Destroyer of Light Premiere “Burning Darkness” from Mors Aeterna out May 24

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

destroyer of light

The grim magic of lurking tradtional doom has been with Destroyer of Light all along, but the Austin, Texas, four-piece have never brought it to bear with the poise, presence or level of accomplishment they do on Mors Aeterna. Their third full-length out May 24 as their debut for Argonauta Records follows behind 2018’s Hopeless EP (review here) and 2017’s Chamber of Horrors (review here), both of which seemed to paint the band’s shifting focus in real-time. Their earlier work on 2014’s Bizarre Tales Vol. 2 EP or their 2012 self-titled debut was more in a burly heavy rock vein, but it was the Endsville split/collaboration with Godhunter (discussed here) in 2015 that really began to mark their turn to darker, more sinister, doomly fare.

Mors Aeterna — which brings forth 10 tracks in a relatively concise 44 minutes peppered with interludes throughout like the intro “Overture Putrefactio,” the keyboard-laced “The Unknown,” the piano-led “Pralaya’s Hymn” and the penultimate foreboding of “Into the Abyss” that launches directly into the megacrash of semi-title-track closer “Eternal Death” —  is unquestionably Destroyer of Light‘s crowning achievement to-date. It presents their sound as a work of directed vision while proffering memorable stretches from the emotional strains of “Dissolution” onwards, but neither casts its lot entirely with classic doom nor the post-Pallbearer modern sphere. As they’ve done throughout their career, Destroyer of Light reside in a place between, and it’s a place that sounds more theirs than it ever has before.

Intro, two songs, interlude, two songs, interlude, one song, intro, one song. Parsed out, it’s easy enough to see where the band — guitarist/vocalist Steve Colca, guitarist/synthesist Keegan Kjeldsen, bassist Nick Coffman and drummer Penny Turner — wanted to break things up to keep a given listener on their toes, but such structuring does little to convey the intricacy of Destroyer of Light‘s doom and how they blend atmospherics and nodder progressions in order to get where they do. The Candlemassian stretch of “Afterlife” or the bass-heavy chug-and-swing of “Falling Star” and the play off a spacier influence in “Loving the Void,” bringing psychedelia and doom together in such a fashion as to be beholden to neither so much as its own purpose — these moments go beyond the simple shape of the album and speak to the breadth that Destroyer of Light stake out across the album’s entirety.

destroyer of light mors aeternaThey are heavy, yes. They are dark, yes. But if you think there can’t be detail as well to that, then a cut like “Burning Darkness,” with its rumbling low end foundation beneath the vocal melody and its consuming march to a destructive finish is simply going to be lost on you, let alone how the “heavier” songs interact with the interludes so clearly meant to and so effective at increasing the scope of Mors Aeterna overall. It is a record of bleak soulfulness and sincere exploration; the product of a commitment to creative growth that has shown itself across Destroyer of Light‘s discography. It feels very much like an arrival point.

And so it should, given that it’s their third record and they’ve put in some significant time on tour leading up to it — they’ll keep that thread going in Europe starting this weekend — but even more than that, Mors Aeterna seems to be working from a full-album conception. This also ties at least partially into the interludes and focus on mood and atmosphere, and it continues right up to the violin and piano that cap “Eternal Death” in a mirror to “Overture Putrefactio” at the outset. The interludes tie together the various movements of Mors Aeterna and help bolster the depth of even the most straightforward of its songs, feeding into an overarching flow that begins as “Dissolution” takes hold with its initial roll and continues through the relatively and somewhat ironically quick fadeout of “Eternal Death.”

All throughout, Destroyer of Light bask in a doom that cast in their image and spirited not by adherence to the tropes of genre, but by reshaping them to suit the needs of the songs. Destroyer of Light are a much different band now than when they started out some seven years ago, but the style they’ve embraced is something hitting its moment of realization and that — most importantly — shows no signs of stopping here. There’s nothing throughout Mors Aeterna to make one think Destroyer of Light have landed here and this is it. Rather, the quality of the songwriting and the sureheadedness with which they approach such outwardly bleak sonic terrain gives the impression only of further plunge to be had as they move forward. Still, this is an important step for the band and a convincing argument in favor of there being life after traditional doom.

It’s my pleasure today to host the premiere of “Burning Darkness.” Please find it below, followed by some comment from the band and their European tour dates.

Enjoy:

Destroyer of Light, “Burning Darkness” official track premiere

Destroyer of Light on “Burning Darkness”:

“Burning Darkness” is about this man traveling through the underworld, trying to figure out where he is heading. It is dark, it is really hot, and then he realizes that he has transcended into hell. This was a fun song to write because it is super melodic, but then really heavy. I wanted to add a “black metal” section to signify that he is hell and it is horrible! Lots of dynamics and influences showed in this song.

We are excited for our first European tour. We’ve been working really hard to get over there and for us to finally be here feels really good. Hard to believe we are, it’ll be awesome to have the new album with us too. Y’all will get the first chance in person! Hope to see you out there!

Set for a release on May 24th with Argonauta Records, Mors Aeterna will be available as CD, LP and Digital formats at: www.argonautarecords.com

Tour Dates:
10th May, Italy, Bologna @ Freak Out*
11th May, Italy, Genua @ Lucrezia Social Bar*
12th May, France, Lyon @ Le Farmer*
13th May, France, Toulouse @ L’Usine de la Musique*
14th May, France, Strasbourg @ L’Elastic*
15th May, Germany, Dresden @ Chemiefabrik*
16th May, Germany, Berlin*
17th May, Denmark, Aalborg @ 1000 Fryd*
18th May, Sweden, Stockholm @ Copperfields*
19th May, Sweden, Boras @ Cannibal Metal*
21th May, Switzerland @ Luzern*
22th May, Italy, Milan+
23th May, Italy, Turin @ Ziggy+
24th May, Italy, Vercelli @ Officine Sonore+
25th May, Italy, Treviso @ Altroquando+
* w/ Hell Obelisco
+ w/ Great Electric Quest

Destroyer of Light is:
Steve Colca – Guitar, Vocals
Nick Coffman – Bass
Keegan Kjeldsen – Guitar, Synth
Penny Turner – Drums

Destroyer of Light, “Afterlife”

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Review & Video Premiere: The Well, Death and Consolation

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Reviews on April 26th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the well death and consolation

The Well, “This is How the World Ends” official video premiere

[Click play above to stream the premiere of The Well’s video for “This is How the World Ends.” Their new album, Death and Consolation, is out today on RidingEasy Records and streaming in full below.]

Austin trio The Well have always worked with largely familiar elements — riffs, dual vocals, heavy rolling groove, garage-doom burnout and so on — but their third album, Death and Consolation, further demonstrates how they take what’s expected and twist it to suit darker purposes. It’s not just the title of the RidingEasy Records release that seems to be coping and consoling, and as the Austin, Texas, band — who spent a decent portion of the second half of 2018 touring Europe — nod through the nine-track/42-minute offering, their sound retains the raw grit they’ve had since before their debut album, Samsara (review here), came out in 2014. Death and Consolation is very much of a mind with Samsara and Pagan Science (review here), which followed it in 2016, thanks in no small part to guitarist/vocalist Ian Graham, bassist/vocalist Lisa Alley and drummer Jason Sullivan returning to work with producer/engineer Chico Jones, who has been involved in all three of their full-lengths — Jason Morales helmed their 2012 debut single, Seven (review here) — and whose relationship with the band would seem to be deep enough at this point to give them space both to revel in the bleary-eyed riffs and echoes of songs like “Act II” and the unrepentantly uptempo Dio-era Sabbathian bounce of centerpiece “Eyes of a God” just before it.

As with opener “Sabbah,” which seems to take its cues from Kyuss/Vista Chino (thinking “Thumb” or “Dargona Dragona”) in terms of its riffy foundation, “Eyes of a God” acknowledges its influence and sees The Well internalize it to the point of making it theirs. It’s a cliché narrative to say a band’s third album is their moment of arrival, having set out ideas on the first record and corrected initial mistakes on the second — and honestly, in the case of The Well, their work has never needed much in terms of correction. Still, across its span, Death and Consolation shows the steady growth they’ve undertaken and the broader reach they’ve made their own as a result, right from the keyboard chorus in the apex of “Sabbah” to the tolling-for-thee bells that help cap the noisefest ending of closer “Endless Night.”

All along the way, The Well ask few indulgences and deliver a quality of craft indicative of the time they’ve spent hammering out their approach onstage. Their material is efficient while sounding languid, as early cuts like “Raven,” which makes its greater impression in full-push while still varying tempo en route to its Alley/Graham vocal congregation around an effective secondary hook, and the subsequent “Death Song” make plain. The latter rounds out an opening salvo on a record that, while obviously splitting into two sides for the vinyl release, nonetheless seems to work in sets of three. Its riff is more patiently delivered than anything in “Raven” was intended to be, and it builds on the buzz of “Sabbah” at the outset with an intermittent wash of crash from Sullivan that bolsters the Pentagram-style rhythm in the lyrics and righteously adds to the tension in the last verse.

the well

“Cup of Peace,” which follows, feels like the beginning of another movement, and as much as a lumbering intro sets the stage for a guitar dropout during the first part of its verse, Graham‘s voice encased in echo and baring cultish fangs amid the surrounding fuzz. Alley joins in later with a harmony line as the track shifts toward its crescendo solo, a highlight of Death and Consolation as a whole for its blend of technique and raw noise. Obscure, manipulated samples begin “Eyes of a God,” with the central riff kicking in at about the 40-second mark. That introduction makes what’s already the shortest cut at 3:41 seem even shorter, but doesn’t at all detract from its engaging spirit. Instead, it benefits from the sense of contrast, and its sampling helps set up the pulsations of “Act II,” which starts side B while also drawing the middle third of the album to its close — starting the second act in one interpretation of the tracklisting while ending it in another — with a resonant hook and a march that holds sway until the arrival of organ signals the start of the freakout in the second half; solo, thick boogie, crash, noise, threat, stop. The last line, “Forever you will be mine,” echoes out with a due feeling of conclusion.

Likewise, the quiet and slow drums that offer a bed to the bluesy vocals at the beginning of “Freedom Above” seem to be a reset or at least a return to ground. They leave it soon enough, with ambient noise behind Alley and Graham‘s vocals, the rumble of the former keeping one foot on earth even as the sensation of floating becomes ever more prevalent. There’s a subtle build at work, but even as heavy as it gets, it seems to hold back, much to its credit. It might be the best vocal performance The Well have ever had on a record, with Graham giving way to Alley at the end and the latter self-harmonizing to finish, serving as a transition into the penultimate “This is How the World Ends,” with jarring samples of chimpanzees and less-jarring speech leading directly into the verse, drenched in post-Electric Wizard sneer but, again, thoroughly its own. I won’t say it looks good for the world, but The Well at least give planet Earth a characteristic sendoff, the prevailing vibe of “we earned this apocalypse” coming through with due prejudice in its judgment.

The recognizable voice of Rod Serling caps, and “Endless Night” commences with an assault of low distortion from which the winding riff emerges. Together, the three members of The Well seem to be walking into the summation that “This is How the World Ends” laid forth. Sullivan provides the path and Graham and Alley‘s vocal melodies bring order to the chaos of their guitar and bass tones. The aforementioned ringing bells arrive early in the second half and are accompanied soon enough by the noiseiest of the guitar solos on Death and Consolation, which feels well earned and is the last piece to fade out at the end, drawing emphasis on The Well‘s ability to creep even as they entrance the listener. It would be a cliché to say they’ve arrived — they arrived half a decade ago — but Death and Consolation finds them completely in control of their sound when they want to be, and still able to harness an underlying chaos enough to be genuinely dangerous. The growth of arrangement and vocal interaction between Alley and Graham is easy evidence of their progression, but that’s only one of the many ways The Well have carved out their own place in the pantheon of heavy. Their identity is all over these songs like melted candle wax.

The Well, Death and Consolation (2019)

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Destroyer of Light to Release Mors Aeterna May 24; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 1st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

destroyer of light

Those of you still reeling from Destroyer of Light‘s 2018 Hopeless EP (review here) might want to sit down, but the band has set a May 24 release date for Mors Aeterna, the four-piece’s third album and first to be released through Argonauta Records. They’ll celebrate the record release at Argonauta Fest in Italy with The Great Electric Quest and others, and there is little doubt that US dates will follow behind the European incursion. Destroyer of Light are no strangers to hitting the road when called upon to do so, and a new album is plenty of occasion for it.

Motivations, info, art and the track “Afterlife” can be found below, courtesy of the PR wire:

destroyer of light mors aeterna

DESTROYER OF LIGHT UNLEASH ALBUM DETAILS + FIRST SINGLE!

Formed in 2012 from constantly boiling musical cauldron that is Austin, TX, DESTROYER OF LIGHT has taken a straight forward approach to tempering the disparate and harmonious parts of their influences into a total sum of slow motion tidal heaviness that bows to no altar but that of the riff. With the smoky flavors of hazed out doom and the stomping cadence of rock’s heyday, the band both tickles and deafens the ears with the theatrical flashes of Mercyful Fate, the ominous tones of Electric Wizard, and the ferociously feral feedback of a Sleep dirge. May 24th will see DESTROYER OF LIGHT return with their third full-length album, Mors Aeterna!

Mors Aeterna is a concept album about a man who dies and travels through the underworld and experiences unpleasant scenarios. “There’s ups and downs, twist and turns, and ultimately in the end, he will float in hell for eternity and experience complete horror for the rest of his being, hence, Mors Aeterna aka Eternal Death“ the band explains.

Today DESTROYER OF LIGHT are not only sharing the hotly anticipated details about their upcoming album with us, but also a first appetizer with the single ‘Afterlife’!

“‘Afterlife’ was the first song written for this album. At this stage, the man does not know if he is alive or dead. So, he is in shock and scared of what is happening, he is trying to communicate with someone, but they can’t hear his cries. Oh, the horror.

We worked really hard on this new record to make it an experience and to give the listener a good, steady flow to go with the concept, we hope you enjoy it!“

Mors Aeterna tracklist:
1. Overture Putrefactio
2. Dissolution
3. Afterlife
4. The Unknown
5. Falling Star
6. Burning Darkness
7. Pralaya’s Hymn
8. Loving the Void
9. Into the Abyss
10. Eternal Death

Set for a release on May 24th with Argonauta Records, Mors Aeterna will be available as CD, LP and Digital formats at: www.argonautarecords.com

Tour Dates:
DESTROYER OF LIGHT, with special guests HELL OBELISCO
10.05.19 IT – Bologna, Freak Out
11.05.19 IT – Genua, Lucrezia Social Bar
12.05.19 FR – Lyon, Le Farmer
13.05.19 FR – Toulouse, Usine De La Musique
14.05.19 FR – Strasbourg, Tba
15.05.19 DE – Dresden, Chemiefabrik
17.05.19 DK – Aalborg, 1000 Fryd
18.05.19 SWE – Stockholm, Copperfield
19.05.19 SWE – Boras, Cannibal Queen
24.05.19 IT – Vercelli (Argonauta Fest), with The Great Electric Quest
25.05.19 IT – Treviso, Altroquando with Messa

Destroyer of Light is:
Steve Colca – Guitar, Vocals
Nick Coffman – Bass
Keegan Kjeldsen – Guitar, Synth
Penny Turner – Drums

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http://www.twitter.com/DoLAustinDoom
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Destroyer of Light, “Afterlife”

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Review & Video Premiere: Duel, Valley of Shadows

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Reviews on March 26th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

duel valley of shadows

[Click play above to stream the premiere of Duel’s video for ‘Black Magic Summer’ from Valley of Shadows. Album is out May 17 on Heavy Psych Sounds. European tour dates here.]

There’s been nothing to dull the momentum Duel have built since the release of their first album, Fears of the Dead (review here), just over three years ago in 2016, and as much as their third LP for Heavy Psych Sounds, Valley of Shadows, might feel like an arrival point, it’s entirely possible it’s just another forward step in an ongoing series thereof. Through considerable touring in North America and Europe, the Austin, Texas, four-piece have worked to earn a reputation and as songwriters. Their sophomore full-length, 2017’s Witchbanger (review here), was a marked step forward from the debut, and the eight tracks/37 minutes of Valley of Shadows follow suit, with a less-rushed feel and a burgeoning attention to detail in songwriting, as well as a more dynamic overall approach that moves Duel further from the ’70s-ism of their beginnings and further toward their own sound.

A 2018 live album, Live at the Electric Church (review here), was a duly admirable showcase of energy, and Valley of Shadows brings that sense of performance to bear as well, but the context in which it does has shifted, as opener “Black Magic Summer” sets a tone not of riotousness, but of a more complex and mood-aware craft. Vocalist/guitarist Tom Frank maintains a characteristic approach with backing by guitarist/engineer Jeff Hensen and bassist Shaun Avants, and Valley of Shadows marks the first appearance of drummer Justin Collins. It would be a stretch to place a shift in sound or style solely at the feet of any single lineup change, and rather, as cuts like “Red Moon Forming” and “Strike and Disappear” play out across the album’s A side, the case seems to be simply one of Duel maturing as a band. If it seems like that’s happening quickly — the debut was three years ago, remember — it is, but one might consider the accelerant of the work they’ve put in on tour and in the studio and the continued urgency of their creativity.

At least part of Valley of Shadows seems to be directly related to processing the last three years’ efforts, as though their time in the studio was a chance to catch their breath and look back. “Black Magic Summer” could easily be a touring song, and likewise “Drifting Alone,” “Strike and Disappear,” “Tyrant on the Throne” and “I Feel No Pain.” And even if that’s not a running theme couched in metaphors of northern moons and autocratic rule, the contemplative, slower Thin Lizzy pace of the opener lends itself to a particular wistfulness, and even as the steady kick drum of “Red Moon Forming” shoves the listener through the track’s four minutes accompanied by a run of dual-guitars and one of the record’s most potent hooks, that more considered vibe holds sway. The arrangement of backing vocals in “Red Moon Forming,” or the subtle changes in guitar and bass in the verse and the careening feel into the chorus, the layering of solos: it all speaks to Duel not only putting more time into making Valley of Shadows — which I don’t know that they did — but being unafraid of going wherever they need to in order to best serve the song.

duel

Unsurprisingly, “Drifting Alone” carries a melancholy feel, but still picks up for an engaging chorus peppered with backing vocals and a solo deeper in the mix. A bit of effects after the midsection and hints toward vocal harmony across channels lead to the payoff and a cold finish, bringing on “Strike and Disappear,” an album highlight that sets the most sentimental-sounding movement of Valley of Shadows directly against a Motörhead-inspired thrust that consumes the track’s second half in commanding fashion with a forward kick in energy that portends what follows on side B when “Broken Mirror” gets rolling. “Strike and Disappear” is excellently placed after “Drifting Alone,” as Duel have already by then established what seem to be the rules of the album in terms of how far they’ll go either way in terms of mood, and then essentially they shatter those rules by pushing to new limits on both sides. So it goes with the album as a whole in relation to their past work.

“Broken Mirror” taps proto-thrash riffing and is even shorter than its 4:04 runtime implies, cutting off at 3:43 to a kind of echoing and manipulated laughter as a leadout/intro to “Tyrant on the Throne,” which immediately casts its victory in soaring leads and a charging riff. Sure to be a highlight live, it nonetheless carries a studio-born nuance in intertwining guitars and vocal lines, married to a confidence of presentation that makes the whole thing not just believable, but able to bring the audience up to its level. That is, it is executed without posturing and the triumph it conveys is earned and all the more satisfying because of that. More residual hum transitions into the volume trades of “I Feel No Pain,” with its subdued verses and explosive chorus and bridge working to tie the ups and downs of Valley of Shadows together ahead of the stage-ready blowout of “The Bleeding Heart,” which is the longest track at 5:55, but fades out approaching its fifth minute as a wash of keys makes its way in and ultimately serves as the band’s closing statement.

Does it portend things still to come? More to say on the part of the band? Is it an atmospheric expression of the quiet when the show is over? Was it just a sound they made in the studio and thought might work to sneak in at the end of the vinyl? No clue, but even after the fade of “The Bleeding Heart,” it serves as a way of bringing the listener back to reality once the album has finished, and whether or not that was the intent at its inclusion, it is one more way in which Valley of Shadows feels complete in its execution from front to back. Duel have been on a tear since the outset, but they surpass even the lofty expectations they’ve amassed here, and the question that remains is how much farther they’ll continue to push and where that might lead them sound-wise in the longer term. That of course will be seen over time, but even that the question has moved to what they’ll do over “the longer term” is indicative of the staying power so evident in their work. Valley of Shadows sounds like the work of a band here to stay.

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Quarterly Review: Kungens Män, PFUND, Crystal Spiders, The Misery Men, Hubris, Woorms, Melody Fields, Oreyeon, Mammoth Grove, Crimson Devils

Posted in Reviews on March 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

I used to be pretty artsy and write poetry. Let’s give it a shot:

There was an old man who wore no-toe shoes.
He said, I’mma go do 60 reviews.
He was out of his head,
Should’ve gone back to bed,
But he loves him some dirty psych blues.

Years from now, when I link back to this post for a “(review here)”-type scenario, I’m going to see that and I’ll still think it’s funny. The planet’s dying. I’d say a bit of silly is more than called for.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Kungens Män, Chef

kungens man chef

Krautrockers, assemble! Or, you know, whatever krautrockers do — I assume it involves homemade spacecraft that, yes, absolutely fly. Perhaps one of these days I’ll ask Stockholm’s Kungens Män, whose latest outing for Riot Season, simply titled Chef, is an outbound delight of psych-infused progressivism. Beginning with the opening throb of “Fyrkantig Böjelse” and moving into the volume swells, steady drum line and wandering guitar that starts “Öppen För Stängda Dörrar” on side A, its four extended tracks craft otherworldly textures through a meld of organic instrumental flow and waves of synth, the second cut building to a tense wash of distortion all the while keeping that hypnotic march. The two corresponding 10-minute-plus cuts on side B waste no time in offering cosmic boogie in “Män Med Medel” with a more active rhythmic flow, and closer “Eftertankens Blanka Krankhet” — longer than the opener by one second at 11:24 — fades in on meditative guitar and explores a serene minimalism that only underscores the all around joy of the album.

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PFUND, PFUND

pfund pfund

The self-titled, self-released debut full-length from Kiel, Germany’s PFUND arrives and departs with a guesting horn section, and while that inevitably adds a bit of grandeur to the proceedings, the bulk of the outing is dedicated to straightforward, semi-metallic heavy rock, held to ground even in the seven-minute “Spaceman” by a considered sense of structure and an earthy drum sound that draws the songs together, whether it’s the classic riff rock in “Sea of Life” or the moodier sway in the earlier “Lost in Rome.” Dual guitars effectively multiply the impact, and the vocals showcase a nascent sense of melody that one imagines will only continue to grow as the band moves forward. At nine songs and 44 minutes, it shows some breadth and nuance in “Exhaustion” and “Paranoia,” the former tapping into an edge of progressive metal, but the primary impact comes from PFUND‘s heft of groove and how it blends with a rawer edge to their production. The Kyuss-referencing centerpiece here might be called “Imbalance,” but that’s hardly representative of what surrounds, horns and all.

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Crystal Spiders, Demo

crystal spiders demo

Three songs, 11 minutes and three distinct vibes from the aptly-titled Demo demo of North Carolinian three-piece Crystal Spiders. On “Tigerlily,” “Flamethrower” and “Devil’s Resolve,” the trio of bassist/vocalist Brenna Leath (also Lightning Born), guitarist/vocalist Mike Deloatch and drummer/backing vocalist Tradd Yancey careen from bluesy spaciousness to hard-driving catchiness and end up — because why not? — in repeating cult-sludge chants, “Come to the devil’s resolve!” like Black Widow trying to lure people to the sabbat, except shouting. If the purpose of a demo is for a new band to try different methods of working and thereby take a first step in discovering their sound, Crystal Spiders are well on their way, and for what it’s worth, there isn’t anything within their scope as they present it that doesn’t work for them. There are edges to smooth out, of course, but that too is a part of the process starting here.

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The Misery Men, Deathspiration

The Misery Men Deathspiration

If you’d asked, depending on which part of Deathspiration was on, I’d probably have called The Misery Men a bass/drum duo, but nope, that’s guitar. Tonally one is reminded of At Devil Dirt from Chile, but the Portland, Oregon, two-piece of vocalist/guitarist Corey G. Lewis and drummer Steve Jones are entirely more barebones in their craft, eschewing digital involvement of any sort in the recording or mixing process and sounding duly raw as a result throughout the subtle earworm of “C.W. Sughrue” and the lumbering “Harness the Darkness.” The subsequent “Night Creeps In” brings a Northwestern noise payoff to quiet/loud trades and the near-10-minute closer “Stoned to Death,” well, it seems to meet an end befitting its title, to say the least. As their stated intent was to capture the most organic version of their sound possible, and made a point of working toward that ideal in their recording, one could hardly fault them for the results of that process. They wanted something human-sounding. They got it.

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Hubris, EP #II Live

hubris ep ii live

Some — not all — of what one needs to know about HubrisEP #II Live is right there in the title. Indeed, it’s their second EP. Indeed, it was recorded live. And indeed, like using a ‘#’ sign with a Roman numeral, there’s something about the way the three included songs from the Toulouse, France-based outfit sound that’s just a little bit off-kilter from what you might expect. “Zugzwang” (7:19), “Tergo” (19:58) and “Biotilus” (27:04) are arranged shortest to longest, and while the opener starts off like Queens of the Stone Age on an Eastern-tinged psychedelic bender, the lengthy jams that follow — the first of them with a fervent drum punctuation, the second a gradual intertwining of synth and guitar with hardly any percussion at all until after its 22nd minute. The instrumental flow that ensues from there is almost like a hidden bonus track, at least until they Hubris get to minute 26 and the whole thing explodes in crash and plod. The underlying message, of course, is that if you think you’re safe at any point, you’re not.

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Woorms, Slake

woorms slake

Lumbering fuckall pervades the debut full-length, Slake, from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, sludgers Woorms — also stylized all-caps — which incorporates past singles “Find a Meal Find a Bed Find a God” and “Mouth is a Wound” amid the sample/noise barrage of “Our Lady of Perpetually Shitfaced” and the willfully brash “Racist Kevin” that follows. There’s an edge of Melvinsian chug to the proceedings, but Woorms‘ take, though presented in finished compositions, comes across as almost nihilistic rather than making a show of its experimentalism. That is, they’re trying to say they don’t give a fuck, and in listening, they make it kind of easy to believe, but there’s still something about the cohesiveness of “Veni Vidi Fucki” and “Rice Crispy” and the saved-the-best-nod-for-last finale “Sore Afraid” that undercuts the notion even while making the listening experience all the more pummeling, and from the intro “Corpse Corps” through “Urine Trouble Now”‘s echoing shouts and the closer’s unmitigated stomp, there’s still plenty of exploration being done.

WOORMS on Thee Facebooks

WOORMS on Bandcamp

 

Oreyeon, Ode to Oblivion

Oreyeon Ode to Oblivion

Rebranded since their 2016 debut, Builders of Cosmos (discussed here), from their more phonetically intuitive original moniker, Orion, Italy’s Oreyeon issue a cosmically expansive spacescape follow-up in their six-song/40-minute sophomore outing, Ode to Oblivion, also their first release through Heavy Psych Sounds. Echoing vocals pervade “Big Surprise” after the introductory “T.I.O.” and “Trudging to Vacuity” establish the wide-cast mix and anti-grav rhythmic density, and the nine-minute side A finale title-track runs mostly-instrumental circles around most of what I’d usually call “prog” only after it lays down a sleek hook in the first couple minutes. After “Big Surprise,” the 8:45 “The Ones” trades volume back and forth but finds its breadth at about the sixth minute as the dramatic lead turns on a dime to desert rock thrust en route to wherever the hell it goes next. Honestly, after that moment, everything’s gravy, but Oreyeon lay it on thick with closer “Starship Pusher” and never neglect melody in the face of nod. Worth a deeper dig if you get the chance.

Oreyeon on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Melody Fields, Melody Fields

melody fields melody fields

Sometimes you hear a record and it’s like the band is doing you a favor by existing. To that, thanks Melody Fields. The Gothenburg psych troupe lace their lysergic flow with folkish harmonies and an open sensibility on their self-titled debut that comes coupled with enough tonal presence to still consider them heavy not that it matters. They break out the sax on “Morning Sun” to welcome effect, and the sun continues to shine through “Liberty” and the garage-buzzing “Run” before “Rain Man” turns water droplets into keyboard notes and Beatlesian — think “Rain” — voice arrangements atop soothing instrumental drift, every bit the centerpiece and an excellent precursor to the acoustic-based “Fire” and the 10-minute “Trädgränsen,” which is the crowning achievement of this self-titled debut, which, if I’d been hip to it in time, would’ve made both the 2018 best albums and best debuts list. They cap with a reprise of “Morning Sun” and underscore the solid foundation beneath the molten beauty of their work throughout. To ask for another album seems greedy, but I will anyway. More, please.

Melody Fields on Thee Facebooks

Sound Effect Records website

 

Mammoth Grove, Slow Burn

mammoth grove slow burn

Okay, look, enough screwing around. It’s time for someone to sign Mammoth Grove. The Calgary natives have been putting out quality heavy psych rock since their 2011 self-titled debut (review here), and their latest long-player, the four-song Slow Burn is a righteous amalgam of peace-thru-rock that lives up to its freewheeling vibes in “Seasons” after the methodical opener “Valleys” and rolls out a bit of melodic ’70s biker rock bliss in “Black Meadow” before the side-B-consuming “Gloria” (18:42) asks early if you’re ready to go and then goes like gone, gone, gone, and gone further. Given the analog mindset involved and the heart on display throughout, there’s something fitting about it being pressed up in an edition of 100 hand-screenprinted LPs and 100 CDs likewise, but the more people who could hear it, the merrier, so yeah, some label or other needs to step up and make that happen, and I dare you to listen to the solo that hits past the 14-minute mark in “Gloria” and tell me otherwise. Dare you.

Mammoth Grove on Thee Facebooks

Mammoth Grove on Bandcamp

 

Crimson Devils, A Taste for Blood

crimson devils a taste for blood

Since pared down to a trio from the four-piece incarnation they present here, Austin’s Crimson Devils first released their debut, A Taste for Blood, in 2017, but gave it a vinyl revisit last year and it’s little mystery why. The record comprises 11 sharply-composed tracks of Small Stone-style heavy rock, taking cues from Sasquatch in modern-via-classic modus, picking and choosing elements of ’70s and ’90s rock to conjure formidable groove and engaging hooks. There’s considerable swagger and weight in “They Get It,” and while opener “Dead and Gone” seems to show an influence in its vocal patterning from Elder, as the album unfolds, it’s more about the blast of “Captain Walker” or the penultimate “Nothing to Claim” and the straight-ahead vibes of “Bad News Blues” and “No Action” than anything so outwardly prog. There’s plenty to dig in the rock-for-rockers mindset, and it’s the kind of offering that should probably come with an octane rating. However such things are measured, safe to say it would not be low.

Crimson Devils on Thee Facebooks

Crimson Devils on Bandcamp

 

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Quarterly Review: Stuck in Motion, AVER, Massa, Alastor, Seid, Moab, Primitive Man & Unearthly Trance, Into Orbit, Super Thief, Absent

Posted in Reviews on March 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Let the games begin! The rules are the same: 10 albums per day, this time for a total of 60 between today and next Monday. It’s the Quarterly Review. Think of it like a breakfast buffet with an unending supply of pancakes except the pancakes are riffs and there’s only one dude cooking them and he’s really tired all the time and complains, complains, complains. Maybe not the best analogy. Still, it’s gonna be a ton of stuff, but there are some very, very cool records included, so please keep your eyes and your mind open for what’s coming, because you might find something here you really dig. If not, there’s always tomorrow. Let’s go.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Stuck in Motion, Stuck in Motion

stuck in motion self-titled

The classic style cover art of Swedish trio Stuck in Motion‘s self-titled debut tells much of the story. It’s sweet-toned vintage-style soul rock, informed by Graveyard to some degree, but more aligned to retroism. The songs are bluesy and natural and not especially long, but have vibe for weeks, as demonstrated on the six-minute longest-track “Dreams of Flying,” or the flute-laden closer “Eken.” What the picture doesn’t tell you is the heavy use of clavinet in the band’s sound and just how much the vintage electric piano adds to what songs like “Slingrar” with its ultra-fluid shifts in tempo, or the sax-drenched penultimate cut “Orientalisk.” Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Max Kinnbo, drummer Gustaf Björkman and bassist/vocalist/clavinetist Adrian Norén, Stuck in Motion‘s debut successfully basks in a mellow psychedelic blues atmosphere and shows a patience for songwriting that bodes remarkably well. It should not be overlooked because you think you’re tired of vintage-style rock.

Stuck in Motion on Thee Facebooks

Stuck in Motion on Bandcamp

 

AVER, Orbis Majora

aver orbis majora

Following up their 2015 sophomore outing, Nadir (review here), which led to them getting picked up by Ripple Music, Australia’s AVER return with the progressive shove of Orbis Majora, five songs in 50 minutes of thoughtfully composed heavy progadelica, and while it’s not all so serious — closer “Hemp Fandango” well earns its title via a shuffling stonerly groove — opener “Feeding the Sun” and the subsequent “Disorder” set a mood of careful craftsmanship in longform pieces. The album’s peak might be in the 13-minute “Unanswered Prayers,” which culls together an extended linear build that’s equal parts immersive and gorgeous, but the rest of the album hardly lacks for depth or clarity of purpose. An underlying message from the Sydney four-piece would seem to be that they’re going to continue growing, even after more than a decade, because it’s not so much that they’re feeling their way toward their sound, but willfully pushing themselves to refine those parameters.

AVER on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Massa, Walls

massa walls

Flourish of keys adds nuance to Massa‘s moody, heavy post-rock style, the Rotterdam-based trio bringing an atmosphere to their second EP, Walls, across five tracks and 26 minutes marked by periodic samples from cinema and a sense of scope that seems to be born of an experimental impulse but not presented as the experiment itself. That is, they take the “let’s try this!” impulse and make a song out of it, as the chunky rhythm of instrumental centerpiece “Expedition” or the melodies in the prior “#8” show. Before finishing with the crash-into-push of the relatively brief “Intermassa,” the eight-minute “The Federal” complements winding guitar with organ to affect an engaging spirit somewhere between classic and futurist heavy, with the drums holding together proceedings that would seem to convey all the chaos of that temporal paradox. Perhaps it was opener “Shiva” that set this creator/destroyer tone, but either way, Massa bask in it and find a grim sense of identity thereby.

Massa on Thee Facebooks

Massa on Bandcamp

 

Alastor, Slave to the Grave

alastor slave to the grave

The first full-length from Swedish doomplodders Alastor and their debut on RidingEasy Records, late 2018’s Slave to the Grave is the four-piece’s most expansive offering yet in sonic scope as well as runtime. Following the 2017 EPs Blood on Satan’s Claw (review here) and Black Magic (review here), the seven-song/56-minute offering holds true to the murk-toned cultism and dense low-end rumble of the prior offerings, but the melodic resonance and sense of updating the aesthetic of traditional doom is palpable throughout the roller “Your Lives are Worthless,” while the later acoustic-led “Gone” speaks to a folkish influence that suits them surprisingly well given the heft that surrounds. They make an obvious focal point of 17-minute closer “Spider of My Love,” which though they’ve worked in longer forms before, is easily the grandest accomplishment they’ve yet unfurled. One might easily say the same applies to Slave to the Grave as a whole. Those who miss The Wounded Kings should take particular note of their trajectory.

Alastor on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records website

 

Seid, Weltschmerz, Baby!

seid-weltschmerz_baby-web

If Norwegian space-psych outfit Seid are feeling weary of the world, the way they show it in Weltschmerz, Baby! is by simply leaving it behind, substituting for reality a cosmic starscape of effects and synth, the odd sample and vaguely Hawkwindian etherealism. The centerpiece title-track is a banger along those lines, a swell of rhythmic intensity born out of the finale of the prior “Satan i Blodet” and the mellow, flowing “Trollmannens Hytte” before that, but the highlight might be the subsequent “Coyoteman,” which drifts into dream-prog led by echoing layers of guitar and eventually given over to a fading strain of noise that “Moloch vs. Gud” picks up with percussive purpose and flows directly into the closer “Mir (Drogarna Börjar Värka),” rife with ’70s astro-bounce and a long fadeout that’s less about the record ending and more about leaving the galaxy behind. Starting out at a decent clip with “Haukøye,” Weltschmerz, Baby! is all about the journey and a trip well worth taking.

Seid on Thee Facebooks

Sulatron Records website

 

Moab, Trough

moab trough

A good record tinged by the tragic loss of drummer Erik Herzog during the recording and finished by guitarist/vocalist Andrew Giacumakis and bassist Joe Fuentes, the 10-track/39-minute Trough demonstrates completely just how much Moab have been underrated since their 2011 debut, Ab Ovo (discussed here), and across the 2014 follow-up, Billow (review here), as they bring a West Coast noise-infused pulse to heavy rock drive on “All Automatons” and meet an enduring punker spirit face first with “Medieval Moan,” all the while presenting a clear head for songcraft amid deep-running tones and melodies. “The Will is Weak” makes perhaps the greatest impact in terms of heft, but heft is by no means all Moab have to offer. With the very real possibility this will be their final record, it is a worthy homage to their fallen comrade and a showcase of their strengths that’s bound someday to get the attention it deserves whenever some clever label decides to reissue it as a lost classic.

Moab on Thee Facebooks

Moab on Bandcamp

 

Primitive Man & Unearthly Trance, Split

primitive man unearthly trance split

Well of course it’s a massive wash of doomed and hate-filled noise! What were you expecting, sunshine and puppies? Colorado’s Primitive Man and Brooklyn’s Unearthly Trance team up to compare misanthropic bona fides across seven tracks of blistering extremity that do Relapse Records proud. Starting with the collaborative intro “Merging,” the onslaught truly commences with Primitive Man’s 10-minute “Naked” and sinks into an abyss with the instrumental noisefest “Love Under Will,” which gradually makes its way into a swell of abrasive drone. Unearthly Trance, meanwhile, proffer immediate destructiveness with the churning “Mechanism Error” and make “Triumph” dark enough to live up to its most malevolent interpretations, while “Reverse the Day” makes me wonder what people who heard Godflesh in the ’80s must’ve thought of it and the six-minute finishing move “418” answers back to Primitive Man‘s droned-out anti-structure with a consuming void of fuckall depth. It’s like the two bands cut open their veins and recorded the disaffection that spilled out.

Primitive Man on Thee Facebooks

Unearthly Trance on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records website

 

Into Orbit, Shifter

Into Orbit Shifter

Progressive New Zealander two-piece Into OrbitPaul Stewart on guitar and Ian Moir on drums — offer up the single Shifter as the answer to their 2017 sophomore long-player, Unearthing. The Wellington instrumentalists did likewise leading into that album with a single that later showed up as part of a broader tracklist, so it may be that they’ve got another release already in the works, but either way, the 5:50 standalone track finds them dug into a full band sound with layered or looped guitar standing tall over the mid-paced drumming, affecting an emotion-driven atmosphere as much as the cerebral nature of its craft. Beginning with a thick chug, it works into more melodic spaciousness as it heads toward and through its midsection, lead guitar kicking in with harmony lines joining soon after as the two-piece build back up to a bigger finish. Whatever their plans, Into Orbit make it clear that just because something is prog doesn’t mean it needs to be staid or lack expressiveness.

Into Orbit on Thee Facebooks

Into Orbit on Bandcamp

 

Super Thief, Eating Alone in My Car

super thief eating alone in my car

Noise-punk intensity pervades Eating Alone in My Car, the not-quite-not-an-LP from Austin four-piece Super Thief. They call it an album, and that’s good enough for me, especially since at about 20 minutes there isn’t much more I’d ask of the thing that it doesn’t deliver, whether it’s the furious out-of-mindness of minute-long highlight “Woodchipper” or the poli-sci critique of that sandwiches the offering with opener “Gone Country” immediately taking a nihilist anti-stance while closer “You Play it Like a Joke but I Know You Really Mean It” — which consumes nearly half the total runtime at 9:32 — seems to run up the walls unable to stick to the “smoke ’em if you got ’em” point of view of the earlier cut. That’s how the bastards keep you running in circles, but at least Super Thief know where to direct the frustration. “Six Months Blind” and the title-track have a more personal take, but are still worth a read lyrically as much as a listen, as the rhythm of the words only adds to the striking personality of the material.

Super Thief on Thee Facebooks

Learning Curve Records website

 

Absent, Towards the Void

absent towards the void

Recorded in 2016, released on CD in 2018 and snagged by Cursed Tongue Records for a vinyl pressing, Absent‘s Towards the Void casts a shimmering plunge of cavernous doom, with swirling post-Electric Wizard guitar and echoing vocals adding to the spaciousness of its four component tracks as the Brasilia-based trio conjure atmospheric breadth to go along with their weighted lurch in opener “Ophidian Womb.” With tracks arranged shortest to longest between eight and a half and 11 minutes, “Semen Prayer,” “Funeral Sun” and “Urine” follow suit from the opener in terms of overall approach, but “Funeral Sun” speeds things up for a stretch while “Urine” lures the listener downward with a subdued opening leading to more filth-caked distortion and degenerate noise, capping with feedback because at that point what the hell matters anyway? Little question in listening why this one’s been making the rounds for over a year now. It will likely continue to do so for some time to come.

Absent on Thee Facebooks

Cursed Tongue Records webstore

 

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Duel Announce European Tour Supporting Valley of Shadows

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 7th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

duel

Pretty easy argument to make that Duel‘s Valley of Shadows is among the most anticipated heavy rock albums of the Spring. It’ll be the third full-length on Heavy Psych Sounds for the Austin, Texas, four-piece, and though a European tour was long suspected for their having been announced as taking part at Freak Valley 2019, the extensive nature of that tour, now unveiled in its entirety, is nonetheless significant. They’ll spend a month-solid on the road overseas, and in addition to Freak Valley, they’re set for Black Deer Fest in London and Freaking Out Fest in Munich, which is a new one to me. Curious, that is, but the point is that Duel will cover a good amount of ground throughout June and into July as they go and hit some fests along the way. There are still a couple dates TBA, but even so, it looks like a packed tour. Good thing Duel kick ass live.

Shows came down the PR wire:

duel tour poster

*** DUEL – VALLEY OF SHADOWS EUROPEAN TOUR 2019 ***

Dealing their own brand of dark boogie, the band has earned a reputation with their beer soaked high energy live performances, relentless touring, writing and recording schedule. Since 2016 DUEL has released 3 albums with their 4th LP Valley of Shadows set to be released via Heavy Psych Sounds Records on May 17th of 2019.

DUEL is about to embark on their sixth extensive European tour once again hitting many of the major festivals that they have in the past, Desert Fest, Freak Valley, Stick and Stone, Black Deer Fest in the UK and many more. The band has also stayed extremely busy at home in the United States will 2 full tours last year hitting many of the Stoner Doom festivals with many more to come in 2019.

DUEL – VALLEY OF SHADOWS EUROPEAN TOUR 2019
06.06.2019 IT Roma-Traffic
07.06.2019 IT Parma-Splinter
08.06.2019 IT Alessandria-Cascina Bellaria
09.06.2019 FR Lyon-Le Farmer
10.06.2019 FR Chambery-Le Brin De Zinc
11.06.2019 DE Basel-Loch or Freisitz
12.06.2019 DE Tubingen-Hausbar neben der Sitiftskirche
13.06.2019 DE Augsburg-City Club
14.06.2019 CH Winterthur-Gaswerk
15.06.2019 CH Oberentfelden-Borom Pom Pom
16.06.2019 BE Zottegem-Kaffee Maboel
17.06.2019 UK Bristol-The Old England
18.06.2019 UK TBA
19.06.2019 UK TBA
20.06.2019 DE Siegen-Freak Valley Festival
21.06.2019 UK London-Black Deer Fest
22.06.2019 DE Munich-Freaking Out Fest
23.06.2019 DE TBA
24.06.2019 DE Dresden-Ostpol
25.06.2019 DE Berlin-Toast Hawaii
26.06.2019 DE Leipzig-Black Label
27.06.2019 DE Mannheim-7er
28.06.2019 FR Bourlon-Rock Im Bourlon
29.06.2019 FR TBA
01.07.2019 FR Tuluse-Usine a Musique
02.07.2019 FR Nantes-La Scene Michelet
04.07.2019 IT Torino-Blah Blah
05.07.2019 AT Nikolsdorf-Stick&Stone
06.07.2019 AT Salzburg-Rockhouse
07.07.2019 IT Castel D’Ario-Hostaria

DUEL is:
Tom Frank – Vocals / Guitar
Jeff Henson – Lead Guitar / Backing Vocals
Shaun Avants – Bass / Backing Vocals
Justin Collins – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/DUELTEXAS/
https://duel3.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS/
http://www.heavypsychsounds.com/

Duel, Witchbanger (2017)

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Destroyer of Light Announce First-Ever European Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 21st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

destroyer of light

As per the social medias, the artwork for Destroyer of Light‘s next full-length, which will also serve as their first for Argonauta Records, is currently in progress. I don’t know if that means the album itself is done or not, but there’s work being done. That’s good news. Also on that theme comes word that after doing a few shows in their hometown of Austin, Texas, next month for SXSW, the band will head to Europe in May for the first time. You might recall they did a hefty amount of touring last Fall to support their Hopeless EP (review here) and to continue to spread the gospel of 2017’s Chamber of Horrors (review here), but even if not, suffice it to say that was by no means their first lengthy stretch either.

In comparison, the upcoming swath of Euro dates is much more an initial incursion at 14 shows/15 nights, but a band who tours like they do, it’s highly likely this’ll be the last time they get their passports stamped. Happy travels.

Dates follow:

destroyer of light tour

Here it is ladies and gentlemen. Europe is finally taking us in. We will be out with our label-mates, Hell Obelisco for most of the dates, and another support for the remainder of the dates. Thank you to Argonauta Records and Leynir Booking for setting up this adventure for us. Stay tuned for more news!

Destroyer of Light March Madness:
March 2nd – Shreveport, LA @ Bear’s
March 9th – Austin, TX @ Lost Well*
March 14th – Austin, TX @ Lost Well*
March 15th – Austin, TX @ Lost Well*
*all different sets of songs from old to new

Destroyer of Light Euro tour:
10.05 Italy Bologna*
11.05 Italy Vercelli*
12.05 France Lyon*
14.05 France Strasbourg*
15.05 Germany Dresden*
16.05 Germany Berlin*
17.05 Denmark Aalborg*
18.05 Sweden Stockholm*
19.05 Sweden Gothenburg*
20.05 Sweden Malmoe
22.05 France Metz
23.05 Germany TBC
24.05 Italy Milan
25.05 Italy Treviso
* Hell Oblisco support

Destroyer of Light is:
Steve Colca – Guitar, Vocals
Nick Coffman – Bass
Keegan Kjeldsen – Guitar, Synth
Penny Turner – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/destroyeroflight/
http://www.instagram.com/destroyeroflightofficial/
http://www.twitter.com/DoLAustinDoom
http://destroyeroflight.bandcamp.com/
www.argonautarecords.com
https://www.facebook.com/ArgonautaRecords/
https://twitter.com/argonautarex
https://www.instagram.com/argonautarecords/

Destroyer of Light, Hopeless EP (2018)

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