Quarterly Review: CHRCH, Bongripper, King Chiefs, Bonnacons of Doom, Boar, June Bug, Tired Lord, Bert, Zen Bison, Wheel in the Sky

Posted in Reviews on July 16th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-CALIFORNIA-LANDSCAPE-Julian-Rix-1851-1903

You know the deal by now, I’m sure: 50 reviews this week between now and Friday, in batches of 10 per day. It’s an unholy amount of music, but those who really dig in always seem to find something cool within a Quarterly Review. Frankly, with this much to choose from, I’d certainly hope so. I’m not going to delay at all, except to say thanks in advance for coming along on this one. It’s got some core-heavy and some-not-really-core-heavy stuff all bundled next to each other, so yeah, your patience is appreciated. Okay. No time like the present. Let’s do it.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

CHRCH, Light Will Consume Us All

chrch light will consume us all

Yeah, yeah, yeah, the songs are long. Blah blah blah it’s heavy as whatever kind of construction equipment you could want to name. What’s even more striking about Los Angeles doomers CHRCH’s Neurot Recordings debut, Light Will Consume Us All, is the sense of atmosphere. The follow-up to 2015’s massively well-received Unanswered Hymns (review here) is comprised of three songs presented in descending time order from opener/longest track (immediate points) “Infinite” (20:41) to centerpiece “Portals” (14:50) and closer “Aether” (9:29) and it finds CHRCH refining the unremitting patience of their rollout, so that even when “Aether” explodes in its second half to charred blastbeating and abrasive screams, the ambience is still dense enough to feel it in one’s lungs. CHRCH keep up this level of progression and soon enough someone’s going to call them post-something or other. As it stands, their second album builds righteously on the achievements of their debut, and is a revelation in its bleakness.

CHRCH on Thee Facebooks

Neurot Recordings website

 

Bongripper, Terminal

bongripper terminal

Pressed up as ever in DIY fashion, Bongripper’s Terminal presents two gargantuan slabs – one per vinyl side – that only seem to highlight the strengths in the Chicago instrumentalists’ approach. The tones are huge, the grooves nodding, the impact of each kick drum forceful. Repetition is central, that feeling of aural mass and destructiveness, but neither is Terminal – comprised of “Slow” (25:11) and “Death” (18:15) – lacking a sense of atmosphere. After 21 minutes of grueling pummel, “Slow” devolves into droning layers of noise wash and quiet guitar to finish out, and “Death” seems to hold onto an echoing lead in its closing minutes that accomplishes much the same thing in broadening the atmosphere overall. I don’t know if the two songs were composed to fit together –the titles would hint yes – but they invariably do, and as “Death” unleashes a more insistent punch before turning to a post-YOB gallop, it reconfirms Bongripper’s worship-worthy place in the stoner doom milieu, how their sound can be so familiar in its threat and yet so much their own.

Bongripper on Bandcamp

Bongripper webstore

 

King Chiefs, Blue Sonnet

King Chiefs Blue Sonnet

Born as Chiefs ahead of their 2015 debut album, Tomorrow’s Over (review here), Arizona-based four-piece King Chiefs make their own first outing in the form of the easily-digestible desert rocker Blue Sonnet (on Roosevelt Row and Cursed Tongue Records), comprised of 10 tracks running just under 40 minutes of older-school laid back heavy, swinging easy on cuts like “Surely Never” and “Drifter” while still finding some Helmeted aggressive edge in the riffs of “Slug” and “Walk the Plank.” The overarching focus is on songwriting, however, and King Chiefs hone in cleverly on ‘90s-era desert rock’s post-grunge sensibility, so that their material seems ready for an alternative radio that no longer exists. Such as it is, they do just fine without, and hooks pervade the two-guitar outfit’s material in natural and memorable fashion all the way to five-and-a-half-minute closer “Shrine of the Beholder,” which embraces some broader textures without losing the structural focus that serves so well on the songs before it.

King Chiefs on Thee Facebooks

Roosevelt Row Records website

Cursed Tongue Records website

 

Bonnacons of Doom, Bonnacons of Doom

bonnacons of doom bonnacons of doom

Heavy psychedelic experimentalism pervades the Rocket Recordings-issued self-titled debut album from Liverpool collective Bonnacons of Doom, rife with tripout ritualism and exploration of sound as it is, all chasing light and getting freaky in any sense you want to read it. Five tracks, each a voyage unto itself – even the bass-fuzzy push of shortest cut “Rhizome” (5:55) is cosmos-bound – feed into the larger weirdness at play that culminates in the undulating grooves of “Plantae” (8:39), which is perhaps the most solidified cut in terms of choruses, verses, etc., but still a molten, headphone-worthy freakout that pushes the limits of psychedelia and still holds itself together. If the album was a to-do list, it would read as follows: “Eat mushrooms. Get naked. Dance around. Repeat.” Whether you do or don’t is ultimately up to you, but Bonnacons of Doom make a pretty convincing argument in favor, and I don’t generally consider myself much of a dancer. Among the most individualized psych debuts I’ve heard in a long time.

Bonnacons of Doom on Thee Facebooks

Rocket Recordings on Bandcamp

 

Boar, Poseidon

Boar Poseidon

Poseidon, at six songs and 39 minutes, is the second long-player from Finnish four-piece Boar. Released on vinyl with no shortage of backing — Lost Pilgrims Records, Dissonant Society, Impure Muzik, S.K.O.D., Rämekuukkeli-levyt – it hurls forth a High on Fire-informed vision of noise rock on its opening title-track only to take on a slower roll in the subsequent “Shahar’s Son” and dig into massive crashing on “12.” Using echo to add a sense of depth all the while, they scream in tradeoffs à la Akimbo and boogie in “Featherless” and seem to find a post-metallic moment on “Dark Skies” before closing with the alternately brooding and scathing “Totally out of This World,” the song sort of falling apart into the feedback and noise that ends the album. There’s a persistent sense of violence happening, but it’s as much inward as outward, and though some of Boar’s most effective moments are in that rawness, there’s something to be said for the contemplation at the outset of “Shahar’s Son” and “12” as well.

Boar on Thee Facebooks

Boar on Bandcamp

 

June Bug, A Thousand Days

June bug A Thousand Days

Seemingly unrestrained by genre, the Lille, France-based duo June BugJune on vocals and multiple instruments and Beryl on backing vocals and multiple instruments – dig into some post-punk nudge on early cut “Reasons” from their debut album, A Thousand Days (Atypeek Music) after the folkish melodies of opener “Now,” but whether it’s the fuzzy indie vibes of “Freaks” or the harmonies, electronics and acoustic guitar of “Let it Rest,” or the keyboard-handclaps, lower tones and poppish instrumental hook of centerpiece “Mama,” there’s plenty of variety throughout. What ties the differing vibes and richly nuanced approach together is the vocals, which are mostly subdued and at times hyper-stylized, but never seem to fail to keep melodicism as their central operating method. That remains true on the subdued “Does it Matter” and the beat-laden “Silenced” at the album’s finish and brings everything together with an overarching sense of joy that holds firm despite shifts in mood and approach, making the complete front-to-back listen as satisfying as it might seem all over the place.

June Bug on Thee Facebooks

Atypeek Music website

 

Tired Lord, Demo

tired lord demo

Released by the band last year, the four-song Demo by San Francisco outfit Tired Lord has been picked up for an official cassette issue through From Corners Unknown Records and will reportedly be the only release from the black metal/sludge genre-benders. Presumably that means they broke up, rather than just refuse to ever record again, though the latter possibility intrigues as well and would be meta-black metal. Spearheaded by guitarist Bryce Olson, Tired Lord effectively bring a thickness of tone to charred riffing, and a balance between screams and growls brings a cast of general extremity to the material. So I guess this is the part where I’m supposed to regret their dissolution and wish they’d do a proper release. Fair enough for the brutal chug in “Serpent’s Ascent” and the 7:51 closer “Astaroth,” which one wouldn’t mind hearing fleshed out from their current form. Failing that, one of the 30 tape copies pressed of Demo seems like decent consolation. At least while they’re there for the getting and before Tired Lord go gleefully into that black metal demo tape ether where so many seem to dwell.

From Corners Unknown Records on Thee Facebooks

From Corners Unknown Records website

 

BerT, Relics from Time Zero

bert relics from time zero

Lansing, Michigan, trio BerT – bassist Phil Clark and brothers Ryan (guitar) and Rael (drums) Andrews – broke up. They even put out a posthumous rare tracks release in 2017’s The Lost Toes (review here), so what’s left? Well, another album, of course. Intended as a sequel to the sci-fi narrative of the never-released long-player Return to the Electric Church, the five-track/35-minute Relics from Time Zero is unfinished, sans vocals where they might otherwise be, and basically a look at what might’ve been had the band not dissolved. For those prior-exposed to the once-prolific heavy rock bizarros, some of the proceedings will seem familiar: riffs are plentiful and fluid in their tempo changes from driving rock to droned-out stomp, and there seems to be about 1.5 of them in the four-minute “In the Cave of the Batqueen,” so but for the fact that it’s not done, I’d just about call it business as usual for BerT. I know they’re done and all, but I still wouldn’t mind hearing these songs with some lyrics, let alone the record this one was intended to follow-up. Either way, even defunct, BerT remain on their own wavelength.

BerT on Thee Facebooks

BerT on Bandcamp

 

Zen Bison, Krautrocker

zen bison krautrocker

Classic-style heavy rock riffing pervades opener “Blow My Mind” (5:47) and the subsequent “Backseat Lovers” (5:15) – somewhere between Stubb and Radio Moscow — on Zen Bison’s debut LP, Krautrocker, but as the five-track/42-minute self-release moves into the 11-minute title-track, guitarist/vocalist Philipp Ott, bassist Steffen Fischer and drummer Martin Konopka – joined by organist Hans Kirschner and percussionist Bobby Müller –move into deeper-grooving and more psychedelic fare. That turn suits the mostly-live-recorded outfit well on the longer instrumental piece, and that leads to a side B with the likewise-sans-vocals “La Madrugada” (9:56) and the closing cover of Don Nix’s blues rocker “Going Down” (10:24), jammed out at the end in its middle and end with quick return to the chorus between. There isn’t much on Krautrocker one might actually consider krautrock in the traditional sense, but there’s certainly plenty of rock to go around on the impressive and varied first offering from the Rostock trio.

Zen Bison on Thee Facebooks

Zen Bison on Bandcamp

 

Wheel in the Sky, Beyond the Pale

wheel in the sky beyond the pale

From opener “Rivers of Dust” onward, Wheel in the Sky’s second album, Beyond the Pale (on The Sign Records), proffers classy and classic digs, informed by a heavy ‘70s uptempo spirit on its title-track and moving into more complex volume and arrangement shifts in “Burn Babylon Burn” (video premiere here) and a poppy, goth-informed hook on “The Only Dead Girl in the City,” all the while held together through a quality of songwriting that even the band’s 2015 debut, Heading for the Night (review here), seemed to hint toward. It’s a mover, to be sure, but Wheel in the Sky execute their material with poise and a sense of clear intention, and no matter where they seem to go, their tonality and natural production assures the listener has an easy time tagging along. Might be a sleeper for some, but there are going to be people who really, really dig this album, and I’ve got no argument with them.

Wheel in the Sky on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records website

 

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June Bug to Release A Thousand Days on Atypeek Music; Tour on Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

june bug

Sometimes I post about things I think are cool and think other people might dig. Every now and again, I post about things I’m a little ambivalent about. And then, once in a good long while, I post about something I think is really fucking awesome and I don’t even care how anyone else feels about it. French avant psych-folk two-piece June Bug, who bring a delightfully weird and unpredictable style to their debut album, A Thousand Days, for sure fall into the latter category.

On tour now since the end of May, the band released A Thousand Days on their own back in April, but this month they’ll have it out again with backing from the respected taste of Atypeek Music, and as this is the first time I’m hearing it, and I dig the crap out of it, I’m posting about it. Because sometimes I have to do something like that to keep myself sane. So I dig this. If you do too, great. If not, wait for the next post. I’m sure it’ll be full of riffs.

Nothing against riffs, mind you.

Info and audio follows, courtesy of the PR wire:

june bug a thousand days

Atypeek Music: JUNE BUG Release New Album A Thousand Days

French avantgarde label Atypeek Music releases in June the new album by french Anti-Folk/ Pop, Psych Rock Duo June Bug.

June Bug has an alternative approach to Folk Music, where electronic and saturated sounds merge with the harmonies of human voices, guitars, percussions and synthesizers. The words and the melodies strongly match with the personality of Sarah June, self-taught artist singer songwriter who, through her musical journey, crossed the path of Beryl, guitarist multi-instrumentalist, who now accompanies her in the musical arrangements and on stage.

June Bug live:
07/06 CHERBOURG (50) Club Dinette
08/06 SAINT-BRIEUC (22) Le Fût Chantant
09/06 VANNES (56) Les Valseuses
10/06 VANNES (56) Bernus Café “concert privé”
20/06 MOUSCRON (BE) Festival Mouscr’on the Rock “Dottignies”
21/06 VILLENEUVE-D’ASCQ (59) La Ferme d’en Haut + Monsieur Thibaut
23/06 AMIENS (80) Festival Minuit avant la Nuit
28/06 DUNKERQUE (59) Le Bommel
30/06 SAINT-LAURENT-BLANGY (62) Médiathèque
01/07 LILLE (59) Concert privé
08/07 TULLE (19) Festival C’est Ma Tournée
28/07 CHAUNY (02) Festival Cantons Chante
11/08 TAVIGNY (BE) Festival La Truite Magique
13/08 AUXERRE (89) Festival Garçon La Note
14/08 NEVERS (58) Festival Nevers Plage
15/08 GOUDET (43) Festival Rock’n’Camp
19/08 MONTPELLIER (34) La Ferme Marine
20/08 BUIS-LES-BARONNIES (26) Les Ephélides
22/08 PANTIN (93) Le Bar Gallia
25/08 DARMSTADT (GER) Summer Festival Forst
08/09 MINSLEBEN (GER) Festival Mendevie

June Bug is:
JUNE : lead voice, electric guitar, drums, sample pad, omnichord.
BERYL : backing vocal, electric guitar, folk guitar, drums, sample pad, synthesizer.

https://www.facebook.com/junebugacoustic/
http://www.twitter.com/junebugacoustic
http://instagram.com/junebugacoustic
http://junebugacoustic.tumblr.com/
https://www.facebook.com/AtypeekMusic/
https://atypeek.bandcamp.com/
atypeekmusic.com/

June Bug, “Silenced” official video

June Bug, A Thousand Days

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Review & Track Premiere: Greyfell, Horsepower

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on January 4th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

greyfell horsepower

[Click play above to stream the premiere of ‘King of Xenphobia’ by Greyfell. Their Horsepower album is out Jan. 12 via Argonauta Records, Soza and Atypeek Music.]

It wasn’t really until the rolling noisefest that closing track “Hervé” became that Greyfell‘s 2015 debut, I Got the Silver Vol. 1 really did anything to portend the band they would be just a few years later. The bulk of that album used more straightforward heavy rock as a foundation for weaving through a couple different styles, from alternative heavy to meaner, more punk-ish fare. Now, the Rouen, France-based outfit make a significant turn of sound with their second full-length, Horsepower, and find themselves aligned to Atypeek Music, Argonauta Records and Soza for the cause, trimming four minutes off the first record’s already manageable 38, and more importantly, delving into rich, headphone-ready progressions of densely-packed, organ-laced heavy post-rock tonal wash, seeming to roll out patiently even when uptempo across five tracks that reach across styles even as they find such solid footing in a molten rhythmic foundation.

Now comprised of the first-name-only lineup of vocalist Hugo, guitarist Clément, bassist Boubakar and drummer Thierry, it’s reportedly the addition of keyboards that allowed this shift to take place, but it’s such a drastic turn of style that one can’t help but read purpose into it. That is, it didn’t just happen one day that somebody showed up to practice with a Korg and made the resonant tones of “Spirit of the Bear” happen. Or if they did, there was definitely some discussion afterward about the direction in which Greyfell were headed as a result. Even with the record preceding, Horsepower carries the feel of a second debut for the freshness of approach it brings from Greyfell, and if, like me, you didn’t hear I Got the Silver Vol. 1 when it came out, Horsepower sets so much of its own context that one wonders if the underlying message isn’t the band casting its songs forward as a true sonic identity for themselves.

The album takes place over two clearly-intentioned vinyl sides, the first comprised of three shorter pieces, the latter of two longer ones, and to hear the fuzz from the guitar of Clément at the start of opener “People’s Temple,” one might think there’s some continuity between the debut and the sophomore outing, but soon enough, the track begins to unfurl its breadth. Hugo‘s vocal approach contributes immediately to the sense of space in the leadoff piece and will persist in doing so throughout the songs that follow on side A, “Horses” and “No Love,” a blown-out effect calling to mind some of Ice Dragon‘s vibe, but subtly engaging a swath of growls and delivery styles that grow into a theme around which the lumbering instrumentalism takes place. He looses a first raw-throated scream circa 4:45 into “People’s Temple” that foretells of some of what “Spirit of the Bear” will have to offer in a mirror at the start of side B, but it’s in the heft of the layers packed into the song itself that the opener makes its major impression.

greyfell

So even as they embark on exploring these new textures, Greyfell do well to bring a sense of balance to their style. Though shorter, “Horses” is even more melodic and swirls to a thrilling head of chaos before evening itself out near its conclusion, finding resolve in cacophony and not only providing a transition point between “People’s Temple” and the nodding centerpiece “No Love,” but doing so with a purpose of its own as well derived from a tight and linear progression almost imperceptible on first listen but which plays out gracefully nonetheless. “No Love” seems to find even standing but at about 3:30 moves into a section of malevolent whispers backed by atmospheric shouting for maximum creep-out while speaking to a theatrical element the band credits to black metal but could just as easily derive from an art rock influence of one sort or another. In any case, amid the modern prog doom winding riff earlier and the layered melodies of vocals, it’s yet another turn Greyfell pull off ably with Horsepower seemingly as a result of simply having the confidence to make it happen.

One might say the same of how the eight-minutes-apiece pair of “Spirit of the Bear” and closer “King of Xenophobia” function on side B — the first as the most extreme moment on the offering and the latter as the most progressive. Perhaps in part because of the cover art that adorns it, or because of the diversity of aesthetic overall, it’s hard to think of any single moment on Horsepower as being “dark,” but if anything comes close, it’s “Spirit of the Bear,” which takes a meaner turn first in its chorus and then slows into a semi-blackened doom just past its midpoint en route to even nastier sludgy bombast and roll. The real surprise comes with a chant-style melody tossed in near the finish, and that would seem to be what ties “Spirit of the Bear” most to “King of Xenophobia,” which, while starting off no less languid in tempo, breaks in its verse to a vastness that the more claustrophobic piece before it largely eschewed. As the organ takes on a horror-derived spirit before the four-minute mark, a choral effect surrounds Hugo that denotes the transition into what will be Horsepower‘s final push, lurching to life via drums as a melee of feedback and noise surrounds before the chorus reemerges.

That underscoring of songcraft feels significant particularly in the band’s closing argument, though frankly, with their having made such a leap between I Got the Silver Vol. 1 and this album, I wouldn’t dare predict where they might head after Horsepower. If indeed this is them finding themselves sonically, they’ve done well in hitting on an approach that leaves them room to grow an individualized sensibility while maintaining a core of songcraft — “King of Xenophobia” demonstrates this perhaps most plainly of all — and should they decide to reinvent themselves once more for a third long-player, they’ve no doubt learned some crucial lessons from the experience of putting these tracks together. Either way, mark that a win. From a listener’s standpoint perhaps all the more, since the depths to which Horsepower plunges feature such character and ambient vitality, setting the familiar and the distinct against one another in fluid and cohesive fashion.

Greyfell on Thee Facebooks

Greyfell on Bandcamp

Argonauta Records on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records website

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Terminal Cheesecake Reissue Cheese Brain Fondue: Live in Marseille

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 30th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Originally released by Artificial Head Recordsin 2015, the live album Cheese Brain Fondue by London heavy psych rockers Terminal Cheesecake has been newly reissued digitally by French imprint Atypeek Music. The offering was recorded late in 2014 as part of the resurgent outfit’s reunion onslaught that remains ongoing and in recent years has found them at Desertfest, Yellowstock and elsewhere throughout the UK and Europe, still underrated but gaining all the more of a reputation for that. Their most recent studio offering, Dandelion Sauce of the Ancients (discussed here), came out last November via Box Records and was their first long-player in 22 years, which, you know, seems like probably long enough.

The PR wire has info on the live record, which is also streaming, and more besides:

terminal cheesecake cheese brain fondue

TERMINAL CHEESECAKE – Cheese Brain Fondue (Live in Marseille) – Digital, 2xLP

Atypeek Music/ Artificial Head Records

Out now (10/2017)

2013 saw the triumphant return of London’s Terminal Cheesecake. The band formed in London in 1988 and stumbled through two EPs, five LPs and an unreleased Peel session before they called it a day in 1994.

Terminal Cheesecake are back as a tightly knitted tea cosy of a unit, after a not-so-short break deeply contemplating space and time in the further reaches of the eastern outposts of the capital and beyond. The time is right for the return to the stages of this wonderful planet and for a fresh assault on the senses of the willing public.

Cheese Brain Fondue: Live In Marseille was recorded live – in Marseille – at L’Embobineuse in October 2015. The whole thing is a massive, multi-coloured, fuzzy triumph. For one thing, it captures the band as a truly immense sonic force to be reckoned with. The whole thing sounds dynamic and vast with the murmured rumblings at the start of opening improv Fake Loop working their way effortlessly to a giant screaming climax and the opening drum smashes and six-string abuse of Bladdersack.

Cheese Brain Fondue: Live In Marseille really deserves to rank alongside the lofty likes of Hawkwind’s Space Ritual as one of the all time great live psychedelic rock recordings. It overflows with heavy energy and cosmic laughter. Throughout hard rocking wig outs, wave after wave of fuzz seeps from amps, and laps the stage like the Mediterranean on France’s southern shores. Terminal Cheesecake are back, and quite possibly better than ever before.

Terminal Cheesecake:
Gordon Watson – guitar
Russell Smith – guitar
John Jobaggy – drums, samples
Neil Francis – vocals, effects
Dave Cochrane – bass

http://www.facebook.com/TerminalCheescake
https://terminalcheesecake.bandcamp.com
http://www.atypeekmusic.com
https://www.facebook.com/AtypeekMusic/
https://artinstitute.bandcamp.com/album/terminal-cheesecake-cheese-brain-fondue-live-in-marseille

Terminal Cheesecake, Cheese Brain Fondue (2015/2017)

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Queen Elephantine’s Kala Available to Preorder

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 7th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Last I heard, Queen Elephantine were still located in Providence, Rhode Island. The info below about preorders for their new album, Kala (review here), being available lists them as having relocated to New York. Entirely possible. Guitarist/founder Indrayudh Shome has been as restless geographically as he has creatively over the years. Hong Kong, New York, Rhode Island. He could basically turn up anywhere and find a host of cohorts with which to express Queen Elephantine‘s always complex and ritualized drone-doom.

Kala has an Oct. 21 release date and some considerable backing from Argonauta Records, Cimmerian Share Recordings, Tartarus Records and Atypeek Music — each imprint releasing it on a different format. If you’ve ever heard the band’s as-yet underrated experimentalism, it’s little wonder so many parties would want to be involved.

From the PR wire:

queen elephantine kala

QUEEN ELEPHANTINE announce new album ‘Kala’ on multiple labels

Release Date – October 21st, 2016
Record Label – Cimmerian Shade Recordings (LP) / Argonauta Records (CD) / Tartarus Records (Cassette) / Atypeek Music (Digital)

Queen Elephantine, the exotic-flavoured doom/ambient band once operating out of Hong Kong (who have since moved to New York), are back with a brand new full length called Kala. They’ve always kept innovating and the new album is even more entrancing, atmospheric and mind-bending. They’ve honed their skills to offer music that’s near unparalleled – the delicate cacophony of the numerous instruments (spaced out, never overcrowding), the suspenseful atmosphere, the ever-lingering sense of intrigue, it’s all there, and better than ever before. Kala taps into your subconscious, creates swirling colourful patterns, a hypnotic effect that doesn’t wear off easily like a rare non-harmful drug. Succumb to the creeping, psychedelic madness that’s Queen Elephantine.

Mastered by Billy Anderson (Neurosis, Swans, Sleep, Eyehategod, High on Fire)

Artwork has been made by Adrian Dexter

Line up:
Indrayudh Shome – Guitar
Ian Sims – Drumset
Mat Becker – Bass
Srinivas Reddy – Guitar
Derek Fukumori – Percussion
Samer Ghadry – Guitar, Synth
Nathanael Totushek – Drumset + Percussion on 2,4,6
Nick DiSalvo – Mellotron on 1, 2, 3
Michael Scott Isley – Percussion on 2,4
Danny Quinn – Surgeon Pepper

Track list:
1. Quartered
2. Quartz
3. Ox
4. Onyx
5. Deep Blue
6. Throne of the Void in the Hundred Petal Lotus

https://www.facebook.com/queenelephantine/
https://queenelephantine.bandcamp.com/album/kala
http://cimmerianshaderecs.storenvy.com/products/17801057-queen-elephantine-kala
http://www.argonautarecords.com/shop/music-/143-queen-elephantine-kala-cd.html
http://tartarusrecords.com/
http://atypeekmusic.com/Atypeek_Music.html

Queen Elephantine, Kala (2016)

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Quarterly Review: Kamchatka, Legion of Andromeda, Queen Elephantine, Watchtower, Ape Skull, Hordes, Dead Shed Jokers, These Hands Conspire, Enos & Mangoo, Band of Spice

Posted in Reviews on July 2nd, 2015 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk summer quarterly review

We’re on the downhill swing of this edition of the Quarterly Review, so it’s time to get into some extremes, I think. Today, between death-doom lurch, drone-as-fuck exploring, gritty aggression and a whole lot more, we pretty much get there. I’m not saying it’s one end of the universe to another, but definitely a little all-over-the-place, which is just what one might need when staring down the fourth round of 10 reviews in a row in a week’s time. Feeling good though, so let’s do it.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Kamchatka, Long Road Made of Gold

kamchatka long road made of gold

It would really be something if Swedish blues rockers Kamchatka released six albums over the course of the last decade and didn’t know what they were doing by now. Fortunately, that’s not the case with Long Road Made of Gold (Despotz Records), their sixth, as the Verberg three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Thomas Juneor Andersson, bassist Per Wiberg (see also: Spiritual Beggars, Candlemass, Opeth, etc.) and drummer Tobias Strandvik modernize classic heavy rock with equal comfort in including a banjo on “Take Me Back Home” and progressive-style harmonies on “Rain.” They seem to get bluesier as they go, with later cuts “Mirror,” “Slowly Drifting Away,” “Long Road” and “To You” rounding out the album with Clutch-style bounce, but the prevailing impact of Long Road Made of Gold is one of unflinching class, the chemistry of its players – not to mention Wiberg’s bass tone – ringing through loud and clear from the material as Kamchatka make their way down that long road to their inevitable next outing.

Kamchatka on Thee Facebooks

Despotz Records

Legion of Andromeda, Iron Scorn

legion of andromeda iron scorn

I said as much when the Tokyo duo released their 2013 debut EP (review here) as well, but their first long-player Iron Scorn (on At War with False Noise) only confirms it: Legion of Andromeda are fucked. Theirs is a doomed-out death metal given further inhumanity by programmed drums and the blown-out growls of vocalist -R-, while guitarist/programmer –M- holds down grime-encrusted chug and dirge riffing. Perhaps most fucked of all is the fact that Iron Scorn uses essentially the same drum progression across its seven tracks/44 minutes, varying in tempo but holding firm to the double-kick and bell-hit timekeeping for the duration. The effect this has not only ties the material together – as it would have to – but also makes the listener feel like they’ve entered into some no-light-can-escape alternate universe in which all there is is that thud, the distortion and the growls. Not a headphone record, unless you were looking to start psychotherapy anyhow, its extremity is prevalent enough to feel like a physical force holding you down.

Legion of Andromeda on Thee Facebooks

At War with False Noise

Queen Elephantine, Omen

queen elephantine omen

Relentlessly creative and geographically amorphous drone warriors Queen Elephantine compile eight tracks from eight years of their perpetual exploration for Omen on Atypeek Music, which launches with its titular cut, the oldest of the bunch, from 2007. It’s a gritty rolling groove that, even as nascent and riff-noddy as it is, still has underpinnings that might clue the listener in to what’s to come (especially in hindsight) and comes accompanied by the sludgy “The Sea Goat,” a rawer take recorded the same year in Hong Kong. Newest on Omen is the blissfully percussed “Morning Three” and an 18-minute live version of “Search for the Deathless State” from 2010’s Kailash full-length. Lineups, intent and breadth of sound vary widely, but even into the reaches of “1,000 Years” (2012, Providence, RI) and “Shamanic Procession” (2009, New York), Queen Elephantine remain unflinching in their experimentalism and the results here are likewise immersive. Vastly underrated, their work remains a world waiting to be explored.

Queen Elephantine on Thee Facebooks

Atypeek Music

Watchtower, Radiant Moon

watchtower radiant moon

Consuming undulations of tectonic riffing. Two of them, actually. Watchtower’s Radiant Moon EP serves as their debut on Magnetic Eye, and like their fellow-Melbourne-resident labelmates in Horsehunter, the four-piece Watchtower slam heavy-est riffs into the listener’s cerebral cortex with little concern for lasting aftereffects, all in worship of nod and volume itself. Where the two acts differ is in Watchtower’s overarching sense of grit, harsh vocals pervading both “Radiant Moon” (9:03) itself and the accompanying “Living Heads” (7:09), standalone vocalist Nico Guijt growing through the tonal fray wrought by guitarist Robbie Ingram and bassist Ben Robertson, Joel McGann’s drums pushing the emergent roll forward on “Living Heads,” a High on Fire-style startoff hitting the brakes on tempo to plod over any and all in its path. I’m trying to tell you it’s fucking heavy. Is that getting through? Watchtower had a live single out before Radiant Moon, but I’d be eager to hear what they come up with for a full-length, whether they might shift elsewhere at some point or revel in pure onslaught. Now taking bets.

Watchtower on Thee Facebooks

Magnetic Eye Records

Ape Skull, Fly Camel Fly

ape skull fly camel fly

The use of multiple vocalists gives Roman trio Ape Skull’s ‘70s fetishism a particularly proggy air. Fly Camel Fly is their second full-length for Heavy Psych Sounds behind a 2013 self-titled, and the boogie of “My Way” and “Early Morning,” the solo-topped groove of “Fly Camel Fly,” and the raw Hendrixology of “A is for Ape” position it as a classic rocker through and through. Vocalist/drummer Giuliano Padroni, bassist/vocalist Pierpaolo Pastorelli and guitarist/vocalist Fulvio Cartacci get down to shuffling business quick and stay that way for the 39-minute duration, the Mountainous “Heavy Santa Ana Wind” missing only the complement of a sappy, over-the-top ballad to complete its vintage believability. Even without, the triumvirate stand tall, fuzzy and swinging on Fly Camel Fly, the cowbell of “Tree Stomp” calling to mind the earthy chaos of Blue Cheer without direct mimicry. A quick listen that builds and holds its momentum, but one that holds up too on subsequent visits.

Ape Skull on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds

Hordes, Hordes

hordes hordes

Mad-as-hell trio Hordes have had a slew of releases out over the last eight years or so – EPs, splits, full-lengths with extended tracks – but their experimental take on noise rock topped with Godfleshy shouts arrives satisfyingly stripped down on their latest self-titled five-track EP, recorded in 2013 and pressed newly to tape and CD (also digital). “Eyes Dulled Blind” dials back some of the pummeling after the bruises left by “Cold War Echo,” guitarist/vocalist Alex Hudson at the fore in the JK Broadrick tradition. Centerpiece “Summer” starts with a slow and peaceful ruse before shifting into brash and blown-out punk – Chris Martinez’s hi-hat forward in the mix to further the abrasion – and finally settles into a middle-ground between the two (mind you, the song is four minutes long), and bassist Jon Howard opens “Life Crusher,” which unfolds quickly into the most oppressive push here, while a churning atmosphere pervades the more echo-laden closer “Fall” to reinforce Hordes’ experimentalist claims and steady balance between tonal weight and noise-caked aggression.

Hordes on Thee Facebooks

Hordes on Bandcamp

Dead Shed Jokers, Dead Shed Jokers

dead shed jokers dead shed jokers

There’s a theatrical element underlying Welsh rockers Dead Shed Jokers’ second, self-titled full-length (on Pity My Brain Records). That’s not to say its eight songs are in some way insincere, just that the five-piece of vocalist Hywel Davies, guitarists Nicky Bryant and Kristian Evans, bassist Luke Cook and drummer Ashley Jones know there’s a show going on. Davies is in the lead throughout and proves a consummate frontman presence across opener “Dafydd’s Song,” the stomping “Memoirs of Mr. Bryant” and the swinging “Rapture Riddles,” Dead Shed Jokers’ penultimate cut before the cabaret closer “Exit Stage Left (Applause),” but the instrumental backing is up to its own task, and a clear-headed production gives the entire affair a professional sensibility. They veer into and out of heavy rock tropes fluidly, but maintain a tonal fullness wherever they might be headed, and Cook’s bass late in “Made in Vietnam” seems to carry a record’s worth of weight in just its few measures at the forefront before Davies returns for the next round of proclamations.

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Dead Shed Jokers BigCartel store

These Hands Conspire, Sword of Korhan

these hands conspire sword of korhan

Berlin’s These Hands Conspire aren’t through the two-minute instrumental “Intro” before they’re showing off the heft of tone that pervades their metallized debut album, Sword of Korhan, but as they demonstrate throughout the following seven tracks and the total 45-minute runtime, there’s plenty to go around. Vocalist Felix delivers an especially noteworthy performance over the dual-guitars of Tom and Stefan, the bass of Paul and Sascha’s drums, but heavy metal storytelling – the sci-fi narrative seems to be a battle in space – is just as much a part of the record’s progressive flow, longer cuts like “Praise to Nova Rider,” “The Beast Cometh,” which directly follows, and “Ambush at Antarox IV” feeding one into the next sonically and thematically. The penultimate title-track brings swinging apex to an ambitious first outing, but the foreboding, winding guitar echoes of “Outro” hint at more of the tale to be told. Could be that Sword of Korhan is just the beginning of a much longer engagement.

These Hands Conspire on Thee Facebooks

These Hands Conspire on Bandcamp

Enos & Mangoo, Split

enos mangoo split

Maybe it doesn’t need to be said, since if it weren’t the case, they wouldn’t have paired at all, but Enos and Mangoo pair well. The UK chimp-obsessed space metallers – that’s Enos, on side A – and the Finnish modernized classic heavy rock outfit – that’s Mangoo, on side B – don’t ask much of the listener across their Son of a Gun/The Grey Belly split (on H42 Records) beyond a little over 10 minutes of time and a willingness to follow a groove. “Son of a Gun” finds Enos blending particularly well with Mangoo’s methodology via the inclusion of organ in their swinging but still forward-directed movement, and after that, it’s an easy mesh to flip the platter and find Mangoo’s “The Grey Belly” waiting, its own keys playing a huge role in carrying across the ‘70s-via-‘90s vibe the band projects so well. Flourishes of percussion in the former seem to complement the progressive guitar work in the latter, and whichever side happens to be spinning, it all works out just fine.

Enos on Thee Facebooks

Mangoo on Thee Facebooks

H42 Records

Band of Spice, Economic Dancers

band of spice economic dancers

Born in 2007 as Spice and the RJ Band and rechristened Band of Spice in 2010 prior to their third album, Feel Like Coming Home, the Swedish unit boasting vocalist Christian “Spice” Sjöstrand (founding vocalist of Spiritual Beggars, also Mushroom River Band, currently also in Kayser) release their fourth full-length half a decade later in the form of Economic Dancers on Scarlet Records. It’s a straightforward heavy rocker in the organ-laced European tradition that Spice helped create, with some shades of quirk in the intro to “The Joe” and the arena-ready backing vocals of “In My Blood,” but mostly cutting its teeth on modernized ‘70s jams like “On the Run,” “Down by the Liquor Store” and “True Will,” though the six-minute centerpiece “You Will Call” touches on more psychedelic fare and is backed immediately by two metallers in “You Can’t Stop” and “Fly Away,” so it’s not by any means one-sided, even if at times the mix makes it feel like the 11 tracks are a showcase for the singer whose name is on the marquee.

Band of Spice at Scarlet Records

Scarlet Records on Bandcamp

 

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Queen Elephantine Release Omen Collection of Tracks from 2007-2013

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 4th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

queen elephantine (Photo by Erin Dynamic)

Over the last eight or nine years, and whether they were based at the time in New York, Hong Kong or Rhode Island, Queen Elephantine have had a lineup as fluid and shifting as their output itself, but they’ve never lost sight of the experimental drive that seems to be at the core of what they do. I’m not sure that was ever the case so much as on their last full-length, 2013’s Scarab (review here), a churning blend of drone, tonal heft and ambition, but if it tells you anything about the general ethic under which they work, their new release, Omen, is billed as an EP and it’s 70 minutes long. That’s how it goes.

Omen, which is a digital-only outing fostered by French label Atypeek Music, collects previously unreleased tracks from the bulk of Queen Elephantine‘s tenure: 2007 up through 2013 — presumably the Scarab sessions — and features throughout its course no fewer than 14 players. It has live stuff, it has drones, it has an abrasive side that will test the limits of endurance, but the ability to bring all these things together is what makes Queen Elephantine who they are in whatever form they might take.

The release announcement came in like such:

queen elephantine omen

new Queen Elephantine EP

Available through most digital outlets via Atypeek Music (France).

With a fluid lineup and various experiments in approach, QUEEN ELEPHANTINE is a nebulous worship of heavy mood and time. OMEN is the new collection of old artifacts from the masters of dark psychedelia.

The retrospective 70-minute “EP” is a haze-filled collage, a faded time-caravan travelling through the collective’s 2007 roots in Hong Kong to more recent American pieces.

Remastered by Mell Dettmer (Sunn 0))) & Boris), Omen weaves a vein through the dynamic body’s numerous players and instruments, through the dirtiest sludge and cleanest drone meditation alike, illuminating the living, unifying force at the core of Queen Elephantine.

With only the rare relief to be found, OMEN is a grueling, gutting, soul-sapping experience. Enjoy.

released 01 June 2015

Brett Zweiman, Rajkishen Narayanan, Marc Gaetani, Indrayudh Shome, Daniel Quinn, Michael Scott Isley, J. Alexander Buck, Samer Ghadry, Ian Sims, Derek Fukumori, Nathanael Totushek, Mat Becker, Chris Dialogue, Andrew Jude Riotto

http://facebook.com/queenelephantine
https://queenelephantine.bandcamp.com/
http://queenelephantine.clfrecords.com/
http://atypeekmusic.com/Atypeek_Music.html
https://www.facebook.com/AtypeekMusic

Queen Elephantine, Omen (2015)

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