Last Rizla Premiere “Dive” Video from Mount Machine EP

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 19th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

last rizla

It’s only three tracks long, but I still feel like Last Rizla‘s 2018 EP, Mount Machine — still available on 12″ vinyl through Fuzz Ink Records — has enough aggro riffing for a full-length album. Like if you were to take angry riffs per capita, they’d be well over the line. Whatever the line is. I don’t know. Shit is fucked, is what I’m trying to say.

Denizens of the well populated Athenian heavy underground and associates of the likes of Sadhus, The Smoking Community, the initials-only four-piece have been at it in one form or another for well over a decade. Their self-titled debut came out in 2009 and in 2011 they took part in the Miss Fortune was a Henhouse Manager compilation (review here) that I’ve come over time to look at as something of a demarcation of the next generation of Greek heavy as noting its own arrival. A succession of shorter offerings have followed, with Mount Machine as the latest of the bunch, and its three cuts follow a not dissimilar pattern to that of “Dive,” the video for which you can see premiering below. In that they’re riffed, and fucked.

Alright, to be fair, “Battles: Rambo” spaces out a bit in its middle and is a little less decisively noise rock than “Dive,” which opens the release, but whether you’re bludgeoned with a shovel or a hammer, you’re still getting your skull caved in. “Dive” makes an even better choice to feature as a video because its central riff is particularly memorable, though the slower initial rollout of the final slammer the in-Greek title “Chályvas” of which translates to “Steel” carries a bit more atmosphere to go with its building cacophony and suitably maddening screams. Those screams by the way? They’re awesome. I know not everyone gets into harsh vocals, but there’s just something about a killer rasp that I continue to find admirable. Not everyone can do it, and not everyone who can do it can manage to sustain it over a longer term, but it just brings Last Rizla‘s entire approach to a new level of raw punishment.

Glad to premiere the clip for “Dive,” which you can see right here. EP stream is down toward the bottom of the post for your streaming discomfort:

Last Rizla, “Dive” official video premiere

Official video of the happy song Dive from the fantastic album Mount Machine.

Dark tour on Saturday January 18, 2020 on the meat market of Piraeus and Piraeus Academy. A laid back look at the daily struggles of older adults participating in music groups. No volcano or glass building was damaged during filming.

Directed and edited by Nöl.

Everything is Love.
Last Rizla.

Produced by Last Rizla and George Leodis.
Recorded, engineered and mixed by George Leodis at Wreck-It Sound Studios, Corinth, Greece, January 2018.
Assistant engineer Ramon aka Rambo.

Mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege, Portland, USA.

Artwork and layout by Last Rizla.
Handprinted by Fuzz Ink.
fuzzink.com

Last Rizla are G., C., K., S.

Last Rizla, Mount Machine (2018)

Last Rizla on Thee Facebooks

Last Rizla on Bandcamp

Last Rizla website

Fuzz Ink Records on Instagram

Fuzz Ink Records website

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Puta Volcano Post “Black Box” Video from AMMA LP

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 24th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

puta volcano (photo by Chrysalena Antonopoulou)

I can imagine few showers have ever been as satisfying as that which Puta Volcano vocalist Anna Papathanasiou likely took after filming the band’s new video for “Black Box.” Their second album, AMMA, is due out March 13 through The Orchard, and in the clip, Papathanasiou strides head-on toward the camera, presumably on a treadmill or some such, and is pummeled with all manner of stuffs — food, various liquids, wigs, plastic bags; at one point I’m pretty sure a triangular slice of pizza bounces off her shoulder — and yes, they’re making a statement, but that doesn’t make that slice of pizza any less greasy. So yeah, glitter, flour, milk, paint, god knows what else. You’d probably want to hose off afterward.

That, of course, is the visual metaphor at play throughout “Black Box,” which sets its prog-metal riff to work behind the vocal melody which is delivered purposefully even as this assault is taking place. The band generalize just a bit — and fair enough for not wanting to limit their audience — but it’s pretty clearly about a woman’s experience of modern life. Not that we’re not all assaulted at all times, but there remains a definite gradient difference in the uphill courses that those with varying gender identities are running, and as dolls and wigs and sundry powders and whatnots and maybe-glitter pound her, the message isn’t exactly subtle. And not that it’s my place to say so, but it’s not wrong either. There’s a key change in the vocals in the second half of the song — it’s actually bassist Bookies taking lead, but Papathanasiou continues to mouth the words in the video — that coincides with a greater intensity of riff, and then, when it’s over, she stops running, straightens her shoulders and lets out a breath. Fair enough.

Life is a big mess, and life is hard.

At least good music makes it better.

Enjoy the video:

Puta Volcano, “Black Box” official video

Greek hard rock, post-grunge, desert quartet PUTA VOLCANO has revealed the first video, “Black Box,” from their upcoming album, AMMA.

Watch the video for “Black Box” today via the band’s YouTube channel at https://youtu.be/Ye-4slpAHVk. Directed by Nick Kouros & Anna Papathanasiou.

Lyrically “Black Box” challenges the constant struggle to become something more, against all odds and against adversity. The song’s video provides a visualization of this struggle.

“The concept of the ‘Black Box’ music video is a metaphorical depiction of the struggles a contemporary individual, and more specifically a woman, goes through,” the band explains. “A literal battlefield of symbolism and stereotypes thrown against us daily, formed by societal norms and fixed gender roles. We all have encountered these as we run closer to our own finishing lines, minute by minute.”

Musically, “Black Box” is a heavy, bound-to-the-ground track, with a new flair for the band in the form of dimensional layers of backing vocals. The slow, Tool-style backbone of the song continues to build right up to the epic finish, when the tempo changes and bassist Bookies takes over with wailing vocal lines.

The “Black Box” single is available for streaming and download at https://orcd.co/putavolcano_blackbox.

AMMA, PUTA VOLCANO’s third album, will be released March 13 via The Orchard. Pre-order AMMA on limited gold/black vinyl, CD and limited t-shirt bundles at https://putavolcano.bandcamp.com/. Pre-save on Spotify and all digital platforms at https://orcd.co/putavolcano_amma.

PUTA VOLCANO is:
Anna Papathanasiou – Vocals
Alex Pi – Guitar
Steve Stefanidis – Drums
Bookies – Bass, Backing Vocals

Puta Volcano on Thee Facebooks

Puta Volcano on Instagram

Puta Volcano on Bandcamp

Puta Volcano website

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Electric Feat Premiere “The Caveman” Video; Self-Titled Debut out Next Week

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 20th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

electric feat

Greek heavy garage rockers Electric Feat release their self-titled debut on Feb. 24 through Inner Ear Records. Yeah yeah yeah, that’s all well and good. Fine. It’s a record. Why do you care? You care because their new video for “The Caveman” takes Terry Gilliam-style animation to a story about Rasputin assassinating the Romanovs and subsequently being chased down and murdered by a zombie Anastasia. You care because songs like “Leather Jacket” and “Song of Disobedience” effortlessly channel ’70s swing and proto-doom vibes without actually tipping over the line of retroism. You care because the Athens four-piece are yet another example of the absolute boom happening in the underground in Greece right now. You care because you’re not a fucking philistine. Do I need to go on?

electric feat electric featThe album runs 10 tracks and 36 mostly-fuzzed minutes but has room in there for some psychedelic flash and punkier purpose in a song like “Blackwood Secrecy.” “Fogdancing” is straight-up funk doom ahead of the five-minute HumblePie-doing-Sab-worship closer “Bring Something from the Night,” but they never quite let go of the sense of rawness that opener “It’s Alright (With You)” puts forth, classic in its foundation and even in their darkest moment, which might be the crashing “Son of Evil,” there’s still a feeling of the good times that the surrounding context offers, whether that’s the shuffle of second track “Lizard Queen” or “The Caveman” itself with its echo-laced boogie, catchy guitar and shift into fuller-toned chase past the halfway mark. Like the first line of that song says, “Save the pretense for the other side.” That’s pretty much what Electric Feat do on both sides of the album, so good luck finding the pretense.

Be it the rolling “Leather Jacket” that caps the record’s first half or “Bring Something from the Night” that ends the album as a whole, Electric Feat neglect nothing when it comes to vitality of their approach, and the deftness with which they’re able to turn from boogie to doom and back again is tied together cleverly through the barebones production and the energetic captured performance that stands up to it. Look. I’ve given you reasons to care, and I’ll tell you flat out that I’ve gone ahead and put the self-titled on my ongoing list of the year’s best debut albums, so if you want to get on board, it’s up to you. But if you don’t, it’s your loss. For me, I’m just happy to have found a new band to keep up with because this shit is righteous and there isn’t a day goes by that isn’t made better by quality rock and roll.

Album’s out Monday. Video follows, so please enjoy. It’s the best one I’ve seen in a while.

Go fullscreen with it:

Electric Feat, “The Caveman” official video premiere

Electric Feat, the fairly new hard rockin’ quartet from Athens, Greece share new track and video ahead of self-titled debut record out February 24 (pressed on 180-gram vinyl) via Inner Ear Records. “The Caveman” is the third offering from Electric Feat’s record, following previously released “Lizard Queen” and “Leather Jacket”. The video made by DaDive Studio.

Preorder here: https://orcd.co/electricfeat

Rock is dead, so let’s go dancing in its ashes.

No more, no less, this is Electric Feat’s first set of songs, recorded (almost live) at the cozy Diskex studio, with Sergios Voudris’ invaluable assistance.

A hard rocking love child, with psychedelic, proto-metal and heavy blues flourishes by four geekish, local pub friends: Dr. Nanos, Madam Manthos, Prins Obi and The Tree. From the Alice Cooper-ian ‘It’s Alright (With You)’ to the elegiac, Cream-gone-evil ‘Bring Something from the Night’, “Electric Feat” is a winter rite that demands to be played loud. Long live Rock ‘n’ Roll!

Electric Feat are:
Dionysis Nanos (Dr. Nanos), guitar
Themos Ragousis (Madam Manthos), bass
Georgios Dimakis (Prins Obi), vocals, percussion
Kostas Stergiou (The Tree), drums, percussion

Electric Feat on Thee Facebooks

Electric Feat on Instagram

Electric Feat on Bandcamp

Inner Ear Records on Thee Facebooks

Inner Ear Records on Instagram

Inner Ear Records website

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The Obelisk Presents: Planet of Zeus First-Ever North American Tour Dates

Posted in The Obelisk Presents on February 11th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

planet of zeusplanet of zeus us tour banner

Go, just go. Go see Planet of Zeus. The Greek heavy rockers are coming to the US (plus a couple Canadian shows) in April, and you should be there to see it. Not the least because they’re traveling in the certifiably legendary company of Fatso Jetson, as well as Druids — what a fucking tour — and not just because I get an ego boost out of seeing a logo for this site at the bottom of tour posters, but also because it’s their first time here and they come in celebration of their 20th anniversary as a band and should be accordingly made to feel nothing but welcome every step of the way.

Seriously, you know the vast, vast majority of the planet thinks Americans are assholes, right? Well, you can work to counter that impression by showing up. Hell’s bells, buy a t-shirt, if not because you dug the crap out of Planet of Zeus‘ 2019 record, Faith in Physics (review here), then at very least for diplomacy’s sake. You’re an ambassador. Start acting like it.

Before they make the journey across the Atlantic, Planet of Zeus will be out starting later this month in Europe — call it a pre-victory lap — and that’s awesome, but please know that I’m honored to have involved in presenting this in the tiny way that it is and humbled to have even been asked. Get your ass out of the house. Please. We want them to come back.

Dates follow as posted today by the band:

planet of zeus us tour poster

PLANET OF ZEUS – NORTH AMERICAN TOUR 2020

We are stoked to announce that the time has come for the band to tour America for the very first time! All these years, we have been receiving messages from our fans in the States and Canada to play a show in their town, so this upcoming April seems like the perfect time to pay them a visit!

Having the legends FATSO JETSON and Druids on board for this one, makes it honestly unique.for us.

The whole tour is presented and supported by The Obelisk and we couldn’t thank him enough for that!

April 8th: Omaha, NE – The Sydney
April 9th: Chicago, IL – Cobra Lounge
April 10th: Pittsburgh, PA – Cattivo
April 11th: Toronto, ON – Bovine Sex Club
April 12th: Montreal, QB – Cafe Dekcuf
April 13th: Quebec City, QB – La Source De Martiniere
April 14th: Brooklyn, NY – St. Vitus
April 15th: Frederick, MD – Cafe 611
April 16th: Charlotte, NC
April 17th: Atlanta, GA – The 529
April 18th: New Orleans, LA – Portside Lounge
April 19th: Lafayette, LA – Freetown Boom Boom Room
April 20th: Austin, TX – The Lost Well
April 21st: Dallas, TX – Lola’s Saloon
April 23rd: Tempe, AZ – Yucca Tap Room
April 24th: San Diego, CA – Soda Bar
April 25th: Costa Mesa, CA – The Wayfarer
April 26th: San Francisco, CA – Bottom of the Hill
April 28th: Portland, OR
April 29th: Seattle, WA – Funhouse
April 30th: Boise, ID – The Shredder
May 1st: Salt Lake City, UT
May 2nd: Denver, CO – Streets Denver

Tour poster by our beloved Bewild Brother
Tour powered by Atomic Music Group!

Our European tour with Kvelertak is getting close!

27/2: Kulturzentrum Schlachthof,Bremen (DE)
28/2: Gruenspan, Hamburg (DE)
29/2: Essigfabrik, Koln (DE)
1/3:Rockhal, Luxembourg, (LU)
3/3: Le Trapendo, Paris (FR)
4/3: Substage, Karlsruhe (DE)
6/3: Conne Island, Leipzig (DE)
7/3: SO 36, Berlin (DE)
8/3: Kwadrat, Krakow (PL)
10/3: Durer Kert, Budapest (HU)
11/3: Szene, Vienna (AT)
13/3: Meet Factory, Prague (CZ)
14/3: Backstage, Munich (DE)
16/3: Z7, Pratteln (CH)
17/3: Schlachtof, Wiesbaden (DE)
18/3: Patronaat, Haarlem (NL)
20/3: Academy 2, Manchester (UK)
21/3: SWX, Bristol (UK)
22/3: Electric Brixton, London (UK)

Tickets: http://planetofzeus.gr/tour-dates

PLANET OF ZEUS is:
Babis Papanikolaou – Vox & Guitars
Stelios Provis – Guitars
Giannis Vrazos – Bass
Serafeim Giannakopoulos – Drums

Planet of Zeus, Faith in Physics (2019)

Planet of Zeus website

Planet of Zeus on Thee Facebooks

Planet of Zeus on Bandcamp

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Heavy Psych Sounds website

Heavy Psych Sounds on Bandcamp

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Puta Volcano to Release AMMA March 13; Preorders Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 16th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

puta volcano

I guess if you’re the Spotify type, a pre-save is the same as a preorder. Whatever, if that’s your thing, or if actual preorders are your thing, they’re both available now for Puta Volcano‘s AMMA. And I gotta say, as a dude who’s listening to the album for the first time as he writes this very sentence, you might want to seriously consider spending your money ahead of time and save yourself the trouble of spending it later. What a fucking pleasure it is to see the Greek heavy rock scene blossom as it has over the last couple years and continues to do already in 2020. Wow. A whole swath of bands coming of age at the same time, finally getting some attention from the broader European sphere. It’s awesome. Puta Volcano‘s kind of moody take on progressive heavy riffing has never sounded so sure of itself or its own forward-thinking intentions as it does in these songs, and I was all about 2017’s Harmony of Spheres (review here).

No audio yet from the record, but I’ve already put in my bid to host a track so hopefully that comes together. Here’s album info from the PR wire in the interim:

puta volcano amma

Puta Volcano – Amma – March 13th, 2020

While nobody argues the importance of a debut album in setting the ground rules of existence for a rock band and the absolute necessity of a solid sophomore follow up record to establish their presence, it’s the third art installment that will either make, or break them. Puta Volcano, after a number of active years, a larger number of adrenaline-high live shows and an even larger number of loyal supporters, have come to the moment that will define their longevity. “AMMA” is the latest offering from the Athens, Greece based quartet and finds them in a deeply reconciling phase between the introspective artistry and the energetic riffage delivery that both have been trademarks of their sound.

This collection of songs reflects the whereabouts of a band who illustrates the well documented character of their craft and simultaneously branches out to new territories, using bits and pieces of novelties, that make the exploration of this album a detailed nit-picking adventure for the listener.

No one in their right minds would fix what isn’t broken, so the already known Mediterranean mixture of heavy alternative tunes, enhanced with forward thinking american desert classic rock sounds is loudly present once again. Now, if the elitist listener might consider that the scale is somewhat tipped more towards the Tool side of the uplifting harmonies in contrast to the traditional Soundgarden straight forwardness, “AMMA” wouldn’t be a record to argue with that.

Produced by Johnny Tercu and recorded at Unreal Studios in Athens, Greece, by Nick Dimitrakakos and Alex Bolpasis, “AMMA” captures the moment for one of the most stand-out Greek rock bands, through the heavy and clear sound mastering by Alex Ketenjian.

A series of EU tour dates is planned out for the spring of 2020, bringing the volcanic rock n roll on the road.

Tracklist

1. Re-Entry
2. Entropica
3. Venus Lullaby
4. First Light
5. Black Box
6. Sugar Cube
7. Echoing Icons
8. Primitive Data
9. Apnea
10. Torus
11. Space Blanket
12. Kassandra’s Gift

Puta Volcano are:
Anna Papathanasiou
Alex Pi
Steve Stefanidis
Bookies

Pre-order on limited Gold/Black Vinyl, CD and limited T-shirt bundles: https://putavolcano.bandcamp.com/

Pre-order / Pre-save Link: https://orcd.co/putavolcano_amma

https://www.facebook.com/putavolcanoband/
https://www.instagram.com/putavolcano/
https://www.youtube.com/user/putavolcano
https://putavolcano.bandcamp.com/
http://putavolcano.com/

Puta Volcano, “Dune”

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Quarterly Review: Alcest, Superchief, Test Meat, Stones of Babylon, Nightstalker, Lewis & the Strange Magics, Room 101, Albatross Overdrive, Cloud Cruiser, The Spiral Electric

Posted in Reviews on January 8th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Welcome to Day Three of The Obelisk’s Winter 2020 Quarterly Review. It’s gonna be kind of a wild one. There’s a lot going on across this batch of 10 records, and it gets kind of weird — also, it doesn’t — so sit tight. It’ll be fun either way. At least I hope so. I’ll let you know when I’m finished writing. Ha.

Today we pass the halfway point on the road to 50 reviews by Friday. I think I’m feeling alright up to this point. It’s been a crunch behind the scenes, but it usually is and I’ve done this plenty of times now, so it’s not so bad. I always hold my breath before getting started, but once I’m in it, I rarely feel anymore overwhelmed than I might on any other given day. Which is still plenty, but you know, you make it work.

So let’s do that.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Alcest, Spiritual Instinct

alcest spiritual instinct

Perhaps unsurprisingly given the label’s modus in this regard as it’s picked up bands from the heavy underground over the last eight to 10 years — arguably a movement that began with Graveyard in 2012 — but Parisian post-black metal innovators Alcest make something of an aesthetic shift with their first outing for Nuclear Blast, Spiritual Instinct. Melody, of course, remains central to their purposes, but in the nine-minute side B opener “L’Île des Morts” as in its side A counterpart “Les Jardins de Minuit,” the subsequent “Protection” and “Sapphire” and even in the crescendo — glorious wash as it is — of the closing title-track, one can hear a sharper, decidedly metallic edge to the guitar and impact of the drums. That’s a turn from 2016’s Kodama (review here), which offered more of a conceptual progressivism, and of course the prior 2014 LP, Shelter (review here), which cast of metallic trappings almost entirely. Why the change? Who cares, it works, and they still have room for the cinematic keyboard-led drama of “Le Miroir” and plenty of the wistful emotionalism that’s been their hallmark since their debut in 2007. They’ve long since mastered their approach and Spiritual Instinct serves as another example of their being able to make their sound do whatever they want.

Alcest on Thee Facebooks

Nuclear Blast webstore

 

Superchief, Moontower

superchief moontower

Four records and just about a decade deep into a tenure that began with the 2010 Rock Music EP (review here), Iowa heavy rockers Superchief have found ways to bring an inventiveness to what’s still an ostensibly straightforward approach. Moontower, named for a lookout point where — at least presuming from the album’s artwork — people tailgate and get drunk, finds the dudely five-piece no less embroiled in burl than they’ve ever been, but using samples and other elements in interesting ways as with the revving motor matching step with the drums at the start of “Barking Out at the Blood Moon” or keyboards in “Rock ‘n’ Roll War” filling out the breaks where the riffs take a step back. Handclaps early in “Beer Me Motherfucker” — as much post-“Introduction” mission statement for the LP as a whole as anything — set the party tone, and from the shaker on “The Approach” to the Southern tinged shred and organ on closer “Priority of the Summer,” a car speeding by at the finish, Superchief find ways to make each of their songs stand out from its surroundings. Then they pair that with choice riffery, pro-shop sound and hooks. Sure enough, it’s once again a winning formula and a distinct showing of personality and craft that still comports with classic heavy style.

Superchief website

Superchief on Bandcamp

 

Test Meat, Enjoy

test meat enjoy

Boston duo Test Meat are so utterly bullshit-free as to be almost intimidating. Guitarist/vocalist Darryl Shepard (Kind, Blackwolfgoat, Hackman, Milligram, etc.) and drummer Michael Nashawaty (Planetoid) dig into heavy grunge and noise rock influences across a 10-track/27-minute full-length that resounds with punker roots and an ethic of willful straightforwardness. It’s not that the music is so intense there would be no room for frills, it’s that the structures are so tight and so purposefully barebones that they’d be incongruous. And it’s not that Test Meat are writing half-hearted songs, either. Frankly, neither the quality of their material nor the sharpness of the sound they captured at New Alliance Studio with Alec Rodriguez would remotely lead one to believe so, and nothing with such stylistic clarity happens by mistake. This is a band with a mission, and Enjoy finds them bringing that mission to life with a complete lack of pretense. It’s a reminder of what made grunge so appealing in the first place some 30 years and an entire internet ago. Songs and performance. Yes.

Test Meat on Thee Facebooks

Test Meat on Bandcamp

 

Stones of Babylon, Hanging Gardens

Stones of Babylon Hanging Gardens

Following a 2018 live demo, Portuguese instrumental three-piece Stones of Babylon — guitarist Rui Belchior, bassist João Medeiros, drummer Pedro Branco — embark with a conceptualist intent on their debut full-length, Hanging Gardens, issued through Raging Planet. An opening sample in the leadoff title-track describing the hanging gardens of Babylon sets the stage for what the band goes on to describe with wordless atmospheres over the five-song/47-minute long-player, their vision of heavy psychedelia touched with a suitable Middle Eastern/North African influence in the initial unfolding of the meditative 11-minute “Coffea Arabica” or the winding lead work over the punchy low end of “Black Pig’s Secret Megalith.” But Hanging Gardens is still very much a heavy rock release, and its material showcases that in tone and mood, with volume changes and builds taking hold like that in centerpiece “Ziggurat,” which in its second half sets a march of distorted largesse nodding forth until its final crashout. They save the most drift for “Babylonia (The Deluge),” and if they’re finishing with the story of the flood, one can’t help but wonder what narrative course they might follow in a second record. On the other hand, if one comes out of Hanging Gardens trying to envision Stones of Babylon‘s future, then the debut would seem to have done its job, and so it has. There’s stylistic and tonal promise, and with the edge of storytelling, an opportunity for development of which one hopes they avail themselves.

Stones of Babylon on Thee Facebooks

Raging Planet website

 

Nightstalker, Great Hallucinations

nightstalker great hallucinations

Frontman Argy and Greek heavy rock institution Nightstalker return with their eighth album in a quarter-century run, Great Hallucinations. Also their first LP for Heavy Psych Sounds after issuing 2016’s As Above So Below (review here) on Oak Island Records, it’s an up-to-par eight-track collection of catchy tracks marked out by psychedelic elements but underpinned by traditionalist structures, Argy‘s distinctive frontman presence, and an all-around unforced feeling of a mature, established band doing what they do. Not going through the motions in the sense of fulfilling some perceived obligation to stay on the road, but creating the songs they want to create in nothing less than the manner they want to create them. I won’t take away from the roll of “Seven out of Ten,” but as “Cursed” taps into a legacy of European heavy rock that runs from Dozer‘s turn of the century work — not to mention Nightstalker‘s own — to outfits today, it’s hard not to appreciate an act being so assured in what they do in terms of execution while actually doing it. In that way, Great Hallucinations is as refreshing as it is familiar.

Nighstalker on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Lewis and the Strange Magics, Melvin’s Holiday

Lewis and the Strange Magics Melvins Holiday

From their beginnings in garage doom and subsequent dive into exploitation/vamp psych, Barcelona’s Lewis and the Strange Magics put themselves in even weirder territory on their third album, Melvin’s Holiday, centering a story around the titular character whose life is in turmoil and so he goes on vacation. The sound of the band seems to do likewise, veering into ’70s lounge sleaze and island influences, toying with funky rhythms and keyboards amid catchy choruses across what still would have to be called an experimental 34-minute run. It is a concept album, to be sure, and one that comes through in its stylistic choices like the dreamy keyboards of the centerpiece “Carpet Sun” or the fuzzy stomp in “Sad in Paradise” and the percussion amid the Ween-sounding lead guitar buzz of “Lounge Decadence.” This could be Lewis and the Strange Magics working purposefully to cast off any and all expectation that might be placed on them, or it could just be a one-off whim, but there’s no question they pull off an impressive turn and carry the concept through in story and substance. When it comes to what they might do next time, the payoff of closer “Afternoon on the Sand” serves as one more demonstration that the band can do whatever the hell they want with their sound, so I’d expect them to do no less than precisely that.

Lewis and the Strange Magics on Thee Facebooks

Lewis and the Strange Magics on Bandcamp

 

Room 101, The Burden

room 101 the burden

The debut EP from Lansing, Michigan, four-piece Room 101, called simply The Burden, would seem to take a scorched-earth approach to atmospheric sludge, setting their balance to exploring ambient textures and samples in pieces like “You Will Never Know Security” — which, sure enough, samples 1984 to recount the origin of the band’s name — and the brief “A Place to Bury Strangers,” while the churning “As the Crow Flies” and “Missing Rope” present an outright extremity that comes through in post-Godflesh vocal barks and a Through Silver in Blood-style intensity of churn and general approach. Yet I wouldn’t necessarily call Room 101 post-metal — at least not here. The solo on “Missing Rope” seems to draw from more traditional sources, and the manner in which the chugging in “Plague Dogs” caps with a sudden quick series of hits recalls grindcore’s pivoting brutality. One might hope all of these elements get fleshed out more over subsequent releases, but as a first outing, part of The Burden‘s promise is also drawn from the sheer rawness of its impact and the lack of compromise in its wrench of gut.

Room 101 on Thee Facebooks

Room 101 on Bandcamp

 

Abatross Overdrive, Ascendant

albatross overdrive ascendant

Albatross Overdrive‘s 2016 LP, Keep it Running (review here), ran 31 minutes. Their follow-up, Ascendant, reaches to 33, but loses two tracks in the doing. Clearly, one way or the other, this is a conscious ethic on the band’s part, and it tells you something about their approach to heavy rock as well. There’s nothing too fancy about it — even in “Come Get Some,” which is the longest song the band have ever written at 6:40 — and they are not an outfit to waste their time. Structures run from verse to chorus to verse to chorus led through by guitarists Andrew Luddy and Derek Phillips and Art Campos‘ gritty delivery with an expectedly solid underpinning from bassist Mark Abshire (ex-Fu Manchu) and drummer Rodney Peralta and songs like the careening title-track and the blues-licked shover “Undecided” are enough to give the impression that anything else would be superfluous. They’re not lacking style — because ’70s-meets-’90s-straight-ahead-heavy is, indeed, a style — but it’s the level of their craft that stands them out.

Albatross Overdrive on Thee Facebooks

Albatross Overdrive on Bandcamp

 

Cloud Cruiser, I: Capacity

Cloud Cruiser I Capacity

Kyuss-style riffing takes a beating at the hands of Chicago newcomers Cloud Cruiser — who are not to be confused with Denver’s Cloud Catcher — who make their debut on vinyl through Shuga Records with I: Capacity, giving an aggressive push to what’s commonly considered a more laid back sound. In tone and rhythm and general gruffness, they are a deceptively pointed outfit, with turns of broader groove like that at the outset of “575” that speak to more influences than simply those of the Cali desert. They start off catchy and familiar-if-reshaped, though, on “Transmission” and “Glow,” letting their tale of alien abduction unfold across the lyrics while setting up the shifts that “Gone” and “575” and the thick-boogie of “Orbitalclast” will make before the EP’s would-be-clean-but-for-all-that-dirt-it’s-kicked-up 23-minute run is through. The balance they present speaks to a background in metal, though if they’re fresh arrivals in this realm of heavy, you’d never know it from the lumbering finish they present. Sometimes you just gotta get mean to get your point across. It suits

Cloud Cruiser on Thee Facebooks

Shuga Records website

 

The Spiral Electric, The Spiral Electric

the spiral electric the spiral electric

It is a progressive interpretation of fuzz ‘n’ buzz that San Francisco four-piece The Spiral Electric realize on their self-titled, self-released debut long-player, with recording and mixing by Dead Meadow‘s Steve Kille, the band — vocalist/synthesist/noisemaker/guitarist/percussionist/co-producer Clay Andrews, lead guitarist/backing vocalist Nicolas Percey, bassist Michael Summers and drummer Matias Drago — bridge the generally disparate realms of heavy psych and riffer heavy rock, giving a dreamy sensibility to “Marbles” with no less an organic vibe than they brought to the howling, attitudinal push of “No Bridge Left Unburned” earlier. They skillfully mess with the scale across the lengthy 14-track span, and thereby hold their audience for the duration in longer pieces like “The True Nature of Sacrifice” (8:24) as easily as they do in a series of three episodic interludes of noise, field recordings, synth, etc. This is a band ready, willing and able to space. the hell. out., and after listening to the record, you’d be a fool if you wanted to try. Not that they don’t have aspects to shore up or shifts that could be tightened and so on, but from ambition to fruition, it’s the kind of first record bands should aspire to make.

The Spiral Electric on Thee Facebooks

The Spiral Electric on Bandcamp

 

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Quarterly Review: Mos Generator, Psychic Lemon, Planet of Zeus, Brass Hearse, Mother Turtle, The Legendary Flower Punk, Slow, OKO, Vug, Ultracombo

Posted in Reviews on January 6th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

I’d like to hope y’all know the drill by now. It’s the Quarterly Review. We do it (roughly) every quarter. The idea is 10 reviews per day for a Monday to Friday span, running 50 total. I sometimes do more. Sometimes not. Kind of depends on the barrage and how poorly I’ve been doing in general with keeping up on stuff. This time is ‘just’ 50, so there you go. You’ll see some bigger names this week and some stuff that’s come my way of late that I’ve been digging and wanting to check out. It’s a lot of rock, which I like, and a few things I’m writing about basically as a favor to myself because, you know, self-care and all that.

But staring down the barrel of 50 reviews over the next few days has me as apprehensive and how-the-hell-is-this-gonna-happen as ever, so I think I’ll just get to it and jump in. No time to waste.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Mos Generator, Exiles

mos generator exiles

Worth it just for the Sabbath cover? Most definitely. As Mos Generator take on “Air Dance” from Never Say Die as part of the Glory or Death Records LP compilation release, Exiles, they blend the proggy swagger of later-’70s Iommi leads with the baseline acoustic guitar fluidity that makes those final Ozzy-era records so appealing in hindsight. It’s just one of the six reasons to take on Exiles however. The A side comprises three outtakes from 2018’s Shadowlands (review here), and guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed‘s Big Scenic Nowhere bandmate Bob Balch sits in on “Battah,” while a duly manic reworking of Van Halen‘s “Light up the Sky,” the Black Sabbath track and a live version of Rush‘s “Anthem” from 2016 make up side B. It’s a quick listen and it’s Mos Generator. It may be a stopgap on the way to whatever they’re doing next, but if you think about it, so is everything, and that’s no reason not to jump in either for the covers or the originals, both of which are up to the band’s own high standard of output.

Mos Generator on Thee Facebooks

Glory or Death Records on Bandcamp

 

Psychic Lemon, Freak Mammal

psychic lemon freak mammal

The distorted wails of Andy Briston‘s guitar echo out of Freak Mammal — the five-track/46-minute third LP from London’s Psychic Lemon — like a clarion to the lysergic converted. A call to prayer for those worshiping the nebulous void, not so much kept to earth by Andy Hibberd‘s bass and Martin Law‘s drums as given a solidified course toward the infinite far out. Of course centerpiece “Afrotropic Bomb” digs into some Ethiopian groove — that particular shuffling mania — and I won’t take away from the lower buzz of “Free Electron Collective” or the tense hi-hat cutting through all that tonal wash or the ultra-spaced blowout that caps six-minute finale “White Light,” but give me the self-aware mellower jaunt that is the 13-minute second track “Seeds of Tranquility” any day, following opener “Dark Matter” as it does with what would be a blissful drift but for the exciting rhythmic work taking place beneath the peaceful guitar, and the later synthesized voices providing a choral melody that seems all the more playfully grandiose, befitting the notion of Freak Mammal as a ceremony or at very least some kind of lost ritual. Someday they’ll dig up the right pyramid and call the aliens back. Until then, Psychic Lemon let us imagine what might happen after they return.

Psychic Lemon on Thee Facebooks

Drone Rock Records website

 

Planet of Zeus, Faith in Physics

PLANET OF ZEUS FAITH IN PHYSICS

There’s a context of social commentary to Planet of ZeusFaith in Physics that makes one wonder if perhaps the title doesn’t refer to gravity in terms of what-goes-up-must-come-down as it might apply to class hierarchy. The mighty, ready to fall, and so on. Songs like the post-Clutch fuzz roller “Man vs. God” and “Revolution Cookbook” (video premiere here) would seem to support that idea, but one way or the other, as the later “Let Them Burn” digs into a hook that reminds of Killing Joke and the dense bass of eight-minute closer “King of the Circus” provides due atmospheric madness for our times, there’s a sense of grander statement happening across the album. The Athens-based outfit make a centerpiece of the starts and stops in “All These Happy People” and remind that whatever the message, the medium remains top quality heavy rock and roll songcraft, which is something they’ve become all the more reliable to deliver. The more pointed perspective than they showed on 2016’s Loyal to the Pack suits them, but it’s the nuance of electronics and arrangements of vocals and guitar on cuts like “The Great Liar” that carry them through here. If you believe in gravity, Planet of Zeus have plenty on offer.

Planet of Zeus on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Brass Hearse, Oneiric Afterlife

brass hearse oneiric afterlife

Experimentalist keyboard-laced psychedelic goth your thing? Well, of course it is. You’re in luck then as Brass Hearse — an offshoot of once madly prolific Boston outfit Ice Dragon — unveil three new songs (plus an intro) with the Oneiric Afterlife and in 10 minutes work to unravel about 30 years of genre convention while still tying their material to memorable hooks. “Bleed Neon,” “Indigo Dust” and “Only Forever” seem simple on the surface, and none of them touch four minutes long, let alone “A Gesture to Make a Stop,” the 26-second introduction, but their refusal of stylistic constraint is as palpable as it is admirable, with a blend of folk guitar and dark-dance-party keys and percussive insistence on “Bleed Neon” and a ’60s Halloweeny rock organ line in “Only Forever” that’s complemented by low-end fuzz and a chorus that would rightly embarrass Ghost if they heard it. In comparison, “Indigo Dust” is serene in its presentation, but even there is a depth of arrangement of keys, guitar, bass and drums, and the skill tying it all together as a cohesive sound is not to be understated. A quick listen with a lot to unpack, it’s not going to be everyone’s thing, but those who get it will be hit hard and rightly so.

Brass Hearse on Thee Facebooks

Brass Hearse on Bandcamp

 

Mother Turtle, Three Sides to Every Story

mother turtle three sides to every story

The first of three tracks on Greek progwinders Mother Turtle‘s fourth LP, Three Sides to Every Story, “Zigu Zigu,” would seem to cap with a message of congratulations: “You’ve listened to three musicians indulging themselves with some kind of weird instrumental music.” It then goes on to question its own instrumentalism, because it has the words presently being spoken, continuing in this manner until a long fadeout of guitar leads to the funky start of the 15-minute-long “Notwatch.” Good fun, in other words. Mother Turtle maybe aren’t so weird as they think they are, but they are duly adventurous and obviously joyful in their undertaking, bringing chants in over drifting guitar and synth swirl in “Notwatch” before building to a crescendo of rock guitar and organ, ultimately dominated by a solo as it would almost have to be, before intertwining piano lines in 16:46 closer “A Christmas Postcard from Kim” lead to further shenanigans, vocal experimentation, plays on metal, holiday shimmer, and a fade into the close. At 38 minutes, Three Sides to Every Story doesn’t at all overstay its welcome, but neither is it an exercise looking for audience engagement in the traditional sense. Rather, it resonates its glee through its offbeat sensibility and thus works on its own level to craft a hook. One can’t help but smile while listening to the fun being had.

Mother Turtle on Thee Facebooks

Sound Effect Records website

 

The Legendary Flower Punk, Wabi Wu

The Legendary Flower Punk Wabi Wu

It is something to consider, perhaps as you dive into the nine-minute “Prince Mojito” on The Legendary Flower Punk‘s Wabi Wu, that the band started as a psych-folk solo-project. Currently working as a core trio plus a range of guests, the Russian troupe make their debut on Tonzonen with the brazenly prog seven-tracker, totaling just a 44-minute run but with a range that would seem to be much broader. Alternately jazzy and synth-laden, technically intricate but never overly showy, pieces like the bass-led “Azulejo” and the penultimate “Trance Fusion På Ryska” present a meeting of the minds with founding guitarist Kamille Sharapodinov at the center of most compositions, he and bassist Mike Lopakov and drummer Nick Kunavin digging into nothing’s-off-limits textures from fusion onward through New Wave and dub. The abiding rule followed seems to be whatever moves the band about a given track is what they roll with, and though The Legendary Flower Punk has evolved well beyond its origins, there’s still a bit of flower and still a bit of punk amid all the legends being made. Good luck keeping up with it.

The Legendary Flower Punk on Bandcamp

Tonzonen Records website

 

Slow, VI – Dantalion

Slow VI Dantalion

With the follow-up to 2018’s V – Oceans (review here), Belgian duo Slow rattle off another 78 minutes of utterly consuming, crushing, atmospheric and melancholic funeral doom like it’s absolutely nothing. Well, not like it’s nothing — more like it’s a weight on their very soul — but even so. Issued through Aural Music, VI – Dantlion brings the two-piece of guitarist/vocalist/drummer Déhà and bassist/lyricist Lore B. once again into the grueling, megalithic churn of self-inflicted riff-punishment that’s so encompassing, so dark, so deep and so dramatic it almost can’t help but also be beautiful. To wit, second track “Lueur” is a 17-minute downward journey into ambient brutalism, yet as it moves toward the midsection one can still hear melodic elements of keyboard and orchestral sounds peaking through. There is letup in the lush finale “Elégie,” but to get there, you have to make your way through “Incendiaire,” which is possibly the most extreme movement of the seven inclusions. Though frankly, after a while, you’re buried so far down by Slow‘s glorious miseries that it’s hard to tell. The world needs this band. They are what humanity would sound like if it was ever honest with itself.

Slow on Thee Facebooks

Aural Music on Bandcamp

 

OKO, Haze

oko haze

Adelaide, Australia, newcomers OKO present their debut EP in the form of Haze, a 14:44 single-song outing that sees the instrumental three-piece of guitarist Nick Nancarrow, bassist Tyson Ruch and drummer Ash Matthews tap into organic heavy psych vibes while working cross-planet with Justin Pizzoferrato (known for his work with Elder, among others) on the mix and master. The resulting one-tracker has a clarity in its drum sound and clean feel that one suspects might speak of more progressive intentions on the part of OKO in the longer term, but as they are here they have a sense of tonal warmth that serves them well across the unpretentious span of “Haze” itself, the winding riff inevitably bringing to mind some of Colour Haze‘s jammier work but still managing to find its own direction. I hear no reason OKO can’t do the same, regardless of the influences they’re working under in terms of sound. Further, the longform modus suits them, and while future work will inherently develop some variety in general approach, the natural exploration they undertake on this first outing easily holds attention for its span and is fluid enough that, had they wanted, they could have pushed it further.

OKO on Thee Facebooks

OKO website

 

Vug, Onyx

vug onyx

Vug are not the first European heavy rock band to blend vintage methods with modern production. They’re not the first band to take classic swagger and drum urgency and meld it with a pervasive sense of vocal soul. I’m not sure I’d tell them that though, because frankly, they’re doing pretty well with it. At its strongest, their Tonzonen-released sophomore outing, Onyx, recalls Thin Lizzy via, yes, Graveyard, but there’s enough clarity of intention behind the work to make it plain they know where they’re coming from. Such was the case as well with their 2018 self-titled debut (review here), and though they’ve had some lineup turnover since that first offering, the self-produced four-piece bring a character to their material on songs like “Tired Of” and the penultimate boogier “Inferno” before closing with the acoustic “Todbringer” — a mirror of side A’s “On My Own” — that they carry the classic-style 39-minute long-player off without a hitch, seeming to prep the heavy ’10s for a journey into a new decade.

Vug on Thee Facebooks

Noisolution webstore

 

Ultracombo, Season 1

Ultracombo Season 1

As the title hints, the Season 1 EP is the debut from Italy’s Ultracombo, and with it, the five-piece of vocalist Alessio Guarda, guitarists Alberto Biasin and Giordano Tasson, bassist Giordano Pajarin and drummer Flavio Gola work quickly to build the forward momentum that brings them front-to-back through the 23-minute five-track release. “Flusso” and opener “The King” feel particularly drawn from an earlier Truckfighters influence, but Guarda‘s vocals are a distinguishing factor amidst all that ensuing fuzz and straight-ahead drive, and in “Sparatutto” and the closer “Il Momento in Cui Non Penso,” they seem to strip their approach to its most basic aspects and bring together the tonal thickness and melodicism that’s been at root in their sound overall. The subtlety, such as it is, is to be found in their songwriting, which results in tracks that transcend language barriers through sheer catchiness. That bodes better for them on subsequent outings better than a wall o’ fuzz ever could, though of course that doesn’t hurt them either, especially their first time out.

Ultracombo on Thee Facebooks

Ultracombo on Bandcamp

 

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BUS Post “Moonchild” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 2nd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

bus

To my shame, I didn’t put up a list of the year’s best album covers for 2019, but if I had, I promise you that the painting adorning BUS‘ label-debut for RidingEasy RecordsNever Decide (review here), would’ve been on there. I spoke about it as well in the review, but it bears repeating not the least so I can point out that the record’s appeal goes well beyond its visual accompaniment. The band’s swinging take on a classic-heavy fuzz blowout is well represented in their somewhat manic animated video for “Moonchild” — not to be confused with the King Crimson track — and unless you’re hesitant to engage flashing color changes and things of that sort, I can only advise you commit to the required couple of minutes and dig in. Hell, it’s a holiday week. You’ve got the time.

Speaking of time, the timing of the clip is somewhat curious. Never Decide was an early-2019 release, relatively speaking — it came out Feb. 28 — so as the video arrived on the precipice of 2020 it’s not that the LP was so old as to be irrelevant, but if the promotional intent might’ve been to remind people at the end of the year that the album was out there, it seems like earlier in December probably would’ve made more sense. Who the hell knows what kind of delays may have been faced — I’ve never animated anything in my life, but my understanding is it takes more than five minutes to do — or what other plans they might announce to come in 2020. Either way, on what’s a pretty quiet week for rock and roll — much as such a thing exists — I’m happy to have something new to watch. Hell, maybe that was the idea all along. If so, it worked.

PR wire info for Never Decide follows here.

Enjoy:

BUS, “Moonchild” official video

Athens, Greece quartet Bus The Unknown Secretary (aka BUS) share the first video from their recently released debut album on RidingEasy Records today.

Never Decide was recorded in just 5 days in February 2018 with multitalented engineer and band’s beloved friend John Vulgaris at Electric Highway Studios in Athens, Greece. The entire band — drummer Aris Fasoulis, bassist Spiros Papadatos, and guitarists Fotis Kolokithas and Politis –recorded the instrumental tracks live in 3 days, reserving the last 2 for vocals. Over the 2 months that followed Vulgaris and the band fine-tuned the mix into the subtle and clever masterwork you have before you.

BUS formed in Athens in 2011, releasing two EPs and a full length The Impious Tapes, followed by The Cross EP (2014), and The Unknown Secretary LP in 2016. During that time the band has toured extensively throughout Greece and in neighboring nations. Never Decide will see them expanding that touring radius considerably.

BUS is:
Aris Fasoulis on Drums.
Bill “City” Politis on Vox & Guitars.
Spiros ”Chob” Papadatos on Bass Guitar.
Fotis Kolokithas on Guitars.

BUS, Never Decide (2019)

BUS on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records on Bandcamp

RidingEasy Records website

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