Black Space Riders Post “Movements” Video; Amoretum Vol. 1 out Next Week

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 18th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

black space riders

If you happened to catch the last Black Space Riders video and you happen to catch this one, well, you’ll probably note that the two have about nothing in common. Ha. I bet you thought I was gonna tie it all together like there’s some overarching narrative or something like that. No dice! Take that, expectation!

Actually, if you want to think about it on another level, there is an overarching narrative between the clip previously posted for “Another Sort of Homecoming,”and it speaks in my mind not just to the appeal of Black Space Riders‘ current album — the forthcoming Amoretum Vol. 1 (review here), which, as the headline says above, is out next week — but also the appeal of the band as a whole: you just don’t ever really know where they’re going to go next.

To wit, “Another Sort of Homecoming,” the video, was based around an old sci-fi cartoon culled from the vast reaches of the public domain. “Movements?” Well, it’s nature footage, man’s interaction with the world around him, alternately patient and manic in its presentation — every bit a different vibe. And you know what? It’s perfect for the two songs. “Another Sort of Homecoming” is an uptempo dancer clocking in under four minutes, while “Movements” turns from its initial post-rock drift to build to furious intensity of chugging before finally evening out atop some still-pretty-frenetic percussive work. Time: eight minutes. The two songs — which on the record are separated only by the catchy push of “Soul Shelter (Inside of Me)” — would seem to have little to do with each other.

But that’s the point. It’s the scope of the thing, and that’s the story they’re telling about Amoretum Vol. 1 and Black Space Riders as a whole. I know this isn’t the highest-profile release that’s coming out this year, but I really think this band has something to offer, so I’m just going to keep writing about them as much as possible. Look for a vinyl giveaway and an interview with the band in the weeks to come.

Enjoy the clip for “Movements” in the meantime, followed by more from the PR wire:

Black Space Riders, “Movements” official video

Amoretum Vol. 1 will be released on January 26. The single can be purchased and the album pre-ordered on all digital platforms, including Bandcamp, as well as at the band shop: www.blackspaceriders.com/shop

Distribution partners:
Germany/Austria/Switzerland: Cargo Records
USA/ Canada: MVD Entertainment
UK: PHD (plastichead distribution)
BeNeLux: Suburban records
Scandinavia: Border Music
Italy: Goodfellas

BLACK SPACE RIDERS are:
JE: Lead Vocals, Guitars, Organ, Piano, Electronics
SEB: Lead vocals, Keyboards, Electronics
C.RIP: Drums, Percussion, Didgeridoo
SLI: Guitars
SAQ: Bass Guitar
MEI: Bass Guitar

Black Space Riders webstore

Black Space Riders on Thee Facebooks

Black Space Riders on Twitter

Black Space Riders on Bandcamp

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Review & Track Premiere: Black Space Riders, Amoretum Vol. 1

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on January 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Black Space Riders Amoretum Vol 1

[Click play above to stream ‘Lovely Lovelie’ from Black Space Riders’ Amoretum Vol. 1. Album is out Jan. 26 and available to preorder here.]

Persistently adventurous German astro-prog metallers Black Space Riders seem to be taking stock of the world around them with Amoretum Vol. 1. This was arguably the case as well in 2015 when they examined Europe’s refugee crisis with the Refugeeum (review here) long-player and subsequent 2016 EP, Beyond Refugeeum (discussed here), but it’s a fast-spinning planet we live on and, frankly, there’s a lot to consider. Their conclusion seems to be it needs more love. One might advocate for universal sustainable income, an increase in the valuation of pubic education, free healthcare and a broad social safety net funded by a multinational corporate tax rate of 90 percent or higher enforced by a unified governmental body, but I suppose depending on how “love” is defined, they could well mean the same thing.

In any case, if the realization might lead listeners to think Black Space Riders — led, as ever, by guitarist/vocalist/organist/programmer JE and also featuring vocalist Seb, drummer/percussionist C.RIP, guitarist SLI, bassist SAQ and (more recent) bassist MEI — are making some grand turn toward sonic hippiedom, pushing into peaceful psychedelia to manifest and, well, spread the love, the assumption is simply incorrect. Even unto closer “Fellow Peacemakers” or the earlier “Come and Follow,” the titles of which sound innocuous enough, Black Space Riders maintain crisp, taut songcraft and aggressive execution. Their work, going back through 2014’s D:REI (discussed here), 2012’s Light is the New Black (review here) and their 2010 self-titled debut (review here), has only ever grown more complex, however, and as their fifth offering, Amoretum Vol. 1 is no different in this regard. It’s tough to guess where Black Space Riders will go sound-wise, but easy to know they’re always going to be pushing themselves forward.

That kind of reliability is rare, and five full-lengths deep into a prolific career, no doubt the band has elements of what they do that function as a core of their expression. Hooks abound throughout the cleverly-titled new album, arriving early amid the hard-driving riff of “Lovely Lovelie,” which soon enough complements its throaty opening lines with a responding guttural growl — dispelling any notions of adopting a laid back acid rock approach right quick — or the keyboard-fueled “Another Sort of Homecoming,” which is more melodically centered and upbeat in dance-ready fashion. Shifting between styles is familiar ground for Black Space Riders, and the core of progressive songwriting beneath — that synthesized line in “Another Sort of Homecoming” pulls my head right to Astrosoniq every time — is what allows them to tie aesthetically disparate pieces together across these eight tracks and 45 minutes.

black space riders

Transitions don’t always come easy, but there’s an underlying symmetry to Amoretum Vol. 1 that gradually reveals itself as an intention toward two vinyl sides, each comprised of four cuts, and sides A and B do manage to establish a flow of their own as they play through each toward their longest inclusion, first “Movements” (8:01) and later the aforementioned “Fellow Peacemakers” (7:29), which rounds out the album as a whole. Along the way, JE and company set a rich and diverse course, moving from the riffy push of “Lovely Lovelie” and side B’s leadoff “Come and Follow” into the wider breadths of pieces like “Soul Shelter (Inside of Me)” and “Fire! Fire! (Death of a Giant),” the two penultimate tracks of each half of the record mirroring each other even unto the inclusion of parentheses in their titles. There’s structure and then there’s structure.

That level of self-awareness and consideration has always kept me from thinking of Black Space Riders as a psychedelic band. They’re space metal, progressive and highly, respectably individual in their approach. The more complicated truth, however, is that despite the forward memorability of their hooks and the running keyboard lines throughout “Another Kind of Homecoming” or “Soul Shelter (Inside of Me)” and the maddening chug in the middle of “Movements,” the last push of “Fellow Peacemakers” and the almost hardcore delivery near the end of “Come and Follow,” the post-rock style of guitar on “Friends are Falling” and in moments of “Soul Shelter (Inside of Me),” the first half of “Fellow Peacemakers” and even the semi-reggae jangle near the open of “Fire! Fire! (Death of a Giant)” does add an aspect of flourish to Amoretum Vol. 1 that speaks to some measure of drift.

This, however, is one potent ingredient among many in their overarching sound, and Black Space Riders are no more limited by its confines than they would seem to be by any others, including the rigidity of the structures they impose on themselves. Reportedly, Amoretum Vol. 1 is to begin a series of releases functioning in the same thematic territory. One never likes to predict where a Vol. 2 might go in following a Vol. 1, if one surfaces at all, and a group with the scope of Black Space Riders makes doing so an even more potentially embarrassing opportunity to be wrong, but what has been true about their level of performance and craft all along has never been made plainer to see than it is here, and if that’s an expression of love as the band knows it, then it’s little wonder their output holds such resonance. Looking ahead to a New Year that will no doubt be filled with its shares of triumph and tragedy, Black Space Riders seem to have done well in capturing a richness of experience of at least a piece of this dizzying age.

Black Space Riders, “Another Sort of Homecoming” official video

Black Space Riders webstore

Black Space Riders on Thee Facebooks

Black Space Riders on Twitter

Black Space Riders on Bandcamp

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Black Space Riders Post “Another Sort of Homecoming” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 19th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

black space riders

Perennial progressives Black Space Riders have newly made public the cover art and tracklisting of their next album, Amoretum Vol. 1, which is set to hit ground on Jan. 26. The German space metallers will reportedly use their new offering, which follows last year’s EP, Beyond Refugeeum (discussed here) and the LP on which it was based, Refugeeum (review here), as the launch of a series of releases, looking in some way to counter the negativity of the current sociocultural sphere with a sense of positivity, love and — naturally — keyboards.

“Another Sort of Homecoming” is the first audio to be made public from Amoretum Vol. 1, and it pulses with vitality for its sub-four-minute runtime, a quick arrival after Black Space Riders Amoretum Vol 1the opening track “Lovely Lovelie” gives a surprisingly gruff introduction. More so than the partially-drifting “Movements” or the post-rock-into-prog-metal closer “Fellow Peacemakers” later on, “Another Sort of Homecoming” reminds distinctly of Astrosoniq‘s penchant for blending space weirdness and heavy rock vibes, but it’s just one look of many Black Space Riders ultimately give throughout Amoretum Vol. 1 — for example, they immediately back it up with the grand chorus of “Soul Shelter (Inside of Me)” — so don’t necessarily look for the rest of the album to sound just like this.

But then, that’s never been their way. Black Space Riders have always been a challenge for themselves and for listeners who might want to put them in one category or another, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s a huge part of their appeal. They remain defiant in that regard on Amoretum Vol. 1, about which I’ll hope to have more prior to its release late next month. For now, you can see the “Another Sort of Homecoming” video below, followed by more info culled from the PR wire.

I hope you enjoy:

Black Space Riders, “Another Sort of Homecoming” official video

German Riffonauts BLACK SPACE RIDERS have revealed the artwork and track list for forthcoming LP Amoretum Vol. 1. The band has also released the official video for the first single “Another Sort of Homecoming.”

Amoretum Vol. 1 will be released on January 26. The single can be purchased and the album pre-ordered on all digital platforms, including Bandcamp, as well as at the band shop: www.blackspaceriders.com/shop

PRE-ORDER the album now: http://blackspaceriders.com/shop

Band: BLACK SPACE RIDERS
Song: Another sort of homecoming
Album: AMORETUM Vol1 (2018)
Music/Lyrics: BLACK SPACE RIDERS (Jochen Engelking )
based on scenes from “SPACE ANGEL”
produced by Cambria Productions, CA (1962-1964)

Track List:
1. Lovely Lovelie
2. Another Sort of Homecoming
3. Soul Shelter (Inside of Me)
4. Movements
5. Come and Follow
6. Friends Are Falling
7. Fire! Fire! (Death of a Giant)
8. Fellow Peacemakers

BLACK SPACE RIDERS are:
JE: Lead Vocals, Guitars, Organ, Beats
SEB: Lead vocals
C.RIP: Drums, Percussion
SLI: Guitars
SAQ: Bass Guitar
HEVO: Additional Bass Guitar

Black Space Riders webstore

Black Space Riders on Thee Facebooks

Black Space Riders on Twitter

Black Space Riders on Bandcamp

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Black Space Riders to Release Amoretum Vol. 1 Jan. 26

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 21st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Last we heard from adventurous German rockers Black Space Riders was this past Spring, and the Münster-based heavy progressives were heading into the studio to craft the follow-up to their 2016 EP, Beyond Refugeeum (discussed here), which itself was an answer to the previous long-player, Refugeeum (review here), the band’s tendency toward social commentary becoming more prevalent over time even as their sound correspondingly has grown less and less bound by notions of genre in pursuit of its own identity. I’ll admit happily that the description below of what Amoretum Vol. 1 holds in store has me intrigued, and while I’m not necessarily surprised to find them working in a two-part context, because prog and whatnot, I am interested to hear what develops across and between the pair of 2018 outings to come.

The PR wire has preliminary info:

black space riders

BLACK SPACE RIDERS Releasing New Album ‘Amoretum Vol. 1’ on January 26

German Riffonauts BLACK SPACE RIDERS are proud to announce the January 26th release of new album Amoretum Vol. 1.

The internationally acclaimed predecessor Refugeeum brought the band renown with its mixture of thoughtful, sensitive themes and hard, atmospheric rock. Two years have passed since then, two years in which the world has not necessarily become a better place in the eyes of most people.

War, terror, displacement, destruction, rejection and nationalism dominate the headlines. Or, as a wise little green fellow once said: “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

“All you need is love”, countered the BEATLES in 1967. The response of BLACK SPACE RIDERS in 2018 is Amoretum, a made-up word comprising “amor” and “arboretum” to symbolize a protective garden and a germ seed of love. And so the new song cycle of BLACK SPACE RIDERS is all about the conflict between fear-hate-rejection-darkness on the one hand, and love-empathy-care-light on the other. For, how else should we overcome hate, if not with love?

Musically, this conflict is consistently put into practice by a band that beats its own path and is constantly developing. The electronic experiments of the Beyond Regugeeum EP of 2016 have been reduced sonically and cleverly integrated into the powerfully sounding songs. Between fat, dirty riffs and trippy delays, everything that sounds good is allowed; the album is interspersed with a flowing groove throughout and an ever-present atmosphere that embraces the listener. Heavy, sometimes proggy, often psychedelic, always engaging and almost catchy and danceable, Amoretum Vol. 1 takes us by the hand, shows us the dark side, and then wants to give us the hope back that we so often painfully miss.

The album flows from song to song as if from a single cast. The listener wonders after 45 minutes whether everything is really already over, and wants to go back to the beginning again immediately.

But of course everything is not over after 45 minutes in the world of BLACK SPACE RIDERS. The band also announces a second chapter for 2018 … Amoretum Vol. 2 is waiting for us, while we are looking forward to Amoretum Vol 1.

Distribution partners:
Germany/Austria/Switzerland: Cargo Records
USA/ Canada: MVD Entertainment
UK: PHD (plastichead distribution)
BeNeLux: Suburban records
Scandinavia: Border Music
Italy: Goodfellas
BLACK SPACE RIDERS are:

JE: Lead Vocals, Guitars, Organ, Beats
SEB: Lead vocals
C.RIP: Drums, Percussion
SLI: Guitars
SAQ: Bass Guitar
HEVO: Additional Bass Guitar

www.blackspaceriders.com
Twitter.com/BlackSpaceRider
www.facebook.com/BlackSpaceRiders
www.youtube.com/user/blackspaceriders

Black Space Riders, Beyond Refugeeum (2016)

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Black Space Riders to Hit Studio in July for 2018 Release

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 25th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

On a general level, I’m a sucker for productivity and for thoughtful songwriting, and German outfit Black Space Riders have always offered both. The days since the 2016 release of their most recent EP, Beyond Refugeeum (discussed here), would seem to have been particularly fruitful, as the band reports via the PR wire below that they now have too much material written to fit even on a double album. That seems like it should be plenty, and the six-piece apparently agrees. They’ll hit the studio in July to begin laying down new tracks.

I’m also a proponent of making a strong single LP as opposed to a double LP in almost every situation — the theory being that if you truly love, love, love the songs you’re leaving off your record, the ones you’ve left on must be even better — so I’ll be interested for sure to see what Black Space Riders end up with from these sessions. A 2018 release is being eyed, so we’ve got a while before we find out, but here’s the latest update from the band:

BLACK-SPACE-RIDERS

BLACK SPACE RIDERS Entering the Studio this Summer

German Riffonauts BLACK SPACE RIDERS will enter the studio in mid-July to record new material. The thematic journey and musical cycle that covered the internationally acclaimed last album Refugeeum and the subsequent Beyond Refugeeum EP has been completed.

Singer / guitarist JE comments: “We have written a lot of interesting and new songs, too much material to fit on a classic double album. These are tracks that are flirting with different musical styles; we’re looking outside the box. We will start recording in July and then we’ll see what we’re going to do with this giant pile of music. In the beginning of 2018 there will definitely be a new release from us. Watch out!”

Refugeeum and Beyond Refugeeum are available on CD, vinyl and digital formats. Visit http://www.blackspaceriders.com/shop to place your order.

BLACK SPACE RIDERS are:
JE: Lead Vocals, Guitars, Organ, Beats
SEB: Lead vocals
C.RIP: Drums, Percussion
SLI: Guitars
SAQ: Bass Guitar
HEVO: Additional Bass Guitar

http://www.blackspaceriders.com/shop
https://www.facebook.com/BlackSpaceRiders
https://www.youtube.com/user/blackspaceriders
http://blackspaceriders.bandcamp.com/

Black Space Riders, “Starglue Sniffer” official video

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Black Space Riders Post “Starglue Sniffer” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 11th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

black space riders (Photo by Hanno H Endres)

With last year’s Refugeeum (review here), German outfit Black Space Riders made what was easily their most progressive statement to-date. How better to follow-up on such a thing than to present yet another stylistic turn. I’m not sure “Starglue Sniffer” speaks for the whole of the forthcoming Beyond Refugeeum EP — out May 13 via Cargo Records, among others — and in fact I’d be more surprised if it did than it didn’t, since when it comes to encompassing a range of styles, Black Space Riders have grown into an act able to fluidly swap one genre for another in the span of a song.

Perhaps “Starglue Sniffer” is intended to serve as an example of that, though whether or not that was the intent, it does. It finds Black Space Riders, led as ever by guitarist/vocalist/organist/programmer Jochen Engelking, taking a dancier approach to their rhythms. The track is upbeat and should sit well on Beyond Refugeeum next two a couple outside-the-box remixes intended to push the band’s aesthetic breadth even further. They’ve always had something of a keyboard element, some electronics here and there, but with legit beats at its core and its unmitigated catchiness, “Starglue Sniffer” toys with pop ideologies in a way that few bands would dare and even fewer could pull off so well.

Always something intriguing from these guys. Will look forward to digging into the rest of the EP and seeing just where they’re headed as they continue to push “beyond.”

Video features animation by Lenia Friedrich. Enjoy:

Black Space Riders, “Starglue Sniffer” official video

German Riffonauts BLACK SPACE RIDERS have released a video for “Starglue Sniffer,” a song from forthcoming EP Beyond Refugeeum. View it at this location.

Nine months after the release of Refugeeum, the internationally acclaimed fourth album by BLACK SPACE RIDERS, comes a reprise: the Beyond Refugeeum EP! The EP will be released May 13 via BSR/Cargo.

Vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist JE discussed the idea behind the EP: “We had deliberately kept back four songs, all original recordings, from the Refugeeum sessions in order to release them separately from the album because – as the cover artwork already may suggest – the material is different to the songs on Refugeeum. It’s unlike what you might expect from this band. But you can still tell that it comes logically and quite unmistakably from the BLACK SPACE RIDERS. The songs are exalted, sometimes overwrought, vivid, and yet accessible. Much has happened in Europe and in the world since these songs were written at the end of 2014 and recorded in early 2015, but they seem to be even more contemporary and necessary than ever.”

The EP is rounded off with two bonus tracks: “VRTX RMX” (a remix of “Vortex Sun”) is atmospheric electric drone, and “Gravity” is the electro club remix of the band’s 2014 hit “Give Gravitation to the People” that may and certainly will destroy or inspire one or another traditional rocker.

BLACK SPACE RIDERS are:
JE: Lead Vocals, Guitars, Organ, Beats
SEB: Lead vocals
C.RIP: Drums, Percussion
SLI: Guitars
SAQ: Bass Guitar
HEVO: Additional Bass Guitar

Black Space Riders webstore

Black Space Riders on Thee Facebooks

Black Space Riders on Bandcamp

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Black Space Riders to Release Beyond Refugeeum EP on May 13

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 4th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

black space riders

German space metallers Black Space Riders will release a new EP, Beyond Refugeeum, on May 13. The short release follows and its title refers to the stylistically enigmatic outfit’s 2015 fourth album, Refugeeum (review here), which found them pushing into consciously enacted psychedelics across a considerable 61-minute span. It’s a considerable prospect to have the band go “beyond” that, but JE and company always seem to have something interesting up their sleeves, and I take the guitarist at his work as he describes the four included songs in the track-by-track below. Yeah, that sounds like ground Black Space Riders might cover on a short release.

Art, info and that track-by-track, all off the PR wire:

black space riders beyond refugeeum

German Riffonauts BLACK SPACE RIDERS Announce New EP

Nine months after the release of Refugeeum, the internationally acclaimed fourth album by BLACK SPACE RIDERS, comes a reprise: the Beyond Refugeeum EP! The EP will be released May 13 via BSR/Cargo.

Vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist JE discussed the idea behind the EP: “We had deliberately kept back four songs, all original recordings, from the Refugeeum sessions in order to release them separately from the album because – as the cover artwork already may suggest – the material is different to the songs on Refugeeum. It’s unlike what you might expect from this band. But you can still tell that it comes logically and quite unmistakably from the BLACK SPACE RIDERS. The songs are exalted, sometimes overwrought, vivid, and yet accessible. Much has happened in Europe and in the world since these songs were written at the end of 2014 and recorded in early 2015, but they seem to be even more contemporary and necessary than ever.”

A track-by-track description follows:

“Welcome” is the band’s first instrumental piece, a melodic, psychedelic jam that builds in intensity from quiet to very, very loud.

“Freedom at First Sight” is a crisp, catchy alternative hit that flirts with New Wave melodies and classic metal riffing.

“Droneland” evolves from a 70s Sequencer Ambient to a furious rhythm monster.
“Starglue Sniffer” is funky and dares to have beats and a “Prince-falsetto”, before driving you on to the dance floor.

The EP is rounded off with two bonus tracks: “VRTX RMX” (a remix of “Vortex Sun”) is atmospheric electric drone, and “Gravity” is the electro club remix of the band’s 2014 hit “Give Gravitation to the People” that may and certainly will destroy or inspire one or another traditional rocker.

The Beyond Refugeeum EP will be be available from these national distribution partners:

Germany/Austria/Switzerland: Cargo Records
USA/ Canada: MVD Entertainment
UK: PHD (plastichead distribution)
BeNeLux: Suburban records
Scandinavia: Border Music
Italy: Goodfellas

http://www.blackspaceriders.com/shop
https://www.facebook.com/BlackSpaceRiders
https://www.youtube.com/user/blackspaceriders
http://blackspaceriders.bandcamp.com/album/refugeeum

Black Space Riders, “Run to the Plains” official video

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Quarterly Review: We Lost the Sea, Dark Buddha Rising, Red Mountains, Black Space Riders, Lamprey, Godsleep, Slow Joe Crow & the Berserker Blues Band, Monobrow, Denizen, Witchsorrow

Posted in Reviews on October 1st, 2015 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-quarterly-review-fall-2015

We’re in the thick of it now. It’s hard sometimes putting these things together to remember that each band has worked incredibly hard to put out an album. I’ve been through that process (once), and so I know it can be harrowing at times between acts going back and forth about recording, what’s included, how to release, when, and so on. There’s a lot to cover this week — and we’re not out of the woods yet — but I hope that, just because each review is short, you don’t take that as a sign I don’t have the utmost respect for the effort that has gone into making each of these releases. It can be a tremendous pain in the ass, but of course it’s worth it when you get to the end product. We continue.

Fall 2015 Quarterly Review #31-40:

We Lost the Sea, Departure Songs

we lost the sea departure songs

To be blunt, We Lost the Sea’s Departure Songs is the kind of album that immediately makes me want to own everything the band has done, in hard copy, for posterity. The Sydney outfit’s third full-length finds its crux in its two-part closing duo of “Challenger Part 1 – Flight” and “Challenger Part 2 – A Swan Song,” enacting a lush instrumental interpretation of the Space Shuttle Challenger flight and disaster that took place nearly 30 years ago in Jan. 1986. In its progression, patience, flow and discernable narrative thread it is nothing short of brilliant, a lush and sad beauty that serves as a genuinely affecting reminder of the hope for a better future that died with that shuttle’s civilian crew and the era of aspiration that tragedy brought to a close. I think the closing sample is the only time I’ve ever heard Ronald Reagan speak in my adult life and felt something other than anger, and that’s a testament to the ground Departure Songs covers – on the preceding three cuts as well as the final two – and the masterful execution on the part of We Lost the Sea.

We Lost the Sea on Thee Facebooks

We Lost the Sea on Bandcamp

Dark Buddha Rising, Inversum

dark buddha rising inversum

There does not yet exist a name for what Finland’s Dark Buddha Rising bring to bear on the two side-consuming tracks of their Neurot Recordings debut and sixth album overall, Inversum. Self-recorded and presented following some shifts in lineup, the album swells to a massive head of bleak, noise-infused psychedelia, fully ritualized and self-aware but still vibrant as it makes its way further and further down into itself. It is bright black, based so much around contrasting ideas of form and tonality that to listen to it, one almost doesn’t believe that the band are accomplishing what they are on an aesthetic level, but the weight, chants, screams, cavernous feel and nod that “Eso” (24:05) and “Exo” (23:52) enact is ultimately real no matter how nightmarish and otherworldly the impression might be. A work that sounds as likely to digest as be digested, it constructs a temple of its own sound and then burns that temple and everything around it in a glorious final push into charred chaos.

Dark Buddha Rising on Thee Facebooks

Dark Buddha Rising at Neurot Recordings

Red Mountains, Down with the Sun

red mountains down with the sun

Few endorsements carry as much weight for me as that of Germany’s Nasoni Records, so when I see that venerable imprint is on board for the release of Red Mountains’ first album, Down with the Sun, expectations immediately rise. The Norwegian four-piece don’t disappoint, calling forth a heavy psychedelia weighted enough to be immersive without really falling into the trap of sounding too post-Colour Haze or Causa Sui, finding a balance right away on opener “Six Hands” between open-vibe and structured songcraft. They toy with one side or the other, getting crunchy on “Rodents” and tripping out into ambient echoing on the penultimate “Silver Grey Sky,” but that only makes the debut seem all the more promising. Particularly satisfying is the scope between “Sun” and “Sleepy Desert Blues,” which is enough to make the listener think that grunge and desert rock happened in the same place. An engaging and already-on-the-right-track start from a band who sound like they’re only going to continue to grow.

Red Mountains on Thee Facebooks

Nasoni Records

Black Space Riders, Refugeeum

black space riders refugeeum

It’s improper to think of Germany’s Black Space Riders as entirely psychedelic if only because that somehow implies a lack of clearheaded consciousness in their work, which as their fourth album, Refugeeum, demonstrates, is the very core tying all the expanses they cover together. As Europe comes to grip with its most dire refugee crisis since World War II, Black Space Riders take their thematic movement from such terrestrial issues (a first for them) and it makes a song like 11-minute centerpiece “Run to the Plains” all the more resonant. Of course, the big-chug groove of “Born a Lion (Homeless)” and the cosmic thrust of the penultimate “Walking Shades” still have a psychedelic resonance, but the balance between the earthly and the otherworldly do well to highlight the progressivism that’s been at work in the band’s sound all along. A considerable undertaking at 61 minutes, Refugeeum is an important step in an ongoing development that has just made another unexpected and welcome turn.

Black Space Riders on Thee Facebooks

Black Space Riders website

Lamprey, III

lamprey iii

And so, with their third and final outing, III, Portland, Oregon, trio Lamprey reserve their strongest point for their closing argument. The two-bass trio of bassist/vocalist Blaine Burnham (now drumming in Mane of the Cur), bassist Justin Brown (now bass-ing in Witch Mountain) and drummer Spencer Norman recorded the conclusive six-tracker with Adam Pike at Toadhouse (Red Fang, Mammoth Salmon, etc.) and even the slower shifts of “Harpies” and the decidedly Conan-esque “Lament of the Deathworm” breeze right by. Like their two prior releases, 2012’S The Burden of Beasts (review here) and 2011’s Ancient Secrets (review here), III is a showcase of songcraft as much as tone, and it seems to presage its own vinyl reissue, each of the two halves starting with a shorter piece, the opener “Iron Awake” a notably vicious stomp that sets a destructive vibe that the rumble and weirdo keys and leads that finish out “Gaea” seem to be answering, a quick fade bringing an end to an underrated act. They’ll be missed.

Lamprey on Thee Facebooks

Lamprey on Bandcamp

Godsleep, Thousand Sons of Sleep

godsleep thousand sons of sleep

If newcomer bruisers Godsleep seem to share some commonality of method with fellow Athenians 1000mods, it’s worth noting that on their debut, Thousand Sons of Sleep, they also share a recording engineer in George Leodis. Fair enough. The big-toned riffing and shouty burl on which Godsleep cast their foundation makes its identity felt in the post-Kyussism of “Thirteen” and stonerly grit of centerpiece “This is Mine,” which follows the extended opening salvo of “The Call,” “Thirteen” and “Wrong Turn,” the latter of which is the longest cut at 9:09 and among its most satisfyingly fuzzed nods. They’re playing to style perhaps, but doing so well, and if you’ve gotta start somewhere, recording live and coming out with a heavy-as-hell groove like what emerges in the second half of “Home” is a good place to start. Godsleep are already a year past from when they recorded Thousand Sons of Sleep in Summer 2014, so I wouldn’t be surprised if a follow-up happened sooner than later.

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Rock Freaks Records

Slow Joe Crow & the Berserker Blues Band, We are Blues People

slow joe crow and the berserker blues band we are blues people

Kentucky-based, cumbersomely-named Slow Joe Crow and the Berserker Blues Band may indeed live up to the We are Blues People title of their debut EP, but they’re definitely riff people as well. As such, the four-track sampling of their wares draws from both sides on a cut like opener “No One Else,” the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Austin P. Lunn, bassist Patrick Flanary and drummer Thom Hammerheart in the process of figuring out how much they want to lean to one or the other. They round out with a fuzzy take on the traditional “John the Revelator,” but the earlier “Muddy Water Rising” strikes a more effective and more authentic-feeling balance, leading to the slow jam of “Before I Go,” which adds a ‘70s rock vibe to push the bluesy feel even further and expand the palette in a manner one hopes they continue to pursue as they move forward.

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Slow Joe Crow and the Berserker Blues Band on Bandcamp

Monobrow, A Handwritten Letter from the Moon

monobrow a handwritten letter from the moon

Canadian trio Monobrow follow their 2014 LP, Big Sky, Black Horse (review here) with what’s essentially a new single that finds them continuing to step forward in their approach. Dubbed A Handwritten Letter from the Moon and taking its name from the 8:33 title-track, the Ottawa group’s latest offering finds the instrumental outfit smoothing out the tones a bit, still hitting into raucous grooves, but closer to Truckfighters than their prior brashness. I don’t know if it’s a method they’ll stick to going into their fourth LP next year, but the result is dynamic and suits them well. “A Handwritten Letter from the Moon” comes coupled with “Dyatlov Station 3,” a seven-minute rehearsal-space jam from 2011 that fascinatingly (and I’m sure by no coincidence) showcases some similar classic heavy rock influence. The only real shame of the release is that both these tracks are probably too long to fit on a 7”, since a small platter of vinyl would be a perfect way to hold over listeners until the next album arrives. As it stands, the digital version is hardly roughing it.

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Monobrow on Bandcamp

Denizen, Troubled Waters

denizen troubled waters

French heavy rocking four-piece Denizen issued their decidedly Clutchian debut, Whispering Wild Stories (review here), in 2011, and follow it through Argonauta Records with Troubled Waters, a more individualized 10-track outing that alternates between punkish rawness and classic upbeat grooves. Four years after their first album, their progression hasn’t come at the cost of songwriting, and while they still have work to do in distinguishing themselves in a crowded, varied European market, they deliver the material with an energy and vitality that makes even its familiar parts easy enough to get down with, be it the Southern heavy solo of “Jocelyne” or the meaner bite of “Enter Truckman.” I’ll take the pair of “King of Horses” and “Heavy Rider” as highlights, and remain interested to find out where Denizen head from here, as well as how long it might take them to get there. Four years between records gives Troubled Waters the feel of a second debut as much as a sophomore effort.

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Argonauta Records

Witchsorrow, No Light, Only Fire

witchsorrow no light only fire

Releasing through Candlelight in their native UK, doom metal trio Witchsorrow mark a decade with their third album, No Light, Only Fire. Opener “There is No Light There is Only Fire” seems to nod immediately at Cathedral, with a speedier, chuggier take, and the record proceeds to alternate between shorter and longer tracks en route to the 14-minute closer “De Mysteriis Doom Sabbathas,” cuts like “Negative Utopia” and “Disaster Reality” sailing a black ship past the 10-minute mark on a rumbling sea of riffs and slow motion nod. They break for a minute with the acoustic interlude “Four Candles” before embarking on the finale, and the respite is appreciated once the agonizing undulations of “De Mysteriis Doom Sabbathas” are underway, using nearly every second of their 14:25 to affirm Witchsorrow’s trad doom mastery and bleak, darkened heft. No light? Maybe a little light, but it’s still pretty damn dark, and indeed, it smells like smoke.

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Candlelight Records

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