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.

Seer on Thee Facebooks

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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