Quarterly Review: Electric Octopus, Crypt Trip, Love Gang & Smokey Mirror, Heavy Feather, Faith in Jane, The Mound Builders, Terras Paralelas, The Black Heart Death Cult, Roadog & Orbiter, Hhoogg

Posted in Reviews on March 21st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Day four of the six-dayer. Head’s a little reeling, but I’m not sure any more so than, say, last week at this time. I’d be more specific about that, but oddly enough, I don’t hook my brain up to medical scanners while doing reviews. Seems like an oversight on my part, now that I think about it. Ten years later and still learning something new! How about that internet, huh?

Since I don’t think I’ve said it in a couple days, I’ll remind you that the hope here is you find something you dig. There’s a lot of cool stuff in this batch, so that should at least make skimming through it fun if you go that route. Either way, thanks for reading if you do.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Electric Octopus, Smile

Electric Octopus Smile

It’s been about two months since Electric Octopus posted Smile, so they’re about due for their next release. So, quick! Before this 82-minute collection of insta-chill jams is out of date, there’s still time to consider it their latest offering. Working as the four-piece of Tyrell Black and Dale Hughes — both of whom share bass and guitar duties — drummer Guy Hetherington and synthesist Stevie Lennox, the Belfast improv jammers rightfully commence with the 25-minute longest track (immediate points) “Abberation” (sic), which evolves and devolves along its course and winds up turning from a percussive jam to a guitar-led build up that still stays gloriously mellow even as it works its way out. You can almost hear the band moving from instrument to instrument, and that’s the point. The much shorter “Spiral,” “Dinner at Sea, for One” and closer “Mouseangelo” bring in a welcome bit of funk, “Moth Dust” explores minimalist reaches of guitar and ambient drumming, and “Hyperloop” digs into fuzz-soaked swirl before cleaning up its act in the last couple minutes. These cats j-a-m. May they do so into perpetuity.

Electric Octopus on Thee Facebooks

Electric Octopus on Bandcamp

 

Crypt Trip, Haze County

crypt trip haze county

Onto the best-albums-of-2019 list go San Marcos, Texas, trio Crypt Trip, who, sonically speaking, are way more Beto O’Rourke than Ted Cruz. The three-piece have way-way-upped the production value and general breadth from their 2018 Heavy Psych Sounds debut, Rootstock, and the clarity of purpose more than suits them as they touch on ’70s country jams and hard boogie and find a new melodic vocal confidence that speaks to guitarist Ryan Lee as a burgeoning frontman as well as the shredder panning channels in “To Be Whole.” Fortunately, he’s backed by bassist Sam Bryant and drummer Cameron Martin in the endeavor, and as ever, it’s the rhythm section that gives the “power trio” its power. Centerpiece “Free Rain” is a highlight, but so is the pedal steel of intro “Forward” and the later “Pastures” that precedes six-minute closer “Gotta Get Away,” which makes its transport by means of a hypnotic drum solo from Martin. Mark it a win and go to the show. That’s all you can do. Haze County is a blueprint for America’s answer to Europe’s classic heavy rock movement.

Crypt Trip on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Love Gang & Smokey Mirror, Split Double EP

smokey mirror love gang split double ep

A bit of Tull as Love Gang‘s flute-inclusive opener “Can’t Seem to Win” skirts the line of the proggier end of ’70s worship. The Denver outfit and Dallas’ Smokey Mirror both present three tracks on Glory or Death RecordsSplit Double EP, and Love Gang back the leadoff with “Break Free” and “Lonely Man,” reveling in wall-o’-fuzz chicanery and organ-laced push between them, making their already unpredictable style less predictable, while Smokey Mirror kick off side B in particularly righteous fashion via the nine-minute “Sword and Scepter,” which steps forth to take ultra-Sabbathian ownership of the release even as the filthy tone of “Sucio y Desprolijo” and the loose-swinging Amplified Heat-style megashuffle of “A Thousand Days in the Desert” follow. Two bands in the process of finding their sound coming together to serve notice of ass-kickery present and future. If you can complain about that, you’re wrong.

Love Gang on Thee Facebooks

Smokey Mirror on Thee Facebooks

Glory or Death Records BigCartel store

 

Heavy Feather, Débris & Rubble

Heavy Feather Debris & Rubble

Very much a solid first album, Heavy Feather‘s 11-song Débris & Rubble lands at a run via The Sign Records and finds the Stockholm-based classic heavy blues rockers comporting with modern Euro retroism in grand fashion. At 41 minutes, it’s a little long for a classic-style LP if one measures by the eight-track/38-minute standard, but the four-piece fill that time with a varied take that basks in sing-along-ready hooks like those of post-intro opener “Where Did We Go,” the Rolling Stones-style strutter “Waited All My Life,” and the later “I Spend My Money Wrong,” which features not the first interplay of harmonica and lead guitar amid its insistent groove. Elsewhere, more mellow cuts like “Dreams,” or the slide-infused “Tell Me Your Tale” and the closing duo of the Zeppelinian “Please Don’t Leave” and the melancholy finisher “Whispering Things” assure Débris & Rubble never stays in one place too long, though one could say the same of the softshoe-ready boogie in “Hey There Mama” as well. On the one hand, they’re figuring it out. On the other, they’re figuring it out.

Heavy Feather on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records on Bandcamp

 

Faith in Jane, Countryside

Faith in Jane Countryside

Five full-lengths deep into a tenure spanning a decade thus far, Faith in Jane have officially entered the running to be one of the best kept secrets of Maryland heavy. Their late-2018 live-recorded studio offering, Countryside, clocks in at just under an hour of organic tonality and performance, bringing a sharp presentation to the chemistry that’s taken hold among the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Dan Mize, bassist Brendan Winston and drummer Alex Llewellyn, with Mize taking extended solos on the Wino model throughout early cuts “All is All” and “Mountain Lore” while the trio adds Appalachian grunge push to the Chesapeake’s flowing groove while building “Blues for Owsley” from acoustic strum to scorching cacophonous wash and rolling out the 9:48 “Hippy Nihilism” like the masters of the form they’re becoming. It’s not a minor undertaking in terms of runtime, but for those in on what these cats have been up to all the while, hard to imagine Countryside is seen as anything other than hospitable.

Faith in Jane on Thee Facebooks

Faith in Jane on Bandcamp

 

The Mound Builders, The Mound Builders

The Mound Builders The Mound Builders

Lafayette, Indiana’s The Mound Builders last year offered a redux of their 2014 album, Wabash War Machine (review here), but that was their last proper full-length. Their self-titled arrives as eight bruiser slabs of weighted sludge/groove metal, launching with its longest track (immediate points) in the 7:30 “Torchbearer,” before shifting into the outright screams-forward pummel of “Hair of the Dogma” and the likewise dry-throated “Separated from Youth.” By the time they get to the hardcore-punk-via-sludge of “Acid Slugs,” it’s not a little heavy. It’s a lot heavy. And it stays that way through the thrashing “Star City Massacre” and “Regolith,” hitting the brakes on “Broken Pillars” only to slam headfirst into closer “Vanished Frontier.” Five years later and they’re still way pissed off. So be it. The four-formerly-five-piece were never really all that gone, but they still seem to have packed an extended absence’s worth of aggro into their self-titled LP.

The Mound Builders on Thee Facebooks

Failure Records and Tapes

 

Terras Paralelas, Entre Dois Mundos

TERRAS PARALELAS ENTRE DOIS MUNDOS

It’s a fluid balance between heavy rock and progressive metal Terras Paralelas make in the six inclusions on their debut full-length, Entre Dois Mundos. The Brazilian instrumentalist trio keep a foundation of metallic kickdrumming beneath “Do Abismo ao Triunfo,” and even the chugging in “Espirais e Labirintos” calls to mind some background in harder-hitting fare, but it’s set against a will toward semi-psychedelic exploration, making the giving the album a sense of refusing to play exclusively to one impulse. This proves a strength in the lengthier pieces that follow “Infinito Cósmico” and “Do Abismo ao Triunfo” at the outset, and as Terras Paralelas move from the mellower “Bom Presságio” and “Espirais e Labirintos” into the more spaciously post-rocking “Nossa Jornada Interior” and the nine-minute-plus prog-out title-track that closes by summarizing as much as pushing further outward, one is left wondering why such distinctions might matter in the first place. Kudos to the band for making them not.

Terras Paralelas on Thee Facebooks

Terras Paralelas on Bandcamp

 

The Black Heart Death Cult, The Black Heart Death Cult

the black heart death cult the black heart death cult

Though one wouldn’t accuse The Black Heart Death Cult of being the first cumbersomely-named psych-rocking band in the current wave originating in Melbourne, Australia, their self-titled debut is nonetheless a gorgeous shimmer of classic psychedelia, given tonal presence through guitar and bass, but conjuring an ethereal sensibility through the keys and far-back vocals like “She’s a Believer,” tapping alt-reality 1967 vibes there while fostering what I hear is called neo-psych but is really just kinda psych throughout the nodding meander of “Black Rainbow,” giving even the more weighted fuzz of “Aloha From Hell” and the distortion flood of “Davidian Dream Beam” a happier context. They cap with the marshmallowtron hallucinations of “We Love You” and thereby depart even the ground stepped on earlier in the sitar-laced “The Magic Lamp,” finding and losing and losing themselves in the drifting ether probably not to return until, you know, the next record. When it shows up, it will be greeted as a liberator.

The Black Heart Death Cult on Thee Facebooks

Oak Island Records webstore

 

Orbiter & Roadog, Split

orbiter roadog split

I’m pretty sure the Sami who plays drums in Orbiter is the same dude playing bass in Roadog, but I could easily be wrong about that. Either way, the two Finnish cohort units make a fitting complement to each other on their two-songer 7″ single, which presents Orbiter‘s six-minute “Anthropocene” with the hard-driving title-track of Roadog‘s 2018 full-length, Reinventing the Wheels. The two tracks have a certain amount in common, mostly in the use of fuzz and some underlying desert influence, but it’s what they do with that that makes all the difference between them. Orbiter‘s track is spacier and echoing, where “Reinventing the Wheels” lands more straightforward in its three minutes, its motoring riff filled out by some effects but essentially manifest in dead-ahead push and lyrics about a motorcycle. They don’t reinvent the wheel, as it happens, and neither do Orbiter, but neither seems to want to do so either, and both bands are very clearly having a blast, so I’m not inclined to argue. Good fun and not a second of pretense on either side.


Orbiter on Thee Facebooks

Roadog on Thee Facebooks

 

Hhoogg, Earthling, Go Home!

hhoogg Earthling Go Home

Space is the place where you’ll find Boston improvisationalists Hhoogg, who extend their fun penchant for adding double letters to the leadoff “Ccoossmmooss” of their exclamatory second self-released full-length, Earthling, Go Home!, which brings forth seven tracks in a vinyl-ready 37 minutes and uses that opener also as its longest track (immediate points) to set a molten tone to the proceedings while subsequent vibes in “Rustic Alien Living” and the later, bass-heavy “Recalled to the Pyramids” range from the Hendrixian to the funkadelicness he helped inspire. With a centerpiece in “Star Wizard, Headless and Awake,” a relatively straightforward three-minute noodler, the four-piece choose to cap with “Infinitely Gone,” which feels as much like a statement of purpose and an aesthetic designation as a descriptor for what’s contained within. In truth, it’s a little under six minutes gone, but jams like these tend to beg for repeat listens anyway. There’s some growing to do, but the melding of their essential chemistry is in progress, and that’s what matters most. The rest is exploration, and they sound well up for it.

Hhoogg on Thee Facebooks

Hhoogg on Bandcamp

 

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Quarterly Review: Stuck in Motion, AVER, Massa, Alastor, Seid, Moab, Primitive Man & Unearthly Trance, Into Orbit, Super Thief, Absent

Posted in Reviews on March 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Let the games begin! The rules are the same: 10 albums per day, this time for a total of 60 between today and next Monday. It’s the Quarterly Review. Think of it like a breakfast buffet with an unending supply of pancakes except the pancakes are riffs and there’s only one dude cooking them and he’s really tired all the time and complains, complains, complains. Maybe not the best analogy. Still, it’s gonna be a ton of stuff, but there are some very, very cool records included, so please keep your eyes and your mind open for what’s coming, because you might find something here you really dig. If not, there’s always tomorrow. Let’s go.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Stuck in Motion, Stuck in Motion

stuck in motion self-titled

The classic style cover art of Swedish trio Stuck in Motion‘s self-titled debut tells much of the story. It’s sweet-toned vintage-style soul rock, informed by Graveyard to some degree, but more aligned to retroism. The songs are bluesy and natural and not especially long, but have vibe for weeks, as demonstrated on the six-minute longest-track “Dreams of Flying,” or the flute-laden closer “Eken.” What the picture doesn’t tell you is the heavy use of clavinet in the band’s sound and just how much the vintage electric piano adds to what songs like “Slingrar” with its ultra-fluid shifts in tempo, or the sax-drenched penultimate cut “Orientalisk.” Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Max Kinnbo, drummer Gustaf Björkman and bassist/vocalist/clavinetist Adrian Norén, Stuck in Motion‘s debut successfully basks in a mellow psychedelic blues atmosphere and shows a patience for songwriting that bodes remarkably well. It should not be overlooked because you think you’re tired of vintage-style rock.

Stuck in Motion on Thee Facebooks

Stuck in Motion on Bandcamp

 

AVER, Orbis Majora

aver orbis majora

Following up their 2015 sophomore outing, Nadir (review here), which led to them getting picked up by Ripple Music, Australia’s AVER return with the progressive shove of Orbis Majora, five songs in 50 minutes of thoughtfully composed heavy progadelica, and while it’s not all so serious — closer “Hemp Fandango” well earns its title via a shuffling stonerly groove — opener “Feeding the Sun” and the subsequent “Disorder” set a mood of careful craftsmanship in longform pieces. The album’s peak might be in the 13-minute “Unanswered Prayers,” which culls together an extended linear build that’s equal parts immersive and gorgeous, but the rest of the album hardly lacks for depth or clarity of purpose. An underlying message from the Sydney four-piece would seem to be that they’re going to continue growing, even after more than a decade, because it’s not so much that they’re feeling their way toward their sound, but willfully pushing themselves to refine those parameters.

AVER on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Massa, Walls

massa walls

Flourish of keys adds nuance to Massa‘s moody, heavy post-rock style, the Rotterdam-based trio bringing an atmosphere to their second EP, Walls, across five tracks and 26 minutes marked by periodic samples from cinema and a sense of scope that seems to be born of an experimental impulse but not presented as the experiment itself. That is, they take the “let’s try this!” impulse and make a song out of it, as the chunky rhythm of instrumental centerpiece “Expedition” or the melodies in the prior “#8” show. Before finishing with the crash-into-push of the relatively brief “Intermassa,” the eight-minute “The Federal” complements winding guitar with organ to affect an engaging spirit somewhere between classic and futurist heavy, with the drums holding together proceedings that would seem to convey all the chaos of that temporal paradox. Perhaps it was opener “Shiva” that set this creator/destroyer tone, but either way, Massa bask in it and find a grim sense of identity thereby.

Massa on Thee Facebooks

Massa on Bandcamp

 

Alastor, Slave to the Grave

alastor slave to the grave

The first full-length from Swedish doomplodders Alastor and their debut on RidingEasy Records, late 2018’s Slave to the Grave is the four-piece’s most expansive offering yet in sonic scope as well as runtime. Following the 2017 EPs Blood on Satan’s Claw (review here) and Black Magic (review here), the seven-song/56-minute offering holds true to the murk-toned cultism and dense low-end rumble of the prior offerings, but the melodic resonance and sense of updating the aesthetic of traditional doom is palpable throughout the roller “Your Lives are Worthless,” while the later acoustic-led “Gone” speaks to a folkish influence that suits them surprisingly well given the heft that surrounds. They make an obvious focal point of 17-minute closer “Spider of My Love,” which though they’ve worked in longer forms before, is easily the grandest accomplishment they’ve yet unfurled. One might easily say the same applies to Slave to the Grave as a whole. Those who miss The Wounded Kings should take particular note of their trajectory.

Alastor on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records website

 

Seid, Weltschmerz, Baby!

seid-weltschmerz_baby-web

If Norwegian space-psych outfit Seid are feeling weary of the world, the way they show it in Weltschmerz, Baby! is by simply leaving it behind, substituting for reality a cosmic starscape of effects and synth, the odd sample and vaguely Hawkwindian etherealism. The centerpiece title-track is a banger along those lines, a swell of rhythmic intensity born out of the finale of the prior “Satan i Blodet” and the mellow, flowing “Trollmannens Hytte” before that, but the highlight might be the subsequent “Coyoteman,” which drifts into dream-prog led by echoing layers of guitar and eventually given over to a fading strain of noise that “Moloch vs. Gud” picks up with percussive purpose and flows directly into the closer “Mir (Drogarna Börjar Värka),” rife with ’70s astro-bounce and a long fadeout that’s less about the record ending and more about leaving the galaxy behind. Starting out at a decent clip with “Haukøye,” Weltschmerz, Baby! is all about the journey and a trip well worth taking.

Seid on Thee Facebooks

Sulatron Records website

 

Moab, Trough

moab trough

A good record tinged by the tragic loss of drummer Erik Herzog during the recording and finished by guitarist/vocalist Andrew Giacumakis and bassist Joe Fuentes, the 10-track/39-minute Trough demonstrates completely just how much Moab have been underrated since their 2011 debut, Ab Ovo (discussed here), and across the 2014 follow-up, Billow (review here), as they bring a West Coast noise-infused pulse to heavy rock drive on “All Automatons” and meet an enduring punker spirit face first with “Medieval Moan,” all the while presenting a clear head for songcraft amid deep-running tones and melodies. “The Will is Weak” makes perhaps the greatest impact in terms of heft, but heft is by no means all Moab have to offer. With the very real possibility this will be their final record, it is a worthy homage to their fallen comrade and a showcase of their strengths that’s bound someday to get the attention it deserves whenever some clever label decides to reissue it as a lost classic.

Moab on Thee Facebooks

Moab on Bandcamp

 

Primitive Man & Unearthly Trance, Split

primitive man unearthly trance split

Well of course it’s a massive wash of doomed and hate-filled noise! What were you expecting, sunshine and puppies? Colorado’s Primitive Man and Brooklyn’s Unearthly Trance team up to compare misanthropic bona fides across seven tracks of blistering extremity that do Relapse Records proud. Starting with the collaborative intro “Merging,” the onslaught truly commences with Primitive Man’s 10-minute “Naked” and sinks into an abyss with the instrumental noisefest “Love Under Will,” which gradually makes its way into a swell of abrasive drone. Unearthly Trance, meanwhile, proffer immediate destructiveness with the churning “Mechanism Error” and make “Triumph” dark enough to live up to its most malevolent interpretations, while “Reverse the Day” makes me wonder what people who heard Godflesh in the ’80s must’ve thought of it and the six-minute finishing move “418” answers back to Primitive Man‘s droned-out anti-structure with a consuming void of fuckall depth. It’s like the two bands cut open their veins and recorded the disaffection that spilled out.

Primitive Man on Thee Facebooks

Unearthly Trance on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records website

 

Into Orbit, Shifter

Into Orbit Shifter

Progressive New Zealander two-piece Into OrbitPaul Stewart on guitar and Ian Moir on drums — offer up the single Shifter as the answer to their 2017 sophomore long-player, Unearthing. The Wellington instrumentalists did likewise leading into that album with a single that later showed up as part of a broader tracklist, so it may be that they’ve got another release already in the works, but either way, the 5:50 standalone track finds them dug into a full band sound with layered or looped guitar standing tall over the mid-paced drumming, affecting an emotion-driven atmosphere as much as the cerebral nature of its craft. Beginning with a thick chug, it works into more melodic spaciousness as it heads toward and through its midsection, lead guitar kicking in with harmony lines joining soon after as the two-piece build back up to a bigger finish. Whatever their plans, Into Orbit make it clear that just because something is prog doesn’t mean it needs to be staid or lack expressiveness.

Into Orbit on Thee Facebooks

Into Orbit on Bandcamp

 

Super Thief, Eating Alone in My Car

super thief eating alone in my car

Noise-punk intensity pervades Eating Alone in My Car, the not-quite-not-an-LP from Austin four-piece Super Thief. They call it an album, and that’s good enough for me, especially since at about 20 minutes there isn’t much more I’d ask of the thing that it doesn’t deliver, whether it’s the furious out-of-mindness of minute-long highlight “Woodchipper” or the poli-sci critique of that sandwiches the offering with opener “Gone Country” immediately taking a nihilist anti-stance while closer “You Play it Like a Joke but I Know You Really Mean It” — which consumes nearly half the total runtime at 9:32 — seems to run up the walls unable to stick to the “smoke ’em if you got ’em” point of view of the earlier cut. That’s how the bastards keep you running in circles, but at least Super Thief know where to direct the frustration. “Six Months Blind” and the title-track have a more personal take, but are still worth a read lyrically as much as a listen, as the rhythm of the words only adds to the striking personality of the material.

Super Thief on Thee Facebooks

Learning Curve Records website

 

Absent, Towards the Void

absent towards the void

Recorded in 2016, released on CD in 2018 and snagged by Cursed Tongue Records for a vinyl pressing, Absent‘s Towards the Void casts a shimmering plunge of cavernous doom, with swirling post-Electric Wizard guitar and echoing vocals adding to the spaciousness of its four component tracks as the Brasilia-based trio conjure atmospheric breadth to go along with their weighted lurch in opener “Ophidian Womb.” With tracks arranged shortest to longest between eight and a half and 11 minutes, “Semen Prayer,” “Funeral Sun” and “Urine” follow suit from the opener in terms of overall approach, but “Funeral Sun” speeds things up for a stretch while “Urine” lures the listener downward with a subdued opening leading to more filth-caked distortion and degenerate noise, capping with feedback because at that point what the hell matters anyway? Little question in listening why this one’s been making the rounds for over a year now. It will likely continue to do so for some time to come.

Absent on Thee Facebooks

Cursed Tongue Records webstore

 

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We Here Now Sign to Elektrohasch; Touring Europe Later This Year

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

we here now

Earlier this year — so I guess like a month ago — the multinational outfit We Here Now offered up their debut release, The Chikipunk Years, blending elements from rock, South American folk, psychedelic punk and more to a highly individualized style that was intricate and memorable in kind. Swamp Booking has picked up the band for European touring representation, and Elektrohasch Schallplatten — the label of Colour Haze guitarist Stefan Koglek will give the album an official release later this year, in May, which I’d guess is ahead of summer tour plans yet to be unveiled.

The announcements from both were recently made and follow below, as well as the stream of the album from Bandcamp. Have at it:

we here now the chikipunk years

Elektrohasch 179 – We Here Now – The Chikipunk Years

Back to the future: I haven‘t heard anything like this yet – guitar, bass, drums – of course… But: a band with members from Brasil, India and Peru mixing the uneven rhythms of Asia with South-American feel, full of modern twists and breaks, driving it into a furious intensity and lay above all this beautiful relaxed melodies with a twist from the Andes to the Himalaya… finally a truly new, fresh take on Rock! – this should be the future!

I am proud to present the debut of We Here Now on Elektrohasch.

Don‘t miss it – so once you can tell you have been there : )

Swamp Booking: Really happy to announce this new addition to our roster!

The multinational band WE HERE NOW is a young new band from Brasil, India/USA and Perù. An exciting approach to the straight-forward aesthetics of fuzzed-out rock. Different cultural and sonic methods of expression delivered with an unmistakable raw punk attitude.

Their debut album will be released by the German record label Elektrohasch (Colour Haze) next May 17th and they will tour Europe ALL summer, playing like there’s no tomorrow!

https://homemadegiftsrecords.bandcamp.com/releases
www.elektrohasch.de

We Here Now, The Chikipunk Years (2019)

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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

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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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