Review & Track Premiere: River Cult, Halcyon Daze

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on February 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

river cult halcyon daze

[Click play above to stream the title-track of River Cult’s Halcyon Daze. The album is out Feb. 9 with a release show March 15 via Blackseed Records and Nasoni Records.]

Getting and having one’s house inorder are two very different things, but River Cult seem to manage both on their Blackseed Records and Nasoni Records debut album, Halcyon Daze. The five-track long-player, on which not one song is under seven minutes long, follow a promising 2016 demo that was among the year’s best short releases, and takes a tack of exploring a variety of different styles and moods, all of them heay in one way or another and drawn together by an overarching sense of tonal heft that permeates whether it’s the tense build-up-leading-to-rolling-fuzz-wall of centerpiece “Seething” or the dreamy, drifting end of 11-minute second cut and highlight “The Sophist” just prior.

Either way, River Cult — the Brooklyn-based trio of Sean Forlenza, Anthony Mendolia, and Tav Palumbo — sound like they’ve definitely been to school when it comes to their influences, and whether it’s the Acrimony-style grit, roll, drift and nod of “The Sophist” or the West Coast boogie into spacious slowdown in opener “Likelihood of Confusion,” which only minutes prior to hitting the cosmos proffered softshoe-worthy wah swirl and swing and the first of the album’s many jammed-out-feeling leads. At various points throughout they ask aesthetic questions about what might’ve happened if Thrasher magazine had taken over the world circa 1997 and, particularly on the title-track, what might’ve happened had Chris Hakius taken on a role drumming for Acid King. These issues, along with shades of Dead Meadow-style shoegazing on closer “Point of Failure,” are met with workaday lyrics and a loose-swinging vibe that, at less than a moment’s notice, is prone to kick into explorations of full-on Man’s Ruin-style fuzz overdrive.

The key word there might be “explorations,” and that’s because although Halcyon Daze sets itself purposefully to the work of proffering earthy tonality and a classic stoner fuckall in its looseness of structure and willingness to depart from verses and choruses into more open jamming, River Cult by no means sound set in their ways, and the 41-minute album carries the spirit of a band in the process of discovering who they are together as players and where they want to go in terms of their sound. Having first gotten together in 2015, it’s not entirely surprising they’d be at this stage on their first full-length, and it’s much to their credit that they capture the moment with the obvious commitment to sonic organics they show here.

To wit, after unfurling a groove of such deeply-weighted fuzz, the title-track moves easily into a soundscape of vast, drifting post-rock guitar drones that work on a long fade into the garage-via-Stooges riff that starts closer “Point of Failure.” That they’d cover such a swath of ground on their first long-player is impressive enough, but to do so with the kind of fluidity they bring out of the patient opening minutes of “Seething,” for example, or the confidence on display as “Likelihood of Confusion” begins its pivot almost exactly at its midpoint before, at 4:30, crashing through the door of its next sonic dimension. They’re an East Coast band, to be sure, and “The Sophist,” “Halcyon Daze” and the crunchier, grunge-minded sections of “Point of Failure” show that edge, but there’s little here one might consider confrontational, and rather, River Cult invite their listeners along with them on their journey of discovery as they feel their way ahead into what one hopes is the just the beginning stages of a longer-term sonic development.

river cult

And to its credit and to the band’s credit, where that development might ultimately bring River Cult feels like a secondary consideration in comparison to the groove here, which at points recalls earliest Fu Manchu and other such before-stoner-rock-had-a-name rawness. Taking advantage of the room in each track to flesh out their parts and ride the riffs to hypnotic and repetitive effect, as on the title-track’s outward trajectory or what seems to be a switch from otherworldliness to personal criticism on “The Sophist,” the first chorus of which brings the standout lines, “Sophistry/Yeah, you talk too much.” This perspective, somewhat disaffected but not necessarily raging, is writ large throughout Halcyon Daze, and it helps River Cult find their balance between more weighted, riffier fare and more atmospheric psychedelia.

It’s also worth noting that, while I have little doubt that Halcyon Daze was put together with a vinyl release in mind — “Likelihood of Confusion” and “The Sophist” on one side, “Seething,” “Halcyon Daze” and “Point of Failure” on the other — the album works perhaps even better in linear form, taken as one whole work unfolding in different stages in ups and downs of energy, pace, volume and emotion, weaving its way into and out of jams whole always keeping its ultimate trajectory forward, as shown when the feedback and noise wash of “Seething” gives way into “Halcyon Daze” or the effects loops of “Likelihood of Confusion” seem to dive into the airy tones that spread themselves over the initial going in “The Sophist.”

The bottom line is there’s a lot happening on Halcyon Daze when it’s taken front-to-back — which is how it feels like it was meant to be taken — and while one might imagine or expect River Cult to continue solidifying their approach in style and structure, what they’ve crafted in the meantime stands among the most promising Brooklynite heavy psychedelic debuts since Naam‘s Kingdom EP and should be commended for its level of craft, naturalism of execution, and unbridled flow. It’s a good one to get lost in, so go ahead and get lost in it.

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JaketheHawk Release Debut Album Year of the Hawk

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 29th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Riff-driven Pittsburgh four-piece JaketheHawk have released their debut album, Year of the Hawk, on Blackseed Records. Comprised of an utterly manageable and thoroughly unpretentious five tracks, the offering readily toes the line between heavy rock and more aggressive, metallic fare, finding a niche not heard from the Steel City since the likes of SuperVoid a few years back, but presented with a bluesier take and a less directly metal base of influence. Okay I guess maybe less like SuperVoid and more like a band that also has funny capitalization in their name with words smashed together and every now and then might break out a scream or two. You got me.

The album, including the dreamy left turn of “Witchy Weather,” is streaming in full at the bottom of this post, and the CD and download versions are available now. I’m not so sure about the Uncle Acid comparison below — maybe the riff of “Horizon?” — but I’ve heard way more tenuous lines drawn between bands. Dig in and see what you think.

From the PR wire:

jakethehawk year of the hawk

Jakethehawk – Blackseed Records

Inundating the Pittsburgh scene with their blend of grunge-inspired desert/stoner rock, JakeTheHawk has been moving audiences and peers alike with their unique sound and exceptionally original songwriting. Comprised of two sets of brothers, Jordan Lober (drums), Justin Lober (bass), Cam Ferrante (guitar), and Jake Ferrante (guitar/vocals), their sound is an amalgam of the influences each set of brothers was raised on. Reminiscent of the evil, bluesy riffs of Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats and the charging, fuzzed out rhythms of Kyuss, JakeTheHawk pull in the familiar to create their own voice in the desert/stoner rock genre.

JakeTheHawk will be releasing their debut album Year of the Hawk on CD and online via experimental/heavy underground label, Blackseed Records. The album will be available via Blackseed Records and Bandcamp on January 26th, 2018.

https://www.facebook.com/jakethehawkpgh/
https://jakethehawk.bandcamp.com/
https://soundcloud.com/jakethehawk
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Jakethehawk, Year of the Hawk (2018)

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Review & Track Premiere: Wolftooth, Wolftooth

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on January 16th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

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[Click play above to stream ‘Frost Lord’ from Wolftooth’s self-titled debut. Album is out Jan. 19 digitally on Cursed Tongue Records with vinyl to follow in May and CD and tape due March 9 via Blackseed Records.]

The bite force of a large wolf has been said to exceed 1,000 pounds of pressure, making it particularly efficient at crushing bones of prey. Their fangs can grow to an inch in length. Thus, for the sharpness of their execution and the thrust behind it, one can only consider Indiana heavy rockers Wolftooth aptly named. The double-guitar Hoosier four-piece make their debut via Blackseed Records and Cursed Tongue Records with a self-titled eight-tracker that from the very beginnings of opener “Blackbirds Call” engages the overarching question of where heavy rock stops and heavy metal begins; a semi-aggro push punctuated by the insistent chug of guitarists Chris Sullivan (also vocals) and Jeff Cole and the popping snare of drummer Johnny Harrod that’s given due heft by bassist Terry McDaniel.

Informed somewhat in its melodic reach by modern progressive metal via the likes of a less angular Baroness, the mid-tempo swing of “Aegaeon” finds vocals layered and manipulated in a manner that recalls Fireball Ministry‘s compressed style, and the penultimate “Forged in Fire,” though it embarks on a gallop just past its halfway point, reaffirms that notion early in its going, as does the harmony-laced closer “Season of the Witch.” A persistent use of epic themes in cuts like “Sword of My Father,” “White Mountain,” “Frost Lord” — unless they just really love cocaine, which given the cohesiveness of their sound seems less likely, but I suppose isn’t impossible — and some of the push in “White Mountain,” or “The Huntress” and “Blackbirds Call” could be said to be culled from High on Fire, but like the other potential points of influence or at least sonic congruity noted above, as well as the classic-style Thin Lizzy stomp that begins “Sword of My Father,” these are filtered through the band’s own modus of expression and come through as their own.

Wolftooth, in other words, make an impression.

That they’d do so isn’t necessarily a surprise. Very quickly, the tastes of Blackseed and Cursed Tongue have each become a trustworthy factor as regards the releases the imprints choose to stand behind, and the 42 minutes of Wolftooth‘s Wolftooth acquit themselves well in terms of the obvious conscious thought put into their song structures and melodic arrangements. Also the shortest track at 3:55, “Sword of My Father” might also have the album’s most resonant hook, but it’s one of many, and as the forward-charging slicer “Frost Lord” turns just before three minutes in to its metallo-chugging mosh part — at least one of these guitarists came of age amid the rise of metalcore near the turn of the century — there’s certainly a memorable moment being captured. Perhaps what’s most striking overall about the album, though, is how fluidly Wolftooth tie these ideas together into a coherent entirety.

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No question it’s a collection of songs as opposed to a singular work, but the band split the tracklist neatly in half to bring the two sides of their debut long-player to bear with a marked flow from front to back, and aside from being impressively consistent in tone across its span, in the expanding melodies of “The Huntress” and “Season of the Witch” — which, it should be noted, does not seem to be a Donovan cover — one can nonetheless hear how much effort the group has put into crafting this material, and that very much extends to the production contribution of Jeremy Lovins at LedFields Studio in Connorsville, IN. Produced in conjunction with the band and assisted in engineering by Skylar Nichols, the clarity of Wolftooth‘s underlying aesthetic and sonic ideas comes that much more to fruition because, one senses, not just of the past experience of members in other acts, but because of the partnership between band and studio, the two sides working in conjunction toward the same ends.

All of this, of course, feeds into the notion of Wolftooth, as a debut album, being particularly noteworthy in its sheer got-itself-together-ness. That’s a somewhat patronizing cliche to use, but it’s a striking appeal all the same, and further evidenced by the balanced nature with which Wolftooth approach what for them is a thin line between rock and metal and prove themselves able to follow the whims of their songwriting to one side of it or the other. To wit, the pairing of “Frost Lord” and “The Huntress” or “White Mountain” coming out of “Sword of My Father” to cap side A. This dynamic, bolstered by the steadiness in the production itself, gives the album its sense of range, and Sullivan‘s melodic vocal approach assures that as they recount tales of witches, broadswords and other epic/fantasy thematics, they neither become overly dramatic nor chestbeatingly dudely in their delivery, even as “Frost Lord” dips into its triplet-gallop chugging breakdown.

It should be noted that Wolftooth caps with its three longest tracks in “The Huntress,” “Forged in Fire” and “Season of the Witch,” which leads one to wonder if perhaps the band aren’t signaling intentions toward even grander fare their next time out. Would be fair enough. They’re still able to hone a memorable chorus into these longer slabs, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they expanded the interweaving aspects of the two guitars as they moved forward and wound up with longer tracks as a result, although the more immediate impact of “Sword of My Father” here is a factor to consider. Whichever way they go, Wolftooth‘s forward potential is writ large throughout this first offering, and that it drives one toward such speculation for avenues of their future progression should be taken as a sign of how likely that progression seems to take place in general, regardless of its ultimate direction.

Wolftooth on Bandcamp

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Blackseed Records website

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River Cult Debut Album Halcyon Daze to be Released in March on Blackseed and Nasoni Records

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

river cult

I didn’t wind up writing nearly enough about it, but the 2016 Demo from Brooklyn trio River Cult was one of my favorite short releases of 2016, and one to which I’ve continued to go back periodically since. It’s only ever good for general international relations when a US band attracts the attention of Nasoni Records, as River Cult have apparently done, but to find them releasing their debut album, Halcyon Daze, through Pittsburgh’s Blackseed Records as well speaks to a multi-pronged approach that one hopes is a portent of how they’ll support the offering on tour.

Oh, and not that I’ve heard it yet or anything like that, but the record smokes. It’s out March 15 and I’m happy to be able to premiere a teaser video for it below. Fingers crossed I’ll have more to come about it before the release date as well.

To the PR wire, chief:

river cult halcyon daze

RIVER CULT 2018 WITH BLACKSEED AND NASONI RECORDS

Bursting on to the scene with a highly acclaimed self-titled EP in 2016, Brooklyn NY’s River Cult are amassing a loyal following with their unique style. Pulling inspiration from Sleep, Neurosis, and Pentagram, River Cult’s songs are modern, yet authentic hunks of Heavy Psych, Doom/Stoner rock.

Fusing atmospheric jams, gritty vocals, and garage rock eminence, River Cult are poised to keep riding the wave of their heavy jams to further praise in 2018, with a recording reminiscent of the Led Zeppelin, Hawkwind oeuvre. In collaboration with Blackseed Records, the independent heavy underground label based in Pittsburgh, River Cult will unleash their debut full-length, “Halcyon Daze”, on March 15th, 2018.

Blackseed Records will release “Halcyon Daze” on both CD and limited-edition cassette. A harmonic release to coincide with a vinyl issuance on Nasoni Records (Berlin), these limited black-matte cassettes are capped at 50 hand-numbered copies.

https://www.facebook.com/rivercult/
https://www.instagram.com/rivercultband/
https://www.twitter.com/river_cult
https://rivercult.bandcamp.com/
blackseedrecords.com
https://www.facebook.com/blackseedrecords/
https://blackseedrecords.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/nasonirecords/
http://www.nasoni-records.com/

River Cult, Halcyon Daze teaser trailer

River Cult, Live at WFMU on Imaginary Radio (2016)

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Enhailer to Release Dumb Enough to Care Dec. 11; Teaser Now Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 1st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

enhailer

With a telling misanthropic sample culled from 1988’s Deadbeat at Dawn — ‘I hate people and I don’t fucking care,’ etc. — Akron, Ohio’s Enhailer unite once again with Blackseed Records, this time to release the single-song EP Dumb Enough to Care on Dec. 11. The track itself is something of a beast at 18 minutes long, but for all its professing to not give a shit, it also shows some considerable growth from where Enhailer were even just last year on their debut album, Grisaille. Whatever incongruity there might be between an anarcho-murder-spree point of view and a band willfully progressing their sound, the song is ridiculously heavy and lurches with revel-worthy glee, and could possibly portend of even harsher vibes to come.

There’s a teaser at the bottom of this post, along with the Bandcamp stream of Grisaille, should you want a refresher. Info follows from the PR wire:

enhailer dumb enough to care

Enhailer – Dumb Enough to Care – Blackseed Records

Blackseed once again teams up with Akron, Ohio’s Enhailer, offering an eighteen minute track via CD and cassette ‘Dumb Enough To Care’. It may seem a release this length would be considered short, but once your ears tune in, it serves up a delectable feast to entice hard doom lovers and progressive stoner rockers alike. This presents a darker, more abrasive Enhailer. Vocals added in just the right places give variance from their initial, almost fully instrumental debut.

‘Dumb Enough To Care’ is officially available as of Monday, December 11th, 2017. Enhailer will soon confirm its release party in their home town, as well as Pittsburgh, PA (the home of Blackseed Records) in early winter. Dumb Enough to Care Artwork by Fred Grabosky.

Enhailer is a “mid-paced, sludge, experimental, stoner, doom metal, progressive, misanthropic dirt rock” outfit based in Akron, Ohio. They’ve been together since 2014 and produced their first record, Grisaille (gri-sigh) in the summer of 2016. Filled with instrumental arrangements that simultaneously destroy and restore your faith in sonic healing, the band sold out of their self-produced debut CD in short order while playing out in a number cities with bands such as Goatwhore, Eyehategod, Black Breath, Lo-Pan, Childbite, Ringworm, Weedeater, and became a crowd favorite packing spots like Ralph’s (MA), The Grog Shop (OH), and the 31st Street Pub(PA).

Enhailer is: Mike Shea, Matt Snyder, Chadd Beverlin, and Michael Gilpatrick

https://www.facebook.com/enhailer/
https://enhailer.bandcamp.com/
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Enhailer, Dumb Enough to Care teaser video

Enhailer, Grisaille (2016)

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Quarterly Review: Harvestman, Beastmaker, Endless Boogie, Troubled Horse, Come to Grief, Holy Rivals, Mountain God, Dr. Space, Dirty Grave, Summoned by Giants

Posted in Reviews on July 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

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Bonus round! I don’t know if you’re stoked on having a sixth Quarterly Review day, but I sure am. Basically this is me doing myself favors. In terms of what’s being covered and how I’m covering it, today might be the high point for me personally of the entire Summer 2017 Quarterly Review. Some of this stuff I’m more behind on than others, but it’s all releases that I’ve wanted desperately to write about that I haven’t been able to make happen so far and I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity to be able to do so at last. It’s a load off my mind in the best way possible, and as this is the final day of the Quarterly Review, before I dig in I’ll just say one more time thank you for reading and I hope you found something in the past week that really speaks to you, because that’s what makes it all worthwhile in the first place. One more go.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Harvestman, Music for Megaliths

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A new Harvestman album, like a harvest itself, is an occasion. Distinct entirely from the solo output released by Neurosis guitarist/vocalist Steve Von Till under his own name, Harvestman’s guitar-led experimentalism and ritualized psychedelia don’t happen every day – the last album was 2009’s In a Dark Tongue (review here) – and with the resonance of “Oak Drone” and the layered, drummed and vocalized textures of “Levitation,” the new collection, Music for Megaliths (on Neurot, of course), lives up to the project’s high standards of the unexpected. Pulsations beneath opener and longest track (immediate points) “The Forest is Our Temple” offer some initial threat, but the electronic beat behind the howling notes of “Ring of Sentinels” and the Vangelis-esque centerpiece “Cromlech” find more soothing ground, and though “Sundown” seems to be speaking to Neurosis “Bleeding the Pigs” from 2012’s Honor Found in Decay (review here) in its atmosphere, the spoken word that tops closer “White Horse” provides a last-minute human connection before all is brought to a quick fadeout. If you told me Music for Megaliths was assembled over a period of years, I’d believe you given its breadth, but whether it was or not, Harvestman’s latest should provide a worthy feast for a long time to come.

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Neurot Recordings webstore

 

Beastmaker, Inside the Skull

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Los Angeles three-piece Beastmaker continue their ascent with their second album for Rise Above Records, the unflinchingly cohesive Inside the Skull. Like its predecessor, 2016’s Lusus Naturae (review here), the quick-turnaround sophomore outing executes a modern garage doom aesthetic and unfuckwithably tight songwriting, this time bringing 10 new tracks that reimagine classic vibes – witness the Witchcraft “No Angel or Demon”-style riff of opener “Evil One” (video posted here) – and touch on some of the same ground pioneered by Uncle Acid without actually sounding like that UK band or sounding like anyone for that matter so much as themselves. They make darkened highlights of “Now Howls the Beast,” “Of Gods Creation,” the crashing “Psychic Visions,” closer “Sick Sick Demon” and the preceding “Night Bird,” which offers some welcome departure into drift prior to the solo in its final minute – all impeccably crisp in structure despite a dirt-caked production – but resonant, memorable hooks abound, and the trio affirm the potential their debut showed and offer a quick step forward that one can only imagine will find them turning more heads toward their growing cult following. They’re still growing, but Inside the Skull is confirmation Beastmaker on a path to becoming something really special.

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Beastmaker at Rise Above Records

 

Endless Boogie, Vibe Killer

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One can’t help but think there’s a bit of tongue-in-cheekery at play in the inaccuracy of Endless Boogie titling their latest album Vibe Killer. The seven-track/51-minute No Quarter release follows 2013’s Long Island (review here) and is, of course, doing everything but killing the vibe, as the New York-based outfit proffer their nestled-in raw songs crafted out of and on top of improvised jams, the semi-spoken gutturalisms of guitarist Paul “Top Dollar” Major a defining element from the laid back opening title-track onward. Moody rock classicism persists through “High Drag, Hard Doin’” and the more active “Back in ’74,” but the true peak of Vibe Killer comes in the 11-minute “Jefferson Country,” which unfolds hypnotic drone experimentation that’s as willfully ungraceful as it winds up being flowing. Bottom line: dudes know what’s up. Endless Boogie’s languid roll is second to nobody and Vibe Killer is a vision of cool jazz reinvented to feel as much at home in rock clubs of the basement and of the chic see-and-be-seen variety. Very New York, in that, but not at all given to elitism. Everyone’s invited to dig, and dig they should.

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No Quarter Records webstore

 

Troubled Horse, Revolution on Repeat

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There were a few minutes there where one probably wouldn’t have been wrong to wonder if Örebro, Sweden’s Troubled Horse would have a follow-up at all to back 2012’s Step Inside (review here), but with Revolution on Repeat (out via Rise Above), the four-piece led by dynamic vocalist Martin Heppich prove among the most vital of the many heavy rock acts to emerge from their hometown, known for the likes of Witchcraft, Graveyard, Truckfighters and countless others. Heppich, lead guitarist Mikael Linder (also bass on the recording), guitarist Tom and drummer Jonas start with the boogie-fied opening salvo “Hurricane” (video premiere here) and “The Filthy Ones,” and run madcap through the memorable hooks of “Which Way to the Mob” and “Peasants” en route to the mid-paced “The Haunted” and into a second half marked by the semi-balladry of “Desperation” and “My Shit’s Fucked Up.” Soon, the standout chorus of “Track 7” (yup, that’s the title) and the penultimate funk of “Let Bastards Know” lead to a nine-minute epic finish in “Bleeding” – and all the while Troubled Horse hold firm to groove, momentum, poise, crisp production and songwriting as they tie varied landmarks together with an overarching sense of motion, Heppich’s charismatic soulfulness and deceptively subtle flourishes of arrangement to make an absolutely welcome return.

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Rise Above Records website

 

Come to Grief, The Worst of Times

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Sometimes you just have to toss up your hands and say, “Well, that’s some of the nastiest shit I’ve ever heard.” To step back and consider them at some distance, Come to Grief aren’t near the most abrasive band on the planet, but when you’re actually listening to their debut EP, The Worst of Times, that’s much harder to believe. Launching with “Killed by Life,” the four-tracker finds the Boston outfit led by former Grief guitarist Terry Savastano – here joined by drummer Chuck Conlon, bassist Justin Christian and vocalist/guitarist Jonathan Hebert – plodding out scream-topped filth that’s actually fuller-sounding than anything Grief did back in their day and all the more devastating for its thickness. The seven-minute “No Savior” is excruciating, and though shorter, “Futility of Humanity” and even the slightly-faster closer “Junklove” bring no letup whatsoever from the onslaught. Think accessible, then go the complete other way, then bludgeon yourself. It’s kind of like that. Absolute brutality delivered by expert and unkind hands.

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Come to Grief on Bandcamp

 

Holy Rivals, Holy Rivals

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The question of whether noise rock and sludge can coexist is largely one of tempo and tone, and recently-signed-to-BlackseedRecords Pittsburgh trio Holy Rivals’ self-titled debut answers in forceful fashion. Amid more aggro punch of opener “Locked Inn” comes the crust-laden grunge of “Voices,” and whether they’re rolling out the more spacious “Sleep” or sprinting through the post-Bleach raw punkery of “Dead Ender” on their way to the more ambient and patient seven-minute finale “Into Dust,” guitarist/vocalist Jason Orr (also T-Tops), bassist Aaron Orr (whose tone features well on the closer) and drummer Matt Langille – whose adaptability is essential to the Helmet-style starts and stops of “Loathe” that emerge from the preceding roll of “Sleep” – Holy Rivals put a superficial harshness to use as a cover for what’s actually a diverse songwriting process. They’ll reportedly have a new record out in Fall 2017, so this 2016 self-release may soon be in hindsight, but in setting the foundation for growth, it offers exciting prospects caked in an abidingly raw presentation.

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Holy Rivals on Bandcamp

 

Mountain God, Bread Solstice

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Around what would seem to be the core duo of guitarist/vocalist Ben Ianuzzi and bassist/keyboardist Nikhil Kamineni, Brooklyn psychedelic post-sludgers Mountain God have undergone numerous lineup shifts en route to and through the release of their debut album, Bread Solstice (on Artificial Head Records). To wit, drummer/vocalist Ryan Smith (also Thera Roya), who appears on the dark, unrelenting and abyss-crafting 40-minute six-tracker, has already been replaced by Gabriel Cruz, and there have been other changes in vocalist, keyboardist and drummer positions even since they offered their 2015 EP, Forest of the Lost (review here) to set the stage for this deeply-atmospheric, it’s-acid-rock-but-with-sulfuric-acid first long-player. In light of that tumult and the overarching commitment to abrasive noise Mountain God make in pieces like the 11-minute “Nazca Lines,” “Junglenaut” or even the brooding tension of airy instrumental “Unknown Ascent,” it’s all the more impressive that Bread Solstice is as cohesive in its cerebral horror as it is, constructing a harsh and churning vision of doom as something worthy of post-apocalyptic revelry. Far from easy listening, but of marked purpose. They should play exclusively in art galleries, no matter who winds up in the band.

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Artificial Head Records on Bandcamp

 

Dr. Space, Dr. Space’s Alien Planet Trip Vol. 1

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Perhaps best known for his work in spearheading the improvisational Denmark-based Øresund Space Collective, modular synth wizard Scott “Dr. Space” Heller weirds out across four cuts on the solo release Dr. Space’s Alien Planet Trip Vol. 1, which both underscores in its scope how essential he is to the aforementioned outfit and oozes beyond that group’s parameters into electronic beatmaking and waves of synthesizer drone. Pulling influence from classic progadelia, Heller unfurls longform tripping on 24-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “5 Dimensions of the Universe” and veers into and out of somewhat abrasive swirl on “Rising Sun on Mars” before landing in the more steady atmosphere of “In Search of Life on Io” and launching once more outward with the five-minute finale “Alien Improv 2.” Just how many alien planet trips the good doctor will be undertaking remains as yet a mystery, but the breadth of this first one makes it plain to the listener that Heller’s sonic universe is wide open and, seemingly, ever-expanding.

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Space Rock Productions website

 

Dirty Grave, So Fall and Crawl Away

dirty-grave-so-fall-and-crawl-away

Brazilian doomers Dirty Grave issue the three-song single/EP So Fall and Crawl Away (bonus points for the Alice in Chains reference) ahead of making their full-length debut reportedly any minute now with an album called Evil Desire. Comprised of two studio tracks in the eight-minute “The Black Cloud Comes” and the four-minute Howlin’ Wolf cover “Evil (Is Going On)” and with the live cut “Unholy Son – Live” as a kind of bonus track, it’s a sampling behind two similar short releases, 2014’s Vol. II and 2013’s Dirty Grave (which featured a studio version of “Unholy Son”), that sleeks through eerie doom loosely tinged with psychedelia and smoked-out vibing. “Evil (Is Going On)” is more uptempo, perhaps unsurprisingly, but is giving a likewise treatment all the same, its final solo shredding into oblivion with stoned abandon. “Unholy Son – Live” is rawer but still carries through its melody in the vocals amid a prevalent crash, and if it’s a portend of things to come on Evil Desire, then So Fall and Crawl Away serves as a warning worth heeding.

Dirty Grave on Thee Facebooks

Dirty Grave on Bandcamp

 

Summoned by Giants, Stone Wind

summoned-by-giants-stone-wind

If you have a convenient narrative for what West Coast heavy rock has become over the last decade, Summoned by Giants’ debut album, Stone Wind, is probably too aggressive on the whole to fit it neatly. Their cleaner parts, the rolling second cut “Diamond Head” and samples throughout have aspects of that post-Red Fang party vibe, but to listen to the rawness of the bass tone that starts “Return” or closer “I Hate it When You Breathe,” or even the slurring “come at me, bro”-style rant sampled at the seven-track/27-minute album’s launch, a will toward violence is never far off. Couple that with the thickened noise punk of “Saturn” and the Weedeater sludge of the penultimate “Dying Wish,” and Summoned by Giants – guitarist/vocalist Sean Delaney, guitarist Jordan Sattelmair, bassist/vocalist Patrick Moening and drummer Mel Burris – seem more interested in doling out punishment than kicking back, making a silly video and having a good time. Well, maybe they’re having a good time, but they’re doing so while kicking your ass.

Summoned by Giants on Thee Facebooks

Summoned by Giants on Bandcamp

 

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Molasses Barge Self-Titled Due July 28 on Blackseed Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

After wrapping up the recording, mixing and mastering process at the very end of last year, Pittsburgh’s Molasses Barge have aligned to Blackseed Records to issue their self-titled sophomore full-length on July 28. The band, which features members of Argus and Monolith Wielder, are the latest regional representation for the upstart label that shares their hometown and has thus far stood behind offerings from locally-based groups like Horehound, Holy Rivals, Fist Fight in the Parking Lot, Enhailer and Del Rios — it’s enough to make one wish Supervoid were still active; they’d finally have somewhere to go — and the album comes with a bonus CD of covers the tracklisting for which I’d be very interested in seeing given the tease in the info below.

Note the mastering job by the venerable Chris Kozlowski, because any time you see that dude’s name on anything it’s worth noting.

Word came down the PR wire confirming the release:

molasses barge

Molasses Barge release Self Titled album 7/28

Nothing conjures the image of slow and heavy like the moniker Molasses Barge. And true to form, the Pittsburgh natives have been crafting blues-drenched doom metal licks with fierce, smoky vocals for years, opening for the likes of Elder, Freedom Hawk, Windhand, Saint Vitus, Pentagram, and Truckfighters, among others. Comprised of Brian “Butch” Balich on vocals, Amy Bianco on bass, the twin grind of Dave Fresch and Justin Gizzi on guitar, and Wayne Massey’s pounding drums, Molasses Barge have been a mainstay in the thriving Pittsburgh metal scene.

On July 28th, Blackseed Records will release Molasses Barge’s self-titled, sophomore album, recorded by Jason Jouver at +/- studio in Pittsburgh, and mastered by Christopher Kozlowski at Polar Bear Lair studio in Middletown, Marlyand. The 8 song album will also include a bonus CD of classic rock and metal covers, Covered in Molasses, recorded by Matt Schor at Warroom and mastered by Zach Moore. In addition to the Molasses Barge sound they’ve cultivated and evolved, fans will be treated to their take on songs by The Obsessed, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and many others.

Available for purchase via the Molasses Barge Bandcamp page or the Blackseed Records website 7/28/17.

Molasses Barge:
Brian “Butch” Balich – Vocals
Amy Bianco – Bass
Dave Fresch – Guitar
Justin Gizzi – Guitar
Wayne Massey – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/molassesbargedoom/
https://molassesbarge.bandcamp.com
https://soundcloud.com/molasses-barge
blackseedrecords.com
https://www.facebook.com/blackseedrecords/
https://blackseedrecords.bandcamp.com/

Molasses Barge, “Emerging Void”

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Fist Fight in the Parking Lot to Release 714 on July 14

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 6th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

fist fight in the parking lot

They’ll play the release show in Pittsburgh on July 28 with Blackseed Records labelmates Molasses Barge, but one could hardly conjure a more suitable issue date for Fist Fight in the Parking Lot‘s debut long-player, 714, than July 14. An attitude-soaked rocker from the first stomping minutes of “Miss Emma” onward, the album drifts into bluesy heft on “Downward Sampson” and finds a triumph of lead guitar in the later reaches of the jammy “Big Chief,” and Blackseed will have the physical edition ready to roll out by the end of the month, Chris Smith cover art and all.

Neither Fist Fight in the Parking Lot nor Blackseed are streaming any tracks from 714 yet, but there’s a fervent flow from song to song that effectively creates common ground between the post-C.O.C. aggro chug of centerpiece “Open Slopes” and the subtle effects play beneath the solo scorch and apex-topping spoken word of closer “What About Drugs,” and I’m not saying I’ve heard it or anything, but the first impression is positive. Keep an eye on the band’s Bandcamp, linked below.

Release art and info comes courtesy of the PR wire:

fist-fight-in-the-parking-lot-714

Fist Fight in the Parking Lot – 714

Album Artwork & Layout by Chris Smith
Released on Blackseed Records & Recordings
Engineered, Mixed, Mastered by Chris Ruane

While on hiatus from live performances in which vocalist/guitarist Abby Krizner pumped out a real live human baby, Fist Fight in The Parking Lot was hard at work in the studio crafting a mighty return with a booming, bright, and haunting album about change, loss, and fighting back. Eight years into the band’s history, their newest album “714” channels the lilting groove of Queens of the Stone Age, the open atmosphere of Soundgarden, and punchy rock all their own.

Remember, scars add character. Enjoy with whiskey.

“714” will be digitally released on July 14th, 2017.

Dual CD Release Party with fellow Blackseed Recordings & Releases artist Molasses Barge on July 28th at Brillobox in Pittsburgh, PA.

Fist Fight In The Parking Lot are:
Abby Krizner – Vocals/Guitar
Jason Sichi – Guitar
John McCallough – Bass
Chris Ruane – Drums

Photo Courtesy: Rich Frollini | Coda Photography

https://www.facebook.com/fistfightintheparkinglot
https://twitter.com/FFITPL
https://fistfightintheparkinglot.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/blackseedrecords/
http://www.blackseedrecords.com/store.php

Fist Fight in the Parking Lot, “I Had a Name”

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