Quarterly Review: Pelican, Swan Valley Heights, Mark Deutrom, Greenbeard, Mount Soma, Nibiru, Cable, Reino Ermitaño, Cardinals Folly & Lucifer’s Fall, Temple of the Fuzz Witch

Posted in Reviews on July 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

More computer bullshit this morning. I lost about 45 minutes because my graphics driver and Windows 10 apparently hate each other and before I could disable the former, the machine decided the best it could do for me was to load a blank screen. Hard to find the Pelican record on my desktop when I can’t see my desktop. The Patient Mrs. woke up while I was trying to fix it and suggested HDMIing it to the tv. When I did that, it didn’t project as was hoped, but the display came on — because go figure — and I was able to shut off the driver, the only real advantage of which is it lets me use the night light feature so it’s easier on my eyes. That’s nice, but I’d rather have the laptop function. Not really working on a level of “give me soft red light or give me death!” at this point. I may yet get there in my life.

Today’s the last day of this beast, wrapping up the last of the 60 reviews, and I’m already in the hole for the better part of an hour thanks to this technical issue, the second of the week. Been an adventure, this one. Let’s close it out.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Pelican, Nighttime Stories

pelican nighttime stories

Split into two LPs each with its own three-minute mood-setter — those being “WST” and “It Stared at Me,” respectively — Pelican‘s Nighttime Stories (on Southern Lord) carries the foreboding sensibility of its title into an aggressive push throughout the album, which deals from the outset with the pain of loss. The lead single “Midnight and Mescaline” represents this well in directly following “WST,” with shades of more extreme sounds in the sharp-turning guitar interplay and tense drums, but it carries through the blastbeats of “Abyssal Plain” and the bombastic crashes of presumed side B closer “Cold Hope” as well, which flow via a last tonal wash toward the melancholy “It Stared at Me” and the even-more-aggro title-track, the consuming “Arteries of Blacktop” and the eight-minute “Full Moon, Black Water,” which offers a build of maddening chug — a Pelican hallmark — before resolving in melodic serenity, moving, perhaps, forward with and through its grief. It’s been six years since Pelican‘s last LP, Forever Becoming (review here), and they’ve responded to that time differential with the hardest-hitting record they’ve ever done.

Pelican on Thee Facebooks

Southern Lord Recordings website

 

Swan Valley Heights, The Heavy Seed

swan valley heights the heavy seed

Though the peaceful beginning of 13-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “The Heavy Seed,” for which the five-song album is named, reminds of Swan Valley Heights‘ Munich compatriots in Colour Haze, the ultimate impression the band make on their Fuzzorama Records debut and second album overall behind a 2016 self-titled (review here) is more varied in its execution, with cuts like “Vaporizer Woman” and the centerpiece “Take a Swim in God’s Washing Machine” manifesting ebbs and flows and rolling out a fuzzy largesse to lead into dream-toned ethereality and layered vocals that immediately call to mind Elephant Tree. There’s a propensity for jamming, but they’re not a jam band, and seem always to have a direction in mind. That’s true even on the three-minute instrumental “My First Knife Fight,” which unfurls around a nod riff and simple drum progression to bridge into closer “Teeth and Waves,” a bookend to The Heavy Seed‘s title-track that revives that initial grace and uses it as a stepping stone for the crunch to come. It’s a balance that works and should be well received.

Swan Valley Heights on Thee Facebooks

Fuzzorama Records on Bandcamp

 

Mark Deutrom, The Blue Bird

Mark Deutrom The Blue Bird

Released in the wee hours of 2019, Mark Deutrom‘s The Blue Bird marks the first new solo release from the prolific Austin-based songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist through Season of Mist, and it’s a 50-minute run of genre-spanning outsider art, bringing ’70s folk vibes to the weepy guitar echoes of “Radiant Gravity” right before “O Ye of Little Faith” dooms out for six of its seven minutes and “Our Revels Now Are Ended” basks in 77 seconds of experimentalist winding guitar. It goes like that. Vocals are intermittent enough to not necessarily be expected, but not entirely absent through the midsection of “Hell is a City,” “Somnambulist” and “Maximum Hemingway,” and if there’s traditionalism at play anywhere, it might be in “They Have Won” and “The Happiness Machine,” which, toward the back end of the album, bring a sax-laden melancholy vibe and a straightforward heavy rock feel, respectively, ahead of the closer “Nothing out There,” which ties them together, somehow accounting for the 1:34 “On Fathers Day” as well in its sweetness. Don’t go into The Blue Bird asking it to make sense on any level other than its own and you should be fine. It’s not a minor undertaking at 50 minutes, and not without its indulgences, but even the briefest of pieces helps develop the character of the whole, which of course is essential to any good story.

Mark Deutrom website

Season of Mist website

 

Greenbeard, Onward, Pillager

greenbeard onward pillager

Austin bringers of hard-boogie Greenbeard reportedly issued the three-song Onward, Pillager as a precursor to their next full-length — even the name hints toward it being something of a stopgap — but its tracks stand well on their own, whether it’s the keyboard-laced “Contact High II,” which is presumably a sequel to another track on the forthcoming record, or the chunkier roll of “WCCQ” and the catchy finisher “Kill to Love Yourself,” with its overlaid guitar solo adding to a dramatic ending. It hasn’t been that long since 2017’s Lödarödböl (review here), but clearly these guys are committed to moving forward in neo-stoner rock fashion, and their emergence as songwriters is highlighted particularly throughout “WCCQ” and “Kill to Love Yourself,” while “Contact High II” is more of an intro or a would-be interlude on the full-length. It may only be pieces of a larger, to-be-revealed picture, but Onward, Pillager shows three different sides of what Greenbeard have on offer, and the promise of more to come is one that will hopefully be kept sooner rather than later.

Greenbeard on Thee Facebooks

Sailor Records on Bandcamp

 

Mount Soma, Nirodha

mount_soma_nirodha

Each of the three songs on Mount Soma‘s densely-weighted, live-recorded self-released Nirodha EP makes some mention of suffering in its lyrics, and indeed, that seems to be the theme drawing together “Dark Sun Destroyer” (7:40), “Emerge the Wolf” (5:50) and “Resurfacing” (9:14): a quest for transcendence perhaps in part due to the volume of the music and the act itself of creating it. Whatever gets them there, the trajectory of Nirodha is such that by the time they hit into the YOB-style galloping toward the end of “Resurfacing,” the gruff shouts of “rebirth!” feel more celebratory than ambitious. Based in Dublin, the four-piece bring a fair sense of space to their otherwise crush-minded approach, and though the EP is rough — it is their second short release following 2016’s Origins — they seem to have found a way to tie together outer and inner cosmos with an earthbound sense of gravity and heft, and with the more intense shove of “Emerge the Wolf” between the two longer tracks, they prove themselves capable of bringing a noisy charge amid all that roar and crash. They did the first EP live as well. I wonder if they’d do the same for a full-length.

Mount Soma on Thee Facebooks

Mount Soma on Bandcamp

 

Nibiru, Salbrox

nibiru salbrox

One might get lost in the unmanageable 64-minute wash of Nibiru‘s fifth full-length (first for Ritual Productions), Salbrox, but the opaque nature of the proceedings is part of the point. The Italian ritualists bring forth a chaotic depth of noise and harsh semi-spoken rasps of vocals reportedly in the Enochian language, and from 14-minute opener “EHNB” — also the longest track (immediate points) — through the morass that follows in “Exarp,” “Hcoma,” “Nanta” and so on, the album is a willful slog that challenges the listener on nearly every level. This is par for the course for Nibiru, whose last outing was 2017’s Qaal Babalon (review here), and they seem to revel in the slow-churning gruel of their distortion, turning from it only to break to minimalism in the second half of the album with “Abalpt” and “Bitom” before 13-minute closer “Rziorn” storms in like a tsunami of spiritually desolate plunge. It is vicious and difficult to hear, and again, that is exactly what it’s intended to be.

Nibiru on Thee Facebooks

Ritual Productions website

 

Cable, Take the Stairs to Hell

Cable Take the Stairs to Hell

The gift of Cable was to take typically raw Northeastern disaffection and channel it into a noise rock that wasn’t quite as post-this-or-that as Isis, but still had a cerebral edge that more primitive fare lacked. They were methodical, and 10 years after their last record, the Hartford, Connecticut, outfit return with the nine-song/30-minute Take the Stairs to Hell (on Translation Loss), which brings them back into the modern sphere with a sound that is no less relevant than it was bouncing between This Dark Reign, Hydra Head and Translation Loss between 2001 and 2004. They were underrated then and may continue to be now, but the combination of melody and bite in “Black Medicine” and the gutty crunch of “Eyes Rolled Back,” the post-Southern heavy of the title-track and the lumbering pummel of “Rivers of Old” before it remind of how much of a standout Cable was in the past, reinforcing that not only were they ahead of their time then, but that they still have plenty to offer going forward. They may continue to be underrated as they always were, but their return is significant and welcome.

Cable on Instagram

Translation Loss Records webstore

 

Reino Ermitaño, Reino Ermitaño

Reino Ermitano Reino Ermitano

Originally released in 2003, the self-titled debut from Lima, Peru’s Reino Ermitaño was a beacon and landmark in Latin American doom, with a sound derived from the genre’s traditions — Sabbath, Trouble, etc. — and melded with not only Spanish-language lyrics, but elements of South American folk and stylizations. Reissued on vinyl some 16 years later, it maintains its power through the outside-time level of its craft, sliding into that unplaceable realm of doom that could be from any point from about 1985 onward, while the melodies in the guitar of Henry Guevara and the vocals of Tania Duarte hold sway over the central groove of bassist Marcos Coifman and drummer Julio “Ñaka” Almeida. Those who were turned onto the band at the time will likely know they’ve released five LPs to-date, with the latest one from 2014, but the Necio Records version marks the first time the debut has been pressed to vinyl, and so is of extra interest apart from the standard putting-it-out-there-again reissue. Collectors and a new generation of doomers alike would be well advised on an educational level, and of course the appeal of the album itself far exceeds that.

Reino Ermitaño on Thee Facebooks

Necio Records on Bandcamp

 

Cardinals Folly & Lucifer’s Fall, Split

cardinals folly lucifers fall split

Though one hails from Helsinki, Finland, and the other from Adelaide, Australia, Cardinals Folly and Lucifer’s Fall could hardly be better suited to share the six-song Cruz Del Sur split LP that they do, which checks in at 35 minutes of trad doom riffing and dirtier fare. The former is provided by Cardinals Folly, who bring a Reverend Bizarre-style stateliness to “Spiritual North” and “Walvater Proclaimed!” before betraying their extreme metal roots on “Sworn Through Odin’s and Satan’s Blood,” while the Oz contingent throw down Saint Vitus-esque punk-born fuckall through “Die Witch Die,” the crawling “Call of the Wild” and the particularly brash and speedier “The Gates of Hell.” The uniting thread of course is homage to doom itself, but each band brings enough of their own take to complement each other without either contradicting or making one or the other of them feel redundant, and rather, the split works out to be a rampaging, deeply-drunk, pagan-feeling celebration of what doom is and how it has been internalized by each of these groups. Doom over the world? Yeah, something like that.

Cardinals Folly on Thee Facebooks

Lucifer’s Fall on Thee Facebooks

Cruz Del Sur Music website

 

Temple of the Fuzz Witch, Temple of the Fuzz Witch

Temple of the Fuzz Witch Temple of the Fuzz Witch

A strong current of Electric Wizard runs through the self-titled debut full-length from Detroit’s Temple of the Fuzz Witch (on Seeing Red Records), but even to that, the outfit led by guitarist/vocalist Noah Bruner bring a nascent measure of individuality, droning into and through “Death Hails” after opening with “Bathsheba” and ahead of unveiling a harmonized vocal on “The Glowing of Satan” that suits the low end distortion surprisingly well. They continue to offer surprises throughout, whether it’s the spaciousness of centerpiece “329” and “Infidel,” which follows, or the offsetting of minimalism and crush on “The Fuzz Witch” and the creeper noise in the ending of “Servants of the Sun,” and though there are certainly familiar elements at play, Temple of the Fuzz Witch come across with an intent to take what’s been done before and make it theirs. In that regard, they would seem to be on the right track, and in their 41 minutes, they find footing in a murky aesthetic and are able to convey a sense of songwriting without sounding heavy-handed. There’s nothing else I’d ask of their first album.

Temple of the Fuzz Witch on Thee Facebooks

Seeing Red Records on Bandcamp

 

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Cardinals Folly to Release Deranged Pagan Sons this Fall; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Filth-laden Finnish doomers Cardinals Folly will release their fourth album, Deranged Pagan Sons, this September or thereabouts. With all the grit of Saint Vitus, the brash epic fuckall of Reverend Bizarre and a healthy dose of medieval skullcrushery to boot, the Helsinki three-piece have unveiled the track “Worship Her Fire” for streaming and as you can hear below, they’re more than well-schooled in the tenets of the doom they’re conveying. That said, I think my favorite moment might be when they slink into harsher vocals and give the song an even more malevolent, misanthropic vibe while still keeping their fist in the air, middle finger up at the universe in general.

You can check out the track below, at the bottom of this post — do it. Deranged Pagan Sons is out this fall via Nine Records and Topillo Records, as the PR wire explains:

cardinals-folly-deranged-pagan-sons

Cardinals Folly – Deranged Pagan Sons

CARDINALS FOLLY to unleash 4th album “Deranged Pagan Sons” through Nine and Topillo Records this fall!

Finland´s dark princes of the riff, doom metal cult CARDINALS FOLLY will unleash their 4th album “Deranged Pagan Sons” through Polish Nine Records on CD and via Spanish Topillo on LP around September 2017.

Dabbling in the world of occultism, weird tales, pagan rites and luciferian depravity, the band has recorded an album consisting 8 powerful, even wild anthems of heavy doom and metal mastery, that never let their savage grip go, despite of going on a varied 48-minute fiery ´n´ groovy metal adventure, where the only rule is to doom in, drop out, rock hard & stay true.

Previous album “Holocaust of Ecstasy & Freedom” (Shadow Kingdom Records, 2016) paved the way to this fulfillment of their doomed art, where every song rolls by like a megafauna of a bygone age.The doom metal underground sometimes seems packed with toothless sheep, so it is great to spend some time with wolves. Laughing off the shackles of the latest trends or retro gimmicks, Helsinki trio Cardinals Folly bring an energy and inventiveness to the genre that is authentic and unique. Drink from this chalice and give your body and mind to the old gods.

https://www.facebook.com/cardinalsfolly/
http://cardinalsfolly.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Topillo-Records-1764622050423677/
http://www.topillo.es/
https://ninerecords.bandcamp.com/
http://www.facebook.com/NineRecords

Cardinals Folly, “Worship Her Fire”

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Cardinals Folly Steam “The Lover’s Crypt” from Our Cult Continues!

Posted in audiObelisk on August 11th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Onward rolls Cardinals Folly‘s cult. The Finnish trad doom trio’s exclamatory sophomore full-length, Our Cult Continues!, is out Aug. 19 via Shadow Kingdom Records, and it’s a beast of morose theatrics and rolling riffage. Hailing from Helsinki and — just to get it out of the way — yes, owing a bit of a debt to Finland’s Sabbath-worship forebears in Reverend BizarreCardinals Folly made their debut through the label in 2011 with Such Power is Dangerous! after kicking around since the mid-aughts under both their current moniker and the earlier The Coven. The metal of doom is the order of the day, and through fat bass tone, hard-hit drums and classic-minded guitar work, Cardinals Folly showcase a delight for reveling in the darker side of their genre.

Hard to blame them for that, since they’re so clearly enjoying themselves. The band is comprised of bassist/vocalist Mikko Kääriäinen, guitarist Juho Kilpelä and drummer Joni Takkunen, and from the opening invocations of “Eko Eko Azarak” in the intro “Chant of Shadows,” Cardinals Folly dive into a melancholy otherworldliness, not psychedelic or blissful, but full of bleak churning and smoke trails, Kääriäinen‘s voice cutting through songs like “Morbid Glory” and “Sighisoaran” to recount tales of who knows what swirling terrors. On the seven-minute “The Lover’s Crypt,” his bass and Takkunen‘s drums pave the way for an especially fuzzed-out, winding intro lead that unfolds to one of the record’s most memorable progressions, peppered by a build-up of despair that only becomes more prevalent as the song itself seems to disintegrate.

It is the penultimate of Our Cult Continues!‘s eight tracks, and with the 10-minute closer “Fallout Ritualist” backing it up, isn’t quite the apex of the album, but “The Lover’s Crypt” serves as a fitting summary of what Cardinals Folly have working for them on their second long-player, a prevalent attention to atmosphere taking hold not necessarily at the expense of the songwriting. I’m fortunate to be able to premiere the stream for “The Lover’s Crypt” ahead of the album release next week, and you’ll find it on the player below.

Please enjoy:

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

It’s been about 3 years since Cardinals Folly put their debut album out through Shadow Kingdom Records. Their sophomore effort is a definite step up in the songwriting department and much more memorable than their debut. This one has the traditional Cardinals Folly sound, but we’re hearing the Warning – Watching from a Distance / 40 Watt Sun – The Inside Room influence creep into their sound this time around. If you’re into collecting underground Doom Metal, check this band out. Fans of Cathedral, Reverend Bizarre, Witchfinder General will be interested to hear this album. This certainly gets my vote for best album artwork of 2014. If you’d like a t-shirt of this cover, we have those available at the Shadow Kingdom Records online heavy metal store.

1. Chant of Shadows
2. Morbid Glory
3. The Black Baroness
4. Our Cult Continues!
5. Sighisoaran
6. Walvater Unveiled
7. The Lover’s Crypt
8. Fallout Ritualist

Cardinals Folly on Bandcamp

Cardinals Folly on Thee Facebooks

Shadow Kingdom Records store

Shadow Kingdom on Thee Facebooks

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