Conan to Release Horseback Battle Hammer and Blood Eagle Picture Discs

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 12th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

conan

These exist and are out on Black Bow Records in November. I’m guessing that if you’ve ever heard either of these superlatively heavy offerings from Conan, that’s probably all the info you need. If you’d like some more though, you might chew on the fact that they come with hand-written lyric sheets or that they’re super-limited in number or that the albums fucking rule or whatever else you want. Or maybe you’d like to do what I’m doing, which is basically use this post as an excuse to spend an hour or two with some of the most righteous riffs the last decade has produced? Yeah, that’s kind of what I figured.

It’s fucking Conan. What more do you want?

Conan to release picture disc versions of classic albums

Legendary British doom band CONAN are pleased to announce that they will release limited edition picture discs of their classic albums Horseback Battle Hammer and Blood Eagle.

Both albums are set to be released in November 2019.

Order Horseback Battle Hammer via Big Cartel: https://blackbowrecords.bigcartel.com/product/conan-horseback-battle-hammer-picture-disk

Or Bandcamp: https://conan-conan.bandcamp.com/album/horseback-battle-hammer

4 brutally heavy slabs of Caveman Battle Doom. Thought of by some as a key moment in the resurgence of ‘modern day’ doom metal.

Picture disks are regular vinyl records but through the middle of the pressed record is a paper sheet with the artwork on. On some picture disks the sound can be less than perfect, but only with certain coloured vinyl and these do not fall into that category.

FIRST 50 ORDERS COME WITH HAND WRITTEN LYRIC SHEET, NOT A PHOTOCOPY.

Order Blood Eagle via Big Cartel: https://blackbowrecords.bigcartel.com/product/conan-blood-eagle-picture-disk

Or Bandcamp: https://conan-conan.bandcamp.com/album/blood-eagle

Blood Eagle is one of Conan’s finest moments. Adding motion and pace to the bludgeoning of Monnos, it quickly rose to the top of most learned doom fan’s lists.

Here we have a ltd edition picture disk copy, in heavy duty plastic sleeve.

***LIMTED TO 150 COPIES WITH INDIVIDUAL HANDWRITTEN LYRIC SHEET*** – NOT A PHOTOCOPY…….. Some copies may contain mistakes.

Lineup:
Jon Davis – vocals, guitar (2006-present)
Chris Fielding – bass (2013-present)
Johnny King – drums (2017-present)

http://www.hailconan.com/
https://www.facebook.com/hailconan/
https://www.instagram.com/hailconan/
https://conan-conan.bandcamp.com/
https://blackbowrecords.bigcartel.com/
https://blackbowrecords.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Black-Bow-Records-565275456841866/

Conan, Horseback Battle Hammer (2010)

Conan, Blood Eagle (2014)

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Friday Full-Length: Conan, Horseback Battle Hammer

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

It was only four songs — “Krull,” “Satsumo,” “Dying Giant” and “Sea Lord” — but Conan‘s 2010 EP, Horseback Battle Hammer (review here), was nothing less than a breakthrough, for doom as much as for them as a part of it. The UK-based trio had issued the Battle in the Swamp demo in 2007 and another demo in 2010, but their work on the first EP was the type to earn immediate hyperbole because it was so hyperbolic. It was the omega doom. The doom to end all doom. None heavier. Everyone go home. Conan wins. It’s over. Even today, as a whole league of acts have picked up on their tonal cues and attempted to manifest a similar affect, one can count on a hand the number who’ve managed to do so while manifesting such a sense of utter triumph.

Because that’s the thing about Conan‘s earlier work that often gets lost in the story of how heavy they were. They weren’t just heavy — they were also about heavy. Conan conquered and told tales of conquest. “Worship Krull, within the mountain,” “Bodies flow to the bottom,” “Oceans of graves ebb and flow,” “Sea be lifted sithen” — these lines about struggle and death, worship and the ocean seemed to rise up out of the very murk Conan were creating with their instruments. Founded by guitarist/vocalist Jon Davis, whose voice even then had a surprisingly melodic timbre even in its shouts on “Sea Lord,” with bassist/vocalist John Paul McNulty (now of Coltsblood) and drummer Paul O’Neill, Conan‘s very mission from the start seemed to be to throw down that gauntlet of heavy. From the very launch of “Krull” from the initial wash of cymbals, the focus was clear on what Conan were doing. ‘Heavy’ wasn’t just a tool in their arsenal; it was the foundation of their aesthetic, and they cast it out with superlative revelry, creating a sound that was extreme in its darkness without being a heavy metal caricature and genuinely broadening the scope of what weighted tonality could accomplish.

I don’t think that’s overstating it. Davis has said on multiple occasions he was working under a heavy Slomatics influence, and yeah, that story checks out, and one could likewise argue he was playing to some degree off Floor‘s prior harvesting of the “bomb tone,” but even so, what he did with that influence was his own from the start, and that’s written all over the ensuing rumble of Horseback Battle Hammer. And it’s easy to paint him as the auteur of Conan because he’s the lone remaining original member, but from the swing in O’Neill‘s drumming as “Krull” picked up the tempo at its finish and moved into the holy-shit-did-that-just-happen roll of “Satsumo,” to the tradeoffs made to the lower-register shouts from McNulty — a model Conan would follow with subsequent bassists Phil Coumbe and Chris Fielding — the complete band contributed to the onslaught at all times. “Dying Giant” was a perfect example as McNulty took the forward vocal role at the midpoint and the whole band seemed to emerge from the willful muck of that cut’s early going — not to mention the far-back gutturalisms that pervaded from there and the final surge, with accompanying double-kick from O’Neill.

conan horseback battle hammer

Was Conan metal? Oh yes. But instead of beating their chest to tell you about it, they were stomping your skull.

To wit, “Sea Lord.” The only cut on Horseback Battle Hammer to top 10 minutes, it started at an especially grueling pace and instead of taking off at any point, it really just descended into noise and became even filthier by the close. It took its own extremity, its own inaccessibility, and turned it into a clarion, and not only did it do so at just the right time to capture the attention of an emerging mobile social media landscape — something out of the band’s direct control, but which they’ve made work for them just the same — but it came from a place that was for the underground by the underground in a way the previous generation of acts simply couldn’t have been. Conan were something new when something new was needed, and their work was unto itself in its execution and rawness, its purposefully simple, impressionistic lyrics telling stories of violence in lines that sometimes didn’t need to be more than one or two words as the telling itself became so much a part of the narrative, with voices buried under a wall of riffs that other bands are still trying to climb. You listened to it and knew it was something special. I think you still do.

The vinyl was on Throne Records and the first CD on Aurora Borealis, but Horseback Battle Hammer has been reissued a couple times, including by Head of Crom RecordsConan‘s current label Napalm Records and Davis‘ own Black Bow Records, so it’s readily available (like on Bandcamp; see above). Of course, Conan released their split with Slomatics (review here) and then signed to Napalm before offering their debut full-length, Monnos (review here), in 2012. From there, the world was pretty much theirs for the spoils. They toured hard in Europe and set a foundation of American fandom before crossing the Atlantic, and across their next three albums — 2014’s  Blood Eagle (review here), 2016’s Revengeance (review here) and last year’s Existential Void Guardian (review here) — they’d move away from some of the all-out tonal bludgeoning of Horseback Battle Hammer, but hold firm to the central modus the EP laid forth.

With Davis, Fielding on bass and Johnny King on drums, Conan just wrapped another string of US touring that included a stop to headline the final night of Maryland Doom Fest (review here), where yes, they dominated, and they’ll tour again this Fall in Europe, playing Desertfest Belgium, Heavy Psych Sounds FestSoulstone Gathering and much more besides. And even as Davis has begun to show off a ’90s noise fetish in Ungraven and founded the Blackskull Services management/promotion company, which he runs in addition to Black Bow Records — shooting for that “hardest working man in show business” thing — writing has also reportedly started on Conan‘s fifth long-player which is currently expected through Napalm in May 2020. Mark your calendars, kids.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

Today at 1PM Eastern is a new episode of The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio. It’s a good one. Don’t miss out: http://gimmeradio.com

Holy crap there’s a lot going on next week. Here are the notes:

MON 08/05 HOLY GROVE PLAYLIST; THE LEGENDARY FLOWER PUNK VID PREMIERE; THE GRAND MAL PREMIERE/ANNOUNCE
TUE 08/06 OBLIVION REPTILIAN REVIEW; MONSTROID VIDEO PREMIERE
WED 08/07 NOTHING IS REAL TRACK PREMIERE
THU 08/08 FROZEN PLANET 1969 REVIEW
FRI 08/09 HELLSINGLAND UNDERGROUND VID PREMIERE

Busy. You know how it goes.

Feeling a little vulnerable after the essay I put up before, but I guess that’s to be expected. Week was up and down. We took off on Wednesday and went to watch the Yankees play the Diamondbacks with my oldest nephew and my cousin and mother-in-law and The Pecan, who I think had a good time. It started to rain in the middle of the game and we left. I was running with his stroller in the downpour with my cousin and nephew and it was a lot of fun. Something we’ll tell The Pecan about when he’s older and goes to games. He already knows the words “bat,” “ball” and “mitt.” He has a little tee in the living room and he hits balls off it and claps for himself. It’s awesome, though as yet I’m having trouble getting him to throw left-handed.

Always work for a lefty out of the bullpen. And if you can throw a knuckeball, you can live forever.

But hey, baseball, right?

Nice deflection.

I hope you enjoyed that Conan above. It’s kind of interesting to me to close out the week with records I wrote about a long time ago. I’ve been doing “Friday Full-Length” since like 2013 or something like that, and for a while I didn’t want to do anything from after I’d started the site, but yeah that’s pretty much gone out the window. There’s just too much out there to not, and when it’s something I reviewed at the time, it gives me a chance to look at it in a different context — as in this case — and I think that’s interesting. I hope you agree. Plus, there’s always other stuff I missed at the time and this gives me another shot at it. So yeah. As far as I’m concerned it’s all fair game now.

I’ve also started plotting out the next Quarterly Review. Five days so far and I’m going to see if I can’t keep it to that. I’m thinking Sept. 16-20, maybe? We’ll see.

Alright, that’s gonna do it for me. I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Thanks again for reading, please don’t forget the Gimme show if you get to check it out and please hit up the forum, Radio and merch.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk shirts & hoodies

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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.

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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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