SubRosa Premiere “The Mirror” from SubRosa Subdued: Live at Roadburn 2017

Posted in audiObelisk on November 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

subrosa

SubRosa will release SubDued: Live at Roadburn 2017 on Dec. 1 through Burning World and Roadburn Records. Today I have the extreme pleasure of hosting the official premiere of ‘The Mirror,’ and as the entire album has already been reviewed here, I thought I might just take a minute to speak about the experience of seeing the Salt Lake City outfit play in this context. Won’t take a minute.

Het Patronaat is a revamped church included as a venue for the Roadburn festival in Tilburg, the Netherlands. It has stained glass windows, a high, vaulted ceiling, and hardwood floors. subrosa-subdued-live-at-roadburn-2017When it’s empty, before a band goes on, it feels cavernous. Massive. When it’s full and you’re pressed up against the stage, it can be as intimate as the smallest of Roadburn‘s venues. You’re right there. The band’s right there. And, oh yeah, there are about 700 other people in the room with you, but if you don’t turn around and look, it’s easy enough to pretend you’re in your own world. That’s basically how I watched SubRosa play their ‘SubDued’ set at this year’s Roadburn.

They’d been on the Main Stage the prior afternoon, playing their most recent album, the brilliant For this We Fought the Battle of Ages (review here), in its entirety, but the concept behind ‘SubDued’ being that they’d strip away much of the distortion in favor of a mostly-acoustic presentation made it unmissable from my point of view. The setlist was older tracks — nothing off the latest record — and highlights like “Whippoorwill,” “The Inheritance” and “Cosey Mo” received new life through their revamped arrangements, the focus on meditative melody, raw rhythmic sway and a masterful presentation that turned deeply-weighted goth-tinged post-metal into exploratory neofolk no less complete in its realization. I don’t think any single moment emphasized this so much as when they played “The Mirror” as the second to last song in the set.

In terms of the arrangement, “The Mirror” was as minimal as SubRosa got: voice, drumsticks against microphone stands and a single floor tom for percussion, and that’s it. The violins, flutes, bass, acoustic and electric guitar, and samples/other noises that filled out other inclusions were set aside. Rebecca Vernon led Sarah Pendleton and Kim Pack in harmony as she and drummer Andy Patterson — situated behind a front-line of players that also included bassist Levi Hanna and guest flutist/vocalist Kelly Schilling — kept time together in that seemingly simple fashion. subrosa subdued (photo jj koczan)It was beautiful and affecting in kind.

The song itself tells the story of a woman who, by her own admission, “took the easy road.” She gets married and has five kids in five years because that’s what you’re supposed to do where she’s from, but when her husband leaves her, she’s alone and poor and full of regret. In the end, she blames not him for the affair she had, but herself for not seeing the error of the lifepath she chose: the line, “I just look in the mirror and I find I only have myself to blame” stands out in a verse preceding the ultimate moral lesson of, “You gotta push against the current to get somewhere.” It’s a powerful sentiment, powerfully presented.

I’ll admit I wasn’t familiar with “The Mirror” before seeing it performed at Het Patronaat this past April. It comes from SubRosa‘s 2006 demo/EP The Worm has Turned and to my knowledge hasn’t featured on any subsequent release. This would seem to make its inclusion on SubDued: Live at Roadburn 2017 all the more special, since it’s a standout and something kind of exclusive to this form, this time, and this moment for the band. It certainly felt that way when they were playing it, and as I watched and listened, I became utterly entranced in the melody and the storytelling in a way that hasn’t left my mind in the half-year since. I feel fortunate for having been there to witness it and know that, in fact, I was.

Enjoy the premiere of “The Mirror” below, followed by some more preliminaries from the PR wire:

First ever live album by Subrosa after 5 studio albums on labels as Profound Lore and I Hate Records.

Recorded at the prestigious Roadburn Festival 2017 in a packed Patronaat. Mixed and mastered by Andy Patterson of Subrosa.

Vinyl version will follow in early 2018.

TRACKLIST
1. Whippoorwill
2. Borrowed Time Borrowed Eyes
3. Sugar Creek
4. The Inheritance
5. Cosey Mo
6. The Mirror
7. No Safe Harbor

SubRosa website

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Godflesh to Release Post Self Nov. 17; New Song Streaming; Streetcleaner Live at Roadburn 2011 Reissue out Dec. 1

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 1st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

godflesh

As Godflesh make ready to perform Streetcleaner in full this coming Sunday night, Nov. 5, at Warsaw in Brooklyn to mark the 20th anniversary of Hospital Productions, the legendary Justin K. Broadrick-led outfit are preparing to unveil two new releases. First is a new studio outing titled Post Self, which is a follow-up for 2014’s return long-player A World Lit Only by Fire (review here), and second is a CD reissue Dec. 1 on Burning World/Roadburn Records of the 2013 live outing, Streetcleaner Live at Roadburn 2011, capturing the performance six years ago that basically kicked off the duo’s resurgence, Broadrick and Benny Green taking the stage together and laying waste to the entire fest. I was there. It was a work of technology advanced enough to be considered magic by my feeble brain.

The title-track of Post Self is streaming now and the PR wire brings the latest on both releases:

Godflesh share the title track of their new album, Post Self; the legendary duo’s first album in three years, due out on November 17th

Godflesh Streetcleaner Live At Roadburn (CD) out Dec. 1

Industrial metal pioneers Godflesh will release their new album Post Self on November 17th via Justin K. Broadrick’s Avalanche Recordings on CD, digital and LP formats, with a cassette version incoming on Hospital Productions. Over two years in the making, Post Self explores a different side of Godflesh, taking in their formative influences to conjure something informed by late 70’s/early 80’s post-punk and industrial music. The album deals with themes of anxiety, depression, fear, mortality, and paternal/maternal relationships.

The previous Godflesh album, A World Lit Only By Fire, was released in October 2014.

Post Self track listing
1. Post Self
2. Parasite
3. No Body
4. Mirror Of Finite Light
5. Be God
6. The Cyclic End
7. Pre Self
8. Mortality Sorrow
9. In Your Shadow
10. The Infinite End

GODFLESH performed their seminal debut full-length album, 1989’s “Streetcleaner”, in its entirety at the 2011 edition of the Roadburn festival on Thursday, April 14 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, Holland. In addition, founding members Justin Broadrick and Benny Green played the “Tiny Tears” EP, which was conceived as part of the overall “Streetcleaner” vision, in full as well.

– Mastered specially for cd by James Plotkin.
– Originally released as a double album on Roadburn Festival Records in 2013. Now for the first time out on cd.

Tracklist
1. LIKE RATS (LIVE) 05:34
2. CHRISTBAIT RISING (LIVE) 07:46
3. PULP (LIVE) 04:21
4. DREAM LONG DEAD (LIVE) 05:36
5. HEADDIRT (LIVE) 04:20
6. DEVASTATOR / MIGHTY TRUST KRUSHER (LIVE) 09:40
7. LIFE IS EASY (LIVE) 04:25
8. STREETCLEANER (LIVE) 06:47
9. LOCUST FURNACE (LIVE) 04:36
10. TINY TEARS (LIVE) 03:21
11. WOUND (LIVE) 03:12
12. DEADHEAD (LIVE) 04:06
13. SUCTION (LIVE) 08:48

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Godflesh, “Post Self”

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SubRosa, Subdued: Live at Roadburn 2017: Finding Safe Harbor

Posted in Reviews on October 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

subrosa subdued live at roadburn 2017

On the first day, SubRosa took to the Main Stage of the 013 venue in Tilburg to play their latest album in its entirety. And it was early in an afternoon and night of excellent performances, but seeing the Salt Lake City, Utah, outfit give my 2016 Album of the Year, the Profound Lore-issued For this We Fought the Battle of Ages (review here), a complete runthrough was still a highlight of the entirety of my experience at the 2017 Roadburn festival (review here). It was something special. The next day, across the alley at Het Patronaat, the band played once again, but this time for a set that became even more of a landmark in my mind for the long weekend.

Given the billing of ‘SubDued,’ it was SubRosa — the core lineup of guitarist/vocalist Rebecca Vernon, violinists/vocalists Sarah Pendleton and Kim Pack, bassist Levi Hanna and drummer/noisemaker Andy Patterson joined for a second time by flutist/vocalist Kelly Schilling of Denver’s Dreadnought — arranged with everyone up front in a line across the stage save for Patterson who was situated behind with a percussion and sampler setup, seated, facing the audience directly. Surrounded by stained glass windows, the high cathedral ceiling and the hardwood floors of ‘The Church,’ as Het Patronaat has also come to be known — appropriately, since it is one — it felt like a ceremony unto itself.

I stood at the very front of the stage and watched as SubRosa reinterpreted songs from 2013’s More Constant than the Gods, 2011’s No Help for the Mighty Ones (review here), 2008’s Strega and the preceding 2006 demo, The Worm has Turned — leaving the performance of their fourth full-length the day before as it was, but boldly recontextualizing past material into a mostly-acoustic neofolk rife with atmosphere, emotion and progressive sonic insight.

Simply put, it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, at Roadburn or anywhere else.

Taking that into account, I have to admit there’s just about no way I can be properly impartial when it comes to assessing the Subdued: Live at Roadburn 2017 live album released through Burning World and Roadburn Records. None. I was too close to it — literally — and as the band began their just-under-an-hour-long set with the graceful unfolding of “Whippoorwill,” too consumed by the immediate breadth of what they were doing to maintain any proper distance from the experience. I think most who were there to see it would likely say the same. It would be like being impartial about a sunrise whose warmth cast away months of frigid temperatures. Impartiality about a first meal after days of starving. It was a time for worship, for communion, not equanimity, and “Whippoorwill” was only the start.

One can hear that on the recording. With Patterson thudding away behind, “Borrowed Time, Borrowed Eyes” emphasizes its rhythmic punctuation as much as Vernon‘s vocal melody, recalling some of the sludgy churn of the original that led off No Help for the Mighty Ones, but with more of a reliance on the strings to fill out an arrangement still given heft by Hanna‘s bass, SubRosa set up the harmonies later in the song for the repeated lines “How long must my journey go?,” and giving way to “Sugar Creek,” which might be the most radical arrangement shift of the entire set, taking the original opener of Strega, pulling out the guitar heft and drums and replacing them with electronic beats, manipulated noise and violins on a five-minute linear build that offers rare patience and still finds a way to capture the band’s underlying emotional intensity that was present even in their earliest work. It marks a transition as well into a crucial point in the set, wherein “The Inheritance” from No Help for the Mighty Ones and “Cosey Mo” from More Constant than the Gods pair together to fully embody the ‘subdued’ experience in texture and arrangement.

subrosa

Over minimal guitar, Vernon‘s solo vocals on “The Inheritance” are soon joined by companion harmonies, and sparse percussion echoes behind, marking the path as it unfolds. Strings arrive and the arrangement builds on itself, recedes for another verse and builds again, arriving at the line, “We’re in the shadow of a dying world,” which the pervasive melancholy of “Cosey Mo” seems to bring to life all the more. Both cuts hover around the eight-minute mark and become a dark kind of gothic Americana with the treatment they’re given on Subdued: Live at Roadburn 2017, the level of depth particularly on the latter highlighting Patterson‘s work in mixing and mastering as well as on percussion. “Cosey Mo” finds a level of balance and emotional resonance by its halfway point that feels like the apex of the performance as a whole, and SubRosa continue to ride that progression fluidly, but it’s ultimately “The Mirror” that serves as the moment of their greatest impact.

With a rhythm created by hitting drumsticks on mic stands complemented by Patterson behind, “The Mirror” weaves a story of rural disaffection — “Got married in the winter/Gave birth in the summer/In five years time had five little ones…” — set to the most gorgeous vocal harmonies here present from VernonPendleton and Pack, who deep-dive into folk-ballad traditionalism with what I’d gladly argue is the boldest and bravest abandon shown on the release. The song, which originally appeared on The Worm has Turned, is the oldest of the material to make it into the set and yet could not fit more perfectly, casting off the complexity of strings, samples, bass, guitar and percussion in favor of an approach as organic as possible: raw human voice.

They thank Roadburn Creative Director Walter Hoeijmakers when they’re done and then launch into “No Safe Harbor” from More Constant than the Gods to close the set. It would be easy for it to be an afterthought, but with Schilling‘s flute added, SubRosa instead push further into the scope established by “The Inheritance” and “Cosey Mo,” finding resolution in a series of thudding crashes that, even in this setting, are viscerally weighted. To call it a suitable ending undercuts the beauty that actually holds sway for the duration of the track itself, or the obvious care put into the presentation, which like the original, ends with a chaos of rumble and strings ceding ground to a single line of percussion. Violins circle around single pulled notes on bass, and whether taken on an ambient level or in terms of the pure aural resonance, it leaves the band with just about nowhere else to go. So they end.

I have been to nine editions of the Roadburn festival. Each year offers at least one landmark performance — the one for which the festival is ultimately remembered. I don’t know if the effect could possibly be the same for someone who wasn’t there to witness it — and it’s precisely for that reason that I consider myself too close to it to be properly impartial, as noted above — but having witnessed SubRosa ‘SubDued’ and now having heard Subdued: Live at Roadburn 2017, it only further cements this set as that in my mind for 2017. It’s been six months now since and I continue to feel affected by what they did on that Het Patronaat stage, and with these tracks documenting it as gorgeously and as essentially as they do, I can only hope that will sustain for years to come. It is a reminder of the power a live performance can have and, again, as rich an experience as I’ve ever had in that regard.

SubRosa, “No Safe Harbor” live at Roadburn 2017

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SubRosa to Release Subdued: Live at Roadburn 2017 Dec. 1

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 4th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

subrosa

Hands down, SubRosa were my band of the year at Roadburn 2017. The Salt Lake City dark atmospheric heavy rockers played two sets that I stood in awe and watched in their entirety. The first of them was on Thursday, April 20, and was a complete runthrough of 2016’s brilliant For this We Fought the Battle of Ages (review here), which also happened to be my choice for the best album that came out last year, played on the Main Stage at the 013 venue. It was early in the fest but an unmistakable highlight that carried me through the weekend. I shit you not. I got on the plane home still thinking about how good SubRosa were that first day.

The second set, and something even more of a landmark, was the next day and it was called “SubRosa Subdued,” and it was a semi-acoustic take from the band on some of their older material, including songs from 2013’s More Constant than the Gods and reinterpreting material from their back catalog. It was at Het Patronaat — “the church,” as it’s known — and it was simply unreal. I stood directly in front of the stage, not 10 feet from the band, as they unleashed the gorgeous, devastating melodies of songs like “Whippoorwill,” “Cosey Mo” and the high point of the whole thing, the harmonized “The Mirror,” which even now listening back to it gives me shivers. I consider it some of the best news I’ve posted this year that Burning World / Roadburn Records will release Subdued: Live at Roadburn 2017 on Dec. 1.

I’ll hope to have much more on this before we get to the release date,but the bottom line? Holy crap am I glad this is coming out. Info below is pretty preliminary, but you can check out the art and an audience video of “No Safe Harbor” below that should give you at least some basic idea of why I’m so excited at the prospect of this being released.

Dig:

subrosa subdued live at roadburn 2017

SubRosa – Subdued Live at Roadburn 2017

First ever live album by Subrosa after 5 studio albums on labels as Profound Lore and I Hate Records.

Recorded at the prestigious Roadburn Festival 2017 in a packed Patronaat. Mixed and mastered by Andy Patterson of Subrosa.

Vinyl version will follow in early 2018.

TRACKLIST
1. Whippoorwill
2. Borrowed Time Borrowed Eyes
3. Sugar Creek
4. The Inheritance
5. Cosey Mo
6. The Mirror
7. No Safe Harbor

https://subrosa.cc/
https://subrosausa.bandcamp.com/
http://facebook.com/subrosaslc
http://twitter.com/subrosaslc
https://www.burningworldrecords.com/
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SubRosa, “No Safe Harbor” live at Roadburn 2017

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Review & Track Premiere: Slomatics, Futurians: Live at Roadburn

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 12th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

slomatics-futurians-live-at-roadburn

[Click play above to stream the premiere of ‘Tramontane’ from Slomatics’ Futurians: Live at Roadburn. Album is out next month on Burning World/Roadburn Records with preorders posted here.]

Look. Sometimes in life you just have to do yourself a favor, and I have no problem admitting that’s my motivation behind reviewing the Futurians: Live at Roadburn release by Belfast, Northern Ireland, trio Slomatics. No problem whatsoever. I was fortunate enough to bear witness to earlier this year to the set captured at Roadburn 2017 in the Green Room of the 013 in Tilburg, the Netherlands, and as Roadburn Records/Burning World Records gears up to release it to the wider public, I feel no shame in being as stoked on it as I am. Does that make me impartial to the experience or the release itself? Fuck no. Do I every now and again enjoy approaching an album with unmitigated joy and hoping to convey some small sense of that revelry in what still might ostensibly pass as a “review?” Yeah. Every now and again. This is one of those cases.

So if you want a harsh critique of Slomatics‘ set minute-by-minute, or if you want some bland judgment about the level of their play overall throughout the eight-song/42-minute pummelfest of a set, feel free to look elsewhere. For me, much like seeing the three-piece of guitarists David Majury and Chris Couzens and drummer/vocalist/synthesist Marty Harvey taking that stage in the first place, listening to Futurians: Live at Roadburn is a complete pleasure, front to back from the “Good evening Roadburn!” that Harvey tosses in four minutes into “Electric Breath” to the guest vocal appearance from Conan frontman Jon Davis on the finale “March of the 1,000 Volt Ghost.”

Those two cuts also represent the divide between the latest Slomatics studio LP, last year’s stellar Future Echo Returns (review here), and their 2005 debut, Flooding the Weir, and though the last several years especially have brought them to prominence in greater underground consciousness thanks in part to a 2011 split with Conan (review here) and the aforementioned Davis‘ work promoting them through his Black Bow Records imprint, citing (correctly) their influence on his work, etc., the set as a whole basks in the fullness of Slomatics‘ discography, with material from 2014’s Estron (review here) like “And Yet it Moves,” “Return to Kraken” and “Tramontane” from 2012’s preceding A Hocht, “Ulysses My Father” from the late-2014 split with Holly Hunt, and “Running Battle,” also taken from the debut.

It’s a lot of ground to cover and not a lot of time to do it, but Slomatics, who’ve been proffering tonal demolition since 2004, are well up to the task. Still, given that Future Echo ReturnsEstron and A Hocht comprise a thematic and narrative trilogy — the storyline of which is still unclear, though we know that with “Supernothing” and “Into the Eternal” capping the latest record, the main character seems to at least be resigned to death if not actually dead — it’s something of a surprise they’d dip back to Flooding the Weir or the split at all, though one can hardly argue with the flow they set up across the eight tracks of Futurians: Live at Roadburn. It is a total cliché to say of heavy two-guitar bands without bass that they’re missing nothing for low end — and frankly, kind of a shitty thing to say about bassists in general, who add to the dynamic of a group even when the tonal space can be otherwise filled via effects or various methods of amplification, running guitars through bass heads, and so on — but with just Majury and Couzens as the string section, Slomatics‘ material is united regardless of its source by the unbridled weight of their distortion.

slomatics at roadburn photo jj koczan

I said in watching them at the time that they were the heaviest band I’d heard so far over the weekend. They would turn out to be the heaviest band — period — that I’d see at Roadburn this year, and that comes through in the massive roll of “Electric Breath” and the gallop of “Return to Kraken” alike, and as it did on Estron, “And Yet it Moves” lives up to its title — perhaps even more with the energy of the live delivery behind it. Indeed, one of the greatest assets that emerges from the band across Futurians: Live at Roadburn is that energy, and while my hearing it in the recording of “Tramontane” and “Supernothing” and “Ulysses My Father” may be due in part to having stood in front of the stage as it was happening, the vitality of their execution and how simply glad Slomatics were to be there comes through just the same and I believe is palpable whether a given listener saw them or not. Textual evidence? Go back to Harvey engaging the crowd in “Electric Breath,” or as they close out the set with “March of the 1,000 Volt Ghost.” The trio seem no less thrilled to be onstage than the cheering crowd is to have them.

And in kind with the bludgeoning, crushing tonality they bring to bear in the material — recorded in the Roadburnian tradition by Astrosoniq drummer Marcel van de Vondervoort and his team — it’s that spirit of joy that most pervades the release. There have been plenty of Live at Roadburn albums over the years, which is a credit in no small part to van de Vondervoort, and while some simply offer a glimpse of a professionally captured stop on a tour, or a curated setlist, whatever it might have been for a given band in a given year, with Slomatics, it was the show itself and the obvious extra effort put into the set that made it something special.

In other words, playing Roadburn clearly meant something to HarveyCouzens and Majury, and accordingly, it meant more to the audience to see it as well. I can’t speak for everyone who was there and I wouldn’t try to, but I know that for me, Slomatics hit on a particular vibe and sense of communion that in my experience only the very best of fully-bought-in Roadburn performances are able to hone. Thus it seems only more fitting that it should be preserved not only so that those who were there can have it for nostalgic purposes and the band can keep the momentum of their growth going post-Future Echo Returns, but in order to document a singular level of expression as a template for others to hopefully follow in years and fests to come.

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Slomatics to Release Futurians: Live at Roadburn in October

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 19th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

slomatics (photo jj koczan)

How good were Slomatics at Roadburn 2017? Oh, they were mighty good indeed. All the more reason to put a note in your phone or mark your calendar or do whatever it is to do to remind yourself about shit — maybe just preorder it when that goes live on Sept. 12? — that the Northern Irish riff-crushing trio will issue their set from this year’s fest in Tilburg this October via Burning World/Roadburn Records under the title of Futurians: Live at Roadburn. I’m telling you, I was there. It was awesome enough that when they were done I jumped on stage and took the photo above. I never do that kind of extroverted shit. Usually my ass is hiding in the back, pronto.

Point is Slomatics killed it on this one, as they will, and whether you were there to catch it or not, keep your eye out for Futurians: Live at Roadburn because the proof, as the saying goes, is in the pudding. The riffy, riffy pudding.

The PR wire fills in on the particulars:

slomatics futurians live at roadburn

ROADBURN RECORDS TO RELEASE SLOMATICS FUTURIANS: LIVE AT ROADBURN

Slomatics will release Futurians: Live At Roadburn on vinyl and digital this october on Roadburn Records.

The band commented on their performance on the legendary festival beforehand:

“To say we’re excited about playing Roadburn would be an understatement,” says guitarist David Majury. “It’s funny how something like a music festival can take on almost mythical proportions, but if any festival has done so it’s definitely Roadburn! We’ve had an association with the festival through our records being on Burning World Records, so it feels good to be finally hauling our fuzz pedals over to Tilburg.”

With Majury and Chris Couzens on guitar and drummer / vocalist Marty Harvey also handling synth, Slomatics defy logic with their sheer amount of low-end output. As the follow-up to 2014’s Estron and 2012’s A Hocht, Future Echo Returns (2016) was the third in a trilogy of albums, rounding out an extended story that the band purposefully leaves open for interpretation.

“I’m delighted we’ll be joining the 2017 edition of Roadburn,” echoes Couzens. “We’ve seen some incredible performances in Tilburg over the years and been blown away how the locals embrace the hordes of music fans that descend on them. It’ll be fantastic to join that special atmosphere as a performer in April!”

* 300 copies on clear vinyl worldwide
* pre-sale starts september 12th 2017 on BurningWorldrecords.com

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Slomatics, “And Yet it Moves” live at Roadburn 2017

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Puta Volcano on Bandcamp

 

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Coltsblood & Bast Announce UK Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 11th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Hardly a better time to hear about an impending sophomore full-length from UK trio Coltsblood than these cold winter hours. The bleak doom extremists will issue their second long-player, Ascending into the Shimmering Darkness, sometime in the next couple months via Candlelight/Spinefarm as the follow-up to their similarly-titled 2014 debut, Into the Unfathomable Abyss (review here), and early next month, they head out with London’s Bast on an eight-day UK tour to herald its arrival. Bast offered up their Spectres album through Burning World/Black Bow Records in 2013 and also seem likely to have new material en route sooner than later.

Info from the PR wire:

coltsblood bast tour

Hailing from the North of England, COLTSBLOOD prepare to release their second full length ‘Ascending Into Shimmering Darkness’ this winter via Candlelight Records/Spinefarm Records. Following 2014’s highly acclaimed album ‘Into The Unfathomable Abyss’, COLTSBLOOD toured throughout the UK, Ireland and Europe, appearing at Roadburn Festival, North Of The Wall Festival and Doom Over London, gaining a reputation as crushing, devastating, other-worldly, bleak and horrific. COLTSBLOOD now return to many parts of the UK for the first time in over a year to celebrate the release of their new album and immerse the UK in darkness once again!

Formed in South London, 2008, BAST is a trio specialising in an unhealthy blend of Black Metal and Doom, with a flair for experimentation and emphasis on storytelling. Following the release of their debut full-length ‘Spectres’ in 2014 (Burning World/Black Bow Records), and numerous tours across the continent with the likes of Pallbearer and Conan, the band is currently crafting the second part of their journey, exploring the depths of humanity in the far reaches of a cosmic nightmare.

Coltsblood & Bast UK Tour:
Saturday Feb. 4th – Wheatsheaf, Oxford
Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1829804513907735/
Sunday Feb. 5th – The Unicorn, London
Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1069352433191654/
Monday Feb. 6th – TBA, Bournemouth
Event Page: TBA
Tuesday Feb. 7th – Star & Garter, Manchester
Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1049499668482474/
Wednesday Feb. 8th – Banshee’s Labrynth, Edinburgh
Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/352618018423422/
Thursday Feb. 9th – Nice & Sleazy’s, Glasgow
Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1639904426306733/
Friday Feb. 10th – The Chameleon, Nottingham
Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/950648908380755/
Saturday Feb. 11th – Bleach, Brighton
Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1603883512971504/
Sunday Feb. 12th – Ritual Dreadfest Temple Of Boom, Leeds
Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/DreadfestUK/

Poster Illustration by Phil Mann: www.philmanntattoo.com

https://www.facebook.com/Coltsblood/
https://coltsblood.bandcamp.com/
https://candlelightrecordsuk.bandcamp.com/album/into-the-unfathomable-abyss
https://bastmusic.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Bastmusic/
https://burningworldrecords.bandcamp.com/album/spectres

Coltsblood, Into the Unfathomable Abyss (2014)

Bast, Spectres (2013)

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