Zong Self-Titled Debut out Nov. 20 on Cardinal Fuzz / Praying Mantis; Streaming Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

zong

Oh yes. This will do nicely. Four extended cuts of warm-hued instrumental heavy psych — there are few things that I find as welcome in the morning. Or in the afternoon. Also good at dinnertime. Or late at night. Okay, so maybe records like Zong‘s Zong are less of a time-dependent thing for me than they are just something I dig regardless of when I might run into them, but that doesn’t make the digging any less vigorous, and the Brisbane trio bring a classic psychedelic character to their material — as one can hear on the winding eight-minute course of “Arcane Sand” as part of the full album streaming at the bottom of this post — that serves well to distinguish them along with the cover art by drummer Henry Bennett for their self-titled debut, which I’ve already slated to be part of the Quarterly Review next month. It’s out Nov. 20 through Praying Mantis and the ultra-respected purveyors of Cardinal Fuzz.

The latter sent the following down the PR wire and just about made my whole damn day:

zong zong

ZONG – ZONG

VINYL Release Date: 20TH NOVEMBER 2017

Cardinal Fuzz and Praying Mantis Records are proud to present ZONG.

Hailing from Brisbane Australia, Zong are a three-piece instrumental group focused on improvised cosmic jams with emphasised themes of psychedelic states, tribal rituals, gothic horror, alien encounters and medieval fantasy. Tying this all together is the groups explosive, intense and emotional delivery sounding out in the rich, golden, down-tuned and cranked amplifier glory akin to Black Sabbath and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and the more modern groups Sleep and Earthless. Their true uniqueness, however, lies in their ability to blend genres and sonically improvise together making them a most satisfying heavy tripped-out listen, and a spectacle to behold as a live performance.

Since the live recording of their first ever show one year ago Zong have honed their craft playing with a myriad of bands, recently with Kadavar, Monolord, Ufomammut, Elder and Pallbearer, and now bring you their explosive debut Self-Titled LP, complete with the mind-bending album artwork by their very own drummer, Henry Bennett.

“Zong” by Zong is a monstrous swirling tidal wave of heavy riffs, pounding drums, weaving bass and guitar duels, intricate inter-dimensional psychedelia and dark mysticism which propels the listener deep into the chasms of their own imagination while also satisfying the cravings of Black Sabbath and Jimi Hendrix fans.

From the “space-giant wreaking havoc in the cosmos” sounds of the opening track ‘Cosmic Embryo’, to the eerie desert dancing mysticism of ‘Arcane Sand’, through to the pulverising and stark gothic doom of ‘Giant Floating Head’, and into the final majestic ‘Return of the Alien King’ fuelled with fuzzed out riffs and other-worldly mandalas of delayed guitar and blazing Aztec jungle beats, the album is a journey into the cosmos, through history and your own imagination. A well-curated and interesting blend of old and modern genres and visualised themes.

Vinyl & CD available here from ZONG directly. Additionally available from Cardinal Fuzz records in the UK/ EU and Praying Mantis records in Australia.

500 Pressing (300 For Europe via Cardinal Fuzz and 200 For Australia via Praying Mantis)

ZONG:
Zac Anderson – Guitar
Michael Grinstead – Bass
Henry Bennett – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/zongbrisbane/
http://www.instagram.com/zongband
https://zongband.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/CardinalFuzz/
cardinalfuzz.bigcartel.com
https://www.facebook.com/prayingmantisrecords/
https://prayingmantis.bandcamp.com/

Zong, Zong (2017)

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Quarterly Review: Nibiru, The Ditch and the Delta, Cyanna Mercury, Surya Kris Peters, Golden Bats, Blind Hen, The Black Wizards, Low Flying Hawks, Brother Sister Hex, Cold Insight

Posted in Reviews on September 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk quarterly review

Ready for round three of the Fall 2017 Quarterly Review? I hope so, because it’s a doozy. Things get pretty weird and pretty rockin’ in this batch, and at the risk of being completely honest, I much prefer it that way. It’s a varied group — maybe the most diverse in terms of sound throughout the entire week, though there’s stiff competition still to come — and as we hit the 30th review, that brings us to the halfway point of the Quarterly Review itself, which if all keeps proceeding according to plan will wrap up on Monday with a grand total of 60 done. Let’s hope no pianos fall on my head between now and then, literally or figuratively. Onward.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Nibiru, Qaal Babalon

nibiru qaal babalon

The fourth full-length from Italian sludge ritualists Nibiru, Qaal Babalon (on Argonauta) is an encompassing, 57-minute grind comprised of four extended tracks, the longest of which is opener (immediate points) “Oroch” at 19:07 – a song whose depths run dark and cruel and which, even when the tempo pushes upward from its initial slow crawl, still feels massively slow. Still, the spirit behind “Oroch” as well as the following and much faster “Faboan” (10:51), the buzzsaw noise cutting avant insanity of “Bahal Gah” (16:40) and full-drone rite of “Oxex” (11:05) is less directly about the punishment itself than about the exploration enacted thereby. That is, Nibiru aren’t just heavy for heaviness’ own sake and they’re not just assaulting their listenership without reason. Though I won’t take away from its raw sonic impact, Qaal Babalon’s greatest asset is its atmospheric impression and the experimentalism it brings to bear, which moves Nibiru into a terrifying place sound-wise that they seem to have all to themselves.

Nibiru on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records website

 

The Ditch and the Delta, Hives in Decline

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Hailing from the unlikely heavy hotbed of Salt Lake City, Utah – though where better for a counterculture to emerge? – sludge rocking trio The Ditch and the Delta made their debut earlier in 2017 with the seven-song Hives in Decline via Battleground Records before being picked up by Prosthetic for this reissue. Comprised of bassist/vocalist Kory Quist (see also: Making Fuck), guitarist/vocalist Elliot Secrist and drummer Charles Bogus, the three-piece pummel handily throughout early cuts like opener and longest track (immediate points) “Hives in Decline” “Fuck on Asphalt” and the nodding “Sleeping Dogs,” but with the instrumental interlude “Dry Land,” they tap into post-Across Tundras heavy Americana and in that brief two-minute stretch deeply affect the mood of the release overall. They’re back to angular noise rock turns soon enough on “Till Body Quits” and the Remission-era-Mastodon-style “Mud” before alternating between lurching crush and airier prog/post-rock on closer “Dread Spectacle,” but by then the secret’s out of their underlying complexity, and rather than offset the sense of drive in the prior cuts, one finds them only enhanced by the later unfolding. Intense, and very much in the process of sorting through these impulses, but loaded with potential.

The Ditch and the Delta on Thee Facebooks

The Ditch and the Delta at Prosthetic Records

 

Cyanna Mercury, Archetypes

Cyanna-Mercury-Archetypes

From Greek dialogue in “Hermes” to the Nick Cave-style piano balladry of “Apollo” to the organ-and-handclaps Mediterranean pop underscoring “Lilith”’s boogie and the spoken verses and explosive hook of “Snake” ahead of moody closer “There will be a Time,” Cyanna Mercury’s debut long-player, Archetypes, seems to leave no sonic stone unturned. The Athens-based five-piece hone a thoroughly progressive approach across the 10-track/40-minute (plus a CD bonus track) outing, touching on heavy psych in opener “Horse Dark as Night” and injecting a darker theatricality into centerpiece “Ode to the Absent Father” and the later “Nothing We Can Do,” but refusing to relegate themselves ultimately to one sound or another. Elements of folk, heavy rock, psychedelia, classic prog, pop and more besides show themselves across what’s a legitimate head-trip of a record, and though it’s hard to get a grip on where Cyanna Mercury are ultimately headed with this sonic brew already so potent and already so much their own, they seem to be completely in control of how it all plays out in arrangement and songwriting, and they work quickly to earn the listener’s trust via a resonant overarching flow that renders Archetypes truly immersive. Will fly under most radar, but a stunningly creative debut.

Cyanna Mercury on Thee Facebooks

Cyanna Mercury on Bandcamp

 

Surya Kris Peters, 2nd Chances

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Numerically-titled three-song EP 2nd Chances is – since we’re going by the numbers – the third release of 2017 from Surya Kris Peters, behind the synth-driven Dream Exit EP digitally-issued this past summer and January’s Holy Holy Holy (review here) full-length. With it, Samsara Blues Experiment frontman Christian Peters further expands the contextual breadth of his solo work, revisiting songs from his prior outfit Terraplane in the Mellotron-infused melancholy of “Smalltown Blues” and the quick, folkish rambling instrumental “Dark Euphoria” while also covering Jefferson Airplane’s “Come up the Years” between. All told, it’s only 10 minutes long, but Peters brings a particularly progressive psychedelic folk vibe to the tracks, and from the shimmering guitar lead that takes hold in “Come up the Years” and the intimate feel of “Smalltown Blues” despite an arrangement of keys, vocals, multiple layers of guitar and effects, an emotional and sonic resonance is still very much achieved. One never wants to guess what Peters will do next, but if he had a full-length of this kind of thing out at some point, you wouldn’t be likely to find me complaining.

Surya Kris Peters on Soundcloud

Electric Magic Records on Bandcamp

 

Golden Bats, Residual Dread

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An underlying mournfulness pervades Golden BatsResidual Dread, or maybe that’s just the Brisbane-based solo-project of multi-instrumentalist/vocalist/engineer Geordie Stafford living up to the title chosen for the album on “Nothing.” Elsewhere, Residual Dread takes on guitar-as-keyboard plotted soloing in 11-minute closer “The Crows Build a Fire” and find a place between black metal and doomly roll, and add piano to tapped Godflesh-style programming on opener “Trouble in the Sewers” and bring organ to the relative bounce of “Eye Juices” as far-back echoing shouts provide the vocal presence. Setting elements against each other would seem to be a core aspect of Stafford’s intent, and the feel on Residual Dread is more about the smashing them together and seeing what happens than trying to gently meld one idea from two or three. That lends a raw, experimentalist sensibility to the lumber of “Outer Body” and “Into the Silver Valley” that serves them well, like a Large Hadron Collider driven by riffs and thickness of tone.

Golden Bats on Thee Facebooks

Haemorrhage Records webstore

 

Blind Hen, Life

blind-hen-life

In its first two minutes, Blind Hen’s “As a Monster” moves from electronica-style Euro dance rock to heavy-riffed progressive metal. Then it turns back. This is just the start of the Finnish four-piece’s four-track/21-minute Life EP, and “Titanic” follows stylistic suit with an even more intense thrust early before moving into psychedelia in its second half with an underlying tension in its beat to contrast the melodic wash overtop. The chugging “The Maze” is more guitar-led and straightforward, but even there, Blind Hen find room for nuance in their vocal arrangement, also bringing in acoustics amid the multiple layers of singing, and with a sample at the outset, closer “Catch” moves once again toward the danceability of the earlier fare, if in a via-Mr.Bungle rhythmic restlessness rather than the fusion beatmaking. Weird, weird, weird. What draws Life together is the fact that Blind Hen cross this aesthetic swath with stuck-in-your-head choruses as a constant, essentially giving the audience something to grasp onto while they go wherever they want in terms of sound. It is appreciated to say the least, and shows the band to be all the more attuned to their craft, even when they seem at their most unhinged.

Blind Hen on Thee Facebooks

Blind Hen on Bandcamp

 

The Black Wizards, What the Fuzz!

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If you’ve got 68 minutes, Portuguese four-piece The Black Wizards are ready to have a heavy blues shindig on their second 2LP full-length, What the Fuzz!, and I do believe we’re all invited. The nine-song outing emphasizes the vocals of guitarist Joana Brito, who emerges on post-intro opener “Freaks and Geeks” with a prominent kind of trilling in her voice of the sort Parker Griggs brings to Radio Moscow that holds for the duration as a steady presence. Joined by guitarist Paulo Ferreira, bassist/acoustic guitarist B and drummer/backing vocalist Helena Peixoto, Brito leads the way through the fuzzy rollout of the nine-minute “The Story of an Hopeless Drummer” (sic), stepping back to let the guitar/bass have a righteously nodding moment late in the track, but holds firm in a forward position on the short, twanging “Just Not Today” as well as the early going of the prior subdued-blues-smoker highlight “Floating Blues.” “Build Your Home,” “I Don’t Wanna Die” and the particularly-classic-sounding “Fire” revive the classic heavy rock spirit of “Freaks and Geeks,” and 16-minute finale “Everything is Good Until Trouble Comes” uses its extra runtime for a satisfying and patient execution with an expanded arrangement including choral vocals, organ and additional guitar effects. You might be boogied out by the time they’re done, but as The Black Wizards crash through their big finish, they sound like their party’s just getting started.

The Black Wizards on Thee Facebooks

The Black Wizards on Bandcamp

 

Low Flying Hawks, Genkaku

low-flying-hawks-genkaku

One might expect that with all the Melvins affiliation going on in the second Magnetic Eye Records full-length from L.A. duo Low Flying Hawks, Genkaku would sound, you know, more like the Melvins, but despite working with bassist Trevor Dunn, drummer Dale Crover and producer Toshi Kasai, and despite bringing in Buzz Osbourne for guest vocal spots on eight-minute opener/longest track (immediate points) “Smile” and side B leadoff “Space Wizard,” initials-only multi-instrumentalists EHA and AAL follow their 2016 debut, Kofuku (review here), with a sound even more their own, balancing between thick riffy rollout and post-rock atmospherics. Of course, they weird out a bit on “Smile” and the lumberingly spacious “Uncool” and “Virgin Witch,” but whether it’s the later mournfulness of “Hallucination” or “Twilight” toying with noisy fuckall while seeming to mock heavy rocker burl ahead of the melodic payoff in closer “Sinister Waves,” there’s more EHA and AAL in Low Flying Hawks than the prominent pedigree of their collaborators might lead you to believe. All the better for what becomes a richly satisfying 43-minute listen rife with depth, patience, and yes, personality.

Low Flying Hawks on Thee Facebooks

Magnetic Eye Records on Bandcamp

 

Brother Sister Hex, End Times

brother-sister-hex-end-times

Coherent songwriting rests at the core of what Denver’s Brother Sister Hex bring to their five-song third EP, End Times, which darkens up Queens of the Stone Age-circa-Songs for the Deaf vibing on its title-track (also a bit of Kyuss’ “El Rodeo” in there for good measure) before delving into more ambient fare on the centerpiece “Confessions.” Vocalist/guitarist Colfax Mingo demonstrates SubRosa-style vocal command there, but the context is more rock-based, uptempo and straightforward as she, guitarist Patrick Huddleson, bassist Drew Hicks and guest-drummer Jordan Palmer (Plastic Daggers) meld traditionalist structures with atmospheric moodiness. Opener “Hey” offers a suitable greeting through hook and groove, and the shuffle of “Sweet and Sleazy” and the rumbling fuzz (Hicks makes it a highlight) of closer “News Feed” wraps with another grunge-style QOTSA melody efficiently drawn, shouting the question “what have we done?” as it thuds into its second half. Uh, you’ve made a professional-sounding, excellently-constructed EP that shows you’re more than ready to embark on a debut full-length, permanent drummer or no. So yeah, get on that.

Brother Sister Hex on Thee Facebooks

Brother Sister Hex on Bandcamp

 

Cold Insight, Further Nowhere

cold-insight-further-nowhere

As progressive as it is brutal, Further Nowhere is ostensibly the debut release from Paris’ Cold Insight. The material seems to date back at least to 2013, if not earlier than that, when band-spearhead Sébastien Pierre (also of Enshine, Fractal Gates, and others) first issued what’s now tagged as a “pre-production album” version, but it’s hardly as though the lush, growling, melodeathly doom sounds dated. With sonic likenesses throughout to bands like Amorphis, Dark Tranquility and Paradise Lost, Cold Insight – on which Pierre, who also did the artwork, is joined by drummer Christian Netzell while Jari Lindholm adds lead guitar – hit on a very particular, very European style, and not an unfamiliar one as displayed in the righteously driving “Distance,” but the find-the-beauty-in-darkness spirit behind “Close Your Eyes” and songs like “Even Dies a Sun” and the more uptempo later piece “I Will Rise” help ensure that the formidable 12-song/66-minute run of Further Nowhere never gets too bogged down in its melancholy. It may have been a while in the making, and one hopes a follow-up won’t take as long to arrive, but the precise execution Pierre hones in these songs and the depths to which he can bring a willing audience are a fitting payoff for the years of work that went into their construction.

Cold Insight on Thee Facebooks

Cold Insight on Bandcamp

 

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Quarterly Review: Pallbearer, Dread Sovereign, Lizzard Wizzard, Oulu Space Jam Collective, Frozen Planet….1969, Ananda Mida, Strange Broue, Orango, Set and Setting, Dautha

Posted in Reviews on March 27th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

cropped-Charles-Meryon-Labside-Notre-Dame-1854

Here we are, on the precipice looking out over a spread that will include 50 reviews by the week’s end. Somehow when it comes around to a Quarterly Review Monday I always end up taking a moment to ask myself if I’ve truly lost my mind, if I really expect to be able to do this and not fall completely flat on my face, and just where the hell this terrible idea came from in the first place. But you know what? I haven’t flubbed one yet. We get through it. There’s a lot to go through, for me and you both, but sometimes it’s fun to be completely overwhelmed by music. I hope you agree, and I hope you find something this week that hits you in that oh-yeah-that’s-why-I-love-this kind of way. Time’s wasting. Let’s get started.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Pallbearer, Heartless

pallbearer heartless

Three albums and nearly a decade into their tenure, Pallbearer stand at the forefront of American doom, and their third outing, Heartless (on Profound Lore), only reinforces this position while at the same time expanding beyond genre lines in ways that even their 2014 sophomore effort, Foundations of Burden, simply couldn’t have done. A seven-song/hour-long sprawl is marked out by resonant melodies, soulful melancholy conveyed by guitarist/vocalist Brett Campbell – the returning lineup completed by guitarist Devin Holt, bassist Joseph D. Rowland and drummer Mark Lierly – and tonal weight set to a mix by Joe Barresi, who from opener “I Saw the End” onward arranges layers gorgeously so that extended pieces like “Dancing in Madness” (11:48) and closer “A Plea for Understanding” (12:40) become even more consuming. What comes through most resolute on Heartless, though, is that it’s time to stop thinking of Pallbearer as belonging to some established notion of doom or any other subgenre. With these songs, they make it clear they’ve arrived at their own wavelength and are ready to stand up to the influence they’ve already begun to have on other acts. A significant achievement.

Pallbearer on Thee Facebooks

Profound Lore Records website

 

Dread Sovereign, For Doom the Bell Tolls

dread-sovereign-for-doom-the-bell-tolls

With the considerable frontman presence of Primordial’s Alan Averill on vocals and bass, the considerable riffing of guitarist Bones (also of Wizards of Firetop Mountain) and the considerable lumber in the drumming of Johnny King (ex-Altar of Plagues), Dread Sovereign make some considerable fucking doom indeed. Their second album, For Doom the Bell Tolls (on Ván Records), follows three years behind their debut, 2014’s All Hell’s Martyrs (review here), and wastes no time giving the devil his due – or his doom, if you prefer – in the span of its six tracks and 37 minutes. Atmospheric and seemingly on an endless downward plod, the 13-minute “Twelve Bells Toll in Salem” is a defining moment, but the trad metallurgy of “This World is Doomed” rounds out side A with some welcome thrust, and after the intro “Draped in Sepulchral Fog,” “The Spines of Saturn” and the thrashing “Live Like and Angel, Die Like a Devil” play dramatic and furious intensities off each other in a manner that would seem to truly represent the fine art of not giving a shit what anyone thinks about what you do or what box you’re supposed to fit into. Righteous. Considerably so.

Dread Sovereign on Thee Facebooks

Ván Records website

 

Lizzard Wizzard, Total War Power Bastard

lizzard-wizzard-total-war-power-bastard

Noise, largesse of riffs and shouted vocals that distinctly remind of Souls at Zero-era Neurosis pervade the near-hour-long run of Lizzard Wizzard’s Total War Power Bastard, but as much as the Brisbane four-piece willfully give themselves over to fuckall – to wit, the title “Medusa but She Gets You Stoned Instead of Turning You to Stone, Instead of Snakes She has Vaporizers on His Head… Drugs” – songs like “Shithead Nihilism,” “Pizza” and the droning “Snake Arrow” brim with purpose and prove affecting in their atmosphere and heft alike. Yes, they have a song called “Nerd Smasher,” and they deserve all credit for that as they follow-up their 2013 self-titled (review here), but by the time they get down to the roll-happy “Crystal Balls” and the feedback-caked “Megaflora” at the record’s end, guitarists Michael Clarke and Nick McKeon, bassist Stef Roselli and drummer Luke Osborne end up having done something original with a Sleep influence, and that’s even more commendable.

Lizzard Wizzard on Thee Facebooks

Lizzard Wizzard on Bandcamp

 

Oulu Space Jam Collective, EP1

Oulu-Space-Jam-Collective-ep1

Should mention two things outright about Oulu Space Jam Collective’s EP1. First and foremost, its three songs run over 95 minutes long, so if it’s an EP, one can only imagine what qualifies as a “full-length.” Second, the Finnish outfit releasing EP1 on limited tape through Eggs in Aspic isn’t to be confused with Denmark’s Øresund Space Collective. Oulu is someplace else entirely, and likewise, Oulu Space Jam Collective have their own intentions as they show in the 57-minute opener “Renegade Spaceman,” recorded live in the studio in 2014 (they’ve since made two sequels) and presented in six movements including samples, drones, enough swirl for, well, 57 minutes, and a hypnotism that’s nigh on inescapable. I won’t take away from the space rock thrust of 14-minute closer “Artistic Supplies for Moon Paint Mafia” (also tracked in 2014), but the smooth progressive edge of three-part 24-minute centerpiece “Approaching Beast Moon of Baxool” is where it’s at for me – though if you want a whole galaxy to explore, hit up their Bandcamp.

Oulu Space Jam Collective on Thee Facebooks

Eggs in Aspic webstore

 

Frozen Planet…. 1969, Electric Smokehouse

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They freak out a bit toward the end of 12-minute opener “Ascendant” and in the second half of the subsequent “Supersaturation,” but for the most part, Aussie three-piece Frozen Planet…. 1969 play it weirdo-cool on their fourth full-length, the excellently-titled Electric Smokehouse (on Pepper Shaker Records). From those jams to the dreamy beachside drift of “Shores of Oblivion” to the funky-fuzz bass of “Sonic Egg Factory” to the quick noise finish of “Pretty Blown Fuse” – which may or may not be the sound of malfunctioning equipment run through an oscillator or some other effects-whatnot, the instrumentalist Sydney/Canberra trio seem to improv a healthy percentage of their fare, if not all of it, and that spirit of spontaneity feeds into the easygoing atmosphere only enhanced by the cover art. On a superficial level, you know you’re getting psych jams going into it, but once you put on Electric Smokehouse, the urge to get lost in the tracks is nigh on overwhelming, and that proves greatly to their credit. Wake up someplace else.

Frozen Planet…. 1969 on Thee Facebooks

Pepper Shaker Records on Bandcamp

 

Ananda Mida, Anodnatius

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Ananda Mida make their debut on Go Down Records with Anodnatius, fluidly working their way around heavy psychedelic and more driving rock influences propelled by drummer Massimo “Max Ear” Recchia, also of underrated Italian forebears OJM. Here, Recchia anchors a seven-piece lineup including two vocalists in Oscar de Bertoldi and Filippo Leonardi, two guitarists in Matteo Scolaro and Alessandro Tedesco, as well as bassist Davide Bressan and organist Stefano Pasqualetto, so suffice it to say songs like the subtly grungy “Passvas,” the dreamy highlight “Heropas” or the vaguely progressive “Askokinn” want nothing for fullness, but there seem to be moments throughout Anodnatius as on “Lunia” and the shuffling “Kondur” early into the proceedings where the band wants to break out and push toward something heavier. Their restraint is to be commended since it serves the interests of songcraft, but part of me can’t help but wonder what might happen if these guys really let loose on some boogie jams. Keep an ear open to find out, as I have a feeling they might be headed in just that direction.

Ananda Mida on Thee Facebooks

Go Down Records website

 

Strange Broue, Seance

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The heart of Séance – The Satanic Sounds of Strange Broue might come in the 11-minute sample dump that is “Cults and Crimes,” late into the second half of the 52-minute album. Capturing meticulously compiled news and talk-show clips from the late ‘80s, some of which talk about the Satanic roots of heavy metal, it gets to the ritualism that Quebec four-piece Strange Broue proliferate elsewhere on the record in the lo-fi post-Electric Wizard doom of “Satan’s Slaves,” “Kill What’s Inside of You” and the rolling opener “Ritualize” (video here). These pieces offset by other interludes of noise and drone and samples like “Satanic Panic,” “In Nomine Dei Nostri Satanis, Luciferi Excelsis,” the acoustic-until-it-gets-shot-in-the-woods “Las Bas,” the John Carpenter-esque “Séance IV – L’Invocation” and the extended penultimate drone of “Séance V – The Mystifying Oracle with Bells” ahead of the countrified pop gospel of “Satan is Real,” which finishes in subversive fashion, interrupted by more news reports and a finishing assault of noise. Like an arts project in the dark arts, Séance crosses some familiar terrain but finds Strange Broue on their own trip through cultish immersion, as psychological as it is psychedelic.

Strange Broue on Thee Facebooks

Sunmask Records webstore

 

Orango, The Mules of Nana

orango-the-mules-of-nana

Not much to argue with in the sixth long-player from Helge Kanck, Trond Slåke and Hallvard Gaardløs, collectively known as Orango. As they make their way onto Stickman Records (which also handled Euro distro for their last album, 2014’s Battles) with The Mules of Nana, the Norwegian trio deep-dive into harmony-topped ‘70s-style vibing that, well, leaves the bulk of “retro” bands in their V8-crafted dust. Mind you they do so by not being a retro band. True, the fuzz on “The Honeymoon Song” and “Head on Down” is as organic as if you happened on it in some forest where all the trees were wearing bellbottoms, but if you told me it was true, I’d believe Orango recorded The Mules of Nana onto – gasp! – a computer. I don’t know if that’s the case or not, but “Heirs,” the sweetly acoustic “Give Me a Hundred” and motoring “Hazy Chain of Mountains” find Orango making no attempt to cloak a lack of songwriting or performance chops in a production aesthetic. Rather, in the tradition of hi-fi greats, they sound as full and rich as possible and utterly live up to the high standard they set for themselves. Pure win in classic, dynamic fashion.

Orango on Thee Facebooks

Stickman Records website

 

Set and Setting, Reflectionless

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There’s an undercurrent of metal that’s quick to show itself on Set and Setting’s Reflectionless. The instrumentalist Floridian five-piece delve plenty deep into heavy post-rock on cuts like the shoegazing “Incandescent Gleam” and subsequent “Specular Wavefront Of…” but they’re not through opener “Saudade” before harder-edged chug emerges, and “…The Idyllic Realm”’s blastbeating nods at black metal while the churning endgame build of closer “Ephemerality” holds tight to a progressive execution. While its textural foundation will likely ring familiar to followers of Russian Circles ultimately, Reflectionless finds distinction in aligning the various paths it walks as it goes, creating an overarching flow that draws strength from its diversity of approach rather than sounding choppy, confused or in conflict with itself. Not revolutionary by any means, but engaging throughout and with a residual warmth to complement what might seem at first to be a purely cerebral approach. It offers more on repeat listens, so let it sink in.

Set and Setting on Thee Facebooks

Set and Setting webstore

 

Dautha, Den Foerste

dautha-den-foerste

Primo short offering of pure, fistpump-ready, violin-infused doom traditionalism. I don’t know what Norrköping, Sweden’s Dautha – the five-piece of vocalist Lars Palmqvist, guitarists Erik Öquist and Ola Blomkvist, bassist Emil Åström and drummer Micael Zetterberg – are planning to do for a follow-up, but this Den Foerste (or Den Förste) two-tracker recalls glory-era Candlemass and willfully soars with no sense of irony on “Benandanti” and “In Between Two Floods” after the intro “Horkarlar Skall Slås Ihjäl,” and having already sold out a self-released pressing leaves little to wonder what would’ve caught the esteemed tastes of Ván Records. And by that I mean it’s fucking awesome. I’m ready for a full-length whenever they are, and from the poise with which Palmqvist carries the melodies of these tracks, the quality of the riffing and the depth of arrangement the violin adds to the overarching mournfulness, they definitely sound ready. So get on it. 15 minutes of dirge-making this gorgeous simply isn’t enough.

Dautha on Thee Facebooks

Ván Records website

 

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Lizzard Wizzard Debut New Single “Dankrupt”

Posted in audiObelisk on January 13th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

lizzard wizzard

Brisbane four-piece Lizzard Wizzard will release a new 7″, titled Dankrupt, on Houdini Tapes. The two-track release picks up more or less where their 2013 self-titled (review here) left off, though the sound overall proves somewhat more severe this time around, if keeping to the same we-definitely-don’t-take-ourselves-too-seriously humor that made cuts like “Total Handjob Future” and “Bong Dive” such winners. Both “Dankrupt” and its companion, “The Ghost of Randy Savage” have a heaping dose of charm, guitarists Michael Clarke and Nick McKeon and bassist Stef Roselli trading vocals between all three Neurosis-style while drummer Luke Osborne holds down a Crowbar-esque plod behind: viciously lumbering, densely toned, baked at 450 degrees.

They’ve got a quick tour booked to promote the single later lizzard-wizzard-dankruptthis month, and today I have the pleasure of hosting “Dankrupt” itself for streaming. There isn’t much mystery to why the song works — feedback and a lumbering riff kicking in out of an initial wash of noise, the molasses progression topped by wailing shouts that only further the nod. I don’t know the lyrics, but the solo that takes hold just about halfway through is no less expressive than the vocals, the whole thing feeding into the lurching movement of the song itself, which seems to get more grueling as it goes on, stopping after about four minutes in for a quick drone-out before the punishing course resumes, ending with the last line, “forever stoned.”

Rumor has it that Lizzard Wizzard will themselves be unveiling “The Ghost of Randy Savage” later this week. That song is a minute longer and no less destructive sonically, but I’ll stop there to restrain myself from spoiling the surprise. Please find “Dankrupt” on the player below, followed by the tour dates, and enjoy:

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

lizzard wizzard tour dates

Lizzard Wizzard on tour:
01/22 The Old Bar, Melbourne
01/23 Crown & Anchor Hotel, Adelaide
01/24 Cosmos Rock Lounge, Marrickville
01/25 Town & Country Hotel, Sydney

Lizzard Wizzard on Thee Facebooks

Lizzard Wizzard on Bandcamp

Houdini Tapes

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Lizzard Wizzard Release Demo in Deluxe Tape Package

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 14th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

To those who might bemoan the miniscule reemergence of tapes as a cheap physical alternative to vinyl — which, as I understand it, everybody really enjoys looking at while continuing to stream music off their phones, laptops, etc. — there are few arguments to be made in terms of relative audio quality, but as in the case of Brisbane, Australia-based stoner foursome Lizzard Wizzard, there are instances where cassette releases provide an opportunity for creativity in packaging that other formats don’t, doubtless in no small part because they’re cheaper. Lizzard Wizzard, who’ve teamed with newcomer Los Angeles tape-specialist imprint Houdini Tapes, have issued their 2013 debut self-titled demo (review here) in a deluxe package that includes not only two pre-rolled smoking cones in a plastic container, but a 20-sided die and patch as well. For eight bucks.

Whatever else cassettes do, whatever formats they might be inferior to in some ways and superior in others, they offer a different experience of an album than CDs, than vinyl or digital media, and for that alone, never mind the options that a less costly production opens up, I consider them a valid alternative. Vinyl’s great, don’t get me wrong, and there are no shortage of purveyors doing interesting, creative things with that packaging as well, but I guess I don’t see why it needs to be a competition between one or the other instead of people being glad that a band like Lizzard Wizzard, still getting their start, can provide their followers with a product that fits their sonic personality that neither does the audio an injustice nor prices anyone on either side out of the market.

Not to get preachy, it’s just unfortunate to see cool releases and ideas get the shaft because of party lines being drawn between one format and another. Here are the specs on Lizzard Wizzard‘s Lizzard Wizzard, which you can also listen to and download below:

HDNI-001 LIZZARD WIZZARD “S/T”

7 tracks of dungeon crawling, bong ripping, tail losing and then regrowing, stoner doom from Brisbane, Australia.

For fans of Eyehategod, Electric Wizard, Sleep/Asbestos Death

Package Includes:
– 7 Track Cassette
– Translucent Green D20 die
– Green tube with 2 Empty Pre-rolled Smoke
Cones
– Screen printed patch

Limited to 150 Copies.

Listen to the album at:
lizzardwizzard.bandcamp.com
http://houdinitapes.storenvy.com/products/5669764-hdni-001-lizzard-wizzard-s-t

Lizzard Wizzard, Lizzard Wizzard (2013)

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Hotel Wrecking City Traders Announce New Album Ikiyro and European Touring

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 12th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Australian duo Hotel Wrecking City Traders have announced they’ll release their first long-player in six years’ time in the form of Ikiryo. What will be interesting to hear in the instrumental outfit’s sophomore outing is how much their songwriting will have been affected by their collaborations over the last several years with the like of Gary Arce (review here) and the more psychedelic influence they showed late last year on the live recording “Ode to Guinn” (video here). Their last physical release was a 2012 split with WaterWays and Sons of Alpha Centauri (review here), so really, the Matthews brothers have a wide open range of places they could take their sound, including the crunching noise rock elements that were the driving factor of their 2008 self-titled debut.

Much to look forward to, and if you’re in Europe, a cool chance to see them live. They’ll be at Desertfest in London and more, as the PR wire informs:

HOTEL WRECKING CITY TRADERS ‘ Ikiryo’ (2014)

Hotel Wrecking City Traders’ (HWCT) first full length LP since 2008’s ‘Black Yolk’. After a series of successful collaborations & splits with Desert Rock forefathers Gary Arce, Mario Lalli (Yawning Man/Fatso Jetson) and a steady bout of touring Australia and Japan, the urge to record as a duo again was something that was important. So was emphasizing the song and the melody and crafting the riff. ‘Ikiryo’ is a more harnessed beast and comprises 5 songs that were written over the course of a 3 month period at the end of 2013. They were recorded in a mere 2 days, in January, 2014. This time working with engineer Jason Fuller at his Goatsound Studios in Melbourne. Jason’s background is well known as being in the heavier more metal realm (Brutal Truth, Blood Duster). The band were sought out by Jason and invited to record, ironically entering the studio with some of the most melodic and concise songs of their existence. The result is a vivid sonic journey over the course of 40 minutes that sees HWCT’s new approach spread across 5 measured sonic explorations. Improvisational aspects are still present but so is a confident and measured velocity. This is evident in the album’s title, suggesting a spirit leaving the body and moving around freely. The album is heavy, mind altering and noisy and still undeniably HWCT.

1. Breath (7:40)
2. Riley (4:15)
3. Dance the Hempen Jig (4:49)
4. Tetryl (6:18)
5. Ikiry? (13:39)
BRO FIDELITY RECORDS [BroFi010]

HWCT:
Toby: Guitars
Ben : Drums

Ikiryo European Tour April/May 2014
Fri April 18th The Anvil, Bournemouth
Sat April 19th The Hole in the Wall, Colchester
Thu April 24th Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff
Fri April 25th Church of St Thomas the Martyr, Bristol w/The Body, Arabrot, Hey Colossus
Sat April 26th The Desertfest, London
Tue 29th April RockSound, Barcelona
Wed 30th April IncivicZone, Sant Feliu de Codines
Thu 1st May Lion Cafe, Benicarlo
Fri 2nd May La Residencia, Valencia
Sat 3rd May Métrica, Málaga
Sun 4th May Mondongo Bar, Puerto Santa María — Cádiz
Mon 5th May Cruce de Caminos, La Zubia — Granada
Tue 6th May Wurlitzer Ballroom, Madrid
Wed 7th May El Reino, Cabezón de La Sal
Thu 8th May Sentinel Rock Club, Erandio + MEIDO
Fri 9th May Mogambo, Donostia + ERROMA + MEIDO
Sat 10th May AVV Arrebato, Zaragoza

www.facebook.com/hotelwreckingcitytraders
www.hotelwreckingcitytraders.bandcamp.com
www.reverbnation.com/hwct
www.brofidelity.blogspot.com
www.wombatbooking.com

Hotel Wrecking City Traders, Ikiryo Euro Tour Promo

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The Obelisk Radio Add of the Week: Lizzard Wizzard, Lizzard Wizzard

Posted in Radio on November 20th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

I’ve expounded at some length before about the virtues of stoner rock charm, and with nerd-tastic references to South Park and Game of Thrones and role-playing games — they bill themselves both as “turn-based” and “four-player” — Brisbane, Australia’s quadruply-zedded Lizzard Wizzard most certainly have that working in their favor. The four-piece band self-released their 37-minute self-titled debut this week, and from the Dopesmoker-esque beginnings of “Twilight of the Terminator” to the almost unfortunately catchy lurch of “Total Handjob Future” — this is not a song you want to be singing as you walk, say, through the aisles of a grocery store on a weekday afternoon — the vibes are as lighthearted as the tones are heavy. Guitarist/vocalists Michael Clarke and Nick McKeon, bassist/vocalist Stef Roselli and drummer Luke Osborne find a nod-worthy balance of humor and crushing riffs, and while something in me seriously doubts that closer “Dogs Die in Hot Cars” was titled after the Scottish indie band of the same name, the awareness of pop culture only adds to the appeal of the album.

To wit, the gang-shout chorus of “Don’t forget your towel!” cribbing Towlie lines from South Park arrives over molasses grooving in the midsection of centerpiece “Bong Dive,” and only underscores what Lizzard Wizzard‘s Lizzard Wizzard is all about: Not taking itself too seriously but still being heavy as hell. Couple that with production that’s both huge and professionally crisp, and while they might be goofing around, Lizzard Wizzard ultimately come off as having a clear understanding of what they want to do as a band and how to do it. With “Game of Cones,” a sample of someone sparking a joint (or whatever the kids are calling it these days) and inhaling echoes over feedback before an oddly familiar riff begins and introduces what turns out to be the theme song of the HBO series based on George R. R. Martin‘s fantasy books redone as doom — a heavy genre that, if I may be so bold, has been sorely lacking in dragons for some time. The screaming verse and feedback in “Chaaaaarles” mounts a palpable tension that only starts to see release once the undulating bastard of a riff gets moving, so even though Lizzard Wizzard are obviously enjoying what they’re doing, they’re also crafting well-structured and effective material.

If that song’s making a reference to something other than a band in-joke, I don’t know what it is, but with talk of an “adamantium boner” and some accusations regarding illicit trying on of blouses, it’s pretty scathing. Meanwhile, “Twilight of the Terminator” breaks out “hail Sagan” and “Dogs Die in Hot Cars” actually winds up making a threat to those who’d abuse animals — the lines “Better be good to your pooch/Or you’ll taste my fuckin’ gooch” epitomize the mindset heard throughout — and while the emphasis is clearly on riffs across the board, the lyrics are a big part of what’s making the tracks stand out from each other and from the bevvy of fuzz-worshipers across various inhabited continents, even if the chanted “bongs, bongs, bongs” makes up three of the total five words included in “Reptile Dysfunction” (six if you count “yeah”). Sometimes that’s all you need to say.

Alright, maybe I’m a sucker for wordplay and big riffs, but I know I’m not alone. All seven tracks of Lizzard Wizzard are playing now in The Obelisk Radio‘s constant, unceasing stream, and you can hear them there and check out the album and grab a free download courtesy of the Bandcamp player below. However you go, go Sagan:

Lizzard Wizzard, Lizzard Wizzard (2013)

Lizzard Wizzard on Bandcamp

Lizzard Wizzard on Thee Facebooks

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The Dead, the Dying and the Dying to be Death Metal

Posted in Reviews on August 12th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

Originally self-released in 2009 in an edition of 100 copies, The Dead’s Ritual Executions now sees an issue 10 times its original breadth thanks to Diabolical Conquest Records, the label imprint of the extreme metal e-zine of the same name. The Brisbane, Australia, trio’s second album, Ritual Executions was remastered by Aphotic Mote of Portal and is a skillful blend of death and doom metal that has enough stoner groove in its riffing to satisfy the one end, and guttural so-called “Cookie Monster” vocals that’d make George “Corpsegrinder” Fischer or Glen Benton proud. It’s not death/doom in the European tradition, which would imply a My Dying Bride or early Paradise Lost kind of pacing and drama, but a rougher take that sews American-style metallic extremity to traditional stonerisms.

Ritual Executions opens with “Burn Your Dead,” a sort of mission statement for the zombie-obsessed The Dead that reaches over eight minutes and culls the aforementioned elements as smoothly as I’ve heard it done. Guitarist/bassist Adam Keleher riffs Electric Wizard-style, but the context for those riffs comes with Mike Yee’s low growling and Chris Morse’s heavy-footed double-kick, so it’s not like anything Electric Wizard has ever done. As the album proceeds, tracks like “Cannibal Abattoir” and “Centurion” up the death metal level, and album centerpiece “Born in a Grave,” opens up with some blast beats, seeming to approach the stoner/death thing from the other end until it locks in a ‘90s-ish groove in its verses. Yee’s vocals are unipolar. He screams high every now and then, but it’s death metal all the way, which for a release like Ritual Executions, is probably how it should be. Crooning over riffs as dirty as Keleher’s wouldn’t work anyway.

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