Review & Track Premiere: Slomatics, Futurians: Live at Roadburn

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 12th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

slomatics-futurians-live-at-roadburn

[Click play above to stream the premiere of ‘Tramontane’ from Slomatics’ Futurians: Live at Roadburn. Album is out next month on Burning World/Roadburn Records with preorders starting today.]

Look. Sometimes in life you just have to do yourself a favor, and I have no problem admitting that’s my motivation behind reviewing the Futurians: Live at Roadburn release by Belfast, Northern Ireland, trio Slomatics. No problem whatsoever. I was fortunate enough to bear witness to earlier this year to the set captured at Roadburn 2017 in the Green Room of the 013 in Tilburg, the Netherlands, and as Roadburn Records/Burning World Records gears up to release it to the wider public, I feel no shame in being as stoked on it as I am. Does that make me impartial to the experience or the release itself? Fuck no. Do I every now and again enjoy approaching an album with unmitigated joy and hoping to convey some small sense of that revelry in what still might ostensibly pass as a “review?” Yeah. Every now and again. This is one of those cases.

So if you want a harsh critique of Slomatics‘ set minute-by-minute, or if you want some bland judgment about the level of their play overall throughout the eight-song/42-minute pummelfest of a set, feel free to look elsewhere. For me, much like seeing the three-piece of guitarists David Majury and Chris Couzens and drummer/vocalist/synthesist Marty Harvey taking that stage in the first place, listening to Futurians: Live at Roadburn is a complete pleasure, front to back from the “Good evening Roadburn!” that Harvey tosses in four minutes into “Electric Breath” to the guest vocal appearance from Conan frontman Jon Davis on the finale “March of the 1,000 Volt Ghost.”

Those two cuts also represent the divide between the latest Slomatics studio LP, last year’s stellar Future Echo Returns (review here), and their 2005 debut, Flooding the Weir, and though the last several years especially have brought them to prominence in greater underground consciousness thanks in part to a 2011 split with Conan (review here) and the aforementioned Davis‘ work promoting them through his Black Bow Records imprint, citing (correctly) their influence on his work, etc., the set as a whole basks in the fullness of Slomatics‘ discography, with material from 2014’s Estron (review here) like “And Yet it Moves,” “Return to Kraken” and “Tramontane” from 2012’s preceding A Hocht, “Ulysses My Father” from the late-2014 split with Holly Hunt, and “Running Battle,” also taken from the debut.

It’s a lot of ground to cover and not a lot of time to do it, but Slomatics, who’ve been proffering tonal demolition since 2004, are well up to the task. Still, given that Future Echo ReturnsEstron and A Hocht comprise a thematic and narrative trilogy — the storyline of which is still unclear, though we know that with “Supernothing” and “Into the Eternal” capping the latest record, the main character seems to at least be resigned to death if not actually dead — it’s something of a surprise they’d dip back to Flooding the Weir or the split at all, though one can hardly argue with the flow they set up across the eight tracks of Futurians: Live at Roadburn. It is a total cliché to say of heavy two-guitar bands without bass that they’re missing nothing for low end — and frankly, kind of a shitty thing to say about bassists in general, who add to the dynamic of a group even when the tonal space can be otherwise filled via effects or various methods of amplification, running guitars through bass heads, and so on — but with just Majury and Couzens as the string section, Slomatics‘ material is united regardless of its source by the unbridled weight of their distortion.

slomatics at roadburn photo jj koczan

I said in watching them at the time that they were the heaviest band I’d heard so far over the weekend. They would turn out to be the heaviest band — period — that I’d see at Roadburn this year, and that comes through in the massive roll of “Electric Breath” and the gallop of “Return to Kraken” alike, and as it did on Estron, “And Yet it Moves” lives up to its title — perhaps even more with the energy of the live delivery behind it. Indeed, one of the greatest assets that emerges from the band across Futurians: Live at Roadburn is that energy, and while my hearing it in the recording of “Tramontane” and “Supernothing” and “Ulysses My Father” may be due in part to having stood in front of the stage as it was happening, the vitality of their execution and how simply glad Slomatics were to be there comes through just the same and I believe is palpable whether a given listener saw them or not. Textual evidence? Go back to Harvey engaging the crowd in “Electric Breath,” or as they close out the set with “March of the 1,000 Volt Ghost.” The trio seem no less thrilled to be onstage than the cheering crowd is to have them.

And in kind with the bludgeoning, crushing tonality they bring to bear in the material — recorded in the Roadburnian tradition by Astrosoniq drummer Marcel van de Vondervoort and his team — it’s that spirit of joy that most pervades the release. There have been plenty of Live at Roadburn albums over the years, which is a credit in no small part to van de Vondervoort, and while some simply offer a glimpse of a professionally captured stop on a tour, or a curated setlist, whatever it might have been for a given band in a given year, with Slomatics, it was the show itself and the obvious extra effort put into the set that made it something special.

In other words, playing Roadburn clearly meant something to HarveyCouzens and Majury, and accordingly, it meant more to the audience to see it as well. I can’t speak for everyone who was there and I wouldn’t try to, but I know that for me, Slomatics hit on a particular vibe and sense of communion that in my experience only the very best of fully-bought-in Roadburn performances are able to hone. Thus it seems only more fitting that it should be preserved not only so that those who were there can have it for nostalgic purposes and the band can keep the momentum of their growth going post-Future Echo Returns, but in order to document a singular level of expression as a template for others to hopefully follow in years and fests to come.

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Slomatics to Release Futurians: Live at Roadburn in October

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 19th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

slomatics (photo jj koczan)

How good were Slomatics at Roadburn 2017? Oh, they were mighty good indeed. All the more reason to put a note in your phone or mark your calendar or do whatever it is to do to remind yourself about shit — maybe just preorder it when that goes live on Sept. 12? — that the Northern Irish riff-crushing trio will issue their set from this year’s fest in Tilburg this October via Burning World/Roadburn Records under the title of Futurians: Live at Roadburn. I’m telling you, I was there. It was awesome enough that when they were done I jumped on stage and took the photo above. I never do that kind of extroverted shit. Usually my ass is hiding in the back, pronto.

Point is Slomatics killed it on this one, as they will, and whether you were there to catch it or not, keep your eye out for Futurians: Live at Roadburn because the proof, as the saying goes, is in the pudding. The riffy, riffy pudding.

The PR wire fills in on the particulars:

slomatics futurians live at roadburn

ROADBURN RECORDS TO RELEASE SLOMATICS FUTURIANS: LIVE AT ROADBURN

Slomatics will release Futurians: Live At Roadburn on vinyl and digital this october on Roadburn Records.

The band commented on their performance on the legendary festival beforehand:

“To say we’re excited about playing Roadburn would be an understatement,” says guitarist David Majury. “It’s funny how something like a music festival can take on almost mythical proportions, but if any festival has done so it’s definitely Roadburn! We’ve had an association with the festival through our records being on Burning World Records, so it feels good to be finally hauling our fuzz pedals over to Tilburg.”

With Majury and Chris Couzens on guitar and drummer / vocalist Marty Harvey also handling synth, Slomatics defy logic with their sheer amount of low-end output. As the follow-up to 2014’s Estron and 2012’s A Hocht, Future Echo Returns (2016) was the third in a trilogy of albums, rounding out an extended story that the band purposefully leaves open for interpretation.

“I’m delighted we’ll be joining the 2017 edition of Roadburn,” echoes Couzens. “We’ve seen some incredible performances in Tilburg over the years and been blown away how the locals embrace the hordes of music fans that descend on them. It’ll be fantastic to join that special atmosphere as a performer in April!”

* 300 copies on clear vinyl worldwide
* pre-sale starts september 12th 2017 on BurningWorldrecords.com

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Slomatics, “And Yet it Moves” live at Roadburn 2017

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Slomatics, Future Echo Returns: Into the Eternal (Plus Track Premiere)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 29th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

slomatics future echo returns

[Click play above to stream a premiere of ‘Supernothing’ from Slomatics’ new album, Future Echo Returns, out Sept. 2 on Black Bow Records.]

One can only wonder if it felt like going home when Belfast’s Slomatics showed up at Skyhammer Studio to record their fifth album, Future Echo Returns, with producer Chris Fielding. The fit between engineer and band is remarkable, and in addition, it furthers an alliance between the Northern Irish sans-bass double-guitar trio and Fielding‘s own outfit, Conan, with whom Slomatics released a split in 2011 (prior to Fielding joining; review here), and whose Jon Davis co-owns Skyhammer and runs Black Bow Records, through which Future Echo Returns is released. The two acts share a decent amount of common intent, both geared toward consuming tones and lumbering rhythm, and Conan has acknowledged at several points that Slomatics — who made their debut in 2005 — were an influence.

That’s audible throughout Future Echo Returns as it was through its predecessor, 2014’s Estron (review here), but brought out even more through the Skyhammer recording, though Slomatics continue their own sonic development throughout the included seven tracks/40 minutes as well, bringing a spacious feel to go with all that crushing guitar via keyboard and synth flourish and by pushing forward with a melodic range that so much stood the last record out from its surroundings, as one can hear on the harmonized album-apex “Supernothing,” as well as in the key work on the earlier “Electric Breath,” which follows the rolling instrumental opener “Estronomicon” to begin a flow that continues all the way through 10-minute closer “Into the Eternal.”

The link between “Estronomicon” and the title of the prior outing is no accident either. Rather, after Estron and the record before it, 2012’s A HochtFuture Echo Returns is the third in something of a narrative trilogy, recently described by guitarist Chris Couzens — joined in the band by guitarist David Marjury and drummer/vocalist Marty Harvey — as a kind of moment of resignation or acceptance of one’s fate. Clearly the end of a story, but still vague enough to be left open to interpretation. That actually suits the vibe of Future Echo Returns, which only seems to offer more to dig into on repeat listens, and which weaves into and out of songs with the fluidity of book chapters so that “Estronomicon” builds into the start of “Electric Breath,” which cuts off so the chugging opening riff of “In the Grip of Fausto” can pick up on the beat, and so on.

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Having an instrumental opener nearly five minutes long also has a hypnotic effect on the listener, so that when the vocals kick in on “Electric Breath,” it’s a readjustment of head space, and that feels purposeful as well. Slomatics are toying with their audience somewhat, and at this point they have the command to do it. “Electric Breath” and “In the Grip of Fausto” both offer choice hooks, and the ease with which the band shifts into different methods of expression becomes a big part of Future Echo Returns‘ personality, as shown already with the key-laden ending to “Electric Breath,” and in the move from “In the Grip of Fausto” to the quiet atmospheric guitar and synth of “Ritual Beginnings,” a six-minute instrumental that develops some movement within its ambient context but departs boldly from the heft that surrounds it on all sides.

Still brooding and foreboding as it starts to thud into its last minute, “Ritual Beginnings” is the presumed closer of side A (also the CD/digital centerpiece), and leads into the crashing “Rat Chariot,” which may or may not feature guest vocal spots from both Fielding and Jon Davis in its second half, introduced by a break from the roll soon enough to resume and hit a particularly memorable peak that keeps going even as it fades out into the sudden jolt at the start of “Supernothing.” Again, the penultimate track on Future Echo Returns is also the apex, while “Into the Eternal” comes across as something of a denouement for this series of three albums, and it’s also the most melodically resonant chorus they offer, Harvey‘s voice harmonized in post-Floor form, as opposed to some of the Black Cobra-ish style on “In the Grip of Fausto” or “Rat Chariot.”

It’s a moment of arrival, and very much sounds like it. A slower progression only enhances the sense of grandeur, and though it’s only four minutes long, “Supernothing” leaves one of the album’s most lasting impressions, complemented by “Into the Eternal” after it, which picks up (again, on the beat) with an initial stretch of choral keys leading to a mostly instrumental lumber that moves through its runtime with similar tonal entrancement as “Estronomicon” but is airier in its midsection guitar lead and in some swaying non-lyric vocals (also harmonized) that reinforce the feeling of resignation the song is intended to convey. It’s not a riotous, unhinged finish at all, and neither is it intended to be. It’s the graceful conclusion of a longer arc that has covered the last four-plus years, and if Future Echo Returns is really the final installment of that story, “Into the Eternal” makes for a gorgeous finish. The sense of continuity it brings is all the more appropriate considering the breadth it shows and how it ties the whole album together, completing a triumph writ large over the entire span.

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Elder Druid Post Video for “The Warlock”; New EP out Now

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 9th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

elder druid (Photo by James Hughes)

Belfast five-piece Elder Druid released their The Attic Sessions four-tracker in the early going of 2016. Presumably that’s a change of venue for the heavy grooving outfit, as their two prior 2015 singles, “Otherworld” and “The Ides of March,” were tracked under the banner of “Live Loft Sessions,” though I suppose they could’ve just renamed the loft an attic and rolled with it. Rolling is a theme of the EP, as it happens. Shades of early Clutch and Orange Goblin show up in opener “Sellsword,” and the later “Red Priestess” — both titles commonly appearing in the George R.R. Martin pantheon — has a thickness to its double-guitar approach that lends an already heavy progression even more heft.

The band’s first outing, they obviously believe enough in The Attic Sessions enough to give it away as a means to entice listeners to check it out, and it doesn’t take me much more than that, frankly. To further spread the word, they’ve got a new clip for “The Warlock,” which is the longest cut on the EP at 6:31 — “Reigning Hell” rounds out with a sludgier take — that features some basic performance footage outside of the attic, the band spread around in the woods and some burnt out looking spaces as they dig into the track. It’s a kind of basic and encouragingly unpretentious beginning for the group, who got together early in 2015, but working from a place of clear motivation and with an intent toward making themselves heard.

So be it. Find the clip for “The Warlock” below, followed by more info from the band:

Elder Druid, “The Warlock” official video

ANNOUNCEMENT & VIDEO: To celebrate the fact that Elder Druid’s ‘The Attic Sessions’ is now available on Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Amazon Music amongst other online music outlets and streaming services, we’ve released the whole EP on Youtube! Now you can have the Druid with you wherever you are and it’s a pretty damn awesome feeling! Big cheers to everyone for the support. Keep enjoying this Live EP for the moment and keep an eye out for NEW music on the horizons!

The official music video for ‘The Warlock’ from The Attic Sessions Live EP.

Download for FREE @ http://elderdruid.bandcamp.com/album/the-attic-sessions

Filmed and directed by Brandon Kelly.

Massive thanks to Brandon and his crew for making this a possibility.

Gregg McDowell – Vocals
Jake Wallace – Lead Guitar
Mikey Scott – Rhythm Guitar
Dale Hughes – Bass Guitar
Brien Gillen – Drums

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Slomatics Post Video for “Electric Breath”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 18th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

slomatics

Holy crapola is the new Slomatics record good. Like the kind of good where you just throw up your hands and turn up the volume as high as it’ll go and let the tonal wash of the thing take complete hold. Whatever else you happened to be doing at that moment in time? Forget it. For the next 40 minutes, you belong to these riffs. And if riffs were all Future Echo Returns had to offer, well, it would probably be enough, but the album also engages these broad atmospheres, organ and noise and feedback and reverberations coming together to create something that’s as much place as sound. You can hear it in the crush of “Electric Breath,” for which the Belfast trio have a new video, and in how that song fits with the tracks around it, whether that’s preceding instrumental opener “Estronomicon,” which seems to speak directly at the previous album, 2014’s Estron (review here), or the half-speed-BlackCobra push of “In the Grip of Fausto,” which follows.

Slomatics release Future Echo Returns in September through Black Bow Recordings, the imprint helmed by Conan guitarist/vocalist Jon Davis, who also happens to own Skyhammer Studio, where the album was tracked by Chris Fielding (also of Conan). The influence Slomatics, who issued their first album in 2005, must have had on Davis isn’t to be understated, but even here they refuse to be defined solely by assault as the six-minute ambient setpiece “Ritual Beginnings” leads the way with progressive foreboding into the second half of the record. As you can tell, there’s a lot to say about it, and my plan is to have a review up once I’ve had a chance to digest it a little more, but dig into “Electric Breath” below and see if you aren’t convinced. If you’re still reading, I have the feeling you will be.

Go on and have at it:

Slomatics, “Electric Breath” official video

Thanks to the incredibly talented Dermot Faloon for creating the video. Taken from our forthcoming album Future Echo Returns, which is available now for pre-order via Black Bow Records, release date 2nd September.

From the Album: Future Echo Returns.

Released via Black Bow Records Sept 2016

Created by Dermot Faloon.

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Slomatics New Album Future Echo Returns Available to Preorder

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 5th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

slomatics

By the accounts I’ve heard, Belfast’s Slomatics were a highlight of Desertfest London 2016 this past weekend. That’s easy enough to believe. Their 2014 album, Estron (review here), was a tonal admonishment that was an utter joy to receive, and their forthcoming fifth long-player, Future Echo Returns — out in September via Black Bow Records, whose honcho, Jon Davis (also Conan), sat in for a guest vocal spot during the aforementioned London set — continues the thread of progressive melodicism and unrepentantly heavy riffing. Their sound has never wanted for impact, as still-recent Black Bow reissues of their first two albums, 2005’s Flooding the Weir and 2007’s Kalceanna, showed, but to go back and listen to those outings and hear their new stuff and there’s an undeniable sense of growth there as well.

It just so happens that growth hits like a cement block to the face. But in a good way. Sometimes I wonder about these similes…

Black Bow has Future Echo Returns up for preorder now. Album art, info and links follow here:

slomatics future echo return

SLOMATICS – FUTURE ECHO RETURNS

NEW release from Belfast’s own Slomatics. Produced by Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studio (Conan / Electric Wizard / Winterfylleth) and produced by James Plotkin (Khanate / Conan).

Orders ship on the 2nd September 2016.

Whilst the tide has come in and gone out and come in again on the shores of heavy music, Slomatics have patrolled the surf, unmoved by the shifting sands, unflinching in their dedication to tone and riff. True pioneers of what we call sludge and doom, blending elements of psychedelic rock, conjuring images of overgrown celestial bodies marshalled by undiscovered extraterrestrial entities. Name any heavy band from the last ten years and you will find Slomatics as a crucial ingredient in their own primordial soup, whether they are listed as an influence or not. Essential, irreplaceable, impeccable and peerless heavy music. Influenced by the past, here in the present, echoing a vision of the future…

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Slomatics, Estron (2014)

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Slomatics Sign to Black Bow Records; New Album Due in 2016; Reissues Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 9th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

slomatics

There’s good news and then there’s good news. And then, actually, there’s more good news. Belfast tonal architects — tonechitects, if you need the portmanteau — have signed to Jon Davis from Conan‘s Black Bow Records. Makes a ton of sense. Almost too much sense. Davis has sung the band’s praises for years to anyone who will listen, and anyone who’s heard Slomatics and heard Conan can tell you Slomatics were a big influence.

So that’s good news. Then there’s word that Slomatics‘ first two albums, 2005’s Flooding the Weir and 2007’s Kalceanna are being reissued digitally this month. And the really big good news? Slomatics will have a new full-length out in the Spring that will be their fifth record, also on Black Bow. It’s your basic “label signing, old stuff, new stuff” three-pronged approach. Truth be told, though, if you don’t know Slomatics and you’re still reading this, you’ll probably feel better for familiarizing.

Davis announced the signing as follows:

SLOMATICS SIGN TO BLACK BOW RECORDS

Those who know me will know how much of a massive fan I am of the band Slomatics. Back in 2005 I got a copy of Flooding The Weir on cd after being introduced to them by David Andrew Main at D*A*M. They have consistently released amazing and brutal HEAVY music and I’ve been into them ever since.

Now I can call them all good friends, and to cap it all off I am releasing their new album (due out next year) on my label Black Bow Records. Recording will commence in December 2015 and it is due for release in Spring 2016.

Before that I have lined up a digital release of their first two albums namely FLOODING THE WEIR and KALCEANNA. Both of these will be available through all reputable digital outlets from 20th November 2015.

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Slomatics, “Celeste” from Flooding the Weir (2005)

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Quarterly Review: Bubonic Bear, The F.T.W., Seremonia, JPT Scare Band, Libido Fuzz, Dopethrone, The Moth, War Iron, Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters, Red Mess

Posted in Reviews on April 3rd, 2015 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk quarterly review

Here we are, the final day of The Obelisk’s Quarterly Review. I won’t lie and say it’s been easy this whole time, but the challenge has been worth it. Will I do another one? I guess that depends on how backed up records get. Even with all of this, I haven’t managed to fit in everything, so yeah, it doesn’t seem unlikely I’ll wind up with fodder for more of this kind of thing. Once again, not at all a hardship to have people interested enough in having me write about their music to send it to me. Not at all something I’m going to complain about.

Thanks to everyone who’s taken the time to read or share the link or whatnot, and of course to bands and labels for caring enough to send the music.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Bubonic Bear, Shaved Heat

bubonic-bear-shaved-heat

In and out of their three-song Shaved Heat tape in under 10 minutes, one could hardly accuse Philly guitar/drum duo Bubonic Bear of being overly elaborate in their approach, but the tracks, particularly closer “Clean,” drive home their post-hardcore rawness with suitable intensity. No frills, just impact. Vocals are raw shouts and the blue tape, which is limited to 50 copies through Bastard Sloth Records, has a kind of avant garde charm, underground in the house-show sense and mean, mean, mean, but probably nice enough to talk to. “Chlorine,” “Witch Pyle” and “Clean” are arranged shortest to longest, but all three hover around three minutes and tear into frenetic turns and let’s-call-it-spirited pummel. Andrew and Dustin, the pair involved, have a slew of EPs and splits and one full-length under their belt, and their six-plus years together are evident in the sheer fact that they can execute material so chaotic without having it fall apart under their stamping feet.

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The F.T.W., Vendetta Kind of Mood

the-f.t.w.-vendetta-kind-of-mood

From its biker chug to its unabashed confrontationalism and attitude-laced approach to songs like “Who Crowned You King” and “Axe to Grind,” The F.T.W.’s Vendetta Kind of Mood just screams oldschool New York. Not the New York that’s the family-friendly (as long as you’re rich) center of the fashion world, but the New York that was really eager to tell you about how it was going to kick your ass, if not actually do so. The 10-track vinyl self-release is clean in its production and straightforward structurally, but has a gritty undercurrent anyway, showing some thrash (or is that NYHC? So hard to tell sometimes) influence in “Bleed Out” and a bit of rawer punk in “Billy Bats,” though they wait till the closer to actually extract a “Pound of Flesh,” which they slice with a choice solo and some Judas Priest riffing from guitarist TheMajor Nelson, joined in the trio by bassist/vocalist Michael Dolan and drummer Jason Meraz. Something tells me they’re not abbreviating “for the win.”

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Seremonia, Kristalliarkki

seremonia kristalliarkki

Kristalliarkki is the third offering from Finland’s Seremonia on Svart Records, and while all of their albums have thrilled in that quiet, warm-toned, psych-proto-ritual kind of way, the crystal ark is where it’s at. The record lands big with penultimate 14-minute sprawler jam “Kristalliarkki I,” open enough to set down a blanket and have a picnic next to the tree line, but before they get there, the five-piece of vocalist Noora Federley, guitarists Teemu Markkula and Ville Pirinen drummer/flautist Erno Taipale and bassist Ilkka Vekka vibe out fuzzy hypnosis on eight shorter native-language tracks, otherworldly from the word “go” and held together with a glue of ‘70s-style shufflebuzz on “Lusiferin Lapset” and the quick bouncer “Kuolema Voittaa” that beg to be dug on repeat visits. At just 1:14, “Kristalliarkki II” taps punker soul to close out with a sudden finish that leaves one wondering what the hell just happened, and no doubt that’s exactly what Seremonia had in mind.

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Seremonia at Svart Records

JPT Scare Band, Acid Acetate Excursion & Rape of the Titan’s Sirens

jpt scare band acid acetate excursion and rape of the titan's sirens

A twofer! Kansas City acid rockers JPT Scare Band Jeff Littrell (“J”), Paul Grigsby (“P”) and Terry Swope (“T”) – dig into their archival material to couple their first two records, Acid Acetate Excursion and Rape of the Titan’s Sirens, for Ripple Music. Both were recorded in the ‘70s but not released until 1994 and 1998, respectively, and the trio’s blown-out heavy continues to wear its years well, the bluesy fire in Swope’s guitar work leading the way through 81 minutes of long-range jams and classic vibes, still underrated after all these years. The second record has more bite tonally than the first, the recording is rougher, but I won’t take anything away from the force behind the 13-minute “King Rat” from the debut either. Think of it as an archival release more than a reissue, and if you haven’t yet been introduced to JPT Scare Band, think of the vinyl as an educational expense.

JPT Scare Band website

Ripple Music

Libido Fuzz, Kaleido Lumo Age

libido-fuzz-kaleido-lumo-age

Bordeaux trio Libido Fuzz trip out pretty hard on heavy ‘70s influences, but I feel like their Kaleido Lumo Age debut LP (on Pink Tank Records) is all the more praiseworthy for the simple fact that it doesn’t sound like Graveyard. Casting off much of the blues that seems to have afflicted so many the world over, Thibault Guezennec, Pierre-Alexis Mengual and Rory O’Callaghan dip back maybe a couple years before ’71, let’s call it ’68, but filter the Hendrix and The Who influences through modern tonality, which means that a boogier like “Raw Animal” and the proto-stoner shuffle of “Enter the Occult” satisfy in concept and execution. Each of the evident two sides caps with a cut past the eight-minute mark, and both “Redemption of the Bison” and album closer “Haight Ashbury” offer significant heavy psych immersion, though it’s the side B finale that ultimately wins out thanks to its second half journey into noise wash, lysergic swirl, last-minute nod and epilogue of birdsong-esque feedback.

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Libido Fuzz at Pink Tank Records

Dopethrone, Hochelaga

dopethrone hochelaga

Filth-caked Montreal trio Dopethrone eat crust and shit riffs on their Totem Cat-released fourth record, Hochelaga, coating themselves in backpatch-worthy tone and throat-searing screams that would do Bongzilla proud. Weedian scummery through and through. Save for “Dry Hitter,” each of Hochelaga’s seven tracks starts with a sample, as if to emphasize the utter stoner fuckall with which Dopethrone – guitarist/vocalist Vincent, bassist Vyk and drummer Borman – execute their rolling grooves and lumbering viciousness once it kicks in. “Sludgekicker,” “Vagabong” and “Riff Dealer” tell the tale, and the record’s 40 minutes play out in largely unipolar but universally righteous fashion, “Scum Fuck Blues” summing up the ethic nicely with the line, “Smoke, drink, die.” Dopethrone make a show of their rawness, but Hochelaga’s fullness of tone and clarity of aesthetic speak to an underlying sense of knowing what they’re doing, and a record this cohesive doesn’t happen by accident, much as it might be telling you otherwise. That doesn’t mean they’re not also high as hell, just that they can keep it together.

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The Moth, And Then Rise

the moth and then rise

A presumed sequel to their 2013 debut, They Fall, Hamburg trio The Moth‘s sophomore full-length, And Then Rise, pulls off heavy rock ethics with a heavy metal sense of purpose and basks in an overarching tension throughout its nine tracks. Fast or slow, doomed or thrashing, cuts like “Battle is Over” and “Travel Light” carry a progressive feel to match their hooks, later doomers like “Slowly to Die” and closer “Fire” – which hides a bonus track in its span – holding onto the tightness even as the relinquish in terms of pacing. Dark atmospherically but brazenly intricate, the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Freden, bassist/vocalist Cécile and drummer Tiffy are never showy or putting on a technical clinic, but everything seems to be geared toward the purpose of enhancing the songs, which of course is the ideal. Because the sound is so condensed, it might take a couple listens for And Then Rise to sink in – not saying the chug of “Last Times” doesn’t also have immediate appeal – but The Moth’s genre-bending compositions prove worth the active engagement.

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War Iron, Precession of the Equinoxes

war iron precession of the equinoxes

I’m pretty sure War Iron could play fast and it would still sound slow. They don’t really try it. Deep, deep low end is cut through by indecipherable-but-get-their-point-across-anyway screams on the Northern Irish four-piece’s third album, Precession of the Equinoxes, which plods out a grueling extremity of doom across its four included tracks, the shortest of which is the 7:37 “Summon Demon Scream the Abyss,” a harsh ritual of sonic heft and disaffection well met by its compatriots, from the churning opener “Bludgeon Lord,” to the title-track – which actually does up the pace somewhat, relatively speaking (and yes, it still sounds slow), and only temporarily – which crushes hopes and eardrums alike leading into the closer “From Napalm Altar,” a final affirmation of the deathly miseries at heart in War Iron’s approach, vocalist Baggy going high-low with screams and growls over the Ross’ guitar, Dave’s bass and Marty’s drums. It is a fearsome and challenging listen.

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Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters, Earth Hog

chubby-thunderous-bad-kush-masters-earth-hog

Guitarist/vocalist Owen Carty, formerly of underappreciated, coulda-been-contender sludge rockers Dopefight, lends his riffy services to the cumbersomely-named trio Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters (also stylized all-lowercase), who make their debut with the self-released five-song Earth Hog EP. Bassist Will Hart and drummer Mark Buckwell swing heavy and land hard on the opening title-track, and there’s not much letup from there, wah bass and cowbell leading to some fervent stomp in the second half of “Chopsticks and Bad Meatballs,” which starts out as a punk song, and “Devil’s Buttermilk” brazenly tackling Southern riffing without the chestbeating that way, way too often accompanies. More cowbell there too, because if you’re going to do something, overdo it. “Mother Chub” and “Riff Richard” close out, the latter with a slowdown that emphasizes the point: the kush may be bad, but the riffs are primo. Silly name or not, I’ll take this shit any day of the week, and considering Earth Hog was recorded in a living room, I have the feeling it’s only going to get louder from here. Right on.

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Red Mess, Drowning in Red

red mess drowning in red

With a sense that they’re continuing to feel out where they want to be sonically, Brazilian three-piece Red Mess follow-up last year’s Crimson EP (review here) with the newly-issued two-tracker Drowning in Red – apparently working on a theme chromatically – the cuts “Daybreak’s Dope” and “Ready to Go” impressive in performance and tone as guitarist/vocalist Thiago Franzim shreds out on the latter atop Lucas Klepa’s bass and Douglas Villa’s speaker-popping kick. Each song has a markedly different approach, with “Daybreak’s Dope” topping seven minutes via a Sleep-style rollout while, true to its title, “Ready to Go” seems to have no interest in holding its shuffle still. Pairing them shows sonic breadth, and in the case of the second, a bit of ‘70s influence to coincide with what they showed on Crimson, though the results will still ultimately be familiar. They’re making progress, though, and their cohesiveness and catchiness through stylistic shifts is encouraging.

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