Labirinto Premiere Divino Afflante Spiritu in Full; Out Tomorrow on Pelagic Records

Posted in audiObelisk on February 7th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

labrinto

This one happened pretty suddenly. Yesterday afternoon I got a note asking if I wanted to do a last-minute stream for Labirinto‘s third long-player, Divino Afflante Spiritu, which is out tomorrow on Pelagic Records. I took a couple minutes to skim through and knew quickly that, yes, it was the kind of thing I wanted to be involved in, but my usual I’m-gonna-play-the-record-a-bunch-of-times-before-I-write-about-it-thing? Yeah, not so much. Way more of a first impression here, and all the more because Divino Afflante Spiritu is my first exposure to the São Paulo-based mostly-instrumental six-piece. Their sound draws from modern progressive chug-ism and crunch tones blending with airy effects on a cut like “Eleh Ha Devarim” or the later and flowing “Asherdu,” but there’s a post-metallic bent there as well, as can be heard in the “Stones from the Sky”-moment transfigured into second track “Penitência” and in some of the general atmosphere of urgency throughout, keyboards and three guitars intertwining for a sound that is full when it wants to be and spacious nonetheless, culminating its seven-track/35-minute run in the seven-minute title-track, which is marked by graceful surges of volume and a distinctive heavier post-rocking feel. It is an ambience of color, but on a dark background, and its depths of mix are significant, even as the weight of its low end does precious little to keep the guitars from soaring when they choose to.

labrinto divino afflante spirituEach side features some measure of vocals, whether that’s opener “Agnus Dei” with the ensuring screams of guest singer Elaine Campos (Abuso Sonoro and others) or the later ethereal interlude “Vigilia” that follows the centerpiece “Demiurge,” and though there’s a certain expectation set up by that appearance at the outset, the prevailing vibe lacks nothing for atmosphere as guitarists Kiko Bueno, Erick Cruxen and Luis Naressi (the latter also synth), percussionist Lucas Melo, drummer Muriel Curi and bassist Hristos Eleutério conjure an alternately crushing and expansive feel. It’s a complex outing that bridges earthbound and otherworldly elements, and very clearly feels no need to commit to one side or the other of that equation, if it sees a difference between them at all. Progressive in their construction, Labirinto‘s songs nonetheless flow together to convey a singular idea through diverse means. I’ll admit this is a first impression, but it’s a positive one.

And when it comes right down to it, I like sharing good music. If there’s a chance this is gonna make someone’s hard day better, then hell yes, I’m on board. I don’t usually do things so last-minute, but every now and again you need to be flexible.

I’ve included the full text of the PR wire info below, so you can have more background on the recording and the fascinating remote-production process by which Divino Afflante Spiritu came about.

That, of course, follows the full stream of the album, which you’ll find below. It’s out tomorrow on Pelagic.

Please enjoy:

Labirinto, Divino Afflante Spiritu full album premiere

São Paulo’s LABIRINTO are not the spearheads of a vivid local scene, but to stay within the realms of post-rock metaphory, more of an isolated island within a vast ocean of nothingness. There is not much contemporary instrumental heavy music anywhere in South America. There are hardly any record labels and international bands seldomly make it over on tour. All the more surprising that this island of LABIRINTO has been releasing records for 13 years already.

Divino Afflante Spiritu is already the band’s 10th release, but only the 3rd full-length album. The band’s back catalogue is made up of a number of EPs and splits (with THISQUIETARMY among others), a detail which showcases the band’s strong roots in the DIY scene. Guitarist Erick Cruxen and drummer Muriel Curi, a long-married couple, have learned how take control of every aspect of the band’s universe themselves: from running their own record label to booking their own tours to running their own recording studio, the internationally renowned Dissenso Studios in São Paulo.

The band flew in Billy Anderson for the prodcution of previous album „Gehenna“.This time, Cult Of Luna’s Magnus Lindberg was hired, but the entire production happened via the internet, exemplary for this time we live in, without Magnus ever setting foot on Brazilian soil. „Since the pre-production phase, Muriel kept in touch with Magnus“, Cruxen comments. „We talked a lot to him about our plans and ideas for the tracking sessions. He did an online support video session during the recording sessions, and we were aligning ideas for technical decisions. He was monitoring the whole recording process, basically. At the end, we sent him the audio files and he mixed and mastered the album at his own Redmount Studios in Stockholm.“

The result is an album of dense and menacing atmospherics, textural drones carefully layered over and blended into the heavy guitar riffs’s shimmering, beautiful distortion-scapes – and for the first time ever, vocals make their debut on a LABIRINTO album, on opening track „Agnus Dei“. „We invited Elaine Campos, she’s been singing in Brazilian punk and crust bands for over 20 years“, comments Curi. „It’s a huge pleasure for us to have such a veteran from the punk scene, a feminist and anarchist, guest on the track.“

It’s clear from the first synth drones inaugurating the opening track that doom lurks on the horizon, that „Divino Afflante Spiritu“ is not going to be a soundtrack to a tropical paradise – it’s a dark, cold record. „This album has a great emotional weight,” explains Cruxen. „It flourished during a very difficult phase in which we lost a very dear entity. It was a whirlwind of emotions that are materialized whenever we play the songs. This album, more than anything, represents for us loss and suffering, but also, passion and friendship.“

LINE UP: Hristos Eleutério – bass, Lucas Melo – percussion, Kiko Bueno – guitar, Luis Naressi – guitar, synths, Erick Cruxen – guitar, Muriel Curi – drums

TRACK LISTING:
01. Agnus Dei
02. Penitência
03. Eleh Ha Devarim
04. Demiurge
05. Vigília
06. Asherdu
07. Divino Afflante Spiritu

Labirinto on Thee Facebooks

Labirinto on Instagram

Labirinto website

Pelagic Records on Thee Facebooks

Pelagic Records website

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We Here Now to Release The Chikipunk Years Jan. 17

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 21st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Marked by a frenetic shuffle and a still-weighted tonality that’s nonetheless put to celebratory purposes, We Here Now‘s debut album, The Chikipunk Years, clocks in at all of 21 minutes long, but considering its three members live in three different countries — Peru, Brazil and, uh, kind of everywhere — that seems like plenty. Involvement from members of the boogie-laden Necro (the Brazil), the glorious Montibus Communitas (the Peru) and the ever-experimentalist Queen Elephantine (the everywhere) assures a varied mix of sounds, and as they draw on different cultural and sonic methods of expression, they pack about two records’ worth of scope into that 21 minutes, so yeah, they can be short if they want. It’ll still be a while afterwards in parsing it all out.

They’ve got three songs streaming now on the Bandcamp player below, and you’ll also find the preorder link there, which there’s a good chance you’ll want after you listen:

We Here Now The Chikipunk Years

We Here Now – The Chikipunk Years

WE HERE NOW is a multinational band, formed by the prolific musicians Pedro ‘Sozinho’ Salvador (Necro) from Brazil, Indrayudh Shome (Queen Elephantine) from India/USA and Fr. Sofista from Peru. Emanating fast n’ bulbous sounds, the music presents an exciting approach to the straight-forward aesthetics of fuzzed-out rock. They dig deep into their roots, unearthing the gifts of their vast cultural and historical backgrounds. Complex time signatures, original tonal schemes and a free-form sense of music-making are delivered with an unmistakable raw punk attitude.

‘The Chikipunk Years” is the debut album by WE HERE NOW. The trio conjures a raw but complex sound, tending bridges between fuzzed-out forms of garage rock, prog punk and heavy psych, all infused with structures owned to south american, african and indian music. Throughout these seven tracks the trio consolidates, on the one hand, a cohesive and fiercely direct sound while, on the other hand, delivers a challenging music full of odd rhythmic patterns and exquisite non-western scales, all tied with a playful production that reminds at times the ironic approach of Canterbury bands. Paradoxical yet intoxicating, WE HERE NOW’s debut album is the kind of record that wins the listener by K.O.

Tracklisting:
1. Soujourns
2. Gathering and Separation 03:16
3. Detachments 02:39
4. Planes of Inmanence 04:26
5. Frontiers and Determinations
6. Dukkha
7. Detachments (Reprise)

‘The Chikipunk Years’ is out on January 17th, 2019.

Preorder link for the album https://homemadegiftsrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-chikipunk-years

https://www.facebook.com/Homemadegiftsrecords/
https://soundcloud.com/homemade-gifts-records

We Here Now, The Chikipunk Years (2019)

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Absent Sign to Cursed Tongue Records; Towards the Void LP Due in 2019

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

absent

In the wee hours of 2018, Brazilian cave-doomers Absent issued their debut album, Towards the Void, digitally via Bandcamp, in the ways of such things. It’s a record geared toward nod and tonal largesse, and though the band call it an EP, it’s definitely full-length in concept, runtime, flow and execution. I don’t care if their next release is an hour long. This one is an album.

That quibble aside, the good news for anyone who heard Towards the Void and lost themselves within its murky depths is that Cursed Tongue Records has seen fit to snag the release for a vinyl pressing that’s set to come out early in the New Year. I don’t have an exact date, but the label’s announcement says “January,” so I figure “early” covers it. Either way, I have no doubt that preorders will be up beforehand, and isn’t that how people buy things nowadays anyway?

Anyway, you can stream the record in full at the bottom of this post — if you only have time for one track, might I recommend the 10-minute “Funeral Sun,” which starts off like one of YOB‘s epics and builds toward a pummeling apex that’s the most extreme moment on the LP. Makes a good teaser.

Cursed Tongue‘s announcement follows:

absent cursed tongue records

ABSENT SIGNS TO CURSED TONGUE RECORDS FOR A WORLD WIDE RELEASE OF THEIR DEBUT ALBUM ‘TOWARDS THE VOID’ SCHEDULED FOR EARLY 2019.

Cursed Tongue Records is happy to announce the signing of Brazil psych doomers Absent for a vinyl release of their highly esteemed debut album ‘Towards The Void’ arriving from a deep space black hole in early in 2019.

Absent is a musical congregation founded in 2015 in Brasília, Brazil. The band members describe their trademark as “a hypnotic blend of ritual heaviness, cyclopean riffs and vocalic mantras that echo the messages from the void. A leap of faith in the profoundest chasms of low tones and slowness with an energetic curiosity for experimental fields. A soporific infusion crafted in fuzz, reverb, delay, phaser and smoke.”

In 2017 Absent released a digital single ‘Funeral Sun’, one of four songs that make up the debut LP entitled “Towards the Void”. In January 2018, the album “Towards The Void”, recorded in 2016, was released on Digipak CD through the union of four national labels: Underground Resistance (Pernambuco), The Metal Vox (Bahia), Misanthropic Records (DF) and Left Hand Records (Paraná). Shortly after that, a jewel case CD version is released by World War Now Records (Canada), putting the band on a higher level concerning foreign recognition. In May 2018, Absent signs to Cursed Tongue Records (Denmark) for a vinyl release of “Towards the Void” that will boast all new artwork by Wizard Of Meth (ao. Mephistofeles, Savanah, Black Furs).

Like their obvious inspirational sources, the band draw from equal doses of Aleister Crowley magic and long droning song structures not following the usual path and much like some of their musical peers like Electric Wizard, Windhand and Acid King they rely on a production just polite enough; their sound isn’t expendable and null, but visceral so any emotional charge and atmospheric dirt load is preserved in along their work.

Absent mine a way through the doom spheres all of their own, going places most doomed bands never dare to wander or have the musical dexterity to pull off, even incorporating elements from black metal. Gregorian chant-like passages are intertwined with the ethereal clean sung voice of Thiago Satyr. They are able to pass from spacy psychedelic to super-heavy and slow in a flick of the wrist.

The vast and often winding soundscapes buried within the depth of this album are like a really intricate drawing. Occult in nature, but with excruciating details: symmetry, darkness and grace. Ugly in its immediate appearance yet also beautiful while oh so heavy. Advanced but primitive and above all dark. Like a ritual sacrificial ceremony, this is the ultimate astral mind journey to reach true emotional void within.

So this is not your typical standard doom and don’t expect to fully grasp what’s at stake within first listen, but the dedicated listener will be rewarded in spades. At Cursed Tongue Records that’s just the musical fuel that feeds our black engines and keep us grinding all night. Signing Absent was a natural move and showcases in best ways that darker site of the heavy underground spectrum that CTR this time seeks to portray. Come join us in a severe round of face melting with Absent slowly grinding your skull to powder.

When “Towards the Void” was released digitally nearly a year ago it was probably not the album that many doom metal fans, especially those less open to the more traditional psychotropic and atmospheric verve, had expected, but who suddenly invaded the end of 2017 and also securing Absent a place on January 2018 Doom Charts (#19). “Towards The Void” has quickly established itself as the work that every fan of the doom genre simply NEED in their collection. Now it’s time to honor that need as Cursed Tongue Records will bring its usual connoisseur vinyl release setup to doomed turntables across the globe.

“Towards The Void” will be out on high quality, heavy weight vinyl via Cursed Tongue Records in January 2019.

CTR-015 Absent – ‘Towards The Void’, vinyl official release date: exact date TBA, 2019

Absent is:
Luan Lima – Guitars
Maurício Caio – Drums
Thiago Satyr – Vocals and Bass

Music by Absent
Lyrics by T. Satyr
Produced by Pedro Santos and Absent
Photos by Samara Carvalho
Artwork & Layout by Wizard Of Meth
Mastered for vinyl by Tony Reed of HeavyHead Co.

Track listing:

Side A
1. Ophidian Womb (8:34)
2. Semen Prayer (10:13)

Side B
3. Funeral Sun (10:22)
4. Urine (11:32)

absentdoom.bandcamp.com
http://www.facebook.com/absentdoom
http://cursedtonguerecords.bigcartel.com/
https://www.facebook.com/CursedTongueRecords
https://www.instagram.com/cursedtonguerecords

Absent, Towards the Void (2018)

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Basalt to Release O Coração Escuro da Terra on Ritual Productions

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 9th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Brazilian atmospheric semi-blackened sludgers Basalt issued their debut album, O Coração Escuro da Terra, last year, and with it made short work of the lines between several genres. United by a thread of willful aggression, the songs nonetheless maintained a dark ambience, as one could hear in the track “Aurora,” the video for which premiered here. Likely that balance between assault and depth of approach is at least part of what caught the ear of Ritual Productions, which has expanded its geographic reach — you might recall they signed Australia’s Drug Cult — once again by picking up the South American five-piece in order to release O Coração Escuro da Terra on the label in early 2019. It’s an interesting pickup, particularly for the more assaulting aspects of Basalt‘s sound, which are something of a departure for the label, who are no strangers to heavy murk, what with releases from Bong, the aforementioned Drug CultRamesses11Paranoias, and so on.

More to be posted from the label in the next day or so too, as I just got another press release that they snagged Italy’s Nibiru. Like the guitar tone before it, the plot thickens.

From the PR wire:

basalt (Photo Leandro Furini)

RITUAL PRODUCTIONS HAIL BASALT; RITE INCOMING 2019

Ritual Productions proudly announces the signing of Basalt, who enter the studio this October to record their first rite for the label!

Formed in 2015, in the riff metropolis of São Paulo, Brazil, Basalt unify elements of doom, black metal and dark experimental tones, subverting musical archetypes and creating new extreme audio terrains. Harkening to the dense low-end, cavernous and intense depths of the heavy sonic, Basalt fuse this fury with extraordinary ambient and atmospheric scope, incorporating a unique channelling of influences and sounds. Melding rawness and discordance with progressive and expansive breadth, Basalt truly wield aural transgression and transformation.

The quintet is formed of current and previous members of bands including Surra, Constrito, O Cúmplice, Meant to Suffer, Bomb Threat and Magzilla. Basalt’s debut album, O Coração Negro da Terra (‘Black Heart of the Earth’) had a small domestic DIY CD pressing in 2017, which Ritual Productions will be re-releasing in 2019. You can check out Basalt’s dark sonic abyss by watching the official video for the track ‘Aurora’ – taken from the aforementioned debut – below.

The band has been no stranger to live rituals in their home country. Shortly after their formation, Basalt played the TEST stage at Virada Cultural 2016 – São Paulo’s biggest music event. Alongside gigs across Brazil, Basalt performed on the closing night at this year’s renowned Centro do Rock Festival which showcases the finest talent amongst Brazilian arts. October 2018 will see the band supporting the mighty Eyehategod in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

Basalt’s first rite for Ritual Productions will be released in 2019 with more details to follow shortly. Stay tuned for updates!

BASALT ARE:
Marcelo Fonseca – Vocals
Pedro Alves – Guitar/Vocals
Luiz Mazetto – Guitar
Leonardo Saldiva – Bass/Vocals
Victor Miranda – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/basalt666/
https://www.instagram.com/basalt.basalt/
https://basalt666.bandcamp.com/releases
http://www.ritualproductions.net
https://ritualproductions.bandcamp.com/
http://www.facebook.com/ritualproductionsuk
www.twitter.com/ritualmusic
www.instagram.com/ritualproductions

Basalt, “Aurora” official video

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Abraxas Fest Set for Oct. 13 & 14 in Brazil; Eyehategod, Samsara Blues Experiment and More to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

A heartfelt happy fifth anniversary to Abraxas Events in Brazil. For the last half-decade, brothers Felipe and Rodrigo Toscano have worked diligently and passionately to both bring outside heavy to Brazil and to foster their national scene, making an impact almost immediately with their first tour having been Mars Red Sky, who’d wind up recording their second album while they were in the country. That kind of work has only continued since then, and from bands like Radio Moscow to Neurosis, to the founding of Abraxas Records as a natural extension of their booking arm, the company keeps growing while remaining true to its core principles.

Five years will be marked with a two-night Abraxas Fest in São Paulo and Rio de Janiero. Both nights are headlined by Eyehategod and Samsara Blues Experiment, showcasing the reach to established US and European acts, while support will be from Noala and ITD (aka Into the Dust) the first night and Pantanum and Jupiterian the second, highlighting the domestic underground of Brazil.

Seems like a killer time either way, and many more to Abraxas, in terms of both years and festivals:

abraxas fest 2018 poster

ABRAXAS FEST – Eyehategod & Samsara Blues Experiment

In October we will celebrate our 5TH ANNIVERSARY. We have prepared a special celebration and we have already called our audience for this great party! We will have the legendary North American band eyehategod for the first time in Brazil, and also the German power trio samsara blues experiment, plus two local opening bands in each of the shows (Noala and itd, day 13/10 in São Paulo and jupiterian And pantanum day 14/10 in Rio de Janeiro!

See you soon!

Art: Victor Bezerra

Abraxas was founded in September 2013 by the brothers Felipe and Rodrigo Toscano, debuting with the tour of the French band Mars Red Sky. Focusing on an audience whose taste transits between rock and roll and classical psychedelia from the 60s and 70s and more modern strands like Stoner, Doom and Sludge, but still without an identity or even a scene established in Brazil, Abraxas quickly became a benchmark in the national circuit by successfully promoting not only the circulation of foreign bands throughout the country, but also a constant and growing movement of local bands themselves.

Tickets: https://www.sympla.com.br/abraxas-fest-2018—5-anos—rio-de-janeiro__279932

https://www.facebook.com/events/428628674243793/
https://www.facebook.com/events/1925147550842727/

https://www.facebook.com/abraxasevents/
https://www.instagram.com/abraxasfm/
https://www.abraxas.fm/

Eyehategod, Live in St. Petersburg, Russia, April 22, 2018

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Review & Full Album Premiere: Psilocibina, Psilocibina

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on July 31st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

psilocibina psilocibina

[Click play above to stream Psilocibina’s self-titled debut in its entirety. Album is out in August on Abraxas Records and Electric Magic Records.]

Scorching leads, a popping snare and the kind of bass that’s funky enough to make you go all bobble-head — the self-titled debut album from Brazilian three-piece Psilocibina has it all if by “all” you mean a truckload of classic psych-tinged heavy rock boogie. And of course you do, because duh.

The instrumentalist power trio of guitarist Alex Sheeny, bassist Rodrigo Toscano and drummer Lucas Loureiro gave an initial showing in the early hours of 2018 with an initial single LSD / Acid Jam, and with backing from Abraxas Records and Electric Magic Records, they’ve made a quick turnaround on an initial long-play offering of seven tracks in a crisp, manageable 36 minutes, covering classic 12″ length and asking nothing more of their audience than some companionship as they shuffle their way out of the atmosphere. From the already-going movement that begins opener and longest track (immediate points) “2069” through the outer reaches of past-asteroid belt side B in “Trópicos” and the reappearing “LSD,” which rounds out, Psilocibina hold true to right-on momentum and a sense of direction that’s heavy ’70s in brand but comes streamed through a filter of frenetic modern interpretation à la Radio Moscow. That ultra-boogie. It’s there in the seven-minutes of “2069,” and that sense of danger flows from the opener through everything that follows. It may be Psilocibina‘s debut, but the band make it clear quickly they know what they’re doing.

Tempo shifts abound and are fluid and guitar leads take the place of vocals not necessarily in “singing” out the lines of verses, but in leading the forward charge of jams that sound vibrant and energetic to their very core. From the start, Toscano‘s bass is a must-hear for anyone prone to grooving on heavy bottom end, and Loureiro is adaptable to the turns happening to the point of being no less molten than Sheeny‘s guitar. I don’t know when the album was actually recorded, but it sounds like it was a hot day in Rio, and as “2069” struts to its finish, the guitar dropping out and the bass and drums continuing to hold the progression for another measure or two until they too let it go, “Galho” picks up with a noise-laden wash that hits high and low as the drums thud out behind. At 6:07, it’s the second longest song on Psilocibina (double points? why not?) and it steps easily into a sleek groove after its introduction — still vital but not rushed. Sheeny starts into a solo and then rejoins Toscano and Loureiro on a classically progressive descent before noodling his way outward again. He’s dug in his heels by the time they’re passing the halfway point, and a change just before the four-minute mark brings not only more highlight basslines but a quicker tempo, a guitar solo that’s nigh on surf rock in its intricacy, and builds in its electricity as it plays out the rest of the song.

PSILOCIBINA

It would be almost too easy to tag Psilocibina as a guitar band and move on. And surely, Sheeny has a propensity for tearing into a lead — he’s a spontaneous player and I’ve known a few on stage who seem to step into the half-stack itself as though it’s the portal to another dimension — but that’s only part of the dynamic the band is working with, and such a designation undercuts the contributions of Loureiro and Toscano both, which are considerable throughout and on the side A closer “Supernova 3333” in particular, in which the bass and steady snare act as an anchor for the guitar to let it wander in the sky above for a while as if to say, “No sweat, we got this. You go have fun.” In in that getting-of-this, the rhythm section utterly shines. This is a showing of chemistry no less classic than the aesthetic it’s being used to harness, but of course the one feeds into the other when it comes to the style and substance of what Psilocibina is, and through the finish of “Supernova 3333,” with its bouncing course and deceptively tight ending, the vibe is set. By the time they get there, it’s easy to trust the band. They’ve done nothing to that point but deliver.

That routine continues throughout the longer side B portion of their self-titled, which also opens with its longest track (triple points?) in the 6:02 “Na Selva Densa,” a fervent gallop riding outward in the bass while blues licks lay over top and the drums punctuate with what seems to be an extra layer of percussion added for good measure. If this is to be the personality Psilocibina set about developing as they move forward, that’s only a win for those who’d take them on, as the performance aspect of “Na Selva Densa” is so crucial. The drums and percussion take the fore late in the track and solo toward a finish that that the eponymous “Psilocibina” enters from silence with its pastoral guitar intro. The first two minutes or so build on that progression, sweetly melodic and classic in structure, but soon enough the bassline comes forward to drive the turn to speedier fare. It’s back to the boogie from there, and they jam it till the wheels fall off, which is fair enough. With “Trópicos” following just behind — the shortest inclusion at just over two minutes and an absolute brain-winder — there’s just about no other way to go.

“Trópicos” digs back to the momentum of the opener, but delivers it in an even tighter way. It feeds into “LSD” as though stopping for a measure and picking back up on the beat, and Psilocibina give one last manic go at softshoe-worthy heavy, crashing and ringing out with amp noise behind to once more underscore the live feel that’s been so much of a presence throughout the album. That is essential to the success of Psilocibina and its component tracks, as the rawness of their presentation — raw, not under-produced or under-recorded — only seems to bolster the energy with which the material so readily shines. They are brash, they are forward, and they sound utterly on fire on what one has to keep reminding oneself is their first record. Can’t help but look forward to more after such a promising first round.

Psilocibina on Thee Faccebooks

Psilocibina on Bandcamp

Abraxas Records website

Abraxas Records webstore

Electric Magic Records on Thee Facebooks

Electric Magic Records on Bandcamp

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Quarterly Review: Carlton Melton, Horseskull, Dreadnought, Forsaken, Moon Rats, Son of the Morning, Jesus the Snake, Bert, Galactic Gulag, Band of Spice

Posted in Reviews on January 8th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Lodewijk de Vadder (1605-1655) - 17th Century Etching, Landscape with Two Farms

Today begins the Quarterly Review. You know the deal by now. 50 records written up between today and this Friday, 10 per day. As always, it’s a huge swath of stuff, and by the end of it I’m usually ready to collapse in a heap, but I’ve yet to regret it afterwards, so we press on. I hope you find something you dig in all this. I say that every time, but it’s still true.

Speaking of digging, how about that new logo up there? Thanks goes out to the Lord of the Logos himself, Christophe Szpajdel, who took on the project. This is the second one he’s done for the site, and aside from being in a completely different style from the last — I like covering a good amount of ground, even in logos — I think it fits pretty well with a variety of aesthetics. Could be doom, could be heavy rock, psych, stoner garage, whatever. Anyway, I’m into it. Hope you are too.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Carlton Melton, Mind Minerals

carlton melton mind minerals

It might be decades before the dimension we live in has caught up to the plane from which Northern California’s Carlton Melton emanate their resonant transmissions of space-psych, but somehow time doesn’t seem to matter anyway when actually listening. To wit, Mind Minerals, the trio’s first LP since 2015’s Out to Sea, is an 11-track/76-minute whopper – unmanageable by any standard – but once it’s on, all you want to do is roll with it and by the time post-aptly-named intro “Untimely” has begat “Electrified Sky” has begat the droning “The Lighthouse” has begat the fuzzy swirl of “Eternal Return” has begat the 10-minute rumble-and-synth soundtracking of “Snow Moon,” etc., there’s neither escape nor the desire for it. Does it need to be a 2LP? Nope, but nothing needs to be anything, man. In the subdued boogie of “Basket Full of Trumpets,” the is-it-backwards slow freakout of “Sea Legs,” the experimental guitar ambience of “Way Back When,” headphone-ready minimalism of “Climbing the Ladder,” the shaker’s tension that sustains the otherwise wispy “Atmospheric River,” and the final fuzzy resurgence of “Psychoticedelicosis,” Carlton Melton thoroughly reaffirm their residency in the far, far out. Not that anyone was questioning their paperwork or anything.

Carlton Melton on Thee Facebooks

Agitated Records website

 

Horseskull, Chemical Winter Blues

horseskull chemical winter blues

With fluid shifts between Ripple-style straightforward heavy rock, rolling Sabbathian lumber and even some harsher sludge elements, the seven-minute “Black Dawn, Bright Day” sets a varied tone for Chemical Winter Blues, the second LP from North Carolina’s Horseskull. I’m not sure I’d declare any one side or the other the winner in the fight between them by the time the death ‘n’ roll of “Luckless Bastards” gives way to closer “Lost all I Had, then Lost Again” – itself a 17-minute noise-nodder triumph of, well, loss – but the trip through “Hypocrites and Pigs” and 10-minute centerpiece “The Black Flame of Cain” is unpredictable and fun to make in kind. Guitarist/vocalist Anthony Staton reminds a bit of Slough Feg’s Mike Scalzi in his cleaner delivery, which only adds to the album’s declarative feel, and the overarching groove surrounding from guitarist Michael Avery, bassist Robert Hewlett and drummer Steve Smith only reinforces the developing individualism.

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Horseskull on Bandcamp

 

Dreadnought, A Wake in Sacred Waves

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There is very little beyond the reach of Denver four-piece Dreadnought. Their third album, A Wake in Sacred Waves (Sailor Records), blends open, psychedelic jazz, progressive black metal, folk and more into a sometimes-thrashing/sometimes-sprawling meld that recalls the promise of Grayceon and the poise of Opeth while at the same time casting its own impression in melody, arrangement, variety and scope. Opening with the 17-minute longest cut (immediate points) “Vacant Sea,” it brilliantly ties its elements together to present a story arc following in elemental theme from Dreadnought’s first two offerings in centering around the rise and fall of a water-born apex predator, the narrative of which plays out across its four intense, extended and resoundingly complex inclusions, which alternate between beautiful and terrifying in a way that leaves the line utterly blurred and irrelevant. Why this band isn’t on Profound Lore or Neurot, I have no idea, but either way, A Wake in Sacred Waves is a conceptual and manifest triumph not to be missed.

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Sailor Records website

 

Forsaken, Pentateuch

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A spirit of classic doom metal abounds on Forsaken’s fifth long-player, Pentateuch (Mighty Music), which is the long-running Malta-based outfit’s first offering since 2009’s After the Fall, but though righteous fist-pumpers like “Primal Wound” and “Decalogue” carry an epic and unflinchingly progressive underpinning in their layered vocal melodies, a harsh snare sound and awkwardly punching bass stifle complete immersion. It’s less an issue in a cut like “Saboath (The Law Giver),” which has a full swing surrounding, but it makes post-intro opener “Serpent Bride” sound like a demo (unless it’s my digital promo?) in a way that sets an unfortunate tone in contrasting the obvious class and high-level execution of Pentateuch as a whole. It should be noted that even a rough production can’t hold “The Dove and the Raven” back from making its Candlemassian intent clear, but a record of such overall high standard should feel as crisp as possible, and particularly for being so many years in arriving, Forsaken’s latest seems to want more in that regard, despite the quality of the material that comprises it.

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Mighty Music website

 

Moon Rats, Highway Lord

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I’ve already counted Highway Lord among my favorite debuts of 2017, but consider it’s worth taking a moment to underline the point of the heavy psych and stoner-fuzz wash that Moon Rats so vigilantly emit on cuts like the opening salvo of “Become the Smoke,” “The Dark Takes Hold” and “Heroic Dose,” balancing languid vibe and sonic heft atop gorgeously natural songcraft. Among the short-feeling 29 minutes and seven inclusions, with the title-track at the center shifting into “Overdose,” the deeply atmospheric “The Hunter” the and melodically spacious “Motor Sword” at the finish, there isn’t a weak spot to be found, and whether it’s the added dynamic of a key arrangement in the closer or the landmark feel of the hook to “Heroic Dose,” the Milwaukee five-piece tap into the there’s-no-rush-we’ll-all-get-there sonic sentiment that once made Quest for Fire so entrancing, while engaging subtle flourish of presentation that promises creative development to come. Bring it on. Please. The sooner the better.

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Gloss Records website

 

Son of the Morning, Son of the Morning EP

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Newcomer four-piece Son of the Morning, with the crisply-realized three tracks of their self-titled debut EP, would seem right away to be trying to stake their claim on a piece of the Midwest’s doom legacy. Coiling between heavy rock swing and classic doom tonality, each cut, from “Left Hand Path,” which rounds out after its welcoming hook with a sample of what sounds like somebody hanging in the breeze, through the post-Uncle Acid riffing of “Release,” and the more ethereal, organ-laced psych of “House of Our Enemy,” offers its own take in a clearheaded and efficient five minutes, getting in, leaving its mark and getting out to make room for the next piece in this initial sampling. Potential abounds from vocalist/organist Lady Helena, bassist Lee Allen, guitarist Levi Mendes and drummer H.W. Applewhite, and the core question is how they might tie these elements together across a first full-length. It should be noted they sound more than ready to embark on that project and provide an answer.

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Son of the Morning on Bandcamp

 

Jesus the Snake, Jesus the Snake EP

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A 31-minute debut EP clearly meant to be heard in its entirety, Jesus the Snake’s self-titled treads some familiar ground in progressive heavy psychedelic instrumentalism throughout its four tracks – “Floyds I,” “Floyds II,” “Karma” and “Moment” – but with an inherent sense of mood and reach not unlike earliest My Sleeping Karma, its tonal warmth and emergent weight of groove find welcome all the same. Particularly for being the Portuguese outfit’s first public unveiling, the interplay of Joka Alves’ keys and Jorge Lopes’ guitar is immediately fluid, and as the bass of Rui Silva provides foundation to let drummer João Costa explore jazzy snare textures and stylistic nuance. It’s a beginning, and it sounds like a beginning, but Jesus the Snake also offers a richness and patience that many bands simply don’t have their first time out, and for that and the classic stoner fuzz of “Moment” alone, it’s easily worth the time and effort of thorough investigation.

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BerT, The Lost Toes

bert-the-lost-toes

Officially defunct for some time now, Michigan’s BerT compile tracks from throughout their prolific and bizarre run in The Lost Toes (Madlantis Records), proffering a timeline of their post-Melvins avant weirdness that starts with their very first song, “Stuff,” and makes its way through various demos, lost tracks, noise experiments, etc., to the 11-minute drone-out “Return” at the finish line. The digital version on Bandcamp offers an origin story with each track – the 90-second noise rock blast “Human Bone Xylophone” was cut from 2012’s Return to the Electric Church for time concerns, and the subsequent “Commercial Break” (which, yes, is a commercial break) was a class project – but whether you engage the narrative or not, the enduring vibe remains strange and charming in its garage-fuckall, could-and-just-might-go-anywhere-at-any-moment kind of way. BerT were always good fun, and The Lost Toes serves as reminder of the personality they had together that was so very much their own.

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The Lost Toes at Madlantis Records website

 

Galactic Gulag, To the Stars by Hard Ways

galactic gulag to the stars by hard ways

Brazilian instrumental troupe Galactic Gulag traffic in cosmic heft across the five pieces that comprise their first full-length, To the Stars by Hard Ways, but there’s ultimately little about the album that seems to be the hard way. If anything, it’s easy: Easy to groove on, easy to let it unfold over you in a spacious psychedelic drift, easy to nod along as the bassline of “Escape from Planet Gulag” picks up from 12-minute opener “Home.” Easy even to get lost in the sax-laden swirl-bounce off-kilterism of “The Hollow Moon.” So yeah, guitarists Breno Xavier and Pablo Dias, bassist Gabriel Dunke and drummer César Silva might be overselling a sense of difficulty, but as “Space Time Singularity” rolls into the shreddy-style fuzz of 15-minute closer “Eta Orionis,” there are clearly more important issues at hand. Like space. And riffs. And tone. And everything else that’s working so well for the Natal-based foursome on this jam-laden debut.

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Band of Spice, Shadows Remain

band of spice shadows remain

Former Spiritual Beggars and The Mushroom River Band vocalist Christian “Spice” Sjöstrand has been fronting the namesake act Band of Spice – formerly Spice and the RJ Band — for over a decade now, and Shadows Remain (Scarlet Records) follows 2015’s Economic Dancers (review here) as their fifth overall full-length. After the suitably-drunk-sounding vocals-only intro “Only One Drink,” the album rides the line between classically metallic tones and heavy rock riffing, a cut like “Don’t Bring Me Flowers” having little time in its 2:46 for brooking nonsense of any sort while later pieces like “Apartment 8” and “The Savior and the Clown” find time for more brooding and sentimental fare, and the penultimate “Take Me Home” and closer “Apartment 8 (Part II)” offer acoustic-strummed departure, so while the 51-minute runtime gives the 13-tracker something of a CD-era throwback feel and the songwriting the resolute in its straightforwardness, neither is Shadows Remain completely single-minded in its approach. A touch of grunge-funk in “Sheaf” goes a long way as well in lightening the mood, making the whole presentation all the more pro-shop, as it should be.

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Scarlet Records on Bandcamp

 

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Jupiterian Premiere “Us and Them”; Terraforming out Nov. 15

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 26th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

jupiterian

Brazilian sludge extremists Jupiterian will issue their second album, Terraforming, Nov. 15 via Transcending Obscurity Records. The be-hooded São Paulo four-piece debuted in 2015 with Aphotic (review here) on Caligari Records, and the six-track/39-minute follow-up works with a likewise sense of bleak extremity, derived in part from black metal, traditional depressive doom and an overarching sense of murk. Atmosphere is central to the approach on pieces like “Unearthly Glow” and the creepily spacious but short title-track, on which Maurice de Jong of Gnaw Their Tongues, who also mixed, makes a vocal guest appearance, but as engrossingly dark as they are, even cuts like opener “Matriarch” and the penultimate chug-and-blaster “Us and Them” have a rich depth and ambient mentality behind them.

That balance of sheer aural cruelty and breadth becomes the crux of Terraforming, and whether it’s the nods to tribalism/ritualism that emerge suitably enough at the outset of “Matriarch” and “Forefathers” or the more immediate nod of closer “Sol,” which insteadJupiterian terraforming caps with a spread of atmospheric guitar, Jupiterian never seem to be too distant from playing between one side and the other. This not only enriches the overarching stylistic character of the tracks, but it makes the more “extreme” parts come across with even more impact regardless of tempo, since they so clearly emerge from a place of progressive thoughtfulness of craft and arrangement, rather than a band simply putting forth something geared toward brutality for its own sake. Nothing against that approach necessarily when it works, but Jupiterian have a more complex goal with Terraforming as they did with Aphotic, and the meld present in their sound is what allows them to accomplish it as completely as they do.

In addition to the first album, Terraforming was preceded by a number of short releases, one of them a 2017 EP titled URN that featured only two tracks — a cover of Black Sabbath (“Behind the Wall of Sleep”) and a cover of early Anathema (“Mine is Yours to Drown In [Ours Is the New Tribe]”), and in a way, that divide between the two would seem to give some decent clue of the influences Jupiterian are contorting to their own purposes with Terraforming, but the clear emphasis should be on just how much work the initials-only lineup of guitarist/vocalist/synthesist/percussionist V, guitarist A, bassist R and drummer G have put into individualizing these varied impulses and making them their own. Be it the roaring of “Unearthly Glow” or the final build and release within “Us and Them,” the album offers moment after moment of payoff for that effort.

Today I have the pleasure of hosting the official premiere of “Us and Them” ahead of the album’s Nov. 15 release. You can find it on the player below, followed by more info from the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

Jupiterian, “Us and Them” official track premiere

From Brazil, underground masked entity JUPITERIAN reemerge with their unique brand of atmospheric sludge/doom metal. Haunting both musically and aesthetically, JUPITERIAN delve into subtler, more visceral sounds while retaining their crushing style. Like the dichotomy in their country, their music too encompasses the stark contrast between the intense and atmospheric bits, sometimes transmuting into a dark ambient form aided by Maurice de Jong of GNAW THEIR TONGUES. ‘Terraforming’ is the much awaited full length that will see the light of day on multiple formats through Indian label Transcending Obscurity Records late this year. The die has been cast.

Band lineup –
G – Drums
R – Bass
V – Voices, Guitars, Percussions, Synths
A – Guitars

Recorded at Duna Studios
Mixed by Maurice de Jong (GNAW THEIR TONGUES)
Mastered by Stephen Lockhart (SVARTIDAUDI, TCHORNOBOG, ZHRINE)

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Jupiterian on Bandcamp

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Transcending Obscurity Records on Bandcamp

Transcending Obscurity Records website

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