Albez Duz, Wings of Tzinacan: Season’s Omens (Plus Full Album Stream)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 24th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster


[Click play above to stream Albez Duz’s Wings of Tzinacan in full. Album is out Oct. 28 via Listenable Records.]

In its use of Aztec language (actually Nahuatl) as well as its cover art and sound, Wings of Tzinacan is very much a follow-up to Albez Duz‘s 2014 sophomore outing, The Coming of Mictlan (review here). Released as their first through Listenable Records, it finds the Berlin-based cult rockers working as a trio, with founding drummer/multi-instrumentalist Eugen Herbst (ex-Dies Irae) and vocalist Alfonso Brito Lopez having brought on guitarist Julia Neuman — they’ve done live shows as a five-piece, and also currently list David Petersen as a full-time member, so the situation seems in some flux — and further codifying the gothic themes of the preceding record in a way that draws their various stylistic sides together into one cohesive statement.

That statement comes loaded with echoing spaces, weighted groove, righteously dark melodies, top-grade organ work on songs like “Our Lord the Flayed One,” and adds up to an eight-track/51-minute excursion into murk that calls to mind Type O Negative and The Butterfly Effect-era Moonspell as much as Paradise Lost while still retaining an identity of its own in its sense of atmosphere, depth of mix and arrangement flourish. More perhaps than its predecessor, Wings of Tzinacan — the word translates to “bat” — steps forward with a singular idea of what it wants to do. Where The Coming of Mictlan explored a range of ideas, and Wings of Tzinacan operates similarly, the third album moves ahead from the second by having those ideas push further toward a singular emotional and sonic expression.

All of that said, I don’t necessarily think one has to have heard The Coming of Mictlan, which was released through Iron Bonehead and Archaic Sounds, to appreciate what Albez Duz have on offer here. Lopez delivers a striking performance in classic metal frontman fashion, and the instrumental arrangements behind him — from the full-toned headbang roll of second track “Reflections” through the calling bats of “Tzinacan’s Rising” to the grueling desolation of the penultimate “Death Whistle,” in which volume ebbs and flows but the lurching sense of agony remains constant — engage with both their diversity of approach and how that approach never veers from the mission of best serving the song at hand and the album as a whole. Each half of Wings of Tzinacan begins with its longest track, and while I’m not sure exactly of the vinyl structure — that is, as a 51-minute CD/digital stretch, it’s possible one or two songs don’t appear on the LP for time constraint — the immersion both of them bring about helps set up what the ensuing portion of the record has to offer.


With opener “The Uprising,” the metallic chug prominent early in its 9:44 run builds in intensity but gives way toward the midsection to reunion-era Celtic Frost-type malevolence, slower, meaner, wider, and the arrival of keys signals a transition into a longer atmospheric break. Satisfyingly, they return to the central riff before finishing out, and in accord, “Reflections” and “Our Lord the Flayed One” both offer a blend of straightforward-ish hooks and grand-in-the-presentation downer atmospherics — the latter delving into extreme metal growls and shred late while still keeping a relatively moderate tempo; a fascinating meld rarely so fluidly executed — before the quieter, mournful organ of “Innocence Gate” begins a turn toward some of the broader-reaching material that “Sacred Flame” (the longest inclusion at 9:46) will establish as the course for Wings of Tzinacan‘s unfolding side B.

“Innocence Gate” is also a transition in a sense of how it plays out with the songs surrounding, and by that I mean how it picks up from “Our Lord the Flayed One” and leads into “Sacred Flame.” Where “The Uprising,” “Reflections” and “Our Lord the Flayed One” stand alone and certainly each cut has its personality, particularly as the album progresses and particularly on repeat listens, “Innocence Gate” begins a conversation that “Sacred Flame” continues — Lopez reminding of Amorphis‘ Tomi Joutsen in his delivery — by building momentum to lead through the bats-notwithstanding instrumental “Tzinacan’s Rising,” the growling horrors of “Death Whistle” and closer “Omen Filled Season,” which in a mirror of what “The Uprising” itself did before it was done, seems to go back toward a more straightforward (again, -ish) push to finish out. It’s this whole-album mentality that Albez Duz so successfully convey this time around and which, if one was to speculate on a direction for future evolution of the band, seems the most likely candidate.

There is, as for everyone all the time everywhere, room to go further, but Wings of Tzinacan gracefully balances diversity of approach with overarching intent and leads its listeners down a grim path without wholly losing itself in indulgences or letting its theatrical elements take away from the impact the material is clearly meant to have. In clarity and in the sureness of the hands guiding it, it is very much a third full-length, but Albez Duz haven’t stopped growing yet and I wouldn’t expect them to now either.

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Samsara Blues Experiment Working on Fourth Album; Playing Berlin Next Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 17th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Three quick years since Berlin heavy psych progressives Samsara Blues Experiment made their most expansive statement to-date with their third album, Waiting for the Flood (review here). That record, which was hands down one of that year’s best, found them traveling Stateside for the first time since they were a demo band, playing a slot at Psycho California in 2015. There was a minute there where I thought that trip was the end of them. After transitioning from a four-piece to a trio already, they seemed to take a break after returning to Germany as guitarist/vocalist Chris Peters focused on solo work and bassist Hans Eiselt turned his attention more to producing.

Good news is they’re not, in fact, done. In addition to being confirmed last week for Desertfest London 2017 (info here), Samsara Blues Experiment have a fourth album in progress now. They’ll also be playing a hometown gig at the end of next month — their only show for 2016 — alongside Muddy Orchid, who are about to release a new single.

I’d guess the timeline on the new full-length will put it somewhere around that Desertfest appearance, but in addition to noting that the band isn’t going to sign with “a metal label” — I’m assuming that means Napalm Records or Century Media, both based in Germany — there’s nothing actually confirmed for a date. Peters, meanwhile, will have a follow-up solo effort as well to this year’s The Hermit (review here), which came out on his own Electric Magic Records imprint.

And now that I’ve just told you everything they’re about to tell you, here’s them telling you:


Samsara Blues Experiment have almost finished writing songs for the 4th album.

We will present all of these five new tracks live for the first time at our November show in Berlin. The release of the album can be expected in around next Spring.

And: We have not, neither will we sign with a Metal label.

Chris a.k.a. Surya Kris Peters has also finished recording a follow-up to his solo debut LP “The Hermit”, which shall be released in very early 2017 on Electric Magic Records.

Recently there´s also been a collaboration with a friend band of ours, which is Muddy Orchid (feat. first SBE-drummer Robin Niehoff). Chris put down some Slide Guitar and Sitar on their new and coming 7″ record, which shall be released in late November 2016.

First string of shows for next year will be announced over the coming weeks as well. One of the very first is Desertfest London!

Samsara Blues Experiment, Waiting for the Flood (2013)

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Kadavar Post Video for “Reich Der Träume” from Berlin Visual Album

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 6th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster


I had been kind of curious to see how Kadavar might handle their Nico cover as they continued their ‘Visual Album’ project for their 2015 third full-length, Berlin (review here). The closer of the record, “Reich Der Träume” is a pretty significant departure from cuts like “Lord of the Sky,” “Filthy Illusion” and “Pale Blue Eyes” — each of which has also already received its own video (posted here, here and here, respectively) — and caps Berlin with a mellow, melancholic, psychedelic vibe. They may have remixed the track for the video — the vocals seem more forward than I recall from prior listens, though that could also be my laptop speakers, which as we all know is no way to hear anything correctly, ever — but the mood is much the same, and in this case, the mood is everything.

One could say that of much of Kadavar‘s work, I guess, but it’s what that mood represents that’s shifted here. Where “Lord of the Sky” or “Last Living Dinosaur” or “The Old Man” bask in uptempo bounce and highlight the German trio’s ultra-catchy songcraft, “Reich Der Träume” willfully represents another take entirely. It might be most closely related to their tripped-out split with Aqua Nebula Oscillator, but is less lysergic in its substance if still dreamy. I’d have sworn I saw “Reich Der Träume” listed as a bonus track for Berlin at some point, so didn’t know if the band would include it in the ‘Visual Album’ collection — their stated intent to make a video for every song on the album within the span of a year — but they give it a suitably fluid visual accompaniment here, working once again with artist Nathini van der Meer as they have throughout the entirety of the project.

Enjoy the clip below, followed by some comment from the band via the PR wire:

Kadavar, “Reich Der Träume” official video

We have released the fourth video for the »Berlin« visual album concept.

Together with long-time friend and collaborator Nathini van der Meer (, who has created artwork and videos for them in the past, Kadavar are working on their first “Visual Album”- 12 short films accompanying each of the albums’ songs, to be released once a month throughout the entirety of the year.

Commented the band: “The song was originally written for Nico by Lutz Graf (LÜÜL), known for his work with bands like ASH RA TEMPEL, AGITATION FREE or 17 HIPPIES. It is the first song Lupus sings German on. We liked the heavy mood of the song. Within the music as well as in the lyrics. It’s one of the most beautiful Nico songs which unfortunately was barely recognized until now. We were very proud when we got LÜÜL’s blessing to cover the song.”

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Setalight Festival 2016 Announces Lineup for Oct. 21-22 in Berlin

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 18th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

setalight festival 2016 header

The fall festival season kicks off in Europe before fall even starts. It’s like car companies rolling out next year’s models before we’re halfway through this year (though we are that now as well; you get my point). It seems like between August and November there isn’t a week when one if not multiple nations is playing host to a swath of quality bands, and Setalight Festival 2016 throws itself into the heart of the fray on Oct. 21 and 22, hosting an already-packed two-day lineup at the these-are-German-words Zukunft am Ostkreuz venue in Berlin.

I’m not sure if this is the complete lineup or not. It could be, easily. As of now, jam-prone Dutch trio The Machine, and Germany’s own Mother Engine — veterans of Freak Valley and Desertfest Berlin, no doubt among others — will also take part, as well as East-meets-West groovers Samavayo (based in Berlin), French mostly-instrumentalists Glowsun, uptempo rockers Phiasco and a host of others, some familiar — looking at you, Motorowl — and some less so. A couple names to investigate below, since if Setalight Records — which of course is putting on the festival — knows anything it’s how to pick bands.

The particulars came down the PR wire:

setalight festival 2016 poster

The Berlin based music label SETALIGHT presents the 4th time bands out of Stonerrock, Heavy & Hard Rock, Doom, Noise and Psychedelic Rock. Beside known bands of the scene, we will also present new or unknown bands.

For the lineup, we picked some great bands out of the dust, such as:

and many more.

When / where:

The SETALIGHT FESTIVAL will take place from 21st to 22nd of October 2016 in Berlin, (Club: Zukunft am Ostkreuz). The pre-sale just started. Get more information at the links:

The Machine, “Coda Sun” official video

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Kadavar Post “Lord of the Sky” Video as Part of Berlin Visual Album

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 24th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

kadavar (Photo by Joe Dilworth)

It’s been a little more than a month since German heavy rock forerunners Kadavar posted the last installment of their series of videos for their 2015 third album, Berlin (review here). That clip was for “Filthy Illusion” (posted here) and was a distinct shift in vibe from the preceding “Pale Blue Eyes” (posted here), the band working on the stated intention of releasing a video for every song on the record within the next year. If they include the Nico cover “Reich der Träume” that closed the record, they’re on pace to finish by roughly next March — a year from when they started — so it could legitimately happen. I’ve never undertaken coordinating the logistics of making a music video, but it never struck me as something that would be particularly easy to do.

One has to imagine that when they’re done, Kadavar and director Nathini van der Meer will somehow put together a physical version of the clips to sell, whether it’s part of a deluxe Berlin reissue that Nuclear Blast does (no confirmation on that, this is just speculation) or with a live album, live show or some other kind of DVD release. Nothing against YouTube, but it seems like for as much effort is clearly being put into making these videos — van der Meer again gives a different look with the latest, for “Lord of the Sky” — they deserve some kind of physical issue. Maybe that’s me being old. Actually, no maybe about it. That’s definitely me being old. Not sure that makes me wrong.

I’ve been doing my best to keep up with these as they’ve come out and will continue to do so for the duration, however long that might actually last. If nothing else, it highlights the point of just how front-to-back Berlin was, in that every song on it stood out and was worthy of attention and focus. A year-long reminder of that would seem to be fitting as far as giving the record its due, so long as it doesn’t hold the band back from writing the next one.

Enjoy “Lord of the Sky” below, followed by more info from the PR wire:

Kadavar, “Lord of the Sky” official video

Together with long-time friend and collaborator Nathini van der Meer (, who has created artwork and videos for them in the past, they are working on their first “Visual Album”- 12 short films accompanying each of the albums’ songs, to be released once a month throughout the entirety of the year.

Comments the band: “The song is about freedom, about watching your city and your life from a certain distance – from the bird’s-eye view. Just like we see our city from that perspective when we’re on tour. Problems and tasks just seem to vanish the more you recede from ground. At the same time you need to push your wings against the wind to gain altitude and not get off course. The hopes, memories and expectations with which you leave your city you will always keep.”

“The video is also about things that simply don’t change,” adds Nathini. That’s why we chose to use this old man who’s just doing his thing for like forever. He goes to work every day, does his job and probably doesn’t realize that his surroundings are changing and becoming crazier and crazier. He lives in the bird’s-eye perspective and keeps a certain distance to things.”

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Surya Kris Peters, The Hermit: Intricate Experiments

Posted in Reviews on June 9th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

surya kris peters the hermit

To be withdrawn is the principal aspect of bring a hermit. One pictures a long white beard of someone living in a cave on a hillside, who has removed themselves completely from society and would rather be along. Introversion taken to its most extreme end. Hermits also traditionally have the assumption of some known wisdom. Think of Nietzsche’s Also Sprach Zarathustra. We believe the hermit knows something because, since they choose to eschew human contact, they must invariably spend all that time lost in deep thought. It’s an evocative title for Surya Kris Peters‘ first physically-pressed LP — that being The Hermit, on Electric Magic Records — and the cover of the album shows the figure from the tarot card of the same name, underscoring the notion of wisdom at work behind the pulling of one’s self out of the larger public sphere.

It’s easy to see or at least to read into why Surya Kris Peters — aka Christian Peters, also guitarist/vocalist/spearhead of the off-focus-but-not-entirely-defunct Samsara Blues Experiment — might pick the title. Surya Kris Peters has had a couple digital releases out over the last year, and Peters‘ prior solo-project, Soulitude, collected home recordings for the So Came Restless Night (review here) album in 2013, but still, one might understand The Hermit as a phase in a musical withdrawal into the self, Peters delving in its eight tracks/43 minutes deeply into the roots of his own influences, blending electronic and analog elements for rich, varied, almost-entirely instrumental soundscapes and mood pieces that, in some way, define who he is as an artist at this moment.

It can be a dark vision, as on the penultimate “Chandra Luna,” which starts out with a rare moment of whimsy before shifting into slow-rolling synth march, or on the contemplative grunge minimalist guitar work of the earlier, shorter “Winterbottom.” The lack of vocals across most of the board — something Peters also chose to keep out of 2015’s Status Flux digital-only long-player — adds as much to the evocative feel as it detracts. We aren’t told directly what the percussive start of opener “Eremitage” or its space-synth/sitar are expressing, so we put our own meaning behind it. In that way, The Hermit engages rather than repels, working against its title to bring the audience in, and that’s a thread that continues as the album progresses through “Ragamati”‘s East-meets-West krautrock blend, the melancholy drift of “Snow Feather” after “Winterbottom,” and so on.

surya kris peters

Peters seems to be worried less about tying these pieces together than making them complete individually, but The Hermit has a certain kind of flow all the same — one certainly assumes “Moonstruck Serenade” and “Chandra Luna” are related thematically, based on their titles and placement next to each other — and while some cuts are more built up, as is “Ragamati,” a song like “The Legend of Raja Shakuu” basically relies on synth with a background of effects wash for its nine-minute stretch, so the context is fluid depending on the song, and though he quite clearly knows what he’s doing, Peters keeps a sense of experimentalism underlying the material here, so that creative growth is a prevalent aspect of the album’s forward progression. Indeed, it might be the defining characteristic.

Some of the tradeoff there is that at times the experiments can feel more driven by the exploration than songwriting, leaving one to wonder as “Moonstruck Serenade” gives way to “Chandra Luna” what live drums might’ve brought to the proceedings alongside the percussion deep in the mix, or even another player to join in on the fun with the analog synth — how these pieces could continue to be built out. That’s not the mission of The Hermit, obviously, and it’s not as though this material hasn’t been worked over, I’d guess meticulously, in its layering and mix, just that by their very nature, they lead the listener into a creative sphere as well in terms of thinking of directions they could keep reaching further. “Chandra Luna” boasts the only vocals on the album, and they’re buried deep and echoing, chant-like, so not much of an anchor there, and closer “La Morriña” (“the nostalgia”) brings together suitably wistful guitar and underscores it with theremin-esque resonance, giving a sense of weirdness to what would seem to be otherwise unabashed emotionalism.

Maybe part of that undercutting is related to the process of making The Hermit so personal, a deflection of emotional seriousness with humor — one could write a thesis on the psychology of solo albums — but either way, it’s a last-minute moment of quirk to follow-up on the intro to “Chandra Luna” and show that Peters isn’t completely ingrained in the expression of darker sonic ideas. Being so self-contained, Surya Kris Peters as a project seems like the kind that could easily become prolific over the next several years — one might recall that Samsara Blues Experiment worked at a pretty good clip between records as well for a while there — but whatever happens going forward, as the first physical release, The Hermit represents Peters‘ creative breadth well and communicates far more to its audience than its antisocial title might indicate.

Surya Kris Peters, The Hermit (2016)

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Earthship Premiere Lyric Video for “Valley of Thorns”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 4th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster


To call Berlin’s Earthship (also stylized as Earth Ship) a sludge rock band is really only telling half the story. Maybe even less than half. I haven’t had the pleasure yet as regards their impending fourth full-length, Hollowed — out June 24 via Napalm Records — but to listen to “Valley of Thorns,” there’s sludge, yeah, but also metallic underpinnings that come through in the guitar periodically, a hint of Slayer here, some black metal, something more extreme in the middle, more progressive in the ending. Couple that with a shift into melodies brazenly born out of the self-titled-era Alice in Chains playbook, which is ground few dare to tread, and Earthship emerge four minutes later with a sound that seems less indebted to genre than built outward from it.

If sonic individuality isn’t enough to intrigue on principle, there’s also songwriting at work, and a sense of scope to “Valley of Thorns” as it moves between these elements, almost struggling against itself as it works out verses and choruses en route to a bleaker, chugging midsection. Growls back cleaner singing as they unleash the true hook in the nodding second half, and they finish with a torrent of a guitar solo before cutting “Valley of Thorns” short presumably to make way for what follows in the tracklisting (if you’re curious, it’s “Conjured”). How representative “Valley of Thorns” might be of Hollowed as a whole, again, I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find Earthship changing up their approach, considering their past releases and the fact that a band so intentionally stylistically broad is rarely content to stand still.

You can find the premiere of a new lyric video for “Valley of Thorns” below, followed by some comment from the band on the track.

Please enjoy:

Earthship, “Valley of Thorns” lyric video

Earthship on “Valley of Thorns”

“VALLEY OF THORNS is one of our faster, a bit more progressive and cheerful tracks of the album but quite the opposite are the lyrics, mainly dealing with emptiness and despair. A sad and lonesome trip into oblivion but in a very colorful and metaphorical way. It shows you up somehow that we’re all running our private race against time before it’s all over and gone. Life is short, let’s get some shots!”

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Kadavar Continue Visual Album with “Filthy Illusion”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 2nd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

kadavar filthy illusion video

It’s not strobes or anything, but if you’re sensitive to flashing lights or things like that, you might want to approach the new Kadavar video with some measure of caution. The clip for “Filthy Illusion” continues the German heavy rock forerunners’ intention toward representing each of the tracks from their 2015 third outing, Berlin (review here), with a video — they’re calling it a “visual album,” which is fair enough — and follows behind “Pale Blue Eyes,” which was posted in March. The three-piece also previously had videos for “The Old Man” (posted here) and “Last Living Dinosaur” (posted here), so they’re already well on their way toward a clip for all the songs on Berlin.

Kadavar just this weekend wrapped up a quick Australian tour that I believe was their second behind a run in 2013, and will spend much of the summer taking part in European festival season, with slots at HellfestGraspopCopenhell and many others slated. As to what the fall and beyond might hold, I don’t know. They worked pretty quickly between their first two records and there was only a two-year split between 2013’s Abra Kadavar (review here) and Berlin, so it’s entirely possible they’ll embark on putting together a new album for release sometime in 2017, but the response to Berlin has been considerable. They might just have more road-time to put in to make sure, you know, the entire planet is covered and whatnot.

Either way, the presumption is that the series of videos for Berlin‘s cuts will continue all the while, and between “Filthy Illusion” and “Pale Blue Eyes,” they’ve already established a pretty broad spectrum within which to work going forward. I guess we’ll see how the rest shakes out when we get there.

Enjoy “Filthy Illusion,” followed by more info from the PR wire, below:

Kadavar, “Filthy Illusion” official video

KADAVAR have released the second video for the Berlin visual album concept. Watch the video for “Filthy Illusion” on the Nuclear Blast YouTube channel!

Together with long-time friend and collaborator Nathini van der Meer (, who has created artwork and videos for them in the past, they are working on their first “Visual Album”- 12 short films accompanying each of the albums’ songs, to be released once a month throughout the entirety of the year.

Commented the band: “You lose ground under your feet. No crutch, no hope, only a plunge into the deep unknown. Life always challenges you and you either fail or you grow out of it. No matter what you do, to get on your feet again, in the end it’s just a ‘Filthy Illusion’ and just right around the next corner there’s a another black hole trying to suck you right in.”

For the second video for the visual album concept, Nathini did just that – more visuality than a story line. An optical illusion perfectly matching the song that aesthetically captivates the audience and puts them in a kind of ecstatic trance. A bit trippy, a bit poppy, a bit dirty, just as the song itself, the video was shot with old, analogue lenses. A studio set up that matches KADAVAR’s live performances because in those, in their sound and light show you can also easily lose yourself.

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