Quarterly Review: Surya Kris Peters, Lewis and the Strange Magics, Lair of the Minotaur, Sonic Wolves, Spacelord, Nauticus, Yuxa, Forktie, Ohhms, Blue Dream

Posted in Reviews on December 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

I had a terrible thought yesterday: What if this one… went to 11? That is, what if, after 10 days of Quarterly Review ending today with a grand total of 100 records reviewed since last Monday, I did another batch of 10? Like a bonus round? Like I said, terrible thought.

Pretty sure it won’t happen. I’ve already got a review and a video premiere booked for next Monday, but I definitely had the thought. It was easy, of course, to fill out another 10 slots, and who knows, maybe this weekend for the first time ever I wind up with some extra time and energy on my hands? Could happen, right?

Again, I’m fairly certain it won’t. Let’s proceed with the assumption today’s the last day. Thank you for reading. I hope you have found something cool in all of this that has really hit home. I certainly have. We cap very much in last-but-not-least fashion, and if nothing’s resonated with you yet, don’t count yourself completely out. You might just get there after all. Thanks again.

Quarterly Review #91-100:

Surya Kris Peters, Ego Therapy

Surya Kris Peters Ego Therapy

Those feeling technical will note the full title of the album is Surya Kris Peters’ Ego Therapy, but the point gets across either way. And even as Christian Peters — also guitarist/vocalist for Samsara Blues Experiment — acknowledges the inherent self-indulgence of the proverbial “solo-project” that his exploration of synth and classically progressive textures under the moniker of Surya Kris Peters has become, with Ego Therapy as his second full-length of 2018, he branches out in including drums from former Terraplane bandmate Jens Vogel. The 10-song/53-minute outing opens with its longest cut (immediate points) in the 15-minute “Angels in Bad Places,” a spaced-out and vibrant atmosphere more cohesive than psychedelia but still trippy as all hell, and moves through a bluesy key/guitar interplay in “Wizard’s Dream” following the dancey thriller soundtrack “Beyond the Sun” and into the Blade Runner-style grandeur of “Sleeping Willow” and the video game-esque “A Fading Spark” before bookending with the sci-fi “Atomic Clock” at the close. I don’t know how ultimately therapeutic Peters‘ solo offerings might be, but he only seems to grow bolder each time out, and that certainly applies here.

Surya Kris Peters on Thee Facebooks

Electric Magic Records on Bandcamp

 

Lewis and the Strange Magics, The Ginger Sessions

lewis and the strange magics the ginger sessions

How are you not gonna love a release that starts with a song called “Sexadelic Galactic Voyage?” Barcelona vamp rockers Lewis and the Strange Magics embrace their inner funk on the 23-minute self-released EP, The Ginger Sessions, finding the place where their uptempo ’70s fusion meets oldschool The Meters-style rhythm, digging into the repetitions of “Candied Ginger” after the aforementioned instrumental opening burst and then holding the momentum through “Her Vintage Earrings.” Some departure happens on what might be side B of the 10″, with “The Shadow of Your Smile” turning toward pastoral psychedelia, still rhythmic thanks to some prominent wood block and xylophone sounds, but much calmer despite a consistency of wah and keys. “Suzy’s Room II” follows in fuzzy fashion, bridging the earlier cologne-soaked, chest-hair-out vibes with garage buzz and a heavier low end beneath the synthesized experimentation. Mellotron shows up and continues to hold sway in closer “Witch’s Brew,” playing the band outward along with layers of drifting guitar for about two and a half minutes of bluesy serenity that feel cut short, as does the release on the whole. One hopes they don’t lose that funky edge going into their next album.

Lewis and the Strange Magics on Thee Facebooks

Lewis and the Strange Magics on Bandcamp

 

Lair of the Minotaur, Dragon Eagle of Chaos

Lair of the Minotaur Dragon Eagle of Chaos

Once upon the mid-aughts, Chicago’s Lair of the Minotaur roamed the land as the long-prophesied American answer to Entombed, as much classic, dirt-covered death metal as they were laden with heavy groove. Their tones filthy, their assault brutal all the while, war metal, ultimate destroyers. The whole nine. They released their last album, Evil Power (review here), in 2010. The two-songer Dragon Eagle of Chaos follows a 2013 single, and was released to mark the occasion of perhaps a return to some measure of greater activity. I don’t know if that’ll happen, but as both “Dragon Eagle of Chaos” and “Kunsult the Bones” affirm in about seven minutes between them, Lair of the Minotaur remain a wrecking ball made of raw meat when it comes to their sound. The madness that seemed to always underline their material at its most effective is present and accounted for in “Dragon Eagle of Chaos,” and the stripped-down production of the single actually helps its violent cause. Will they do another record? Could go either way, but if they decide to go that route, they clearly still have the evil power within.

Lair of the Minotaur website

Lair of the Minotaur on Bandcamp

 

Sonic Wolves, Sonic Wolves

sonic wolves sonic wolves

Eight tracks/34 minutes of smoothly-arranged and well-executed doom rock brought to bear with an abiding lack of pretense and a developing sense of songcraft and dynamic — there’s very little not to dig about Sonic Wolves‘ self-titled LP (on Future Noise and DHU), from the Sabbathian stretch of “Ascension” down through the bouncing low-key-psych-turns-to-full-on-wah-overdose-swirl in the penultimate “Heavy Light.” Along the way, bassist/vocalist Kayt Vigil (ex-Pentagram, etc.) — joined by guitarists Jason Nealy and Enrico “Ico” Aniasi and drummer Gianni “Vita” Vitarelli (also Ufomammut) — gallop through the traditional metal of “Red Temple” and ride a fuzzy roll in “Tide of Chaos,” leaving the uptempo shuffle of “You’ll Climb the Walls” to close out by tapping into a “Wicked World”-style vision of heavy blues that casts off many of the tropes of what’s become the subgenre in favor of a darker approach. If their self-titled is Sonic Wolves declaring who they are as a band after making their debut in 2016, the results are only encouraging.

Sonic Wolves on Thee Facebooks

DHU Records webstore

Future Noise Recordings webstore

 

Spacelord, Indecipher

Spacelord Indecipher

There is an immediate sensibility drawn from classic heavy rock to the vocals on Spacelord‘s second record, Indecipher, like Shannon Hoon fronting Led Zeppelin, maybe? Something like that, definitely drawn from a ’70s/’90s blend. Produced, mixed and mastered by guitarist Rich Root, with Chris Cappiello on bass, Kevin Flynn on drums and Ed Grabianowski on vocals, the four-piece’s sophomore LP is comprised of a neatly-constructed eight songs working around sci-fi themes on bruiser cuts like “Super Starship Adventure” and the particularly righteous “Zero Hour,” as opener and longest track (immediate points) “For the Unloved Ones” sets forth the classic vibe amid the first of the record’s impressive solos and resonant hooks. Something about it makes me want them to go completely over the top in terms of production their next time out — layers on layers on layers, etc. — but the kind of false start Grabianowski brings to the ultra-Zepped “New Machine” has a charm that I’m not sure it would be worth sacrificing.

Spacelord on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Nauticus, Disappear in Blue

Nauticus Disappear in Blue

Six years after the release of their second album, The Wait (review here), Finnish atmospheric progressive metallers Nauticus effect a return with the 78-minute Disappear in Blue, which following the relatively straightforward opening with “Magma” casts out a vast sprawl in accordance with its oceanic theme. Longer tracks like “Claimed by the Sea,” “Strange Sequences/Lost Frequencies,” “Arrival” and “Hieronymus” are complex and varied but united through a deep instrumental dynamic that’s brought to light even in the three-minute ambient post-rocker “Desolation,” which is something of an interlude between “Strange Sequences/Lost Frequencies” and the tense build of “Singularity.” Other ambient spaces “Jesus of Lübeck” and the later “Whale Bones” complement and add reach to the longer-form works, but it’s hardly as though Nauticus‘ material lacks character one way or the other. Overwhelming in its length, Disappear in Blue might take some time to wade through, but what a way to go.

Nauticus on Thee Facebooks

Nauticus on Bandcamp

 

Yuxa, Yuxa

yuxa yuxa

As the greater part of anything related to post-metal invariably does, UK outfit Yuxa have their “Stones from the Sky” moment in “Founder in Light,” the opening cut from their self-titled debut EP, that most formative of progressions making itself known in modified form to suit the double-guitar four-piece’s intent with dramatic screams and shouts cutting through an ably-conjured surge of noisy adrenaline resolving in winding chug and crash en route to “Exiled Hand,” the seven-minute cut that follows and serves as centerpiece of the three-tracker. “Founder in Light,” “Exiled Hand” and nine-minute closer “Peer” are arranged shortest to longest, and the effect is to draw the listener in such that by the time the angular, purposeful lurch of the finale begins to unfold, Yuxa‘s rhythmic hypnosis is already well complete. Still, the straightforward arrangements of guitar, bass, drums and vocals give them a rawer edge than many synth- or sample-laden post-metallic cohorts, and that suits the atmospheric sludge with which they close out, harnessing chaos without giving themselves over to it. A quick sample of a creative development getting underway, though it’s telling as well that Yuxa ends with a sudden buzz of amp noise.

Yuxa on Thee Facebooks

Yuxa on Bandcamp

 

Forktie, EP

forktie forktie

The first EP release from Forktie — who stylize their moniker and titles all-lowercase: forktie — is untitled, but contains five tracks that tap into proto-emo post-hardcore and ’90s alt rock sensibilities, finding a place between heavy rock and grunge that allows for Aarone Victorine‘s bass to lead toward the hook of centerpiece “Decomposition Book” with a smooth presence that’s well complementary the vocals from guitarist Dom Mariano, their presence low in the mix only adding to the wistful feel of “Anywhere but Here” and “September Morning,” before the shorter “Spores” lets loose some more push from drummer Corey LeBlanc and closer “Ph.D. in Nothing” reinforces the underlying melancholy beneath the thicker exterior tones. It’s a new project, but Forktie have worked their way into a niche that suits their songwriting well, and given themselves a space to grow within their sound. Members experience in bands like UXO, Test Meat and textbookcopilot will serve them in that effort.

Forktie on Thee Facebooks

Forktie on Bandcamp

 

Ohhms, Exist

ohhms exist

As a fan generally of bands opening albums with the longest song included, I can get on board with UK heavy progressive metallers Ohhms opening Exist with the 22-minute “Subjects.” Immediate points and all that. Far more consequential, however, is the substance of that launch for the four-song/43-minute Holy Roar LP, which is the band’s fourth in four years. It’s a vast, broad and complex offering unto itself, consuming side A as vocalist Paul Waller embodies various entities, “I am wolf” (preceding a Duran Duran reference, perhaps inadvertent), “I am child,” and so on. Those proclamations are just the culmination of a progression that, frankly, is an album unto itself, let alone a side, and maybe should’ve been released as such, though the absolute post-metallic crush of “Shambles,” the seething of “Calves” and the heavy post-rock reach of “Lay Down Your Firearms” need no further justification than a simple listen provides, the last of them pummeling side B to a then-sudden stop. Ohhms are no strangers to longform work, and it suits them well enough to make one wonder if they couldn’t be headed toward a single-song LP in the near future.

Ohhms on Thee Facebooks

Holy Roar Records on Bandcamp

 

Blue Dream, Volume Blue

Blue Dream Volume Blue

Chicago four-piece Blue Dream issued their first LP, Volume Won, early in 2018 and follow with Volume Blue — as opposed to “two”; could ‘Volume Tree’ be in the works? ‘Volume Free?’ — which collects nine neo-psych-mit-der-funky-grooves cuts chic enough to be urbane but fuzzed out enough to make the freakouts more than just a come on. They open peaceful enough with “Delta,” before the hook of “9,000 lb. Machine” defines the course and cuts like “Thank You for Smoking” and the almost woefully catchy “She’s Hot” expand the parameters. I’ll take the dream-tone shimmer of “Kingsbury Goldmine” any day in a kind of self-aware reflection of British folk and/or the garage rock of “Shake the Shake,” but the dense roll of “Viper Venom” that immediately follows reimagines grunge as more than just an influence from three popular bands and something that could genuinely move forward from the perspective of a new generation. Hearing Blue Dream close out with the boogie of “The Glide,” one hopes they do precisely that, though I’d by no means limit them to one avenue of expression. They’re clearly able to harness multiple vibes here.

Blue Dream on Thee Facebooks

Blue Dream on Bandcamp

 

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Quarterly Review: Trippy Wicked, Dunbarrow, The Vintage Caravan, Zatokrev & Minsk, Owl Maker, Orbital Junction, Bourbon, Birnam Wood, Wytch Hazel, The Soulbreaker Company

Posted in Reviews on December 3rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

You know how this goes by now, right? Well, okay, except that because I skipped the Quarterly Review that I otherwise would’ve done in September (or, more likely, October), I’m doubling-up this time. 100 reviews instead of 50. Two full weeks of 10 albums per day. Will I survive? Yeah, probably. Will it be completely overwhelming? Already is. Thanks for asking.

I’ll save the summaries of the year that was for list-time, which is fast approaching, but consider the fact that there are well more than 100 albums I could include in this roundup emblematic of just how vibrant heavy rock and doom are in the US, EU, UK, Australia and elsewhere. It’s a universal thing, and accordingly, there’s a whole universe of it to explore. This is just a sampling.

But yeah, time’s a wastin’, so let’s get to it.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight, Stakes n Scale

trippy wicked stakes n scale

An acoustic EP from Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight — who, let’s face it, were way ahead of the curve when it comes to the UK scene’s thing for long and ridiculous band names — is a considerable departure from where they were two years ago on their split/collaboration with GurT (review here), but those familiar with the band might recall their past penchant for the occasional unplugged cover recorded for YouTube. Chris West (also Crawling for Carrion, Glanville, etc.), who engineered the recording and plays guitar, and vocalist Peter Holland (also Elephant Tree) revamp Trippy Wicked‘s “Up the Stakes” from 2012’s Going Home (review here), and cover “Scale the Mountain” by Stubb, of which both were members when the song was written. Together, they make for a nine-minute showcase for the character in Holland‘s voice and the melodies and craft at root in both tracks, and while its arrival feels like kind of a one-off, it’s certainly no less welcome for that.

Trippy Wicked on Thee Facebooks

Trippy Wicked on Bandcamp

 

Dunbarrow, II

dunbarrow ii

The novelty of new bands playing through vintage gear in order to capture a heavy ’70s sound may have faded, but like all subgenres, as time goes on, the retro-ist style continues to shift and change as bands like Dunbarrow bring new character to established tenets. Their second LP for RidingEasy is aptly-titled II and sways between honoring the likes of Pentagram and acts like Witchcraft who’ve helped craft that band’s hindsight-founded legacy. Dunbarrow‘s noodly style, restrained rhythmic shove and ride-the-riff melody on “Weary Lady” and the foresty creep of “The Demon Within” capture the vibe well, the latter occurring in a second half of II populated with “The Wolf” and “Witches of the Woods Pt. II,” a sequel to the closer of their 2016 self-titled debut (review here) that here leads to the more severe roll of the finale, “On this Night,” emblematic of the changing character of the band even as it reaffirms in its tense midsection the roots from which they sprung.

Dunbarrow on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records on Bandcamp

 

The Vintage Caravan, Gateways

the vintage caravan gateways

With their third record and second for Nuclear Blast, Icelandic trio The Vintage Caravan affirm not only their passion for the boogie of old on cuts like “The Way” and the strutting “Hidden Streams,” but secure a place as being worthy of the consideration they’ve been given to a degree by the wider Continental European heavy underground. They are strikingly mature in their approach for still being a relatively young band, and their albums have worked quickly to develop a character that is becoming more and more their own. They do the fests and they tour, and so on, but they seem to be engaged in building their listenership one pair of ears at a time. Having a metal-major label behind them hasn’t hurt their promotional cause, but frankly, they’re not as big as they should be for the level of work they’re doing, and even with songs like “Reset” and “Reflections” and the composed-strictly-for-vinyl-sounding closer “Tune Out” to their credit, they’re still largely a word of mouth band, especially in the US. Well, consider this your word of mouth. If you haven’t heard Gateways yet, you should get on that.

The Vintage Caravan on Thee Facebooks

The Vintage Caravan at Nuclear Blast

 

Minsk & Zatokrev, Bigod

zatokrev minsk bigod

Post-metallic powerhouses Minsk and Zatokrev — both of whom hit their 15th anniversary last year — teamed up for a European tour this Fall. To mark the occasion, Consouling Sounds and Czar of Crickets celebrated with Bigod, a split with two tracks from each band arranged in alternating order — Minsk, then Zatokrev, etc. — intended to highlight the symmetry between them not just of circumstance and root influence in the Neurosis school of atmospheric sludge, but the fact that they share these commonalities despite their origins in Illinois and Switzerland, respectively. Each band opens with a longer track (double points) in Minsk‘s “Invoke/Revive” and Zatokrev‘s “Silent Gods,” each of which push past 13 minutes as likely at any moment to be pummeling as ambient, and follows with two shorter cuts, Minsk‘s “Salvatore” swelling theatrically from its minimalist beginnings while Zatokrev‘s “The Chalice and the Dagger” seems to explode from the foundation the prior band laid out. It must have been a hell of a tour, but whether you saw it or not, the split is a welcome conglomeration from two of post-metal’s strongest acts.

Minsk on Thee Facebooks

Zatokrev on Thee Facebooks

Consouling Sounds website

Czar of Crickets Productions website

 

Owl Maker, Sky Road

owl maker sky road

Self-recording guitarist/vocalist Simon Tuozzoli (Vestal Claret, ex-Guerra, etc.) leads Connecticut-based three-piece Owl Maker through a complex thematic of Native American folklore and heavy metal classicism. The NWOBHM plays a strong role in his riffing style, but one of the two tracks included on the two-songer single Sky Road, “Owl City,” also veers into more extreme territory with a departure from clean vocals to harsher screaming. All told, it’s about eight minutes of music, but Sky Road nonetheless follows Owl Maker‘s earlier-2018 EP, Paths of the Slain (review here), with an uptick in melodic presence in the vocals of Tuozzoli and bassist Jessie May and progression in the chemistry between the two of them and drummer Chris Anderson, and with the fluidity of their transitions between various styles of heavy, their scope seems only to be growing. To wit, “Sky Road” itself is only 3:42, but still demonstrates a clear-headed compositional method based around storytelling and a subtly encompassing range. Whether it’s early warning for what they do next or a conceptual one-off, its quick run seems just to be begging for a 7″ pressing.

Owl Maker on Thee Facebooks

Owl Maker on Bandcamp

 

Orbital Junction, Orbital Junction

Orbital Junction orbital junction

The Londonderground continues to produce acts ready and willing to worship at the altar of riffs. Orbital Junction‘s self-release debut EP makes an impression not only because of the markedly pro-shop production by Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studios and the cover art by SoloMacello, but the hooks to live up to those high standards. “6 ft. 2” follows opener “Space Highway” with a bit of dudely chestbeating — note: I don’t know how tall any of them actually are — but the swing of EP centerpiece “Devil’s Double” and the bounce of “Gypsy Queen” speak for the four-piece’s roots and appreciation of straightforward heavy, void of pretense and tapping into an easy mid-paced fluidity that slows up somewhat on closer “Pagan” without really losing the central groove of the offering overall. They’ll have their work cut out for them in distinguishing themselves over the longer term amongst London’s burl-fueled hordes, but their first outing shows their instincts headed in the right direction in terms of songwriting, performance and presentation.

Orbital Junction on Thee Facebooks

Orbital Junction on Bandcamp

 

Bourbon, Fuente Vieja

Bourbon Fuente Vieja

Crisp but warm in its tone and presentation, rife with melody and carrying a laid back spirit despite a fervent underlying groove — the bass on “El Sendero” rests well within gotta-hear-it territory — Spanish purveyors Bourbon emobody some of the best of post-Viaje a 800 Andalusian heavy rock and roll on their third LP, Fuente Vieja (on Spinda). Their fuzz makes its presence known early on “Si Véis La Luz, Corred” and continues as a running theme as tracks like “A Punto de Arder” and the side-A-capping title-cut grow increasingly progressive. There’s room for some shuffle, of course, as side B begins with “La Triste Realidad,” and the slower “Hacia el Sol” gracefully blends electrified wah and acoustic guitars beneath a well-timed standout vocal performance, but the highlight might be eight-minute closer “Destierro,” which seems to bring everything else under one roof while tapping into a poppier structure early — acoustics and electrics aligning effectively circa two minutes in — while providing the album with a graceful and fittingly organic-sounding finale.

Bourbon on Thee Facebooks

Spinda Records webstore

 

Birnam Wood, Wicked Worlds

birnam wood wicked worlds

Birnam Wood don’t have time for bullshit, but they do have time for a bit of shenanigans. Thus the 1:44 surge of opener “Time of Purification” leads into the sample-laden roller groove of “Richard Dreyfuss” on their as-of-now-self-released Wicked Worlds, and the “Hole in the Sky”-style “Dunsinane” shifts into the more blown-out “Early Warning,” which, by the time its tectonic low end kicks in, is indeed something of a clarion. At seven-tracks/34-minutes, Wicked Worlds is somewhere between an EP and an LP, but I’d argue it as the latter with the flow from “Greenseer” into the massive “A Song for Jorklum” and the seven-minute finale “Return to Samarkand” making for a righteous side B, but either way, it’s a Boston-crafted assault of grit-tone and aggro doom that finds the band not overwhelmed by the heft of their own tones but able to move and manipulate them to serve the purposes of their songs. Those purposes, incidentally, are mostly about kicking ass. Which they do. Copiously.

Birnam Wood on Thee Facebooks

Birnam Wood on Bandcamp

 

Wytch Hazel, II: Sojourn

Wytch Hazel II Soujorn

It would not seem to be a coincidence that UK self-aware four-piece Wytch Hazel — guitarists Conlin Hendra (also vocals) and Alex Haslam, bassist Matt Gatley and drummer Jack Spencer nod to Wishbone Ash‘s Argus with the cover of their second LP, II: Sojourn (on Bad Omen). They do a lot of that kind of nodding, with a sound culled from a valiant blend of classic progressive and early NWOBHM styles that makes the point of how closely related the two have always been. “The Devil is Here” starts out at a fervent gallop with just an underpinning of Thin Lizzy, while the later “See My Demons” shifts from its steady roll and rousing hook into an acoustic/electric break that seems to pull from Jethro Tull as much as Scorpions. At 10 tracks/45 minutes, they have plenty of time to flesh out their ideas, and they do precisely that, whether it’s the careful unfolding around the keys and acoustics of closer “Angel Take Me” or the over-the-top instrumental push of “Chorale” or the moodier “Wait on the Wind,” the wah solo of which is a highlight on its own. There are some burgeoning harmonies in Hendra‘s vocals, which is an impulse he should follow as it would only enhance the material, but after making their debut with 2016’s Prelude, II: Sojourn finds Wytch Hazel sounding comfortable and well established in their niche.

Wytch Hazel on Thee Facebooks

Bad Omen Records on Bandcamp

 

The Soulbreaker Company, Sewed with Light

the soulbreaker company sewed with light

Progressive, expansive and engaging, the sixth album from Spanish sextet The Soulbreaker Company, Sewed with Light (on Underground Legends), taps into classically Floydian influences on songs like “The Word, the Blade” while still keeping a foot in heavy rock on the prior “Together,” and setting a quick course into a varied sonic persona via the seven-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Inner Dark.” Hypnotizing not necessarily with drift but with sheer willful exploration, The Soulbreaker Company work with a variety of key sounds and craft-minded ranging guitar in order to effect an atmosphere of thoughtful songwriting even in their most outwardly trippy moments. The sneering semi-psychedelic rock of “Avoid the Crash” and the more stripped-down roll of “Arrhythmia” (video premiere here) lead the way into closer “In the Beginning,” which marks yet another departure with its grandeur of string sounds and electronic beats leading to a chugging big finale. As with the bulk of The Soulbreaker Company‘s work, it requires an active ear, but Sewed with Light both encourages and well earns consideration as more than background noise.

The Soulbreaker Company on Thee Facebooks

Underground Legends on Bandcamp

 

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Black Road Post New Single “Witch of the Future”

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 22nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Chicago doom rockers Black Road first issued ‘Witch of the Future’ as a standalone live track that came out in May 2017 as a name-your-price Bandcamp download. The studio version also tops 10 minutes and costs a buck. One dollar. Seems like a more than fair bargain for anyone who’s up for it. The classic Sabbathian roots of the guitar chug and bass runs are all over the song in whichever version, and frontwoman Suzi Usi tops a burgeoning instrumental chemistry between Tim Morano, Casey Popp and Robert Gonzales with a belted out melody that’s as much at home over the heaviest push as it is over the ending section of earliest-Witchcraft-style meandering in the guitar.

Black Road were recently part of the first lineup announcement to be part of the 2019 New England Stoner and Doom Fest (info here), and they’ll take part in that alongside Earthride, Youngblood Supercult and a host of others still to be announced. Should be good company to keep.

Here’s info on the single from the PR wire:

black road witch of the future

Black Road release digital single “Witch of the Future”

“The 11th Hour is upon us. “Witch of the Future” is now available on Bandcamp!

To all our buds: We have put a price of $1 (or name your own price if you’d like to donate more) on this over 10 minute track, in hopes of building up a fund to use toward our studio recording session for the upcoming full-length album. All proceeds will be put right back into the band and help us get this new album done and out to you faster! We truly appreciate any and all support you have shown us, and we sincerely hope you love the new track!”

THANK YOU SO MUCH FROM BLACK ROAD!

Black Road is:
Vocals/Lyrics/Composition/Tambourine: Suzi Uzi
Guitars/Composition: Tim Morano
Bass: Casey Papp
Drums: Robert Gonzales

https://www.facebook.com/BlackRoadChicago
https://instagram.com/blackroadband/
https://blackroadchicago.bandcamp.com/
https://vimeo.com/blackroad
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPo8q72PkOcBjHIFeGiHzTg
darkhedonisticunionrecords.bigcartel.com/
https://www.facebook.com/DHURecords/
https://darkhedonisticunionrecords.bandcamp.com/

Black Road, “Witch of the Future”

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Spillage Announce Jan. 11 Release for Blood of Angels

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

spillage

Chicago-based doomers Spillage will play two record release shows in the coming months, one before the Jan. 11 issue date of their second album, Blood of Angels, and one after. I like the idea of a ‘pre-release show.’ Get a few copies on-hand of the record and sell it to those who show up as an early bonus for coming out, then do the actual release later on. Bands do that sometimes taking albums on tour before they’re “officially” released, but a special one-gig occasion as a pre-release show is a nifty way to accomplish something similar. Others should take note.

Spillage is of course spearheaded by guitarist Tony Spillman, who’s known as well as a guitar tech for Prong and Ministry‘s Tommy Victor and Trouble‘s Bruce Franklin, the latter of whom produced the new album. That puts the band squarely on a branch of the Trouble family tree, which suits the traditionalist doom metal aspects of their sound as they showed on their 2013 self-titled debut — man, how the years fly — and have continued to develop live since then.

The PR wire brings word of the new release on Qumran Records and No Dust Records:

spillage blood of angels

Spillage – Blood of Angels – Jan. 11

“Blood Of Angels”, is the long awaited sophomore release from Chicago’s epic power doom machine SPILLAGE, will usher in the new year with soulful leads spread across mountains of riffs. The mighty title track sets the bar high, and heavy duty tracks such as “Evil Doers” and “Living In Hell” mercifully drive the nail in. “Blood Of Angels” is an instant classic, and definite candidate for Album of 2019. Mixed by Lothar Keller (The Skull/Divinity Compromised). Produced by Bruce Franklin (Trouble).

Spillage live:
Dec 15 SPILLAGE..Pre-Release party
The Chicago Loop Sports Bar and Grill Streamwood IL

Jan 26 SPILLAGE Record Release Party
Penny Road Pub Barrington IL

Spillage line up:
Elvin Rodriguez – Vocals,
Tony Spillman – Guitars,
Nick Bozidarevic – Guitars,
Billy McGuffey – Bass,
Chris Martins – Drums,
Paul Rau – Keyboards.

https://www.facebook.com/spillagerocks/
https://spillage.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/qumranrecords/
https://nodustrecords.com/

Spillage, Bootleg Livewired (2017)

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Killer Moon to Release Nocturne into Nebula Oct. 28 on Kozmik Artifactz

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

killer moon

Listening to the 14-minute ‘Dazed’ from Nocturne into Nebula, the third album from swirlbringing outfit Killer Moon, it’s kind of astounding to discover they’re from Chicago and not the West Coast. The band first issued the noise-laced, gnarly-as-you-please collection on their own just before the dawning of the dark age in which we now dwell, and they’re putting it out through Kozmik Artifactz at the end of next month. That in itself is a rager of an endorsement, but man, the album just smokes. I didn’t hear it when it came out because I’m terrible at this, but yeah, if you’ve got a little time to let your mind wander, dig in. It’s streaming from the band’s Bandcamp page at the bottom of this post, and whether you call it a reissue or a first official release, it’s pretty easy to see why all parties would agree it belongs on a 12″ platter.

I don’t want to turn it off. So I won’t.

From the PR wire:

killer moon nocturne into nebula

Killer Moon – Nocturne into Nebula – Out 28th September!

As the late great timothy Leary once said “turn on, tune in and drop out “This is the manifesto of Killer Moon, expanding consciousness through experience. Pushing the boundaries of what is real and what is not what is whole and broken what is and is not. To perform as a singular entity together and separate to invoke feelings of the great ones and act as a conduit , to become a beacon of light and guide the seeker to the edge of reality. Killer Moon exists in the space between the in-between, transcendental beings only here for a moment reminding us that life is not limited to the five senses we have been force feed our entire lives.

Killer Moon sound mixes the melancholic beauty and noise of Amaris Aviles and amazingly melodies with baroque flourishes of Jesse Garza held together by the fierce passionate drumming of Anthony Macias. Killer Moon spills every inch of their soul on these songs, reflecting the joys, sorrows, and the complications of love and life. It’s their sound, many will come to recognise soon as they embark the journey into other worldly adventures.

WE ARE A REINCARNATION OF WHAT IS A FOREVER CHANGING ENERGY. WE ARE LIGHT AND LOVE. WE TRAVEL THROUGH THIS LIFE BEING INFLUENCED AND TAKING IN WHAT WILL MAKE US BETTER HUMAN BEINGS. WE RELATE ALL THE BEAUTY INTO WHAT IS OUR PUREST FORM OF EXPRESSION.

Nocturne into Nebula will be released on heavyweight vinyl and CD on the 28th of September on Kozmik Artifatcz.

VINYL FACTZ
– Plated & pressed on high
performance vinyl at
Pallas/Germany
– limited & coloured vinyl
– 300gsm gatefold cover
– special vinyl mastering

TRACKS
1. TEMPLE OF THE SON
2. LIVE FAST DIE YOUNG
3. DAZED
4. AFRICANS FROM SPACE
5. DEATH TRIP
6. BLIND
7. TRANSMITTING
8. BROKEN BLUES
9. AS ABOVE SO BELOW

Killer Moon are:
Jesse Garza – Lead Guitar and Vocals
Amaris Aviles – Bass Guitar
Anthony Macias – Drums
Zak Bronson – Keys & Outer Space Sounds

https://www.facebook.com/Killer-Moon-302877409880303/
https://killermoonmusic.bandcamp.com/
http://kozmik-artifactz.com/
https://www.facebook.com/kozmikartifactz

Killer Moon, Nocturne into Nebula (2016)

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The Skull, The Endless Road Turns Dark: Remaining True

Posted in Reviews on September 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

The Skull The Endless Road Turns Dark

There has been a place reserved among 2018’s best doom albums for The Skull‘s The Endless Road Turns Dark since before its release on Tee Pee Records was even announced. Rumors of its coming swirled at the start of the year, and really since the Chicago-based five-piece issued their EP (review here) in 2016, it’s been a question of when not if they would have a follow-up to their 2014 debut, For Those Which are Asleep (review here). That record was a work of prime doomed grit, taking the lessons of classic Trouble on which the band was founded and pushing them into a thoroughly modern context, with former members of that band Eric Wagner (vocals) and Ron Holzner (bass) at the forefront alongside guitarist Lothar Keller (Sacred Dawn) and a rotating cast of others that has included members of PentagramCarousel and plenty more.

That the current recording incarnation of The Skull features guitarist Rob Wrong (also Witch Mountain) and drummer Brian Dixon (ex-Cathedral) only makes them all the more of a supergroup, but as For Those Which are Asleep demonstrated, the band is more than a showcase for “ex-members of” to run through the motions, and fortunately for all involved — particularly listeners — The Endless Road Turns Dark continues that thread. Wrong‘s lead guitar is a standout factor from the opening title-track — also the longest inclusion at 7:06 (immediate points) — onward, and Dixon‘s drumming brings a precision march and classic thud to the eight-track/43-minute proceedings, both its impact and the tones of WrongKeller and Holzner captured with a modern fullness as a result of the production by Sanford Parker, whose work here is no less a darkened joy to behold.

The balance of clarity and heft in “Ravenswood” alone is worth the price of admission, and it’s a combination of elements that works remarkably and surprisingly well, giving The Skull a sense of departure from the barebones, sometimes-lifeless production style of traditional doom that even further strengthens the material itself. Whether it’s the gradual unfolding in “Breathing Underwater” or the wistful sensibility in the sweeping layers of “All that Remains (Is True)” near the end of the record, The Endless Road Turns Dark more than earns the spot that’s been held for it by affirming The Skull as not only a band based around classic methods and noteworthy personnel, but a crucial creative force working on their own terms and developing a style apart from their pedigree.

Wagner especially seems to have found his voice here in a new way. He’s fluid and comfortable in a mid-range melody atop cello (I think) in “All that Remains (Is True)” and works in layers of higher and lower register in the potent hook of “The Longing,” which also featured on EP, in a way that sounds confident and thoughtful. “The Endless Road Turns Dark” itself might have his most forward higher-register vocals in its chorus, but certainly there are other spots throughout — “Ravenswood,” for example — and they’re handled easily via layering amid clearly delivered lyrics that are memorable and true to the aesthetic of the band without seeming forced. On a sheer performance level, it’s a definitive step forward from The Skull‘s debut and a challenge to anyone who might think they know what to expect from him or the group as a whole.

the skull

One might say the same of a song like “From Myself Depart,” which toys with structure across its six-minute run by opening with a quiet, bass-led verse before a swaying riff kicks in and, following another trade between this verse and chorus, launches into a two-minute lead section that includes a kick into speedier tempo before the chorus and a last quiet verse close out in succession. Verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-chorus-end, it ain’t, and it arrives at a pivotal moment leading off side B after “The Longing” and the deceptively spacious highlight “Breathing Underwater” round out the album’s first half in top form, doing the work of expanding the sound without really departing the central tonal context of the rest of The Endless Road Turns Dark — fucking with the formula, essentially. But doing it well, and doing it in the right spot to add further personality to what surrounds.

Not that there’s any lack of character to the record as it plays out. In the push of “Ravenswood” and the chugging “As the Sun Draws Near” — it’s hard to pick the best hook on the album and I won’t try, but this one is close if it’s not “The Longing,” which has the sneaky added benefit of prior familiarity — The Skull offer a reprieve from the slower fare in “Breathing Underwater,” the title-track and “All that Remains (Is True),” alternating between longer and shorter songs en route to the finale “Thy Will be Done,” the title of which is referenced in the lyrics of the opener, which breaks from its grueling rollout at 3:45 in order to move, albeit temporarily, into a faster section that bookends the album with a reprise of the verse and chorus from the title-track.

The sense of completion that brings to The Endless Road Turns Dark isn’t to be understated. With a dead stop before the return, the ending of the record — which actually comes in the form of a massive, nodding slowdown and long ringout, but bear with me — feels somewhat separate from the rest of “Thy Will be Done,” and one expects it’s supposed to. It not only ties together the opener and the closer directly, but it gives a full-album context to everything else between them, and as much as the individual pieces make their presence felt, that quick resurgence in the finale proves they’re part of something greater. And so, of course, they are.

There wasn’t really any doubt coming into The Endless Road Turns Dark that The Skull would deliver a quality offering — hence that whole holding a place thing — but with the work they’ve put in on tour and the lineup they’ve assembled, their sophomore full-length exceeds even the lofty expectations placed upon it. For Those Which are Asleep may have established The Skull as a unit separate from Trouble, but The Endless Road Turns Dark is where they forge a history of their own that, if we’re lucky, they’ll continue to build upon. It is nothing less than the work of masters.

The Skull, “Ravenswood” official lyric video

The Skull, “The Endless Road Turns Dark” official lyric video

The Skull on Thee Facebooks

The Skull on Twitter

The Skull website

Tee Pee Records website

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Lair of the Minotaur Release Dragon Eagle of Chaos EP

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 30th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Lair of the Minotaur

You know what new Lair of the Minotaur is bound to be heavier than? Just about everything that’s not new Lair of the Minotaur, thank you very much. The two-songer streaming at the bottom of this post, titled Dragon Eagle of Chaos, which — wait, yes, I’m getting confirmation now — is awesome, is the band’s first offering of any sort since their 2013 Godslayer single, and they’ll make a return to live activity this weekend as well in Chicago, playing Scorched Tundra X with Monolord, Sumac, Yakuza and a very, very heavy host of others.

They’ll have a 7″ of the release with them that will no doubt be gone before they actually take the stage, so if you’re at the Empty Bottle and manage to snag one, kudos.

From the PR wire:

Lair of the Minotaur Dragon Eagle of Chaos

LAIR OF THE MINOTAUR: Dragon Eagle Of Chaos EP Out Now; Band To Play Exclusive 2018 Show At Scorched Tundra Fest This Week

Chicago’s crushing trio LAIR OF THE MINOTAUR has released Dragon Eagle Of Chaos, a new two-song EP, through all digital platforms. The new record marks the band’s first new material to see release in five years. LAIR OF THE MINOTAUR will unleash a very limited version of the EP on 7″ this week at their first show in five years and their sole performance of 2018, at Scorched Tundra Fest this Friday, August 31st.

Following an extensive hiatus sharpening their axes, the Gods have called LAIR OF THE MINOTAUR back to battle. The classic “road dog” lineup of guitarist/vocalist Steven Rathbone, bassist Donald James Barraca, and drummer Chris Wozniak reunited in May of this year to record the first new material since their 2013-released Godslayer 7″. LAIR OF THE MINOTAUR hammered out the title track “Dragon Eagle Of Chaos” at Horse Drawn Studios with John E. Bohmer, after which it was mixed by Bohmer and Wozniak. The B-side bears the previously-unreleased “Kunsult The Bones,” which was recorded in January of 2010 at Semaphore Studios by Sanford Parker, mixed by Parker and Rathbone with assistant engineering by Pablo Roman, the track recorded with bass and backing vocals by Nate Olp. The tracks were mastered by Steve Rathbone, and the EP was completed with cover art by Unexpected Specter.

LAIR OF THE MINOTAUR collectively offers of the release, “In an effort to release everything that was written for this band, our new EP is two older tracks. One we had never properly recorded and one we had recorded, but never released. Cheers!”

LAIR OF THE MINOTAUR presents Dragon Eagle Of Chaos through their own The Grind-House Records; the EP can be purchased at iTunes HERE, Bandcamp HERE, and through all other digital providers.

Dragon Eagle Of Chaos Track Listing:
Side A – Dragon Eagle Of Chaos
Side B – Kunsult The Bones

Dragon Eagle Of Chaos is released in conjunction with LAIR OF THE MINOTAUR’s first performance in five years and their sole show of 2018. The band plays Scorched Tundra X in Chicago this Friday, August 31st, the two-day event also featuring Monolord, Sumac, Yakuza, In The Company Of Serpents, Telekinetic Yeti, Couch Slut, and more. This sold-out performance will see LAIR OF THE MINOTAUR selling an extremely limited edition 7″ vinyl version of Dragon Eagle Of Chaos, pressed in a run of only 33 hand-numbered copies.

LAIR OF THE MINOTAUR Live:
8/31/2018 Empty Bottle – Chicago, IL @ Scorched Tundra X w/ Monolord, Telekenetic Yeti

Formed in Chicago in 2003, LAIR OF THE MINOTAUR has released four full-length LPs, and two EPs through Southern Lord as well as their own label, The Grind-House Recordings, all interconnected concept recordings based on the bloodier tales of Greek mythology. The band has toured extensively across North America and Europe, crushing all in their path with their own brand of heavy fucking metal that has been likened to being beat to death with a spiked club.

LAIR OF THE MINOTAUR:
Donald James Barraca – bass
Steve Rathbone – guitar/vocals
Chris Wozniak – drums

http://www.lairoftheminotaur.net
https://lairoftheminotaur.bandcamp.com

Lair of the Minotaur, Dragon Eagle of Chaos (2018)

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Minsk & Zatokrev to Release BIGOD Oct. 5

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 24th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

minsk

zatokrev

It’s never easy to coordinate, but when two bands get together and put out a split release with some collaboration between them, the results can really become something special. Illinois-based post-metallers Minsk and Swiss contemporaries Zatokrev will issue the conjoined outing, BIGOD, on Oct. 5 through Consouling Sounds and Czar of Crickets, and it’s all the more of an occasion for the fact that each band features a guest appearance from the other on their portion. Pretty cool stuff. Both groups had records out last in 2015, and they’ll support BIGOD with a European tour together presented by Dead Pig that is set to kick off on Oct. 18 with a release show for the split.

Latest albums are streaming below, following the art and info from the PR wire, which is right here:

zatokrev minsk bigod

BIGOD – new split album by Minsk and Zatokrev

We feel honored to announce that the new split album from Minsk and Zatokrev is gonna be released on October 5th via Consouling Sounds and Czar Of Crickets Productions.

Two bands from two continents, two very different worlds and histories, but in many ways they have occupied parallel universes. Both have forged their own paths forward for over fifteen years. Both have released four albums. Both seek transcendence and deep places in their explorations, uncompromising in their vision, both reveling in their beautiful noise.

On BIGOD, Minsk (USA) and Zatokrev (CH/EU) deliver a joint effort, a deliberative and collaborative intention to reflect their innermost expressions, another search for deeper meaning in the here and now through beautiful psychedelic melancholy paired with the heaviest walls of sound and creative destructiveness. Their shared passion and aesthetics gave rise to the idea for the split album BIGOD. The work creates a new spirit, one who unites two dark souls and joins two paths into one. Here, both bands contribute two epic songs, both receiving vocal support from the other.

To complete the work, Parisian artist, Max Loriot, has created an extraordinary visual realization of BIGOD’s theme, a compelling and interpretive take on the allegorical story of Elijah’s fiery chariot. Two horses with their own will, a burning chariot with no horseman, the spirit fire of creation.

Furthermore Dead Pig Entertainment just announced an exclusive BIGOD Europe Tour for autumn.

Minsk/Zatokrev BIGOD Europe Tour
Oct 18th: BE-Ghent, Charlatan (Release party by Consouling Sounds)
Oct 19th: NL-Leuwaarden, Into The Void Festival
Oct 20th: DE-Oldenburg, MTS Records
Oct 21st: PL-Poznan, U Bazyla
Oct 22nd: PL-Krakow, TBA
Oct 23rd: CZ-Prague, Underdogs
Oct 24th: CRO-Zagreb, Mo?vara
Oct 25th: GR-Athens, Kyttaro (Minsk only)
Oct 26th: BG-Sofia, Mixtape 5
Oct 27th: SR-Belgrade, Elektropionir
Oct 28th: HUN-Budapest, Dürer Kert
Oct 29th: SK-Bratislava, Randal Club
Oct 30th: DE-Leipzig, Bandhaus
Oct 31rd: DE-Karlsruhe, Dudefest
Nov 01st: CH-Bulle, Ebullition
Nov 02nd: CH-Basel, Kaserne (Release show by Czar Of Crickets)
Nov 3rd: CH-Winterthur, Gaswerk
Nov 17th: FR-Tyrant Fest, (Zatokrev only)

https://thesoundofminsk.com
https://www.facebook.com/Minsk
http://www.zatokrev.com
https://www.facebook.com/ZATOKREV/
https://consouling.be
https://www.facebook.com/ConsoulingSounds/
http://czarofcrickets.com
https://www.facebook.com/czarofcrickets/

Zatokrev, Silk Spiders Underwater… (2015)

Minsk, The Crash and the Draw (2015)

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