Familiars Premiere “As Our Distance Has Grown Further” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 21st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

familiars (Photograph by Thomas Van Der Zaag)

Toronto-based heavy psych rockers Familiars have newly released their new cumbersomely-titled two-songer, This Water that is Warm, I Will Soon Join, and if immersion is the idea, then they’re definitely comfortable working with the theme. Their tempos on “As Our Distance Has Grown Further” and the accompanying “The Gardiner’s Coming Down” are methodical, the second track a little faster than the first in a kind of fuzzy-garage stomp where “As Our Distance Has Grown Further” feels more about the roll and the reverbed-out vocals, a blend of tonal heft and melodic reach that feels born from similar impulses to Mars Red Sky but not at all aping what the Frenchmen have done on their own records.

This Water that is Warm, I Will Soon Join is by no means the first short release from the trio of Anton Babych, Jared MacIntyre and Kevin Vansteenkiste, and the hope on the part of the band is it will lead them into the process of making their first full-length this Spring. Certainly the janga-janga-janga riff of “As Our Distance Has Grown Further” and the punctuated-buzz-turned-post-QOTSA-thrust-turned-echoing-daydream of “The Gardiner’s Coming Down” would be an indicator they’re ready for the task. As both songs can be streamed now and downloaded name-your-price style at the bottom of this post, it only seems that Familiars are looking to be as readily accessible to their audience as possible, and given the professionalism of their presentation and the depths of their tones, I wouldn’t be surprised to find them picked up by this or that label before the album is out.

MacIntyre co-directed the new video for “As Our Distance Has Grown Further” and Vansteenkise did the Sergio Leone-inspired title-card, so the band’s definitely used to being hands on with their own output. The clip itself features a be-robbed wandering protagonist headed across some gloriously open spaces, only to find the band rocking out in a field — like you go. Alam directed the atmosphere of the video is a good match for the song in that it’s gorgeous, and I like the idea that we never find out who’s under the hood, as it were. We never see a face, a gender, anything, and the band is pretty careful to avoid saying one way or the other. I think that kind of thing is cool. It can be the band’s secret.

Look out for more news on Familiars — I hope, anyway — as they set to recording the aforementioned debut LP, and in the meantime, dig into the video for “As Our Distance Has Grown Further” below, followed by more info from the PR wire.


Familiars, “As Our Distance Has Grown Further” official video premiere

A wanderer gets lost in what it’s searching for.

“As Our Distance Has Grown Further” is the single off of the 7 inch “This Water That Is Warm, I Will Soon Join”.

7 inch available at: https://familiarsmusic.bandcamp.com/

We are recording our debut full length this spring.

Directors: Mashie Alam & Jared MacIntyre
Director Of Photography: Thomas Van Der Zaag
Colour & Effects: Nathan Winspear
Title card: Kevin Vansteenkiste

Familiars live:
Tuesday March 27th in London Ontario w/ Woodhawk
Wednesday March 28th in Hamilton Ontario w/ Woodhawk.

Familiars are Kevin Vansteenkiste, Anton Babych, & Jared MacIntyre

Familiars, This Water that is Warm, I Will Soon Join

Familiars on Thee Facebooks

Familiars on Twitter

Familiars on Instagram

Familiars website

Familiars on Bandcamp

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Bison Announce Earthbound CD/LP Reissue out April 20

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

A decade before they put out last year’s You Are Not the Ocean You Are the Patient (review here), Vancouver riffers Bison issued their debut EP, Earthbound (discussed here), and sounded geared up for good times to come. Of course, good times dud follow, as they were signed to Metal Blade for the subsequent three full-lengths and pretty much toured their asses off for years to support the cause.

At least, I assume those were good times. Could always go either way, I suppose. In any case, they’ll get the chance for a little nostalgia when No List Records gives Earthbound a re-release on April 20 — one day, as it just so happens, before Bison head to Europe to play Doom Over Leipzig, Roadburn, Desertfest, the Pelagic Fest hosted by their new label, Pelagic Records, which put out the latest album, and much more besides. Fancy that coincidence. I dare you. Fancy it.

I don’t even know what that means. Here’s this from the PR wire:


Bison to re-issue “Earthbound”

No List Records is pleased to announce that they will re-issue Bison’s classic Earthbound EP on CD and vinyl. The album was originally released in 2007 but is now set to be re-released on April 20th 2018 to coincide with their spring European tour.

Earthbound will be available for the first time ever on vinyl and is limited to 666 copies.

Pre-orders are available at www.nolistrecords.com

Tour dates:
Bison plus guests – March 30 – Vancouver – Rickshaw
Bison plus guests – March 31 – Victoria – Capitol Ballroom
April 21 •GER, Leipzig, Doom over Leipzig* •
April 22 • NL, Tilburg, Roadburn Festival •
April 23 • DK, Copenhagen, Beta •
April 24 • SWE, Linköping, tba •
April 25 • DK, Oslo, Revolver •
April 26 • SWE, Stockholm, Kraken •
April 27 • SWE, Jönköping, Sofiehof Underjord •
April 28 • GER, Hamburg, Droneburg Festival •
April 29 • NL, Utrecht, Dbs •
April 30 • GER, Karlsruhe, Stadtmitte •
May 01 • GER, Wiesbaden, Schlachthof •
May 02 • BE, Brussel, Magasin 4 •
May 3 • CH, Bulle, Ebulition •
May 4 • CH, Porrentruy, Galerie du Sauvage •
May 5 • FR, Paris, L´escape B •
May 6 • UK, London, Desertfest •
May 8 • CZ, Prague, Underdog´s •
May 9 • AT, Vienna, Viper Room •
May 10 • CR, Zagreb, Vintage Industrial •
May 11 • RO, Cluij, Hard Club •
May 12 • RO, Craiova, tba •
May 13 • RO, Bukarest, Control Club •
May 14 • HU, Budapest, Robot •
May 15 • PL, Cracow, Alchemia •
May 16 • PL, Warsaw, Hydrozagadka •
May 18 • GER, Kiel, Alte Meierei •
May 19 • GER, Berlin, Pelagic Fest •

BISON 2007 line-up
Brad McKinnon-Drums
Dan And-Vocals and guitars
James Farwell-Vocals and guitars
Masa Anzai-Bass guitar


Bison, “Earthbound”

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Sons of Otis Working on New Album; Touring Europe this Summer

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 11th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

I really don’t even remember where, but I read something on the interwebs last week about Sons of Otis having new material in the works and that was enough for my brain to be like, ‘Holy crap, you need to go bother Sons of Otis immediately!’ So I did. The band’s been kicking around a little more actively of late — they played Psycho Las Vegas last year, for example — and as it will have been six year’s since their sixth album, 2012’s Seismic (review here and here), by the time a new one gets out, they’re nothing if not due.

Granted, the long-running Toronto trio did reissue their 2001 album, Songs for Worship, last year on Concrete Lo-Fi Records, and you won’t find me saying that’s not awesome or anything like that, but a new long-player from these drown-you-in-tone stalwarts would most certainly be a win. The more Funkadelic-referential jams, the better. Or maybe they could just do a 40-minute version of “Maggot Brain” as a one-off. That’d work too.

Ken Baluke, who is the man behind OxFuzz pedals, was kind enough to give me an update on the next studio outing from Sons of Otis — which will reportedly be out through Totem Cat Records — an impending live record, and a summer European tour for which the dates are still TBA, but which at least runs from Hellfest in France on June 22 through Stoned from the Underground in Germany on July 14. When I hear how the time between those two will be filled in or get any other details, I’ll let you know.

Until then, this:

sons of otis

Sons of Otis Update from Ken Baluke:

Yep we still climbing this mountain of fire 26 years later. It’s true, we have been working on new tracks and hope to get an album out this year. The new songs are very intense and cathartic. Also we’re touring Europe this summer with Bongzilla and Dopethrone.

So needless to say….it’s gonna get heavy. High LIVE’N Dirty.

We also have a live album in the works from our Euro tour back in 2011. Hopefully that will also come out this year.

Sons of Otis live:
June 22 Hellfest Clisson France
July 13 Red Smoke Fest Pleszew Poland
July 14 Stoned from the Underground Erfurt Germany

Sons of Otis is:
Ken Baluke – Guitars, Vocals
Frank Sargeant – Bass
Ryan Aubin – Drums


Sons of Otis, Live at Psycho Las Vegas 2017

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Hashteroid Sign to Cursed Tongue Records for Self-Titled Debut; New Song Premiering Now

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on March 9th, 2018 by JJ Koczan


There is just about no letup offered across the seven-track/34-minute span of Hasteroid‘s Hashteroid, and even when a moment comes to catch your breath or at least think you might be able to start to, it doesn’t last, the Vancouver three-piece blazing at maximum speed through cuts like “Black Tide” and “Godspeed Below” with bull-in-china-shop subtlety and a difficult-to-pull-off blend of heavy rock and punk, shades of rawest Fu Manchu groove aligning themselves to the unrelenting forward drive one finds in the work of Zeke when one to keep up to find it at all.

That’s not to say it’s all thrust — well, actually that’s exactly what it’s to say — but in the furygallop of “Stan the Wolfman” and indeed in “Godspeed Below,” there are turns to a more overarching heavy rock groove that Hashteroid — the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Alex Gidora, bassist/vocalist Mike Grossnickle and drummer Grant Prouse — bring to bear with the kind of cross-genre, we’re-just-gonna-do-this fuckall that once found hardcore punkers like Suicidal Tendencies essentially playing thrash metal. There’s a similar concern for the barriers between one style and another throughout HashteroidHashteroid, and where so much of the underground heavy rock scene in the Pacific Northwest remains enamored of Red Fang‘s party vibes, even in an unbridled catchy piece like “Green Caramel” — which, by amazing coincidence you can hear premiering at the bottom of this post, these guys are on their own trip, as closer “…Return to Hash Planet” shows in its metal-o-speed-punk high-energy push, post-Motörhead for sure, but turning to a beer-spilling nod in its hook like it ain’t no thing, happens all the time. Maybe for Hashteroid it does.

One thing about “Green Caramel” that you might want to keep in mind about the album as a whole as you listen: It’s four minutes and 20 seconds long. The connection to stoner culture notwithstanding — dude, the band is called Hashteroid; ain’t like they’re keeping secrets — the point is that one might expect speed-punk cuts like some of these to be in the one- to two-minute range, but “Stan the Wolfman” tops six. And yet at not point do Hashteroid remain in one place long enough to overstay their welcome. It’s a hard balance to find, even more for a debut full-length, and it leaves little mystery as to why Cursed Tongue Records picked up the band to release the album this summer.

Announcement follows with audio after. Don’t be a jerk and skip the track:

hasteroid ctr signing


Cursed Tongue Records is super pumped to announce the signing of Canadian speed devils and riff meisters Hashteroid. This band has been shredding venues to pieces across the land for some time and is now ready to take over the world with their fast paced take on psych rock and stoner metal. Hashteroid has been on the CTR radar for quite some time and it’s an honor to be given the opportunity to work with this fierce threesome.

Hashteroid prove that stoner metal doesn’t have to be slow; the riffs are huge and the Sabbath is maintained, but the blasting back-beat doesn’t let up. A live Hashteroid set pours gas on the fires of stoke, and burns down barriers in a smoked-out, sweaty haze. The power of the trio lies in smuggling Motörhead’s mayhem into riff-filled lands, while remaining heady enough for harsh tokers. Formed in the Fall of 2013 by Alex Gidora (Guitar/Vocals), Mike Grossnickle (Bass/Vocals), and Steve Chambers (Drums), the band was tragically sidelined by Steve’s passing while waiting for the first pressing of their debut EP, ‘Respect the Depths’. Knowing that the best tribute to a fallen comrade is to keep on with life’s work, Hashteroid regrouped in 2016 with Grant Prouse on the kit and an even bigger chip on their shoulder.

The band hit the Vancouver scene hard, sharing the stage with locals Anciients and Baptists, and touring heavies like Black Breath, The Shrine, and The Atomic Bitchwax. Last fall they opened for Dead Meadow and Elder as well as toured Western Canada. The Spring of 2017 saw the band holed up at Bully’s Studios to record their first full-length with Michael Kraushaar (Black Wizard). The resulting tracks were mixed by Vancouver veteran Jesse Gander (Bison, Japandroids) then mastered at Audiosiege by Brad Boatright (Nails, Mutoid Man). The new material hones the band’s headlong approach, showcasing the trio shredding on the blade of a hot-knife, straddling the opposing forces of pure momentum and reflective intricacy. With a full-length album in the wings, Hashteroid is poised to make their mark on all that is heavy.

2018 is shaping up to be a big one for Hashteroid with the release of their debut album on digital in spring with vinyl to follow shortly after. Also touring plans are lined up along gig in April with mighty Dopethrone.

With Hashteroid we feel that the Cursed Tongue Records roster has been reinforced with some of the illest and hardest hitting punky psych stoner rock this side of the Universe. This is sure to please fans of anything energetic, heavy and ripping. Fans of aforementioned Mutoid Man will find plenty to dig here. And if you ever wondered how Black Sabbath would sound when played at 78 RPM – ponder no more. Hashteroid has you covered with the energy and metallic drive of Kvelertak and the vocals of Fu Manchu/At The Drive-In paired with a heady dose of thrashy stoner riffery.

CTR-009, HASHTEROID – ‘HASHTEROID’, official release date: summer 2018

Alex Gidora – Guitars & Vocals
Mike Grossnickle – Bass & Backup Vocals
Grant Prouse – Drums

Recorded at Bully’s Studios with Michael Kraushaar (Black Wizard)
Mixed by Jesse Gander (Bison, Japandroids)
Mastered at Audiosiege by Brad Boatright (Nails, Mutoid Man)
All music composed and arranged by HASHTEROID
All lyrics by HASHTEROID
Artwork and design by Adam Vick
Additional design/layout by Michael Andresakis

Track listing:

Side A
1. Freak Power
2. Black Tide
3. Stan The Wolfman
4. Green Caramel

Side B
5. Godspeed Below
6. Cool Ghost
7. …Return To Hash Planet


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Altars of Grief to Release Iris March 21

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 7th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Having a good day? Maybe not feeling like you and the universe are spinning in opposite directions and it’s all you can do to hold on and not spiral out into some great cosmic void? Well, wait until you get a load of the story being told in the new Altars of Grief record, as detailed by the PR wire below. The album, to be released later this month via Hypnotic Dirge Records and up for preorder now from the label, is titled Iris, and yeah, just as thoughts turn toward Spring and the coming of new life, this should be enough to take the wind right out of those seasonal sails. Death-doom indeed.

You can stream two tracks from Iris right now courtesy of the label, who sent along the following art and details:

altars of grief iris

Altars of Grief – Iris [Blackened Doom Metal; Releasing: March 21]

Hypnotic Dirge Records is releasing the second full-length album from Saskatchewan Blackened Doom band “Altars of Grief”, entitled “Iris”. on March 21.

Following the acclaimed Of Ash and Dying Light split album of 2015, Canadian Prairies doom metal juggernaut Altars of Grief is back with Iris, a second full length album of devastating proportions. This new blackened doom offering introduces new levels of dynamics and textures, and while it is the more accomplished work from the Saskatchewan band to date, it also carries the darkness and light personality that Altars of Grief developed since 2013. On Iris, melancholy and storytelling reaches new depths of beauty and sorrow. Containing equal appeal and oppression in its aesthetic, this new album will raise the bar for Canadian Doom-Death.

Altars of Grief’s singer Damian Smith comments: “The story of Iris is very much rooted in our prairie surroundings and deals with the struggles of addiction, sickness and religion. A father finds himself unable to connect with and care for his young daughter, Iris, who has fallen seriously ill. Spiralling deeper and deeper into his vices, and feeling rejected by Iris’ new found and unwavering faith, he gets into his car and decides to leave her behind. Somewhere along the icy road, he loses control of his vehicle and perishes. His purgatory is to watch helplessly as Iris slowly succumbs to her illness without him.”

Iris will feature the art of Travis Smith [Seempieces] (Katatonia, Opeth, Anathema). The cover artwork brilliantly depicts Iris’ final moments as she kneels before the winter beset church and embraces her fate.

For fans of Woods of Ypres, Adora Vivos, October Tide, and Swallow the Sun.

Those who stare at the dying light will fall into Iris.

1. Isolation
2. Desolation
3. Iris
4. Child of Light
5. Broken Hymn
6. Voices of Winter
7. Becoming Intangible
8. Epilogue


Altars of Grief, Iris (2018)

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Woodhawk Announce ‘Magnetic North Tour’ Canadian Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 21st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

woodhawk (photo Mario Montes)

Canadian heavy rockers Woodhawk seem to have a thing for Star Wars-themed tour posters. I can’t really argue with either the aesthetic or the concept, it’s just always kind of fun to see what they come up with for their next stretch on the road. This time around it’s a Millennium Falcon with a trailer full of gear. Get it? Last time it was Darth Vader looming over the dates. I assume if we wait long enough, some of those adorable little porgs might show up. Or BB-8. Or Force-Hologram Luke. Cute as a button, the whole lot of ’em.

Since you asked, yes indeed, Woodhawk are still out supporting last year’s Beyond the Sun (review here), which had its own Star Wars connections. If you’ve got a daily quota for hooks to get stuck in your head, I suggest you stream the album on the player at the bottom of this post, and should you happen to be in the Great White North this March/April, here are those dates:

woodhawk magnetic north tour

WOODHAWK Announce Canadian “Magnetic North Tour” (AB/SK/MB/ON/QC)

Calgary, AB’s masters of straight ahead riff-rock wizardry WOODHAWK announce their 2018 Canadian “Magnetic North Tour” in support of their latest full length album “Beyond The Sun” released April last year. The tour will see the trio trek across Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba plus performing for the first time in Ontario and Quebec (dates listed below).

The band comments: “We’re excited to be hitting the road again and heading out East this time. We haven’t played past Winnipeg yet and we’re stoked to finally make it out there.”

WOODHAWK’s debut album “Beyond The Sun” was produced by the band with Jesse Gander (Bison, Japandroids) to follow their 2014 self-titled EP. Made of equal parts 1970’s Birmingham and a myriad of 21st century heavy who’s who, WOODHAWK are purveyors of riff-centric rock and roll. Capable and original, the band is able to craft anthemic fist-pumping songs while forgoing tired stoner rock clichés. With time travel tested themes of science fiction, swords and sorcery, the band’s lyrics are born from snowy winters, hot practice spaces and pages of dog-eared paperbacks. While the musicianship reinforces recollections of Black Sabbath, modern influences that have helped you smash air drums or highway speed limits are undeniably present.

‘Beyond The Sun’ album stream available on Bandcamp at https://woodhawk.bandcamp.com.

The album is available on digital, vinyl and CD.

WOODHAWK “Magnetic North Tour” (AB/SK/MB/ON/QC)

March 21 – Calgary, AB – Ship and Anchor
March 22 – Edmonton, AB – Brixx Bar
March 23 – Saskatoon, SK – Vangelis Tavern
March 24 – Winnipeg, MB – The Handsome Daughter
March 27 – London, ON – Call The Office
March 28 – Hamilton, ON – This Ain’t Hollywood
March 29 – Ottawa, ON – House of TARG
March 30 – Toronto, ON – The Bovine
March 31 – Montreal, QC – Quai des Brumes
April 2 – Oshawa, ON – TBA
April 5 – Thunder Bay, ON – Black Pirates Pub
April 6 – Brandon, MB – North Hill Inn
April 7 – Regina, SK – The German Club

Woodhawk is:
Turner Midzain – Vocals/Guitar
Mike Badmington – Bass/Vocals
Kevin Nelson – Drums


Woodhawk, Beyond the Sun (2017)

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420 Music & Arts Festival 2018: Sasquatch, Brant Bjork, Great Electric Quest, La Chinga, Dopethrone and More to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

My understanding there’s a whole lot more that goes on at Calgary’s 420 Music and Arts Festival than just bands playing, but golly, there sure are a lot of bands playing. I just hope someone keeps a running tally of what’s on the playlist for Brant Bjork‘s DJ set, because you know that dude is going to both out-funk and out-punk the entire room and I’d pretty much take each track as a recommendation for an album I needed to check out. Oh yeah, DopethroneSasquatchLa ChingaMendozza, and about 20-odd other bands playing are pretty cool too. Not taking anything away from that. Just saying someone needs to write that shit down for me.

The PR wire has all the info:

420 music and arts festival


Official Festival Poster Artwork by Mike Calhoun / Sketchy Intuitions, Austin, TX

Calgary, AB’s 420 Music & Arts Festival presented by METALHEADS UNITED announces their 2018 line-up for April 19th, 20th, and 21st featuring headliners Dopethrone, Brant Bjork (Kyuss, Vista Chino) (special guest DJ set on 420), Sasquatch and La Chinga along with over 20 other acts ranging from stoner rock/stoner metal, doom, psychedelic and heavy blues.

420 Music & Arts Festival 2018 Line-Up

Thursday April 19

Sasquatch (Los Angeles, CA)
Great Electric Quest (San Diego, CA)
Electric Owl (Calgary, AB)
Gin Lahey (members of Chron Goblin and Witchstone) (Calgary, AB)
RAW (Calgary, AB)
Set and Stoned (Calgary, AB)
Solid Brown (Calgary, AB)

Friday April 20

Brant Bjork (Palm Desert, CA) (DJ sets between bands, spinning rare vinyl and closing the festival night)
La Chinga (Vancouver, BC)
Buffalo Bud Buster (Calgary, AB)
Mendozza (Vancouver, BC)
Bazaraba (Calgary, AB)
Chronobot (Sask)
Black Hell Oil (Saskatoon, SK)
The Mothercraft (Edmonton, AB)

Saturday April 21

Dopethrone (Montreal, QC)
Buzzard (Victoria, BC)
Orbital Express (Regina. SK)
The Electric Revival (Calgary, AB)
Chunkasaurus (Nanaimo, BC)
Heron (Vancouver, BC)
Ogimaa (Winnipeg, MB)
Haaze (Calgary, AB)
Pelican Death Squad (Calgary, AB)

Ticket Info:

Advance festival 3 day passes are now available for $69 CAD (plus applicable service charges) until April 1st then will increase to regular price of $89 (plus applicable service charges).

Limited quantities of individual day tickets will be available beginning March 1st.

Festival passes available online only at the festival store at the following link: http://www.420musicandartsfestival.ca/store-2/

Festival passes give fans entry to Distortion on April 19, 20 and 21 and additional 420 Music and Arts Festival Events to be announced at a later date.

Passes are not transferable between attendees during the event. Passes will be exchanged for wrist bands, which must be worn for entrance to the events.

All passes purchased online will be available for pick up at venue or shipped to choice of mailing address. Physical passes will be mailed out in early February. Any passes purchased for shipping by February 15th, are scheduled to arrive by March 1st. If you do not receive your passes by the listed date, please contact the festival at http://www.420musicandartsfestival.ca/contact/. A shipping confirmation will be sent when passes are mailed.

All ticket sales are final. No refunds will be issued unless full festival cancellation. 420 Music & Arts Festival reserve the right to change the line up as required due to band scheduling and / or other circumstances beyond their control.


Dopethrone, 1312 (2016)

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Quarterly Review: Iron Monkey, Deadsmoke, Somnuri, Daira, Kavrila, Ivan, Clara Engel, Alastor, Deadly Vipers, Storm of Void

Posted in Reviews on January 11th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Lodewijk de Vadder (1605-1655) - 17th Century Etching, Landscape with Two Farms

Day Four of the Quarterly Review! Welcome to the downswing. We’re past the halfway point and feeling continually groovy. Thus far it’s been a week of coffee and a vast musical swath that today only reaches even further out from the core notion of what may or may not make a release or a band “heavy.” Is it sound? Is it emotion? Is it concept? Fact is there’s no reason it can’t be all of those things and a ton more, so keep an open mind as you make your way through today’s batch and we’ll all come out of it better people on the other end. Alright? Alright. Here we go.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Iron Monkey, 9-13

iron monkey 9-13

I’ll admit to some level of skepticism at the prospect of an Iron Monkey reunion without frontman Johnny Morrow, who died in 2002, but as founding guitarist Jim Rushby (now also vocals), bassist Steve Watson (who originally played guitar) and new drummer Brigga revive the influential UK sludge outfit with the nine songs of 9-13 on Relapse, it somehow makes sense that the band’s fuckall and irreverence would extend inward as well. That is, why should Iron Monkey find Iron Monkey an any more sacred and untouchable property than they find anything else? Ultimately, the decision will be up to the listener as to acceptance, but the furies of “OmegaMangler,” “Mortarhex,” “Doomsday Impulse Multiplier” and the nine-minute lumber-into-torrent closer “Moreland St. Hammervortex” make a pretty resounding argument that if you can’t get down with Iron Monkey as they are today, it’s going to be your loss and that, as ever, they couldn’t care less to see you stick around or see you go. So welcome back.

Iron Monkey on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records on Bandcamp


Deadsmoke, Mountain Legacy

deadsmoke mountain legacy

Mountain Legacy, which is the second Deadsmoke album for Heavy Psych Sounds, might be the heaviest release the label has put out to-date. For the band, it marks the arrival of keyboardist Claudio Rocchetti to the former trio, and from the lumbering space of aptly-titled post-intro opener “Endless Cave” to the later creeping lurch of “Wolfcurse,” it’s an outing worthy of comparison to the earlier work of Italian countrymen Ufomammut, but still rooted in the gritty, post-Sleep plod the band elicited on their 2016 self-titled debut (review here). The central difference seems to be an increase in atmospheric focus, which does well to enrich the listening experience overall, be it in the creepy penultimate interlude “Forest of the Damned” or side A finale “Emperor of Shame.” Whether this progression was driven by Rocchetti’s inclusion in the band or the other way around, it’s a marked showing of growth on a quick turnaround from Deadsmoke and shows them as having a much broader creative reach than expected. All the better because it’s still so devastatingly weighted.

Deadsmoke on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website


Somnuri, Somnuri

somnuri somnuri

To call Somnuri a formidable trio is underselling it. The Brooklynite three-piece is comprised of guitarist/vocalist Justin Sherrell (Blackout, ex-Bezoar, etc.), bassist Drew Mack (ex-Hull) and drummer Phil SanGiacomo (Family), and the noise they make on their Magnetic Eye-released self-titled debut is as progressive as it is intense. Recorded by Jeff Berner and mixed my SanGiacomo, cuts like “Kaizen” and “Same Skies” land with a doomed heft but move with the singular fury of the Northeastern US, and even as eight-minute closer “Through the Dead” balances more rock-minded impulses and seems to touch on a Soundgarden influence, it answers for the ultra-aggro tumult of “Pulling Teeth” just before. A flash of ambience in the drone interlude “Opaque” follows the plodding highlight “Slow Burn,” which speaks to yet another side of Somnuri’s potential – to create spaces as much as to crush them. With an interplay of cleaner vocals, screams, growls and shouts, there’s enough variety to throw off expectation, and where so much of New York’s noise-metal history is about angry single-mindedness, Somnuri’s Somnuri shows even in a vicious moment like “Inhabitant” that there’s more ground to cover than just being really, really, really pissed off.

Somnuri on Thee Facebooks

Magnetic Eye Records website


Daira, Vipreet Buddhi

daira vipreet buddhi

Time to get weird. No. Really weird. In the end, I’m not sure Mumbai semi-improvisationalist troupe Daira did themselves any favors by making their sophomore LP, Vipreet Buddhi, a single 93-minute/16-track outing instead of breaking it into the two halves over which its course is presented – the first being eight distinct songs, the second a flowing single jam broken up over multiple parts – but one way or another, it’s an album that genuinely presents a vibe of its own, taking cues from heavy psych, jazz, funk, classic prog, folk and more as it plays through its bizarre and ambient flow, toying with jarring stretches along the way like the eerie “Apna Ullu Seedha” but so dug in by the time it’s jammed its way into “Dekho Laal Gaya” that it seems like there’s no getting out. It’s an overwhelming and unmanageable offering, but whoever said the avant garde wasn’t supposed to be a challenge? Certainly not Daira, and they clearly have plenty to say. Whatever else you listen to today, I can safely guarantee it won’t sound like this. And that’s probably true of every day.

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Daira on Bandcamp


Kavrila, Blight

kavrila blight

Chest-compressing groove and drive will no doubt earn Hamburg four-piece Kavrila’s second album, Blight (on Backbite Records), some comparisons to Mantar, but to dig into tracks like “Gold” and “Each (Part Two)” is to find a surprising measure of atmospheric focus, and even a rage-roller like “Abandon” has a depth to its mix. Though it’s just 24 minutes long, I’d still consider Blight a full-length for the two-sided flow it sets up leading to the aforementioned “Gold” and “Each (Part Two),” both being the longest cut on their respective half of the record in addition to splitting the tracklisting, as well as for the grinding aspects of songs like “Apocalypse,” “Demolish” and “Golem” on side B, the latter of which takes the rhythmic churn of Godflesh to a point of extremity that even the earlier thrust of “Lungs” did little to foretell. There’s a balance of sludge and hardcore elements, to be sure, but it’s the anger that ultimately defines Blight, however coherent it might be (and is) in its violent intent.

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Backbite Records webstore


Ivan, Strewn Across Stars

ivan strewn across stars

Employing the session violin services of Jess Randall, the Melbourne-based two-piece of Brodric Wellington (drums/vocals) and Joseph Pap (guitar, bass, keys) – collectively known as Ivan – would seem to be drawing a specific line in the direction of My Dying Bride with their take on death-doom, but the emotionalist influence goes deeper than that on Strewn Across Stars, their second LP. Shades of Skepticism show themselves in opener and longest track (immediate points) “Cosmic Fear,” which demonstrates a raw production ready for the limited-cassette obscurism the band conjured for their 2016 debut, Aeons Collapse, but nonetheless fleshed out melodically in the guitar and already-noted, deeply prevalent string arrangement. The subsequent “Ethereal” (12:41), “Hidden Dimensions” (12:25) and “Outro” (8:18) dig even further into plodding shattered-self woefulness, with “Hidden Dimensions” providing a brief moment of tempo release before the violin and keys take complete hold in “Outro” to give listeners one last chance to bask in resonant melancholia. A genre-piece, to be sure, but able to stand on its own in terms of personality and patience alike.

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Ivan on Bandcamp


Clara Engel, Songs for Leonora Carrington


Toronto singer-songwriter Clara Engel pays ambient folk homage to the Mexican surrealist painter/author with the five-tracks of Songs for Leonara Carrington, fleshing out creative and depth-filled arrangements that nonetheless hold fast to the intimate human core beneath. Engel’s voice is of singular character in its melding of gruff fragility, and whether it’s the psychedelic hypnosis of opener and longest track (immediate points) “Birdheaded Queen” or the seemingly minimalist drift of the penultimate “The Ancestor,” her confident melodies float atop gorgeous and sad instrumental progressions that cast an atmosphere of vast reaches. Even the more percussively active centerpiece “Microgods of all the Subatomic Worlds” feels informed by the gradual wash of guitar melody that takes hold on the prior “Sanctuary for Furies,” and as Engel brings in guest contributors for drums, bass, guitar, theremin and choir vocals alongside her own guitar, pump organ, flute and singing, there seems to be little out of her reach or scope. It is a joy to get lost within it.

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Wist Records website


Alastor, Blood on Satan’s Claw


I don’t know whether the title-cut of Blood on Satan’s Claw, the new two-songer EP from dirge-doomers Alastor, is leftover from the same sessions that bore their 2017 debut album for Twin Earth Records, Black Magic (review here), but as it’s keeping company with a near-11-minute take on Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising,” the four-piece’s return is welcome either way. Unsurprisingly, not much has changed in their approach in the mere months since the full-length was issued, but that doesn’t mean the swing of “Blood on Satan’s Claw,” the central riff of which owes as much to Windhand as to Sleep as to C.O.C.‘s “Albatross” as to Sabbath, isn’t worth digging into all the same, and with psychedelic vocals reminiscent of newer Monolord and flourish of creeper-style organ, its doom resounds on multiple levels leading into the aforementioned cover, which drawls out the classic original arrangement with a wilfully wretched tack that well earns a nod and raised claw. Alastor remain backpatch-ready, seemingly just waiting for listeners to catch on. If these tracks are any indication, they’ll get there.

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Alastor on Bandcamp


Deadly Vipers, Fueltronaut


Give it a couple minutes to get going and Fueltronaut, the debut full-length from French four-piece Deadly Vipers, is more than happy to serve up energetic post-Kyuss desert rock loyalism that’s true to form in both spirit and production. Shades of earliest Dozer and the wider pre-social media older-school Euro heavy underground show themselves quickly in “Universe,” but in the later mid-paced reach of “Stalker,” there’s more modern bluesy vibing and as the mega-fuzzed “Meteor Valley,” the driving jam of “Supernova,” and the let’s-push-the-vocals-really-high-in-the-mix-for-some-reason “Dead Summer” shove the listener onward with righteous momentum toward pre-outro closer “River of Souls,” each track getting longer as it goes, the melody that emerges there indeed feels like a moment of arrival. My only real complaint? The intro “Fuel Prophecy” and (hidden) outro, “Watch the Road End.” Especially with the immediacy that strikes when “Universe” kicks in and the resonant finish of “River of Souls” at its six-minute mark, having anything before the one and after the other seems superfluous. A minor quibble on an impressive debut (one could also ramble about cartoon tits on the cover, but what’s the point?) and showcase of potential from an exciting newcomer outfit clearly assured of the style for which they’re aiming.

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Deadly Vipers on Bandcamp


Storm of Void, War Inside You


Tokyo duo Storm of Void make their full-length debut with the nine-track/48-minute War Inside You, a full-length that might first snag attention owing to guest vocal spots from Napalm Death’s Mark “Barney” Greenway and Jawbox’s J. Robbins, but has no trouble holding that same attention with its progressive instrumental turns and taut execution. Released by Hostess Entertainment, it’s instrumental in bulk, with eight-string guitarist George Bodman (Bluebeard) and drummer Dairoku Seki (envy) coming together to deliver brisk and aggressive prog metal centered around chugging riffs and a tension that seems to take hold in “Into the Circle” and let up only for the momentary “Interlude” in the midsection before closer “Ghosts of Mt. Sleepwalker” finally allows for some exhalation. As for the guest spots, they’re nothing to complain about, and they break up the proceedings nicely placed as they are, but if Storm of Void are going to hook you, it’s going to be on their own merits, which are plentiful.

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Hostess Entertainment website


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