Greenbeard Premiere “Sativa Wizardia” Video; New Album Due in June

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 4th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

greenbeard-photo-by-jay-conlon

Hey, if you’re gonna be in Seattle, you might as well stop through the studio and record an album with Matt Bayles, right? That would seem to be the message put forth by Austin, Texas, heavy rockers Greenbeard as regards their new full-length due out this June on Sailor Records. They’ve yet to unveil any audio or the title of the follow-up to 2015’s Stoned at the Throne, but the plan is to do so next month, and before they get there, they’re saying goodbye to the debut with a new video for the track “Sativa Wizardia,” which opened the record. Heads up on this one, it’s a riffer.

It makes that plain from its first measure, and the five minutes that follow only underscore the point. With heavy rock shuffle, tonal density and cut-through vocals belting through a welcome hook, Greenbeard are part post-Uncle Acid strut and part classic stonerized blowout, and in that, it set up six tracks of dug-in riffing and heavy roll. It’s little surprise that the album received acclaim enough that the band can already count themselves veterans of SXSW, Psycho Las Vegas and Electric Funeral Fest, among others. Seems likely they could walk into just about any venue with electricity enough to handle their output and start turning at least a few heads in their direction on any given night.

To support their new one, they’ve got live dates booked before and after the June release, but it’s only fair to give Stoned at the Throne its due sendoff before they start gearing up to put their focus on moving forward with that record, for which, indeed, they traveled to Seattle to record with Matt Bayles, whose reputation of recording with Isis and Mastodon, etc., precedes him. Listening back to Stoned at the Throne, I’m intrigued to hear what Bayles brings to Greenbeard‘s sound. If you want a preliminary guess, mine is more volume and more depth, as both are specialties of the house in Bayles‘ work.

Please find the Tony Moser-directed clip for “Sativa Wizardia” below, followed by more info on the impending sophomore long-player and the band’s live dates.

And enjoy:

Greenbeard, “Sativa Wizardia” official video

“Sativa Wizardia” is the newest music video from Greenbeard’s current album, “Stoned at the Throne”. Directed by Tony Moser. Vinyl for “Stoned at the Throne” available at: https://www.sailorrecords.com/product-page/greenbeard-180g-blood-red-vinyl

Greenbeard has a new record completed and ready to go. The album name and artwork will be revealed on May 1. Additionally, the band will be announcing tour dates for the summer of 2017. On their 2016 tour, Greenbeard spent time in Seattle, recording their newest album with Matt Bayles (Minus the Bear, Isis, Botch, The Sword, Mastodon, A Storm of Light, Mono, etc.). This new album will be released on Sailor Records in June of 2017.

Greenbeard live:
May 12 Dirty Dog Bar Austin, TX w/ Zed & Wasted Theory
May 27 Smokestock All-Star Rock Bar Kansas City, MO
Jun 14 Leftwoods Amarillo, TX
Jun 15 Sister Bar Albuquerque, NM
Jun 16 Electric Funeral Fest 2017 Hi-Dive Denver, CO
Jun 21 Reggie’s Chicago, IL
Jun 23 Cafe Berlin Columbia, MO
Jun 26 Blue Note Oklahoma City, OK
Jun 27 Curtain Club Dallas, TX

Greenbeard is:
Chance Parker – guitar/vocals
Dan Alvarez – bass
Buddy Hachar – drums

Greenbeard on Thee Facebooks

Greenbeard on Bandcamp

Sailor Records website

Sailor Records on Thee Facebooks

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Quarterly Review: Alcest, Galley Beggar, Pontiak, White Light Cemetery, Fever Dog, Duel, Seven Nines and Tens, Automatic Sam, The Next Appointed Hour, Blown Out

Posted in Reviews on March 29th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

cropped-Charles-Meryon-Labside-Notre-Dame-1854

Always a special moment in the Quarterly Review when we pass the halfway mark. That’s where today’s batch brings us, and in rocking style as well. You might say I’ve been taking it easy on myself with the selections this time out — albums there’s plenty to say on and generally good stuff — but the basic fact of the matter is even with 50 reviews in a week, this is still just a fraction of what’s out there and still just a fraction of what I’d cover if I had the time. I couldn’t in terms of my own sanity, but one could probably do 10 reviews a day every day of the year and still have room for more. I do the best I can. Picking and choosing is a part of that process. Let’s get to it.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Alcest, Kodama

alcest kodama

After the bold departure presented in 2014’s Shelter (review here) toward even-airier, more indie-hued fare, French post-black metal innovators Alcest make a no-less-bold return to their core sound – screams included, as they’re quick to show on “Eclosion” – with 2016’s Kodama (on Prophecy Productions). It’s a less progressive move, and for that distinct in Alcest’s discography, but one can’t argue with their execution of a track like “Je Suis d’Ailleurs” and the immediately recognizable melodic wash they craft, as resonant emotionally as it is heavy in its tone. Most of the six cuts seem contented to have (re-)found their place, but “Onyx” finishes out with just under four minutes of layered guitar droning, and so Alcest seem to tease that perhaps they’re not completely ready to settle the issue of their aesthetic just yet. One hopes that’s the case, and in the meantime, the reorientation that Kodama brings with it should no doubt please those longtime fans who bristled at the turn they made their last time out.

Alcest on Thee Facebooks

Prophecy Productions on Bandcamp

 

Galley Beggar, Heathen Hymns

galley-beggar-heathen-hymns

Galley Beggar’s fourth offering and second for Rise Above, Heathen Hymns, brings 42-minutes of the traditional acid folk one has come to expect from them over the last half-decade plus, no less graceful in its melodies, harmonies and weaving into and out of psychedelia, Eastern inflections on the sitar-laced “The Lake” and cleverly rhythmic in the post-rocking electric flourish of “Let No Man Steal Your Thyme.” Knowing what to expect, however, does nothing to diminish the joy of the listening experience. Rather, the return of Galley Beggar’s fluid string and/or more rock-based arrangements, memorable songcraft and gorgeous vocal treatments is welcome, and perhaps most of all on closer “My Return,” which draws their multiple sides together in a cohesive vision of futures past that only benefits from the maturity they’ve grown into. With poise as a defining feature as much as their British folk stylistic lineage, Galley Beggar remain a special outfit doing deeply individualized and satisfying work.

Galley Beggar on Thee Facebooks

Rise Above Records website

 

Pontiak, Dialectic of Ignorance

pontiak-dialectic-of-ignorance

A steady foundation of low-end drone underpins songs like “Ignorance Makes Me High” and “Hidden Prettiness” on Pontiak’s Dialectic of Ignorance (released via Thrill Jockey), and though they move away from it somewhat in the more active freakout “Dirtbags,” the patience shown by the Virginian trio forms a key part of the album’s personality. To wit, they open with “Easy Does It,” essentially telling their listener their intention for what will ensue throughout the eight-track/46-minute offering. Brothers Jennings, Van and Lain Carney bring forth willful drift in that opener and across the percussive-but-still-shoegazing “Tomorrow is Forgetting,” finding an organ-laced folkadelic middle ground later in “Youth and Age” and punctuating the dreamy harmonized gorgeousness of “Herb is My Next Door Neighbor” with fervent tom runs and ping ride before closer “We’ve Fucked this Up” starts out amid blistering chaos only to smooth itself as it goes. Serene and somewhat moody to the same degree their last outing, 2014’s Innocence, was raw, Dialectic of Ignorance carries the feel of a personal journey undertaken, but is ultimately too warm in tone and melody not to welcome its audience to be a part of that as well.

Pontiak on Thee Facebooks

Pontiak at Thrill Jockey Records

 

White Light Cemetery, Careful What You Wish For

white-light-cemetery-careful-what-you-wish-for

Nearing the mark of their first decade together, Louisiana Southern heavy four-piece White Light Cemetery issue their second full-length, Careful What You Wish For, through Ripple Music and keep a steady focus on songcraft throughout. Heavy riffs, a bit of boogie on “Sky River” and the stomping “Better Days,” boozy Southern-isms on the directly countrified “On a Dime” and a cowbell-infused finish with “Bullet to Erase” – it’s only fair to say White Light Cemetery hit all the marks. The beery post-Deliverance execution of “Looking Out (For Number One)” will likely ring familiar to many who take it on, but that’s the idea, as vocalist/guitarist Shea Bearden, guitarist Ryan Robin, bassist Tara Miller and drummer Thomas Colley are clearly less concerned with reinventing rock in their own image than honoring the pantheon of those who’ve come before them in the style. Hard to argue with the ethic preached or the dual-guitar harmonies of “Quit Work, Make Music,” though the record as a whole seems awfully “workingman’s rock” for any such bohemian aspirations.

White Light Cemetery on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Fever Dog, Mainframe

fever dog mainframe

It’s been three years since next-gen Californian desert trio Fever Dog released their last album, Second Wind (review here), which was long on potential, big on songwriting and resonant in vibe. I’d been hoping for a third long-player in 2017, but even the arrival of new single Mainframe – which of course doesn’t preclude a subsequent album release – is fine by me, the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Danny Graham, bassist Nathan Wood and drummer/organist/synthesist/vocalist Joshua Adams digging into progressive vibes on the title-track and the subsequent, talkbox-inclusive “Let Me Out.” I don’t know if they’re planning to press a 7” – somebody call H42 Records! – but the cover art certainly justifies one if the songs themselves don’t (and they do), and the name-your-price download comes with the raw 19-minute classic heavy rock jam “Alpha Waves Medley Live at Club 5,” which emits buzz like it’s a bootleg from 1973. If Mainframe is the process of Fever Dog getting weirder, it bodes well. All the more reason one might keep their fingers crossed for a new full-length.

Fever Dog on Thee Facebooks

Fever Dog on Bandcamp

 

Duel, Witchbanger

duel witchbanger

“If you see him it’s much too late/Close your eyes, girl, accept your fate.” So goes the title-track hook of Duel’s Witchbanger, the Austin-based rockers’ second album for Heavy Psych Sounds. Released on a quick turnaround from last year’s debut, Fears of the Dead (review here), the eight-track/34-minute swaggerfest delves into fantasy themes drawn from classic metal – hard not to look at six-minute closer “Tigers and Rainbows” and not think of Dio, at least thematically – but cuts like “Astro Gypsy” and “Heart of the Sun” in the record’s midsection build on the ‘70s loyalism of the first outing and find guitarist/vocalist Tom Frank, guitarist Jeff Henson, bassist/vocalist Shaun Avants and drummer JD Shadowz clear in their intentions in that regard. Though it takes a sizable grain of salt to get over that title, Duel’s heavy rock traditionalism comes complemented by efficient songwriting and a natural-sounding recording that’s neither completely retro nor totally modern but draws strength and fullness from both sides. A worthy and rousing follow-up.

Duel on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Seven Nines and Tens, Set the Controls for the Heart of the Slums

seven-nines-and-tens-set-the-controls-for-the-heart-of-the-slums

If the dates are to be believed, the second full-length from Vancouver’s Seven Nines and Tens, cleverly-titled Set the Controls for the Heart of the Slums, has roots going back to 2014, when basic live tracks were recorded and subsequently built on for about two years. Indeed, the four-song offering – whose tracks “I Come from Downtown,” “Metropolis Noir / Rigs” and closer “Rave Up” have been presented in the meantime as singles and/or on early 2017’s Live at the Smilin’ Buddha Cabaret – has plenty of layers in its heavy post-rock wash, and it’s with depth and heft that guitarist/bassist/vocalist David Cotton and drummer Mario Nieva (the current incarnation of the band has a different lineup), make their prevailing impression, be it in the roll of 13-minute “Metropolis Noir / Rigs” or the loud/quiet trades of “Dope Simple,” which follows. With a focus on atmosphere over structure, Seven Nines and Tens offer a quick 32-minute immersion that feels less pretentious than purposeful and would seem to have been worth the time it took to construct.

Seven Nines and Tens on Thee Facebooks

Seven Nines and Tens website

 

Automatic Sam, Arcs

automatic sam arcs

With their third album, Nijmegen’s Automatic Sam bring together a straightforward and coherent collection of well-intentioned semi-psychedelic heavy rock. Their past works, 2011’s Texino and 2013’s Sonic Whip, have been conceptual or at least thematic pieces, and it may be that the 13-track/38-minute Arcs (on Goomah Music) is as well, but if so, it would seem to find that theme in a vision of post-grunge ‘90s alt rock, cleanly and clearly executed and vibrant in the performance of vocalist/guitarist Pieter Holkenborg, guitarist/vocalist Rense Slings, bassist/vocalist Erik Harbers and drummer/vocalist Lars Spijkervet, who open with the five-minute “Ukiyo” (their longest inclusion; immediate points) and then run through a varied swath of shorter pieces from the attitude-laden “City Lights” through the uptempo post-punk of “This is Not a Holiday” and the fuller push of “Parnassia.” Side B seems more flowing, with that song, “Tarantula,” a complementary reprise, the title-track and drifting acoustic closer “So Long in E Minor,” but Automatic Sam manage to hone a diverse approach across Arcs’ span while skillfully directing themselves around choppier waters.

Automatic Sam on Thee Facebooks

Automatic Sam at Goomah Music

 

The Next Appointed Hour, Not the End of the World

the-next-appointed-hour-not-the-end-of-the-world

Ambition may be the defining aspect of Not the End of the World. The 2016 self-released debut from Birmingham, Alabama’s The Next Appointed Hour willfully refuses easy categorization, basking in bright psychedelic space rock harmonies one minute and digging into folkish melancholia the next in a way that one is left with no other option but to call “progressive.” What ultimately makes songs like “Keeper’s Heart” and the ethereal pop of “Back to You back to Me” work is an underlying cure of songcraft, and whatever ground the six-piece cover on the 10-track outing, from the fuzzy rush of “Drone Riot” to the trippy shimmer of the penultimate “Red Flame,” that core is maintained, uniting the material and making Not the End of the World a work of scope rather than haphazard. It requires an open mind, but rewards open-mindedness with moments like the accordion on “Valley,” or the rhythmic drift of “Any Who but Here,” the nuance of which is no less gracefully held together than the overarching flow of the album as a whole.

The Next Appointed Hour on Thee Facebooks

The Next Appointed Hour on Bandcamp

 

Blown Out, Superior Venus

blown out superior venus

Already sold out on preorders, the vinyl edition of Superior Venus from UK cosmic jammers Blown Out features two tracks – one per side – of space-wash heavy righteousness. “Impious Oppressor” and “Superior Venus” both top 15 minutes (and are accompanied by demo versions if you get the download), and proffer the kind of progressive improvisation-based flow that, indeed, might make one inclined to get an order in while the getting’s good. Blown Out, with members of Bong and Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, have put out a slew of live and studio releases over the last three years, but as planets invariably revolve in cyclical patterns, so too does the regular frequency of their work become part of the expression itself. If you’re going to jam, do it all the time. On Superior Venus, Blown Out once more bring this ethic to life, and the resulting material spreads itself wide over its still relatively brief span. A short trip to orbit, perhaps, but well worth the undertaking.

Blown Out on Thee Facebooks

Riot Season Records on Bandcamp

 

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Duel Announce European Tour Dates; New Album out May 28

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 10th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

It would seem the release date for Duel‘s forthcoming second album, Witchbanger, has been pushed back a month since it was first announced with the cover art and tracklisting about two weeks ago. Fair enough. Heavy Psych Sounds — the imprint putting it out and the booking agency responsible for booking Duel‘s European tour, the dates for which are posted below — will be running preorders starting next week, and I guess it just means that the tour will be heralding the record’s arrival rather than supporting its recent release. In any case, probably won’t be the last time Duel head to Europe this touring cycle. There’s always Fall for a return trip, with plenty of festivals to pepper in around other shows.

For now though, this run starts April 26 in Rome, and you can see the rest of the routing in and under the poster below. It’s about a month on the road, all told, which is awesome. Heavy Psych Sounds had it posted on the social medias:

duel-euro-tour-2017

Duel – European Tour 2017

NEW ALBUM “WITCHBANGER” OUT MAY 28TH
PRE SALE MARCH 17TH

HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS Records & Booking is proud to announce Eu tour dates for DUEL

Sex, drugs, the occult and buckets of blood. Austin, Texas tripped out heavies DUEL release their second album “Witchbanger”. Eight hard hitting new tracks of deep grooves and blistering riffs paying tribute to the darker breed of early 70’s proto-metal and classic old school early 80’s heavy metal pioneers. Growling desperate vocals and angry fuzzed out guitars telling tales of horror and hallucination. Hard Rock as it should be totally pure and unpretentious.

Produced and engineered by lead guitarist Jeff Henson at his new studio Red Nova Ranch in the wastelands of Texas not far from the historic Texas Chainsaw Massacre house. Prepare for Hell or Valhalla, from start to finish this carefully crafted album WILL KILL YOU!

Duel Euro Tour 2017:
26.04.2017 IT Roma-Traffic
27.04.2017 IT Parma-Titty Twister
28.04.2017 CH Oberentfelden-Borom Pom Pom
29.04.2017 DE Berlin-Desert Fest
30.04.2017 DK Tba
01.05.2017 DK Copenhagen
02.05.2017 DK Secret Show
03.05.2017 SE Malmoe-Plan B
04.05.2017 DE Erfurt-AZJ
05.05.2017 DE Dresden-Chemiefabrik
06.05.2017 CH Winterthur-Gaswerk
07.05.2017 IT Varedo-Crazy Driver
08.05.2017 IT Zerobranco-Altroquando
09.05.2017 SL Izola-Hangar Bar
10.05.2017 IT Torino-Blah Blah
11.05.2017 CH St Gallen-Rumpeltum
12.05.2017 CH Basel-Art & Wheels Fest
13.05.2017 AT Bludenz-Villa K
14.05.2017 AT Salzburg-Rockhouse
16.05.2017 DE Karlsruhe-Akk
17.05.2017 DE Stuttgart-Keller Klub
18.05.2017 DE Freiburg-White Rabbit
19.05.2017 GR Athens-An Club “Sonic Ritual Fest”
20.05.2017 IT Mezzago-Bloom “Sonic Ritual Fest”
21.05.2017 IT Castel D’Ario-Hostaria

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

Duel, Fears of the Dead (2016)

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Duel Announce Witchbanger Details; Out April 28

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

Kind of hard to imagine the band meeting whereby Austin heavy rockers Duel decided which track they’d choose for the name of their second full-length for Heavy Psych Sounds, but you have to figure at some point one of the four dudes actually said the words, “Uh, how about ‘Witchbanger?'” And so it went. Witchbanger, which follows their 2016 debut, Fears of the Dead (review here), and will reportedly be supported by tour dates very likely in Europe if past is prologue with the label involved, is due out April 28. Preorders start March 17. Preorders, for Witchbanger.

I’m 35 years old, writing about a record called WitchbangerDuel are a good band and all — don’t get me wrong — but that title. Woof.

Whatever. I’m sure the album will kick ass and on will go the blinders.

Heavy Psych Sounds posted the art and details:

duel witchbanger

DUEL – WITCHBANGER – HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS

HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS Records & Booking is extremely proud to unveil album details for DUEL – Witchbanger.

The new album out 28th April. Presale starts March 17th.

available in:
Ltd Splatter Vinyl
Black Vinyl
Cd
Digital

Sex, drugs, the occult and buckets of blood. Austin, Texas tripped out heavies DUEL release their second album “Witchbanger”. Eight hard hitting new tracks of deep grooves and blistering riffs paying tribute to the darker breed of early 70’s proto-metal and classic old school early 80’s heavy metal pioneers. Growling desperate vocals and angry fuzzed out guitars telling tales of horror and hallucination. Hard Rock as it should be totally pure and unpretentious.

Produced and engineered by lead guitarist Jeff Henson at his new studio Red Nova Ranch in the wastelands of Texas not far from the historic Texas Chainsaw Massacre house. Prepare for Hell or Valhalla, from start to finish this carefully crafted album WILL KILL YOU!

Duel – Witchbanger tracklist:
Devil
Witchbanger
The Snake Queen
Astro Gypsy
Heart Of The Sun
Bed Of Nails
Cat’s Eye
Tigers And Rainbows

TOUR DATES WILL BE ANNOUNCED SOON!!

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

Duel, Fears of the Dead (2016)

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Sweat Lodge, Tokens for Hell: Everything’s All Right (Plus Track Premiere)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on February 15th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

sweat lodge tokens for hell

[Click play above to stream Sweat Lodge’s cover of ZZ Top’s ‘Precious and Grace’ from their Tokens for Hell EP, out March 10 on Brutal Panda Records. Preorders are available here and here.]

After being snagged by Ripple Music for an initial release, the 2015 debut album from Austin’s Sweat Lodge, Talismana (review here), linked arms as well with Brutal Panda Records for a vinyl pressing. Why either or both labels would want to stand behind the album is little mystery. Sweat Lodge, who had only a 2013 demo out prior aptly-named the Sweat Lodge Tape Demo EP, presented coherent neo-bikerisms and boogie with psychedelic flourish. They sounded like a band who had their heads and hearts in the right places and one who, if they hit the road properly, had the potential to grow into a considerable force in terms of songwriting and style. So it goes.

With their Tokens for Hell EP, also on Brutal Panda, the four-piece of vocalist Cody, guitarist Bones, bassist Shock and drummer Caleb kiss it all up and mark the beginning of what may or may not be a permanent hiatus. They’re hardly the first group with promise to split before really developing to their fullest — I don’t have the math to back this up, but it probably happens daily — and it’s always kind of a bummer. Perhaps even more for the affirmation of what might have been that the four tracks of Tokens for Hell present, showcasing as they do a band staying true to their roots — if being from Texas, playing heavy rock and covering ZZ Top doesn’t qualify as that, nothing does — while stepping forward from their first record toward even more realized fare. Heck of a way to say goodbye.

One always tends to want that which is unavailable — if you don’t believe me, hit the vinyl market on Discogs sometime — but it’s hard to listen to Tokens for Hell and not think of Sweat Lodge as letting go of noteworthy chemistry. Across “Life Goes On” (4:40), “Lost the Sun” (5:00), “Precious and Grace” (2:58; the aforementioned ZZ Top cover, also taken on by Queens of the Stone Age as a bonus track for 2005’s Lullabies to Paralyze) and “Tokens for Hell” (3:16) itself, they bring together heavy ’10s retroism with a particularly Sabbathian bent, as the opener shows by a direct turn in its middle third toward a riff and spaciousness that recalls 1975’s “Megalomania” from the recently-retired heavy metal forefathers.

The production only bolsters this feel, but the side-effect is an atmospheric sensibility to what might otherwise have been raw riffing, from which Tokens for Hell benefits greatly throughout its brief span, front to back. “Precious and Grace” is perhaps the most earthbound inclusion, placed third of the four, but on the preceding “Lost the Sun,” Sweat Lodge turn that five-minute runtime into a sprawl of mellow psych-prog verses and swirling hooks, engaging a depth that moves easily from its soothing start into a more upbeat jam before shifting back to quieter territory to close out, a charming guitar solo and piano interplay marking the finish. It’s a subtle expansion of the arrangement, but does much to add to the overarching vibe of ’70s influence, and the smoothness with which difficult transitions are carried out in “Lost the Sun” is not to be understated. At their most uptempo, Sweat Lodge are a lot of fun, but if you wanted definitive proof there’s more to them than a vintage stylization and a cool logo, it’s right there.

As noted, “Precious and Grace” brings Tokens for Hell toward less a less astral mindset, but echo on Cody‘s vocals and the fuzz in the guitar and bass keep it tied to the original material in terms of overall sound, and to understate it, it fits. That’s true structurally as well, as Shock runs basslines under a midsection lead from Bones and Caleb holds the thrust together — a four-piece doing the work of one of the most essential power trios of all time. Its bounce is there and gone, defined in part by its abiding lack of pretense, and that leaves Sweat Lodge to finish with “Tokens for Hell” itself, a Kadavar-style hook-minded final composition that speaks with some measure of self-awareness of coins being placed on eyes in a memorial ritual to which the EP turns out all along to have been leading.

Also executing. Many bands who call it quits, whether they leave it open to working together again in the future, as Sweat Lodge have, or go out in a fiery blitz of argument and drama, don’t get to give a proper farewell. These days, those that don’t just fade away after what becomes a swansong release in hindsight do a sad post on social media and that’s pretty much it. Their work stagnates in the judgment of residual ‘likes’ and digital plays through whatever outlet. If they’re lucky, a reissue happens somewhere along the line. What fate ultimately waits for Sweat Lodge is still to be determined — one never says never in rock and roll, especially when it comes to bands breaking up and getting back together — but they’re fortunate to have been in a place relationship-wise where, if they were going to go out, they could do so on their own terms. Tokens for Hell leaves no doubt they’re doing just that, and underscores the righteous presence they represented in the first place.

Tokens for Hell preorder at Brutal Panda Records

Tokens for Hell preorder at Sweat Lodge’s Bandcamp

Sweat Lodge on Thee Facebooks

Sweat Lodge on Twitter

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Evil Triplet, Otherworld: Roads and Trips (Plus Track Premiere)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on January 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

evil triplet otherworld

[Click play above to stream ‘We are the Aliens’ from Evil Triplet’s debut album, Otherworld. Release date is Feb. 10 on Super Secret Records.]

Like any good rocket launch, Evil Triplet‘s Otherworld works in stages. The Austin trio make their debut on Super Secret Records with the nine-song 2LP, clocking in at an unmanageable 72 minutes and veering their way between post-punk experimentalism and laid back cosmic rock. What are the likely side splits — three songs on side A, and two each on sides B, C and D — don’t quite tell the whole tale of how the album breaks down over a linear CD/DL listen, but one way or another, Evil Triplet conjure a sonic goo of just-sub-blissful tonality and keep themselves grounded despite never seeming to actually fully come to earth. Even on “Get a Job,” which is the most depressing song I’ve heard this month, they retain an airy undertone in the guitar work of Steve Marsh (also vocals) atop the push of drummer Kirk Laktas and the bass of Joe Volpi.

Despite this being Evil Triplet‘s first offering, all three members of the band have a history behind them, with Marsh having been in Terminal Mind, while Laktas has played in Cinders and My Education, among others, and Volpi in The Flood as well as Cinders and others. Does that experience help them keep afloat as “Get a Job” veers into a wash of downer abrasion toward its finish or help them balance space rock and structural nuance on opening duo “Star Ladder” and “Fungus?” I don’t know, but clearly these guys have had fun being weirdos for a long time, and now they’re very clearly having fun being weirdos together. Texas has a long tradition of anything-goes noise-infused anti-genre rock and roll. Evil Triplet fit well into it by not fitting at all.

There are moments where one is reminded of fellow Austin-dweller Mark Deutrom and his work with Bellringer‘s debut album last year, but as Evil Triplet move past side A and continue to flesh out across the dreamy “Planet I’m On” and the extended, mostly-drifting 10:55 “Post Group Date Scene” on side B, their vision becomes more distinct. Infused with organ and an initially wistful guitar strum, “Planet I’m On” holds some measure of sentimentality even after Marsh‘s vocals and Laktas‘ drums kick in and it swells to a more active thrust en route to a lengthy guitar solo that arrives just past the three-minute mark and does not relinquish until the end; Evil Triplet setting the course outward and following it vividly. “Post Group Date Scene” works in more of a late-’60s psychedelic vein as regards the guitar and background swirl, with vocals that seem to nod at Mario Lalli of Fatso Jetson and lost desert ceremonies in general. An emergent gallop leads to another flowing solo from Marsh, over toms and a fluid bassline, and just before eight minutes in, Laktas changes the drum progression to a more active beat and carries the rest of the track outward, like some lost moment that George Martin would’ve made The Beatles fade out of — all that’s missing is backmasked hidden messages about who buried whom.

The subsequent turn into “Pyramids” might feel more earthly, with its chug and straightforward beginning, but in reality the song is the beginning point of Otherworld‘s next stage — the second LP. Listening to digital files, one could argue “Post Group Date Scene” as the stretch that breaks them through the atmosphere. I’m not inclined to fight either way, but hearing the tracks with four sides in mind, even rounding out the first platter with the record’s longest track feels like a setup for what’s to come in side C’s “Pyramids” (9:02) and “We are the Aliens” (8:59),  and side D’s “Worship Satin” (7:16) and “Road Trips” (10:13), and those turn out to be where the expanse in Evil Triplet‘s approach more fully takes hold.

evil triplet

By the start of side C, Evil Triplet have already shown they’re ready to let a song go where it will behind Marsh‘s guitar, and the back half of “Pyramids” works similarly with an improvised feel, departing its verses in favor of a swirling psych jam, effects layered across for added texture that fade out into the speedier push of “We are the Aliens,” which makes a fitting complement for its catchiness early on and departure into a reach of effects noise that winds up being the last element remaining after the rest of the song has split, like some lost radio broadcast sent outside the solar system. Keys play a significant role in the jam, setting a relatively simple progression under the guitar that gives Volpi and Laktas another element to work with in the rhythm. Spaced. Thoroughly. When Evil Triplet decide to go, they go.

Side D opener “Worship Satin” (get it?) finds an anchor early on in repetitions of its title, listing various places and times one might worship satin, but has notions of its own departure lurking beneath the surface that, sure enough, come to fruition as it marches through its second half, this time even with Laktas getting in on the noise wash via cymbal crash and tom runs — a fitting cacophony that, though the song is shorter, is no less striking than that of “We are the Aliens” or “Pyramids” before it. All this space makes “Road Trips” a somewhat curious end. Tires on asphalt? That doesn’t run on nuclear fusion! Nonetheless, with a subtle emotional current of piano alongside the wailing guitar, “Road Trips” begins surprisingly tethered to terra firma, and as Marsh runs through a list of places been, things seen and deeds done, missed buses and so on, the vibe is an engaging blend of the lysergic and the lucid.

Of course, they arrive in Fresno and that becomes the locale from which the song shifts into its final instrumental movement, but the piano stays, so as much as the guitar turns to scorch, there’s still something to keep a foot on the ground before the somewhat cold, sudden ending. It makes a difference, and though Evil Triplet‘s scope proves plenty wide throughout Otherworld, the last of its motions adds a reminder to the listener of a consciousness at work driving all the madness surrounding. No challenge to chalk that up to experience on the part of the trio, but there are plenty who’ve been around for whom the sorts of chaos in which Evil Triplet traffic would simply be too much to hold together. On their sprawling debut, they handle it easily.

Evil Triplet on Thee Facebooks

Super Secret Records website

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Sweat Lodge Stream New Single; Announce Tokens for Hell EP and Hiatus

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 25th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

At least Sweat Lodge are going out on their own terms. A lot of bands, they just fade away. A record happens, or maybe a tour happens, then nothing happens. You just stop seeing the name around. The Austin, Texas-based outfit, who made an energetic debut with Talismana (review here) circa 2015, may be calling it quits, but as the new single “Life Goes On” from their upcoming Tokens for Hell EP demonstrates, just because you’re going out doesn’t mean you can’t go out loud. The track brings together the upbeat vibes of Kadavar with a production that seems specifically tuned to Black Sabbath‘s “Megalomania” for its reference point, and that’s just fine from where I sit.

They’ve got tapes available for preorder now through Brutal Panda Records, they also cover ZZ Top on the four-song offering, and they hint at shows during SXSW in March, so yeah, they seem to have a handle on the whole not-gonna-be-a-band thing. Will hope to see them back soon though.

From the PR wire:

sweat lodge tokens for hell

SWEAT LODGE Announce New EP Tokens For Hell; Release New Single

Austin, TX hard rock / heavy psych quartet SWEAT LODGE have announced their final release as a band, a four song EP titled Tokens For Hell. After almost seven years as a group, the band has decided to end on a high note with their most accomplished songcraft to date.

Formed in 2010, SWEAT LODGE released their debut self-titled EP in 2013 and their first full-length Talismana in 2015. SWEAT LODGE performed with YOB, Acid King, Earthless, The Sword, Pentagram, Monolord and Beastmaker during their tenure as a band. The band commented on their final release:

“We really appreciate all the support we’ve had from fans along with all the great bands we’ve got to share time with but at least for the time being we’re going to concentrate on growing the family with the addition of Austin’s twins and a new guitarist for Sweat Lodge in the future. We love y’all Keep an eye out for the Sweat Trio during SXSW”

Tokens For Hell will see it’s release on March 10th via Brutal Panda Records. The EP will be available digitally and as a limited-edition cassette. Pre-Orders for the cassette are available HERE with digital pre-orders available HERE.

Sweat Lodge, Tokens for Hell tracklisting:
1. Life Goes On
2. Lost The Sun
3. Precious and Grace (ZZ Top Cover)
4. Tokens For Hell

https://www.facebook.com/Sweat-Lodge-124403460982785/
https://sweatlodgemusic.bandcamp.com/
http://instagram.com/sweat_lodge
http://www.twitter.com/sweatlodgetx
http://www.brutalpandarecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/BrutalPandaRecords/

Sweat Lodge, Tokens for Hell (2017)

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Quarterly Review: Crippled Black Phoenix, Zed, Mark Deutrom & Dead, Ol’ Time Moonshine, Ufosonic Generator, Mother Mooch, The Asound, Book of Wyrms, Oxblood Forge, The Heavy Crawls

Posted in Reviews on January 2nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk winter quarterly review

Now having spanned multiple years since starting way back in 2016, this Quarterly Review ends today with writeups 51-60 of the total 60. I’ve said I don’t know how many times that I could go longer, but the fact of the matter is it would hit a point where it stopped being a pleasant experience on my end and I’d rather keep things fun as much as possible rather than just try to cram in every single release that ever came my way. Make sense? It might or it might not. I can’t really decide either. From the bottom of my heart though, as I stare down the final batch of records for this edition of the Quarterly Review, I thank you for reading. Let’s dive in.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Crippled Black Phoenix, Bronze

crippled black phoenix bronze

Nine albums and just about 10 years on from their 2007 debut, A Love of Shared Disasters, the UK’s Crippled Black Phoenix arrive on Season of Mist with the full-length Bronze and remain as complex, moody and sonically resolute as ever. If we’re lucky, they’ll be the band that teaches a generation of heavy tone purveyors how to express emotion in songwriting without giving up the impact of their material, but the truth is that “Champions of Disturbance (Pt. 1 & 2),” “Deviant Burials,” “Scared and Alone” and take-your-pick-from-the-others are about so much more depth than even the blend of “heavy and moody” conveys. To wit, the spacious post-rock gaze of “Goodbye Then” gives a glimpse of what Radiohead might’ve turned into had they managed to keep their collective head out of their collective ass, and the penultimate “Winning a Losing Battle” pushes through initial melancholia into gurgling, obtuse-but-hypnotic drone before making a miraculous return in its finish – then closer “We are the Darkeners” gets heavy. Multi-instrumentalist, founder and chief songwriter Justin Greaves is nothing shy of a visionary, and Bronze is the latest manifestation of that vision. One doubts it will be the last.

Crippled Black Phoenix on Thee Facebooks

Season of Mist website

 

Zed, Trouble in Eden

zed trouble in eden

Nothing shy about Trouble in Eden, the third full-length from San Jose heavy rockers Zed and second for Ripple Music. From its hey-look-guys-it’s-a-naked-chick cover to the raw vocal push from Pete Sattari –which delves into more melodic fare early on “The Only True Thing” and in rolling closer “The Mountain,” but keeps mostly to gruff grown-up-punker delivery throughout – the 10-tracker makes its bones in cuts like “Blood of the Fallen” and the resonant hook of “Save You from Yourself,” which are straightforward in intent, brash in execution and which thrive on a purported “rock the way it should be” mentality. Well, I don’t know how rock should be, but ZedSattari, guitarist Greg Lopez, bassist Mark Aceves and drummer Rich Harris – play to classic structures and seem to bring innate groove with them wherever they go on the album, be it the one-two punch of “High Indeed” and “So Low” or the Clutch-style bounce in the first half of “Today Not Tomorrow,” which leaves one of Trouble in Eden’s most memorable impressions both as a song and as a summary of their apparent general point of view.

Zed on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

 

Mark Deutrom & Dead, Collective Fictions Split LP

mark deutrom dead collective fictions

Limited to just 200 copies on We Empty Rooms and Gotta Groove Records, the Collective Fictions split 180g LP between Melbourne noise duo Dead and Mark Deutrom (Bellringer, Clown Alley, ex-Melvins) is a genuine vinyl-only release. No digital version. That in itself gives it something of a brazen experimentalism, never mind the fact that one can barely tell where one track ends and the next track starts. Purposeful obscurity? Maybe. It’s reportedly one of a series of four LPs Dead are working on for the next year-plus, and they present two cuts in “Masonry” and “In the Car,” moving through percussion and mid-range drone to build a tense jazz on the former as drummer Jem and bassist Jace make room for the keys and noise of BJ Morriszonkle, which continue to play a prominent role in “In the Car” as well, which is also the only inclusion on Collective Fictions to feature vocals, shortly before it rumbles and long-fades snare hits to close out Dead’s side of the LP, leaving Deutrom – working here completely solo – thoroughly dared to get as weird as he’d like. An opportunity of which he takes full advantage. Over the course of four tracks, he unfurls instrumentalist drone of various stripes, from the nighttime soundscaping of “The Gargoyle Protocol,” which seems to answer the percussive beginning of Dead, through the spacier reverb loneliness of “Presence of an Absence,” like a most pastoral, less obtuse Earth, dreamy but sad in a way that denotes self-awareness on the part of the title, or at very least effective evocation thereof. Likewise, “Bring the Fatted Calf,” with its gong hits, Master Musicians of Bukkake-style jingling and minimalist volume swells, is duly ritualistic, which makes one wonder what the prog-style keys at the open of “View from the Threshold” are looking at. Deutrom moves through that side-closer patiently but fluidly and ends at a drone, tying up Collective Fictions as something of a curio in intent and execution. By that I mean what seems to have brought the two parties together was a “Hey, wanna get weird?” impulse, but each act makes their own level and then works on it, so hell yes, by all means, get weird.

Mark Deutrom website

Dead website

 

Ol’ Time Moonshine, The Apocalypse Trilogies

ol time moonshine the apocalypse trilogies

Any record that starts with a narration beginning, “In the not too distant future…” is going to find favor with my MST3K-loving heart. So begins The Apocalypse Trilogies: Spacewolf and Other Dark Tales, the cumbersomely-named but nonetheless engaging Salt of the Earth Records debut full-length from Toronto’s Ol’ Time Moonshine, whose 2013 The Demon Haunted World EP (review here) also found favor. The burl-coated outing is presented across three chapters, each beginning with its own narration and comprising three subsequent tracks – trilogies – tying into its theme as represented in the cover art by vocalist/guitarist Bill Kole, joined in the band by guitarist Chris Coleiro, bassist John Kendrick and drummer Brett Savory. They shift into some more complex fare on the instrumental “Lady of Light” before the final chapter, but at its core The Apocalypse Trilogies remains a (very) heavy rock album with an undercurrent of metal, and whatever else Ol’ Time Moonshine bring to it in plotline, they hold fast to songwriting as the most crucial element of their approach.

Ol’ Time Moonshine on Thee Facebooks

Salt of the Earth Records webstore

 

Ufosonic Generator, The Evil Smoke Possession

ufosonic generator the evil smoke possession

Italian four-piece Ufosonic Generator (also stylized as one word: UfosonicGenerator) make themselves at home straddling the line between doom and classic boogie rock on what seems to be their debut album, the eight-track The Evil Smoke Possession, released through Minotauro Records. Marked out by the soaring and adaptable vocals of Gojira – yup – the band offer proto-metal shuffle on shorter early cuts “A Sinful Portrait” and the rolling nod of “At Witches’ Bell,” but it’s the longer pairing of “Meridian Daemon” (7:47) and “Silver Bell Meadows” (6:53) on which one finds their brew at highest potency, sending an evil eye Cathedral’s way without forgetting the Sabbathian riffery that started it all or the Iron Maiden-gallop it inspired. They cap with the suitable lumber of their title-track and pick up toward the finish as if to underscore the dueling vibes with which they’ve been working all along. Ultimately, the meld isn’t necessarily revolutionary, but it does pay homage fluidly across The Evil Smoke Possession’s span, and as a debut, it sets Ufosonic Generator forward with a solid foundation on which to progress.

Ufosonic Generator on Thee Facebooks

Minotauro Records on Bandcamp

 

Mother Mooch, Nocturnes

mother mooch nocturnes

Issued digitally in late-2015 and subsequently snagged for a 2016 vinyl issue through Krauted Mind, Nocturnes is the debut full-length from Dublin five-piece Mother Mooch, and in its eight tracks, they set their footing in a genre-spanning aesthetic, pulling from slow-motion grunge, weighted heavy rock, psychedelic flourish and even a bit of punk on the shorter, upbeat “My Song 21” and “L.H.O.O.Q.” Those two tracks prove crucial departures in breaking up the proceedings and speak well of a penchant on the part of vocalist Chloë Ní Dhúada, guitarists Sid Daly (also backing vocals) and Farl, bassist Barry Hayden and drummer Danni Nolan toward sonic diversity. They bring a similar sensibility to the closing Lead Belly cover “Out on the Western Plain” as well, whereas cuts like opener “This Tempest,” “Into the Water” and “Misery Hill” work effectively to find a middle ground between the stylistic range at play. That impulse, seemingly innate to their songraft, is what will allow them to continue to develop their personality as a band and is not to be understated in how pivotal it is to this first LP.

Mother Mooch on Thee Facebooks

Krauted Mind Records website

 

The Asound, The Asound

the asound self titled

To my knowledge, this only-70-pressed five-song tape release is the second self-titled EP from off-kilter North Carolina heavy rockers The Asound following a three-songer back in 2011 (review here). Offered by Tsuguri Records, the new The Asound starts with its longest track (immediate points) in the 6:54 “Moss Man” and touches on earliest, most righteous High on Fire-style brash, but holds to its own notions about what that that blend of groove and gallop should do. Through splits with Flat Tires (review here), Magma Rise (review here), Lenoir Swingers Club (review here) and Mark Deutrom (review here), the trio of Guitarist/vocalist Chad Wyrick, bassist Jon Cox and drummer Michael Crump have always had an element of the unpredictable to their sound, and that’s true as centerpiece “Human for Human” revives the thrust of the opener coming off “Controller”’s less marauding rhythm, but the sludgy rollout and later airy lead-work of “Pseudo Vain” and chugging nod of closer “Throne of Compulsion” speaks to the consciousness at play beneath the unhinged vibes that’s been there all along. They’ve sounded ready for a while to make a full-length debut. They still sound that way.

The Asound on Thee Facebooks

Tsuguri Records website

 

Book of Wyrms, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

book of wyrms sci-fi fantasy

Immediate bonus points to Richmond, Virginia’s Book of Wyrms for titling a track on their full-length debut “Infinite Walrus,” but with the Garrett Morris-recorded tones they proffer with the seven-song/53-minute Sci-Fi/Fantasy (on Twin Earth Records), they don’t really need bonus points. The five-piece of vocalist Sarah Moore Lindsey, six-stringers Kyle Lewis and Ben Coudriet, bassist Jay Lindsey and drummer Chris DeHaven mostly avoid the sounding-like-Windhand trap through stretches of upbeat tempo, theremin and other noise flourish, and harmonies on guitar, but they’re never far from an undercurrent of doom, as opener “Leatherwing Bat” establishes and the long ambient midsection and subsequent nod of centerpiece “Nightbong” is only too happy to reinforce. “All Hallows Eve” gets a little cliché with its samples, but the dueling leads on 11-minute closer “Sourwolf” and included keyboard noise ensure proper distinction and mark Book of Wyrms as having come into their first long-player with a definite plan of action, which finds them doing well as a showcase of potential and plenty immersive in the here and now.

Book of Wyrms on Thee Facebooks

Twin Earth Records on Bandcamp

 

Oxblood Forge, Oxblood Forge

oxblood forge self-titled

Despite the sort of cross-cultural ritualism of its cover art, Oxblood Forge’s self-titled debut EP has only the firmest of ideas where it’s coming from. The Whitman, Massachusetts-based five-piece boasts former Ichabod vocalist Ken MacKay as well as bassist Greg Dellaria from that band, and guitarist Robb Lioy (also in Four Speed Fury with MacKay) alongside guitarist Josh Howard and drummer Chris Capen, and in a coherent, vigilantly straightforward five-tracker they touch on aggressive fare in “Lashed to the Mast” as their Northeastern regionalism would warrant – we’re all very angry here; it’s the weather – and demonstrate a knack for hooks in “Inferno” and “Sister Midnight,” the latter blending screams and almost Torche-style melodies over clam chowder riffing before closer “Storm of Crows” opens foreboding with Dellaria’s bass and moves into the short release’s nastiest fare, MacKay sticking to harsher vocals as on the earlier “Night Crawler,” but in a darker instrumental context. They set a range here, and might be feeling things out in terms of working together as this band, but given the personnel involved and their prior familiarity with each other, it’s hard to imagine that if a follow-up is in the offing it’ll be all that long before it arrives. Consider notice served.

Oxblood Forge on Thee Facebooks

Oxblood Forge on Bandcamp

 

The Heavy Crawls, The Heavy Crawls

the heavy crawls self-titled

Ukrainian trio The Heavy Crawls set out as a duo called just The Crawls and released a self-titled debut in 2013 that was picked up in 2015 by ultra-respected German imprint Nasoni Records. Under the new moniker, they get another stab at a first album with the 10-track/42-minute classic rocker The Heavy Crawls, the three-piece of founding guitarist/bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Max Tovstyi, drummer Inessa Joger and keyboardist/vocalist/percussionist Iryna Malyshevska evoking spirited boogie and comfortable groove on “She Said I Had to Wait” and the handclap-stomping “Girl from America.” Elements of garage rock show up on “Too Much Rock ‘n’ Roll” and the soul-swinging “I Had to Get Away,” but The Heavy Crawls are more interested in establishing a flow than being showy or brash, and the payoff for that comes in eight-minute closer “Burns Me from Inside,” which stretches out the jamming sensibility that earlier pieces like the organ-laced “One of a Kind” and the staccato “Friday, 13th” seem to be driving toward. Some growing to undertake, but the pop aspect in The Heavy Crawls’ songcraft provides intrigue, and their (second) debut shows a righteous commitment to form without losing its identity to it.

The Heavy Crawls website

The Heavy Crawls on Bandcamp

 

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