Quarterly Review: A Storm of Light, Z/28, Forrest, 1476, Owl, Brass Hearse, Craneium & Black Willows, Magmakammer, Falun Gong, Max Tovstyi

Posted in Reviews on December 4th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

Day Two of the Quarterly-Review-Mega-Super-Ultra-Year-End-Wrap-Up-Spectacular-Gnarly-Edition — name in progress — begins now. First day? Smooth. Wrote it over the weekend to get a jump on the week, cruised through a morning and into baby-naps, finished with time left over to still go and read the Star Trek novel I’m currently making my way through. Easy. Also peasy.

Today? Well, apparently I turned off my alarm in my sleep because I rolled over 40 minutes later and certainly didn’t remember it going off. Whoops. Not a great start, but there is a lot of cool stuff in this batch, so we’ll get through it, even if it’s awfully early in the week to be sleeping in. Ha.

Have a great day everybody. Here are 10 more records for the QRMSUYEWUSGE. Rolls right off the tongue.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

A Storm of Light, Anthroscene

A Storm of Light Anthroscene

“America the sick and crumbling/Liberty she’s weeping/The tired and poor are huddled and dying/As the wretched ones are touched aside.” The lines, from A Storm of Light‘s “Blackout” — the second cut from their fifth LP, Anthroscene (on Translation Loss) — lead to the inevitable question: “What the fuck is wrong with us?,” and thereby summarize the central sociopolitical framework of the record. A dystopian thematic suits the band’s aesthetic, and there’s certainly no shortage of material to work from between current events and future outlook. Guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist/graphic artist Josh Graham, bassist Domenic Seita and guitarist/keyboardist Dan Hawkins are five years removed from the band’s last outing, however, so their post-apocalyptic post-metal is welcome either way, and Anthroscene taps a Killing Joke influence and turns it to its dark and churning purposes over the course of its eight tracks/51 minutes, delving into harsh shouts on “Short Term Feedback” and capping with the resistance-filled “Rosebud,” which surges forth from ambience like the anti-facist/anti-capitalist critique that it is, ending with the lyric, “When you die, we will spit on your grave,” which could hardly be more appropriate.

A Storm of Light on Thee Facebooks

Translation Loss Records on Bandcamp

 

Z28, Nobody Rides for Free

Z28 Nobody Rides for Free

Massachusetts’ Z28 — also stylized as Z/28 and Z-28; I don’t think they care so long as you get the point they’re named after the Camaro — make their full-length debut with Nobody Rides for Free on Fuzzdoom Records, and with the occasional bit of organ on songs like “Touch of Evil” and “Angst III (I Don’t Want to Die),” they nonetheless give a raw take on heavy rock laced with that particularly Northeastern aggression. Guitarist Jeff Hayward (also organ), bassist/acoustic guitarist/engineer Jason Negro and drummer Breaux Silcio all contribute vocals to the outing, and yet the minute-long instrumental intro tells much of the story of what it’s about in terms of the chemistry between them. Impressive guitar solos are rampant throughout, and the rhythm section carries over a weighted groove through cuts like “Wandering” that’s fluid in tempo but still able to create an overarching flow between the tracks. I’ll give bonus points for the Black Sabbath nods in the multi-layered lead work toward the end of “Spirit Elk (Lord of the Hunt)” as well as the title “Keep on Rockin’ (In the Invisible World),” and Z28 have something to build on here in terms of songwriting and that chemistry. It’s raw-sounding, but that doesn’t necessarily hurt it.

Z28 on Thee Facebooks

Fuzzdoom Records on Bandcamp

 

Forrest, Kickball with Russians

forrest kickball with russians

Granted, Forrest telegraph some measure of quirk by naming their debut EP Kickball with Russians, but the four-piece from Lexington, Kentucky, still seem to be rolling along in a straightforward-enough manner on six-minute instrumental opener and longest track (immediate points) “(I Dream of) Kickball with Russians,” until the keyboards start in. That turn gives their EP an edge of the unexpected that continues to inform “DAN,” “Deew” and the closing “My Son Looks Just Like Me,” and “DAN” continues the thread with gang shouts popping up over its chugging progression and receding again after about two words to let the track get quiet and build back up. And is that a velociraptor at the start of “Deew?” Either way, that song’s Mr. Bungle-style angularity, a return of the keys and intermittent heavy nod work to underscore the willful weirdness that’s very much at play in the four-piece’s work, and the closer adds Ween-style effects work into the mix while still keeping a heavy presence in tone and lumber. They’ll get weirder with time, but this is a good start toward that goal.

Forrest on Thee Facebooks

Forrest on Bandcamp

 

1476, Our Season Draws Near

1476 our season draws near

Coastal melancholy and a pervasive sense of atmosphere seem to unite the varied tracks on 1476‘s 2017 Prophecy release, Our Season Draws Near, which otherwise draw across their span from goth rock, punk, doom and extreme metal, able to blur the line especially between punk and black metal on songs like “Ettins” while acoustics pervade “Solitude (Exterior)” en route to the Anathema-gone-char rasps of “Solitude (Interior)” a short time later. I know I’m late to the party on the Salem, MA, duo, and likewise late on this record, but from opener “Our Silver Age” to closer “Our Ice Age” to the “Solitude” pairing to “Winter of Winds” — finally: David Bowie fronts Joy Division — and “Winter of Wolves,” there’s so much of Our Season Draws Near that has a bigger-picture thought process behind its construction that its impact is multi-tiered. And it’s not just that they pit genres against each other in their sound, it’s that their sound brings them together toward something new and malleable to the purposes of their songwriting. Not to be missed, so this is me, not missing it. Even though I kind of missed it.

1476 on Thee Facebooks

Prophecy Productions on Bandcamp

 

Owl, Nights in Distortion

owl nights in distortion

Joined on Nights in Distortion by bassist René Marquis as well as longtime drummer Patrick Schroeder, guitarist/vocalist/synthesist Christian Kolf (also Valborg) greatly expands his former solo-ish-project Owl with their second release of 2018 behind March’s Orion Fenix EP (review here), bringing together elements of post-metal churn with deeply atmospheric sensibilities, cuts like “Transparent Moment” churning as much as they are surprising with their underlying melody. A Type O Negative influence continues to be worked into their sometimes grueling context, but it’s hard to listen to the keyboard-laced “Inanna in Isolation” and hear Owl being anything other than who they’ve become, and their third album is the most distinct statement of that yet, airy lead guitars floating over a still-fervent, industrial-style chug amid vocals veering from barking shouts to quiet, low-register semi-spoken fare and cleaner singing. Nights in Distortion is the evolving work of a mastermind, captured in progress.

Owl on Thee Facebooks

Temple of Torturous website

 

Brass Hearse, Hollow on the Surface

Brass Hearse Hollow on the Surface

Synth-laden heavy horror garage dance rock could probably use a more succinct genre name, but while those in charge of such things sit and scratch their butts, Boston’s Brass Hearse carve out a niche unto themselves with their second EP, Hollow on the Surface. The five-track offering is in and out in 14 minutes but wants nothing for either a show of craft or arrangement, tapping into psych-folk in the strummy interlude “Dwellers in the Static Valley” after the hook-led “Death by Candlelight” and before the John Carpenter-style pulsations that underscore “The Thing from Another World.” Opener “Fading” is the only song to top four minutes and has a distinctly progressive take, but while it and the organ-ic closer “Headaches & Heartbreaks” has a theatricality to it, Brass Hearse are too cohesive to charge with being weird for weirdness’ sake, and their experimentation is presented in complete, engaging songs, rather than self-indulgent collections of parts mashed together. Would love to hear what they do over the course of a full-length.

Brass Hearse on Thee Facebooks

Playing Records on Bandcamp

 

Craneium & Black Willows, Split

Different missions from Finland’s Craneium and Switzerland’s Black Willows on their BloodRock Records split. Craneium nod through “Your Law” and mark their second inclusion, “Try, Fail, Repeat,” with a Sabbathian swing that only kicks up in tempo as it moves through its five minutes. Black Willows, on the other hand, present a single track in the 19-minute, noise-soaked post-everything “Bliss,” which trades back and forth between minimalism and crushing riffs en route to a consuming wash and long, long, long fadeout. Released in March, the outing showcases both bands well, but one is left wondering where the connection is between the two of them that they’d come together for a joint vinyl release. Either way, I won’t detract from what they do individually, whether it’s the catchiness of “Your Law” and the jam in its second half or “Bliss” with its frost-covered expanse of tonality, it’s just a marked leap from side A to side B. Maybe that was the idea all along, and if that’s the case, then one can only say they succeeded.

Craneium on Thee Facebooks

Black Willows on Thee Facebooks

BloodRock Records on Bandcamp

 

Magmakammer, Mind Tripper

magmakammer mindtripper

Following a 2015 self-titled debut EP, Oslo trio Magmakammer align with Kozmik Artifactz for their first long-player, Mindtripper, and so effect a garage doom sound that’s quickly relatable to Uncle Acid on songs like “Fat Saturn” and the chug-shuffling “Along the Crooked Roads.” Where they distinguish themselves from this core influence, though, is in the density of their tones, as opener “Druggernaut” and the rolling “Acid Times” prove thicker in their charge. Still, there’s no mistaking that swing and the blown-out sound of the vocals. Closer “Cosmic Dancers,” which is one of two tracks over seven minutes long, shows more dynamic in its loud/quiet tradeoffs, and resolves itself in a righteous nodder of a riff. It’s essentially in the same vein, but still displaying some emerging personality of Magmakammer‘s own that one hopes they continue to develop. And in the meantime, the foundation of craft and stylistic awareness they hone is still welcome, familiar or not.

Magmakammer on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz webstore

 

Falun Gong, Figure 2

Falun Gong Figure 2

Mystique isn’t easy to come by in this Age of Access, but the anonymous London-dwelling duo Falun Gong have succeeded in piquing interest with their two-to-date singles, “Figure 1” (review here), and the eight-minute “Figure 2,” which like its predecessor is raw in the recording, sounds like it was performed live, and follows a trance-inducing course of riffing. The central groove is a slow march that makes its way through obscure voices delivered in buried fashion — the whole thing may or may not be mastered; somehow I’m thinking not, but I’ve been wrong before — through a self-aware drift that rounds out following a soulful culmination fitting the song’s lyrical theme, which would seem to be tied to the cover art about baptism in a river’s waters. There’s just something off-kilter about Falun Gong to this point, and while it’s still early going for them, they bring an eerie persona to their work that feels less performative than it so often does.

Falun Gong on Bandcamp

 

Max Tovstyi, Mesmerize

Max Tovstyi Mesmerize

Though he’s had a slew of live outings out with the Max Tovstyi Blues Band and the Max Tovstyi Blues Association, Mesmerize (LP on Nasoni) is the Ukrainian heavy blues rocker’s first solo studio outing since 2014. He’s credited with all the instruments on the 10- or 12-track offering save for a couple arrangement-flourish guest appearances, and he pulls in a classic spirit and full-band sound without any trouble on a moody piece like “World of Sin” or the bonus track “Show Me the Way,” which isn’t a Peter Frampton cover so far as I can tell but still has plenty of guitar scorch to go around. “From the Blues to the Funk” jams its way along its stated trajectory, and “Feel Like Dying Now” brings together organ and keys in a fashion far less dramatized than one might initially think. With a clean production, Tovstyi — also known for his work in The Heavy Crawls, Lucifer Rising, and others — carries through his sentimentality for blues rock’s past and finds himself well at home leading the pack of guest vocalists on “Make Up Your Mind,” which closes the album proper with a semi-country twang and sweet melody.

Max Tovstyi on Thee Facebooks

Nasoni Records website

 

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Bretus Post Demo Track “In the Vault”; New Album in 2017

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 22nd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

bretus

Italian doomers Bretus have a new release in the offing for 2017. And the emphasis in that sentence should be on ‘offing.’ The horror-minded outfit released their second album, The Shadow over Innsmouth, in 2015, and whatever form their follow-up to it ultimately takes when it arrives — i.e., if it follows similar Lovecraftian themes or goes in some other direction, who’s doing the releasing, and so on — it seems like the Catanzaro four-piece will continue to revel in oldschool doom on the new one, which is precisely as it should be.

Listening to their new demo for “In the Vault,” one finds a cleaner vocal approach than was heard in their last video, for “Abyss of Silent Screams” (posted here), but the overarching vibe remains consistent. Bretus are doomers making doom for doomers. I particularly dig the mood à la Saint Vitus‘ “Children of Doom” that comes through the track, and while it seems pretty clear they’ll re-record the song for the new album — as yet untitled — the rawness of this recording does it some favors in terms of carrying across the oldschool, played-off-a-tape kind of feel. Gives the whole thing a punkish undertone that’s true to the origins of the doom with which Bretus are working in the first place. Remember it was Greg Ginn‘s SST Records that put out those first Vitus records.

You can dig into “In the Vault” below. Stay tuned for more on Bretus‘ next album in the New Year, and enjoy:

Bretus, “In the Vault” demo

From the new album (to be released in 2017)…DOOM in progress, stay tuned! Come to the SABBATH!

Bretus was born to homage a kind of music (Doom / Stoner / Psych) and its great interpreters. Their inspirations are: Old horror movies, H.P. Lovecraft, mysticism and 70’s music.

The band released their debut album “IN ONIRICA” In 2012 (CD Version By Arx Productions, Tape version by The Arcane Tapes). “IN ONIRICA” was out also on Bloodrock Records on vinyl version (distributed by Black Widow Records). The response at it was so good that the band was invited to take part on some important European Doom festivals like the MALTA DOOM FEST 5th edition or DOOM OVER VIENNA IX.

In 2014 the slovenian Doom Cult Records released a reprint of “BRETUS” MCD. 2015 was the year of the 7″ split album with Black Capricorn via The Arcane Tapes. Ever in 2015 The band released their 2nd album, “THE SHADOW OVER INNSMOUTH”, a concept album entirely based on a history of H.P. Lovecraft. (BloodRock Records)

Bretus is:
Ghenes (High/Low Guitars and Fx)
Zagarus (Vox and Harmonica)
Azog (Bass)
Striges (Drums)

Bretus on Thee Facebooks

Bretus on Bandcamp

BloodRock Records

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Bretus Post “Abyss of Silent Screams” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 24th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

bretus

It’s been less than a month since Italian doomers Bretus posted their last video, which, if you look at it on some grand cosmic scale rather than the valuable hours of your life you waste away at work having sold out your minimal talents on the cheap that seem to drag along as though a cart tied to a dying mule — holy shit I got sidetracked — is not very long at all. That song was the sludgy “From the South” (posted here) taken from the band’s 2009 self-titled EP, which was reissued last year.

I wondered at the time why they might make a clip for an older track rather than one from their 2015 sophomore full-length, The Shadow over Innsmouth, which came out on BloodRock Records, but being a sucker for a cool riff and a doomly vibe, quickly got over my curiosity in the face of a righteous groove. Not the first time that’s happened. Bretus, meanwhile, were secretly working on yet another video — one that they’ve now unleashed on an unsuspecting public — for the song “Abyss of Silent Screams.” We don’t yet know what release it comes from.

That basically puts Bretus going from one end of the spectrum to the other — earliest material to newest — in less than four weeks and in the span of two videos. Not too shabby. As to the song itself, I’ll admit it might be East Coast US regionalism on my part, but the darkened, DIY clip takes my ears to olden days of pure Maryland doom, thinking of the rough-edged work of bands like Unorthodox and Internal Void, and of course the scorching guitar of The Obsessed. It’s something of a contrast from where “From the South” found them, delving here and there into screams and more vicious chug, but the classic metal fist-pumping suits them.

Not sure if there’s an album on the way or a new split or what, but when I hear more, I’ll pass word along. In the meantime, enjoy:

Bretus, “Abyss of Silent Screams” official video

Bretus on Thee Facebooks

Bretus on Bandcamp

BloodRock Records

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Bretus Post Video for “From the South”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 1st, 2016 by JJ Koczan

bretus

They start out in a weed field, wind up in the Grand Canyon and end up with a wolf sitting on a rock, but I only have one question when it comes to Italian doom/sludgers Bretus’ new video for the track “From the South.” Why “From the South?” Don’t get me wrong, the riff is choice classic doom and they ride it ably, but the song comes from their self-titled EP, first released in 2009. Seven years ago.

It’s not like they haven’t done anything since. Hell, they had a second full-length, The Shadow over Innsmouth out last summer on BloodRock Records. Wouldn’t it have made sense to do a video from that? Granted, the Bretus EP was also reissued in 2015, but still, usually bands are so impatient they’re tired of their new records before they’re out. Bretus, on the other hand, have a new video from an offering that was three releases ago. It’s curious, is all I’m saying.

Most likely it was a special thing for the reissue, but either way, I won’t argue, because like I said the track is cool. Raw doom, some screams worked in, kind of a classic metal vibe and some manipulated live footage in the clip. It’s got a DIY vibe, so maybe it just took them a while to get it done to coincide with the reissue and they’re working on one from the new album next (or, alternately, I missed it or it’s hidden somewhere in their YouTube account). Sometimes these things take a while.

In any case, enjoy:

Bretus, “From the South” official video

Taken from “Bretus” self titled mcd 2010.

BRETUS takes form in the mind of Ghenes in 2000. The band was born to homage a kind of music (Doom / Stoner / Psych) and its great interpreters. In 2008 it was recorded the first demo cd composed by 4 tracks. In 2009 It was released their first real opus: “BRETUS” MCD, the first version was released from MadDie Records.

The band released their debut album “IN ONIRICA” In 2012 (CD Version By Arx Productions, Tape version by The Arcane Tapes). “IN ONIRICA” was out also on Bloodrock Records on vinyl version (distributed by Black Widow Records). The response at it was so good that the band was invited to take part on some important European Doom festivals like
the MALTA DOOM FEST 5th edition or DOOM OVER VIENNA IX.

In 2014 the slovenian Doom Cult Records released a reprint of “BRETUS” MCD. 2015 was the year of the 7″ split album with Black Capricorn via The Arcane Tapes. Ever in 2015 The band released their 2nd album, “THE SHADOW OVER INNSMOUTH”, a concept album entirely based on a history of H.P. Lovecraft (BloodRock Records).

Bretus on Thee Facebooks

Bretus Blogspot

BloodRock Records on Bandcamp

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Abbot, Between Our Past and Future Lives: Running Moonsnake Children

Posted in Reviews on February 10th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

abbot between our past and future lives

There is an almost singular groove running through Between Our Past and Future Lives, the BloodRock Records debut full-length from Finnish four-piece Abbot. Not in the sense of songs sounding the same — though tones are at least consistent — but just that the material feels united across the manageable eight tracks/33 minutes in the mission of conveying a simplistic form of heavy nod. There are variations in tempo and mood, as cuts like “Grave Encounters” and “Mr. Prowler Man” pull back from the garage rocking push of “Diamond Heart” or the ultra-catchy “Moonsnake Child” from what seems to be even on the CD an intended side A to the short, unpretentious release, but even these are brought into the fold by a uniting factor. Near as I can tell, it’s swing. The whole record just swings. Front to back. Abbot‘s debut 7″, 2012’s Into the Light (review here), and the follow-up single, 2014’s Holy Mountain/Black Book, had that working for them as well, but it’s much different over the context of a full-length album, and in listening to Between Our Past and Future Lives, the entirety of the work feels propelled by drummer Antti Kuusinen‘s classic heavy rock swing, which underscores the fuzz guitar of Jussi Jokinen, Tapio Lepistö‘s bass and JP Jakonen‘s vocals, lower-toned and riding the laid back groove the band behind him has concocted, adding effects-laden harmonica to the opener “Child of Light,” which bookends with closer “Keep on Moving,” the two tracks being the only ones here over five minutes long while the rest keep firmly in the three-to-four-minute range.

“Keep on Moving” is essentially the defining ethic of Between Our Past and Future Lives. Lines from its chorus, “Keep on moving because you’re free,” appear reprinted in the liner of the CD digipak, and if there’s a more succinct way of conveying what the album is trying to do, I’m not sure what it might be. Psychedelic touches make themselves felt here and there — that harmonica at the end of “Child of Light” is one of them — but for the most part, Abbot stay more grounded in an earthy Sabbathian loyalism that roots itself even to the first lines of the album, the opening lyrics being, “Going home, late one night” à la “Faeries Wear Boots” from Paranoid. That Abbot would push the Sabbath factor so much to the front makes their approach seem all the more sincere, and Jakonen‘s vocals start out more in that vein as well before settling into the low-register delivery of the subsequent “Diamond Heart” and much of what follows, Jokinen providing backup at unspecified points. The second track has more of a rush to it, and sets up a back-and-forth play of pacing that continues through “Mr. Prowler Man” and “Keep on Moving,” the former a near-minimal, loose garage heavy rocker and the latter Abbot‘s most varied inclusion here and starting off slow, but picking up to a faster groove in which the chorus is delivered and the record is given its apex. In between, the likes of “Grave Encounters” and “Moonsnake Child” and “Supermind” — which starts side B if you’re thinking vinyl — dance back and forth with a playful kind of morbidity, some element of heavy ’70s threat running through “Moonsnake Child” that never quite veers into the murderous cultistry of Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, but winds up not far from it by the time “Mr. Prowler Man” swings into the picture.

abbot

Even mentioning that name risks putting Abbot in a category to which they really don’t belong of modern ’70s-minded cult rockers. In truth, Abbot owe way more to Pentagram than to anyone playing at devil worship, and that spirit begins with “Child of Light” and continues through side B’s title-track and closing duo, a flow quicker at times but never fully abating that carries the listener from one riff-based groover to the next, Kuusinen‘s swing and the analog vibe of the tones serving as the constants tying it all together. Interesting to note that the title-track is the shortest one here at 3:05 (not by much necessarily, but still), and while it feeds into the humble feel, it seems more likely happenstance than something Abbot considered when choosing the name of the record. Either way, that song gives way gracefully to “Mr. Prowler Man” and the languid, bluesy opening of “Keep on Moving,” which does, unfolding over six minutes a push worthy of the material preceding it and a hook to answer “Moonsnake Child” that finds itself aligned to Between Our Past and Future Lives‘ easy-rolling spirit. What stands the closer out most is how smoothly Abbot shift between the slower intro and the more uptempo verses and chorus that follow. Having established such counterbalances across their debut’s span, the final track sets them up for the natural next step, which is to further integrate those dynamics into their songwriting. Nothing I hear on Between Our Past and Future Lives gives indication they can’t or won’t get there, it’s just a matter of being able to “keep on moving” and making the most of the creative freedom they have. If a band has to have a motto, Abbot have chosen theirs well.

Abbot, Between Our Past and Future Lives (2014)

Abbot on Thee Facebooks

Abbot’s website

BloodRock Records

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Abbot to Release Between Our Past and Future Lives on Halloween

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 15th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Maybe you recall, maybe you don’t, but back in 2012, Finnish rockers Abbot made a switched-on debut with a 7″ called Into the Light (review here), taking cues from classic metal and doom rock and wrapping it all up in a kind of garage-style production for an unpretentious and engaging result. The single wasn’t changing the world, but it showed that Abbot, who got together in the ’90s, then split up for the years between, had something to offer riff-hounds and heads looking for a good nod along the way. In the two years since Into the LightAbbot has put together a debut long-player for release, and they’ve just announced that Between Our Past and Future Lives is slated for a Halloween release on Italy’s BloodRock Records.

The release seems to have been a while in the making, since they started leaking songs back in April, but better late than never. They’ve also got a few release shows lined up in Eastern Europe, included with the cover and release info below, snagged off the PR wire:

abbot between our past and future lives

ABBOT album release / tour

The Finnish doom rock band ABBOT release their debyt album Between Our Past and Future Lives on Italian label Bloodrock Records on Halloween Eve, October 31, 2014. ”We are super-excited about the album”, says drummer Antti Kuusinen. ”It’s turned out really good, with the all-analogue production, great artwork and songs coming from each band member”. ABBOT will do an album release tour around Halloween 2014:

29.10. Depo Night Club, Riga (Latvia)
30.10. Underground Pub, Kaunas (Lithuania)
31.10. Metro Club, Vilnius (Lithuania)
1.11. Woodstock Rock Club, Tallinn (Estonia)

Abbot started playing together for the first time in 1996. We played punk covers as Cherrycoles, and split up in 1997. Guitarist Jussi played in metal hardcore bands, singer JP in punk rock bands, and drummer Antti in all kinds of bands. Ten years after we got together again, found Tapsa “El Tabib” to play bass, and with renewed musical interests (while also going back to where it all started) started playing and writing songs.

www.abbotband.com
https://www.facebook.com/abbotband
http://bloodrockrecords.bigcartel.com/

Abbot, “Child of Light”

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Harvest Bell, Wheel of Foretaste EP: Building the Habit

Posted in Reviews on February 13th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

By the time the 16-plus minutes of Harvest Bell‘s Wheel of Foretaste EP are through, the most surprising thing about the three-track outing is that it’s not longer. The Finnish five-piece made their debut in 2010 with another EP, Wooden Stone, and Wheel of Foretaste finds them aligned to BloodRock Records and easily, smoothly blurring the lines between traditional doom metal and heavy rock. Alternately brooding and brash, “Salutation” (6:16), “Afterglow” (6:43) and “Too Hard a Habit” (3:32) seem to play as much to the solitary metal melancholies of classic doom as they do to beer-spilling, fist-pumping sing-alongs. Each of the three cuts offers a different take, and in that, Wheel of Foretaste does well to showcase Harvest Bell‘s songwriting and the stylistic breadth that comes through in the material. It does not repeat itself, but nor is it unhinged or too all over the place to the point of sound like the band is just haphazardly playing styles off each other. That’s not the case, and that becomes apparent from the time 4:28 into “Salutation”‘s total 6:16 when, following a well-timed grunt from vocalist Jussi Helle and guitarist Tuomas Heinonen, they kick into straight-ahead faster riffing to cap the remainder of the song. And it’s not just that they do it, but also how smoothly they make the transition, Helle, Heinonen, guitarist Petri Härmä, bassist Jarno Mäkinen and drummer Juho Alhola all switching gears in unison to bask in a righteous heavy rock thrust.

There might be some doom heads who prefer to remain in the steady plod of the song’s earlier going, but from where I sit, the sudden change is like a wake-up call for listeners that Harvest Bell aren’t content just to stick to one side or the other, and more importantly, that they can make a song work in playing to both. Keyboards from Aki Laaksonen in the first two-thirds and a blend in the solo section around the midpoint of acoustic and electric guitars — Heinonen and Härmä seem to trade leads as the song transitions back to the verse — insure that even if they were to doom out all the way through, they’d be doing so with character, but the more rocking side comes as something of a surprise the first time through (I can’t help but feel in writing this review I’m giving away spoilers by talking about it), Helle transitions no less smoothly to the faster pace than anyone else in the band, and Mäkinen‘s fills add an element of bluesy class that seem like a victory lap after the stylistic jump Harvest Bell just landed. Or maybe the victory lap arrives in “Afterglow,” which sets moody doom acoustics — again, much enriched by the keys — and a memorable chorus up to threaten heavier surge and then pull back before actually delivering the blow. Ultimately, it’s that restraint that winds up making “Afterglow” all the heavier when it hits, but the track is also more than just waiting for the distortion to kick in. Alhola delivers a clinic on drums, both holding a tension and punctuating the intricate guitar work in the early going while the bass and keys provide a steady foundation, and Helle‘s vocals have an almost New Wave inflection that add a goth flair before fuzzier guitars launch into full-on doom with just over a minute to go. If nothing else, Harvest Bell seem keen on a big finish.

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Harvest Bell Sign to Bloodrock Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 27th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Few phrases in the heavy underground offer as immediate an association as “Finnish trad doom,” and while if you weren’t thinking about Reverend Bizarre before, you probably are now, Turku five-piece Harvest Bell are on something of a different wavelength, avoiding some of the Sabbath worship in favor of more classically progressive fare. It’s a fine line, maybe, but the distinction works out to be somewhat less minute with the actual audio itself, as Harvest Bell showcase in “Salutation” below. Word has just come down the PR wire that the band will release their next outing, an EP called Wheel of Foretaste, through Italy’s Bloodrock Records.

Bloodrock Records — of course named for the heavy ’70s rock band from Texas — is somehow affiliated with Black Widow Records, but I don’t know exactly what the nature of that relationship is. Both seem to put out some cool stuff. While I dig into that matter and see what I can find out, dig the announcement of the signing and Wheel of Foretaste release below, which the band sent over:

HARVEST BELL has made a record deal with Italian BLOODROCK RECORDS

Finnish doom rock group Harvest Bell has made a record deal with Italian BloodRock Records. As a result the band will be releasing an EP called Wheel of Foretaste in both vinyl and CD formats.

Founded in 2006, Harvest Bell combines heavily rolling riffs with atmospheric melodies strewed with a touch of psychedelia. Harvest Bell has previously released Wooden Stone EP. The band’s lineup is Jussi Helle (vocals), Petri Härmä (guitar), Tuomas Heinonen (guitar), Jarno Mäkinen (bass) and Juho Alhola (drums).

www.facebook.com/harvestbell
https://www.facebook.com/pages/BLOODROCK-RECORDS/219395768131029
http://bloodrockrecords.blogspot.com/

Harvest Bell, “Salutation”

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