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:
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.
Posted in Reviews on December 30th, 2016 by JJ Koczan
We press on with the Quarterly Review and writeups #41-50 of the total 60 to be featured. Some considerable names in this batch, as I suppose there have been all along, but one of the functions this feature has come to serve is to allow me a space to offer some comment on bigger records that, let’s be frank, are being covered everywhere in the universe, while fleshing out coverage elsewhere of things like bands’ debuts and some other less-ubiquitous offerings. That’s become the idea anyway. Doesn’t always go like that, but it’s kind of a relief to have somewhere I can put the extra 200 reviews per year rather than miss out. We’ll wrap this one up on Monday, but just because it’s the end of the week and because it’s my general sentiment, thanks for reading.
Quarterly Review #41-50:
40 Watt Sun, Wider than the Sky
With their second album, the awaited Wider than the Sky, London’s 40 Watt Sun continue to be defined by their depressive expressionism. The six-track/62-minute follow-up to 2011’s The Inside Room (review here) finds guitarist/vocalist Patrick Walker (ex-Warning), bassist William Spong and drummer Christian Leitch opening with the longest inclusion (immediate points) in the gorgeously mournful 16-minute unfolding of “Stages.” Sonically lush but still somehow raw and minimal in its emotionality, a slow drear sets the tone for what will follow in “Beyond You” and “Another Room,” “Pictures and “Craven Road,” which alternate on either side of the 10-minute mark until closer “Marazion” (3:57) seems to resonate a less-hopeless spirit. More than The Inside Room, Wider than the Sky realizes itself in emotional rather than tonal weight, and while one often identifies these feelings with things cold and grey, it would require a willful blindness not to recognize the humanity and warmth coming through in Walker’s delivery of this material. Wide it may be, but not at all distant.
The duality of Worm Ouroboros’ third album for Profound Lore, What Graceless Dawn, is almost as prevalent as the irony that its title should include the word “graceless” when the 63-minute six-tracker itself is so melodically poised. It’s dark, but hopeful, spacious and compact, challenging but simply and often minimally arranged, patient and emotionally intense, and heavy even as it seems to float from one extended piece to the next on a current of intertwining, nigh-operatic vocals from bassist Lorraine Rath (ex-Amber Asylum) and guitarist Jessica Way (World Eater) while Aesop Dekker (Agalloch, Vhöl) seems just as comfortable in the quiet midsection stretch of 13-minute centerpiece “Ribbon of Shadow” as in the rumbling payoff of “Suffering Tree” just before. Running from opener “Day” to closer “Night,” What Graceless Dawn is nothing if not coherent, and while the band’s core approach has been largely consistent across their 2010 self-titled debut (review here) and 2012’s Come the Thaw, the Bay Area trio maintain a clear commitment to forward-moving artistry that stirs the consciousness.
I was fortunate enough to be there when UK heavy psych legends The Heads played the Main Stage set at Roadburn 2015 captured on the Burning World Records release Burning up With…, and indeed the preservation of the band’s utter liquefaction of that large room is well worth preserving across the four sides of a double-LP. The only drawback to a vinyl version of their set is that while the individual songs are presented as side-consuming medleys – “Cardinal Fuzz/KRT,” “Gnu/Legevaan Sattelite/U33,” and so on – that still requires some measure of break to flip from one to the next, whereas in the all-at-once linearity of a CD or digital listen, one finds the overwhelming lysergic proceedings intact as they were from the stage, gloriously molten and entrancingly jammed out by the longtime masters of the form. I won’t even attempt to give its spaciousness a proper assessment since just about anything The Heads do is a gift defying impartiality, especially something like this, but yeah, get on it.
Back in 2010, Dead Meadow frontman Jason Simon released an eponymous solo debut on Tee Pee that found him working in a folkish sphere, and his six-years-later follow-up, Familiar Haunts (on Tekeli-Li, Cardinal Fuzz, Burger Records and Blind Blind Tiger), has some of those elements as well on the twanging, finger-plucking “Pretty Polly” and subdued strum of “Seven Sisters of Sleep,” but Simon has also assembled a four-piece band here, and from the pickup of opener “The People Dance, the People Sing,” through the fuzz experimentalism of “Now I’m Telling You” and the airy linear build of the penultimate 11-minute highlight “Wheels Will Spin,” there’s no lack of fullness in the sound. One finds a particularly engaging blend on “Hills of Mexico,” a six-minute rambler that fluidly brings together neofolk and desert ambience, though as Simon and company play sounds off each other in this material, “engaging blend” would seem to be the underlying theme of Familiar Haunts as a whole.
Over a decade removed from their 2006 self-titled debut and five years past their third album, 2011’s Hemisphere of Shadows, one might easily argue that Portland, Oregon’s Danava are due for a full-length release. Sure, the band led by guitarist/vocalist Gregory Meleny have toured plenty in that time in the US and abroad, put out splits and so on, and that has consistently and organically grown their fanbase. Sating that fanbase would seem to be the motivation behind the two-song 7” At Midnight You Die (on Tee Pee), on which the titular A-side finds the four-piece making the most of their dual guitars – Meleny and Pete Hughes (Sons of Huns) shredding in proto-NWOBHM fashion – while the B-side takes on the bizarre and foreboding folk ambience of “My Spirit Runs Free,” short at three minutes, acoustic and sourced from 1979’s The Capture of Bigfoot. So yeah, it’s like that. No new record, but a ripper and some delightful weirdness on hand, and I suspect at this point many of their followers will take what they can get.
Some bands are just on their own wavelength, and as much as one might be tempted to relate Sevilla’s Pylar to SunnO))) with their robes and their drones, the Spanish troupe’s four-track full-length, Pyedra (on Alone Records), sees them emitting a slew of horrors all their own. Working as a five-piece, Pylar open with “Menga” (10:57), their longest cut (immediate points) and establish a basis of amelodic, largely arrhythmic noise-jazz. There are more straightforward currents in the subsequent rumble and roll of “Megalitos” (10:33), and “Menhir” (9:37) would seem to draw both sides together before “Meteoros” (9:07) rounds out with an airy, horn-topped alternate-universe victory, but the whole of Pyedra remains informed by the way-off-kilter challenge it poses at the outset, and part of the thrill is making your way through with no idea of what’s coming next other than another extended song beginning with the letter ‘m.’ Will be too much for some, but Pylar’s bleak experimentalism assures cultish appeal worthy of those robes the band wears.
Proliferating a combination of speaker-punishing low-end riffs and post-rock-derived spaciousness, Swedish trio Domkraft debut on Magnetic Eye Records with the wholesale immersion of The End of Electricity and evoke heft no less substantial than their stated theme. They begin with their two longest tracks (which I guess is double points?) in “The Rift” and “Meltdown of the Orb,” and by the time they’re through them, bassist/vocalist Martin Wegeland, guitarist Martin Widholm and drummer Anders Dahlgren have already doled out a full LP’s worth of nod, which would seem to make what follows after the momentary breather of “Drones” in “Red Lead,” “All Come Hither” the shorter “Dustrider” and closer “We Will Follow” a bonus round – in which Domkraft also dominate. Because its heavy is so heavy and because Wegeland’s vocals arrive across the board as far-back, shouted echoes, it’s easy to lose sight of the ambience that goes with all that roll, but what ultimately gives The End of Electricity such character is that it creates as much of a world as it destroys.
Back in 2013, Buenos Aires outfit Picaporters made an encouraging debut with Elefantes (review here). They’ve teased the follow-up, El Horror Oculto (on South American Sludge), over the last year-plus with several digital singles, but the album’s arrival hits with a distinct fleshing out of atmosphere, as heard on the grueling second cut “Diferentes Formas de Ostras” or the manner in which the centerpiece title-track departs from its raucous opening into a heavy-psychedelic meander, never to return, feeding off of the structure of “Humo Ancestral” directly before. An interlude “Etude 6” leads into the opening drift of “Ra,” but it’s a ruse as Picaporters offer some of the album’s most driving heavy rock in that cut’s second half, and close out with Sabbath-darkness-via-Zeppelin-noodling on “War is Over,” the trio coming together in a molten psychedelic doom that seems to draw from the various sides they’ve shown throughout without losing sight of pushing further in its summary.
It would be a mistake to judge Deamon’s Child’s second full-length, Scherben Müssen Sein (on Zygmatron), by any single one of its tracks, as the German trio makes plain in the dramatic shift from the crushing sludge of “Zucker” into the raw punk thrust of the subsequent “Keine Zeit.” Elsewhere, they find funky footing before punking out once again in “Schweinehund, Kimm Tanz Mit Mir!” and rumble the outing to a finish consuming in its largesse on the 10-minute “Nichts,” so yes, as they follow-up their 2014 self-titled debut (review here), Deamon’s Child hold fast to the sense of the unhinged proffered therein while uniting their material through an intensity that comes across regardless of tempo or surrounding purpose. They are on the beat, not behind it, pushing forward always. That can make Scherben Müssen Sein difficult to keep track of as it moves swiftly through the blast of “Monster” and the manipulated samples of “In Kinderschuhen” toward that finale, but the mission here is far, far away from easy listening, so all the better.
Adansonia Records offers a bonus-track-laden revisit of the 2011 debut release, Bardo Abgrund Temple, from Seattle shroom-jammers Fungal Abyss, whose improvisational sensibility comes through the original four extended cuts with no diminishing of their otherworldly trip-out for the half-decade that’s passed since they first surfaced. Those looking for a US counterpart to European psych-improv outfits like Electric Moon or Øresund Space Collective – i.e., me – would do well to dig into opener “Arc of the Covenant” (20:12) or closer “Fungal DeBrist” (24:07) as a lead-in for the earlier-2016 follow-up, Karma Suture (review here), as well as their companion live outings, but whatever contextual approach a listener might want to take, the instrumental stretch of Bardo Abgrund Temple is a serenely heavy and meandering path to walk, given to bouts of space-rock thrust and long passages of low-end droner nod, as heard on the 10-minute “Timewave Zero,” turned on and duly ritualized in its swirl and far-off vocalizations. A reissue well-earned of a gracefully cosmic debut.
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 19th, 2016 by JJ Koczan
This week, guitarist Isaiah Mitchell of Earthless and Golden Void heads out on an Australian tour that teams him with Melbourne heavy psych rockers Seedy Jeezus. Today, it’s announced that not only will the two be working together on stage, but they’ve also recorded a full-length album under the banner of Seedy Jeezus & Isaiah Mitchell. Dubbed Tranquonauts, it’s a limited to 500 LP from Blown Music with 100 copies going to Europe to be sold through Burning World Records and a special deluxe edition that includes a board game exclusive to the LP release.
I don’t feel like I’m giving away state secrets when I tell you that I’ve heard Tranquonauts in its entirety and you should do everything in your power to purchase it in whatever version you feel you should. It will be one you would regret missing.
Order pages are up now at Burning World and through Seedy Jeezus‘ store, both of which are linked under the info and tour dates below. You’ll also find a teaser for one of the two 20-minute tracks included that demonstrates my point pretty clearly:
TRANQUONAUTS is Seedy Jeezus with Isaiah Mitchell
Transported straight from Australia, “a journey into prog psych space jams, altered mind states and intergalactic space rock”. Only 100 copies headed to Europe!
To coincide with their tour together, Isaiah Mitchell and Seedy Jeezus: Under the Influence, Isaiah Mitchell (Earthless, Golden Void, Howlin Rain) and Seedy Jeezus are releasing a collaborative album displaying the intergalactic riffage that all have come to expect from a guitar soloing juggernaut and an emerging bright light in the psych-jam genre.
TRANQUONAUTS (both the album title and the name of the collaboration) is an album containing 2 -20 minute tracks. The contents are a journey into prog psych space jams, altered mind states and intergalactic space rock.
Recorded on two continents, mixed and mastered by Jason Fuller at Goatsound in Melbourne. Cover Design by Mr Frumpy.
This will be a limited Edition of 500 ( Worldwide) . At this time there is no intention to reissue this album once it has sold out.
There will be a Deluxe version which is the album in a carry bag with the Board game – Tranquonauts Escape from the Rift, a spage age futristic snakes n ladders with bad trips and wins… a Sew on Tranquonauts patch and a Future SOnic Wars medal in presentation box. All Deluxe album also have the embossed silver Tranquonauts seal.
TRANQUONAUTS are: Isaiah Mitchell – Guitar, Vibraphone, Toy Piano Lex Waterreus – Guitar, samples Mark Sibson – Drums Paul Crick – Bass Matt Murphy – Keyboards
Tracklist: Side A.) The Vanishing Earth Side B.) King of the Lepers
ISAIAH MITCHELL /SEEDY JEEZUS TOUR DATES Sept 23 – Melbourne @ The Tote, Collingwood Sept 24 – Wagga Wagga@ Beer Deluxe Sept 25 – Canberra @ Phoenix Bar Sept 26 – Brisbane @ Beetle Bar Sept 27 – Brisbane @ Tyms ( instore) Sept 29 – Newcastle @ Small Ballroom Sept 30 – Sydney @ Newtown Social Club Doomsday Fest w/ Acid King Oct 1 – Geelong @ the Barwon Club
Posted in Reviews on September 6th, 2016 by JJ Koczan
The story goes that one night on Yawning Man‘s 2015 South American tour, the instrumental desert rock pioneers stopped into ION Studios in Buenos Aires. With just a single night in that hallowed space, which has played host to many great Argentinian acts and offerings, they put to tape the tracks that would become the Historical Graffiti LP — and it is LP/DL only, released on Lay Bare Recordings — their first full-length outing since 2010’s Nomadic Pursuits (review here).
Of course, in that six-year stretch, Yawning Man have hardly been inactive, shifting their lineup around founding guitarist Gary Arce and bassist/guitarist Mario Lalli (also Fatso Jetson), releasing the Yawning Man/Fatso Jetson split LP in 2013, and touring, Arce also stepping out of the band’s confines to participate in numerous collaborations, side-projects, guest appearances and so on. That spirit of being able to go anywhere and still bring something distinct is writ large all over the unassuming five tracks/33 minutes of Historical Graffiti, which is further set apart from its predecessor and in fact the whole of Yawning Man‘s catalog for its guest contributions.
Joining Arce, Lalli and drummer Bill Stinson are keyboardist/Mellotronist Malene Pedersen (also of Lewd Flesh), as well as violinist Sara Ryan and accordionist Adolofo Trepiana, whose contributions to opener and longest track (immediate points) “The Wind Cries Edalyn” and the closing title-track aren’t to be understated in providing a grounding but still gentle and melodic presence alongside the band’s otherwise dreamy tonality, which seems set for maximum drift across the album’s span.
Not a complaint, obviously. Yawning Man shine best when they shine like a hot sun — see also: any number of other desert-minded descriptors of Arce‘s shimmering, sentimental guitar tone — and for those who’ve spent years anticipating an announced full-length called Gravity is Good for You that remains elusive, it seems fair enough to take whatever comes at this point as regards output from Yawning Man proper. The sweet, lush immersion of Historical Graffiti, which bears the subtitle The ION Studios Session, Buenos Aires, Argentina on its front cover, makes it all the easier for the taking.
Yawning Man are known for their jamming, and a lot of the basis of their influence, particularly on European post-desert heavy psych, has been in that ethic of improvisation, but the depth of arrangement throughout, beginning with the layering of guitar and violin early on “The Wind Cries Edalyn,” speaks to some plan. I don’t know whether Ryan came in afterwards and dubbed strings over the basic tracks of guitar, bass, drums and keys, or what, but even as it runs deeper and introduces Trepiana‘s accordion, there’s a sense of a plan at work.
That’s not to say the song’s foundation isn’t still a jam — it most likely is — just that the jam has been fleshed out in exciting ways that one might not necessarily expect from a Yawning Man release. That becomes the running theme as Historical Graffiti dips and dives, making its way through a tracklisting that offers its shortest cut in centerpiece “Naomi Crayola” (3:06) after “Her Phantom Finger of Copenhagen” (6:58), then works its way through consecutively longer songs again, “The Secret Language of Elephants” (6:28) and “Historical Graffiti” (7:49), to end out, all the while sounding fluid to a point of hypnosis, geared toward conveying the decades-in-the-making chemistry between Lalli and Arce as the foundation from which moments like the otherworldly soundscape of “Her Phantom Finger of Copenhagen” flow outward, gorgeous and consuming.
Elements come and go throughout. That is, the violin and the accordion aren’t on every song. Pedersen‘s keys are fairly consistent, but it’s Stinson‘s drums that make the primary impression on “Naomi Crayola,” pushing the quicker track with an initial straightforward beat that departs somewhat from the languid “Her Phantom Finger of Copenhagen” and “The Wind Cries Edalyn” before it.
The centerpiece shifts momentarily into a noise freakout once or twice but soon enough returns each time to its linear movement, fading out to the more subdued “The Secret Language of Elephants,” which seems to return Historical Graffiti to its arc, accordion and all, though there’s some more weighted thrust there as well that comes and goes — chorus-like, though I’d be hesitant in most cases to try and lay a structural expectation on anything Yawning Man do.
Still, it’s a memorable impression to start side B of the vinyl, Ryan‘s violin standing out in the song’s second half, and “Historical Graffiti” itself continues to make the most of this flourish while highlighting the perpetually underrated guitar tone of Arce, captured immaculately at ION with a full sound backed by the bass, keys, drums, violin and accordion that for those who’ve had experience with Yawning Man and those who haven’t should serve as a vibrant refresher of/introduction to what has always been at the core of the band.
Their lineup has continued to shift since Historical Graffitiwas recorded, bringing in bassist Justine Summer Heaven and moving Lalli onto second guitar to work as a four-piece, but that core of who they are and what they do has remained constant despite whatever changes surround, and simply put, there’s no band on the planet who has done more to define the scope of desert rock than Yawning Man.
Historical Graffiti may be the result of stopping by a studio for a night in another country on an ongoing tour, laying down some tracks and moving on, but the scope it offers would’ve taken other groups months to conjure if they could at all, and in the end, it’s way less of a one-off and way more of a gift. It should be treasured accordingly.
Posted in Reviews on December 8th, 2015 by JJ Koczan
If you turn the volume way up at the end of “Seven Veils,” after Uzala guitarist Chad Remains announces they’re going to play a new song, you can hear some dork in the crowd ask, “What’s it called?” I’m that dork, and in the interest of full disclosure (and a bit of bragging), I also took the photos that appear on the cover of the Boise, Idaho, trio’s Live at Roadburn MMXV document of that set at the 013 venue, the first night of this year’s Roadburn fest in Tilburg, the Netherlands (review here). I said at the time and have noted since that the performance by Uzala — Remains, bassist/vocalist Darcy Nutt and drummer Chuck Watkins — was something special, and while I’d hardly consider myself impartial in doing so, I’ll say the same for the six-track/50-minute live album (digital out now, vinyl early 2016, both through Burning World Records) that captures its feedback-drenched ethereal plod, as gorgeous as it is grueling and most effective when it’s both at once.
Across the span, Uzala dole out churning riffs and slow-crawling malevolence, as Nutt recounts various medieval terrors, her voice cutting through the tonal morass of her bass and Remains‘ guitar, all poise and zero posturing, the overarching lurch of “Countess” from 2013’s Tales of Blood and Fire setting the bar high as the set-opener for what’s to follow. In their momentum, in their engagement with the crowd and in the dark red sense of psychedelia they brought to their material even on the stage, how raw it both was and wasn’t, Uzala delivered one of that weekend’s most memorable sets. Not everyone who listens to Live at Roadburn MMXV will have that associative framework — i.e. they won’t all have been there — but I think the set stands up even if you didn’t happen to be in front of the Green Room stage letting it punch you in the face.
Tales of Blood and Fire is, reasonably, the focal point of the set. Uzala‘s second LP behind 2012’s self-titled (track premiere here), a 12″ single and a 2012 split with Mala Suerte (streamed here), it was a noteworthy step forward from the first album for the atmosphere it was able to cast — ritualized without a dogmatic adherence to genre. In addition to “Countess,” they include “Seven Veils” and “Dark Days” from the record. Those two appear in succession as the opener and second cut on Tales, but are spread out on Live at Roadburn MMXV, and the longer “Countess” makes a nodding launch to the set to lead into the commanding lumber of “Seven Veils,” Remains setting up the song’s chorus beforehand by responding to an “I love your wife!” shout from the crowd (not me) with, “I love your wife. And your girlfriend,” before calling for the head of John the Baptist and clicking into the feedback from whence the song starts.
Ultimately one of two new songs included, “The Gallows” rounds out side A of the live vinyl with a more uptempo, swinging take. It’s the shortest piece on Live at Roadburn MMXV — the track runs 5:30, and the song itself is shorter — but lacks nothing for expansiveness, Nutt echoing out a chorus of “ohhs” before a noisy guitar solo kept in fluid motion by Watkins‘ drumming. Just before the halfway point, “The Gallows” transitions into a particularly doomed march, returning to the verse progression before finishing in a swell of amp noise. The room responds vehemently, and reasonably so. “This is a song about being burned at the fucking stake,” Remains says just before they hit into “Dark Days,” adding, “Don’t burn your steak.”
Though somewhat shorter than it is in its album incarnation, the Vitus-esque “Dark Days” is a compelling argument for Tales of Blood and Fire in itself and Uzala‘s approach overall, an opportunity for vocal showcasing that Nutt absolutely nails on Live at Roadburn MMXV and an ambient take on doom that’s hypnotic without being redundant, which is a finer line to walk than the stomp in the song itself might lead the listener to believe. The second new song, “Shores,” takes hold directly from “Dark Days” and opens with a sparse and murky guitar line gradually built up over the first three minutes or so until it seems like Watkins can’t take it anymore and loses it on his toms, propelling the energy of the track forward.
Obviously that’s scripted into the song — I don’t actually think the drummer lost his patience — but it’s an effective turn and all the more because the transition back to the initial, slower pace is pulled off without a hitch. “Shores” builds again its second half toward a climactic finish that in many other contexts would be straight-up psychedelic rock, but here never seems to lose its bleak intent. More feedback shifts into “Death Masque,” from the self-titled, which provides an especially chaotic closeout to the set, mounting an initial tension in the drums before the first verse and never quite letting that slip as it makes its way, noisily, but melodically, through an oppressive landscape of nodding doom. Right around the eight-minute mark, they crash out a couple times and commence quickly tearing the song apart with feedback, noise and drum fills, and that’s how Live at Roadburn MMXV caps, some final words from Remains and calls for more manipulated to give a sense of the room being transformed by what it just witnessed.
Again, I’ll make no claim toward objectivity when it comes to listening to Live at Roadburn MMXV, but whether it’s as a complement to Tales of Blood and Fire or a precursor to their yet-unannounced next release with the new songs, their Roadburn set is a beast to behold, and if having been there affords me any authority at all on the subject, let it be to say that the live album accurately reflects how it went down on stage. They actually were this crisp and this on-point throughout their time in the Green Room, and at a fest where the impulse to be pulled in (at least) five directions at once, it was the kind of thing you couldn’t help but stand and watch front to back. I’m glad I did, and I’m glad I have Uzala‘s Live at Roadburn MMXV to remember it by.
Posted in Reviews on October 2nd, 2015 by JJ Koczan
One thing I’ve noticed over the now-several times I’ve done this is that people have a tendency to apply some value to the ordering. It’s true that I try to lead off with a bigger release sometimes (as with today), but beyond that, there’s really no statement being made in how the albums appear. It usually has way more to do with time, when something came in and when it was added to the list, than with the quality or profile of a given outing. Just that final note that probably should’ve been said on Monday. Whoops.
Before we wrap up, I just wanted to say thank you again for checking any of it out if you did this week. It’s not a minor undertaking to do these, but it’s been completely worth it and I very much appreciate your being a part of it. Thank you. As always.
Fall 2015 Quarterly Review #41-50:
My Dying Bride, Feel the Misery
Led by founding guitarist Andrew Craighan and vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe, UK doom magnates My Dying Bride mark their 25th year with Feel the Misery, their 13th full-length and one that finds them right in their element practicing the melancholic death-doom style they helped forge on pivotal early works like As the Flower Withers (1992) and Turn Loose the Swans (1993). “And My Father Left Forever” starts Feel the Misery on a particularly deathly note, but it’s not too long before the 10-minute “To Shiver in Empty Halls” and the subsequent “A Cold New Curse” are mired in the grueling, poetic, beauty-in-darkness emotionality that is My Dying Bride’s hallmark. The album’s title-track is a chugging bit of extremity, but the record’s strongest impact winds up being made by the penultimate “I Almost Loved You,” a piano, string and e-bow (sounding) ballad that pushes further than “A Thorn of Wisdom” by daring not to get heavy and rests well between the lumbering “I Celebrate Your Skin” and the 11-minute closer, “Within a Sleeping Forest,” which fits well, but more reinforces the point than offers something new on its own. A quarter-century later, they remain an institution. One wonders how they’ve managed to stay so depressed for so long.
If French mostly-instrumentalists Glowsun are feeling pressed for time these days – and with the theme of Beyond the Wall of Time (out via Napalm Records) that shows itself in the ticking clocks that launch opener “Arrow of Time” and the like-minded titles “Last Watchmaker’s Grave,” “Against the Clock” and “Endless Caravan” – the material itself doesn’t show it. Opening with two nine-minute cuts, Glowsun’s third outing and the follow-up to 2012’s Eternal Season (discussed here) unrolls itself patiently across its seven-track span, leading one to wonder if maybe Beyond the Wall of Time isn’t intended as another means of expressing something outside of it, the expanse of tones and grooves created by guitarist/vocalist Johan Jaccob (also graphic art), bassist Ronan Chiron and drummer Fabrice Cornille on “Shadow of Dreams” and the centerpiece “Flower of Mist” intended to last after some eternal now has passed. I wouldn’t want to guess, but it’s noteworthy that the trio’s output is evocative enough to lead toward such speculations.
As with their 2012 debut, Someday You Will be Proven Correct, Washington D.C.-based trio Caustic Casanova recorded their sophomore long-player, Breaks, with J. Robbins at The Magpie Cage in Baltimore. They’re also releasing the album through Kylesa’s Retro Futurist Records imprint, so they come nothing if not well-endorsed. With bassist Francis Beringer and drummer Stefanie Zaenker sharing vocal duties throughout – the trio is completed by Andrew Yonki on guitar – they run and bounce through a gamut of upbeat post-hardcore noise rock, thick in tone but not so much as to get up and move around, tempo-wise. Yonki brings some post-rock airiness to the early going of the nine-minute “Elect My Best Friend for a Better World,” but the album on the whole feels more about impact than atmosphere, and Caustic Casanova work up considerable momentum by the time they get around to paying off the 12-minute finale, “The Painted Desert.” Its melodies open up more on repeat listens, but not at the expense of the push so well enacted throughout.
An outwardly familiar conceptual framework – instrumental space/psychedelic rock – does little to convey how much of themselves Manchester, UK, trio Dead Sea Apes put into their new full-length, Spectral Domain. Released by Cardinal Fuzz in conjunction with Sunrise Ocean Bender, it’s the band’s sixth or seventh LP, depending on what counts as such, and bookends two north-of-10-minute explorations around three shorter pieces (though not much shorter in the case of the 9:50 “True Believers”) varied in color but uniformly galaxial in intent. “Brought to Light” rings out with a wash of drumless echo and swirl, seemingly in response to the tension of centerpiece “The Unclosing Eye,” and the whole album seems to take a theme from things seen and unseen, between “Universal Interrogator” and closer “Sixth Side of the Pentagon,” a vibe persisting in some conspiracy theory exposed as blissful and immersive truth with something darker lurking just underneath. Thick but not pretentious, Spectral Domain seems to run as deep as the listener wants to go.
A ritualistic spirit arrives early on Italian heavy psych rockers Bantoriak’s debut LP, Weedooism, and does not depart for the duration of the Argonauta Records release’s six tracks, which prove spacious, psychedelic and heavy in kind, playing out with alternating flourishes of melody and noise. “Try to Sleep” seems to be talking more about the band than the act, but from “Entering the Temple” through the rumbling closer “Chant of the Stone,” Bantoriak leave an individualized stamp on their heavy vibes, and that song is no exception. If Weedooism is the dogma they’re championing on the smooth-rolling “Smoke the Magma,” they’re doing so convincingly and immersively, and while they seem to have undergone a lineup shift (?) at some point since the record was done, hopefully that means Weedooism will have a follow-up to its liquefied grooves and weedian heft before too long. In an increasingly crowded Italian heavy psych/stoner scene, Bantoriak stand out already with their first album.
Though somewhat counterintuitive for a band playing their style of doom to start with, Ahab have only been met with a rising profile over their decade-plus together, and their fourth album for Napalm Records, The Boats of the Glen Carrig, answers three years of anticipation with an expanded sonic palette over its five tracks that is afraid neither of melodic sweetness nor the seafaring tonal heft and creature-from-the-deep growling that has become their hallmark. Their extremity is intact, in other words, but they’re also clearly growing as a band. I don’t know if The Boats of the Glen Carrig is quite as colorful musically as its Sebastian Jerke cover art – inevitably one of the best covers I’ve seen this year – but whether it’s the 15-minute sprawl of “The Weedmen,” which at its crescendo sounds like peak-era Mastodon at quarter-speed or the (relatively) speedy centerpiece “Red Foam (The Great Storm),” Ahab are as expansive in atmosphere as they are relentlessly heavy, and they’re certainly plenty of that.
One would hardly know it from the discouraging title, but all-caps UK progressive metallers ZARK do manage to catch one off-guard on their debut full-length, Tales of the Expected. Duly melodic and duly complex, the eight tracks rely on straightforward components to set deceptively lush vibes, the guitar work of Sean “Bindy” Phillips and Josh Tedd leading the way through tight rhythmic turns alongside bassist Andy “Bready” Kelley and drummer Simon Spiers’ crisp grooves. Vocalist Stuart Lister carries across the aggression of “LV-426” and hopefulness of “The Robber” with equal class, and while ZARK’s first outing carries a pretty ambitious spirit, the Evesham five-piece reach the high marks they set for themselves, and in so doing set new goals for their next outing, reportedly already in progress. A strong debut from a band who sound like they’re only going to get more assured as they move forward. More “pleasant surprise” than “expected.”
Paired up by style almost as much as by geography, Alicante, Spain, acts Pyramidal and Domo picked the right title for their Jams from the Sun split – a bright, go-ahead-and-get-hypnotized psychedelic space vibe taking hold early on the Lay Bare Recordings release and not letting go as one side gives way to the other or as the noisy post-Hawkwindery of “Uróboros” closes out. Pyramidal, who made their debut in 2012 (review here), offer “Motormind” and “Hypnotic Psychotic,” two 10-minute mostly-instrumental jams that progress with liquid flow toward and through apexes in constant search for the farther-out that presumably they find at the end and that’s why they bother stopping at all, and Domo, who made their debut in 2011 (review here), counter with three cuts of their own, “Viajero del Cosmos,” “Mantra Astral” and the aforementioned “Uróboros,” switching up the mood a little between them but not so much as to interrupt the trance overarching the release as whole. I remain a sucker for a quality space jam, and Jams from the Sun has 45 minutes’ worth.
After releasing a couple internet EPs (review here) and 2013’s Call of the Mammoth EP as the duo of guitarist/vocalist/bassist Paul Dudziak and drummer Mitch Meidinger, Portland, Oregon’s Mammoth Salmon enlist bassist Alex Bateman and drummer Steve Lyons for their first full-length, the Adam Pike-produced Last Vestige of Humanity, which rolls out plus-sized Melvinsery across six amp-blowing tracks of sludgy riffing and nodding, lumbering weight. The title-track, which ends what would and probably will at some point be side A of the vinyl version, picks up the tempo in its second half, and “Memoriam” teases the same in Lyons’ drums at the start, but of course goes on to unfold the slowest progression here ahead of “Shattered Existence”’s toying with playing barely-there minimalism off full-on crush and the 10-minute “Believe Nothing” rounding out with appropriately elephantine march. Sustainable in their approach and viciously heavy, Mammoth Salmon seem to have hit reset and given themselves a new start with this lineup, and it works to their advantage on this promising debut.
“Karma is a bitch that will definitely hunt you down for what you have done,” would seem to be the standout message of “The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife,” the third and longest (at 6:34) of the four inclusions on Molior Superum’s new EP, Electric Escapism. The non-retro Swedish heavy rockers fire up righteous heft to put them in league with countrymen Skånska Mord, but ultimately have more in common with Stubb out of the UK in the loose-sounding swing of “Försummad,” despite the different language. I had the same opinion about their full-length debut, Into the Sun (review here), and last year’s The Inconclusive Portrait 7” (review here) as well. Can’t seem to shake it, but Molior Superum’s ability to switch it up linguistics – they open and close in Swedish, with the two middle cuts in English – is an immediately distinguishing factor, and whichever they choose for a given song, they kill it here.
It was a spacey happening, rest assured, when Carlton Melton, stepping out from their San Francisco home, hit Roadburn 2014 and paired up with none other than Øresund Space Collective figurehead and roving jammer Scott “Dr. Space” Heller. Each of the two parties is plenty freaked out on its own, but the combination worked to push even deeper into the cosmos, their mission of exploration made bolder by the alliance between them.
Like just about everything that happens within the bounds of Roadburn, Carlton Melton Meets Dr. Space — the best ’50s sci-fi flick that never got made — was captured in its 90-minute entirety, and will be out through Lay Bare Recordings and Burning World soon. Not sure on the exact release date, but how do you pinpoint the birth of a galaxy anyway? It’ll be along sooner or later, and it’s available to preorder now. Set it and forget it.
To my knowledge, this was the only time these two have collaborated and I haven’t heard about any further action to come, so it’s kind of a special one-time deal that, as someone who stood in the back of the Cul de Sac and felt the wash surround me from all sides, is worth digging into. The preorder announcement follows:
Hear! hear! Lay Bare Recordings proclaims:
Pre-order: Carlton Melton meets Dr. Space, live from Roadburn 2014.
Carlton Melton is a psychedelic rock band from San Francisco who have been blazing their own trail of psychedelic rock and far out drone sounds for the past many years. This was the bands 2nd appearance at Roadburn and a special meeting with Dr. Space from the Øresund Space Collective was arranged at the Cul De Sac in Tilburg on Sunday April 13th. The band debuted 4 new songs never performed live before with or without Dr. Space (tracks 2-5). The full 90min spaced out set was mixed by Dr Space with assistance from Johan Dahlström. Enjoy the trip..
One of the things that made Wolf Blood‘s 2014 self-titled debut (discussed here) so engaging was its complete unwillingness to settle on a genre or a unipolar sound. I can’t help but wonder if the Duluth, Minnesota, outfit will bring a similar restlessness to their onstage presentation when they head off on an East Coast tour next month. It’s a good round of dates, with a few still to be filled in — I’d say hit up The Depot in York, PA, but they’ve already got two dates in Pennsylvania, one in Philly, one in Pittsburgh — but wherever they wind up for those TBAs, they’ve got a few killer gigs spread throughout, some house shows and a stop in Brooklyn with Geezer, The Golden Grass and Bison Machine, so it should prove worth the road time.
To hear them tell it, they’ve got 30 copies of the debut left and they’ll have them on hand for the tour. Confirmation from the PR wire:
WOLF BLOOD East Coast Tour May 21-June 6th 2015
Duluth’s WOLF BLOOD (soon to be Minneapolis based) are hitting the road next month for 2 1/2 week tour to the East Coast. Starting in Duluth on a train(!) for “Blood on the Tracks” with The Black Eyed Snakes and culminating with a stacked show at Brooklyn’s Lucky 13 with Geezer, The Golden Grass and Bison Machine.
Also with less than 30 copies left this will be the last chance to grab a copy of their S/T debut on Burning World Records before it’s gone.
East Coast Tour Dates May 21 Duluth, MN @ Blood on the Tracks w/ The Black Eyed Snakes & more May 22 Des Moines, IA @ The Fremont w/ Druids & Glass Ox May 23 Kansas City, MO TBA May 24 Cincinnati, OH @ Tacocracy w/ Temple & tba May 25 Chattanooga, TN @ Sluggo’s May 26 Harrisonburg, VA @ House show May 27 TBA May 28 Baltimore, MD @ Side Bar May 29 D.C. @ The Pinch May 30 Brooklyn, NY @ Lucky 13 w/ Geezer, Bison Machine & The Golden Grass May 31 Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie w/ Hellrad, Heavy Temple & Toke June 1 TBA June 2 Pittsburgh, PA @ House show June 3 Dekalb, IL @ house show June 4 Milwaukee, WI TBA June 5 Appleton, WI @ Xtra920 w/ Relentless, Attalla… June 6 Duluth, MN @ Luce w/ Gay Witch Abortion & Strange