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

Tags: , , , , ,

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

Tags: , , , , , ,

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

Tags: , , , ,

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

Tags: , , , , ,

All Them Witches Release Live Recording Brussels, Belgium 3/3/16; More to Follow

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 20th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

all them witches (Photo by Robby Staebler and James)

It’s after midnight as I write this. I should be asleep to get up with the alarm, set for about seven hours from now so I can get to work on time, though I’m holding out for a first-day-of-spring snowday. Fingers crossed. I can hear the dog snoring in the lulls of All Them Witches‘ new live release, Brussels, Belgium 3/3/16, issued via their Bandcamp. They’ve done that kind of thing before, always a cool vibe from these guys. I feel like the fact that my eyes are irritated from being awake for too long and the harsh light of my bedside lamp as I write this is fitting for the version of “Call Me Star” here, or “Mountain.” Some shit is just worth being awake for.

All Them Witches have been on tour more or less since late last year, supporting their 2015 third album, Dying Surfer Meets His Maker (review here), a substantial portion of which is represented here. Like I said, they’ve put up live show recordings in the past, though I don’t recall many of them sounding quite as professional as Brussels, Belgium 3/3/16. Maybe they upgraded whatever gear they’re using for the purpose. Maybe Europe is the difference. I wouldn’t speculate. In any case, they say there are others to come, and while there’s not much lacking in this 95-minute set, I’m cool with more en route.

I should go see this band again.

Art, tracklisting and links follow, if you’re up now or for later. Either way:

all them witches brussels belgium

All Them Witches – Brussels, Belgium 3?/?3?/?16

We will be posting the audio from most of the shows on Bandcamp for FREE DOWNLOAD. Stay tuned.

1. Death of Coyote Woman 10:21
2. Funeral/God 07:01
3. Dirt Preachers 03:31
4. Marriage of Coyote Woman/Elk Blood Heart 11:19
5. Call Me Star 04:47
6. Open Passageways 03:39
7. Talisman 07:49
8. Blood and Sand/Milk and Endless Waters 14:39
9. Mountain 08:02
10. Heavy Like A Witch 05:01
11. Charles William 07:21
12. Middle Name is the Blues 11:39

The instruments and voices that you hear in All Them Witches:

Ben McLeod
Robby Staebler
Michael Parks, Jr.
Allan Van Cleave

https://www.facebook.com/allthemwitches/
http://allthemwitches.bandcamp.com/album/brussels-belgium-3-3-16
http://www.allthemwitches.org/

All Them Witches, Brussels, Belgium 3/3/16

Tags: , , , , ,

The Fabulous Progerians Post “Black Storm” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 22nd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the progerians

Belgian sludge rockers The Progerians — AKA The Fabulous Progerians — released their full-length debut, titled The Fabulous Progerians, last October. Their new video for the song “Black Storm” highlights a lot of what worked on that record, the band bolstering classic structures with thick tones and hints of noise rock throughout but not losing sight of the song they’re serving. They’ve been playing sporadically since the record came out and will continue to over the course of the next couple months, but the clip does a lot of the talking for them, in both its slick production value and of course in the song itself.

I’ll assume that the female lead in the “Black Storm” video is meant to embody chaos somehow, or perhaps some definitively human version of enmity, since every time she goes somewhere and walks slowly toward the camera, fights seem to break out. Fair enough. People getting pushed around throughout and “Black Storm” itself makes a fitting companion for that, but it’s hardly the sum-total of what The Fabulous Progerians has on offer, whether it’s the horn-laced “Collapse” or the more purely raw “2+6” and “I am Icon,” which border on metallic in their aggression but keep the pace moving all the same. Not that metal doesn’t, but you know what I mean.

I’ve included their bio below in case you missed the record and would like to be filled in. Enjoy:

The Fabulous Progerians, “Black Storm” official video

Video by The Fabulous Progerians for the song BLACK STORM from the FABULOUS PROGERIANS LP (2015). Starring: Julie Vdp – Directed and edited by Piotr Szlachta – Cinematographer: Yassin Serghini – Assistant Director: Nicolas de Viron – Photography Assistants: Dave Decat, Lény Bernay & The Progerians – Extras: Friends & Family.

“Black Storm” was recorded, mixed and mastered at Studio Six by Nicolas Vandeweyer.

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

Tags: , , , ,

Quarterly Review: Motherslug, Worshipper, Ape Machine, Churchburn, OMSQ, Unhold, The Heave-Ho, Crypt, Oceanwake, Lunar Electric

Posted in Reviews on March 31st, 2015 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

When I finished yesterday’s reviews, I felt suitably beat, but as ever, there was a bit of catharsis to it too. Today’s pile takes us all the way to the other end of the world and back again to my (relative) back yard, and then loops around one more time for good measure with a few stops in between. While I’m coherent enough to form sentences, you’ll pardon me if I get right to it.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Motherslug, Motherslug

motherslug motherslug

If the name Motherslug or the cover art look familiar, it’s because the Melbourne double-guitar five-piece initially released their self-titled EP late in 2012 (review here). This NoSlip Records release, however, takes the tracks from that, couples them with cuts from Motherslug’s subsequent outing, a 2014 two-tracker called Three Kings in Darkness, and remasters both for vinyl as one 39-minute full-length. There’s a bit of progression evident in the newer cuts, “Trippin’ on Evil” and “Three Kings in Darkness,” but the LP smartly arranges them so that each ends its respective side, led into by two songs from the self-titled, so the impression is more that Motherslug are expanding their riffy, Southern-style sludge rock sound – which is still true, it just initially happened over two releases – rather than they’re mixing and matching different recordings. By the time you get to either, however, Motherslug will have already bowled over you with rolling, thick sludge riffs that could just as easily have come from Maryland or Virginia as Australia.

Motherslug on Thee Facebooks

NoSlip Records

Worshipper, Black Corridor/High Above the Clouds

worshipper black corridor high above the clouds

Allston(e) newcomers Worshipper make an accomplished-sounding debut with Black Corridor/High above the Clouds, two self-released tracks that mark their first release as a band. The two-guitar four-piece balance classic metal riffs and doom tendencies with soaring-style clean vocals and fast-moving grooves, as much Candlemass as High on Fire. “Black Corridor” wows with its solo but more with its hook, guitarist John Brookhouse and bassist Bob Maloney sharing vocals while Alejandro Necochea adds guitar and Dave Jarvis draws it all together on drums, and “High above the Clouds” adds some choice early-Dio “Egypt”-ology to the mix. It’s a sense of grandeur that’s neither overblown nor mishandled by the winding track, which coupled with its predecessor demonstrates Worshipper’s firm grip on a style melding heavy rock and metal into a take of their own, and a progression beginning that seems to have a definite idea of where it wants to end up. One can’t help but look forward to finding out.

Worshipper on Thee Facebooks

Worshipper on Bandcamp

Ape Machine, Live at Freak Valley

ape machine live at freak valley

Hard to think of a band from Portland, Oregon, these days as being underrated, but Ape Machine fit the bill all the same. The four-piece of vocalist Caleb Heinze, guitarist Ian Watts, bassist Brian True and drummer Damon de la Paz played Germany’s Freak Valley festival as part of a 2013 European tour in support of the then-recently-released Mangled by the Machine (review here), their third album and Ripple Music debut, and accordingly, most of what shows up on the 48-minute Live at Freak Valley comes from that record, later album cuts like the swaying “Strange are the People” and stomp-slide-fueled “Ruling with Intent” leading to a run through Mangled by the Machine’s first five tracks, in order, to close the set. With a cover of Deep Purple’s “Black Night” (something they also did on their second record) in tow with others from their first two records, Live at Freak Valley makes a solid intro to a group more people should know.

Ape Machine on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

Churchburn, The Awaiting Coffins

churchburn the awaiting coffins

A compilation that draws from Churchburn’s 2013 self-titled and two tracks recorded late in 2013/early in 2014 – opener “Embers of Human Ash” and the subsequent “V” – The Awaiting Coffins revels in its extremity of doom and no-light-shall-pass atmospherics. The duo of vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Dave Suzuki (ex-Vital Remains, among others) and Ray McCaffrey (ex-Sin of Angels) issue the CD/LP via Armageddon Shop, and while there are plenty of droning moments, acoustic interludes and stretches of depressive noise, the Rhode Island outfit is primarily brutal. Suzuki, joined on vocals for the first two cuts by guitarist Kevin Curley and bassist Mike Cardoso, leads a pummeling charge in “V” that’s more death than death-doom, but far be it from me to quibble. For “Come Forth the Swarm,” the Sin of Angels cover “Crown of Fallen Kings” and “Kneel upon Charred Remnants,” it’s just McCaffrey and Suzuki, and the dynamic is different and the recording rawer, but the bleak territory being explored has a similar root. Add on an unlisted cover of Celtic Frost’s “Return to the Eve,” and The Awaiting Coffins is even more of a sure thing.

Churchburn on Thee Facebooks

Armageddon Shop

OMSQ, Thrust/Parry

omsq thrust parry

Instrumental save for some samples, spoken proclamations and field recordings, Thrust/Parry was released by Belgian outfit OMSQ in limited numbers via Navalorama Records on CD to mark the occasion of a late-2014 UK tour, and it showcases an outfit of rare sonic adventurousness. Progressive, heavy structures unfold across three overarching movements in the 68-minute whole of the album, which at any moment makes shifts between dense riffs and crashing drums and exploratory washes of noise sound not only smooth but fitting, culminations like “North Sea” and 16-minute closer “4:48” as much about finishing a story as providing a sonic payoff, each cut serving not only the movement of which it’s component, but also the overarching flow of the record as whole. Stylistically wide open an unhindered by genre constraints, Thrust/Parry is a challenging listen that satisfies in proportion to how much one is willing to shift along with its changes in mood and style. Evocative throughout, it proves more than worth the effort.

OMSQ on Thee Facebooks

Navalorama Records

Unhold, Towering

unhold towering

Swiss five-piece Unhold trace their lineage back to an early-‘90s demo, but Towering (on Czar of Crickets) is their fourth album since their 2001 full-length debut, Walking Blackwards, and their first offering in seven years since Gold Cut in 2008. Something of an unexpected return from the Bern troupe, then, but not unwelcome, their Neurosis-influenced post-hardcore/post-metal finding renewed expression in the moody unfolding of “I Belong” or the tense bellow of the later, keyboard-infused “Hydra,” moments of triumph in ambient/crushing tradeoffs of “Voice Within” as guitarists Thomas Tschuor and Philipp Thöni step back and pianist Miriam Wolf takes lead vocals for a movement almost Alcest-like in its melodic course. Drummer Daniel Fischer and bassist Leo Matkovic are less a foundation than part of Towering’s nodding, modern-proggy whole, and it probably works better that way in smoothing out the various turns in extended pieces like the title-track or “Dawn,” which provides the apex of the album with the calmer “Ascending” and “Death Dying” as an epilogue.

Unhold on Thee Facebooks

Czar of Crickets

The Heave-Ho, Dead Reckoning

the heave-ho dead reckoning

Three words: Rock and roll. With Boston four-piece The Heave-Ho, it’s less about subgenre and more about paying homage to a classic ideal of straightforward expression. Dead Reckoning, the debut full-length from the lineup of guitarist/vocalist Pete Valle (ex-Quintaine Americana), bassist Keith “Barry” Schleicher (ex-Infernal Overdrive), drummer Dylan Wilson and lead guitarist Lawrence O’Toole, is eight songs (plus a closing radio edit, presumably for WEMF) of unpretentious rendition, steady in its delivery of grown-up-punker hooks and barroom rock such that, when Valle calls for “guitar!” prior to the solo in “Buffalo,” it’s entirely without irony or cynicism. Would be hard for “Thirsty Jesus” not to be a highlight on its title alone, but the lyrics also hold up. With a clean production style, centerpiece moment of clarity in “Afraid to Die,” and particularly riotous finish in “The Line,” Dead Reckoning has little use for stylistic nuance and a confident delivery across the board. Drunk as it is, it does not stumble.

The Heave-Ho on Thee Facebooks

The Heave-Ho at CDBaby

Crypt, Kvlt MMXIV

crypt kvlt mmxiv

Though Adelaide three-guitar six-piece Crypt title their debut release Kvlt MMXIV, it’s actually a Jan. 2015 release, a half-hour’s worth of stoner chicanery pressed up in a recycled-material digipak with a fold-out liner poster – the lyrics, yes, are written in a rune font – and the disc held in place by a piece of cork. The presentation of the songs themselves is no less off the wall, the lumbering “Green Butter” taking hold from the crust-raw opener “Siberian Exile” with unhinged low-end, drum stomp and some deceptively subtle airy guitar, and the weirdo blues howl of the following “These Last Days” only broadens the scope. Seems fair to say “expect the unexpected” since so much effort has been put into throwing off the frame of reference, but as the fuzz of “Idle Minds” and ambience into righteous groove of closer “Dead River” show, Crypt have more working in their favor than variety for its own sake, namely a fire in their delivery that burns away any slim chance this material had of sounding stale.

Crypt on Thee Facebooks

Crypt on Bandcamp

Oceanwake, Sunless

oceanwake sunless

Ferocious death-doom meets with melodic atmospheres on Oceanwake’s second album, Sunless – a title that’s not quite a full summary of what the Finnish five-piece have on offer throughout the four tracks/44 minutes. Opener “The Lay of an Oncoming Storm,” also the longest cut at 15:35 (immediate points), shifts back and forth between lumbering brutality and sparse guitar atmospherics, and while one waits for the inevitable clean vocals that would put Oceanwake in league with countrymen Swallow the Sun, they don’t come yet. Instead, the track explodes into crashes and screams. Ten-minute closer “Ephemeral” holds the most satisfying build, but between the two, “Parhelion” (9:09) and “Avanturine” (8:03) manage to remind of the particular melancholic beauty of death-doom – including some of those melodic vocals – and how resonant its contrast of light and dark can be when held together by an emotional core as resonant as that of Oceanwake. Sunless is gorgeous and devastating, and not necessarily alternating between the two.

Oceanwake on Thee Facebooks

ViciSolum Productions on Bandcamp

Lunar Electric, Lunar Electric

lunar-electric-lunar-electric

While one struggles not to be skeptical of any release in this day and age that opens with a “Radio Edit,” I won’t discount the quality of songwriting L.A.-based Lunar Electric display throughout their self-titled EP. Now a duo driven by guitarist/vocalist Dre DiMura, the band is highly-stylized but brims with a classic heavy rock swagger in “Bread and Circuses” (the aforementioned radio edit) and the subsequent “Moonlight,” a steady swing emerging in layers of heavy riffing and DiMura’s own croon, pushed ahead by the straightforward drumming of Kaleen Reading and the low-end heft of bassist Geena Spigarelli. They make a solid trio across “Moonlight” and “Sleepwaker,” which follows with its chugging break foreshadowing closer “Crossfire Child” (video premiere here) while building a tension of its own, though it seems unlikely that whatever Lunar Electric do next will have the same lineup because of geographic spread. Too bad. While young, and somewhat brooding, Lunar Electric nonetheless offer up a work of marked potential in their EP’s quick 17-minute span.

Dre DiMura’s website

Dre DiMura on Instagram

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Euroventure: Onward to London (or Not)

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 19th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

2:44PM: Train en route to Brussels: I went to Schiphol this morning to see if I could find someone from British Airways, and found when I arrived that there was no one to talk to. No counters open, nobody around, no helpful fake smiles. That, like Icelandic volcanoes, wasn’t exactly my worst case scenario, but it was certainly bummer enough.

I stood on line for the hi-speed rail and got into a conversation with a middle-aged husband and wife who were trying to get to I don’t remember where, when a young man said through an overmodulating boombox loudspeaker that all the international trains were booked through Wednesday. I no longer had it in my head to get to Paris since I was told by The Patient Mrs. that British Airways doesn’t fly out of there yet, not till May 3, apparently, but I decided to head for London instead, where at least I wouldn’t have to feel like a dick for not speaking the language (purely an internal thing; no one of Dutch descent has ever given me crap for being ignorant).

A young man tapped me on the shoulder while I was chatting and asked me if I wanted to go to London. Coincidentally, in the book I’m reading now, a late-20s African freedom fighter has just made illegal passage into the UK, so the whole thing smacked on a level that Ricky – at least that’s what he said his name was – couldn’t understand. He offered me a train ticket that he couldn’t use for 50 Euros, and with literally nothing to lose beyond the money, which I’d have gladly spent even more poorly if given the chance, I took it. So here I am.

The ticket is a computer printout. He said he lived in The Netherlands but worked in London and made this trip all the time, had booked his spot well in advance, but that work had told him not to bother coming back for the time being. He even gave me a pen with his company’s name on it: S.T.W. BV Duiven. I didn’t ask what he did – nice pen, though – and I’m still not sure how his story made sense, but it was potential passage and he was only charging face value, so I took the ticket. I don’t know if it’s a real ticket or a fake one, but it’s all I’ve got and I figure if they ever come around to check it and find it’s a fake or it’s no good for whatever reason, I get off at the next stop, pay whatever fine I need to pay and, short the embarrassment, am ultimately no better or worse off than I was when I boarded: Still stuck. Fortunately I’m used to making an ass of myself, so that’s not really a problem.

So off I go, unless curtailed, to Brussels and then change trains for London. If it works, if it doesn’t work, I don’t care. Provided I don’t get pulled out of line at customs because my name doesn’t match the name on the train boarding pass, I should be fine. But yeah, that’s weighing on me a bit.

Tags: , , , ,