Quarterly Review: We Lost the Sea, Nebula Drag, Nothing is Real, Lotus Thief, Uncle Woe, Cybernetic Witch Cult, Your Highness, Deep Valley Blues, Sky Shadow Obelisk, Minus Green

Posted in Reviews on January 9th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Yesterday was marked by a decisive lack of productivity. I got there, don’t get me wrong, but it took friggin’ forever to make it happen. I’m obviously hoping for a different result today and tomorrow. You would think 10 records is 10 records, but some days it’s easy flowing, bounce from one to the next without any trouble, and some days you’re me sitting there wondering how many times you can get away with using the word “style” in the same post. Punishing. The saving factor was that the music was good. Amazing how often that serves as the saving factor.

Just today and tomorrow left, so let’s dive in. Lots of different kinds of releases today, so keep your ears and mind open.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

We Lost the Sea, Triumph and Disaster

we lost the sea triumph and disaster

There is plenty of heavy post-rock floating — and I do mean floating — around these days, spreading ethereal and contemplative vibes hither and yon, but none have the emotional weight brought to bear instrumentally by Sydney, Australia’s We Lost the Sea. Across their 65-minute 2LP, Triumph and Disaster (on Translation Loss), the six-piece band recount a wordless narrative of the aftermath of the end of the world through the eyes of a mother and child on their last day. It is a touching and beautiful flow of sentiment, regret and weight that comes through the wash of three guitars and synth, bass and drums, and though 2015’s Departure Songs (review here, discussed here) worked in a similar vein in terms of style if not story, these seven tracks and 65 minutes are wholly distinguished by a willful-seeming progression on the part of the band and a patience and poise of execution as they alternate between longer and shorter pieces that only underscores how special their work truly is. At least the apocalypse is gorgeous.

We Lost the Sea on Thee Facebooks

Translation Loss store

 

Nebula Drag, Blud

nebula drag blud

Nothing against the progenitors of the form, but Nebula Drag seem with Blud to pull off the feat that Helmet never really could, bringing together a noise-rock derived dissonance of riff with a current of melody in the vocals and even moments of patience in the guitar to go along with the crunch of its more aggressive points. This inherently makes the Desert Records offering from the San Diego outfit a less outwardly intense affair than it might otherwise be, but songs like “Always Dying,” “Numb” and the closer “Mental” — as well as the album as a whole — are ultimately richer for it, and there’s still plenty of drive in opener “Dos Lados” and the shorter “Faces” and “What Went Wrong,” which arrive back to back on side B and lend the momentum that carries Nebula Drag through the remainder of the proceedings. It’s easy to hear to Blud superficially and pass it off as noise or heavy rock or this or that, but Nebula Drag earn and reward deeper listens in kind.

Nebula Drag on Thee Facebooks

Desert Records on Bandcamp

 

Nothing is Real, Pain is Joy

nothing is real pain is joy

Los Angeles oppressive and misanthropic noise project Nothing is Real manifested some of the harshest sounds I heard in 2019 on Only the Wicked are Pure (review here), and the just-months-later follow-up, Pain is Joy, reminds of the constant sensory assault under which we all seem to live. Across five extended tracks of increased production value — still raw, just not as raw — the band seems to be forming a coherent philosophical perspective in “Existence is Pain,” the guest-vocalized “Realms of Madness,” “Life is but a Dream,” “Pain is Joy,” and “We Must Break Free,” but if there’s a will to explain the punishment that is living, there’s not much by way of answer forthcoming in the sludgy riffing, grinding onslaught and surprising solo soar of “We Must Break Free,” instrumental as it is. Still, the fact that Pain is Joy allows for the possibility of joy to exist at all, in any form, ever, distinguishes it from its predecessor, and likewise the clearer sound and cogent expressive purpose. A focused attack suits Nothing is Real. I have the feeling it won’t be long before we find out where it takes the band next.

Nothing is Real on Thee Facebooks

Nothing is Real on Bandcamp

 

Lotus Thief, Oresteia

lotus thief Oresteia

If the name Oresteia isn’t immediately familiar, maybe “Agamemnon” will give some hint. San Francisco’s Lotus Thief, with their third full-length and second for Prophecy Productions, not only bring together progressive black metal, post-rock and drama-laced doom, but do so across eight-tracks and 38 minutes summarizing a 5th century Greek tragedy written in three parts. Ambitious? Yes. Successful? I’ll claim zero familiarity with the text itself, but for the eight-minute “Libation Bearers” alone — never mind any of the other immersive, beautiful wash the band emits throughout — I’m sure glad they’re engaging with it. Ambient stretches like “Banishment” and “Woe” and the barely-there “Reverence” add further character to the proceedings, but neither are “The Furies,” “Agamemnon,” “Sister in Silence” or subdued-but-tense closer “The Kindly Ones” lacking for atmosphere. Oresteia is grim, theatrical, stylistically forward-thinking and gorgeous. A perfect, perfect, perfect winter record.

Lotus Thief website

Prophecy Productions on Bandcamp

 

Uncle Woe, Our Unworn Limbs

Uncle Woe Our Unworn Limbs

Chugging, sprawling, and most of all reaching, the late-2019 debut LP, Our Unworn Limbs, from Ontario as-yet-solo-outfit Uncle Woe — composed, performed and recorded by Rain Fice — is one of marked promise, taking elements of modern progressive and cosmic doom from the likes of YOB‘s subtly angular riffing style and unfolding them across an emotionally resonant but still manageable 43-minute span. The stomp in “That’s How They Get You” is duly oppressive in following the opener “Son of the Queen,” but with the one-minute experiment “When the Night Fell Pt. 2” and jagged but harmonized “Mania for Breaking” ahead of 15-minute closer “Push the Blood Back In,” the record’s tumult and triumphs are presented with character and a welcome feeling of exploration. I would expect over time that the melodic basis and vocal presence Fice demonstrates in “Mania for Breaking” will continue to grow, but both are already significant factors in the success of that song and the album surrounding it, the first 20-plus minutes of which is spent mired in “Son of the Queen” and “That’s How They Get You,” as early proof of the sure controlling hand at the helm of the project. May it continue to be so.

Uncle Woe on Thee Facebooks

Uncle Woe on Bandcamp

 

Cybernetic Witch Cult, Absurdum ad Nauseam

cybernetic witch cult absurdam ad nauseam

Guitarist/vocalist Alex Wyld, bassist Doug MacKinnon and drummer Lewis May have processed the world around them and translated it into a riffy course of sci-fi and weirdo semi-prog thematics across Absurdum ad Nauseam. What else to call such a thing? At eight songs and 52 minutes, it stands astride the lines between heavy rock and doom and sludge in lengthier pieces like “The Cetacean,” “The Ivory Tower” and the finale “Hypercomputer Part 2,” yet when it comes to picking out discernible influences, one has to result to generalizations like Black Sabbath and Acrimony, the latter in the rolling largesse of “Spice” and “The Myth of Sisyphus” later on in the outing and the vocal effects there particularly, but neither is enough to give a sense of what Cybernetic Witch Cult are actually about in terms of the modernity of their approach and the it’s-okay-we-know-what-we’re-doing-just-trust-us vibe they bring as they rush through “Cromagnonaut” after the intro and “Hypercomputer Part 1.” I’m inclined to just go with it, which should tell you something in itself about the band’s ability to carry their listener through. They earn that trust.

Cybernetic Witch Cult on Thee Facebooks

Cybernetic Witch Cult on Bandcamp

 

Your Highness, Your Highness

Your Highness Your Highness

Heavy blues meets heavy metal on Your Highness‘ self-titled and self-released third album, collecting eight tracks that divide evenly across two sides of an LP, each half ending with a longer piece, whether it’s “Black Fever” (9:00) on side A or “Kin’s Blood” (14:14) on side B. Through these, in full-throttle movements like opener “Devil’s Delight” and “Rope as a Gift” and in nestled-in groovers like “The Flood” and “To Wood and Stone,” Your Highness don’t shy away from bringing a sense of atmosphere to their material, but maintain a focus on burl, gruffness and tonal weight, an aggressive undercurrent in a song like “Born Anew” — the riff to which is nonetheless particularly bluesy — being emblematic of the perspective on display throughout. It moves too fleetly to ever be considered entirely sludge, but Your Highness‘ 51-minute span is prone to confrontation just the same, and its ferocious aspects come to a head in satisfying fashion as the wash of crash pays off “Kin’s Blood,” shouts cutting through en route to a finish of acoustic guitar that lands as a reminder to release the breath you’ve been holding the whole time. Heavy stuff? Why yes, it is.

Your Highness on Thee Facebooks

Your Highness on Bandcamp

 

Deep Valley Blues, Demonic Sunset

Deep Valley Blues Demonic Sunset

Italy’s fervor for stoner rock is alive and well as represented in Demonic Sunset, the eight-song/34-minute debut full-length from Catanzaro’s Deep Valley Blues. Their sound works out to be more heavy rock than the desert one might imagine given the album cover, but that influence is still there, if beefed up tonally by guitarists Alessandro Morrone and Umberto Arena (the latter also backing vocals), bassist/vocalist Giando Sestito and drummer Giorgio Faini, whose fluid turns between propulsion and swing enable a song like “Dana Skully” to come together in its verse/chorus transitions. The penultimate nine-minute “Tired to Beg For” is an outlier among more straight-ahead songwriting, but they use the time well and close with the acoustic-led “Empire,” an encouraging showcase of sonic breadth to follow up on the start of “Lust Vegas” and a widening of the melodic range that one hopes Deep Valley Blues push further on subsequent releases. Centered around issues of mental health in terms of its lyrics, if somewhat vaguely, Demonic Sunset is a first LP that extends its focus to multiple levels while still keeping its feet on the ground in a way that will be familiar to experienced genre heads.

Deep Valley Blues on Thee Facebooks

Deep Valley Blues on Bandcamp

 

Sky Shadow Obelisk, The Satyr’s Path

sky shadow obelisk the satyrs path

You can toss a coin as to whether Sky Shadow Obelisk are death-doom or doom-death, but as you do, just keep an eye on the bludgeoning doled out by the solo-project of Rhode Island-based composer Peter Scartabello on his latest EP, The Satyr’s Path, because it is equal parts thorough and ferocious. Flourish of keys and melody adds a progressive edge to the proceedings across the five-track release, particularly in its two instrumentals, the centerpiece “Ouroboros” and the first half of closer “Shadow of Spring,” but amid the harnessed madness of “Chain of Hephaestus” — which from its lyrics I can only think of as a work song — and the one-two of “The Serpent’s Egg” and the title-track early on, those moments of letup carry a tension of mood that even the grand finish in “Shadow of Spring” seems to acknowledge. It’s been since 2015 that Scartabello last offered up a Sky Shadow Obelisk full-length. He shows enough scope here to cover an album’s worth of ground, but on the most basic level, I’d take more if it was on offer.

Sky Shadow Obelisk on Thee Facebooks

Yuggoth Records on Bandcamp

 

Minus Green, Equals Zero

Minus Green Equals Zero

Following up on a 2015 self-titled the material on Minus Green‘s sophomore album, Equals Zero, would seem to have at least in part been kicking around for a couple years, as the closer here, “Durial” (11:22) was released in a single version in 2016. Fair enough. If the other three cuts, opener “Primal” (9:58), “00” (11:51) and the penultimate “Kames” (10:08), have also been developed over that span, the extra rumination wouldn’t seem to have harmed them at all — they neither feel overthought to a point of staleness nor lack anything in terms of the natural vibe that their style of progressive instrumentalist heavy psychedelia warrants. The procession unfolds as a cleanly-structured LP with two songs per side arranged shorter-into-longer, and their sound is duly immersive to give an impression of exploration underway without being entirely jam-based in their structure. That is, listening to “00,” one gets the feeling it’s headed somewhere, which, fortunately it is. Where it and the record surrounding go ultimately isn’t revolutionary in aesthetic terms, but it is well performed and more than suitable for repeat visits. Contrary to the impression they might seek to give, it amounts to more than nothing.

Minus Green on Thee Facebooks

Kerberos Records website

 

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Quarterly Review: Dommengang, Ice Dragon, Saint Karloff, Witch Trail, Love Gang, Firebreather, Karkara, Circle of Sighs, Floral Fauna, Vvlva

Posted in Reviews on January 7th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

We begin Day Two of the Winter 2020 Quarterly Review. Snow on the ground fell overnight and the day ahead looks as busy as ever. There’s barely time to stop for sips of coffee between records, but some allowances must be made. It’s Tuesday after all. There’s still a lot of week left. And if we can’t be kind to ourselves in the post-holiday comedown of wintry gray, when can we?

So yes, pause, sip — glug, more likely — then proceed.

I don’t usually play favorites with these things, but I think today’s might have worked out to be my favorite batch of the bunch. As always, I hope you find something that speaks to you.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Dommengang, No Keys

dommengang no keys

Driving heavy psych and rock meet with spacious Americana and a suburbanite dreaminess in Dommengang‘s No Keys, the now-L.A. trio’s follow-up to 2018’s Love Jail (review here). It is a melting pot of sound, with emphasis on melting, but vocal harmonies and consistently righteous basslines like that in “Stir the Sea” act to tie the nine component tracks together, making Dommengang‘s various washes of tone ultimately the creation of a welcoming space. Early cut “Earth Blues” follows opener “Sunny Day Flooding” with a mindful far-outbound resonance, and the later “Arcularius – Burke” finds itself in a linear building pattern ahead of “Jerusalem Cricket,” which reimagines ’70s country rock as something less about nostalgia than forward possibility. Having come far on their apparently keyboard-less journey, from the breadth-casting verses of “Stir the Sea” to the doomy interlude “Blues Rot,” they end with “Happy Death (Her Blues II)” which sure as hell sounds like it has some organ on it. Either way, whether they live up to the standard of the title or not is secondary to the album’s actual achievements, which are significant, and distinguish Dommengang from would-be peers in atmosphere, craft and melody.

Dommengang on Thee Facebooks

Thrill Jockey Records on Bandcamp

 

Ice Dragon, Passage of Mind

ice dragon passage of mind

Though they don’t do it nearly as often as they did between 2012 and 2015, every now and then Boston’s Ice Dragon manage to sneak out a new release. Over the last few years, that’s been a succession of singles, but Passage of Mind is their first LP since 2015’s A Beacon on the Barrow (review here), and though they’ll always in some part be thought of as a doom band, the unassuming organic psychedelia of “Don’t Know Much but the Road” reminds more of Chris Goss‘ work with Masters of Reality in its acoustic/fuzz blend and melody. The experimentalism-prone outfit have been down this avenue before as well, and it suits them, even as members have moved on to other projects (Brass Hearse among them), with the seven-minute “One of These Days” basing itself around willfully simplistic-sounding intertwining lines of higher and lower fuzz. There are moments of serenity, like closer “Dream About You” and “Sun in My Eyes,” but “The Sound the Rain Makes” is more of a blowout, and even the darker vibe of “Delirium’s Tears” holds hits melody as top priority. Hey guess what? Here’s an Ice Dragon album that deserves more attention than it’s gotten. I think it’s the 12th one.

Ice Dragon on Thee Facebooks

Ice Dragon on Bandcamp

 

Saint Karloff, Interstellar Voodoo

Saint Karloff Interstellar Voodoo

Oslo’s Saint Karloff squash the high standard they set for themselves on their 2018 debut, All Heed the Black God (review here), with the 41-minute single-song long-player Interstellar Voodoo, basking in bluesy Sabbathian grandeur and keeping a spirit of progressive adventuring beneath without giving over entirely to self-indulgent impulses any more than one could as they careen from one movement to the next in the multi-stage work. With vinyl through Majestic Mountain Records, tape on Stoner Witch Records and CD through Ozium Records, they’re nothing if not well represented, and rightly so, as they veer in and out of psychedelic terrain in exciting and periodically elephantine fashion, still making room for classic Scandi-folk boogie on side A before the second half of the track stomps all over everything that’s come before it en route to its own organ-laced jammy meandering, Iommi shuffle and circa-’74 howl. As a new generation of doom rock begins to take shape, Saint Karloff position themselves well as earlier pursuers of an individualist spirit while still drawing of course on classic sources of inspiration. The first record was encouraging. The second is more so. The third will be the real tell of who they are as a band.

Saint Karloff on Thee Facebooks

Majestic Mountain Records webstore

 

Witch Trail, The Sun Has Left the Hill

witch trail the sun has left the hill

The jangling guitar strum in centerpiece “Lucid” on Witch Trail‘s The Sun Has Left the Hill (Consouling Sounds) has the indelible mark of classic rock and roll freedom to it. One wonders if Pete Townshend would recognize it, or if it’s too far blasted into oblivion by the Belgian trio’s aesthetic treatment across The Sun Has Left the Hill‘s convention-challenging 29-minute span, comprising seven tracks that bring together a heavy alternative rock and post-black metal vision marked by spacious echoes and cavern screams that are likewise tortured and self-assured. That is to say, there’s no mistaking the intent here. In the early intensity of “Watcher” or the shimmering and more patiently unfolding “Silent Running,” the Ghent three-piece mark out their stylistic terrain between bursts of noisy chaotic wash and clearheaded execution. The six-minute “Afloat” hisses like a lost demo that would’ve rewritten genre history some 25 years ago, and even in closer “Residue,” one can’t help but feel like Witch Trail are indeed looking to leave some lasting effect behind them with such forward-thinking craft. Sure to be a shock for those who take it on with no idea of what to expect.

Witch Trail on Thee Facebooks

Consouling Sounds website

 

Love Gang, Dead Man’s Game

love gang dead mans game

Shortly before Love Gang are halfway through the opening title-track of their debut album, Dead Man’s Game, just when you think you might have their blend of organ-laced Radio Moscow and Motörhead figured out, that’s when Leo Muñoz breaks out the flute and the whole thing takes a turn for the unexpected. Surprises abound from the Denver foursome of Muñoz (who also handles organ and sax), guitarist/vocalist Kam Wentworth, bassist Grady O’Donnell and drummer Shaun Goodwin, who find room for psychedelic airiness amidst the gallop of “Addiction,” which doesn’t seem coincidentally paired with “Break Free,” though the two don’t run together. Love Gang‘s 2016 self-titled EP (review here) had a cleaner production and less aggro throb, and there’s some of that on Dead Man’s Game in the peaceful melody of “Interlude,” but even seven-minute closer “Endless Road” makes a point of finishing at a rush, and that’s ultimately what defines the album. No complaints. Love Gang wield momentum as another element of inventive arrangement on this encouraging first long-player.

Love Gang on Thee Facebooks

Love Gang on Thee Facebooks

 

Firebreather, Under a Blood Moon

firebreather under a blood moon

‘Tis the stuff of battle axes and severed limbs, but it’s worth noting that three of the six inclusions on Firebreather‘s second LP and first for RidingEasy Records, Under a Blood Moon, have some reference to fire in their title. The follow-up to their brazen 2017 self-titled debut (review here) starts with its longest track (immediate points) in the nine-minute “Dancing Flames,” then follows immediately with “Our Souls, They Burn” and launches side B with the eponymous “Firebreather,” as the Gothenburg trio of Mattias Nööjd, Kyle Pitcher and Axel Wittbeck launch their riffy, destructive assault with urgency that earns all that scarred land left in its wake. The High on Fire comparison remains inevitable, perhaps most of all on “Firebreather” itself, but Firebreather have grown thicker in tone, meaner in approach and do nothing to shy away from the largesse that such a sound might let them convey, as “Our Souls, They Burn” and in the volume surges of closer “The Siren.” Under a Blood Moon is a definite forward step from the first LP, showing an evolving sound and burgeoning individuality that one hopes Firebreather continue to hunt down with such vigilance.

Firebreather on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records on Bandcamp

 

Karkara, Crystal Gazer

karkara crystal gazer

Presented through Stolen Body Records, the debut long-player from French trio Karkara purports to be “Oriental psych rock,” which accounts for an Eastern influence in the overall sound of its seven-track/41-minute run, but there are perhaps some geographical questions to be undertaken there, as “Camel Rider” and others show a distinctive Mideastern flair. Whatever works, I guess. At its core, Crystal Gazer is a work of psychedelic space rock, brought to bear with a duly open sensibility by guitarist/vocalist Karim Rihani (also didgeridoo), bassist Hugo Olive and drummer/vocalist Maxime Marouani as seemingly the beginning stages of a broader sonic adventure. That is to say, the stylistic aspects at play here — and they are very much “at play” — feel purposefully used, but like the foundation of what will be future growth on the part of Karkara as a unit. Will they progress along a more patient and meditative path, as “The Way” hints in some of its early roll, or will the frenetic winding of closer “Jedid” set their course for subsequent freakouts? I don’t know, but Karkara strike as a band who won’t see any point to standing still creatively any more than they do to doing so rhythmically.

Karkara on Thee Facebooks

Stolen Body Records website

 

Circle of Sighs, Desolate

circle of sighs desolate

Information is limited on Circle of Sighs, and by that I primarily mean I don’t have any. They list their point of origin as Los Angeles, so there’s that, but as to the whos and whats, wheres and so on, it’s a mystery. Something tells me that suits the band, whose four-track debut EP, Desolate, gracefully executes a blend of melodic downerism with more extreme elements at play, melodic vocal arrangements offset by screams in the closing title-track after the prior rolling groove of “Burden of the Flesh” offered a progressive and synth-laden take on Pallbearer-style emotive doom. Acoustics, keyboard, and a clear use of multiple singers give Circle of Sighs‘ first outing a kitchen-sink feel, but one can only admire them for trying something new at their (presumed) outset, and the catchy chug of “Hold Me, Lucifer” speaks to more complex aesthetic origins than the simplistic subject matter might lead one to believe. The outlier is the penultimate nine-minute cut “Kukeri,” which broods across its first three minutes in a manner that would make Patrick Walker proud before unfolding the breadth of its lumber and arrangement, harmonies and screams and the first real showcase of more extreme impulses taking hold in its second half — plus strings, maybe — which “Desolate” itself will build upon after a bookending acoustic close. There’s some sorting out to do in terms of sound, but already they show a readiness to push in their own direction, and that’s more than it would seem reasonable to ask.

Circle of Sighs on Thee Facebooks

Circle of Sighs on Bandcamp

 

Floral Fauna, Pink and Blue

floral fauna pink and blue

Way out west, Chris Allison of the band Lord Loud is taking on psychedelic shimmer under the ostensible solo moniker of Floral Fauna, but the situation of the project’s 11-tracker debut LP, Pink and Blue is more complicated in personnel and style than that, melding fuzzy presence, classic ’60s surf-tone, rampant hooky melody and ready-to-go-anywhere-as-long-as-it-works pop experimentalism together in a steaming lysergic cauldron of neo-yourface-ism that’s ether blissed enough to tie funk and ancient R&B to cosmic flow together in a manner that feels like an utter tossoff, like, hey, yeah man, this kind of thing just happens all the time here. You know, no big deal on this wavelength. Mellow dreams in “Great White Silence,” a spacey ramble in “Velvet and Jade” and the echoing leadwork of “Red Anxiety” continue the color theme from the opening title-track, and the record caps with “Herds of Jellyfish,” which at last brings forward the vocal harmony that the whole album seems to have been begging for. Cool debut? Shit, man. It’s 36 minutes of straight-up psych joy just waiting to bring you on board. Legal psilocybin now.

Floral Fauna on Thee Facebooks

King Volume Records on Bandcamp

 

Vvlva, Silhouettes

vvlva silhouettes

There are a couple things you can figure on in this wacky universe, and one of them is that German imprint World in Sound knows what it’s doing when it picks up a classic heavy rock band. Silhouettes is the second long-player the label has released from woefully-monikered Aschaffenburg-based four-piece Vvlva, and indeed in the upfront boogie of “Cosmic Pilgrim” or the more progressive unfolding of pieces like “Tales Told by a Gray Man,” the centerpiece “Gomorrah,” or the longer “Night by Night/The Choir” and “Dance of the Heathens,” which seem to bring the two sides together, there’s enough vintage influence to make the case once again. Like the more forward thinking of their contemporaries, Vvlva have brought this modus into the present when it comes to production value and clarity, and rather than sound like it’s 1973, they would seem to be making 1973 sound like them. Whether one dives in for the early hooks in “Cosmic Pilgrim” or “What Do I Stand For?” or the fuzzy interplay between the solo and organ in the maddeningly bouncing “Hobos,” there’s plenty in Silhouettes to demonstrate the vitality and continued evolution of the style.

Vvlva on Thee Facebooks

World in Sound website

 

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Quarterly Review: Mos Generator, Psychic Lemon, Planet of Zeus, Brass Hearse, Mother Turtle, The Legendary Flower Punk, Slow, OKO, Vug, Ultracombo

Posted in Reviews on January 6th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

I’d like to hope y’all know the drill by now. It’s the Quarterly Review. We do it (roughly) every quarter. The idea is 10 reviews per day for a Monday to Friday span, running 50 total. I sometimes do more. Sometimes not. Kind of depends on the barrage and how poorly I’ve been doing in general with keeping up on stuff. This time is ‘just’ 50, so there you go. You’ll see some bigger names this week and some stuff that’s come my way of late that I’ve been digging and wanting to check out. It’s a lot of rock, which I like, and a few things I’m writing about basically as a favor to myself because, you know, self-care and all that.

But staring down the barrel of 50 reviews over the next few days has me as apprehensive and how-the-hell-is-this-gonna-happen as ever, so I think I’ll just get to it and jump in. No time to waste.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Mos Generator, Exiles

mos generator exiles

Worth it just for the Sabbath cover? Most definitely. As Mos Generator take on “Air Dance” from Never Say Die as part of the Glory or Death Records LP compilation release, Exiles, they blend the proggy swagger of later-’70s Iommi leads with the baseline acoustic guitar fluidity that makes those final Ozzy-era records so appealing in hindsight. It’s just one of the six reasons to take on Exiles however. The A side comprises three outtakes from 2018’s Shadowlands (review here), and guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed‘s Big Scenic Nowhere bandmate Bob Balch sits in on “Battah,” while a duly manic reworking of Van Halen‘s “Light up the Sky,” the Black Sabbath track and a live version of Rush‘s “Anthem” from 2016 make up side B. It’s a quick listen and it’s Mos Generator. It may be a stopgap on the way to whatever they’re doing next, but if you think about it, so is everything, and that’s no reason not to jump in either for the covers or the originals, both of which are up to the band’s own high standard of output.

Mos Generator on Thee Facebooks

Glory or Death Records on Bandcamp

 

Psychic Lemon, Freak Mammal

psychic lemon freak mammal

The distorted wails of Andy Briston‘s guitar echo out of Freak Mammal — the five-track/46-minute third LP from London’s Psychic Lemon — like a clarion to the lysergic converted. A call to prayer for those worshiping the nebulous void, not so much kept to earth by Andy Hibberd‘s bass and Martin Law‘s drums as given a solidified course toward the infinite far out. Of course centerpiece “Afrotropic Bomb” digs into some Ethiopian groove — that particular shuffling mania — and I won’t take away from the lower buzz of “Free Electron Collective” or the tense hi-hat cutting through all that tonal wash or the ultra-spaced blowout that caps six-minute finale “White Light,” but give me the self-aware mellower jaunt that is the 13-minute second track “Seeds of Tranquility” any day, following opener “Dark Matter” as it does with what would be a blissful drift but for the exciting rhythmic work taking place beneath the peaceful guitar, and the later synthesized voices providing a choral melody that seems all the more playfully grandiose, befitting the notion of Freak Mammal as a ceremony or at very least some kind of lost ritual. Someday they’ll dig up the right pyramid and call the aliens back. Until then, Psychic Lemon let us imagine what might happen after they return.

Psychic Lemon on Thee Facebooks

Drone Rock Records website

 

Planet of Zeus, Faith in Physics

PLANET OF ZEUS FAITH IN PHYSICS

There’s a context of social commentary to Planet of ZeusFaith in Physics that makes one wonder if perhaps the title doesn’t refer to gravity in terms of what-goes-up-must-come-down as it might apply to class hierarchy. The mighty, ready to fall, and so on. Songs like the post-Clutch fuzz roller “Man vs. God” and “Revolution Cookbook” (video premiere here) would seem to support that idea, but one way or the other, as the later “Let Them Burn” digs into a hook that reminds of Killing Joke and the dense bass of eight-minute closer “King of the Circus” provides due atmospheric madness for our times, there’s a sense of grander statement happening across the album. The Athens-based outfit make a centerpiece of the starts and stops in “All These Happy People” and remind that whatever the message, the medium remains top quality heavy rock and roll songcraft, which is something they’ve become all the more reliable to deliver. The more pointed perspective than they showed on 2016’s Loyal to the Pack suits them, but it’s the nuance of electronics and arrangements of vocals and guitar on cuts like “The Great Liar” that carry them through here. If you believe in gravity, Planet of Zeus have plenty on offer.

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Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Brass Hearse, Oneiric Afterlife

brass hearse oneiric afterlife

Experimentalist keyboard-laced psychedelic goth your thing? Well, of course it is. You’re in luck then as Brass Hearse — an offshoot of once madly prolific Boston outfit Ice Dragon — unveil three new songs (plus an intro) with the Oneiric Afterlife and in 10 minutes work to unravel about 30 years of genre convention while still tying their material to memorable hooks. “Bleed Neon,” “Indigo Dust” and “Only Forever” seem simple on the surface, and none of them touch four minutes long, let alone “A Gesture to Make a Stop,” the 26-second introduction, but their refusal of stylistic constraint is as palpable as it is admirable, with a blend of folk guitar and dark-dance-party keys and percussive insistence on “Bleed Neon” and a ’60s Halloweeny rock organ line in “Only Forever” that’s complemented by low-end fuzz and a chorus that would rightly embarrass Ghost if they heard it. In comparison, “Indigo Dust” is serene in its presentation, but even there is a depth of arrangement of keys, guitar, bass and drums, and the skill tying it all together as a cohesive sound is not to be understated. A quick listen with a lot to unpack, it’s not going to be everyone’s thing, but those who get it will be hit hard and rightly so.

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Brass Hearse on Bandcamp

 

Mother Turtle, Three Sides to Every Story

mother turtle three sides to every story

The first of three tracks on Greek progwinders Mother Turtle‘s fourth LP, Three Sides to Every Story, “Zigu Zigu,” would seem to cap with a message of congratulations: “You’ve listened to three musicians indulging themselves with some kind of weird instrumental music.” It then goes on to question its own instrumentalism, because it has the words presently being spoken, continuing in this manner until a long fadeout of guitar leads to the funky start of the 15-minute-long “Notwatch.” Good fun, in other words. Mother Turtle maybe aren’t so weird as they think they are, but they are duly adventurous and obviously joyful in their undertaking, bringing chants in over drifting guitar and synth swirl in “Notwatch” before building to a crescendo of rock guitar and organ, ultimately dominated by a solo as it would almost have to be, before intertwining piano lines in 16:46 closer “A Christmas Postcard from Kim” lead to further shenanigans, vocal experimentation, plays on metal, holiday shimmer, and a fade into the close. At 38 minutes, Three Sides to Every Story doesn’t at all overstay its welcome, but neither is it an exercise looking for audience engagement in the traditional sense. Rather, it resonates its glee through its offbeat sensibility and thus works on its own level to craft a hook. One can’t help but smile while listening to the fun being had.

Mother Turtle on Thee Facebooks

Sound Effect Records website

 

The Legendary Flower Punk, Wabi Wu

The Legendary Flower Punk Wabi Wu

It is something to consider, perhaps as you dive into the nine-minute “Prince Mojito” on The Legendary Flower Punk‘s Wabi Wu, that the band started as a psych-folk solo-project. Currently working as a core trio plus a range of guests, the Russian troupe make their debut on Tonzonen with the brazenly prog seven-tracker, totaling just a 44-minute run but with a range that would seem to be much broader. Alternately jazzy and synth-laden, technically intricate but never overly showy, pieces like the bass-led “Azulejo” and the penultimate “Trance Fusion På Ryska” present a meeting of the minds with founding guitarist Kamille Sharapodinov at the center of most compositions, he and bassist Mike Lopakov and drummer Nick Kunavin digging into nothing’s-off-limits textures from fusion onward through New Wave and dub. The abiding rule followed seems to be whatever moves the band about a given track is what they roll with, and though The Legendary Flower Punk has evolved well beyond its origins, there’s still a bit of flower and still a bit of punk amid all the legends being made. Good luck keeping up with it.

The Legendary Flower Punk on Bandcamp

Tonzonen Records website

 

Slow, VI – Dantalion

Slow VI Dantalion

With the follow-up to 2018’s V – Oceans (review here), Belgian duo Slow rattle off another 78 minutes of utterly consuming, crushing, atmospheric and melancholic funeral doom like it’s absolutely nothing. Well, not like it’s nothing — more like it’s a weight on their very soul — but even so. Issued through Aural Music, VI – Dantlion brings the two-piece of guitarist/vocalist/drummer Déhà and bassist/lyricist Lore B. once again into the grueling, megalithic churn of self-inflicted riff-punishment that’s so encompassing, so dark, so deep and so dramatic it almost can’t help but also be beautiful. To wit, second track “Lueur” is a 17-minute downward journey into ambient brutalism, yet as it moves toward the midsection one can still hear melodic elements of keyboard and orchestral sounds peaking through. There is letup in the lush finale “Elégie,” but to get there, you have to make your way through “Incendiaire,” which is possibly the most extreme movement of the seven inclusions. Though frankly, after a while, you’re buried so far down by Slow‘s glorious miseries that it’s hard to tell. The world needs this band. They are what humanity would sound like if it was ever honest with itself.

Slow on Thee Facebooks

Aural Music on Bandcamp

 

OKO, Haze

oko haze

Adelaide, Australia, newcomers OKO present their debut EP in the form of Haze, a 14:44 single-song outing that sees the instrumental three-piece of guitarist Nick Nancarrow, bassist Tyson Ruch and drummer Ash Matthews tap into organic heavy psych vibes while working cross-planet with Justin Pizzoferrato (known for his work with Elder, among others) on the mix and master. The resulting one-tracker has a clarity in its drum sound and clean feel that one suspects might speak of more progressive intentions on the part of OKO in the longer term, but as they are here they have a sense of tonal warmth that serves them well across the unpretentious span of “Haze” itself, the winding riff inevitably bringing to mind some of Colour Haze‘s jammier work but still managing to find its own direction. I hear no reason OKO can’t do the same, regardless of the influences they’re working under in terms of sound. Further, the longform modus suits them, and while future work will inherently develop some variety in general approach, the natural exploration they undertake on this first outing easily holds attention for its span and is fluid enough that, had they wanted, they could have pushed it further.

OKO on Thee Facebooks

OKO website

 

Vug, Onyx

vug onyx

Vug are not the first European heavy rock band to blend vintage methods with modern production. They’re not the first band to take classic swagger and drum urgency and meld it with a pervasive sense of vocal soul. I’m not sure I’d tell them that though, because frankly, they’re doing pretty well with it. At its strongest, their Tonzonen-released sophomore outing, Onyx, recalls Thin Lizzy via, yes, Graveyard, but there’s enough clarity of intention behind the work to make it plain they know where they’re coming from. Such was the case as well with their 2018 self-titled debut (review here), and though they’ve had some lineup turnover since that first offering, the self-produced four-piece bring a character to their material on songs like “Tired Of” and the penultimate boogier “Inferno” before closing with the acoustic “Todbringer” — a mirror of side A’s “On My Own” — that they carry the classic-style 39-minute long-player off without a hitch, seeming to prep the heavy ’10s for a journey into a new decade.

Vug on Thee Facebooks

Noisolution webstore

 

Ultracombo, Season 1

Ultracombo Season 1

As the title hints, the Season 1 EP is the debut from Italy’s Ultracombo, and with it, the five-piece of vocalist Alessio Guarda, guitarists Alberto Biasin and Giordano Tasson, bassist Giordano Pajarin and drummer Flavio Gola work quickly to build the forward momentum that brings them front-to-back through the 23-minute five-track release. “Flusso” and opener “The King” feel particularly drawn from an earlier Truckfighters influence, but Guarda‘s vocals are a distinguishing factor amidst all that ensuing fuzz and straight-ahead drive, and in “Sparatutto” and the closer “Il Momento in Cui Non Penso,” they seem to strip their approach to its most basic aspects and bring together the tonal thickness and melodicism that’s been at root in their sound overall. The subtlety, such as it is, is to be found in their songwriting, which results in tracks that transcend language barriers through sheer catchiness. That bodes better for them on subsequent outings better than a wall o’ fuzz ever could, though of course that doesn’t hurt them either, especially their first time out.

Ultracombo on Thee Facebooks

Ultracombo on Bandcamp

 

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My Diligence Premiere “An Asteroidal Arrow” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 23rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

my diligence

On its surface, the track in question is an odd choice for My Diligence‘s new video. The Belgium-based studio trio/live four-piece have hooks a-plenty throughout the entirety of their Sun Rose LP, released this past January through Mottow Soundz. No shortage thereof. And the structures of songs like opener “Resentful” or the speedy “Flying Poney” (sic) are relatively straightforward, the latter owing its speed-into-crash-with-major-key-melody almost purely to Torche. By contrast, “An Asteroidal Arrow” is an atmospheric linear build, departing from the swaying chug of an earlier piece like “Backstabber” or the bounce of the later “So Pretty So Cruel” or even the surging wash of the penultimate “Serpentine” to do its own thing. It doesn’t really represent the rest of the record, which is their second behind 2015’s self-titled, at all. The vocals don’t even come in until, what, after three minutes into a four-minute song?

But then I think maybe that’s the point. And once you actually watch the clip, it makes a little more sense. There’s a story being told with the “An Asteroidal Arrow” video through the actual visuals themselves. Don’t expect a lot of flashing lights with this one — it’s more cinematic, and we see a young dancer failing time and again and eventually finding her way through the routine she’s trying to do. It’s more movie montage than rock video, to put it another way, but “An Asteroidal Arrow” is definitely suited to that kind of presentation, and it makes the alignment between the visual story — there’s no dialogue and none really needed — and the song itself all the more satisfying. My Diligence worked with director Paul Thoreau and dancer Hanne Vand Driessche on the piece and I have to think if there was a vision they started out with, it’s been entirely realized. Story and song each work to enhance the other. You can’t really ask more from a video than that.

Clip follows here, tailed by the credits and more info on the album, which you can also stream toward the bottom of the post.

Please enjoy:

My Diligence, “An Asteroidal Arrow” video premiere

A Lullabies Prod production.
Réalisé avec le soutien de la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles

Dancer – Choreographer . Hanne Vand Driessche
Writer – Director – Editor . Paul Thoreau
Production manager . Robin Paul
Director of photography – Colorist . Edouard Chandelle
Set Design – Swiss Army Human . Mathilde Pepinster
Location Manager . Frederic Delescaille
Make up Artist . Kim Glineur
Stylist . Chloe Thielemans
Catering . Pueblo Latino

Rising up from the streets of Brussels, My Diligence is a band that in recent years have come to transcend rock in their native Belgium with a skill and ease reminiscent of their transatlantic peers. For fans already in the know, the progressive rock aplomb of established acts like Torche, Helmet and Elder resonate wildly in their sound. Big, bold and high in intensity, the Belgian trio deliver a non-stop, ass kicking brand of no-nonsense rock ‘n’ roll that scorches the sky, while leveling the playing field.

The success of their 2014 EP, Who Killed The Driver, along with their self-titled debut album from 2015 showcased as much, and at the same time laid down the foundations for Sun Rose, their eagerly awaited follow-up album, due for release this January on Mottow Soundz. Recorded at Studio Pyramide by producer François Vincent (Romano Nervoso, Thot), Sun Rose features a heavy mix of riffs – bigger and more bombastic than ever – interwoven with sincere lyrics and unforgettable grooves, and capture the trio’s fresh and exciting ideas around how they feel rock should sound.

MY DILIGENCE:
John Sailor – Vocals, Guitars
François Peeters – Guitars
Gabriel Marlier – Drums
Romain Lafuite – Moog (live)

My Diligence, Sun Rose (2019)

My Diligence on Thee Facebooks

My Diligence on Instagram

My Diligence on Bandcamp

Mottow Soundz on Thee Facebook

Mottow Soundz website

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Fire Down Below Premiere “Saviour of Man” Live Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 11th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

fire down below

Why, it was only one month ago today that Belgian heavy rock four-piece Fire Down Below took the stage in West Flanders at the Alcatraz Festival, and I know we live in an age of insta-nt bootleggery and all that, but to have a pro-shot and edited live video done in a couple weeks and ready to post is pretty killer. “Saviour of Man” comes from the Ghent-based outfit’s 2018 sophomore album, Hymn of the Cosmic Man (review here), which came out on Ripple Music, and for those of us who don’t get the chance to pop over the Belgium for shows, the clip provides a cool opportunity to see what Fire Down Below are all about when it comes to what they do on stage. In the case of drummer Sam Nuytens particularly, they’re about having a badass Monster Magnet t-shirt (Euro merch, man), but as regards his work and that of the band surrounding, think the uptempo kick of earlier Red Fang with Kyuss-style brashness and you won’t be far off.

While a host of big names took stage at Alcatraz this year — suspects like OpethMeshuggahVoivodAmenra, etc. — Fire Down Below shared a space in ‘La Morgue’ with compatriot outfits in The SpiritGlowsunWolvennest and Cowboys & Aliens, keeping killer company as they brought an energetic burst to the proceedings. Like much of the album from which it comes, “Saviour of Man” is a pretty straightforward affair, but its hook and drive demand little by way of flourish, standing their ground instead based on their sheer quality of craft. That is to say, you’re not gonna hear it and think something’s missing, and especially in the live setting as they are here, it’s clear to see that engaging an audience from the stage is where Fire Down Below‘s heart lies. How could it not? What’s better than that?

Speaking of, Fire Down Below have a few killer gigs booked for this Fall, including dates with Valley of the Sun and Gozu and a stop at Desertfest Belgium, where they’ll also join a selection of some of the country’s finest underground acts. Those dates are listed on the banner which you’ll find under the video itself, which of course follows here. I’m sure you’ve already clicked play, and rightly so.

Either way, please enjoy:

Fire Down Below, “Saviour of Man” live at Alcatraz Festival

fire down below fall shows

Fire Down Below on “Saviour of Man”:

We had the opportunity to play this gig at Alcatraz Hard Rock and Metal festival, one of Belgium’s biggest festivals for headbangers and devil worshippers. This year they installed a new stage, called La Morgue, reserved for some of the best underground bands in the country. We were extremely happy to be part of this great initiative and we had a blast on stage, as we hope you can tell from this video.

Fire Down Below live at Alcatraz festival in Kortrijk, 11 August 2019, playing Saviour Of Man from the album Hymn Of The Cosmic Man.
Recorded and edited by Lars Grote Audio.

Fire Down Below is:
Jeroen Van Troyen – guitar and vocals
Kevin Gernaey – guitar
Sam Nuytens – drums
Bert Wynsberghe – bass

Fire Down Below, Hymn of the Cosmic Man (2018)

Fire Down Below on Thee Facebooks

Fire Down Below on Bandcamp

Fire Down Below on Instagram

Ripple Music on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

Ripple Music website

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Heavy Psych Sounds Fest Announces 2020 Dates in Paris, Antwerp, London & Deventer

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

mondo generator

At this point, there’s just about no way this is it for Heavy Psych Sounds Fest, the traveling live incarnation of Italian imprint Heavy Psych Sounds that seems to have bands in any town it stops and to pick up headliners wherever it goes as well. Paris, Antwerp, London and Deventer — France, Belgium, the UK and the Netherlands. Well, considering this year saw the first US-based Heavy Psych Sounds Fest run and that there are still dates to play out next month, yeah, it seems likely to me this is just the beginning for Heavy Psych Sounds Fest 2020.

It’s a striking beginning though, with Mondo Generator (seen above) headlining the shows with support from Black Rainbows and Duel each time out and various others coming and going including Dead Witches, Lords of AltamontGorilla, Alunah and Giöbia. No less of a scale than one would expect, and again, it won’t at all be the final announcement of Heavy Psych Sounds Fest 2020. More cities, more tours, more bands, more everything. This is not a label that in recent years has shown even the slightest interest in going anything less than all out, all the time.

The PR wire shows tickets on sale already, because of course. With respect:

heavy psych sounds fest 2020

HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS FEST announce new London, Paris, Antwerp and Deventer editions in 2020 with Mondo Generator, Black Rainbows, Duel, Lords Of Altamont and more!

Heavy Psych Sounds Records, the unstoppable cult and fuzz rock machine rising from Rome, Italy, has announced to once again conquer London, the Netherlands, Belgium and this time also Paris, with their highly acclaimed mini festival series: HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS FEST!

Heavy Psych Sounds specializes in presenting the best artists in the global heavy psych, doom, fuzz blues and space rock realms, and their festival-series is no exception, spotlighting the ever-growing label’s dedication to its craft. HPS is not only THE address for all heavy rock record collectors, but it has also become an important live and festival institution; with a brisk participation from heavy music fans all over the world. Each hotspot of the traveling festival tour features diverse line-ups including both genre leaders and fast-rising acts, all ready to prove their place among the world’s best!

In cooperation with Desertscene, Rock in Bourlon, Metadrone and SOZ Concerts, Heavy Psych Sounds has announced the dates and bands to kick off 2020 in style in London, Antwerp, Paris and Deventer. Featuring high class acts such as Nick Oliveri’s MONDO GENERATOR, BLACK RAINBOWS, DUEL, DEAD WITCHES and many more, the HPS FEST series 2020 will be taking place in March. The line-up, dates and locations will look as follows:

HPS Fest Paris (FR) – March 5th @ Glazart
Facebook event
The Lords Of Altamont
Mondo Generator
Black Rainbows
Duel
Giöbia

HPS Fest Antwerp (BE) – March 6th @ Trix
Facebook event
Mondo Generator
Black Rainbows
Duel
The Lords Of Altamont
Dead Witches
Giöbia

HPS Fest London (UK) – March 7th @ The Underworld
Facebook event
Mondo Generator
Black Rainbows
Duel
Dead Witches
Giöbia
Gorilla
Alunah

HPS Fest Deventer (NL) – March 8th @ Burgerwheesuis
Facebook event
Mondo Generator
Black Rainbows
Duel
The Lords Of Altamont
Dead Witches

Better be quick and get your tickets HERE: https://www.heavypsychsounds.com/fests.htm#hps-fests-2020

“Heavy Psych Sounds is happy to announce the second edition of the London, Belgian and Netherlands HPS fest!“, label owner Gabriele Fiori comments. “Last year was such a success, so we also added Paris. We want to thank all the audiences, who make the label and booking so great. Bands, fans and promoters, we want to thank you all for your support and making it happen!“

Earlier this year, Heavy Psych Sounds also announced a bunch of festival dates in Berlin, Dresden (De), Rome (It) and Innsbruck (AT) to take place in the fall of 2019 with headlining acts such as CONAN, MONOLORD, among further heavy as hell bands alike BLACK RAINBOWS, THE SONIC DAWN, ALUNAH, ECSTATIC VISION and many more. Find out all details, tickets and info at this location.

https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS/
https://heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com/
www.heavypsychsounds.com/
https://www.heavypsychsounds.com/fests.htm

Black Rainbows, Pandaemonium (2018)

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Desertfest Belgium 2019 Completes Lineup; SÂVER, Crowhurst & Bismut Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

desertfest belgium 2019 banner

From Sleep, Ty Segall and Zeal & Ardor to Swan Valley Heights, Lucy in Blue and Ungraven, the Desertfest Belgium 2019 lineup is now complete. The final three additions are Oslo sludge destroyers SÂVER, a special drone set from Crowhurst and Dutch instrumentalists Bismut, who between them emphasize what would seem to have been the point of Desertfest Belgium 2019 all along, which is that there’s all kinds of heavy out there and it’s all welcome in Antwerp. That a lineup should be so diverse in sound and still universally definable one way or the other as “heavy” is an impressive point to make, frankly, and whether that was a conscious thing on the part of the people putting the festival together or just how it all kind of worked out, seeing Nebula and Inter Arma and Yatra and Fireball Ministry all sharing space is only a boon to those lucky enough to actually do so.

Here’s the last announcement from the fest:

desertfest belgium 2019 final poster

Last Tickets! DFBE 2019 Line-up now complete

As the last Friday tickets are going out the door, you all are probably left wondering what names will complete this year’s festival line-up. So let us fill you in on the final acts:

With an impossibly extensive release catalogue, Jay Gambit has turned his collaborative project Crowhurst into a firm cult favorite. At this year’s Desertfest he will present us with a special drone set. Misanthropic extreme metal at its finest, let’s see if you all have the stomach for this…

On a lighter note, Bismut from Holland have made a name for themselves with energetic instrumental jam workouts. A heavy trio that works tight as a clockwork – a perfect fit for the Desertfest crowd we should think! And last but not least, SÂVER made a splash this year with their debut album ‘They Came With Sunlight’. Hypnotic post-doom veering between melody and brutality.

Like we said: the festival is nearly sold out, and could very well be full by the time you read this. Some day tickets for Friday is all we have left, but that’s still a quality line-up so you might as well consider it! Otherwise, please watch out for ticket scalpers – purchase safely.

And to all of you who already have their ticket in the pocket and nothing left to fear: YES! We are counting the days just as eagerly as you are! This year’s gonna be EPIC…

http://www.desertfest.be/tickets
https://www.facebook.com/desertfestbelgium/
https://www.facebook.com/events/2260579413999993/

SÂVER, They Came with Sunlight (2019)

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Von Detta Premiere “Thanks for Your Time”; Burn it Clean EP out Sept. 13

Posted in audiObelisk on August 20th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

von detta

The idea of ‘burning clean’ could hardly be more appropriate for the second Von Detta EP, which is out Sept. 13 through Polderrecords, since that’s essentially what they do for the 32-minute runtime of the six-song release. At that length, one might question whether or not Burn it Clean is actually an album, but it’s not an argument I feel like having with myself right now, so I won’t. Either way, it’s with the crisp, indeed clean, production of the outing through which the Ghent, Belgium, outfit’s tracks seem to land their blows. Beginning with a brief piano intro — a possible reference to 2016’s Exit Grand Piano debut EP — there’s no lack of flow throughout, and their tones are rich, but there’s no hiding behind distortion here. The vocals are forward on opener “Reach Out” and the subsequent “Thanks for Your Time,” and with an undercurrent of metal resting beneath, Von Detta execute their material with precision and purpose, layering elements over each other in a way that feels delicately or at least intentionally arranged, sometimes reminding my US East Coast ears of The Giraffes for the amount of tension they build in their verses and choruses and the volatility that seems to be at root beneath their sharp-edged exterior.

That might come through most on “Devil’s Child” when the screams let loose, but it’s there in the guitar of “Thanks for Your Time” and the swaggering “Reach Out,” as well as the confrontational “Little Man Big World,” which unfurls a bruiser riff met with one von detta burn it cleanof Burn it Clean‘s most resonant hooks. “The Vault” brings in either some guest or some falsetto vocals in the midsection before a bluesy solo, and again, true to title, it all seems to be leading to the nine-minute finale “Masterplan,” which sees the band embrace a more patient but still linear execution, working from a quiet opening toward first a driving apex and then a residual comedown that cuts out to a return of the piano from the EP’s intro, bookending and adding a sense of completion that expands on the initial movement. Even the finish, then, is clean, classy, clear. It’s not to say Von Detta are somehow lacking impact. If anything, the fact that their sound pulls so few punches in terms of production only makes them seem all the more confrontational, particularly amid the periodic screams — Von Detta have a new frontman; he fits well — and other harder-hitting elements. Again, the sense is very much that they’re not trying to hide anything, not trying to obscure anything in a wash of effects.

Naturally, I wouldn’t argue that everyone who uses effects is or that doing so has no aesthetic value, but for Von Detta‘s songwriting method on Burn it Clean, burning it clean makes sense. You can hear it for yourself with the premiere of “Thanks for Your Time” on the player below, which is followed by some more background from the PR wire, because one likes to be thorough.

Please enjoy:

Hailing from Ghent, Belgium, VON DETTA started out in 2013, as a riff based groove quintet. While celebrating their love for old school rock ‘n roll, the 2016 EP ‘Exit Grand Piano’ release came soon after, as the band’s first piece of recorded work.

To make things clean, one must burn away the filth… with ‘Burn It Clean’, VON DETTA are set to release an EP to captivate your musical senses and stir up the groove. Being both raw and elegant, rough and sublime, ‘Burn It Clean’ comes with a soulful lasting echo. The six songs are one rip-roaring episode after another straight from each the band members’ lives. A soundtrack reminiscent of the battles of between your inner angels and demons.

‘Burn It Clean’ Tracklist:
01. Reach Out
02. Thanks For Your Time
03. Devil’s Child
04. Little Man Big World
05. The Vault
06. Masterplan

Von Detta is:
Jonas Verhelst
Ief de Deurwaerder
Jeroen Vandamme
Koen De Borle
Manuel Remmerie

Von Detta on Thee Facebooks

Von Detta on Bandcamp

Polderrecords website

Polderrecords on Thee Facebooks

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