Review & Full Album Stream: Frozen Planet….1969, The Heavy Medicinal Grand Exposition

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 29th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

frozen planet 1969 the heavy medicinal grand exposition

[Click play above to stream Frozen Planet….1969’s The Heavy Medicinal Grand Exposition in its entirety. Album is out Nov. 1 on Pepper Shaker Records and HeadSpin Records.]

Step right up, don’t be shy. One has to wonder when it comes to the sixth — count ’em, six — full-length outing from ellipse-inclusive Sydney/Canberra psychedelic improv specialists Frozen Planet….1969 as to which came first, the concept or the execution. That is, The Heavy Medicinal Grand Exposition is a somewhat weighty title, and obviously that’s on purpose as the classic power trio of guitarist Paul Attard, bassist Lachlan Paine and drummer Frank Attard, being entirely instrumental, lean on the cartoon artwork and the liner notes of the CD and LP — released by Pepper Shaker and HeadSpin Records, respectively — to tell the story. That’s not to say the record itself, which is comprised of one 39-minute title-track broken down into six subtitled parts and a six-minute follow-up called “Encore: A Herbal Miracle,” isn’t plenty malleable.

Indeed, in sound, open structure and form, Frozen Planet….1969 jam and jam and jam and jam their way into the greater reaches of Far Out, a naturalist production helmed by Frank keeping some human presence in mind behind all the willful instrumental meandering that, all things considered, isn’t nearly as effects-baked as it could be, even in the latest stretch of the “The Heavy Medicinal Grand Exposition” itself. But they go where they want to go, and of course, the live feel of the recording is one of its most essential facets. For something that’s at least in some part made up on the spot, that’s bound to be the case, which leads back to the initial question of which came first, the story or the jam.

Does it really matter to the listening experience? I suppose not. It’s possible to put on “The Heavy Medicinal Grand Exposition” without engaging Doctor Berner or reading in the liner notes about his traveling show selling the miracle herbal elixir to relieve pain and ward off evil, strengthen body and mind, and so on. But it’s not nearly as much fun, and Frozen Planet….1969 sound well like they’re enjoying the process of creating the album on the spot. Shouldn’t the listener endeavor to do the same with the listening experience?

Thus we meet the Swordsman, the Juggler, Sundae, Doctor Berner himself and the rest in the title-track. Conveniently, they’ve split the 39-minute piece up into subsections. On the vinyl it all plays together naturally, so whether one thinks of it as one or six different cuts is moot. On the CD and digital versions, though, we see the band purposefully linking the pieces together as the single jam that they are. The list of subsections reads accordingly:

The Heavy Medicinal Grand Exposition:
I. Oddball Sundae (00:00-05:15)
II. The Juggler (05:16-10:08)
III. Introducing… Oxandra Lanceolata (10:09-16:26)
IV. The Talking Juice (16:27-27:31)
V. Swords for Hire (27:32-31:47)
VI. Never Should Have Left Town with a Whistling Monkey by My Side (31:48-39:25)

frozen planet 1969 the heavy medicinal grand exposition liner

There’s a lot of information packed into those subtitles. ‘The Talking Juice’ refers to the potion itself. ‘Swords for Hire’ has a companion Swordsman as seen in an executioner’s hood on the front cover standing next to Oxandra Lanceolata, also on the cover holding — for some reason — a bonsai tree. The art is meant to evoke a comic book sensibility — we see Doctor Berner in the top left corner where the comic company logo and issue price might otherwise be — and that tends to give the whole affair a lighthearted feel suited to the music itself, which is laid back even at its most active points, the title-track getting funky in ‘The Juggler’ or jamming into a classic fuzz solo in ‘The Talking Juice’ after the “hubba hubba” of pulled notes and spaced-out guitar echoes in “Introducing… Oxandra Lanceolata.” Part of the fun of engaging with The Heavy Medicinal Grand Exposition becomes reading these things into it.

And yeah, if they had elected to do a futuristic sci-fi theme instead of an old traveling medicine show, it would probably be just as easy to hear a cosmic pastiche in the spacey wanderings that take hold in ‘The Talking Juice’ and the lonely reach of feedback in ‘Never Should Have Left Town with a Whistling Monkey by My Side,’ the bass and drums holding the jam together beneath the floating guitar overhead, but the point is they didn’t. The Attards and Paine created the characters and the theme they wanted to use and set about bringing that concept to life as a full experience of the album. That’s exactly why The Heavy Medicinal Grand Exposition works as well as it does. It’s a complete, multi-level realization of its central idea.

So which came first, the music or the theme? Hell if I know. What’s more important is that the two work side by side to give a whole impression through both the title-track and the complementary “Encore: A Herbal Miracle” that wants nothing either in narrative presentation or actual sonic execution. They finish the second jam with jazzy punches of guitar, bass and drums, odd-time strumming and kick cutting off suddenly to bring the record to its end, and by so doing, they reinforce the notion of The Heavy Medicinal Grand Exposition as a work of improv. It’s there while it’s there and then it’s over. There’s no real grand finale to it. The jam just concludes and then, presumably, it’ll be on to the next one.

Fair enough. The Heavy Medicinal Grand Exposition is Frozen Planet….1969‘s sixth LP since 2012, directly following 2017’s From the Centre of a Parallel Universe (review here) and Electric Smokehouse (review here), so they’re used to a quick turnaround. Whenever their next offering surfaces, the fact that they’ve put so much into the conceptual foundation of this one can only help them as they move forward, and whether they work with another specific plotline or not, the mere fact that The Heavy Medicinal Grand Exposition was approached with a sense of storytelling is bound to make the listening experience that much richer. It certainly does here.

Frozen Planet….1969 on Thee Facebooks

Pepper Shaker Records on Thee Facebooks

Pepper Shaker Records on Bandcamp

HeadSpin Records website

HeadSpin Records on Thee Facebooks

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Witchskull Set June 1 Release for Coven’s Will on Rise Above Records

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

There’s no denying the current of classic metal in the new Witchskull single, which you can hear at the bottom of this post. But check this out: The band, who hail from Canberra, Australia, recorded their new album, Coven’s Will, in Brooklyn, New York, with Billy Anderson, who lives in Portland, Oregon, and they’re releasing it on June 1 through Rise Above Records, which is based in the UK. That is what I call a significant geographical fucking spread. Nicely done, gentlemen.

Witchskull‘s debut, The Vast Electric Dark (review here) was issued by Ripple Music in conjunction with STB Records, so it would seem the trio have a thing for racking up significant endorsements when it comes to putting out their music. Again, nicely done.

And while we’re at it? That single? Nicely done.

Album’s up for preorder now, as the PR wire informs:

witchskull

Witchskull to Release “Coven’s Will” June 1st via Rise Above Records

The riff hits. The adrenaline kicks in. The darkness erupts. All heavy metal hell breaks loose. The Coven is awake…

Witchskull will release Coven’s Will June 1st via Rise Above Records. Pre-order the album HERE.

The philosophy behind Witchskull’s take on the essence of primeval heaviness is simple enough. Listen to the first few seconds of the Australian trio’s brand new, second album Coven’s Will and if the vibe doesn’t instantly grab you by the balls and the synapses then maybe you walked in through the wrong door. Channeling the spirit of the metal gods and injecting every last moment of their rampaging anthems with a jolting dose of lysergic menace, Witchskull are the unstoppable real deal.

Formed in Canberra in 2014, Witchskull grabbed the attention of the hirsute, underground hordes with their first demo in 2015. The band’s debut album, The Vast Electric Dark, emerged soon after to great acclaim: its thunderous, turbo-charged squall striking an instant, devilish chord with headbangers hungry for life-affirming riffs, a dash of grubby-fingered authenticity and lashings of supernatural venom. Honed and nurtured in sweaty practice rooms and on stages across the band’s native Australia, the Witchskull sound has subsequently evolved, leading to Coven’s Will: a sophomore outing that looks certain to thrust the three-piece to the upper echelons of the stoner world. Recorded at Studio G in Brooklyn, NYC, with producers Billy Anderson (Neurosis/Sleep/Buzzov.en) and Jason Fuller (Blood Duster) and mixed at Jason’s Goatsound Studio in Melbourne, Coven’s Will has mutated into a snarling, muscular acid-metal monster.

Boasting eight, groove-driven slabs of infernal fury, Coven’s Will pulls off the neat trick of sounding simultaneously timeless /and/ timely, as the fundamental principles of our beloved genre are fed through the Australians’ pitch-black prism and spat out in a shower of wild, hallucinatory devil blues.

A crazy-eyed howl of discontent from the sun-scorched wastelands of Australia, Coven’s Will is a ferocious statement from a band that seem to be hitting their stride and gaining power by the hour. Newly signed to Lee Dorrian’s revered Rise Above Records imprint, Witchskull have found the perfect home from which to spread their irresistible gospel of unholy heaviness. Hell’s Gates have opened, the riffs are coming and the Coven compels you to surrender your soul…

Coven’s Will Track Listing:
1. Raven
2. Son of the Snake
3. Priestess
4. Breathing Blue Light
5. Demon Cage
6. Spyres
7. Lord of the Void
8. The Empty Well

https://www.facebook.com/witchskull/
https://www.facebook.com/riseaboverecords/
http://www.riseaboverecords.com/

Witchskull, “Demon Cage”

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Frozen Planet 1969 to Release Electric Smokehouse Jan. 11

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 2nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

frozen planet 1969

In look and sonic vibe, Frozen Planet 1969 seem to be shooting for that obscure, lost private press LP heavy you pick up unknowningly from the rack at your favorite musty shop, take to the counter, and promptly receive — rightly so — a lecture on how frickin’ awesome it is. All you can do is nod your head in vague agreement and roll with it until you get home and realize how correct that trusty clerk was. The Australian heavy psych jammers — who also stylize their name with an elongated ellipse: Frozen Planet….1969 — will issue Electric Smokehouse on Jan. 11, with vinyl out through Headspin Records and CD/DL from Pepper Shaker Records. I’d never presume to play the role of the store clerk, but they’ve got the song “Supersaturation” from the new outing streaming now, and it’s a tasty bit of fluidity sure to consume the converted. By all means, dig in.

They got in touch over subspace frequencies and sent this down the PR wire:

frozen-planet-1969-electric-smokehouse

New Frozen Planet….1969 album

New album by Frozen Planet….1969 ‘Electric Smokehouse’. This is the band’s fourth album. It contains more of the heavy-psych instrumental experimental improvisation the band has become known for! ‘Electric Smokehouse’ will be released very early in the new year- January 11 2017. It will be available on vinyl in black or transparent purple in a gatefold sleeve on Headspin Records and on CD and digitally via Pepper Shaker.

The vinyl version can be found on the Shiny Beast mail-order website and there will also be some copies available via the Pepper shaker Records Bandcamp page. The CD and digital versions will be available via the Pepper Shaker Records Bandcamp page.

Although the band name suggests otherwise, Frozen Planet….1969 dates back to early 2012! It was then that a heavy-psych jam session between two Sydney-based musicians, Paul and Frank Attard, and Canberra-based Lachlan Paine, took place.

Luckily, this afternoon of improvisation at the home of Pepper Shaker Records, Frank Street Studio, was recorded. However, it wasn’t until over a year later that the three decided they should finally mix and release some of the material they had created that day. Paul and Frank had been playing in the stoner-doom band, Mother Mars. Lachlan was playing in the Canberra heavy rock trio, Looking Glass. After playing on numerous bills together over the years it seemed only natural there would be some sort of collaboration between the two bands at some point.

Frozen Planet….1969 played its first show in February 2014. It was also around this time that the band recorded another mammoth jam session. From this jam session came the second and third releases for the band, “Lost Traveller Chronicles, Volume 1” (released 20th August 2014) and “Lost Traveller Chronicles, Volume 2” (released 6th May 2015). The concept this time would be a travel journal through the constellations, with each song being a chapter from the journal! Both volumes were released in digital and physical format on Pepper Shaker Records. The physical format for Volume 1 was a limited 10-inch vinyl and for Volume 2 the format was CD.

To date, the band has only played a handful of shows. Each show has been uniquely different with the band continuously jamming for thirty to forty minutes. No rehearsal necessary. Every time Frozen Planet….1969 gets together it’s either to record or play live. All improvised!

https://www.facebook.com/Frozenplanet1969
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pepper-Shaker-Records/348639788571646
https://twitter.com/PepperShakerrec
https://peppershakerrecords.bandcamp.com/

Frozen Planet 1969, “Supersaturation”

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Quarterly Review: Swans, Virus, The Re-Stoned, Castle, Spirit Adrift, Robb & Pott, Family, Les Discrets, Liquido di Morte, Witchskull

Posted in Reviews on October 7th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-fall-2016-quarterly-review

Last day. As ever, I am mentally, physically and spiritually exhausted by this process, but as ever, it’s been worth it. Today I do myself a couple favors in packing out with more familiar acts, but whatever, it’s all stuff I should be covering anyway, so if the order bothers you, go write your own 50 reviews in a week and we can talk about it. Yeah, that’s right. That’s what I said. Today we start with Swans. Everything’s a confrontation.

Once again, I hope you’ve found something somewhere along this bizarre, careening path of music that has resonated with you, something that will stick with you. That’s why we’re here. You and me. If you have, I’d love to know about it. Until then, one more time here we go.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Swans, The Glowing Man

swans-the-glowing-man-700

Oh fucking please. You want me to try to summarize The Glowing Man – the culmination and finale of an era of Swans that Michael Gira began now more than half a decade ago – in a single review? Even putting aside the fact that the record two hours long, the notion is ridiculous. If there ever was a chart, the scope here is well off it. The material unfolds and churns and is primal and lush at once on “Cloud of Forgetting,” genuinely chaotic on the 28-minute title-track, and it ends with a drone lullaby, but seriously, what the fuck? Some shit is just beyond, and if you don’t know that applies to Swans by now, it’s your own fault. You want a review? Fine. I listened to the whole thing. It ate my fucking soul, chewed it with all-canine teeth and then spit it out saying “thanks for the clarity” and left me dazed, bloodied and humbled. There’s your fucking review. Thanks for reading.

Swans on Thee Facebooks

Young God Records website

 

Virus, Memento Collider

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Oslo trio Virus have long since established that they’re a band working on their own wavelength. Memento Collider (on Karisma Records) is the jazzy post-black metallers’ first album in five years and brings together adventurous rhythms, poetic declarations, dissonant basslines and – in the case of “Rogue Fossil,” the occasional hook – in ways that are unique unto Virus. Look at this site and see how often I use the word “unique.” It doesn’t happen. Virus, however, are one of a kind. Memento Collider makes for a challenging listen front to back on its six-track/45-minute run, but it refuses to dumb itself down or dull its progressive edge, bookending its longest (that’s opener “Afield” at 10:41; immediate points) two tracks around jagged explorations of sound like “Steamer” and “Gravity Seeker,” which engage and intrigue in kind after the melodic push of “Dripping into Orbit” and leading into “Phantom Oil Slick,” a righteous affirmation of the angular thrust at the core of Virus’ approach.

Virus on Thee Facebooks

Karisma Records webstore

 

The Re-Stoned, Reptiles Return

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In 2010, Moscow troupe The Re-Stoned issued their first EP, Return to the Reptiles, and being obviously concerned with evolution, they’ve now gone back and revisited that debut release with Reptiles Return, a reworking of the four studio tracks that made up the initial version – “Return,” “Run,” “The Mountain Giant” and “Sleeping World.” The opener is a straight re-recording, as is one other, where another is remixed and the other two remastered, and Reptiles Return – which is presented on limited vinyl through Clostridium Records and a CD box set with bonus tracks via Rushus Records – pairs them with more psychedelic-minded soundscape pieces like “Winter Witchcraft,” “Walnut Talks,” the proggy “Flying Clouds” and sweetly acoustic “Roots Patter,” that showcase where founding multi-instrumentalist Ilya Lipkin is taking the band going forward. The result is a satisfying side A/B split on the vinyl that delights in heavy riffing for its own sake in the first half and expands the scope in the second, which should delight newcomers as well as those who’ve followed The Re-Stoned along this evolutionary process.

The Re-Stoned on Thee Facebooks

Clostridium Records website

 

Castle, Welcome to the Graveyard

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It may well be the fate of San Francisco’s hard-touring, ass-kicking, genre-refusing duo Castle to be terminally underappreciated, but that has yet to stop them from proliferating their righteous blend of thrash, doom and classic, fistpump-worthy metal. Their latest outing, Welcome to the Graveyard, arrives via respected purveyor Ván Records, and entices in atmosphere and execution, cohesively built tracks like “Hammer and the Cross” and the penultimate “Down in the Cauldron Bog” finding a balance of personality and delivery that the band has long since honed on stage. The Dio-esque barnburner riff of “Flash of the Pentagram” makes that cut a highlight, but as they roll out the cultish vibes of “Natural Parallel” to close, there doesn’t seem to be much on the spectrum of heavy metal that doesn’t fit into Castle’s wheelhouse. For some bands, there’s just no justice. Four records deep, Castle have yet to get their due, and Welcome to the Graveyard is further proof of why they deserve it.

Castle website

Ván Records

 

Spirit Adrift, Chained to Oblivion

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One can hear a new wave of modern doom taking shape in Chained to Oblivion, the Prosthetic Records debut from Arizona one-man outfit Spirit Adrift. The work of Nate Garrett alone in the studio, the full-length offers five mostly-extended tracks as a 48-minute 2LP of soaring, emotional and psychedelic doom à la Pallbearer, but given even further breadth through progressively atmospheric passages and a marked flow in its transitions. To call it personal seems superfluous – it’s a one-man band, of course it’s personal – but Garrett (also formerly of metallers Take Over and Destroy) brings a palpable sense of performance to the songwriting, and by the time he gets to the 11-minutes-apiece finale duo of the title-track and “Hum of Our Existence,” it’s easy to forget you’re not actually listening to a full band, not the least because of the vocal harmonies. Calling Chained to Oblivion a promising first outing would be underselling it – this is a project with serious potential.

Spirit Adrift on Thee Facebooks

Prosthetic Records website

 

Robb & Pott, Once upon the Wings

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Unpredictable from the start of opener “Flesh ‘n’ Steel,” Once upon the Wings is a first-time multinational collaborative effort from Robbi Robb of California’s 3rd Ear Experience and Paul Pott of Germany’s The Space Invaders. Its five tracks/42 minutes arrive through no less than Nasoni Records, and provide a curious and exploratory blend of the organic and the inorganic in sound, as one finds the 11-minute “Grass” no less defined by its percussion solo, guitar line and ‘60s-style vocal than the electronic drums that underscore the layered wash of noise in its midsection. Further definition hits with the 16-minute centerpiece “Prophecy #1,” which works in a space-rocking vein, but the shorter closing duo of the catchy “Looney Toon” and darkly progressive “Space Ear” show a creative bent that clearly refuses to be tamed. Robb & Pott, as a project, demonstrates remarkable potential throughout this debut, as they seem to have set no limits for where they want their sound to go and they seem to have the command to take it there.

Robb & Pott on Bandcamp

Nasoni Records website

 

Family, Future History

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Most of the tracks on Brooklyn progressive noise rockers Family’s second album and Prosthetic Records debut, Future History, come paired with interludes. That cuts some of the growling intensity of winding pieces like “Funtime for Bigboy” and “Floodgates,” and emphasizes the generally experimental spirit of the record as a whole, broadening the scope in sound and theme. I’m somewhat torn as to how much this actually works to the 51:50 outing’s benefit, as shorter pieces like “Prison Hymn” and “Transmission,” while adding dynamic to the sound and narrative drama, also cut the immediacy in impact of “The Trial” or closer “Bone on Bone,” but it’s entirely possible that without them Future History would be an overwhelming tumult of raw prog metal. And while the play back and forth can feel cumbersome when one considers how effectively “Night Vision” bridges the gap between sides, I’m not sure that’s not what Family were going for in the first place. It’s not supposed to be an easy record, and it isn’t one.

Family on Thee Facebooks

Family website

 

Les Discrets, Virée Nocturne

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France’s Les Discrets haven’t had a studio offering since 2012’s Ariettes Oubliées (review here), and while they released Live at Roadburn (review here) last year documenting their 2013 set at that festival, there’s little there that might presage the stylistic turn the Fursy Teyssier-led outfit takes on their new EP, Virée Nocturne (on Prophecy Productions). With four tracks – two new, complete recordings, one demo and the last a remix of the opener by Dälek and DeadverseLes Discrets attempt to find a stylistic middle ground between post-rock and trip-hop, and for the most part, they get there. “Virée Nocturne” itself leads off and can be jarring on first listen, but successfully blends the lush melodicism for which the band is known with electronic-driven beats, and both “Capricorni. Virginis. Corvi” and even the demo “Le Reproche” continue to build on this bold shift. The finale remix adds over two minutes to “Virée Nocturne,” but uses that time to make it even more spacious and all the more immersive. For anyone who thought they might’ve had Les Discrets figured out, the surprise factor here should be palpable.

Les Discrets on Thee Facebooks

Prophecy Productions website

 

Liquido di Morte, II

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Presented across four tracks beginning with the 12-minute and longest-of-the-bunch (immediate points) “The Corpse of Dr. Funkenstein” (double points for the reference), II, the aptly-titled second album from Liquido di Morte expands the progressive atmospherics of the Italian four-piece’s 2014 self-titled debut (review here) without losing sight of the performance and spirit of exploration that helped bring it to life. Isaak’s Giacomo H. Boeddu guests on brooding vocals and whispers for “The Saddest of Songs I’ll Sing for You,” which swells in seething intensity as it moves forward, while “Rodents on the Uphill” casts a vision of post-space rock and closer “Schwartz Pit” rounds out with crash and wash that seems only to draw out how different the two halves of II actually are. Not a complaint. Liquido di Morte make their way across this vast span with marked fluidity, and if they prove anything throughout, it’s that they’re able to keep their command wherever they feel like using it to go.

Liquido di Morte on Thee Facebooks

Sstars BigCartel store

 

Witchskull, The Vast Electric Dark

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Canberra, Australia, trio Witchskull initially released their debut full-length, The Vast Electric Dark, last year, and caught the attention of the cross-coastal US partnership between Ripple Music and STB Records, who now align for a reissue of the eight-tracker. Why is quickly apparent. In addition to having earned a fervent response, The Vast Electric Dark basks in quality songcraft and doomly, heavy vibes, keeping a consistent pace while rolling through the semi-metallic push of “Raise the Dead” or the later rumble/shred of “Cassandra’s Curse.” All the while, guitarist/vocalist Marcus De Pasquale provides a steady presence at the fore alongside bassist Tony McMahon and drummer Joel Green, and what’s ultimately still a straightforward rocker of an album finds a niche for itself between varies underground styles of heavy. Between the balance they strike across their 37 minutes and the energy that courses through their songs, Witchskull’s The Vast Electric Dark proves easily worth the look it’s getting.

Witchskull on Thee Facebooks

STB Records webstore

Ripple Music website

 

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Witchskull to Release The Vast Electric Dark CD Sept. 23

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 9th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

After issuing their debut album, The Vast Electric Dark, on deluxe vinyl through STB Records, Australian trio Witchskull will release the same offering on CD/DL through Ripple Music. The impending disc furthers the bicoastal alliance between NJ’s STB and CA’s Ripple, two of the strongest up and coming American heavy rock labels, and will be out on Sept. 23. Witchskull will head to US shores this fall for The Rage for Armageddon Fest at Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn, which is no small trip to make from their native Canberra, and if I hear of other gigs around that appearance — doesn’t seem unlikely, given the distance — I’ll let you know.

For now, Ripple Music speaks through the PR wire:

witchskull

Proto-metal trio WITCHSKULL to release The Vast Electric Dark this September

The Vast Electric Dark is released worldwide on 23rd September via Ripple Music

Ripple Music is psyched to announce the official worldwide release of The Vast Electric Dark, the crushing debut album from Australian blues-based doom trio, Witchskull.

Formed in Canberra in early 2014 by drummer and former member of acclaimed Australian thrash legends Armoured Angel, Joel Green, along with old school friends Marcus De Pasquale (guitar) and bass player Tony McMahon; Witchskull is less a band and more a brotherhood.

Borne out of a love for Dio, Black Sabbath, Motörhead and the NWOBHM movement the trio locked into an almost hermetic groove from the very beginning. So much so by the Summer of that same year Witchskull were road testing freshly demoed songs at countless shows across Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney. Capable of unleashing raw, balls-to-the-wall doom indebted in no small part to the influence of heavy blues-rock and proto-metal, their unmistakably primal sound marks them out as a stunning live spectacle… a force of nature awakening again and again, night after night.

Decamping to Mebourne’s Goatsound Studios with producer/engineer Jason Fuller (Blood Duster) in January last year, the trio emerged with what quickly became one of 2015’s finest underground releases. A mélange of gnarled vocal tones, pummeling drums and outright guitar majesty that provided the perfect tomb for the dark lyrics contained within, the self-released The Vast Electric Dark struck an instant chord with purveyors of heavy rock.

Following the exclusive STB vinyl-only version of the album which sold out in record time, Ripple Music will give everyone the chance to find out what makes Witchskull so special when The Vast Electric Dark is given an official worldwide release on CD and digital download on 23rd September 2016.

Live:
30th October 2016 – The Rage for Armageddon Fest – St Vitus Bar, New York

https://www.facebook.com/witchskull/
http://witchskull.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com/

Witchskull, The Vast Electric Dark (2015/2016)

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Witchskull Sign to STB Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 11th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

Canberra trio Witchskull have signed to STB Records. The trio issued their debut album, The Vast Electric Dark, in October, and along with the signing comes the news that STB will release the album on vinyl early next year, which, like everything the NJ-based imprint does, I’m sure will sell out long before it’s actually available to purchase and even longer before someone like me is able to get a review going. Nonetheless, cheers to Witchskull and to STB on the union, and here’s looking forward to one more cool release in a year that’s already completely overwhelming while still being about three weeks away.

Huzzahs all around. If you haven’t heard it, The Vast Electric Dark kind of straddles the line between heavy rock and doom, all with a classic metal sense of clarity. It’s encouraging in its refusal to be one thing or another. Here’s the announcement from STB and some more background on what they do:

witchskull stb

Attention: STB Records is really excited to announce that we have new STB Family members.. Please give a warm welcome to Witchskull!! I can not be more excited to have them as part of the crew.. Look forward to a vinyl release of their latest album “The Vast Electric Dark” in early 2016…

Witchskull formed in early 2014 when old school friends Marcus De Pasquale (Looking Glass) and Joel Green (Armoured Angel) joined forces with Tony McMahon to create a blues based doom outfit.

More a brotherhood than a band, Witchskull unleash a stripped back, groove driven primal sound that reveals the bones of their rock/metal lineage.

After writing and demoing songs in mid 2014, Witchskull played shows in Canberra and joined the Sydney leg of the Doomsday Festival with Windhand and Beastwars.

Live, the band is both aurally and visually affronting, with an onstage presence that is raw, relentless and destined to cut a swathe through the live scene over the coming months.

Witchskull have recently recorded their debut album with Jason Fuller (Blood Duster, Dern Rutlidge) At Goatsound Studios, Melbourne.

“We feel we created something that is strong, raw & potent” Marcus explains “more than anything, I perceive that our spirits are caught up in it, which is reinforcing the music and creating a strong current that flows through all of us. The songs resonate and have deep meaning, and it’s as if they’ve all taken on a life of their own. Almost shamanic, is our belief in what we are doing”.

https://witchskull.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/witchskull/
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Witchskull, The Vast Electric Dark (2015)

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Looking Glass, III: Heavy on the Skull

Posted in Reviews on December 7th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

Australian three-piece Looking Glass made their debut in 2006 with a self-titled offering of heavy riffs and low-bottom grooves. It was a solid first showing, had some potential, and was ultimately up-front in what it was trying to achieve – riffing out, tossing in some psych. The follow-up, 2007’s 2, was also self-released and expanded greatly the psychedelic flourishes, pushing to the fore a jammed sensibility that the first outing didn’t have. It too was more a showing of potential, though, and listening to this year’s III, it seems as though Looking Glass – guitarist/vocalist Marcus de Pasquale, bassist/vocalist/keyboardist Lachlan Paine and drummer Clinton Paine – have spent the last four years making sure the potential they showed their last two times out started paying off. In short, it worked. III – the switch to Roman numerals being evident in the digipak artwork – blends the approaches of Looking Glass’ two prior releases, focusing in its earlier tracks on riffy drive and rhythmic crunch, and then gradually shifting into more spacious and expansive elements, more than doubling the runtime of songs like the catchy “Electric Mistress” or “Child of Vertigo” with the massive closing duo “Wizard of the Skull” (12:05) and “The King in Yellow” (11:07).

But for the smoothness of the transition by which that shift takes place, III would almost certainly be following a vinyl structure. Rather, it seems to be that rare thing these days: a CD actually meant to be a CD. The 49 minutes have a linear pattern, so that as “Child of Vertigo” (4:46) gives way to the transitional “Spiral Altar” (8:47), there’s less of a jump than there might be if, say, you were meant to flip a record from one side to the other. That said, the last two tracks are just about two minutes shorter than the five preceding, and that time can be largely accounted for in the acoustic interlude “Shores of Carcosa,” which divides opener “Heavy on the Hook” and “Electric Mistress” from “Child of Vertigo” and “Spiral Altar,” so maybe it could go either way. In any case, Looking Glass do well with the compact disc structure, and the progression of their songs is carried across without sounding forced or losing the momentum built by the first several tracks. To that end, “Heavy on the Hook” lives up to its name as the launch for III. Undeniably riff-based, it finds Marcus shouting far back in the mix behind Clinton’s propulsive drumming and righteously thick fills from Lachlan. At about halfway through, the groove opens up, Lachlan hits the wah and things go full-stoner, which serves as a solid lead-in for “Electric Mistress,” which is III’s best chorus and most classic jam. Marcus unrepentantly noodles through a solo and Sabbathian transitions smoothly executed by the Paines lead the way back into the song’s inevitable finish. By the time “Shores of Carcosa” comes on with a bit of finger, the breather is appreciated.

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On the Radar: Looking Glass

Posted in On the Radar on August 3rd, 2010 by JJ Koczan

Yeah, I know I kind of have a thing for the Oceania stoner/doom scene (Pod People, Arc of Ascent, etc.) but you take one listen to the killer riffage coming out of Canberra trio Looking Glass and see if you’re not right there with me. They’ve got two EPs out, aptly titled Looking Glass (2006) and 2 (2007), and there are four songs up for listening on their MySpace. One comes from 2, the other three from Looking Glass.

I heard “Freya” first, which is the track from 2. There’s a ton of space in the guitars of Marcus de Pasquale (who also handles vocals), but even has he launches into a massive solo that engulfs about half the seven-minute song, I’m even more mesmerized by the grooves of the rhythm section. Bassist Lachlan Paine and drummer Clinton Paine, relation assumed, seem to be holding the song down for de Pasquale, as if to say, “We got this, you go ahead and mess around for a while” in classic ’70s jam fashion. Lachlan‘s bass tone features on “Freya,” but also on “Psychonaut” from Looking Glass, which by and large is more straightforward with rougher production. The same could be said for the shorter “Procession” and “Acid Tongue,” the latter of which is easily the fastest of the four, but all of which sport some serious grooves.

The playing of de Pasquale is going to be a highlight for riff junkies, and as Looking Glass prepare their next release for this coming Fall, I wouldn’t be surprise to see them head in an even more psychedelic direction, though I certainly hope de Pasquale keeps some of the meat in his riffs as he shows in the classically metallic “Procession.” Wherever they go from here, Looking Glass‘ two EPs are definitely worth a look on MySpace, and the Aussie trio are yet another killer act from Down Under on the radar.

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