Quarterly Review: We Lost the Sea, Nebula Drag, Nothing is Real, Lotus Thief, Uncle Woe, Cybernetic Witch Cult, Your Highness, Deep Valley Blues, Sky Shadow Obelisk, Minus Green

Posted in Reviews on January 9th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Yesterday was marked by a decisive lack of productivity. I got there, don’t get me wrong, but it took friggin’ forever to make it happen. I’m obviously hoping for a different result today and tomorrow. You would think 10 records is 10 records, but some days it’s easy flowing, bounce from one to the next without any trouble, and some days you’re me sitting there wondering how many times you can get away with using the word “style” in the same post. Punishing. The saving factor was that the music was good. Amazing how often that serves as the saving factor.

Just today and tomorrow left, so let’s dive in. Lots of different kinds of releases today, so keep your ears and mind open.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

We Lost the Sea, Triumph and Disaster

we lost the sea triumph and disaster

There is plenty of heavy post-rock floating — and I do mean floating — around these days, spreading ethereal and contemplative vibes hither and yon, but none have the emotional weight brought to bear instrumentally by Sydney, Australia’s We Lost the Sea. Across their 65-minute 2LP, Triumph and Disaster (on Translation Loss), the six-piece band recount a wordless narrative of the aftermath of the end of the world through the eyes of a mother and child on their last day. It is a touching and beautiful flow of sentiment, regret and weight that comes through the wash of three guitars and synth, bass and drums, and though 2015’s Departure Songs (review here, discussed here) worked in a similar vein in terms of style if not story, these seven tracks and 65 minutes are wholly distinguished by a willful-seeming progression on the part of the band and a patience and poise of execution as they alternate between longer and shorter pieces that only underscores how special their work truly is. At least the apocalypse is gorgeous.

We Lost the Sea on Thee Facebooks

Translation Loss store

 

Nebula Drag, Blud

nebula drag blud

Nothing against the progenitors of the form, but Nebula Drag seem with Blud to pull off the feat that Helmet never really could, bringing together a noise-rock derived dissonance of riff with a current of melody in the vocals and even moments of patience in the guitar to go along with the crunch of its more aggressive points. This inherently makes the Desert Records offering from the San Diego outfit a less outwardly intense affair than it might otherwise be, but songs like “Always Dying,” “Numb” and the closer “Mental” — as well as the album as a whole — are ultimately richer for it, and there’s still plenty of drive in opener “Dos Lados” and the shorter “Faces” and “What Went Wrong,” which arrive back to back on side B and lend the momentum that carries Nebula Drag through the remainder of the proceedings. It’s easy to hear to Blud superficially and pass it off as noise or heavy rock or this or that, but Nebula Drag earn and reward deeper listens in kind.

Nebula Drag on Thee Facebooks

Desert Records on Bandcamp

 

Nothing is Real, Pain is Joy

nothing is real pain is joy

Los Angeles oppressive and misanthropic noise project Nothing is Real manifested some of the harshest sounds I heard in 2019 on Only the Wicked are Pure (review here), and the just-months-later follow-up, Pain is Joy, reminds of the constant sensory assault under which we all seem to live. Across five extended tracks of increased production value — still raw, just not as raw — the band seems to be forming a coherent philosophical perspective in “Existence is Pain,” the guest-vocalized “Realms of Madness,” “Life is but a Dream,” “Pain is Joy,” and “We Must Break Free,” but if there’s a will to explain the punishment that is living, there’s not much by way of answer forthcoming in the sludgy riffing, grinding onslaught and surprising solo soar of “We Must Break Free,” instrumental as it is. Still, the fact that Pain is Joy allows for the possibility of joy to exist at all, in any form, ever, distinguishes it from its predecessor, and likewise the clearer sound and cogent expressive purpose. A focused attack suits Nothing is Real. I have the feeling it won’t be long before we find out where it takes the band next.

Nothing is Real on Thee Facebooks

Nothing is Real on Bandcamp

 

Lotus Thief, Oresteia

lotus thief Oresteia

If the name Oresteia isn’t immediately familiar, maybe “Agamemnon” will give some hint. San Francisco’s Lotus Thief, with their third full-length and second for Prophecy Productions, not only bring together progressive black metal, post-rock and drama-laced doom, but do so across eight-tracks and 38 minutes summarizing a 5th century Greek tragedy written in three parts. Ambitious? Yes. Successful? I’ll claim zero familiarity with the text itself, but for the eight-minute “Libation Bearers” alone — never mind any of the other immersive, beautiful wash the band emits throughout — I’m sure glad they’re engaging with it. Ambient stretches like “Banishment” and “Woe” and the barely-there “Reverence” add further character to the proceedings, but neither are “The Furies,” “Agamemnon,” “Sister in Silence” or subdued-but-tense closer “The Kindly Ones” lacking for atmosphere. Oresteia is grim, theatrical, stylistically forward-thinking and gorgeous. A perfect, perfect, perfect winter record.

Lotus Thief website

Prophecy Productions on Bandcamp

 

Uncle Woe, Our Unworn Limbs

Uncle Woe Our Unworn Limbs

Chugging, sprawling, and most of all reaching, the late-2019 debut LP, Our Unworn Limbs, from Ontario as-yet-solo-outfit Uncle Woe — composed, performed and recorded by Rain Fice — is one of marked promise, taking elements of modern progressive and cosmic doom from the likes of YOB‘s subtly angular riffing style and unfolding them across an emotionally resonant but still manageable 43-minute span. The stomp in “That’s How They Get You” is duly oppressive in following the opener “Son of the Queen,” but with the one-minute experiment “When the Night Fell Pt. 2” and jagged but harmonized “Mania for Breaking” ahead of 15-minute closer “Push the Blood Back In,” the record’s tumult and triumphs are presented with character and a welcome feeling of exploration. I would expect over time that the melodic basis and vocal presence Fice demonstrates in “Mania for Breaking” will continue to grow, but both are already significant factors in the success of that song and the album surrounding it, the first 20-plus minutes of which is spent mired in “Son of the Queen” and “That’s How They Get You,” as early proof of the sure controlling hand at the helm of the project. May it continue to be so.

Uncle Woe on Thee Facebooks

Uncle Woe on Bandcamp

 

Cybernetic Witch Cult, Absurdum ad Nauseam

cybernetic witch cult absurdam ad nauseam

Guitarist/vocalist Alex Wyld, bassist Doug MacKinnon and drummer Lewis May have processed the world around them and translated it into a riffy course of sci-fi and weirdo semi-prog thematics across Absurdum ad Nauseam. What else to call such a thing? At eight songs and 52 minutes, it stands astride the lines between heavy rock and doom and sludge in lengthier pieces like “The Cetacean,” “The Ivory Tower” and the finale “Hypercomputer Part 2,” yet when it comes to picking out discernible influences, one has to result to generalizations like Black Sabbath and Acrimony, the latter in the rolling largesse of “Spice” and “The Myth of Sisyphus” later on in the outing and the vocal effects there particularly, but neither is enough to give a sense of what Cybernetic Witch Cult are actually about in terms of the modernity of their approach and the it’s-okay-we-know-what-we’re-doing-just-trust-us vibe they bring as they rush through “Cromagnonaut” after the intro and “Hypercomputer Part 1.” I’m inclined to just go with it, which should tell you something in itself about the band’s ability to carry their listener through. They earn that trust.

Cybernetic Witch Cult on Thee Facebooks

Cybernetic Witch Cult on Bandcamp

 

Your Highness, Your Highness

Your Highness Your Highness

Heavy blues meets heavy metal on Your Highness‘ self-titled and self-released third album, collecting eight tracks that divide evenly across two sides of an LP, each half ending with a longer piece, whether it’s “Black Fever” (9:00) on side A or “Kin’s Blood” (14:14) on side B. Through these, in full-throttle movements like opener “Devil’s Delight” and “Rope as a Gift” and in nestled-in groovers like “The Flood” and “To Wood and Stone,” Your Highness don’t shy away from bringing a sense of atmosphere to their material, but maintain a focus on burl, gruffness and tonal weight, an aggressive undercurrent in a song like “Born Anew” — the riff to which is nonetheless particularly bluesy — being emblematic of the perspective on display throughout. It moves too fleetly to ever be considered entirely sludge, but Your Highness‘ 51-minute span is prone to confrontation just the same, and its ferocious aspects come to a head in satisfying fashion as the wash of crash pays off “Kin’s Blood,” shouts cutting through en route to a finish of acoustic guitar that lands as a reminder to release the breath you’ve been holding the whole time. Heavy stuff? Why yes, it is.

Your Highness on Thee Facebooks

Your Highness on Bandcamp

 

Deep Valley Blues, Demonic Sunset

Deep Valley Blues Demonic Sunset

Italy’s fervor for stoner rock is alive and well as represented in Demonic Sunset, the eight-song/34-minute debut full-length from Catanzaro’s Deep Valley Blues. Their sound works out to be more heavy rock than the desert one might imagine given the album cover, but that influence is still there, if beefed up tonally by guitarists Alessandro Morrone and Umberto Arena (the latter also backing vocals), bassist/vocalist Giando Sestito and drummer Giorgio Faini, whose fluid turns between propulsion and swing enable a song like “Dana Skully” to come together in its verse/chorus transitions. The penultimate nine-minute “Tired to Beg For” is an outlier among more straight-ahead songwriting, but they use the time well and close with the acoustic-led “Empire,” an encouraging showcase of sonic breadth to follow up on the start of “Lust Vegas” and a widening of the melodic range that one hopes Deep Valley Blues push further on subsequent releases. Centered around issues of mental health in terms of its lyrics, if somewhat vaguely, Demonic Sunset is a first LP that extends its focus to multiple levels while still keeping its feet on the ground in a way that will be familiar to experienced genre heads.

Deep Valley Blues on Thee Facebooks

Deep Valley Blues on Bandcamp

 

Sky Shadow Obelisk, The Satyr’s Path

sky shadow obelisk the satyrs path

You can toss a coin as to whether Sky Shadow Obelisk are death-doom or doom-death, but as you do, just keep an eye on the bludgeoning doled out by the solo-project of Rhode Island-based composer Peter Scartabello on his latest EP, The Satyr’s Path, because it is equal parts thorough and ferocious. Flourish of keys and melody adds a progressive edge to the proceedings across the five-track release, particularly in its two instrumentals, the centerpiece “Ouroboros” and the first half of closer “Shadow of Spring,” but amid the harnessed madness of “Chain of Hephaestus” — which from its lyrics I can only think of as a work song — and the one-two of “The Serpent’s Egg” and the title-track early on, those moments of letup carry a tension of mood that even the grand finish in “Shadow of Spring” seems to acknowledge. It’s been since 2015 that Scartabello last offered up a Sky Shadow Obelisk full-length. He shows enough scope here to cover an album’s worth of ground, but on the most basic level, I’d take more if it was on offer.

Sky Shadow Obelisk on Thee Facebooks

Yuggoth Records on Bandcamp

 

Minus Green, Equals Zero

Minus Green Equals Zero

Following up on a 2015 self-titled the material on Minus Green‘s sophomore album, Equals Zero, would seem to have at least in part been kicking around for a couple years, as the closer here, “Durial” (11:22) was released in a single version in 2016. Fair enough. If the other three cuts, opener “Primal” (9:58), “00” (11:51) and the penultimate “Kames” (10:08), have also been developed over that span, the extra rumination wouldn’t seem to have harmed them at all — they neither feel overthought to a point of staleness nor lack anything in terms of the natural vibe that their style of progressive instrumentalist heavy psychedelia warrants. The procession unfolds as a cleanly-structured LP with two songs per side arranged shorter-into-longer, and their sound is duly immersive to give an impression of exploration underway without being entirely jam-based in their structure. That is, listening to “00,” one gets the feeling it’s headed somewhere, which, fortunately it is. Where it and the record surrounding go ultimately isn’t revolutionary in aesthetic terms, but it is well performed and more than suitable for repeat visits. Contrary to the impression they might seek to give, it amounts to more than nothing.

Minus Green on Thee Facebooks

Kerberos Records website

 

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Bretus Premiere “The Third Mystic Eye” from Aion Tetra

Posted in audiObelisk on August 27th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

bretus

Italian doomers Bretus will release their new album, Aion Tetra, on Sept. 20 (Sept. 27 in North America). Out as their first offering through Ordo MCM, the 43-minute release collects nine tracks that continue along the sonic path set by 2017’s …From the Twilight Zone (review here), which departed from the sludgier fare of 2015’s The Shadow over Innsmouth (discussed here) and their formative 2012 debut, In Onirica, that followed two demos that were the band’s only releases to that point after forming in 2000. In place of the scream-topped dirges, there has emerged in Bretus‘ sound a traditionalism that calls to mind practitioners of the style’s truest incarnations — the doom metal of Candlemass, of Reagers-era Saint Vitus, of Black Sabbath and Reverend Bizarre, kin to US bands like Orodruin and Ogre and others who might seek to bring doom to bear with as little distraction from their purpose as possible. One wouldn’t say Aion Tetra lacks an individual personality, just that the Catanzaro four-piece — vocalist Zagarus, guitarist Ghenes, bassist Janos and drummer Striges — are clear about what they want that personality to be doing. They want it to be dooming the fuck out. And so it is.

And while I know crazier things have happened in the universe than a sludgy band cleaning up their vocal approach and going in a different direction, among the distinguishing factors in Aion Tetra is just how poised Bretus sound in doing so. bretus aion tetraHaving come through the last record, they would seem to have taken the lessons of that stylistic shift and implemented them into tracks like “Mark of Evil” or earlier cuts like opener “The Third Mystic Eye” (premiering below) or the keyboard-laced second track “Priests of Chaos.” Bretus are able to careen and lumber through an atmosphere of the purest doom simply because they execute their material without any hesitation. They’re all in. Even on the quiet interludes “Aion Tetra” and “Fields of Mars” — the former instrumental, the latter with vocals appearing as an intro for closer “City of Frost” — the brooding execution is paramount, and as they dip into willfully grandiose fare like the centerpiece “Deep Space Voodoo” or the classically metal “Cosmic Crow,” they do so with an underlying sense of the weird that speaks to not only where Bretus are as a band these 19 years after they first got together, but where they still might be going. It is that perspective, the point of view they ultimately will take on doom, that will define their work going forward, and one can hear the foundations of that in this material. It serves to make Aion Tetra an even more exciting listen.

In the chugging verse of “Prisoner of the Night” or the plodding stomp of “The Third Mystic Eye” and its subtly layered hook, Bretus show that they quite simply have figured it out. They know who they are as a band, and more, who they want to be, and they’re putting in the effort to realize that vision. Aion Tetra, like …From the Twilight Zone and their early work before it, demonstrates that their sound is in progress, but nearly two decades on from their start, there’s no way to see that as anything other than admirable. Bretus continue to explore, to grow darker and more efficient in their sonic communication, and Aion Tetra is their finest hour to-date in its manifestation of the tenets of doom. Wherever they might go from here, they’ve very obviously mastered the form. Nailed it.

You can hear “The Third Mystic Eye” premiering on the player below, courtesy of Ordo MCM. More PR wire info follows.

Please enjoy:

ORDO MCM is proud to present BRETUS’ highly anticipated fourth album, Aion Tetra, on CD and vinyl LP formats. The release date shall be September 20th for Europe and September 27th for North America.

Alas, although it’s only been a couple years since their last full-length, the critically acclaimed …from the Twilight Zone, TOTAL DOOM arrives with BRETUS’ fourth album, Aion Tetra. Sweaty, swaggering, and more than a bit bluesy, Aion Tetra is sound of BRETUS hitting a fever pitch of creativity. Almost effortlessly, the band unload one molten crusher after another, with each opening up to reveal new, deeper corridors to their signature sound.

Tracklisting:

1. The Third Mystic Eye
2. Priests of Chaos
3. Prisoner of the Night
4. Aion Tetra
5. Deep Space Voodoo
6. Mark of Evil
7. Cosmic Crow
8. Fields of Mars
9. City of Frost

Bretus is:
Ghenes (High/Low Guitars and Fx),
Zagarus (Vox),
Janos (Bass),
Striges (Drums)

Bretus on Thee Facenooks

Bretus on Bandcamp

Ordo MCM on Thee Facebooks

Ordo MCM website

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Bretus to Release Aion Tetra on Ordo MCM; “Cosmic Crow” Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 15th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

bretus

Signing to Ordo MCM makes Italian doomers Bretus kin to a wide variety of darker and extreme metalurgists, from Apshyx to Thangorodrim. The Catanzaro four-piece released their last album, …From the Twilight Zone (review here), which was something of a departure from their prior Lovecraftian themes, in early 2017, and they’ll make their debut on the new label with their fourth album overall, Aion Tetra, this Fall. No exact date has yet been given for the release. Circa-Halloween would make sense, of course, but I haven’t heard anything.

The last album was notable for pulling away from the band’s prior sludge-infused ways, particularly in a shift moving from periodically screamed to exclusively clean vocals. Bretus had been plenty doomed before, of course, but it was a turn that really brought that out in their sound. As to how Aion Tetra will answer that development, I don’t yet know, since I haven’t heard it. But Bretus are giving an initial sampling in the video you can see below for “Cosmic Crow” from the record, and that’s at least something to go on until the rest of the thing shows up later this year.

The video takes footage from old horror movies and live performance clips and brings them together — I’d swear I caught a shot of Murnau’s Nosferatu in there — and sure enough fits the mood of the song effectively.

Dig:

bretus aion tetra

Aion Tetra will be out for the European cult label Ordo MCM (MOURNFUL CONGREGATION, MORTIIS, ASPHYX).

From Ordo MCM:

“We’re proud to announce that the master of Italian doom Bretus signed with us for the release of their new album. Will be released in limited edition cd, vinyl and digital this autumn. Soon more news!”

Bretus is:
Ghenes (High/Low Guitars and Fx),
Zagarus (Vox),
Janos (Bass),
Striges (Drums)

https://www.facebook.com/BretusDoom/
http://bretus.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/OrdoMCM/
http://ordomcm.com/

Bretus, “Cosmic Crow” official video

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Quarterly Review: Novembers Doom, Abrams, The Grand Astoria, Hosoi Bros, Codeia, Ealdor Bealu, Stone Lotus, Green Yeti, Seer, Bretus

Posted in Reviews on July 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-summer-2017

So, after kvetching and hemming and hawing and all that other stuff that basically means ‘fretting and trying to shuffle a schedule around’ for the last several days, I think I’ve now found a way to add a sixth day to this Quarterly Review. Looking at all the records that still need to be covered even after doing 50, I don’t really see any other way to go. I could try to do more The Obelisk Radio adds to fit things in, but I don’t want to over-tax that new server, so yeah, I’m waiting at the moment to hear back on whether or not I can move a premiere from Monday to Tuesday to make room. Fingers crossed. I’ve already got the albums picked out that would be covered and should know by tomorrow if it’s going to happen.

Plenty to do in the meantime, so let’s get to it.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Novembers Doom, Hamartia

novembers-doom-hamartia

Look. Let’s be honest here. More than 20 years and 10 records in, one knows at least on a superficial level what to expect from Chicago’s Novembers Doom. Since their first album arrived in 1995, they’ve played to one side or the other between the spectrum of death-doom, and their work legitimately broke ground in the style for a US band and in general. After a push over their last couple albums including 2014’s Bled White (review here) into more deathly fare, Hamartia (on The End Records) brings 10 tracks and 58 minutes of the melancholy dramas – special hello to the piano/acoustic-led title-track – and gut-wrenching, crushingly emotive miseries – special hello to “Waves in the Red Cloth” and “Ghost” – that have defined them. One doesn’t expect a radical departure from them at this point and they don’t deliver one even as they turn to another side of their overarching aesthetic, but whether it’s the still-propulsive death gallop of “Apostasy” or the lush nine-minute finale “Borderline,” Novembers Doom reinforce their position as absolute masters of the style and give their longtime fans another collection of vital woes in which to revel.

Novembers Doom on Thee Facebooks

The End Records website

 

Abrams, Morning

abrams morning

Not a hair out of place in the execution of Morning, the Sailor Records second long-player from Denver three-piece Abrams (interview here). That has its ups and downs, naturally, but is suited to the band’s take on modern progressive heavy rock à la newer Mastodon and Baroness, and with production from Andy Patterson (of SubRosa) and Dave Otero (Khemmis, Cephalic Carnage, etc.), the crisp feel is both purposeful and well earned. Their 2015 debut, Lust. Love. Loss. (review here), dealt with a similar emotional landscape, but bassist/vocalist Taylor Iversen, guitarist/vocalist Zachary Amster and drummer Geoffrey Cotton are tighter and more aggressive here on songs like opener “Worlds Away” (video posted here), “At the End,” “Rivers,” “Can’t Sleep” and “Burned” (video posted here), and “Mourning,” “In this Mask” and closer “Morning” balance in terms of tempo and overall atmosphere, making Morning more than just a collection of master-blasters and giving it a full album’s flow and depth. Like I said, not a hair out of place. Structure, performance, delivery, theme. Abrams have it all precisely where they want it.

Abrams on Thee Facebooks

Abrams on Bandcamp

 

The Grand Astoria, The Fuzz of Destiny

the-grand-astoria-the-fuzz-of-destiny

Dubbed an EP but running 29 minutes and boasting eight tracks, The Grand Astoria’s The Fuzz of Destiny is something of a conceptual release, with the St. Petersburg, Russia-based outfit paying homage to the effect itself. Each song uses a different kind of fuzz pedal, and as the ever-nuanced, progressive outfit make their way through the blown-out pastoralism of opener “Sunflower Queen” and into the nod of “Pocket Guru,” the organ-inclusive bursting fury of “Glass Walls” and the slower and more consuming title-track itself, which directly precedes closer “Eight Years Anniversary Riff” – yup, it’s a riff alright – they’re able to evoke a surprising amount of variety in terms of mood. That’s a credit to The Grand Astoria as songwriters perhaps even more than the differences in tone from song to song here – they’ve certainly shown over their tenure a will to embrace a diverse approach – but in giving tribute to fuzz, The Fuzz of Destiny successfully conveys some of the range a single idea can be used to conjure.

The Grand Astoria on Thee Facebooks

The Grand Astoria on Bandcamp

 

Hosoi Bros., Abuse Your Allusion III

hosoi-bros-abuse-your-allusion-iii

Oh, they’re up to it again, those Hosoi Bros. Their 2016 full-length, Abuse Your Allusion III, from its Guns ‘n’ Roses title reference through the Motörhead riffing of “Saint Tightus” through the stoner punk of “Topless Gnome” and the chugging scorch of the penultimate “Bitches are Nigh” offer primo charm and high-order shenanigans amid the most professional-sounding release of their career. Across a quick 10 tracks and 36 minutes, Hosoi Bros. readily place themselves across the metal/punk divide, and while there’s plenty of nonsense to be had from opener “Mortician” onward through “Lights Out” (video premiere here) and the later swagger of “Unholy Hand Grenade,” the band have never sounded more cohesive in their approach than they do on Abuse Your Allusion III, and the clean production only seems to highlight the songwriting at work underneath all the zany happenings across the record’s span, thereby doing them and the band alike a service as they make a convincing argument to their audience: Have fun. Live a little. It won’t hurt that much.

Hosoi Bros on Thee Facebooks

Hosoi Bros. on Bandcamp

 

Codeia, “Don’t be Afraid,” She Whispered and Disappeared

codeia-dont-be-afraid-she-whispered-and-disappeared

There’s actually very little that gets “Lost in Translation” in the thusly-titled 22-minute opener and longest cut (immediate points) of German post-metallers Codeia’s cumbersomely-named Backbite Records debut album, “Don’t be Afraid,” She Whispered and Disappeared. With heavy post-rock textures and an overarching sense of cerebral progressivism to its wash underscored by swells of low-end distortion, the three-piece of guitarist/backing vocalist Markus L., bassist/vocalist Denis S. and drummer Timo L. bring to bear patience out of the peak-era Isis or Cult of Luna sphere, sudden volume shifts, pervasive ambience, flourish of extremity and all. Nine-minute centerpiece “Shaping Stone” has its flash of aggression early before shifting into hypnotic and repetitive groove and subsequent blastbeaten furies, and 16-minute closer “Facing Extinction” caps the three-song/48-minute offering with nodding Russian Circles-style chug topped with growls that mask the layer of melodic drone filling out the mix beneath. They’re on familiar stylistic ground, but the breadth, depth and complexity Codeia bring to their extended structures are immersive all the same.

Codeia on Thee Facebooks

Backbite Records website

Mountain Range Creative Factory website

 

Ealdor Bealu, Dark Water at the Foot of the Mountain

ealdor-bealu-dark-water-at-the-foot-of-the-mountain

“Water Cycle,” the 13-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) of Ealdor Bealu’s debut full-length, Dark Water at the Foot of the Mountain, introduces a meditative feel and a breadth of sound that helps to define everything that follows. The ostensible side B leadoff of the self-release, “This too Shall Endure” (11:04), offers no less depth of atmosphere, and the graceful psychedelic expanses of the penultimate “Behind the Veil” continue to add to the overall scope with interplay of tempo variety and acoustic and electric guitar, but even earlier, shorter cuts like the wistful indie rocker “Deep Dark Below” and the linear-building “Behold the Sunrise” have an underlying progressivism that ties them to the longer form material, and likewise the particularly exploratory feeling “Ebb and Flow,” which though it’s the shortest cut at just over five minutes resonates as a standout jam ahead of “Behind the Veil” and subtly proggy seven-minute closer “Time Traveler.” The Boise-based four-piece of guitarist/vocalist/spearhead Carson Russell, guitarist Travis Abbott (also The Western Mystics), bassist/vocalist Rylie Collingwood and drummer/percussionist/saxophonist Alex Wargo bring the 56-minute offering to bear with marked patience and impress in the complexity of their arrangements and the identifiable human core that lies beneath them.

Ealdor Bealu on Thee Facebooks

Ealdor Bealu on Bandcamp

 

Stone Lotus, Comastone

I can take spicier foods than I ever could before.

One might consider the title of “Mountain of Filth,” the second cut on Stone Lotus’ debut album, Comastone, a mission statement for the Southwestern Australian trio’s vicious ‘n’ viscous brand of rolling, tonal-molasses sludge. Yeah, the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Dave Baker, bassist Samuel Noire and drummer Reece Fleming bring ambience to the interlude “Aum,” the slower loud/quiet shifts in “Anthropocene” and the subsequent “Umbra” that leads into the creepy launch of the title-track – in fact, quiet starts are something of a theme throughout Comastone; even the thudding toms that begin opener “Swamp Coven” pale in comparison to the volume swell of massive distortion that follows closely behind – but it’s the rhythmic lumber and the harsh vocals from Baker that define their course through the darker recesses of sludged-out misanthropy. No complaints there, especially on a first long-player, but Stone Lotus are right to keep in mind the flourish of atmosphere their material offers, and one hopes that develops parallel to all the crushing weight of their mountainous approach.

Stone Lotus on Thee Facebooks

Stone Lotus on Bandcamp

 

Green Yeti, Desert Show

I'm not sure if that's an effect of dropping carbs or how it would be, but it's strange.

Even before it announces its heft, Green Yeti’s Desert Show casts forth its spaciousness. The second offering from the Athens-based trio in as many years dogwhistles heavy riffing intent even unto its David Paul Seymour album cover, but the five track rollout from guitarist/vocalist Michael Andresakis, bassist/producer Danis Avramidis and drummer Giannis Koutroumpis, as it shifts from the opening salvo of “Black Planets (Part 1)” and “Black Planets (Part 2)” into the Spanish-language centerpiece “Rojo” (direct homage perhaps to Los Natas? if so, effectively done) and into the broader-ranging “Bad Sleep (Part 1)” and 15-minute closer “Bad Sleep (Part 2)” builds just as much on its atmosphere as on its newer-school stoner rock groove and fuzz riffing. It is a 41-minute span that, without question, speaks to the heavy rock converted and plays to genre, but even taken next to the band’s 2016 debut, The Yeti has Landed, Desert Show demonstrates clear growth in writing and style, and stands as further proof of the emergence of Greece as a major contributor to the sphere of Europe’s heavy underground. Something special is happening in and outside of Athens. Green Yeti arrive at the perfect time to be a part of it.

Green Yeti on Thee Facebooks

Green Yeti on Bandcamp

 

Seer, Victims

seer victims

Let’s just assume that Seer won’t be asked to play at Dorney Park anytime soon. The Allentown, Pennsylvania, three-piece dig into largesse-minded instrumental riffing someplace between doom and sludge and do so on raw, formative fashion on the two-song Victims EP, which features the tracks “Victims… Aren’t We All?” and “Swollen Pit,” which is a redux from their 2015 debut short release, Vaped Remains. Some touch of Electric Wizard-style wah in Rybo’s guitar stands out in the second half of the opener, and the closer effectively moves from its initial crawl into post-Sleep stonerized idolatry, but the point of Victims isn’t nearly as much about scope as it is about Rybo, bassist Kelsi and drummer Yvonne setting forth on a stomping path of groove and riff worship, rumbling sans pretense loud enough to crack the I-78 corridor and offering the clever equalizer recommendation to put the bass, treble and mids all at six. Think about it for a second. Not too long though.

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Seer on Bandcamp

 

Bretus, From the Twilight Zone

bretus-from-the-twilight-zone

Doom! Horror! Riffs! Though it starts out with quiet acoustics and unfolds in echoing weirdness, Bretus’ new album, …From the Twilight Zone, more or less shouts these things from the proverbial cathedral rafters throughout its seven tracks. The Catanzaro, Italy, foursome weren’t shy about bringing an air of screamy sludge to their 2015 sophomore outing, The Shadow over Innsmouth (discussed here), but …From the Twilight Zone shifts more toward a Reverend Bizarre trad doom loyalism that suits the Endless Winter release remarkably well. Those acoustics pop up again in expanded-breadth centerpiece/highlight “Danza Macabra” and closer “Lizard Woman,” and thereby provide something of a narrative thread to the offering as a whole, but on the level of doom-for-doomers, there’s very little about the aesthetic that Bretus leave wanting throughout, whether it’s the faster-chug into drifting fluidity of “The Murder” or the nodding stomp of “In the Vault” (demo posted here) and crypto-NWOBHM flourish of “Old Dark House” (video posted here). Not trying to remake doom in their own image, but conjuring an eerie and engaging take in conversation with the masters of the form.

Bretus on Thee Facebooks

Endless Winter Records

 

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Bretus Post “Old Dark House” Video; …From the Twilight Zone Due in June

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 11th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

bretus

Self-identified purveyors of horror doom Bretus will release their new album, …From the Twilight Zone, next month. Drawing upon influences from the likes of Orodruin, Blood Farmers, Reverend Bizarre, Saint Vitus and Black Sabbath — in other words: doom — the Catanzaro, Italy, four-piece inked a deal to issue their third long-player through Russia-based imprint Endless Winter, and to coincide with the recent advent of preorder availability, they’ve put together a video for the new track “Old Dark House.” You’ll no doubt recognize some of the footage included from the annals of classic and/or public domain horror films — at very least, Nosferatu is always a standout.

“Old Dark House” is one of several cuts from …From the Twilight Zone to have made its way online ahead of the release, and while I haven’t heard the full record yet, going by what I have to go by, it seems like Bretus have upped the level of doomly traditionalism from even where it was in 2015 on their second offering, The Shadow over Innsmouth (discussed here). One could hear a cleaner vocal approach taking hold in the earlier-2017 demo “In the Vault” (posted here), and “Old Dark House” continues to run with that theme while holding onto a darkened, NWOBHM-informed dungeon atmosphere. It lumbers like thick rusty chains and has a theatricality to its presentation that seems to revel in its own metallic righteousness.

To be sure, they’re not looking to reshape the conventions of style around which doom — or horror doom, as it were — is based, but they do well with the nod and vibe of “Old Dark House” in executing a paean to the gods who used riffs toward darker purposes, and one isn’t inclined to argue with the manner in which they wear their heart on their collective sleeve. Doom for doomers: Sometimes nothing else will do.

You can check out “Old Dark House” below, followed by more info as posted by the band.

Enjoy:

Bretus, “Old Dark House” official video

A record deal for publishing the new album has been signed, “…from the Twilight Zone” out in June via Endless Winter (Russia).

Seven legendary terror tales were chosen for this concept album. “…from the Twilight Zone” , a darker trip of Horror Doom music, Heavy riffs, old-school groove with a disturbing horror element. Pre-order: http://endless-winter.org/cgi-bin/calc-eng

Bretus is:
Ghenes (High/Low Guitars and Fx)
Zagarus (Vox and Harmonica)
Azog (Bass)
Striges (Drums)

Bretus on Thee Facebooks

Bretus website

Endless Winter on Bandcamp

Endless Winter website

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Bretus Post Demo Track “In the Vault”; New Album in 2017

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 22nd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

bretus

Italian doomers Bretus have a new release in the offing for 2017. And the emphasis in that sentence should be on ‘offing.’ The horror-minded outfit released their second album, The Shadow over Innsmouth, in 2015, and whatever form their follow-up to it ultimately takes when it arrives — i.e., if it follows similar Lovecraftian themes or goes in some other direction, who’s doing the releasing, and so on — it seems like the Catanzaro four-piece will continue to revel in oldschool doom on the new one, which is precisely as it should be.

Listening to their new demo for “In the Vault,” one finds a cleaner vocal approach than was heard in their last video, for “Abyss of Silent Screams” (posted here), but the overarching vibe remains consistent. Bretus are doomers making doom for doomers. I particularly dig the mood à la Saint Vitus‘ “Children of Doom” that comes through the track, and while it seems pretty clear they’ll re-record the song for the new album — as yet untitled — the rawness of this recording does it some favors in terms of carrying across the oldschool, played-off-a-tape kind of feel. Gives the whole thing a punkish undertone that’s true to the origins of the doom with which Bretus are working in the first place. Remember it was Greg Ginn‘s SST Records that put out those first Vitus records.

You can dig into “In the Vault” below. Stay tuned for more on Bretus‘ next album in the New Year, and enjoy:

Bretus, “In the Vault” demo

From the new album (to be released in 2017)…DOOM in progress, stay tuned! Come to the SABBATH!

Bretus was born to homage a kind of music (Doom / Stoner / Psych) and its great interpreters. Their inspirations are: Old horror movies, H.P. Lovecraft, mysticism and 70’s music.

The band released their debut album “IN ONIRICA” In 2012 (CD Version By Arx Productions, Tape version by The Arcane Tapes). “IN ONIRICA” was out also on Bloodrock Records on vinyl version (distributed by Black Widow Records). The response at it was so good that the band was invited to take part on some important European Doom festivals like the MALTA DOOM FEST 5th edition or DOOM OVER VIENNA IX.

In 2014 the slovenian Doom Cult Records released a reprint of “BRETUS” MCD. 2015 was the year of the 7″ split album with Black Capricorn via The Arcane Tapes. Ever in 2015 The band released their 2nd album, “THE SHADOW OVER INNSMOUTH”, a concept album entirely based on a history of H.P. Lovecraft. (BloodRock Records)

Bretus is:
Ghenes (High/Low Guitars and Fx)
Zagarus (Vox and Harmonica)
Azog (Bass)
Striges (Drums)

Bretus on Thee Facebooks

Bretus on Bandcamp

BloodRock Records

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Bretus Post “Abyss of Silent Screams” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 24th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

bretus

It’s been less than a month since Italian doomers Bretus posted their last video, which, if you look at it on some grand cosmic scale rather than the valuable hours of your life you waste away at work having sold out your minimal talents on the cheap that seem to drag along as though a cart tied to a dying mule — holy shit I got sidetracked — is not very long at all. That song was the sludgy “From the South” (posted here) taken from the band’s 2009 self-titled EP, which was reissued last year.

I wondered at the time why they might make a clip for an older track rather than one from their 2015 sophomore full-length, The Shadow over Innsmouth, which came out on BloodRock Records, but being a sucker for a cool riff and a doomly vibe, quickly got over my curiosity in the face of a righteous groove. Not the first time that’s happened. Bretus, meanwhile, were secretly working on yet another video — one that they’ve now unleashed on an unsuspecting public — for the song “Abyss of Silent Screams.” We don’t yet know what release it comes from.

That basically puts Bretus going from one end of the spectrum to the other — earliest material to newest — in less than four weeks and in the span of two videos. Not too shabby. As to the song itself, I’ll admit it might be East Coast US regionalism on my part, but the darkened, DIY clip takes my ears to olden days of pure Maryland doom, thinking of the rough-edged work of bands like Unorthodox and Internal Void, and of course the scorching guitar of The Obsessed. It’s something of a contrast from where “From the South” found them, delving here and there into screams and more vicious chug, but the classic metal fist-pumping suits them.

Not sure if there’s an album on the way or a new split or what, but when I hear more, I’ll pass word along. In the meantime, enjoy:

Bretus, “Abyss of Silent Screams” official video

Bretus on Thee Facebooks

Bretus on Bandcamp

BloodRock Records

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Bretus Post Video for “From the South”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 1st, 2016 by JJ Koczan

bretus

They start out in a weed field, wind up in the Grand Canyon and end up with a wolf sitting on a rock, but I only have one question when it comes to Italian doom/sludgers Bretus’ new video for the track “From the South.” Why “From the South?” Don’t get me wrong, the riff is choice classic doom and they ride it ably, but the song comes from their self-titled EP, first released in 2009. Seven years ago.

It’s not like they haven’t done anything since. Hell, they had a second full-length, The Shadow over Innsmouth out last summer on BloodRock Records. Wouldn’t it have made sense to do a video from that? Granted, the Bretus EP was also reissued in 2015, but still, usually bands are so impatient they’re tired of their new records before they’re out. Bretus, on the other hand, have a new video from an offering that was three releases ago. It’s curious, is all I’m saying.

Most likely it was a special thing for the reissue, but either way, I won’t argue, because like I said the track is cool. Raw doom, some screams worked in, kind of a classic metal vibe and some manipulated live footage in the clip. It’s got a DIY vibe, so maybe it just took them a while to get it done to coincide with the reissue and they’re working on one from the new album next (or, alternately, I missed it or it’s hidden somewhere in their YouTube account). Sometimes these things take a while.

In any case, enjoy:

Bretus, “From the South” official video

Taken from “Bretus” self titled mcd 2010.

BRETUS takes form in the mind of Ghenes in 2000. The band was born to homage a kind of music (Doom / Stoner / Psych) and its great interpreters. In 2008 it was recorded the first demo cd composed by 4 tracks. In 2009 It was released their first real opus: “BRETUS” MCD, the first version was released from MadDie Records.

The band released their debut album “IN ONIRICA” In 2012 (CD Version By Arx Productions, Tape version by The Arcane Tapes). “IN ONIRICA” was out also on Bloodrock Records on vinyl version (distributed by Black Widow Records). The response at it was so good that the band was invited to take part on some important European Doom festivals like
the MALTA DOOM FEST 5th edition or DOOM OVER VIENNA IX.

In 2014 the slovenian Doom Cult Records released a reprint of “BRETUS” MCD. 2015 was the year of the 7″ split album with Black Capricorn via The Arcane Tapes. Ever in 2015 The band released their 2nd album, “THE SHADOW OVER INNSMOUTH”, a concept album entirely based on a history of H.P. Lovecraft (BloodRock Records).

Bretus on Thee Facebooks

Bretus Blogspot

BloodRock Records on Bandcamp

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