Enslaved to Release Utgard This Fall; Single Coming May 22

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 31st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

enslaved

There’s a new Enslaved album. It’s called Utgard. It’ll be out this Fall. It’ll probably be brilliant. There’s a single. It’s coming out May 22. It’s not out yet. No. Not yet. Not today. Today’s not May 22. Unless it is. Then it’s out. In that case, I take it all back.

That’s pretty much the news though. After saying they were going to record an album and recording an album, they have recorded an they are releasing an album. Oh yeah, it has a cover. It’s kind of Mordor-esque, but also pretty great. It’s by Truls Espedal, who at this point is basically a member of the band and should probably be considered as such. Doing nine out of their now-15 record covers isn’t nothing. It’s more albums than at least 40 percent of the band have appeared on, for example.

Enslaved are doing the streaming-gig thing on April 1 as part of a big Norwegian brewhaha. That’s cool. I’ve yet to ever watch them play and regret it, in-person or otherwise.

Here’s the album info they’re giving out thus far:

enslaved utgard

ENSLAVED ANNOUNCES NEW ALBUM, “UTGARD,” TO BE RELEASED THIS FALL

BAND REVEALS ARTWORK & ANNOUNCES ONLINE SHOW

Norway’s avantgarde metal heroes ENSLAVED reached out to their fans yesterday, to present them the cover artwork for their upcoming album “Utgard”:

ENSLAVED’s official statement:
“Due to the current situation, we took the decision together with our label Nuclear Blast to postpone the release of ‘Utgard’ to the fall. Therefore, as you can imagine, the whole schedule had to be adjusted quickly! We understand that seeing a video teaser followed by nothing has been confusing. As of today, we can announce that our first single and video will be released on May 22nd, and we can’t wait to share this new music with you all! We are sure you understand that this is for the best.

In the meantime, we’d like to tell you a little more about the ‘Utgard’ cover artwork! This is the 9th consecutive album cover artwork done by Truls Espedal – and like the album itself it is definitely on the wavelength of the long-distance pulse from the Enslaved generator. It is a piece of art that mirrors a massive concept and a band that is also more lyrically and philosophically inspired than ever before. That Truls is a master of his art is established a long time ago, but he has truly outdone himself on this interpretation of our Utgard. Just looking at how the colors and techniques are used to create the depth and grandiosity of the horizon. The perfect travelling companion into these uncharted territories.”

Furthermore, the band announces today to headline the Verftet online music festival in USF, Bergen, on April 1st.
The online event will be streamed via www.bt.no and www.youtube.com.

The band states:
“When the old Bergen ring-fox Mikal Telle asked us to join his and local venue USF’s fantastic initiative that is this festival, we pretty much said “yes and thanks for asking!” before he could finish the sentence. Of course we are itching in our fingers to play now that the world of live music is on halt, but we also saw a chance to get our live music out there to all the fantastic fans out there – the studio recordings is of course a pillar in what Enslaved is, but without the other pillar of playing high-energy shows and creating musical magick together with our magnificent audience – things get out of balance. Now we will have a chance to restore that balance for a virtual time with all of you – and time is time no matter what matter it moves through, right? See you in the ether!”

Enslaved is:
Ivar Bjørnson – guitar
Grutle Kjellson – vocals/bass
Ice Dale – guitar
Håkon Vinje – keys/vocals
Iver Sandøy – drums

http://www.facebook.com/enslaved
https://www.instagram.com/enslavedofficial
http://www.enslaved.no/
http://www.facebook.com/nuclearblastusa
http://instagram.com/nuclearblastusa

Enslaved, “What Else is There” (Röyksopp cover) official video

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Slomosa Post New Single “There is Nothing New Under the Sun”

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 2nd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

slomosa

Based in Bergen on the Western Coast of Norway, the relative newcomer four-piece Slomosa will issue their debut long-player sometime later this year through Apollon Records. Info is scarce in terms of things like when it was recorded, how, by whom, how many songs will be on it or when it’s coming out, but there are two songs streaming — the prior single “Horses” and the newer single “There is Nothing New Under the Sun” — and I dig both. “There is Nothing New Under the Sun” is mega-catchy in an earlier Queens of the Stone Age vein, while “Horses” reminds a bit of The Sword, but maybe that’s splitting hairs because the underlying point here is they’ve got hooks and that’s a damn good place for a new band to start.

They call the style “tundra rock” — a desert with ice, you know — and for that alone, never mind the chorus of “Horses,” they remind me a bit of Washington’s Lords of the North, but that seems more the result of a common influence from the aforementioned The Sword than anything else. Either way, as I said, two tracks out there and I dig it.

You can hear both songs below. “There is Nothing New Under the Sun” and “Horses” are both also up on Spotify, but those embeds look like crap and I’d rather see YouTube players than two of those, so here we go:

slomosa there is nothing new under the sun

Tundra Rock Is Still Alive! Desert Rockers SLOMOSA Share New Single There is Nothing New Under the Sun!

Debut Album later this year.

Not much is known yet of Bergen, Norway’s new shooting stars of huge rock Slomosa, except they are four relatively soft men who play tough and heavy desert rock. But they call it Tundra Rock up there…

Today Slomosa are back with their second single There is Nothing New Under the Sun, and it’s no less heavy than their first single Horses!

The yet untitled debut Album is coming in early 2020 on Apollon Records of Bergen, Norway. Stay tuned.

www.facebook.com/slomosaband
https://www.instagram.com/slomosa
https://soundcloud.com/slomosa
https://sptfy.com/4Qaf
www.apollonrecords.no
www.facebook.com/bergenapollonrecords

Slomosa, “There is Nothing New Under the Sun”

Slomosa, “Horses”

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Enslaved Begin Recording 15th Album for 2020 Release

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 5th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

What’s funny about this is that whenever a press release like this one comes in, the impulse is to picture the band at that very moment recording the album. Like they’re all huddled over the board listening to the drums or basslines to make sure everything’s where it should be, and so on. “Enter studio” can mean a lot of things. Maybe they walked in that day, set up and walked out again. Maybe they’re in there for three days and out and that’s all the time they have. Maybe some are there and some aren’t. I don’t know. It’s a whole spectrum of possibilities. For example, I seem to recall last time the PR wire told me Enslaved were in the studio — beginning the process for what became 2017’s excellent E (review here), I had just hours before seen bassist/vocalist Grutle Kjellson walking around Roadburn in the Netherlands, which, if you know anything about geography, is not at all Norway.

However — and it’s a big however, which is why I put it in italics — “enter studio” does at least mean that work has begun on the next Enslaved album, and whoever has shown up to get things started and however productive their first day or days might be, that’s a step in the right direction. I don’t know how many steps that means between now and release day — April, maybe? — but steps just the same. I’ll take it for now.

2020 is looking pretty sharp already.

Dig:

enslaved in studio

ENSLAVED ENTER STUDIO TO RECORD NEW ALBUM

Norwegian metal avant-gardists ENSLAVED have some big news for their fans: the band have just entered the studio and are currently working on new material for their upcoming album. This new gem will be released once again via Nuclear Blast Records and has a tentative release date of May 2020.

Band founding member and guitarist Ivar Bjørnson stated about the recordings:

“The days are growing darker in the Northern hemisphere – and Bergen is covered in a blanket of frost. This sets the scene as we have entered the studio to record the new Enslaved album. Since our last album, we have a “new” drummer – in quotation marks, since he has been with us behind the scenes for more than a decade. Together with me (Ivar Bjørnson and Grutle Kjellson) he constitutes the production team on this new album – and as before we will record in Bergen in Duper Studio and next door at Iver’s Solslottet Studio. Before crossing the mountains eastwards to Örebro into Fascination Street where Jens Bogren will handle the mix.

The new material I feel is very powerful. The ENSLAVED signature is there, but there is a wild drive and a level of energy that makes me extremely excited. All five members have poured their dedication and souls into the preparations, and there are new sides to the band shown that will elevate this album. “

Just weeks ago, ENSLAVED renewed the bond with Nuclear Blast and re-signed to the label. With that, a successful collaboration lasting for more or less ten years continues. A collaboration that two years ago produced the universally lauded album E, in which the progressive metal masters once again reinvented themselves and brought ENSLAVED to a new level.

ENSLAVED also recently released a stunning new music video for their interpretation of ‘What Else Is There’ by Norwegian electropop band RÖYSKOPP. The song is featured as a bonus track on the digital version of their latest album, E.

ENSLAVED live 2020:
20.03. NL Eindhoven – Prognosis Festival
25. – 27.06. N Ekeberg – Tons of Rock
11. – 12.07. USA Moran, WY – Fire In The Mountains Festival
7. – 9.08. B Kortrijk – Alcatraz Festival

Enslaved is:
Ivar Bjørnson – guitar
Grutle Kjellson – vocals/bass
Ice Dale – guitar
Håkon Vinje – keys/vocals
Iver Sandøy – drums

http://www.facebook.com/enslaved
https://www.instagram.com/enslavedofficial
http://www.enslaved.no/
http://www.facebook.com/nuclearblastusa
http://instagram.com/nuclearblastusa

Enslaved, “What Else is There” (Röyksopp cover) official video

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Enslaved to Headline Fire in the Mountains MMXX in July; Ivar Bjørnson Curating

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 27th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Ivar Bjørnson curating, you say? Sooner or later, it seems like the Enslaved guitarist is just going to have to get his own festival going, but in the meantime, he’ll helm Fire in the Mountains MMXX next July as he’s done for Roadburn in the past, with Enslaved headlining the event as well off in the Grand Tetons in Wyoming, which, if you’ve ever seen videos or photos from it looks like an absolutely astonishing. I’ve only been through Wyoming once in my life, but it’s seriously some of the most beautiful landscape I’ve ever seen, so yeah, I’d watch Enslaved there. Seems only fitting. Those guys should play on mountains pretty much exclusively.

“Oh, you have a stage? That’s cute. Is it on a mountain? No? Ah, sorry, can’t do the show. Check the rider. Mountains only.”

And so on.

Enslaved are newly re-signed to Nuclear Blast for their next record — maybe a release around July to coincide with this fest? nah, too convenient — and they’ve got a new video that you can see below.

Info follows:

fire in the mountains ivar

ENSLAVED TO HEADLINE “FIRE IN THE MOUNTAINS” FESTIVAL 2020

*IVAR BJORNSON ANNOUNCED AS FIRST GUEST CURATOR EVER*

ENSLAVED and “Fires In The Mountains” festival announce an unique collaboration for 2020: The band is not only announced for the first band playing the “Fires In The Mountains” festival next year. Guitarist Ivar Bjornson will also be the first guest curator ever organizing elements of the festival as a whole. The“Fire In The Mountains” festival takes place before the Grand Tetons at Heart Six Ranch in Moran, Wyoming on 11th and 12th July.

The festival about this collaboration:
“Few bands reflect the incredible music legacy that Enslaved has built over the last three decades, as a band that is constantly reinventing itself and exploring new heights and territories for its music, while always maintaining a steadfast sense of identity and integrity. Their music and the forward thinking ethic and honesty of the people behind it have always been a huge influence on us as founders of this event, and thus we are honored to have them as a headliner for 2020. The audience will be in for quite a unique treat to witness the Nordic metal lords performing this special set below the stars, surrounded by the beautiful Rocky Mountains, and we are as well.”

Ivar Bjornson states:
“Our Northern hearts rejoice as we are part of this announcement for Fire in the Mountains 2020! To come to these beautiful parts of good ol’ Vinland and headline an outdoor festival is nothing short of a dream come through. We will present a very special show and cannot wait to share this weekend with the other artists, audience and the hard working folks behind the festival! To the mountains!”

Alongside with this exclusive experience, Ivar Bjornson as a guest curator will present a feature showcase of the event, titled “On Wings Over Utgard” what already promises to become a memorable event. This feature presentation will consist of a handful of musical acts handpicked by Ivar, as well as several other elements of the festival that will be revealed over time.

Ivar Bjornson adds: “It is a massive honor to be asked to be the first guest curator for the Fire in the Mountain festival. I have decided to name my curator showcase “On Wings Over Utgard”; inspired by the thematic from the coming ENSLAVED album. Modern man is a being that has forgotten how chaos, darkness and decay are as important and beautiful parts of existence as all the bliss, youth and light we over-feed ourselves in the (dis-)Information Age. What better scenic metaphor to realize this part of the overall vision than at Fire in the Mountains; surrounded by wild, chaotic nature. Where life is how it was meant to be; uncontrolled, balanced and unified. I cannot wait to start showing you all the artists I am inviting to sonically and lyrically illustrate all this! Thank you Shane and festival team for giving me this opportunity.”

ENSLAVED released their studio album “E.” in October 2017. Recently, the band from Norway unleashed a music video for their cover version of RÖYKSOPP’s “What Else Is There”, featured as bonus track on the digital version of “E.”.

Enslaved is:
Ivar Bjørnson – guitar
Grutle Kjellson – vocals/bass
Ice Dale – guitar
Håkon Vinje – keys/vocals
Iver Sandøy – drums

http://www.facebook.com/enslaved
https://www.instagram.com/enslavedofficial
http://www.enslaved.no/
http://www.facebook.com/nuclearblastusa
http://instagram.com/nuclearblastusa

Enslaved, “What Else is There” (Röyksopp cover) official video

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Enslaved Post “What Else is There” Video; Re-Sign with Nuclear Blast

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 15th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

enslaved

If you were Norwegian progressive black metallers Enslaved, why wouldn’t you re-up your deal with Nuclear Blast? And if you were the label, why wouldn’t you re-sign the band? It’s a pairing that’s worked for both sides, with the long-running Bergen outfit expanding their reach and influence across the globe while giving the imprint another act to hang its hat on and say, “fuck yes we put that stuff out.” Enslaved just finished a two-year touring cycle for their more-or-less-brilliant 14th album, E (review here).

That was their third long-player for Nuclear Blast behind 2015’s In Times (review here) and 2012’s Riitiir (review here) — they signed after issuing 2010’s Axioma Ethica Odini (review here) on Indie Recordings and in the meantime have established their own label, By Norse Music, which has stood behind reissues of their own work as well as the 2017 live album, Roadburn Live (review here) — and even as recent years have found bassist/vocalist Grutle Kjellson and guitarists Ivar Bjørnson and Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal recruiting new drummer Iver Sandøy and, crucially, keyboardist/clean-vocalist Håkon Vinje, their relentless sonic pursuit has pushed forward unabated. Plus, as evidenced by the two years they’ve just spent on the road, they tour like bastards.

Again, if you’re the label, they’re very much a band you want to continue working with.

It’s Vinje‘s vocals that are highlighted in the cover of Tromsø electro-duo Röyksopp “What Else is There” that was included as a bonus track on the limited edition of E, the band flirting with pop and new wave before blindsiding it with a bit of good old fashioned rippery. It’s a fun cut and worth highlighting, and while the video invokes Bergman and a looming sense of disaster, it’s not quite as dramatic as “The River’s Mouth” (posted here) from the album itself, which I suppose is fine too. Enslaved are certainly no strangers to changing things up. No reason that can’t extend to visuals.

With the deal in place and the E touring cycle complete, I’d expect the band to take some time off before getting back to work on LP number 15, but of course the underlying message of re-signing is that their intention is to continue on their current path, so it’s only fair to expect news sometime in the next year about stirrings and new songs, recording plans and so on. That will be welcome whenever it arrives, certainly.

Enjoy the clip:

Enslaved, “What Else is There” (Röyksopp cover) official video

There is ample reason to celebrate: ENSLAVED have once again joined forces with Nuclear Blast, to spread the music of the Norwegian avant-garde metallers all around the globe. With that, band and label renew a collaboration that has been ongoing for around ten years and two years ago produced the universally lauded album E.

Band founding member and guitarist Ivar Bjornson stated about the re-signing:
“It is with great pleasure we re-sign our record deal with Nuclear Blast worldwide! We have been working together for more or less a decade, and it has been an individed positive experience. They have both the heart to grasp our musical visions, and the business-muscles to spread them out into the world. When you add personal friendships with the wonderful people in America, U.K. and Germany it is simply an ideal situation for us to be in. Onwards, forwards and in all directions!”

To mark the occasion, ENSLAVED present a stunning new music video filled with atmospheric imagery for their interpretation of ‘What Else Is There’ by Norwegian electro-pop band RÖYSKOPP. The song is featured as a bonus track on the digital version of their latest album, E.

Enslaved is:
Ivar Bjørnson – guitar
Grutle Kjellson – vocals/bass
Ice Dale – guitar
Håkon Vinje – keys/vocals
Iver Sandøy – drums

Enslaved on Thee Facebooks

Enslaved on Instagram

Enslaved website

Nuclear Blast on Thee Facebooks

Nuclear Blast on Instagram

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Quarterly Review: Sumac, Cortez & Wasted Theory, Thunder Horse, The Howling Eye, Grime, URSA, Earthling Society, Bismarck, Grand Reunion, Pledge

Posted in Reviews on December 7th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

As we land on what would otherwise be the end of a Quarterly Review — day 5, hitting the standard 50 records across the span of a week that this time we’re doubling with another 50 next week — it occurs to me not how much 100 albums is, but how much it isn’t. I mean, it’s a lot, don’t get me wrong. I’ve been sitting and writing about 10 records every day this week. I know how much that is. But it’s astounding to me just how much more there is. With the emails I get from people looking for reviews, discs sent in the mail, the messages on Facebook and everything else, I could do another 100, easy.

Well, maybe not ‘easy,’ but it would be full.

Is it a new golden age of heavy? 45 years from now are rockers going to look back and say, “Hell yeah, from like 2012-2019 was where it’s at,” all wistful like they do now for the ’70s? Will the Heavy ’10s be a retro style? I don’t know. But if it was going to happen, there would certainly be enough of an archive to fuel it. I do my best to cover as much as I can, but sometimes I feel like we barely crack the surface. With 100 records.

That said, time’s a-wasting.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Sumac, Love in Shadow

sumac love in shadow

What are Sumac if not the most vital and highest profile atmospheric metal act out there today? With Aaron Turner (Isis, etc.) on guitar/vocals, Brian Cook (Russian Circles) on bass and Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists) on drums, they qualify easily as a supergroup, and yet their third album, Love in Shadow (on Thrill Jockey), is still more about creative growth and the exploration of sound than anything else. Certainly more than ego — and if it was a self-indulgent exercise, it’d probably still be pretty good, frankly. As it stands, the four massive tracks through which Sumac follow-up 2016’s What One Becomes (review here) and their 2015 debut, The Deal (review here), refine the sound Sumac has developed over the past three years-plus into a sprawling and passion-driven sprawl that’s encompassing in scope, challenging in its noise quotient, and in utter refusal to not progress in its approach. And when Sumac move forward, as they do here, they seem to bring the entire aesthetic with them.

Sumac on Thee Facebooks

Thrill Jockey Records on Bandcamp

 

Cortez & Wasted Theory, The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter Nine

cortez wasted theory second coming of heavy ch 9

Ripple Music‘s split series The Second Coming of Heavy hits its ninth chapter in bringing together Boston’s Cortez and Delaware’s Wasted Theory, and neither band fails to live up to the occasion. Cortez‘s range only seems to grow each time they hit the studio — vocalist Matt Harrington makes easy highlights of the opener and longest track (immediate points) “The Firmament” and the echo-laden “Close” — and Wasted Theory‘s “Ditchpig,” “Abominatrix,” “Baptized in Gasoline” and “Heresy Dealer” are so saturated with whiskey it might as well be coming out of their pores. It’s a decidedly North/South release, with Cortez rolling straightforward New England heavy rock through “Fog of Whores” and the Deep Purple cover “Stormbringer” while Wasted Theory dig with all good speed into a grit that’s more and more become their own with time, but there’s a shared penchant for hooks and groove between the two acts that draws them together, and whatever aspects they may or may not share are ultimately trumped by that. As Ripple starts to wind down the series, they continue to highlight some of the finest in heavy that the underground has to offer. One would expect no less.

Cortez on Thee Facebooks

Wasted Theory on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Thunder Horse, Thunder Horse

thunder horse thunder horse

There’s an unmistakable sense of presence throughout Thunder Horse‘s six-song/43-minute self-titled debut that undercuts the notion of it as being the San Antonio four-piece’s first album. With professionalism and a firm sense of what they want to be as a band, the Texans liberally sprinkle samples throughout their material and hone a professional sound built around massive riffs and even-more-massive lumbering grooves. Indeed, they’re not strangers to each other, as three-fourths of the group — guitarist/vocalists Stephen Bishop, guitarist/sampler T.C. Connally and drummer Jason West — double in the more industrial-minded Pitbull Daycare, whose debut LP came out in 1997. Completed by bassist/vocalist Dave Crow, Thunder Horse successfully cross the genre threshold and are well comfortable in longer cuts like “Liber ad Christ Milites Templi” and “This is the End,” both of which top nine minutes, and shorter pieces like the rocking “Demons Speak” and the shimmering finale “Pray for Rain.” With “Coming Home” and the sneering “Blood Ritual” at the outset, Thunder Horse pulls listener quickly toward dark atmospheres and flourishes amid the weighted tones therein.

Thunder Horse on Thee Facebooks

Thunder Horse on Bandcamp

 

The Howling Eye, Sonorous

the howling eye sonorous

Poland’s The Howling Eye make a lengthy long-player debut with Sonorous, but more important than the reach of their runtimes — closer “Weedblazer” tops 16 minutes, the earlier “Reflections” hits 12, etc. — the reach of the actual material. The common pattern has been that psychedelic jamming and doom are two distinct things, but The Howling Eye tap into a cosmic interpretation of rolling riffs and push it with an open spirit far into the ether of spontaneous creation. It’s a blend that a group would seem to need to be cautious to wield, lest the whole notion fall flat, but with the assurance of marked chemistry behind them, the Bydgoszcz-based trio of drummer/sometimes vocalist Hubert “Cebula” Lewandowski (also harmonica where applicable), guitarist Jan Chojnowski and bassist Mi?osz Wojciechowski boldly shift from the more structured beginnings of the funky “Kairos” and the aggro beginning “Stranded” into an outward push that’s ambient, psychedelic and naturalistic all at once, with room left over for more funk and even some rockabilly on “The Potion.” It is not a minor conglomeration, but it works.

The Howling Eye on Thee Facebooks

The Howling Eye on Bandcamp

 

Grime, What Have We Become

grime what have we become

Their roots in metal, North Dakota trio Grime — not to be confused with the Italian sludge outfit of the same name — unleash their first full-length in the form of What Have We Become, an ambitious 51-minute offering of progressive heavy rock marked by thoughtful lyrics and fluid songwriting made all the more so by the shared vocals of bassist Andrew Wickenheiser and guitarist Nick Jensen, who together with drummer Tim Gray (who would seem to have been replaced by Cale Mogard) effect a classic feel through “Alone in the Dark” while chugging and winding through the not-a-cover “Hand of Doom” with some harsher vocals peppered in for good measure. Seven-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Through the Eye” sets a broad tone that the rest of the record seems to build on, with the penultimate “Sunshine” delivering the title line ahead of the grittier closer “The Constant Grind,” which seems to payoff everything before it with a final explosion before a big rock finish. They’ll need to decide whether their sound will ultimately tighten up or loosen over time, but for now, what they’ve become is a band with a solid foundation to grow from.

Grime on Thee Facebooks

Grime on Bandcamp

 

URSA, Abyss Between the Stars

ursa abyss between the stars

Modern doom meets a swath of metallic influences on URSA‘s full-length debut, Abyss Between the Stars (on Blood Music), as members of Petaluma, California’s Cormorant take on such classic themes as wizards, dragons, yetis, witches, a spider king, mountains, and… actually, yeah, that covers the six included tracks on the 46-minute LP, which shifts gracefully between epic fantasy doom and darker, soemtimes more extreme fare. It’s easy enough to put URSA in the narrative of a band started — circa 2016 — around a central idea, rather than just dudes picking up instruments and seeing what happened next. Not just because bassist/vocalist Matt Solis, guitarist/keyboardist Nick Cohon and drummer Brennan Kunkel were already three-quarters of another band, but because of the purposefulness with which they approach their subject matter and the cohesion in all facets of their approach. They may be exploring new ground here, but they’re doing so on sure footing, and that comes not only from their experience playing together, but from knowing exactly where they want to be in terms of sound. I would not be surprised if that sound adopted more post-Candlemass grandeur with time — one can hear that burgeoning in “Serengeti Yeti” — but whatever direction they want to go, their debut will only help them on that path.

URSA on Thee Facebooks

Blood Music website

 

Earthling Society, MO – The Demon

earthling society mo the demon

Look, if you can’t get down with a bunch of freaks like Earthling Society tapping into the lysergic fabric of the cosmos to come up with an unsolicited soundtrack to a Hong Kong martial arts movie, I just don’t know what to tell you. Issued by Riot Season, the seven-track MO – The Demon is reportedly the end of the band’s technicolor daydream, and as they crash their plane into the side of “Mountains of Bliss” and hone space rock obliteration throughout “Super Holy Monk Defeats the Black Magic Mothafucker,” their particular experimentalist charm and go-anywhere-anytime sensibility demonstrates plainly exactly why it will be missed. There’s a sharp high-pitched tone at the start of opener “Theme from MO – The Demon” that’s actually pretty abrasive, but by the time they’re through the kosmiche laser assault in “Spring Snow” and the let’s-be-flower-children-until-it’s-time-to-freak-the-fuck-out throb of closer “Jetina Grove,” that is but a distant memory. So is consciousness. Fare thee well, Earthling Society. You were a band who only sought to make sense to yourselves, and for that, were all the more commendable.

Earthling Society on Thee Facebooks

Riot Season Records on Bandcamp

 

Bismarck, Urkraft

bismarck urkraft

Norwegian five-piece Bismarck bring spaciousness to doom riffing on their debut album, Urkraft, which is constructed of five molten tracks for a 34-minute totality that seems much broader than the time it takes to listen. Vocals are growls and shouts across a cosmic stretch of tone, giving a somewhat aggressive pulse to heavier psychedelic soundscaping, but a bouncing rhythm behind “A Golden Throne” assures the song is accessible one way or the other. The 10-minute “Vril-Ya” is naturally where they range the farthest, but the Bergen outfit even there seem to be playing by a set of aesthetic principles that includes maintaining a grounded groove no matter how spaced they might otherwise get. Rolling riffs bookend in opener “Harbinger” and closer “The Usher,” as “A Golden Throne,” playing-to-both-sides centerpiece “Iron Kingdom” and the subsequent “Vril-Ya” explore atmospheres that remain resonant despite the low end weight that seems to chug out beneath them. The mix by Chris Fielding at Skyhammer (who also co-engineered) doesn’t hurt in crafting their largesse, but something tells me Urkraft was going to sound big no matter what.

Bismarck on Thee Facebooks

Apollon Records website

 

Grand Reunion, In the Station

grand reunion in the station

In the Station doesn’t seem like anything too fancy at first. It’s produced cleanly, but not in any kind of overblown fashion, and Grand Reunion‘s songwriting is so solid that, especially the first time through their eight-track debut LP, it’s easy to say, “Okay, that’s another cool hook,” and not notice subtleties like when the organs turn to keyboard synth between opener “Eres Tan Serpiente” and second cut “Gordon Shumway,” or to miss the Latin percussion that Javier Tapia adds to Manuel Yañez‘s drumming, or the ways that guitarist Christian Spencer, keyboardist Pablo Saveedra, bassist Mario Rodríguez and Tapia work to complement guitarist Cristóbal Pacheco on vocals. But all of that is happening, and as they make their way toward and through the eight-minute fuzzer “Band Band the Headbang,” through the soaring “Weedow” and into the acoustic-led closer “It’s Alright,” the character and maturity in Grand Reunion‘s songwriting shows itself more and more, inviting multiple listens in the most natural fashion possible: by making you want to hear it again.

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Pledge, Resilience

pledge resilience

16 minutes of scathing post-hardcore/sludge from Portuguese four-piece Pledge, who are in and out of their Resilience EP with a clean break and a windmill kick to the face. The newcomers lack nothing for ferocity, and with the throat-searing screams of Sofia M.L. out in front of the mix, violent intentions are unmistakable. “Profer Lumen Caecis,” “The Great Inbetweeness,” “Doom and Redemption” and “The Peter, the Wolf” nonetheless have groove built on varying degrees of extremity and angularity, with Vítor Vaz‘s bass maintaining a steady presence alongside the guitar of Hugo Martins and Filipe Romariz‘s drumming, frenetic as it sometimes is. I wouldn’t say things calm down in “The Peter, the Wolf” so much as the boiling seems to take place beneath the surface, waiting for a time to burst out, which it eventually does, but either way, for all its harsher aspects, Pledge‘s material isn’t at all void of engagement. It does, however, state the requirement right there on the front cover.

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Quarterly Review: Wolves in the Throne Room, Gravy Jones, Marmora, Mouth, Les Lekin, Leather Lung, Torso, Jim Healey, Daxma, The Re-Stoned

Posted in Reviews on January 9th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Lodewijk de Vadder (1605-1655) - 17th Century Etching, Landscape with Two Farms

The Obelisk’s Quarterly Review continues today with day two of five. I don’t mind telling you — in fact I’m pretty happy to tell you — that this one’s all over the place. Black metal, post-metal, singer-songwriter stuff, psych jams, heavy rock. I feel like I’ve had to go to great pains not to use the word “weird” like 17 times. But I guess that’s what’s doing it for me these days. The universe has plenty of riffs. All the better when they start doing something different or new or even just a little strange. I think, anyhow. Alright, enough lollygagging. Time to dive in.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Wolves in the Throne Room, Thrice Woven

wolves in the throne room thrice woven

True, it’s something of a cliché when it comes to Wolves in the Throne Room to think of their work as “an awaited return,” and perhaps that speaks to the level of anticipation with which their outings are greeted generally. Nonetheless, Thrice Woven arrives via the band’s own Artemisia Records six years after Celestial Lineage, their last proper full-length, and three after its companion, Celestite (review here), so the five-track/42-minute offering from the USBM innovators is legitimately due. The Washington-based troupe’s black-metal-of-the-land remains heavily focused on atmosphere, with a sharp, experimental-feeling turn to ambience and melody in opener “Born from the Serpent’s Eye” and the later drone interlude “Mother Owl, Father Ocean” that precedes the rampaging closer “Fires Roar in the Palace of the Moon,” which caps Thrice Woven with a long fade into the sound of rolling waves. Between them, “The Old Ones are with Us” casts a vision of blackened folk-doom that seems to pull off what Agalloch was always aiming for, and centerpiece “Angrboda” blasts through an early wash before splitting near the midsection to minimalism and rebuilding itself on a slow march. 15 years on from their beginning, Wolves in the Throne Room still sound like no one else, and continue to push themselves forward creatively.

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Artemisia Records on Bandcamp

 

Gravy Jones, Funeral Pyre

gravy jones funeral pyre

It’s a crazy world into which Gravy Jones invite their listeners on their self-issued debut full-length, Funeral Pyre, and the fire they bring is born of a molten classic psychedelic rock underpinned by low end weight and further distinguished by its use of organ and proto-metallic vocal proclamations. Opener and longest track (immediate points) “Heavens Bliss” tops 10 minutes in its weirdo roll, and subsequent cuts “The Burning of the Witch” and “It Came from the Sea” do little to dispel the off-center vibe, the former dug into rawer NWOBHM-ism and the latter, the centerpiece of the five-tracker, beaming in from some kind of alt-universe Deep Purple idolatry to lead into the particularly doomed “Gilgamesh” and the shuffle-into-noisefest onslaught of the closing title-track. All told it’s 41 minutes of bizarre excursion that’s deceptively cohesive and feels like the start of a longer-term sonic exploration. Whether or not Gravy Jones even out sound-wise or hold to such an unhinged vibe, they definitely pique interest here.

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Marmora, Criterion

marmora criterion

Criterion – yes, like the collection – is the debut EP from Chicago four-piece Marmora, who released a single in 2013 before the core brotherly trio of Zaid (guitar), Alejandro (bass) and Ulysses (drums) Salazar hooked up with vocalist/guitarist/synthesist Allan Cardenas in 2015. The three-tracker that has resulted begins with its title-cut, which thrusts forth a wash of heavy post-rock that makes an impression in weight as much as space before turning to the more grounded, propulsive, aggressive and punkishly noise-caked “Apathy” and closer “Flowers in Your Garden,” which turns traditional heavy rock riffery on its head with frenetic drum work and rhythmic turns that feel born of modern progressive metal. Significant as the crunch factor and aggro pulsations are, Criterion isn’t at all without a corresponding sense of atmosphere, and though there isn’t much tying these three tracks together, for a first EP, there doesn’t need to be. Let that come later. For now, the boot to the ass is enough.

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Mouth, Live ’71

mouth live 71

Perhaps in part as a holdover between their 2017 second album, Vortex (review here), and the impending Floating to be issued in 2018, German progressive retroists Mouth offer Live ’71. No, it was not actually recorded in 1971. Nor, to my knowledge, was it recorded in 2071 and sent back in time in a slingshot maneuver around the sun. It’s just a play on the raw, captured-from-the-stage sound of the 55-minute set, which opens at a 19-minute sprawl with “Vortex” itself and only deep-dives further from there, whether it’s into the keyboard throb of “Parade,” the nuanced twists of “Into the Light” or the more straightforward riffing of “On the Boat.” There’s room for all this scope and the stomp of “Master Volume Voice” in a Mouth set, it would seem, and if Live ’71 is indeed a stopgap, it’s one that shows off the individualized personality of the long-running band who seem to still be exploring even as they approach the 20-year mark.

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Les Lekin, Died with Fear

les lekin died with fear

A second full-length from Austrian heavy psych trio Les Lekin, Died with Fear is perhaps more threatening in its title than in its overall aesthetic. The four inclusions on the 43-minute follow-up to 2014’s All Black Rainbow Moon (review here) set their mission not necessarily in conveying terror or some overarching sense of darkness – though low end is a major factor throughout – as in cosmic hypnosis born of repetition and chemistry-fueled heavy psychedelic progressivism. Well at home in the extended and atmospheric “Orca” (10:41), “Inert” (10:21), “Vast” (8:59) and “Morph” (13:34), the three-piece of guitarist Peter G., bassist Beat B. and drummer Kerstin W. recorded live and in so doing held fast to what feels very much like a natural and developing dynamic between them, their material all the more fluid for it but carrying more of a sense of craft than most might expect from a release that, ostensibly, is based around jams. Sweeping and switched-on in kind, Died with Fear turns out to be remarkably vibrant for something under a banner so grim.

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Leather Lung, Lost in Temptation

leather lung lost in temptation

Oh, they’re mad about it, to be sure. I’m not sure what ‘it’ ultimately is, but whatever, it’s got Leather Lung good and pissed off. Still, the Boston-based onslaught specialists’ debut full-length, Lost in Temptation, has more to its cacophony than sheer violence, and though that intelligence is somewhat undercut by the hey-check-it-out-it’s-cartoon-tits-and-also-because-snakes-are-like-wieners cover art, the marriage between fuckall noise intensity on “Gin and Chronic” and trades between growl-topped thrust and more open and melodic plod on “Shadow of the Scythe” and upbeat rock on “Momentum of Misfortune.” Put it in your “go figure” file that the closer “Destination: Void,” which is marked as an outro, is the longest inclusion on the 28-minute offering, but by then due pummel has been served throughout pieces like “Deaf Adder” and “Freak Flag” amid the willful stoner idolatry of “The Spice Melange,” so there’s texture in the assault as well. Yeah though, that cover. Woof.

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Torso, Limbs

torso limbs

I won’t deny the strength of approach Austria’s Torso demonstrate across Limbs, their StoneFree Records debut LP, in the straightforward structures of songs like “Meaning Existence” or “Mirror of My Mind” or “Skinny and Bony” and the semi-acoustic penultimate grown-up-grunge alternarocker “Down the Highway,” but it’s hard to listen to the nine-minute spread of “Red Moon” in the midsection of the album and not come away from its patient psychedelic execution thinking of it as a highlight. Shades of post-rock and moodier fare make themselves known in “Come Closer” and the righteously melodic “Ride Up,” and closer “Voices” delivers a resounding payoff, but it’s “Red Moon” that summarizes the atmospheric and emotional scope with which Torso are working and most draws together the various elements at play into a cohesive singularity. One hopes it’s a model they’ll follow going forward, but neither should doing so necessarily draw away from the songwriting prowess they show here. It’s a balance that, having been struck, feels ready to be manipulated.

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StoneFree Records website

 

Jim Healey, Just a Minute More

jim healey just a minute more

Companioned immediately by a digital release of the demos on which it’s based, including four other songs that didn’t make the cut of the final, studio-recorded EP, Jim Healey’s Just a Minute More conveys its sense of longing in the title and moves quickly to stake its place in a long-running canon of singer-songwriterisms. Healey, known for fronting metal and heavy rock acts like We’re all Gonna Die, Black Thai, Set Fire, etc., could easily come across as a case of dual personality in the sweetly, unabashedly sentimental, acoustic-based opener “The Road” or the more-plugged-in “You and I” at the outset, but in the fuzzed-out centerpiece “Swamp Thing,” the emotionally weighted memorable hook of “Faced,” and the piano-topped payoff of closer “Burn Up,” the 18-minute EP unfurls a sense of variety and a full-band sound that sets the project Jim Healey on its own course even apart from the man himself. Some of those other demos aren’t too bad either. Just saying.

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Daxma, The Head Which Becomes the Skull

daxma-the-head-which-becomes-the-skull

Signed to Magnetic Eye for the release, Oakland post-metal five-piece Daxma answer the ambition of their half-hour single-song 2016 debut EP, The Nowhere of Shangri-La, with the even-fuller-length The Head Which Becomes the Skull, demonstrating a clear intent toward sonic patience and ambient reach that balances subtle builds and crashes with engaging immersiveness and nod. Three of the six total inclusions top 10 minutes, and within opener “Birth” (10:53), “Abandoning All Hope” (11:34) and the penultimate “Our Lives Will be Erased by the Shifting Sands of the Desert” (13:42), one finds significant breadth, but not to be discounted either are the roll of “Wanderings/Beneath the Sky,” the avant feel of the closing title-track or even the 80-second drone interlude “Aufheben,” which like all that surrounds it, feeds into a consuming ambience that undercuts the notion of The Head Which Becomes the Skull as a debut album for its purposefulness and evocative soundscaping.

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Magnetic Eye Records on Bandcamp

 

The Re-Stoned, Chronoclasm

the re-stoned chronoclasm

For their first new outing since they revisited their debut EP in 2016 with Reptiles Return (review here), Moscow instrumentalists The Re-Stoned cast forth Chronoclasm, a six-track long-player of new material recorded over 2015 and 2016 that ties together its near-hour-long runtime with a consistency of guitarist Ilya Lipkin’s lead tone and a steady interweaving of acoustic elements. “Human Without Body,” “Save Me Under the Emerald Glass,” “Psychedelic Soya Barbecue” and the title-track seem to have some nuance of countrified swing to their groove, but it’s lysergic swirl that ultimately rules the day throughout Chronoclasm, Yaroslav Shevchenko’s drums keeping the material grounded around Lipkin’s guitar and Vladimir Kislyakov’s bass. The trio are joined on percussion by Evgeniy Tkachev on percussion for the CD bonus track “Quartz Crystals,” which picks up from the quiet end of “Chronoclasm” itself and feels like a nine-minute improve extension of its serene mood, adding further progressive sensibility to an already wide scope.

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Enslaved Post “The River’s Mouth” Video; E out this Week

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

enslaved

On Friday, Norway’s Enslaved release their 14th long-player, E (review here), and if that doesn’t sound like an event to you worth marking, you’re going to want to take the five minutes out of your busy day to check out the band’s new video below. Directed as was the prior visualization for album opener “Storm Son” (posted here) that introduced the first public audio from the record by Josh Graham (A Storm of LightBattle of MiceRed SparowesIIVII, art for NeurosisSoundgarden, etc.), the video highlights a dark sense of ritual that fits well alongside the unabashed extremity of “The River’s Mouth” itself, which in directly following the progressively-minded 10-minute “Storm Son” in the tracklisting provides arguably the most fervent straight-ahead drive of the entire release.

I’d hardly call it stripped down, and I think if you listen/watch, you’ll agree with that assessment, but it has fewer twists than a lot of E, and so “The River’s Mouth” seems all the more direct in the delivery of its ideas, sonic as well as thematic. I just reviewed the album — link is in the first sentence if you missed it — and so I’ll spare you going through the whole thing again, but suffice it to say that one of the things that most makes me a fan of this band is their refusal to stop growing as artists. 14 records in, a lot of groups would have long since settled into a standard operating procedure, probably since their third or fourth full-length, and like very few others, that’s never been the case with Enslaved. Each time out, they have something new to say, some natural progression to undertake. It’s not always leaps and bounds, but it’s whatever shifts have manifested themselves naturally and find themselves with a role to play in their sound.

For this I consider Enslaved one of the most respectable bands on the planet, and E is in my eyes and ears a candidate for album of the year. There. I said it.

Note once more the contributions of new keyboardist/vocalist Håkon Vinje in “The River’s Mouth” alongside bassist Grutle Kjellson‘s verses. Dude makes himself right at home.

Much PR wire whatnot and tour dates follow the video.

Enjoy:

Enslaved, “The River’s Mouth” official video

ENSLAVED will finally unleash their new album E and prove that for a band with more than 25 years of history, they are still reinventing themselves. While the 10-minute-long opening track “Storm Son” gave fans a taster of what to expect from the new album, the single “The River’s Mouth” reveals a heavier and more harsh side of the 14th full-length release. Watch the official video for “The River’s Mouth”, which was once again created by Josh Graham (SOUNDGARDEN, NEUROSIS), here: https://youtu.be/Y8HX_vGPCz8

Songwriter and guitarist Ivar explains: “‘The River’s Mouth’ is a quite heavy track, drawing both on our rock roots and of course the foundation of everything awesome: mid-80s, mid-paced Bathory. It also includes some odd space-rock in the choruses and the end part – finally BATHORY and HAWKWIND met. I like the energy of this song a lot – both Cato and new-kid-on-the-chopping-block Håkon is doing such a great job with the psychedelic parts, the chorus and the ending. What a drive! The end sounds like travelling at insane speed through wormholes. The theme here is your relationship with the “future”, as we describe it: The sensation of time moving along is a construction of our brains – physics claims all time to already have been “rolled out”; try wrapping our brains around that one! So the future would be, speaking in tabloid; a piece of land we just haven’t arrived at yet. But it is already here. The song is about acting in tandem with your future self which already arrived at this “future island” – do not sit and wait, make sure you lay the ground for what is to happen in the future, now!”

E will be available in the following formats;

CD digipak
Red Cassette – limited to 300 worldwide
Red with Bone and Grey Splatter – limited to 900 worldwide
BUNDLE: T-shirt + CD Digi + 5 metal pin set + wooden coaster + 11×17 poster

CD Digipak:
1. Storm Son
2. The River’s Mouth
3. Sacred Horse
4. Axis Of The Worlds
5. Feathers Of Eolh
6. Hiindsiight
Bonus Tracks
7. Djupet
8. What Else Is There (Röyksopp Cover)

 

You can now pre-order the physical editions of the album here: http://nuclearblast.com/enslaved-e

Or get the digital version and stream new track “Storm Son” via this link: http://nblast.de/EnslavedDigital

ENSLAVED are set to embark on a headline tour through Europe, with special support acts hand-selected by the band. Be sure to catch them on one of the following dates:

10.11. D Hamburg – Logo (w/ IMPERIUM DEKADENZ & HERETOIR)
11.11. D Berlin – Nuke (w/ IMPERIUM DEKADENZ & HERETOIR)
12.11. D Cologne – Underground (w/ IMPERIUM DEKADENZ & HERETOIR)
13.11. NL Utrecht – Tivoli de Helling
15.11 UK Manchester – o2 Ritz (supporting OPETH)
16.11 UK Glasgow – Barrowlands (supporting OPETH)
17.11. UK Belfast – The Limelight 1 (supporting OPETH)
18.11. IRL Dublin – The Academy (supporting OPETH) *sold out*
19.11. UK Nottingham – Rock City (supporting OPETH)
21.11 UK Bristol – o2 Academy (supporting OPETH)
22.11 UK Birmingham – o2 Institute (supporting OPETH)
24.11. UK London – Islington Assembly Hall (w/ DARKHER & SVALBARD)
25.11. F Paris – Trabendo (w/ LOST IN KIEV & WOLVE)
26.11. B Vosselaar – Biebob
28.11. F Rezé – Barakason (w/ LOST IN KIEV & WOLVE)
29.11. F Lyon – CCO Villeurbanne (w/ LOST IN KIEV & WOLVE)
30.11. I Brescia – Circolo Colony
01.12. CH Pratteln – Z7
02.12. D Frankfurt – Das Bett (w/ ZATOKREV)
03.12. CZ Prague – Chelmnice (w/ ZATOKREV)
16.12. RU Moscow – Volta
17.12. RU St. Petersburg – Club Zal

Get tickets for the German shows here in our shop:
http://www.nuclearblast.de/de/produkte/tickets/indoor/ticket/enslaved-european-tour-2017.html

But before touring Europe, ENSLAVED play two special release shows in their home country Norway, where you can hear the new songs live for the very first time, meet the band at the merch stand and get two unique gig posters for free:

AISA & Time Out Agency presents:
w/ SIBIIR
12.10 N Oslo – Blå
13.10 N Bergen – Garage

26.10. S Stockholm – Close-Up Baten 21
1.-5.02. USA Miami – 70.000 Tons Of Metal

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