The Flying Eyes, Burning of the Season: Finding Golden Days

Posted in Reviews on October 11th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the flying eyes burning of the season

True, it’s been four years since Baltimore heavy psych/blues rockers The Flying Eyes made their last full-length offering. And in no small part because 2013’s Lowlands (review here) was such a satisfying follow-up to 2011’s Done So Wrong (review here) — their proper debut LP after compiling two EPs into a self-titled album (review here) the year prior — each one of those years has been felt. But it’s not as if The Flying Eyes have been sitting on their ass over that span of time. In 2014, they took part in the first four-way split from Heavy Psych Sounds alongside NaamWhite Hills and Black Rainbows (review here), and in 2015 they toured Europe for not the first time. They’d do so again in 2016 to mark their 10th anniversary as a group, also releasing the Poison the Well / 1969 7″ (discussed here) on H42 Records in the interim.

March 2016 brought dates in South America as well, and it was immediately following that stretch that the four-piece hit Estudio Superfuzz in Rio de Janeiro to record Burning of the Season, their third (or fourth, depending on how you count it) album and debut on Ripple Music, with producer Gabriel Zander, who’s built a reputation helming records for Mars Red Sky and others, and someone who clearly knows how to capture tone and vibe together. Both serve The Flying Eyes — the lineup of vocalist/guitarist Will Kelly, guitarist/lap steel guitarist Adam Bufano, bassist Mac Hewitt and drummer Elias Schutzman — remarkably well throughout, as does the arrangement-bolstering key work of Trevor Shipley on cuts like side A finale “Circle of Stone,” in which the record’s title line is repeated in a particular moment of arrival; one of several no less distinguished by its melody than overarching memorability.

But then, songwriting has always been part of the appeal of The Flying Eyes, and while their priorities have been and would seem to remain elsewhere geographically — tours in South America and Europe, not in the US, and so on — they continue to carry a measure of American pastoralia with them in pieces like opener “Sing Praise,” which makes an early show of Hewitt‘s bass tone en route to one of Burning of the Season‘s catchiest hooks, and the later melancholic “Farewell,” which resonates with the class of its delivery and a carefully conjured rhythmic bounce that manages not to pull away from the wistful mood. Splitting into two four-song sides, the record totals 43 symmetrical minutes, but casts an immersive and linear flow even as the aforementioned “Circle of Stone” — the longest cut at 7:41 save for closer “Oh Sister,” which hits 8:23; see how that works? — moves into twanging side B starter “Fade Away” such that it’s increasingly easy to follow the progression of the record as a singular work as it continues to move outward into greater expanses.

That happens with a somewhat marked shift in sensibility on the part of the band itself, which makes a raucous salvo of “Sing Praise,” “Come Round” and “Drain” at the outset before stretching out on “Circle of Stone,” and yeah, “Come Round” has a quiet part here and there, and “Circle of Stone” pulls back on tempo to emphasize largesse in its loud/quiet tradeoffs prior to its airy solo, but while that song gets its answer in “Oh Sister,” which again brings in Shipley‘s organ work as it revives a more upbeat feel, the balance of the dynamic at play is what shifts, and it becomes much to the richness of the entire listening experience that it does.

the flying eyes

On a sheer level of craft and performance, The Flying Eyes have never sounded better or like they have more to offer their listenership in terms of stylistic reach. Kelly as a vocalist is a commanding frontman who knows when to step back and let his and the surrounding instrumentation have its space, as shown even early on in an echoing break within the second half of “Sing Praise” further marked by standout tom work from Schutzman, and as “Fade Away” and “Farewell” expand the emotional center of Burning of the Season as a whole, he is able to convey genuine-seeming feeling without losing melodic focus, finding a delicate balance between storytelling and owning the material on a personal level. His and Bufano‘s guitar work throughout is likewise stellar, fluid, patient when it wants to be, insistent elsewhere and able to capture a feeling in just a single short progression, as on “Fade Away,” or cast a spaciousness in “Rest Easy” while still remaining grounded thanks to the complementary work of Hewitt on bass and Shipley on keys, who might need to become a permanent member of the band if he hasn’t yet.

Together with Zander‘s full-sounding and clear but still naturalist production (and some overdubs back in Baltimore at The Magpie Cage), all of these elements come to find a summary point in the revival hook and drive of “Oh Sister,” which picks up from the subdued trio of “Fade Away,” “Farewell” and “Rest Easy” to make its impression through the tapping of Schutzman‘s snare and the molten motion signaled thereby between more active and quieter stretches. The finale doesn’t hit quite the same level of emotional expression as, say, “Farewell,” but it does nod to some of the quieter parts of Burning of the Season while emphasizing its chorus en route to the triumphant wash with which it caps the album — a push-toward-crescendo that takes hold just past the six-minute mark with an uptick in volume and thrust and brings The Flying Eyes, whose control has been so resolute all the while, to an especially spirited end with a moment of chaos no less willful in its execution.

It may have tested patience and anticipation for fans, but four long years to bring about Burning of the Season was not wasted time in light of the growth shown in these tracks even from where Lowlands found The Flying Eyes in 2013. They are as sure in their approach as they’ve seemed to be perennially in their songwriting, and they remain underappreciated (at least in the US; I can’t speak for how other continents might receive them at this point) for what they bring to both in terms of quality and clear-minded, purposeful engagement. They’ve been a special band for a long time. Never more so than here.

The Flying Eyes, Burning of the Season (2017)

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The Flying Eyes website

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Quarterly Review: Primitive Man, Black Lung & Nap, Zone Six, Spectral Haze, Cosmic Fall, Epitaph, Disastroid, Mastiff, Demons from the Dungeon Dimension, Liblikas

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

the obelisk quarterly review

The final round of the Fall 2017 Quarterly Review starts now. 60 reviews done. I think if this particular QR session proves anything it’s that come hell or high water, once it’s set, there’s no stopping this train. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but the site was down for half of last week and we’re still getting to 60 reviews from Monday to Monday. That’s not not impressive from where I sit, especially since I spent that downtime going out of my mind trying to get things up and running again while also trying to write posts that I didn’t even know if they were going to happen. But they happened — thanks again, Slevin and Behrang — and here we are. All is well and we can get back to normal hopefully for the rest of this week. Thanks for reading any of this if you did. Let’s get to it.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Primitive Man, Caustic

primitive-man-caustic

Primitive Man’s Caustic is the concept of “heavy” taken to the superlative. It is a 12-track/77-minute onslaught for which no less than absolute hyperbole will suffice. In following-up their 2013 Relapse Records debut, Scorn (review here), a series of splits and 2015’s Home is Where the Hatred Is EP (review here), the Denver trio reign in terror as they make Caustic live up to its name in the crushing tones, feedback of and slow churn of “My Will,” “Commerce” “Tepid,” and “Sugar Hole,” the consuming wave of “Victim,” the blastbeating death assault of “Sterility,” and the biting atmospherics of harsh interludes “Caustic,” “Ash” and “The Weight,” which preface the nine minutes of vague noise that close on “Absolutes,” following the grueling slaughter of “Disfigured” and the rightfully-named 12-minute “Inevitable,” which seems even slower and more weighted somehow than everything before it. On the sheer level of heft for that song alone, it’s time to start thinking about Primitive Man among the heaviest bands in the world. I’m serious. Caustic is an overwhelming masterwork of unbridled extremity, and with it, Primitive Man set a new standard both for themselves and for anyone else who’d dare to try to live up to it in their wake.

Primitive Man on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records webstore

 

Black Lung & Nap, Split

black-lung-nap-split

A heavy blues trio from Baltimore and a progressive boogie outfit from Oldenburg, Germany, might seem like an odd pairing, but by the time the 25 minutes of Black Lung and Nap’s split 12” platter (on Noisolution) are up, the release has come to make its own peculiar kind of sense. In following 2016’s See the Enemy (review here), Black Lung present two new songs in “Strange Seeds” and “Use this Stone” as well we the prior-issued Marvin Gaye cover “Inner City Blues” done in collaboration with rapper Eze Jackson, where Nap answer their debut album, Villa (review here), with the shuffle-into-psychedelia of “Djinn,” the spacious, patient rollout of the airy guitars in “Vorlaut” and the final thrust of “Teer.” Each of the two acts establishes a context for itself quickly – Black Lung brazenly defying theirs in the shift from “Use this Stone” to “Inner City Blues”; Nap expanding between “Djinn” and “Vorlaut” – and though one wouldn’t be likely to mistake one group for the other, their disparate sounds don’t at all hinder the ability of either group to make an impression during their brief time.

Nap on Thee Facebooks

Black Lung on Thee Facebooks

Noisolution webstore

 

Zone Six, Zone Six

zone-six-zone-six

Originally issued in 1998 via Early Birds Records with the lineup of bassist/synthesis/Mellotronist Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt, guitarist Hans-Peter Ringholz, drummer/keyboardist Claus Bühler and vocalist Jodi Barry, the self-titled debut from German space/krautrock explorationists Zone Six sees something of a redux via Sulatron Records to mark the 20th anniversary of the band’s founding. Eight minutes shorter than the original edition at 51 minutes, the new version whittles down the original 13-track presentation to two vinyl sides – titles: “Side A” (27:04) and “Side B” (24:39) – and drops the vocal tracks entirely to make it a completely instrumental release. That’s a not-insignificant change, of course, but let there be no doubt that it works in terms of highlighting the flow, which as it transitions between what used to be one song and another loses not one step and instead simply becomes an engrossing and multifaceted jam. This is truer perhaps to the band Zone Six have become – if you missed their 2015 full-length Love Monster (review here), it was glorious and it’s not too late to catch up – than the band they started out as, but Zone Six have found a way to make an old release new again, and new Zone Six is never anything to complain about, whatever the occasion.

Zone Six on Thee Facebooks

Sulatron Records? webstore

 

Spectral Haze, Turning Electric

spectral-haze-turning-electric

Space rock warriors Spectral Haze return after three years in the Gamma Quadrant with Turning Electric via Totem Cat Records, a six-song sophomore outing behind 2014’s I.E.V.: Transmutated Nebula Remains (review here) that quickly enters a wormhole of Hawkwindian thrust on opener “The Dawn of the Falcon” – perhaps that’s what’s represented on the glorious Adam Burke cover art – and takes a winding but directed course deeper and deeper into interstellar realms for its duration of what on earth is only six songs and 33 minutes. Each of the intended two vinyl sides boasts a longer track, be it “Cathexis/Mask of Transformation” on side A or “They Live” on side B, but whether it’s in those or shorter rocket boosters like the title-track, “Ajaghandi” or the aforementioned leadoff, the Oslo-based four-piece keep it dreamy and kosmiche even unto the doomlier roll of closer “Master Sorcerer,” a collection of final psychedelic proclamations that cuts off quickly at the end as though breaking a transmission from the heart of the galaxy itself. Heck of a destination, and getting there’s a blast, too.

Spectral Haze on Thee Facebooks

Totem Cat Records webstore

 

Cosmic Fall, Jams for Free

cosmic-fall-jams-for-free

Kind of a bummer how Jams for Free came about, but for the reassurance that Berlin heavy psych improvisationalists Cosmic Fall will keep going after what seems to have been an unceremonious split with now-ex-guitarist/vocalist Mathias, I’ll take it. With two new explorations, bassist Klaus and drummer Daniel introduce new guitarist Martin, and those worried they might lose the funk of their original incarnation should have their fears duly allayed by “A Calmer Sphere” (12:19) and “The Great Comet” (8:10), which begin a new era of Cosmic Fall after the remaining founders were forced to stop selling their prior works. If there’s anger or catharsis being channeled in Jams for Free, though, it comes through as fluidity and serene heavy psych, and with the resonant live-in-studio vibe, Cosmic Fall essentially seem to be picking up where they left off. With Martin making a distinguishing impression in the soloing of “A Calmer Sphere”’s second half particularly, the future continues to look bright for the German asteroid riders. Right on, guys. Keep jamming.

Cosmic Fall on Thee Facebooks

Cosmic Fall on Bandcamp

 

Epitaph, Claws

Epitaph-Claws

Doomers of Verona Epitaph trace their origins back some 30 years, but Claws (on High Roller Records) is just their second long-player behind 2014’s Crawling out of the Crypt. Matters not. Theirs is the doom of ages one way or the other, presented in this collection of five songs in traditional fashion with an edge of the Italian bizarrist movement (think early Death SS) and, from the “Neon Knights”-style riff of “Gossamer Claws” to the “After All (The Dead)”/”Falling off the Edge of the World”-style dramaturge of “Wicked Lady,” the nods to ‘80s and early-‘90s Black Sabbath are manifold and executed with what sounds like a genuine love for that era of the band and classic metal in general. Hard to fault Epitaph that influence, particularly as they bring it to bear in the guttural riffly chug of centerpiece “Sizigia,” tonally as much as in the form of what’s actually being played. As a mission, the homage is perhaps a bit single-minded, but as they continue to build their own legacy in these classic sounds, it’s impossible to say Epitaph’s collective heart isn’t in the right place.

Epitaph on Thee Facebooks

High Roller Records webstore

 

Disastroid, Screen

disastroid-screen

The nine songs of Disastroid’s fourth self-released LP, Screen, are drawn together by a songwriting prowess that’s better heard than described and by a heft of tone that, especially on stompers like “Dinosaur” early and “Coyote” later on, proves likewise. Is the point of this review, then, that you should listen to the album? Yuppers. At a crisp 35 minutes, Screen finds the Bay Area trio willfully nestled someplace between heavy rock riffing, noise crunch, punk and metal, and they fly this refusal to commit to one style over another no less proudly than they do the hook of “Getting in the Way” or “I Didn’t Kill Myself,” which along with the push of “Choke the Falcon” and the Melvinsian “Clinical Perfection” make up a series of short burst impressions contrasted by the longer “Screen” and “New Day” at the outset and the six-minute finale “Gunslinger,” though wherever Disastroid seem to go, they bring a current of memorable craft with them, making an otherwise purposefully bumpy ride smooth and a chaos-fueled joy to undertake.

Disastroid website

Disastroid on Bandcamp

 

Mastiff, Bork

mastiff-bork

Ultimately, bludgeon-ready UK five-piece Mastiff might owe as much to grind as they do to doom or sludge – at least if “Nil by Mouth” has anything to say about it – but more than loyalty to any subgenre or other, the Hull unit’s 25-minute Bork full-length (released on CD by APF Records) is interested in presenting an extreme vision of sonic heft. Brutal pummel infects the rolling chorus of “Everything Equals Death” and the initial chug of “Tumour” alike, and where opener “Agony” was content to blast out its cacophony in fury of tempo as much as weight, as they settle in for the mosh-ready six minutes of closer “Eternal Regret,” Mastiff seem to have dug out a position between lumbering doom and early ‘00s deathcore, a telltale breakdown capping Bork in grooving and familiar fashion. Their intensity might prove a distinguishing factor over the longer term, though, and they certainly have plenty enough of it to go around.

Mastiff on Thee Facebooks

APF Records website

 

Demons from the Dungeon Dimension, An Organic Mythology

demons-from-the-dungeon-dimension-an-organic-mythology

The righteously-monikered Demons from the Dungeon Dimension made a striking and individualized – and bizarre – impression in 2016 with the There was Ogres EP (discussed here), a follow-up to the debut full-length, As the Crow Flies, released just weeks earlier. With the new single An Organic Mythology and the five-minute, raw-recorded track of the same name, the Durban, South Africa-based project is laid to rest. A burly opening and thickened distortion lead to a pushing verse with dry vocals over top – sounding very much like a home-recorded demo outright and not trying to be anything else – and soon enough the track shifts into a spoken-word-dissertation over an instrumental build that carries it into its final minute, at which point the verse kicks back in to end. As with the prior EP, which topped 25 minutes, the vibe is willfully strange throughout “An Organic Mythology,” and if this is indeed the last we’ll hear from Demons from the Dungeon Dimension (doesn’t it just sound like something TOR Books would put out?), somehow it seems right we live in an age where the material can reside in the digital ether, waiting to be stumbled on by curious parties soon to be blindsided by what they hear.

Demons from the Dungeon Dimension on Bandcamp

Demons from the Dungeon Dimension on YouTube

 

Liblikas, Unholy Moly

liblikas-unholy-moly

From the initial semi-gothic vibes from vocalist Oliver Aunver to the progressive fuzz rock that ensues on opener “Holy Underground,” Estonian five-piece Liblikas seem to specialize in the unexpected on their second full-length, Unholy Moly. Aunver, guitarists Temo Saarna (also vocals) and Henrik Harak, bassist Joosep Käsper and drummer/backing vocalist Mihkel Rebane, oversee a brisk 45-minute run across eight tracks of genre-spanning grooves, from the chugging almost-doom of “Highest Hound” to the semi-folk experimentalist interlude “Fugue Yeah! (Diary Pt. II),” which follows “Dear Diary, Yeah!” a track that starts out with what might be a Japanese-language sample and psychedelic unfolding to more cohesive, harmony-topped prog rock bounce before the fuzz emerges and meets with forward vocals and effective interplay of acoustics in the chorus. Why yes, there is a six-minute song called “Pornolord” – funny you should ask. It appears before the oud-laced “Ol’ Slime” and nine-minute closer “Keezo,” which embraces the difficult task of summing up the weirdo intensity that’s been on display throughout Liblikas’ songwriting all along, and with wispy guitar leading to a big, noisy finish, succeeds outright in doing so.

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Liblikas on Bandcamp

 

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Nupraptor Set Dec. 15 Release for Debut Album The Heresiarch; Two New Songs Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

nupraptor

Newcomer one-man outfit Nupraptor will release its debut full-length, The Heresiarch, Dec. 15 via Shadow Kingdom Records, with vinyl to follow at the start of the New Year. I’ve said on multiple occasions that when it comes to all things tinged with classic metal, there are few whose tastes are as trustworthy as that of the Pittsburgh-based imprint, and in its picking up Nupraptor — founded just last year in Baltimore, Maryland, by multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Matt St. Ours, also of White Hornet — my position is only reaffirmed. You can stream two new tracks from The Heresiarch below, including the 11-minute album finale “The Fall of Christ,” which opens with St. Ours reciting the Our Father, because, you know, heavy metal and all that.

Interesting to note that White Hornet also started out as a one-man project before becoming a full band. One can’t help but wonder if Nupraptor might end up on a similar path if the demand is there for live shows. I wouldn’t mind hearing “Through the Smoke” at a gig. Just saying.

From the PR wire:

nupraptor-the-heresiarch

NUPRAPTOR set release date for SHADOW KINGDOM debt, reveal first tracks

Shadow Kingdom Records sets December 15th as the international release date for the surprise debut of Nupraptor, The Heresiarch, on CD and cassette tape formats. The vinyl version shall be released later, on January 12th, 2018.

Curiously named, Nupraptor is the solo-project of White Hornet mastermind Matt St. Ours, who’s been itching to record some pure ‘n’ powerful doom metal for a while now. And that’s exactly what you get with The Heresiarch: the purest DOOM, powerful as it comes, downtrodden and desolate to the bitter end. Hailing the old European gods of traditional doom, Nupraptor crafts seven slumbering beasts of majestic misery within a mystical continuum of 51 minutes, starting with a “Black Mass” and on “Through the Smoke” before “Burning the Believers” “Before the Eyes of God,” and at last “Wasting Away” before “The Fall of Christ.”

Verily, St. Ours crafts music for the grave and the graveyard, his haunting vocals heralding the onset of long nights wrapped in the fog’s embrace, languorous and lonely. Or, more accurately, you simply cannot craft doom metal of such a beautifully barren hue without having LIVED it – and dying for it. Behold The Heresiarch, for it has arrived as Nupraptor!

Await the arrival with the new tracks “Through the Smoke” and “The Fall of Christ” at Shadow Kingdom’s Bandcamp, where all three formats of the album can be preordered.

Tracklisting for Nupraptor’s The Heresiarch
1. Black Mass
2. Through The Smoke
3. Burning The Believers
4. The Heresiarch
5. Before the Eyes of God
6. Wasting Away
7. The Fall Of Christ

Nupraptor is:
Matt “Saint” St.Ours – Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Drum Programming

https://www.facebook.com/NupraptorBand
www.shadowkingdomrecords.com
www.facebook.com/shadowkingdomrecords
https://shadowkingdomrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-heresiarch

Nupraptor, The Heresiarch (2017)

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Azurea Post Video for “Huntress”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 12th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

azurea-photo-rick-fleddermann

Much I’m sure to my own loss, I haven’t actually watched the third season that began earlier this year of Twin Peaks, the rebooted-25-years-later series helmed by director/creator/noted-bringer-of-weirdness David Lynch. I probably should’ve been all about it. I’m old enough to remember when the show was on TV a quarter-century ago and how creeped-out it was, with Bob, and Laura Palmer, and all that, but I guess I just haven’t gotten on board yet with the new incarnation. I may get there eventually.

I bring it up because Azurea‘s new video for the track “Huntress” points specifically to Twin Peaks and purports to pay tribute to it, presumably in the dark and mind-creeper spirit of the thing. There’s the checkered floor and red drapes as one might expect, and if you’ve ever seen Twin Peaks at all, you probably can get a sense where vocalist/keyboardist Stella and keyboardist/vocalist/noisemaker Elias Schutzman — also drummer of The Flying Eyes and Black Lung — are coming from. Or if not, it’s dark and it’s atmospheric, so there you go.

The vibe of “Huntress” itself certainly bears that out as well, with Stella establishing an operatic presence early in the spirit of Diamanda Galás or some of Jarboe‘s statelier work. There’s an underlying tension of rhythm that comes through in the beat and pays off later, but not before the song nestles into a slow-jam electronica feel complemented by organ sounds, later sampling, and Schutzman joining in on vocals. Azurea have a few other songs posted on their Soundcloud (linked at the bottom of the post), including a cover of Velvet Underground‘s “Venus in Furs,” should you be up for further exploration.

Before you dig into the clip below, a heads up: Watch out for flashing lights. Especially in the second half. If you’re sensitive to that kind of thing or prone to seizures, you might want to avert your eyes when the track picks up. It gets pretty manic there for a bit.

Given that caveat, I hope you enjoy:

Azurea, “Huntress” official video

Our debut song and music video for “Huntress”, a tribute to the legendary Twin Peaks. Directed by us, filmed by Human Being Productions…

Stella Schutzman- Vocals
Elias Schutzman- Keyboards, Vocals, Programming

Azurea on Thee Facebooks

Azurea on Soundcloud

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The Flying Eyes Release Burning of the Season this Month; Stream “Sing Praise”

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 8th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

THE FLYING EYES

Usually I might like to make it deeper into a record than the third track before I add it to my ongoing list of the year’s best releases, but with my initial impression of The Flying Eyes‘ fourth full-length, Burning of the Season, which I have on for the very first time as I type this, the truth is I barely made it that far. Set for issue via Ripple Music and preceded by the stream of the track “Sing Praise” which you can hear at the bottom of this post, Burning of the Season is one I’ve been waiting on for a while, as the Baltimorean four-piece tracked it in Brazil with Gabriel Zander in 2016 and it’s been four years since their last proper album, Lowlands (review here), came out in 2013.

Of course, they’ve been plenty busy since then, touring in South America and Europe multiple times over, putting out shorter releases like the Poison the Well 7″ (discussed here) and this year’s split with Lazlo Lee and the Motherless Children, but golly it’s good to have a new record from them on the way. Like, really good. Like, one of the best albums of 2017 good.

Art and details follow via the PR wire:

the-flying-eyes-burning-of-the-season

THE FLYING EYES – Burning of the Season – New album on Ripple Music | Released 22 September 2017

With a name taken from a 1962 science fiction novel about giant, disembodied eyes that descend from space to control humanity, Baltimore’s The Flying Eyes are a heavy psychedelic rock band with a difference.

Primarily operating as an organ drenched, blues riffed rock’n’roll outfit of wayfaring journeymen, with a driven, hard rock sound; thunderous drums and distorted guitar leads The Flying Eyes have been compared in recent times to Blue Cheer, Hawkwind and Dead Meadow.

In 2007 they founded Farm Fest, a DIY music festival in Maryland which ran for six years and featured the likes of Black Moth Super Rainbow, Celebration and White Hills among many others. Yet hardly strangers to the stage themselves, since their formation over ten years ago they have supported the likes of The Raveonettes, The Black Angels and Dan Auerbach, and achieved an impressive following in Europe with extensive club touring. Not to mention countless festival appearances at Burg Herzberg Festival, Rockpalast Crossroads, DesertFest (Belgium) and the Synchronicity Festival in India.

Produced last year by Gabriel Zander (Mars Red Sky) at Super Fuzz Studio in Rio de Janeiro while on tour in South America, Burning of the Season is a return to the band’s roots of fuzzed-out blues and soulful psychedelia and is released on 22nd September 2017 through Ripple Music.

Track Listing:
1. Sing Praise
2. Come Round
3. Drain
4. Circle of Stone
5. Fade Away
6. Farewell
7. Rest Easy
8. Oh Sister

https://www.facebook.com/theflyingeyes/
https://theflyingeyes.bandcamp.com/
https://twitter.com/TheFlyingEyes
http://www.theflyingeyes.com/
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ripple-Music/369610860064
https://twitter.com/RippleMusic
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com/

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Nap and Black Lung to Release Split Aug. 28; Preorder Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 2nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

While Baltimore’s Black Lung and Oldenburg, Germany’s Nap both have elements of heavy psychedelia swirling at their core, there are still plenty of distinctions and disparities in their two individual sounds. Thus I can kind of understand why their forthcoming split 12″ on Noisolution might be framed as Black Lung vs. Nap, but it seems to me that — as the info below asserts — it probably works out to be less of a fight between them and more of a showcase of what each brings to the style. Complement more than competition, I guess is where my head is at, but I suppose if you’re putting out a release you have to call it something, and at least Black Lung vs. Nap gets the point across that it’s a split. Maybe I’m overthinking the whole thing.

In any case, the new release will be out by the time Black Lung return to Europe this fall to take part in Desertfest Belgium 2017 as they continue to support last year’s See the Enemy (review here) and for Nap, this split marks their first recorded output since their successful Villa (review here) debut in 2016, so brings all the more intrigue to see where they’re headed.

Info comes from Noisolution via the PR wire:

BLACK LUNG VS. NAP

Limited Split-12″with 6 unpublished tracks. White 180gr vinyl. Artwork by Alexander von Wieding.

Available from 28/08/2017 !!!!

Baltimore vs. Oldenburg.

This mini album documents a clash of two exceptional trios who are not competing but rather complementing one another. No longing to be the better, heavier or darker, but more so a friendly co-existence that turns out to be the perfect match.

A double A-side, if you wanna call it that. A split-mini-album, that more or less just came together by itself. Both bands‘ paths are crossing over and over again: first as labelmates, now on tour this fall and finally also on this shiny snowwhite piece of vinyl!

We got NAP from Oldenburg, Germany on one side, who only just made a great stir with their debut ‚Villa‘ in January. Before you knew it the first pressing was all sold out and gone. Their unique mix of Doom, Kraut and Stoner blended with epic instrumental parts quickly rewarded them with quite a fanbase, critical acclaim and a whole bunch of respect. Now on this new Split 12“ they‘re coming across somewhat more compact, more to the point, still never losing that certain playfulness that defines what became their signature sound. Adding a sprinkle of space rock as well they easily remind one of a darker version of the early Hawkwind. Something is truly growing here and we better keep an eye on what these three gentlemen will have in store for us in the future!

On the other side we got BLACK LUNG hailing from Baltimore, US. At first the band was just considered a side leap of of THE FLYING EYES‘ Adam Bufano and Elias Schutzmann who brought their psychedelic influences and shenanigans over to the new project. But eventually the trio fully established itself and an own dynamic taking over, forming their own unique and recognizable style. Two guitars that weigh down so heavily that there’s no need for a bass anymore. Completed by the hovering feverish vocals of Dave Cavalier who come as a perfect contrast, altogether creating an overwhelming wave of heavy sounds rolling over the clubs and their audience swallowing them both completely. A tiny hint of Pop and especially Soul has always been present on the previous two records. This time showing itself in a fantastic cover-version of Marvin Gayes‘ ‚Inner City Blues‘. Stonerrock mixed with sould mixed with rap: What seems completely incompatible comes together only so beautifully in this track. A truly exceptional track for a truly exceptional band in sound, style and songwriting – and a band who will absolutely blow your mind once again this time.

1. Black Lung – Strange Seed
2. Black Lung – Use This Stone
3. Black Lung – Inner City Blues
4. Nap – Djinn
5. Nap – Vorlaut
6. Nap – Teer

https://www.facebook.com/napband
https://napofficial.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/blacklungbaltimore
https://blacklungbaltimore.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/noisolution/
http://www.noisolution.de/shop/Vinyl/Black-Lung-vs-Nap-12-Vinyl-Strictly-limited-Weisses-180gr-Vinyl-mit-Download-Code::209.html

Nap, “Teer”

Black Lung, See the Enemy (2016)

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Wrapping up #VinylDay2017

Posted in Features on July 26th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Grooves and platters galore. My motivation behind doing Vinyl Day 2017 was simple: I felt like listening to records and sharing that process. It was kind of an off-the-cuff thing. Just an idea I had and ran with it. I figure it doesn’t need to be anything more than that, right? Isn’t putting on an album its own excuse for putting on an album? I tend to think so.

And yeah, I made it a hashtag. Because it’s the future, and hashtags. Instagrammaphone and whatnot. I’m a novice at best when it comes to the social medias, but it seems to me that if you’re going to share a full day’s worth of what you’re listening to, that’s the way to do it. So that’s what I did. If I clogged up your feed or whatever and it pissed you off, sorry.

For anyone who might’ve missed it, it turned out to be nine records of various sorts. Here they are, complete with accompanying audio when I could get it, because it’s the age of instant gratification:

There you have it. Had to be Sleep to end it. Pretty awesome day of music on the whole, and whatever was on your playlist yesterday, if it was this stuff or anything else, I hope you enjoyed. I’m gonna call Vinyl Day 2017 a definite win. Thanks for reading.

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Friday Full-Length: Iron Man, The Passage

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Iron Man, The Passage (1994)

Originally issued on Halloween 1994 by venerable and long-defunct purveyor Hellhound Records — see also: The Obsessed, Saint Vitus, Count Raven, Wretched, Blood Farmers, Unorthodox and Revelation; woof — the second full-length from Iron Man, The Passage (reissue review here), should rightly be considered among the defining documents of Maryland doom. It is a record so direct in conveying its influence from and love for Black Sabbath, so unabashed in its worship, that it serves as a near constant reminder that guitarist “Iron” Alfred Morris III started the band back in 1988 specifically to pay homage to the metallic overlords. Formed roughly concurrent to the winding down of Morris‘ prior outfit, Force — whose lone long-player was issued in 1991 and whose discography was compiled onto a single limited release earlier this year by Blood and Iron Records (want) — Iron Man made their debut just one year before The Passage showed up, offering an early mission statement in 1993’s Black Night (discussed here; reissue review here).

Morris‘ guitar tone and ultra-Iommic riffing style, even at that most formative stage of the band, was the defining element of the group. That remains the case today, but a key difference between Black Night and The Passage was a swap in frontmen, and where Black Night was vocalized by Rob Levey, who would later found and curate the Stoner Hands of Doom series of festivals, the 11-track/43-minute The Passage brought in Dan Michalak as singer, and introduced a different style to the context of Iron Man‘s Sabbath worship. One doesn’t have to go far to hear it — and by that I mean it’s evident on the first riff of opener “The Fury,” which draws directly from “Neon Knights,” the corresponding launch-cut of Sabbath‘s 1980 LP, Heaven and Hell (discussed here), which was the beginning of the band’s era fronted by Ronnie James Dio. That’s a considerable shout for Iron Man to make, and would’ve been even in 1994 — Sabbath having reunited with Dio for the triumphant Dehumanizer, which seems to be referenced on The Passage in the foreboding synth of the titular interlude that precedes “Iron Warrior,” in 1992 before working once again with Tony Martin to issue Cross Purposes earlier in ’94 — but Michalak‘s lyrical patterning brazenly follows suit from Morris‘ set rhythm. We hear “Ride out,” references to “the night,” “fire,” hidden knowledge, and other Dio-style themes. Throughout the rest of The Passage, the play seems to be intended to fluidly move between the Ozzy and Dio eras. In the second half of “Unjust Reform,” a sudden stop brings a no less full-on take off from “Snowblind,” while the bit of finger and grander unfolding of “Waiting for Tomorrow” recall some of the more epic Dio-fronted tracks ahead of “Tony Stark” — get it? they didn’t call it “Iron Man” — shooting into the void and evil minds plotting destruction in closer “End of the World,” which caps with canned crowd noise to answer that at the beginning of “The Fury.”

These are just a few of The Passage‘s more Sabbathian moments, but they’re by no means the only ones, and even in the general perspective of judgment from which the social commentary of “Unjust Reform” and the later “Waiting for Tomorrow,” “Time for Indecision” and “Freedom Fighters” stems — notions of man’s inhumanity to man, and so on — Iron Man are willfully adopting the methods of their forebears. Yet, The Passage is more than derivation. At a time when their chief inspiration was crisp and overproduced with a huge echoing snare like so many of their era, Iron Man took a grittier approach, and their identity was cast as much in the raw thrust of “Iron Warrior” — a highlight performance there from drummer Gary Isom, whose CV includes stints in Pentagram, co-founding Spirit Caravan and a current position as guitarist in Weed is Weed, among many others — as in the cover art with a lighting effect that seems to show Morris in flames as he plays guitar. I’ll gladly argue that image stands among the most righteous in American doom, every bit worthy of the gray-on-black logo of Saint Vitus‘ self-titled debut or the line-drawing that would adorn Pentagram‘s Relentless album in iconic terms, but the point is that for Iron Man, even the artwork shows what it’s all about. Yes, it’s a full band, with Michalak responsible for conveying the lyrics, Isom pounding away behind the chug of “Time for Indecision,” and bassist Larry Brown (also ex-Force) in the Geezer Butler role anchoring the low end, but it’s Morris‘ project through and through, and he leads the way accordingly.

The guitarist remains among the most pivotal figures in American doom. Though Hellhound Records is long gone, Shadow Kingdom Records has stepped up to reissue many of Iron Man‘s earlier works (it’s their version of The Passage in the Bandcamp player above) and Iron Man released I Have Returned (review here) through the label in 2009 before swapping out singer Joe Donnelly for “Screaming Mad” Dee Calhoun and signing to Rise Above for 2013’s South of the Earth (review here), which remains their latest offering. They got to the UK, playing internationally for the first time to support that album, and continue to perform local shows in Maryland with the lineup of MorrisCalhoun, bassist Louis Strachan and drummer Jason “Mot” Waldmann, but don’t really tour, and a series of health concerns seem to have sidelined larger activity. I’m not 100 percent sure what the situation is there, but obviously one wishes Morris and the rest of the band nothing but the best and a full return to stage and/or studio productivity soon. As anyone who dug into South of the Earth could tell you, Iron Man still have plenty more to say, and in a world that’s finally caught up to their ethic of Sabbathian homage, they’ve never been more relevant than they are now.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading and for listening.

Next week is the Quarterly Review. I’ve been working on setting up the back end for the last few days, and this weekend, as I also travel to the NY/NJ area to see a Yankee game (tonight) and family (tomorrow), I’ll be starting the actual process of digging into the 50 records that will be covered between next Monday and Friday. It’s already been a lot of work but I immediately regret not doing a sixth day this time around and maybe even a seventh. As I’ve been so busy the last couple months concerning myself with things like losing my job and the impending Pecan due in October, there’s a buildup of album folders on my desktop and mail piled high on my actual desk of records that want covering.

I wish I could get to everything. Sincerely.

But I’ll do the best I can and because I’m a flop at scheduling, there’s already other stuff slated for the days early in the week of the 17th where the otherwise extra Quarterly Review days would go. Fair enough, and at least it’s good. I’ve also got a bunch of premieres and whathaveyou slated for this week coming, so here are my notes as they stand now, subject to change without notice:

Mon.: Quarterly Review day 1; Fungus Hill video premiere.
Tue.: Quarterly Review day 2; Demon Eye track premiere/album review.
Wed.: Quarterly Review day 3; Salem’s Bend video premiere.
Thu.: Quarterly Review day 4; Arduini/Balich Six Dumb Questions
Fri.: Quarterly Review day 5.

If I can, I might just give myself a break on that last day and not slate anything else, roll with whatever news I’ll inevitably be behind on by then and the Friday Full-Length post, but we’ll see what comes in. I’m already about two weeks later on the Quarterly Review than I’d prefer to be, but whatever. Nobody cares except me. I have to keep reminding myself of that. Constantly. Nobody knows the arbitrary schedules I try to keep, and even if they knew, it wouldn’t matter. No one cares.

There’s a sad kind of freedom in that.

Speaking of sad freedom, if you’re in the US, I hope you had an enjoyable and safe July 4 celebration and that nobody got their hand blown off, etc. The Patient Mrs., the Little Dog Dio, the impending Pecan and I have been at the beach all week — the plus side of not having a job is being able to get up here and see sunrises like this one yesterday — and though I’m out of clean laundry and will be day-twoing it in these socks, it’s been an utter pleasure. We’ll be here until early Monday morning and then back home to Massachusetts, where no doubt copious errands will need to be run.

Whatever you’re up to this weekend, I hope it’s a great and also safe time. I’ll be writing in the passenger seat along the I-95 corridor if you need me, so yeah, that should be interesting. Thanks for reading and please check out the forum and the radio stream.

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