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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Mirrors for Psychic Warfare to Release I See What I Became Sept. 28; Preorders up Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 15th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

So next week, because hey why not, the Sanford Parker and Scott Kelly industro-distortion — yes, industortion — revue known as Mirrors for Psychic Warfare are going to take the stage in direct support for Godflesh. It’s happening once in Chicago and once in New York. Both bills are awesome, to be sure, but god damn, what a pairing that is. It’s like Godflesh get to see the chaos they’ve wrought before they even go on. “Now look what you made happen!,” etc. I was fortunate enough once to watch Mirrors for Psychic Warfare when they were supporting their 2016 self-titled debut (review here) and it was a sight to behold. Also to be-felt in terms of the low end wave frequencies rumbling in your chest. I’d imagine they’re no less consuming now than they were, especially with a new record on the way.

That album is called I See What I Became and it’s due out Sept. 28 of course on Neurot Recordings. The PR wire brings more about the shows, about the album and the project as a whole.

Have at it:

mirrors-for-psychic-warfare-i-see-what-i-became

MIRRORS FOR PSYCHIC WARFARE: Industrial Collaboration Featuring Neurosis’ Scott Kelly And Buried At Sea’s Sanford Parker To Release I See What I Became This Fall Via Neurot; Trailer Posted, Preorders Available + US Shows With Godflesh Draw Near

MIRRORS FOR PSYCHIC WARFARE, the industrial collaboration between Neurosis’ Scott Kelly and Buried At Sea’s Sanford Parker, will unleash their second chapter of sonic anxiety this fall via Neurot Recordings.

Titled I See What I Became, the follow-up to the duo’s 2016’s critically-lauded, self-titled debut was produced by Seward Fairbury (Corrections House) and Negative Soldier, mastered by Collin Jordan (Eyehategod, Indian, Wovenhand, Voivod etc.) with decibel manipulation by Dave French (Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, The Anunnaki), and comes swathed in the cover art of Thomas Hooper (Neurosis, Harvestman, Boris, Tombs, Doomriders).

I See What I Became will see release on CD, digital, and vinyl formats on September 28th with preorders available at THIS LOCATION.

View the album trailer, courtesy of Chariot Of Black Moth, at THIS LOCATION.

I See What I Became Track Listing:
1. Animal Coffins
2. Tomb Puncher
3. Body Ash
4. Flat Rats In The Alley
5. Thing Of Knives
6. Crooked Teeth
7. Death Cart
8. Coward Heat

As a precursor to the album’s release, MIRRORS FOR PSYCHIC WARFARE will play two very special shows later this month supporting industrial titans Godflesh in Chicago and New York City respectively with future MIRRORS FOR PSYCHIC WARFARE live abrasions, including a European tour this fall, to be announced in the weeks to come.

MIRRORS FOR PSYCHIC WARFARE w/ Godflesh:
8/24/2018 Metro – Chicago, IL w/ Harm’s Way, Ledge
8/25/2018 Gramercy Theater, New York, NY w/ Tombs, Body Stuff

https://www.facebook.com/mirrorsforpsychicwarfare
http://www.mirrorsforpsychicwarfare.bandcamp.com
http://www.neurotrecordings.com
http://www.facebook.com/neurotrecordings

Mirrors for Psychic Warfare, I See What I Became trailer

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REZN Announce New Album Calm Black Water Due Oct. 10

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

rezn

After an encouraging debut in 2017’s Let it Burn (review here), Chicago psych-of-stone riffers REZN are back on the quick with a second album. Titled Calm Black Water, the new offering is set for issue on vinyl through Off the Record Label in the Netherlands (see also Stone Machine Electric), and will be pressed in three different versions all totaling 500 copies. The same imprint stood behind a vinyl edition of the first record that’s nearly sold out, so they’ll have preorders open for Calm Black Water a month in advance. Plenty of time ahead of the Oct. 10 release.

In order to give a bit of a glimpse — not too much of a glimpse, but you know, a teaser — the band have a clip posted from the track “Quantum Being,” and while the mere use of the word “quantum” in a title makes one want to compare them to YOB, the song has more in common with earlier Windhand or Electric Wizard at their foggiest, and as it rolls out a lurching, nodding groove, it only bodes well in terms of sonic largesse for whatever else the record might hold in terms of overarching atmospheric breadth/crush. I look forward to finding out.

Like the song snippet, their announcement was quick and to the point:

rezn calm black water

REZN has conjured another sonic gateway. Entitled ‘Calm Black Water’, the new full-length record embodies a deep-sea journey to the center of your mind.

Limited to 500 copies worldwide via Off The Record Label, ‘Calm Black Water’ will be available on vinyl in three exclusive colors: Blue/Clear/Black, Purple/Clear/Black, and 180g Black.

Listen to a preview of the track “Quantum Being” here.

Preorders for vinyl open September 10th and the digital/physical release date is set for October 10th, available here:
US/Canada: rezzzn.bandcamp.com
International: offtherecordlabel.bigcartel.com

Prepare your consciousness for the abyss.

REZN are:
Phil Cangelosi
Patrick Dunn
Rob McWilliams
Spencer Ouellette

facebook.com/reznhits
instagram.com/rezzzn
rezzzn.bandcamp.com
offtherecordlabel.bigcartel.com
https://www.facebook.com/Off-The-Record-1558728014411885/
https://www.offtherecordshop.nl/index.php/off-the-record-label

REZN, “Quantum Being” teaser

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The Skull Post “Ravenswood” Lyric Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

the skull

Because of their origins and their moniker, one tends to think of The Skull as being a post-Trouble band, right? It’s bassist Ron Holzner and vocalist Eric Wagner, both ex-members of that legendary Chicago outfit, with guitarist Lothar Keller at the band’s core. They started out playing Trouble covers, and until they released their 2014 debut, For Those Which are Asleep (review here), that’s how they were mostly known. But with Witch Mountain‘s Rob Wrong on guitar and ex-Cathedral drummer Brian Dixon in the lineup, isn’t it only fair to call them a supergroup as they head toward the Sept. 7 release of their second full-length, The Endless Road Turns Dark?

After all, these aren’t exactly minor players who’ve come aboard,The Skull The Endless Road Turns Dark and while I don’t know the splits of who did what in the writing process — “This song is 83 percent Holzner!” and so on — it’s hard to imagine Wrong wouldn’t have a hand in writing leads. He’s so god damned good at them, it would be a wasted resource to not have him write his own parts. And Dixon rolled out grooves for one of modern doom’s formative acts. He’s well acquainted with working around a crucial riff. Listening to the two tracks they’ve so far released from sophomore record — by astounding coincidence, the first two that appear on the album — aside from the sheer impact of the Sanford Parker production, it’s striking just how much personality there is in the songs. The Skull weren’t exactly lacking character on the first record, but it’s clear their time on tour domestically and internationally has brought them together in a new way.

Preorders are up for the album now through Tee Pee Records, and you’ll find that link under the “Ravenswood” video below, along with the clip for the title-track, which I’ve included here because I didn’t get the chance to post it before because I’m terrible at everything and blah blah blah self-loathing.

Info from the PR wire follows as well.

Please enjoy:

The Skull, “Ravenswood” official lyric video

The Skull, featuring vocalist Eric Wagner and bassist Ron Holzner, formerly of metal legends Trouble, has completed work on its highly anticipated sophomore album. Titled, The Endless Road Turns Dark, the LP was recorded in Chicago’s Decade Music Studios with engineer Sanford Parker (Yob, Tombs) and builds on the foundation laid by The Skull’s debut album, For Those Which Are Asleep, a recording that landed at or near the top of a host of 2014 year-end best of lists. The Endless Road Turns Dark will be released on September 7 via Tee Pee Records.

“‘Ravenswood’ is one of my favorite lyrics on the new album, The Endless Road Turns Dark,” Wagner enthuses. “This reminds me of where I truly am in life and all that I had to go through to get here.”

The Skull, which also features longtime Cathedral drummer Brian Dixon, guitarist Lothar Keller (Sacred Dawn), and guitarist Rob Wrong (Witch Mountain), creates classic Sabbathian doom with a psych-tinged metal vision. The respected group’s impending album, The Endless Road Turns Dark, benefits greatly from the pedigree and experience of the band’s members and pushes authentic, old-school metal to heavier and more foreboding places, fueled by burly riffing, metallic groove and a crushing punch. Ethereal and wonderfully moody with a heart of heavy metal beating at its center, the record delivers definitive doom metal full of powerful builds and mesmerizing dynamic range. More than a mere throwback, The Endless Road Turns Dark is the work of a band that respects their fans, understands their own history, and still has their ears open to the current doom metal landscape. A wicked exercise in heavy metal majesty, The Endless Road Turns Dark plays like a natural extension of the musicians exemplary work during their 20-plus years with Trouble and cements The Skull as modern day doom metal royalty.

Track listing:

1.) The Endless Road Turns Dark
2.) Ravenswood
3.) Breathing Underwater
4.) The Longing
5.) From Myself Depart
6.) As the Sun Draws Near
7.) All That Remains (Is True)
8.) Thy Will Be Done

Pre-order The Endless Road Turns Dark at this location.

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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Quarterly Review: CHRCH, Bongripper, King Chiefs, Bonnacons of Doom, Boar, June Bug, Tired Lord, Bert, Zen Bison, Wheel in the Sky

Posted in Reviews on July 16th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-CALIFORNIA-LANDSCAPE-Julian-Rix-1851-1903

You know the deal by now, I’m sure: 50 reviews this week between now and Friday, in batches of 10 per day. It’s an unholy amount of music, but those who really dig in always seem to find something cool within a Quarterly Review. Frankly, with this much to choose from, I’d certainly hope so. I’m not going to delay at all, except to say thanks in advance for coming along on this one. It’s got some core-heavy and some-not-really-core-heavy stuff all bundled next to each other, so yeah, your patience is appreciated. Okay. No time like the present. Let’s do it.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

CHRCH, Light Will Consume Us All

chrch light will consume us all

Yeah, yeah, yeah, the songs are long. Blah blah blah it’s heavy as whatever kind of construction equipment you could want to name. What’s even more striking about Los Angeles doomers CHRCH’s Neurot Recordings debut, Light Will Consume Us All, is the sense of atmosphere. The follow-up to 2015’s massively well-received Unanswered Hymns (review here) is comprised of three songs presented in descending time order from opener/longest track (immediate points) “Infinite” (20:41) to centerpiece “Portals” (14:50) and closer “Aether” (9:29) and it finds CHRCH refining the unremitting patience of their rollout, so that even when “Aether” explodes in its second half to charred blastbeating and abrasive screams, the ambience is still dense enough to feel it in one’s lungs. CHRCH keep up this level of progression and soon enough someone’s going to call them post-something or other. As it stands, their second album builds righteously on the achievements of their debut, and is a revelation in its bleakness.

CHRCH on Thee Facebooks

Neurot Recordings website

 

Bongripper, Terminal

bongripper terminal

Pressed up as ever in DIY fashion, Bongripper’s Terminal presents two gargantuan slabs – one per vinyl side – that only seem to highlight the strengths in the Chicago instrumentalists’ approach. The tones are huge, the grooves nodding, the impact of each kick drum forceful. Repetition is central, that feeling of aural mass and destructiveness, but neither is Terminal – comprised of “Slow” (25:11) and “Death” (18:15) – lacking a sense of atmosphere. After 21 minutes of grueling pummel, “Slow” devolves into droning layers of noise wash and quiet guitar to finish out, and “Death” seems to hold onto an echoing lead in its closing minutes that accomplishes much the same thing in broadening the atmosphere overall. I don’t know if the two songs were composed to fit together –the titles would hint yes – but they invariably do, and as “Death” unleashes a more insistent punch before turning to a post-YOB gallop, it reconfirms Bongripper’s worship-worthy place in the stoner doom milieu, how their sound can be so familiar in its threat and yet so much their own.

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King Chiefs, Blue Sonnet

King Chiefs Blue Sonnet

Born as Chiefs ahead of their 2015 debut album, Tomorrow’s Over (review here), Arizona-based four-piece King Chiefs make their own first outing in the form of the easily-digestible desert rocker Blue Sonnet (on Roosevelt Row and Cursed Tongue Records), comprised of 10 tracks running just under 40 minutes of older-school laid back heavy, swinging easy on cuts like “Surely Never” and “Drifter” while still finding some Helmeted aggressive edge in the riffs of “Slug” and “Walk the Plank.” The overarching focus is on songwriting, however, and King Chiefs hone in cleverly on ‘90s-era desert rock’s post-grunge sensibility, so that their material seems ready for an alternative radio that no longer exists. Such as it is, they do just fine without, and hooks pervade the two-guitar outfit’s material in natural and memorable fashion all the way to five-and-a-half-minute closer “Shrine of the Beholder,” which embraces some broader textures without losing the structural focus that serves so well on the songs before it.

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Bonnacons of Doom, Bonnacons of Doom

bonnacons of doom bonnacons of doom

Heavy psychedelic experimentalism pervades the Rocket Recordings-issued self-titled debut album from Liverpool collective Bonnacons of Doom, rife with tripout ritualism and exploration of sound as it is, all chasing light and getting freaky in any sense you want to read it. Five tracks, each a voyage unto itself – even the bass-fuzzy push of shortest cut “Rhizome” (5:55) is cosmos-bound – feed into the larger weirdness at play that culminates in the undulating grooves of “Plantae” (8:39), which is perhaps the most solidified cut in terms of choruses, verses, etc., but still a molten, headphone-worthy freakout that pushes the limits of psychedelia and still holds itself together. If the album was a to-do list, it would read as follows: “Eat mushrooms. Get naked. Dance around. Repeat.” Whether you do or don’t is ultimately up to you, but Bonnacons of Doom make a pretty convincing argument in favor, and I don’t generally consider myself much of a dancer. Among the most individualized psych debuts I’ve heard in a long time.

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Boar, Poseidon

Boar Poseidon

Poseidon, at six songs and 39 minutes, is the second long-player from Finnish four-piece Boar. Released on vinyl with no shortage of backing — Lost Pilgrims Records, Dissonant Society, Impure Muzik, S.K.O.D., Rämekuukkeli-levyt – it hurls forth a High on Fire-informed vision of noise rock on its opening title-track only to take on a slower roll in the subsequent “Shahar’s Son” and dig into massive crashing on “12.” Using echo to add a sense of depth all the while, they scream in tradeoffs à la Akimbo and boogie in “Featherless” and seem to find a post-metallic moment on “Dark Skies” before closing with the alternately brooding and scathing “Totally out of This World,” the song sort of falling apart into the feedback and noise that ends the album. There’s a persistent sense of violence happening, but it’s as much inward as outward, and though some of Boar’s most effective moments are in that rawness, there’s something to be said for the contemplation at the outset of “Shahar’s Son” and “12” as well.

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June Bug, A Thousand Days

June bug A Thousand Days

Seemingly unrestrained by genre, the Lille, France-based duo June BugJune on vocals and multiple instruments and Beryl on backing vocals and multiple instruments – dig into some post-punk nudge on early cut “Reasons” from their debut album, A Thousand Days (Atypeek Music) after the folkish melodies of opener “Now,” but whether it’s the fuzzy indie vibes of “Freaks” or the harmonies, electronics and acoustic guitar of “Let it Rest,” or the keyboard-handclaps, lower tones and poppish instrumental hook of centerpiece “Mama,” there’s plenty of variety throughout. What ties the differing vibes and richly nuanced approach together is the vocals, which are mostly subdued and at times hyper-stylized, but never seem to fail to keep melodicism as their central operating method. That remains true on the subdued “Does it Matter” and the beat-laden “Silenced” at the album’s finish and brings everything together with an overarching sense of joy that holds firm despite shifts in mood and approach, making the complete front-to-back listen as satisfying as it might seem all over the place.

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Atypeek Music website

 

Tired Lord, Demo

tired lord demo

Released by the band last year, the four-song Demo by San Francisco outfit Tired Lord has been picked up for an official cassette issue through From Corners Unknown Records and will reportedly be the only release from the black metal/sludge genre-benders. Presumably that means they broke up, rather than just refuse to ever record again, though the latter possibility intrigues as well and would be meta-black metal. Spearheaded by guitarist Bryce Olson, Tired Lord effectively bring a thickness of tone to charred riffing, and a balance between screams and growls brings a cast of general extremity to the material. So I guess this is the part where I’m supposed to regret their dissolution and wish they’d do a proper release. Fair enough for the brutal chug in “Serpent’s Ascent” and the 7:51 closer “Astaroth,” which one wouldn’t mind hearing fleshed out from their current form. Failing that, one of the 30 tape copies pressed of Demo seems like decent consolation. At least while they’re there for the getting and before Tired Lord go gleefully into that black metal demo tape ether where so many seem to dwell.

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BerT, Relics from Time Zero

bert relics from time zero

Lansing, Michigan, trio BerT – bassist Phil Clark and brothers Ryan (guitar) and Rael (drums) Andrews – broke up. They even put out a posthumous rare tracks release in 2017’s The Lost Toes (review here), so what’s left? Well, another album, of course. Intended as a sequel to the sci-fi narrative of the never-released long-player Return to the Electric Church, the five-track/35-minute Relics from Time Zero is unfinished, sans vocals where they might otherwise be, and basically a look at what might’ve been had the band not dissolved. For those prior-exposed to the once-prolific heavy rock bizarros, some of the proceedings will seem familiar: riffs are plentiful and fluid in their tempo changes from driving rock to droned-out stomp, and there seems to be about 1.5 of them in the four-minute “In the Cave of the Batqueen,” so but for the fact that it’s not done, I’d just about call it business as usual for BerT. I know they’re done and all, but I still wouldn’t mind hearing these songs with some lyrics, let alone the record this one was intended to follow-up. Either way, even defunct, BerT remain on their own wavelength.

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Zen Bison, Krautrocker

zen bison krautrocker

Classic-style heavy rock riffing pervades opener “Blow My Mind” (5:47) and the subsequent “Backseat Lovers” (5:15) – somewhere between Stubb and Radio Moscow — on Zen Bison’s debut LP, Krautrocker, but as the five-track/42-minute self-release moves into the 11-minute title-track, guitarist/vocalist Philipp Ott, bassist Steffen Fischer and drummer Martin Konopka – joined by organist Hans Kirschner and percussionist Bobby Müller –move into deeper-grooving and more psychedelic fare. That turn suits the mostly-live-recorded outfit well on the longer instrumental piece, and that leads to a side B with the likewise-sans-vocals “La Madrugada” (9:56) and the closing cover of Don Nix’s blues rocker “Going Down” (10:24), jammed out at the end in its middle and end with quick return to the chorus between. There isn’t much on Krautrocker one might actually consider krautrock in the traditional sense, but there’s certainly plenty of rock to go around on the impressive and varied first offering from the Rostock trio.

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Wheel in the Sky, Beyond the Pale

wheel in the sky beyond the pale

From opener “Rivers of Dust” onward, Wheel in the Sky’s second album, Beyond the Pale (on The Sign Records), proffers classy and classic digs, informed by a heavy ‘70s uptempo spirit on its title-track and moving into more complex volume and arrangement shifts in “Burn Babylon Burn” (video premiere here) and a poppy, goth-informed hook on “The Only Dead Girl in the City,” all the while held together through a quality of songwriting that even the band’s 2015 debut, Heading for the Night (review here), seemed to hint toward. It’s a mover, to be sure, but Wheel in the Sky execute their material with poise and a sense of clear intention, and no matter where they seem to go, their tonality and natural production assures the listener has an easy time tagging along. Might be a sleeper for some, but there are going to be people who really, really dig this album, and I’ve got no argument with them.

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