Quarterly Review: Rotor, Electric Octopus, Randall Dunn, Graven, Near Dusk, Svuco, Stonus, Acolytes of Moros, Lime Eyelid, Tombtoker

Posted in Reviews on December 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

I’ve been doing this for a while, the whole Quarterly Review thing. Not just talking about the last two weeks — though that also feels like a while to be doing it — but over the last few years. And in so doing I have a couple running gags kind of with myself. One obvious one is the “(immediate points)” for bands who put their longest song first on their album. There is no point system. There will be no tally at the end. I don’t grade records. It’s just a way of noting a decision I almost always find to be particularly bold.

Another is the use of “penultimate.” I don’t even know how this happened, but I use that word all the time in these reviews, way, way more than I might in day-to-day life. Somehow I’m always talking about the second-to-last song. Keep an eye out today, I’m sure it’ll be in there.

Indeed, I bring it up because today is the penultimate day of this extended Quarterly Review. We’ll finish out with the last 10 records tomorrow, and no doubt by the end of it I’ll be doling out more “(immediate points)” and talking about the “apex of the penultimate cut” or whatever else it is I do. Hard not to repeat yourself when you’re writing about 100 records. Or, you know, one.

Quarterly Review #81-90:

Rotor, Sechs

rotor sechs

Long-running Berlin instrumentalists Rotor issue Sechs, their aptly-titled sixth album, as their second for Noisolution after 2015’s Fünf (review here), and in so doing blend the best impulses from where they started with where they’ve ended up. Fünf, not without its moments of heavy psych drift, was a deeply progressive album, and Sechs is likewise, but it also brings in a more natural, warmer production sound like some of their earlier material, so that songs like “Vor der Hern” or “Allmacht” come across as nuanced but welcoming all the same. “Allmacht” is a highlight for its classic prog elements, but that’s not to discount the centerpiece “Abfahrt!,” with its raucous second half or the nine-minute penultimate cut “Druckverband,” which finds Rotor pushing themselves to new heights some 20 years on from their beginnings. Or anything else, for that matter, because it’s all brilliant. And that, basically, is how you know you’re listening to Rotor.

Rotor on Thee Facebooks

Noisolution website

 

Electric Octopus, Line Standing

electric octopus line standing

Next-level naturalism from Belfast trio Electric Octopus means that not only does the digital-only-otherwise-it’d-be-a-box-set Line Standing top four and a half hours, but those four and a half hours bring the listener into the studio with the band — guitarist Tyrell Black, bassist/keyboardist Dale Hughes and drummer Guy Hetherington — as they talk between jams, goof around and discuss what they just played in quick interludes. Complementing cuts like 35-minute opener “Iliudi,” the 38-minute “Line Standing 23336,” the 24-minute “Room Move” and the three-minute funk-reggae vibe of “Inspired by a Chicken,” the chatter gives Line Standing an even more organic vibe not by trying to capture a live feel, like what they’d do on stage — they have plenty of live albums for that — but by bringing the listener into the studio while they pick up their instruments and improvise their way through whatever it is that’s coming next, which is something that everyone seems to find out together. It’s not always smooth, but neither should it be. This is pure sonic exploration — and not a little of it.

Electric Octopus on Thee Facebooks

Electric Octopus on Bandcamp

 

Randall Dunn, Beloved

randall dunn beloved

Randall Dunn, through his production work, collaborations with Sunn O))), founding Master Musicians of Bukkake, etc., is no stranger to experimentalism, and his first solo album, Beloved (on Figureight), finds him evoking cinematic landscapes one at a time in ambient tracks that range from minimalist to consuming by sheer will. His range as a composer means that “Mexico City” shimmers with a near-overwhelming post-Vangelis splendor while “Lava Rock and Amber” is barren enough to make each strike of the piano keys feel like a lifeline before the synth horror takes hold near the end. Dunn brings in several guest vocalists for spots on “Something About that Night” and closer “A True Home,” but there’s hardly a lack of human presence throughout the material anyway, as the nine-minute centerpiece “Theoria : Aleph” resonates with the creative drive that made it. Not by any means a record that’s going to be for everyone, Beloved casts a sound that’s impeccably broad.

Randall Dunn on Thee Facebooks

Figureight on Bandcamp

 

Graven, Heirs of Discord

Graven Heirs of Discord

Heirs of Discord, indeed. With guitarist/vocalist Peter Maturi and drummer Chris Csar from the much-missed Swarm of the Lotus and bassist Teddy Patterson of Burnt by the Sun and Human Remains in the up-and-down-the-Eastern-Seaboard lineup with vocalist Jason Borowy, there’s no shortage of discord to go around. Deathly extremity and a pervasive grinding sensibility is conveyed with tones that absolutely crush and a groove that, while not shy with the blastbeats on “I Dreamt You Were Dead” — or the bonus track Human Remains cover “Human,” for that matter — is no less comfortable locked in the nod of the nine-minute “Thieves of Rotted Ilk.” It reportedly took Graven over a year to make the six-song/28-minute LP at various studios (including one two towns over from where I grew up in my beloved Garden State), and one only hopes the no-doubt daunting nature of that task doesn’t dissuade Graven from a follow-up, because whether it’s the angular starts and stops of “Backwards to Oblivion” or the initial assault of “A Failed Mask,” they bring a stylistic nuance to extreme metal that goes beyond the often dry showcase of technical prowess the style can sometimes be. However long it might take to put together, a sophomore outing feels well justified.

Graven on Thee Facebooks

Graven on Bandcamp

 

Near Dusk, Near Dusk

Near Dusk Near Dusk

The cleverly-titled “Humboldt Pie” finds them dipping into bluesier fare with some psychedelic effect on guitarist Matthew Orloff‘s vocals, and “We are the Buffalo” has a distinct spaciousness, but the core of Denver trio Near Dusk‘s self-released, self-titled debut is in straightforward heavy rock, and Orloff, bassist Kellen McInerney and drummer Jon Orloff sound well schooled in the ways of following the riff. “That Bastard” chugs out behind a vocal echo and the six-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “No More” introduces the steady factor that is McInerney‘s bass behind some initial guitar noodling that leads to the first of many rolling grooves to come on the seven-track/34-minute outing. The bass again gets to shine in the subsequent “Sweet Home,” setting up the final push for a moment before being joined by the drums and guitar, and the low-end tone is right on, though by the time they close out with “Furnace Creek,” all three of them seem to tease some jammier sensibilities. Near Dusk allow themselves room to develop their approach and perspective, but establish a strong root of songwriting to serve as their foundation as they move forward.

Near Dusk on Thee Facebooks

Near Dusk on Bandcamp

 

Svuco, El Gran Mito de SanSaru

svuco El Gran Mito de SanSaru

At least some of the material on Svuco‘s debut long-player, El Gran Mito de SanSaru, dates back a few years. The release includes what was the title-track of their 2015 Mizaru EP as well as the title-track of 2016’s Kikazaru, as well as a number of tracks that also featured on the Iwazaru EP shortly before the album actually arrived. Still, taken in this form and with these recordings, the Granada-based four-piece unfurl a varied 13-song full-length that’s crisp in its production and smoothly constructed to hit hard but with a sense of tonal presence that speaks to a heavy rock influence. That is, there might be a current of noise rock to the ’90s-style chug of “Llorarás,” but “Fuzzia” still has room for organ and acoustic guitar along with its central riff. Later cuts like “Nobogo,” the layered-vocals of “El Color del Sol,” and the almost-industrial pulsations (conveyed through organic instrumentation) of “El Dios del Nuevo Mundo” branch out, but there’s an underlying identity taking shape all the while.

Svuco on Thee Facebooks

Svuco on Bandcamp

 

Stonus, Lunar Eclipse

Stonus Lunar Eclipse

Welcoming in its tone and bordering on cosmic in its atmosphere, Lunar Eclipse is the second EP from Cyprus-based troupe Stonus, and for the sprawl of its eight-minute title-track alone, it showcases distinct potential on the part of the band. Intro and outro tracks help set up a flow, but as “Aspirin” and “Spiritual Realities” fuzz their way toward “Lunar Eclipse” itself, it’s hardly like Stonus need the help. The tempo of “Aspirin” tells the tale, taking desert rock to three-quarters speed for an extra laid back vibe, still pushed along by the drums, but chill, chill, chill as it goes. “Spiritual Realities” is a little more tripped out in its lumber, and its vocals are more forward in the mix, but once again, “Lunar Eclipse” is nothing but a joy to behold from front to back, and in large part it defines the short release that shares its name. They close out with the minute of experimentalism on “Euphoric Misery” and only make one hope they don’t lost those impulses by the time they get around to a full-length, because they’ll only help them further distinguish themselves.

Stonus on Thee Faceboks

Stonus on Bandcamp

 

Acolytes of Moros, The Wellspring

acolytes of moros the wellspring

Seven years on from playing their first show, Swedish doomers Acolytes of Moros present their first full-length, The Wellspring (CD on Nine Records), and if that might stand as an indication of their pacing overall, it would certainly apply to the album itself. Presented as four extended tracks with an interlude/instrumental near seven minutes dividing the two halves, it’s a rawly-produced take on doom-death traditionalism with an emphasis on the first part of that equation. Calling it “morose” feels too easy given the band’s moniker, but they’re nothing if not self-aware, and the miseries they portray in “Quotidian” and the 14-minute “A Yen to Relinquish and Evanesce” border on the dramatic without ever really tipping too far in that direction, coming through as much in the grueling riffs as in the vocal declarations and willfully repetitive rhythms. It’s a slog and it’s supposed to be, but Acolytes of Moros eschew the sometimes lush presentation of their genre in favor of a barebones take that loses none of its emotional impact for that.

Acolytes of Moros on Thee Facebooks

Nine Records website

 

Lime Eyelid, Week of Wonders

lime eyelid week of wonders

As regards recording narratives, it’s hard to beat the image of Traveling Circle drummer Josh Schultz recording Lime Eyelid‘s debut album, Week of Wonders (as in, The Wonder Weeks?), alone in his kitchen. The resulting limited LP is comprised mostly of numbered instrumental experiments in drone and languid groove, save for “I Saw Waves,” which brings to mind some of Six Organs of Admittance‘s far-out earlier fare, but psychedelia holds a prominent sway and if you ever want a lesson in doing something new with familiar elements, look no further than the watery guitar line of “1” or “3,” with its Earth groove gone processional. The 12-minute soundscape of “4” follows as Schultz moves deeper into the realms of cosmic minimalism — that big, mostly empty, galaxy — but “5” somehow sounds even more piped in from outer space, and closer “6” rounds out with swells of high-pitched volume that seem to be speaking their own language in tone. Pretty vast reaches for a record to hit, having been recorded in the kitchen. One awaits further adventures in the follow-up.

Lime Eyelid on Soundcloud

Lime Eyelid on YouTube

 

Tombtoker, Coffin Texts

tombtoker coffin texts

I don’t know if the band’s moniker refers to one who actually tokes tombs or who tokes in tombs, but neither would surprise me. The Baltimorean five-piece Tombtoker unveil their 20-minute debut EP, Coffin Texts (on Seeing Red, tapes through Metal Swarm), with a melding of doom, sludge and metallic extremity that is righteous in its riffs and malevolent in its purposes. That is to say, they mean harm. “Warfare Revolution” and “Robo Cujo” demonstrate that plainly ahead of the centerpiece “Stenchsquatch” with its oh-you’re-gonna-have-to-play-that-at-all-the-shows lurching midsection of death, while the subsequent “Blood Freak” taps Eyehategoddy swing and closer/shortest track “Globster” (3:21) bludgeons its own riffs before a bit of Slayer-style ping ride late adds even more of that metal-for-metal feel. I’d call it promising, but maybe “foreboding” is a better word. Whether they’re smoking your corpse or just smoking near your corpse, Tombtoker bring a welcome sense of chaos to extreme sludge that hearkens to the genre’s original, unhinged appeal.

Tombtoker on Thee Facebooks

Seeing Red Records on Bandcamp

Metal Swarm website

 

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Quarterly Review: BongCauldron, Black Helium, Earthbong, Sir Collapse, Alms, Haaze, The Sledge, Red Lama, Full Tone Generator, Mountain Dust

Posted in Reviews on December 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

Not to get off topic here, but it’s December, and god damn, I hate the fucking holidays. Christmas, even if you believe in the religious significance of the day, is pure garbage. I like giving presents well enough, don’t particularly enjoy receiving them, but even if you put aside the whole “oh it’s so commercial ‘now'” thing, like there was a time anyone now living ever saw when it wasn’t, it isn’t fun. The meal sucks. It’s dark. It’s cold. The songs are fucking endless and terrible — yes, all of them — and the whole experience is just a bummer the whole way through. If there was actually a war on it, I wish they’d drop the bomb and incinerate the entire thing.

Take Thanksgiving, make it start in November and end in December. A month-long festival for the season. You can even give gifts at the end, if you want. It could be like Ramadan, or, probably more likely and much on the opposite end of the spectrum, Oktoberfest.

There. Problem solved. Have a great day, everyone. Let’s do some reviews.

Quarterly Review #71-80:

BongCauldron, Tyke

BongCauldron Tyke

Biscuit, Corky and Jay of BongCauldron return less than 12 months out from their Binge LP (review here) with Tyke (on APF), three more cuts of weed-eating, dirt-worshiping, weed-worshiping, dirt-eating sludge, fueled as ever by fuckall and booze and banger riffs — and yes, I mean “banger” as in “bangers and mash.” There’s a lead that shows up in closer “Jezus Throat Horns” and some vocal melody that follows behind the throaty barks, but for the bulk of the three-tracker, it’s down to the business of conveying dense-toned disaffection and rolling nod. “Pisshead on the Moon” opens with a sample about alcohol killing you and works from its lumber into a bit of a shuffle for its midsection before hitting a wall in the last minute or so in order to make room for the punker blast of “Back up Bog Roll,” which tears ass and is gone as soon as it’s there, dropping some gang vocals on the way, because really, when you think about it, screw everything. Right? “Jezus Throat Horns” might be offering a bit of creative progression in closing out, but the heart of BongCauldron remains stained of finger and stank of breath — just the way it should be.

BongCauldron on Thee Facebooks

APF Records webstore

 

Black Helium, Primitive Fuck

black helium primitive fuck

Oh yes. Most definitely. From the Sabbath swing behind the chugging “Love the Drugs” and the march of “Wicked Witch” through the what-would-happen-if-Danzig-was-interesting “Summer Spells” and fuzzed-out post-punk shouts of “Videodrone” en route to the nine-minute “Curtains at the Mausoleum,” London four-piece Black Helium make heavy psychedelic songcraft into something as malleable as it should be on their Riot Season debut, Primitive Fuck, holding to underlying structures when it suits them and touching on drone bliss without ever really completely letting go. Opener “Drowsy Shores” is hypnotic. The aforementioned “Curtains at the Mausoleum” is hypnotic. Even the chug-meets-effects-blowout closing title-track is hypnotic, but on the handclap-laced “Do You Wanna Come Out Tonight?” or “Videodrone,” or even “Summer Spells,” there are hooks for the listener to latch onto, life-rafts floating in the swirling tonal abyss. The truth? There isn’t a primitive thing about it. They’re not so much lizard-brained as astral-planed, and if you want a summation of their sound, look no further than their name. It’ll make even more sense when you listen. Which you should do.

Black Helium on Thee Facebooks

Riot Season Records website

 

Earthbong, Demo 2018

earthbong demo 2018

The immediate association in terms of riff is going to be Sleep. “Drop Dead,” the 10-minute first of two songs on Earthbong‘s debut Demo 2018, rolls out with pure Dopesmoker-ism and follows the model of gradual unfolding of its weedian sludge riffery. No complaints. The Kiel, Germany, trio are obviously just getting their start, and since it’s a demo and not the “debut EP” that so many otherwise demos try to position themselves as, I’ll take it. And to boot, “Drop Dead” ultimately departs its Sleepy environs for altogether more abrasive fare, with Bongzilla-style screams and an increasingly aggressive shove, the drums crashing like the cymbals did something wrong, and feedback capping into the start of “Wanderer,” which is shorter at seven minutes and opens its assault earlier, the vocals no less distorted than the guitar or bass. There’s some space in a solo in the second half, but Earthbong again twist into harsh, crusty doom before letting feedback carry them out to the demo’s finish. Growing to do, but already their violence seethes.

Earthbong on Thee Facebooks

Earthbong on Bandcamp

 

Sir Collapse, Walk to the Moon

sir collapse walk to the moon

Grunge, noise rock and Queens of the Stone Age-style melody-making collide on Walk to the Moon, the debut full-length from German four-piece Sir Collapse, sometimes on disparate cuts, like the noisy intro given to the album by “Lower Principles,” and sometimes within the same song, as in the later “Like Me.” A jangly swing in “Mono Mantra” and the Nirvana-esque hook there soon gives way to the desert-hued thrust of “One Man Show” and the early ’90s fuzz of “Happy Planet Celebration,” while “The Great Escape” leads the way into some measure of evening out the approach in “Like Me,” “Too Late,” “Hey Ben” and “The Family,” unless that’s just the band acclimating the listener to their style. Fair enough either way. Sir Collapse round out with a return to the uptempo push shown earlier, giving their first LP an impressive sense of symmetry and whole-work presentation as layers of vocals intertwine with melody alternately lush and raw, sounding very much like a band who know the parameters in which they want to work going forward. So be it.

Sir Collapse on Thee Facebooks

Sir Collapse on Bandcamp

 

Alms, Act One

alms act one

Organ-soaked Baltimorean garage doomers Alms enter the conversation of 2018’s best debut albums with Act One on Shadow Kingdom, a collection rife with choice riffing, dynamic vocals and a nuanced blend of heft and drama. That a song like “The Toll” could be both as traditional sounding as it is and still modern enough to be called forward-thinking is nothing short of a triumph, and in the stomping “The Offering,” Alms cast forth a signature chorus that stands out from the tracks surrounding without departing the atmosphere so prevalent in their work. “Dead Water” at the outset and “For Shame” build a momentum through side A that the five-piece of keyboardist/vocalist Jess Kamen guitarists Bob Sweeney (also vocals) and Derrick Hans, bassist Andrew Harris and drummer Derrick Hans expand in the second half of the record, winding up in the early gruel of “Hollowed” only to resolve the album with speedier swing and as sure a hand as they’ve guided it all along. At six songs and 33 minutes, Act One unmistakably leaves the audience wanting more, and indeed, the plot may just be starting to unfold.

Alms on Thee Facebooks

Shadow Kingdom Records on Bandcamp

 

Haaze, Swamp Mama

Haaze Swamp Mama

It is a sharp, biting 27-minute run, but Swamp Mama isn’t just thrown together haphazardly. Alberta-based sludge metallers Haaze build a song like “35 Indians” to a head over the course of a deceptively efficient 4:44, following opening track “Beast of the Bog” with a developed sense of craft underlying the outward negativity of their sound. I’ll give the band bonus points for finishing side A with a song called “Stereotypically Doomed,” but more for the crash cymbal that seems to devour the mix. There’s a trashy undercurrent to the subsequent title-track, and as it finishes its pummel, it relinquishes ground to the acoustic interlude, “The Mechanic,” which I’m just going to assume is named for the Charles Bronson movie. That of course sets up the most extreme cut included in closer “AL,” which layers fierce growls and screams atop a rhythm clearly designed for maximum assault factor. A little more metal than sludge, it nonetheless remains tonally consistent with what comes before it, giving Swamp Mama a vicious ending and a feel that’s all the more lethal for it.

Haaze on Thee Facebooks

Haaze on Bandcamp

 

The Sledge, On the Verge of Nothing

the sledge on the verge of nothing

Copenhagen four-piece The Sledge boasts the three former members of heavy rockers Hjortene in guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Palle, drummer/vocalist Kim and bassist Claus, so while they’ve revamped their identity and gone on to add vocalist Magnus Risby — who appears here on “179 Liars” and “Yet Untitled” — perhaps its somewhat disingenuous to consider their first album under the new moniker, On the Verge of Nothing, a debut. Issued through Kozmik Artifactz, the record collects eight tracks produced by Anders Hansen (who also worked with Hjortene) and mixed by Matt Bayles, and in listening to the cuts with Risby in the lead spot, the vibe taps into a thicker take on late-era Dozer with no less righteous melodicism. That, however, is just a fraction of the total story of On the Verge of Nothing, which taps earlier desert idolatry on “Death Drome Doline” and brings in none other than Lorenzo Woodrose himself for guest spots elsewhere. People in and out of the lineup through different tracks should make the LP disjointed, but as ever, it’s the songwriting that holds it together, and one can’t discount the core band’s experience playing together as a part of that either. Debut or not, it’s an impressive offering.

The Sledge on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Red Lama, Dogma

red lama dogma

One tends to think of serenity and peaceful drift when it comes to Danish heavy psych rockers Red Lama, but as the seven-piece band quickly turn around follow-up to their 2018 sophomore LP, Motions (discussed here), cuts like opener “Time” and “RLP” unfold with a particular sense of urgency, the former seeming to showcase an acknowledgement of sociopolitical circumstances in Europe and beyond in a way that seems to readjust their focus. That’s a tidy narrative, but if it’s a case of priorities being rebalanced, it’s striking nonetheless. To coincide, “RLP” has a heavier roll in its second half, and while second cut “State of the Art” and closer “Tearing up the Snow” both make their way past the five-minute mark with post-rocking pastoralia and dreamy melodies, there remains a feeling of a tighter focus in the tracks that could portend a new stage of the band’s development or could simply be a circumstance of what’s included here. The next album will tell the tale.

Red Lama on Thee Facebooks

Red Lama on Bandcamp

 

Full Tone Generator, Valley of the Universe

full tone generator valley of the universe

Fronted by Andy Fernando of Don Fernando, Full Tone Generator‘s debut long-player, Valley of the Universe, nonetheless bears the unmistakable hallmark of the Californian desert — in no small part because that’s where it was recorded. Fernando and guitarist/bassist/backing vocalist Brad Young traveled to that famed landscape to record with Bubba DuPree and Brant Bjork at Zainaland Studios, only to have the latter end up playing drums and contributing backing vocals as well to the eight-tracker. Not a bad deal, frankly. The key reference sound-wise throughout Valley of the Universe is Kyuss, particularly because of Bjork‘s involvement and Fernando‘s vocal style, but the slow-rolling “I Only Love You When I’m Loaded,” 59-second blaster “No Future” and the ending jam duo of “Preacher Man” and “Never to Return” make the ground their own, the latter with some surprise screams before it bounces its way into oblivion as though nothing ever happened. They’ve got the vibe down pat, but Full Tone Generator do more as well than simply retread desert rock’s founding principles.

Full Tone Generator on Thee Facebooks

Hurricane Music on Bandcamp

 

Mountain Dust, Seven Storms

mountain dust seven storms

Keys give Montreal four-piece Mountain Dust a tie to classic heavy blues and they use that element well to cast their identity in the spirit of a post-retro modern feel, details like the backing vocals of “White Bluffs” and the waltzing rhythm held by the snare on “Witness Marks” doing much to add complexity to the persona of the band. “You Could” goes over the top in its boozy regrets, but the dramas of “Old Chills” are full in sound and satisfyingly wistful, while closer “Stop Screaming” offers a bit of twang and slide guitar to go along with its sense of threat and consuming seven-minute finish. Tight songwriting and clean production do a lot to give Seven Storms a professional presentation, but ultimately it’s the band itself that shines through in terms of performance and as Mountain Dust follow-up their well-received 2016 debut, Nine Years, they sound confident in their approach and ready to flesh out in multiple directions while maintaining a central character to their sound that will be familiar to the converted enough to be a work of genre while setting the stage to become all the more their own as well.

Mountain Dust on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

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Grim Reefer Fest 2019 Announces Full Lineup with Ruby the Hatchet, Heavy Temple, Horseburner and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 28th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Don’t look now, but here’s another fucking awesome festival to boggle your mind and melt your ears. Grim Reefer Fest 2019 will be held at The Ottobar in Baltimore and feature the likes of Philly heavy psych forerunners Ruby the Hatchet as well as return performances from Heavy Temple and fest-organizers Haze Mage as the event solidifies under the Grim Reefer banner after taking shape earlier this year as Stoned to Death. By any other name, it’s a kickass lineup for the all-dayer-style happening, with HorseburnerMountainwolfBook of WyrmsYatra and Tombtoker filling out the Chesapeake Watershed-minded bill, highlighting  a range of styles from the region and some up and coming as well as more established acts. If you didn’t already have plans for that Saturday, well, you do now.

For a quick side-note: I’ve got a post in the works with an update from Heavy Temple for later this week. Maybe tomorrow, maybe Thursday, depending on how it all comes together. Keep an eye out either way. It’s good news.

Here’s the Grim Reefer announcement, culled from the social medias:

grim reefer fest 2019

Grim Reefer Fest 420 / 2019

Saturday, April 20th, 2019 the Ottobar shall be engulfed by a heavy cloud of groove, gloom, and DOOM. Emerging from the fog a smokey specter materializes, the Grim Reefer. His bloodshot gaze beckoning you forth to test your mettle against a tidal wave of earth-shattering, skull shaking, sonic fuzz that flattens the land. Come forth oh warriors of metal, see if you can traverse the Grim Reefers miasma of crushing metal mayhem and celebrate the holy day of smoke.

Featuring

Ruby the Hatchet (PA) Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Psych-doom
Heavy Temple (PA) – Groovy, moody, fuzzy doom
Haze Mage (MD) – Sword and sorcery stoner metal
Horseburner (WVA) – Pure, pounding stoner rock n’ roll
Mountainwolf (MD) – Hard Rock Psychedelia
Book of Wyrms (VA) – Appalachian stoner rock
YATRA (MD) – Heavy, mountainous riffage
Tombtoker (MD) – Risen, undead doom/metal

$20 ADV – Ticket link: http://www.theottobar.com/event/1794968

https://www.facebook.com/events/726623521049970/
http://www.theottobar.com/event/1794968
https://www.facebook.com/hazemage/

Heavy Temple, Live at Muddy Roots Music Festival 2018

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Review & Full Album Stream: Foghound, Awaken to Destroy

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on November 21st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

foghound awaken to destroy

[Click play above to stream Foghound‘s Awaken to Destroy in its entirety. Album is out this Friday, Nov. 23, on Ripple Music.]

It’s Foghound saying, “okay, let’s go.” And they do. Immediately, the impression Awaken to Destroy (their second for Ripple Music, third overall) gives is of continuing the thread of aggressive, sweeping heavy rock the Baltimore four-piece conjured on The World Unseen (review here) in 2016. A high-paced opening salvo begins with the title-track, and “Awaken to Destroy” seems to be a tailor-made opener for a live set. It brings in all three of the band’s vocalists — drummer Chuck Dukehart and guitarists Bob Sipes and Dee Settar — and launches the band’s third LP with a surge of energy that continues through the sharp and catchy “Known Wolves,” which follows. Sharp production from Frank “The Punisher” Marchand makes its presence known right away in the echo around the vocals and general largesse of tone from Sipes and Settar and former bassist Rev. Jim Forrester, whose late-2017 murder doesn’t exactly cast a pall over Awaken to Destroy, but is certainly present as part of the context in which the record arrives.

Front to back, the album is a good time, and if you listened to the centerpiece interlude “AVE!” and didn’t know that’s Forrester playing the acoustic guitar or that the subsequent “Keep on Shoveling” was released as a benefit single for his family and written in light of the medical issues he suffered through before his death, or that it’s his spoken word in the song itself, it’s easy to breeze through Awaken to Destroy and dig it for what it is: a willfully kickass heavy rock record full of tight performances, smart songcraft and a more dynamic sound than Awaken to Destroy had on offer that brings back some of the groove of Foghound‘s 2013 debut, Quick, Dirty and High (review here), without repeating that album in style or tone.

Hooks in songs like “Known Wolves,” “Keep on Shoveling” and “Gone up in Smoke” do well to carry the listener through the 11-track/41-minute outing as “Filthy” touches on social commentary, “Cut the Cord” brings the charge to an almost frenetic level ahead of the dynamic shifts in “In Due Time,” both of which remind of when Mike Dean stepped back up to front C.O.C. on their self-titled, and the quieter “Staring Down the Demons” presents an organ-laced examination of inner and outer turmoil. There’s further departure as jam-rooted closer “Death Will Tremble” taps a groove like self-titled-era Clutch with an edge of psychedelia in the guitar and keys that keeps a strong foundation as it should in the bass and drums, so yes, Awaken to Destroy handles its business in that destructive regard, but is informed by more than just the initial burst. The fact that Forrester was killed while it was being made, once you know it, is kind of inescapable.

foghound photo shane gardner

That is, there’s no way around it, and I’m not sure there should be, either on an emotional or a sociopolitical level when one considers gun violence even outside the seemingly constant stream of mass-shooting headlines. Frankly, it’s to Foghound‘s credit that Awaken to Destroy exists at all. It can’t have been an easy task to finish it, particularly for Dukehart, who was a bandmate of Forrester‘s in Sixty Watt Shaman as well, but the drummer’s vocals end up as a standout element in the material, and he seems to take a forward position in that regard with complement from Settar and Sipes. Having three vocalists — plus Forrester‘s contributions here in that regard and those on the opening two tracks from current bassist Adam Heinzmann, who’s known for his work in Internal Void and whose CV also includes stints in Pentagram and War Injun — only makes Foghound more of a powerhouse able to pull off shifts in mood and melody in addition to those of rhythm and tempo. Perhaps the starkest example is the turns from “AVE!” to “Keep on Shoveling” and then “Staring Down the Demons,” but the truth is Awaken to Destroy is full of deftly-composed changes that are nonetheless positioned for a clear A/B LP-style across-album flow.

It would be easy to write a thinkpiece about Forrester‘s murder and what a tragedy it was. And likewise, it would have been easy for Foghound to say, well, that’s that, nix the album entirely and either go back and re-record the material, write new songs, or not. Awaken to Destroy represents the harder path. “Keep on Shoveling” is a song about perseverance, and while the lyrics were written thinking about their bassist’s plight in another context — Forrester discussed his medical issues and time in a coma in an interview here — and the album that surrounds that single song is the manifestation of that mindset. This is the sound of Foghound, shoveling. And it fucking rocks. It’s an absolute triumph for the fact that it exists, yes, but what’s more, these songs represent the finest work the band has done to-date, and they already have two outings of righteous heavy rock to their credit. It’s a refusal to be consumed by loss. The cliché is to say that “Band Member X would want us to carry on,” but that’s a cliché for a reason.

I won’t attempt to feign impartiality here — this guy got fucking murdered. Gunned down outside of a tattoo shop. And instead of losing themselves in grief and being torn apart by the sheer senselessness of that, Foghound have stepped up and delivered a record that not only pays tribute to his memory but brings together the strongest elements of their approach in songwriting and execution and pushes their particular take on heavy rock forward from where it could be found just two years ago. It’s a multi-tiered victory and an album that, if they were going to continue at all, absolutely needed to happen. No doubt Foghound‘s fourth full-length, whenever it might arrive, will be marked as well by the changes they’ve been through — lineup being the least of them — but to even get to that point, they will have already managed to come through adversity the likes of which would indeed destroy lesser bands. Foghound, in contrast, could hardly seem more awakened than they do in this material.

Foghound on Thee Facebooks

Foghound on Twitter

Foghound on Bandcamp

Foghound website

Ripple Music on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Twitter

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

Ripple Music webstore

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Foghound Release “Awaken to Destroy” Beer This Saturday with Oliver Brewing Co.

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 15th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

foghound beer

As Foghound move inexorably toward the release of their new album, Awaken to Destroy, which is set to come out Nov. 23 and will stream here in full on Nov. 21 — cheap plug, but it’s worth marking the calendar for — the Baltimore natives are making a stop this Saturday at Oliver Brewing Company to celebrate the release of a special Awaken to Destroy Foghound Double IPA. It’s been a minute since I had beer, but if the 2xIPA hits as hard as the new record for which it’s named, you’re gonna want to have a ride home handy. The band recently issued the “Return to Dragontooth” single in part to mark the occasion.

They’ve played the album release party already, so maybe some of you have Awaken to Destroy if you’re reading this. For the rest of us, it’ll be out through Ripple Music as the follow-up to the excellent and intense 2016 outing, The World Unseen (review here). “Return to Dragontooth” builds off of the prior song “Dragontooth,” which featured on the band’s 2013 debut, Quick, Dirty and High (review here).

Enough info. Drink up:

foghound awaken to destroy beer poster

Foghound Double IPA beer release party this Saturday night at Oliver Brewing!

Doors At 7, I Am The Liquor ( Richmond VA) opens at 8, Wasted Theory follows and then Foghound goes on around 10.

Come pick up a new CD, t-shirt, and a 6 pack of these fine cans!

Chuck Dukehart on “Return to Dragontooth”:

Recorded & mixed with Frank “The Punisher” Marchand during the “Awaken To Destroy” album sessions, “Return To Dragontooth” sees Foghound revisiting a track from their first self released album ” Quick, Dirty & High”. Put together quickly in the studio during those first album sessions, “Dragontooth” was then later fleshed out with more lyrics and a focused intensity that came from the song becoming a live set staple in the Foghound arsenal.

This time around saw Dee Settar adding additional lyrics and vocals as well as Hammond organ to the song, with Rev. Jim Forrester’s signature bass attack now taking it to another level. We are super stoked to have Oliver Brewing releasing this beer in our honor, and we know that you will enjoy it too!

Sit back, spark up, crack a fresh ” Awaken To Destroy” Double IPA from Oliver Brewing and punch your ticket to ” Return To Dragontooth”.

Stephen Jones of Oliver Brewing Company on “Awaken to Destroy” Double IPA:

Ever since Foghound first played live at Oliver Brewing Co. in the Summer of 2016, Chuck and I have talked about basing a beer around a future release, and that time has finally arrived. I couldn’t be happier to close out the Long Live Rock and Roll series of Double IPAs in 2018 with a celebration of Foghound’s “Awaken To Destroy” album, Volume XII of the series. It’s a bittersweet moment though, a celebration of their art, but also a tribute to former bass player Jim Forrester, taken from us in an act of senseless violence almost a year ago.

“Awaken To Destroy” is a big, bold IPA, aggressively bittered with Southern Cross and Magnum, dry hopped with Galaxy, Ella and Wakatu. Like the music that it represents, there are no compromises! For Jim!

Foghound is:
Chuck Dukeheart, III – Drums, Vocals
Dee Settar – Guitar, Vocals
Bob Sipes – Guitar, Vocals
Adam Heinzmann – Bass

https://www.facebook.com/foghoundbaltimore
https://twitter.com/Foghound2016
http://foghound.net/
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic
https://twitter.com/RippleMusic
http://www.ripple-music.com/

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Darsombra Announce West Coast Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 2nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

darsombra

I’ll in no way claim to keep up with posts on everything Darsombra do. How could I? They spend more time on the road than the entire rosters of some labels. To wit, they just wrapped a run through Southeast Asia — because of course they did — and head out in less than two weeks on their next stint, this one through the American Midwest and West Coast. I don’t know if that counts as a homecoming or not, since ostensibly they’re from Baltimore, but I guess they’ll at least have enough time to do some laundry and put gas in their van before they head out again. They just keep going. It’s astounding.

They’re still supporting 2016’s two-song LP, Polyvision (review here), but I think even more than that, they’re just supporting the idea of open creativity itself and trying to put that in front of as many people as possible. They’ll hit everyone sooner or later.

For now, here’s where they’re headed next:

darsombra US tour

Hello America!

We still have a few shows in Indonesia before we come home. Then in a couple of weeks we hit the road again. This time we’re touring the U.S. and coming to some places that we haven’t been to in a few years!

Oct 12 – Pittsburgh PA @ Black Forge
Oct 13 – Dayton OH @ Blind Bob’s
Oct 14 – Indianapolis IN @ Melody Inn
Oct 15 – Bloomington IN @ Blockhouse
Oct 16 – Peoria IL @ Peoria Pizza Works
Oct 17 – Rock Island IL @ Rock Island Supper Club
Oct 18 – Lincoln NE @ 2SMOO
Oct 19 – Laramie WY @ The Great Untamed
Oct 20 – Denver CO @ Seventh Circle Music Collective
Oct 21 – Colorado Springs CO @ Triple Nickel
Oct 26 – Flagstaff AZ @ Flagstaff Brewing Company
Oct 27 – Prescott AZ @ Mousetrap
Nov 1 – Arcata CA @ Richards’ Goat Tavern
Nov 2 – San Francisco CA @ Space Bar Headquarters
Nov 3 – Pomona CA @ 57 Underground
Nov 6 – Tucson AZ @ Galactic Center
Nov 7 – Bisbee AZ @ The Quarry Bisbee
Nov 9 – Albuquerque NM @ Sister Bar
Nov 10 – Amarillo TX @ 806
Nov 12 – Dallas TX @ RBC
Nov 13 – Oklahoma City OK @ The Root
Nov 14 – Kansas City MO @ Record Bar
Nov 15 – Topeka KS @ The Boobie Trap Bar
Nov 16 – Lawrence KS @ Replay Lounge
Nov 17 – Louisville KY @ house show
Nov 18 – Morgantown WV @ 123 Pleasant

http://facebook.com/darsombra
https://www.instagram.com/darsombra/
http://www.darsombra.com/
https://www.facebook.com/TranslationLossRecords/
https://translationlossrecords.bandcamp.com/
translationlossrecords.bigcartel.com/

Darsombra, Live in Indonesia, Sept. 18, 2018

Darsombra, Polyvisions (2016)

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Alms to Release Act One Later This Year on Shadow Kingdom

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 1st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

alms

With a logo made for vest patches and an organ-laced classic doom rollout, Baltimore’s Alms bring a a modern take to the established tenets of Maryland doom. After impressing with their first demo (review here) in 2017, the band not only bring those two tracks — “Dead Water” and the garage-doom-stomping “The Offering” — to the new record, but four others as well, to the new outing, which has been given a release date of “later this year.” I don’t want to start throwing darts, but maybe September? I don’t know. Their sound would suit autumn well. I know that much.

Whenever it shows up, Act One will bring with it a new edge to Maryland’s long-running arc of doom. Could it be that the sound is branching out from its ultra-straightforward riff-led methodology? I wouldn’t guess the trajectory of an entire region’s output, but Alms make an encouraging case either way.

From the PR wire:

alms act one

ALMS reveal first track from forthcoming SHADOW KINGDOM debut

Shadow Kingdom Records reveals the first track from Alms’ highly anticipated debut album, Act One. Titled “Dead Water,” you can hear the track HERE. Shadow Kingdom will be releasing Alms’ Act One on CD, vinyl LP, and cassette tape formats later this year.

Hailing from Baltimore, Alms honors Maryland’s rich heritage of doom metal with a swaggering, soulful sound that unselfconsciously spans decades and idioms. They made their first, grand steps with a two-song demo released at the beginning of 2017. Having already made waves in their local scene, this demo would soon spread like wildfire amongst doom fanatics, and soon the Alms name was on many a tongue. But alas, with the full-length Act One, that name will be on tongues worldwide.

Stomping forward across six BIG songs in a judiciously concise 34 minutes, Alms quickly establish a mood of both merriment and portent. Theirs is a sound which culls the bluesy ruminations of classic Deep Purple, the wild excursions of equally classic Uriah Heep, and the dark thunder of Maryland forebears The Obsessed. And yet, that aforementioned soul and swagger soon take center stage, both allowing the doom chunder to loosely lumber whilst putting a particularly pleading-for-deliverance aspect upon proceedings. It’s that eternal fire of the greatest rock music, especially in that pre-metal era of the 1970s, where fire and brimstone often coursed through rock ‘n’ roll, but near-equally pays homage to the heavy developments at the turn of the ’80s. But all of this would be for naught if Alms didn’t have the songs to back it up, and indeed does Act One have SONGS.

Head to the void or to the pub, or both: Alms will take you there (and back) with Act One! Hear for yourself with the new track “Dead Water” HERE at Shadow Kingdom’s Bandcamp. Release date and preorder info to be announced shortly. Cover and tracklisting are as follows:

Tracklisting for Alms’ Act One
1. Dead Water
2. The Toll
3. For Shame
4. The Offering
5. Deuces Low
6. Hollowed

Alms is:
Andrew Harris: Bass
Bob Sweeney: Guitar, Vocals
Derrick Hans: Drums
Jess Kamen: Keyboard, Vocals
Danny McDonald: Guitar

https://www.facebook.com/almsbaltimore/
https://almsbaltimore.bandcamp.com/releases
http://www.shadowkingdomrecords.com
http://www.facebook.com/shadowkingdomrecords

Alms, Act One (2018)

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Thought Eater Premiere “Bones in the Fire Pt. 1”; Album out May 18 on Grimoire Records

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on April 26th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

thought eater

One has to wonder if when Baltimore’s Thought Eater chose their moniker they imagined they’d ever write material so evocative as that on their debut album, Bones in the Fire. Set for digital issue on May 18 via respected purveyor Grimoire Records, the new release runs an instrumentalist gamut from modern progressive metal to folk-tinged classic Zeppelinist whathaveyou, and with six tracks and a 40-minute playthrough, songs like “Speak Through Dreams,” “Covenant” and the two-part title-track — the first piece of which opens the record, the second is penultimate to closer “Umwelt” — there’s plenty of room for both sonic exploration and a current of noise rock to show themselves amid the central weavings of guitar and bass, reminiscent in their winding course of Leviathan-era and given added crunch of underlying aggression that staves off proggy self-indulgence entirely.

That’s not to say Bones in the Fire isn’t a progressive work. It’s just not a dick about it. The synth on “Umwelt” holds court in underscoring how far the three-piece of guitarist Douglas Griffith, 12-string bassist Darin Tambascio and drummer Bobby Murray have journeyed from “Bones in the Fire Pt. 1” and the blasting at the start of “Pantomimic Dances,” which follows, but there’s nothing overly showy about Thought Eater‘s presentation. They’re writing songs, not putting on a clinic.

And I think the difference is audible even just in the sampling you can find at the bottom of this post of the album’s wares in the form of the track premiere of “Bones in the Fire Pt. 1.” It doesn’t speak for the whole of the record stylistically, but it certainly gives a sense of the Noel Mueller-recorded impact that Thought Eater make in terms of tone and rhythmic intensity.

One more time, release date is May 18. Here’s info off the PR wire and that track premiere for your streaming enjoyment:

thought eater bones in the fire

I’m glad to report that we’ve finished work on Thought Eater’s first proper full-length album, titled “Bones in the Fire.” This is the follow up to their first release, a split with Iron Jawed Guru called Vortex 6.

A brand new three-piece instrumental band from Baltimore, MD, featuring a 12-string bass through a big muff. This monstrosity is a standard bass with three of everything, producing a bizarre double-vision effect on every note. Uniquely hypnotic riffs reminiscent of High On Fire and Mastodon along with Black Sabbath-esque tempo changes are woven into angular, odd-time compositions. Prior to forming Though Eater, bassist Darin Tambascio was a founding member of the prog metal two-piece National Sunday Law and Graviton, which featured both members of NSL and Sacha Dunable from Intronaut.”

The crazy sounding 12 string bass is actually more prominent than ever, as is a more significant sprinkling of shimmery 12 string acoustic guitar, and occasional synths for added texture. However, on this album, you will find more a sprawling, almost meditative atmosphere, more proggy riffs, more weird harmonies, just.. more everything. They still sound like High on Fire, early Mastodon, and Zebulon Pike, but have managed to grow a couple of mutant appendages to their sound.

Here’s the pre-order page: https://grimoirerecords.bandcamp.com/album/bones-in-the-fire

“Bones in the Fire” is released on 5/18/18 world wide as a digital download via Grimoire Records. Will be available on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon mp3, and direct download through Bandcamp. No physical release for this one!

Thought Eater is Darin Tambascio (12 string bass), Douglas Griffith (guitar), and Bobby Murray (drums). “Bones in the Fire” was recorded by Noel Mueller in November of 2017 and January of 2018. Mixed and Mastered by Noel Mueller. Artwork by Andrew Notsch. © 2018 Grimoire Records.

https://www.facebook.com/thoughteaterband
https://grimoirerecords.bandcamp.com/album/bones-in-the-fire

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