Quarterly Review: 11PARANOIAS, Robot Lords of Tokyo, The Riven, High Reeper, Brujas del Sol, Dead Witches, Automaton, Llord, Sweet Jonny, Warp

Posted in Reviews on March 20th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Day three. Cruisin’. Oh, another 10 reviews to write? Yeah, no problem. I’m on it.

Okay, maybe a little less that and a little more be banging my head against the wall of sound, but the point is we — you and I — move forward anyhow. The Quarterly Review continues today with the third batch, which at the end will bring us to the halfway point, 30 of the total 60 records done, and that always feels like an occasion. Also helps that it’s a pretty good batch of stuff, so let’s not waste time with formalities, right?

Quarterly Review #21-30:

11PARANOIAS, Asterismal

11paranoias asterismal

It’s a freakout, but not the good kind. More like a panic attack happening in slow motion on another dimensional plane. The masters of murk, 11PARANOIAS return through their own Ritual Productions imprint with Asterismal, collecting/conjuring upwards of nine tracks and 73 minutes of material depending on in which format one encounters it. The core of the outing is the six-song/45-minute vinyl edition, and that’s plenty fucked enough, to be honest, as bassist/vocalist Adam Richardson (Ramesses), guitarist Mike Vest (Bong) and drummer Nathan Perrier (ex-Capricorns) unfurl a grim psychedelic fog across songs like opener “Loss Portal” and tap into The Heads-style swirl on “Bloodless Crush” only to turn it malevolent in the process. The 12-minute “Quantitative Immortalities” finds Vest in the forward position as it summarizes the stretch of doom, psych, and bizarre atmosphere that’s utterly 11PARANOIAS‘ own, and that’s before you get into the experimental and sometimes caustic work on the CD/digital-only “Acoustic Mirror” (10:35) and “Acoustic Mirror II” (15:08), which both rise from minimalist bass to become a willful test of endurance only a select few will pass. All the better.

11PARANOIAS on Thee Facebooks

Ritual Productions website

 

Robot Lords of Tokyo, Rise Robot Rise

Robot Lords of Tokyo Rise Robot Rise

Was there ever any doubt Robot Lords of Tokyo could do it on their own? Not if you ever listened to Robot Lords of Tokyo, there wasn’t. The Columbus, Ohio-based outfit built a reputation in the earlier part of the decade by bringing guests onto their records, but their new EP and first outing in half a decade, Rise Robot Rise, features five songs of just the band itself, with founders Rick Ritzler (drums) and Paul Jones (vocals) joined by bassist Joe Viers and guitarists Steve Theado and Beau VanBibber. Their last outing was the 2013 full-length Virtue and Vice (review here), but they seem in “In the Shadows” and “Looking for the Sun” to come into their own with Jones bringing a John Bush-type edge to the hook of “Looking for the Sun” and echoing out a bit on centerpiece “Hell Camino,” which boasts not the band’s first nod to Clutch. With opener “In the Shadows” setting the tone for an undercurrent of metal, “My Aching Eyes” and “Terminus” pay that off without losing their rock edge and thereby highlight just how much force has always been in the core lineup to start with.

Robot Lords of Tokyo on Thee Facebooks

Robot Lords of Tokyo at CDBaby

 

The Riven, The Riven

The Riven The Riven

Issued by The Sign Records, the self-titled debut from Sweden’s The Riven (also discussed here) hones in on classic heavy rock but never actually quite tips all the way into vintage-ism. It sounds like a minor distinction until you put the record on and hear the acoustic guitar lines deep in the mix of “Far Beyond” or the echoing vocal layers in the second half of the later “Fortune Teller” and realize that The Riven are outright refusing to sacrifice audio fidelity for aesthetic. There’s no shortage of shuffle to be had, rest assured, but The Riven are less concerned with aping traditionalism than updating it, and while they’re not the first to do so, the fact that on their first record they’re already working to put their stamp on the established genre parameters bodes well, as does the bluesy float of “I Remember” and the mellow vibing early in “Finnish Woods.”

The Riven on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records on Bandcamp

 

High Reeper, Higher Reeper

high reeper higher reeper

Philadelphia exports High Reeper offer their second full-length through Heavy Psych Sounds in Higher Reeper, upping the stakes from their 2017 self-titled debut (review here) in more than just title. In the intervening two years, the five-piece have toured extensively, and it shows in the pacing and general craft of the eight songs/38 minutes here, from the perfectly-timed nod at the end of “Buried Alive” to the face-slap proto-trash riff that starts the subsequent “Bring the Dead,” from the mountaintop echoes of “Obsidian Peaks” (note the “Hole in the Sky” riff rearing its head) to the howling roll through “Plague Hag” and into six-minute closer “Barbarian,” as High Reeper hone elements of doom to go with their biker rock sleaze. Stellar guitar is a running theme beginning with opener “Eternal Leviathan,” and Higher Reeper quickly proves that if you thought the debut had potential, you were right.

High Reeper on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Brujas del Sol, II

brujas del sol ii

if the 6:40 album opener “Teenage Hitchhiker” from Brujas del Sol‘s Kozmik Artifactz-delivered II makes anything plain, it’s that the songs that follow on the seven-track/43-minute outing are going to pay attention to texture. Still about half-instrumental, the Columbus, Ohio, four-piece veer from that modus with “Sisterlace,” the New Wave-y “Fringe of Senility,” the delightfully dream-toned “White Lights,” and the final Floydian section of closer “Spiritus,” adding vocals for the first time and leaving one wondering what took them so long. Nonetheless, the winding lines and later subtly furious drums of “Sea Rage” and the scorching leads of the penultimate “Polara” bring the proggy mindset of the band that much more forward, and if II is transitional, well, it was going to be anyway, because a band like this never stops growing or challenging themselves. They certainly do here, and the results are an accomplishment more than worth continuing to build upon.

Brujas del Sol on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Dead Witches, The Final Exorcism

dead witches the final exorcism

The centerpiece of Dead Witches‘ sophomore album, The Final Exorcism, is a play on ’60s psych-garage-folk that asks “When Do the Dead See the Sun?,” and the rest of the LP that surrounds provides the answer: The sun isn’t showing up anytime soon, for the dead or otherwise. After issuing their first full-length, Ouija (discussed here), in 2017, the multinational horror-cinema doomers brought aboard vocalist Soozi Chameleone alongside drummer Mark Greening (Ramesses, ex-Electric Wizard), bassist Carl Geary and guitarist Oliver Irongiant, and one might be tempted to think of The Final Exorcism as a kind of second debut were it not for the fact that it’s so cohesive in its approach. With Greening‘s swinging march at the foundation, cuts like the title-track and “The Church by the Sea” stomp out thick-toned and grainy organic creep, plundering through the cacophonous “Lay Demon” en route to the abyssal plod of “Fear the Priest” at the end, fearsome in purpose and realization and hopefully not at all “final.” Like any good horror franchise, there’s always room for another sequel.

Dead Witches on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Automaton, TALOS

automaton talos

It was hard to know where Automaton were headed after they remixed their debut EP, Echoes of Mount Ida (review here), and released it in LP format with two additional tracks. The original version was raw and weighted, the remix spacious and psychedelic. With TALOS, their first proper long-player (on Sound Effect Records), they answer the question with seven songs/48 minutes of expansive and richly atmospheric post-metal, seeming to take from all sides and shift their focus between crushing with dense tones on 11-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Trapped in Darkness,” as well as the frantically drummed “Automaton Marching,” “The Punisher” or the end stage of “Talos Awakens” and honing more of a varied and atmospheric approach throughout the sample-laced “Giant of Steel,” the drifting “Submerged Again” and the minimalist acoustic-led closer “Epilogue,” all the while donning both an overarching concept and a new level of production value to bolster their presentation. It is a significant step forward on multiple fronts.

Automaton website

Sound Effect Records website

 

Llord, Cumbria

llord cumbria

Raging and experimental, the rumble-laden Barcelona duo Llord make their full-length debut on Féretro Records with Cumbria, which culls together five punishing-but-still-atmospheric tracks of plod and drive as bassist Aris and drummer David share vocal duties and bludgeoning responsibilities alike. Ill-intentioned from the get-go with the two-minute “Adtrita Sententia,” Cumbria unfurls its 29-minute run like a descent into low-end madness, varying speed and the amount of samples involved and bringing in some guest gralla on “Brega” and closer “Kendal/Crewe,” but finding itself in a consistent tonal mire all the same, shouts reverberating upward from it as through trying to claw their way up during the collapse of earth beneath their feet. It is brutal — an extreme vision of atmospheric sludge that makes the concept of a guitar riffing overtop seem like an indulgence that would only dull the impact of the proceedings as they are, which is formidable.

Llord on Bandcamp

Féretro Records on Bandcamp

 

Sweet Jonny, Sweet Jonny

sweet jonny sweet jonny

I can’t claim to be an expert on the ways of Britpunk classic or modern, but UK swagger-purveyors Sweet Jonny weave a heaping dose of snearing attitude into their self-titled, self-release debut album’s 12 tracks, and it comes set up next to a garage rock fuckall that isn’t necessarily contradicted by the actual tightness of the songwriting, given the context in which they’re working. “American Psycho,” well, that’s about American Psycho. “Sick in the Summer?” Well, guess that could be taken multiple ways, but somebody’s sick in any case. You see where this is going, but Sweet Jonny bring character and addled-punk charm to their storytelling lyrics and barebones arrangements of fucked-up guitar, bass and drums. I don’t know what the punkers are into these days, but the vibe here is rude in the classic sense and they bring a good time feel to “Superpunch” and “It Matters Not” — which stretches past the four-minute mark(!) — so what the hell? I’m up for something different.

Sweet Jonny on Thee Facebooks

Sweet Jonny website

 

Warp, Warp

warp warp

If the approval stamp of Nasoni Records isn’t enough to get you on board — and it should be, frankly — the Sabbathian lowercase-‘g’ ghost rock Warp proffer on their self-titled debut is bound to turn heads among the converted. The Tel Aviv-based outfit tear through eight tracks in a crisp, bitingly fuzzed 28 minutes, taking on classic boogie and doom alike before they’re even through opener “Wretched.” They get bonus points for calling their noise interlude “‘Confusion Will Be My Epitaph’ Will Be My Epitaph,’ as well as for the shuffle of “Gone Man” that precedes it and the stomp of “Intoxication” that comes after, the latter a rhythmic complement to the central progression of second cut “Into My Life,” which only departs that snare-snare-snare to soar for a dual-layered solo. Hard not to dig the space-punk edge of “Hey Little Rich Boy II” and the throttled-back stoner nod of closer “Enter the Void,” which is done in under five minutes and still finds room for the album’s best stop-and-crash. Fucking a.

Warp on Bandcamp

Nasoni Records webstore

 

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Sadhus Post “Sobbing Children” Official Live Video Filmed in Athens

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 7th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

sadhus (Photo by Marianna Rous)

Yes, this will do nicely, thank you. Greek sludge metallers Sadhus, The Smoking Community released their sophomore full-length, Big Fish (review here), during the pre-holiday doldrums of late-2018. Maybe you heard it. Maybe you haven’t yet. Either way, the Athens-based outfit took it upon themselves to loose a willfully atrocious barrage of aggro riffing and aggro everything else across the record’s 33 minutes, and they still managed to keep some underlying groove befitting their ‘The Smoking Community’ designation. Right on? Yeah, right on.

I’ll probably never get to see this band live. They’re an awfully far way from me, geographically speaking, and while I’ve been fortunate enough to do some traveling in my time, ain’t nobody breaking the door down to fly me to Athens for a show. As such, seeing the multi-camera, pro-shot video for “Sobbing Children” from Big Fish only underscores the reasons to dig on Sadhus. Their sound comes across raw and mean in its delivery, and has the unmistakable energy of a stage performance behind it. I guess I’m old enough that I still think this kind of thing is really awesome. Even back when videos were on tv, bands rarely did live clips, and most full-concert videos are boring as hell. Something like this is between the two. It lets you know what you’re missing by not showing up to the gig and it still represents what the band were going for when the put together Big Fish as a whole. It might not be a novelty at this point, but even a multi-cam live shoot is more effort than a lot of bands put into making videos, and “Sobbing Children” — the lyrics to which were surely presciently based on my yesterday afternoon — legitimately looks well made.

Most important of all, Sadhus own the stage. The show was back in December, right around the time of the album’s release, so for all I know it was actually the release show, which would explain why they seem to be having such a good time amidst all that slaughter. Either way, it’s a cool clip of a cool song and it’s fitting well under the banner of “current mood” for yours truly, so have at it.

Enjoy:

Sadhus, The Smoking Community, “Sobbing Children” official live video

Sadhus, The Smoking Community – Sobbing Children from the album “Big Fish” released by Fuzz Ink· Records (FZZ010)

Recorded & filmed live at Temple, Athens, 8 Dec. 2018

Filmed by Steve Kekis, Alex Masmanidis, Ilias Moschovas
Edit by Steve Kekis
Production House: GNP Productions

Recorded by George Giannikos
Mixed & Mastered by Dimitris Metaxakis

FOH Engineer : Dimitris Metaxakis
Lighting Engineer : Ismini Starida

Sadhus, the Smoking Community on Thee Facebooks

Sadhus, the Smoking Community on Bandcamp

Fuzz Ink Records on Thee Facebooks

Fuzz Ink Records on Bandcamp

Fuzz Ink Records website

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Dr. Awkward and the Screws Premiere “Doomed” Lyric Video; Gettin’ Out of Style out Feb. 18

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

dr awkward and the screws

That’s certainly one way to win at band names. Dr. Awkward and the Screws, based in Athens, will release their debut full-length, Gettin’ Out of Style, next month. The four-piece issued a self-titled EP in 2017, and that was loaded with boogie and good vibes, but if the track premiering below, “Doomed,” is anything to go by, they’re exploring some darker fare on their long-player. And by the way, I have no idea if “Doomed” is anything to go by or not. And having listened to the EP, I wouldn’t try to predict one way or the other. A classic-style influence persists between the EP and the new track, but the context of that has changed significantly, and there’s enough quirk to go around in their approach that it may well be “Doomed” is an outlier chosen to be a single in an effort to throw listeners off. I’m not saying Dr. Awkward and the Screws can’t be trusted, but, well, okay, yeah, I guess I am saying that. But hey, sometimes unreliable narrators are fun.

And “Doomed,” while more grim of attitude than the three-songer the band released two years ago, is still fun. Whatever might surround it on the LP to come, it seems likely to carry that thread. Bassist Greg has an almost early-thrash style to his vocals, or scum-punk since it’s essentially the same either way, and the riffs he tops from guitarists John and Kostas tap into proto-metallic vibes through clean tones that run organically over the crashing of Thoukydidis‘ drums. “Doomed” is a quick listen at 3:28, which is shorter than anything that appeared on the self-titled, so that may be another clue to an aesthetic shift, or it may not. Like I said, not knowing is part of the appeal. While we’re on the topic of known-unknowns, the release date for Gettin’ Out of Style is set for Feb. 18-25. It’s a release week. Somewhere in there. I would assume it’ll be out before March, just to play it safe.

Hey, it’s Friday. Lighten up and enjoy being “Doomed.”

Have at it:

Dr. Awkward and the Screws, “Doomed” official lyric video

Doomed is the single of the upcoming album ” Gettin’ out of Style “.
Release date: February 18-25 , 2019

Credits:
Recorded by S_FX & Greg Konstantaras at Ritual Studios , Athens , Greece
Mastered by S_FX at Ritual Studios , Athens ,Greece
Artwork by Manster Design

Dr. Awkward & The Screws is a 70s rock – heavy blues band from Greece. In the January of 2017 their homonym EP was released and they made their first professional move. Slowly, steadily, and strongly they have already played in “Gyftopoulou Street fest” with: Vodka Juniors, Wherswilder, 7 odds, and Overjoyed. Furthermore, they have played in a really appraising appearance in “Kyttaro” as a support band for Imperial State Electric – of the legendary Nicke Andersson.

Dr. Awkward and the Screws:
Greg – Vocals / Bass Guitar
John – Guitar
Kostas – Guitar
Thoukydidis – Drums

Dr. Awkward and the Screws on Thee Facebooks

Dr. Awkward and the Screws on Bandcamp

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Godsleep, Coming of Age: Silence for the Kingdom

Posted in Reviews on January 16th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

godsleep coming of age

Call a record Coming of Age and you’re setting yourself up for an expectation of maturity. Godsleep, who released their debut, Thousand Sons of Sleep (review here), in 2015, do indeed solidify elements of their approach that very much worked in their favor the first time around on this The Lab Records/Threechords Records follow-up. Tracks like “Unlearn” and “N.O.U” desert-cruise with the best of ’em, and with returning producer George Leodis (also 1000mods), there’s a consistency between the two records in terms of the quality and depth of their fuzz and general tonal weight. However, while there’s some holdover on this level and in terms of the overarching quality of songwriting, the band’s ability to offset push-forward groove with more patient stretches, a new vocalist is inherently going to do much to change the character of any release. Godsleep are Coming of Age with Amie Makris fronting the band with guitarist Johnny Tsoumas, bassist Fedonas Ktenas and drummer Dennis Leventos, and the change is significant from the outward dudeliness of Kostas, with Makris — who also contributed the striking cover photography for Coming of Age — taking an approach that’s both more melodic and still laced with attitude and boozy fervor.

Her throaty delivery makes an immediately welcome arrival in the first verse of opener “Ex-Nowhere Man,” with backing lines layered in for emphasis atop pointedly desert-hued riffing. The tones of Tsoumas and Ktenas remain a great strength for the band, and Leventos does well both to complement the vocals and drive a progression like that culminating the opener to and through a marked apex. Have Godsleep come of age? In many ways, yes. They obviously learned from the first album who they want to be as a group and have a better idea of the kinds of songs they want to write. At the same time, bringing in Makris, they’ve also shifted the dynamic in a way that makes this eight-song/49-minute outing something like a second debut, beginning a new exploration of character and impression. The results across the LP are exciting and energized in the way of first records while also benefiting from the returning trio’s past experience recording four years ago. Best of both worlds.

The songs bear that out. “Unlearn” and “N.O.U.” follow “Ex-Nowhere Man” in succession, building a momentum that runs through the rest of the material while also prefacing the expansion of style that begins with the funky wah at the start of “Celestial.” Roll is still a factor and it will remain one, but a subtle shift begins with “Celestial” that ties the first and second halves of Coming of Age together, as Godsleep wind their way through the first half of the song and into the burst of pace that happens in the second. It’s not a radical change of character so much as a beginning point that serves to transition into what the four-piece are doing with the back end of the tracklist. And it’s also worth noting the fluidity with which their shifts play out. Whether it’s a turn from one part to another or a kick in tempo or a slowdown, Godsleep never lose sight of the underlying groove that is carrying them and their audience along the album’s steady but varied course. 49 minutes is by no means short for an LP, but neither is it unmanageable, and Godsleep hold firm to what works while pushing themselves to reach beyond what they’ve done before. There are more of them, but the songs on Coming of Age are by and large shorter than those on Thousand Sons of Sleep — none hit nine minutes, for example, though closer “Ded Space” comes close — and feel tighter in their composition.

godsleep

Even so, an open atmosphere pervades “Puku Dom,” which by all accounts is an interlude, about 90 seconds of subdued fuzz guitar leading the way into “Basic (The Fundamentals of Craving),” which tops seven minutes and begins with Makris‘ standout lines, “Let’s build a house ‘cause time is passing/You are mistaken for the feeling remains,” and runs through a flowing course that builds in energy as it goes, both linear and based on chorus repetition, breaking at around the five-minute mark to more progressive fuzzery ahead of the crescendo that finishes. “Basic (The Fundamentals of Craving)” on its own is demonstrable proof of the maturity happening across Coming of Age, and especially with “Puku Dom” providing listeners with a moment to breathe ahead of its arrival, it seems all the more like the band set it up for maximum impact; a self-awareness that is no less important when it comes to engaging listeners.

“Karma is a Kid” begins at a mellow sway with Makris‘ voice malleable to the situation before the full thickness of the central riff kicks in. It would seem to be the job of the penultimate track to tie the two sides of the LP together, and “Karma is a Kid” does that somewhat with a speedier thrust, but there’s also a change in structure as well, as LeventosKtenas and Tsoumas take over instrumentally after that initial arrival of the riff and the rest of the song plays out without vocals. Like the rest of what surrounds, it offers something new while remaining familiar in the context of the record as a whole, and while one doubts Godsleep sat down and masterminded exactly that impression, in putting together the tracklist, they obviously had a sense of what they wanted Coming of Age to do and when, and that’s crucial. They follow a plotted course through the rest of “Karma is a Kid” and crash out to a fading rumble and the start of “Ded Space,” which unfolds with a patient build of tension in the guitar and drums that moves through the early verses en route to an interplay of spoken and sung lyrics in the midsection.

There’s a quiet break in the second half, but Godsleep aren’t going to let the opportunity for a bigger finish pass them by, and they make no attempt to mask their intention all through “Ded Space” as it heads toward its finale. Nor should they — it’s a payoff well earned, both within “Ded Space” itself and across the entirety of Coming of Age as a whole. The closer’s lyrics seem to move from a personal narrative to take on a more pointed social commentary, perhaps addressing Greece’s political and economic turmoil through metaphor and a kind of big-picture perspective. That’s fair enough ground for Godsleep to tread, but like much of what precedes, it piques interest in terms of where they might go from here. That goes back to the idea of Coming of Age as a reset, or a second debut with the arrival of Makris as a distinguishing moment between their sophomore long-player and its predecessor. However one wants to think of it, though, and however they might progress, the high level of craft throughout Coming of Age indeed speaks to the burgeoning maturity of the band, and their consciousness of what they’re doing only heightens the appreciation thereof. I know I already used the word, but I’ll say it again: it’s an exciting listen.

Godsleep, Coming of Age (2018)

Godsleep on Thee Facebooks

Godsleep on Bandcamp

The Lab Records website

Threechords Records on Thee Facebooks

 

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BUS Premiere “I Buried Paul”; Never Decide Due March 1

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on January 15th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

bus

Greek heavy rockers BUS – aka Bus the Unknown Secretary; they’re their own acronym — will issue their second full-length, Never Decide — on March 1 through RidingEasy Records. It is the Athenian outfit’s first release through the Californian label and it follows behind their 2016 Twin Earth-released debut, The Unknown Secretary (review here), and it comprises 10 tracks for an LP-limit-pushing 51-minute run that nonetheless does little front-to-back to wear out its welcome. From the way opener “You Better Come In, You Better Calm Down” seems to shove the listener forward into the rest of the album, down through the what-if-the-Beatles-were-also-Primus-but-Primus-were-the-Melvins-and-also-Kyuss-is-there-because-that’s-fun bounce of “I Buried Paul” and the drawling roll of “Lucifer” ahead of the monster boogie garage buzz in “First Life Suicide” and side B opener “Moonchild,” the jam-packed rush of “Dying” and the final Sabbathian fuzz blowout of “This King.” Hepcats will notice some echoing flourish of Uncle Acidic melody in the vocals throughout of Bill “City” Politis, but on the most basic level, there’s too much going on otherwise to call Never Decide redundant in any way. Did I mention that Bill City and fellow guitarist Fotis Kolokithas break out some Iron Maiden dual-guitar action on the seven-minute “Into the Night?” They do. And they use it to build a maddening tension for the first three minutes of the song that, by the time it pays off by kicking into the verse riff of the song has absolutely driven you up the wall in the best way possible.

As one might only ask if one was feeling particularly greedy, BUS prime all this nuance with a unifying quality of songcraft that asidebus never decide from seeming to warrant airfare to play Psycho Las Vegas, serves to set up a flow that’s maintained regardless of tempo or other changes in the overarching affect. “The Hunt” digs into darker proto-metallic proclamations just after “You Better Come In, You Better Come Down” breaks through its efficient boogie rock paradise, and songs like “Evil Eyes” confidently deliver hooks that are non-overbearing earworms — the kinds of songs you don’t realize are in your head until they already are. And of course by then it’s too late, and like the already-on-my-list-of-2019’s-best-artwork cover featuring giant chickens wreaking havoc on an unsuspecting town, the four-piece of PolitisKolokithas, bassist Spiros “Chob” Papadatos and drummer Aris Fasoulis build on what they accomplished three years ago in terms of tone and structure while coming across like they’re having an absolute blast in the process. Never Decide, perhaps somewhat ironically, sounds completely sure of itself and its approach. With the basic instrumental tracks recorded live, the band convey an unmistakable energy and dynamic, and as “This King” winds its way through a multi-tiered lead section in its second half that gives way to its apex slowdown chorus, that energy only serves them well throughout. A record over 50 minutes isn’t easy to pull off in the era of algorithmic recommendations and quick-burst tag-browsing — let alone actually fitting it on a platter — but BUS throw off convention with an offering that’s both of the moment and outside it.

And as you might’ve picked up from the above, there’s a lot going on throughout what are still tight-as-they-want-to-be, engaging songs, so finding one track to represent the whole thing is kind of tough. They showed off “You Better Come In, You Better Come Down” first, which is fair enough as the opener, but today I’m happy to host the next premiere, for the quirk-laced “I Buried Paul,” and to give those bold enough to do so another chance to dig in ahead of the release.

Please find the song below, followed by recording info and more details from the PR wire, and please enjoy:

Heavy bands typically don’t know how to make music fun. We’re not talking about goofy, novelty rock, which Athens’ BUS certainly is not. We’re talking clever, spirited and anthemic rock that doesn’t get bogged down in trying to sound menacing. Never Decide is a multifaceted album in the vein of classic hitters like The Hellacopters, Alice Cooper Band, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Orange Goblin.

“The story of the album expresses the psyche of a person in a dead end and his life is introduced into obsessive rhythms, more personal and random,” explains vocalist/guitarist Bill Politis. “There is no happy end here, but the questions remain: Door A or Door B? Time to change or time to die, Never Decide!”

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 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. The release of Never Decide will see them expanding that touring radius considerably.

Never Decide will be available on LP, CD and download on March 1st, 2019 via RidingEasy Records. Pre-orders are available HERE.

Tracklisting:
01. You Better Come In, You Better Calm Down
02. The Hunt
03. I Buried Paul
04. Lucifer
05. First Life Suicide
06. Moonchild
07. Into the Night
08. Evil Eyes
09. Dying
10. This King

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

BUS on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records on Bandcamp

RidingEasy Records website

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Review & Track Premiere: Sadhus, Big Fish

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on November 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

sadhus big fish

[Click play above to stream ‘Flesh’ by Sadhus, the Smoking Community. Their album, Big Fish, is out Dec. 18 on Fuzz Ink Records.]

With raw-throated screams atop dutifully hempen riffing, Sadhus, the Smoking Community conjure visions on their Fuzz Ink-issued second album, Big Fish, of sludge metal as a test of physical endurance. And by that I mean their own as well as trying to see how much punishment the listener can take. Will vocalist Stavros still have a larynx by the time the eight-minute “Lazarus” has finished? Can they hold it together during the tense buildup of “Flesh?” In truth, one might feel winded by the time the cacophony of opener “Hyper Roller” has finished, and it’s only 2:46 long. Joining Stavros in the band are guitarist Thomas G., bassist Nikos and drummer Greg, as well as Steve, who’s credited as being the “rolling engineer,” though whether that has more to do with recording or joints, I wouldn’t hazard a guess, and together the Athens-based band bring to mind the chaotic sludge aggression of bands like -(16)-, the this-is-a-lifestyle-ism of Bongzilla and Dopethrone, and the sense of fuckall that Eyehategod pioneered.

Though their work dates back to their 2011 involvement in the Miss Fortune was a Henhouse Manager compilation (review here) of the then-burgeoning Greek underground, Big Fish is their second album behind a 2014 self-titled that led to a couple split releases in the interim. Not a lack of productivity, necessarily, but neither are Sadhus putting out records for their own sake. Clearly this kind of disaffection requires something to drive it. Across the six-song/33-minute offering, I’m not sure if that’s personal, social or political, but it’s there. Stavros‘ vocals are all but indecipherable, but they get their point across anyway, and the point is “fuck you.” As “Lazarus” slams home its plodding, crashing, noise-laden apex, the message comes through clearly instrumentally as well as vocally, and their scathe is central to it.

They have a quiet part here and there throughout the album’s span — in “Flesh” or the title-cut that opens side B, for example — but there’s no question the more abrasive aspects of their sound are intended to be the central impression. That is, the quiet parts are how they change it up, where punishment is the norm. So be it. There are two basic modes of songwriting brought forth and they find the band balancing — so much as one would call any of this “balanced” — between longer songs and shorter ones. Four years ago, the self-titled worked in the same way, with three tracks over seven minutes long (one over eight) and three tracks shorter, under five minutes. Divisions are less stark on Big Fish than they were on the debut, with “Flesh” (4:52) and the penultimate “Sobbing Children” (3:42) and even “Hyper Roller” seeming to work toward an eventual bridging of the gap, though there seems to be little to no compromise either in overall intensity or in the length of the longer songs, so maybe they’re just working their way into a more exclusively longform modus.

sadhus the smoking community

If that were the case — and mind you, I wouldn’t predict either way for certain — they well prove able to carry themselves through more extended material, with “Lazarus” and “Big Fish” providing a back-to-back bludgeoning when taken in linear format that comprises nearly half the album’s runtime, and closer “I.P.S.,” which would seem to stand for “intelligent psycho sludge,” rounding out with a suitably vicious roll and chug, dipping into some more angular riffing late but keeping consistent in the overarching impression with the bulk of the album before it in terms of sheer destructive impulse. That comes through clearly in a recording that benefits from a stage-born energy without sacrificing clarity where it’s needed — Big Fish sounds angry, not sloppy. Thomas‘ and Nikos‘ tones are righteously thick and Greg‘s drumming is apparently up to the charge before it of pushing all that viscosity up the hill of its own creation, and Stavros is able to cut through not only his own vocal cords but the surrounding melee in order to be a key frontman presence even on the record. It isn’t necessarily a new dynamic for sludge metal, but Sadhus bring it to bear with a force that is decidedly their own.

Ultimately, Big Fish is the kind of record that makes you want to watch out for broken glass. Or flying glass. Or a glass bottle smashed into your cranium. Either way, it involves glass and blood that’s possibly yours. Maybe that’s a sign of inherent violence in the music, but while one might argue “Lazarus” has a “mosh part,” the guitar solo in “Sobbing Children” seems more typical of the band’s persona, and it’s not about punching your neighbor so much as lashing out at oneself or characterizing the violence that surrounds on an everyday basis. Maybe that’s reading too much into it, but Sadhus, the Smoking Community don’t necessarily direct their anger at a single target, instead presenting it as a general state to be manipulated as they see fit throughout their songs. It is brutal. And it is angry as a matter of will, but there’s a dynamic in the sound too, between longer slabs and bursts like “Hyper Roller” at the outset, in tempo and in volume.

All of these things come together as tools in Sadhus‘ arsenal, and they’re wielded in such a way as to keep the impact of Big Fish consistent the whole way through, so that even as they bring together two disparate sections in one song, that contrast becomes part of the overarching sound and the maddening atmosphere that pervades. As to the physical challenge aspect of it, Sadhus seem to come out of “I.P.S.” just fine, like they could do another five songs in the set, easy, but they’re right to keep it short, to get in and get out and leave their audience dazed from what just happened. It’s one more way Big Fish is effective in its delivery of its purported intelligent psychosis, and that lurking intelligence would seem to be the factor tying it all together. Also marijuana.

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Deaf Radio Kick off Massive Euro Tour on Nov. 14; Second Album to be Recorded

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 2nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

deaf radio

Hell yeah, go go go. Deaf Radio on Nov. 14 will launch a 33-date European tour that spans from Russia to the UK with plenty of stops in between. They’ll be closing the book on their 2017 debut album, Alarm (review here), ahead of hitting the studio to record their second outing, and presumably they’ll be finalizing that new material on the road as well. Would be a waste not to, anyhow. The first full-length was rife with post-Queens of the Stone Age vibes, in the drums almost as much as the guitar and vocals, but with added beef to the tonality and hooky songcraft, they had no trouble making a rousing first impression in their own right. I don’t know when in 2019 their new collection will see release, but it’ll be worth keeping an eye out for, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find some label or other swooping in to pick them up for it.

You can stream Alarm below via Bandcamp, and here are the dates from the PR wire:

deaf radio tour

DEAF RADIO | LIVING IN BACKSEATS TOUR 2018

From London and Berlin to Warsaw and Athens, Deaf Radio are about to finish on the road what started as an internet burst two years ago.

Internet -being the new underground- proved fertile ground for Deaf Radio’s debut “Alarm” and made it one of the most successful independent rock albums of the recent years. Since then, the band has built upon it with a series of live appearances (among which emphatic shows with The Killers, The Kills and All Them Witches), but now it’s ready to take a big step. For more than a month they will be watching the world from the backseats of their van, crossing Europe’s fields this November and December.

More than 30 dates have been announced and an estimate of 15,000km including Germany, UK, France, Eastern Europe and the Balkans is to be covered. According to the band this tour will be “the final scene of Alarm’s era” and they will enter the studio to record their second full-length album during 2019.

The full list of shows:
Living In Backseats Tour 2018
14.11 – Rover Bar / Thessaloniki [GR]
15.11 – Aigli / Serres [GR]
16.11 – Live n Loud / Sofia [BG]
17.11 – Mylos Bar / Drama [GR]
18.11 – Bee Bop / Plovdiv [BG]
19.11 – Expirat / Bucharest [RO]
20.11 – Moonshine / Cluj Napoca [RO]
21.11 – Reflektor / Timisoara [RO]
22.11 – ?KC Kombinat / Beograd [SRB]
23.11 – CK 13 / Novi Sad [SRB]
24.11 – Fusion Club / Kladovo [SRB]
25.11 – Klub Mocvara / Zagreb [HR]
26.11 – ?nstant / Budapest [HU]
27.11 – Grand Café / Szeged [HU]
28.11 – Fuga / Bratislava [SK]
29.11 – Klub Alchemia / Krakow [PL]
01.12 – Hydrozagadka / Warsaw [PL]
02.12 – Pod Minoga / Poznan [PL]
04.12 – Junction Bar / Berlin [DE]
05.12 – City Club / Augsburg [DE]
06.12 – Dirty Dancing / Osnabruck [DE]
07.12 – ?unker / Rostock [DE]
08.12 – The Lion City Pub / Magdeburg [DE]
10.12 – ?he Lanes / Bristol [UK]
11.12 – Gullivers / Manchester [UK]
12.12 – The Victoria / London [UK]
13.12 – Le Bar Hic / Rennes [FR]
14.12 – TBC
15.12 – Le Galion / Lorient [FR]
18.12 – KC Ummus / Kragujevac [SRB]
19.12 – Blues Bar / Karditsa [GR]
20 12 – TBC
21.12 – Temple / Athens [GR]

Deaf Radio are:
Panos Gklinos (Vocals & Guitar)
Dimitris Sakellariou (Guitar & Vocals)
Dimitris Georgopoulos (Bass & Backing Vocals)
George Diathesopoulos (Drums & Backings Vocals)

https://www.facebook.com/deafradioband
https://www.instagram.com/deaf.radio/
https://deafradio.bandcamp.com/

Deaf Radio, Alarm (2017)

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Puta Volcano & Purple Dino Tour Starts Tonight

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

By the time this post goes live, Puta Volcano and Purple Dino should be well on their way to Romania to begin their tour together tonight at the SoundArt Festival in Timisoara. The two Greek outfits both go supporting 2017 releases — Harmony of Spheres (review here) in the case of Puta VolcanoAnd Now What?! (review here) for Purple Dino — and in the case of the former, it’s to herald a second vinyl pressing behind a first one that’s long since sold out. You can hear both albums at the bottom of this post, because one likes to be thorough, and while I don’t know how many people who see this will happen to be in Romania or Hungary and able to make it out to the shows — if you’re there, leave a comment and let me know — but it’s still cool to see these guys all getting out together on a trip that’s certain to be a blast.

Dates and info follow, courtesy of the PR wire:

Puta Volcano + Purple Dino Tour Poster

Puta Volcano to tour Europe with Purple Dino, announce “Harmony of Spheres” 2nd vinyl pressing

After releasing their second full length album in April 2017, entitled “Harmony of Spheres”, Puta Volcano are ready to tour for the first time outside of their country. ?y their side, Purple Dino, another upcoming hard-rock quartet from Greece, with their newly released album “And Now What?!”. The tour includes dates in Austria, Romania, Serbia, Hungary & Bulgaria.

Puta Volcano’s “Harmony of Spheres” was highly acclaimed from media and listeners across the world, selling out its first vinyl pressing in less than 10 months. Luna’s ecstatic vocals, Bookies’ cement-like bass lines, Alex Pi’s captivating riffs and Steven’s dynamic drum hits enrich the band’s sound with disparate and highly interesting elements, always paying tribute to the desert rock and Seattle ’90s influences on which they grew up, shaping their personal “volcanic rock” sound.

The second pressing comes on white vinyl and is already available for pre-order on their Bandcamp page: https://putavolcano.bandcamp.com/
Listen to the album here: http://radi.al/HarmonyOfSpheres

Greek heavy rock’n’roll newcomers Purple Dino are back in the game with their best endeavour to date! “And Now What?!” is the band’s sophomore full length album and it successfully combines a large palette of influences, varying from the glorious 90’s grunge rock scene and the late 90’s stoner rock movement to Clutch’s boogie / groovy rock’n’roll or even to the haunting -and sometimes bizarre- grooves of bands such as Tool. Being very active tour-wise as well as huge admirers of physical format (the album has already been released in transparent magenta and black LP), Purple Dino not only seem to be in a great shape, but having been scheduled to tour Europe extensively, also seem willing to take their effort to the next level, whatever it may take.

Order your copy here: https://purpledinoband.bandcamp.com/
Listen to the album here: http://radi.al/PurpleDinoAndNowWhat

Tour dates
10/5 SoundArt Festival, Timisoara (RO)
11/5 SoundArt Festival, Cluj (RO)
13/5 SoundArt Festival, Bucharest (RO)
16/5 Music House, Graz (AT)
17/5 Robot, Budapest (HU)
18/5 SKC Fabrika, Novi Sad (RS)
19/5 Live n Loud, Sofia (BG)

Tour powered by Ouga Booga & The Mighty Oug & Crazy Tube Circuits

https://www.facebook.com/putavolcanoband/
https://www.facebook.com/purpledinoband/
https://www.facebook.com/tours/465511563852256/

Puta Volcano, Harmony of Spheres (2017)

Purple Dino, And Now What? (2017)

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