Ararat Post “El Camino del Mono” Video from Cabalgata Hacia la Luz

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 30th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

ARARAT

I’ve made no attempt to hide my fandom for Buenos Aires trio Ararat in the past, and neither will I do so now. Still, it’s something of a surprise, maybe to have a new video from the Argentine group show up at this point. Their most recent album, Cabalgata Hacia la Luz (review here), was issued in 2014, and it’s been an another two years since their last clip showed up, that one for “Los Escombros de Jardin” (posted here). So what gives as regards the timing? Hell if I know. I’m just the guy who puts up posts. If you want scheduling, that’s a whole different department.

Of course, we know that Ararat frontman Sergio Chotsourian has kept plenty busy over the last several years between reissues from his former band, Los Natas, founding and developing the raw rock trio Soldati and embarking on a solo drone-folk career under his Sergio Ch. moniker across multiple releases. Add to that the fostering of continental output he does through his South American Sludge label and I guess it didn’t seem unreasonable to think Ararat were on the backburner at least for the time being if not permanently. One new video — this one for the track “El Camino del Mono” — doesn’t necessarily change that, and it doesn’t mean there’s a new record in the works or anything like that, but hell, at least it’s a signal that the band still exists. Bottom line is I’ll take it.

Ararat is comprised of Chotsourian on bass and vocals, guitarist Tito Fargo and drummer Alfredo Felitte. You can see “El Camino del Mono” below, and when/if I hear of more doings on the part of the band, I’ll keep you posted. you know the drill.

Enjoy the video in the meantime, and if you haven’t yet picked up Cabalgata Hacia la Luz, it’s never too late.

Dig:

Ararat, “El Camino del Mono” official video

New video premiere of Ararat “El Camino del mono”. directed by Martin Busacca!

VIDEO OFICIAL DEL DISCO DE ARARAT – “CABALGATA HACIA LA LUZ”
PRODUCIDO POR TITO FARGO
VIDEO DIRIGIDO POR MARTIN BUSACCA

OUI OUI RECORDS
SOUTH AMERICAN SLUDGE RECORDS

Ararat on Thee Facebooks

Sergio Ch. website

South American Sludge website

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Manthrass Premiere “Como un Volcan”; Mapa Estelar Due in March

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on January 18th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

manthrass

Buenos Aires-based heavy rock trio Manthrass are gearing up to release their second album, Mapa Estelar, in March via Buscando Records and Kenai Records. Whether it’s the deep-toned fuzzy rollout of the opening title-track or the classic-minded heavy blues start-stop swing of the leadoff single “Paso Firme” that follows, it does not take long for the Argentine three-piece to distinguish their sophomore outing from its predecessor, 2015’s Blues del Destino (review here). To be sure, as cuts like “El Luchador” punch home their forward-minded riffing and the post-Clutch groove of “Seguir es Ganar” lands itself in a dudely sing-along chorus of “ooh”s, there’s still plenty of burl shared from the first record to this follow-up, but the level of presentation has shifted entirely, and where Blues del Destino had a rawer bite to the guitar tone of Mariano Castiglioni and Ángel Rex Rizzo‘s bass and the vocals — duties shared between them with backing from drummer Federico Martinez — cut through dry and less assured, Mapa Estelar engages a smoother approach all around, and Manthrass sound confident in their craft and righteous in their execution as a result.

To record Mapa Estelar, the band returned to producer Damián Colaprette, and that consistency is important, since it signals a directness of intention in terms of their growth — i.e., it’s not just that they had somebody different helm their record. They didn’t. Granted, Mapa Estelar was tracked at a different studio than its predecessor, but with the level manthrass como un volcanof progression from the prior batch of songs to the smoothness of the balance in “El Ermitaño,” where Rizzo‘s basslines come through so crisply and excellently balanced in bolstering Castiglioni‘s guitar leads as Martinez rolls the track along with rhythmic fluidity, the development very obviously isn’t limited to presentation. Manthrass have grown as songwriters as well. And to be sure, while Mapa Estelar has a smoother, more cohesive feel on the whole, there’s no corresponding lack of impact to the material, as the Megadeth-meets-Sabbath verse-chorus transition in “Como un Volcan” shows in answering the initial push of the opener, Manthrass brazenly adapting the trappings of heavy metal to their own contextual purposes, and in just four minutes, affirming the identity the debut began to craft as an idea based around sonic growth, a pervasive lack of pretense and a penchant for hooks that come through regardless of any language barrier that may or may not exist for a given listener. That is to say, ignorant as I am, I don’t speak more than the faintest hint of Spanish, and I still have these songs stuck in my head.

Naturally, this is to Manthrass‘ credit entirely, but neither is Mapa Estelar necessarily limited to a single take in terms of style. The bluesier fare of “Seguir es Ganar” and “Paso Firme” is met head-on by the more rocking push of the uptempo “El Ermitaño” and the seven-minute jamming instrumental centerpiece “La Eterna Lucha del Gris y el Verde,” and the expansion continues late with the penultimate acoustic interlude “Bei Tempi,” which is under a minute long in the tradition of a quick Iommic bit of finger but still showcases a drive toward adapting more diversity of sound and bringing a sense of full-album flow to Mapa Estelar rather than simply presenting it as a collection of tracks. That difference is perhaps the defining factor of Manthrass‘ second long-player, but it’s no less crucial to underscore the lack of self-indulgence in their work overall. There’s nothing showy about Mapa Estelar on a performance level, and all the band seems to ask of their audience is that occasionally the nod turn into a headbang along the way, which given the energetic charge they put in from “Mapa Estelar” to the raucous-but-still-controlled finisher “Lejos” is by no means a chore. Beyond that, CastiglioniRizzo and Martinez seem bent on having a good time and grooving out as they make established classic tenets their own, and the quality of their output in so doing makes listening to Mapa Estelar an infectious pleasure in the front-to-back listening experience. The first record had potential, this one confirms it.

Take a listen to the premiere of “Como un Volcan” below. Mapa Estelar is due out this March on Buscando Records and Kenai Records. Quote from Castiglioni, album info and links follow.

Please enjoy:

Mariano Castiglioni on “Como un Volcan”:

I wrote the lyrics for “Como un Volcan,” and when Angel was recording voices he also add some sentences. To us “Como un Volcan” means that strength that we feel in the creative process, that inner force that everybody feels. The riff is mine also, reminds me something between Slayer and Howlin’ Wolf — heavy blues, man!

The time at [Zar Estudio] was amazing. The studio looks like a small cave in the north of Buenos Aires, but at the same time was very stressing, at least for me. The difference with Blues del Destino is basically the production, the songs, the time. We work with a drum DR this time. I recorded with five different guitars, and Damian Colaprette was there all the time with us.

“Como un Volcan” is a good song to represent the album, we are proud of it, for me sounds a little bit a NWOBHM — I love that era — with our touch, of course.

MANTHRASS – Como un Volcan (SINGLE)
From “MAPA ESTELAR”
New album (2018)

MARIANO CASTIGLIONI, guitar and vocals
ÁNGEL RIZZO, bass and vocals
FEDERICO MARTÍNEZ, drums and backing vocals

Recorded, mixed and mastered by DAMIÁN COLAPRETTE at ZAR ESTUDIO
Artwork by MARIANO CASTIGLIONI
Design by Agustin Croxatto
Produced by DAMIÁN COLAPRETTE

BUSCANDO RECORDS

Manthrass on Bandcamp

Manthrass on Thee Facebooks

Manthrass on Twitter

Manthrass on Instagram

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Sergio Ch. Premieres Video for “Tomatito”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

sergio ch

Surrounded by amps in a studio with cameras set up around him switching from fixed position to fixed position, the new video for Sergio Chotsourian‘s what would seem to be an as-it-was-recorded version of the Los Natas song “Tomatito” demonstrates once again that that band’s former frontman always seems to have something in the works. Some new project, some new release either of his own projects or through his South American Sludge Records imprint, some new solo album, or in this case, apparently a couple minutes to spare and the simple will to make a new video happen. Directed by Pablo Fernandez, it’s not unlike the clip posted last year for “El Laud” from his second solo full-length, Aurora (review here), in terms of what’s actually happening — i.e., he’s playing the song directly to the viewer — but to get a rare updated take on an older Los Natas track, you’re certainly not about to hear me complain.

“Tomatito” originally opened the much-missed, Argentina-based heavy rockers exploratory set Toba Trance II, issued in 2004 via Nasoni Records. Its foundation was acoustic then as well, and it gave a humble start to the companion-piece to Toba Trance I — the two offerings would eventually be compiled together on CD — and set a contemplative mood ahead of the jammy explorations that followed as the trio made their way through extended pieces like “Traicion en el Arrocero” and “Humo de Marihuana.” Working under his long-established nom-de-guerre of Sergio Ch., Chotsourian here brings a new intimacy to the piece while also making it more expansive via vocal delay and an amplified acoustic sound that lends weight to the strum at its root. The melody, wistful as ever, comes through clearer in the newer version as well, and where previously “Tomatito” was almost too easy to pass over for the spaciousness of what followed on Toba Trance II, here it becomes a work of almost anthemic folk, sounding as fresh in its delivery as it does timeless in its structure.

I’ve had the pleasure of hosting numerous premieres for Chotsourian over the last couple years for videos, audio tracks and whatnot. This is not happenstance. I consider myself a huge fan of his work and I’m happy to continually post about it in its various manifestations. One never quite knows what might be coming next from Sergio Ch., but whatever he delivers, he delivers.

Please enjoy “Tomatito” below:

Sergio Ch., “Tomatito” official video

VIDEO OFICIAL DEL DISCO DE LOS NATAS – “TOBA TRANCE”
PRODUCIDO POR SERGIO CH.
VIDEO DIRIGIDO Y REALIZADO POR PABLO FERNANDEZ

EKTRO RECORDS
NASONI RECORDS
OUI OUI RECORDS
SOUTH AMERICAN SLUDGE RECORDS

South American Sludge Records on Thee Facebooks

South American Sludge website

South American Sludge Records on Bandcamp

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Sergio Ch., Araujo & Romeo Post 37-Minute Single “El Hombre con la Cámara”

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 3rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

El Hombre con la Cámara is the debut single from the new three-piece of Sergio Ch. Araujo & Romeo, and in some ways, the story behind it is pretty familiar. Sergio Ch. is, of course, Buenos Aires-based artist Sergio Chotsourian, the prolific founder and former frontman of Los Natas, who through his work in that band as well as Ararat and more recently Soldati, his own Sergio Ch. solo output and numerous other offshoot projects, in addition to his contributions to the continental underground through fostering bands on his South American Sludge imprint, has become something of a godfather of underground heavy in Argentina and the surrounding nations.

In Sergio Ch., Araujo & RomeoChotsourian is joined by drummer Jorge Araujo and synthesist/keyboardist Ernesto Romeo and together they embark on an ambitious beginning with “El Hombre con la Cámara.” It’s a single, in that it’s only one song, but it’s basically also a debut full-length comprised of naturalist, at least in-part-improvised-sounding soundscapery. Mostly instrumental, it courses and ebbs and flows through raw psychedelics and pushes into more driving fare momentarily only to recede again. Vocals come and go and come again, and the overarching effect on the listener is hypnotic without relying on a wash of effects or even an overdose of Romeo‘s synth. Make no mistake, that’s a factor, but it’s not at all overdone or out of balance with the guitar or drums.

What’s the future for Sergio Ch., Araujo & Romeo? Not a clue, and not worth your time to speculate. Could be a one-off, could be a whole new band about to take shape, and it’s no less likely that “El Hombre con la Cámara,” which in its final moments seems to reference Chotsourian‘s past work, will show up again in some different form in the future as well. You just never really know until you get there. Which — and stop me if I’ve said this before (actually, I know I’ve said this before, and don’t stop me) — is precisely why it’s fun.

Track is streaming under the info below. Enjoy:

sergio-ch-araujo-romeo-el-hombre-con-la-camara

SERGIO CH., ARAUJO & ROMEO – EL HOMBRE CON LA CAMARA

[S.A.S. 080]

Recorded and mixed by Sergio Ch. at Death Studios
Mastered by Patricio Claypole at Estudio el Attic
Artwork by Sergio Ch.
Produced by Sergio Ch.

SERGIO CH. – guitar & vocals
JORGE ARAUJO – drums
ERNESTO ROMEO – keyboard & synth

South American Sludge Records.

http://www.sergioch.com/
http://www.southamericansludge.com/
https://sasrecords.bandcamp.com/album/el-hombre-con-la-camara
https://www.facebook.com/SASRECORDSARGENTINA

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Sergio Ch. Premieres “El Herrero” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 3rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

sergio ch

By my count, this is the third video Sergio Chotsourian has produced from his 2016 sophomore solo release, Aurora (review here). Released through his own South American Sludge Records under his Sergio Ch. moniker, it was an offering marked by its two consuming, extended and experimentalist title-pieces — “Aurora” (18:54) and “Aurora II” (15:16) — and despite any perceived budget and attention span constraints together, indeed one of the clips the Buenos Aires-based former Los Natas and current Soldati frontman was for “Aurora” (posted here), if a shortened version, while the other was for the more folkish “El Laúd” (posted here). Over the course of the last year, Chotsourian has also offered visuals for “La Historia de Hanuman” (posted here) from his 2015 solo debut, 1974 (review here) and for a raw, demo-style take on new song “El Latigo y las Riendas” (posted here), as well as for Soldati‘s “El Electricidad del Arbol Caido” (premiered here).

Clearly the lesson of all this as Chotsourian embarks on the clip for “El Herrero,” which follows “Aurora” on the album and is distinguished through its light-touch percussion and interplay of pulled notes and strumming guitar, is that showing is as much a part of his approach as telling. So be it. The title “El Herrero” translates to “the blacksmith,” and accordingly, the video brings a wealth of atmospherically-shot metallurgical works — infrastructure, gears, the things that make life go. One doesn’t have to look far to find the metaphor underlying, but given the folky context of the song, neither could one accuse the clip of overstating its case. Like “El Herrero” itself, it makes its point in fluid, human fashion, and moves on. There isn’t ultimately much more that would need to be said than it says.

Soldati have a new 7″ in the works (announced here) that I’m hoping to review sooner or later, or at least before the end of 2017, but the last few years have found Chotsourian increasingly restless on a creative level and exploring multiple avenues/outlets for that restlessness, from collaborative one-off sessions to his still-developing solo output, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s got a few more tricks up his sleeve for the next couple months as well.

Until whatever might follow, you can check out “El Herrero” and the full stream of Aurora below, and I hope you enjoy:

Sergio Ch., “El Herrero” official video

VIDEO OFICIAL DEL DISCO DE SERGIO CH. – “AURORA”
PRODUCIDO POR SERGIO CH.
VIDEO REALIZADO POR JUAN CRUZ TOMMASI Y LUCAS MARTINEZ

PIRAMIDE RECORDS
SOUTH AMERICAN SLUDGE RECORDS

Sergio Ch., Aurora (2016)

South American Sludge Records on Thee Facebooks

South American Sludge website

South American Sludge Records on Bandcamp

Pirámide Records on Bandcamp

Pirámide Records on Thee Facebooks

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Quarterly Review: Enslaved, Hour of 13, Operators, MaidaVale, Audion, Bone Man, Riff Fist, Helén, Savanah, Puta Volcano

Posted in Reviews on July 12th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-summer-2017

I don’t know about you, but I could do this all day. Listening to records, writing reviews, getting things done that I’ve been trying to get done in some cases for actual months of my life — suffice it to say I’m way into this process. Wednesday is always a special day for the Quarterly Review because we pass the halfway point, and as much as I wish this edition went to 60 or even 70 releases, because rest assured even with 50 total there’s way more I could be covering if I had space/time, the good news is there’s still much more awesomeness to come. Today gets into some different vibes once again, so let’s get started.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Enslaved, Roadburn Live

enslaved-roadburn-live

In their storied and groundbreaking career, Norwegian progressive black metallers Enslaved have never put out a live record, and it kind of makes sense as to why. The nuance of what they’ve come to do in their studio material doesn’t really lend itself to the rawness of a live album. Accordingly, Roadburn Live (on ByNorse and Burning World Records) feels almost as much of an homage to the event itself as to the performance. Captured in 2015 as Enslaved guitarist Ivar Bjørnson co-curated and the band headlined playing a special set of their more prog-focused songs – here more recent material like “In Times,” “Building with Fire,” “Daylight” from 2015’s In Times (review here) and “Death in the Eyes of Dawn” from 2012’s RIITIIR (review here) shines along with “Convoys to Nothingness” from 2001’s Monumension, “As Fire Swept Clean the Earth” from 2003’s Below the Lights and the requisite “Isa” from the 2004 landmark of the same name, and a special highlight comes at the finale when they cover Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” and bring guitarist Menno Gootjes of Dutch proggers Focus out for a guest spot. Roadburn Live might be a step away from the band’s usual modus, but Enslaved have made their career on pushing themselves beyond their comfort zone, so why stop now?

Enslaved on Thee Facebooks

Burning World Records website

ByNorse Music website

 

Hour of 13, Salt the Dead: The Rare and Unreleased

hour of 13 salt the dead

An overdue compilation from a band making an overdue return, Hour of 13’s Salt the Earth: The Rare and Unreleased reunites the doomers led by multi-instrumentalist Chad Davis with Shadow Kingdom Records and brings together early demos from 2007 – on which the collaboration between Davis and vocalist Phil Swanson was arguably at its most vibrant as they headed into their self-titled debut full-length later that year – with other previously unissued cuts like three songs with Davis on vocals including the Jason McCash tribute piece “Upon Black Wings We Die” (premiered here) and the original rehearsal demos that introduced Beaten Back to Pure singer Ben Hogg as Swanson’s replacement in the band in 2011 (premiered here). If you want a direct feel for the breadth of the band, look no further than the three versions of “Call to Satan” that appear on Salt the Earth. Widely varied between them in sound and overall feel, they underscore the tumult that has existed since the outset at the core of Hour of 13 even as they provide hope that the band previously laid to rest can revitalize enough to put out a fourth studio offering.

Hour of 13 on Thee Facebooks

Shadow Kingdom Records website

 

Operators, Revelers

operators revelers

Nearly four years in the making, Revelers is the third full-length from Berlin’s Operators behind 2013’s Contact High (review here) and 2012’s Operators (review here), and it starts off by smashing Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats swing headfirst into Goatsnake riffing on “Leveled Reveler,” the first of its six component tracks. Their arrangements, as ever, are marked by the featured position of organ along with guitar, bass and drums, and whether it’s a more extended jam like that opener, “Messina” or the closing “Rolling Hitch” – which boasts a guest vocal/guitar spot from Wight’s René Hofmann, who also recorded and mixed (Tony Reed of Mos Generator mastered) – or the shorter momentum-building winding course through “Pusher,” “Walkin’ on Air” (I’m not sure what’s happening at the end there, but I’m not about to spoil it) and the winning-at-song-titles “Fuzz Muncher,” Operators function with a maturity of approach that seems to have been earned during the longer stretch between releases. To wit, all the turns and pivots even out in the last movement of “Rolling Hitch” and Revelers caps with a classic heavy rock groove that’s neither in a hurry nor staid – Operators finding crucial balance amidst all their revelry, and much to their credit.

Operators on Thee Facebooks

Fuzzmatazz Records on Bandcamp

 

MaidaVale, Tales of the Wicked West

maidavale tales of the wicked west

Blues Pills. There. I said it. Now that the blues-rocking elephant in the room has been acknowledged, perhaps we can get on with Swedish four-piece MaidaVale’s debut full-length, Tales of the Wicked West (on The Sign Records). Yes, the Fårösund-based band owe a bit of their soulfulness to the aforementioned, but the nine-track/44-minute long-player thrives most of all as Linn Johannesson, Sofia Ström, Matilda Roth and Johanna Hansson purposefully meander into psychedelic flashes, as in opener “(If You Want the Smoke) Be the Fire,” the midsection of “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” the penultimate Zep-vibing/Bukowski-referencing “Find What You Love and Let it Kill You” and the 11-minute post-“Maggot Brain” closer “Heaven and Earth.” It’s in these moments and the manner in which they blend with the driving rock of “Dirty War,” the bluesy swagger of “Restless Wanderer” and the deft turns of “Colour Blind” early on that MaidaVale’s individualism is beginning to take shape, and if that’s the story that Tales of the Wicked West is telling, then it’s one well worth following through subsequent chapters.

MaidaVale on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Audion, La Historia de Abraham

audion-la-histora-de-abraham

Audion’s debut, La Historia de Abraham, is immediately noteworthy in no small part because it brings the rhythm section of Los Natas back together for the first time since that band’s breakup following 2009’s excellent Nuevo Orden de la Libertad (review here). Drummer Walter Broide and bassist Gonzalo Villagra join forces in the new outfit with guitarist Dizzy Espeche, and all three contribute vocals throughout at least in backup capacity, adding variety to go with the instrumental breadth that runs from the serene end of “Llegaron Sordos” right into the rush of “La Maquina del Tiempo” and well beyond later as the interlude “Para Rosita” introduces an earthy acoustidelic feel and “El Carancho” explores ‘70s anthemic rock before the fuzz- and horn-laden finisher “Queruzalem” closes out with a surprising progressive wash. Cuts like opener “Clarence,” the title-track and “Colmillo Blanco” can call to mind Villagra and Broide’s previous work, but Audion make a fresh impression on La Historia de Abraham in the variety throughout, and as they make their way through “Lesbotrans” and “Diablo vs. Dios” and into the second half of the album, it becomes increasingly clear how distinct this first offering actually is.

Audion on Thee Facebooks

Audion on Bandcamp

 

Bone Man, III

bone man iii

To go along with the propulsive rhythm of “False Ambition” and the wash in the payoff of the earlier “These Days are Gone,” there’s a sense of gothic drama to vocalist Marian’s delivery that adds further atmosphere to Bone Man’s III (on Pink Tank Records), and in kind with the cohesive foundation of Arne’s bass, Ötzi’s drumming and his own scorch-prone guitar, that gives cuts like “Cold Echo” and the alternately brooding and explosive centerpiece – layered acoustic and electric guitar filling out the sound further – even more stylistic depth. That moodiness comes perhaps most into focus on the more subdued “Incognito,” but it’s there from the boogie-laced opener “Pollyanna” onward, and in the jagged push of “Years of Sorrow” and the more spacious finale “Amnesia” (still a tightly structured four minutes in length), it lends III a persona stretching beyond what one might think of as the standard genre fare and gives the Kiel, Germany, outfit a presence decidedly their own. It’s their third record, so maybe that’s not a surprise for a band who made their first offering eight years ago, but it serves as a major source of resonance in the material nonetheless.

Bone Man on Thee Facebooks

Pink Tank Records website

 

Riff Fist, King Tide

riff fist king iii

Going back to 2013, Melbourne, Australia, trio Riff Fist have basically summed up their approach in the eight letters of their name: a tight-knit approach to guitar-led heavy rock, as straightforward as a fist in your face. King Tide is their debut album after three EPs named for the Clint Eastwood Dollars trilogy of westerns – 2015’s The Good, the Loud and the Riff, 2014’s For a Few Riffs More and 2013’s Fistful of Riffs (review here) – and it significantly expands their breadth. Opening with its longest track (immediate points) in the 11-minute title cut (video premiered here), King Tide covers new, more patient and encompassing ground from bassist/vocalist Cozza, guitarist Casey and drummer Joel than anything they’ve touched on before, and while the subsequent “D.T.U.B.,” fuzz-laden “Fist Bier (Noch Eins)” and even the first half of eight-minute centerpiece “Chugg” bring that all-ahead sensibility back into focus, King Tide remains effectively and engagingly informed by its leadoff impression through its total 33-minute run, which is rounded out as “Beer and a Cigarette” melds the more spacious and atmospheric take with a still-swinging post-Clutch groove. There’s more work to do in tying the various sides together, but King Tide is a rousing introduction to the process through which the band can make that happen.

Riff Fist on Thee Facebooks

Riff Fist on Bandcamp

 

Helén, Helén

helen helen

Hexvessel multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Kimmo Helén makes a willfully peculiar and experimentalist self-titled debut with the solo-project Helén via Svart Records, setting a course through melodic indie wash in “Uusi Olento” even as “Jumalan Hullu” threatens in its bounce and the later “Lystia” moves into yet-darker expanses. Keys, electric and acoustic guitar, sax, and of course Helén’s own Finnish-language vocals, there’s very little that feels like it might be outside his comfort zone in terms of craft, and Helén, the album, is just as effective in the plus-cello-acoustic-minimalism of the penultimate “Lopussa” as in the earlier atmospheric breadth of “Puolen Metrin Syvyydessä.” Closing out with the alternately melancholy and dreamy “Kaikki Isä,” the record brings out a full-band feel despite Helén having handled the vast majority of the instrumentation on his own and impresses in that as well as in its range of moods and overarching sense of purpose. May it be a first exploration in a series of many.

Helén on Thee Facebooks

Helén at Svart Records webstore

 

Savanah, The Healer

savanah the healer

I won’t take away from a wah-drenched rocker like “The Healer,” which still jams out plenty before digging into doomier lumbering, but where Austrian trio Savanah’s Stone Free Records debut album, The Healer, really gets its point across is in the fluidity of its longer-form material, whether that’s post-“Intro” opener “Mind,” the ebbing and flowing heavy psych instrumental “Pillars of Creation” or the over-10-minutes-apiece closing pair of the doom rocking “Black Widow” and “Panoramic View of Stormy Weather,” which effectively draws together the multiple aesthetic faces the three-piece demonstrate throughout the record preceding, culling rock, psych and doom into a single riff-driven entity and, most importantly, making it theirs. Guitar leads the way with big, natural fuzz, but the rhythm section is crucial here, and as Benny, Felix and Jakob follow-up their 2015 EP, Deep Shades, they seem to establish a path along which they can flourish and hopefully continue to capture the listener’s attention as they do here.

Savanah on Thee Facebooks

StoneFree Records website

 

Puta Volcano, Harmony of Spheres

puta volcano harmony of spheres

The kind of release where by the end of the first song you want to own everything the band has ever put out. Don’t let Athens’ Puta Volcano get lost in the wash of bands coming out of Greece these days, because there are many, but if you miss out on the blend of desert-style tones and graceful melodies of “Bird,” it’s to your general detriment. I’m serious. In craft and performance, Puta Volcano’s third album, Harmony of Spheres, takes on unpretentious progressivism in songwriting and blends it with a post-Slo Burn/Hermano sense of freedom from genre. Witness the funky “Zeroth Law” or the later, more subtle post-grunge linearity of “Moebius,” the odd chanting repetitions in closer “Infinity” or the nigh-on-maddening hook of “Jovian Winds.” Really, do it. With the lineup of vocalist Luna Stoner, guitarist Alex Pi, bassist Bookies and drummer Steven Stefanidis, Puta Volcano are onto something special in aesthetic and delivery, and if Harmony of Spheres might be your first experience with the band as it’s mine, it’s one that will no doubt warrant multiple revisits. Consider it sleeper fodder for your year-end list – I know I will.

Puta Volcano on Thee Facebooks

Puta Volcano on Bandcamp

 

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Soldati Announce New Single “El Nudo en la Soga” Coming Soon

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

sergio ch soldati in studio

Soldati check in from the studio to inform that they’ve been working on a new single to be titled El Nudo en la Soga that’s set to be released as a seven-incher via South American Sludge Records hopefully by the end of this year. Based in Buenos Aires, the trio is led by guitarist/vocalist Sergio Chotsourian, who of course is the head of South American Sludge and known for his work over the years in outfits like Los Natas, Ararat and more recently his own Sergio Ch. solo-project, which released its second album, Aurora (review here), late last year.

With Soldati, Chotsourian steps back into more of a rock frontman role, as the three-piece showed on their self-titled debut EP (discussed here), also issued in 2016. That four-track outing varied its approach almost on a per-song basis, but in so doing set up an aesthetic scope that one expects will continue to expand with El Nudo en la Soga when it arrives. Comprised of its title-track and a redux of Chotsourian‘s solo piece “El Latigo y las Riendas,” the new offering was recorded and mixed analog at El Attic Studio and helmed by Patricio Claypole.

Below you’ll find a couple pics of from the studio and confirmation of the above. More to come, including audio, as we get closer to the release, but if you missed it, you can check out Soldati‘s recent video for prior-EP-opener “La Electricidad del Arbol Caido” (originally premiered here) at the bottom of this post.

Dig it:

SOLDATI – New 7″ Coming Soon

Songs are “El Nudo en la Soga” and electric version of my piano intimate “El Latigo y las Riendas.” Recorded and mixed all analog tape 2 inch for a future single release on 7 inch vinyl thru South American Sludge Records.

Studio name is El Attic and the tracks were produced by Patricio Claypole, former Los Natas crew.

Soldati represents an intense and solid ride; a concept of heavy rock taken to the extreme, with strong lyrics, dark and visceral sound; continuing anew what Natas has bequeathed. A new journey and a new experience for lovers of Argentine stoner.

SOLDATI LINEUP:
Sergio Ch. – guitar/vocals
Lukas Hospital – bass
Ranz – drums

https://www.facebook.com/SOLDATIDOOMNACIONAL
https://sasrecords.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/SASRECORDSARGENTINA

Soldati, “La Electricidad del Arbol Caido” official video

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: High Brian, Arduini/Balich, Audion, Grey Gallows, Smoke Mountain

Posted in Radio on June 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk radio cavum

If you’re a regular denizen of The Obelisk Radio, you’ve probably already guessed by the massively expanded playlist that we’re back on the main server at this point. It’s been months on the backup, and while anyone is still reading, let me just say out loud how much I owe to the hard work Slevin has put into the back end of making this thing happen. From a huge file-recovery operation to yesterday turning the thing back on after I moved a bunch of files and screwed it up yet again, the dude is just unbelievable. Seriously. This site is coming up on nine years old, and Slevin has made it happen every step of the way from a technical standpoint. I am in awe of his prowess and generosity of spirit.

So now that we’re back up and running at full capacity, the only thing to do is to keep building it going forward. And here we are.

The Obelisk Radio adds for June 13, 2017:

High Brian, Hi Brain

high-brian-hi-brain

Though they start out with the post-Queens of the Stone Age shuffle of “Liquid Sweet,” the crux of Austrian rockers High Brian‘s playfully titled debut long-player, Hi Brain, lies in classic psychedelia, unafraid to directly make a Beatles reference or two in “Aquanautic Smoke” or name a track after Jefferson Airplane‘s Surrealistic Pillow. That song, “Surrealistic Pillow,” turns out to be one of Hi Brain‘s catchiest, but hooks about throughout the nodding “All but Certainty” and the later, Stubb-style raucousness of the pair “The Conversion” and “Blood Money” as well, while centerpiece “All the Other Faces” and the aforementioned “Aquanautic Smoke” engage effects-laden drift and poised fluidity, resulting in an overarching sense of within-genre aesthetic variety that moves easily throughout the vinyl-ready 44-minute offering. They close with the molten roll of “Time,” their longest cut at 5:52 and a bolder melodic take, as if to signal a potential direction of their growth on their way out. There are plenty of encouraging signs before they get there, certainly, but hey, one more never hurt. An impressive introduction to a project that one hopes continues to develop and expand its approach.

High Brian website

Stone Free Records website

Mountain Range Creative Factory

 

Arduini/Balich, Dawn of Ages

ARDUINI BALICH DAWN OF AGES

Words like “powerhouse” are invented for releases like Arduini/Balich‘s Dawn of Ages. The Cruz del Sur release brings together Fates Warning guitarist Victor Arduini (who also produced) and Argus vocalist Brian “Butch” Balich, and while I’ll confess that on first listen I went right to their cover of Sabbath‘s “After All (The Dead)” — fucking righteous; and there aren’t a lot of people I’d trust to take on that song or anything from the Dio era — extended pieces like “Beyond the Barricade” (17:27) and “The Wraith” (13:44) offer listeners a deep push into a heavy metal that’s progressive, powerful and doomed all at the same time, executed with a clarity and a purpose that shimmers with class and just the right balance of patience and aggression. Rest easy, traveler, for you are in the hands of masters. Rounded out by drummer Chris Judge, Arduini/Balich is what happens when heavy metal goes right, and from the doomly unfolding of opener “The Fallen” through the 2LP’s three concluding covers of Beau Brummels‘ “Wolf of Velvet Fortune,” Uriah Heep‘s “Sunrise” and the already noted Dehumanizer highlight, there isn’t one moment where they relinquish their hold on either their craft or their audience’s attention. It’s the kind of outing that might cause a last-minute revision to best-of-the-year-so-far list, to say the least of it. Not to be greedy, but I’ll take a follow-up as soon as possible. Thanks.

Arduini/Balich on Thee Facebooks

Cruz del Sur Music website

 

Audión, La Historia de Abraham

audion-la-historia-de-abraham

If the driving Motörhead-onic thrust of the title-track to Audión‘s La Historia de Abraham rings familiar, it might be because the rhythm section of the Buenos Aires trio consists of bassist Gonzalo Villagra (also vocals) and drummer Walter Broide (also backing vocals), both formerly of Los Natas. Honestly, that pedigree would probably be enough for me to get on board with the 10-track/49-minute self-released full-length, but then you get into the roll and drift of the subsequent “Llegaron Sordos” and the fluid cascade of “Colmillo Blanco,” and guitarist Dizzy Espeche makes his presence felt tonally and vocally throughout to add a new personality to whatever familiar aspects might persist. “Lesbotrans” dives into a ’70s-style swing and the blown-out “Diablo vs. Dios” follows it with the age-old question of what might happen if The Who went garage punk, but there’s flourish of psychedelia on the interlude “Para Rosita” before “El Carancho” and “Queruzalem” round out with some of La Historia de Abraham‘s weightiest impacts. I think it’s fair to say Audión have some tinge of Los Natas‘ style to them, but their first outing shows them working toward building something new from that as well, and that makes their arrival all the more welcome.

Audion on Thee Facebooks

Audion on Bandcamp

 

Grey Gallows, Underlord

grey-gallows-underlord

Not that it isn’t plenty malevolent on its surface, but there’s an even more extreme threat lurking beneath “Underlord,” the nine-minute opener, titular and longest track (immediate points) on the debut full-length from Phoenix, Arizona’s Grey Gallows. It doesn’t take long for that sense of extremity to manifest in a blackened sensibility that pervades both in the riffs of a song like “Belladonna” — the middle cut of the five included — or the overarching spaciousness that finds its way into the grime-coated “West of Hell,” which follows. With a depth of guitar worthy of filling one’s lungs, “West of Hell” churns in a manner faster and somewhat sludgier than the alternately nodding and atmospheric “Priestess” showed the Opoponax Records outing to be earlier, six-stringers Joe Distic and Cat weaving noted lines and crunch riffs around each other for seven densely grooved minutes amid low-end push from bassist Lee, adaptable and creative drumming from Shane and Zue Byrd‘s vocals, which hit in form no less distorted in the back half of “Priestess” than they are punker drawled in closer “Buzzard Dust.” Nasty. Nasty, nasty, nasty. That’s basically what the math works out to on the 35-minute outing, but it’s worth noting that even on their first album, Grey Gallows demonstrate a ready willingness to balance various stylistic impulses off each other in such a way that’s only going to make their sound richer as they proceed. Richer, and even nastier. So be it.

Grey Gallows on Thee Facebooks

Opoponax Records webstore

 

Smoke Mountain, Smoke Mountain

smoke-mountain-smoke-mountain

The first EP from this Floridian three-piece does precisely what it’s supposed to do: introduces a newcomer band with three unpretentious tracks of dirt-fuzz riffing. The immediate vibe of opener “Demon” is early Acid King as the vocals follow the riff in classic stonery fashion, but the three songs get longer as they go and “Violent Night” proves immediately more spacious en route to the eponymous march of “Smoke Mountain.” What would probably be called a demo in a prior age, Smoke Mountain‘s Smoke Mountain makes its primary impression tonally but shows potential in its songwriting as well, and as a quick sampling of what the band are getting up to in their first stages, there’s little more one could reasonably ask of it, particularly as “Smoke Mountain” hammers home its chorus in a balance of clean vocal melody and absolutely filthy guitar, bass and drum crash. That duality, should they maintain it as they move forward into whatever might come next, can only serve them well. One to keep an eye on.

Smoke Mountain on Thee Facebooks

Smoke Mountain on Bandcamp

 

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