Ealdor Bealu Announce West Coast Touring for September

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

I think I’ve made it pretty clear at this point that I did what Ealdor Bealu are doing on the earthy and progressive psychedelia of their second album, Spirit of the Lonely Places (discussed here and here), so even though I’ve no knowledge that next months run mostly through California will yield any further touring, I’m still glad the Boise four-piece are getting out to suppor the record at all, particularly if it means they’ll get the chance to sell a few records on the road and get the album to some people who might not have otherwise heard it. It’s a 10-show run in 12 days, and though, again, most of it is in Cali, they still cover a good amount of ground as they head north to finish out in Eugene, Oregon, on Sept. 21.

You can see the dates below, and if you go to this show, buy a t-shirt or something and tell them I said hi.

Here you go:

ealdor bealu tour

Ealdor Bealu’s Fall 2019 West Coast Tour kicks off [in less than] one month!! 10 dates all across California, Oregon, Nevada, and Idaho in some of raddest venues around with some truly amazing bands lined up to join us!! Tell your friends… We are coming.

9.10 Boise, ID @ The Olympic Venue w/ darsombra + Lucid Aisle
9.12 Reno, NV @ Dead Ringer Analog Bar w/ Kanawha + BLUNDERBUSST
9.13 Pasadena, CA @ Old Towne Pub Pasadena Metal Assault Presents w/ House of Rabbits + Solar Haze + Dusky Wing
9.14 San Diego, CA @ The Tower Bar w/ Nebula Drag + Mortar + Vedic
9.15 Oceanside, CA @ Pour House Oceanside w/ Deep Sea Thunder Beast + Francis Anger Roberts
9.17 San Luis Obispo, CA @ Pour House Hail Yourself Metalzine Presents w/ Stone Mountain SLO + Hemisphere
9.18 Santa Cruz, CA @ The Blue Lagoon w/ Birdo + Heavyskies
9.19 Oakland, CA @ Elbo Room Jack London w/ BURN RIVER BURN + Supernaut + Phantom Hound
9.20 Chico, CA @ The Maltese w/ Shadow Limb + Solar Estates + You Poor Devil
9.21 Eugene, OR @ Luckey’s Club w/ Childspeak + Long Hallways

SEE YAH ON THE ROAD

Ealdor Bealu is:
Carson Russell: Guitars, Vocals
Rylie Collingwood: Bass, Vocals
Travis Abbott: Guitars, Vocals
Craig Hawkins: Drums, Percussion

https://www.facebook.com/ealdorbealu/
https://ealdorbealu.bandcamp.com/

Ealdor Bealu, Spirit of the Lonely Places (2019)

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Sun Blood Stories Post “Up Comes the Tunnel” Video; Haunt Yourself out Sept. 20

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 25th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

sun blood stories

Normally, this is the part where I’d be all like, “OMG Sun Blood Stories are so great etc. etc.,” and hey, don’t get me wrong, that’s an awful lot of fun. I’m going to forego it — for the moment — however, because what the Boise, Idaho, trio don’t yet know is I’m planning to hit them up to stream their new record, Haunt Yourself, ahead of its Sept. 20 release? Will it happen? I don’t know. I mean, I’ll review it either way, so there’ll be plenty of duh-this-band-is-awesome blah blah verbose blah no matter what. But as for the stream, I’d hardly be able to hold a grudge if they decided to go with someone, you know, relevant instead for it. Or not to do it at all. Or whatever they want to do. It’s their album, after all.

Haunt Yourself though, is flat out gorgeous. Divided into three sections, its tracks play out with the fluidity that has typified their work all along while at the same being brought to bear sun blood stories haunt yourselfwith a new level of clearheadedness from the three-piece incarnation of the band, which first appeared on 2017’s It Runs Around the Room with Us (review here), but seems to have found a balance between experimentalism and core songwriting, with the vocals of guitarist Ben Kirby (also bass) and synthesist/slide guitarist Amber Pollard proving ever more essential to the overarching impression made and resonant long after the actual 12-track outing is done. Their dynamic is integral to the haunt of Haunt Yourself, in other words, but neither should one downplay the grounding effect or the swing in Jon Fust‘s drums, which as “Up Comes the Tunnel” demonstrates, is no less of a key component of the whole.

Like I said, I’m going to review the album, so I’ll cut the analysis there in the hope that I haven’t already bored you to distraction before you got to click play on Pollard‘s video for “Up Comes the Tunnel” below. If I did, sorry about that. If not, you’ll find it below, followed by a bit of background on the song and the record.

Please enjoy:

Sun Blood Stories, “Up Comes the Tunnel” official video

Up Comes the Tunnel is the first single off of Sun Blood Stories’ long anticipated new album, Haunt Yourself, to be released September 20th, 2019 (more about the album and the band below). This song was the first song to be written by the band as the idea of working on a new album started swirling around in their heads. The music was recorded in Sun Blood Stories’ basement home studio in Boise, ID, and the vocals were recorded in Dale Hiscock’s (ESC) studio about two blocks away. Up Comes the Tunnel was written and recorded by Sun Blood Stories. The song was mixed and mastered by Dale Hiscock. This music video was created by Amber Pollard of Sun Blood Stories. The featured poem was written by Ben Kirby of Sun Blood Stories.

Sun Blood Stories’ newest release, Haunt Yourself, will be available on September 20, 2019. Haunt Yourself maintains Sun Blood’s core sound and content while simultaneously sounding like nothing they’ve ever created before. No matter how you like to consume your music SBS has you covered. Haunt Yourself will be available on vinyl, tape, compact disc, digitally, and on all streaming platforms.

Sun Blood Stories are:
Vocals, Guitar, Bass Synth / Ben Kirby
Drums, Keyboards / Jon Fust
Vocals, Slide Guitar, Bass Synth / Amber Pollard

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Sun Blood Stories on Instagram

Sun Blood Stories website

Sun Blood Stories on Bandcamp

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Ealdor Bealu Post “Smoke Signals” Video; Album out Next Week

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 10th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

ealdor bealu

Boise, Idaho’s Ealdor Bealu will issue their second LP, Spirit of the Lonely Places, next Saturday, July 20, with a hometown release show at the Neurolux Lounge. “Smoke Signals” is the centerpiece of the five-track/39-minute offering, and it represents well the rich, smooth-flowing textures the four-piece hone throughout, maintaining a heft of tone and presence alike, weaving currents of mood and songcraft together to create something that feels in conversation with the Rocky Mountains without being outright Americana. It is heavy in spirit and execution, in other words, and a work that engages naturalism on multiple fronts. The video, following a river upstream toward its source, showing amber waves of grain, tall trees and the many threatened faces of nature, emphasizes this central communion well, but it’s in the music no less vividly than in the visual accompaniment below.

That’s true of the entirety of Spirit of the Lonely Places as well. As the midpoint cut, “Smoke Signals” follows opener “Sink Like Stone” and the subsequent “Firebird,” the two shortest songs at a respective 6:53 and 6:39, which present the initial fluidity of the album and the subtle care put into the arrangements both of the instruments and the vocal duties shared by guitarist Carson Russell and bassist Rylie Collingwood, who, after Russell fronts the pastoral post-rock of “Sink Like Stone,” comes to theealdor bealu spirit of the lonely places fore in “Firebird” and leads the way with soaring echoes through a kind of terrestrial space rock, still of the land but not necessarily attached psychically to it. In Russell and Travis Abbott‘s guitars, there’s a winding central progression that drummer Craig Hawkins gives both a forward shove and a swinging emphasis, the song hitting into a fervent wall of fuzz before coming apart behind the lead guitar line. With the first direct vocal tradeoff between Russell and Collingwood, “Smoke Signals” pulls as well from the drift and the push, its placement seeming all the more purposeful after the opening salvo as it builds toward and moves through its classic-feeling solo in the second half.

“Smoke Signals” also becomes a focal point for the transition it provides into the second half of the LP. In the nine-minute “Isolation” and eight-minute closing cover of Aphrodite’s Child‘s “The Four Horsemen,” Ealdor Bealu broaden the scope of Spirit of the Lonely Places as though they wanted to emphasize each keyword in the title itself: the spirit, the loneliness, and the feeling of place. “Isolation” is a singular triumph for its molten, dirt-colored psychedelic roll as well as the willful melodic meandering of its early stretch and the interplay between vocalists, let alone the payoff brought to bear later — which finds Collingwood indulging a few lines of blackened screams overtop — and the finale launches with an initial build into a fuzz-caked groove only to recede again into chime-laced atmospheridelia and emerge even more graceful for a last solo and chorus together that close out the record in, admittedly, one of its least lonely-seeming moments. Perhaps at the end of things there’s some solace after all, even if that’s derived from classic prog.

How blessed are, and so on.

Ealdor Bealu bill themselves as a heavy psych band, and that’s fair enough, but really just the start of what they have on offer with their second record. It is an earthy and progressive style that manifests the consideration obviously put into its making, and its textures go beyond the haphazard wizardry that “psychedelic” sometimes implies, though no doubt they met with their share of happy accidents along the way and Spirit of the Lonely Places is more organic as a result. It is not a record that will resonate with everyone but that some will find something very special within. The more I hear it, the more I think of myself in that camp.

Enjoy the video:

Ealdor Bealu, “Smoke Signals” official video

Spirit of the Lonely Places, the sophomore full-length album by Boise, ID Heavy-Psych Quartet Ealdor Bealu, out worldwide on vinyl/digital on 7/20/19.

Carson Russell: Guitars, Vocals
Rylie Collingwood: Bass, Vocals
Travis Abbott: Guitars
Craig Hawkins: Drums, Percussion

Videography: Willis Hall
Director: Carson Russell
Editor: Carson Russell

AUDIO CREDITS
Recorded/Mixed: Andy A. // THE CHOP SHOP (Boise, ID)
Mastered: Brad Boatright // AUDIOSIEGE MASTERING (Portland, OR)
Music: Travis Abbott
Lyrics: Carson Russell and Rylie Collingwood
Performance: Ealdor Bealu

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Ealdor Bealu on Bandcamp

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Ealdor Bealu Announce New LP Spirit of the Lonely Places & Fall Tour; Premiere “Smoke Signals”

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on June 11th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

ealdor bealu

As was the case with their first outing, 2017’s Dark Water at the Foot of the Mountain (review here), there is a keen awareness of geography in Ealdor Bealu‘s sophomore LP, Spirit of the Lonely Places, as well as a purposefulness in the atmosphere being conveyed. Alluded to in the title, the album basks in that feeling of being humbled by nature, the Boise, Idaho, four-piece seeming to look around them and see giant mountains, giant trees, giant skies and to feel duly small as a result. Spirit of the Lonely Places is comprised of five tracks that vary in mood and in terms of composition but are united in ambience and grim melody — the fruit of multiple songwriters coming together with common intent — and while it may not be a concept record in terms of narrative storytelling, its sense of identity is as strong as it is lonely. Standing alone would seem to suit Ealdor Bealu.

It’s out July 20 as issued on LP by the band to coincide with their hometown release show at Neurolux. Preorders are up through Bandcamp and you can stream the premiere of “Smoke Signals” at the bottom of this post. Make sure you do that. They’ll also be touring the West Coast in September.

Dates and info follow:

ealdor bealu spirit of the lonely places

Ealdor Bealu – Spirit of the Lonely Places

Spirit of the Lonely Places, sophomore full-length album. Saturday, July 20th Worldwide Release.

Recorded/Mixed by Andy A. at THE CHOP SHOP (Boise, ID). Mastered by Brad Boatright at AUDIOSIEGE MASTERING (Portland, OR). Artwork/Design/Layout by Adam Rosenlund (Boise, ID).

Independently Released on 180G Milky Clear Vinyl (limited to 300) and Digital.

Album Release Show @ Neurolux Lounge in Boise, ID on Saturday, July 20th.

Vinyl Pre-Order goes live on Tuesday, June 11th. All pre-orders receive immediate download of Smoke Signals as well as Ealdor Bealu Patch and Stickers. Vinyls will begin shipping out Monday July 22nd.

Tracklisting:
1. Sink like Stone 06:52
2. Firebird 06:38
3. Smoke Signals 07:32
4. Isolation 09:21
5. The Four Horsemen 08:44

Fall West Coast Tour:
9/10 Tues Boise, ID The Olympic Venue
9/12 Thurs Reno, NV Dead Ringer Analog Bar
9/13 Fri Pasadena, CA Old Towne Pub
9/14 Sat San Diego, CA The Tower Bar
9/15 Sun Oceanside, CA TBA
9/16 Mon Fresno, CA TBA
9/17 Tues San Luis Obispo, CA The Pour House
9/18 Wed Santa Cruz, CA The Blue Lagoon
9/19 Thurs Oakland, CA Elbo Room Jack London
9/20 Fri Chico, CA The Maltese Bar
9/21 Sat Sacramento, CA TBA

Ealdor Bealu is:
Carson Russell: Guitars, Vocals
Rylie Collingwood: Bass, Vocals
Travis Abbott: Guitars, Vocals
Craig Hawkins: Drums, Percussion

Ealdor Bealu, “Smoke Signals” track premiere

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Wrapping up #VinylDay2017

Posted in Features on July 26th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Grooves and platters galore. My motivation behind doing Vinyl Day 2017 was simple: I felt like listening to records and sharing that process. It was kind of an off-the-cuff thing. Just an idea I had and ran with it. I figure it doesn’t need to be anything more than that, right? Isn’t putting on an album its own excuse for putting on an album? I tend to think so.

And yeah, I made it a hashtag. Because it’s the future, and hashtags. Instagrammaphone and whatnot. I’m a novice at best when it comes to the social medias, but it seems to me that if you’re going to share a full day’s worth of what you’re listening to, that’s the way to do it. So that’s what I did. If I clogged up your feed or whatever and it pissed you off, sorry.

For anyone who might’ve missed it, it turned out to be nine records of various sorts. Here they are, complete with accompanying audio when I could get it, because it’s the age of instant gratification:

There you have it. Had to be Sleep to end it. Pretty awesome day of music on the whole, and whatever was on your playlist yesterday, if it was this stuff or anything else, I hope you enjoyed. I’m gonna call Vinyl Day 2017 a definite win. Thanks for reading.

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Quarterly Review: Novembers Doom, Abrams, The Grand Astoria, Hosoi Bros, Codeia, Ealdor Bealu, Stone Lotus, Green Yeti, Seer, Bretus

Posted in Reviews on July 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-summer-2017

So, after kvetching and hemming and hawing and all that other stuff that basically means ‘fretting and trying to shuffle a schedule around’ for the last several days, I think I’ve now found a way to add a sixth day to this Quarterly Review. Looking at all the records that still need to be covered even after doing 50, I don’t really see any other way to go. I could try to do more The Obelisk Radio adds to fit things in, but I don’t want to over-tax that new server, so yeah, I’m waiting at the moment to hear back on whether or not I can move a premiere from Monday to Tuesday to make room. Fingers crossed. I’ve already got the albums picked out that would be covered and should know by tomorrow if it’s going to happen.

Plenty to do in the meantime, so let’s get to it.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Novembers Doom, Hamartia

novembers-doom-hamartia

Look. Let’s be honest here. More than 20 years and 10 records in, one knows at least on a superficial level what to expect from Chicago’s Novembers Doom. Since their first album arrived in 1995, they’ve played to one side or the other between the spectrum of death-doom, and their work legitimately broke ground in the style for a US band and in general. After a push over their last couple albums including 2014’s Bled White (review here) into more deathly fare, Hamartia (on The End Records) brings 10 tracks and 58 minutes of the melancholy dramas – special hello to the piano/acoustic-led title-track – and gut-wrenching, crushingly emotive miseries – special hello to “Waves in the Red Cloth” and “Ghost” – that have defined them. One doesn’t expect a radical departure from them at this point and they don’t deliver one even as they turn to another side of their overarching aesthetic, but whether it’s the still-propulsive death gallop of “Apostasy” or the lush nine-minute finale “Borderline,” Novembers Doom reinforce their position as absolute masters of the style and give their longtime fans another collection of vital woes in which to revel.

Novembers Doom on Thee Facebooks

The End Records website

 

Abrams, Morning

abrams morning

Not a hair out of place in the execution of Morning, the Sailor Records second long-player from Denver three-piece Abrams (interview here). That has its ups and downs, naturally, but is suited to the band’s take on modern progressive heavy rock à la newer Mastodon and Baroness, and with production from Andy Patterson (of SubRosa) and Dave Otero (Khemmis, Cephalic Carnage, etc.), the crisp feel is both purposeful and well earned. Their 2015 debut, Lust. Love. Loss. (review here), dealt with a similar emotional landscape, but bassist/vocalist Taylor Iversen, guitarist/vocalist Zachary Amster and drummer Geoffrey Cotton are tighter and more aggressive here on songs like opener “Worlds Away” (video posted here), “At the End,” “Rivers,” “Can’t Sleep” and “Burned” (video posted here), and “Mourning,” “In this Mask” and closer “Morning” balance in terms of tempo and overall atmosphere, making Morning more than just a collection of master-blasters and giving it a full album’s flow and depth. Like I said, not a hair out of place. Structure, performance, delivery, theme. Abrams have it all precisely where they want it.

Abrams on Thee Facebooks

Abrams on Bandcamp

 

The Grand Astoria, The Fuzz of Destiny

the-grand-astoria-the-fuzz-of-destiny

Dubbed an EP but running 29 minutes and boasting eight tracks, The Grand Astoria’s The Fuzz of Destiny is something of a conceptual release, with the St. Petersburg, Russia-based outfit paying homage to the effect itself. Each song uses a different kind of fuzz pedal, and as the ever-nuanced, progressive outfit make their way through the blown-out pastoralism of opener “Sunflower Queen” and into the nod of “Pocket Guru,” the organ-inclusive bursting fury of “Glass Walls” and the slower and more consuming title-track itself, which directly precedes closer “Eight Years Anniversary Riff” – yup, it’s a riff alright – they’re able to evoke a surprising amount of variety in terms of mood. That’s a credit to The Grand Astoria as songwriters perhaps even more than the differences in tone from song to song here – they’ve certainly shown over their tenure a will to embrace a diverse approach – but in giving tribute to fuzz, The Fuzz of Destiny successfully conveys some of the range a single idea can be used to conjure.

The Grand Astoria on Thee Facebooks

The Grand Astoria on Bandcamp

 

Hosoi Bros., Abuse Your Allusion III

hosoi-bros-abuse-your-allusion-iii

Oh, they’re up to it again, those Hosoi Bros. Their 2016 full-length, Abuse Your Allusion III, from its Guns ‘n’ Roses title reference through the Motörhead riffing of “Saint Tightus” through the stoner punk of “Topless Gnome” and the chugging scorch of the penultimate “Bitches are Nigh” offer primo charm and high-order shenanigans amid the most professional-sounding release of their career. Across a quick 10 tracks and 36 minutes, Hosoi Bros. readily place themselves across the metal/punk divide, and while there’s plenty of nonsense to be had from opener “Mortician” onward through “Lights Out” (video premiere here) and the later swagger of “Unholy Hand Grenade,” the band have never sounded more cohesive in their approach than they do on Abuse Your Allusion III, and the clean production only seems to highlight the songwriting at work underneath all the zany happenings across the record’s span, thereby doing them and the band alike a service as they make a convincing argument to their audience: Have fun. Live a little. It won’t hurt that much.

Hosoi Bros on Thee Facebooks

Hosoi Bros. on Bandcamp

 

Codeia, “Don’t be Afraid,” She Whispered and Disappeared

codeia-dont-be-afraid-she-whispered-and-disappeared

There’s actually very little that gets “Lost in Translation” in the thusly-titled 22-minute opener and longest cut (immediate points) of German post-metallers Codeia’s cumbersomely-named Backbite Records debut album, “Don’t be Afraid,” She Whispered and Disappeared. With heavy post-rock textures and an overarching sense of cerebral progressivism to its wash underscored by swells of low-end distortion, the three-piece of guitarist/backing vocalist Markus L., bassist/vocalist Denis S. and drummer Timo L. bring to bear patience out of the peak-era Isis or Cult of Luna sphere, sudden volume shifts, pervasive ambience, flourish of extremity and all. Nine-minute centerpiece “Shaping Stone” has its flash of aggression early before shifting into hypnotic and repetitive groove and subsequent blastbeaten furies, and 16-minute closer “Facing Extinction” caps the three-song/48-minute offering with nodding Russian Circles-style chug topped with growls that mask the layer of melodic drone filling out the mix beneath. They’re on familiar stylistic ground, but the breadth, depth and complexity Codeia bring to their extended structures are immersive all the same.

Codeia on Thee Facebooks

Backbite Records website

Mountain Range Creative Factory website

 

Ealdor Bealu, Dark Water at the Foot of the Mountain

ealdor-bealu-dark-water-at-the-foot-of-the-mountain

“Water Cycle,” the 13-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) of Ealdor Bealu’s debut full-length, Dark Water at the Foot of the Mountain, introduces a meditative feel and a breadth of sound that helps to define everything that follows. The ostensible side B leadoff of the self-release, “This too Shall Endure” (11:04), offers no less depth of atmosphere, and the graceful psychedelic expanses of the penultimate “Behind the Veil” continue to add to the overall scope with interplay of tempo variety and acoustic and electric guitar, but even earlier, shorter cuts like the wistful indie rocker “Deep Dark Below” and the linear-building “Behold the Sunrise” have an underlying progressivism that ties them to the longer form material, and likewise the particularly exploratory feeling “Ebb and Flow,” which though it’s the shortest cut at just over five minutes resonates as a standout jam ahead of “Behind the Veil” and subtly proggy seven-minute closer “Time Traveler.” The Boise-based four-piece of guitarist/vocalist/spearhead Carson Russell, guitarist Travis Abbott (also The Western Mystics), bassist/vocalist Rylie Collingwood and drummer/percussionist/saxophonist Alex Wargo bring the 56-minute offering to bear with marked patience and impress in the complexity of their arrangements and the identifiable human core that lies beneath them.

Ealdor Bealu on Thee Facebooks

Ealdor Bealu on Bandcamp

 

Stone Lotus, Comastone

I can take spicier foods than I ever could before.

One might consider the title of “Mountain of Filth,” the second cut on Stone Lotus’ debut album, Comastone, a mission statement for the Southwestern Australian trio’s vicious ‘n’ viscous brand of rolling, tonal-molasses sludge. Yeah, the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Dave Baker, bassist Samuel Noire and drummer Reece Fleming bring ambience to the interlude “Aum,” the slower loud/quiet shifts in “Anthropocene” and the subsequent “Umbra” that leads into the creepy launch of the title-track – in fact, quiet starts are something of a theme throughout Comastone; even the thudding toms that begin opener “Swamp Coven” pale in comparison to the volume swell of massive distortion that follows closely behind – but it’s the rhythmic lumber and the harsh vocals from Baker that define their course through the darker recesses of sludged-out misanthropy. No complaints there, especially on a first long-player, but Stone Lotus are right to keep in mind the flourish of atmosphere their material offers, and one hopes that develops parallel to all the crushing weight of their mountainous approach.

Stone Lotus on Thee Facebooks

Stone Lotus on Bandcamp

 

Green Yeti, Desert Show

I'm not sure if that's an effect of dropping carbs or how it would be, but it's strange.

Even before it announces its heft, Green Yeti’s Desert Show casts forth its spaciousness. The second offering from the Athens-based trio in as many years dogwhistles heavy riffing intent even unto its David Paul Seymour album cover, but the five track rollout from guitarist/vocalist Michael Andresakis, bassist/producer Danis Avramidis and drummer Giannis Koutroumpis, as it shifts from the opening salvo of “Black Planets (Part 1)” and “Black Planets (Part 2)” into the Spanish-language centerpiece “Rojo” (direct homage perhaps to Los Natas? if so, effectively done) and into the broader-ranging “Bad Sleep (Part 1)” and 15-minute closer “Bad Sleep (Part 2)” builds just as much on its atmosphere as on its newer-school stoner rock groove and fuzz riffing. It is a 41-minute span that, without question, speaks to the heavy rock converted and plays to genre, but even taken next to the band’s 2016 debut, The Yeti has Landed, Desert Show demonstrates clear growth in writing and style, and stands as further proof of the emergence of Greece as a major contributor to the sphere of Europe’s heavy underground. Something special is happening in and outside of Athens. Green Yeti arrive at the perfect time to be a part of it.

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Green Yeti on Bandcamp

 

Seer, Victims

seer victims

Let’s just assume that Seer won’t be asked to play at Dorney Park anytime soon. The Allentown, Pennsylvania, three-piece dig into largesse-minded instrumental riffing someplace between doom and sludge and do so on raw, formative fashion on the two-song Victims EP, which features the tracks “Victims… Aren’t We All?” and “Swollen Pit,” which is a redux from their 2015 debut short release, Vaped Remains. Some touch of Electric Wizard-style wah in Rybo’s guitar stands out in the second half of the opener, and the closer effectively moves from its initial crawl into post-Sleep stonerized idolatry, but the point of Victims isn’t nearly as much about scope as it is about Rybo, bassist Kelsi and drummer Yvonne setting forth on a stomping path of groove and riff worship, rumbling sans pretense loud enough to crack the I-78 corridor and offering the clever equalizer recommendation to put the bass, treble and mids all at six. Think about it for a second. Not too long though.

Seer on Thee Facebooks

Seer on Bandcamp

 

Bretus, From the Twilight Zone

bretus-from-the-twilight-zone

Doom! Horror! Riffs! Though it starts out with quiet acoustics and unfolds in echoing weirdness, Bretus’ new album, …From the Twilight Zone, more or less shouts these things from the proverbial cathedral rafters throughout its seven tracks. The Catanzaro, Italy, foursome weren’t shy about bringing an air of screamy sludge to their 2015 sophomore outing, The Shadow over Innsmouth (discussed here), but …From the Twilight Zone shifts more toward a Reverend Bizarre trad doom loyalism that suits the Endless Winter release remarkably well. Those acoustics pop up again in expanded-breadth centerpiece/highlight “Danza Macabra” and closer “Lizard Woman,” and thereby provide something of a narrative thread to the offering as a whole, but on the level of doom-for-doomers, there’s very little about the aesthetic that Bretus leave wanting throughout, whether it’s the faster-chug into drifting fluidity of “The Murder” or the nodding stomp of “In the Vault” (demo posted here) and crypto-NWOBHM flourish of “Old Dark House” (video posted here). Not trying to remake doom in their own image, but conjuring an eerie and engaging take in conversation with the masters of the form.

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Endless Winter Records

 

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Sun Blood Stories, It Runs Around the Room with Us: Ghosts and Smoke

Posted in Reviews on May 1st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

sun-blood-stories-it-runs-around-the-room-with-us

If Sun Blood StoriesIt Runs Around the Room with Us doesn’t demand a headphone listen, that’s only because it’s too classy, too subtle and too busy doing its own work to go around making demands in the first place. It is the third full-length from the Boise, Idaho-based Sun Blood Stories, following behind 2015’s Twilight Midnight Morning (review here) and their 2013 debut, The Electric Years, and its weighted high-desert shoegaze moodiness works in part to codify the experimentalism that has thus far been at root in the band’s sound. Emphasis on “in part,” because Sun Blood Stories still offer plenty of fare throughout these nine tracks/46 minutes, but where Twilight Midnight Morning nearly split itself in half between drone-outs and more traditional song structures, It Runs Around the Room with Us — a title that would seem to speak to the energy of its own creation — effectively bridges the gap between those two sides.

This lets the three-piece of Ben Kirby (vocals, guitar, synth, percussion), Amber Pollard (vocals, guitar, theremin, percussion) and Jon Fust (drums, keys, percussion, noise) gracefully unfold songs like opener “End of the Day” — on which the first singing heard comes courtesy of a guest appearance from Aubrey Pollard, presumably Amber‘s daughter — with ultra-immersive atmospherics before moving into the bluesier and more solidified “Step Softly Ghost” and “The Great Destroyer,” the spaciousness in the howling guitar of which does nothing to undercut the memorable nature of its hook. Whether they’re creating a wash of pastoral melancholy in the later ramble of the eight-minute “Time Like Smoke” or underscoring the minimalist outward impression of “Eclipse Theme” with layers of guitar, theremin and keyboard swirl, leading to the weirdo start of “Come Like Rain” with fading loops of guest whistler Brent Joel saying “K. Cool. Now I know,” across the whole span of It Runs Around the Room with UsSun Blood Stories offer some of the richest, most textured American psychedelia one is likely to encounter in 2017. In its progression from where they were two years ago, organic flow between tracks and in the raw performances of KirbyPollard and Fust, it is nothing less than breathtaking.

And while the aforementioned opening salvo of the dreamily wistful “End of the Day,” the building languid shuffle-into-nod of “Step Softly Ghost” and the rolling heavy psych of “The Great Destroyer” isn’t to be discounted in how pivotal it is to setting the tone for It Runs Around the Room with Us as a whole, it’s also only one stage of the album’s breadth, which continues to widen as it moves into “Eclipse Theme,” “Come Like Rain” and “Time Like Smoke.” Pollard and Kirby intertwine vocals on “Eclipse Theme” over cymbal washes, while “Come Like Rain” and “Time Like Smoke,” the two longest inclusions at seven and eight minutes, respectively, act as a kind of conjoined centerpiece, the former no less righteous and pristine in its initial key-led drift than it is later in Pollard‘s “Come back/(Baby) Come back,” lyrical pleas as the build pays off, while the latter brings more of the ambient experimentalist side of the band into focus amid obscure chants, guitar soundscaping and an emergent grounded instrumental progression surrounded various drones, executed patiently and to hypnotic and fluid effect.

Sun Blood Stories, in this middle third of It Runs Around the Room with Us, dig further into what one might consider the core of the album, and push it about as far out as it will go between “Come Like Rain” and “Time Like Smoke” — even the two titles seem intended as complementary — but it’s worth noting that as they move through this vast landscape of their own construction, they never completely let go of the listener’s hand. That is, they never stop guiding the way through the fog. Even in “Time Like Smoke,” which is plenty foggy, Kirby‘s guitar provides something for the band’s audience to grasp onto as they seem to float along the track’s course, slowly unfolding but otherwise easy to get lost within. This speaks to the development of Sun Blood Stories as songwriters, but even more, it highlights the special balance they bring to It Runs Around the Room with Us and the lucidity at work beneath all of their ethereal crafting. When they seem to ooze outward in all directions, that’s still a direction.

sun blood stories

Soon enough, the last two minutes of the album will undo all of the serenity that KirbyPollard and Fust have honed all this time, as the caustic closer “Burn” sets itself toward willful, screamed abrasion from Pollard, discordant crashing instrumentation behind and a vicious extremity meant to surprise as much as it does in a statement as political as it is musical. Before they get there, however, “Echoer Approach” and “Nothing Sacred Will Hold” ease the way out of the middle third of the tracklist and back toward the balance of pieces like “Step Softly Ghost,” an atmosphere playing between solid and liquid states of matter. Led by dual layers of guitar, one drifting, one sliding, “Echoer Approach” is held together by the fluidity in Fust‘s drums, which offer jazzy snare play without veering into anything overly showy or self-indulgent. It’s an easy transition from there into “Nothing Sacred Will Hold,” a late-arriving highlight with Pollard at the fore vocally in airy soulfulness over a winding figure of guitar and keys, Fust building his way back in at around a minute and a half into the proceedings to mark the start of the heavier build which will noise itself out before settling on a weighted riff in its last minute and riding it to the finish at 5:00 flat and the immediate, threatening start of “Burn.”

That Sun Blood Stories would, after creating such a sense of warmth throughout It Runs Around the Room with Us, unleash something so violent at the end of the album is not an accident. It’s a forceful contrast, and the fact that “Burn” itself is nigh-on-unlistenable is the very reason for its being. Written reportedly as a reaction to the proliferation of the Confederate flag as a ‘historical symbol’ of anything more than white supremacy, the social charge echoes “Misery is Nebulous” from the previous album, but “Burn” is so clear in its one-word delivery and so unmistakable in its motive that it almost becomes the necessary culmination of everything before it. They’ve created and cultivated this ground across In Runs Around the Room with Us, brought the listener into this space with them, and at the finish, the only thing left to do is torch the place. So be it.

An apparently digital-only bonus track, “The Enemy,” attempts to undo some of the edge of “Burn,” with in-studio laughter, group-sung folkishness and a jovial air around the repeated lines, “We are the enemy/We are the enemy/Oh shit,” which gradually become, “Ben‘s a sea anenome,” and so on, but the damage is largely done and even the return of Sun Blood Stories‘ experimentalist droning doesn’t undercut the paranoia of the realization at play. Perhaps the sociopolitical context of “Burn” simply bleeds into “The Enemy,” but there’s something foreboding about the six-minute epilogue even though they’re clearly having fun with it that nonetheless darkens the outwardly shimmering atmosphere. Someone gets on mic to say, “If Ben were given an enema, he could be buried in a matchbox,” Pollard seems to provide half an answer, and the album ends.

The journey Sun Blood Stories undertake with It Runs Around the Room with Us — which seems so much more vast than a single room, so much broader than one might expect from a group working as a trio — does not cease to brim with creativity. In the sonic details of “End of the Day,” “Come Like Rain,” and even “Burn,” one finds a rare depth of approach and a level of engagement with and from the material in question that is boldly progressive without being overly cerebral and never loses its melodic crux until it makes a sacrifice of it at the finale. By the time it gets to that point, though, the impression honed across the previous eight tracks remains resonant, and among the scorched remains they leave behind, one thankfully does not find their own accomplishment.

Sun Blood Stories, It Runs Around the Room with Us (2017)

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Uzala Announce Breakup

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 26th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

UZALA

Sad news out of Boise, Idaho, in that atmospheric doomers Uzala seem to have broken up. The announcement came via a brief Facebook post from guitarist Chad Remains that went like this:

R.I.P. UZALA
2009-2017
Our sincere thanks to everyone who supported us along the way. We love you all.

What he or the trio — which at last check was Darcy Nutt on guitar/vocals, Remains and drummer Chuck Watkins — has not said is why. Uzala had been relatively quiet since the release of their early 2016 Live at Roadburn MMXV (review here) CD/LP through Burning World Records, and it now looks like that will serve as the band’s final recorded statement.

Their two prior full-length albums, Tales of Blood and Fire and Uzala (track premiere here), were issued in 2013 and 2011, respectively. Both earned the band significant acclaim, and especially the latter found them coming into an atmospheric individualism bolstered by the melodic range in Nutt’s voice and the tonal onslaught from Remains. These elements, set to the steady foundation from Watkins’ drumming, the low rumble of then-bassist Nick Phit (see also: Graves at Sea), and a recording job by Tad Doyle, positioned Uzala for remarkable forward momentum.

They toured the US alongside Mike Scheidt of YOB in 2013 (review here) before following up with the aforementioned trip to Europe for Roadburn (review here), where they were nothing short of spellbinding. Having been fortunate enough to stand in front of the Green Room stage and see that set in its entirety (as well as take the pictures on the cover of the subsequent live outing), it seemed Uzala were living up to and through the potential their work had shown up to that point, and whatever was going to come next from them would not be something to miss.

Whether or not they’ll ultimately make some statement, and whether or not the breakup sticks — I don’t want to speculate at reasons without anything concrete to go on, so I won’t — their output stands in testament to what they had to offer, and while they appeared to be on the cusp of reaching a new aesthetic level, the accomplishments under their collective belt remain substantial enough to resonate for years to come.

You hate to see good bands go, but Uzala never operated under any terms but their own, so there it is. Respect and best wishes to them.

Uzala, Tales of Blood and Fire (2013)

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