GIVEAWAY: Win a Copy of Vokonis’ The Sunken Djinn from Ripple Music!

Posted in Features on August 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

vokonis-the-sunken-djinn-vinyl

[TO ENTER GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment on this post with your email address in the form. You’ll be contacted at that address if you win.]

This past weekend, I hit up Ripple Music and basically said, “How about you let me do a giveaway for Vokonis‘ The Sunken Djinn?” My motive for this couldn’t have been simpler. It’s been a little bit since I reviewed the album and I was kind of feeling like I needed an excuse to underscore the point of its ass-kickery once again. That’s pretty much it. Fortunately, Ripple was down for the whole deal and willing to put the LP up as a prize for one lucky winner to be chosen a week from today.

If you haven’t yet heard it, you can stream The Sunken Djinn in its entirety below and I’d suggest you go ahead and do that, should the notion of “free vinyl” not be enough on its own to get you involved. No doubt the thickened riffery, pointed delivery and righteous groove the Borås, Sweden, three-piece lay down will make a convincing argument in their own favor better than any further slathering from me could, so yeah, just dig in and leave a comment on this post to enter. Have fun.

And of course, please note as always, I’m not keeping, storing or selling any email addresses or other data. This isn’t a mining outfit, it’s a rock blog, and even if I wanted to I wouldn’t have the first friggin’ clue how to go about making money off your personal whatnot. Thanks and good luck to all who enter!

[TO ENTER GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment on this post with your email address in the form. You’ll be contacted at that address if you win.]

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Review & Full Album Stream: Vokonis, The Sunken Djinn

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 5th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

vokonis the sunken djinn

[Click play above to stream The Sunken Djinn by Vokonis in its entirety. Album is out this Friday, June 9, via Ripple Music.]

With their second album in as many years, Swedish riffers Vokonis answer crucial questions about the kind of band they will be. They make their debut on Ripple Music with The Sunken Djinn, which was recorded at Studio Underjord in Norrköping with Joona Hassinen, and in addition to the quick turnaround — they’ll be a prolific band, perhaps — the trio’s follow-up to 2016’s Ozium Records-issued Olde One Ascending (review here) finds them working consciously to refine their processes. That in itself is telling when it comes to what guitarist/vocalist Simon Ohlsson, bassist/backing vocalist Jonte Johansson and drummer Emil Larsson want to convey and accomplish as artists, and from the group’s beginnings in 2015 as Creedsmen Arise, whose demo, Temple (review here), came out through Btnk Cllctv, one can now better trace a creative trajectory on a course of which The Sunken Djinn is playing an essential part.

Comprised of seven songs brought to bear over a rumbling, riffing, and righteous 40 minutes, The Sunken Djinn strips down and focuses Vokonis‘ songwriting in a way that Olde One Ascending, in a year-later hindsight, began to do. The difference is that where the debut was more concerned ultimately with establishing their presence in a crowded underground and standing them out for the impact of their material, tonal heft and lumbering groove, pieces here like “Calling from the Core,” “Rapturous” and the highlight centerpiece “Blood Vortex” — only 4:49 long, but arguably the most effective hook included — build confidently on that foundation and move forward in a way that in all fairness can only be called progressive.

Of course, that’s not to say Vokonis have gone prog. They may get there yet, but to-date, their purpose remains keyed into crushing heavy riffs and nodding out beastmaster rhythms. This is signaled quickly on the opening title-track — also the longest inclusion at 6:51 (immediate points) — as “The Sunken Djinn” introduces itself via Ohlsson‘s dense tonal push and sets to work efficiently in making its way toward the first of The Sunken Djinn‘s several standout choruses. Ohlsson and Johansson have worked smoothly in arranging dual vocals since the latter joined the band prior to the release of Olde One Ascending, and as the opener unfolds to a midsection bridge and plotted solo, their dynamic remains a threat even though it never materializes and instead the band fluidly transition into “Calling from the Core.”

An airier, atmospheric start is met head-on with fervent chug backed by Larsson‘s creative cymbal-ism and with the vocals farther back in the mix, “Calling from the Core” would seem to live up to its name, even as the guitarist and bassist come together once again for the chorus, a particularly Sleep-derived turn of riff that leads to a cleaner-sung couple lines at the halfway point that are yet another answer to where Vokonis might be headed overall. That is, one doubts that will be the last non-shout vocals we’ll hear from them, and fair enough for how well they’re pulled off that first time and the second, which pulls away from lyrics in favor of topping a build at the end of the track with “oohs” that call Greenleaf to mind without sacrificing their own cacophony to do so. Two cuts in and Vokonis have already shown a range that will keep expanding with the lurch of “The Coldest Night.” A more patient, gradual introduction leads to nod-out chug and pummel for what’s arguably the purest onslaught throughout The Sunken Djinn, keeping heft as its root intention as it hammers its central riff into the listener’s skull, departing from it only for a solo in the second half and only to return with even more low-end fuzz fortification from Johansson to close out.

vokonis

Fading residual rumble brings the arrival of the speedier “Blood Vortex,” the most straightforward rocker Vokonis have composed to this point in their career and one well-constructed to make its point about the status of their craftsmanship. Its thrust, its shorter runtime and the fact that it doesn’t necessarily have to depart tonally from its surroundings in order to move at the pace it does make it a standout, and if one considers it an experiment in songwriting — strange to think of what’s basically a classically-structured headbanger as an outfit’s brazen departure moment, but context is everything — the no-nonsense shove and balance of hook and weight once again bode remarkably well for where Vokonis‘ direction might take them. Likewise the dive into feedback and noise that starts the subsequent “Architect of Despair,” a slower crawl of a riff unfurling with Ohlsson and Johansson‘s vocals beneath a winding line that seems to straighten out as it passes the midpoint of the 6:34 run, but proves less about getting to the chorus à la “Blood Vortex” or “The Sunken Djinn” than making the journey itself, which it does with a marked flow into “Rapturous.”

What might be considered the closer, “Rapturous” is a late reinforcement of what The Sunken Djinn has accomplished across its span, taking its time to properly introduce its riff in traditionally stonerized fashion before the vocals arrive, stomping through its verse en route to delivering the title-line as a memorable chorus in the spirit of the album’s landmarks and still offering some expansion of purposes in subtle flourish of guitar melody as even in making their way out, Vokonis can’t seem to resist showcasing a bit of their ongoing growth. That melody comes to further prominence in the song’s second half, and for a moment, it almost seems like they’ll symmetrically bring back the cleaner vocals of “Calling from the Core,” but they don’t actually get there, instead shifting into the three-minute noise outro “Maelstrom” and choose to cap The Sunken Djinn with the opposite kind of experiment as “Blood Vortex.”

By that I mean “Maelstrom” takes Vokonis almost entirely away from the notion of song structure — there is a drum pattern caked in effects, so some motion is provided — in favor of raw noise. It’s a decided and willful shift in approach that seems to set the other end of breadth to what the three-piece consider “fair game” within their approach. Less a highlight — less a “song” — within itself, its statement nonetheless comes through clearly, and it works to answer yet another question about who Vokonis are and can become as a unit. The Sunken Djinn, as final as the title might make it sound — as in, “it’s sunk” — captures Vokonis in medias res as regards their growth as a band, and with it, they share not just a progress update with their burgeoning audience, but a collection of songs that will further help establish them as one of the European underground’s strongest riff-led up and comers. The best of both worlds, then. One wonders if they’ll keep up the studio productivity going forward or shift into more time spent touring over the rest of 2017-2018, but either way, the notice they serve with their second album isn’t to be ignored.

Vokonis, “The Sunken Djinn” official video

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Vokonis Premiere “The Sunken Djinn” Video; Album out June 9 on Ripple Music

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 26th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

vokonis

In their new video for the title-track of the forthcoming The Sunken Djinn, Swedish trio Vokonis bring their audience into what might be considered their native habitat. That’s otherwise known as Studio Underjord in Norrköping, where the riff-hurling three-piece recorded The Sunken Djinn with Joona Hassinen. As the Borås-based outfit circles up to perform “The Sunken Djinn,” we can see the soft lighting, the tapestries, the posters on the wall and of course the wide array of microphones in that creative environment, and begin to get a better sense of what would lead them to want to record there in the first place. For one thing, it looks really, really clean. Cleaner than any studio I’ve ever been in, certainly.

The Sunken Djinn will serve as Vokonis‘ premiere release through Ripple Music when it arrives on June 9, following up on their well-received 2016 debut, Olde One Ascending (review here), and in addition to the video, the title-track — which also leads off the LP — was released as a 7″ single on May 13 in limited numbers with artwork calling to mind The Expanse‘s protomolecule and a live version of “Olde One,” which opened the first record. Unsurprisingly, that platter has completely sold through its three different limited editions, and I’ve no idea if the band will press up more. If you missed it — hey, I did too. That’s just how it goes sometimes.

If you’ve been paying attention, it’s been a lot of Vokonis around here lately. They led off the last podcast with this very song, they’ve already been interviewed about The Sunken Djinn, and even before I heard the record, they were in my list of 2017’s most anticipated albums. That’s not an accident. What guitarist/vocalist Simon Ohlsson, bassist Jonte Johansson and drummer Emil Larsson bring to the tenets of post-Sleep heavy riffage continues to show marked potential even as the band develops their own personality and tightens their songcraft, and I think that’s something definitely worth talking about. This won’t be the last time, either. Look for an album review and full stream on Monday, June 5, and I’m sure more to come after that as well.

Until then, you can enjoy “The Sunken Djinn” below and hopefully get a sense of where Vokonis are coming from with it, or at very least, the place that played a role in its making. Video is directed by Marcus Jehrlander.

Hope you enjoy:

Vokonis, “The Sunken Djinn” official video

Simon Ohlsson on “The Sunken Djinn”:

“When going into the studio to record some songs for an upcoming project we wanted to do a video fitting of the process. To give everyone who have an interest in us a chance to get a closer look at our recording process.”

The Sunken Djinn (LP) by Vokonis is released on 9th June on Ripple Music. Video filmed by Marcus Jehrlander at Studio Underjord.

Entitled The Sunken Djinn, for the Swedish doom trio – featuring guitarist/vocalist Simon Ohlsson, drummer Emil Larsson and bassist Jonte Johansson – this album marks a huge leap forward in sound and scope. Still loosely rooted in traditional stoner rock with enough lumbering fuzz riffs and monolithic grooves to keep you in a permanent fog of mystification, this time around their entire approach is tempered by an even darker psychedelic perspective. As best heard on the album’s epic title track, which consists of two parts sonic tapestry and one part bloodied ten-ton hammer.

Vokonis:
Simon Ohlsson – Guitars, Vocals
Emil Larsson – Drums
Jonte Johansson – Bass

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Saturn to Release Beyond Spectra March 31

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

saturn photo by ester segarra

Following up on the raucous classic style of their 2014 debut, Ascending, Swedish heavy rockers Saturn have announced a March 31 release through Rise Above Records for their second album, Beyond Spectra. The PR wire brings copious background, and its diligence in so doing is appreciated as always, but the takeaway narrative going into the new record seems to be that the band is attempting to look beyond ’70s retroisms fed through ’10s boogie, in concept and sonics alike, and that can only help further distinguish them among Europe’s crowded heavy scene. Shades of mid-’70s metal showing up a few years afterwards in places where one might’ve previously found early-’70s heavy rock? Yeah, that makes sense to me. Bring on the Priestisms.

Oh, and just so I say it out loud, the above photo is by Ester Segarra, who is amazing, and the art below is by Branca Studio, who is amazing.

Dig:

saturn beyond spectra

Saturn To Release Beyond Spectra March 31st via Rise Above Records

Artwork and Track Listing Revealed

Disciples of the heavy metal code don’t just love our music, we need it: to maintain our cultural, personal and – perhaps most importantly – cosmic equilibrium. As a result, there is nothing more essential to our musical lives than bands that tap into our beloved genre’s purest essence and re-imagine that primal magic in brand new and gloriously vivid hues. Sweden’s Saturn more than fit the bill.

Having already proved their worth and potential three years ago with their stunning debut album Ascending, this young band have evolved into something truly extraordinary this time round. In stark contrast to many retro-minded records currently doing the rounds, Beyond Spectra offers much more than affectionate pastiche and Luddite petulance. Instead, this is the sound of red-blooded heavy metal with its eyes focused on the depths of outer space, as the rampaging grooves and analogue hiss of prime ’70s proto-doom, the swaggering boogie braggadocio of UFO and the stately grandeur of Sad Wings-era Priest collide in a mesmerizing shower of irresistible riffs, unearthly melodies and moments of shimmering psychedelia.

“How we have evolved since Ascending? Our guitarist Linkan cut off his dreadlocks and that generally contributed to a good vibe, ha ha!” guitarist Robin Tidebrink laughs. “More seriously, the production of Beyond Spectra is way better. It sounds fatter without loosing that vintage feeling to it. I also think that we’re starting to find our own sound. You could say that every new song that we write is more and more Saturn. I would also say that we’re more comfortable in writing new songs and we know what kind of different elements to add to make it all sound like we want it to.”

Fans of Saturn’s first album will not be freaked out by the band’s great leap forward, but Beyond Spectra is plainly an album driven by a broader vision and an enhanced desire to forge a unique path. Songs like opening intergalactic rager Orbital Command and the sumptuous interwoven dynamics and dark drama of Nighttime Badger proudly proclaim their debt to the pioneering heavy metal greats of the ’70s but there is so much energy, verve and ingenuity on display throughout that Saturn sound much more like the future than the past. That said, Beyond Spectra is also very much an album with its mind on the modern world too.

“The lyrical content on the album tries to explore and compare events in the world today from a historical point of view,” says vocalist Oscar Pehrson. “Both from our personal perspective but also on a more global scale. The album title is a word play on trying to see the world in as many ways as possible and to be able to understand what is going on and where we are going.It is a serious topic but we’re trying to add some humour and fiction to it as well. Music and comedy have the ability to be fun and still deliver a serious message.”

As much as they exist in the present day, it hardly needs stating that Saturn are huge fans of old school, analogue tones and the ageless allure of that classic ’70s hard rock sound. For those with a similar passion for that bygone era, Beyond Spectra offers an object lesson in conjuring ancient vibes and emboldening them with fresh perspective.

“Everything was recorded through two old mixing tables that used to belong to Swedish Radio, the government controlled public service radio, and anything that you run through those tables will sound really warm and sweet,” says Robin. “Another factor is that we didn’t add lots of effects in post-production because we wanted a clean and simple sounding recording.We didn’t do any overdubs on this album…and we didn’t on Ascending either! It’s kind of tricky, because when somebody goes off to do a solo and you only have one rhythm guitar it can sound kind of weak… but that’s part of the charm! It’s more honest in a way. I believe that’s a huge factor in how the final record sounds.”

The sound of yesterday, filtered through the limitless refractions of an unknown future but rooted firmly in the here and now, Beyond Spectra pulls off the neat and laudable trick of getting everything right and making it look easy, while also offering great substance to stir the soul and a few, jolting shots of originality and effortless cool. If you’re lacking some steel in your aural diet, look no further. This band’s fascinating voyage into virgin skies looks certain to provide all the nourishment you could ever need.

Beyond Spectra Track Listing:
1. Orbital Command
2. Wolfsson
3. Nighttime Badger
4. Linkans Delight
5. Electrosaurus Sex
6. Still Young
7. Force of the North
8. Helmet Man
9. Silfvertape
10. Sensor Data

http://www.saturnsweden.com
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Saturn, “Rokktori” official video

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Vokonis, Olde One Ascending: Clergy’s Magic Potion

Posted in Reviews on May 18th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

vokonis olde one ascending

It is a tenet of stylistic works — those in a given style or genre — that sooner or later someone will come along and realign the creative conversation back toward its roots. One could easily argue this is how doom itself came about, with bands seeing the heavy metal of their time, being dissatisfied, and choosing an approach more closely related to Black Sabbath. Swedish trio Vokonis, who make their debut with Olde One Ascending via Ozium Records, would seem to be interested in a similar adjusting of trajectory. Surrounded in a crowded Scandinavian market by boogie rock or blistering doom, guitarist/vocalist Simon Ohlsson, bassist/backing vocalist Jonte Johansson and drummer Emil Larsson push in an different direction and one the thick grooving of which can be traced directly to Sleep.

With Ohlsson and Larsson having released a demo last year called Temple (review here) through Btnk Cllctv, the long-player doesn’t necessarily represent their first statement of intent in this regard, but its cohesion of purpose and message come through clearer than any demo could. Olde One Ascending — even the title seems to call for a return to old(e) ways — comprises six tracks/48 minutes of what by now should be considered classic stoner metal, a blend of Sabbathian doom, Sleepy heavy riffing and tales of epic battles, monsters, and is presented in thick, full sound with zero pretense. Vokonis know what they’re doing as they gallop into the midsection of “Acid Pilgrim,” as they space out at the start of “Olde One,” and as they shuffle their way through the end of “Hazmat, the Ashen Rider.”

Despite a somewhat extended (for vinyl) runtime, Olde One Ascending divides neatly into two halves, each with three songs. Four of the six total inclusions run somewhere around eight minutes long, and the shorter tracks, “Acid Pilgrim” (6:56), which closes side A, and “Hazmat the Ashen Rider” (7:45), which closes side B, aren’t far off, but Vokonis use the space in their material well to pull off a number of different vibes, whether that comes through in the rolling nod as “Olde One,” which opens, lurches to life from its subdued, building intro with an immediately striking tonal impression from Ohlsson and Johansson as they riff out à la Sleep‘s “The Druid” en route to a shouted verse. As the newcomer in the band, Johansson stands up well to Ohlsson‘s thick guitar, punching through to the fore of the mix as Larsson indulges Hakius-style snare work beneath the dual vocals.

vokonis

Caveman shouts for choruses will become something of a theme as Vokonis make their way through “The Serpent’s Alive” and “Acid Pilgrim,” but the interweaving of solos and rhythm guitar and bass add further distinction to their processes, “The Serpent’s Alive” in particular tripping out on a more languid, Iommically layered guitar lead before its crash-heavy ending. “Acid Pilgrim” is the shortest cut on Olde One Ascending, but still has plenty of time to kill slumber, like the rays of the new red sun arising at its start and provide a more individual feel as it plays back and forth in between-line twists of riff before an “ough!” kicks into a few more thrashing measures — the aforementioned gallop — and a fuzzy solo takes hold underscored by more righteous bass. Vocals don’t return until the final slowdown, calling the titular Acid Pilgrim to come home as the first half of the record rumbles to its conclusion.

Riffy trauma holds sway for the bulk of side B as well, but it’s in the final three songs — “Shroomblade,” “King Vokonis Plague” and “Hazmat the Ashen Rider” — that the listener gets more of a sense of the world these songs are inhabiting, somewhere between medieval battles and the snow-covered, monster-laden ground of Olde One Ascending‘s cover art by Tessa Najjar. Past its midsection solo, also layered, “Shroomblade” finds Johansson taking the fore with Larsson as the guitar quits down for a classic stoner jam of marked funktitude. They soon enough shake the earth with their plod once more, but this is their first album, so one is always looking for clues as to where progression might lead.

The longest track at 8:54, “King Vokonis Plague” no doubt offers some clues in that regard as well through its fluid rhythm and departure from the solo-into-jam structure that the bulk of the record exhibits. Instead? The riffs, the hook, a bit of winding push, and a shorter solo, which leads them back to a closing verse so that the subdued first measure of “Hazmat the Ashen Rider” is duly contrasted in volume. Kicking in quickly, “Hazmat the Ashen Rider” has the advantage of being exceedingly catchy and something of a basic statement of mission/summary of what Vokonis accomplish on their first album, whether that’s in proffering heavy riffing, tripping out for a lead or upping the pace toward the end for a last-minute upbeat finale that ends cold. Through all of this, Vokonis reinforces their argument of what “heavy,” as a sonic concept, is all about, and they bring a sense of freshness and purity of intent to back them up that makes it difficult to find a counterpoint. Maybe it is time everybody just riffed out.

Vokonis, Olde One Ascending (2016)

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Vokonis Sign to Ozium Records; Enter Studio in Feb.

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 7th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

vokonis

My favorite part of the bio below for Swedish newcomers Vokonis, who released an impressive debut EP called Temple (review here) under their original moniker of Creedsmen Arise, is when it says, “The lyrics are about war between ancient kingdoms in lost galaxies, legendary swords and diseases of a bygone era.” I can only hope “diseases of a bygone era” means stuff like pirate scurvy and rickets and things like that. Seems to me there’s some fodder there for heavy exploration that hasn’t yet been mined.

It was only a couple weeks ago that Vokonis announced the name change, and the word comes through today that they’ve been added to the roster of Ozium Records for the 2016 release of their debut album, which will be recorded in February at a yet-undisclosed location. Presumably a cave somewhere outside the band’s hometown of Borås. Either way, cheers to the trio and the imprint on what I’ve no doubt will be a riffy partnership, and here’s looking forward to finding out what kind of havoc Vokonis might wreak in their new incarnation.

Announcement follows:

vokonis logo

We are proud to have sign the band “VOKONIS”

Vokonis was created in the aftermath of Creedsmen Arise.

Based in Borås, Vokonis consists of Simon (guitar / vocals), Emil (drums) and Jonte (bass). They form a power trio with a heavy focus on fuzz, riffs and energy. The lyrics are about war between ancient kingdoms in lost galaxies, legendary swords and diseases of a bygone era.

Taking inspiration from bands such as Black Sabbath, Sleep, The Stooges and Entombed, Vokonis create their own identity.

Welcome to the family guys !!!!

Says the band:

Today we signed a record deal with Ozium Records. We couldn’t be any more excited to enter the studio in February.

Praise Iommi, Praise Ozium.

https://www.facebook.com/OfficialVokonis/
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Creedsmen Arise, Temple (2015)

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Creedsmen Arise Change Name to Vokonis

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 18th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

vokonis

Kind of a bummer to read about the troubles of Swedish newcomer riffers Creedsmen Arise, whose “certain circumstances” have led them to have to change their name to Vokonis. Not that the new name is so terrible or that the old one was so great, but clearly they were fond enough of it to use it in the first place and I know that once a group gets rolling under a given moniker, it’s not something they want to give up using lightly. Hence lawsuits over two bands called the same thing. It gets to be an issue of branding as much as anything else.

What’s more, these same circumstances have caused Vokonis to remove the Creedsmen Arise demo, Temple (review here), and the Bandcamp page on which it was hosted. Three good songs down the tubes. A cassette version of it was released by the vowel-eschewing imprint Btnk Cllctv, and they still have it up for streaming as well, but I expect once the tapes are gone — and at a meager $5 a pop, they’ll likely go — that will come down too, and the post-Sleep riffage will have to find new form in the work of Vokonis, whatever shape it might take initially still unknown.

Not the end of the world, and if it was going to happen, probably better now than when they had two albums out, but still. Good luck to Vokonis. I’m sure we’ll be hearing from them soon.

They made the announcement thusly:

vokonis-logo

This one might seem a little strange.

Due to certain circumstances there is no more Creedsmen Arise.

We’ve decided to change our name and move forward instead with completely new material.

We will continue writing music and songs under the name Vokonis. We will still deliver the same unconditional fuzz that before..

Also! If you’ve purchase a Creedsmen Arise T-shirt from us, you are entitled to a Vokonis shirt!

We’re very sorry for your inconvenience, all who have bought the Temple EP will be eligible for a free download of our new album once it’s out.

// Simon, Emil and Jonte

Praise Iommi.

https://www.facebook.com/OfficialVokonis/
http://btnkcllctv.tictail.com/product/bc009-creedsmen-arise-temple
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Creedsmen Arise, Temple (2015)

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Quarterly Review: Steve Von Till, Devil Worhsipper, Dr. Crazy, Linie, The Heavy Minds, Against the Grain, Angel Eyes, Baron, Creedsmen Arise, Deadly Sin (Sloth)

Posted in Reviews on September 28th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-quarterly-review-fall-2015

Truth be told, I’ve been looking forward to this Quarterly Review since the last one ended. Not necessarily since it clears the deck on reviews to be done — it doesn’t — but just because I feel like in any given week there’s so much more that I want to get to than I’m usually able to fit into posting that it’s been good to be able to say, “Well I’ll do another Quarterly Review and include it there.” Accordingly, there are some sizable releases here, today and over the next four days as well.

If you’re unfamiliar with the project, the idea is over the course of this week, I’ll be reviewing 50 different releases — full albums, EPs, demos, comps, splits, vinyl, tape, CD, digital, etc. Most of them have come out since the last Quarterly Review, which went up early in July, but some are still slated for Oct. or Nov. issue dates. Best to mix it up. My hope is that within this barrage of info, art and music, you’re able to find something that stands out to you and that you enjoy deeply. I know I’ll find a few by the time we’re done on Friday.

Fall 2015 Quarterly Review #1-10:

Steve Von Till, A Life unto Itself

steve von till a life unto itself

A new Steve Von Till solo outing isn’t a minor happening in any circumstances, but A Life unto Itself reads more like a life event than an album. As ever, the Neurosis guitarist/vocalist puts a full emotional breadth into his material, and as it’s his first record in seven years since 2008’s A Grave is a Grim Horse, there’s plenty to say. Sometimes minimal, sometimes arranged, sometimes both, the seven tracks feature little of the psychedelic influence Von Till brought to his Harvestman project, but use lap steel, strings, electrics, acoustics, keys and of course his meditative, gravelly voice to convey a broad spectrum nonetheless, and cuts like “Chasing Ghosts,” “In Your Wings” and the centerpiece “Night of the Moon” (which actually does veer into the ethereal, in its way) are all the more memorable for it. The richness of “A Language of Blood” and the spaciousness of the drone-meets-sea-shanty closer “Known but Not Named” only underscore how far Von Till is able to range, and how satisfying the results can be when he does.

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Steve Von Till at Neurot Recordings

Devil Worhsipper, Devil Worhsipper

devil worshipper devil worshipper

Bizarro vibes pervade Devil Worshipper’s debut LP, Devil Worshipper, what may or may not be a one-man project from Jeff Kahn (ex-Hideous Corpse, Skeleton of God; spelled here as Jevf Kon), mixed by Tad Doyle and released on Holy Mountain. Based in Seattle (that we do know), the project wields molten tones and slow groove to classic underground metal, heavy psych and bleary moods to hit into oddly cinematic moodiness on “Ash Brume” and even nod at Celtic Frost from a long ways away on closer “Lurker (Death).” Most of the drums are programmed, save for “New Spirit World Order,” “Ash Brume” and “Lurker,” but either way, they only add to the weirdness of the chanting layered vocals of “New Spirit World Order,” and just when it seems like eight-minute second track “Chemrails” will have been as far out as Devil Worshipper gets, side B’s “Desert Grave” takes hold for a five-minute dirge that turns out to be one of the record’s most satisfying rolls, reminiscent of something Rob Crow might’ve done with Goblin Cock on downers. Unexpected and living well in its own space, the album manages to be anchored by its lead guitar work without seeming anchored at all.

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Devil Worshipper at Holy Mountain

Dr. Crazy, 1,000 Guitars

dr crazy 1000 guitars

So, how many guitars on London trio Dr. Crazy’s 13-minute/four-song EP, 1,000 Guitars? Two, I think. The side-project of Groan vocalist Andreas “Mazzereth” Maslen and Chris West, formerly the drummer of Trippy Wicked and Stubb who here plays guitar and bass while Groan’s former guitarist Mike Pilat handles drums, make a bid for the possibility of playing live in bringing in Pilat to fill the role formerly occupied remotely by Tony Reed of Mos Generator on their 2014 debut EP, Demon Lady. Whether that happens will remain to be seen, but they affirm their ‘80s glam leanings on “Bikini Woman” and keep the message simple on opener “Hands off My Rock and Roll” while “1,000 Guitars” makes the most of guest lead work from Stubb’s Jack Dickinson – he’s the second guitar, alongside West – and yet another infectious Mazzereth-led hook, and well, “Mistress of Business” starts out by asking the titular lady to pull down her pants, so, you know, genius-level satire ensues.

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Linie, What We Make Our Demons Do

linie what we make our demons do

An aggressive core lies beneath the progressivism of German five-piece Linie (actually written as ?inie) on their debut full-length, What We Make Our Demons Do, but the material holds a sense of atmosphere as well. Vocalist/guitarist Jörn is very much at the fore of post-intro opener “Blood on Your Arms,” but as the crux of the album plays out on the chug-happy “Lake of Fire” and “No Ideal,” Linie showcase a wider breadth and bring together elements of post-hardcore à la Fugazi, darker heavy rock and purposefully brooding metal. Comprised of Jörn, guitarist/vocalist Alex, bassist/vocalist Ralph, drummer/vocalist Alex and keyboardist Iggi, the band impress on their first offering with not only how assured they seem of their aesthetic, but the expansive manner in which they present it. Their songwriting is varied in approach but unified in mood and while I don’t know what has them so pissed off on a cut like “Inability,” there’s no question whether they’re putting that anger to good use.

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The Heavy Minds, Treasure Coast

the heavy minds treasure coast

Austrian trio The Heavy Minds make their full-length debut on Stone Free with Treasure Coast, a seven-cut LP that fuzzes up ‘70s swing without going the full-Graveyard in retro vibe. “You’ve Seen it Coming” seems to nod at Radio Moscow, but a more overarching vibe seems to share ideology with Baltimore three-piece The Flying Eyes, the classic rock sensibilities given natural presentation through a nonetheless modern feel in the tracks. The bass tone of Tobias (who also plays guitar at points) alone makes Treasure Coast worth hunting down, but doesn’t prove to be the limit of what the young outfit have to offer, drummer Christoph swinging fluidly throughout “Diamonds of Love” in a manner that foreshadows the emergent roll of “Seven Remains.” That song is part of a closing duo with “Fire in My Veins,” which boasts a satisfying bluesy howl from guitarist Lukas, rounding out Treasure Coast with an organic openness that suits the band well.

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Stone Free

Against the Grain, Road Warriors

against the grain road warriors

Momentum is key when it comes to Road Warriors, the new full-length from Detroit four-piece Against the Grain. They amass plenty of it as they thrust into the 12-track/38-minute rager of an outing, but there are changes to be had in tempo if not necessarily intent. Comprised of bassist/vocalist Chris Nowak, guitarist/vocalist Kyle Davis, guitarist Nick Bellomo and drummer Rob Nowak, the band actually seems more comfortable on fifth-gear cuts like “’Til We Die,” “What Happened,” the first half of “Afraid of Nothing” or the furious “Run for Your Life” than they do in the middle-ground of “Guillotine” and “Night Time,” but slowing down on “Sirens” and “Eyes” allows them to flex a more melodic muscle, and that winds up enriching the album in subtle and interesting ways. If you want a clue as to the perspective from which they’re working, they start with “Here to Stay” and end with “Nothing Left to Lose.” Everything between feels suitably driven by that mission statement.

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Angel Eyes, Things Have Learnt to Walk that Ought to Crawl

angel-eyes-things-have-learnt-to-walk-that-ought-to-crawl

With the ‘t’ and the ‘ought’ in its title, Angel Eyes’ posthumous third full-length, Things Have Learnt to Walk that Ought to Crawl, brims with oddly rural threat. Like the things are people. The Chicago outfit unfold two gargantuan cascades of atmosludge on “Part I” (15:54) and “Part II” (19:18), pushing their final recording to toward and beyond recommended minimums and maximums as regards intensity. They called it quits in 2011, so to have the record surface four years later and be as blindsidingly cohesive as it is actually makes it kind of a bummer, since it won’t have a follow-up, but the work Angel Eyes are doing across these two tracks – “Part I” getting fully blown-out before shifting into the quiet opening of “Part II” – justifies the time it’s taken for it to be released. They were signed to The Mylene Sheath, but Things is an independent, digital-only outing for the time being, though its structure and cover feel ripe for vinyl. Who knows what the future might bring.

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Baron, Torpor

baron torpor

Textured, hypnotic and downright gorgeous in its psychedelic melancholy, Baron’s Torpor is a record that a select few will treasure deeply and fail to understand the problem as to why the rest of the planet isn’t just as hooked. A thoroughly British eight-track full-length – their second, I believe, but first for SvartTorpor creates and captures spaces simultaneously on organ-infused pieces like “Mark Maker,” executing complex transitions fluidly and feeding into an overarching ambience that, by the time they get around to the eight-minute “Stry,” is genuinely affecting in mood and beautifully engrossing. The Brighton/Nottingham four-piece fuzz out a bit on “Deeper Align,” but the truth is that Torpor has much more to offer than a single genre encapsulates and those that miss it do so to their own detriment. I mean that. Its patience, its poise and its scope make Torpor an utter joy of progressive flourish and atmosphere with a feel that is entirely its own. I could go on.

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Baron at Svart Records

Creedsmen Arise, Temple

creedsmen arise temple

So get this. For their first EP, Swedish trio Creedsmen Arise – guitarist Emil, drummer Simon and bassist Gustaf (since replaced by Jonte) – have taken it upon themselves to pen a sequel to Sleep’s Dopesmoker that, “tells the story about what happened centuries after the Dopesmoker Caravan and it’s [sic] Weedians reached their destination.” Admirably ballsy terrain for the three-piece to tread their first time out. It’s like, “Oh hey, here’s my first novel – it’s Moby Dick from the whale’s perspective.” The three tracks of the Temple EP are fittingly schooled in Iommic studies, but the band almost undercuts itself because they don’t just sound like Sleep. They have their own style. Yeah, it’s riffy stoner metal, but it’s not like they’re doing an Al Cisneros impression on vocals, so while the concept is derived directly, the sound doesn’t necessarily completely follow suit. Between the 10-minute opening title- and longest-track (immediate points), “Herbal Burial” and “Circle of Clergymen,” Creedsmen Arise make perhaps a more individualized statement than they intended, but it’s one that bodes well.

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Deadly Sin (Sloth), Demo Discography

deadly sin (sloth) demo discography

Nola’s cool and all, but when it comes to the nastiest, most misanthropic, fucked-up sludge, choosy moms choose Ohio, and Deadly Sin (Sloth) are a potent example of why. Their Demo Discography tape revels in its disconcerting extremity and seems to grind regardless of whether the Xenia, OH, trio are actually playing fast. Comprised of Jay Snyder, Wilhelm Princeton and Kyle Hughes, Deadly Sin (Sloth) cake themselves in mud that will be familiar to anyone who’s witnessed Fistula on a bender or Sloth at their most pill-popping, but do so with sub-lo-fi threat on the tape and are so clearly intentional in their effort to put the listener off that one could hardly call their demos anything but a victory. Will not be for everyone, but of course that’s the idea. This kind of viciousness is a litmus test that would do justice to any basement show, maddening in its nod and mean well beyond the point of reason.

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