Way to the Mob” and “Peasants” en route to the mid-paced “The Haunted” and into a second half marked by the semi-balladry of “Desperation” and “My Shit’s Fucked Up.” Soon, the standout chorus of “Track 7” (yup, that’s the title) and the penultimate funk of “Let Bastards Know” lead to a nine-minute epic finish in “Bleeding” – and all the while Troubled Horse hold firm to groove, momentum, poise, crisp production and songwriting as they tie varied landmarks together with an overarching sense of motion, Heppich’s charismatic soulfulness and deceptively subtle flourishes of arrangement to make an absolutely welcome return.

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Come to Grief, The Worst of Times

come-to-grief-the-worst-of-times

Sometimes you just have to toss up your hands and say, “Well, that’s some of the nastiest shit I’ve ever heard.” To step back and consider them at some distance, Come to Grief aren’t near the most abrasive band on the planet, but when you’re actually listening to their debut EP, The Worst of Times, that’s much harder to believe. Launching with “Killed by Life,” the four-tracker finds the Boston outfit led by former Grief guitarist Terry Savastano – here joined by drummer Chuck Conlon, bassist Justin Christian and vocalist/guitarist Jonathan Hebert – plodding out scream-topped filth that’s actually fuller-sounding than anything Grief did back in their day and all the more devastating for its thickness. The seven-minute “No Savior” is excruciating, and though shorter, “Futility of Humanity” and even the slightly-faster closer “Junklove” bring no letup whatsoever from the onslaught. Think accessible, then go the complete other way, then bludgeon yourself. It’s kind of like that. Absolute brutality delivered by expert and unkind hands.

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Come to Grief on Bandcamp

 

Holy Rivals, Holy Rivals

holy rivals holy rivals

The question of whether noise rock and sludge can coexist is largely one of tempo and tone, and recently-signed-to-BlackseedRecords Pittsburgh trio Holy Rivals’ self-titled debut answers in forceful fashion. Amid more aggro punch of opener “Locked Inn” comes the crust-laden grunge of “Voices,” and whether they’re rolling out the more spacious “Sleep” or sprinting through the post-Bleach raw punkery of “Dead Ender” on their way to the more ambient and patient seven-minute finale “Into Dust,” guitarist/vocalist Jason Orr (also T-Tops), bassist Aaron Orr (whose tone features well on the closer) and drummer Matt Langille – whose adaptability is essential to the Helmet-style starts and stops of “Loathe” that emerge from the preceding roll of “Sleep” – Holy Rivals put a superficial harshness to use as a cover for what’s actually a diverse songwriting process. They’ll reportedly have a new record out in Fall 2017, so this 2016 self-release may soon be in hindsight, but in setting the foundation for growth, it offers exciting prospects caked in an abidingly raw presentation.

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Holy Rivals on Bandcamp

 

Mountain God, Bread Solstice

mountain god bread solstice

Around what would seem to be the core duo of guitarist/vocalist Ben Ianuzzi and bassist/keyboardist Nikhil Kamineni, Brooklyn psychedelic post-sludgers Mountain God have undergone numerous lineup shifts en route to and through the release of their debut album, Bread Solstice (on Artificial Head Records). To wit, drummer/vocalist Ryan Smith (also Thera Roya), who appears on the dark, unrelenting and abyss-crafting 40-minute six-tracker, has already been replaced by Gabriel Cruz, and there have been other changes in vocalist, keyboardist and drummer positions even since they offered their 2015 EP, Forest of the Lost (review here) to set the stage for this deeply-atmospheric, it’s-acid-rock-but-with-sulfuric-acid first long-player. In light of that tumult and the overarching commitment to abrasive noise Mountain God make in pieces like the 11-minute “Nazca Lines,” “Junglenaut” or even the brooding tension of airy instrumental “Unknown Ascent,” it’s all the more impressive that Bread Solstice is as cohesive in its cerebral horror as it is, constructing a harsh and churning vision of doom as something worthy of post-apocalyptic revelry. Far from easy listening, but of marked purpose. They should play exclusively in art galleries, no matter who winds up in the band.

Mountain God on Thee Facebooks

Artificial Head Records on Bandcamp

 

Dr. Space, Dr. Space’s Alien Planet Trip Vol. 1

dr-space-dr-spaces-alien-planet-trip-vol-1

Perhaps best known for his work in spearheading the improvisational Denmark-based Øresund Space Collective, modular synth wizard Scott “Dr. Space” Heller weirds out across four cuts on the solo release Dr. Space’s Alien Planet Trip Vol. 1, which both underscores in its scope how essential he is to the aforementioned outfit and oozes beyond that group’s parameters into electronic beatmaking and waves of synthesizer drone. Pulling influence from classic progadelia, Heller unfurls longform tripping on 24-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “5 Dimensions of the Universe” and veers into and out of somewhat abrasive swirl on “Rising Sun on Mars” before landing in the more steady atmosphere of “In Search of Life on Io” and launching once more outward with the five-minute finale “Alien Improv 2.” Just how many alien planet trips the good doctor will be undertaking remains as yet a mystery, but the breadth of this first one makes it plain to the listener that Heller’s sonic universe is wide open and, seemingly, ever-expanding.

Øresund Space Collective on Thee Facebooks

Space Rock Productions website

 

Dirty Grave, So Fall and Crawl Away

dirty-grave-so-fall-and-crawl-away

Brazilian doomers Dirty Grave issue the three-song single/EP So Fall and Crawl Away (bonus points for the Alice in Chains reference) ahead of making their full-length debut reportedly any minute now with an album called Evil Desire. Comprised of two studio tracks in the eight-minute “The Black Cloud Comes” and the four-minute Howlin’ Wolf cover “Evil (Is Going On)” and with the live cut “Unholy Son – Live” as a kind of bonus track, it’s a sampling behind two similar short releases, 2014’s Vol. II and 2013’s Dirty Grave (which featured a studio version of “Unholy Son”), that sleeks through eerie doom loosely tinged with psychedelia and smoked-out vibing. “Evil (Is Going On)” is more uptempo, perhaps unsurprisingly, but is giving a likewise treatment all the same, its final solo shredding into oblivion with stoned abandon. “Unholy Son – Live” is rawer but still carries through its melody in the vocals amid a prevalent crash, and if it’s a portend of things to come on Evil Desire, then So Fall and Crawl Away serves as a warning worth heeding.

Dirty Grave on Thee Facebooks

Dirty Grave on Bandcamp

 

Summoned by Giants, Stone Wind

summoned-by-giants-stone-wind

If you have a convenient narrative for what West Coast heavy rock has become over the last decade, Summoned by Giants’ debut album, Stone Wind, is probably too aggressive on the whole to fit it neatly. Their cleaner parts, the rolling second cut “Diamond Head” and samples throughout have aspects of that post-Red Fang party vibe, but to listen to the rawness of the bass tone that starts “Return” or closer “I Hate it When You Breathe,” or even the slurring “come at me, bro”-style rant sampled at the seven-track/27-minute album’s launch, a will toward violence is never far off. Couple that with the thickened noise punk of “Saturn” and the Weedeater sludge of the penultimate “Dying Wish,” and Summoned by Giants – guitarist/vocalist Sean Delaney, guitarist Jordan Sattelmair, bassist/vocalist Patrick Moening and drummer Mel Burris – seem more interested in doling out punishment than kicking back, making a silly video and having a good time. Well, maybe they’re having a good time, but they’re doing so while kicking your ass.

Summoned by Giants on Thee Facebooks

Summoned by Giants on Bandcamp

 

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Mountain God Announce July Weekender Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

New York doom crunchers Mountain God apparently haven’t taken the stage in a while, and by ‘a while’ I mean a couple years. In the interim, they signed to Artificial Head and released their debut album, Bread Solstice — which I’m already months late on reviewing, because I suck at this — which brought forth due sonic devastation after a couple of darkly portentous short offerings. Lineup shifts have been a regular feature of the band, at least around guitarist/vocalist Ben Ianuzzi and bassist/noisemaker Nikhil Kamineni, and the trio that now includes drummer Gabriel Cruz have apparently already set to work on their next batch of material. Clearly I’d better get my ass on that review. Noted.

The PR wire brings word of a weekender tour for next month in the Northeast that will mark their return to the stage. Goes like this:

mountain god photo greg christman

Mountain God – July Tour

This July, experimental doom/sludge behemoths Mountain God return to the stage after a nearly 2 year absence from live performances. Led by founders Ben Ianuzzi (guitars, vocals) and Nikhil Kamineni (bass, synths, noise), the duo is joined by new drummer Gabriel Cruz (Hollow Senses). Their 2017 dates include shows in Brooklyn, Washington D.C, Elizabeth and Philadelphia, with more shows planned for the fall.

Having formed in 2012, Mountain God is a familiar name within the underground metal scene, known for a unique blend of doom, psych, noise, and all around heavy riffing. Each of their releases, including “Experimentation on the Unwilling” (2013), “Forest of the Lost” (2015), and most recently, their first full length entitled “Bread Solstice” (Artificial Head Records, 2017), have seen the band continue to evolve and transform into a powerful, scathing, visceral entity that is thoughtful in its process and uncompromising in its musical vision. With the addition of Cruz on drums, the band has been steadily working on new material that is darker, heavier, and noisier than anything the band has done to this point. Entitled “Psychic Driving”, (an allusion to 50s and 60s government mind control programs run by the CIA) Mountain God looks to create an atmosphere that is numbing, deconstructive, and terrorizing, the same emotions felt by the various test subjects whose lives were ruined by the work of men such as Dr. Ewen Cameron.

This tour will see the band perform one of these new tracks along with choice cuts from their back catalogue. If you’ve never seen them, Mountain God is a punishing band in a live setting. Their sound, honed since the bands inception, is a sum of all its parts, including Ianuzzi’s trademark Monson guitar crunch and distorted, terrifying vocals, coupled with Kamineni’s hypnotic, thick, fuzzed out bass tones that dance and weave throughout the songs. The band is all the more strengthened by the ferocity of Cruz’s drumming, as well as synth textures, provided by noise guru Kamineni, that bring the Mountain God trademark sound to life. This tour will see the band reconnect with friends in Godmaker and Foehammer, as well as other peer bands including Trunk and Hyborian.

Having shared the stage with acts such as Yob, Ufommamut, Primitive Man, Opium Lord, and many, many others, the future of the band is bright, with plans to take its music to new places and venues. One reviewer stated, “the demented sounds and sheer majesty of Mountain God suggest that this is a band with the potential to become a major driver in the doom metal scene. They have a sense of forward motion that many of their peers lack, but they are unafraid to ease back on the throttle and merely revel in the power of a great riff. Mountain God are a head and shoulders above many of their peers in this scene and Bread Solstice is a veritable statement and one that I sincerely hope will stand the test of time”.

July Tour Dates:
July 28th- The Well, Brooklyn, NY with Godmaker, Hyborian, and Somnuri
July 29th- The Pinch, Washington DC with Foehammer, Myopic, Ashes of Mankind, Ash Prayer
July 30th- Cianfano’s Bar, Elizabeth, NJ with Galare, Trunk, TBA
July 31st- Kung Fu Nektie (upstairs), Philadelphia, PA with Trunk, TBA

https://www.facebook.com/MountainGodBand
https://mountain-god.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/ArtificialHead
https://artinstitute.bandcamp.com/

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Cursus to Release Self-Titled Debut April 28; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

cursus

At any given second, there is nothing about the new streaming Cursus track that doesn’t seem to want to be as heavy as it can possibly be. One can hear the Neurosis influence noted by the PR wire in “Waters of Wrath,” which is the first audio to come from the San Antonio, Texas, two-piece’s self-titled debut, but less so the likes of Om or YOB, at least as regards an immediate ritualistic or cosmic impression — though after listening to the band’s 2013 Summer Solstice Sessions demo (available name-your-price at their Bandcamp) neither would I count on “Waters of Wrath” to speak for the entirety of the album.

An April 28 release has been set through Artificial Head Records, the label helmed by Funeral Horse guitarist/vocalist Walter Carlos, and I’ll be interested to find out what it has in store to go with the forceful churn Cursus showcase initially. For now, they certainly seem to know how to make a first impression.

Cover art and album details follow:

cursus self titled

CURSUS: Texan doom-duo crush worlds on colossal debut | Listen to new song ‘Waters of Wrath’

Cursus will be released on vinyl/digital on 28th April 2017 via Artificial Head Records

Artificial Head Records is pleased to announce the signing of psychedelic sludge band Cursus and with it the release of their self-titled debut album this April.

Taken from the Latin word meaning “course” – specifically the mournful paths our ancestors once took to bury their dead – the San Antonio-based paring of guitarist/vocalist CJ Duron and drummer Sarah Roork first came into being in the winter of 2013 with the release of their Summer Solstice Sessions demo. Influenced by the likes of Om, Neurosis, YOB and Ufomammut, and deep in experimentation with different sounds, instruments and drone frequencies, the demo slowly unfurled colossal riff driven soundscapes that permeated and punched in equal measure.

Released through Bandcamp it quickly caught the ear of label boss and fellow Texan, Walter Carlos, who signed Cursus on the spot to his Houston-based label Artificial Head Records.

“I had toured with Cursus a few times over the years and I’ve always admired their massive sound. Their ability to crush bodies in the room with their songs is uncanny,” explains Carlos. “Initially, we were going to release a live cassette by the band from recordings they made while on tour. But as the project kept going, we decided that a full-length studio album would be better and we’re proud to have Cursus as part of our family.”

Three years on from the release of Summer Solstice Sessions and Duron and Roork have their debut album loaded. Produced in a basement-recording studio by close friend Chris Dillard, over six devastating songs Cursus summons personal and spiritual pains and turns each into amplified dirges packed with riffs, hypnotic string arrangements and spellbinding percussion. With the power of cosmic doom burning brightly, distortion slams hard into 6/8 rhythms as the Duron and Roork charter a longboat through a magnificent storm of ethereal destruction.

Cursus’s self-titled debut album will be released on vinyl/digital on 28th April 2017 via Artificial Head Records.

Cursus:
CJ Duron – Guitar and Vocals
Sarah Roork – Drums

Album art by Javier “Warhorse” Luis
Artist: Cursus
Title: Cursus
Release Date: 28th April 2017
Label: Artificial Head Records
Formats: Vinyl/Digital

https://www.facebook.com/cursusdoom/
https://cursus.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/ArtificialHead
https://artinstitute.bandcamp.com/

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Mountain God to Release Bread Solstice March 24: “Karmic Truth” Streaming Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 27th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

mountain god

Going from zero to absolute abrasion in about three seconds, it seems only fair to note the quick impulse toward the scathing that the first audio from Mountain God‘s forthcoming debut album, Bread Solstice, elicits. The track is called “Karmic Truth,” and as you can hear at the bottom of this post, it brings the bite of Godflesh together with a brutal, tonally-dense churn, atmospheric and pummeling both. These guys have been included in my most-anticipated lists for the last two years running (see here and here), so yes, I’ve been looking forward to the record for a while. Pretty much since that time their Forest of the Lost EP (review here) tore my face off in 2015. It’s cool. I wasn’t really using it.

March 24 is the release date, and it’ll be out through Artificial Head Records, the label helmed by Walter Carlos of Texas weirdo rockers Funeral Horse. The PR wire has details:

mountain-god-bread-solstice

MOUNTAIN GOD: Brooklyn-based doom trio share psychedelic debut | Listen to new song ‘Karmic Truth’

Bread Solstice will be released on vinyl/digital through Artificial Head on 24th March 2017

Artificial Head Records is thrilled to announce the signing of Brooklyn-based trio Mountain God and with it the release of their debut album Bread Solstice.

Formed in May 2012 by guitarist/vocalist Ben Ianuzzi and drummer Ian Murray, along with former Alkahest members Nikhil Kamineni and Jon Powell, as one of 2017’s most exciting new prospects Mountain God’s time is almost upon us.

Experimenting with raw concoctions of doom and ’70s psychedelic influences, their commitment to channeling ill feeling, heavy rock, deep meaning and dark subject matter is unwavering. In 2015 Mountain God followed the release of their five-song EP Experimentation On The Unwilling (2013) with the sprawling concept track ‘Forest Of The Lost’; a devastating, doom-infused laudation of distorted sludge, ambient noise and stoner rock.

Following the departure of Powell and Murray, Thera Roya drummer Ryan Smith was drafted in as the trio set to work recordings that would form the basis of Bread Solstice, their full-length debut and first outing for the Houston-based record label Artificial Head.

“While some of the songs date all the way back to 2013, we didn’t begin rehearsing them regularly until Summer 2015,” explains guitarist Ianuzzi. “We started out demoing, writing, and tearing apart the ideas until we had things we liked. We definitely wanted to push the envelope with more nuanced effects and fewer 4/4 time signatures.”

Around this period the band also became a steady fixture on the NYC metal scene performing shows with the likes of Ufomammut, YOB, Primitive Man, Naam and Kings Destroy. Threatening spaced out and progressive paeans in the mold of Wolves in the Throne Room, Neurosis and Candlemass, as angry and complex a beast as Bread Solstice is it’s also deeply immersive and hypnotic in its atmospheres. Much like their early EPs and recordings, while creeping keyboards swell on tracks like ‘Unknown Ascent’, elsewhere riff-heavy tracks like ‘Nazca Lines’ and ‘Junglenaut’ hammer down hard with an iron fist. As Artificial Head founder Walter Carlos points out:

“I just knew I wanted to work with the band on a release. Their music reminds of the sludge and experimentation of bands such as Skullflower, Splintered, and Ramleh. Big, crushing emptiness with grinding tempos. Their new album, Bread Solstice, continues in that epic darkness.”

Mountain God:
Ben Ianuzzi – Vocals, Guitars, Noises
Nik Kamineni – Bass, Synth/Keys
Ryan Smith – Drums, Vocals

https://www.facebook.com/MountainGodBand
https://mountain-god.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/ArtificialHead
https://artinstitute.bandcamp.com/

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