The lesson of Black Mirrors new video for the title cut from their debut EP, Funky Queen, is much the same as was the lesson of the lyric video they posted last month for the same song: it’s catchy as hell. Not much more to say about it than that, really. The EP is out now via Napalm Records in its four-song entirety and while I haven’t heard it in full yet — it’s slated for the Quarterly Review at the end of the month, so I’ll get there soon — the push behind it seems geared toward bringing the band to wider acclaim. The two videos are a part of that, of course, but even more pivotal would seem to be the tour that Black Mirrors head out on later in March supporting Sweden’s Horisont.
Though they’re veterans of Desertfest Belgium, it’s not exactly like Black Mirrors have been slogging it out for years on the road at this point — remember, Funky Queen isn’t just their debut on Napalm; it’s their first release, period — so touring alongside a more experienced outfit like Horisont will be a way for them to test the waters both in terms of their own experience, how they work as a road band, and give them a crash course in how to engage an audience night after night. It’s an oldschool way to go about it, which is fitting enough to the band’s classic heavy rock sound, but if it’s something you really want to get done, I’m not sure there’s any other way to go. You’ll note that the list of tour dates below ends with a couple headlining gigs. I doubt very much that if all goes according to plan they’ll be Black Mirrors‘ last.
But that’s getting ahead of events unfolding. In the meantime, the “Funky Queen” video plays off simple visuals and silhouetted performance footage to highlight the song itself, which stands up to such scrutiny. I’m looking forward to getting to know the other three tracks on the EP better, and to seeing how the response to Black Mirrors continues to take shape as more people hear Funky Queen and the band moves on after this tour toward the next one very likely already being planned.
PR wire info follows the clip below.
Black Mirrors, “Funky Queen” official video
BLACK MIRRORS RELEASE NEW VIDEO
Debut EP ‘Funky Queen’ March 3rd 2017 on Napalm Records!
If Janis Joplin, Jack White, Anouk, Nirvana and Queens Of The Stone Age ever had the chance to breed, BLACK MIRRORS would have been their favorite creation. This jewel is Belgium’s answer to pretty much every rock band out there: BLACK MIRRORS, fronted by the charismatic vocalist Marcella Di Troia, manage to gather an endless amount of influences which have been ruling the rock n’ roll universe for decades, and combine them into BLACK MIRRORS’ very own and special sound. It’s been only a matter of time for their first debut EP, ‘Funky Queen’, to finally see the light of day on March 3rd 2017 via Napalm Records!
Now the band unveiled a brand new video for the EP-title track ‘Funky Queen’, and this one is a keeper! Filmed and edited by Van’s Ography, get some taste of BLACK MIRRORS’ upcoming EP and watch the ‘Funky Queen’ right HERE.
Says the band: “We hare happy to share with your our very first official video clip for «Funky Queen»! We had a blast making this video as it was crazy funny to play with our own shadows haha! We hope you’ll like it as much as we do!”
Funky Queen – the debut EP by BLACK MIRRORS coming March 3rd 2017.
BLACK MIRRORS live: w/ Horisont 16.03.17 DE – Hamburg / Logo 17.03.17 DE – Siegen / Vortex 18.03.17 DE – Dusseldorf / Pitcher 19.03.17 NL – Helmond / Cacaofabriek 20.03.17 NL – Nijmegen / Merleyn 21.03.17 BE – Liège / La Zone 23.03.17 DE – Munich / Backstage 24.03.17 IT – Fontaneto D’Agogna / Phenomenon 25.03.17 CH – Pratteln / Z7 26.03.17 AT – Vienna / Das Bach 27.03.17 AT – Salzburg / Rockhouse 28.03.17 DE – Mörlenbach-Weiher / Live Music Hall 29.03.17 DE – Lichtenfels / Paunchy Cats 30.03.17 DE – Berlin / Privatclub 31.03.17 DK – Randers / Von Hatten 01.04.17 DK – Copenhagen / Huset
BLACK MIRRORS Headline Shows: 02.03.2017 BE – Brussels / Botanique 06.04.2017 BE – Antwerp / Trix
Posted in Radio on February 6th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
A round of adds to The Obelisk Radio once a month doesn’t seem like too much to ask, right? Well, it probably will be as the rest of the year plays out amid my meandering attention span, onslaught of reviews, etc., but for now, I’m at least two-for-two on 2017, and that should count for something. I won’t speculate as to what.
Pretty varied batch this time around, with some familiar names stepping outside what might be perceived as their comfort zone and others digging into various traditions in rock, blues, psych, sludge and doom. Much as I try to keep the stream running at all times — one has server blips; it happens — I also try to mix things up at least in a context that makes sense from one song to the next, though every now and again as I listen I hear something that completely blindsides me. That can be fun too.
As always, I hope you find something in here you dig.
The Obelisk Radio adds, Feb. 6, 2017:
For those who know guitarist Ben McLeod for the bluesy, psychedelic flow he brings to the languid jamming of All Them Witches, no doubt the Inflamed debut from his Woodsplitter solo/side-project is going to be a marked surprise. That would seem to be at least in part the intent. Working in a fire-fueled vein of instrumental progressive metal, “Liturgy” introduces a sense of extremity yet unheard from McLeod. Backed only by his own programmed drums, self-recorded, -mixed and -released, it’s a 39-minute mostly-onslaught that calls to mind a sans-vocal Genghis Tron at times while perhaps nodding at Steve Vai technicality via Devin Townsend‘s more metallized approach. McLeod locks in a plodding groove on “Fatty’s Waltz,” but even this is a bold step stylistically, and subsequent “Pile” and two-part title-track — the second piece of which secures Inflamed‘s ultimate triumph — only continue the push into experimentation. Ultimately, McLeod lands sure-footed in this exploration, showcasing roots that many who’ll take on Woodsplitter probably didn’t know he had — including some post-rock layering at the tail end of closer “The Weather Outside is Frightful” — and setting up a future progression almost entirely distinct from that of his main outfit. Won’t be for everybody, but hits with an equal measure of purpose and force.
As to what unites Georgian five-piece Dead Hand and Floridian trio Shroud Eater on this late-2016 Southern Druid Records split 7″, it won’t take long to figure out. Both bands are heavy as hell. With “Guaiacol” from the former going head-to-head with the latter’s “Destroy the Monolith” it becomes a contest of churn vs. roll, Dead Hand taking an atmospheric approach that feels in comparison more derived from post-metal than Shroud Eater‘s nonetheless spacious sludgy pummeling. Either way you go, you’re getting crushed by a six-minute track that seems only to revel in the cruelty of its lumbering, Dead Hand‘s chug arriving over a torrent of double-kickdrum before opening to a more forward thrust on “Guaiacol” and locking into a nod that persists even in the relatively minimalist midsection before, the lumbering, growling extremity resumes. As a title like “Destroy the Monolith” might hint, Shroud Eater aren’t exactly taking it easy either. With a multi-vocalist arrangement and vastness of groove, they represent their core sound well as a precursor to the awaited arrival of their second album hopefully sometime in 2017. It’s a quick release — in and out in 12 minutes — but both acts are bound to make an impression on the listener as each shows off their own brand of brutality.
Issued through EXAG Records, the oddly-but-somehow-appropriately-stylized D. Klein is the second full-length from Belgium’s Moaning Cities, who seem as much at home in referencing The Velvet Underground and The Stooges on “Solitary Hawk” as drifting out All Them Witches-esque on the earlier “Sex Sells.” At 10 tracks/39 minutes, the Brussels-based outfit don’t express any particular need to settle into one sound-niche or another, but they keep a languid flow of psychedelic heavy blues in songs like “Insomnia” and the poetically-stomping “Vertigo Rising” that makes the okay-it’s-freakout-time arrival of the penultimate “Drag” all the more satisfying, even if their clear element of control is well maintained throughout. Flourish like the electronic beats in opener “Expected” and the soundscaping guitar in the finale “Daggers” add further depth to a release that already offers plenty, but Moaning Cities retain a classy, nigh-on-chic atmosphere without losing the tonal substance needed beneath to hold up such a strong aesthetic presentation. Whether they’re digging into ’90s alt vibes on “Born Again” — Violent Femmes goes West? — or tossing some sitar to go along with the spoken word of “Yell-Oh-Bahn,” Moaning Cities thrive on never quite letting their listeners know what’s coming next, and that nuance suits D. Klein well.
Between its five-minute, horror-sample-topped intro “Breaking Wheel” and its corresponding five-minute, horror-sample-topped outro “Magical Law,” Wartime‘s Wartime Vol. 1 delves so deep into classic doom via NWOBHM cultishness that I’m amazed Shadow Kingdom Records has yet to pick it up for a release. The Colombian trio’s 2016 debut, it’s as effective in the moodiness of its acoustic centerpiece “A Whisper” as in the brash Sabbathism of the eponymous “Wartime,” and an overarching rawness in the tracks only feeds the vision of doomed purity within them. Pressed in a limited number of CDs that, like their prior 2015 demo tape, are already long gone, it’s a fist-pump-worthy execution of doom for doomers that asks little by way of indulgences and delivers much in riff, metal-of-yore ambience and the songcraft of drummer/vocalist Alejandro, guitarist D-Pig and bassist Scum, who hold onto a punkish thrust for “Another Reality” before the Vitus-style plod of “Wicked Son.” Children of doom indeed. At 32 minutes, it’s on the shorter end of a full-length album, but it unquestionably sets the groundwork for an LP-style flow, and as Wartime‘s debut, impresses double with the realization of its conceptual bleakness. Special thanks to Juan Lopez for the recommendation on this one. I’m glad I got to check it out and will look forward to what Wartime do next.
I’ve been doing my dernedest to keep up with Australian one-man outfit Megaritual since getting hip to the White Dwarf aptly-named LP compilation, Mantra Music (review here), late last year. The product of multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Dale Paul Walker, Megaritual followed that release with the 25-minute single-song Eclipse EP (review here), and it’s to that offering that the 18-minute single-tracker Temple seems to have direct lineage, though actually the recording dates back further, to 2013/2014, and finds Walker joined by drummer Govinda Das in a duo incarnation of the band. Not entirely to find “Temple” is a little older, since Megaritual seem to be finding the patience later shown throughout the Mantra Music EPs that comprised the vinyl and then Eclipse afterward here, but you absolutely will not find me complaining about the edge of tonal buzz that complements the massive riff of this track, nor the improvised-sounding spaces around it being explored early on, nor the noise/drone that plays out over the course of the second half. If this is Walker giving a look at the project’s origins, he would seem to have come into Megaritual with an expressive concept in mind, and while it’s clear he’s put himself to the task of refining it, Temple demonstrates it was immersive even in its most formative moments.
Last month, Napalm Records announced that it had picked up Belgian outfit Black Mirrors for the release of their debut EP, Funky Queen. Now, that’s a badass title, to be sure. Any angle you want to approach it from, Funky Queen works. But it’s no minor thing for a band who doesn’t have a release out to get picked up by a label like Napalm. That’s a significant endorsement of promise. I said at the time that I was curious what the band could actually do in the studio, since it seemed likely the imprint knew something that had not yet been revealed to us as listeners — except perhaps those fortunate enough to have seen them at Desertfest Belgium last fall — about Black Mirrors‘ potential.
With the lyric video below for the title-track to Funky Queen, we start to get an answer in terms of where Black Mirrors are coming from. The elephant in the room in terms of influence is probably Blues Pills — and will be for a good number of other acts before they’re done, to be sure; that stuff isn’t going anywhere anytime soon — but Black Mirrors bring a more modern, almost commercial clarity to the production aspect, and what really puts “Funky Queen” over the top is the track’s hook. Delivered by vocalist Marcella di Troia, it’s immediate, and likely won’t take more than one listen to embed itself in your frontal lobe for a while. As an initial impression, it finds Black Mirrors straightforward and making no bones about their intentions: they’ve come to rock as many ears, turn as many heads as possible.
The tour they’re about to embark on alongside Horisont after the March 3 release of Funky Queen certainly won’t hurt their cause, and I wouldn’t be surprised if their name starts popping up around summer festivals as well, but already they’ve got a couple headlining dates that take them into April. Expect more of those too, for sure.
The band offered some comment on the track and EP via the PR wire. Find it under the player below.
Black Mirrors, “Funky Queen” lyric video
Debut ‘Funky Queen’ coming March 3rd 2017 on Napalm Records!
The band explains: “We are proud and happy to introduce you to our new EP! We worked on it with a lot of passion and love and we can’t wait to share it with the world and to hear people’s reactions. Making and releasing this EP fills us with great joy and hopefully more people will love our songs as much as we do! Initially the song “Funky Queen” – from a musical point of view – was far more complicated than how it is today. There were many different parts that have been revised to eventually come to the current version. We composed the final version on a folk guitar which helped us getting more into the essence and feeling of the song. Funky Queen is about any kind of addiction as in drugs, alcohol or even love. The Queen confronts everyone with one’s own demons.”
BLACK MIRRORS live: w/ Horisont 16/03/2017 DE – Hamburg / Logo 17/03/2017 DE – Siegen / Vortex 18/03/2017 DE – Düsseldorf / Pitcher 19/03/2017 NL – Helmond / Cacaofabriek 20/03/2017 NL – Nijmegen / Merleyn 21/03/2017 BE – Liège / La Zone 23/03/2017 DE – Munich / Backstage 24/03/2017 IT – Fontaneto D’Agogna / Phenomenon 25/03/2017 CH – Pratteln / Z7 26/03/2017 AT – Vienna / Das Bach 27/03/2017 AT – Salzburg / Rockhouse 28/03/2017 DE – Mörlenbach-Weiher / Live Music Hall 29/03/2017 DE – Lichtenfels / Paunchy Cats 30/03/2017 DE – Berlin / Privatclub 31/03/2017 DK – Randers / Von Hatten 01/04/2017 DK – Copenhagen / Huset
BLACK MIRRORS Headline Shows: 02.03.2017 BE – Brussels / Botanique 07.03.2017 TU – Ankara / ODTÜ 06.04.2017 BE – Antwerp / Trix
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
Belgian four-piece Black Mirrors have signed to Napalm Records for the release of their debut EP, Funky Queen. That winning title is — again, this is worth stressing — the band’s debut EP. Not just their label debut, but the first thing they’ve put out. And they’re signed to Napalm. That’s not an easy feat, considering that by signing to the label Black Mirrors join the ranks of Brant Bjork, Greenleaf, John Garcia and an impressive host of others. Already veterans of Desertfest Belgium, Black Mirrors will also tour in March as support for Sweden’s Horisont, and they have headlining shows besides, so it seems only fair to expect them to make a splash in 2017 one way or another. I’ll be interested to hear how the EP — which features a likewise brazen MC5 cover — actually sounds when its March 3 release gets here.
The PR wire has details:
BLACK MIRRORS Sign Worldwide Deal With Napalm Records & Reveal Details Of Debut EP!
BLACK MIRRORS are a new Garage Rock / Blues Rock gem that enriches the Napalm Records roster and are Belgium’s answer to pretty much every Rock band out there. BLACK MIRRORS sound encompasses endless amount of Rock influences, which have been ruling the Rock N’ Roll universe for decades. If Janis Joplin, Jack White, Anouk, Nirvana and Queens Of The Stone Age ever had the chance to breed, BLACK MIRRORS would have been their favorite creation. This one’s a keeper!
The band on their new home with Napalm Records: “We are super proud to announce that we signed a record deal with the high-acclaimed label Napalm Records! We are grateful and proud that we can work together with such a big record label and that we’ll be on the same roster like bands as John Garcia, Alter Bridge, Monster Magnet, Brant Bjork among so many others!
We are looking forward to working together with the whole Napalm family and to bring our music to every corner of the world and to rock with all of you! See you on the road soon and stay tuned as we will have some other great news coming for you!”
But not enough of good news from team BLACK MIRRORS as their debut EP entitled Funky Queen will be released worldwide on March 3rd 2017 via Napalm Records!
Check out the stunning EP artwork Artwork by mighty Sebastian Jerke (Greenleaf, My Sleeping Karma,).and track listing below and make sure to catch them live on tour.
The track listing reads as follows: 1 Funky Queen 2 Kick Out The Jams (MC5 cover) 3 The mess 4 Canard vengeur masque
The EP Funky Queen will be available as a Limited First Edition 4 Page EP Digipack as well as black & colored vinyl.
Catch up with BLACK MIRRORS in Europe: w/ Horisont 16.03.17 DE – Hamburg / Logo 17.03.17 DE – Siegen / Vortex 18.03.17 DE – Düsseldorf / Pitcher 23.03.17 DE – Munich / Backstage 25.03.17 CH – Pratteln / Z7 26.03.17 AT – Vienna / Das Bach 27.03.17 AT – Salzburg / Rockhouse 28.03.17 DE – Mörlenbach-Weiher / Live Music Hall 29.03.17 DE – Lichtenfels / Paunchy Cats 30.03.17 DE – Berlin / Privatclub
BLACK MIRRORS Headline Shows: 02.03.2017 BE – Brussels / Botanique 07.03.2017 TU – Ankara / ODTÜ 06.04.2017 BE – Antwerp / Trix
BLACK MIRRORS Line-Up: Marcella Di Troia: Vocals Pierre Lateur: Guitar Gino Caponi: Bass Nicolas Scalliet: Drums
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 10th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
Belgian punishers Bathsheba will make their full-length debut on Svart Records Feb. 24 with the album Servus. The esteemed label also released their prior EP, The Sleepless Gods (one wonders if they’re the same gods Enslaved said were sleeping on an EP of their own), in 2015, and to prepare the ground for the LP’s arrival, Bathsheba have a new video for the track “Conjuration of Fire” that you can see below.
Admittedly, it’s not that new. Word of the clip came down the PR wire just before the holidays, fell through what were some rather considerable cracks on my end — if it wasn’t the Quarterly Review that week, I was pretty probably too busy cramming at work to not sleep on it — but February’s still a little ways out and I’d rather be late than never. So if this is old news to you, apologies. Most days I’m just trying to keep my head on straight.
From the PR wire:
BATHSHEBA reveal new video from SVART debut album, set release date
Blackened Belgian doom/sludge cult Bathsheba reveal a video for “Conjuration of Fire.” The track hails from the band’s highly anticipated debut album, Servus, set for international release on February 24th, 2017 via Svart Records. Directed by Joris Lieben and Michelle Nocon, view the video for Bathsheba’s “Conjuration of Fire” exclusively HERE.
From the depths of the black charcoal mountains rises Bathsheba. Fronted by she-devil Michelle Nocon (ex-Serpentcult, Leviathan Speaks, Death Penalty), carried by the punishing drums of Jelle Stevens (ex- SardoniS), massive vibrations from Raf Meukens (Death Penalty, Torturerama), and relentless riffs from Dwight Goossens (ex-Disinterred), Bathsheba create atmospheric, schizophrenic doom that carries the heaviness of filthy, blackened sludge. A heavily downtuned monster, it throws you into deep sadness and inner rage, straight into a grim cave – no meandering in an enchanted forest on the way to the deepest abyss.
Bathsheba self-released a demo tape in October 2014 and shortly after signed to Svart Records, who released a 10″ EP, The Sleepless Gods, in May 2015. Not long after, the band took to the stage at such festivals as Doom Over London, DesertFest, Incubate, Dutch Doom Days, and Doomed Gatherings.
The Sleepless Gods made quite a stand, but it is obvious that Bathsheba have gained more identity with their debut album, Servus. Servus translates the heaviness of life, a way to cope with the concrete walls of fact and matter against which we are relentlessly beaten. Servus is about struggle, sadness, constant threat, and distortion of the mind. With this album, Bathsheba drags you into the horror of existence under the crushing weight of reality. Servus is about losing yourself in the maelstrom of burden and then finding yourself again, facing the true ugliness of existence. It destructs the mind and shakes the soul. This schizophrenia is translated musically in a genre that takes on sludgy doom in a filthy, blackened way: no compromises. A sinister whisper to a howling she-devil moan…
Sometimes, the truth is too heavy to carry – gather around the witch and hail the oath of doom. Cover and tracklisting are as follows:
Tracklisting for Bathsheba’s Servus 1. Conjuration Of Fire 2. Ain Soph 3. Manifest 4. Demmon 13 5. The Sleepless Gods 6. I, At The End Of Everything
Crunching riffs and crunching numbers, Belgian heavy noise rockers The Progerians return with a brand new video to teach us all some basic addition. The track comes from the Brussels-based trio’s 2015 debut full-length, The Fabulous Progerians, and is a quick burst at an instrumental three minutes, but gets the point across that a lot of that album was making in its overarching sense of rush and the forward-coursing winding riff it uses to create such motion. It was posted in the late hours of last year (one is trying to get used to 2017 as the present instead of the future tense), but the band has said that they’ve got a new record in the works for this year as well, so it could be that “2+6” is their way of kissing their debut goodbye.
If so, it’s a grim farewell. I’m not entirely sure what’s happening in the plot, but the main character is being chased by a series of flying rocks — stoner rock itself? I sometimes feel that way — back to his living room where he seems to try to fight off an attack with a knife and maybe some occult spells? I don’t want to spoil the ending, because frankly, three minutes isn’t too much for the band to ask of your time without me giving it all away, but let’s just say it doesn’t turn out so hot for the dude in question. I guess according to The Progerians, stoner rock wins. You won’t find me mounting a counterargument.
On the off-chance you missed their record — which I know you didn’t, because you’re on your game like that all the time — it can be streamed via the Bandcamp page linked below, and I’ve included their bio, just for background should you want some.
And by way of another spoiler, “2+6” makes eight.
The Progerians, “2+6” official video
Directed and edited by Nicolas de Viron Starring Xavier “Xray” Decoster Cinematography: Yassin Serghini Assistant Camera: Lucas Sevrin
The Fabulous Progerians are a three-piece that radiates throughout the Brussels’ underground and its surroundings. This heavy and fat paving block seeks to translate youth’s anxiety, agonising in unemployment and lust offered by the modern world for lack of a future.
Their influences go far back into prehistory, but it’s somewhere between Punk and Sludge that the band likes to find its secret harmonies.
Known for powerful performances, they are usually joined by other musicians who widen even more the sound spectrum and universe of the band.
Posted in Reviews on December 26th, 2016 by JJ Koczan
2016 ends and 2017 starts off on the right foot with a brand new Quarterly Review roundup. The first time I ever did one of these was at the end of 2014 and I called the feature ‘Last Licks.’ Fortunately, I’ve moved on from that name, but that is kind of how I’m thinking about this particular Quarterly Review. You’ll find stuff that came out spread all across 2016, early, middle, late, but basically what I’m trying to do here is get to a point where it’s not March and I’m still reviewing albums from November. Will it work? Probably not, but in order to try my damnedest to make it do so anyway, I’m making this Quarterly Review six full days. Monday to Monday instead of Monday to Friday. 60 reviews in six posts. Sounds like madness because it is madness. Let’s get started.
Quarterly Review #1-10:
San Francisco trio Hornss debuted on RidingEasy Records with 2014’s No Blood No Sympathy (review here) and further their raw genre blend on Telepath, their half-hour follow-up LP delivered via STB, melding heavy punk and metallic impulses to a noisy, thick-toned thrust on songs like “Atrophic” and the bouncing “Sargasso Heart” while opener “St. Genevieve” and the penultimate “Old Ghosts” dig into more stonerly nod. The latter track is the longest inclusion on the record at 3:26, and with 11 cuts there’s plenty of jumping between impulses to be done, but the trio of guitarist/vocalist Mike Moracha, bassist/vocalist Nick Nava – both formerly of desert punkers Solarfeast – and drummer Bil Bowman (ex-Zodiac Killers) work effectively and efficiently to cast an identity for themselves within the tumult. It’s one that finds them reveling in the absence of pretense and the sometimes-caustic vibes of songs like “Leaving Thermal,” which nonetheless boast an underlying catchiness, speaking to a progression from the first album.
Easily justifiable decision on the part of Denver’s Khemmis to return to Flatline Audio and producer Dave Otero (Cephalic Carnage, etc.) for their second album, Hunted. No reason to fix what clearly wasn’t broken about their 2015 debut, Absolution (review here), and on the 20 Buck Spin Records release, they don’t. A year later, the four-piece instead build on the doomly grandeur of the first outing and push forward in aesthetic, confidence and purpose, whether that’s shown in mournful opener “Above the Water,” the darker “Candlelight” that follows, or the centerpiece “Three Gates,” which opens as muddied death metal before shifting into a cleaner chorus, creating a rare bridge between doom and modern metal. Khemmis save the most resonant crush for side B, however, with the nine-minute “Beyond the Door” capping with vicious stomp before the 13-minute title-track, which closes the album with an urgency that bleeds even into spacious and melodic break that sets up the final apex to come, as emotionally charged as it is pummeling.
In addition to the outright charm of titles like “Doominati,” “Coup d’étwat,” “Murdercycle” and “Urinal Acid” (the latter a bonus track), Rochester, New York’s Fox 45 offer fuzzy roll on their Twin Earth Records debut full-length, Ashes of Man, the three-piece of Amanda Rampe, Vicky Tee and Casey Learch finding space for themselves between the post-Acid King nod of “Necromancing the Stone” and more swing-prone movements like the relatively brief “Soul Gourmandizer.” Playing back and forth between longer and shorter tracks gives Ashes of Man a depth of character – particularly encouraging since it’s Fox 45’s first record – and the low-end push that leads “Phoenix Tongue” alone is worth the price of admission, let alone the familiar-in-the-right-ways straightforward heavy riffing of “Narcissister” a short while later. Very much a debut, but one that sets up a grunge-style songwriting foundation on which to build as they move forward, and Fox 45 seem to have an eye toward doing precisely that.
Double-guitar Pittsburgh four-piece Monolith Wielder make their self-titled debut through Italian imprint Argonauta Records, bringing together Molasses Barge guitarist Justin Gizzi and Zom guitarist/vocalist Gero von Dehn with bassist Ray Ward (since replaced by Amy Bianco) and drummer Ben Zerbe (also Mandrake Project) for 10 straightforward tracks that draw together classic Sabbathian doom with post-grunge heavy rock roll. There’s a workingman’s sensibility to the riffing of “No Hope No Fear” and the earlier, more ‘90s moodiness of “Angels Hide” – von Dehn’s vocals over the thick tones almost brings to mind Sevendust on that particularly catchy chorus – but Monolith Wielder’s Monolith Wielder isn’t shy about bringing atmospherics to the Iommic thrust of its eponymous cut or the penultimate “King Under Fire,” which recalls the self-titled Alice in Chains in its unfolding bleakness before closer “Electric Hessian” finishes with a slight uptick in pace and a fade out and back in (and a last sample) that hints at more to come.
The stomp and clap intro “The Man Who Would be King” casts an immediately bluesy hue on No Man’s Valley’s debut album, Time Travel (LP release on Nasoni), and the Netherlands-based five-piece seem only too happy to build on that from there. It’s a blend outfits like The Flying Eyes and Suns of Thyme have proffered for several years now between heavy psychedelia and blues, but No Man’s Valley find a niche for themselves in the dreamy and patient execution of “Sinking the Lifeboat,” a highlight of the eight-track/33-minute LP, and bring due personality to the classic-style jangle-and-swing of “The Wolves are Coming” as well, so that Time Travel winds up more textured than redundant as it makes its way toward six-minute piano-laden finale “Goon.” Once there, they follow a linear course with a post-All Them Witches looseness that solidifies into a resonant and deeply engaging apex, underscoring the impressive reach No Man’s Valley have brought to bear across this first LP of hopefully many to come.
Barcelona classic rocking four-piece Saturna seem to avoid the boogie trap when they want to, as on the more rolling, modern heavy groove of “Five Fools,” and that keeps their World in Sound/PRC Music third album, III/Lost in Time, from being too predictable after the opening “Tired to Fight” seems to set up Thin Lizzy idolatry. They dip into more complex fare on “Leave it All,” somewhere between Skynyrd leads, Deep Purple organ-isms topped with a rousing hook, but keep some shuffle on songs like “Disease” and the earlier “All Has Been Great.” Highlight/closer “Place for Our Soul” seems to be literal in its title, with a more subdued approach and harmonized vocal delivery, and listening to its more patient delivery one can’t help but wonder why that soul should be relegated to the end of the album instead of featured throughout, but the songwriting is solid and the delivery confident, so while familiar, there’s ultimately little to complain about with what III/Lost in Time offers.
Especially with the title of their second EP set as Hate from the Bong, one might be tempted to put Belgian outfit MØLK immediately in the same category of malevolent stoner/sludge metal as the likes of Bongripper, but frankly they sound like they’re having too much fun for that on the five-tracker, reveling in lyrical shenanigans on the politically suspect “Stonefish” and opener “Methamphetamine.” Make no mistake, they’re suitably druggy, but even Hate from the Bong’s title-track seems to keep its tongue in cheek as it unfolds its post-Electric Wizard echoes and tonal morass. That gives the five-piece an honest vibe – they’re a relatively new band, having released their first EP in 2016 as well; why shouldn’t they be having a good time? – to coincide with all that thickened low end and vocal reverb, and though they’re obviously growing, there isn’t much more I’d ask of them from a debut full-length, which is a task they sound ready to take on in these songs.
Italian cult rock outfit Psychedelic Witchcraft have proven somewhat difficult to keep up with over the last year-plus. As they’ve hooked up with Soulseller Records and reissued their Black Magic Man EP (review here), their full-length debut, The Vision, and already announced a follow-up compilation in 2017’s Magick Rites and Spells, the band consistently work to feature the vocals of Virginia Monti (also Dead Witches) amid semi-retro ‘70s-style boogie, as heard on the debut in cuts like “Witches Arise” and “Wicked Ways.” At nine tracks/34 minutes, however, The Vision is deceptively efficient, and though they’re unquestionably playing to style, Psychedelic Witchcraft find room to vary moods on “The Night” and the subdued strum of “The Only One Who Knows,” keeping some sonic diversity while staying largely on-theme lyrically. To call the album cohesive is underselling its purposefulness, but the question is how the band will build on the bluesy soulfulness of “Magic Hour Blues” now that they’ve set this progression in motion. Doesn’t seem like it will be all that long before we find out.
Following the heavy post-rock wash of their 2016 debut album, Tidals, Brooklynite two-piece Spotlights – bassist/guitarist/vocalist Sarah Quintero and guitarist/synthesis/vocalist Mario Quintero – return on the quick with a three-track EP, Spiders, and set themselves toward further sonic expansion. The centerpiece “She Spider” is a Mew cover, electronic beats back opener “A Box of Talking Heads V2” and the spacious closer “Joseph” is a track from Tidals remixed by former Isis drummer Aaron Harris. So, perhaps needless to say, they hit that “expansion” mark pretty head-on. The finale turns out to be the high point, more cinematic in its ambience, but still moving through with an underlying rhythm to the wash of what one might otherwise call drones before becoming more deeply post-Nine Inch Nails in its back half. How many of these elements might show up on Spotlights’ next record, I wouldn’t guess, but the band takes an important step by letting listeners know the potential is there, adding three wings onto their wheelhouse in three tracks, which is as efficient conceptually as it is sonically immersive.
This self-titled second full-length from Malmö, Sweden-based Moon Coven begins with its longest track (immediate points) in “Storm” and works quickly to nail down a far-reaching meld between heavy psych and riffy density. Issued through the much-respected Transubstans Records, it’s a nine-track/50-minute push that can feel unipolar on an initial listen, but largely avoids that trap through tonal hypnosis and fluid shifts into and out of jams on cuts like “The Third Eye,” while centerpiece “Haramukh High” provides a solidified moment before the organ interlude “The Ice Temple” leads into the mega-roll of finisher “White Sun.” What seems to be a brooding sensibility from the artwork – a striking departure from their 2014 debut, Amanita Kingdom – is actually a far more colorful affair than it might at first appear, and well justifies the investment of repeat visits in the far-out nod of “Conspiracy” and the swirling “Winter,” which goes so far as to add melodic texture in the vocals and notably fuzzed guitar, doing much to bolster the proceedings and overarching groove.
The new video from Belgian heavy rock progressives A Supernaut repurposes footage from Alejandro Jodorowsky‘s 1973 festival-of-weirdness The Holy Mountain, and as such, I might recommend not checking it out immediately if you, say, share a cubicle with someone or are otherwise generally employed in a place where there are other people who might walk past and not fully appreciate avant garde filmmaking, let alone the rock-thump-goes-disco pulsations of “Ice,” which is the first tune to be revealed from the Brussels outfit’s impending album, LaMenace, which is due out early in 2017. You never know who’s gonna wind up being a philistine, and I’d hate to have anybody shitcanned for checking out something on this site. Times are tough and we’re a long way — only getting farther — from post-scarcity economies. So just be careful is all I’m saying.
As you make your way through the track and subsequent bio info below, you might notice that A Supernaut — who prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that if you’re smart enough you don’t need more than a single letter to make something your own — ultimately bear little resemblance to the descriptions of their bio. It’s weird enough, especially in this context, but I wouldn’t call “Ice” particularly psychedelic. Nor would I say it sounds like ZZ Top or Grand Funk Railroad. The band underwent an overhaul early last year, becoming a trio for what seems to have been the first time, and to compare “Ice” to a song like “The Fog” (the video for which is on YouTube here), I think you can hear outright the rather significant shift in sound between the two. With the questionable relevance, you might wonder why I bothered including said info at all. Fair enough. It made sense to me in terms of acknowledging how a group’s mission can change in so short a time. You’re certainly entitled to make of it what you will.
Alright, now that we’re all duly buckled in and justified and disclaimered-out, don’t forget that LeMenace will be released in the first part of next year and please enjoy:
Reborn in February 15, A Supernaut is a band made up of 3 Brussels bred musicians, that has been brought to the height of notoriety thanks to its heavy presence on the Brussels scene. Skinny gits rather than greedy buggers, eager socks- and-sandals wearers, branding the Atomnium tattooed in place of the heart and sporting crotch high teeny weeny shorts, the spectacle of their Brussels’ psychedelia is definitely worth the trip.
But let’s talk music, and what can one say other than it does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s Rock, it’s soul, it’s Psychedelia and it’s pure love. Some harsh rock wounded by life, psychedelia that tastes like candy apples and love that will make your head swirl faster than a rollercoaster. It’s beautiful, it shakes you up, it reminds you of ZZ Top – only without the beards – or Grand Funk Railroad that’s slightly derailed; in short it’s a kick in the face with a big ol’ cowboy boot.
But above all it’s Brussels, city of their untamed rock ‘n roller hearts, that their transporting music, oozing energy, contradictions, the fusion of what’s good and bad pays a dark and magic homage.
A Supernaut is: Thomas Venegoni (Bruxelles (BE)) – Guitars, Vocals Nicolas Dekeuster (Bruxelles (BE)) – Bass, Vocals Jean-François Hermand (Bruxelles (BE)) – Drums, Vocals