Castle Stream “Wait for Dark” Lyric Video; More Touring Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 15th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

castle

I’d like to sit here and pretend and say, ‘Oh, well, I haven’t heard the new Castle or anything, but…’ and then start talking about the album which I’ve very much heard, but the truth is, I haven’t heard it. The moved-to-the-desert outfit in preparation for making what’s been dubbed Deal Thy Fate and will serve as their Ripple Music debut upon its Oct. 19 release, and whether or that that will affect the ultimate sound of the thing remains to be seen, even with the lyric video playing below for the track “Wait for Dark.”One never knows where they might go with a full collection of songs.

As it happens, where they’re going is Europe. Castle have already been confirmed for Desertfest Belgium 2018 and, as one might expect for a band who are basically nomadic, that’s just one of many shows they’re playing.

Album info and more comes courtesy of the PR wire:

castle deal thy fate

Castle Debuts New Song “Wait for Dark”; Cover Art and Track Listing for New LP, ‘Deal Thy Fate’ Unveiled

Bay Area Doom Rock Duo to Drop Fifth Full-length LP this Fall; Canadian and European Tour Dates Announced

Heavy metal doomsters CASTLE have announced the release of their new album, ‘Deal Thy Fate’, via Ripple Music on October 19. Recorded at Hallowed Halls Studio in Portland, OR by longtime producer Billy Anderson (Sleep, Neurosis), ‘Deal Thy Fate’ is Castle’s fifth album and follows 2016’s critically-lauded Welcome To The Graveyard.

Building on the stripped-down sound of its predecessor, Deal Thy Fate sees Castle continue to push the envelope of classic heavy metal, crafting epic and memorable songs that hearken back to fuzzier times while keeping the pedal down on their own hard-edged, modern sound. Guitarist Mat Davis’ penchant for riffs that worm their way into your brain and singer/bassist Liz Blackwell’s haunted melodies soar out of the depths across the album’s 36 fist-banging minutes.

Written over the last year in the band’s current Mojave Desert location of Joshua Tree, CA, Deal Thy Fate’s 9 tracks are woven with tales of folklore, dark Americana, serial killers and cult leaders, while the album’s striking cover art, inked by Patrick Zoller, reflects the title track’s no compromise, choose-your-own destiny rally cry. The striking album art and full track listing can both be viewed below.

Commenting on the writing and recording of Deal Thy Fate, which was rounded out on drums by previous touring member Chase Manhattan, Blackwell adds, “We were able to spend a couple months in a jam room honing these songs and for the first time, record the entire album live in the studio – it definitely shows in its energy and intensity and sounds more like live CASTLE than anything else we’ve ever done.”

Track listing:
1.) Can’t Escape the Evil
2.) Skull in the Woods
3.) Prelude
4.) Hexenring
5.) Wait For Dark
6.) Deal Thy Fate
7.) Haunted
8.) Red Phantom
9.) Firewind

Castle tour dates:

September 27 Toronto, ON Coalition
September 28 Ottawa, ON House Of Targ
September 29 Moncton, NB The Caveau
September 30 Halifax, NS Gus’ Pub
October 1 Fredericton, NB Capital Complex
October 2 Quebec City, PQ Le Bateau de Nuit
October 3 MontreaL, PQ L’Escogriffe
October 4 London, ON Call The Office
October 14 Antwerp, BE Desertfest Belgium (w/ Enslaved, YOB, Crowbar)
October 15 Frankfurt, DE dasBett (w/ The Skull)
October 16 Munich, DE Backstage (w/ The Skull)
October 17 Freiburg, DE Slow Club (w/ The Skull)
October 18 Cologne, DE Sonic Ballroom (w/ The Skull)
October 19 Siggiewi, MT Malta Doom Fest
October 20 Cottbus, DE Blue Moon Fest
October 22 Gottingen, DE Freihafen
October 24 Dresden, DE Chemiefabrik
October 25 Osnabruck, DE Bastard Club
October 27 Vallet, FR Westhill Music Fest
November 2 Karlsruhe, DE KoHi
November 3 Siegen, DE Vortex
November 4 Hamburg, DE Bambi Galore
November 7 Furstenwalde, DE Parkclub
November 8 Berlin, DE Tief
November 9 Leipzig, DE Black Label
November 10 Vienna, AT Doom Over Vienna Fest
November 24 Rotterdam, NL Dutch Doom Days

heavycastle.com
facebook.com/CastleSF
https://heavycastle.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/
https://twitter.com/RippleMusic
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com/

Castle, “Wait for Dark” official lyric video</h3

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High on Fire Announce US Tour; “Electric Messiah” Lyric Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

high on fire

Science tells us that if you want to live right, you need to see High on Fire at least once per album cycle, preferably more. Only days removed from the announcement of their new album, Electric Messiah, being released Oct. 5 and posting the first single in the form of the title-track, the trio have returned with a vast swath of tour dates and a lyric video highlighting the Lemmy homage of that same song. This won’t be the last tour High on Fire announce, but it will be the first round of US dates they’ll do following Electric Messiah‘s release, and even apart from the thrashy company they’re keeping, that’s reason enough to show up. As if you needed it.

From the PR wire:

high on fire tour

HIGH ON FIRE ANNOUNCE NEW U.S. TOUR DATES WITH MUNICIPAL WASTE

“ELECTRIC MESSIAH” LYRIC VIDEO RELEASED

ALL NEW LP, ELECTRIC MESSIAH, DUE OCTOBER 5, 2018
PRE ORDERS AVAILABLE NOW

On the heels of announcing their first new LP in three years, Electric Messiah, HIGH ON FIRE has posted new headlining dates throughout the U.S. and Europe this fall.

The new tour dates will be co-headlined by MUNICIPAL WASTE with Toxic Holocaust and Haunt in support. The three-week trek will kick off in Dallas, TX at Canton Hill on 11/2/18, hitting both coasts before wrapping up in San Diego, CA on 11/25/18. Tickets are now on sale.

“Man it’s gonna get crazy every night!,” says drummer Des Kensel. “Legends will be made on this tour! For after party info contact Dave Witte @ (804) 555-1212.”

High On Fire has announced extensive touring to support the recently announced all-new LP. After a batch of European festival dates, the band will head back to the U.S. to perform at Psycho Las Vegas, The Muddy Roots Music Festival, and the highly anticipated Adult Swim Festival. The band will then head back to Europe for a co-headline run with Enslaved before kicking off the Municipal Waste dates mentioned above.

Just yesterday HIGH ON FIRE released a new single titled “Electric Messiah.” The new song serves as the title track off the band’s all-new LP, which will be released on October 5, 2018, via Entertainment One (eOne). A lyric video for the track is available today.

High on Fire live:
10/08 – BE Belgium, Ieperfest
11/08 – DE Sinzendorf, Void Fest
12/08 – HU Budapest, Durer Kert

8/17/2018 – Las Vegas, NV – Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (Psycho Fest)
9/1/2018 – Cookeville, TN – Muddy Roots Music Festival
9/2/2018 – Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel

w/ Enslaved
30/09 – U Bazyla Poznan PL
01/10 – Proxima Warsaw PL
02/10 – UT Connewitz Leipzig DE
03/10 – Kulturfabrik Esch LU
04/10 – Mezz Jupiler Zaal Breda NL

10/5/18 – Los Angeles, CA – Adult Swim Festival

08/10 – Academy 2 Manchester UK
09/10 – Tivoli Dublin EIRE
10/10 – Limelight 2 Belfast UK
12/10 – The Mill Birmingham UK
14/10 – SWX Bristol UK
15/10 – The Dome London UK
16/10 – La Machine Du Moulin Rouge Paris FR

w/ Municipal Waste
2-Nov-18 – Dallas @ Canton Hall
3-Nov-18 – Austin @ Mohawk
4-Nov-18 – New Orleans @ Southport Hall
6-Nov-18 – Tampa @ Orpheum Theatre
7-Nov-18 – Atlanta @ The Masquerade
9-Nov-18 – Washington @ Black Cat
11-Nov-18 – Brooklyn @ Warsaw
12-Nov-18 – Philadelphia @ Union Transfer
13-Nov-18 – Boston @ Paradise Rock Club
15-Nov-18 – Chicago @ Metro
17-Nov-18 – Denver @ The Oriental Theater
18-Nov-18 – Salt Lake City @ Metro Music Hall
20-Nov-18 – Portland @ Bossanova Ballroom
21-Nov-18 – Seattle @ Showbox at the Market
23-Nov-18 – Sacramento @ Ace Of Spades
24-Nov-18 – Berkeley @ The UC Theatre

HIGH ON FIRE features Matt Pike (guitar, vocals), Des Kensel (drums) and Jeff Matz (bass).

https://www.facebook.com/highonfire
https://www.instagram.com/highonfireband/
www.highonfire.net
https://twitter.com/eoneheavy
https://www.facebook.com/eOneHeavy

High on Fire, “Electric Messiah” lyric video

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Review & Track Premiere: Mountain Tamer, Godfortune Dark Matters

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on August 9th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

mountain tamer godfortune dark matters

[Click play above to stream ‘Wretched’ by Mountain Tamer. Their new album, Godfortune Dark Matters, is out Aug. 24 on Magnetic Eye with Nasoni Records vinyl to follow.]

One tends to think of Californian heavy psych these days as kind of a cool-kids club of freakout-jamming skaters, ripping an endless barrage of solos in post-Earthless fashion. Los Angeles trio Mountain Tamer have their shredding aspects, to be sure, but are ultimately on a different, grimmer trip. Shades of cultish metal make their way in amid fuzz-guitar riffing, righteously-turning bass and wide-sounding drum crash as their second album, Godfortune // Dark Matters Comprised of a not-inconsiderable 11 tracks for an also-not-considerable 49-minute run, the Magnetic Eye Records and Nasoni Records release came prefaced by a two-song 2017 demo titled Living in Vain (review here) that had early versions of “Living in Vain Part 1” and “Wretched,” both of which reappear here.

That demo followed their 2016 Argonauta Records self-titled debut (review here) and 2015 Mtn Tmr demo (review here), both of which gave early showings of potential for the progression that would seem to be continuing here. As they push the LP format to its limits, they also push themselves into a more individualized sound, like a brooding take on youngest Nebula, maybe, but looser. There’s a sense in the drums of Casey Garcia that the whole thing could come apart at any time, as heard in “Primitive Control,” which leads off a side B (I think; if not, it provides a transition at the end of side A) made up of longer tracks featuring more exploration in the drums as well as from guitarist/vocalist Andrew Hall and bassist Dave Teget.

They’re not jamming, exactly. Even on 7:44 closer “Head Over Heels,” they choose to go with a slower march rather than fly off the handle on an improv sonic jaunt, but either way, there’s clearly a plan at work; a vision for the album as a whole and its method of expression. After the Sabbath-circa-’75 cacophony of opener “Faith Peddler,” there’s the chunkier riffing of “Funeral of a Dog,” which soon enough delves into tribalist percussion and flute behind echoing chants that in turn give way to a howling solo. And that’s the first two and a half minutes.

From there, they dip back into hard psych and stonerist vibes en route to the more straight-ahead approach of “People Problems,” a quick showcase of hook and instrumental dynamic, Hall layering in two solos, one more effects-drenched than the other, between choruses in the second half of the song before a quick shout and noise assault brings on the trad-metal chug of “Living in Vain Part 1.” It and the immediately following “Living in Vain Part 2” make their connection via Garcia‘s drums, but both also share a propensity for a weirdo vibe and earthy psych-rocking approach. The second part doesn’t have verses so much as repeated lines where they might otherwise be, and its thickened-garage intensity plays out with radiating energy that seems only to build on the song before.

mountain tamer

There’s some hypnotic aspect from the repetition, but Godfortune // Dark Matters is so brash-sounding in its production and delivery that it quickly snaps any trance it might induce. The dividing line between the first half of the record and the second is, suitably enough, centerpiece “Nectar,” which is a 1:43 psychedelic interlude of classic rocking form, just a quick instrumental that, in some ways similar to “Funeral of a Dog,” purposefully shifts the flow of momentum the album has thus far built in order to defy expectation. It’s emblematic of the level of thought Mountain Tamer have put into their second full-length overall, and “Primitive Control” continues the thread by picking up with a shove of cyclical riffing that is nothing short of masterful in its combination of sprawl and compressed atmospherics.

A break shortly before the three-minute mark brings in howling guitar, drum thud and steady bass — the latter is a welcome grounding force throughout — before a final solo finishes and leads to “Wretched,” which is a foreshadow to “Head Over Heels” still to come and a slower rollout altogether. That forces some of the earlier hairpin-turn-style danger elsewhere for the time being, but ultimately makes Godfortune // Dark Matters a richer listen with a wider aesthetic berth. Naturally it comes paired with the freak-assault of “Mydnyte” — two ‘y’s! it’s madnyss — the five and a half minutes of which read like a guidebook for the outer reaches of the known psychedelic cosmos. It switches between solidified riff-chugness and such spacey fare, with a wash of noise at the end that brings on the shorter “Riff Dealer.”

At 4:05, “Riff Dealer” is the only cut on the second half of Godfortune // Dark Matters that checks in at under five minutes, and while one might expect that to mean it’s a return to the relatively grounded structures presented earlier, tying disparate ideas and sonic themes together ahead of the finale, that’s a big no dice. “Riff Dealer” pushes into a slower, druggier haze and saves its swing for the back half, cutting to silence well ahead of the arrival of “Head Over Heels,” which fades in on feedback and buzzing amp fuzz. Once again, Teget‘s bass is a standout factor, but Mountain Tamer all seem aware of the occasion, and while I don’t know whether “Head Over Heels” was specifically written to close the album, it excels in that role, calling to mind some of circa-’92 Monster Magnet‘s righteous arrogance in transposing space rock to suit their own needs, even if that’s not a direct comparison of sound.

Atop a rumble and the already noted more grueling lumber, Hall‘s voice echoes as it seems to shout into an unhearing desert. They ride the central riff to a long fadeout and it’s hard to imagine a more fitting end to a record of such obvious individualist pursuits. That is to say, what’s happening throughout Godfortune // Dark Matters is that Mountain Tamer are working toward carving out a niche for themselves in and around heavy rock and psychedelia. They get there, to be sure, but the journey in no way sounds like it’s over.

Mountain Tamer on Thee Facebooks

Mountain Tamer on Instagram

Mountain Tamer on Bandcamp

Magnetic Eye Records website

Nasoni Records website

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Brume Headed to Europe This Weekend; Playing with High on Fire and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 9th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

BRUME

San Francisco three-piece Brume hit the UK last Spring in time to play Desertfest London 2017 and toured with Gurt on that trip, so I guess everyone got along well enough since they’re doing it again. Not Desertfest, the touring part. This time it’ll be a couple shows in the Netherlands together and one at The Black Heart — which is a great place to hang out, so long as you don’t try to bring your baby — in addition to Brume appearing at a fest in Austria and playing a gig in Budapest alongside fellow Bay Area denizens High on Fire, which sounds like an utter blast. Oh, and Elephant Tree are on that Black Heart show too, so all the better. If you get to talk to them, please send my best.

Brume released their debut full-length, Rooster (review here), last year through Doom Stew and DHU Records. Dates and a couple quotes from the band follow here for your perusal:

brume european tour poster

BRUME // EUROPEAN TOUR // AUGUST // 2018

It’s tour season and we’re hitting the bricks. Austria, Budapest, Netherlands, UK. Here we come…

Susie: “Music is life. Europeans understand that better than anybody else in the world. We can’t wait to be reunited.”

Jamie: “We are crazy excited about Europe. We’ve played out a lot this year but this these dates will be the cherry on the cake and a chance to try out some new material. Getting back on stage with Gurt is always the most fun too, London will be a PARTY.”

Brume European tour:
11 – Aug / Sauzipf Rocks Festival Dobriach, Austria
12 – Aug / Durer Kert Budapest, Hungary w/ High on Fire
16 – Aug / Studio de Veste Leiden, Netherlands*
17 – Aug / Butchers Tears Amsterdam, Netherlands*
18 – Aug / The Black Heart London, UK* w/ Elephant Tree
* Dates with Gurt

Brume are:
Susie McMullin – Vocals/Bass
Jordan Perkins-Lewis – Drums
Jamie McCathie – Guitar

https://www.brumeband.com/
https://brumesf.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/brumeband/
http://brume.bigcartel.com/
https://www.doomstew.com/
http://darkhedonisticunionrecords.bigcartel.com/

Brume, European tour trailer

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High on Fire to Release New Album Electric Messiah on Oct. 5; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

high on fire

October just got ridiculous with the word that heavy thrash titans High on Fire will release their awaited new album, Electric Messiah, on Oct. 5 through Entertainment One. They’re streaming the title-track now and you can hear it at the bottom of this post. The trio’s latest outing will be their third in a row tracked by Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou, and it follows behind the raging 2015 LP Luminiferous (review here) and 2012’s De Vermiis Mysteriis (review here), which I think it’s fair enough to argue are the hardest-hitting records of the band’s career thus far. Luminiferous showed a little more dynamic in letting up from the gas a bit as it played through, so I’m interested to hear how guitarist/vocalist Matt Pike, bassist Jeff Matz and drummer Des Kensel proceed along the line of melodic flourish they brought to bear last time out, let alone the punishment that surrounded.

Art and title-track audio follow here, as sent freshly along the PR wire:

high on fire electric messiah

HIGH ON FIRE ANNOUNCE NEW LP, ELECTRIC MESSIAH, DUE OCTOBER 5, 2018

PRE ORDERS AVAILABLE NOW

HIGH ON FIRE releases a new single today titled “Electric Messiah.” The new song serves as the title track off the band’s all-new LP, which will be released on October 5, 2018 via Entertainment One (eOne).

“I had a dream about Lemmy,” says Matt Pike, explaining the inspiration behind the title of High on Fire’s triumphant new “Electric Messiah.” “When Lemmy was still alive I always got compared to Lemmy,” the gravelly-voiced guitarist elaborates, “so I had this dream where he got pissed at me.”

“He gave me a bunch of shit, basically, and was hazing me. Not that he didn’t approve of me, but like I was being hazed. The song is me telling the world that I could never fill Lemmy’s shoes because Lemmy’s Lemmy. I wanted to pay homage to him in a great way. And it turned out to be such a good title that the guys said we should call the album ‘Electric Messiah.'”

Electric Messiah will serve as the follow-up to Luminiferous released in 2015, which went on to be one of the band’s most critically acclaimed albums.

Electric Messiah reunites the band once again with producer Kurt Ballou (Converge, Torche, Kvelertak) for the third time. “Kurt just has a knack for us, man,” Matt Pike says. “We all work really well with him. Even if we have differences about how we want to record something, he works with us and understands what we do. We’ve been sticking with him because we haven’t made a bad record with him yet.”

It feels absurd to think that this late into their career High on Fire has hit a new career peak, but that’s what happens when you have a trio that works this well together. For all of Ballou’s sonic wizardry, Electric Messiah is all about the evolution of Pike, Matz, and Kensel. They simply cannot be denied a permanent spot among American royalty.

“This band keeps evolving,” Pike enthuses. “This is by far the best record I’ve ever made with the High on Fire stamp. It just keeps getting better and better. We just try to outdo ourselves. I’m not saying the old work is progressively worse, it’s just that we get better every time instead of burning out, which is a common finality for a lot of bands. This album is fucking excellent, I just love everything on it, I’m not bummed about anything. It’s great when you think that about your record.”

Tracklisting:

1. Spewn from the Earth
2. Steps of the Ziggurat/House of Enlil
3. Electric Messiah
4. Sanctioned Annihilation
5. The Pallid Mask
6. God of the Godless
7. Freebooter
8. The Witch and the Christ
9. Drowning Dog

HIGH ON FIRE features Matt Pike (guitar, vocals), Des Kensel (drums) and Jeff Matz (bass).

https://www.facebook.com/highonfire
https://www.instagram.com/highonfireband/
www.highonfire.net
https://twitter.com/eoneheavy
https://www.facebook.com/eOneHeavy

High on Fire, “Electric Messiah”

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Ancestors, Suspended in Reflections: Feels Like Being Gone

Posted in Reviews on August 3rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Ancestors Suspended in Reflections

Ancestors have never worked to expectation. The Los Angeles unit were last heard from with 2012’s In Dreams and Time (review here), which I absolutely consider one of the best albums of this decade, and that arrived following 2011’s Invisible White EP (review here), 2009’s Of Sound Mind (review here) and 2008’s demo-turned-debut-album, Neptune with Fire (discussed here). Through each release, the band have pushed themselves further along a progressive and individualized path, and while their first outing seemed to be a clarion of post-Sleep riffing, calling across its epic tracks to the converted, “Come here and nod out,” they’ve never really been that kind of band and show little interest in it now. Their new album, Suspended in Reflections, finds them signed to Pelagic Records, run by Robin Staps of The Ocean, and even that endorsement signals how much they’ve grown beyond where they started out a decade ago.

That’s not to say Ancestors can’t still roll out a heavy groove when it suits them — it’s pretty much the first thing they do on Suspended in Reflections, while also providing a landmark hook in opener “Gone” that bleeds into second track “Through a Window” as well — just that their doing so is one weapon in a crowded arsenal of melody, space, ambience, heft and craft. About half an hour shorter than its predecessor, the album comprises six tracks for a 36-minute LP with three cuts each on two sides, each of those ending with its longest song, “Lying in the Grass” (7:37) on side A and “The Warm Glow” (8:31) on side B. Anyone who heard In Dreams and Time closer “First Light” (discussed here) can tell you Ancestors have a thing for a big finale, and guitarist/vocalist Justin Maranga, bassist Jason Watkins and drummer Daniel Pouliot continue that thread here, though even those two tracks — and it is both, make no mistake — have to be considered stripped down in relation last time out. Ancestors‘ sound is lush and immersive and patient and gorgeous and any number of other things, but it’s not raw, and that applies here too, but in their structure and execution, the tracks on Suspended in Reflections feel more about expression than ambition.

Of course, the paring down of grandiosity is no simple thing in any context and an ambition unto itself, but it makes Ancestors‘ communication more efficient here. “Gone” starts out with a melancholy verse with layers of backing vocals, organ and patient guitar notes over a weighted groove en route to its chorus, which sets a defining impression in its discussion of death: “And it feels like being gone/And it feels like moving on/And it feels like nothing’s wrong anymore.” Again, those lines will reappear in “Through a Window,” which follows, giving a sense of overarching composition to the proceedings — Ancestors writing a full album as opposed to a collection of songs or parts — and with the organ playing such a prominent role throughout, the material ties together even further. A sweeping guitar chord transitions “Gone” into “Through a Window” and the first half of the track builds back up to that reappearance, so crucial as it is. Much of the second half of the track is given to softer contemplation, Maranga‘s guitar and the organ setting a melodic foundation in accordance with the easy flow in the drums and bass, an instrumental stretch it’s easy to lose oneself within that caps with cymbal washes and a fading guitar that leaves a bed of silence to start the quiet beginning of “Lying in the Grass.”

ancestors

What seems to be a vocoder bolsters the ethereal atmosphere so pervasive thus far, and clearer vocals emerge as the build in the first half moves into its next stage, the slowness coming to a full tone and crash that underscores the beauty of what the band is creating while staying on theme in terms of the interplay of guitar and organ, dropping back to a subdued state in the second half à la “Through a Window” just before in order to build up again instrumentally as it passes the six-minute mark, again pulling back to finish quiet with soft vocals and a final crash that leaves the organ tone on a fade to let the sudden start — unless you’re listening on an actual LP, in which case, it’s only sudden after you’ve gotten up to flip the record — of side B opener “Into the Fall” make its entrance. Already, Ancestors have typified Suspended in Reflections with a depth of mix that seems to be even more than the sum of its instruments and set a range for themselves that’s nothing short of encompassing. The second half of the album reaffirms this and builds on it with a linearity of its own, furthering the full-album impression of side A while remaining distinct from it.

That’s not to say there’s some great leap in sound away from what the first three tracks are doing, just that as “Into the Fall” takes a heavy post-rock epic and trims it down to an efficient five minutes, the vibe seems to shift. The introduction of strings to the mix could have something to do with that, but the wash of distortion that takes hold at the 3:20 mark remains in line with what Suspended in Reflections has thus far brought to bear, and its way of capping with residual guitar resonance on a fade directly into the piano notes, guitar ambience and synth swells of “Release” speaks directly at how “Gone” gave way to “Through a Window” earlier. The synth comes to a head and cuts out, leaving dream-jazz piano to hold sway and set the mood for the second half of the four-minute instrumental, which carries some of the foreboding that one found in Invisible White while also setting up the turn into “The Warm Glow,” which begins its soar after a quiet first minute and surges forward on a slow-moving wave of low distortion cut through by shouted vocals in a post-metallic tradition.

It’s not an assault by any means, but it is arguably the most outwardly heavy payoff on Suspended in Reflections and obviously placed accordingly as the finale. True to form, it caps not with a grand overstatement, but with a quiet exploration, the band feeling their way to the album’s finish in naturalist form. Those moments, far from extras or tack-ons, are essential to the impression of Suspended in Reflections in its entirety, no less so than its heavier moments, as they help to cast the full breadth of the material and to situate Ancestors in each stretch and in each place within their considerable range. They are, in effect, the product of that range, the result of it and a contributing factor to it. One might think of Suspended in Reflections as digging to the roots of what In Dreams and Time was. It accomplishes many of the same aesthetic feats in just about half the time, and it retains a memorable songwriting element that ties it not only to the LP immediately before, but to the band’s work all along. Some of this material may have had its origins years ago, but it is unmistakably another step forward in Ancestors ongoing creative progression.

Ancestors, “Gone” official video

Ancestors, Suspended in Reflections (2018)

Ancestors on Thee Facebooks

Ancestors on Instagram

Ancestors on Twitter

Ancestors on Bandcamp

Ancestors website

Pelagic Records on Thee Facebooks

Pelagic Records on Bandcamp

Pelagic Records website

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Brant Bjork, Tres Dias & Local Angel: Easing In

Posted in Reviews on August 2nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

brant bjork tres dias

When Heavy Psych Sounds announced it had signed Brant Bjork, it was unquestionably good news. With California desert precedent success on the label from Nick Oliveri, Yawning Man and Fatso Jetson, it made sense that after Bjork wrapped the three-album deal with Napalm Records that resulted in 2014’s Black Power Flower (review here), 2016’s Tao of the Devil (review here) and 2017’s live album, Europe ’16 (review here), he too would sign on with the emergent Italian imprint. Even better was word that his back catalog from 1999 through 2010 would be reissued by his new label, digitally as well as physically on CD and limited vinyl. Bjork was maddeningly productive during those years, releasing under his own name as well as Brant Bjork and the Operators and Brant Bjork and the Bros, and as he was mostly self-releasing under the banners of Duna Records or Low Desert Punk Records, the albums often went overlooked by a wider audience.

Now, with several years of hard touring in Europe and the US behind him, the time only seems right to get these albums back out to a public that might’ve missed them the first time out. And it’s a fascinating choice to start with late-2006’s Tres Dias and 2004’s Local Angel (also discussed here) since they are, without a doubt, the two most intimate albums Bjork produced during that 11-year/nine-album stretch. In addition to this, both represented a marked shift in approach when they arrived. For Local Angel, it came after the initial few solo outings from the former Fu Manchu and Kyuss drummer, and was still often electric in its foundation, but even more mellow than 2003’s Keep Your Cool, its direct predecessor. It remains a quiet and melody-centered collection of 10 tracks that are less about aggression or even heft than about an easy vibe and sheer aural chill.

Likewise, Tres Dias, which actually begins the Heavy Psych Sounds series, is a mostly-acoustic solo record that landed smack in the middle of the Brant Bjork and the Bros era. The band debuted in 2005 with the double-CD Saved by Magic and would follow that up with 2007’s Somera Sól. Tres Dias departed from The Bros and though it features some older material and would share the songs “Love is Revolution,” “Chinarosa” and “The Native Tongue” with the subsequent offering, the sonic left turn in Tres Dias is immediately palpable. One recalls that when it was first released, Bjork noted the spirit he wanted to capture was taking his guitar to a park and playing under a tree to nobody in particular, just singing songs to enjoy them. That remains a striking image, and the album remains a snapshot of the idea made manifest.

With an anchor hook in the classic protest song “Love is Revolution,” the eight-song Tres Dias imagines a desert folk music that’s Bjork makes his own by putting his vocals at the center with his acoustic and adding flourish in electric wah atmosphere as heard on “Chinarosa.” It was a dark time politically when the songs were written — 2006 seemed to be an abyss of war that would never end; and hey! it didn’t — and in addition to “Love is Revolution,” “Video,” which originally appeared on Keep Your Cool as “Gonna Make the Scene” and even the opener, a revisit of “Too Many Chiefs” from Bjork‘s 1999 Man’s Ruin Records solo debut, Jalamanta (discussed herealso here), would seem to find a different social context for the revisit. The most elaborate arrangement would seem to be for “The Native Tongue,” which has subdued electric guitar and percussion, but it’s no less fluid than anything that surrounds and whether it’s the insistent strum of Saved by Magic‘s “The Messengers” or the riffy groove of “Right Time,” which would become the title-track of 2008’s Punk Rock GuiltTres Dias stripped away everything but the songwriting and performance and allowed Bjork‘s work to shine in a way it never had before.

Brant Bjork Local Angel

Would it exist without the precedent of Local Angel? I don’t know. I also don’t know if it’s the label or Bjork himself picking the order in which the reissues arrive in this series, but certainly with these two back-to-back, it’s easy enough to read the narrative of succession in reverse, though it’s just as likely Tres Dias into Local Angel is a way of easing into the more active material in Bjork‘s 1999-2010 discography. I won’t speculate as to the thought behind it. More importantly, the revisit of Local Angel, along with a marked redux of the artwork, once more highlights the man himself as a songwriter. “Beautiful Powers,” “Hippie,” “Chico” and “The Feelin'” make for a striking opening salvo with the even-funkier “Bliss Ave.” rounding out side A. While “plugged” and drummed, the tracks are subtle in their execution, bringing an organic sensibility that stands out to this day from everything else Bjork has done. Specifically in the context of these reissues, it can be read as a midpoint between other works and Tres Dias, but the truth is that Local Angel stands alone.

The original CD had bonus track covers of “Hey Joe” and The Ramones‘ “I Want You Around” that seem to have disappeared, but the smooth vibes continue on side B with “Fly to Haiti,” the Thin Lizzy-vibing “You’re Alright,” which is also arguably the most active cut on the album, the relatively minimal “Spanish Tiles,” “She’s Only Tryin'” which gives “You’re Alright” a run for its money, and closer “The Good Fight,” which more than earns the rhythmic handclaps in its second half. Even in its most uptempo or full-band-sounding material, Local Angel is gloriously understated. I’ve always found it to be one of Bjork‘s easiest listens and, frankly, have never stopped going back to it periodically in the 14 years since its release. I recognize that doesn’t exactly make me impartial when it comes to assessing the reissue, but if the point is to get these albums back out to people who might’ve missed them or not been around when they landed the first time, Local Angel has definitely more than earned at least that additional look.

One could say the same of Tres Dias and of the rest of Bjork‘s work during this period as well, and not to put too fine a point on it, but as other albums continue to resurface, “one” — me, particularly — probably will. The chance to revisit Brant Bjork‘s solo works is an opportunity not only to hear him shape his own sound, but to hear him help shape desert rock as well. I won’t discount his contributions to the style in Kyuss or anything else he’s done along the way, whether it’s Fu ManchuChéVista Chino, etc., but if you want to know how he got to be the godfather of desert rock that he is, it was this period when it happened, and these reissues are a chance for longtime and recent fans to give those moments their long-due appreciation.

Brant Bjork, Tres Dias (2006/2018)

Brant Bjork, Local Angel (2004/2018)

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Earthless Post Full Set Live Video from Belgium

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 2nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

earthless (Photo by Atiba Jefferson)

A full set, professionally filmed, of Earthless playing live in Belgium earlier this year on their European tour supporting their Nuclear Blast debut, Black Heaven (review here)? It seems to me that Chromecast was made for such things. Like, specifically. Someone sat in their open office space in one of Google’s colorful bunkers and said, “Hey, I bet someday Earthless are gonna play a killer show and some internet dork without a smart tv is gonna want a way to watch it on a bigger screen than his laptop, which he calls The Silver Fox. Also, it’s six in the morning when this happens.” Points for specificity, Google Employee #X5-49647-J, as your legal name has been changed to be. I guess all that data mining and email keywording really pays off.

Anyhoozle, if you wanna pretend like you have better things to do for the next 65 minutes, that’s on you. Seems to me the thing to do is grab yourself a snack and/or a tasty beverage of whatever sort and let guitarist/vocalist Isaiah Mitchell, bassist Mike Eginton and drummer Mario Rubalcaba — who was wearing the same Sonic Rendezvous shirt when he sat in with Volcano at Roadburn later in April — hold sway for as long as they please. If you’ve seen the band before, the argument for full viewing is easy: it’s Earthless. If not, you’re likely to find an entirely new appreciation for the classic power trio dynamic between them. Because Earthless are nothing if they’re not a classic power trio, stylistically and at this point in terms of their impact on heavy rock and roll in general.

In the wake of Black Heaven, there’s been a lot of wax poetry in the critique around them. Well enough earned, to be sure. Who the hell doesn’t want to swim in the 65-minute ocean of sonic righteousness that is this set? Such as it is, though, their “formula” for success is as simple as it is rare: They’re great players who are great together.

That is, if you put Eginton, Rubalcaba or Mitchell in any other band, they’re good enough that you’d probably say, “holy shit, this guy is killer” about whatever they were doing in said band. Fine. But there’s a whole other level of Earthless that’s not at all about them as individuals, but a single collective unit. It’s how they feed off each other while they’re playing, about the conversation that’s happening between them instrumentally. That chemistry and that dynamic takes more than just basic talent to happen. And it’s the reason why there’s only one Earthless, no matter how many other acts try to make it otherwise.

They’re on tour now in Europe and will be back in the States after. Dates are below, courtesy of the PR wire:

Enjoy the video:

Earthless, Live at de Kreun, April 3, 2018

In the lead up to their fall European tour, San Diego based EARTHLESS have released pro shot live footage of their show at De Kreun in Kortrijk, Belgium from April this year.

The heavy psych power trio will be returning to both the UK and mainland Europe for a run of twelve shows in support of their latest mind bending offering Black Heaven which was released earlier this year. Commencing Sunday 29th July in Birmingham, UK at the Hare & Hounds, the upcoming venture includes a number of European festival appearances, select dates with US doomsayers Pallbearer and Sweden’s finest classic rockers Graveyard, and to top it all off will also see Philly’s trippiest Ruby The Hatchet joining the ride for a number of dates including all UK shows.

Cosmic Europe 2018 – Mission 2.0
August
Thursday 2nd – Amsterdam, NL – Paradiso (w/ Ruby The Hatchet)
Friday 3rd – Beelen, DE – Krach am Bach Festival
Saturday 4th – Waldhausen im Strudengau, AT – Lake On Fire Festival *SOLD OUT*
Monday 6th – Primosten, CR – SuperUho Festival
Wednesday 8th – Budapest, HUN – A38 (w/ Pallbearer)
Friday 10th – Siegen, DE – Vortex Club
Saturday 11th – Moledo, PT – SonicBlast Moledo Festival
Tuesday 14th – Bagnes, CH – Palp Festival (w/ Graveyard)
Wednesday 15th – Winterhur, CH – Gaswerk (w/ Pallbearer)

EARTHLESS
09/25/18 Eugene, OR – Old Nick’s Pub
09/26/18 Seattle, WA – Chop Suey
09/27/18 Portland, OR – Dante’s
09/28/18 Boise, ID – Neurolux
09/29/18 Salt Lake City, UT – CRUCIAL FEST
09/30/18 Denver, CO – Marquis Theatre
10/02/18 Minneapolis, MN – Lee’s Liquor Lounge
10/03/18 Winnipeg, MB – Park Theatre
10/05/18 Saskatoon, SK – Amigos Cantina
10/06/18 Edmonton, AB – UP & DOWNTOWN MUSIC FESTIVAL
10/07/18 Calgary, AB – Dickens Pub
10/09/18 Victoria, BC – The Copper Owl
10/10/18 Vancouver, BC – Rickshaw Theatre
10/12/18 Oakland, CA – Starline Social Club
10/13/18 Long Beach, CA – Alex’s Bar
10/14/18 Desert Daze – DESERT DAZE

Black Heaven was recorded at Rancho de la Luna in Joshua Tree, Calif. with Dave Catching (Eagles of Death Metal) handling production.It marked a shift for the band, with four of the six songs featuring vocals whereas earlier albums only occasionally had vocals.

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