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

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

quarterly-review-summer-2017

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

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Harvestman, Music for Megaliths

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

Harvestman on Thee Facebooks

Neurot Recordings webstore

 

Beastmaker, Inside the Skull

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

Beastmaker on Thee Facebooks

Beastmaker at Rise Above Records

 

Endless Boogie, Vibe Killer

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

Endless Boogie on Thee Facebooks

No Quarter Records webstore

 

Troubled Horse, Revolution on Repeat

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

Troubled Horse on Thee Facebooks

Rise Above Records website

 

Come to Grief, The Worst of Times

come-to-grief-the-worst-of-times

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

Come to Grief on Thee Facebooks

Come to Grief on Bandcamp

 

Holy Rivals, Holy Rivals

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

Holy Rivals on Thee Facebooks

Holy Rivals on Bandcamp

 

Mountain God, Bread Solstice

mountain god bread solstice

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

Mountain God on Thee Facebooks

Artificial Head Records on Bandcamp

 

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

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

Øresund Space Collective on Thee Facebooks

Space Rock Productions website

 

Dirty Grave, So Fall and Crawl Away

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

Dirty Grave on Thee Facebooks

Dirty Grave on Bandcamp

 

Summoned by Giants, Stone Wind

summoned-by-giants-stone-wind

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

Summoned by Giants on Thee Facebooks

Summoned by Giants on Bandcamp

 

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Quarterly Review: Ecstatic Vision, Norska, Bison, Valborg, Obelyskkh, Earth Electric, Olde, Deaf Radio, Saturndust, Birnam Wood

Posted in Reviews on July 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-summer-2017

It turns out that, yes indeed, I will be able to add another day to the Quarterly Review this coming Monday. Stoked on that. Means I’ll be trying to cram another 10 reviews into this coming weekend, but that’s not exactly a hardship as I see it, and the stuff I have picked out for it is, frankly, as much of a bonus for me as it could possibly be for anyone else, so yeah, look out for that. In the meantime, we wrap the Monday-to-Friday span of 50 records today with another swath of what’s basically me doing favors for my ears, and I hope as always for yours as well. Let’s dig in.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Ecstatic Vision, Raw Rock Fury

ecstatic-vision-raw-rock-fury

Hard touring and a blistering debut in 2015’s Sonic Praise (review here) quickly positioned Ecstatic Vision at the forefront of a Philadelphia-based mini-boom in heavy psych (see also: Ruby the Hatchet, Meddlesome Meddlesome Meddlsome Bells, and so on), and their Relapse-issued follow-up, Raw Rock Fury, only delves further into unmitigated cosmic swirl and space-rocking crotchal thrust. The now-foursome keep a steady ground in percussion and low end even as guitar, sax, synth and echoing vocals seem to push ever more far-out, and across the record’s four tracks – variously broken up across two sides – the band continue to stake out their claim on the righteously psychedelic, be it in the all-go momentum building of “You Got it (Or You Don’t)” or the more drifting opening movement of closer “Twinkling Eye.” Shit is trippy, son. With the echoing-from-the-depths shouts of Doug Sabolik cutting through, there’s still an edge of Eastern Seaboard intensity to Ecstatic Vision, but that only seems to make Raw Rock Fury live up to its title all the more. Still lots of potential here, but it’ll be their third record that tells the tale of whether they can truly conquer space itself.

Ecstatic Vision on Thee Facebooks

Ecstatic Vision at Relapse Records website

 

Norska, Too Many Winters

norska-too-many-winters

Issued through Brutal Panda, Too Many Winters is the second full-length from Portland five-piece Norska, and its six tracks/48 minutes would seem to pick up where Rwake left off in presenting a progressive vision of what might be called post-sludge. Following an engaging 2011 self-titled debut, songs like the title-track and “This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” churn and careen through Sourvein-style abrasion, vaguely Neurosis-style nod and, in the case of the latter or closer “Fire Patience Backbone,” soundscaping minimalism that, in the finale, is bookended by some of the record’s most intense push following opener “Samhain” and the subsequent “Eostre.” That salvo starts Too Many Winters with a deceptive amount of thrust, but even there atmosphere is central as it is to the outing as a whole, and a penultimate interlude in the 2:22 “Wave of Regrets” does well to underscore the point before the fading-in initial onslaught of “Fire Patience Backbone.” Having Aaron Rieseberg of YOB in the lineup with Jim Lowder, Dustin Rieseberg, Rob Shaffer and Jason Oswald no doubt draws eyes their way, but Norska’s sonic persona is distinct, immersive and individualized enough to stand on its own well beyond that pedigree.

Norska on Thee Facebooks

Norska at Brutal Panda Records website

 

Bison, You are Not the Ocean You are the Patient

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Think about the two choices. You are Not the Ocean You are the Patient. Isn’t it the difference between something acting – i.e., an object – and something acted upon – i.e., a subject? As British Columbian heavy rockers Bison return after half a decade via Pelagic Records, their fourth album seems to find them trying to push beyond genre lines into a broader scope. “Until the Earth is Empty,” “Drunkard,” “Anti War” and “Raiigin” still have plenty of thrust, but the mood here is darker even than 2012’s Lovelessness found the four-piece, and “Tantrum” and closer “The Water Becomes Fire” bring out a more methodical take. It’s been 10 years since Bison issued their debut Earthbound EP and signed to Metal Blade for 2008’s Quiet Earth, and the pre-Red Fang party-ready heavy rock of those early works is long gone – one smiles to remember “These are My Dress Clothes” in the context of noise-rocking centerpiece “Kenopsia” here, the title of which refers to the emptiness of a formerly occupied space – but if the choice Bison are making is to place themselves on one side or the other of the subject/object divide, they prove to be way more ocean than patient in these songs.

Bison on Thee Facebooks

Bison at Pelagic Records website

 

Valborg, Endstrand

valborg-endstrand

With its churning, swirling waves of cosmic death, one almost expects Valborg’s Endstrand (on Lupus Lounge/Prophecy Productions) to be more self-indulgent than it is, but one of the German trio’s greatest assets across the 13-track/44-minute span of their sixth album is its immediacy. The longest song, “Stossfront,” doesn’t touch five minutes, and from the 2:14 opener “Jagen” onward, Valborg reenvision punk rock as a monstrous, consuming beast on songs like “Blut am Eisen,” “Beerdigungsmaschine,” “Alter,” “Atompetze” and closer “Exodus,” all the while meting put punishment after punishment of memorable post-industrial riffing on “Orbitalwaffe,” the crashing “Ave Maria” and the noise-soaked penultimate “Strahlung,” foreboding creeper atmospherics on “Bunkerluft” and “Geisterwürde,” and landmark, perfectly-paced chug on “Plasmabrand.” Extreme in its intent and impact, Endstrand brings rare clarity to an anti-genre vision of brutality as an art form, and at any given moment, its militaristic threat feels real, sincere and like an appropriate and righteous comment on the terrors of our age. Fucking a.

Valborg on Thee Facebooks

Valborg at Prophecy Productions website

 

Obelyskkh, The Providence

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Probably fair to call the current status of German post-doomers Obelyskkh in flux following the departure of guitarist Stuart West, but the band has said they’ll keep going and their fourth album, The Providence (on Exile on Mainstream) finds them capping one stage of their tenure with a decidedly forward-looking perspective. Its six-song/56-minute run borders on unmanageable, but that’s clearly the intent, and an air of proggy weirdness infects The Providence from the midsection of its opening title-track onward as the band – West, guitarist/vocalist Woitek Broslowski, bassist Seb Fischer and drummer Steve Paradise – tackle King Crimson rhythmic nuance en route to an effects-swirling vision of Lovecraftian doomadelia and massive roll. Cuts like “Raving Ones” and 13-minute side B leadoff “NYX” play out with a similarly deceptive multifaceted vibe, and by the time the penultimate “Aeons of Iconoclasm” bursts outward from its first half’s spacious minimalism into all-out High on Fire thrust ahead of the distortion-soaked churn of closer “Marzanna” – which ends, appropriately, with laughter topping residual effects noise – Obelyskkh make it abundantly clear anything goes. The most impressive aspect of The Providence is that Obelyskkh manage to control all this crunching chaos, and one hopes that as they continue forward, they’ll hold firm to that underlying consciousness.

Obelyskkh on Thee Facebooks

Exile on Mainstream Records website

 

Earth Electric, Vol. 1: Solar

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Former Mayhem/Aura Noir guitarist Rune “Blasphemer” Ericksen leads breadth-minded Portuguese four-piece Earth Electric, and their devil-in-the-details Season of Mist debut, Vol. 1: Solar, runs a prog-metal gamut across a tightly-woven nine tracks and 35 minutes, Ericksen’s vocals and those of Carmen Susana Simões (Moonspell, ex-Ava Inferi) intertwine fluidly at the forefront of sharply angular riffing and rhythmic turns from bassist Alexandre Ribeiro and drummer Ricardo Martins. The organ-laced push of “Meditate Meditate” and “Solar” and the keyboard flourish of “Earthrise” (contributed by Dan Knight) draw as much from classic rock as metal, but the brew Earth Electric crafts from them is potent and very much the band’s own. “The Great Vast” and the shorter “Set Sail (Towards the Sun)” set up a direct flow into the title cut, and as one returns to Earth Electric for repeat listens, the actual scope of the album and the potential for how the band might continue to develop are likewise expansive, despite its many pulls into torrents of head-down riffing. Almost intimidating in its refusal to bow to genre.

Earth Electric on Thee Facebooks

Earth Electric at Season of Mist website

 

Olde, Temple

olde-temple

After debuting in 2014 with I (review here), Toronto’s Olde return via STB Records with Temple, proffering sludge-via-doom vibes and a center of weighted tonality around which the rest of their aesthetic would seem to be built, vocalist Doug McLarty’s throaty growls alternately cutting through and buried by the riffs of guitarists Greg Dawson (also production) and Chris “Hippy” Hughes, the bass of Cory McCallum and the rolling crashes of drummer Ryan Aubin (also of Sons of Otis) on tightly constructed pieces like “Now I See You” and the tempo-shifting “Centrifugal Disaster,” which reminds by its finish that sometimes all you need is nod. Olde have more to offer than just that, of course, as the plodding spaciousness of “The Ghost Narrative” and the lumbering “Maelstrom” demonstrate, but even in the turns between crush and more open spaces of the centerpiece title-track and the drifting post-heavy rock of closer “Castaway,” the underlying focus is on capital-‘h’ Heavy, and Olde wield it as only experts can.

Olde on Thee Facebooks

STB Records webstore

 

Deaf Radio, Alarm

deaf radio alarm

Based in Athens and self-releasing their debut album, Alarm, in multiple vinyl editions, the four-piece of Panos Gklinos, Dimitris Sakellariou, Antonis Mantakas and George Diathesopoulos – collectively known as Deaf Radio – make no bones about operating in the post-Queens of the Stone Age/Them Crooked Vultures sphere of heavy rock. To their credit, the songwriting throughout “Aggravation,” “Vultures and Killers” and the careening “Revolving Doors” lives up to that standard, and though even the later “Oceanic Feeling” seems to be informed by the methods of Josh Homme, there’s a melodic identity there that belongs more to Deaf Radio as well, and keeping Alarm in mind as their first long-player, it’s that identity that one hopes the band will continue to develop. Rounding out side B with the howling guitar and Rated R fuzz of the six-minute “…And We Just Pressed the Alarm Button,” Deaf Radio build to a suitable payoff for the nine-track outing and affirm the aesthetic foundation they’ve laid for themselves.

Deaf Radio on Thee Facebooks

Deaf Radio on Bandcamp

 

Saturndust, RLC

saturndust rlc

The further you go into Saturndust’s 58-minute second LP RLC, the more there is to find. At any given moment, the São Paulo, Brazil-based outfit can be playing to impulses ranging from proggy space rock, righteously doomed tonal heft, aggressive blackened thrust or spacious post-sludge – in one song. Over longform cuts like “Negative-Parallel Dimensional,” “RLC,” “Time Lapse of Existence” and closer “Saturn 12.C,” the trio cast a wide-enough swath to be not quite genreless but genuinely multi-tiered and not necessarily as disjointed as one might expect in their feel, and though when they want to, they roll out massive, lumbering riffs, that’s only one tool in a full arsenal at their apparent disposal. What tie RLC together are the sure hands of guitarist/vocalist Felipe Dalam, bassist Guilherme Cabral and drummer Douglas Oliveira guiding it, so that when the galloping-triplet chug of “Time Lapse of Existence” hits, it works as much in contrast to the synth-loaded “Titan” preceding as in conjunction with it. Rather than summarize, “Saturn 12.C” pushes far out on a wash of Dalam’s keyboards before a wide-stomping apex, seeming to take Saturndust to their farthest point beyond the stratosphere yet. Safe travels and many happy returns.

Saturndust on Thee Facebooks

Saturndust on Bandcamp

 

Birnam Wood, Triumph of Death

birnam wood triumph of death

Massachusetts doomers Birnam Wood have two prior EPs under their collective belt in 2015’s Warlord and a 2014 self-titled, but the two-songer single Triumph of Death (kudos on the Hellhammer reference) is my first exposure to their blend of modern progressive metal melody and traditional doom. They roll out both in able fashion on the single’s uptempo opening title-track and follow with the BlackSabbath-“Black-Sabbath” sparse notemaking early in their own “Birnam Wood.” All told, Triumph of Death is only a little over nine minutes long, but it makes for an encouraging sampling of Birnam Wood’s wares all the same, and as Dylan Edwards, Adam McGrath, Shaun Anzalone and Matt Wagner shift into faster swing circa the eponymous tune’s solo-topped midpoint, they do so with a genuine sense of homage that does little to take away from the sense of individuality they’ve brought to the style even in this brief context. They call it stoner metal, and there’s something to that, but if we’re going on relative balance, Triumph of Death is more doom-stoner than stoner-doom, and it revels within that niche-within-a-niche-within-a-niche sensibility.

Birnam Wood on Thee Facebooks

Birnam Wood on Bandcamp

 

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Basalt Premiere Video for “Aurora”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 16th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

basalt-photo-by-Leandro-Furini

Who’s up for a little crushing sludge? Maybe some cavernous Portuguese vocals echoing out over a dirge nod shoved uphill by crash cymbal, deep-running low end and wide-berth guitar tones? Yeah, me too, which is why Basalt‘s “Aurora” hits so dead on. The São Paulo five-piece are set to release their debut album, O Coração Escuro da Terra, early this year through a swath of labels — Black EmbersSamsara DiscosBlack Hole, Matéria Negra are the ones they list, and that seems like plenty. At 4:55, “Aurora” is the efficiently-working centerpiece of the record, broken essentially into two halves marked out by a change in central riff, but its ambient breadth departs the apparent superficial simplicity, taking in elements of the more extreme end of post-metal and basking in that churn to maximum effect.

As to what the hell all that means, it means Basalt sound ridiculously heavy, and that, though abrasive, there’s more going on beneath their approach than just sonic assault. I haven’t heard the full O Coração Escuro da Terra yet, but the band have “Aurora” and the shorter, faster and more deathly “Terra Morta” streaming on their Bandcamp page (linked below), so it would seem that they’re by no means tied exclusively to one operating modus. All the better, as Basalt are yet a relatively new band, coming together in 2015, and O Coração Escuro da Terra is their first offering. The video for “Aurora” itself is a relatively straightforward — though also atmospheric — performance clip, captured last month as an apparent means of introducing the band, and in so doing it makes me want to hear more. So call it a win.

More info follows the clip below. Thanks to Basalt for letting me host the premiere.

Please enjoy:

Basalt, “Aurora” official video

As they prepare to release their first full-length, O Coração Escuro da Terra, Basalt now debut a special video for the track Aurora, that will be on the record together with six more songs.

Recorded at Duna Studio, in Sao Paulo, and mastered by William Blackmon (Gadget), the album will be released (in CD) between March and April by four independent Brazilian labels: Black Embers Records, Black Hole, Matéria Negra and Samsara Discos.

The artwork, as well as the logo of the band, was designed by Brazilian visual artist Carolina Scagliusi, who already worked with names like Test and Infamous Glory. Through its seven tracks, the record shows a wide variety of influences and sounds. The band was formed in São Paulo, Brazil, in 2015, brings together members and ex-members of bands like Constrito, O Cúmplice, Surra, Meant to Suffer and Magzilla.

Basalt – O Coração Escuro da Terra
1-Párias
2-Terra Morta
3-Vanitas
4-Aurora
5-A Longa Noite (Eclipse Sem Fim)
6-Os Homens Ocos
7-Diante da Dor dos Outros

Basalt is:
Pedro Alves
Luiz Mazetto
Victor Miranda
Marcelo Fonseca
Flávio Scaglione

Basalt on Thee Facebooks

Basalt on Bandcamp

Black Embers Records on Bandcamp

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Mythological Cold Towers Sign to Transcending Obscurity

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 19th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Brazilian death-doomers Mythological Cold Towers will release their next album through India’s Transcending Obscurity Records. Yet untitled, it will be the band’s sixth full-length, following after 2015’s Monvmenta Antiqva, and it might be needless to say, but they should be right at home in the lineup of their new imprint, which always seems to keep its focus on the extreme end of the spectrum, which of course is no less varied than any of the spectrum’s other ends. If you like it deathly, though, you already know death comes in many flavors.

2016 marks 20 full years since Mythological Cold Towers made their debut with Sphere of Nebaddon: The Dawn of a Dying Tyffereth. The label announced their pickup thusly:

mythological cold towers

Transcending Obscurity Records signs MYTHOLOGICAL COLD TOWERS

After signing Officium Triste, which is another very long-running band with a legendary status, we’re thrilled to have Brazilian greats Mythological Cold Towers on board for their new full length album. Their brand of doom is highly emotive and atmospheric in its own way, and has a special warm touch which seems to be a typical trait of the band all along.

Transcending Obscurity owner Kunal Choksi states, “I’ve been listening to Mythological Cold Towers since years if not decades, and it’s a dream come true to work with this legendary band with regards to their upcoming full length album. Alan’s a thorough gentleman and it’s been great so far. I must thank Pim Blankenstein of Officium Triste for helping me out getting this band on board. Expect stunning and emotionally-rich doom/death metal from this long-running Brazilian band.”

Alan “Hamon” Lima of Mythological Cold Towers adds, “We’re more than excited about our signing to Transcending Obscurity. Kunal is really a hard-working guy and I’m sure he is going to do an excellent work for all signed bands. Moreover his goals as a record label owner are equally clear and logical. Serious promotion and distribution are focused by him and that’s all we are looking for. Thanks Kunal, we’re really pleased to be part of Transcending Obscurity team!!!!”

Mythological Cold Towers is:
Hamon – Drums
Shammash – Guitars
Nechron – Guitars
Samej – Vocals

https://www.facebook.com/officialmythologicalcoldtowers
http://tometal.com/

Mythological Cold Towers, “Vetustus”

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Review & Full Album Stream: Necro, Adiante

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on December 19th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

[Click play above to stream Necro’s Adiante in full. Album is out Dec. 19 as the first release from Abraxas Records.]

Almost immediately, Adiante feels like a moment of arrival. It’s the third full-length from Maceio, Brazil-based trio Necro behind 2012’s The Queen of Death and a woefully unavailable 2011 self-titled released until their original moniker of Necronomicon, as well as their first offering through the new imprint Abraxas Records, but in addition to this, it’s the three-piece’s first record entirely in Portuguese, and it would seem to solidify the approach to classic heavy rock and boogie that the prior two outings and their 2015 split with Witching Altar (review here) hinted toward.

The lineup of guitarists/vocalists/bassists Lillian Lessa and Pedro Ivo Salvador (the latter also organ) and drummer Thiago Alef come across throughout the seven-track/37-minute outing as mature and the recording, mixing and mastering job by Gabriel Zander effectively captures a live-feeling chemistry between them that only feeds into both the energy within songs like the organ-laced “Espelhos e Sombras” and the earlier slide-meets-cowbell rocking title-track themselves and the momentum they’re able to build between them. At the same time Necro don’t make a move that’s out of place either in instrumentation or in Lessa and Salvador‘s vocal arrangements — Diogo Oliveira also guests in righteous form on “Azul Profundo” and “Entropia” — neither do they come across at any point as overblown. It’s a difficult balance to strike, but likewise, their take on familiar boogie rock tenets is presented with an entirely clearheaded take, and the results should catch the ears of even those jaded with ’70s worship or who think there’s nowhere left to go with a shuffling groove but in the same circles over and again.

Necro manage to move these elements forward, and in so doing, pay off the rather considerable potential of their first two records with their third. What seems geared toward a vinyl split with three tracks on side A and four on side B kicks off with the six-minute “Orbes,” starting at a vibrant gallop of guitar that’s in motion before the song seems even to know it. The tone is full, the push comes with considerable force behind it, and the impression left by the hook is memorable even if one doesn’t happen to speak Portuguese. They shift from this propulsive proto-metal in the second half of “Orbes” to a drumless section of spacious guitar, echoing vocals and ringing organ, but soon enough swirl the opener toward its apex and finish with a flash of humor in progressive noodling before jumping headfirst into the boogie of “Adiante” itself. Already noted, the slide guitar and cowbell arrive quickly, the latter backing Lessa‘s verse, guitars stopping and starting to allow for an even more fervent groove.

An undercurrent of acoustic guitar adds a Southern (as in US) twang that Necro seem content to ride out, but they never veer far from the central motion of the title cut. This serves them well as they provide yet another look on “Azul Profundo.” A highlight of Adiante for its insistent classic prog rhythm, it moves from an initial shuffle into thicker, more driven chugging behind layered vocals — organ once again playing a major role alongside Salvador‘s shred-prone lead guitar — before culminating with a surprise return from the cowbell and a section of scat singing. One assumes that Oliveira‘s guest spot, but either way the guitar follows it point for point as the drums and bass lock in time and the keys add Deep Purple-ish depth. From there, the drums drop out as “Azul Profundo” transitions into a flowing wash of melody gradually, patiently, smoothly moving back toward its starting point; arriving at which is among Adiante‘s greatest triumphs.

Centerpiece “Viajor” recalls some of Necro‘s earlier work in its pointed ’70s verse but opens to another fervent hook which Lessa delivers with poise recalling Farida Lemouchi from The Devil’s Blood — not a comparison to be made lightly — and balances shuffle and swirl well as it goes. It and “Entropia” lead the way into side B. Both are shorter at about 4:20, and straightforward in their proggy organics compared to some of the turns made by “Azul Profundo,” but they build noteworthy momentum one into the next and continue the flow from the first half of Adiante while also seeming to find common ground between what the opening three songs were able to accomplish individually. In other words, Necro don’t wait until the next album to bring the various sides of their sound together. That locked-in feel persists into “Espelhos e Sombras,” which slows down somewhat from the preceding “Entropia” and holds back the organ to bring the guitar forward initially but finds its real impression in a midsection break peppered with slide guitar and post-King Crimson noodling that shifts almost impossibly into a layered-on guitar solo, galloping drums, and a last build that’s as odd as it is effective.

By the time they get there, Necro have made it fairly complicated to guess where they might go on five-minute closer “Deusas Suicidas,” but they cap Adiante with a suitable bookend of a riff, proto-metallic in shape but still working on a different-enough wavelength to be distinct from “Orbes” — more biker rock, less pre-thrash force. From about two minutes in, they seem set in the final movement, but there are yet twists and turns to be made, and it’s not until the third minute that the organ arrives and the real summary of the record begins as they push toward the last crescendo. They end instrumentally, and even hearken back to the playfulness that capped “Orbes” when they’re done, as if to underscore the point of the symmetry at work across Adiante. Fun, but that point is well taken anyhow, and Necro‘s cross-genre prog-boogie realizations on individual tracks are even more satisfying when the album is taken as a whole. After two strong offerings in Necronomicon and The Queen of Death, the trio take a brazen step forward with Adiante, sounding refreshed in their approach and more like themselves than ever before.

Necro on Bandcamp

Necro on Thee Facebooks

Necro on YouTube

Abraxas on Thee Facebooks

Abraxas website

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Abraxas Events Announces Abraxas Records Label Venture; Necro, Saturndust, Fuzzly and More Signed

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 12th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

In what can only be called a natural extension of the impulse to spread quality music, Abraxas Events announces a new label venture in the form of Abraxas Records. For the last three years, brothers Felipe Toscano and Rodrigo Toscano have worked under the Abraxas banner to bring outside acts to Brazil and wider South America, and from Mars Red Sky to Stoned Jesus to Kadavar the recently-announced March 2017 run for Samsara Blues Experiment (info here), they’ve been wildly successful. My understanding is that Radio Moscow‘s first South American tour has already become something of a legend.

When Mars Red Sky couldn’t get into the US in 2014 and wound up recording their second album, Stranded in Arcadia (review here), in Rio at Estudio Superfuzz with Gabriel Zander, that was coordinated through Zander‘s partnership with Abraxas. In fact, the company has handled logistics for multiple Superfuzz recordings, and as Abraxas Records comes together, they seem to be keeping that relationship as a central feature of what they have to offer.

The key switch? Where Abraxas Events is known for bringing bands in, Abraxas Records seems more immediately geared toward spreading South American and particularly Brazilian acts to the world at large (it’s worth noting that anyone the company books from elsewhere is usually paired with choice locals as well, so not like they weren’t promoting South American acts before). And they’re not exactly starting off light. First release is from boogie rockers Necro, who today unveil the album art for their third full-length, Adiante, which will be out through Abraxas Records on Dec. 20.

That’s hardly the end of the story. The label has also picked up SaturndustFuzzlySon of a Witch, Anjo Gabriel, Monster Coyote, and The Muddy Brothers. Seven bands on day one. Hard not to be impressed by the ambition, and given the quality of work Abraxas has done up to now, I look forward to this next phase and wish good luck to the Toscano brothers. Like my nation’s vice president once said, “This is a big fuckin’ deal.”

As it should be, there’s a lot of audio linked below, but you’ll also find the details of the label’s formation and background, as well as two new tracks from Necro, whose album will be streaming here one week from today in full.

Dig it:

Abraxas Label Announcement – Necro New Album Release – Artwork Revealed

After 3 years booking tours in South America for international bands like Radio Moscow, Mars Red Sky, Kadavar and Stoned Jesus, just to name a few, and also actively promoting the Brazilian heavy rock scene, Abraxas officially announce a new record label branch.

“Although we have already recorded and released a lot of albums of Brazilian bands in the past years, we have never considered ourselves a proper label, more like a booking agency and event planning company (what is in fact what we do the most), but now it’s time to formalize this other aspect as well.” explains Felipe Toscano, founder of Abraxas with his brother Rodrigo.

The label’s first release will be Necro’s third studio album named “Adiante”. Now singing in Portuguese, the band had a substantial creativity boost, as it is much easier to create complex and interesting lyric structures in their mother language, not to mention the rhythm parts that have gotten even better due to such smart change.

As it couldn’t be different, Necro’s forthcoming album was recorded and produced by Gabriel Zander at Superfuzz in November 2015. The amazing cover was designed by Brazilian artist Cristiano Suarez (https://www.facebook.com/CristianoSuarezArt) and the first two singles are available at their bandcamp page: “Deuses Suicidas” – https://necronomicon.bandcamp.com/album/deuses-suicidas-single and “Viajor” – https://necronomicon.bandcamp.com/album/viajor-single.

São Paulo band Saturndust will be another solid name in the label’s roster. Their first album (https://saturndust.bandcamp.com/ – LP released by Helmet Lady Records) was recorded by the Abraxas brothers and Gabriel Zander at Superfuzz studio in Rio de Janeiro back in September 2014, and the hazy doom trio had just finished recordings of their second work, release due March 2017.

“All bands in the label are long time friends and have supported and worked with us several times since the beginning of Abraxas. Actually, some of them have already been produced/recorded at Superfuzz in our partnership with Zander, like Saturndust and Son of a Witch (https://sonofawitch666.bandcamp.com/ – LP released by Kozmic Artifactz) and I think all of them have opened for a foreign headliner at least once in the tours and gigs we have organized”, Felipe highlights.

The label will comprise Brazilian pioneers of stoner-rock Fuzzly (https://fuzzly.bandcamp.com/) and psychedelic titans Anjo Gabriel (https://anjogabriel.bandcamp.com/album/o-culto-secreto-do-anjo-gabriel) as well as many of the ascending bands of the country’s rich and constantly growing heavy rock scene, like The Muddy Brothers (https://themuddybrothers.bandcamp.com/releases), and Monster Coyote (https://monstercoyote.bandcamp.com/), among others.

From Psychedelic Prog to Sludge Metal, Abraxas aim to erect a milestone in Brazilian rock scene, and as from December 19 all of those bands will be strategically delivered by ONErpm. For physical needs, Abraxas plans the launch of the e-commerce with CDs, LPs, t-shirts and many more stuff by April 2017.

https://www.facebook.com/abraxasevents/
https://twitter.com/abraxasfm
http://abraxas.fm/

Necro, “Deuses Suicidas”

Necro, “Viajor”

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Ruínas de Sade Sign to South American Sludge

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 29th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Brazilian purveyors of longform sludgy largesse Ruínas de Sade first released their self-titled, half-hour-long EP back in March. Among the various accolades the three-track offering has received since that time is a snag from Swamp Metal Records and, now, one from South American Sludge Records to match it. Covered here many times over — seems like more than ever lately — South American Sludge is of course the Argentina-based imprint helmed by Sergio Chotsourian, formerly of Los Natas, currently of Ararat, Soldati, etc., that has worked tirelessly over the last couple years to live up to promoting the living crap out of that which its name represents, aligning itself to some of the best the continent’s underground has to offer.

Go ahead and add Ruínas de Sade to that list. I don’t know

ruinas-de-sade-photo-by-renan-casarin

Ruínas de Sade / south american sludge

With influences from bands like Stoned Jesus, Electric Wizard, Belzebong, Sleep, King Crimson and Pink Floyd, the band Ruínas de Sade (Ruins of Sade) comes to melt the brain of those who watch their performance and listens to the album. In march of 2016, the group released its first EP, the homonym “Ruínas de Sade” (Ruins of Sade), containing three long tracks, with a total duration of 30 minutes.

The reception of the record was great, getting over 15 reviews from places around the world like Greece, Spain, Mexico, Germany, among others. The launch of their debut got them a deal with the labels Swamp Metal Records from Georgia/USA and South American Sludge Records from Argentina.

Ruínas de Sade sounds slow, dense and heavy, something that hypnotizes the listener and makes them go into a trance with the riff repetition, low tuning and fuzz that resounds thunderously in your mind!

Ruínas de Sade is:
Hugo Grubert – Vocals
Vitor “Bob” Zen – Guitars
Paulo Machado – Bass/Synth
Gustavo Gamba – Drums

https://ruinasdesade.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/ruinasdesade
https://www.facebook.com/SASRECORDSARGENTINA/
https://sasrecords.bandcamp.com

Ruínas de Sade, Ruínas de Sade (2016)

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Stone House on Fire to Release Neverending Cycle in December

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 12th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

stone-house-on-fire

Brazilian desert-style rockers Stone House on Fire will offer up a a physical pressing of their second album, Neverending Cycle, in December. Released digitally back in June by the band — at least if the dates on Bandcamp are anything to go by — the vinyl edition will arrive courtesy of no fewer than six different imprints between Brazil and Europe, and aside from the shame of not having one Stateside one in the bunch, it’s hard not to be impressed at the amount of people who’ve gotten behind the band. Then you listen to the tracks and, yeah, yeah, you start to get it. The band, who reportedly recorded Neverending Cycle live to tape in its entirety, play to a post-Queens of the Stone Age ideology, but have plenty of psychedelic and boogie vibing going on as well. I can see wanting to get on board, even if my home nation is apparently dropping the ball here as it does with so many others when it comes to distribution. So it goes.

Info comes from H42 Records via the PR wire:

stone-house-on-fire-neverending-cycle

STONE HOUSE ON FIRE ‘NEVERENDING CYCLE’ Longplayer out December 2016

*Limited up to 300 copies*
150 on red & 150 on black vinyl
OUT: December 2016

STONE HOUSE ON FIRE are back with a new album called ‘Neverending Cycle’!

Stone House on Fire is influenced by the desert sounds and the 60’s lysergic vibe, combining heavy tones, powerful riffs that go from fast to psychedelic, lots of octaved fuzz, creating an unique sound, ready to blow some ears. Also, the energetic and daring live performances create unpredictable, explosive and mind blowing experiences.

“Neverending Cycle” is an album that leans heavily towards the psychedelic side of the stoner genre, taking it’s cues from the more lysergic orientated late 60’s than the usual mid 70’s era that is the de rigueur of many of todays stoner/psych and doom bands. Songs like “Wrath of the Sun” and “Steam Boat” channel the beads and peace sign vibes of Randy California’s Spirit and the 13th Floor Elevators and mix them with elements of the harder edged, fuzz pedal stamping, downtuned psych of today, sprinkling them with a large dose of old fashioned groove along the way…”

Release by:
Electric Valley Records (Italy)
H42 Records (Gemany)
Abraxas (Brasil)
Dinamite Records (Brasil)
Tropical FUZZ Fever Records (Brasil)
Lovely Noise Records (Brasil)

https://stonehouseonfire.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/stonehouseonfire/
https://www.facebook.com/electricvalleyrecords/
https://www.facebook.com/H42Records/
https://www.facebook.com/abraxasevents/
https://www.facebook.com/dinamiterecs/
https://www.facebook.com/Tropical-FUZZ-Fever-Records-1768713486676256/
https://www.facebook.com/lovelynoiserecords/

Stone House on Fire, Neverending Cycle (2016)

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