Rozamov and Husbandry Announce October Weekender Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 18th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Boston’s Rozamov just got back from a tour that included a stop at Crucialfest and New York’s Husbandry have a brand new video for the track ‘Grab Twist Pull’ and will head out with Moon Tooth in November, so both bands have plenty going on as they move toward rounding out 2017 both supporting and looking to move forward from their debut releases on Battleground/Dullest Records and Aqualamb, respectively. All the better to team up for a quick weekender next month for shows in their native territories of New York and Massachusetts, and to add intrigue, the final of the three dates for the weekender run, to be held at The Middle East — one assumes upstairs, but you can never be sure — that’s going to be recorded by GodCity Studio‘s mobile unit.

Does that mean Kurt Ballou (Converge) is going to helm live outings for both bands? Can’t imagine they’d bring him out and not put out the results. Something to watch for maybe as we head into 2018.

Show info came down the PR wire:

Rozamov & Husbandry – Northeast dates

Rozamov and Husbandry have announced a short string of Northeast dates this October, culminating in a show to be recorded by Godcity Studio at The Middle East in Cambridge, MA.

10/20 – Brooklyn, NY @ The Well
10/21 – Florence, MA @ The 13th Floor Lounge
10/22 – Boston, MA @ The Middle East

Says Husbandry guitarist Jordan Usatch:

“There’s never an absence of ‘heavy’ young bands these days, but I’ve always felt that it’s few and far between of bands that do ‘heavy’ but also ‘interesting’ – so of course, ever since meeting the guys in Rozamov we’ve felt a kinship with them between odd-timed riffs and our mutual big-ass pedalboards. When approached to do a mini-tour in the New England area, using it to hire Godcity mobile recording services for a future live split-record project, we had to say yes. The tour starts at The Well in Brooklyn and culminates 10/22/17 at the Middle East Upstairs, where both bands will record our live sets, featuring new (and previously unreleased) music from both bands. The Middle East show will be rounded out by two other Boston bands- Kal Marks as well as Nomad Stones.”

Rozamov released their debut LP “This Mortal Road” this past March and have completed two tours since including stops at Austin Terror Fest and Crucialfest. The band digitally released a live recording from their March tour titled “Adaptations” earlier this summer and are have been hard at work on new material.

Husbandry recently released a video for their song “Grab Twist Pull” off of their debut LP “Fera” which was released last year. They also recently announced a US tour with fellow New York weirdos Moon Tooth for this November.

https://www.facebook.com/Rozamov
http://battlegroundrnr.com/
http://www.facebook.com/battlegroundrecords
http://battlegroundrecords.bigcartel.com
https://dullestrecords.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/DullestRecords

https://www.facebook.com/husbandrynyc
http://www.twitter.com/husbandrynyc
http://instagram.com/husbandrynyc
https://husbandryny.bandcamp.com/
https://aqualamb.bandcamp.com/
http://www.aqualamb.org/

Husbandry, “Grab Twist Pull” official video

Rozamov, “Serpent Cult” official video

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The Ditch and the Delta Sign to Prosthetic Records

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

It wasn’t so terribly long ago that Salt Lake City slingers The Ditch and the Delta announced the US tour dates for next month alongside Rozamov and others that will precede their slot at Crucialfest in their hometown on Sept. 22, and along comes the PR wire with word that the three-piece have inked a deal to issue their debut album, Hives in Decline, through Prosthetic Records in September. Not too shabby. The record initially came out via Battleground earlier this year, and it’s streaming in full below and available to preorder in its new edition as we speak.

Like, right now. This very minute. I know it’s true because I read it in a press release and clicked the link:

the-ditch-and-the-delta-photo-jessica-bundy

Prosthetic Records Signs THE DITCH AND THE DELTA, Full-Length Album, “Hives In Decline”, Set for Re-Release on September 8, 2017

Album Engineered by Andy Patterson of SUBROSA

Prosthetic Records have announced the signing of Salt Lake City-based sludge rockers, THE DITCH AND THE DELTA. Formed in 2014 by longtime friends, Elliot Secrist, Charles Bogus and Kory Quist, the band released their 2015 EP, We Rust, to a vast array of critical acclaim. Their debut full length Hives In Decline was released on LP on Battleground records and digitally through the band’s Bandcamp page on May 12, 2017. Prosthetic Records will be re-releasing the album on compact disc and will make it available on all digital platforms on September 8th. Preorders are available here: http://smarturl.it/TDATD

The band comments on the signing, “Having been fans of many of both the current roster and alumni on Prosthetic, The Ditch couldn’t be more pleased to be on the label among such good company.”

Hives In Decline features seven tracks and was engineered by Andy Patterson of Subrosa. The album shows the band exploring into sound design sonics, as well as features a swarm of solos by Gentry Densley (Eagle Twin, Iceburn) on the song “Fuck on Asphalt”. Metal Injection recently described the album as, “a record that takes you in and allows you to revel in the madness of the genre.”

Hives In Decline track listing
1. Hives in Decline
2. Fuck on Asphalt
3. Sleeping Dogs
4. Dry Land
5. Till Body Quits
6. Mud
7. Dread Spectacle

The devil is in the details with The Ditch. The expanded harmony and tension, as well as the unique rhythms are, in part, due to Secrist’s studies and degree in Jazz Composition. The band calls their brand of sludgy/noise/doom, “Big Riff”. Employing different tunings, and modal centers, every song The Ditch writes manages to avoid many of the usual doom trappings of excessive feedback, static harmony, and pentatonic riffs. The lyrical content deals with everyday life and the constant suppression and alienation that comes with it. Three men from Mormon dominated Utah are bound to have a lot of resentment and disdain for the mono culture they exist in day to day.

They have shared the stage with Call of the Void, Lord Dying, Eagle Twin, Iceburn, The Sword, Subrosa, Kowloon Walled City, Castle, The Atlas Moth, Kayo Dot, and Dust Moth to name a few. Current tour dates are as follows:

8/15 Colorado Springs, CO @ Triple Nickel
8/16 Wichita, KS@ Barleyscorn
8/17 Wichita Falls, TX @ The Deep End.
8/18 Austin, TX @ The Lost Well
8/19 Lafayette, LA @ Boom Boom Room.
8/20 Greenville, SC @ Cabin Floor Records.
8/21 Raleigh, NC @ Slims
8/23 New York, NY @ TBA
8/24 Boston, MA @ Great Scott**
8/25 Columbus, OH @ Space Bar**
8/26 Milwaukee, WI @ Franks Power Plant
8/27 St Paul, MN @ TBA
8/30 Seattle, WA @ Fun House**
8/31 Portland, OR @ High Water Mark**
9/1 Boise, ID @ The Shredder**
9/22 Salt Lake City, UT @ Crucial Fest**.
** with Rozamov

THE DITCH AND THE DELTA is:
Elliot Secrist (guitar/vocals)
Charles Bogus (drums)
Kory Quist (bass/vocals)

www.facebook.com/theditchandthedeltaslc/
https://theditchandthedelta.bandcamp.com/
http://smarturl.it/TDATD
https://store.prostheticrecords.com/search?q=the+ditch+and+the+delta
https://www.facebook.com/prostheticrecords/

The Ditch and the Delta, Hives in Decline (2017)

The Ditch and the Delta, “Mud” live

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Godhunter Post Video for “Walking with a Ghost” from Codex Narco

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 19th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

godhunter

Take a second now and just get ready to have this song stuck in your head for the rest of the day. “Walking with a Ghost” serves as a surprise and a highlight from Godhunter‘s latest outing, the Battleground– and Baby Tooth Records-released Codex Narco EP (review here), and emphasizes the vast range that manifests in the band’s sound across the still-only-21-minutes. Known for a vicious blend of sludge, metal and hardcore, Godhunter veer deeper than they ever have into atmospherics, dark psychedelic wash, and even synth-laden pop heft.

It’s that latter that comes into focus on the Tegan and Sara cover “Walking with a Ghost.” Placed as the second-to-last track on Codex Narco and featuring guest vocals from Nick Genitals of Methra, it’s a definitive turn from what one might have previously expected of Godhunter‘s sound, taking the poppy hook of the original and blowing out the post-punk riff tonally while keeping the chorus central to the song itself and staying loyal to structure. It’s short at two and a half minutes long, but in that time Godhunter channel Ramones-style simplicity and a deceptively rich tonal stew over which the lyrics are laid. In an alternate universe, there’s an entire league of bands who sound like this and they’re all huge.

In this universe, Godhunter hit with “Walking with a Ghost” on something that’s entirely their own despite it being a cover and not actually their song at its root. Perhaps that duality is part of the appeal as well, but either way, “Walking with a Ghost” more than earns the attention it’s being paid via the band’s new video, which brings its theme of depression to life visually with a narrative embodying the central metaphor: a ghost. You’ll note the inclusion at the end of the text/phone info for the National Suicide Hotline — text 741741 or call 800-273-8255 — as further representation of the underlying purpose of the track and of Codex Narco as a whole. Nothing Godhunter do is an accident.

Enjoy the clip below:

Godhunter, “Walking with a Ghost” official video

Directed by: Mitch Wells (Thou)

Video presented by: DGRK Records, Baby Tooth Records and Battleground Records

“Walking With A Ghost” written by Sara Quin & Tegan Quin (originally performed by Tegan And Sara). All rights reserved by Warner Music Group.

Godhunter on Thee Facebooks

Battleground Records on Bandcamp

Battleground Records website

Battleground Records on Twitter

Battleground Records on Instagram

Baby Tooth Records on Bandcamp

Baby Tooth Records on Thee Facebooks

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Rozamov Premiere “Surrounded by Wolves” from New Live Album Adaptations

Posted in audiObelisk on July 18th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

ROZAMOV

If it seems like a quick turnaround for Boston trio Rozamov to have new material ready to roll out just a couple months after releasing their much-awaited debut album, This Mortal Road (review here), this Spring on Battleground Records and Dullest Records, well, it kind of is. But consider that the band had the material for that five-track long-player in the can for about a year before it came out, and that guitarist/vocalist Matt Iacovelli and bassist/vocalist Tom Corino had added drummer Jeff Landry to the lineup in the meantime post-recording, and it makes sense to think they might want to flex a bit of songwriting. Whether it’s to see where they’re at sound-wise after the record, feel out the new dynamic with Landry or just keep themselves busy while waiting for the release or what was then their next stint on the road, it’s not like writing is going to hurt.

Thus we get “Surrounded by Wolves” on a new live release out July 21 called Adaptations. Captured in Chicago on the coast-to-coast tour the band undertook to mark This Mortal Road‘s arrival, it’s the first track to be put together with Landry in the group, and as it plods out its full course in just over three minutes, it stands as a significant change from the longer-form approach of the debut. I wouldn’t speculate any major shift in direction or method overall based on one initial live track, but the shortest of This Mortal Road‘s non-interlude cuts was the seven-minute “Serpent Cult,” so as “Surrounded by Wolves” checks in at less than half of that, it’s noteworthy either way.

One can’t argue, however, that Rozamov don’t state their case in that time. With a full tonal breadth even in this live version and harsh vocals cutting through the lumbering wash of low end, crashing cymbals and overarching push of its rhythm, “Surrounded by Wolves” champions an efficiency that well earns the quick exclamations audible from the crowd when it chugs to its conclusion. And in kind with the record preceding it, not only is “Surrounded by Wolves” this heavy, brutally-minded shove of lung-filling sludge extremity, but its pummel is also richly atmospheric, and its mix — again, even in this live version — brings a depth in which the listener feels likely to get consumed permanently. Easy to imagine that it made the lights at the Livewire Lounge seem just a bit darker by the time it was done.

You can check out the track on the player below, followed by some comment from Landry — who also did the artwork for Adaptations — on the song in what looks suspiciously in-part like a tour diary, and upcoming live dates, including the run Rozamov will do next month with Battleground labelmates The Ditch and the Delta that wraps with a slot Sept. 2 at Crucialfest.

Behold:

Jeff Landry on “Surrounded by Wolves”:

We are all really excited to release Adaptations. Essentially, it is a live take on our first LP, This Mortal Road, as well as a new track “Surrounded by Wolves.” With the addition of myself on drums, I was able to have a different take on the music. I’m grateful that Matt and Tom allowed me to explore that. We are definitely evolving right now and Adaptations is a little window into what we have going on.

As for the show we recorded this at, we had about 20 nights of shows under our belts going into this set. It was day three of rain. Matt had family come out. We hung out at Wrigley and Tom convinced a pizza spot to deliver to the van. I got locked in the venue’s basement for a while. Solid day. It wasn’t a packed show but people were definitely into the set and we had a great night afterwards too. That was basically the M.O. of that whole tour. We’d show up to the city early, tourist what we could, get to the show, have people sort of stare at us and wonder who we were, crush a set, people chat our ears off after we play, load out and drive to the hotel, sleep, repeat.

I think at that point in March we were about halfway through writing for the new record, so we started peeking out a few each night. We opened up this show with “Surrounded by Wolve.s. After listening to it, we knew we wanted to get it out there for people to listen ASAP. We went the friends route and had our bud Chris Johnson from who plays in a rad band mix it and Alec Rodriguez who also plays in a rad band master it. We are really stoked to get this out there. We’re hitting the road this weekend with our Syracuse homies in Blood Sun Circle and doing a week of dates in Pacific Northwest to Crucialfest this August with our boys The Ditch and The Delta. Jam this new record on Spotify and check out a show!

Rozamov live:
rozamov ditch and the delta tour7/21 – Wallingford, CT @ Cherry Street Station +
7/22 – Rochester, NY @ Photo City Improv +
7/28 – Somerville, MA @ ONCE ^

8/24 – Allston, MA @ Great Scott *
8/25 – Columbus OH @ Cafe Bourbon Street *
8/26 – Indianapolis, IN @ TBA
8/27 – St. Paul, MN @ TBA
8/30 – Seattle, WA @ Funhouse *
8/31 – Portland, OR @ High Water Mark *
9/1 – Boise, ID @ The Shredder *
9/2 – Salt Lake City @ Crucial Fest *

+ w/ Blood Sun Circle
^ w/ Author & Punisher
*w/ The Ditch and The Delta

Adaptations was recorded live at Live Wire in Chicago, mixed by Chris Johnson at The Electric Bunker in Brighton, MA, and Mastered by Alec Rodriguez at New Alliance in Cambridge, MA. The full recording will be available for free download via Bandcamp and streaming via Spotify on July 21.

Adaptations tracklisting:
1. Surrounded By Wolves (Live)
2. Ghost Divine (Live)
3. Serpent Cult (Live)
4. Inhumation (Live)

Rozamov on Thee Facebooks

Rozamov on Twitter

Rozamov on Bandcamp

Battleground Records website

Battleground Records on Thee Facebooks

Battleground Records webstore

Dullest Records on Bandcamp

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The Ditch and the Delta Launch US Tour Next Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

There remain a couple of dates still to confirm along the Eastern Seaboard and in the Midwest for The Ditch and the Delta‘s upcoming August tour, so if you happen to live in any of the cities marked TBA below and can put together a show or are elsewhere and can help out with a crash spot or something like that, the PR wire has included an email address where you can reach out to the band directly. Don’t harass the dude. Be nice. Be helpful.

The Ditch and the Delta hit the road from Salt Lake City on Aug. 15 and will tour their way back around to their hometown to play Crucial Fest on Sept. 2. They’ll spend part of the run in the company of Battleground Records labelmates Rozamov, and will be out supporting their first album, Hives in Decline, which came out back in May.

You can stream that record below and if you’re so inclined, the LP’s like dirt cheap from the label if you’re in the US, so yeah. Here’s info:

the ditch and the delta

THE DITCH AND THE DELTA Confirms US August/September Tour Including Dates With Rozamov

Utah’s THE DITCH AND THE DELTA has announced a run of summer tour dates in support of their Battleground Records-released Hives In Decline debut LP.

THE DITCH AND THE DELTA’s upcoming tour begins in Colorado Springs on August 15th and runs through September 2nd where the band plays Crucial Fest in their hometown of Salt Lake City. The tour sees THE DITCH AND THE DELTA running through the Northern half of the country with shows spanning through the Midwest, East Coast, West Coast, and Mountain regions, and includes a week-and-a-half of dates with labelmates Rozamov. The band is still booking the last few unconfirmed venues with all gaps to be filled in the days ahead. Anybody interested in booking a show in one of the TBA towns listed below can get in touch with kquist801@gmail.com.

THE DITCH AND THE DELTA Tour Dates:
8/15/2017 Triple Nickel – Colorado Springs, CO
8/16/2017 Barleyscorn – Wichita, KS
8/17/2017 The Deep End – Wichita Falls, TX
8/18/2017 The Lost Well – Austin, TX
8/19/2017 Boom Boom Room – Lafayette, LA
8/20/2017 TBA – Atlanta, GA
8/21/2017 Slims – Raleigh, NC
8/22/2017 TBA – Baltimore, MD
8/23/2017 TBA – New York, NY
8/24/2017 Great Scott – Boston, MA w/ Rozamov
8/25/2017 Space Bar – Columbus, OH w/ Rozamov
8/26/2017 Reggies – Chicago, IL
8/27/2017 TBA – Sioux Falls, ND w/ Rozamov
8/28/2017 TBA – Billings, MT w/ Rozamov
8/29/2017 TBA – Spokane, WA w/ Rozamov
8/30/2017 El Corazon – Seattle, WA w/ Rozamov
8/31/2017 High Water Mark – Portland, OR w/ Rozamov
9/01/2017 The Shredder – Boise, ID w/ Rozamov
9/02/2017 Crucial Fest – Salt Lake City, UT w/ Rozamov

Battleground Records released THE DITCH AND THE DELTA’s Hives In Decline in May, unloading one of the most intriguing and unique records under the broad umbrella of doom and sludge metal infused with technical math rock and progressive elements. Engineered by Andy Patterson of Subrosa, Hives In Decline sees the band exploring many aspects of sound design by employing different tunings and modal centers, while lyrically dealing with the resentment and disdain for the mono culture these three men from Mormon-dominated Utah exist in daily. The LP also features a swarm of guest solos from Gentry Densley (Eagle Twin, Iceburn) on the track “Fuck On Asphalt.”

The Ditch and the Delta is:
Elliot Secrist-Guitars, samples, vocals
Charles Bogus-Drums
Kory Quist-Bass, vocals

https://theditchandthedelta.bandcamp.com/releases
https://www.facebook.com/theditchandthedeltaslc
http://www.facebook.com/battlegroundrecords
http://battlegroundrecords.bigcartel.com

The Ditch and the Delta, Hives in Decline (2017)

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The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 of 2017 So Far

Posted in Features on June 12th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk top-20-2017-so-far

The time has come to take a look at some of the best albums of 2017 so far. I hardly know where to start. In some ways, this list is harder to put together than the end-of-year one that comes out in December, because by then not only do you have the full year to draw on, but it’s easier to sort of put a narrative to the course of events of 12 months, whereas in this case, obviously, the story is half told. So I guess if the list feels incomplete, that might be part of why.

Even with just six months to work from, the list has become fairly immense. I’ve been keeping track of 2017 releases since about September of last year, and the amount of stuff that’s come through has been staggering. Every year brings good music, and the basic fact of the matter is that if you don’t think so it’s because you’re either unwilling to find it or unwilling to let yourself hear it, but 2017 has been a multi-tiered assault of sounds from all over the world, and it seems like whatever you might be into, the universe stands ready to accommodate.

There’s a lot to say about that — is the market flooded? — but it’s a topic for a different post. I’ll keep it short here and just say that as always, it’s an honor to be covering the stuff that I cover and that I deeply appreciate you taking the time to read. I hope if there’s a release you feel deeply passionate about that you don’t see on my list below that you’ll please let me know about it in the comments.

Also, please note that in order to qualify for this list, a record had to come out on or before June 9. That’s the cutoff.

Okay, here goes:

The Top 20 of 2017 So Far

elder reflections of a floating world

1. Elder, Reflections of a Floating World
2. All Them Witches, Sleeping Through the War
3. Samsara Blues Experiment, One with the Universe
4. Colour Haze, In Her Garden
5. Atavismo, Inerte
6. Sun Blood Stories, It Runs Around the Room with Us
7. Cloud Catcher, Trails of Kozmic Dust
8. Vokonis, The Sunken Djinn
9. The Obsessed, Sacred
10. Mothership, High Strangeness
11. Spaceslug, Time Travel Dilemma
12. Electric Moon, Stardust Rituals
13. Alunah, Solennial
14. Arc of Ascent, Realms of the Metaphysical
13. Rozamov, This Mortal Road
14. Siena Root, A Dream of Lasting Peace
15. PH, Eternal Hayden
16. Geezer, Psychoriffadelia
17. T.G. Olson, Foothills Before the Mountain
18. Telekinetic Yeti, Abominable
19. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, II
20. Lord, Blacklisted

Notes

If you keep up with this site at all, there probably aren’t a lot of surprises in there. These are all records that have been discussed at great length over the last six months, reviewed, streamed, analyzed, whathaveyou’d all the way. If you don’t believe me, search any of the names. Still, as far as my personal picks go and who I think has crafted something special over the last six months, this feels pretty representative to me. I managed to live for a full week with the list as you see it above, without making changes. That’s usually my standard.

And as always, it’s a combination of what I’ve listened to most and what I feel has had the greatest impact thus far into the year. Between the two, there was little doubt Elder would take the top spot. I’ve probably listened to the All Them Witches record more than anything else this year, including Elder’s Reflections of a Floating World, but the truth is the Massachusetts trio are working at a level of their own making in terms of their sonic progression, and that they’ve emerged as one of if not the most pivotal American underground heavy rock bands going. The situation was much the same when they put out Lore in 2015 and claimed that year’s top-album spot, but even since then their sound has expanded and they continue to demand ultimate respect.

As for the All Them Witches album — absolute stunner. The increased depth of their arrangements on Sleeping Through the War came at no expense of songwriting, resulting in ultra-memorable material that could either wash over you with melody or shove you out of your seat with the force of its rhythm, and that band continues to be a treasure. No other way to put it.

From there, we move into what I think are the four best heavy psych offerings of 2017 so far, with Samsara Blues Experiment, Colour Haze, Atavismo and Sun Blood Stories, in that order. Samsara Blues Experiment’s return has been a joy to witness and their first album in four years lived up to the occasion. Colour Haze expanded the palette from their last album with In Her Garden and proved as immersive as always. I’m still getting to know that record. Atavismo’s second full-length upped the progressive influences without losing fluidity or cohesion in songwriting, and Sun Blood Stories’ hypnotic shoegaze offered expansive thrills and a sense of varied, beautifully crafted exploration.

A pair of exciting young bands thereafter in Colorado’s Cloud Catcher, whose boogie is right-on-right-on and whose development continues to hold much potential, and Vokonis, whose crushing riffs on The Sunken Djinn were met with an increased focus on structure and tightening of approach that maximized overall impact. The Obsessed’s unexpected return could only be called a triumphant one, and Mothership’s third long-player found them working in a richer sense of mood than previous outings, adding yet more character to what was still a blast of good-time rock and roll. They round out the top 10 in full command of who they are as players.

Granted, the next 10 releases are kind of all over the place, but I think that just shows the overarching quality of work being done across the board. From Spaceslug’s melodic stoner-psych to Electric Moon’s studio return — so, so, so good — to Alunah’s continued growth in nature-worshiping heavy and Arc of Ascent’s comebacker of rolling heavy riffs and metaphysical themes, there’s been so much to take in. I especially like the pairing of Rozamov and Siena Root as a sense of scope for 2017 so far; the former being so dark and crushing and the latter who lived up to calling their record A Dream of Lasting Peace. You want to know both ends of the spectrum? There they are.

PH’s Eternal Hayden gets a nod for its effective reset of the context of that band following the completion of their trilogy of albums, and Geezer’s Psychoriffadelia might have been something of a tossoff in the making, but the level at which the New York trio jams nonetheless assures it a spot here. Plus, a Nazareth cover. So duh.

I couldn’t help but include T.G. Olson’s Foothills Before the Mountain on the list as the Across Tundras frontman creeps closer to a full-band sound for his solo work, adding to his acoustic singer-songwriter foundations, and the crush of Telekinetic Yeti’s post-Sleep riffing evoked so many nods I thought they deserved one here as well. Placing The Devil and the Almighty Blues was difficult, but especially after seeing them live, I felt like I had a better idea of where they were coming from on II, so knew they belonged somewhere, even if it was tucked in at the end. And of course, Lord. Always killer, always experimenting, always chaotic. Never have grind and sludge sounded more cohesive together. They’re the band I wish Soilent Green had become, and yes, I mean that.

Honorable Mention

Let’s do another 10 releases, shall we?

21. Beastmaker, Inside the Skull
22. Arduini/Balich, Dawn of Ages
23. Brume, Rooster
24. John Garcia, The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues
25. Six Sigma, Tuxedo Brown
26. Demon Head, Thunder on the Fields
27. Summoner, Beyond the Realm of Light
28. Steak, No God to Save
29. Six Organs of Admittance, Burning the Threshold
30. Dool, Here Now There Then

And just to make the point, here are even more worthy of note in this space:

Elbrus, Elbrus
Cortez, The Depths Below
Ecstatic Vision, Raw Rock Fury
Child, Blueside (a December 2016 release, maybe, but I think the vinyl was this year, so whatever)
Pallbearer, Heartless
Spidergawd, IV
Green Meteor, Consumed by a Dying Sun
Loss, Horizonless

There are of course other names as well that come to mind. Like I said at the outset, it’s a crowded field: Hymn, Arbouretum, Green Meteor, REZN, Demon Head, Galley Beggar, Devil’s Witches, Orango, Heavy Traffic, Coltsblood, Mt. Mountain, Vokonis, Solstafir, High Plains, on and on.

Also worth highlighting several really, really quality live records that have surfaced so far this year. I didn’t really know where to place them among the other studio offerings, but they deserve note for sure:

Causa Sui, Live in Copenhagen
Death Alley, Live at Roadburn
My Sleeping Karma, Mela Ananda – Live
Enslaved, Roadburn Live

More to Come

Of course, we’re still just barely halfway through the year, so keep on the lookout for more to follow. If you didn’t see my massive 200+ albums to watch for list in January, it has many that have come out and many more still to surface, but here are a few highlight names as well that you’re going to want to keep an eye on in the months ahead:

Queens of the Stone Age
Radio Moscow
The Atomic Bitchwax
Kadavar
Ufomammut
The Midnight Ghost Train
Moon Rats
Clamfight
Egypt
the Melvins
Bison Machine
Seedy Jeezus
High on Fire
Monster Magnet

Thanks for Reading

Before I check out, I’d like to give special mention to Lo-Pan’s In Tensions EP as the best short release of the year thus far. Along with EPs from Godhunter, Kings Destroy, Solace and Shroud Eater, it has assured those seeking a quick fix are handed their ass in return for asking.

Well, that’s about where I’m at with it. As per usual, I’m sure there are things I forgot and/or left off here, because I’m human and whatnot, so please if you have something to add, feel free to do so in the comments so long as you can keep it cordial. No name calling. I’m sensitive and you’ll ruin my whole day. I mean that.

Thanks again for being a part of this and here’s to an excellent rest of 2017.

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Six Dumb Questions with Godhunter

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on June 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

godhunter codex narco lineup

As a basic matter of course, I respect the hell out of Godhunter guitarist David Rodgers. Originally based in Tucson, Arizona, and relocated to Washington, the six-stringer does admirable, passionate work not only in his own band, but in promoting the output of others like CHRCH, Methra, Rozamov and Fuzz Evil (among others) through his label, Battleground Records, and has helmed impossibly righteous festivals in the form of the Southwest Terror Fest, the Austin Terror Fest at SXSW and the Northwest Terror Fest, which is next week in Seattle with Coven and Cephalic Carnage at the top of the bill. He’s someone who pulls no punches in letting you know what he thinks and someone who backs up his beliefs with genuine, real-world effort. The only reason I’ve never interviewed him before in this space is because I was kind of worried he’d tell me to fuck off and call me a lightweight, as he’d be well within his rights to do to at least 90 percent of everybody.

The occasion this time, however, was too much to let slip. Last month, through Battleground and Baby Tooth Records, Godhunter released their latest EP, Codex Narco (review here), a bold and ranging piece of stylistic experimentation and atmospheric post-sludge that it basically took the group falling apart after a 2015 tour alongside Destroyer of Light (live review here) to come up with. With Rodgers, guitarist/keyboardist Matthew Davis and drummer Andy Kratzenberg bringing in an array of guests including CHRCH vocalist Eva RoseJosh Thorne of Thorne on “Like Glass Under Black Fingernails” and “Cocaine Witches and Lysergic Dreams,” and Methra‘s Nick GenitalsDemon Lung‘s Adam Sage and Mountaineer‘s Clayton Bartholomew on the Tegan and Sara cover “Walking with a Ghost,” Godhunter construct a sound distinct from anything they’ve done before, whether it was on the 2015 Endsville split with Destroyer of Light (discussed here) or their 2014 LP, City of Dust (review here).

In the Q&A below, Rodgers describes the circumstances that brought Codex Narco to fruition and what the EP’s shift in sound may or may not mean for Godhunter going forward, as well as the possibility of future touring and the complexities of coordinating so many contributions outside the core members of the band. Thanks to him for taking the time when he’s no doubt swamped in Northwest Terror Fest business, and double-thanks for not telling me to fuck off, which again, he very easily could’ve done.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:

godhunter codex narco

Six Dumb Questions with Godhunter

What happened to the band after the tour with Destroyer of Light in 2015? What was the lineup situation and how did you come to realize you wanted Godhunter to continue and in this form?

Well, the simplest explanation is that life happened. Life is never that simple though. So Matt had moved to Georgia before Endsville even came out, because he works for a huge tech company so they moved him out there and set him up with a house and such, so with his family that was a no-brainer for him. The Endsville sessions was the last time Matt was actually in the same studio or jam room with us. I moved to Washington State before Endsville was released as well, so things were already splintering before we left for that tour. We basically put together a tour set of songs that we could do without Matt, which was harder than it sounds because he plays on every song we’ve ever released except the very first Methra split.

When we got home from tour, both Dick and Jake had family stuff staring them in the face. Dick had a new baby, so it was time to get serious about being a dad and Jake got engaged and got a real job and just decided that touring wasn’t in the picture for him anymore. Let’s be serious here, touring is expensive as fuck and it breaks bands all the time. I can’t blame anyone for wanting to keep their life on track. So we all amicably decided that was the end of that formation of Godhunter.

A couple of months go by, and we (Matt and myself, but mostly Matt) had started working on a couple songs for Josh Thorne. Originally they were going to be Thorne releases, with us doing the programming and such. Matt is a fucking wizard at computers and has done remixes (he did an amazing one for Lament Cityscape) and such before, so it was right up his alley. Once the songs started developing though, we kind of fell in love with them. We started tweaking them here and there. More guitars here. More bass here. It got to a point where they started sounding like electronic Godhunter songs, which is when the proverbial lights came on and we realized we were writing Codex Narco.

It seems like the interludes could have come from studio experiments, but in terms of “Like Glass Under Black Fingernails” and “Cocaine Witches and Lysergic Dreams,” how were those pieced together?

The writing process was very long, for us, because this was the first time we weren’t all in the same room writing together. We’ve never been a band that sends stuff to each other on the internet and shit. Always been more of a hands-on thing. But once we had a stable foundation for those two songs, we just started adding layers and depth using electronic drums and such until we had a “demo” version of them. That’s what we took to the studio and replaced everything electronic with real instruments. We re-amped all the guitars and bass as well.

Then while we were in the studio working on those two, we added all the other stuff around those two main songs. Andy (our drummer) is also in Methra with Nick, and they wrote the intro and outro songs and “Unarmed Combat” and recorded those parts while we were doing the drums and guitars on the other songs. We went into it with the idea of just recording a bunch of stuff we had and then piecing it together afterwards into the EP. I can’t say that we went into this recording process knowing exactly how everything would go. We really wanted to experiment and ignore a lot of the methods we had used on every release before this.

Tell me about assembling the lineup for Codex Narco, bringing in Josh Thorne and Nick Genitals and all the guest spots. When was the decision made to reach outside the core lineup of the band for contributions, what brought it on, and what went into it logistically in terms of making it happen?

This is where it gets really funny. At some point in the recording process, I picked up a serious Steely Dan habit. I have always loved that band, but for some reason I got reinterested and really dove into the band and some of their processes and was reading old interviews and such where they described how they would write the songs, but then get better musicians to play the parts on the album. Neither myself, Matt or Andy can sing like Eva or Josh can. And none of us can play bass anything like Adam does. We don’t have that ear to find those chimey post-rock chords and accents that Clay does. But what we can do is send each of them the songs and ask them to play on them, which is exactly what we did.

Reaching out was easy, as I’ve known Josh since he was a teenager, I grew up with Adam back in New York, Clay is one of my good friends and obviously Eva is on my record label. Nick was the first on board though, as he had already stepped into the bass position in the band, as at the time we were planning on doing some touring (more on that later though…) after the album release. Nick‘s always up for whatever crazy idea I give him anyway. From there it was just a matter of sending the individuals their parts and letting them record in their studios of choice. They sent us back the tracks, and we mixed them in. Pretty simple, all in all, just a timely process.

Where did the Tegan and Sara cover come from? Was there a particular reason that you picked “Walking with a Ghost” to take on?

We’ve always loved cover songs. We’ve covered The Beastie Boys and Nirvana in the past. Once we had the skeletons of this EP built, we needed one more song to round it out, so we figured a cover song would be good for that. For the longest time it was going to be “You Keep Me Hanging On” by The Supremes. That song just has an amazing downbeat push to it that we felt would translate really well to our style and we may still do it one day for the fuck of it. I was just driving down to work one day listening to Tegan and Sara, and I was playing So Jealous, which is one of their older albums, and “Walking with a Ghost” came on and it was like lightning striking. I knew that was going to be the cover song.

I sent it to Matt, who was building all the sound beds in Georgia and I honestly thought he would veto it since we were already elbow deep in the Supremes song but he totally agreed and said it was the right choice so we went with it. It’s a goddamn perfect pop song and so incredibly catchy, so the guitar parts are done in our tunings, but played in the actual key of the song, so it still has a super poppy feel to it. Kinda pop-punkish. We actually had no idea who was going to do the vocals until really late in the game when the Methra album came out and when I heard Nick do the clean vocals on that album, I knew he had to do the vocals on “Walking with a Ghost.” Again, I thought he would say no, but he was totally into it. I love it when my band does whatever silly shit I come up with. Usually turns out fucking great, like this cover.

Codex Narco as a whole represents a pretty significant shift in sound for Godhunter. Do you see the band continuing down this path, or will future releases head elsewhere? Can you talk about what drove you to explore different textures in sound with this material, what inspired you emotionally and sonically?

You know, I have no idea at all what we will do next, to be honest. We’ve never really stuck to a script. Each release is somewhat different than the previous one and we’ve done some really out there stuff before. I know what we are working on right now, and it’s nothing like Codex Narco and nothing like anything previous to that. I think at this point in the band’s evolution, it’s really turned into a vanity project if you will. We’re going to write a lot of weird shit that we’ve always wanted to do and put it out under the Godhunter name because we’re such a small band that it’s not like we’re going to lose a huge fanbase. We’re going to put out stuff that we like. We hope people like it too. If not, cool, there are a lot of other bands out there.

As far as what drives us to explore new sounds, well, that’s just us. At every point of Godhunter it’s always been filled with people with wildly varying likes and tastes as far as music. The more influences you mix up, the weirder shit you end up with. Does the world really need another band trying to sound like Master of Reality or Blues for the Red Sun? In my opinion, the answer to that is fuck no. What we do need is more bands willing to stretch some boundaries and wear their musical heart on their sleeve and show us what they really care about. I know way too many dudes with huge beards and full sleeves and leather vests that love Carly Rae Jepsen. It’s okay, boys. Come to the dork side.

But to the point at hand, Codex Narco is FFO: Jan Hammer soundtracks, Killing Joke, Late-‘90s/early-2000s alt-pop.

Will Godhunter tour again in any form? Any other plans or closing words you want to mention?

I really doubt Godhunter will tour again. We had a bunch of stuff lined up for this year, including a US tour and a couple festival appearances, but once we started adding up the costs of flying people to Tucson for rehearsals and extended absences from good jobs, reality struck and we all realized that this band is probably never going to make enough money for us to slog it out in a van anymore. We’re all really comfortable with where we are in life now too. So in that regard, Codex Narco is sort of an experiment for us. Can we release an album without touring and will people care? Jury is still out on that, but overall people seem stoked about the album so we’re not really feeling any pull to go back to old methods right now.

On a personal level, I run Battleground Records and because of that my outlook on touring has drastically changed over the last few years. I used to think that bands could release a good album, hit the road with it, and win the country over. I think that method is outdated now. The digital world has really changed everything. Now, I think you can release an album, then wait and see if it hits. If it does, and the money is there, then go out on tour without losing your ass on a whim. I think the days of bands coming home broke from tour should be over and if anyone is still doing that, you’re wasting your precious fucking time. Throw that shit on Bandcamp and send it to some blogs and if it’s worth it, you’ll know soon enough. If it doesn’t hit, go back and write something better. Does this mean less bands might be on tour? Yes, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing either.

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Review & Full EP Stream: Godhunter, Codex Narco

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 18th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

godhunter codex narco

[Click play above to stream Godhunter’s Codex Narco EP in full. It’s out this Friday, May 19, on Battleground Records and Baby Tooth Records with sale proceeds going to Planned Parenthood.]

Tucson, Arizona’s Godhunter have always had a violent and/or aggressive edge to their approach, but most of what they’re demolishing on their latest EP, Codex Narco, are the expectations listeners might have of them. Delivered through Battleground Records and Baby Tooth Records with cover art by Bailey Illustration as the result of a few tumultuous years on the part of the once-sludge metallers, Codex Narco only tops out at about 21 minutes, and as it moves between the intro “A Dread of Some Strange Impending Doom” and outro “Distant Fading Screams of a Dying World,” rest assured, the fare is still suitably dark, but the band nonetheless hugely expand their sonic palette even from what it was two years ago on their Endsville split with Destroyer of Light (discussed here), let alone on their prior 2014 full-length, City of Dust (review here), which remains their only long-player to-date. They were a six-piece at that time and have since pared back to a core trio of guitarist/sampler David Rodgers, guitarist/keyboardist Matthew Davis and drummer Andy Kratzenberg, all of whom are spread out geographically.

The fact that Codex Narco‘s tracks were written via internet exchange between these three might ultimately be a factor in the aesthetic outcome of the EP, but that’s not to discount guest appearances from CHRCH vocalist Eva Rose on the aforementioned opening/closing pair, or Josh Thorne of Thorne on “Like Glass Under Black Fingernails” and centerpiece “Cocaine Witches and Lysergic Dreams,” or Methra‘s Nick Genitals on the penultimate Tegan and Sara cover, “Walking with a Ghost,” which here becomes a blown-out vision of doomwave with additional guitar from Clayton Bartholomew (Mountaineer) and bass from Demon Lung‘s Adam Sage. Nick Genitals contributes bass and guitar as well to the opener and closer and to the ambient “Unarmed Combat,” and Sage handles low end on “Like Glass Under Black Fingernails,” “Cocaine Witches and Lysergic Dreams” and “Walking with a Ghost” while Bartholomew also plays guitar on “Like Glass Under Black Fingernails,” “Our Blood is Poison” and “Cocaine Witches and Lysergic Dreams.”

One imagines it was quite a chain of emails by the time these songs actually started coming together, or at very least a barrage of Dropbox notifications, but however it was done, the wash that Codex Narco creates ties together this dizzying interchange of personnel, and with a headphone-ready depth of mix unlike anything Godhunter have produced before, these tracks offer atmospheric weight to coincide with their sheer tonal density. Interplay between shorter pieces like the intro and outro, the sample-topped rumble and feedback of “Our Blood is Poison” and the bass-and-drum “Unarmed Combat,” which seems to recount for 100 seconds a military experiment drugging soldiers and finding them refusing to train, the two longer tracks “Like Glass Under Black Fingernails” (5:53) and “Cocaine Witches and Lysergic Dreams” (5:45), and the unabashedly poppy “Walking with a Ghost” (2:31) ensure a steady flow from one piece to the next, and but for its runtime, Codex Narco could just as easily pass as an LP as an EP in terms of how its component pieces feed into and off of each other.

godhunter codex narco lineup

Davis‘ work on synth and keys becomes a huge factor in tying the release together as a whole, whether he’s playing to the post-punk chug and hook of “Walking with a Ghost” or adding electronica-style tension beneath the massive and blasted buzz tones of “Cocaine Witches and Lysergic Dreams.” No doubt a mastering job by the esteemed Brad Boatright had something to do with bringing the various tracks in line as well, but the handling of the synth and keys in the mix alongside the guitar and bass casts a scope behind the trades between screams and clean vocals on “Like Glass Under Black Fingernails” that proves as immersive as it is aggressive, and where in the past Godhunter have been driven to confront, to attack, Codex Narco feels more inwardly-directed as an examination, more personal, and thus more likely to draw listeners along with it on its brief but substantial path.

It’s the kind of release for which reviewers might generally fall over themselves to invent descriptors — which is an impulse that “doomwave” above notwithstanding I’m going to try to resist — but when one sees vague-eries like “post-sludge,” “sludgegaze,” “doomtronic” and so on, it’s a sign that at very least Godhunter are doing something of their own and something original, which on Codex Narco more than ever, they definitely are. RodgersDavis and Kratzenberg haven’t by any means abandoned their aggro tendencies or their underlying sense of purpose in creation — sales of the EP benefit Planned Parenthood and an anti-suicide video for “Walking with a Ghost” is reportedly in production — but they’ve successfully achieved a stylistic turn that even for those who’ve experienced their various experiments on collaborations with Secrets of the Sky (review here) and Amigo the Devil will no doubt prove a surprise. Still, even if one approaches Codex Narco anticipating the band Godhunter were on City of Dust, they’ve always warranted and encouraged a kind of open-mindedness that should make it relatively easy for listeners to get on board with the moves they have made and may or may not continue to make.

When it comes to the aftermath of this EP, that’s really the big question: whether Codex Narco, with its slew of guests and lung-collapsing soundscapes, is a sign of the future direction for Godhunter or a one-off experiment. Given the accomplishment and the fluidity of these songs, I’m inclined to hope for the former, but less than ever does it seem reasonable to predict what the band might do doing forward. Codex Narco is a quick listen, but it presents a huge shift in method and practice for Godhunter, and that’s as much palpable in the audio as it is in the context in which the EP arrives. What has remained most constant about them, however, is the boldness with which they’ve undertaken these changes, and that seems to be the thread that unites all of their work: They’re going to do what they’re going to do, on their own terms, without compromise. Whatever else might swirl around it, righteousness persists.

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