Review & Track Premiere: Seedy Jeezus with Tony Reed, Live in Liège

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on July 12th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Seedy Jeezus with tony reed live in liege

[Click play above to stream ‘Polaris Oblique’ from Seedy Jeezus with Tony Reed’s limited Live in Liege LP. Album will be available on the band’s upcoming European tour (dates here).]

The front cover of the LP is emblazoned with the heading ‘The Broken String Incident,’ and indeed, Seedy Jeezus guitarist/vocalist Lex “Mr. Frumpy” Waterreus does break a string as the Australian outfit make their stop in Liège, Belgium, on July 18, 2018. “Incident” might be stretching it — so far as I know no ambassadors were recalled — but you gotta call it something, and it underscores the intention of the limited-to-150-copies, only-available-on-tour LP, which is to capture a bootleg-style feel. The artwork for Live in Liège is taken from Waterreus‘ own tour poster for their 2018 European run, which was their first — the tour they’ll sell the LP on is their second — with Mos Generator‘s Tony Reed filling in on bass for Paul Crick, who couldn’t make the trip from Australia with Waterreus and drummer Mark Sibson.

And if Reed seems like an out-of-the-blue choice, the relationship there runs deeper than just the live shows, with Reed having traveled from his home in Washington to record Seedy Jeezus in their native Melbourne for their 2015 self-titled debut and again for last year’s Polaris Oblique (review here) — he’ll reportedly produce their next album as well whenever that happens. Bottom line, then, is Tony Reed is about as close as one could get to being in Seedy Jeezus, and sometimes he is kind of in the band. He plays like it, taking on a backing vocalist role in the 10-minute side B launcher “Dripping from the Eye of the Sun,” stepping in to introduce Waterreus during the second round of band introductions before they finish the set with “Oh Lord Pt. 2” from the sophomore LP. That the two parties would fit well together isn’t a huge surprise, since both play a style of largely straight-ahead heavy rock with a strong foundation in the classics of the form, an emphasis on songwriting as well as the tightness of the presentation. In the rhythm section with Sibson, Reed‘s right at home throughout “Polaris Oblique”  and the subsequent “Everything’ll Be Alright” — billed as “Everything’s Alright” on the back cover; a notable change in tense — and all throughout the 40-minute set that unfolds.

By the time they got to Péniche la Légia in Liège, Seedy Jeezus had already been on the road for somewhere in the neighborhood of 11 days, and they sound like it. The actual audio on Live in Liège is fairly raw. If we’re going on the scale of bootlegs, it’s definitely a soundboard, and it’s gorgeous compared to some recorded-in-a-jacket-pocket DAT shows I’ve heard in my time, but neither is it a polished live record even as much as was Seedy Jeezus‘ 2016 offering, Live in Netphen: Freak Valley 2015 (discussed here). Again, it’s not supposed to be. The whole idea behind this release is that it’s something special that documents this special moment of their European tour supporting their second album. As Waterreus rips into the solo at the furious outset of “Sun in My Car” at the end of side A — stopping amid that triumphal boogie between measures to give the crowd a well-earned moment to holler, whistle, etc. — before, indeed, that string breaks and he does the first round of band introductions presumably in the midst of changing it out. If it didn’t say so on the cover, they’d have gotten away with it no problem. No one would know.

Seedy Jeezus with tony reed live in liege back cover

Still, if that’s something to stand the show out from the others on the tour, they handle it smoothly enough, which is the kind of thing a band can do without being derailed when they’ve already been on the road for a week-plus. “Sun in My Car” picks up in all the more energized fashion when it returns and blasts off en route to the interstellar drift of “Dripping from the Eye of the Sun” after the side flip, recalling the initial punch of “Polaris Oblique” and “Everything’ll Be Alright” at the start of the set — those two also lead off the Polaris Oblique album in succession — and prefacing “Barefoot Travellin’ Man” and “Oh Lord Pt. 2” still to come. Seedy Jeezus excel at this kind of madcap shuffle, and Live in Liège brings that out well, but their range has never been limited to just one thing, as “Dripping from the Eye of the Sun” demonstrates that with its slower roll and more spacious feel, which isn’t something that one would necessarily expect to come across on a live record, since it’s doubly hard to set the mood for someone listening when that person isn’t at the gig, but Seedy Jeezus deliver the set as it happened and the rest takes care of itself.

I imagine there are some who would hear Live in Liège and not understand the “warts and all”-style vibe it hones or why a band would even put out a recording of a set where the guitarist breaks a string in the middle of a song. But isn’t it obvious? It’s cinéma vérité — the most stripped down manner in which they could showcase the reality of what the tour was like. The only way it could be more real is if they recorded the 23 hours that day they spent driving, sleeping, no doubt, waiting for the time when they could get on stage and kick ass as they do here. By the time they get to the end of “Barefoot Travellin’ Man,” the scorch in Waterreus‘ soloing is so encompassing that whatever concerns might exist about fidelity simply dissipate. You just get into it and that’s all there is. This is the bootleg ideal, of course. Seedy Jeezus put you where the show is happening just as they put the audience who was there where they wanted them.

This may only be a limited LP, offered up in plain style through the band’s own Blown Music imprint with no super-deluxe special edition or anything like that, but it represents something special about their approach just the same, where it’s not just the fact that they boogie down or riff out or get spacey or whatever it might be, but that they do so with such obvious, resonant joy. I can’t imagine a more compelling argument to go see a band than that.

Seedy Jeezus website

Seedy Jeezus on Thee Facebooks

Seedy Jeezus on Instagram

Seedy Jeezus on Bandcamp

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The Ivory Elephant Release Stoneface July 26; New Songs Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 10th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

I’m not gonna say I’m only posting this press release as an excuse to host the songs at the bottom of the post — because I’m a pro-information guy all the way, and I’ve found that sometimes, even years later, this things are awfully handy to have around when looking back through lineups and recording circumstances, etc. — but the Melbourne band The Ivory Elephant have three tracks streaming right now from Stoneface, which is their second album amid a handful of shorter releases on their Bandcamp page unless I missed something looking through. The songs are rad and as I’m listening to it right now I can tell you the rest of the thing follows suit, so yeah, peruse through the PR wire stuff, like you do, but definitely take some time and listen to the music as well — if you’ve got headphones handy, get on that — because it’s not the kind of thing you’ll regret doing. Pro-shop psych rock. Always welcome by me.

Dig:

the ivory elephant stoneface

The Ivory Elephant – Stoneface

“On this album we really wanted to get deep in to Psych. The blues is still in there, but it’s hidden behind a lot of fuzz and reverb. We also wanted to approach this release as a full album that is best listened to in one hit, rather than just a bunch of songs stuck together. There’s some lengthy jams on there and some pretty heavy stuff, but there’s also tracks on there like Jazzhead pt I and Stoneface which are pretty different to what people would expect from us.

The track we had the most fun recording was probably Stoneface Jamboree. We tracked it on our last day of recording until about 2am on a whim. It started off with just acoustic guitars, then we layered more guitars, sitars, percussion, vocals, a blisteringly loud 70s farfisa organ, and left some whacky tape effects in there for the hell of it too. It’s a long way from anything we’ve done before, and we’ll probably never be able to play it live!

As for lyrical content on the new album, there’s our usual psychedelic shit and vaguely political tracks, but there’s also a few songs about bitter heartbreak, which I haven’t written songs about before. When I listen to music, I often interpret songs my own way, so when I write lyrics I like to leave things pretty vague, so people can relate to it in their own way.

This new album is the first time we’ve really been able to stretch out in the studio. We had five days tracking (which is a lot for us), so there was a lot more time to really refine shit and put more layers in there. There’s A LOT of guitar parts in there and our bassist Arty jumped on the keys for a few tracks, so that’s added a new layer too.

We recorded the album at Soundpark Studio’s in Melbourne, which is where we recorded our last album Number 1 Pop Hit. The place just has a really good vibe. It’s big and has some of the best gear around, and some Aussie legends have recorded there, but it’s also got a run down sort of share-house vibe and you can drink and smoke in there, so it’s pretty chill. We had Andrew Hehir (aka “Idge”) on mixing duties, and he just seems to get exactly what we’re after. Basically we’d always just say “more verb, more dirt and more whack shit!” – Trent Sterling

Stoneface will be released on limited edition heavyweight vinyl July 26th on Kozmik Artifactz.

Available as Limited Edition Vinyl & CD

Release Date: 26th July 2019

VINYL FACTZ
– Plated & pressed on high performance vinyl at Pallas/Germany
– limited & coloured vinyl
– 300gsm gatefold cover
– special vinyl mastering

TRACKS
1. Storm
2. Maybe I’m Evil
3. Wars
4. Roll On
5. Jazzhead pt I
6. Low Expectation
7. Stoneface Jamboree
8. Stoneface
9. Hard Case
10. Jazzhead pt II

The Ivory Elephant are:
Trent Sterling – Guitar/Vox
Arthur Witherby- Bass
Don Sargood – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/theivoryelephant/
https://www.instagram.com/theivoryelephantband/
https://theivoryelephant.bandcamp.com/
https://www.theivoryelephant.com/
http://kozmik-artifactz.com/
https://www.facebook.com/kozmikartifactz

The Ivory Elephant, Stoneface (2019)

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Review & Full Album Premiere: Arrowhead, Coven of the Snake

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on July 9th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Arrowhead Coven of the Snake

[Click play above to stream Arrowhead’s Coven of the Snake in full. Album is out Friday on Ripple Music.]

Now on their 11th year and releasing their third album, Coven of the Snake, Sydney, Australia’s Arrowhead continue to deliver on the promise of their earliest days, proliferating straightforward heavy rock with a meaner underpinning here and there but keeping the songwriting first, always. This has been their wont since their 2009 self-titled EP (review here), and across their 2012 debut, Atomsmasher (review here) and 2015/2016’s Desert Cult Ritual, initially released by the band and subsequently picked up by Ripple Music. One can only call that alliance correct on some grand cosmic scale — the band and label would seem to have been made for each other. Though the band came first, both embrace a traditionalist heavy rock sound that doesn’t necessarily eschew frills, but makes its point with riff-led fare, memorable choruses and an underlying appreciation for the classics of the style. One thinks of Ripple bands like Roadsaw, Devil to Pay, Freedom Hawk, Ape Machine, Fire Down Below, etc.

Arrowhead acquit themselves well in this company across their latest work, Coven of the Snake, having gone through the change of bringing in bassist Arron Fletcher to replace original member Dave Lopez alongside guitarist/vocalist Brett Pearl and drummer Matt Cramp, whose dynamic proves to be the core of the band’s craft. Granted they’ve had a couple years with Lopez at this point, so he’s not brand new to the band or anything, but listening to the clean, LP-ready eight tracks/40 minutes of Coven of the Snake, Arrowhead don’t seem to have missed a beat for the shift in personnel. Since recording, they’ve also brought in Thumlock‘s Raff Iacurto on second guitar, but he doesn’t actually play on the record. Timing is everything. More intrigue for next time, I suppose. Arrowhead give plenty to dig into in the meantime, as Coven of the Snake stands itself out as their most realized offering to-date in the old fashioned way: with songs. Depending on how deep you want to go, it can be as simple as that.

There’s nothing overly showy about what Arrowhead do. They’re technically proficient, sure enough, but not out to put on any kind of clinic in scale work or anything like that. Their music is conversational. It engages the listener and digs itself into the consciousness, and more over, it makes that process easy. It is accessible in the truest, not at all condescending definition of the word. They open with the title-track, and the lines in the chorus go, “Welcome to the coven of the snake/So why don’t you join?,” and I believe Pearl means it when he asks the question. It summarizes the central invitation that the entire album goes on to send. They are communicating directly with their audience, and while one would be remiss not to point out the phallic nature of the coven itself, but between the opener and “All Seeing Eye” and “Ceremony of the Skull,” which follow, they make it pretty plain that the suggestion to join is universal.

arrowhead

Apart from the 6:56 closer “Golden Thunder Hawk,” songs run between four and five and a half minutes, and PearlCramp and Fletcher spend that time making it easy to get on board. As they have all along, they get into some rougher terrain, calling to mind the dug-in low end of later Dozer on cuts like “Ceremony of the Skull” and the penultimate “March of the Reptiles,” the central riff of which feels specifically drawn from Through the Eyes of Heathens launchpoint “Drawing Dead.” Whatever similarities there might be, Arrowhead have never failed to add their own personality, and Coven of the Snake is no different, even as Pearl‘s vocals remind on that same penultimate track of Arc of Ascent, the context in which that line is drawn is obviously different. Likewise, the prior “Dopanaught” takes a more specifically winding approach, marked out by being the most “stoner” inclusion in terms of basic lyrical foundation — flirting with conspiracy theories and whatnot elsewhere suits the rest of the material as well as anything — and the accompanying lead guitar in its second half. Arrowhead add enough detail to each track so that it stands out from the rest while feeding into the straight-ahead overarching impression of the album.

This is more or less the ideal for this kind of heavy rock and roll songwriting — something that takes its influences and brings new elements to the mix in a style that is unpretentious about where it’s coming from and built to serve memorable, engaging songs. Somewhat understated on the whole, Arrowhead reserve any kind of grandiosity for “Golden Thunder Hawk,” which rolls out much of its extra runtime in a patient introduction to the gently-shuffling main progression, a laid back vocal helping set the mood before opening to a wider chorus. Soon enough they’re halfway through and from there it’s a matter of letting the build play out, which by then the band have well earned with their level of execution on the previous seven tracks. These are the kinds of songs where you read the titles and hear them delivered in your head as they are in the hooks, and that extends even to the finale, which takes a slightly different route to get there but still most certainly does, thereby summarizing much of the appeal of Coven of the Snake while also bringing new ideas to it.

Arrowhead are clearly past the stage where they might otherwise be discovering who they are as a band, and given the work they’ve done since starting out, I’d argue they’ve known all along. Nonetheless, the efforts they’ve made to refine their craft are audible throughout Coven of the Snake, and as they continue to move forward, as a live four-piece and as a creative unit, one hopes the dynamic they showcase here continues with them. This is heavy rock for a longer term; a quality that seeps in not through some novelty but through Arrowhead‘s ability to realize their intentions in impeccably constructed form. Its appeal will last that much longer for it.

Arrowhead, “Coven of the Snake” official video

Arrowhead on Thee Facebooks

Arrowhead on Bandcamp

Ripple Music website

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

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Holy Serpent Announce New Album Endless & European Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 9th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

holy serpent

Perhaps Holy Serpent said it best when on 2016’s Temples (review here) in 2016 they closed out with the 11-minute “Sativan Harvest,” and by “said it” I definitely mean “riffed it.” Still, there’s more work to be done on the part of the Melbourne four-piece, who’ve set themselves a high standard (pun SO intended) between that outing and their 2015 self-titled (review here), and their third album, Endless, will be out Oct. 4 on RidingEasy Records. They’ll spend the better part of the prior month touring in Europe thanks to a helping hand from Heavy Psych Sounds‘ booking wing — a formalized alliance between the US-based RidingEasy and Italian Heavy Psych Sounds would be nothing to sneeze at if it became a more regular occurrence; this isn’t the first time they’ve crossed paths, certainly — and one imagines they’ll either be selling copies of the new record or just generally promoting the crap out of it leading up to the release. US tour after? That’d be awfully nice.

The band’s announcement via social media and the tour dates follow:

holy serpent tour

*** HOLY SERPENT – ‘ENDLESS’ EUROPEAN TOUR 2019 ***

We’re finally making our way over to Europe this September.

Something we’ve all collectively been waiting for ever since we picked up instruments.

We’re doing a hard slog of 25 shows in a row that might just kill us, or make us really fkn strong.. Also BONUS NEWS – our 3rd album titled ‘ENDLESS’ will be out on RidingEasy Records on October 4th, 2019.

Thanks to HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS for booking this tour, we’re all super psyched and also a bit nervous.. Cheers to our bro Dan in RidingEasy Records for taking a chance on a bunch of dudes from down under!

Thanks to everyone who has helped us along the way, brought a record, come to a show or even hit like on a post. It’s amazing to know that we got people watching us all over the world.

Peace and Love and Marijuana.. Holy Serpent.

*** HOLY SERPENT – ‘ENDLESS’ EUROPEAN TOUR 2019 ***
04.09.2019 IT Roma-Wishlist
05.09.2019 IT Torino-Blah Blah
06.09.2019 IT Parma-Splinter
07.09.2019 IT Alessandria-Cascina Bellaria
08.09.2019 IT Verona/Mantova tba
09.09.2019 IT Zerobranco-Altroquando
10.09.2019 AT Wien-Venster99
11.09.2019 AT Salzburg-Rockhouse
12.09.2019 DE Augsburg-City Club
13.09.2019 CH Olten-Coq D’Or
14.09.2019 CH Brunnen-Kult Turm
15.09.2019 FR Lille
16.09.2019 UK
17.09.2019 UK
18.09.2019 UK Bristol
19.09.2019 FR Paris-Le Cirque Eletrique
20.09.2019 CH Martigny-Le Caves Du Manoir
21.09.2019 DE Mannheim
22.09.2019 DE DE Frankfurt
23.09.2019 DE Koln-MTC
24.09.2019 DE Bielefeld-Potemkin
25.09.2019 DE Oldenburg-MTS Record
26.09.2019 DE Berlin-Toast Hawaii
27.09.2019 DE Siegen-Vortex
28.09.2019 CH Frauenfeld-Kaff

HOLY SERPENT is:
Scott Penberthy – Guitar/Vocals
Nick Donoughue – Guitar
Dave Bartlett – Bass
Lance Leembrugen – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/HolySerpentBand/
https://holyserpentband.bandcamp.com
http://ridingeasyrecords.bandcamp.com/
https://www.ridingeasyrecs.com/

Holy Serpent, Temples (2016)

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Quarterly Review: Pelican, Swan Valley Heights, Mark Deutrom, Greenbeard, Mount Soma, Nibiru, Cable, Reino Ermitaño, Cardinals Folly & Lucifer’s Fall, Temple of the Fuzz Witch

Posted in Reviews on July 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

More computer bullshit this morning. I lost about 45 minutes because my graphics driver and Windows 10 apparently hate each other and before I could disable the former, the machine decided the best it could do for me was to load a blank screen. Hard to find the Pelican record on my desktop when I can’t see my desktop. The Patient Mrs. woke up while I was trying to fix it and suggested HDMIing it to the tv. When I did that, it didn’t project as was hoped, but the display came on — because go figure — and I was able to shut off the driver, the only real advantage of which is it lets me use the night light feature so it’s easier on my eyes. That’s nice, but I’d rather have the laptop function. Not really working on a level of “give me soft red light or give me death!” at this point. I may yet get there in my life.

Today’s the last day of this beast, wrapping up the last of the 60 reviews, and I’m already in the hole for the better part of an hour thanks to this technical issue, the second of the week. Been an adventure, this one. Let’s close it out.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Pelican, Nighttime Stories

pelican nighttime stories

Split into two LPs each with its own three-minute mood-setter — those being “WST” and “It Stared at Me,” respectively — Pelican‘s Nighttime Stories (on Southern Lord) carries the foreboding sensibility of its title into an aggressive push throughout the album, which deals from the outset with the pain of loss. The lead single “Midnight and Mescaline” represents this well in directly following “WST,” with shades of more extreme sounds in the sharp-turning guitar interplay and tense drums, but it carries through the blastbeats of “Abyssal Plain” and the bombastic crashes of presumed side B closer “Cold Hope” as well, which flow via a last tonal wash toward the melancholy “It Stared at Me” and the even-more-aggro title-track, the consuming “Arteries of Blacktop” and the eight-minute “Full Moon, Black Water,” which offers a build of maddening chug — a Pelican hallmark — before resolving in melodic serenity, moving, perhaps, forward with and through its grief. It’s been six years since Pelican‘s last LP, Forever Becoming (review here), and they’ve responded to that time differential with the hardest-hitting record they’ve ever done.

Pelican on Thee Facebooks

Southern Lord Recordings website

 

Swan Valley Heights, The Heavy Seed

swan valley heights the heavy seed

Though the peaceful beginning of 13-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “The Heavy Seed,” for which the five-song album is named, reminds of Swan Valley Heights‘ Munich compatriots in Colour Haze, the ultimate impression the band make on their Fuzzorama Records debut and second album overall behind a 2016 self-titled (review here) is more varied in its execution, with cuts like “Vaporizer Woman” and the centerpiece “Take a Swim in God’s Washing Machine” manifesting ebbs and flows and rolling out a fuzzy largesse to lead into dream-toned ethereality and layered vocals that immediately call to mind Elephant Tree. There’s a propensity for jamming, but they’re not a jam band, and seem always to have a direction in mind. That’s true even on the three-minute instrumental “My First Knife Fight,” which unfurls around a nod riff and simple drum progression to bridge into closer “Teeth and Waves,” a bookend to The Heavy Seed‘s title-track that revives that initial grace and uses it as a stepping stone for the crunch to come. It’s a balance that works and should be well received.

Swan Valley Heights on Thee Facebooks

Fuzzorama Records on Bandcamp

 

Mark Deutrom, The Blue Bird

Mark Deutrom The Blue Bird

Released in the wee hours of 2019, Mark Deutrom‘s The Blue Bird marks the first new solo release from the prolific Austin-based songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist through Season of Mist, and it’s a 50-minute run of genre-spanning outsider art, bringing ’70s folk vibes to the weepy guitar echoes of “Radiant Gravity” right before “O Ye of Little Faith” dooms out for six of its seven minutes and “Our Revels Now Are Ended” basks in 77 seconds of experimentalist winding guitar. It goes like that. Vocals are intermittent enough to not necessarily be expected, but not entirely absent through the midsection of “Hell is a City,” “Somnambulist” and “Maximum Hemingway,” and if there’s traditionalism at play anywhere, it might be in “They Have Won” and “The Happiness Machine,” which, toward the back end of the album, bring a sax-laden melancholy vibe and a straightforward heavy rock feel, respectively, ahead of the closer “Nothing out There,” which ties them together, somehow accounting for the 1:34 “On Fathers Day” as well in its sweetness. Don’t go into The Blue Bird asking it to make sense on any level other than its own and you should be fine. It’s not a minor undertaking at 50 minutes, and not without its indulgences, but even the briefest of pieces helps develop the character of the whole, which of course is essential to any good story.

Mark Deutrom website

Season of Mist website

 

Greenbeard, Onward, Pillager

greenbeard onward pillager

Austin bringers of hard-boogie Greenbeard reportedly issued the three-song Onward, Pillager as a precursor to their next full-length — even the name hints toward it being something of a stopgap — but its tracks stand well on their own, whether it’s the keyboard-laced “Contact High II,” which is presumably a sequel to another track on the forthcoming record, or the chunkier roll of “WCCQ” and the catchy finisher “Kill to Love Yourself,” with its overlaid guitar solo adding to a dramatic ending. It hasn’t been that long since 2017’s Lödarödböl (review here), but clearly these guys are committed to moving forward in neo-stoner rock fashion, and their emergence as songwriters is highlighted particularly throughout “WCCQ” and “Kill to Love Yourself,” while “Contact High II” is more of an intro or a would-be interlude on the full-length. It may only be pieces of a larger, to-be-revealed picture, but Onward, Pillager shows three different sides of what Greenbeard have on offer, and the promise of more to come is one that will hopefully be kept sooner rather than later.

Greenbeard on Thee Facebooks

Sailor Records on Bandcamp

 

Mount Soma, Nirodha

mount_soma_nirodha

Each of the three songs on Mount Soma‘s densely-weighted, live-recorded self-released Nirodha EP makes some mention of suffering in its lyrics, and indeed, that seems to be the theme drawing together “Dark Sun Destroyer” (7:40), “Emerge the Wolf” (5:50) and “Resurfacing” (9:14): a quest for transcendence perhaps in part due to the volume of the music and the act itself of creating it. Whatever gets them there, the trajectory of Nirodha is such that by the time they hit into the YOB-style galloping toward the end of “Resurfacing,” the gruff shouts of “rebirth!” feel more celebratory than ambitious. Based in Dublin, the four-piece bring a fair sense of space to their otherwise crush-minded approach, and though the EP is rough — it is their second short release following 2016’s Origins — they seem to have found a way to tie together outer and inner cosmos with an earthbound sense of gravity and heft, and with the more intense shove of “Emerge the Wolf” between the two longer tracks, they prove themselves capable of bringing a noisy charge amid all that roar and crash. They did the first EP live as well. I wonder if they’d do the same for a full-length.

Mount Soma on Thee Facebooks

Mount Soma on Bandcamp

 

Nibiru, Salbrox

nibiru salbrox

One might get lost in the unmanageable 64-minute wash of Nibiru‘s fifth full-length (first for Ritual Productions), Salbrox, but the opaque nature of the proceedings is part of the point. The Italian ritualists bring forth a chaotic depth of noise and harsh semi-spoken rasps of vocals reportedly in the Enochian language, and from 14-minute opener “EHNB” — also the longest track (immediate points) — through the morass that follows in “Exarp,” “Hcoma,” “Nanta” and so on, the album is a willful slog that challenges the listener on nearly every level. This is par for the course for Nibiru, whose last outing was 2017’s Qaal Babalon (review here), and they seem to revel in the slow-churning gruel of their distortion, turning from it only to break to minimalism in the second half of the album with “Abalpt” and “Bitom” before 13-minute closer “Rziorn” storms in like a tsunami of spiritually desolate plunge. It is vicious and difficult to hear, and again, that is exactly what it’s intended to be.

Nibiru on Thee Facebooks

Ritual Productions website

 

Cable, Take the Stairs to Hell

Cable Take the Stairs to Hell

The gift of Cable was to take typically raw Northeastern disaffection and channel it into a noise rock that wasn’t quite as post-this-or-that as Isis, but still had a cerebral edge that more primitive fare lacked. They were methodical, and 10 years after their last record, the Hartford, Connecticut, outfit return with the nine-song/30-minute Take the Stairs to Hell (on Translation Loss), which brings them back into the modern sphere with a sound that is no less relevant than it was bouncing between This Dark Reign, Hydra Head and Translation Loss between 2001 and 2004. They were underrated then and may continue to be now, but the combination of melody and bite in “Black Medicine” and the gutty crunch of “Eyes Rolled Back,” the post-Southern heavy of the title-track and the lumbering pummel of “Rivers of Old” before it remind of how much of a standout Cable was in the past, reinforcing that not only were they ahead of their time then, but that they still have plenty to offer going forward. They may continue to be underrated as they always were, but their return is significant and welcome.

Cable on Instagram

Translation Loss Records webstore

 

Reino Ermitaño, Reino Ermitaño

Reino Ermitano Reino Ermitano

Originally released in 2003, the self-titled debut from Lima, Peru’s Reino Ermitaño was a beacon and landmark in Latin American doom, with a sound derived from the genre’s traditions — Sabbath, Trouble, etc. — and melded with not only Spanish-language lyrics, but elements of South American folk and stylizations. Reissued on vinyl some 16 years later, it maintains its power through the outside-time level of its craft, sliding into that unplaceable realm of doom that could be from any point from about 1985 onward, while the melodies in the guitar of Henry Guevara and the vocals of Tania Duarte hold sway over the central groove of bassist Marcos Coifman and drummer Julio “Ñaka” Almeida. Those who were turned onto the band at the time will likely know they’ve released five LPs to-date, with the latest one from 2014, but the Necio Records version marks the first time the debut has been pressed to vinyl, and so is of extra interest apart from the standard putting-it-out-there-again reissue. Collectors and a new generation of doomers alike would be well advised on an educational level, and of course the appeal of the album itself far exceeds that.

Reino Ermitaño on Thee Facebooks

Necio Records on Bandcamp

 

Cardinals Folly & Lucifer’s Fall, Split

cardinals folly lucifers fall split

Though one hails from Helsinki, Finland, and the other from Adelaide, Australia, Cardinals Folly and Lucifer’s Fall could hardly be better suited to share the six-song Cruz Del Sur split LP that they do, which checks in at 35 minutes of trad doom riffing and dirtier fare. The former is provided by Cardinals Folly, who bring a Reverend Bizarre-style stateliness to “Spiritual North” and “Walvater Proclaimed!” before betraying their extreme metal roots on “Sworn Through Odin’s and Satan’s Blood,” while the Oz contingent throw down Saint Vitus-esque punk-born fuckall through “Die Witch Die,” the crawling “Call of the Wild” and the particularly brash and speedier “The Gates of Hell.” The uniting thread of course is homage to doom itself, but each band brings enough of their own take to complement each other without either contradicting or making one or the other of them feel redundant, and rather, the split works out to be a rampaging, deeply-drunk, pagan-feeling celebration of what doom is and how it has been internalized by each of these groups. Doom over the world? Yeah, something like that.

Cardinals Folly on Thee Facebooks

Lucifer’s Fall on Thee Facebooks

Cruz Del Sur Music website

 

Temple of the Fuzz Witch, Temple of the Fuzz Witch

Temple of the Fuzz Witch Temple of the Fuzz Witch

A strong current of Electric Wizard runs through the self-titled debut full-length from Detroit’s Temple of the Fuzz Witch (on Seeing Red Records), but even to that, the outfit led by guitarist/vocalist Noah Bruner bring a nascent measure of individuality, droning into and through “Death Hails” after opening with “Bathsheba” and ahead of unveiling a harmonized vocal on “The Glowing of Satan” that suits the low end distortion surprisingly well. They continue to offer surprises throughout, whether it’s the spaciousness of centerpiece “329” and “Infidel,” which follows, or the offsetting of minimalism and crush on “The Fuzz Witch” and the creeper noise in the ending of “Servants of the Sun,” and though there are certainly familiar elements at play, Temple of the Fuzz Witch come across with an intent to take what’s been done before and make it theirs. In that regard, they would seem to be on the right track, and in their 41 minutes, they find footing in a murky aesthetic and are able to convey a sense of songwriting without sounding heavy-handed. There’s nothing else I’d ask of their first album.

Temple of the Fuzz Witch on Thee Facebooks

Seeing Red Records on Bandcamp

 

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We Lost the Sea to Release Triumph and Disaster Oct. 1; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

we lost the sea (Photo by Josh Groom)

I suspect that if you heard 2015’s Departure Songs (review here, discussed here), you don’t need me to tell you how excited to be at the prospect of a new 2LP full-length from Sydney, Australia’s We Lost the Sea, but just in case, you should be very, very excited. And more so after you listen to the 15-minute track “Towers” streaming at the bottom of this post, which finds the instrumentalists’ evocative prowess not at all diminished for the space of years from one release to the next, and as they take on telling a story no less ambitious than summarizing the course of humanity up to its final moments, the personal feel they bring to the material stays resonant. I wouldn’t necessarily count on one track to represent the entire scope of the offering, but no question the emotional undercurrent is there.

Release date is Oct. 1. Here’s looking forward to hearing more:

we lost the sea triumph and disaster

Triumph & Disaster is a post-apocalyptic view on the collapse of the world told like a children’s story and illustrated through the eyes of a mother and her son as they spend one last day on Earth. The music is the narrative for the destruction and tragedy. The words tell the story of love, loss and letting go.

We’re beyond proud, excited and exhausted to present you the first track from it ’Towers’ which summarizes all of those emotions in one song. Representing the beginning and the end of everything, it is about giant oppressive forces and feelings, the towering juggernaut of power, failure, history and death.

“Triumph & Disaster” is available now on 3 2xLP variants but they are going VERY quickly. Also available on CD.

UK orders, please order from our friends at Holy Roar Records. Europe order from Dunk! Records, Australia from The Bird’s Robe Collective.

Color Version 1:
Bone White and Grimace Purple Galaxy Merge (limited to 500 copies)

&

Color Version 2:
Color in Color with Splatter combo ((limited to 300 copies)
*both LPs are different configs, see below:
LP1:
Halloween Orange inside of Clear with HEAVY Aqua Blue, Brown and Bone White Splatter

LP2:
Aqua Blue Inside of Clear with Heavy Halloween Orange, Brown and Bone White Splatter
**this variant is one of the more expensive to make, thus the cost is a bit more.

Color Version 3:
Aqua Blue / Halloween Orange / Brown Tri-Color Merge with HEAVY Deep Purple, Grimace Purple and Neon Violet Splatter (limited to 200 copies)
**this variant is one of the most expensive to make, thus the cost is a bit more.

PREORDER: smarturl.it/WELOSTTHESEA

https://www.facebook.com/welostthesea
http://welostthesea.bandcamp.com/
http://www.welostthesea.com/
https://www.facebook.com/TranslationLossRecords/
http://translationlossrecords.bigcartel.com/
http://www.translationloss.com/

We Lost the Sea, “Towers”

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Quarterly Review: Elizabeth Colour Wheel, Black Lung, Giant Dwarf, Land Mammal, Skunk, Silver Devil, Sky Burial, Wizzerd, Ian Blurton, Cosmic Fall

Posted in Reviews on July 5th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

Got my laptop back. Turned out the guy had to give me a new hard drive entirely, clone all my data on it, and scrap the other drive. I’m sure if I took it to another technician they’d have said something completely different, either for better or worse, but it was $165 and I got my computer back, working, in a day, so I can’t really complain. Worth the money, obviously, even though it was $40 more than the estimate. I assume that was a mix of “new hard drive” and “this is the last thing I’m doing before a four-day weekend.” Either way, totally legit. Bit of stress on my part, but what’s a Quarterly Review without it?

This ends the week, but there’s still one more batch of 10 reviews to go on Monday, so I won’t delay further, except to say more to come.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Elizabeth Colour Wheel, Nocebo

elizabeth colour wheel nocebo

A rare level of triumph for a first album, Elizabeth Colour Wheel‘s aesthetic scope and patience of craft on Nocebo result in a genre-spanning post-noise rock that maintains an atmospheric heft whether loud or quiet at any given moment, and a sense of unpredictability that feels born out of a genuinely forward-thinking songwriting process. It is dark, emotionally resonant, beautiful and crushing across its eight songs and 47 minutes, as the Philadelphia five-piece ebb and flow instrumentally behind a standout vocal performance that reminds of Julie Christmas circa Battle of Mice on “Life of a Flower” but is ultimately more controlled and all the more lethal for that. Bouts of extremity pop up at unexpected times and the songs flow into each other so as to make all of Nocebo feel like a single, multi-hued work, which it just might be as it moves into ambience between “Hide Behind (Emmett’s Song)” and “Bedrest” before exploding to life again in “34th” and transitioning directly into the cacophonous apex that comes with closer “Head Home.” One of the best debuts of 2019, if not the best.

Elizabeth Colour Wheel on Thee Facebooks

The Flenser on Bandcamp

 

Black Lung, Ancients

black lung ancients

Ancients is the third full-length from Baltimore’s Black Lung, whose heavy blues rock takes a moodier approach from the outset of “Mother of the Sun” onward, following an organ-led roll in that opener that calls to mind All Them Witches circa Lightning at the Door and following 2016’s See the Enemy (review here) with an even firmer grasp on their overarching intent. The title-track is shorter at 3:10 and offers some post-rock flourish in the guitar amid its otherwise straight-ahead push, but there’s a tonal depth to add atmosphere to whatever moves they’re making at the time, “The Seeker” and “Voices” rounding out side A with relatively grounded swing and traditionalist shuffle but still catching attention through pace and presentation alike. That holds true as “Gone” drifts into psychedelic jamming at the start of side B, and the chunkier “Badlands,” the dramatic “Vultures” and the controlled wash of “Dead Man Blues” take the listener into some unnamed desert without a map or exit strategy. It’s a pleasure to get lost as Ancients plays through, and Black Lung remain a well-kept secret of the East Coast underground.

Black Lung on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

Noisolution website

 

Giant Dwarf, Giant Dwarf

Giant Dwarf Giant Dwarf

This just fucking rules, and I feel no need to couch my critique in any more flowery language than that. Driving, fuzzy heavy rock topped with post-Homme melodies that doesn’t sacrifice impact for attitude, the self-released, self-titled debut from Perth, Australia’s Giant Dwarf is a sans-pretense 35 minutes of groove done right. They may be playing to genre, fine, but from the cover art on down, they’re doing so with a sense of personality and a readiness to bring an individual sensibility to their sound. I dig it. Summery tones, rampant vocal melodies in layers, solid rhythmic foundation beneath. The fact that it’s the five-piece’s first album makes me look less for some kind of stylistic nuance, but it’s there to be heard anyway in “Disco Void” and the bouncing end of “High Tide Blues,” and in surrounding cuts like “Repeat After Defeat” and “Strange Wool,” Giant Dwarf set to the task before them with due vitality, imagining Songs for the Deaf with Fu Manchu tonality in “Kepler.” No big surprise, but yeah, it definitely works. Someone should be beating down the door to sign this band.

Giant Dwarf on Thee Facebooks

Giant Dwarf on Bandcamp

 

Land Mammal, Land Mammal

land mammal land mammal

Land Mammal‘s debut outing is a 14-minute, proof-of-concept four-songer EP with clarity of presentation and telegraphed intent. Marked out by the Robert Plant-style vocal heroics of Kinsley August, the band makes the most of a bluesy atmosphere behind him, with Will Weise on wah-ready guitar, Phillip PJ Soapsmith on bass, Stephen Smith on drums and True Turner on keys. On opener “Dark with Rain” and closer “Better Days,” they find a pastoral vibe that draws from ’90s alternative, thinking Blind Melon particularly in the finale, but “Earth Made Free” takes a bluesier angle and “Drippin’ Slow” is not shy about nor ashamed of its danceability, as its lyrics demonstrate. For all the crispness of the production, Land Mammal still manage to sound relatively natural, which is all the more encouraging in terms of moving forward, but it’ll be interesting to hear how they flesh out their sound over the course of a full-length, since even as an EP, this self-titled is short. They have songwriting, performance and production on their side, however, so something tells me they’ll be just fine.

Land Mammal on Thee Facebooks

Land Mammal on Bandcamp

 

Skunk, Strange Vibration

skunk strange vibration

Even before they get to the ultra-“N.I.B.” patterning of second track “Stand in the Sun,” Skunk‘s Sabbathian loyalties are well established, and they continue on that line, through the “War Pigs”-ness of “Goblin Orgy” (though I’ll give them bonus points for that title), and the slower “A National Acrobat” roll of “The Black Crown,” and while that’s not the only influence under which Skunk are working — clearly — it’s arguably the most forward. They’ve been on a traditional path since 2015’s mission-statement EP, Heavy Rock from Elder Times (review here), and as Strange Vibration is their second album behind 2017’s Doubleblind (review here), they’ve only come more into focus in terms of what they’re doing overall. They throw a bit of swagger into “Evil Eye Gone Blind” and “Star Power” toward the end of the record — more Blackmore or Leslie West than Iommi — but keep the hooks center through it all, and cap with a welcome bit of layered melody on “The Cobra’s Kiss.” Based in Oakland, they don’t quite fit in with the Californian boogie scene to the south, but standing out only seems to suit Strange Vibration all the more.

Skunk on Thee Facebooks

Skunk on Bandcamp

 

Silver Devil, Paralyzed

Silver Devil Paralyzed

Like countrymen outfits in Vokonis or to a somewhat lesser degree Cities of Mars, Gävle-based riffers Silver Devil tap into Sleep as a core influence and work outward from there. In the case of their second album, Paralyzed (on Ozium Records), they work far out indeed, bringing a sonic largesse to bear through plus-sized tonality and distorted vocals casting echoes across a wide chasm of the mix. “Rivers” or the later, slower-rolling “Octopus” rightfully present this as an individual take, and it ends up being that one way or the other, with the atmosphere becoming essential to the character of the material. There are some driving moments that call to mind later Dozer — or newer Greenleaf, if you prefer — such as the centerpiece “No Man Traveller,” but the periodic bouts of post-rock bring complexity to that assessment as well, though in the face of the galloping crescendo of “The Grand Trick,” complexity is a secondary concern to the outright righteousness with which Silver Devil take familiar elements and reshape them into something that sounds fresh and engaging. That’s basically the story of the whole record, come to think of it.

Silver Devil on Thee Facebooks

Ozium Records website

 

Sky Burial, Sokushinbutsu

sky burial Sokushinbutsu

Comprised of guitarist/vocalist/engineer Vessel 2 and drummer/vocalist Vessel 1 (also ex-Mühr), Sky Burial release their debut EP, Sokushinbutsu, through Break Free Records, and with it issue two songs of densely-weighted riff and crash, captured raw and live-sounding with an edge of visceral sludge thanks to the harsh vocals laid overtop. The prevailing spirit is as much doom as it is crust throughout “Return to Sender” (8:53) and the 10:38 title-track — the word translating from Japanese to “instant Buddha” — and as “Sokushinbutsu” kicks the tempo of the leadoff into higher gear, the release becomes a wash of blown-out tone with shouts cutting through that’s very obviously meant to be as brutal as it absolutely is. They slow down eventually, then slow down more, then slow down more — you see where this is going — until eventually the feedback seems to consume them and everything else, and the low rumble of guitar gives way to noise and biting vocalizations. As beginnings go, Sokushinbutsu is willfully wretched and animalistic, a manifested sonic nihilism that immediately stinks of death.

Sky Burial on Thee Facebooks

Break Free Records on Bandcamp

 

Wizzerd, Wizzerd

wizzerd st

One finds Montana’s Wizzerd born of a similar Upper Midwestern next-gen take on classic heavy as that of acts like Bison Machine and Midas. Their Cursed Tongue Records-delivered self-titled debut album gives a strong showing of this foundation, less boogie-based than some, with just an edge of heavy metal to the riffing and vocals that seems to derive not directly from doom, but definitely from some ’80s metal stylizations. Coupled with ’70s and ’90s heavy rocks, it’s a readily accessible blend throughout the nine-song/51-minute LP, but a will toward the epic comes through in theme as well as the general mood of the riffs, and even in the drift of “Wizard” that’s apparent. Taken in kind with the fuzzblaster “Wraith,” the winding motion of the eponymous closer and with the lumbering crash of “Warrior” earlier, the five-piece’s sound shows potential to distinguish itself further in the future through taking on fantasy subject matter lyrically as well as playing to wall-sized grooves across the board, even in the speedy first half of “Phoenix,” with its surprising crash into the wall of its own momentum.

Wizzerd on Thee Facebooks

Cursed Tongue Records webstore

 

Ian Blurton, Signals Through the Flames

Ian Blurton Signals Through the Flames

The core of Ian Blurton‘s Signals Through the Flames is in tight, sharply-executed heavy rockers like “Seven Bells” and “Days Will Remain,” classic in their root but not overly derivative, smartly and efficiently composed and performed. The Toronto-based Blurton has been making and producing music for over three decades in various guises and incarnations, and with these nine songs, he brings into focus a songcraft that is more than enough to carry song like “Nothing Left to Lose” and opener “Eye of the Needle,” which bookends with the 6:55 “Into Dust,” the closer arriving after a final salvo with the Scorpionic strut of “Kick out the Lights” and the forward-thrust-into-ether of “Night of the Black Goat.” If this was what Ghost had ended up sounding like, I’d have been cool with that. Blurton‘s years of experience surely come into play in this work, a kind of debut under his own name and/or that of Ian Blurton’s Future Now, but the songs come through as fresh regardless and “The March of Mars” grabs attention not with pedigree, but simply by virtue of its own riff, which is exactly how it should be. It’s subtle in its variety, but those willing to give it a repeat listen or two will find even more reward for doing so.

Ian Blurton on Thee Facebooks

Ian Blurton on Bandcamp

 

Cosmic Fall, Lackland

Cosmic Fall Lackland

“Lackland” is the first new material Berlin three-piece Cosmic Fall have produced since last year’s In Search of Space (review here) album, which is only surprising given the frequency with which they once jammed out a record every couple of months. The lone 8:32 track is a fitting reminder of the potency in the lineup of guitarist Marcin Morawski, bassist Klaus Friedrich and drummer Daniel Sax, and listening to the Earthless-style shred in Morawski‘s guitar, one hopes it won’t be another year before they come around again. As it stands, they make the eight minutes speed by with volcanic fervor and an improvised sensibility that feels natural despite the song’s ultimately linear trajectory. Could be a one-off, could be a precursor to a new album. I’d prefer the latter, obviously, but I’ll take what I can get, and if that’s “Lackland,” then so be it.

Cosmic Fall on Thee Facebooks

Cosmic Fall on Bandcamp

 

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Arrowhead Announce Coven of the Snake Due July 12; New Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

arrowhead

A four-piece where their last full-length was released as a trio, Sydney’s Arrowhead will offer up Coven of the Snake as their third album next month. Set to deliver through Ripple Music, the record is preceded by a video for the title-track that’s streaming below and tells the story in its straightforward riffing meeting head on with kaleidoscopic visuals, the band doing much the same in terms of style, taking a solid structural foundation and making it more colorful along the way. July 12 is the release date, and it marks a decade for Arrowhead, who got their start in 2009 before releasing their debut EP (review here) the next year.

Rock and roll follows, courtesy of the PR wire:

Arrowhead Coven of the Snake

ARROWHEAD Summon Spirits with the Release of COVEN OF THE SNAKE on RIPPLE MUSIC | Stream the video for new single and title track now!

Coven of the Snake is released worldwide on 12th July 2019

Rising from the underground of Sydney’s stoner rock scene, the Arrowhead brotherhood fire an explosive, all killer/no filler triptych of volume, attitude and down-tuned grooves.

Hitting you harder than a Frank Frazetta-airbrushed panel van travelling at 100mph, Arrowhead is very much a band defined by the riffs that raised them. Fronted by guitar player, vocalist and chief songwriter Brett Pearl, Brett was brought up on a staple diet of classic rock with Hendrix, Zeppelin, Floyd and Sabbath rarely leaving the turntable. Joined by fellow purveyor of low-end grind is bass player/Viking Arron Fletcher, guitarist Raff Iacurto and living backbone of the band, Matt Cramp on drums.

With each member feeding into the Arrowhead-approved vision of hard rock reverie via Hollywood monsters and science fiction cinema, having paid their dues as a band since late 2009, following on from 2010’s Atomsmasher EP, their self-titled debut and 2016’s Desert Cult Ritual, the latest addition to the quartet’s quiver is new album, Coven of the Snake. An album that is equal parts venom and mysticism, and 100% blood-bound to steal your soul in the name of rock and roll.

Arrowhead’s Coven of the Snake is released on 12th July 2019 through Ripple Music.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Coven Of The Snake
2. All Seeing Eye
3. Ceremony of the Skull
4. Ghost Ship
5. Root Of Evil
6. Dopanaught
7. March Of The Reptiles
8. Golden Thunder Hawk

ARROWHEAD:
Brett Pearl – Guitar/Vocals
Matt Cramp – Drums
Arron Fletcher – Bass Guitar
Raff Iacurto – Guitar

https://www.facebook.com/ArrowheadHeavyRock/
https://arrowheadrock.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com/
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/

Arrowhead, “Coven of the Snake” official video

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