Slomatics Post “Telemachus, My Son” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 28th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

slomatics telemachus my son better

You’re going to have a hard time unseeing some of the stuff in Slomatics‘ new video, and I think that’s the idea, but I’ll just say this outright: I’d play this video game. I’m not much of a gamer — mostly I use the PlayStation to watch baseball, or at least that’s been the case since The Patient Mrs. and I finished Final Fantasy XV, which we bought the thing to play — but “Telemachus, My Son” kind of looks like Metroid happening on some alien wasteland, and I’m not saying it needs to be a first-person shooter or anything — because really, enough is enough with that Unreal Engine, or whatever equivalent is being used these days — but something grim and atmospheric like this would kind of rule. Plus a water level! Plus the big crab monster! Plus the all-black Destroyer at the gate. I don’t think it’d be one for the kids, but especially given the soundtrack, I have to think it would be awesome. I’d preorder it, even.

The bummer of this festival-laden past weekend was that Slomatics didn’t make it to Freak Valley. They’d been announced as making the trip from Belfast since last November, and it was to be a set celebrating their new album, Canyons (review here), which is newly out on Black Bow Records. Lufthansa, it would seem, had other ideas. Ideas like losing Chris Couzens‘ guitar and delaying him, fellow guitarist David Marjury and drummer Marty Harvey so long that they didn’t get to Siegen in time. They’ve already been invited back for next year — they’re the first band announced for Freak Valley 2020; I want to go — and no doubt their arrival will be doubly triumphant for the trouble this year, despite not being so timely to the new release. Just means people will know the songs. It’ll be fine.

Just to tie things together a little bit, a few weeks ago, when I just happened to be in Northern Ireland — because that’s a thing that just happens, right? what a prick — and got to visit Slomatics in their practice space, they were putting together the set for Freak Valley and they ran through “Telemachus, My Son,” deciding unanimously that, yes, that should be included. If you haven’t heard the song yet, it’ll be pretty easy to tell why when you watch the video.

And you know, sometimes I say maybe you can put the video on and just let the thing play while you do other stuff and check in. Not this time. Seven-plus minutes, and you kind of need to watch the whole thing. Go fullscreen.

Enjoy:

Slomatics, “Telemachus, My Son” official video

Telemachus, My Son – Slomatics
From the Album: Canyons
Released via Black Bow Records June 2019

Created by Dermot Faloon using C4D, Octane Render, Mixamo and using assets from Scan The World. Plug-ins from Merk.

Slomatics, Canyons (2019)

Slomatics on Thee Facebooks

Slomatics on Bandcamp

Black Bow Records webstore

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So, I Went Down to Slomatics Rehearsal Last Night…

Posted in Features on May 30th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

slomatics practice

I’ve been fortunate enough to do some cool stuff in my quickly-increasing number of years, but being invited to a band’s practice space is no small thing. Even putting aside whatever clichés you want about inner-sanctums or where-the-magic-happens or that kind of thing, the fact is that a band in rehearsal is much different than a band on stage, and the practice space isn’t just where songs are run through, it’s where a band finds and develops their sound to then go and refine it live or in the studio. It is a personal place.

My brilliant-ass college professor wife, The Patient Mrs., has been leading students on a study-abroad trip for this past week. We were in Dublin and got up north to Belfast on Tuesday. I’m along basically to provide childcare for The Pecan — now 19 months old and screaming brutally enough to make every black metal band you’ve ever heard sound lightweight — and the first thing I thought of when I found out we were going to be in Northern Ireland was, “I wonder what Slomatics will be up to?”

The Belfast-native three-piece are on the cusp of releasing their new album, Canyons (review here), through Black Bow Records, and their rehearsal space is in an industrial park tucked away in a corner just off the city-center, above Jimmy’s TV Repair (and Allegedly Etc.), in a room with show posters and old Terrorizer foldouts put up. Guitarist David Marjury was kind enough to pick me up at the hostel where we’re staying — that’s right: baby in a hostel; it’s going swimmingly — as he happens to live nearby, and we drove about five minutes to get to the spot through Belfast’s curvy, carved-by-livestock-then-industrialized streets, where guitarist Chris Couzens and drummer/vocalist Marty Harvey (who also plays in War Iron) were already waiting.

With the new record coming out, they obviously weren’t writing or working on anything new or anything like that, but they’re booked to fly to Siegen, Germany, next month to play Freak Valley Festival, so the task was to work out the set for that. Some debate ensued about focusing on new songs versus older material — I’m generally in favor of new — and they ran through the first half of Canyons in succession, with opener and longest track (immediate points) “Gears of Despair” leading to “Cosmic Guilt,” “Seven Echoes” and “Telemachus, My Son,” the last of which was a unanimous pick to feature at the fest. To the side of where I sat, a marker board was littered with potential setlists in what was clearly an ongoing conversation.

In between the songs, the banter was light and familiar. Chris had been all sinus’ed up earlier in the day, Marty had gotten his face scratched by a patient at work, Dave had some amp buzz that might’ve been input trouble, and so on. Everyone talked about family, and as I’ve had the pleasure to meet the band on two prior occasions, seeing them first at Høstsabbat 2016 (review here) in marker boardOslo and then again the next year at Roadburn (review here) in The Netherlands, I knew going into it they were all friendly guys and my persistent, painful awkwardness would potentially have some manner of offset by their hospitality. Sitting in front of a drum kit that was either spare or some other band’s, laughing at some story or other, I was glad to be right about that.

They played through “Mind Fortresses on Theia,” again from the new album, and one other — was it “Beyond the Canopy?” — and then dipped back to older material, which sounded very much like a refresher as opposed to stuff they were still working out how to present live. That difference was palpable mostly in ways it wouldn’t have been on stage, in things like body language and during-song communication between Marjury and Couzens, Harvey all the while devastating his already-cracked cymbals in go-hard-at-practice fashion while belting out lyrics with no less force than I’ve been lucky to see him do on stage.

Even without a mic, his snare cut through the extra-low low-end of the two guitars, and some of it was interesting to see him count through some of the ambient parts of the newer material, which indeed is even more atmospheric than what the band had on offer with 2016’s Future Echo Returns (review here), as both Couzens and Marjury would periodically depart from the central lumbering riffs in which the band has long specialized to add keyboard-style effects that lent melody to the coinciding crush. I was glad that I make it a habit to travel with earplugs. The whole place seemed to rumble, or maybe it was just me.

All told, it was about two hours of time in the room, and while I don’t know what the final setlist will be for Freak Valley, it’s safe to say it’s going to be a powerful show. Slomatics have existed for 15 years at this point, and it’s clear Harvey, Marjury and Couzens have known each other for longer than that. Harvey had to call it a night, but Marjury, Couzens and I adjourned afterward to a coffee shop around the corner from where I’m staying — not the Nordic one with the espressos I’ve been habitually downing since we got into down, that’s across the street, but a different one that was also good — and spent some time shooting the shit about the band and laughing about family stuff, their embarrassing themselves in front of Goatsnake (I’ve still never seen them live, so not had the opportunity, of which I’d inevitably take advantage), the time Marjury saw Ozzy on tour for The Ultimate Sin, and whatever else. It was pretty laid back, even with the late coffee, and I was no less glad to be there than I’d been at the rehearsal space. These are good people.

Coffees done and work/baby in the morning, we said goodnight and I headed back around the corner to crash out and wake up to another day today. I’ll be honest and say it took me a while to get to sleep, not just for that last espresso, but just from the excitement of doing something like that. It doesn’t happen every day, and to be not just brought in, but actually welcomed by Slomatics was something special I’ll long remember. I’m here for another week, but it already made my trip.

Slomatics, “Mind Fortresses on Theia” official video

Slomatics on Thee Facebooks

Slomatics on Bandcamp

Black Bow Records

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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

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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)

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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

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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

 

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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

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