Review & Full Album Stream: Cowboys & Aliens, Horses of Rebellion

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on March 6th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

cowboys aliens horses of rebellion

[Click play above to stream Cowboys & Aliens’ Horses of Rebellion in its entirety. Album is out March 15 on Polderrecords.]

It’s been more than 20 years since Cowboys & Aliens got their start in 1997 with the long-out-of-print League of Fools, and as with anything, some stuff has changed and some hasn’t. The Bruges-based four-piece still put groove front and center of their approach, and one can still hear traces of Kyuss and earlier Astrosoniq in their approach, but as they release Horses of Rebellion through Polderrecords, the band’s melodic foundation remains strong, but they deliver their material with something of a sharper edge. To listen to songs like “Take a Good Look Around” or even the initial push of “Soaking,” the sound is still right in line with that initial wave of European late ’90s heavy rock, and Henk Vanhee‘s post-John Garcia vocal style speak to that timeframe as well, but the tones of guitarist John Pollentier are as hard as they are heavy, and with the fervent push of Peter Gaelens on drums and Tom Neirynck‘s bass, the album retains a metallic feel to coincide with its foundations in the riffy ways.

It runs a clean 11 songs/43 minutes all told, and makes a centerpiece of its catchiest hook in the title-track, but whether it’s a bruiser like “Morning Again” or the slower early going in “Sheep Bloody Sheep,” Cowboys & Aliens bring an efficiency to their delivery that speaks to their maturity as a band. It’s been a minute, though. While their landmark and widest-known release has always been 2000’s A Trip to Stonehenge Colony (on Buzzville), their last full-length was 2005’s Language of Superstars. In the intervening 14 years, the band broke up and (obviously) got back together, releasing two EPs earlier this decade in 2011’s Sandpaper Blues Knockout and 2013’s Surrounded by Enemies. Both of those releases continued to tap into fuzzier tonality and more of a rocking feel, not quite laid back, but not quite as on top of the beat as a cut like “Refuse” finds them here.

So why the change? Hell if I know. These are troubled times, and perhaps it’s some reflection of that, though songs like “Two Time a Man,” “Hollow,” and the closing duo of “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” and “Splendid Isolation” seem to speak to a more personal perspective than some broader social comment. Even “Refuse,” in the track itself, is preceded by an “I.” Fair enough. One way or the other, it seems safe to assume that the shift in approach — and it’s a shift more than a leap; something notable, but not drastic; they’re not suddenly djenting by any means — is purposeful given the band’s established tenure and the fact that Horses of Rebellion is their fifth long-player. It is very much a collection of songs rather than something composed as a full-length concept or thematic piece, but it flows well throughout its aggressive take, and is malleable in terms of tempo and general mood even though it stays on point as “Soaking” and “Still in the Shade” careen outward in a brisk seven-and-a-half-minute opening salvo that sets the vibe for the rest of what follows.

cowboys and aliens

“Two Time a Man” gives Neirynck‘s bass a well-earned showcase, and presents a more open verse, pulling back the throttle somewhat from the initial launch, but they hold firm to a hook and still have room at the end for a quick crescendo guitar solo ahead of “Sheep Bloody Sheep,” which is a foreshadow of the melodic highlight to come in the title-track and the longest inclusion at just over five minutes, still hitting hard, but doing it slower. Gaelens starts “Take a Good Look Around” and the first two minutes of the song build through a resonant chorus kept on point by a steady kick drum while Pollentier seems to bend the riff around the central groove, never losing it but walking the edge as he goes. When it comes at the start of side B, the subsequent title-track has more of a classic take and a hook made for sticking to the brain complemented by a start-stop verse riff and a swagger that much of Horses of Rebellion avoids. They rightly lean into that chorus even toward the end of the song, but it’s telling that when it’s over, the turn to “Morning Again” is immediate.

That is, there’s a beat of a pause, but that’s it. Only a beat. And even on a record full of relatively smooth transitions, that one stands out as capturing a live feel on the part of the band. Being as crisply produced as they are here, I don’t know how much Horses of Rebellion represents their onstage character — I’ve also never seen them, so that doesn’t help either — but that changeover certainly comes across as show-ready, and it works to keep the energy of the title-track going into “Morning Again,” which has a bounder of a riff at its core and works to keep the momentum going into “Hollow” and “Refuse,” which respectively pull back and push forward in terms of thrust, the latter being the most intense moment on the record since the opening and maybe overall as well. They follow with the solid groove and layered harmonies of “Walk a Mile in My Shoes,” mellowing out a bit in its second half but still keeping the proceedings to a tight four-minutes.

And they close out with “Splendid Isolation,” which — and I mean this in the best, laughingest way possible — is kind of a jerk move. At 2:20, the finale is naught but tense guitar strum and vocal lines. It’s building, you see. At any second, the listener is waiting for the song to absolutely explode, but it never does. Cowboys & Aliens are simply toying with their audience, putting what might otherwise have been first or at the beginning of a live set at the end of the record instead. The message, of course, comes through clearly enough: They’re just getting started. And for a band 22 years on from their debut, that’s no minor message to deliver as effectively as they do, but perhaps the intensity in some parts of Horses of Rebellion is mirroring an urgency behind the album’s creation in the first place, and if that’s so, one seriously doubts it will be another decade and a half before they’re heard from again. As much as their roots remain in the heavy rock of their initial era, their will to move forward is writ large in these songs.

Cowboys & Aliens on Bandcamp

Cowboys & Aliens on Thee Facebooks

Polderrecords website

Polderrecords on Thee Facebooks

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Cowboys & Aliens to Release Horses of Rebellion March 15

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 28th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

If you’re looking at the band moniker and thinking of the 2011 flop/would’ve-been-high-budget-blockbuster, the Belgian rockers predate it by more than a decade. In fact, taking their name presumably from the comic on which that movie was based, Belgian rockers Cowboys & Aliens predate the film by more than a decade. They formed in 1996 — ancient history by any measure; ha — and put out four records in the pre-social media era before fading out circa the middle of the last decade, only to return in this one. Still, a more than 20-year history backs them and Horses of Rebellion, which is due out March 15 on Polderrecords, will be their first long-player since 2005’s Language of Superstars, though they also had EPs out in 2011 and 2014.

Long-underrated European underground heavy rock looking to make a comeback after more than a decade from their last album? Yeah, you know that’s my jam.

Info follows here, courtesy of the PR wire:

cowboys and aliens

Polderrecords announces new album by Cowboys & Aliens

POLDERRECORDS is happy to announce the signing of Belgian’s finest stoner rock legends for their 5th full-length album ‘HORSES OF REBELLION’ out March, 2019.

Cowboys & Aliens is a four-piece stoner rock band from Bruges, Belgium. Formed in 1996, they released 4 full studio albums before falling into hiatus in 2006. The band reunited with the original lineup from ‘’ in 2011 with a brand new EP: “Sandpaper Blues Knockout” and gave a hell of a show at DesertFest Antwerp and opened up for Deep Purple (for the second time) at Vorst Nationaal. After playing countless festivals around Europe they released another EP in 2014: “Surrounded by Enemies” that took them once more to numerous stages in Belgium, Holland and Germany.

Now the time has come for their 5th full album: HORSES OF REBELLION to be released March 15th on POLDERRECORDS. The album was recorded and mixed by Pieter Nyckees at Shellshock Studio and mastered by Uwe Teichert at Elektropolis Brussels.

‘HORSES OF REBELLION’ is a classic guide on how to mix different styles into a breathtaking heavy cocktail. It’s all about melodic guitars and classic vocal harmonies, maintaining the riff-loaden grooves and ponderous rhythms Cowboys & Aliens are so well known for.

‘HORSES OF REBELLION’ is a diverse album with some punk attitude injections, classic stoner rock and the heavy edge of nineties grunge … and even an acoustic masterpiece!

Prepare yourself for a trip loaded with heavy fuzz, riffs and catchy melodies.

Brace yourself for impact soon as the album will release digitally on Cowboys & Aliens Bandcamp and all streaming platforms March 1st, 2019 and get ready to groove along to an absolute monster of an album! CD and Vinyl release: March 15th, 2019.

PR018 – COWBOYS AND ALIENS – ‘HORSES OF REBELLION’,
out on cd and vinyl March 15th, 2019.

COWBOYS AND ALIENS are:
John Pollentier – Guitar
Henk Vanhee – Vocals
Peter Gaelens – Drums
Tom Neirynck – Bass

All songs written,arranged and produced by COWBOYS & ALIENS
All lyrics by Henk V.
Recorded and mixed at Shellshock Studio by Pieter Nyckees.
Mastered at Electropolis Brussels by Uwe Teichert.
Artwork by Sandy Verfaille (Inksane Tattoo)
Photos by Trees Rommelaere
Layout & design by Tom Maene and Henk V.

Track listing:
Side A
Soaking – 04:05
Still in the Shade – 03:37
Two Times a Man – 04:45
Sheep Bloody Sheep – 05:01
Take a Good Look Around – 04:22

Side B
Horses of Rebellion – 03:59
Morning Again – 04:14
Hollow – 03:42
Refuse – 03:11
Walk a Mile in my Shoes – 04:21
Splendid Isolation – 02:20

https://cowboysandaliens.bandcamp.com
http://www.facebook.com/cowboysandaliensgrooves/
http://www.polderrecords.be

Cowboys & Aliens, Surrounded by Enemies (2013)

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The Heavy Crown Sign to Cursed Tongue Records for Reign On Vinyl Release

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 31st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

the heavy crown (Photo by Jana Germanus)

I had a feeling it would be Cursed Tongue. I used context clues! But basically it’s not a stretch to think of The Heavy Crown putting out their second album, the impending Reign On, through the label that has shown such a penchant for taste in its choice of releases. I’m curious to hear how some of the sci-fi aspects noted below come together, as when the artwork was first posted there was little actually said about the sound of the record itself. Their debut, 2015’s Full of Haze, was and remains an organ-laced classic heavy rocker through and through. Given all they’ve been through since with the 2016 passing of drummer Jelle “Lil Bonham” Tommeleyn, it’s not a wonder their style would have shifted some, but the question of how much is an intriguing one going into the album’s release.

We won’t have to wait long to find out. As Cursed Tongue begins its preorders in a couple weeks for the vinyl due early in 2019 — I see “March” listed below, so fair enough — the band will also release the album digitally on Nov. 3, so the audio will be out. And because I have no concept of the passage of time, I’ll note that Nov. 3 is this coming Saturday.

The PR wire tells the full story:

the heavy crown cursed tongue poster

THE HEAVY CROWN SIGNS TO CURSED TONGUE RECORDS FOR A WORLD WIDE RELEASE OF THEIR SECOND ALBUM ‘REIGN ON’ SCHEDULED FOR EARLY 2019.

Rarely have we as a label been this psyched for an imminent Cursed Tongue Records release and even more so honored to be given the chance to work with Belgium’s own The Heeavy Crown on releasing their absolutely stunning sophomore album. Following the wake of turmoil caused by the untimely and sad passing of their previous drummer Jelle Tømmeleyn, The Heavy Crown have managed to turn something utterly devastating into a figure of immmense beauty. ‘Reign On’ is a soothing, sonic sculpture that despite projecting sheer heartache commands full attention and leaves you replenished and rejuvenated.

‘Reign On’ will be out digitally on November 3rd, 2018 in honor of the passing of ‘Lil Bonham. With the vinyl release via Cursed Tongue Records slated around March 2019. Pre-orders will be follow shortly after the digital release, more info on that in due time.

BIO:

I : “FULL OF HAZE” (2014-2016)

Heavy and groovy powertrio from Bruges, with subtle psychedelic and soulful influences. And a less subtle wink to stellar bands from the late sixties and seventies era, although with a contemporary and original sound.

Instantly making sense upon the first spin, “Full of Haze” will please many young listeners in search of that epicness of before-mentioned decades, and will strike an equal amount of people with pure nostalgic joy…

Already highly praised for its originality and well-executed songwriting by many of the underground scene, but THE HEAVY CROWN was not planning on slowing down after their first record yet.

II : “LIL’ BONHAM” (2016-2018)

Nonetheless, the band took an indefinite hiatus and was forced into inactivity following the very sudden and untimely death of drummer Jelle Tommeleyn in the winter of 2016. Future plans -both musical and personal- had made way for a prolonged time of intense grief and disorientation…

When the phase of involuntary acceptance came along many months later, remaining members Tristan and Jasper decided to carry on with the THE HEAVY CROWN in honour of their deceased friend, and to preserve the love, contribution and effort he had put into the band.

III: “REIGN ON” (2018-…)

Inspired by the tragedy that took place two years earlier, THE HEAVY CROWN wrote a sophomore record entitled “Reign On”, and released it on the day the departed drummer would’ve celebrated his 27th birthday (and coincidentally, the day their new drummer Stan turned 22). The concept album tells a cosmic tale with “Lil’ Bonham” acting as the main protagonist, portraying a metaphorical astronaut trying to find a way to communicate with his loved ones from outer space, which is resembled by afterlife and death.

Escapism and the power of imagination, loss and grief, being lost in space, wandering the afterlife realms, renewal and hope, healing through love, acceptance of the impermanent,… These main themes drove the band to take a new creative path, adapting a more progressive, psychedelic, spaced-out melancholic sound influenced by sci-fi and analog synth culture. Although staying true to the roots of the catchiness in songwriting and the vintage flavour the band was originated in, these new elements almost seem synonymous with rebirth and revival…

‘Reign On’ will be out on high quality, heavy weight vinyl via Cursed Tongue Records around March 2019.

Pre-orders will be available via Cursed Tongue Records bigcartel store: http://cursedtonguerecords.bigcartel.com/

CTR-017 The Heavy Crown – ‘Reign On’, vinyl official release date: exact date TBA, Spring 2019

All music and lyrics written by THE HEAVY CROWN
Produced by THE HEAVY CROWN
Recorded by Ace Zec & Tristan Vandenbouhede
Mixed by Jasper Govaerts
Mastered by Alan Douches
Artwork by Charles Degeyter
Photography by Jana Germanus

Track listing:

Side A
1. Becoming…
2. The Escapist
3. Reign On
4. Greenish Brown
5. Venus Gold

Side B
6. Won’t You Stay
7. Three Swans
8. Wicked Lady
9. Lovers Remorse
10.Goodnight, Moon

The Heavy Crown is:
Tristan Vandenbouhede • Bass, Keys & Vocals
Jasper Govaerts • Guitars
Stan Van Acker • Drums

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

The Heavy Crown, Full of Haze (2015)

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The Heavy Crown Post Cover & Tracklisting for Reign On; Album out Nov. 3

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 19th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

the heavy crown (Photo by Jana Germanus)

Organ-ic Belgian rockers The Heavy Crown will release their second album in just a few short weeks. Titled Reign On, the 10-song offering will be out digitally first on Nov. 3 with vinyl to follow, presumably next year through a yet-to-be-announced label. I’ve got a guess which one it’ll be, and you might too, but I’d rather wait and see if I’m right than engage in baseless or mostly-baseless speculation in that regard. Hedging my bets, maybe.

I guess the digital release is basically going to be as soon as it’s mastered, since they’re finishing up the mix currently and then will send it off to Alan Douches (rhymes with “couches”) to be finalized. Their debut release was 2015’s Full of Haze, which you can stream at the bottom of this post. Easy to hear why some (yet unnamed) label would want to pick them up.

Karate chop:

the heavy crown reign on

Mixing is almost done, so in the meanwhile feast your eyes on the amazing artwork our buddy Charles made for our second record, entitled “Reign On”.

“Reign On” will tell a semi-autobiographical tale about escapism and the power of imagination, loss and grief, being lost in space, wandering the afterlife realms, renewal and hope, healing through love, and acceptance of the impermanent among the many other difficulties of life as we know it. We guess you could call it a concept album…

Mastering will be done by Alan Douches (also mastered “Full of Haze” in 2015), known for working on world-renowned records by Motörhead, High on Fire, Baroness, Converge,… so we are beyond excited to release this one into the universe.

Reign On tracklisting:
1. Becoming…
2. The Escapist
3. Reign On
4. Greenish Brown
5. Venus Gold
6. Won’t You Stay
7. Three Swans
8. Wicked Lady
9. Lover’s Remorse
10. Goodnight, Moon

“Reign On” will be available on Spotify and other digital platforms November 3, vinyl pre-order (both regular and limited edition) launching shortly thereafter.

https://www.facebook.com/wearetheheavycrown/
https://www.instagram.com/theheavycrown
https://wearetheheavycrown.bandcamp.com/

The Heavy Crown, Full of Haze (2015)

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