Quarterly Review: Mos Generator, Psychic Lemon, Planet of Zeus, Brass Hearse, Mother Turtle, The Legendary Flower Punk, Slow, OKO, Vug, Ultracombo

Posted in Reviews on January 6th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

I’d like to hope y’all know the drill by now. It’s the Quarterly Review. We do it (roughly) every quarter. The idea is 10 reviews per day for a Monday to Friday span, running 50 total. I sometimes do more. Sometimes not. Kind of depends on the barrage and how poorly I’ve been doing in general with keeping up on stuff. This time is ‘just’ 50, so there you go. You’ll see some bigger names this week and some stuff that’s come my way of late that I’ve been digging and wanting to check out. It’s a lot of rock, which I like, and a few things I’m writing about basically as a favor to myself because, you know, self-care and all that.

But staring down the barrel of 50 reviews over the next few days has me as apprehensive and how-the-hell-is-this-gonna-happen as ever, so I think I’ll just get to it and jump in. No time to waste.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Mos Generator, Exiles

mos generator exiles

Worth it just for the Sabbath cover? Most definitely. As Mos Generator take on “Air Dance” from Never Say Die as part of the Glory or Death Records LP compilation release, Exiles, they blend the proggy swagger of later-’70s Iommi leads with the baseline acoustic guitar fluidity that makes those final Ozzy-era records so appealing in hindsight. It’s just one of the six reasons to take on Exiles however. The A side comprises three outtakes from 2018’s Shadowlands (review here), and guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed‘s Big Scenic Nowhere bandmate Bob Balch sits in on “Battah,” while a duly manic reworking of Van Halen‘s “Light up the Sky,” the Black Sabbath track and a live version of Rush‘s “Anthem” from 2016 make up side B. It’s a quick listen and it’s Mos Generator. It may be a stopgap on the way to whatever they’re doing next, but if you think about it, so is everything, and that’s no reason not to jump in either for the covers or the originals, both of which are up to the band’s own high standard of output.

Mos Generator on Thee Facebooks

Glory or Death Records on Bandcamp

 

Psychic Lemon, Freak Mammal

psychic lemon freak mammal

The distorted wails of Andy Briston‘s guitar echo out of Freak Mammal — the five-track/46-minute third LP from London’s Psychic Lemon — like a clarion to the lysergic converted. A call to prayer for those worshiping the nebulous void, not so much kept to earth by Andy Hibberd‘s bass and Martin Law‘s drums as given a solidified course toward the infinite far out. Of course centerpiece “Afrotropic Bomb” digs into some Ethiopian groove — that particular shuffling mania — and I won’t take away from the lower buzz of “Free Electron Collective” or the tense hi-hat cutting through all that tonal wash or the ultra-spaced blowout that caps six-minute finale “White Light,” but give me the self-aware mellower jaunt that is the 13-minute second track “Seeds of Tranquility” any day, following opener “Dark Matter” as it does with what would be a blissful drift but for the exciting rhythmic work taking place beneath the peaceful guitar, and the later synthesized voices providing a choral melody that seems all the more playfully grandiose, befitting the notion of Freak Mammal as a ceremony or at very least some kind of lost ritual. Someday they’ll dig up the right pyramid and call the aliens back. Until then, Psychic Lemon let us imagine what might happen after they return.

Psychic Lemon on Thee Facebooks

Drone Rock Records website

 

Planet of Zeus, Faith in Physics

PLANET OF ZEUS FAITH IN PHYSICS

There’s a context of social commentary to Planet of ZeusFaith in Physics that makes one wonder if perhaps the title doesn’t refer to gravity in terms of what-goes-up-must-come-down as it might apply to class hierarchy. The mighty, ready to fall, and so on. Songs like the post-Clutch fuzz roller “Man vs. God” and “Revolution Cookbook” (video premiere here) would seem to support that idea, but one way or the other, as the later “Let Them Burn” digs into a hook that reminds of Killing Joke and the dense bass of eight-minute closer “King of the Circus” provides due atmospheric madness for our times, there’s a sense of grander statement happening across the album. The Athens-based outfit make a centerpiece of the starts and stops in “All These Happy People” and remind that whatever the message, the medium remains top quality heavy rock and roll songcraft, which is something they’ve become all the more reliable to deliver. The more pointed perspective than they showed on 2016’s Loyal to the Pack suits them, but it’s the nuance of electronics and arrangements of vocals and guitar on cuts like “The Great Liar” that carry them through here. If you believe in gravity, Planet of Zeus have plenty on offer.

Planet of Zeus on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Brass Hearse, Oneiric Afterlife

brass hearse oneiric afterlife

Experimentalist keyboard-laced psychedelic goth your thing? Well, of course it is. You’re in luck then as Brass Hearse — an offshoot of once madly prolific Boston outfit Ice Dragon — unveil three new songs (plus an intro) with the Oneiric Afterlife and in 10 minutes work to unravel about 30 years of genre convention while still tying their material to memorable hooks. “Bleed Neon,” “Indigo Dust” and “Only Forever” seem simple on the surface, and none of them touch four minutes long, let alone “A Gesture to Make a Stop,” the 26-second introduction, but their refusal of stylistic constraint is as palpable as it is admirable, with a blend of folk guitar and dark-dance-party keys and percussive insistence on “Bleed Neon” and a ’60s Halloweeny rock organ line in “Only Forever” that’s complemented by low-end fuzz and a chorus that would rightly embarrass Ghost if they heard it. In comparison, “Indigo Dust” is serene in its presentation, but even there is a depth of arrangement of keys, guitar, bass and drums, and the skill tying it all together as a cohesive sound is not to be understated. A quick listen with a lot to unpack, it’s not going to be everyone’s thing, but those who get it will be hit hard and rightly so.

Brass Hearse on Thee Facebooks

Brass Hearse on Bandcamp

 

Mother Turtle, Three Sides to Every Story

mother turtle three sides to every story

The first of three tracks on Greek progwinders Mother Turtle‘s fourth LP, Three Sides to Every Story, “Zigu Zigu,” would seem to cap with a message of congratulations: “You’ve listened to three musicians indulging themselves with some kind of weird instrumental music.” It then goes on to question its own instrumentalism, because it has the words presently being spoken, continuing in this manner until a long fadeout of guitar leads to the funky start of the 15-minute-long “Notwatch.” Good fun, in other words. Mother Turtle maybe aren’t so weird as they think they are, but they are duly adventurous and obviously joyful in their undertaking, bringing chants in over drifting guitar and synth swirl in “Notwatch” before building to a crescendo of rock guitar and organ, ultimately dominated by a solo as it would almost have to be, before intertwining piano lines in 16:46 closer “A Christmas Postcard from Kim” lead to further shenanigans, vocal experimentation, plays on metal, holiday shimmer, and a fade into the close. At 38 minutes, Three Sides to Every Story doesn’t at all overstay its welcome, but neither is it an exercise looking for audience engagement in the traditional sense. Rather, it resonates its glee through its offbeat sensibility and thus works on its own level to craft a hook. One can’t help but smile while listening to the fun being had.

Mother Turtle on Thee Facebooks

Sound Effect Records website

 

The Legendary Flower Punk, Wabi Wu

The Legendary Flower Punk Wabi Wu

It is something to consider, perhaps as you dive into the nine-minute “Prince Mojito” on The Legendary Flower Punk‘s Wabi Wu, that the band started as a psych-folk solo-project. Currently working as a core trio plus a range of guests, the Russian troupe make their debut on Tonzonen with the brazenly prog seven-tracker, totaling just a 44-minute run but with a range that would seem to be much broader. Alternately jazzy and synth-laden, technically intricate but never overly showy, pieces like the bass-led “Azulejo” and the penultimate “Trance Fusion På Ryska” present a meeting of the minds with founding guitarist Kamille Sharapodinov at the center of most compositions, he and bassist Mike Lopakov and drummer Nick Kunavin digging into nothing’s-off-limits textures from fusion onward through New Wave and dub. The abiding rule followed seems to be whatever moves the band about a given track is what they roll with, and though The Legendary Flower Punk has evolved well beyond its origins, there’s still a bit of flower and still a bit of punk amid all the legends being made. Good luck keeping up with it.

The Legendary Flower Punk on Bandcamp

Tonzonen Records website

 

Slow, VI – Dantalion

Slow VI Dantalion

With the follow-up to 2018’s V – Oceans (review here), Belgian duo Slow rattle off another 78 minutes of utterly consuming, crushing, atmospheric and melancholic funeral doom like it’s absolutely nothing. Well, not like it’s nothing — more like it’s a weight on their very soul — but even so. Issued through Aural Music, VI – Dantlion brings the two-piece of guitarist/vocalist/drummer Déhà and bassist/lyricist Lore B. once again into the grueling, megalithic churn of self-inflicted riff-punishment that’s so encompassing, so dark, so deep and so dramatic it almost can’t help but also be beautiful. To wit, second track “Lueur” is a 17-minute downward journey into ambient brutalism, yet as it moves toward the midsection one can still hear melodic elements of keyboard and orchestral sounds peaking through. There is letup in the lush finale “Elégie,” but to get there, you have to make your way through “Incendiaire,” which is possibly the most extreme movement of the seven inclusions. Though frankly, after a while, you’re buried so far down by Slow‘s glorious miseries that it’s hard to tell. The world needs this band. They are what humanity would sound like if it was ever honest with itself.

Slow on Thee Facebooks

Aural Music on Bandcamp

 

OKO, Haze

oko haze

Adelaide, Australia, newcomers OKO present their debut EP in the form of Haze, a 14:44 single-song outing that sees the instrumental three-piece of guitarist Nick Nancarrow, bassist Tyson Ruch and drummer Ash Matthews tap into organic heavy psych vibes while working cross-planet with Justin Pizzoferrato (known for his work with Elder, among others) on the mix and master. The resulting one-tracker has a clarity in its drum sound and clean feel that one suspects might speak of more progressive intentions on the part of OKO in the longer term, but as they are here they have a sense of tonal warmth that serves them well across the unpretentious span of “Haze” itself, the winding riff inevitably bringing to mind some of Colour Haze‘s jammier work but still managing to find its own direction. I hear no reason OKO can’t do the same, regardless of the influences they’re working under in terms of sound. Further, the longform modus suits them, and while future work will inherently develop some variety in general approach, the natural exploration they undertake on this first outing easily holds attention for its span and is fluid enough that, had they wanted, they could have pushed it further.

OKO on Thee Facebooks

OKO website

 

Vug, Onyx

vug onyx

Vug are not the first European heavy rock band to blend vintage methods with modern production. They’re not the first band to take classic swagger and drum urgency and meld it with a pervasive sense of vocal soul. I’m not sure I’d tell them that though, because frankly, they’re doing pretty well with it. At its strongest, their Tonzonen-released sophomore outing, Onyx, recalls Thin Lizzy via, yes, Graveyard, but there’s enough clarity of intention behind the work to make it plain they know where they’re coming from. Such was the case as well with their 2018 self-titled debut (review here), and though they’ve had some lineup turnover since that first offering, the self-produced four-piece bring a character to their material on songs like “Tired Of” and the penultimate boogier “Inferno” before closing with the acoustic “Todbringer” — a mirror of side A’s “On My Own” — that they carry the classic-style 39-minute long-player off without a hitch, seeming to prep the heavy ’10s for a journey into a new decade.

Vug on Thee Facebooks

Noisolution webstore

 

Ultracombo, Season 1

Ultracombo Season 1

As the title hints, the Season 1 EP is the debut from Italy’s Ultracombo, and with it, the five-piece of vocalist Alessio Guarda, guitarists Alberto Biasin and Giordano Tasson, bassist Giordano Pajarin and drummer Flavio Gola work quickly to build the forward momentum that brings them front-to-back through the 23-minute five-track release. “Flusso” and opener “The King” feel particularly drawn from an earlier Truckfighters influence, but Guarda‘s vocals are a distinguishing factor amidst all that ensuing fuzz and straight-ahead drive, and in “Sparatutto” and the closer “Il Momento in Cui Non Penso,” they seem to strip their approach to its most basic aspects and bring together the tonal thickness and melodicism that’s been at root in their sound overall. The subtlety, such as it is, is to be found in their songwriting, which results in tracks that transcend language barriers through sheer catchiness. That bodes better for them on subsequent outings better than a wall o’ fuzz ever could, though of course that doesn’t hurt them either, especially their first time out.

Ultracombo on Thee Facebooks

Ultracombo on Bandcamp

 

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My Diligence Premiere “An Asteroidal Arrow” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 23rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

my diligence

On its surface, the track in question is an odd choice for My Diligence‘s new video. The Belgium-based studio trio/live four-piece have hooks a-plenty throughout the entirety of their Sun Rose LP, released this past January through Mottow Soundz. No shortage thereof. And the structures of songs like opener “Resentful” or the speedy “Flying Poney” (sic) are relatively straightforward, the latter owing its speed-into-crash-with-major-key-melody almost purely to Torche. By contrast, “An Asteroidal Arrow” is an atmospheric linear build, departing from the swaying chug of an earlier piece like “Backstabber” or the bounce of the later “So Pretty So Cruel” or even the surging wash of the penultimate “Serpentine” to do its own thing. It doesn’t really represent the rest of the record, which is their second behind 2015’s self-titled, at all. The vocals don’t even come in until, what, after three minutes into a four-minute song?

But then I think maybe that’s the point. And once you actually watch the clip, it makes a little more sense. There’s a story being told with the “An Asteroidal Arrow” video through the actual visuals themselves. Don’t expect a lot of flashing lights with this one — it’s more cinematic, and we see a young dancer failing time and again and eventually finding her way through the routine she’s trying to do. It’s more movie montage than rock video, to put it another way, but “An Asteroidal Arrow” is definitely suited to that kind of presentation, and it makes the alignment between the visual story — there’s no dialogue and none really needed — and the song itself all the more satisfying. My Diligence worked with director Paul Thoreau and dancer Hanne Vand Driessche on the piece and I have to think if there was a vision they started out with, it’s been entirely realized. Story and song each work to enhance the other. You can’t really ask more from a video than that.

Clip follows here, tailed by the credits and more info on the album, which you can also stream toward the bottom of the post.

Please enjoy:

My Diligence, “An Asteroidal Arrow” video premiere

A Lullabies Prod production.
Réalisé avec le soutien de la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles

Dancer – Choreographer . Hanne Vand Driessche
Writer – Director – Editor . Paul Thoreau
Production manager . Robin Paul
Director of photography – Colorist . Edouard Chandelle
Set Design – Swiss Army Human . Mathilde Pepinster
Location Manager . Frederic Delescaille
Make up Artist . Kim Glineur
Stylist . Chloe Thielemans
Catering . Pueblo Latino

Rising up from the streets of Brussels, My Diligence is a band that in recent years have come to transcend rock in their native Belgium with a skill and ease reminiscent of their transatlantic peers. For fans already in the know, the progressive rock aplomb of established acts like Torche, Helmet and Elder resonate wildly in their sound. Big, bold and high in intensity, the Belgian trio deliver a non-stop, ass kicking brand of no-nonsense rock ‘n’ roll that scorches the sky, while leveling the playing field.

The success of their 2014 EP, Who Killed The Driver, along with their self-titled debut album from 2015 showcased as much, and at the same time laid down the foundations for Sun Rose, their eagerly awaited follow-up album, due for release this January on Mottow Soundz. Recorded at Studio Pyramide by producer François Vincent (Romano Nervoso, Thot), Sun Rose features a heavy mix of riffs – bigger and more bombastic than ever – interwoven with sincere lyrics and unforgettable grooves, and capture the trio’s fresh and exciting ideas around how they feel rock should sound.

MY DILIGENCE:
John Sailor – Vocals, Guitars
François Peeters – Guitars
Gabriel Marlier – Drums
Romain Lafuite – Moog (live)

My Diligence, Sun Rose (2019)

My Diligence on Thee Facebooks

My Diligence on Instagram

My Diligence on Bandcamp

Mottow Soundz on Thee Facebook

Mottow Soundz website

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The Progerians Premiere “Destitute” Video; Crush the Wise Men Who Refuse to Submit out Friday

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the progerians

Whatever else might be going on in The Progerians‘ second album, there’s plenty of crushing to be had. The Belgian four-piece will issue Crush the Wise Men Who Refuse to Submit this Friday, May 24, through Mottow Soundz, and as its willfully unmanageable 62-minute run is set out across four sides of a double-LP, the band bask in a more atmospheric roll lent an immediately socio-political context through from the album’s title. I won’t claim to know where the band stands the right-left spectrum — they’re not wearing yellow vests in their press shot, so that’s something, I guess — but the cover art depicting industrialists as devils, the title and the lumbering atmospheric noise rock that pervades the album itself certainly speak to a given perspective, and though they seem to be treading a fine line in the album’s aesthetic as regards Europe’s history of who takes the blame for such things, delving into that particular discrimination does not necessarily automatically follow from an anti-capitalist stance.

Opening cut “Frankie Leads to Death” and the subsequent “Destitute” set the tone for the rest of what follows in a viscous groove and moments of harsher bite, shouted vocals presaging some of the more spoken approach on “Hold Your Cross” The Progerians Crush the Wise Men Who Refuse to Submitbefore the drift of “Oceania” on side B. The most intense moment is reserved for the early going of the semi-title-track “Crush the Wise Men,” but The Progerians demonstrate on the whole a rich take that moves beyond the foundations of noise rock into more complex territory, trading off volume and thrust throughout “Hello World” and “Netjeret” while continuing to stay within the central aggressive mood of “Frankie Leads to Death” — which liquor might be called “Frankie?” — and “Destitute” back on side A. As the album unfolds, it successfully builds a linear course on this, leading to the closer “Your Manifest,” which feels extra weighted despite its melodic vocals and lead guitar cutting through the low-end morass.

Is it very, very heavy? Why yes, it is. Thank you for asking.

And it’s timely, not just for the prior-alluded unrest among Europe’s working populace, but also for the manner in which it presents its take, emphasizing heft and groove but not forsaking melody any more than it wants to in order to do so. It is a consuming offering that by the time it digs into the foreboding layering of guitar in “Hello World” and the subsequent near-mathy chug and big chorus of “Graven” on side C makes its presence felt in a way that would almost seem to indicate The Progerians have outgrown their moniker — they started out as The Fabulous Progerians for their 2015 debut (discussed here) — or at least that they would have were they still not so gosh darn progressive in their approach.

Dig the satisfying brutal blend for yourself on “Destitute” by checking out the video premiere below, followed by more album info from the PR wire.

And please enjoy:

The Progerians, “Destitute” official video premiere

Formally known as ‘The Fabulous Progerians’ and ‘The Mighty Progerians’, the band’s first official release in 2012 was the 6-track EP, Degeneration (Hannibal’s Records). Over the years they worked to hone their sound into a unique sonic signature, one which was crystalized forever more on their 2015 debut album, The Fabulous Progerians. Widely known for their powerful live performances, following the critical success of their debut the band were invited to perform at legendary festivals across Europe, appearing on bills at DesertFest and Roadburn.

Fast forward to 2019 and with the help of Mottow Soundz – another Belgian rock institution and home to heavyweights like My Diligence and cult rockers, La Muerte – The Progerians will serve their second and most ambitious record to date. Standing on the shoulder of sheer ambition, Crush The Wise Men Who Refuse To Submit, invites listeners on a hour-long journey, deep into the depths of spirit and substance in an attempt to sever all ties with inner demons. In no uncertain terms, it’s a devastating record and one you’d be crazy to miss.

Crush The Wise Men Who Refuse To Submit, the brand new album from The Progerians is released on 24th May 2019 on Mottow Soundz and can be pre-ordered here – https://www.mottowsoundz.com/music/progerians-vinyl

THE PROGERIANS:
Fabe – Vocals, Guitar
Piotr – Vocals, Bass Guitar
Thomas – Vocals, Drums
Barto – Guitar

The Progerians on Bandcamp

The Progerians on Thee Facebooks

Mottow Soundz website

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My Diligence Set Jan. 25 Release for Sun Rose; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 22nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

my diligence

I was listening to the new streaming My Diligence track just now as I was getting ready to write this post. I’ve never heard the Belgian band before. They had an EP out in 2014 and a self-titled LP in 2015 — where was I on it? well, I suck, so I was probably around here somewhere and just missed them — but my out-loud response to “Resentful” was to nod my head and say the word “solid.” You’ll hear why about two and a half minutes into the song.

“Resentful” opens the full-length Sun Rose, which will be released Jan. 25 on Mottow Soundz, and sets up a pretty broad cast of influences they’re working from, so this is the part where I tell you I’m interested to hear the rest of the record. If you are too, preorders are up now, and I’m quite sure there will be more audio unveiled before the record itself, so, you know, keep an eye out.

Here’s info from the PR wire:

my diligence sun rose

Belgian heavy psych trio MY DILIGENCE to release new album on Mottow Soundz | Stream and share new song ‘Resentful’ now!

Pre-order HERE

Rising up from the streets of Brussels, My Diligence is a band that in recent years have come to transcend rock in their native Belgium with a skill and ease reminiscent of their transatlantic peers.

For fans already in the know, the progressive rock aplomb of established acts like Torche, Helmet and Elder resonate wildly in their sound. Big, bold and high in intensity, the Belgian trio deliver a non-stop, ass kicking brand of no-nonsense rock ‘n’ roll that scorches the sky, while leveling the playing field.

The success of their 2014 EP, Who Killed The Driver, along with their self-titled debut album from 2015 showcased as much, and at the same time laid down the foundations for Sun Rose, their eagerly awaited follow-up album, due for release this January on Mottow Soundz. Recorded at Studio Pyramide by producer François Vincent (Romano Nervoso, Thot), Sun Rose features a heavy mix of riffs – bigger and more bombastic than ever – interwoven with sincere lyrics and unforgettable grooves, like those found on ‘Resentful’, and capture the trio’s fresh and exciting ideas around how they feel rock should sound. As drummer Gabriel Marlier explains:

“‘Resentful’ was actually the first song we wrote when we started writing our second album. We wanted to push things forward and become heavier than ever and this song in particular signals a rebirth of My Diligence. My Diligence Mk. II. After our previous bassist’s departure we just wanted to two guitarists, one drummer and a chance to get rid of the past and focus on the future. The song is about addiction and we had no doubt about it, it had to open Sun Rose.”

Fully realised and breath-taking in its execution, Sun Rose is a remarkable take on twenty-first century rock ‘n’ roll and one that will capture the hearts and ears of those seeking more.

My Diligence’s new album, Sun Rose, will be released on Friday 25th January 2019 on Mottow Soundz and the band will host an official release party at Botanique, Brussels on Wednesday 30th January – https://www.botanique.be/fr/activite/my-diligence-s-o-r-o-r-300119

Album art by Elzo Durt – www.elzodurt.com

Recorded at Studio Pyramide by François Vincent
Mixed at Studio DHEE by Kasper De Sutter
Mastered at MyRoom par Raphaël Bovey

TRACK LISTING:
1. Resentful
2. Hunt the Hunter
3. Backstabber
4. An Asteroidal Arrow
5. Flying Poney
6. Lecter’s Song
7. So Pretty So Cruel
8. Serpentine
9. Unreal

MY DILIGENCE:
John Sailor – Vocals, Guitars
François Peeters – Guitars
Gabriel Marlier – Drums

http://www.facebook.com/mydiligence
https://www.instagram.com/mydiligence/
https://twitter.com/mydiligence
https://vi.be/mydiligence
https://mydiligence.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/MottowSoundz
https://twitter.com/mottowsoundz
https://www.mottowsoundz.com/

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Slow, V – Oceans: Drawn by the Ebb

Posted in Reviews on November 29th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

slow v oceans

Belgium’s Slow isn’t the first one-man outfit to wade into the aural cess of funeral doom metal by any means, but it goes in particularly resonant fashion. Helmed by multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and recording engineer Déhá Amsg — whose lengthy pedigree of projects includes Clouds, El Camino, Yhdarl and We all Die (Laughing), among a slew of others — the band’s name is properly written as the all-caps acronym SLOW, standing for ‘Silence Lives Out/Over Whirlpool,’ which was also the subtitle of the first full-length I from the project in 2009. The five-track/57-minute V – Oceans is the latest release, issued by GS Productions earlier in 2017 and picked up by Italian imprint Code666 for wider distribution, and it is a gloriously grueling affair.

Funeral doom has never been and will never be for everyone. By its very nature, it is an extreme form of music. With Slow, the pieces on V – Oceans each top 10 minutes, and the only time there’s much of an escape from the ultra-lumbering, churning tempo is in the 14-minute centerpiece “Déluge,” which veers eventually from its piano/keyboard intro into blastbeats. Otherwise, songs like “Ténèbres” and opener “Aurore” carry forth a wrought emotionalism through largely indecipherable echoing growls and dramatic but not necessarily theatrical arrangements, placed in such a way next to each other as to evoke an overarching linearity to which a lyrical narrative is also set — the theme, of course, drawing on the image of the ocean.

This also isn’t exactly new ground for the style — Germany’s Ahab and defunct UK practitioners Undersmile spring readily to mind, but there are many other examples of groups donning watery themes in funeral doom — but the manner in which Slow takes up this charge is emblematic of what distinguishes Déhà‘s work on the whole throughout the album. In the case of the lyrics, it is the specificity of the imagery put to the songs, the thread of plot that gets woven across “Aurore,” “Ténèbres,” “Déluge,” “Néant” and closer “Mort” that helps make it so immersive, just as it is the nuanced depths of the mix and the intricately balanced arrangements of guitar, keys, bass, drums, vocals, etc. that take place therein that so effectively complement the aquatic mindset.

slow

For the first time with the band, Déhà brought in an outside party — Lore Boeykens, with whom he also founded the Ter Ziele blackened doom duo in 2016 — to work with him on lyrics, and the results are stunning and evocative. The first line of “Aurore” is “Moving into deep waters,” and in a way, that’s the story right there. That’s what’s happening in that song and all that follow, whether it’s the hypnotic undulations that cap “Déluge” or the flourish of spoken work in that song and “Ténèbres” before it or the patient unfolding and foreboding piano that starts the dirge march of “Néant” after. It is no coincidence that the tracklisting moves from “Aurore,” translating from French to ‘dawn,’ to “Néant” (‘nothingness’) and “Mort” (‘death’), as that is precisely where the story of V – Oceans winds up. It is a drowning told through poetry.

As beautiful, serene and resolved as it is sonically brutal and punishing, V – Oceans lets Déhà and Boeykens explore this resounding bleakness of spirit with a conceptual splendor, and as “Néant” resigns itself with the lines, “These dark seas now feel almost comfortable/I give in/May this darkness absorb me,” there’s a swell of keyboard melody that has an almost choral effect (just past the 10-minute mark), as if reaffirming the decision that’s been made. This is a crucial moment for Slow thematically, and perhaps the apex of the album, but to call it that is an oversimplification of the work, which is clearly meant to be taken in its entirety and experienced for the fullness of the headphone-worthy wash it presents. “Mort” caps with a post-death vision of one’s body in the water — “Here my remains drift for everyone to see/This wreck/My failure/Begone with the ebb” — following a description of the undersea voices that lured the protagonist/speaker into the sea in the first place set to chugging guitar, and another choral swell to answer that of “Néant” prior arises at about four minutes in to mark the shift into the final phase of V – Oceans, which stands out for its multi-tiered sense of weight and for the sense of conclusion it brings to the proceedings in their entirety.

I do not know how V – Oceans was composed, i.e., whether it was written as a single song or as individual cuts that Déhà and Boeykens subsequently worked to tie together in both the plot and instrumental presentation, but among the album’s most prevalent features is an overwhelming feeling of completeness, of a front-to-back arc — beginning, middle, end — that concludes in heartrending fashion in its final chapter. Maybe this shouldn’t be a surprise coming from an project that’s been around for a decade and released a full-length on every odd year like clockwork since 2009, but it is as realized in concept as in execution, and while it may not be groundbreaking in the grander scheme of the genre, it nonetheless brings forward the elements that can make funeral doom at its best so affecting.

Slow, V – Oceans (2017)

Slow on Thee Facebooks

Slow on Bandcamp

Code666 on Thee Facebooks

Code666 website

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Amenra and Boris to Co-Headline Europe and UK Tour in January

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

I think at this point there are few who would challenge the supposition of Amenra‘s dominance when it comes to European post-metal. The strobe-prone Belgian outfit released their latest masterwork, Mass VI, last month through Neurot Recordings and Consouling Sounds, and in the New Year, they’ll team up with Japanese experimentalist heroes Boris for a full run of co-headlining dates in the UK and EU. Boris of course are out supporting their own 2017 offering, Dear (review here), which was issued to coincide with their 25th anniversary, as if they needed an excuse to be brilliant.

For whatever it’s worth — and by my estimate, not much — I’m not the hugest Amenra fan, but their live presentation is a spectacle to behold if you have the opportunity to do so. They’re not strangers to touring in Europe, but the pairing with Boris would seem to make this run all the more of an occasion.

From the PR wire:

amenra boris tour

AMENRA Announces Co-Headlining 2018 European/UK Tour With Boris

Heavy music luminaries AMENRA and Boris have announced co-headlining European and UK tour for early 2018. The two acts will tour from February 14th through March 4th, marking the first full UK tour for AMENRA.

Mass VI is out now on Neurot Recordings. The European version has a different mix and master, as well as different artwork and design than the US version, mixed and mastered by Jack Shirley (Deafheaven, Oathbreaker) at the Atomic Garden, San Francisco. The deluxe edition 2xLP 45rpm 180-gram album is available in different limited colors. Order Mass VI in the US through Neurot Recordings and via Consouling Sounds in Europe.

AMENRA Tour Dates:
12/01/2017 De Leest – Izegem, BE (acoustic)
1/13/2018 Gaité Lyrique – Paris, FR
1/19/2018 Stevenskerk – Nijmegen NL
1/20/2018 Doornroosje – Nijmegen NL
1/28/2018 Festsaal Kreuzberg – Berlin, DE
1/29/2018 Colos-saal – Aschaffenburg, DE
2/14/2018 Thekla – Bristol, UK w/ Boris
2/15/2018 Heaven – London, UK w/ Boris
2/16/2018 Arts Centre – Norwich, UK w/ Boris
2/17/2018 Rescue Rooms – Nottingham, UK w/ Boris
2/18/2018 Gorilla – Manchester, UK w/ Boris
2/19/2018 St. Lukes – Glasgow, UK w/ Boris
2/20/2018 Brudenell Social Club – Leeds, UK w/ Boris
2/21/2018 Aeronef – Lille, FR w/ Boris
2/22/2018 Drucklufthaus – Oberhausen, DE
2/23/2018 Beatpol – Dresden, DE w/ Boris
2/24/2018 Progresja – Warsaw, PL w/ Boris
2/25/2018 Palac Akropolis – Prague, CZ w/ Boris
2/26/2018 A38 – Budapest, HU w/ Boris
2/27/2018 Kino Siska – Ljubljana, SL w/ Boris
2/28/2018 Locomotiv – Bologna, IT w/ Boris
3/01/2018 Monk – Rome, IT w/ Boris
3/02/2018 Santeria Social Club – Milan, IT w/ Boris
3/03/2018 Jubez – Karlsruhe, DE w/ Boris
3/04/2018 Patronaat – Haarlem, NL w/ Boris
4/06/2018 Depot – Leuven. BE
4/07/2018 Durbuy Rock Festival – Durbuy, BE
4/08/2018 Cactus Club – Brugge, BE
4/13/2018 Eden – Charleroi, BE
4/14/2018 MOD – Hasselt, BE

http://www.churchofra.com
http://www.ritualofra.com
http://www.facebook.com/churchofra
http://www.neurotrecordings.com
http://www.facebook.com/neurotrecordings

Amenra, “A Solitary Reign” official video

Boris, “Absolutego” official video

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The Progerians Post “2+6” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 2nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the progerians

Crunching riffs and crunching numbers, Belgian heavy noise rockers The Progerians return with a brand new video to teach us all some basic addition. The track comes from the Brussels-based trio’s 2015 debut full-length, The Fabulous Progerians, and is a quick burst at an instrumental three minutes, but gets the point across that a lot of that album was making in its overarching sense of rush and the forward-coursing winding riff it uses to create such motion. It was posted in the late hours of last year (one is trying to get used to 2017 as the present instead of the future tense), but the band has said that they’ve got a new record in the works for this year as well, so it could be that “2+6” is their way of kissing their debut goodbye.

If so, it’s a grim farewell. I’m not entirely sure what’s happening in the plot, but the main character is being chased by a series of flying rocks — stoner rock itself? I sometimes feel that way — back to his living room where he seems to try to fight off an attack with a knife and maybe some occult spells? I don’t want to spoil the ending, because frankly, three minutes isn’t too much for the band to ask of your time without me giving it all away, but let’s just say it doesn’t turn out so hot for the dude in question. I guess according to The Progerians, stoner rock wins. You won’t find me mounting a counterargument.

On the off-chance you missed their record — which I know you didn’t, because you’re on your game like that all the time — it can be streamed via the Bandcamp page linked below, and I’ve included their bio, just for background should you want some.

And by way of another spoiler, “2+6” makes eight.

Enjoy:

The Progerians, “2+6” official video

Directed and edited by Nicolas de Viron
Starring Xavier “Xray” Decoster
Cinematography: Yassin Serghini
Assistant Camera: Lucas Sevrin

The Fabulous Progerians are a three-piece that radiates throughout the Brussels’ underground and its surroundings. This heavy and fat paving block seeks to translate youth’s anxiety, agonising in unemployment and lust offered by the modern world for lack of a future.

Their influences go far back into prehistory, but it’s somewhere between Punk and Sludge that the band likes to find its secret harmonies.

Known for powerful performances, they are usually joined by other musicians who widen even more the sound spectrum and universe of the band.

The Progerians on Thee Facebooks

The Progerians on Bandcamp

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A Supernaut Post NSFW Video for “Ice”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 16th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

a-supernaut

The new video from Belgian heavy rock progressives A Supernaut repurposes footage from Alejandro Jodorowsky‘s 1973 festival-of-weirdness The Holy Mountain, and as such, I might recommend not checking it out immediately if you, say, share a cubicle with someone or are otherwise generally employed in a place where there are other people who might walk past and not fully appreciate avant garde filmmaking, let alone the rock-thump-goes-disco pulsations of “Ice,” which is the first tune to be revealed from the Brussels outfit’s impending album, LaMenace, which is due out early in 2017. You never know who’s gonna wind up being a philistine, and I’d hate to have anybody shitcanned for checking out something on this site. Times are tough and we’re a long way — only getting farther — from post-scarcity economies. So just be careful is all I’m saying.

As you make your way through the track and subsequent bio info below, you might notice that A Supernaut — who prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that if you’re smart enough you don’t need more than a single letter to make something your own — ultimately bear little resemblance to the descriptions of their bio. It’s weird enough, especially in this context, but I wouldn’t call “Ice” particularly psychedelic. Nor would I say it sounds like ZZ Top or Grand Funk Railroad. The band underwent an overhaul early last year, becoming a trio for what seems to have been the first time, and to compare “Ice” to a song like “The Fog” (the video for which is on YouTube here), I think you can hear outright the rather significant shift in sound between the two. With the questionable relevance, you might wonder why I bothered including said info at all. Fair enough. It made sense to me in terms of acknowledging how a group’s mission can change in so short a time. You’re certainly entitled to make of it what you will.

Alright, now that we’re all duly buckled in and justified and disclaimered-out, don’t forget that LeMenace will be released in the first part of next year and please enjoy:

A Supernaut, “Ice” official video

ICE, first release from “LAMENACE” A Supernaut upcoming ALBUM (early 2017). A video footage by © Micheline Des Bois (facebook.com/micheline2000). Recorded at the studio americain (Brussels) by Mike Black and A Supernaut / Mixing and Mastering by Remy Lebbos at Rare Sound Studio (Brussels).

Bio:

Reborn in February 15, A Supernaut is a band made up of 3 Brussels bred musicians, that has been brought to the height of notoriety thanks to its heavy presence on the Brussels scene. Skinny gits rather than greedy buggers, eager socks- and-sandals wearers, branding the Atomnium tattooed in place of the heart and sporting crotch high teeny weeny shorts, the spectacle of their Brussels’ psychedelia is definitely worth the trip.

But let’s talk music, and what can one say other than it does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s Rock, it’s soul, it’s Psychedelia and it’s pure love. Some harsh rock wounded by life, psychedelia that tastes like candy apples and love that will make your head swirl faster than a rollercoaster. It’s beautiful, it shakes you up, it reminds you of ZZ Top – only without the beards – or Grand Funk Railroad that’s slightly derailed; in short it’s a kick in the face with a big ol’ cowboy boot.

But above all it’s Brussels, city of their untamed rock ‘n roller hearts, that their transporting music, oozing energy, contradictions, the fusion of what’s good and bad pays a dark and magic homage.

A Supernaut is:
Thomas Venegoni (Bruxelles (BE)) – Guitars, Vocals
Nicolas Dekeuster (Bruxelles (BE)) – Bass, Vocals
Jean-François Hermand (Bruxelles (BE)) – Drums, Vocals

A Supernaut on Thee Facebooks

A Supernaut on Twitter

A Supernaut at Vi.Be

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