Review & Video Premiere: Slomatics, Canyons

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

Slomatics Canyons

Slomatics, “Mind Fortresses on Theia” official video premiere

[Click play above to stream the video premiere of “Mind Fortresses on Theia” from Slomatics’ Canyons. Album is out June 14 on Black Bow Records.]

2019 marks 15 years since the advent of Northern Irish riffslayers Slomatics, and Canyons finds them charting a new path forward. Their last three albums, 2012’s A Hocht, 2014’s Estron (review here) and 2016’s Future Echo Returns (review here), followed a narrative structure and made for a play in three acts happening over developing sonic depth in such a way that made the last installment truly feel like a conclusion. Released by Black Bow RecordsCanyons follows 2017’s Futurians: Live at Roadburn (review here) — which was something of a victory lap for those three records — and the Belfast three-piece’s 2018 split with Mammoth Weed Wizard BastardTotems (review here). It’s the latter, which was by my estimation the best short release of last year, that would relate closest to what guitarists David Marjury and Chris Couzens and drummer/vocalist/synthesist Marty Harvey are doing with Canyons.

Those familiar with the band will know that their ply and trade is massive tonal heft with Harvey‘s shouted melodic vocals cutting through, atmospheric sampling and whatnot bolstering an otherworldly feel that never really touches on psychedelia in the effects-wash sense of execution, but has plenty of “out there”-ness to it just the same. It’s a sound that was and remains remarkably well suited to a sci-fi thematic, and though they’ve let go of some of that from the narrative arc they ended in 2016, songs like “Cosmic Guilt,” on which the vocals seem to be directly referencing Cathedral in their style, and “Mind Fortresses on Theia” and the 9:28 opener and longest track (immediate points) “Gears of Despair” have that element to them, even as side A finale “Telemachus, My Son” acts as an apparent sequel to “Ulysses, My Father,” which appeared on the band’s 2014 split with Holly Hunt (discussed here) and album-closer “Organic Caverns II” follows up on who knows what. Someone else’s song named “Organic Caverns,” maybe? Because Slomatics don’t have one. So there. Still an air of mystery around them.

Where the “new path” idea comes from is the increased use of synth and melody alongside all that nod and crush. Slomatics aren’t necessarily going prog, at least not any more than they already were, but the balance of elements in their sound is shifting here, so that “Beyond the Canopy” leads off side B with a break into a stretch of quiet guitar before its ultra-slow, deeply-weighted lumber kicks back in, and that even its opening crawl welcomes a melodic lead either of guitar effects or keys before the next verse. The increased melodic base of the vocals is something that comes forward in the midsection of “Gears of Despair,” and there along with the rest of the record, it’s not about Slomatics being less heavy — because, quite simply, they aren’t — but about adding range to that weight and pushing into places they haven’t been before.

They’ll be well recognizable to those who’ve encountered them before, but as the synth-topped interlude “Seven Echoes” provides a bridge between “Cosmic Guilt” and “Telemachus, My Son,” and side B’s mellotron-into-noise-wash “Arms of the Sun” bridges “Beyond the Canopy” and “Mind Fortresses on Theia,” it’s clear that mood has become a different level of concern for Slomatics, and that their songwriting has expanded in order to allow for that. I’ll say again that Slomatics remain a very, very heavy band, and they don’t sound like they’re looking to depart from the core tonality that has driven them toward their best work, but perhaps taking some influence from the aforementioned Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, they move in and out of volume changes with ease, crafting a more dynamic and broader sound that only enhances the densest moments of groove, like the chugging plod that rounds out “Organic Caverns II” at the end of Canyons or the slow-motion stomp and forward roll of “Beyond the Canopy.”

In kind, there is a level of symmetry to Canyons that the linear nature of storytelling couldn’t really allow for on other recent releases; a conversation between the two sides of the eight-song/44-minute release. The most obvious example is that each half of the LP has its interlude in “Seven Echoes” or “Arms of the Sun.” They’re differently placed, but both well positioned to act both as transitions and a hypnotic moment to help put the listener in the world the album is making. Further, “Mind Fortresses on Theia” shares some of “Cosmic Guilt”‘s post-Lee Dorrian vocalizing, and the harsher low-end of “Gears of Despair” seems to find an answer as well in the early going of “Organic Caverns II.” “Beyond the Canopy” might be the most outwardly heavy moment on Canyons, but it still finds room for a cinematic push of synth, and that’s also something “Gears of Despair” introduced. So while the songs may not — or they may; Slomatics were never really clear on just what was happening — tie into the plot of the offerings before it, it works in different ways to have the material relate to itself, and that’s before one considers “Telemachus, My Son” in relation to “Ulysses, My Father.”

The underlying point, I suppose, is that Slomatics have grown to be a more complex band, and that Canyons demonstrates that in multiple facets of its songwriting and arrangement. That kind of thing can garner a mixed response sometimes from a fanbase, but the way they go about it here doesn’t lead one to think they’re going to run into many detractors. Without diving headfirst into hyperbole — though a sound so big could arguably warrant it — theirs is an approach that has it both ways, and they pull it off by adding to the mix rather than taking something away. Canyons are huge, and Slomatics carve out a few here, but what matters most of all is that a decade and a half later, they refuse to be restrained either by their own approach or the outside tenets of genre. They sound like a band writing the songs they want to write, exploring the reaches they want to explore, and as a result of that, their every lurch, push or wash is more resonant. If that’s to be the narrative they’re working with now, then all the better.

Slomatics on Thee Facebooks

Slomatics on Bandcamp

Black Bow Records

Tags: , , , , ,

Elder Druid Post Golgotha Cover Art; Album Due Late 2019

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

elder druid

Northern Irish riffers Elder Druid are preparing to release their second full-length later this year. Titled Golgotha, it will be the answer to 2017’s Carmina Satanae, which saw them blending sludge burl and doomed atmospheres and themes to encouraging and engaging degrees. What does the new album hold? Beats the hell out of me — I haven’t heard it yet. But if the cover art by Mariusz Lewandowski is anything to go by, things won’t be any less bleak this time around. Lewandowski was the painter behind the the striking cover of Bell Witch‘s Mirror Reaper, and Golgotha would seem to be on-point in terms of its general outlook. Murky and depressive. Heavy like slumped shoulders.

There’s no audio from the record as yet, or even a solid release date made public, so there’s probably more to come before the album is actually out — unless they get sneaky and just drop it without telling anyone first; it happens — but until then, the cover art and tracklisting are what there is to go on, so that’s what I’m going on. If you’re curious to learn what a song called “Paegan Dawn of Anubis” sounds like, me too. I’ll look forward to finding out.

Here’s the art and their corresponding post:

elder-druid-golgotha

ELDER DRUID – ‘GOLGOTHA’

Delighted to finally reveal the artwork and tracklist for our second full-length album, ‘Golgotha’, due for release in late 2019.

We have the honour of using this piece by one of the greatest surrealist painters in the world right now… the mighty Mariusz Lewandowski. (The artist behind Bell Witch’s ‘Mirror Reaper’ and Shrine Of The Serpent’s ‘Entropic Disillusion’).

Recorded in our rehearsal space in Belfast.

TRACKLIST:
1. Golgotha
2. Dreadnought
3. Sleeping Giant
4. Vincere Vel Mori
5. Sentinel
6. Paegan Dawn of Anubis
7. The Archmage

Elder Druid is:
Gregg McDowell – Vocals,
Jake Wallace – Guitar,
Mikey Scott – Guitar,
Dale Hughes – Bass,
Brien Gillen – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/elderdruidband
https://elderdruid.bandcamp.com/releases
http://www.instagram.com/elderdruidband

Elder Druid, Golgotha (2017)

Tags: , , , , , ,

Review & Full Album Premiere: Witchfinder, Hazy Rites

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on March 29th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

witchfinder hazy rites

[Click play above to stream Hazy Rites by Witchfinder in its entirety. Album is out April 1 on Black Bow Records.]

Witchfinder‘s Hazy Rites isn’t so much a melting pot as it is a steaming cauldron of influences from the sphere of modern doom, sludge, and tonal onslaught. To listen to tracks like “Satan’s Haze” and “Covendoom,” two 10-minute riff-pushers stacked right at the front following opener “Ouija,” the Witchcult Today-era Electric Wizard-fandom comes through rolling and massive in the plodding riffs, vaguely cultish theme, resounding tonal murk and the vocals echoing up from it. Yet, the subsequent centerpiece “Sexual Intercourse” has a different focus on melody that calls to mind Elephant Tree before turning later into vicious screams and sludgy nod. The penultimate “Sorry” — just speculation, but I don’t think the apology is sincere — turns similarly caustic, and even “Ouija” back at the outset is working with different methods, a slow initial unfolding that soon enough gives way to Conan-style tonal dominance and melodic shouting.

All the more fitting, then, that Hazy Rites should arrive as the Clermont-Ferrand, France, trio’s first offering through Black Bow Records, owned by Conan‘s Jon Davis, whose Blackskull Services has also taken them on as a management client. Witchfinder made their self-titled debut in 2017 and were given a look last year from Kozmik Artifactz for a vinyl release, but Hazy Rites, at a willfully unmanageable seven songs and 60 minutes makes that 40-minute four-tracker seem almost like an EP, and what bassist/vocalist Clément, guitarist Stan and drummer Tom bring to bear across the mostly-lumbering beast they’ve conjured is broader than the preceding record and also more sure of itself, with “Wild Trippin'” unafraid to dig into heavy psychedelic doom in the vein of Windhand early before Stan‘s guitar turns from its utterly engrossing thickness to take flight and lead a spacious apex section ahead of the swinging finish en route to “Sorry,” which follows. All the while, Witchfinder seem to be casting the elements from which they comprise their sound as a burgeoning persona, aided by the subtle turns of influence and periodic fits of shroom doom or more vicious sludge.

Among its other strengths, Hazy Rites is a reminder to just about anyone who hears it what a difference an excellent drummer can make. It’s not about the technicality in Tom‘s playing, but even the force with which he hits the snare in the second half of “Ouija” comes through in the recording, and he proves well up to the task of holding together the album at its foggiest moments, as on “Satan’s Haze” or the turn from the speedier swing to the stomping finish of “Sexual Intercourse” where he deftly accents his crash hits with the kick drum, the ultra-slow march of “Covendoom” and “Sorry” or the malleability he shows in closer “Dans l’Instant,” holding onto the central rhythm for a moment even as the church organ that leads the way out for the last two minutes or so comes on and seems to consume the track in progress. He wouldn’t have that work to do without the context of the entire band, of course, so I’m not trying to take away from what Clément or Stan add to the record — it would be ridiculous to do so — but it’s plain to hear even as the vocals sing out over timed crashes in “Dans l’Instant” before the last roll ensues that Tom is the kind of player who brings a band to another level.

witchfinder

The production, handled at Satanic Audio in Poland, doesn’t hurt either, as the low end of bass and the alternatingly crushing and airy guitar become themes around which the songs function, and showcase not only a sense of what makes something heavy in terms of tone and groove, but how to use that as a foundation for exploration in songwriting. They’re not going so far out as to get lost — again, having those drums on the ground is a more than solid base to work from — but their style ends up being as much about atmosphere as about heft, and they don’t neglect either as the record plays out, whether it’s purposefully immersing the listener in “Satan’s Haze” and “Covendoom” back to back, or putting “Sorry” between “Wild Trippin'” and “Dans l’Instant” to add an element of the extreme amid Hazy Rites‘ most psychedelic fare. There’s consciousness at work here, addled though it might be.

Still, it’s the largesse that’s going to be the primary impression. The fact that Witchfinder sound huge as they roll their way through “Ouija” or “Sexual Intercourse” — the latter of which might also be the broadest-ranging cut they have here, with some touch of harmony to the vocals, an ethereal effects-wash of a solo, and then the turn before the five-minute mark to more forward-driving screamy sludge and the inevitable slowdown that ends it — is going to be the immediate standout factor. Echoing on Clément‘s voice adds to the sense of space in which the songs play out, and they dutifully fill that space with waves of distortion that seem bent only on pulling apart everything in their path.

But that’s not the end of Witchfinder‘s story, the deeper one digs in to Hazy Rites, the more one is likely to uncover, whether it’s in the melodies of “Wild Trippin'” or the brutality of the hits in “Sorry,” and the more satisfying the record ultimately becomes. Nod out if you must, but do so at the risk of missing the growth the band has undertaken in the couple years since their debut, and though it’s long at an hour’s runtime, that becomes part of the point of Hazy Rites in that it’s about creating the world this material inhabits even as the songs unfold. The converted will know what’s up — doom for doomers by doomers — and that would seem to be with whom Witchfinder are casting their lot here. Nothing wrong with that, certainly, and as France’s heavy underground continues to evolve, they seem primed to do just the same, whether that means more harmonies or tonal weight or screams or, preferably, all of it.

Witchfinder on Thee Facebooks

Witchfinder on Bandcamp

Black Bow Records website

Black Bow Records webstore

Black Bow Records on Bandcamp

Black Bow Records on Thee Facebooks

Tags: , , , , ,

Elder Druid Announce Tour with Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 10th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

elder druid

chubby thunderous bad kush masters (photo by Rishi Rai Photography)

Yes, it’s only four days, but I mean, look at that poster. Just look at it. How on earth was I not going to embrace the radness of that poster? And as Northern Ireland’s Elder Druid and England’s Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters head out on their second tour together given the much-less-cumbersome designation of ‘Elder Kush 2,’ they’ll meet up with Lacertilia on March 29 for what’s been dubbed a “Fuck Brexit Party.” I don’t care if you’re all for dissolving the European Union and descending back into nationalist tribalism, you have to at least appreciate the fact that they made it a party.

The March 30 date is also of particular note, as it will be an appearance for both bands at Riffolution Festival 2019 alongside Elephant Tree, Belzebong and others you can see below. Speaking of parties, I’d say that just about qualifies.

And for good measure, the run ends March 31 at The Black Heart in London, which remains a great place to see a show, even if they don’t let babies in the downstairs bar. Nobody’s perfect, but a night at The Black Heart remains damn near a guaranteed good time in my experience.

So, off you go:

elder druid chubby thunderous tour

ELDER KUSH 2 TOUR

Stoked to announce that we’re heading across the water again to do a second tour with London’s tie-dye fuzz goblins Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters across England & Wales.
28/03: Arches Venue Coventry | Coventry
29/03: The Moon Cardiff | Cardiff w/ Lacertilia
30/03: Rebellion Manchester | Manchester
31/03: The Black Heart | London

Event pages in the comments!

Got some killer company including Lacertilia in Cardiff, GNOB in London and the likes of BelzebonG, Elephant Tree, The Necromancers & Tuskar in Manchester for Riffolution Festival 2019.

Poster: Subliminal Vision

https://www.facebook.com/elderdruidband
https://elderdruid.bandcamp.com/releases
http://www.instagram.com/elderdruidband

http://facebook.com/chubbythunderousbadkushmasters
https://chubbythunderousbadkushmasters.bandcamp.com/
https://www.instagram.com/ChubbyThunderousBadKushMasters

Elder Druid, Carmina Satanae (2017)

Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters, Come and Chutney (2018)

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Quarterly Review: Earthless, Satan’s Satyrs, Mantar, Child, T.G. Olson, Canyon, Circle of the Sun, Mythic Sunship, Svarta Stugan, Bast

Posted in Reviews on December 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

There isn’t enough coffee in the universe, but I’ve got mine and I’m ready to burn the living crap out of my tongue if that’s what it takes to get through. We’ve arrived at Day 4 of the Quarterly Review, and though we’re less than halfway to the 100-album goal set by some maniac sitting at his kitchen table with a now-burnt tongue, there’s been an awful lot of good stuff so far. More even than I thought going into it, and I slate this stuff.

That said, today’s list is pretty killer. A lot of these bands will be more familiar than maybe has been the case or will be on some of the other days of this Quarterly Review. It just kind of worked out that way as I was putting it together. But hey, a few bigger bands here, a few “debut EP” demos there. It’s all good fun.

So let’s go.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Earthless, From the West

earthless from the west

Bonus points to whatever clever cat correctly decided that Earthless‘ 2018 studio album, Black Heaven (review here), needed a companion live record. With artwork mimicking a Led Zeppelin bootleg of the same name, From the West arrives through Silver Current and Nuclear Blast capturing the most powerful of power trios earlier this year in San Francisco, and it’s like the fire emoji came to life. With Mike Eginton‘s bass as the anchor and Mario Rubalcaba‘s drums as the driving force, guitarist Isaiah Mitchell starts ripping holes in the fabric of spacetime with “Black Heaven” and doesn’t stop until 64 minutes later as “Acid Crusher” dissolves into noise. Of course “Gifted by the Wind” from the latest LP is a highlight, and suitably enough, they cover Zeppelin‘s “Communication Breakdown,” but I’m not sure anything tops the extended take on “Uluru Rock” from 2013’s From the Ages (review here) — and yes, I mean that. Of course they pair it with the 1:48 surge of “Volt Rush,” because they’re Earthless, and brilliant is what they do. Every set they play should be recorded for posterity.

Earthless website

Silver Current Records on Bandcamp

Earthless at Nuclear Blast webstore

 

Satan’s Satyrs, The Lucky Ones

satans satyrs the lucky ones

Encased in cover art that begs the Spinal Tap question, “what’s wrong with being sexy?” and the response that Fran Drescher gave it, Virginia classic heavy rockers Satan’s Satyrs return with their fourth full-length, The Lucky Ones (on RidingEasy and Bad Omen), which also marks their first record as a four-piece with guitarist Nate Towle (Wicked Inquisition) joining the returning lineup of bassist/vocalist Clayton Burgess, guitarist Jared Nettnin and drummer Stephen Fairfield, who, between the fact that Burgess founded the band and played in Electric Wizard, and all the lead guitar antics from Nettnin and Towle, might be the unsung hero of the band. His performance is not lost in the recording by Windhand‘s Garrett Morris or Burgess‘ own hefty mix, and as one would expect, Satan’s Satyrs continue to deliver deceptively refined ’70s-heavy vibes caked in cult biker horror aesthetics. Some songs hit more than others, but Satan’s Satyrs‘ dust-kicking approach continues to win converts.

Satan’s Satyrs on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records on Bandcamp

Bad Omen Records on Bandcamp

 

Mantar, The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze

mantar the modern art of setting ablaze

One generally thinks of Hamburg duo Mantar as having all the subtlety of a bone saw caught on video, and yet, in listening to “Seek + Forget” from their third album, The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze (on Nuclear Blast), there are some elements that seem to be reaching out on the part of the band. Guitarist Hanno‘s vocals are more enunciated and discernible, there is a short break from the all-out blackened-sludge-punk assault that’s been their trade since their start in 2012, and “Obey the Obscene” even has an organ. Still, the bulk of the 12-track/48-minute follow-up to 2016’s Ode to the Flame (review here) is given to extremity of purpose and execution, and in pieces like the churning “Anti Eternia” and the particularly-punked “Teeth of the Sea,” they work to refine their always-present threat of violence. Closer “The Funeral” brings back some of the quiet moodiness of intro “The Knowing” and underscores the point of sonic expansion. I hope next time they use a string section.

Mantar on Thee Facebooks

Nuclear Blast website

 

Child, I

child i

It took me a few minutes to get to the heart of what my problem with Child‘s I EP is. Really, I was sitting and listening to “Age Has Left Me Behind” — the first of the three included tracks on the 20-ish-minute 12″ — and I had to ask myself, “Why is this annoying me?” The answer? Because it’s not an album. That’s it. It’s not enough. Kudos to the Melbourne, Australia, heavy blues trio on having that be the biggest concern with their latest release — it follows 2016’s righteously-grooved Blueside (review here) — and kudos to them as well for their cover of Spirit‘s “The Other Song,” but of course it’s the 10-minute jam “Going Down Swinging” on side B that’s the immersive highlight of I, as Child‘s balance of softshoe-boogie and expansive mellow-psych is second to none in their subgenre. It’s not an album, and that’s kind of sad, but as a tide-ya-over until the next long-player arrives, I still does the trick nice and easy. And not to get greedy, but I’d take a II (or would it be You?) whenever they get around to it.

Child on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

T.G. Olson, Wasatch Valley Lady & The Man from Table Mountain

tg olson wasatch valley lady and the man from table mountain

Across Tundras frontman T.G. Olson, who by now has well lapped that band’s output with his solo catalog, would seem to have sat down with his guitar sometime in the last week and put two songs to tape. The resulting 10-minute offering is Wasatch Valley Lady & The Man from Table Mountain, its component title-tracks stripping down some of the more elaborate arrangements he’s explored of late — his latest full-length, Riding Roughshod (review pending; it’s hard to keep up), came out in October — to expose the barebones construction at root in his Rocky Mountain country folk style. “Wasatch Valley Lady” and “The Man from Table Mountain” make an engaging couple, and while Olson has a host of videos on YouTube that are similarly just him and his acoustic, something about the audio-only recordings feel like a voice out of time reaching for human connection. The first seems to have a natural fade, and the second a more prominent rhythm showcased in harder strum, but both are sweet melodies evocative as ever of open landscapes and wistful experience.

Across Tundras on Thee Facebooks

T.G. Olson/Across Tundras on Bandcamp

 

Canyon, Mk II

canyon mk ii

The Deep Purple-referential Mk II title of Canyon‘s second EP, also the follow-up to their 2017 debut LP, Radiant Light, refers to the lineup change that’s seen Dean Welsh move to drums so that he and guitarist Peter Stanko can welcome bassist/vocalist Fred Frederick to the fold. The three included songs, the hooky “Mine Your Heart,” expansively fuzzed “Morphine Dreams” and bouncing “Roam” make a hell of a first offering from the reconstituted trio, who capture classic heavy naturalism in a chemistry between players that’s mirrored in the songwriting itself. Canyon‘s 2016 self-titled debut EP (review here) held marked promise, and even after the full-length, that promise would seem to be coming to fruition here. Their tones and craft are both right on, and there’s still some gelling to do between the three of them, but they leave no doubt with Mk II that this incarnation of Canyon can get there. And, if they keep up like this, get there quickly.

Canyon on Thee Facebooks

Canyon on Bandcamp

 

Circle of the Sun, Jams of Inner Perception

Circle of the Sun Jams of Inner Perception

One man jams! Psych-jam seekers will recognize Daniel Sax as the drummer for Berlin-based trio Cosmic Fall. Circle of the Sun is a solo-project from Sax and Jams of Inner Perception collects six tracks for 39 minutes of adventuring on his own. Sax sets his own backbeat and layers bass and “effectsbass” for a full-lineup feel amid the instrumental creations, and those looking to be hypnotized by the space-rocking jams will be. Flat out. Sax is no stranger to jamming, and as one soaks in “Jamming in Paradise” or its nine-minute predecessor “Liquid Sand,” there’s little mistaking his intention. Curious timing that Circle of the Sun would take shape following a lineup change in Cosmic Fall — perhaps it was put together in the interim? — but whether Jams of Inner Perception is a one-off of the beginning of a new avenue for Sax, its turn to blues noodling on “Desert Sun,” thick-toned “Moongroove” and fuzzy roll on “Acid Dream” demonstrate there are plenty of outer realms still to explore.

Circle of the Sun on Thee Facebooks

Circle of the Sun on Bandcamp

 

Mythic Sunship, Another Shape of Psychedelic Music

Mythic Sunship Another Shape of Psychedelic Music

The simplest way to put it is that Mythic Sunship‘s Another Shape of Psychedelic Music lives up to the lofty ambitions of its title. The Danish band is comprised of guitarists Kasper Stougaard Andersen and Emil Thorenfeldt, bassist Rasmus ‘Cleaver’ Christensen, drummer Frederik Denning and saxophonist Søren Skov, and with Causa Sui‘s Jonas Munk — who also produced the album — sitting in on the extended “Backyard Voodoo” (17:41) and “Out There” (13:53) as well as overseeing the release through El Paraiso, the band indeed makes there way into the far out reaches where jazz and psychedelia meet. It’s not about pretentiously saying they’re doing something that’s never been done. You’ll note it’s “another shape” and not a “new shape” or the “shape to come.” But immersion happens quickly on opener “Resolution” (14:23), and even quicker cuts like “Last Exit,” “Way Ahead” and “Elevation” carry the compelling spirit of forward-thinking creativity through their dynamic course, and if Mythic Sunship aren’t the shape of psychedelic music to come, it’s in no small part because there are so few out there who could hope to match what they do.

Mythic Sunship on Thee Facebooks

El Paraiso Records website

 

Svarta Stugan, Islands / Öar

svarta stugan islands oar

Islands / Öar — the second word being the Swedish translation of the first — is the 40-minute debut full-length from Gothenburg atmospheric heavy post-rock instrumentalists Svarta Stugan, who demonstrate in influence from Hex-era Earth on the opener “Islands III” but go on in subsequent tracks to pull together a sound distinct in its cinematic feel and moody execution. Five out of the seven component tracks are “Islands” pieces, which are presented out of order with “Islands IV” missing and “Islands Unknown” perhaps in its place, and the respective side A/B finales “Inner Space” and “Prospects Quatsi” standing apart. Both bring to bear a style ultimately consistent with the melancholy so rife throughout Islands / Öar as a whole, but they’re obviously intended as outliers, and so they seem to be. The LP release follows a couple shorter outings, issued over the past six-plus years, and it’s clear from the depths and range on display here in the build-to-crescendo of “Inner Space” alone that Svarta Stugan haven’t misspent their time in their progression to this point.

Svarta Stugan on Thee Facebooks

Svarta Stugan on Bandcamp

 

Bast, Nanoångström

bast nanoangstrom

Largesse of scope and largesse of tone work in tandem on Bast‘s Nanoångström full-length on Black Bow, as they bring together aspects of post-metallic churn and more extreme metal methods to hone a style highly individualized, highly weighted and as much cosmic as it is crushing. Through six tracks and 57 minutes, the London trio (plus two guest spots from Chris Naughton of Winterfylleth) careen and crash and set an atmosphere of chaos without actually being chaotic, their progressive craft working to tie the songs together into a larger impression of the work as a consuming entirety. It’s the kind of record you pick up and still hear new things in by the time they put out their next one. Production from Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studio only helps creates the heights and depths of their dynamic, and whether they’re rolling out the severity of closer “The Ghosts Which Haunt the Space Between the Stars” or laying out the soundscape of “The Beckoning Void,” Bast shape the tenets of genre to suit their needs rather than try to work within the barriers of any particular style. Nanoångström is all the more complex and satisfying for their efforts in that regard.

Bast on Thee Facebooks

Black Bow Records webstore

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ungraven Announce Debut Album Due Spring 2019; New Solo-Project from Conan’s Jon Davis

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 4th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Sonic extremity is hardly a new realm for guitarist/vocalist Jon Davis of UK pummelers Conan, but with Ungraven, he takes something of a different approach. In the streaming demo “Blackened Gates of Eternity,” Davis taps into industrial-style repetitions and rhythms, still keeping a presence on guitar, but using it to different ends than in its main outfit. It’s no coincidence he’s wearing a Nailbomb t-shirt in the promo photo, and one imagines having recently joined Max Cavalera onstage only furthers that affection — to be fair, Point Blank was badass — but it should be interesting to see just how far Davis pushes Ungraven away from what Conan do and where the new outfit’s impending debut full-length — set to release in Spring of next year — takes him in terms of sound.

You can hear the demo at the bottom of this post, thanks to the wonders of the internet. The PR wire had this to say about it:

ungraven

JON DAVIS ANNOUNCES UNGRAVEN

Jon Davis of legendary British doom metal band CONAN is pleased to announce his new solo project UNGRAVEN which showcases his love of 90’s metal.

In Jon’s own words “I am a huge fan of Fudge Tunnel, Ministry, Godflesh, Sepultura and Nailbomb. I fell in love with ‘For All Those Who Died’ by Bathory on Headbangers Ball and also the ‘Speed Kills’ comp. Since then I have referenced these bands in some of Conan’s material. With Ungraven I pay homage to the industrial sounds emanating from Birmingham in the 90s with a few other influences that I’ve been obsessing over for a while. It’s super heavy but sightly different from what I have done so far.”

UNGRAVEN’s debut album will be released in spring of 2019, but to celebrate the announcement, Davis has released the track “Blackened Gates of Eternity” on Bandcamp.

Listen to the song here: https://ungraven.bandcamp.com/album/demos

More information on UNGRAVEN will be coming soon.

https://www.facebook.com/ungraven
https://ungraven.bandcamp.com/
https://blackbowrecords.bigcartel.com/
https://blackbowrecords.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Black-Bow-Records-565275456841866/

Ungraven, “Blackened Gates of Eternity” demo

Tags: , , ,

Quarterly Review: Worshipper, Dopethrone, The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices, Omen Stones, Capra, Universo Rojo, Sergeant Thunderhoof, Fire Down Below, Stone Deaf, Cracked Machine

Posted in Reviews on July 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-CALIFORNIA-LANDSCAPE-Julian-Rix-1851-1903

Well, we made it to the end of another Quarterly Review. One more batch and then it’s off to planning the next one for late September/early October. I hope you have found something this week that you’ve really dug. I have. A few, to be honest. Not everything is going to stick with every listener, of course, and that includes me, but for as much as putting this one together has been, there’s been some really good, year-end-list-type stuff included. At least as far as my own list goes. I sincerely hope you agree.

So let’s do this last one, then go sleep for a couple hours. Alright? Here we go:

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Worshipper, Mirage Daze

worshipper mirage daze

I don’t know if Worshipper knew they’d be embarking on their first West Coast tour in Summer 2018 when they hit Mad Oak Studios in Oct. 2016 to record the four cover tracks for their Mirage Daze EP on Tee Pee Records, but it certainly worked out in the Boston four-piece’s favor. Following-up their 2016 debut, Shadow Hymns (review here), Worshipper present four cover tracks in Uriah Heep’s “Easy Livin’,” The Oath’s “Night Child,” Pink Floyd’s “Julia Dream” and The Who’s “Heaven and Hell,” and while I’m a little sad that “Heaven and Hell” isn’t the Black Sabbath song, which I think they’d nail if they tried it, and I’m glad to have a studio version of their take on Floyd’s “Julia Dream,” which from the first time I saw them live was always a pleasure to watch live, I think the highlight of Mirage Daze might be “Night Child.” I never bought that The Oath record, and Worshipper’s take on its lead single is about the best argument I’ve seen for doing so. It may or may not be a stopgap issued to coincide with the tour, but Mirage Daze is a welcome arrival anyway. It’s a fan piece? Well, I’m a fan, so right on.

Worshipper on Thee Facebooks

Tee Pee Records website

 

Dopethrone, Transcanadian Anger

dopethrone transcanadian anger

Montreal scumsludgers Dopethrone return with Transcanadian Anger, an eight-track blister-fest of crunch riffing and misanthropic vibes. Delivered through Totem Cat Records, the 36-minute Weedeater-gone-bad-drugs sludge assault seems to invite superlatives front to back, even in the slamming instrumental “Killdozer” – a tribute to the band? – and the swinging penultimate cut “Kingbilly Kush.” Elsewhere, opener “Planet Meth,” “Snort Dagger,” “Tweak Jabber” and “Scuzzgasm” celebrate addiction and violence unto oneself and others, making a spectacle of decay set to voluminous sludge riffs and abrasive vocals. This is Dopethrone’s aesthetic territory, and they’ve done well over the last decade to make it their own. As they answer 2015’s full-length, Hochelaga (review here), and the next year’s 1312 EP with yet another filth-caked collection, they seem all the more in their own league of aural and narcotic self-punishment. They could be straightedge vegans for all I know, but they sure sound high as fuck, and I guess that’s the point. So, well done.

Dopethrone on Thee Facebooks

Totem Cat Records webstore

 

The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices, BooCheeMish

the mystery of the bulgarian voices boocheemish

Lisa Gerrard of Dead Can Dance would seem to be trying to solve The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices, a choral group from Bulgaria who, seemingly until teaming with Gerrard for the Prophecy Productions release BooCheeMish was known by the French name Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares. Whatever you call them, their history dates back nearly seven decades and their harmonies are utterly timeless. BooCheeMish is comprised of gorgeous folk renditions for 45 minutes of world-building perfection. Percussion of various sorts provides backing and on pieces like “Rano Ranila” they speed through at a pace and arrangement that’s head-spinning, while the later “Zableyalo Agne” finds them joined by flute for a nigh-religious experience and the subsequent “Tropanitsa” has a bounce worthy of any good times one might to envision from its evocative pulse. One can’t help but feel a bit of the cultural voyeur in taking it on – as well as feeling totally outclassed in reviewing it – but these songs were clearly meant to be enjoyed, and as their ambassadors, The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices genuinely serve a public best interest.

The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices on Thee Facebooks

Prophecy Productions website

 

Omen Stones, Omen Stones

omen stones omen stones

Virginia duo Omen Stones have no online presence as yet. No songs streaming. No cheeky logos-on-photos social media posts that new bands do when they’re sitting on their hands waiting to get material out there. What they – and by “they,” I mean guitarist/vocalist Tommy Hamilton of Druglord and drummer Erik Larson of Backwoods Payback, The Might Could, Alabama Thunderpussy, etc. – have is a four-song self-titled EP collecting about 13 minutes of material in demo fashion, bringing forth the Southern-shuffle-gets-weird-then-explodes opener “Secrete” as a first impression of a deceptive approach. You think it’s all good and then you get punched. Go figure. “Secrete” is also the longest track (immediate points) at 4:06, and the forward charge and harsher vocal of “Fertile Blight” follows, catchy as it is mean, and more indicative of what’s to follow in the maddening tension of “Sympathy Scars” and the fuckall sludgepunk of “Purity Tones.” Immediately against-trend, Omen StonesOmen Stones is a bird of prey unto itself. Hopefully at some point soon they make it publicly available.

Druglord on Bandcamp

Erik Larson on Bandcamp

 

Capra, Unholy Gallows

Capra Unholy Gallows

Taking influence from hardcore punk, post-hardcore and sludge, Lafayette, Louisiana’s Capra seem to fit in a Midwestern style of semi-metallic aggression that has flourished in the wake of the likes of The National Acrobat and Coliseum. The foursome’s Unholy Gallows single follows their also-two-song self-titled 2016 EP, and finds Tyler Harper (also of the recently-defunct The Midnight Ghost Train), Jeremy Randazzo, Ben Paramore and Lee Hooper aligned in their purposes of riff-led bludgeoning. Unholy Gallows is two songs/six minutes long – not by any means an afternoon commitment in terms of listening – but its furies are unveiled in far less time than that, and both “Red Guillotine” and “Hot Lips” waste no time in doling out their beatings. A sense of heft stems from tonal thickness, but they make it move to a propulsive degree, and aside from a quick feedback intro to “Red Guillotine,” there’s no letup; even as “Hot Lips” slows the pace some initially, it maintains geared toward foreshadowing the next fist to fly.

Capra on Thee Facebooks

Capra on Bandcamp

 

Universo Rojo, Impermanencia

Universo Rojo Impermanencia

Sprawl, sprawl, sprawl. Into space. Universo Rojo’s excellent four-track debut album, Impermanencia, makes you want to speak slowly enough to feel the words vibrate out of your mouth. The Chilean four-piece offer lengthy, jam-based excursions that echo out their feel across vast reaches of effects, progressive rhythm and melody-making unfurling all the while beneath an overarching swirl of effects, guitars and synth running atop the mix like competing currents of water. Opener “¿A Dónde Ir?” (8:13) gives way to the flute-laden krautrockism of “Visión Planetaria de los Tiempos” (8:40) as vocalist/guitarist/clarinetist Ferro Vargas-Larraguibel, drummer Naim Chamás, bassist Cristóbal Montenegro and synthesis Francisco Arellano conjure such molten possibilities. Though it’s just 34 minutes, Impermanencia is nonetheless expansive, with the 9:36 “Cinco (La Quinta Dimensión)” finding a place between drift and psych-jazz undulations while closer “Inmaterialización del Sentimiento Cósmico” (7:32) lets out a full-impulse burst of energy that’s blinding if you know just where to look. Not to be missed.

Universo Rojo on Thee Facebooks

Universo Rojo on Bandcamp

 

Sergeant Thunderhoof, Terra Solus

sergeant thunderhoof terra solus

Kudos to Bath, UK, four-piece Sergeant Thunderhoof on starting off their sophomore long-player, Terra Solus, with the album’s longest track in “Another Plane.” And likewise for the blend of psychedelia and burl that unfolds. In taking on the follow-up to their 2015 debut, Ride of the Hoof, they offer eight cuts and 51 minutes of spacious riffing charged with just an undercurrent of English boozer burl, Elephant Tree and Steak meeting head on for a raucous session of who knows what. “B Oscillation” taps nod and particularly satisfying fuzzy warmth in its lead section, while even a would-be bruiser like the subsequent “Diesel Breath” has a trip-out included. There is time for such things as every track but the penultimate and relatively minimalist soundscaper “Half a Man” tops six minutes, but Sergeant Thunderhoof make a much richer impression overall than their moniker might lead one to believe, and close out in particularly resonant fashion with “Om Shaantih,” emphasizing the breadth and post-rock elements that help make Terra Solus so engaging from the outset.

Sergeant Thunderhoof on Thee Facebooks

Sergeant Thunderhoof on Bandcamp

 

Fire Down Below, Hymn of the Cosmic Man

fire down below hymn of the cosmic man

The adaptation of Kyuss’ “Thumb” riff for Fire Down Below’s “Ignition/Space Cruiser” after the “Red Giant” intro on their second album, Hymn of the Cosmic Man (on Ripple), is nothing short of a clarion to the converted. The Belgian unit’s mission would seem to be to find that place on the horizon where the desert ground and space itself seem to meet and become one, and as side A closer “The Cosmic Pilgrim” turns from its initial crunch into more patient and drifting psych, they’d seem to get there. Atsmophere is certainly central to the record, as the aforementioned “Red Giant” and its side B counterpart “Nebula” demonstrate, never mind the other five tracks, and even as “Saviour of Man” runs through its janga-janga stoner-riffed hook there’s a flourish of effects to create a balance between the earthbound and the interstellar. Side B’s “Ascension” and especially 11-minute album-closer/highlight “Adrift in a Sea of Stars” seem to find the balance the four-piece is shooting for all along, and just before the nine-minute mark when the thick, fuzzed-out riff emerges from the jammy lead, the entire impetus for their journey seems to be laid bare. Well done.

Fire Down Below on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Stone Deaf, Royal Burnout

stone deaf royal burnout

Denver, Colorado’s Stone Deaf present a sans-frills desert rock vibe across the eight tightly structured tracks of their sophomore album, Royal Burnout (on Black Bow Records). Specifically, the compressed crunch in the guitar tone and some of the start-stop bounce riffing in cuts like “Room #240” and “Monochrome” seem to be drawn from the Songs for the Deaf methodology, and some of the vocals on opener “Spitshine” (video premiere here) remind of Queens of the Stone Age as well, but Stone Deaf – whose moniker, then, would be well sourced – have a deeper root in punk rock that underscores the “Go with the Flow” thrust of “Deathwish 62” as well as the chugging verses of “Boozy Spool” immediately preceding. It’s a sound that benefits greatly from the sharpness of its delivery and the craft Stone Deaf bring to it, and even when they seem to loosen up a bit on the midpaced pre-finale “That Lefty Request,” there’s a fervent sense of a plan unfolding. That plan would seem to be a success.

Stone Deaf on Thee Facebooks

Black Bow Records webstore

 

Cracked Machine, I, Cosmonaut

cracked machine i cosmonaut

Originally released last year, Cracked Machine’s debut, I, Cosmonaut, finds vinyl issue through PsyKA Records and earns it well with six tracks/45 minutes of mostly-instrumentalist and progressive space-psych. One assumes there’s a narrative thread at work across the span, as guitarist Bill Denton, bassist Chris Sutton, keyboardist/vocalist Clive Noyes and drummer Blazej Gradziel weave their way through “Twin Sons Rising” and “New Vostok” at the outset into the easy flow of “Baikonur Cosmodrome,” the harder-hitting title-track, the fuzzy declaration of “Svetlana” and the patiently executed 10-minute closer “Transorbital,” Denton’s guitar singing all the while. These places and, maybe, characters would seem to weave together to tell the story in impressions largely open to interpretation and correspondingly open in terms of their creativity, sounding spontaneous and maybe live-recorded if not entirely improvised, instead working to a plan for where each inclusion should go or end up. As Cracked Machine’s first album, it’s an ambitious work that does far more than get the band’s feet wet. It takes them out of the atmosphere and embarks on a journey beyond that one hopes is just beginning.

Cracked Machine on Thee Facebooks

Cracked Machine at PsyKA Records webstore

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Stone Deaf Premiere “Spitshine” Video; Royal Burnout Due May 4

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 11th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

stone deaf photo Cody Isaman

Made up of a crisply-produced eight tracks of well-sourced heavy rock and roll, Stone Deaf‘s Royal Burnout is set to release on May 4 through Black Bow Records. The album, which is the Denver four-piece’s second behind a 2015 self-titled, is something of a departure for the label, which has to this point specialized in supporting the UK underground in its various forms of sludge, doom and heavy impulses, owned as it is by Conan guitarist/vocalist Jon Davis and affiliated as it often is with his Skyhammer Studio and the recordings done there by Chris Fielding.

Well, Stone Deaf didn’t record at Skyhammer. stone deaf royal burnoutThey tracked with guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist/drummer Dustin Chapin, who also mixed, mastered and had a hand in the design of the album along with bassist/vocalist Cody Isaman. And they don’t play sludge. They play essentially a high-desert version of low desert rock, taking a strong influence from the pop-heavy stylings of Queens of the Stone Age and perhaps imagining what they might’ve become if they’d kept working in the vein of their own debut, with songwriting crystal clear in its structure and intent and an edge of heft in their tones. And hooks. Hooks for days.

Royal Burnout, if it’s got anything, has got that. With Isaman and Chapin sharing vocal duties while Jarron French provides the bounce on drums and Scott Anderson adds further guitar and keys,there’s variety in the songs between a hand-clapper like the closing title-track and the start-stop turns of “Room #240” earlier. “Deathwish 62” crunches up classic desert-punker riffing while “Boozy Spool” engages a more urbane feel, touching on modern pop rock, but at the same time offering some of the album’s heaviest riffing.

There’s a balance to be struck between these various impulses, and Stone Deaf have command enough of their craft to find it. The leadoff cut, “Spitshine,” provides a decent summary of some of the punk and heavy rock vibes Royal Burnout works through, and I’m happy today to be able to premiere Dustin Chapin and Cody Isaman‘s video for it ahead of Royal Burnout‘s release next month. Please find the clip below, followed by more info from the PR wire.

And please enjoy:

Stone Deaf, “Spitshine” official video premiere

Stone Deaf on “Spitshine”:

“Spitshine,” the intro song to Royal Burnout, leads you into a musical freakshow. Like a rusted hardtop filled of strung out carnies and miscreants changing gears down a long desert road, and a roller coaster that guides you through the soundtrack of a fucked up circus. Showcasing fast paced rhythms and black and white melodies, it’s the first song of a tall, downwards spiraling slope, and that’s only the beginning of the show. Welcome to Royal Burnout.

Formed in late 2014 in New Castle, Colorado, STONE DEAF’s approach to music is a timeless fusion of melody and driving rhythms blending solid rock vibes, psychedelic elements, and sludgy low-end riffs. The band released their self-titled debut album in 2015 and has since spent their time fine-tuning their approach and honing their craft on stage while writing their next record, which now comes to life in Royal Burnout.

With eight new jams packed into a thirty-three-minute album, Royal Burnout was recorded produced, recorded, and mastered by Dustin Chapin at The Launch Complex, New Castle, Colorado, with photography by Marin Forcella and design by the band’s Dustin Chapin and Cody Isaman.

Royal Burnout will see release on CD and digital platforms through Black Bow Records on Friday, May 4th. STONE DEAF is booking shows in support of the album, with a short run through the Southwest being organized for mid-Summer. Stand by for audio samples, preorder info, tour dates, and more in the weeks ahead.

STONE DEAF Live:
5/11/2018 Mesa Theater – Grand Junction, CO
6/29/2018 5 Star Bar – Los Angeles, CA
7/01/2018 Yucca Tap Room – Tempe, AZ

Royal Burnout Track Listing:
1. Spitshine
2. Room #240
3. Buzzards
4. Monochrome
5. Boozy Spool
6. Deathwish 62
7. That Lefty Request
8. Royal Burnout

STONE DEAF:
Cody Isaman – bass, vocals
Scott Anderson – guitars, keys
Jarron French – drums
Dustin Chapin – guitar, vocals, keys, drums

Stone Deaf website

Stone Deaf on Bandcamp

Stone Deaf on Thee Facebooks

Black Bow Records website

Black Bow Records on Bandcamp

Black Bow Records on Thee Facebooks

Black Bow Records on Twitter

Tags: , , , , ,